Forgetting What You Know!

I don’t know about you, but it seems like some lessons in life reintroduce themselves to me every few years. Sometimes they are hard, unpleasant truths, but not always. Sometimes, they are joyful, uplifting truths that renew your spirit. Lately, I’ve been doing some new things, things I have not done in a great while like playing in a band again, meeting new people and expanding my social contacts. For me at least, new situations often give me a new perspective on where I have been and what I have been doing. I love the day-to-day routine at The Primal Institute, I really enjoy the clinical hours and even the tedious paperwork and administrative tasks make me happy (of course I bitch about it nonetheless) . I’ve had my share of professional mood swings these past 30 years, who wouldn’t? The joy and elation of my first exposure to Dr. Janov and Primal Theory, the excitement and intensity of a then, young clinician knee deep in the revolution to change the face of psychotherapy, hell, to change the world! As the years pile up, one tends to mellow out a bit. It is only natural that youthful intensity will yield the right of way and make room for other equally important concerns like actually doing the job, keeping it stable, paying the bills and ordering Kleenex by the crate. Raising a family, changing diapers and paying for college all compete and get in the way of being a revolutionary. I know… boo-hoo! But that’s not my point. My point is that for me, this insular existence sometimes lulls me into forgetting just what it is we do here at The Primal Institute, and how universal the appeal really is to, dare I say it, humanity! Meeting new people and doing new things really brings this home to me. The most exciting smack in the face reminder of all of this was an interview I did recently for Itunes/ It was a fun, easygoing interview to do and even though the interviewer knew very little about Primal, I sensed his growing excitement as the interview progressed. He went from just doing his job to “holy-cow” just like we all did when we first got the message! They’ve contacted me several times since with the great news that there has been over 100,000 downloads in less than a month! Recently, I have also been contacted by both the New York and Los Angeles Times (they want me to renew). Again, my point is this idea Primal Theory, Primal consciousness is powerful stuff. Why exactly is it so powerful? What is the universal appeal? I think it is powerful because it helps make sense of why we suffer. Why and how we suffer and that we suffer! To have one’s suffering or pain acknowledged is a shattering experience. It shatters the lies, the b.s., the pretense that literally threaten to kill us.
Like the infomercial says ” but wait, there’s more”. It also offers a way to ease some of that suffering. Granted, it is counterintuitive like skiing, crouch down and lean into the massive down slope – yeah, right. Give in to those horrible feelings; embrace your deficits, your rage, and your pathetic unrelenting neediness. That is some tough sell, yet it endures because it is the truth! Within that truth is perhaps the greatest contribution of Primal Theory in that it offers the possibility of raising human beings without all that pain in the first place. This is not pie in the sky rhetoric. There will always be people with problems, life is hard, and we are all fallible, especially with our loved ones. Treatment is crucial but the knowledge and guidance to avoid trauma or to lessen it is historic. Why wait for 9/11 when we can deal effectively on 9/10? In the end there is nothing more powerful than the truth! Truth often takes a detour, goes to sleep for a time, but it always wakes up again refreshed and ready to meet the new day. I am sure this new/old lesson will give way again to more moderate sensations and sensible goals. So be it…but right now I feel like a revolutionary again. I’ve got an important message and I am going to tell everybody! Barry

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151 Responses to Forgetting What You Know!

  1. Lee says:

    Nice! This is the latest blog, right? I really, really, really didn’t want to join MySpace. Congratulations to Vickie and everyone for moving out of there 🙂

  2. Chris P says:

    I love the new forum! Great choice. I don’t have to register with My Space and it is so easy to post here and join in. Barry, I really enjoyed listening to your Smart People Interview. I especially liked hearing the enthusiasm that the interview aroused in your youthful interlocutor. And about your post, at first I felt a bit disappointed, about the mellowing and all. It sounded a bit like you had compromised or given up. A bit. But I understand, the reality is that there is no total cure or way to permanently erase the past and its impact/force…bittersweet…and that all we can do is keep living the best we can.

    • Dear Chris,Thanks for reading and for your comment. Trying to change the world is important in life, but so is just living in one’s world and enjoying the sights. Wasn’t it Kierkegaard who said ” leave me alone, you change the world, I’m in the mood for soup”!

  3. Ulrich says:

    Hi, can anybody please post a link to the interview? Haven’t heard anything from Barry in a long time and would appreciate your effort. No, wrong, haven’t heard Barry’s voice in a long time and miss him.


  4. Fiona says:

    Well done Vicki and Gretchen. Thanks for your efforts, it will be well worth it!

    I LOVED your interview Barry, it was precise, and informative and ‘non primal person friendly’. I have sent the link to close family members, who fear that I have joined some kind of underground religious sect. My family are currently anticipating my kidnap, and the subsequent selling of my organs to the highest bidder.

    I am considering telling my Dad that I am doing my Primal Therapy…. the explanations put me off. But I feel like I, too, want to spread the word; moreover, to be honest with my Dad about what I do, and the choices that I make.
    I have been overwhelmed with the freedom that I thrive on with the one brother and sister in law that know about my therapy. I am so close with that brother now, I talk and express myself with ease. I no longer feel so awkward or intimidated when interacting with him. I believe he is enjoying the difference too.

    I would love that freedom with my Dad. I can have it IF I take the plunge. I risk (I fear I risk) his disapproval and anger. Years ago I mentioned to both parents that I would love to do my therapy. My Mum’s response was an immediate, “Oh! So now we are bad parents, are we?” I detected a slightly defensive stance! [lol!] Dad is a very different person. Maybe he will embrace it and enjoy learning something new. Maybe he will think I am a crackpot. Maybe …. whatever he thinks will ‘just be ok’ because I know I am doing the right thing for me. Maybe I will spread the word…. just a little way to start with!

    • Fiona, That organ selling idea was something I had not considered but I have put it on the agenda for discussion in our next staff meeting! In the meantime I would encourage you to talk to your dad (keeping in mind that may not be the right choice for everyone). Based on what I have heard he is not at all like your mom and not likely to respond with her negativity. Either way I have the sense that it is something you need to do for you! Do keep us posted! Gretchen

      • Fiona says:

        I told him today! He took it really well, and seemed to ‘get it’ a bit. I did not go into too much detail, (Good guidance from my IK) and said I would leave him the link to Barry’s podcast interview… if he wanted to know a bit more. He may be content with the little he does know.

        At least I was able to get him to recall some old documentaries we saw, and I reminded him of the fact that cells ‘have memory’. (eg the flood of memories that can come when we smell a particular smell), and another scary documentary, where a man had disconnected memories from his transplanted limb [shudder!].

        We did not ‘explore’ HOW our therapy works. His viewpoint is currently, “There is a grain of truth in every idea or philosophy”! Oh well…. maybe he didn’t totally get it!! BUT I feel better to talk freely about it all in the future now.

        Thanks Gretchen

        P.S. My liver will get a particularly good price as I rarely drink alcohol and I am not taking any medication!

        • Fiona, Wow! You really are brave – I thought this step might take some time but you were clearly ready to dive right in! I think it will be interesting to see how the relationship evolves as a result. Please let me know but I feel certain that it will be positive ! Gretchen

    • Fiona, Thanks for the kind words,and I wish you good luck with your family. Tell them I will return their daughter when they treat you with the love and respect you so rightly deserve.Also,please have them leave $50,000 in a brown paper shopping bag at the corner of Pico and Beverly Glen Blvd.With much affection,Barry

      • Fiona says:


      • The Ultimate Guru says:

        “Also,please have them leave $50,000 in a brown paper shopping bag at the corner of Pico and Beverly Glen Blvd.With much affection,Barry”

        For some reason this quote has left me laughing off and on like a purebred hyena for the last two days, literally gasping for air during a few junctures. Probably the hardest laugh I’ve had in 5+ years! I wish I could explain why since most others probably wouldn’t laugh so hard at it…

  5. John Strazzanti says:

    My son recently started Primal Therapy (for real) and even though he has heard me sing it’s praises for years he called me and said “dad this is the real deal”. So when I read “it endures because it is the truth” the first thought in my mind was how true that was and how important the truth is to me. Sanity and truth go hand and hand for me so I guess that is just one more reason why I am such a fan of Primal Therapy but even more so of the two people that have been so important to me and my family. Thank you Barry and Gretchen.

    • Hey John, I have thought a lot about what you wrote for a few reasons. The connection between sanity and truth has been important in my life as well -it is so simple but somehow compelling. The other thing is how sweet and thoughtful your comments are – we forget sometimes to acknowledge the people who have been meaningful in our lives. It is a reminder for me as well! Talk to you soon! Gretchen

    • Dear John,Your support means a great deal to all of us at The Primal Institute and to Gretchen and myself in particular. One of the “perks”of this job is the experience of getting to know some truly heartwarming and wonderful people like you and Renate,Mike and Rebecca. With much respect and affection,Barry

  6. KATHY CARLSON says:

    GOSH, BAR,

  7. Jack Waddington says:

    Barry: again with this blog/comment of yours I found it left a lot to be desired. While from your position you are able to relatively easily get out ‘the word’ I personally don’t feel you say it succinctly, simply or directly enough. If as you say;- “…but right now I feel like a revolutionary again. I’ve got an important message and I am going to tell everybody!” this blog did not sound like a revolutionary or even some determined activist. If there is an important message then the blog should have been that message … unless this blog WAS meant to be that message; if it was then it ‘flew over my cuckoo’s nest’. Barry: just as you have, over the years, been blunt with me I feel I want to be blunt with you. This article was not radical enough to arouse enough of a stare as did “The Primal Scream”, the Rodney King Riots or the current uprising in Tunisia.

