Thursday, September 27, 2012

Debunking Primal Therapy? I doubt it.

Andrew D Atkin:
















Ok, I've been meaning to write this post for while - a kind of tour of duty. So here we go...

If you refer to my post on Understanding Mental Sickness you will see I make reference to Dr Arthur Janov's Primal Therapy, as a possible - and in my view probable - solution/method to breaking down traumatic repressed pain. I have studied Arthur Janov's literature quite extensively for a long time, and I have followed his long-running blog and made many contributions to it over the last few years. I have even asserted (though often speculatively) some theoretical clarifications on various things.

Well, getting to it, there is this guy on the Internet who has an anonymously authored website called "Debunking Primal Therapy", which is primarily targeted towards Arthur Janov's therapy. It is the author's best attempt at damaging the image and credibility of Arthur Janov's therapy.

Though I know there are many people out there who would laugh at the author's work, few have posted in critical opposition to it. So I have decided to say what I have to say of it, in defense to what I know of Arthur Janov's work.

Motive:

I will first mention that the author of Debunking Primal Therapy, as he has admitted, was closely involved in Janov's therapy himself but rebelled from it later. Why? Janov has claimed [in direct and public response to my questions] that the guy who formed this website was a trainee primal therapist who failed, and had to be dismissed - he just couldn't do it. The trainee then 'got himself a mission' to hurt Arthur Janov and his clinic, and likewise formed the debunking website.

I can only report here on what others have said, but I think these assertions should be noted.

Debunking:

Firstly, we should ask ourselves what we need to do to debunk Primal Therapy. What questions do we need to ask? Really there are only two core questions that need to be confronted to give us the meat of what we need to know:

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1. Is it true that traumatic pain is blocked within the nervous system, leading to (and driving) symptoms and general repression, like Dr Arthur Janov describes it? Is repression, like Dr Arthur Janov [and Freud, for that matter] describe it, real?

2. Is it true that blocked pain, that we assume to be a reality, can be later integrated? That is, can we de-repress and allow for the originally blocked pain signal to run though it's course, little by little, as the mature brain can then tolerate its assimilation, and again like Dr Arthur Janov describes it?

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Well, as I said these are the only two questions that we really need to look at. Whether or not Janov's therapy facilitates the integration of blocked pain, or whether or not it does so well, is ultimately a secondary issue. What we need to know about is if the therapy is standing on an accurate premise - not whether or not Janov's personal therapy has or ever has had any operational flaws.

[And no doubt it has had its bugs, like all new developments. Nothing is perfect at conception. Maybe he is still making mistakes today? I don't know. You can do any right thing wrong, but again Janov's therapeutic competence is not the critical question.]

Now this is where I have my biggest problem with the debunking website. It never goes to what's real - directly. It does not ask or answer the only two questions that really matter. It's a vast mass of hard to read (because it's boring - no substance) material that makes up for a huge pile of empty accusations that, in themselves, debunk nothing at all.

The questions:

Well, I for one do not need any more evidence on the idea of blocked pain driving neurotic behaviour. To me, from so many observations of both myself and others, this has become obvious. Countless mainstream therapists (including neurologists) are on my side with this too, I will add.

-Though some are not. Some seem to believe that all repressed memories are false memories, created via the suggestions of unscrupulous or incompetent therapists, and that repressed memories do not have an active impact on the brain. May I say that it's true that false and implanted memories are real, but obviously not all memories are false. The existence of the unreal does not invalidate the real, and false memories and repressed memories are two different topics.

The real question that is considered controversial is Janov's claim that he can de-repress blocked pain. When Freud tried this he merely ended up with abreaction (Keeping it simple: think of abreaction as a somewhat benign externally-induced psychotic episode), of which did not (and does not) lead to the integration of prior repressed pain. Freud then came to the conclusion that repressed pain could be triggered but not actually integrated and resolved, so the force of blocked pain was unfortunately permanent until the individual's death.

