Question: My brother referred me to you in regards to possible Primal-oriented Therapy for me. He also thought I should let you know I have a long history of Bipolar Disorder. Given this, would it be good idea to explore a Primal-oriented Therapy?

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

This is an interesting question and a good one. Let me take some time in answering you here.

It is almost certainly true that anyone with serious Bipolar Disease does have a chemical imbalance and a vulnerability toward serious mental illness because of it.

It is also true that the disturbing experience of doing deep feeling and body-oriented therapy, is itself a stress which can trigger these depressive reactions, or any other serious mental state.

However and again, it is also true that continuous suppression of deep inner pain is a stress that can keep a bipolar or other mentally ill person falling off the tight wire of suppressing their pain while trying to get on with their life.

What is to be avoided then is the fanatical adherence to a regimen of deep work that ignores the reality that a brain needs to move with care as it descends into itself. In addition, what is needed is a solid and trusting relationship with one's therapist that is built upon a willingness on the therapist's part to move with a slow and conversational approach intermingled with a feeling orientation, thus establishing a trellis upon which the client can more safely explore.

This is a narrow and winding path, subtle and not without risk. All self exploration carries risk and never comes with guarantees.

Another way of asking your question is, "Does having serious mental illness disqualify everyone with it, from knowing themselves more deeply?" Must these suffering people live in ignorance of their true selves and have no release from the bondage of their pain? It would be a sad day if we have to answer "yes they must" to that question.

I have had one client in the last decade or so, who balancing on the edge of Schizophrenia, did decompensate into illness, even before we started any deep work and I had to refer him back to his Psychiatric Facility to resume his medication, which was in my opinion incorrectly prescribed in the first place. I suggested a different medication. He has not returned to me.

Something you must consider is your genetic background. People with significant emotional difficulty often have deviations from mental health in their family tree, and this may show a genetic vulnerability which may make them vulnerable to serious mental problems in an ongoing way. Even with a deep exploration they may be left with a certain amount of pain and needed self-management over the years.

All this being said, however, I do believe that anyone who wishes, should be allowed to explore themselves in deep feeing therapy and try to both gain in wisdom about who they are, and release whatever tension they can, which is driving their difficulties, regardless of whatever genetic tendencies they may have. A non-typical genetic heritage, if one is there, does not mean that significant healing is impossible.

In short, I suggest you do a complete psychiatric history, and then give Deep Feeling Therapy a try for two or three months to see if forward movement in your growth, without creating more illness, can be achieved. At the same time you must stay in contact with your physician who can oversee your progress.


Paul Vereshack M.D. (License retired)

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 queries to and responses by Dr. Vereshack