by Paul Vereshack M.D.
During our therapy process, sometimes we may just "let go" and experience primals that seem to be light years away from our usual primalling mode. The key to understanding this type of primal process is in the words "let go."
I am, of course, referring to primalling when our body does its work alone, seemingly devoid of any direct emotional re-livings. That is to say, we may make the sounds and body movements which feel completely congruent to an inner physical tension, but they seem to be unaccompanied by conscious feelings of anger, hurt, etc. Unlike the more traditional types of primalling, at these times our body seems to be disconnected from our mind and seemingly possesses a powerful will of its own to complete what it wants to do.
At those times the process feels as though it is out of our control, even though the process feels correct and congruent. By just "letting go" the brain runs off a body scenario during which we subjectively feel that someone else or something else is directing our body into positions or repetitions which we do not understand. It feels as if a computer program is in control. Like an ordinary primal, we could abort it if we want to, but the process feels so very appropriate that we just let it happen. During that process we lack any feeling of unrepressed emotional pain bubbling up to our conscious mind. It is as though our body has its own agenda, that we are only spectators, although we are in accord with its need to do what it is doing.
Indeed, as our body movements and sensations are being "run off" or activated, our mind is usually disconnected from our body's action. We may think about the events of the day, an appointment tomorrow, or of anything, or of nothing at all - none of which change its single-minded insistent course.
[Editor's note: I used to listen to the evening news while in that primal state. When the newscaster made reference to an event in which I was interested, I would lift my head to watch the television program. In a matter of seconds, my curiosity was sated, and I would once again drop into the physical feeling. This is not to imply that the physical "action" my body was re-enacting was mild or restrained; the body strainings were sometimes so intense that I would almost lose consciousness.
When this happens. I believe it is our body speaking for itself, "underneath" its pain connections. Oftentimes, this kind of work is nonetheless followed by a sense that the "feeling" was real as we obtain relief from tension of all kinds. As in a regular emotional primal, the body tension itself drains away, as does fear, physical discomfort, anger, or other feelings.
One of my clients who had been externalizing, in this manner, without actually feeling emotional pain, reported an interesting observation. Hitherto, when confronted by his boss, he always became fearful. But after having had months of this type of physical-only primal work, he found that he no longer had a fear reaction during such confrontations.
I found it excruciatingly painful to hear his screams during those months of
primal sequences, and yet he reported that, as he screamed, he felt nothing.
He did, however, feel the connection or congruence between his early trauma and the screams themselves.
This is strictly a case of letting go and "going with the body." For some primalers, it is a very atypical experience. I had this type of experience during several months of birth-work during the early 1980's.
I went through a period of lying with my back twisted hard to the right
side, my right arm flung out behind me, and with my legs pointing straight up
the wall. I found myself making the intense gurgling noises of a new-born
infant, yet I felt nothing directly except the rightness of the noises I was making.
After a month or so of this "mindless experiencing", a lifetime of adult-onset back pain had disappeared, although I had had no insights.
My mother had told me that I was a breech birth, and after thirty-six
hours of being stuck, I was delivered by caesarean section. I believe that
I relived this struggle of being impacted and twisted in the birth canal, or perhaps I should say that my body relived this experience of being in a twisted position, even though at the time of reliving it was without any feeling of great discomfort or of terror.
In my case, my body was re-experiencing something autonomously from within
itself, with no other sensory phenomena entering into consciousness. I do recall hearing my baby cries and gurglings but with no "feelings" accompanying them except fiery pain in the muscles of my back while I did this work. I consciously twisted myself harder and harder to accentuate the physical pains I was experiencing. Gestalt therapist, Fritz Perls, believed that we could penetrate and examine our pain more deeply when we exaggerate it (1960).
-- John A. Speyrer- webmeister]
- Although, at times the exaggeration of a body sensation, position or movement may be helpful in deepening a primal feeling, we should never exaggerate the "emotional" feelings themselves. This can unintentially lead us into disconnected primals. Such activity can be the hallmark of pseudocompliance, common among those clients who perhaps may wish to gain undue favour with their therapists.
- It is also worth noting that those therapists who insist
on having clients explain where they "are", and what they are doing, may unintentially abort the kind of body-work described in this article, even before the primal sequence has a chance to complete itself.