Janov claims that Freud's observations were accurate with respect to abreaction, but Freud was achieving abreaction only because he did not discover how to achieve Integration. Freud formed the assumption that integration was impossible, which Janov came to refute. This, in my view, is the only core difference between Janov and Freud.

My own experience with the Integration process:

When I was 17 years old my defense system truly broke down for a short moment, and I had what Janov calls a Primal - an event of pain integration.

Note: This happened before I knew anything about primal therapy or developed any serious interest in psychology and mental sickness. So no-one can say this was some sort of externally suggested experience. It most certainly was not.

Anyway, I will give you the basic run-down sequence of what happened.

1. Forced to my knees and let out an absolutely spontaneous cry. Immediately prior to this I felt, for a very short moment, the experience of truly losing control (mentally) which was the distinctly uncomfortable part of the experience. This experience has a quality that cannot be described to anyone who has not experienced it. I will say it feels like profound vulnerability.

2. I then felt what was like a straight-jacket (that I was always wearing) being sequentially released around my mid-line, again as an entirely spontaneous motion. [Janov accurately calls this "dropping into the feeling"].

3. I then felt utterly like a 4 year old child, and in a specific feeling that was completely real for me. The best way I can put it was that I finally went to the real [prior repressed] feeling, rather than battling to deny it, which, as Janov again describes, is what we are all unknowingly doing all of the time. I will not give you the details on the feeling but it was the saddest feeling I remember having.

4. I enjoyed the feeling. It was a deep relief to feel it - rather than battling away from it.

5. After going to bed to feel my feeling, and feeling it for a time, I then found myself profusely sweating. This actually distressed me a bit because I could not understand why on earth I was sweating. It was like my body was not making sense.

6. I then felt very cheerful, if not elated, because I knew it was the end of the issue I was having at the time and I was fascinated by how I had really felt. The best way I can describe the cycle is as a true, full-bodied acceptance of reality. In true acceptance there is resolution. When you have really resolved something you know it. It is not abstract. It is not something you try to tell yourself and convince yourself about (like cognitive therapy). It is inherently real.

So what's my point? My point is that this sequence is identical to what Janov had described way back in the seventies, with his classic The Primal Scream.

So is Janov a con man making it all up? From this experience of mine, and for many other reasons, I really doubt it. For me, the main question is simply "How far can the regressive process go?". Is infantile pain as far as we can go, or can we go further into fetal level pains? I am not yet in a position to completely affirm what I think is probably the truth. I need direct experience beyond my current experience to know for sure.

Note: I want to mention that the integrative process is not something that a therapist does "to you". As you may have already gathered Integration, by Janov's definition, is a natural process. It happens on its own, conditions withstanding. So a primal therapist merely performs a facilitation role, allowing the individual to naturally experience and integrate their pain. It seems that the brain will heal itself - you just need to give it the chance.

The zealot detractors:

Ok reader - let me tell you something! One thing I have learnt in my political interests and studies (and other) is that if you have a strong opinion on something, then no matter how right and well-explained you might be, you are going to piss people off. And that includes intelligent people who are prepared to prostitute their intellects to the service of wishful-thinking rationalisations. Leaving you, guaranteed, with an army of detractors who may seem right (to the uneducated eye), yet, just as easily, be so completely wrong.

My point is that websites like the debunking primal therapy page are to be expected, no matter how right or wrong Arthur Janov may or may not be. Believe me, Janovian primal theory is for many people a charged territory.

Please take note of that, and do not be prematurely spooked out of Janovian Primal theory/therapy by this highly arguable debunking site. On the surface it appears to say so much, but from what I have seen it really says so little. Personally, as I have already said, I think it's a mass of speculative junk. In my analysis of it (a couple of years back) I could not find any real substance. I just reeks of an agenda to look for any way, no matter how spurious and weak, to make some kind of a case to damage the image of Arthur Janov's therapy. Payback for being kicked out of the clinic? Who knows.

