Sigmund Freud and Arthur Janov both stressed that a
distinguishing characteristic of neurosis is the tendency to get involved in
(to create) situations that are a re-creation of the original trauma. The
neurotic tries, unconsciously and unsuccessfully, to resolve past traumas in
the present—though this is not possible. Thus, for example, a woman with an
abusive father marries an abusive man with the (unreal) hope of making him
kind. Very few psychologists would deny the occurrence of this pattern. And
many therapists would agree that it is important to relive and resolve the
original trauma in order to break the negative pattern that persists in the
What I want to add, however, is that merely reliving the
trauma and being able to discontinue re-creating the resulting negative
scenario in the present is only half the cure. The really healthy person is
able to create positive scenarios
I do not deny that we all to some extent create (or at least try
to create) situations for ourselves that give us positive reward. We all
realize, consciously anyway, that certain life situations give us more
pleasure/satisfaction than others; and we try to have for ourselves the kinds
of jobs, friends, spouses, living situations, physical environments, and so on
that will be most rewarding. To some extent we are successful. Most of us are
able to create life situations that have at least some ability to make us feel
satisfied at times.
But very few of us are free from certain patterns of bringing
into our lives particular negative elements over and over. The best-selling
book—Smart Women, Foolish Choices—expresses
this frustrating tendency, and its popularity indicates how widely this is
being experienced. And while we have a myth, handed down from Janov, that
primal people are free from the compulsion to re-create negative scenarios
(they are supposedly “cured”), the truth is that people in primal therapy
also find certain negative patterns hard to avoid, even when they have taken
them back to birth, and before that, and seem to have resolved and to have
understood them thoroughly.
The pattern often seems to be that for a long time in therapy
the client will understand the roots of his act-outs . . . but that he will
nevertheless continue to re-create the same negative scenarios; or their exact
opposite will be created. It should be kept in mind that each of these—the re-creation or the counter-creation—will
(ultimately) continue to trigger the negative feelings. Whether doing the same
thing or doing the opposite, one finds oneself inevitably shunted back into
the same old negative grooves, dramatizing the same old negative scenarios.
I should give an example or two. In therapy a client may
realize his career as a physicist has been founded on a neurotic
intellectualism that he discovers has been an overcompensation for being made
to feel by his father that he is stupid and cannot do anything right. With his
career apparently down the tubes and with no viable alternative in sight, this
person may realize that sitting behind his physicist mode, like a shadow, has
always been a yearning to do something physical, to work with his hands, to
feel the textures of wood, to make furniture perhaps. Should this person give
up his career as a physicist and go into woodworking—and this sort of thing
has happened—invariably we find that he is still triggered into the same
feelings of self-flagellation, albeit from the opposite direction. Now he
still “can’t do anything right” because this time he feels dissatisfied
not doing something with his “head”; he feels dissatisfied throwing away
and not using the skills, perceptions, and talents he developed or unearthed
in his training as a physicist. The earlier path may have had its neurotic
impetus, yet it is, at the adult level, now a part of his total self and
cannot simply be ignored any more
than he can ignore the promptings of his deeper and innate self (at this point
in the process).
Another example: A woman realizes the emotional and,
consequent, sexual wasteland of her life. She realizes that because of the
therapy she now can have the love and the lovers that before she only dreamed
about. So, thinking she is changing her patterns, she begins having many
lovers. It is exciting at first. Eventually she realizes that she still feels
unloved and that the amount of sexual activity is meaningless. Here, again,
doing the opposite only resulted in being stuck in the same negative feelings.
A more common example might be the woman who was made to feel
that she always had to be the “good little girl” or else suffer loss of
parental love and approval. Feeling this personal truth in therapy, a woman
may feel liberated knowing that she can never
get her parent’s love and, besides, that was all in the past anyway, and
therefore she can be any way she pleases. If she then goes about being a
“bad girl,” she invariably finds herself triggered back into her old
feelings because she begins feeling that in fact her parents were right about
her (she is basically a bad girl).
Thus she has to continue entering the feeling and discharging it (from the
other end now) in order to restore her sense of self-esteem and feeling of
liberation. What is missing for her is a model of a way of being which is outside of, separate from the whole unreal scenario of good/bad girl
. . . a way of being from the vantage point of which that entire negative
scenario is distinctly irrelevant.
