Psychotherapies Without Feeling

by Dr. Arthur Janov

Posted June 2005 on

Chapter 6: Hypnotherapy: Painwashing, Brainwashing?

The therapist-client relationship is generally not, perhaps never is, one of equals...The client is in a position of revealing his problems, inadequacies, and fears to a person who seems to be going through life successfully and carefree...The relationship is characterized by the therapist being the expert, the authority, and a client's uncertainty or inability to detect personal choices can easily induce obedience to authority...The need for acceptance and the need to belong are also factors present in the hypnotic relationship.

Avoiding confrontations with the authority, doing things to please her (ranging from generating therapeutic results to knitting her a sweater), conforming to her language style, values, and theoretical ideas are all ways this need can be discovered...

In order to be truly influential, discovering where (not whether) a person is open to suggestion (and everybody is at some level) is the task of the clinician.

  Yapko, Trancework[1]

Long-range effectiveness in hypnotherapy depends upon the success of posthypnotic suggestion. Suggestions implanted in the mind of the patient during the session must continue to exert an influence long after the session has ended. The suggestion that an obese woman will eat less during the next week as she learns to dislike fattening foods must stick in her mind if it is to work. In order for suggestions to accomplish this they must somehow alter the patient's ideas and attitudes about the problem being treated.  Recall that Erickson repeatedly described hypnosis as a process of presenting new ideas. Indeed, the phenomenon of suggestion makes it possible to replace a negative state of mind with a more beneficial one suggested by the therapist. What must be understood, however, is that a new state of mind is at once the achievement and the limitation of suggestion. For it is at best ephemeral -- never able to eradicate years of childhood experiences that summated into a feeling of worthlessness, for example. Only the belief in magic could imagine otherwise.

If one understands that early traumatic experience is imprinted, impressed into the neurophysiologic system permanently then one quickly sees that a suggestion in the present, no matter how powerful, is at best palliative; the business of repressing Pain and distorting reality goes on as usual throughout the body. In short, suggestion is never a match for an imprint.

Let's review what characterizes the hypnotic trance experience. As described in the previous chapter, someone who is in a trance:

*waits passively for information as to how to behave

(suspension of the "planning function");

*pays attention only to the hypnotist and follows hypnotist's directions ("selective attention" and "redistribution of attention");

*accepts distortions as reality (reduction of "reality testing");

*is highly susceptible to the hypnotist's suggestions (heightened "suggestibility");

*will readily adopt a role of being someone else ("role enactment"), and

*may forget and recall the hypnotic experience ("post-hypnotic amnesia")

In other words, the hypnosis subject, guided by the hypnotist's cues, tunes out some external and internal stimuli while tuning in on others. While in a trance, his experience is narrow, with a separation ("dissociation") existing between his conscious and unconscious minds. In such a condition he is highly susceptible to the hypnotist's suggestions, such as new ideas ostensibly designed to change his state of mind: to dissociate from pain, replace depressive thoughts with positive ideation, see one's body in more attractive light, learn better self-esteem, and so on.

The attraction of suggestion therapy is that it offers an apparently speedy and effective means of bringing about change without having to deal with the troublesome contents of the unconscious in their own terms. But precisely because this approach keeps aloof from the generating experiences behind the problematic mental states, suggestion therapy can never be resolving. It can only paper over the cracks, rearrange defenses and symptoms, further dissociation and disconnection and, in effect, streamline the neurosis.

Because neurosis is the post-hypnotic state in which we carry out the "suggestions" of childhood, we may see hypnotherapy as offering counter-suggestions. This might be well and good were not the original suggestions of neurosis bound to physiological imprints laid down in the course of development. Suggestion therapy is really only the offer of a better looking and more hopeful defense. How different is all this from a psychoanalyst who "suggests" that his patient is suffering from this or that, and perhaps she ought to leave her husband, go back to school, try harder to be nice? Are these not suggestions? That is why the best therapy involves no suggestions whatsoever

Once the patient is the center of all therapeutic power, suggestions are superfluous. It is then she who suggests to the therapist what is the possible motivation behind certain behavior; it is the patient who thinks perhaps she ought to try this or that. Her feelings will dictate, not the words, however reassuring and mellifluous, of a therapist. Power to the patient!