They just don't get it:

I've had lots of conversations about Janov's theory on Janov's blog and elsewhere, and here's another thing I can tell you for sure. Countless people, including those who have a direct interest in this area, just don't understand it properly (which is why I wrote my understanding mental sickness). Most of the critics I have seen on Janov's therapy, including the highly credentialed ones, also so often demonstrate that they have only read the back cover of The Primal Scream, at the most.

Go directly to the source if you want to get a grasp of what Janov's theory/therapy is all about. It's a tricky territory to grasp at first, and there's a lot of misunderstanding out there.

Note: Also, reader, respect that the most substantial anchor you have for forming a perspective on any therapy or theoretical idea, in the psychology world, is your own first-hand experience - that is, from naturally observing both yourself and others, over the years. Ask yourself: Are the author's claims consistent with the simple truths that I already know and can see? If they're seriously out of whack then you're probably listening to someone who's more interested in using intellectualism to escape from reality, than clarifying it.

Janov warns about "pseudo" Primal therapy:

Janov makes the claim that he is the only guy in town who knows how to do this therapy properly. In making this claim he creates the suspicion of just being a profiteer.

Well, I can say myself that I know he is right - in part at least. Though I do not dismiss the idea that others can develop a therapy of effective regression like Janov has [probably] done, there still are, bluntly, a lot of people out there of the type who never should have been involved in the sensitive territory of psychotherapy, including and especially including the potentially dangerous therapy that is Primal.

I won't bother going into details, but I will personally recommend that you stick with Janov if you develop a serious interest in this. Take it from me his warnings are not unfounded or merely money-motivated.

Conclusion:

What we need is a serious investigation into repression and integration as a process, using Arthur Janov's clinic as a study piece only to that end - and not to use Janov's failings, be what they may or may not have been, as an excuse to outright dismiss the concept of Integration. And we need to be agnostic on the possibility of regression therapy until we know what we know.

Already a lot of work is being done on post traumatic stress disorder (intensive neurological studies) which spell out clearly enough the function of at least recently repressed pain (not pain from very early childhood, as such). Trauma and repression is real, and so are the long-lasting effects. How we can and do relieve blocked pain is the question, if that's possible at all (respecting the need for clinical evidence), and that should be the center of our focus. Thus far, the "debunking primal therapy" site tells us nothing.

Clarification: Do I personally recommend Janov's therapy?

As a possibility to independently study - absolutely yes, and before anything else. But I can only recommend it from this position, because I have not yet had direct personal experience with Janov's therapy. Until I try the therapy myself (which I will do in good time), and comprehensively investigate it, I feel I do not have the right to outright recommend it from my current position. I need to test what I believe in terms of first-hand experience.

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Update: 2-10-12: Personal statement: The debunking site:

The debunking site is a smokescreen of cheap intellectualism designed to intimidate the novice. For the most part, I just see a mass of cryptic drivel with no anchor in real. The author leans more than heavily on the abstract (and likewise spurious) to try and prove his case.

If you ever look through the debunking site you would see that virtually all of the accusations could, with dedication and effort, be applied to nearly any group or movement that isn't the spitting image of stereotypical conservatism. This, if I may speak freely, is part of the reason why I find it so obnoxious - it's just one cheap shot after the next.

If this guy from the debunking site really had something to say then he wouldn't need a trillion words to say it. He would have quality - not quantity. The site is often childishly accusational (like calling Primal Therapy a cult), takes quotes out of context, and is frequently economical with the truth. Though the site calls itself friendly it is obviously an antagonised beat-up. There is nothing friendly about strategic misrepresentation.

I have not gone into the specific details of the content of the debunking site, because there's just so much of it (where do I begin?) and it's the wrong focus anyway. To avoid the never-ending circle of a geek-style debate, I again ask the reader to just first focus on the only two questions that actually matter:

Is repressed pain real? Can repressed pain be de-repressed, and integrated?

Note: Trying to pin the 'cult' label on primal therapy is the nastiest of the authors accusations. In doing this he's not just claiming that primal therapy is ineffective, he's basically telling people that the boogeyman will get them if they even give it a go (which is no doubt his intention). I could respect his accusation if he had any real substance to justify making it, but he doesn't. As I see it, the attempted cult labeling is seriously defamatory.