    “Again, my point is this idea Primal Theory, Primal consciousness is powerful stuff. Why exactly is it so powerful? What is the universal appeal? I think it is powerful because it helps make sense of why we suffer.” Too vague, too imprecise. I wish it did have ‘universal appeal’. Without a re-iteration of Primal Theory or the nature of The Primal Consciousness (even for the choir) leaves it short on full significance. You are pre-supposing that everyone that read “The Primal Scream” and understood Primal theory from it. That’s not how is see it. For the most part the readers related to their own problems and saw the potential for getting beyond them and hopefully making life peasant. To me, making life pleasant was never the goal, even if for many of us, it was the hope.

    The world is in turmoil and most know it but many (politicians in particular) think they (it’s the thinking that is the problem IMO) have a solution. To me, it’s the WHOLE way of our human behavior, that is the problem, all of it, and the only solution I have seen, stems from an understanding of Primal Theory which places the problem at the door of child-rearing practices of us humans. Other creatures ostensibly appear not to have this problem. That, to me, was the REVOLUTIONARY notion, first expressed in “The Primal Scream” AND to me, is the only message to be expressed. All else is pandering. Jack

  8. Larry says:

    Congratulations to Vicki and Gretchen and all who worked on moving the blog to this venue. It’s a great improvement over MySpace, which I heard might go out of business.

    I’m glad that Primal Theory has gotten more exposure through Barry’s interview. Barry the positive responses you’ve received and your relating of your renewed enthusiasm for getting out the important, revolutionary message, is infectious. Yes, the message is revolutionary and powerful, important to humanity, but (in the emotional place I’m in right now) I fear the appeal isn’t universal, and that is why I feel….worrier that I am….that the more attention it gets, the more criticism it will get from the powerful who are happy with the status quo, who are threatened by Primal Theory’s message. I’m not just talking about criticism from the psychotherapy establishment. I’m talking about the western world, as I see it, more and more losing it’s moral authority, succumbing more to greed than to social and environmental responsibiliy, the general public frightened by terrorism, job loss and financial collapse…slowly giving up freedoms and tolerance of others and their ideas, and all of our institutions, even our once free-thinking universities, even our governements, being slowly taken over by corporate ideology. I’m talking about the rise of religious demagogues and simpletons running for political office and finding support, and the eroding of the middle class and the ever greater separation between rich and poor. I’m talking about the powerful elite wanting the rest of us to be a meek, controllable, mindless mass, not wanting us getting a hold of a powerful revolutionary idea like Primal Theory that would make us into independent, courageous, free thinking empathetic human beings. I’d rather that the truth of Primal Theory be spread slowly, quietly, unnoticeably, so that those who are threathened by it won’t feel threatened until it is too late for them to do anything about it. I like the idea of a revolution gradually, harmlessly gaining momentum until it is unstoppable. If Primal Theory had universal appeal, it wouldn’t be revoluionary. I feel Primal Theory mainly appeals to the weak, the damaged, the powerless. If you tell me I am wrong and that lots of your clients come from centres of social/political/corporate power, then I’d feel quite a bit more hopeful. I see that we need a revolution where the public demands more accountability to humanity from the power centres running society, but all I see is consumption for its own sake and at the expense of everything and everyone else. I don’t see enough moral fiber in society for Primal Theory to gain much foothold. I see everyone wants a quick fix. I feel that only those who want to escape their suffering and who sense that there is more to being human will commit themselves to the personal revolution of Primal Therapy. Though the importance to humanity of its truth is revolutionary, I feel that Primal Theory’s appeal is not universal, and I fear a backlash from forces that oppose the awakening of a caring humanity, forces that would feel threatened and would crush a Primal Revolution. Because it is truth, Primal Theory will endure, but I don’t want to live in a period of darkness when Primal Therapy is stamped out and there is none for me.

    • This is from Peter Clifford -Hi, Barry, Gretchen, the rest of the team. Could not leave a post on the first article, so have left it on the second.

      Agree with all you say Barry on both. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut and routines whatever we do. I find that every now and again I have to reinvent myself, the latest being my website above. Last 7 years I have been very much involved in community work on health, environment and local council issues and in 2009 got an award as “Campaigner of the Year” for my efforts. Before that I worked and travelled all round the planet. But change and re-invention definitely keeps me young – plus a good diet, a glass of wine and regular trips to the gym!

      Re. trying to get the message across, I have experienced the same frustration. I used to give loads of talks and workshops all around the world, but gave up. Mainly I was tired of giving out the same message about the roots of emotional health/illness which excited people for five minutes and then they went back to playing with their smartphone or living on Facebook – whatever the equivalents were back then.

      Persistence with therapy takes guts and perseverance, so all credit to past PI clients and all those in the present who are staying the course – we know it makes a difference – but the rest of the population seems obsessed with finding a “gene” that caused all their problems or someone or something else to blame. Heh Ho, what’s new?

      If you would like me write a guest blog sometime let me know and I will reciprocate.

      Best wishes to all. Peter Clifford

    • Ulrich says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Larry. You describe nearly exactly what I feel the world looks like. Looking back the last 30 years, it seems our western democracies have walked a road that couldn’t be further away from what I understand Primal Therapy/Theory means.
      Then again, even though I feel similiar hope- and helpless regarding keeping the planet from going down the drain while I’m still on it, I do not think, it is all hopeless in the long run. I really think, Primal Therapy has changed the world here and there for the better – even in psychology. I don’t think topics like ’emotional cleverness’ and alike would have been seriously discussed, if Janov hadn’t introduced emotions as an important entity to public and science alike and – equally important – guys like Barry and all other therapists hadn’t ‘spread the word’ by practizing. (So, Mr. Bernfeld, Sir, I must admit, you had been the most revolutionary men I ever met – seriously.)
      I don’t agree with Darwin or what post Darwin ages made out of his theory. It might the the strongest (or the fittest) who are in control, but I deeply believe that the core of evolution are the ‘loosers’. The biggest and strongest protozoas are still … well, protozoas, while those who had been kicked out of the protozoa world or had been pushed to the side, built the root of progress. So, even though my long long gone protozoa forefathers lost the battle with their big alpha protozoa bosses, the latter still live in their silly little shit houses. And it looks like I will loose the battle with my alphas as well, but it is too late, I already changed the world a bit. (You also, by the way, cause I followed your comments here and there in MySpace times and you did leave an impact on me.)

      • Larry says:

        Thanks Ulrich. It is good to hear from you. One of the reasons I write to the blog is to better understand myself and other people. I do see and fear the world is more and more relenting control to market forces, where everything….the environment…human life…is turned into a commodity and the greedy take power. The future could turn much more ugly for many more people. We in Primal Therapy are striving in the opposite direction, trying to become more human. In this blog I don’t want to get bogged down on the world stage. I’m trying to explore my feeling by writing here and leaving myself more naked to my anxiety. It unnerves me to see my fears posted on Jan. 21 for everyone to read. From a therapy perspective, I think the feeling that is brewing underneath is that there wasn’t enough humanity in my childhood. I was a fearful child. It seems I’ve always felt some fear and hopelessness that the world is a cold, uncaring, dangerous place. Certainly for far too many people life is horrible. It can give me reason not to try. But over the decades I’ve found over and over that as I put one foot in front of the other, going the direction that I want one step at a time, my life almost miraculously unfolds more or less the way I want it too. Over time, my life has gotten richer and more satisfying in the quality of human interaction. My life for the most part feels meaningful. I have enough of what I need materially even though not so much as many of my friends and family. Ulrich you noted, and I’ve seen for myself, and I believe it’s true of everyone in Primal Therapy, that in our striving to be more human, we are having a positive impact on the people in our lives. Primal Therapy and the Primal Institute have been my keys to salvaging and growing the kind of life I want, a more human life. The therapists are the most human people I’ve ever known. I don’t want to see the Institute hurt by forces opposed to it. Bruce Cockburn writes revolutionary songs. He’s also written “We are lovers in a dangerous world”. Barry if you want to be a revolutionary, I want you to be careful.

        • Irena says:

          …Why is Barry being ‘mothered’? Is he not old and wise (WISE!!) enough to know what he’s doing?

          • Larry says:

            Why do you think Barry is being mothered Irena?

            • Irena says:

              .”..Barry if you want to be a revolutionary, I want you to be careful….”
              sounds to me like ‘mothering’. Something you say to a child. It also brings up the feeling of ‘smothering’ for me, as it puts a damper on an enthusiastic and exciting feeling, exstinguishing spontaneity. When I read Barry’s line I thought: way to go Barry! I also thought it was an important thought or feeling he had then. He DOES have a message to give and I would not like to see him give up on getting it out there. Your words: “Yes, the message is revolutionary and powerful, important to humanity”…then you go on saying:…”I don’t want to live in a period of darkness when Primal Therapy is stamped out and there is none for me…”
              Exactly that’s why we need a Barry and who ever else is up for it!
              Although you do write beautifully, as I have said so in the past, it seems you go on and on and on, and slowly cover a fresh, sparkling and exciting thing with a dark veil. Negativity/worries, whatever you want to call it, if it’s constant, can be like cancer. It spreads slowly, changes things and perceptions and you don’t even know it. It might be clear to anyone else, but when I read your long messages, my mind starts to wander and I become confused what exactly you want to say. I feel manipulated into listening to a speech not sharing a message. Prehaps a little like you TELLING (I’m not shouting here, just don’t know how to write this here in italics or bold) me on the phone that I won’t go on the blogg.
              Well. I am.