Within the experience of each Pain is a unique and complex spectrum of responses -- responses which, as I have said, are mediated by ongoing neurophysiological processes. An early trauma may diminish the effectiveness of part of the immune system, such as the natural killer cells. The trauma may change the thyroid output (our hypothyroids often are able to normalize with reliving of Pain). The entire body and brain is thus involved in each Pain response, and it is the entire body and brain which must be involved in each undoing. Otherwise we are fighting against the Primal tide, and that tide is not easily overcome.

Look at it another way. Suppose someone steals and is caught. He is beaten every day for a year. Chances are this will encourage him not to steal. But the tendencies are not beaten away. You can't beat a childhood away, nor can you encourage it away, any more than you can encourage the physiology to change permanently. To think otherwise is again to believe in magic. Never forget the "why" in therapy. If you do forget it, then the therapy is bound to fail. Why does she do this? Why does she have migraines? Why does he steal? Can suggestion erase twenty years of ghetto life? Not likely.

Hypnotherapy: Reality or Delusion?

Most hypnotherapists today contend that hypnosis does not involve control and manipulation, as was originally believed. They contend that the patient is not merely a passive recipient; he is instead an active participant, accepting suggestions that suit him and rejecting those that do not. To me this oversimplifies and makes the situation a matter of semantic. It ignores two important factors: the vulnerability inherent in being a patient, and the passivity inherent in the act of receiving suggestions.

Being vulnerable means "capable of being wounded; assailable; open to attack or damage." A patient is vulnerable because he is in the hands of someone else. Vulnerability detracts from one's judgment and common sense, which is why accepting or rejecting suggestions as a patient is no simple matter. If a patient were so clearly able to determine what did or did not suit him, he wouldn't be a patient in the first place. He would be a healthy, feeling person. How can a patient even know what kind of suggestions will help her problems if she doesn't really know what her problems are? Disconnection characterizes neurosis.

 Vulnerability is precisely what makes hypnotherapy so appealing. A beneficial reality can be superimposed over Pain and problems by a kindly father figure. Beneficial suggestions are seen as the perfect antidote to the vulnerability of tension and anxiety. But how truly beneficial are these suggestions? How beneficial is it to be told you are feeling comfortable and relaxed when you are really feeling otherwise? Doesn't this also replay the parent-child paradigm where the child is admonished into smiling when she doesn't want to, into acting happy when he really feels sad.

Hypnotic suggestions for comfort, relaxation, stress-reduction, and the like really require the same compromise the neurotic has made all his life. This is what can and does happen not only in hypnotic past-life regression; vulnerable to the hypnotist's suggestions and expectations, the patient produces a fantasy disguised as a traumatic memory, and believes that re-experiencing it makes the current symptoms that it supposedly generate disappear. Such is also the case in hypnotic age regression in which the patient does not fully relive and integrate the early trauma but instead shoves it back down.

To say that the patient has control over the hypnotic situation, as modern hypnotherapists contend, is a double contradiction in terms. First of all, the neurotic is never in control; that is part of the problem. The neurotic's history controls him; it is the unconscious reference point around which his life revolves. Perhaps he overeats, for example, and why? Because he has no control over the arcane forces at work. The neurotic who has reached the point of seeking therapy does so because he has at least a dim realization that his Pain is controlling him.

We can have no control over our Pain as long as it remains unconscious; and that is the most that hypnotherapy can do -- make us unconscious. This brings us to the second part of the contradiction: the patient cannot be in control of something of which he is unconscious. As long as Pain remains unconscious, as it must in the hypnotic situation, it wields the force. To say that the neurotic has control in the hypnotic situation is to contradict the meaning of both hypnosis and neurosis.

I believe that passivity is inherent in the hypnotic relationship. No matter how much the patient supposedly "participates," it is still in response to the hypnotherapist. The hypnotherapist is really the active agent, the one who defines the situation, however broadly.