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Update: 23-05-15: 

I think the essential problem with the research focus, historically at least, is it's been all about "primal therapy" rather than just the "primal".

In making it all about the therapy and not the primal itself, it has allowed people to keep a defensive distance from the raw forensic truths that we can see, or potentially see about the primal.

My calling, again, is to go straight to the primal itself and study what's really going on - from the psychological, neurological and biological levels. Please let the coalface truths that we can see for ourselves be the foundation on how we come to study and interpret other relevant information, relating to the primal and its derivative therapies.

25 comments:

  1. I just want to say a huge thank you for this particular article "Debunking Primal therapy? I doubt It." I love your storey of how you experianced a spontaneous primal, for the bravery and inspiration that it brings me,and more importantly for the evidance it provides, that (for want of a less stigmatic word) primal memories have reality and can be integrated like any other past traumatic experiance. Who decided that only postverbal memories are valid and worthy of expression and a therapeutic integration process. It doesn't make sense that only half of a persons life should be felt and integrated. I could say so much more in praise of your post . Regards Katherine King Australia

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  2. This post is closely related too:

    http://andrewatkin.blogspot.co.nz/2013/05/the-boundaries-of-neurology.html

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  3. I'm in the process of completing a detailed, self-disclosing autobiographical book, which hopefully will help others who suffer from deep depression and debilitating anxiety, consider a primal, deep feeling based therapeutic approach to curing their suffering. Enough is being written on the theory and premises of Primal Therapy, along with the "debunking criticisms." The difference between much of the available information to curing emotional disorders through the primal approach and my book is the candid specifics of an individual case. I lived the process. I suffered severely for many years, and was medicated with numerous drugs - at the same time! I was hospitalized for depression numerous times. My life for many years now has been, and continues to be a testament to the primal approach to curing depression and debilitating anxiety. Again, the difference between much of what is available on this type of therapeutic approach and my book is that all the detailed information of my case is presented. How my being toilet trained with a belt lead to a shy bladder, the reason for which I was totally, completely unaware of for most of my life. How the feeling of paranoia i.e. being chased were repressed, and at the time completely forgotten, buried memories of my father chasing me and beating me with a belt when I was toddler. Most important are the specifics of how the unconscious functions. Let's face it, if someone hasn't experienced the resolution of emotional disorders through connection with the force (power) of previously repressed, completely forgotten experiences, such as claustrophobia from being caught in the uterine canal, it's going to be hard for them to appreciate the existence, and power of buried, long forgotten experiences. My book takes the reader through each experience, shows the debilitating neurotic behavior which developed from it, which then controlled my life, and how it was resolved. The comparison from how I spent most of my life with the reality of my life over the past years I sincerely believe will help others consider an alternative to medications and cognitive therapies. I survived because of my understanding of the Primal Therapy process. I never underwent Primal Therapy, but I've read each of Janov's books dozens of times and applied the theories and techniques as I understood them. Without the understanding they provided I would either be dead or hospitalized. My life for the past 5 years, traveling around the U.S. on my motorcycles, finishing my Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling, living in my RV with my pet rabbit, teaching boxing, spending quality time with family and friends, playing the drums, enjoying reading and movies, etc. etc. - not dead, not in a hospital, or living a life void of most of the joys God has blessed me with, is a testament to the process. I've taken no drugs, or medications for many years, which have their place at times, as I explain in my book. My book is just my detailed story for others to consider as an alternative to extended use of anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medications. When one understands repression, and the power of the unconscious they will realize that in each case human behavior, including bizarre, inwardly, and outwardly destructive human behaviors and ideations, make sense, and unfortunately work as highly effective (actually highly ineffective) survival systems for individuals who are locked in the clutches of their forgotten, buried past.

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    1. Thanks Jeff. I think it's of notable value that people understand the mechanics of repression and pain, even if they do not deal with their personal pain in integration terms.

