Using the Side Effects of Medication for Regression Therapy Access

Using the Side Effects of Medication for Regression Therapy Access

by John A. Speyrer

I recently read an interesting article in MedlinePlus. Entitled, Suicidal Thoughts May Vary by Antidepressant. The article by, Robert Preidt, emphasized that new British studies have found that "(m)en who take the antidepressant nortriptyline (aventyl) are nearly 10 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts" than others who take lexapro and cipralex. Recently published in England in BMC Medicine, the study included 811 people with moderate to severe depression.

Does nortriptyline bring up into consciousness in those men with depression the source of their depression - their early birth or intrauterine trauma in unconscious way when they felt suicidal? If so, why not use this ability of a pharmaceutical drug to bring up suicidal thoughts to access and work through one's pre- and peri-natal traumas about death due to almost unbearable birth and/or intrauterine suffering. These traumas are difficult to access, their resolution important, and Drs. Arthur Janov, Stan Grof and Frank Lake all agreed these early traumas are usually the ultimate source of wanting to die and of depression - not the only source, but the main origin.

In any event, decades ago, I remember that after prostate surgery, I developed a psychophysiological condition known as prostatodynia which involved pelvic floor muscle spasms with pain referred to the bladder and upper legs. With the onset of symptoms I was no longer able to primal. Six months went by and I was prescribed the anti-depressant, Tofranil (generic imipramine) for the incapaciting pain. In a few weeks I no longer had pain and I was able to primal once again! With enthusiasm I concluded that under certain circumstances prescription medicine can help us to have access to our early traumas.

Whether my success in restoring the ability to regress and relive was directly due to the anti-depressant's effect on brain neuro-transmitters, or to the possibility that it was the relief from the discomfort I was experiencing, I became convinced that the medication's side effect enabled me to continue primalling again.

Over the years, more and more types of prescription and over the counter medications were found to trigger various reactions which can be put to to good advantage both from their ingestion and subsequent withdrawal. Some trigger nightmares, while others are known to bring up suicidal thoughts. Nightmares are symbolized birth pains. Many prescriptions medications are potent first-line drugs. [See Drug Causes of Nightmares ]

What are the disadvantages of using medication hoping to intentionally increase access to one's repressed traumas? In feeling type therapies one is encouraged to act counter phobically to access and resolve material causing the symptom and hopefully speeding up the therapy. Is there a difference if an early feeling is brought up by one's behavior, an unintentional life situation, or using, to one's advantage, the effects of a small amount of alcohol to enhance connection to one's early repressed hurts? Are the means by which the source of the feeling is accessed any less useful in connecting us to our early pain?

According to the founder of primal therapy, clinical psychologist, Dr. Arthur Janov, intrauterine and birth material, especially, should not be pushed or rushed to be felt before their time. The natural body-directed method is preferable, he holds. Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof believes that with his type of regression therapy (holotropic breathwork) the material which needs to be worked on at the time of the session, will be automatically brought up for resolution. He feels the same was true with LSD therapy which he used from 1953 until 1966 when its use became illegal.

Medication, and other methods of helping access have been well known from the earliest days of the regression therapy. For example, some patients discover early in their therapy that withdrawal from the anti-anxiety medication, valium, facilitated regression experiences and has frequently been used for that purpose, although all would agree that this technique can be abused and therefore may be contraindicated. It is not a methodology to be used frequently.

Refusing to perform a favorite act-out also has the effect of aiding the feeling process. No points for masochism are earned when one needs to feel but is unable to do so, although no regressive therapy should emphasize using and withdrawing of prescription medications to facilitate the process, but maybe at times, they do have their place in regression therapies -- and that place would be as a means of "encouraging" connection to early pain so that less suffering time is endured, as the time period before connection can be very uncomfortable. On more than one occasion, I successfully used a small amount of alcohol as an aid in accessing a feeling which was pressing for connection as I was becoming more and more uncomfortable.

A well know technique is to change behaviorin order to bring up repressed material. Is a feeling shaken from its depths by a chemical less valuable than one experienced by waiting and suffering until the primal intensifies to a degree which results in connection? After all, no one criticizes a primal which is triggered by an emotional upset. Why should having a regression experience be frowned upon because one's life experiences brings up an event which is undoubtedly out of our brain's planned sequence? I think not.

For some clients, feelingful music can be very helpful. Are those regressions triggered by music, by viewing art, by viewing a "special" movie, etc. any less helpful to the person struggling to access what is struggling for release?

It is well known by addicts that the withdrawal of an addictive drug of choice can bring about a surge of psychiatric symptoms. The fact that addictive drugs can reduce one's psychological and physical pain levels is the reason why such drugs are used. To become an addict one needs the early trauma as well as the susceptible brain physiology. Addiction medicine specialist, Dr. Drew Pinsky, in his experience, writes that "...addicts who require in-patient treatment for their disease have experienced trauma as a common feature of their childhoods." When Painkillers Become Dangerous, p. 10.

When the brain and body are not quite ready to feel the early hurts in regressions, the encased feeling can be prodded into connection. It may take a supportive friend, a musical selection, or a feelingful movie. Perhaps, medication or an illegal substance can be added to the list of facilitators, although its use is not recommended for a drug addict, as it is too easy for the addict to take his drug of choice when one's symptoms beg to be placated and thereby suppress one's symptoms. The problem is that repressed pain also becomes medicated and the primal will not connect or connected at a

Often one can feel one's various repressed pains for decade after decade and never arrive at the big one - the prototypic feeling at birth or in the uterus. That's what had happened to me. I began primaling in 1974, and the following year I began feeling birth pains, but it was not until 1998 that I began feeling the big one: near death in the birth canal. There was a twenty-four year interval between those two dates and they were not spent as a defended person. The therapy was progressing, symptoms were fading and insights pouring in, but without a therapy-derived hint that I had faced death in the birth canal at my very beginning. Who would want just a part, albeit the most important part of their therapy to wait that long before revealing itself?

I knew I had had severe very early first line trauma as I had been claustrophobic as a child and had continued to be plagued with insomnia. To connect to these very early death and dying feelings, I had needed an experience which bore a resemblance to the emotional/physical feeling of what had happened during my birth. In my case, the diagnosis of a possible fatal illness was successful in shaking up the fetus within and release those early death and dying experiences.

I believe that I never would ever have felt a deep depression nor fetal death, if I had not had a diagnosis of a possible brain tumor. Those words were not used, but I got the message and after a few weeks of deep depression, with a little telephone help from a friend, I began experiencing my prototypic death and dying feelings.

That's the reason why I don't have any qualms about using almost any type of aid to connect myself to my trauma history. Knowing what I know now, I definitely would have used therapist directed LSD, but unfortunately my willing intent could not have been reduced to action, as I had started the primal process almost a decade after LSD's use had been legally prohibited.

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