          • Hey! I don’t mind a little “mothering”-never actually had any,might be nice!-Barry

  9. Irena says:

    Barry, I thought the interview was good. It was not only good in content but also in its deliverance. Fluent, clear and kept light, with a very enthusiastic undercurrent. Sometimes what is NOT said says more and the way it’s been said delivers another message. This is exactly the way to trigger somebody’s curiosity if the person is at the right place in his/her history to connect to the message.
    I also feel very happy that you found your revolutionary self again. It’s catching!

    • Irena is that you?? I can’t believe you’re here but I am glad! I thought that was a very interesting point – what is NOT said and of course HOW we choose to deliver a message. There is so much to be learned from how we communicate with each other and why it is so difficult for some of us! Gretchen

  10. Margaret M says:

    I totally agree with what Irena said about Barry’s interview, and hi Irena, great to read you!! I feel a bit down right now to be honest. I did send the web adress for the interview to my brother, regarding it as a very good way to give him some more information about what is so important for me. He knows for a long time I am in therapy but doesn’t want to hear much about it, mostly sends out signals of disapprovement really. Now I was hoping he would be curious enough and get at least a less negative idea about it. I had him on the phone and heard he hadn’t opened his mail so far, so told him about the interview in a few words, but I got another very short and uninterested reaction, and that hurts. He doesn’t even want to know anything about it, it makes me feel very alone, my mom is getting older and the trail of my life seems to become lonelier and lonelier, apart from you fellow travellers I meet here and there in those barren hills, so to say. I feel rejected and kept at a distance by my brother, and my other family, apart from my mother, is even more distant.
    This is no news of course, it is just that this is so clear, this was like the one ideal opportunity to share what I do with him, and he started talking about his racebike. I still have a faint hope he will eventually listen to the interview anyway, and I also know in his own way he does care about me, but , well, I am facing more and more the reality of having to take care of myself and I do feel sad about it. I have to be nice to me, I do feel like crying now.
    This is also when I realize myself how important primal therapy and my primal friends are to me. Just got rid of some of that old stress hormone , another few drops out of my system.
    I also sent the inteview around to some of my friends, with more positive responses.
    Some good news about the world too, for a change, I just saw a set of documentaries on tigers they discovered living in the mountains of Bhutan, and the governments of the countries there promised to make some corridors for the tiger populations there to enable them to survive. That kind of news in some way matters more to me than most other news items, it is so basic.
    With lovefrom belgium, Margaret

    • vickib5 says:

      Hi Margaret, it sounds very hard for you, that your brother isn’t able or willing to hear you the way you want. It sounds like a lost cause, to talk about therapy. But is that the only way you try and relate to him? Can you talk to him about your feelings or family in other ways, so it’s not about therapy? Or even when he talks about his racebike, are you able to be interested in that, to have some common ground for conversation? Or is the conversation just one-sided? — Vicki

    • Irena says:

      Hi Margaret
      I am happy to see you here too. As for what you have written I too agree that Vicki’s questions are something to think about.

  11. Larry says:

    Hi Irena,

    This WordPress venu wouldn’t let me reply directly to your Jan. 24 11:08 am comment, so I will reply here. When I told you on the phone (in feigned disbelief) that you wouldn’t be here, I was half teasing, and half not really believing that I would see you here. It is good to see you on the blog.

    I don’t believe for a second that anything I say will influence Barry’s behaviour. What I wrote in reaction to Barry’s blog I have the need to ‘out’ to make it more real to me to understand/feel it. I can’t be a false cheerleader. As I wrote, I did feel guilty of being long winded, but I was too tired or confused or afraid of it at the time to know what I was heading for and condense it and make it clearer. Urich’s response told me I touched a chord of similar feelings in someone else, and I felt license to explore some more. Now that the ugly feeling that propelled me to write is strewn across the blog, with the responses from you and Ulrich, I find it more difficult to evade. The feeling seeps into more moments of my day, and saps my joy. It seems at this moment in time I feel a deep unease, even dread about where the world might be headed in my life time. It looks ugly, makes me sad and somewhat anxious. I’m convinced the concern is very legitimate. I won’t go into any more detail here. I’m sorry if I brought you down. I don’t feel hopeless, but neither do I want to be afraid to explore the blackness I feel. Maybe I should have kept it all to myself. From a primal perspective, I suspect my very real concern for the present and future is thickly colored by childhood feelings of being scared, alone and helpless in an inhuman world. I suspect I will know the feeling in a few days when I can’t live with it anymore and it breaks out. I guess I’ve been using you on the blog to help me get to it. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

  12. Vickib5 says:

    What you’re writing is fine, Larry. No “keeping it all to yourself”.

    • Irena says:

      Larry knows that.

    • Larry says:

      Vicki, I appreciate your encouragement. Your words helped me not be afraid and not to close in on myself. Some days after I wrote those longish pieces on the blog, the feelings erupted at home one evening. I sort of cried and screamed adult and little boy fear. Since then, my suffering with black anxious dread has abated, for now. Even though I still see the possibility of dangerous pitfalls ahead, I can’t know when they might happen, nor can I protect myself from every bad circumstance that I imagine might be coming, and maybe nothing will. I’m finding there really is joy to be had in life, so long as I explore it. I shudder to think where I’d be if I succumbed to excuses to withdraw into isolation. I’m finding new friends and growing more community. I find the truest course is to follow my intuition and feelings and find my way forward, and feel pain that blocks, distorts, or is just part of the journey, to risk life. Thank you for helping me Vicki.

  13. Larry, You should absolutely say whatever you like on the blog ,as should Irena and anyone else for that matter! The tricky part is when we say our feelings people will react and respond (which personally is what I would hope for). As in the past we tend to feel we should retreat and be silent. I think instead we can take in the feedback and use what is helpful! Gretchen

    • Larry says:

      What I wrote disturbs me, and if I feel other people don’t want to hear it, then I won’t post it. I am going through a similar experience in my bereavement group, sharing with a degree of honesty that finds me crying sometimes in the group. It is a bit frightening for me to cry in front of them, not knowing how they will react. Some people, who clamp down and never talk about their feelings in the group, seem uncomfortable with my drive toward mine. Others in the group, who are afraid of and wrestling with their feelings but don’t want to deny them, thank me for my honesty because they find help in it. It is a scary tightrope for me to walk, trying to judge how honest to be. But in my bereavement group I don’t feel good hiding myself when some of the others are so valiantly trying to open and share and understand and deal with their feelings of loss of their spouse. Irena, while I try to sort myself out, your response helps me understand you a little better, as I wonder what there might be more personally for you behind what you wrote. Not that it’s any of my business.

  14. Irena says:

    Yes, of course there is a lot there for me. You are right. That’s why I wrote it. I am grateful that I can. Thanks for your comments all the same.

  15. Pentium Hi-Five! To Vicki and my devoted wife Gretchen for their hard work and great results on this site. Easy to navigate,visually engaging,wow,you guys did a great job-thank you! P.S. Gretchen,pick up some oatmeal and soy milk on your way home! With Affection,Barry

  16. Margaret M says:

    Hi Vicki, Gretchen, everybody,
    firstly I want to say something nice happened. I sent the webadress of Barry’s interview to a few people and got some positive reactions, and even more, my tango teacher actually asked me if I had a copy of the Primal Scream and if he could read it! That means very much to me. Remember that somewhere last year in the blog me and other people commented about being scared about the future of therapy and feeling frustrated about the difficulty of communicating about it? It is so nice to have a nice way to give people who are open to it, a good view on what therapy is about in a way they don’t feel pressured. It is a great feeling to be able to hand out the Primal Scream to somebody I care about that actually asked me if he could read it.
    now about my brother.
    As I said before, I do know he does care about me in his own way, and am trying all the time to find ways in to his world and communicate with him, but it usually remains very superficial. Most of the progress is that when i tal with him on the phone, we have moved from him just giving me a weather forecast to talking about his new car, bicycle,some generalities about his job, he lets me know his wife is ok, the cats are too, and that’s usually it. I paid attention to it and accepted the fact that he and his wife never ever ask me about my dancing or singing or worse, if i take the initiative to start telling them something, specially the wife is very good at bringing up whatever other topic right in the middle of my story, or my first frase.
    They are not at all horrible people,they both can be prety nice and pleasant too, but there is such an enormous gap between how it could be and how I would want it tobe, and how it really is. I found out a few months ago my brother is a little more accessible when he is on his own, without his wife who demands most of the attention, and then the best way to get some more real communicatoin with him is the care and concern about our mother. We organized a party for her 80th birthday, him and me, and that turned out very nice, so I keep trying to make the best of anything, but there is also pain and sadness about what can’t be. As a teenager he had some wild years and he was my role model big time, but he has always kept me at a certain distance from childhood on already. There were circumstances in my mother’s life that forced her to put him in an orphanage for his first three years, so he carries a lot of pain. I feel needy, protective and I guess also angry and scared about him. The anger is the hardest to get in touch with, as I am so desperate on other levels, but I do know afte that last phonecall about the interview, I was cursing.
    There is still a lot of pain about him I need to explore, but I remember also thinking after that phonecall: fuck him, I don’t need his approval. but of course I also do very much so, in a primal sense. I long for the feeling I had around him when we were still playing cowboy and indians or climbing trees, but now when we are together, it feels like two people with open wounds carefully moving around each other in order avoid the pain of touching.
    Sorry if I start boring anybody, I am just exploring, hope this was a bit of a start of an answer, theze things are so hard to explain, thanks for asking, that means very much to me, with love, Margaret

    • Larry says:

      No Margaret, not boring. I was totally absorbed in reading your explanation of the dance between you and your brother, trying to get closer yet backing away when too close. I understand the pain of the orphan feeling. With that inside it’s hard to get close to anyone.

