Written in easy to understand language, physician and psychologist Paul Vereshack, has produced a most remarkable and fascinating introduction to regression psychotherapy.
Help Me. . . reveals its author as the first poet/philosopher of the primal process and one who rightly recognizes Arthur Janov as ". . . the most significant figure since Freud."
The author is a master of the well turned metaphor. Poets do have that particular talent. While reading Help Me. . . the metaphors literally jumped out of the pages at me. However, it is difficult to read such a work on the computer screen as a book. After a while your hands and arms become tired holding up the monitor! Sorry, I could not resist.
Dr. Vereshack has treated over one thousand patients and has over 32,000 hours of regression therapy experience. The first part of the book had its origin as preparation for the author's defense in a hearing before the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Canada, in 1991, against two charges of sexual misconduct (touch) with female patients.
Much of the book is about techniques which can be used to decipher what our brain is telling us about its distress, but the book is emphatically not a self-help guide. The author claims that self-regressive therapy can be dangerous and that the information contained within his book should be approached with caution.
To those who will nonetheless embark on this journey, on their own, Vereshack feels that terror may arise and propel the voyager to eventually seek guidance. It will then be imperative that the self-regressor deal only with proficient therapists since others will prevent the explorer from feeling his pain as the helper triggers within himself his own unworked-through feelings. It seems that you can't lead someone to where you have never been.
In Chapter 6, Direct Therapeutic Nurture, the author emphasizes the importance of touch in eliciting and intensifying feelings from infancy and early childhood. Calling touch a "forbidden zone" in traditional therapy, Dr. Vereshack says holding helps both to regress the patient and to promote healing. But touching can cause problems in any regressive therapy, both for the therapist and for the patient. While touch, prior to adolesence, is associated with nurturing, afterwards it is associated with sexuality.
It is this first function of touch which impels the therapist to use touch for uncovering infantile and early childhood material, but which at the same time can elicit sexual feelings in the adult self. For those who are not in regressive therapy, touching and holding can be misperceived. Touch is necessary in regressive therapy, but its administration must be timed correctly. Timing is everything in any regressive therapy, and the author writes that walking with the patient and walking behind the patient is acceptable, but a therapist should walk in front of the patient only with extreme care.
Dr. Vereshack no longer uses sexual touch. He claims that it "is impossibly difficult to use" and feels that even if used with no ulterior motive, can wreck havoc with both the therapist and the patient. He says that oftentimes for the patient "it is easier to destroy the therapist than it is to face . . . early molestations." But there remains to discuss the issue of therapist pleasure (both touch and other intimacies) which is interestingly covered in a separate chapter. The author believes that the therapist level of growth required to use full body holding as a strictly client-centered endeavor "is difficult to attain and represents the end point of a long and difficult journey."
In the short chapter entitled, Who Should Take the Journey? the author believes that if you are functioning at a reasonable level and if you are happy in work and play and are capable of intimacy then perhaps it is better to leave well enough alone. Regressive therapies are for those whose lives are not going well or who have an imperative need to understand themselves more fully. Dr. Vereshack tells it like it can be when he writes that regressive therapy is not for everyone because "people in deep therapy can become seriously disabled for months or years, mired in an ever-deepening circle of pain and dysfunction."
The author divides the intensity of the psycho-therapeutic process into four levels. The least intensive level is termed Level One and its' depth is barely below consciousness. It is the level used by most psychotherapists. Level Two is represented by psychoanalysis with the therapist interpreting the patient's free association. But, at this level, there still remains more talking than feeling. In Level Three, free association is guided into deep unconscious pain as true regressive therapy begins. It is where connections and insights begin. At this level one is able to trace back neurotic feelings to some of their origins. Level Four access deals with "white-hot unconscious material." Is it the depth at which even deeper connections occur.
One of the most interesting chapters is entitled The Devices, Forces and Trickery Used By the Unconscious to Keep Us Out of Our Own Brain. It contains short but powerful examples of such defenses. Another chapter is about Specific Counter Devices we can use to Dissolve the Brain's Defensive Trickery. The chapter continues the use of short but totally absorbing examples.
I heartily recommend that you read Help Me -- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad, not just once, but a number of times.
Help Me -- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad is a book you will not soon forget.
The author has generously made available his book on the internet. It can be read and/or downloaded from Help Me - I'm Tired of Feeling Bad
The Primal Page's Favorite Quotations from Help Me -- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad
Other pages on this website about Dr. Vereshack's writings include:
The Primal Psychotherapy Page Interviews Paul Vereshack, M.D.