I propose that that the other half of “the cure”—where
we are able to truly free ourselves
from the negative patterns—involves having access to experiences on a more
fundamental, and often earlier, level than that of traumatic experiences.
I should make this more clear. The neurotic, after having
relived the roots of his neurosis, is left with a knowledge of the way he acts
to limit and undermine his life and pleasure. This does not necessarily mean
that he knows how to act in order to expand his life and enjoyment of it.
Thus, we observe a passive, “do-nothing” period among
many primal people—no longer in the throes of the negative energy, which has
been and continues to be dissipated, yet without any basis for positive action. This do-nothing tendency in “post-primal”
persons, not only is a recurring criticism of them made by commentators of
Primal, but also is a characterization made of them by Janov in his writings
as well as being a frequent comment by post-primalers in describing
While some of this phase may be a necessary part of the
process (and I am aware there is some evidence from holotropic breathworkTM
that even this may not be true), I contend that a major reason this phase has
been so obviously prevalent goes back to the model of primal pain that Janov
bequeathed us. This model of a primal
pool of pain, not only fosters the kind of do-nothingness described, it
makes a “second half of the cure” all the more important. I will now show
why this is so.
Pain As Pattern Not Pool
originally postulated the concept of a “Primal Pool” of Pain which could
be “emptied.” Subsequently even he was forced to abandon this concept as
it appeared that some Pains refused to completely go away. Evidence of his
change in position exists in his later journals (viz., issues of The Journal of Primal Therapy). Some of his followers, as well,
began admitting the fallibility of the “primal pool” analogy to Pain.
Primal therapist Jonty Christie (1976) remarked, “[W]e’ll be feeling
forever. I don’t think you ever ‘empty your Primal Pool.’ I think
that’s a misleading notion. . . . I don’t see anyone around who’s
finished feeling—who’s emptied their Primal Pool.” (pp. 108-109). Vivian
Janov agrees saying, “The Primal Scream indicates that there is a pool of Pain that is
gradually emptied, and after seven years of some of us trying to empty that we
have sort of shifted to the idea that you never empty it, but that you
identify exactly what those Pains are and you are able to live with them so
that when they come up you are able to feel what they are” (Janov and Jim,
1974, p. 85).2
Other primalers speak to this issue when they say things
like, “I guess there will always be certain kinds of my Pain which will
always be able to be triggered” (cf., Pam and Barton, 1974, p. 160; Vivian
and Jim, 1974, p. 85). But I say that it is not that there is always some old
energy stored in a pool left to be leaked out; rather, that the patterns are
still there, intact though less energized, and the energy from a new situation can and does flow through
them for lack of some alternative “route” for that energy to take.
At any rate, since the primal pool model embodied an outdated
mechanistic paradigm in the first place, its failure was inevitable. Despite
this, it persisted in varying forms throughout the primal community. Jules and
Helen Roth—figureheads in the Denver primal community and founders of the
Certified Primal Therapists’ Center (now called the Denver Counseling
Center), where I did my therapy—used to speak of a “run-off of
neurological sequences.” While in ways that would be too lengthy to discuss
here I consider the therapy I received there to be the best possible and far
ahead of what Janov was doing at the time (in fact, Graham Farrant also
received his therapy and training from the Roths), still the concept was part
of the way we all saw things at that time. And this “run-off” idea implies
that a series of sequences are run off and out of the body and that,
therefore, the sequence, pattern, and amount
of run-off that is to take place is all carried, materially somehow, within
This idea of the therapy working this way is a very
attractive one, especially for those of us who have felt the way feelings can
erupt from within ourselves during our therapy in a totally unexpected and
totally unpreconceived fashion and can integrate aspects of thought, feeling,
and behavior (all without our trying) which had previously been thought to be
completely unrelated. It is as if a preplanned regimen of growth, including
both pattern and energy amount, is presenting itself, which merely needs be
let out, or primaled. And this concept is to some extent true; but it is not
the whole truth. Furthermore, this concept fosters an attitude and a way of
seeing people in therapy wherein just because a person is primaling it is
assumed that she is “on track” or growing.
