From Holotropics to Primal

by Margaret Coyne

Alison Hunter is a Primal Integration and Regression therapist who works from a private residence at 28, Beach Court, Kiliiney, Co. Dublin.

I arrived at the above address half an hour late, due to a mix up with buses on a spring morning in 1996, for my first Primal session.

Once I'd recovered my breath, I was shown into the "session" room by Elaine, Alison's assistant, and was introduced to the other three participants. They were, Clare, Catherine (who was French) and Brian. I was made feel very welcome by everyone which helped to ease my anxiety somewhat. The reason I was so nervous was because I knew this work would be totally different from the Holotropic sessions I was already accustomed to, in that, deep breathing is not used as an aid to induce a regressed state.

Also, I'd been told, that each person in turn, has between one and one and a half hours on the mattress, with the other three participants just observing or assisting Alison and Elaine, if necessary.

At 11.10am things got underway, with Clare being the first to take the floor. Her session was very painful for her and I found myself becoming very emotional from time to time. She finished at 12.00pm. We had lunch and just before we returned to the session room, Catherine and I got pennission from Alison to visit and play with the absolutely gorgeous, loveable and elegant Siamese cats who apparently lived very pampered lives in an upstairs sort-of-kitty- creche.

Brian opted to go next with his session which lasted two hours. He needed a lot of assistance, so we all helped out, with instructions coming fast and furious from Alison. After a break, Catherine went next. She also had very sad moments during which she spoke in her native tongue (French). Distressing as it was, the dialogue still sounded beautiful. Her session ended and we had a short break.

Now it was my turn. Having just witnessed so much pain, I think I had, without realising it, entered the right frame of mind for my own session. I lay down on the mattress with Alison sitting up at my head and Elaine kneeling down towards my feet. I felt very self-conscious and would have done a runner given half the chance.

"Alison begins by asking me if I would like to take her hand, an invitation I immediately accept. She then asks me to go back to my conception and this is where I begin to feel that this isn't going to work.

I try desperately to imagine my earliest moment of existence, which at first seems almost comically impossible, but as Alison begins to talk me through it, recounting the sperms penetration of the egg and the subsequent dividing of the cells, a terrible sense of sadness begins to emerge, for I know this event should not be taking place as I was never meant to be.

It's the mystery surrounding the circumstance of my conception which scares me the most. When my mother became pregnant with me, she was forty one, single, and taking care of her own invalid mother. So, was I the result of a long standing loving relationship or the innocent victim born out of an horrific rape? I'll probably never know.

Now I'm embedded in my mother's womb. Several weeks have passed and she realises she is pregnant. Alison tries to have me imaging my mother's feelings towards me at this stage. Is she happy at the prospect of becoming a mother at forty one, or is she really resenting me?

The feelings which come are not just imagined ones. They are coming from somewhere very deep within me so I've no control over them whatsoever. I'm aware she doesn't hate me, but nor does she love me. As I'm relaying these memories, or whatever they are, to Alison, I'm overwhelmed by a huge sadness, which on a physical level, is equivalent to having a knife twisted in your guts.

My sobbing is heart rending, though I'm too submerged in my anguish to be aware if I'm upsetting the others. I'm several months old now and according to Alison, probably causing my mother a great deal more mental suffering than physical discomfort. All I'm aware of is a terrible sense of not been loved, which sends me deeper into my despair. This is the feeling I've carried through life and is probably the root cause of all my anger, depression and self hatred.

It's almost time to be born now. This is where Alison, Elaine and everybody else begin to work on me. Hands guide me as I struggle to propel myself down my mother's birth canal, anger and frustration dominating the process. While all of this is going on, I'm aware that Alison and Elaine are also verbally guiding me, which initially intensifies the experience, but later has the effect of triggering further episodes of intense rage.

As my body makes its final decent towards freedom, I become exhausted, wishing only to he left in peace to rest. Sadly, there's no respite as Alison, assuming the role of obstetrician, announces that I will have to be a forceps delivery. As she places her hands firmly across my head, I feel a pulling sensation, followed by a tremendous pressure on my forehead, which again sends me into a fiery rage.

I'm almost there now. With a little more verbal encouragement and my own desperate need to break free, I finally push through and arrive into this world, a screaming, terrified infant.

Pain fills my body as I lie curled up on the mattress, yelling my guts out and feeling so sad. The deep sense of isolation is so overwhelming, I feel nothing will ever comfort me, and so it is, I remain sobbing for around twenty minutes, agonising over my violent entry into the world, but above all, feeling the total despair of being. Eventually I recover enough to become part of the group again. It is 4.45pm."

Catherine very kindly made me a cup of Camomile tea, which helped ease the pain in my gut, no doubt caused by my emotional distress. After everyone had made their follow-up appointments with Alison, we were ready to leave at 5.30pm. As Brian lived fairly close to me, I gratefully accepted his offer of a lift home.

Although feeling very fragile, I actually managed to discuss a variety of topics during the journey, which for me, was a major accomplishment. I arrived home at 6.15pm. While watching television with Dave, I felt a strong need to repeatedly go over the day's events. What amazed me most, was how I entered an altered state of consciousness without the aid of breathing and music. Later, exhausted, though still somewhat ecstatic, I had another Camomile tea, then went to bed around l0.00pm.

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