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    2. Just a quick response and I'm happy to say more later. I've read bits of Debunking Primal Therapy and I think you are too quick to dismiss it. You admit yourself you have no personal experience of the therapy. Listen then to the first-hand accounts of the people who do. You say the accusation of being a cult is defamatory. Do you have any experience of being in a cult? I do and if only 5% of what people say about Janov and his institutes (original and new) is true then believe me the accusation is not defamatory. And this is from someone who read the Primal Scream in the early 70s and was desperate to get to LA for the therapy. I've even thought lately of going back to do the therapy since an old friend has recommended it to me. I am very torn.

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    3. Thanks for your comment Jeff. Just found this post. Out of time now but hope to come back to reply to your comment. See my comment below and link.

      best,
      Larry

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  4. Well I can't really comment on that, anonymous. You refer to what 5% of people might say about it, but is that a 'broad survey' or is it 5% of the people (out of the thousands, in total) who didn't like the therapy? Janov may have problems, but highly neurotic and emotional unstable people can also form confused and often unreasonable interpretations of things as well. Janov does not deal with people who do not have psychological problems, remember. But yes - I do not ultimately know.

    Ultimately I still think the focus of enquiry must be the process of pain integration and repression. Janov's personal failings, be what they may, should not be the central focus from a broad and scientific outlook.

    Nope I have never been in a cult. I doubt I ever could be due to my character type. But that's me.

    However, from what I have seen via media, on cults and their leaders, etc, they are so obviously bullshit people - at least to me. The things they say and the way they say it is just so obviously not grounded, and the creepiness of the cult leader sticks out like the proverbial.

    If you're thinking of doing the therapy, then the best you can do is just communicate with the clinic and form your own direct impression from there. If you get into abstract conversations with people who have a major problem with Janov's service (for whatever reason) then you will always be torn. It will all come down to he-said she-said type stuff and you will never know or feel confident until to go see for yourself. It's your call. Alas - there are no guarantees until you see for yourself. All I can say is that I doubt hugely that it's some kind of cult. I see no real sign of that at all, and I bet my left arm that I would have seen those signs already if it was a cult of some sort.

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  5. Thanks Andrew for your considered response to what was a somewhat hasty posting after a somewhat hasty viewing of the debunking website as well as your own. I need to give the whole matter more of a dispassionate and intensive review and also look at some other sources of assessments of Primal Therapy. I am grateful to you for your own comments which have been very helpful.

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    1. I did Primal Therapy with Janov's group in 2001 (then in Venice, CA) and the one thing I can say with certainty is it's not a cult. I was a long way from home (NY) and very lonely, and at times I think I would have welcomed the sense of belonging that cults can engender. Instead, I felt lost and disconnected from the Primal Center. I have many criticisms about Janov and Primal Therapy, and perhaps I might return to this site to discuss them, but being a cult is not among them.

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    2. Thanks, jkryanspark.

      Feel free to contribute what you think, but if you want to say more I ask that you speak about the core of the theoretical principle of pain integration. That's where the conversation needs to begin, I believe.

      Andrew Atkin

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  6. Greetings, Wonderful and insightful Blog and Article(s). My own experience is when I was a teenager, I attempted suicide a several times. The last time I had taken a 2 boxes of sleeping pills with a bottle of NyQuil. Good thing I just slept for 2 days. I don´t know how my system handled it but I suspect the same Tyroid Imbalance that caused my depression may have helped deal with that overdose.

    Well when I woke up a few days later, I was like ¨Shuks, I´m still alive, o Well what can I do, simply keep on living¨ and that was it. I have never attempted suicide again and I have noticed that I have faced so many more grueling issues in my life later on, and i always say to myself that as a young person I would have already tried to ¨bail out¨ meaning kill myself. I realized that I became very, very, very indifferent to otherwise traumatic and serious events in my life. Like standing in front of a Judge and facing Life in Prison and yet not one inkling of worry. And so many other examples.

    Point is, since I have read quite a few books on Clinical Psychology and a few courses in Univ. I knew about (defense mechanisms) and it was clear to me that in order to cope, I became very indifferent or (Brave?).