From my own experiences and observations in Primal, I propose
that just because a person is primaling does not mean growth is happening.
am saying that you can lie in bed for years, doing nothing but eating and
sleeping and primaling (which some primal people are rumored to actually have
come close to doing), but that you still might not have “emptied your
pool,” you might still be “running off neurological sequences.” This can
occur because though you have been feeling,
you might not have been growing.
difference centers around the concept of whether the neurological sequences
are both pattern and energy or just pattern.
I propose that the concept of blocked energy in the body that
can be released and permanently gotten rid of is an incomplete one. I think
that a better conceptualization or model is that we have “patterns in the
brain”3 by which we
constantly block energy in the “body” from moving freely, which therefore
causes energy to “build up” in those areas, and which, therefore, are felt
as tension areas. I believe that what happens is that in Primal one reenters
those “patterns in the brain” and alters them so that energy in the
“body” is unblocked and able to move freely again—but
this does not dissolve the patterns in the brain!
Consequently, if a present life situation is energy-producing
(has Pain value) and happens to resemble a situation that one has a deeply
embedded pattern for, then that energy can, theoretically, be forever
triggered through that pattern, that neurological sequence. The present
situation then provides the energy which, run through the old familiar groves,
is amplified in the kind of overreacting and misery we call one’s Pain.
Thus, the danger of opening up to a pattern and getting “stuck” in it are
much more real than primal therapists have heretofore been willing to
acknowledge. In fact, I believe this apparent tenacity of deep-rooted patterns
in primal people, as seen by themselves and others, may have something to do
with the swing of popularity away from Primal during the 1980s. People
certainly saw something happening in Primal, but it did not look good to see
some primal people going through the same struggles and problems for years.
This pattern of stuckness was acknowledged as long as thirty
years ago by several of Janov’s senior therapists. Primal therapists Nick
Barton and Tracee Sheppard (1975) discussed this situation in a “Primal
People” section of The Journal of
Primal Therapy. Barton refers to these as the “sackcloth and ashes”
type of primalers (p. 338). Sheppard remarks that “some people . . . if they
have a choice between living and feeling, they’ll always feel” (p. 338),
then she characterizes that as “beating themselves every night with Pain”
Jumping ahead a bit, I might say that it is no coincidence
that primalers who are “stuck” in this way are characterized so much by
“victim” behavior. For as Grof—among a number of other deep experiential
therapists—has let us know, for true resolution of an issue to occur, for it
to truly go away, one needs to be able to connect with the feelings of the
traumatizing event's perpetrator. The primalers described by Barton and
Sheppard have obviously over-identified with being the “victim” and appear to be
blind to, and in denial about, the “perpetrator” inside of themselves.
Thus, in failing to see the scenario from the perspective of victim and
perpetrator, they continue abusing themselves (and continue the act-out of
the trauma) with the therapy itself! They fall short of growing into the state
of forgiveness and self-forgiveness, which is a major aspect of real cure in
that it allows the person to finally let go of the past and feel peace about
it in the present.
Using Feeling and Acting Together
back to the pool, however, I find it interesting that, along with
acknowledging the inadequacy of the primal-pool-draining model twenty years
ago, Janov’s senior therapists were also advocating a correspondingly
different model of growth. They were discovering that growth only really
occurs when action in one’s life is added to feeling. Sheppard and Barton
(1975) explain this different perspective this way:
[I]t wasn’t what some of us used to think: that the feeling alone
would change your life. . . . It took a
lot of hard work.
Tracee: A lot of people that come into Primal Therapy, have trouble
with relationships, so they won’t have relationships. They wait until they
have had enough feelings to have a relationship. If I had done that I
wouldn’t be very far along in my history of relationships. It’s by being
in the relationship, and dealing with the feelings that come up, and dealing
with the present that you change things.
Barton: I think that’s the great asset of the therapy right
now—the understanding that you can’t get by on Primalling alone but rather
you have to use activity and feeling
together. If you have a feeling and an insight then you must use the
insight on your life, and then if all goes haywire again, okay come back and
have more of the feelings. And then use the further insights. But you find
those people who have all those feelings and all those insights and they do
nothing with them. (p. 341, emphasis
as Speyrer (1995) points out in this issue (p. 95), primal therapist Jean
Jenson (1995)—who coincidentally was a client of the same Tracee as above,
after Tracee had left Janov’s Institute—in perhaps the most recent book on
primal therapy, has also noted the same deficiency in classical Primal. She
writes that “to consciously choose to behave differently from the way you
feel compelled to behave is essential for this work to be successful” (p.