    • Margaret, I really do hope you find some way to connect with your brother eventually. I think it may help to recognize he is probably doing all he is capable of at the moment. Particularly after learning he spent his first few years in an orphanage. It does not get much more traumatic than that! Actually there is no way that would not have impacted his ability to bond on a fundamental level. In the meantime, as Vicki mentioned, you might look for other ways to reach and relate to him! Let us know how it progresses. Gretchen

  17. Fiona says:

    I am so glad to have the blog back – BUT I feel ‘unsafe’ (for want of a better word) to write as I used to. I was open and free, and mostly USED the blog as ‘pseudo-group’ for myself before. [Hell of a lot easier than actual group, as here, I know WHEN I can speak (erm!… write). No fears of interruption, or not being worthy, or being too boring etc etc.]

    But this feels new – untested. Feels more open to anyone who is just passing by. It reminds me of how I feel in any new Primal group; or at the beginning of a Retreat, when the group is a new group of people, and has a new dynamic. It takes me a while to get the feel of things. To feel… not welcome… but allowed to be there. It even happens when the groups change rooms, like when Barry and Gretchen’s groups, become Barry and Mark’s, for example.

    Huh! Doesn’t it help to write or voice this sort of thing! All the mini rejections from childhood are coming back to me as I write. Groups of children; already bonded, singling out one child who will NOT be allowed to play. Me sometimes, but not often thankfully. Mum rejecting me…. often.

    That ‘sink’ feeling from heart to stomach when you get smacked with a rejection. It just gets worse with age, like the rejection from a partner who is ending a relationship. Same sink, bigger sensation.

    I find I feel rejection in bizarre moments of my life; for example:
    “Fiona, please cut me some onions for our dinner”
    [pause….don’t ask questions Fiona… don’t ask questions!]
    …… …. ….[Cuts onions] … …. …
    “Oh! ….. You cut them really small…. oh….. well… oh…. ok then……. urm!… It doesn’t matter, I would have preferred them sliced though!”

    Probably NOTHING to all of you reading my psycho-babble, but to me; I failed; I am rejected because I did it wrong, and I can’t make it better. I can’t glue the onions together to make slices. And I crave to be able to ask all the questions that I am ‘programmed’ to. My directive is to ask what shape and dimension of onion segment is required. That way I will not be wrong, I would still be loved. I can prevent that particular rejection.
    The ‘new’ experience – where I don’t know WHAT questions to ask in order to prevent my rejection is so threatening. I have no previous experience, and no question bank to rely on… so I get rejected… and sometimes even get:
    “Well why didn’t you just ask?” which smarts!

    I must explain about my incessant question asking. Did I explain about that before???? LOL!! A good example, I think!
    I drive my beloved partner crazy asking constant pointless questions. It is a bad thing I do, but it is somewhat like biting your nails…. you have bitten them before you are conscious of the intention. I ask before I think. Maybe my confession here will prompt me to think before I ask stupid questions in future… no…. I doubt it too! I need to stop it. I need to feel bad when I get something wrong, and just feel that.

    Any kind of rejection from my partner is so devastating to me. My world is about to end. Nothing is left. How could she love me again, ever?! In fact – she doesn’t, and she wont. This is when I go into a defensive mode. Can’t hurt me if I don’t show it! Can’t reject me if I shut you out first. I will not be vulnerable! I am back to old blog comments from a while ago, now.

    A disjointed comment (sorry), with two linked themes. The fear of showing that vulnerability is leaking from my eyes and burning my throat. Best go lie down for a bit…

  18. Fiona, I am alright with making our blog a mini group and for that reason I will ask you this…… If you could ask only one more question,EVER,what would it be?? Gretchen

    • Fiona says:

      Gretchen –
      After the temporary panic was over, I thought long and hard about your question all day. I was in the car (so unable to feel the full extent of the feeling) when I realised I had the answer. It was the only question that hurt. It took me a long time to say it out loud to my Partner this evening. I had to beat around the bush for some time, so I know that is the right answer…. for right now, anyway. I have been discussing this issue with her; as it affects her most strongly. I have managed to resist the desperate urge to ask her to ‘help me feel safe’. I know that is wrong in this case.
      My one question would be…..
      …”but will you still love me?”

      The finality of rejection is on my mind.
      … During my feeling the question changed, as I expected. Always to my Mum though. Ultimately not being loved for just ‘being me’! Being a tom-boy, liking soccer, preferring girls!!! And fleeting moments of not knowing what I did wrong, too, “Why wont you come and get me when I am so upset?”. That is a very old feeling from being very small and left to cry myself to sleep. I wondered what I did wrong.

      Thanks for the question Gretchen!

      Thanks for your response. You are good to me. Boosting and supporting me whenever I need it. I feel a bit raw now but really glad you wrote what you did here about your dream etc. There is something big behind your phrase, “I am with you! We are together!”. It was a brief but intense moment during that buddy session. I know you are working on it. :0)
      I have no problem with you linking yourself and your feelings to me, and what I wrote; nor to you writing about yourself. No need to think that I want your whole attention. You write for you – get what you need! That’s all I am doing. In writing, I access feelings that I naturally avoid in daily life without being ‘inspired’ by groups and sessions. One day I will even do it without feeling the need to explain myself away!

      • Irena says:

        Amazing, when I hear how people just get into feelings just through the blog, I wonder what’s wrong with me.
        Every day I am in pain, in some way or another. I hurt myself on a regular base. I am of an impulsive nature and do nothing by the halves as well as rush into and through things. So I burn myself when cooking soup or baking, I fall, drop things on me, cut, bruise and sprain. When I do none of that and start to feel just a little happy then I grow a cyst or have shingles. There is always something that seems to stop me from feeling happy or free. Just a week ago I started to feel elated and cosy, content and hugely inspired and started on a piece of art, which had been put aside for far too long. At work things came together and I felt inspired as well to create new ways of improvement. I immediately suggested to my partner to have a fabulous dinner party, with food to die for. We sent out invitations and started planning the menu. Many things are already prepared and in the freezer, ready for the big evening. Huge excitement set in. I thought just how lush life can be when you’re not constantly in a struggle with pain.
        This lasted about four days then I had a pain in my right knee which came and went over two days. On the third day I could no longer walk and I kept on wondering what I had done wrong now. The pain was so excruciating that I was in floods of tears for some time. (Rare for me, I have a big threshold for physical pain since I’m always in it). I went to the doctor the next day and had x rays and blood tests done. The verdict is Arthritis and that I have to live with it. I have worked in Physio therapy long enough to know much about Arthritis, so this is not the point. As with the arrival of a new daily hurt, as we call it in our family, the joy and elation I was feeling for a few days was wiped out immediately. I had lost something immensely beautiful and important to me, something I need badly. Elation and creativity has been replaced by apathy again and my energy has plummeted. It seems almost as if some bad spirit is watching me and snatching the good away from me as soon as it happens.
        I am always in pain. I always hurt somewhere. And yet, I can only seldom access my ‘primal’ pain. I am ok with feeling lots of physical – but not emotional pain. It’s never ever safe. It’s like a wall of physical pain is keeping me from feeling. Is this a way to say to the world ‘I’m hurting’?
        I too want to feel. I too want to make progress like other people. I hurt and I want to heal.

        • Larry says:

          Irena, I appreciate you giving this opportunity to know you better. Thank you.

        • Fiona says:

          Is there a way to help you feel safer?

        • Vickib5 says:

          This is awful, Irena! I didn’t know just how often this kind of thing is happening. I don’t know what else to say, it’s just awful.

