by Paul Vereshack M.D.
Would you discuss some of the hazards along the primal path?
You are pointing out a very important issue. In my opinion, it is not one that primal people adequately address.
My book, written fifteen years ago, perhaps simplifies the primal process more than it should have.
Primal people would say that if we explore our traumas at a sufficient depth, then issues should resolve themselves. They believe that as we go deeper, our defenses become more and more opened. Thus, there is danger that the benefits we derive from a deep regressive therapy will have a downside in that some people may experience an opening to pain that will plague them for years. Then we may have to keep "blowing" it off to get a sufficient degree of comfort.
Depending upon the positive parenting we received, our strength of personality viz a viz how much pain was inflicted upon us, as well as our genetic stability, this balance of factors will vary from person to person.
Another important factor to consider is that the trellis that our therapists may provide us strengthens our selfhood, although to a much lesser degree than what we received from our parents.
Self primaling misses this last important issue. In regressive therapies, much can be accomplished, but much that we can derive from our therapist in therapy may be lacking. The primal strength that the therapist transmits to the client is complex both in its transmission and in its effects. To have none of this reparenting transmission through therapists presence, and possibly the use of touch if requested, is however, in my opinion, a deficiency. Self primallers seriously miss this important factor.
Another important factor is that once we open those deep channels for access to feelings, they will be triggered by any stress in our lives. Thus for example, if we are in an unhappy marriage or unsatisfying job no amount of primal work will replace the need for a more satisfying life. Current pain triggers a landslide down those deeply grooved primal paths and we end up thinking that we have not done the work that we should. The cycle may become endless.
Not understanding these issues, It is not uncommon for primal therapists, to take clients back to some favorite theoretical position such as birth, and have them redo their birth to the point of serious and even life threatening exhaustion. There can be an avoidance of current issues here that allows people to hide in the deep past. Slowly their body begins to disintegrate and still they are pushed to, or push themselves to, or are allowed to keep up this dangerous cycle [Editor's note: No competent therapist is guility of these infractions. In regard to avoidance of current issues, it remains the obligation of the client to present material which reflects their present concerns].
Indeed, there are many pitfalls to this therapy even though it is to me, when carefully applied, the most useful therapy on earth.