93); but she claims that this forced behavioral change occurs only with great
difficulty. Alice Miller (1995), in the foreword to Jenson’s book,
reiterates that primaling as an end in itself is insufficient and points to
something additional being required in the way of action in the world:
long as the needs continue to be neglected and unfulfilled in the present, old
pains and their destructive attendant symptoms will constantly be triggered.
Then, therapy could become a self-perpetuating necessity accompanied by old,
unresolved feelings that will constantly have to be felt, and dealt with, if
they are not to overwhelm consciousness. The process of feeling childhood
helplessness is absolutely necessary and unavoidable. But it is not, as Janov
hoped, of itself sufficient to resolve destructive, and self-destructive
patterns of behavior. (p. xiv)
the case has been made that feeling one’s feelings, by itself, is not
sufficient for real growth to occur. However, while I agree with the intent of
these authors in pointing to something else besides primaling being required
for “the cure” to be successful and I agree it has something to do with
acting in the present, where I feel their ideas fall short is that
“forcing” oneself to change one’s behavioral patterns or even seeking to
get one’s needs filled in the present is ultimately doomed to failure for
the reasons I stated earlier. So it is no wonder that they consider these
changes to be extremely difficult (I would say ultimately impossible). For
these prescriptions require the use of “will
power,” for one thing; and since intellectual understanding and “will
power” were found to be so impotent in talk therapies like psychoanalysis,
why would they work now?
Second, this forced-growth suffers from the same
problems that I described above: Lacking any idea of a true alternative,
having never experienced what is really good
for oneself, one stays within the vicious negative cycle, crucified between
the poles of doing and not-doing the old pattern. This is just too much like
the same old Judeo-Christian struggle for me to stomach . . . in which case,
it is not emphasized that it is not merely one’s behavior that needs
changing (in the face of continually triggered Pain and the sometimes
irresistible pulls to act it out), it is the things outside oneself which,
constructed by the acting-out self, were of course chosen to foster its continued existence and to continually drag and pull you back
into the same destructive, but familiar, ruts, which also provoke so much Pain
in you. It is the external, not internal, environment that requires the
attention at this stage; and this may mean changing one’s life situation,
one’s physical environment, one’s activities, occasionally one’s job,
occupation, or profession . . . often the type of friends one has, sometimes
the locale one lives in, and many other things. To change these also requires
an act of will—sometimes a difficult one. However, one can wisely decide to
implement crucial, scenario-changing decisions during the relatively peaceful,
clear, and courageous intervals—which all of us experience at times—of
temporary freedom from the negative pulls to act out. Upon the implementation
of these changes, their integration into one’s daily life, their existence
in one’s day-to-day experience allows for continuing reinforcement of the
positive within one and less triggering of one’s
Pain, perhaps the beginning of a positive (as opposed to vicious) cycle; hence a situation that is more conducive to the emergence
of one’s truer self.
these prescriptions fail because they do not acknowledge the crucial
importance of accessing the deeper, positive self—which is irrelevant to and
not tied in to the negative scenarios—as a model for a realer life. We know
that these primal theoreticians are not aware of these joy maps, because when
these grids are fully accessed and one begins to commit oneself to their
expression, the task of becoming real is a downhill coast, having nothing of
the qualities of Sturm und Drang, sweat and
discipline that seems to characterize the earlier attempts to grow. No.
one begins accessing and reuniting with the deeper self, which—rooted in the
Self, the inner Divinity, if you will—is infinitely stronger than the fake
self, the persona, growth occurs by simply following one’s deepest desires,
wants, and feelings (many of which are rooted in intensely felt feelings of
caring, compassion, desire to serve and help, feelings of unity with others,
desires to manifest and refine one’s unique talents and thereby add one’s
small part to the creation of a better world, desires to share experience with
loving people, and yearning for unity with the Source of all). When truly
identified with this deeper self (at least more identified with it than with
the impostor self), growing is as natural as breathing; it is one’s
heart’s desire; every day becomes a thing of joy in that one gets another
stretch of time in which to feel the bliss and pleasure of following these
Positive Scenarios/ Positive Self
Janov (1972) writes, “It is a lonely discovery to
find that there is no meaning to life, and I suspect that the post-Primal
‘blues,’ which set in occasionally, have to do with this discovery” (p.