        • Irena, What a sad post,I had to think about all you wrote for some time before responding. There is so much you are telling us I think. For me what is most significant is your comment that you can handle the physical pain but not the emotional – and so you do. You also said “Is this a way to say to the world I’m hurting”? Yes,I do believe that is exactly what you are trying to communicate . What I find hopeful is your ability to express these feelings here. To say so clearly what you are struggling with is the beginning of a change in my view. Maybe there will be a few less bruises and sprains very soon! Gretchen

        • Margaret says:

          Dear Irena,
          good that you share this, it sounds like you need to share as much as possible, I will write you an email, Margaret

      • Fiona, “But will you still love me”? I know as well that is the question! For me it is somehow both moving and chilling. Gretchen

  19. Margaret says:

    Dear Fiona,
    it really touches me how you do and say everything you need to do and say as well as you can on any given moment. Even while you are still struggling with finding out what and what not to say in given situations, you are always completely honest with yourself about what is going on inside you and keep working so very hard to figure out what the right thing to do really is.
    I could go on but as I think of it the bottom line is I like you very much and hate to imagine you feeling bad about yourself while you are doing everyting you have to do. You don’t need my encouraging words, your honesty and courage will lead you where you need to go.
    I guess it is my own insecurity and fear and need of reassurance that also makes me want to help and protect vulnerable beings in general.
    I had a dream recently I was sliding down a steep cliff with my cat and during the fall I held her in front of my face, telling her:”I am with you! We are together!” Buddying with my fantastic buddy I became very emotional mentioning that dream, and though I am not quite through with that feling, it certainly also has to do with vulnerability. The good thing is my dreams start ending more hopefully, in this case I managed to land on my feet, instead of in utter despair and acute fear of dying.
    regaining the openness of that vulnerable state is a long and painful, scary process,but very slowly I htink I am feeling the benefits in a growing capacity to interact with peole and actually enjoying it.
    I am aware I started talking about myself now and part of me says I should feel guilty about it, this should be about Fiona, but why can’t it be both?
    This is so important to me really, it is so new I actually start feeling good about myself, and under the right circumstances like a wellfunctioning social human being, and yeah, having a good time on a party! that has been so hard most part of my life, parties I mean, where everybody except me seemed to have a good time and I always felt awful as I was feeling the complete opposite way, scared awkward and feeling completely disfunctional and weird, and scared to death it would show and people would be completely turned off from that crazy freak, me…
    Now I am more able to take initiatives and move around, start convesations and make jokes and make people laugh. I am still learning, when stuations are a bit difficult, too noisy or too many people I don’t know, I still can feel extremely lost and scared, but things are definitely changing for the better, I don’t automatically take the blame on myself anymore. Or don’t automatically start hating all those unfeeling uncaring stupid people around me, which was my usual defense. Until of course one of them adressed me and immediately turned into a nice person again…
    I grieve about all the lost years and possibilities in my life before therapy, but at the same time feel extremely grateful to have found the way to a happier reality in which I can like myself more and more again.
    everybody deserves that, I want everybody to be happy, it makes them nicer too, haha, with more love from Antwerp, me and my cat.

  20. Margaret says:

    Dear Fiona,
    your comment really triggered me and touched me.
    As I am listening to it instead of reading it, when it says “I am with you,we are together”, it sounded like you were saying it to me instead of quoting me when i read it the first time, and that set me of instantaneously, deep early wailing and sadness, mixed into the relief of having companionship.
    A bit later I read your comment over again and then got triggered by your questin:”But will you still love me?” that is such a basic feeling, and all too familiar for me too.
    Then I discovered you had been quoting me a bit further down, instead of adressing me directly, but I am smiling right now, as things between us are so easy and pleasant and don’t need to be brought down to inadequate words too much anyway. This was a great and useful misunderstanding, I rarely get triggered with such efficiency and velocity, ha, it is merely funny in this case it was some misunderstanding, as it also really isn’t if I make myself clear…
    Quite a good group this one, wasn’t it?
    Gretchen, your coment about my brother doing all he can also touched me and made me feel very sad, as it is true and all I can do is what I am doing already I guess, be as nice as possible to him. The protective and worrying feelings I have in my dreams about my cat for example, are about all the members of my family, i also had a specific dream about them directly once which made that cristal clear
    I was in the extremely messy bedroom of my parents house, and at some point of my dream, we were all on the bed, my brother lying with all his weight on my back, my dad angry and shouting at me but then also looking very scared and vulnerable, and my mother just sitting there and watching, consumed with the pain and incapacity to do anything about the situation. How clear can it get? There was so much pain going around in our family the need to take care and protect them and myself was overwhelming, and the sadness of being incapable to solve it all. It also made me feel lost and lonely.
    I also have always had a strong tendency to feel responsable of the whole world, while now more recently I am getting the relieving insight I don’t carry that responsability all by myself. Every thought and idea that goes through my mind must be shared by millions of other people and i don’t need to fix it all on my own, it is a shared thing and leading my own life in the best possible way, treating people around me nicely and being nice to myself is the main thing already. Which doesn’t exclude there are also ways to take up some responsabilities for other problems in this big world.
    Thanks for having set up this blog as I agree with fiona it is a great way to participate and share and form a virtual kind of group setting.
    Thanks for the feedback and support, Margaret.

    • Fiona says:

      What a wonderfully useful misunderstanding. Part of me wants to explain or make it better, but I know that is not the right thing to do. It has been a useful couple of days for us on the blog-group.

    • Larry says:

      Margaret wrote: “Thanks for having set up this blog as I agree with fiona it is a great way to participate and share and form a virtual kind of group setting.”

      Yeah, and it’s free. That’s the amazing thing. You’d think Barry and Gretchen would have had enough of us during their work day. But then they go and run this blog in their spare time. I do feel very well taken care of, and lucky and privileged to be able to have this extraordinary and unique blog and therapy as part of my life. What might have my life been like had there been as much care and understanding while I was growing up. I feel I’m getting an inkling of what it should have been like.

  21. Jack Waddington says:

    Not sure that I like this blog format better than before, (MySpace). There, I had several options for putting it all down in writing: Bold, Italics, underlining etc etc. Why I personally liked that was I was able to gave more nuance to my responses. That aside, I feel several of the comments get into what I call thoughts about thoughts, about feelings. Maybe I’m an oddity, but isn’t it as simple as just expressing the stuff that’s going on inside us … simply?

    For me, I try to refrain form being sad about grieving, or pissed about being angry, or shit scarred to feel afraid. It’s so much simpler … but then I’m merely just a ‘simple Simon’ (simple being my favorite word). Also, for some time now, I know that all my thoughts and ideas are just an extension of my feelings. Lastly, (if that were possible from me) life is not about (a grapple) for feeling happy … or even content. It’s about feeling what is going on with me form moment to moment … to the end of my time.

    P.S. I so “get off” on blogging. Jack

    • Vicki says:

      Actually, Jack, if you look directly below the “Comment” box, it states “You may use these HTML tags and attributes:” and gives a list, but you have to understand how HTML works. I tested a couple. For Bold, use the “strong” or “b” markup before the word, within angle brackets, and also after the word, but with a slash, like “/strong” or “/b” in angle brackets () to mean “end Bolding here”. The “i” for italics markup works the same way. It may not be easy, but it does allow you to EXPRESS YOURSELF!

      • Vicki, What did you say?? You are talking that foreign language again! Lol!! G.

      • Jack Waddington says:

        Thanks Vicki: Yeah! I did know about HTML but never learned it and don’t know that I want to go into that amount ‘trouble’ to use it. The expression is in the words; the added use of bold etc I use for emphasis, rather than expression. I also like the idea when quoting others to use another color which I feel makes for clarity.

        I find it somewhat disconcerting that Primal folks tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing while assuming I was telling other what to do. I was, in my own naive way, just saying how it was for me … I am aware that pisses others off, but my sense of it; is that it’s a misplaced anger, tirade or whatever; not that I would suggest they don’t do it, because I do see it as their feeling, and that relieves me of it being a catalyst for mine.

        I go on a lot of other blogs and it boggles my mind just how much displaced anger, hate and venom there is out there. I contend I am more healthy than that, but then I could be deluding myself. Jack

  22. Fiona says:

    Jack – shut the f*** up! Stop preaching. You like bold type because you can (in effect) SHOUT at people. You make me so mad! Let us make mistakes! Let us say we are scared to feel fear! Let us say we are pissed at being angry! Let us be free… just… to be. Let us f*** up if that is the way we learn. What gives you the right?

    I promised myself to avoid trying to ‘get through to you’. I told myself NEVER to respond to your comments. I failed. I FEAR that I ATTEMPTED to TRY to THINK! According to the ‘book of Jack’ all I should do is feel! Never ever think! I think I feel you make me mad!

    All this, of course, is I.M.O. (one of you favourite ‘get outs’, IMO) – Is an ‘opinion’ a thought or a feeling.?! Don’t effin answer me!

    • Jack Waddington says:

      oooops. Pop goes the weasel. Jack

    • The Ultimate Guru says:

      I did not want to get involved in Fiona & Jack’s nuclear warfare and I would like to stay neutral. I just wanted to say that Fiona’s angry post in addition to angry writings from other people elsewhere have recently taught me a valuable lesson on human information being angrily transmitted. I’m afraid I cannot explain what it is, though, for I would lose my competitive philosophical advantage at that point.

    • Irena says:

      If I had known you have such a filthydirty mouth on you I’d have never married you.

      • Fiona says:

        HA HA HA!!! Saying those truths (31st Jan) really triggered an intense feeling. Expressing a truth, or shouting-out against injustice has been trained out of me, as you of all people know too well. You were treated so badly if you showed any form of defiance.
        I’m rebelling… …. …. if that’s alright with you?….!!! LOL!!
        “Power to the filthy-dirty-mouthed-Primal-people”!! [raises fist]

        • Larry says:

          Good for you Fiona. Sounds like quite a break through. And may I never do something that finds me on the receiving end of that blast. 🙂

          • The Ultimate Guru says:

            Larry: Does this mean you would be treated (quoting Fiona) “badly if you showed any form of defiance” towards her?