    Now let me say that although I´m indifferent to certain events in life that others might break down to. I´m very sensitive to certain things that others may not be to. Like crying for the pain of others. Crying for Humanity. Crying for animals that suffer.

    So like all things in life. When something is supressed, Something else may surely be strengthened. So the question now is are we sure we wish to toy with our Evolutionary Safe-Guards Program?

    Namaste...
    C. Martins

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    1. Thanks C. Martins,

      Very good point on defenses - they're there for a reason and we don't want to mess with them if we don't know what we're doing. But as it appears, going by Janov's literature, defenses will *naturally* give way when the conditions are right. And that sounds ok to me if it is, in effect, a natural "instinctive" decision. I know some have had spontaneous regressions, including myself.

      However, though repressed pain can make us tough to a given environmental demand, it always makes us weaker overall. A good example was shown with a recent study on military personnel. It was shown that the soldiers who were exposed to the worst childhoods were the one's prone to developing PTSD. More repressed pain compounds within the system, making us only more prone to a serious breakdown later on.

      In the end, a humanising "primal revolution" (as Janov puts it) will not come from Primal therapy, but the better care of children in those very earliest years and months - including pre-birth. Prevention is certainly better than cure.

      Andrew Atkin

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  7. Hi

    I have recently started feeling drawn towards doing primal therapy, I do feel a good therapist needs to be sought but not necessarily only through Janov and his center.
    I can share with you all here that I found a free online book by a therapist called Paul Vereshack from Canada. To me tis book was very clear and made perfect sense. I looked him up and saw a youtube video as well, and he seems like he knows what he is talking about.
    Knowledge comes to humanity through different people at the same time, no one "owns" truth. It is universal. And sometimes many people access the same truth from different angles, much like different spiritual traditions lead to the same place. in my belief we can complete each other and what was missing in one will be balanced by the other.
    It is not all about owning the therapy, or one way to do it, there are slightly different approaches to the same essence of re-living primal pain, that suit different people.
    Also, Andrew, on a personal level, wondering if you have tried the therapy yet? Seems you are passionate about it, and really curios why you have not done it yet and still feel so passionate?

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    1. Hi,

      My primary 'passion' is to understand. Getting Primal Therapy is difficult if you are not an American - I am from New Zealand. I would do it tomorrow if I otherwise could.

      I agree that there can be more than one way to get to a truth - but the truth in itself is what it is, and there is only one truth.

      I say there is no essence in re-living pain - you're either doing it or you are not. But there are certainly different methods of accessing old pains in the first place, and that is what we need to be careful about because bad methods can lead to problematic outcomes (even psychosis). There is no doubt about that.

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    2. hi Andrew

      Yes, agree with you too. About wrong methods and also wrong therapists...
      Searching for the right therapist these days.. To me, if the person has integrity humility and a loving heart, and when I ask questions I can hear clarity and depth of wisdom, plus good training and enough therapy they have gone through, then I feel there is a good chance things can work.

      I personally trust my own perception enough to do it this way. am not sure how this works for everybody though...

      For some reason this whole exclusivity of the Janov way is putting me off, actually I am looking for a therapist that has a broader way of working or perception.
      Even though I very much respect his work and contribution, once therapy is treated as a predictable science, I personally get creeped out ;-) people are NOT predictable.

      And I know what you mean, i am also not an american and looking to travel especially to do an intensive, as I also feel like doing it tomorrow:-)
      but not necessarily in the us. There are also therapists in canada, europe and australia. Although still it is very uncommon compared to "normal" psychotherapy.

      It seems very strange this is so.. why is it not catching on, when it is obviously so effective?

      Anyway I wish you luck in getting to do this as soon as you need to.

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    3. Anonymous, most people don't understand the therapy, never do, and only want solutions that push back their pain - solutions that work with their defenses, not against them (understandably).

      I have spoken to so many people about it, and frankly the common response, too often, is just believing what they want to believe. They twist what I say as much as they listen.

