Question: I am a man/woman in primal therapy. I am experiencing a powerful desire to suckle at my male/female therapist's breast.

I am trying to talk my therapist into allowing me to do this.

Am I crazy? Have I lost my way?

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

Before I answer your question, let me tell you a story from my own life.

Many years ago I came very close to breaking down at a time of ultra high stress. In my pain and confusion, I noticed that no matter what I "thought" or how confused and frightened I was, my body kept functioning. It occurred to me that if my body had such wisdom of its own, why could I not observe what it was doing and learn from it?

When all else failed, (to paraphrase Carl Jung), the two million year old animal within me kept moving forward with profound wisdom.

I realized that, regardless of what I consciously believed, it was what my body did that kept revealing its truths to me.

When viewed objectively, infantile deep-oriented feeling material looks "crazy." During our growth we have layered it over so deeply that it seems unreal and contrived. It even seems silly. It seems, in fact, infantile.

Sucking, however, is what our body did at its beginning. In many cases, it is still what our bodies want to do both for food and for emotional nourishment.

This is especially true when early deprivation has occurred. If we were weaned before two or three years of age, or, if our mothers failed to use demand feeding within reasonable limits, we may have an adult life of an endless need to suck not only because of food deprivation but also because of emotional nourishment which takes place during nursing.

But we are, after all, primarily creatures of hunger. That is the predominant instinctive drive of all biological life. Without it, we would die.

Welcome to this introduction to your cellular structure.

And welcome to primal therapy, where we try to honor the core issues and needs of biological life.

Many experienced therapists have told me that real healing in deep therapy comes not from satisfying needs, but from feeling them.

I don't agree with that. Could it be that the therapist and patient are afraid of doing really deep work in areas where they would both become very vulnerable? The real healing in primal therapy does come from re-experiencing and feeling our pain and need, but also from having a chance to satisfy those needs in the present. These two issues require a deep sense of the primordial balance of therapy.

Therapist presence, in itself, is satisfying of the core need -- to be parented -- to be nourished.

If a client has rolled around on the mat in an agony of infantile need for a length of time such that he or she has really felt the feeling, then I say, let them, at least follow their needs, let them be able to suck on a bottle of warm milk while being cradled in their therapist's arms.

We, in our very unusual profession, must even begin to consider deeply the possibility of direct mouth to nipple contact. Much discussion and experimentation around indications for, and safety of, process, needs to be done in this area. If we decide, as a profession, to move forward with this, it would be extremely prudent to have a woman observer present.

It is too easy for us to allow ourselves to be misdirected by the defense systems of senior theorists in our field. I am tired of statements from anxious practitioners about primal therapy being only feeling and pain oriented while they safely, and with a sigh of relief, back away their clients needs and the satisfaction of those needs.

Holding and touch, for instance, are crucial to the development of healthy physical and emotional life. It is imperative that we as therapists hold and touch our patients appropriately if they desire it. It is the saddest predicament in therapy that therapists are theoretically encouraged to offer "Therapeutic Touch", while never actually touching the client in the way that is needed.

This notion is very sad in a world that is so deprived and damaged that it has come completely ungrounded from its healthy biological roots. For a complete discussion of these notions, please see my on line book, Help Me - I'm Tired of Feeling Bad.

The problems of becoming aroused sexually are also dealt with in Chapter Seven of my book. We are nowhere close to having these problem issues solved, but that does not excuse us from running away and hiding behind pages of theory - we need to open up the debate, and answers need to be found.

Caution: At the same time the therapist and patient need to be aware of the danger developing of the pattern of getting fixated into an endless emotional need for nourishment by feeding at the breast with or without sexual feelings.

These are very treacherous waters and I can only implore therapists, to be very, very careful. But, I also implore therapists to face their own inner fears, confront their own anxieties, and become available to their patients on both a feeling and physical level.

Seek the truth. Find your integrity.

Paul Vereshack M.D.

Editor's Note: For additional comments by Dr. Vereshack regarding the importance of touch and holding in feeling-oriented therapy see the September, 1998 article in his Answers to Feeling-Oriented Therapy Questions series.

-- John A. Speyrer, Editor of the Primal Psychotherapy Page.

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.

Return to Index of Dr. Vereshack's Questions