            • Larry says:

              In my adult life I have been, in person, on the receiving end of such a blast at least four times that I can recall. In each of the cases I reviewed my behaviour and tried to get a deeper sense of where myself and the other person were at, to understand why I had tripped them over the edge. In three of the cases I didn’t want to lose the relationship, we came to an understanding, and grew closer. In the fourth case I felt it best that this relationship end, and it did. I find Fiona to be a very reasonable, intelligent, sensitive, caring person, a friend. If my behaviour tripped her dramatically over the edge, I’d want to understand what it was about me and her that lead to the flashpoint, and in Fiona’s case I’d want to preserve the relationship. I’ve been yelled at like that even by people I love the most. Just sayin that when that happens to me, it feels awful that this relationship broke down to such and extent, and then there is the scary self-examination to feel why it happened and whether the relationship is repairable. We are human. Anger happens. If someone close to me is angry at me, I’d want it out and dealt with, not kept to themself, or vice versa. As for being treated badly, I try not to stick around for too much of that.

              • Irena says:

                oh dear Lordie!!! So very analytical! Tell me just how it feels when someone gets that angry at you !?

                • Larry says:

                  Initially decades ago when someone got that angry at me it felt devastating Irena. As years went by and I felt more grounded, eruption of that kind of anger at me felt less shattering. In all cases, the degree of anger felt unfair. It’s been more than a decade since I last experienced an outburst like that from someone. Why do you want me to write that?

          • Fiona says:

            Do you think I am mad at you?

            • Larry says:

              No Fiona. Not at all. If you were I’m confident you’d let me know. I prefer it that way. It’s good.

            • Irena says:

              Larry, ‘Why do you want me to write that?’ surprises me a bit.
              Thought your comments were discriptive but not really about how you felt. ..’it feels awful that this relationship broke down to such and extent, and then there is the scary self-examination to feel why it happened’….
              I wanted to know HOW you felt.
              Also I wonder how you would express yourself, if you could use only one or two sentences to describe your feelings.

              • Larry says:

                I felt unloved, which triggered a deep resevoir of that feeling. I felt something was wrong with me, but I didn’t think anything was, still I had a deep resevoir of that feeling. I felt I did something bad, but I didn’t, yet I had a deep resevoir of that feeling. I felt the person’s anger was unfair and way out of proportion to whatever I did to trigger it. Since they were people that mattered to me, I felt I had to confront them about it, and work through my feelings about it. The incidents I’m referring to happened decades ago. The emotional charge just insn’t there for me now. Why do you want me to write about it?

  23. Margaret says:

    wow Fiona, way to go! If that isn’t expressing your anger it comes pretty close, haha!
    Jack, about time to come down from that ivory tower of yours, you sound like you are getting a bit of a distorted view upthere.
    Why don’t you do any of that direct feelingexpressing here for a change?

    • Jack Waddington says:

      Margaret: So what do you think I was doing? Is the only way to show feelings by crying and moaning about ones fate? I don’t need a blog to do that.
      There are a whole bunch of other feeling out there in the ether. Jack

  24. Larry says:

    Warning. The following comments might depress some people. Reader discretion advised.

    A week ago I happened across an unsual new book in the agriculture research library where I work, a library stacked mostly with journals and books that are technical reference works. The book that caught my eye is “Pandora’s Seed The Unforseen Cost of Civilization”. I’m fascinated by the history of how we got here and I worry about the future, and those are what this little book is all about. The reason I sit down to type this message is these stark sentences that I just read half-way through this engrossing book, and that fit hand and glove with the theme of this blog:

    “According to the WHO, mental illness will be the second biggest cause of death and disability by 2020. ….. Suicide rates are climbing; over 1 million people every year take their own lilves, more than are murdered or killed in wars. And which countries are leading the way, with rates of depression and anxiety that are unrivaled in the rest of the developed world? America and Japan-perhaps the most technologically advanced societies on the planet, and among the richest. Clearly, technology and affluence alone don’t make people happy.”

    • Vicki says:

      Uh, yeah. Neither do the foot-long cheeseburgers, new at Carl’s Jr., pictured in today’s paper, but apparently a lot of some people think it makes them happy, so it sells so well. People have lost a feeling for the importance of human connection in life, the value of it. Lost with disconnection in their own families, from their parents, their mom and dad — and accordingly, from themselves. Whole lotta emptiness to fill… with whatever’s handy.

    • The Ultimate Guru says:

      I approach that article with neutrality and a great deal of caution. I think “reference anxiety” (Google it if you want) can play an important role. An example showing the gist of it is being confronted with all sorts of bad feelings because a millionaire anxiously feels inferior to all of his multi-millionaire friends around him, completely forgetting he’s already better off than 95% of U.S households.
      My last point is not directly related to the article, but I think about an old aphorism that was constantly drilled into me when I was younger: “Money does not buy you happiness.” In the spirit of Irena and Gretchen saying that the things people do NOT say are also important…Why didn’t anyone also tell me, “LACK of money also does not buy you happiness?”
      Personally I think it was an old memetic strategically passed down in the days of yore from the mercantile classes to the serfs to keep the serfs from becoming a potential economic threat.

      • The Ultimate Guru says:

        Everybody seems to be off on their own tangents right now, but I wanted to just add something I forgot to my last post as a footnote.
        Think it sounds far-fetched that mercantiles from the days of old told the serfs “Money doesn’t buy you happiness” just to keep the serfs from being inspired to become an economic threat? Think it’s just a rambling conspiracy theory on my part?
        In case you do believe those questions, do also consider that this classic and widespread memetic is an extremely cost-effective one for the privileged to spread around (It’s FREE!!!). Using any form of free advertising or persuasion is guaranteed to be a favorite of any crafty group that wants to stay in power….

  25. Margaret says:

    can you hear how condescending and patronizing that zounds? You keep lashing out in so many ways I start to feel sorry for you, you must be feeling pretty bad, wish you could talk about that instead. I know you know what to do, just me wishing!

    • Jack Waddington says:

      No Margaret, I don’t hear how condescending and patronizing I sound. Your suggestion that I am LASHING OUT … seems to me (and perhaps only to me) …, more like your feeling … not mine. To the best of my awareness I didn’t ‘lash out’ at anyone. The LASHER OUTERER I considered to be Fiona. She obviously needed to do do that and I suspect I was the guy to symbolically do it upon. That was ok by me, specially since she seemed to get a lot out of doing it (good for her). It’s not the first time she’s done that in my direction. Hopefully you too get something out of telling me what you feel about me. Good for you too.

      Please Margaret, there is absolutely no need to ‘feel sorry’ for me. I’m not in a bad way. I’m just a fellow blogger, blogging away … my way of expressing myself in writing on the internet.

      Isn’t that what this therapy is supposed to encourage us to do (express ourselves … freely where appropriate?) Jack

  26. sabine says:

    My head and my heart is full after reading through nearly all of the comments. While taking myself a little rest and thinking what do I wanna write about, I find myself crying.
    No, I am again pausing. My intension is just to be honest, just being myself, just expressing myself, but is this true? I am in a conflict of just saying what´s on my mind and thinking how to do it the right way. By the way: Irena I dislike you keep on critisizing Larry for the way he writes.
    I have never done it the “right way”. I have heard that on and on from people. And now in my inner ear I hear already somebody saying in “this group” what are you talking about.
    I am crying about being rejected. Somebody was writing about how much rejection hurts and I feel so rejected from that person. My inner ear hears somebody saying: Who is it? Why are you talking so inpersonell? I am trying not to blame anybody. That´s what I am always doing: blaming other people. And people hate that about me. Of course. I don´t wanna get told that I am blaming other people, but how should I express myself then, when I feel so hurt? How should I move on then? Again I am doing it wrong. The whole post is a complain. I don´t wanna stop myself from saying what´s on my mind, because I get rejected afterwards. I get rejected a lot. I wanted to write about getting rejected for my neediness. I need too much. Don´t tell me it´s okay being needy. It´s rarely okay being needy for anybody. But I need to be who I am and I need to express myself. ” I have no idea what you are talking about” my inner ear remembers again those words I have heard so many times. Indeed I feel I am expressing myself very well, telling about confusing, contradictive things and fears and flooded with feelings. That´s me.

  27. sabine says:

    I was thinking about what drives me to write that way?
    Thinking at Fiona´s : do you still love me, when I cut the onions the wrong way?
    My response is :” I know you never love me, no matter how I cut the onions”. This is the reality of my childhood and I can´t find any hope inside me that that will ever change.

    • Fiona says:

      Glad to see you here, too Sabine. It has been a while since you wrote on the blog.

      I think you wrote well. I didn’t see it as complaining – just telling us how it is for you. That is all I keep doing here. Trying to be honest to myself. Trying to speak up for myself, and speak my mind (since the last retreat). Trying to ‘get to’ that lurking feeling that is hiding in the background. It seems to have worked for you too today. It usually works for me too.

