Answers To Feeling Therapy Oriented Questions (June, 1998 - Modifying the Depth of Primal Access, by Paul Vereshack M.D.

Is There a Possibility of Modifying the Depth, Intensity and Length of Primal Therapy?

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

[Note: This will be Dr. Vereshack's final article until the Fall of this year.]

In my on line book, Help Me- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad, I have written that the human personality constantly tries to re-form itself in the presence of our primal attempts to diss-assemble it.

I have discussed personality as a construct of beliefs and functions based on the terror associated with going deeply into our feelings.

The fact is, however, that we do need the processes with which we "manipulate" our world or we would not be able to function. We do need our executive functions, and at the same time know that it is important to prune them of as many false beliefs as possible.

We do this by following feelings, the radar of the mind, until we acquire a kind of holistic non linear awareness function that dissolves the normal dishonesty and mental blindness which is the lot of our species. This journey and its results are described in detail in my book.

For me, one of the most disturbing things about primal work is that it can become a life focus, so complete and so compelling, that some of its devotees are literally ensnared for decades in the "necessity" to primal in order to keep clearing the ever deepening material that pushes forward into consciousness, usually heralded by symptoms that can be handled in no other way.

This work is in many cases a marvel of self healing, but not everybody who comes to therapy for the awesome relief that primaling offers, wishes a life long journey from which they may have serious difficulty extracting themselves.

It is here that we must ask ourselves: What we are really looking for in our therapy work?

As a physician and pragmatist, I believe in making things work. I believe that the average person entering therapy wants the most healing for the least amount of genuine effort they have to make. Those who want ultimate wisdom can dedicate themselves to a life long journey in this therapy and they will find nearly everything they seek.

What do we want as clients who wish to be healed, but perhaps without the whole primal experience, sometimes going back to birth and even before?

I believe we all want the same thing. I believe that we want emotional and physical peacefulness with an enhanced consciousness that is real enough and sufficient enough for the purpose of living a "normal" life. I believe that in addition to this we want to acquire effective psychological tools, that will serve us, without fail, in the unraveling of life stresses and conflicts, so that we can return, with a minimum of fuss to a basic and reasonable level of insight and comfort.

I believe that it may be possible to modify the excellent tools of primal therapy to achieve these goals.

A primal, is the living through of an early, recent, or even a present event, with all the feelings being experienced, that were or might be suppressed.

The emphasis in this therapy is upon the completeness of the experiencing. The more deeply one gives onself to the feeling, and its externalization through sound, words and motion, usually, the more completely one experiences the event.

It has been my experience that after having had a number of genuine and very deep primals, I do not always have to go to the absolute "bottom" of the feeling in order to obtain insight and relief.

What I do have to do is to give myself over to the feeling deeply enough to experience the crucial inner processes that will yield insight to the mind, and relaxation to the body.

First, I must enter the feeling reasonably deeply, and remain within it for a sufficient length of time.

This produces a sense of connectedness to the feeling itself, which spreads through the body and mind, yielding a feeling of completeness in the connection.

Next, I must allow sounds, or words, or phrases to form in my vocal cords and mouth and come up and out of me in such a way, that what emerges, is completely congruent with the inner sensations of discomfort.

At this point, if you say that I am heading for a primal experience of potentially great intensity, you would be right.

It is at this moment that I can modify the process.

If I permit an increase in the intensity of the arriving material, and match that with a conscious increase in the intensity of the externalization ( shouting or screaming, etc. ), the chance of actually reliving an early event ( having a classical primal ), becomes higher and higher.

If, however, I shade off the intensity of the emerging material, and shade off the intensity of my externalization, and hold both on a plane of medium intensity, through a sufficient period of time, instead of having a full reliving, I start to receive flickerings of awareness.

Incomplete flashes of early memories and incomplete flashes of connections between processes start to occur, until I realize where and how inner events are tying themselves together. It is as though I see the path unfolding in front of me, that my mind wants me to know about. This is the connection path between the current difficult event that has called me to lie down and study it, and early traumatic events which are being triggered. The path, or set of interconnecting paths which are shaping my present response, become sufficiently visible on the inner plane to yield the insight I need.

What is absolutely crucial, however, is that these flickering insights are accompanied by an "inner felt sense" of rightness (Gendlin's term) Equally crucial, is the fact that they are immediately followed by a body relaxation.

This body relaxation, which we normally only associate with a full primal, does in fact occur at this level of work. It must be admitted, however, that this relaxation may not be quite as deep as that associated with a full primal.

But, we have nonetheless achieved enhanced consciousness, and also physical relief which is the absolute indicator that our work has been exactly on target

We will have returned ourself to health without profoundly fracturing the basic defensive structure of our personality, thereby necessitating an ever deepening need to keep primaling.

I am well aware that this kind of work may create ever deepening defenses against, the level of primal work that some people want to do. It is very definitely a path that may produce limitations to accessing future depths.

It is, however, a path which may be very legitimate for use by those who have limited goals.

It may also be true that this type of work can only be achieved after defenses are sufficiently opened by having already had several very deep primal experiences.

More knowledge is needed about this modified primal method for those who might choose to utilize it. I would certainly be glad to hear from anyone who can contribute in this area

Paul Vereshack M.D.

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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