181). What occurs to me in reading this statement is that Janov is referring
to a stage in the primal process before one has begun to tap in to one’s
positive potentials, which give meaning and pattern to one’s life. Janov has
no idea, apparently, of how transformative and positive this primal process
really is . . . of just how much happiness, bliss, peace, fulfillment,
direction, inspiration, satisfaction, spirituality, creativity, and joy the
process can make possible for people, at least somewhere down the line. Janov
did not know—still does not as far as I have heard—what kind of
“renaissance” in the person is possible through facing one’s primal
pains and what kind of blossoming and flowering of the personality can (and
will inevitably) occur!
In response, then, to the gloomy outlook by Janov and some
primalers, I would like to point out that the experiences of some other
primalers, as well as the findings of Stanislav Grof’s (1976, 1980, 1985,
1988, 1993) research, show that there are positive
experiences to be had, on our feeling journey, which are as fundamental, and ultimately more
fundamental, than the negative experiences. What I am saying is that the
second half of “the cure” occurs when one is able to tap in to these
positive experiences and is able to act to create, in the present, the
scenarios that would trigger these positive feelings (instead of continuing to
irrationally re-create the negative scenarios which unfailingly trigger us
into our Pain).
What we have begun to discover—which has revolutionized our
entire perspective on the primal process—is that it is only when one can
begin to create scenarios that are outside
of the light and shadow, outside of the
do’s and don’ts, that are in no way
tied in to the old complexes, and
which therefore can trigger positive
feelings, that one no longer has to keep feeling those Painful feelings.
The important part, however, is that in order to be able to
create positive scenarios, in order to be able to reunite with the positive
self, one must feel through enough of the Pain to have access to what Grof has
called the “positive COEX systems,” i.e., the positively charged “primal scenes.” When one reexperiences these
pleasant memories and understands them, one can begin to understand the source
of one’s joy in life and can act to shape one’s life and one’s
environment in a way that will be conducive to eliciting that joy. These
positive feelings and memories embody a pattern that is totally unlike and
totally unrelated to our underlying negative patterns. Hence these patterns
can be the model for a truly effective restructuring of one’s life.
Grof and Halifax (1977) help us to understand how the
positive experiences to be had during a session can be employed in changing
our present life situation. They note that positive changes from an LSD
session can be reduced in intensity “under the influence of the demands and
pressures of the social environment” (p. 212). They go on to explain that
“with discipline” the “profound knowledge acquired” can be used “as
a guideline for restructuring one’s entire life. Some individuals are thus
capable of creating a situation for themselves in which not only the cognitive
insights but also the new spiritual
feelings are potentially available much of the time” (p. 212, emphases
At this stage of the cure, the “work” of therapy begins
to revolve more around the “hands-on” reconstructing of one’s environment to create the life situation/ life context producing the
most in the way of positive reward.
This concept has many parallels to Marie Jahoda’s
definition of the healthy person as the one who “actively masters his
environment,” among other things (as reported in Erikson, 1968, p. 92).
other words, such a person is able to alter her environment to conform to
herself, unlike the average person who is forever engaged in trying to conform
herself to the environment presented. It is related, also, to the stage of the
therapeutic process where one moves more and more out of the “victim”
perspective and into “empowerment.” It is related, also, to moving away
from BPM-II-type “stuckness” and into BPM-III-, and then IV-, type
struggle, empowerment, achievement, and resolution.4
However this active manipulation of one’s environment is
not to be confused with a construction of one’s social, cultural, and
physical context that is forceful. Maslow’s (1968) idea that the expression
of one’s unreal or neurotic “needs” is in fact life-negating is relevant
here. So then this active structuring is not to be confused with a continued
structuring of one’s environment in a sole pursuit of “lower” pleasures,
because such behavior negates the possibilities for “higher” pleasures of
growth, relationship, and self-actualization, which entail much acceptance of
pain and discomfort in their attainment.