Erickson believes that hypnosis is an active process for the patient because hypnotherapists base their suggestions on the patient's "repertory of life experiences and learnings." Carefully worded suggestions, "utilizing the patient's own frame of reference," can then stimulate the patient to reassociate and reorganize his associative processes." But basing suggestions on the patient's life experience does not make them any more valid therapeutically. For one thing, fitting suggestions to the patient is not a clear matter of incorporating life experiences. The hypnotherapist can only incorporate the patient's life experiences as he (the hypnotherapist) understands them; as he relates to them. The suggestions can never be a pure product of the patient's past but only a subjective interpretation and rephrasing of that past by the hypnotherapist. Compounding this problem is the interesting fact that neurotic patients do not really know their past in the first place because it is so repressed. Until they relive it their reports of past experiences can only be fractionally accurate.

Guarding Against Suggestion in Primal Therapy

It has been argued that suggestibility operates in Primal Therapy; that patients come with certain expectations which they self-fulfill. Because a patient thinks he will get well he does; he feels Pain because he expects to feel Pain; he has a Primal because he thinks he will, and so forth. Certainly the potential for suggestibility exists. But if the therapist does not offer suggestions, that possibility is no longer possible. Wherever there is primal need you inevitably encounter suggestibility; because it is ultimately need that you are manipulating. There is no power greater than need to move and motivate human beings. A neurotic is always in search of a suggestion. "Do you think this dress suits me?" "What shall we order for dinner?" "Do you think we should go to the Jones house?" Suggestibility, whatever its form, must hook on to basic unfulfilled need to gather its sources for power.

We are well aware that people come to us full of hopes and needs, both real and unreal. It is up to us to recognize which are which. We can do this best by first having sorted out our own needs before listening to someone else's. Then we may better trust that our judgment, perception, intuition, and instinct are not being distorted by our own Pain and need.

In Primal Therapy we recognize the possibilities for suggestion but we take measures to counteract them. For example, we might slow down the defensive maneuverings of the rational-analytical mind so that feelings have a better chance, but we do not attempt to dislocate or hide this level of consciousness. We aim instead to see that feelings pass through it. We want the patient to be fully aware of what he is doing, saying and feeling. He is engaged in a profoundly important experience, so it makes no sense for part of him to be off somewhere else.

The patient-therapist interaction is also an important tool of therapy. The trust of the therapist and a willingness to follow his suggestions in the therapy in order to get to feelings do contribute to success, but there must be a crucial balance. We do not want the therapist to be a pied piper while the patient, in trance, follows passively along to another's tune. It is the patient's life, it is the patient's sickness, and above all, it is the patient's therapy. He is not simply a passive recipient of "suggestions" or insights from a therapist.  His unconscious "knows" what happened to him, even if his conscious mind does not. He has the answers. We don't. It is only arrogance that would lead us to believe that we know better what is inside someone's head than he does. His reality sets the scene and determines the course. The patient, then, must lead the way.

Sometimes the neurosis tries to take the lead because it resists the move towards Pain. At this point the therapist intervenes in the role of the agent supporting the expression of Pain. The therapist may see ahead of time where the patient is headed, but, unless a helping hand is clearly needed, he lets the patient arrive there in his own time. Although the "lead" keeps changing hands, the direction is determined by the patient's history and physiologically-imprinted experiences. Healing is not a question of the therapist trying to influence or "change" the patient. Healing does not emanate from outside. It develops from the inside, like all healing processes, from a cut to a burn.

The argument that Primal Therapy operates by virtue of suggestibility is invalidated on several points. One factor is that a person without Pain would not invest the time, money, and inconvenience to come to a therapy, particularly one that offers pain, not pleasure as its immediate goal. Inevitably, the pleasure will follow the Pain. But Pain is primordial and there is no fully enjoying pleasure until Pain and its handmaiden, repression, are removed. Physiology does not permit us to skip steps. We have no need to act out Pain or to expect it unless it is there. At least I have yet to meet a truly healthy person who would choose to spend his time and money acting out a painful childhood and then act as if he had recovered from it. By virtue of such behavior a person would reveal himself to be staging some sort of neurotic scenario.