      The ‘onion’ feeling is going to be an ongoing and long-winded one. I think you just wrote what is my reality… but I just haven’t got there yet… [ ‘Thinking at Fiona´s : do you still love me, when I cut the onions the wrong way?
      My response is :” I know you never love me, no matter how I cut the onions”.’]
      I spent my childhood ‘TRYING’ and trying and trying to do and say the right thing to get the love that I needed; and I obviously wasn’t doing the right things in the right way to get anything. I wasn’t good enough. She (mother) never let me in. I will never be loved, either, no matter how I would cut the onions.

      Glad you wrote. I wish more would write too, makes reading more interesting. So many more chances to get those triggers we all need…. not that you seem to need any help to get triggered. You used to have so many feelings. Is that still the same for you?

      • sabine says:

        Thanks for your encouragaing words, Fiona!
        I see you so much trying to be honest with your feelings you are going such a brave, courageaus way. I love your sense of humour and I said fast from the beginning since I know you ( before you started primal therapy) that I like you a lot and feel a special connection to you. But your behaviour confuses me: As soon as I write on the blog, you respond encouraging to me. When I send you a christmas card I don´t get a response.
        Is this because this here is more public and other people might have reactions? I have never got that rejected in my adult live as I got from you. I am so hurt. Still. I am trying to bring here more reality in our relations. You couldn´t stand my neediness. Okay. You wanted to stay away from me. Okay. I felt I tried a lot to help you with this. For many months I hold my own feelings completely back to support you and dealt with my feelings myself. I screamed and screamed, of course to the way larger degree because of my old rejection. Then that email where you asked me whether we buddy again. In the same email you wrote again that you can´t stand me. Why asking for buddying then? Should I start opening up and talking about my feelings and then when – after ten minutes, twenty minutes you tell me you can´t stand how needy I am?
        Months went on and it felt more and more this is not about me – not to the large degree. I was feeling those times constantly I am doing everything wrong, it´s all my fault and I think I became a good target to act out on. I got the impression you didn´t really wanna know what I was feeling.
        It is your right to reject me, to not stand me. But why are you then giving me those contradictive responses? I don´t understand you and want this to be real. It wouldn´t be real for me to just thank you for your support and go on as nothing has happened.
        Maybe I should have written that in an email, but this seems to have become group here anyway. Maybe peoples reactions help me in any way, because I am still hurt, very much so. I need to confront myself with it.

        • Fiona says:

          I am very pleased that you wrote here not just in an email.. actually either would have been fine. You have the right to say to me exactly what you feel you need to.

          Part of me wants to answer all the questions you asked. Another part of me knows that my doing so could be me ‘defending’ (I think that is the right term for it) myself and my actions. In other relationships I am guilty of defending when I should be…. giving in. Even writing “giving in” there gave me chills.

          I write on this blog to access my feelings; to bring out what is hiding below, and then I flee to my bed and cry or bash away at pillows with my bat… or whatever fits the feeling. I don’t want to take your feeling away from you, if that is what you did yesterday. But I will ask you this:

          Is there something you want from me right now?

          I can answer your questions. I can justify/explain why I did not respond to your christmas card, I can explain why I asked if you wanted to buddy etc etc. What I do NOT want is to perpetuate …. sorry I mean to make and keep up a struggle with you. That struggle we had before…. an overwhelming, endless struggle. I am already tempted, yet again as I write, to start explaining and justifying and ‘trying’ to make everything ok. No matter what I write or answer your hurt will never go. That has happened, and sadly, I caused my portion of that hurt you feel.

          • sabine says:

            Fiona, thanks for your invitation!
            There are things which are very confusing in your behaviour towards me and it might help to get a response to that. There are other parts where it might help me to express what I feel, where I don´t need a response/ justifying from you. I send you an email as this might be getting too long here. I will be trying to avoid struggle.

    • Larry says:

      Sabine, I think if it helps you, keep writing here. It sounds like you are all you have.

  28. Fiona says:

    I had a dream early this morning [before I saw Sabine’s comment this evening – so not connected to any of that].

    In the dream, I was on a bus and a lady with a baby and an older child were getting off at the same stop as me. The lady was burdened with lots of bags and paraphernalia, and the well trained (even in a dream) me, started to help the lady as she dropped things and was obviously struggling in her attempt to get off the bus.

    The bus driver (also a lady… well that’s debatable!) opened the door to let us off. But just as my nose was at the door the bus Bastard shut it on me! I couldn’t get out. I turned, and quelled my frustration, and asked politely if I could get off too; “can you open the door please?” By this time she had already started to move off – I asked again, but she said that “Oh no, the bus is moving . You can’t get off when the bus is moving.”

    I began to get cross. But as with all my prior training, I am not allowed to be angry AT a person – especially one in authority!! (Pah!!) I asked her to stop again, but she said “Ah! No – it is not a legitimate bus stop, so I can’t stop here!” By now in my dream I am getting crazy! My partner is waiting for me, and I am going to be late for her now. AND the woman I helped is waiting for her belongings which I was helping her with. I start to worry if she will still be there when I get back to the bus stop. The worries were huge at this point.

    I am worrying and worrying about the people who are waiting for me; but I am continuously being hampered by the deliberately awkward bus driver…. who I am STILL not allowed to get mad at! Even if I do let loose, and verbally rip her to shreds, it means that she will retaliate instantly; and I will be endlessly cocooned inside the bus for all eternity…. all at her evil whim! She has all the control! She has a power over me. I can’t win. I was so angry. I was so bloody angry!

    I woke up so mad! I barked something at my poor unsuspecting partner, on my way to the bathroom. She, of course, had no idea of my ordeal in my imaginary bus. (Sorry, I) Way to greet someone, huh?!

    Speaking my mind has always had repercussions. Being angry AT someone was totally unforgivable when I grew up, especially at an adult, let alone someone in authority. Ha! Questioning a Doctor??? What?? Saying no??? Pah! Being angry was wrong!

    I wanted to express my anger to the bus driver in such a way that she would know – and then just open the door. Once I realised that she was just going to make things hard for me WHATEVER I did; anger or no anger. I felt I had lost. I could never win. I can’t get it right whatever I do.

    … and that was the feeling…. I can’t get it right whatever I do! I will never get it right!

    … back to the ‘onions’ it seems.

  29. Larry says:

    Unfortunately I am unable to reply directly because there seems to be no more space up there. Irena, you still didn’t answer MY question. In reference to your request of me on Feb. 4, why did you want me to write that explanation? It seems I eventually did write a reply that was to your satisfaction. I went to the effort for you, now I wish to know, why did you need me to write that answer? What did you get out of it?

    • Vicki says:

      Interesting, Larry, because I think Irena DID answer your question, twice. Interesting, that you don’t “get” that, or see it. And you seem to have ignored what Irena actually said, in your “reply”. Sounds like you’re locked into only one way of responding, i.e., in “your own style” only. I don’t believe you really paid enough attention to what she wrote. Try again, and see if it gets clearer.

      • Larry says:

        Interesting responses from both of you. Of course I respond in my own style. Whose style am I supposed to adopt, if not my own.

        This thread began when I responded to UG, where he said:

        The Ultimate Guru says:
        February 3, 2011 at 2:00 am
        Larry: Does this mean you would be treated (quoting Fiona) “badly if you showed any form of defiance” towards her?

        My response to UG was to share my outlook with him that if someone like Fiona who mattered to me is angry at me, I prefer that the person be open with me and show it, even though it feels uncomfortable. In fact to the contrary, I feel I would be treated badly if they kept their anger toward me to themself and didn’t show it. It was an intellectual discourse with UG rather than a baring of my soul. The caveat is that I was talking about anger between people that matter to each other and want to work to a resolution.

        If Irena is bored with the content or style of what I write, I hope I’m open to her telling me so, even though it stings. But when she wants me to change the content, then I don’t get it. I’m insulted, but even moreso mystified. What’s going on here? Why did Irena want me to change the content to something that didn’t matter to me but seemed to matter to her? UG didn’t ask how I feel when someone yells at me, and I had absolutely zero need to talk about it.

        Irena help me. I’m searching for more clarity. Why did you request me to write about something that I felt no need or compulsion to, that didn’t serve me in any way except to see where this was going by complying with your request? I feel there is something you aren’t sharing.

  30. Jack Waddington says:

    At the risk of being accused of being condescending and patronizing here’s my two cents worth (just my feeling). Things seem to be getting complicated and convoluted on this blog, which, counter to Mark’s notion of letting us make our mistakes doesn’t always IMO lead to clarity, as is my experience from many that have left the Institute and now debunk Primal.

    So here’s my suggestion to some of you guys:
    Just say how you feel, and forget all the reasons/explanations.
    Best you can, if that freaks you, take a risk.
    Trust your gut feeling, cos as I see it, that’s what got battered out of us … way back when.
    To my way of thinking, it’s when things seem complicated we go searching for reasons, which invariably IMO lead to defending.

    There … I said it … feel free to express what you feel about me saying all this.


    • Fiona says:

      I agree – you are totally right Jack. Sad thing is: I just can’t dive in all the time, and just do it. I do hear what you say, and as with other aspects of my neurosis, I do work on them, and I DO GET BETTER at them. Just as I seem to begin conquer one foible, another becomes blatantly apparent! Something ELSE I have to avoid. I know I bellow at you occasionally, but I also try to acknowledge you when you are right. As you are now.