The Purpose of Suffering
summary, in line with our discoveries in Primal of the falsity of the Primal
Pool of Pain theory and the associated “feeling by itself is sufficient” model
of growth; of the importance of action in the world to be added to primaling;
of the failure of attempts to change one’s negative patterns without a
positive model to go by; and of the discovery of positive experiences,
scenarios, models, and motivations (a positive self) at a deeper and earlier
level of the psyche than the Pain, I propose a different model for growth.
crucial idea in it is that once one has unblocked certain pathways one need
not keep oneself in situations that
keep directing energy through them. This entails
more in the way of acting upon one’s life situation to change aspects of it
that are Pain-provoking. This also means that certain aspects of one’s
life situation, which are not changed, can continually trigger the same
sequence of “neurological firing” and the person can be “stuck”
feeling the same feelings again and again without any
gains (or very little) being made. This can happen when, for example, a person
who has had a delayed birth and constantly carries with her the pattern of
being trapped can continually have that feeling coming up when the situation
in the present is that she is
trapped (in an unfulfilling job, for example) and that what she needs to do to
change that is to get untrapped in the present (i.e., to find a more
fulfilling job!). I am saying that merely feeling that trapped feeling over
and over can be just a tension release and not lead to any permanent gains.
in all growth, as Maslow (1968) had said, boredom appears to be the signal
that a person has stopped growing. Thus, if one is “bored” with the
“same old thing” in one’s feelings, it is a good possibility that one is
stuck in them and is not gaining or growing from them anymore.
an additional thing is necessary for one to be able to discontinue putting
oneself in situations that feed the old patterns. That is, one must become
aware of an alternative. In some minor cases, a certain amount of life
experience might have revealed viable alternatives. But in
order to change our deepest negative patterns, I believe it is necessary to
have access to our deepest positive patterns, so that when it comes to
restructuring our entire life orientation from one that is pain-evoking to one
that is joy-evoking we have a model to go by.
I contend we cannot do unless we have felt back and through to the time before
the first “shutdown” and reunited with the positive experiences that have
set the patterns through which it is possible for us to feel joy and
happiness. Without knowing our “joy grids,” we have little guidance in
attempting to change our life situation so that it stops feeding our “pain
without knowing these joy patterns, one will often do one of two things:
(1) In reacting to the “pain grids,” one will set up a life situation the
opposite of that which triggers the pain grids or (2) not do anything at all.
The first alternative usually does not work (any more than “reaction
formation” works) in that opposite patterns themselves will feed the pain
grids because, in failing to produce the desired results, they re-create the
original situation. The second alternative, not doing anything (for everything
is seen as an act-out) does not lead to anything at all; certainly it does not
lead to feeding into our “joy grids” because nothing is fed in . . .
stimuli of sameness, and going-nowhereness, which are unlikely to feed
anyone’s joy grids and more than likely would end up feeding one’s pain
grids, especially those of Grof's BPM II, which has its roots in the universal
feeling of being stuck in the womb prior to the onset of birth, which is
characterized by hopelessness, despair, and impending death.
there is something to be said for bringing in new life information when one is
“stuck”; that is, for trying out alternatives, which, if not actually
working (feeding the joy grids), at least bring new information into the
feeling arena which can keep one “moving along” in one’s feelings.
even this last cannot do much good if the situational factors that are keeping
the person “stuck” are, in fact, those of the therapy situation itself.
this I mean that inadequate aspects
of the therapy situation that happen to resemble aspects of one’s pain grids
can feed those pain grids over and over. And the client can go back to the
therapy situation, and that situation will feed the old sequences, and the
client will look like he is “feeling” (which he is) but, in the way
mentioned earlier, he will not be growing.
these circumstances it is the therapy situation itself that must be
experimented with. Though no real alternative may be apparent or available,
the only hope the client has of continuing to grow is to bring new information
into the gestalt of her feelings about the
therapy situation itself. In order to do that she must experiment with it.
we saw has happened at various primal centers. People who had felt they were
not getting anywhere in their therapy attempted all kinds of things to change
the format of therapy, left their center for primal therapy at other places,
tried other therapies, tried other lifestyles to get what could not be gotten
in therapy, and even quit therapy altogether. These actions, in my opinion,
are the natural result of the therapy when it is practiced in a manner that
enables clients to get stuck and to stop growing.
