The Primal Institute celebrates its 40th anniversary! The publication of “The Primal Scream” in 1970 was a watershed moment for millions of readers who were touched deeply by its simple, elegant truth. This was an international best seller translated into almost every language. People from widely divergent cultures responded to the books revolutionary content and compassionate tone. Absolutely revolutionary in 1970, but perhaps even more so now as we approach 2010. An idea is revolutionary if it challenges the status quo. An idea is revolutionary if it is not compatible with the current state of knowledge in a given discipline. If Primal Theory is correct, then many other non-compatible theories may be incorrect. If reliving the pain of childhood trauma is necessary for lasting change, then cognitive approaches where deep feeling does not occur must be contraindicated. If after 40 years of opening up patient’s psyches and finding only memories, sad and painful memories, then the Freudian legacy of defenses as necessary is incorrect. The unconscious is knowable and what we find is often painfully sad memories and feelings. Reconnecting to those memories and feelings is the key to getting well and restoring the capacity for real intimacy. Arthur and Vivian Janov intuitively understand that neurosis is a disease of feeling. To treat the infinite varieties and faces of neurosis is to be led astray. The Janovs understood that the underlying cause of emotional problems and symptoms is childhood pain, and that this pain is imprinted in our nervous system and throughout our bodies. Most importantly, the Janovs trusted their patients, trusted in their patient’s sufferings and memories of childhood longing. Allowing their patients to feel without the need to direct or interpret revealed the enormous power of feelings in restoring emotional and physical health. In the four decades since the publication of The Primal Scream, advances in scientific research have served to corroborate Primal Theory. The discovery of endorphins – the brains internal opiate system – can there be a more profound proof that we are in pain? Research on human tears and their important role in regulating stress hormones speak to the Primal hypothesis. Proper therapy will often involve crying, deep weeping and the reliving of past experiences that lead to profound insight. Ongoing research on our brains, “plasticity” confirms our Primal experience. Scientists now confirm that emotional trauma changes brain structure, which simply means a painful childhood really does hurt us in every way, and at every level. The good news is that this plasticity, the brains ability to rewire and recreate itself, can truly heal itself under optimal conditions such as re-experiencing childhood trauma. The Primal revolution has come a long way, changing the practice of psychotherapy in many ways. Access to deep feeling often needs more time than the standard 50-minute hour so prevalent in the field today. Primal Therapy broke tradition with the structure and format of conventional psychotherapy. The 3-Week Intensive program, which consists of open-ended sessions, which facilitate access to deep feeling and their expression. Access to feelings is discouraged in conventional therapy in every way, including the room where therapy takes place. Primal Therapy recognizes that only an environment free from distractions of expensive furnishings, harsh lighting, sitting face to face in chairs can help transport us to our past. Primal Therapy takes place in distraction free rooms, sitting or lying down as appropriate with variable lighting that promotes access to ones past. Perhaps the most important component of Primal Therapy is faith in human nature. Faith in what is natural. Primal Therapy believes that what the patient feels is real. Primal Theory believes that the pain and symptoms each patient brings has a real basis, the result of real deficits rooted in his childhood. Every symptom, every self-destructive behavior or act-out is an attempt at regulating overwhelming pain. The Primal Institute has been helping patients for 40 years based on this simple truth. Unfelt pain makes us sick. Feeling the pain makes us healthier.
BooksThe Primal Scream – The Feeling Child – Prisoners of Pain