The search for an improved and faster primal therapy has been a seductive but often elusive goal since the very beginnings of primal's discovery by Arthur Janov in the late 1960s. A number of variations of primal have been developed which add "symbolic healing experiences" to the regressive experience. Their adherents claim that this addition to the re-living of early traumas can speed-up their resolution and proves especially useful in refractory cases.
Besides those mentioned here, there are probably many others. I have also included Dr. Janov's observations to these various deep-feeling oriented therapy "supplements" when I was able to find his comments.
It is difficult to determine whether their differences to each other and to the original Janovian primal therapy concept are substantial. Psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, in an article in Psychology Today, 1 in l976, felt that the discovery of primal therapy itself was only "akin to putting a new toothpaste on the market." He felt that primal therapy was nothing more than abreaction. It is something, he claimed, which has existed since "time immemorial."
I do not claim to be especially knowledgable about the four psychotherapies which are mentioned in this article. Its writing is the result of a personal interest in the techniques involved in the use of positive affirmations during the regressive episode.
Pesso System Psychomotor
"Those of us who work in feeling therapy know the slow, grueling, and often dramatic process of unblocking the energy manifest in our symptoms by feeling and expressing our old pain. While feeling and expressing the pain is a crucial first step, it is my experience that it is not enough. What is also needed is a way of helping the client to replace the negative introject with an antidote -- a positive message that tells us that it is safe to live in our bodies, to be who we are, to grow up, to grow older. I believe that primal therapy á la Janov does not address itself sufficiently to the all-important task in therapy of helping the client create ego boundaries.
"is taking in, symbolically, 'ideal parents' or 'ideal supporters' or 'ideal spiritual guides.' This is what was missing for the child, and is still missing in the psyche -- the soul -- of the neurotic or character-defective adult. This is what must be restored to the body-mind-spirit for healing or whole-ing to take place. This, of course, is the positive transference that is essential for the client to get well: He/she must be able to attach again, to cling to, to re-parent. By offering a symbolic 'ideal parent' structure the therapist can provide for the individual an experience of the 'right' interaction that was missing for the child."3
"Abnormal fears about illness, aging, and dying are all rooted in fear of losing control, being unprotected, and having our boundaries invaded. Years of primaling will not remove such fears. Nor will they reverse our ingrained learning not to trust our bodies or life's processes.
Similar to Primal, the Pesso System Psychomotor may guide a client to relive an old trauma and express the blocked feelings. At that crucial moment Psychomotor will offer the client the experience of a symbolic antidote. It seems that the power of this positive experience at the moment when the client is deeply feeling the old pain is what is needed to change the negative programming, is what constitutes healing and real change in the client's life.
Rebirthing (Dr. Eve Jones' Model)
After more than fifty years as a clinical psychologist, ardently studying many therapies, including client-centered and Gestalt, and diligently practicing, first, psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapy, then Primal therapy, and finally Rebirthing, I conclude that talking about your troubles doesn't help much and neither does getting into your feelings.6
"I believe the reason life starts to work for people into Rebirthing is that the Rebirthing breath clears out old negatives from consciousness, and the emphasis on using affirmations fills conscious Thought with positives - so the more highly positive Mind creates a more beneficent life. Rebirthing says, You, through your Thought, have created the Universe you exist in. The way people treat you is the way you, in both your conscious and unconscious Thought, need them to treat you in order for you to feel safe and alive."
"Let go old birth-related negatives that you've been carrying around and holding onto in your body and your thought and your feelings and your spirit and your being, and think positive thoughts that allow you to create an ongoing positive, supportive reality for yourself. . .
"From my point of view, the big problem with conventional talk therapies, as with the expressive, emotion-release therapies, is that by concentrating on the negatives, they perpetuate the negatives. Thus, they don't produce prompt healing."
Jean Liedloff's Therapy Model
"For a time, I hoped that reliving early experiences was in itself therapeutic, that it was nature's way of healing the wounded psyche. After a year or two of utilizing the technique in my London practice, however, I came to the conclusion that as cathartic as it might be, it rarely made a difference in the quality of the person's life. Discouraged, I even began to wonder if it was possible to remedy the damage sustained in childhood."13
"a deep sense of being wrong -- of being not good enough, not lovable, disappointing, incompetent, insignificant, undeserving, inadequate, evil, bad, or in some other way not "right." What's more, this feeling of wrongness had come about almost always through early interactions with parental authority figures. And it had evoked powerful unconscious beliefs that have informed our views of both self and self-in-relation-to-other."
"It became clear that to believe we are, and have always been, worthy and welcome, we adults have to understand that our parents were wrong.
William Emerson's Shock/Trauma Resolution Therapy
1Torrey, E. Fuller; The Primal Therapy Trip: Medicine or Religion? by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., Psychology Today, December, 1976
2Robinson, Gro Bagn; Confronting Ageism Through Feeling Therapy, Aesthema, The Journal of the International Primal Association, July, 1994, Aging and the Life Cycle
3Robinson, Gro Bagn; A View From the Lake: Reflections on Life and Therapy, Aesthema, The Journal of the International Primal Association, Issue #2, 1984, p. 5.
4 ibid. p.5
5 ibid. p.5
6 Jones, Eve; The Difference Between ReBirthing and Primal Therapy From Chapter 4 from The Logic of Magical Thought and The Dance of the Breath - Chapter On the Internet
12Liedloff, Jean; Normal Neurotics Like Us - Article on the internet
17Janov, Arthur; Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience, p. 243.