clients may stay with their feelings of being stuck and not getting anywhere
for a long time—constantly being channeled by the therapy situation itself
into the negative gridworks—still, if they have even only a minimum of will
to live (grow) in them, they are eventually going to try something else and
keep experimenting with other things, though the new things may be inadequate
also. But at least the new things will bring new information into the system,
allowing different aspects of the negative gridwork to be revealed, and thus
allowing the person to grow, however slowly, in the direction of access to the
positive networks, the “joy grids”—the perception of which allows one
finally to make real and workable alterations in one’s life situation.
is not that some Pains do not go away completely. Some do; that is, they are
gone beyond as one traces the roots of that Pain to deeper and earlier
experiences. Thus it is that Pain emanating from the earliest experiences,
especially womb and birth experiences, are the most tenacious. It seems
possible that during a person’s lifetime these may never lose the capacity
for being triggered . . . if the present situation warrants it.
Pain is pattern not pool. And it is not simply a matter of running off a
finite amount of neurological sequences or emptying any pool that causes real
change in our negative pulls; rather it is that cure occurs when the
individual has felt and received insight into a particular Pain enough to be
able to change the situation in the present that keeps triggering that Pain.
As Seth put it, the purpose of suffering is to learn how to stop suffering
trick to this is to discover one’s positive
early scenes and patterns—hidden below the negative ones—so that one might
use them as a guide for restructuring one’s life rather than simply acting
out of, or in opposition to, the negative patterns. If we acknowledge that it
is important to have access to one’s positive grids in order to truly go
beyond this tendency of continued triggering of Pain, the next logical
question is just how do we foster the access to that positive (real)
self—those positive scenes/experiences. In Part 2 of this series of articles—under
the heading of “The Therapist's
Role - Unconditional Acceptance Versus Enabling - And 'Real' Love As Essential
in Therapy and Spirituality’”—I
discuss the essentials for accessing and reuniting with one’s positive (self).
Though, as Spike (1974)—in one of Janov’s later journals—asserts,
“The Primal Scream suggests that
the process is complete when you sit around all day listening to music,
content. This is but a stage of the regrowth. A
connected person achieves” (p. 269, emphasis
mine). [return to text]
Also see remarks in The Journal of Primal Therapy by other primal therapists—e.g.,
Leslie Pam and Nick Barton (1974, especially pp. 158 and 160); and Tracee
Sheppard and Nick Barton (1975, especially pp. 340-341). [return
I am speaking metaphorically in suggesting a brain with patterns . . .
even in postulating a brain as a cause! I am using our outdated materialistic
paradigm as the basis for my model in full acknowledgment of its limitations,
but also being aware that most people still think in such “scientistic”
ways, and therefore this sort of “brain” model will convey more than the
complicated model that would be required in alignment with the new-paradigm
findings of the new physics, the new biology, and the new psychology.
However, for the record, the latest consciousness research
points to a mind and memory that are hardly contained within a brain. The
model coming into vogue is that the brain acts more like a TV set, which does
not create the images it displays but whose functioning critically
affects the reproduction of them.
The perspective I prefer is even more extreme. Believing, as
in a Platonic or Hindu or holographic way, that the material world merely reflects
the deeper and true reality (which is equal to Ultimate Subjectivity), I would
say that the patterns in the brain are like the ripples on the surface of a
stream, which reflect, but do not cause, the underlying currents (See Adzema,
1995 - Primal Renaissance: The
Emerging Millennial Return - the contents of which have been uploaded
on this website). In addition, besides Grof’s works, as listed below, for this perspective see the
works of Pribram (e.g., 1971, 1984), Bohm (e.g., 1980), Sheldrake (e.g., 1981,
1984, 1988, 1991, 1995 - also
available on this site); and for a comprehensive overview of all of these see
So when I say “patterns in the brain” I mean patterns
in the mind or Mind. Woolger
(1988) comes close to this meaning in his use of the Hindu term samskaras—which
are most assuredly not related merely to the physical brain in that these
patterns can be carried from lifetime to lifetime, from one embodied self to
another. (For a review of Woolger's book on this site, see "Blossoming
Within the Lotus Wheel of Consciousness" by Mary Lynn Adzema.)