      Try not to get things out of proportion, Jack. You OFTEN have valuable things to say. I DO take note of those gems and insights that you have. To me the devil’s advocate side of your responses is a different thing, and…. well you know!

      When I started my therapy I became aware of a ‘kind of selfishness’ that I am uncomfortable with. Where I see people say and do what they want, seemingly without regard for other people, and the effects we can have on them. I know you are probably shouting at the screen at me “but that is THEIR problem”, but I don’t ever want to be that person. I want to be able to achieve a healthier balance than that total selfishness. I want the healthy balance within me. Like a healthy balanced diet; knowing when and how much of particular food to eat.

      My goal with my therapy is balance.

      I have a way to go. I will NOT be totally “self”. I refuse to go to the other extreme determinedly.

      Oh another thing. Sounds stupid, I know, but it is true. There are times where I don’t know how I feel or what I want because I am so crazy! Simple example that happens:
      Partner asks me, “So, do you want to watch this program and record that one, or vice versa?”
      Simple answer? Wrong! I have a history of asking questions to “make the other person happy”, so I tend(ed) to ask a whole battery of questions in response. Like, “I don’t mind – what would you prefer?” AND I get worse!

      Once my poor partner is (was) at breaking point and yells, “Just answer the bloody question!” I can’t. Here is a sample of what goes through my head:
      – well I know that she prefers the first program… but…
      – but the other one finishes sooner, so that she will be able to get to bed earlier… if she wants…
      – …does she want to get to bed earlier? shall I ask?
      – maybe she wants to please me by asking what I prefer?
      – maybe she would like to watch the one with no commercials, and then we can fast forward the commercials…
      – what did we do last week? which made her happy then?…
      at no point am I thinking about which program I want!

      I think I have made my point. But both therapist and partner say “Just answer the effin question!” The first time I tried, I truly didn’t know. My whole life I have manoeuvred around pleasing people. I have to pause, accept the panic, and then answer. I still mutter occasionally to myself, “Just answer the effin question!”

      Not all of this was aimed at you, Jack – I just seemed to ramble on, as usual.

      • Jack Waddington says:

        Sounds, to me, like you’re getting there Fiona. It’s ok to not know how you feel. Happens to me, even after all this time. What I have learned to say is; “I don’t know” but that took quite some time getting around to.

        If you feel the need to ramble on, just ramble on. The hard bit, for me was being told not to ramble on. Course that goes right onto my dad and sometimes my mom, but fuck it, if I need to ramble on, as I did at the Christmas group, then I ramble on till Barry told me “Jack; you never know when to stop”. He was right, give me my head and I’m off to the races.

        After all this time it doesn’t hurt like it used to.


        P.S. thx for the compliment; least-ways, I took that way.

      • Larry says:

        As I read your frenzy about trying to judge what would be the right answer to choose from the options you were given, I was wondering if it might be helpful if your partner asked a more direct question, such as, “Is there anything you want to watch now”.

        • Fiona says:

          No Larry. We both loved both the programs, and they were both on at the same time! Typically!
          My problem – not hers.
          This was just an example of my ‘frenzy’! Great word for it, thanks!

          • Larry says:

            Wow! So there really was no one right answer. Either would have been just as good as the other. You guys could easily have just flipped a coin to decide which to watch.

    • Larry says:

      I see your point Jack. Thanks for trying to help.

    • Irena says:

      My sentiments exactly!

      • Irena says:

        Jack, this was meant for your latest imput re your suggestion to just say how you feel.

        • Margaret says:

          really nice you write so often on the blog now, and guess what, finally I get the comments rightaway by e-mail, really great, even though my replys will still come through Fiona, I am really happy with this, tahnks Vicki, thanks Fiona!
          By the way, Irena, I hope I didn’t overdo it in my mail to you, just let me know please if there was anything that bothered you,, I feel I might have been a bit overenthousiastic and I want the air between us to stay clear. On the other hand I think you do know the feelings are heartfelt and sincere, it is just a little scary to make myself so vulnerable. But I also do enjoy a feeling of relief slowly daring to show my true self more and more, it is fragile but it is me and I like it.

          • Irena says:

            Margot, you made no mistake at all. I very much enjoy hearing from you. But for me, if I do get to the PC, it has to be quick, since it’s usually at work. And after work, at home I just want to chill and not deal with PC or even e mails. So I tend to move it all to my day off. Since last week end we hosted a dinner party there was little time or even strength left.
            But just you write away all the same. x

            • Margaret says:

              Dear Irena,
              thanks for your quick reply, nice as always. Don’t worry, you already did respond to what I wrote the first time anyway, and now I feel completely fine and reassured again. I can still become so very scared at the idea somebody might just ignore me, it is scary to realise myself how vulnerable I can still feel to that dreaded old feeling of utter rejection, even if it turns out to be completely imaginary like in this case. It shows me for the xth time how many unnecessary, old,fears still tend to pop up their ugly heads from time to time. Luckily I am getting better at not acting them out anymore, I used to be really bad at attacking innocent victims I had projected my imaginary worst case scenarios on.
              I am obviously not entirely rid of my fears yet, but at least am more able to have some reality check first in case I feel insecure.
              Of course it also means I can only really get along with people that are open and willing to communicate honestly, as all of my friends are really.Nothing as bad for a person like me as having to guess what the other person thinks or feels in case of doubt, my mind can come up with some pretty horrible scenarios sometimes. Luckily this keeps improving gradually, at the same pace I can start liking myself I guess.
              This journey through the subtle realities of feelings and interactions is so fescinating and rich,I am so happy to have you all to help me to explore this wild but beautiful inner jungle, snakes and orchids included.

  31. Fiona says:

    [just activating email link for Margaret]

  32. MARE says:

    Thank Vicky and Gretchen for the improvement of the blog.
    Margaret congratulations with your improvement as you say “This journey through the subtle realities of feelings and interactions is so fascinating and rich” It is very important in Primal Therapy to pay attention to the details, the details with feelings, the interactions with other people, the food we take, how much we talk, how little we talk, how much, how less we relate, etc can make such a big difference.
    As concerned with Irena I am also your type , your style of somatizing (translating into body reactions pschychic problems) As many times I have been my worse enemy and I had suffered a lot I just feel compassion for this poor me and I want to acknowledge, as Margaret the subtle realities of feeling and find solution to my problems and put people and circumstances in my favour and not against me as I have been doing many times unconsciously so I have more opportunities to win or win and not loose or loose

  33. Fiona says:

    Hi Miguel

    Long time no read. I was wondering where you were!

  34. Margaret says:

    I am wondering where a lot of peole are, the former bloggers like Bernadette and Guru and Barbara and Steve and B and Jo and then there is the whole lot of primal friends <wwho I know are reading but not writing, come on you folks, join the party and get involbed in all the fun and hassles, great trip, far out, get that groove, haha, we miss you!
    And then there is the bunch that don't even read us, they have no idea of what they are missing!
    The more the merrier, but well, we will have to entertain each other so far I guess. Just came back from tango class and had a fun time, it really cheeered me up again, as it usually does in fact.
    Going to bed soon, while a lot of you must be having their afternoon coffee. xx, Margaret

  35. MAR says:

    Hi Fiona:
    Nice to hear from you:
    I have been following you and trying to solve some problem concerning me. I’ve been reading the alternatives you have on choosing this or that program on TV. I understand that, and sometimes it is difficult to choose, especially when there it is love around, when it is love that matters, underneath watching this or that program on TV.
    For me the most difficult part of this therapy was beginning it and getting used to it, but afterwards translating or putting into practice the “lessons” of Primal Therapy into every day life.

  36. Fiona says:

    I hate it when I goes stale on here!
    I had a feeling when I saw this video the first time. Was so shocked I stifled it really quickly. Does it trigger anyone else? It is just under 9 minutes long. I am watching it again now……

    • Fiona says:

      Nope – same thing happened. Every time it triggers me, even though I know how it ends! That eternal wait…….. followed by…

      (Margaret – you may not benefit from this too much without a bit of audio description….. if you want I can help)

      • Larry says:

        I started to sob as soon as the guy went under. I could feel his panic and suffering. In a few more minutes he was going to die. I felt it was cruel of you to post this. I gripped my chair, wanting to leave but decided to sit through it, because since you posted it, I suspected he would be saved. I don’t want to watch it again and hear his suffering as the last minutes of his life drain away. He’s a very lucky guy.

      • Vicki says:

        Nope, did not trigger any feeling. I just felt some confusion at first, as to what had really happened (since I don’t automatically accept what I’m told), then I decided to accept that he was indeed buried, and felt it was scary, as he had to wait. As his rescuers got closer, he finally made more noise, even after he knew he was saved. I was surprised he wasn’t noisy and struggling right away, although maybe hard to tell.

  37. Larry says:

    Thanks for opening the gate Fiona 🙂 I’m going to follow your lead. A video I recently discovered and am posting is the most unusual music I’ve heard. It puts me in a calm, beautiful place of deep hopefulness tinged with sadness and acceptance. I’ve been wrestling whether to share on the blog with you guys. Maybe it will move some of you too. At the risk of this turning into a music blog, here goes:

  38. Fiona says:

    [sorry – checking the link for Margaret is finally working]

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