Question: Can Some Primal Feelings Act As Defenses Against Other Primal Feelings?

-- Anonymous

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

by Paul Vereshack M.D.

Can a feeling block a feeling?

Freud wrote about what he called "screen memories." These were memories that came up over and over again and blocked the even more painful material underneath. I see no reason why we could not transpose this idea over into the concept of "screen feelings" that block or prevent one from feeling other regressive feelings.

While feelings can undoubtedly "block" or defend against other feelings, in addition, I would see the process somewhat differently.

I think the mind lowers itself, into itself, by increments and at each stage stays with what it is experiencing until that stage or level has been integrated. Thus, it waits until it is ready to feel the next deeper level. Then, the cycle of experiencing, integrating and moving deeper once more resumes.

If not interfered with, these stages may take a long while to accomplish their work; perhaps, weeks, months or even years. It is up to the therapist to acquire the patience to wait for the next natural unfolding primal feeling. I have had a client make strange and indecipherable motions with his hands for a whole year before these bizarre behaviours unfolded into insightful understanding, and before proceeding into the next set of issues.

I also believe that we can remain stuck, at certain levels, for an entire lifetime in feelings that are seductive to us. Such seductions serve the purpose of defending at that level, no matter how deep the level is, e.g., birth, intrauterine experience, etc.

Any particular feeling which defends us against feeling certain repressed feelings can also serve multiple purposes at the level at which it operates. This is much like a dream image which is selected by the mind because it fulfills multiple symbolic purposes.

When a therapist has an agenda, e.g., a pet theory about causation, then the client may unconsciously get stuck at the level of that theory in order not to lose the love of the new (therapist) parent figure. This, of course, reinforces the mind's natural and powerful need to know "why" and to understand the issue, intellectually.

Knowing and understanding intellectually gives us a false sense of power and that in turn helps us to feel safe in a frightening universe.

Unfortunately, developing a belief based on this kind of intellectual knowing and understanding, freezes the mind into a kind of stasis which in turn brings false closure to the fluid processes of real understanding.

Thus, for example, if we believe that birth is the main source of trauma in the human being, then we are blocked from connecting to other causes . . . causes which may be more important to any given individual.

Isn't it interesting, for instance, how little we hear of circumcision, a moment of such significance and excruciating agony for the infant. After the first time I did this surgery, as an intern, I had to refuse to ever do it again.

Also, isn't it interesting, that no one seems to understand that a bad current life situation can keep someone stuck in the primaling forever, until the the present unsatisfactory life situation is corrected.

There is no end to the disservice we do our clients by focusing on our own belief systems.

Paul Vereshack

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