Question: -- I am in primal therapy. Recently I have been having panic attacks, and yet when I lie down to process them, they immediately turn into helplessness. The attacks keep returning.)

(Notwithstanding his M.D. Dr. Vereshack is not a licensed physician)

by Paul Vereshack M.D.

When you complete a primal sequence, if you do not obtain relief then something isn't getting processed.

It may simply be that you are on your way to a larger set of processes which have not yet surfaced and are pushing upwards toward your unconscious. It may require some days or weeks to complete the sequence.

It may also be that your mind is jumping away from the panic to something which will save you from having to feel the fear. If this is true then when you lie down with your fear, be meticulous about staying in it until it leads more "naturally" to the next step.

It often helps to find the sound or short phrase, which wants to come up out of the feeling itself. I would suggest using a sound which exactly matches it. Then intensify the sound until the match of sound to feeling is exact. Hold it at this intensity until something shifts. When you couple sound to feeling or body sensation it tends to stabilize and ground you within one place.

On the other hand, it may be the helplessness itself which is calling out to you for attention, and if so, then it is really here that you must remain until it is processed, and you either become calm or get led to the next feeling.

A common denominator in all this may be your body itself. Go to it with your attention, and see if a body sensation, or a feeling that is firmly rooted in it underlies all this jumping around.

For instance, there may be a discomfort in your stomach which remains constant through the shifting from thing to thing. In this case go to the pain in your stomach, make your sounds and stay within the experience until it empties of tension leading you to relaxation or to the next step in the sequence.

One can also just patiently follow and feel each new sensation as it comes up until the unconscious realizes that you won't be put off, and finally allows you to stay with something long enough to obtain, relief and possibly insight. ( See my on line book, Help Me - I'm Tired of Feeling Bad, for a more detailed discussion of these issues.)

Check your overall orientation to your work. Don't let your unconscious throw your focus into disarray. Remember that you are the "hunter" in the process of searching out something subtle and illusive. Step back for a moment, inside yourself, and recall that you are doing something very focused and specific. You are not just a human being in chaos. You are hunting feelings and sensations, on your path to health.

Be patient. Watch the shifting with a sense that you are not going to be outwitted. Develop that well balanced, knowledgeable, implacable focus, which will carry you through.

Paul Vereshack

Dr Vereshack is the author of an online book entitled Help Me -- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad

Other pages on this website about Dr. Vereshack's writings include:

Book Review of Help Me -- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad
The Primal Page's Favorite Quotations from Help Me -- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad
The Primal Psychotherapy Page Interviews Paul Vereshack, M.D.

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