[return to text]
4. See Grof, 1976, 1980, 1985, 1988, or 1993 for a
description of his Basic Perinatal Matrices
(BPM I, BPM II, BPM III, and BPM IV). However, for our purposes here, I should
mention that BPM II is related to that stage of the birth process when labor
has started but the cervix has not dilated, characterized by feelings of
“no-exit,” claustrophobia, hopelessness, and powerlessness; it is the
roots of depression in life. BPM III, meanwhile, correlates with the time
immediately after that when the cervix is dilated and release suddenly seems
possible—there is “light at the end of the tunnel.” The feelings that
characterize this state are thus of intense and powerful struggle with a
life-and-death quality to them, strong feelings of aggression and sexuality,
and the basic feeling that there is hope in changing the painful situation if
one puts all one’s effort into it. BPM IV are the feelings and experiences
related to the time of actual birth into the world and has components of
achievement, liberation, relief, optimism, self-confidence, and joy.
[return to text]
Adzema, Michael. (1995). Primal
Renaissance: The Emerging Millennial Return. Rohnert Park, CA: SSILLY God
Bohm, David. (1980). Wholeness
and the Implicate Order. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Jonty; Christie, Ann; and Christie, Sarah. (1976). Primal people.
The Journal of Primal Therapy, 3(1), 102-109
Erik H. (1968). Identity: Youth and Crisis. New York: W. W. Norton & Co
Arthur. (1970). The Primal Scream: Primal Therapy, The Cure for Neurosis. New York:
Arthur. (1972). The Primal Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Vivian, and Tom. (1974). Primal people. The
Journal of Primal Therapy, 2(1), 79-88.
Jean. (1995). Reclaiming Your Life: A Step-By-Step Guide to Using Regression Therapy
to Overcome the Effects of Childhood Abuse. New York: Dutton.
Stanislav. (1976). Realms of the Human Unconscious. New York: Dutton.
Stanislav. (1980). LSD Psychotherapy. Pomana, CA: Hunter House.
Stanislav. (1985). Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy.
Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Stanislav (1988). The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New
Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration. Albany, NY: State
University of New York Press.
Stanislav. (1993). The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How
They Shape Our Lives. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Stanislav, and Halifax, Joan. (1977). The
Human Encounter with Death. New York: E. P. Dutton.
Abraham H. (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being, 2nd ed. New York: Van Nostrand
Alice. (1995). Foreword. In Jean Jenson, Reclaiming
Your Life: A Step-By-Step Guide to Using Regression Therapy to Overcome the
Effects of Childhood Abuse. New York: Dutton.
Pam, Leslie, and Barton, Nick.
(1974). Primal people. The Journal of
Primal Therapy, 2(2), 156-173.
Pribram, Karl. (1971). Languages
of the Brain. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Pribram, Karl. (1984). The
holographic hypothesis of brain function: A meeting of minds. In Ancient
Wisdom and Modern Science, Stanislav Grof (ed.), Albany, NY: State
University of New York Press, 167-179.
Roberts, Jane. (1972). Seth
Speaks. New York: Prentice-Hall/ Bantam Books.
Sheldrake, Rupert. (1981). A
New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation. Los Angeles:
Jeremy P. Tarcher.
Sheldrake, Rupert. (1984). Morphic
resonance. In Ancient Wisdom and Modern
Science, Stanislav Grof (ed.), Albany, NY: State University of New York
Sheldrake, Rupert. (1988). The
Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature. London:
Sheldrake, Rupert. (1991). The
Rebirth of Nature: The Greening of Science and God. New York: Bantam.
Sheldrake, Rupert. (1995).
alive: Morphic resonance and collective memory. Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology, 1(1), 65-78.
Sheppard, Tracee, and Barton, Nick.
(1975). Primal people. The Journal of
Primal Therapy, 2(4), 320-344.
Speyrer, John A. (1995). A primaler
in holotropic wonderland. Primal
Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology, 1(2), 86-97.
Spike. (1974). After the scream. Journal
of Primal Therapy, 1(3), 269-272.
Talbot, Michael. (1991). The
Holographic Universe. New York: HarperPerennial.
Woolger, Roger J. (1988). Other
Lives, Other Selves: A Jungian Psychotherapist Discovers Past Lives. New
York: Doubleday/ Bantam Books.
(For the review available on this site, click here.)