      I share your sentiments with Janov's insistence he's the only guy in town who does it properly (though he ultimately might be. Bluntly there are a lot of dickheads out there giving therapies of sorts).

      Janov does market with words like 'perfected science', but if he has been doing it for 40 years, and he is worth his salt, then indeed it should be a very well developed therapy by now. But ultimately I don't know how good it is.

      I sent a letter to Janov years ago giving my argument that he should let the therapy go out for development to others. Incidentally this is and has been their plan for a long time. France Janov is developing a "legacy programme" to that end, as I understand. Largely a video series.

      In fair defense to Janov, you need to read him well to get where he's coming from with some of the things he says. He does 'ask for trouble' at times, I know.

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    4. Also I wouldn't be too concerned about what Arthur Janov does or does not say. He is largely a retired commentator nowadays. He does not run the Janov primal center - his younger wife does.

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  8. Hi Andrew,

    I was wondering what you discovered about getting extended visa / work permit for US ?

    The chances of me getting the same 'ticket' are almost nil. One of the most depressing things in my life at present is the spectre of Primal but not the means to do it. . .

    Paul G.

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    1. It looks like a 3 month thing...which is too difficult really.

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  9. Andrew, just found your site and am glad to read your perspective. I have been 'primaling' for years as a 'self primaler'. I started back in the 70's and didn't have the money for the Primal Institute, so worked with some people who had been there and then started their own group. It was a mixed bag, the leader was a bit of a charismatic megalomaniac, but I managed to have a few real primals (as did you). Later I realized I could continue the process on my own, but not in isolation. I had another close friend/mentor who was ahead of me in the process, and could be a support. Would like to get back here to say more when I have more time. Here's a link to an article in Psychology today that I commented at length on. Thanks for creating this blog/page.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-therapy/201002/cool-intervention-3-primal-therapy

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  10. I think the basic theory behind Primal Theory have some strong elemsnts of truth. But the theory have certain rigid statements about what constitutes a healthy person. One of these is that a healthy and healed person is absolutely one-sided heterosexual. How can such a person be healthy? One must remember that the person which is nearest to oneself, is of same sex. An absolutely heterosexual person will automatically distaste his own body, or at least do not care about it. Can that really be healthy? I cannot conclude otherwise that a healthy person must be bisexual. Such illogical, rigid and unnatural absolutes in the foundation of the therapy makes me wonder about the value of the therapy.

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    1. Knut, I'll give you view.

      I can appreciate a well formed male body, and see it as an excellent aesthetic structure if it is, yet I get *zero* sexual excitation from the sight of it because I am basically dead straight. And I'm not repelled by my own body, if I may say so.

      Arthur Janov is right to suggest that the heterosexual disposition is the norm, and homosexuality is something that happens when things don't go "the way they're supposed to" go. Note that a gay man's reproductive organs are explicitly designed to fertilize a female egg. Nature is never 'confused' like this unless, again, something went wrong somewhere/somehow.

      But note Arthur Janov has not suggested that primal therapy cures homosexuality - only sometimes it does. A person can be gay yet still neurosis-free. And homosexuality may not necessarily be derived from trauma - only sometimes.

      There is something else too. Getting rid of neurosis does not get rid of your developmental history. It gets rid of compulsion and distorted (ie. rooted in the past) emotional programming. But due unusual development, I would speculate, someone might well be 'eternally gay'.

      Janov needs to be read carefully, my friend :)

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  11. In Jan, 2011, I did a review of the debunking site here: http://www.theprimalmind.com/?p=98 I know the guy's name and I know people who know him, so I can tell you he has disappeared into academic cognitive psychology land where I'm sure he will fit right in.

    As expressed here, the therapy solely needs research, but the Janov centre just can't afford to do it. It literally costs millions. There are a few studies published on PT but they are inconclusive and small. They were also done a long time ago before the therapy evolved to what it is today.

    Anyway thanks for this article and your efforts to promote PT. It is needed.

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    1. No problem. We're also dealing with a therapy that is hard to measure in strictly objective terms. People need to see the 'sensibility' of it, as much as anything else I think.

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