Secondly, the notion that one can suggest oneself into being well is to seriously mistake the meaning of the word "well" and the state which it describes. Suggested health is shallow and unreal because it is global; it is simply superimposed. This kind of mask of health does not look, sound, or feel right to those who enjoy a more interconnected consciousness, but it can fool others. We never automatically accept a patient's professions of himself as well because to do so would be to take a superficial view of health and human reality. For it would ignore the deeper physiologic processes of brain and body and the disease which permeates them. Someone can think "well," look "well," behave "well," but still not be well. This is why Erickson's claims that one hypnosis session can forever banish violent lifelong somatic headaches or make the adult affects of childhood trauma totally vanish do not ring true to me.

In Primal Therapy we know that we can use (and have used) objective indices of change to guard against suggested cures as a result of patients reading my books and acting out preconceptions. These objective indices are based on the knowledge that Pain has physiological correlates. Patients who do not truly feel Primal Pain will not register significant short-term (after a single Primal) or long-term (over a period of therapy) changes in their vital sign readings. Even if the patient expects to get better and believes that he is better, we do not consider this valid unless his vital signs so indicate. (This form of assessment is not always necessary because an experienced and sensitive therapist can reliably match the conclusions drawn from vital signs readings by intuitive judgement.) The point is that we, like other therapies, would be as vulnerable to the argument of cure based on suggestion if we were to accept the subjective, third-level reports of patients alone.

The third important reason for the lessened possibility of suggestibility in Primal Therapy is that generally one suggests someone away from Pain not into it. The classic experiments in hypnosis nearly always involve not feeling pain. It is far more seductive to be offered something that will counteract suffering, that would allow one to conquer it, to surmount it, to rise above it, but never to feel it. People are attracted to hypnotherapy precisely because they want the easy way out; they are already seduced by the notion of a magical therapy where everything happens unconsciously. They already are ready to flee Pain.

As the intellect becomes increasingly overtaken by the rising feeling of need and of Pain, one sees how easy it would be to inject the patient with one's own interpretations and suggestions -- to brainwash. One witnesses the susceptibility and gullibility fostered by years of unmet need. There is the need to trust and believe in someone, the need to follow and be taken care of, the need to be told what to do, the need for explanation and comfort, and so on -- all of the urgent needs that in some cases make a person believe it will be beneficial for her to be seduced by her therapist, as in Erickson's case study.

From a psychotherapeutic standpoint, when one sees all this, one has a choice. Either you suppress the need and Pain with mollification, "education," substitution of ideas, and counter-suggestion, or hand back the need and Pain so that it may be experienced through to its roots and finally resolved. Any therapy which does not deal with Primal Pain as its primary goal can never resolve neurosis or its symptoms. It is ineluctably non-dialectical and reactionary. The same can be said of any political system, as well. Either you fulfill need -- personal or social -- or you suppress it.

The pervasiveness of need explains why someone who can elicit Painful scenes in hypnosis stops short of allowing the patient to experience these traumas consciously. The nerve ends of the therapist's own deepest hurt are too exposed for comfort. When the discoveries of the patient put him disquietingly close to his own unconscious Pain, he may take repressive measures by encouraging the patient to "shove it back down," or by diverting him with suggestions which counter the painful reality. This is what we might call Painwashing.

Comparing Hypnotic Age Regression and Primal Reliving

How does hypnotic age regression differ from a Primal reliving experience? One crucial difference is that the person in a Primal remains conscious: he experiences the intense emotion simultaneously with its cognitive and contextual connections. There is no dissociation of emotion from intellect. The person re-experiencing a traumatic event feels the original emotions intensely, and at the same time "knows" what he is feeling. He is "all there." He surrenders knowingly to himself rather than to another. Furthermore, he is able to connect his past experiences with his present feelings and so make sense out of both.

In hypnotic age regression, the full benefit of reliving cannot be gained because consciousness has been reduced by virtue of the hypnotic state. It is a case of trying to have it both ways: of reliving without conscious impact, of releasing Pain without feeling it. Our research has shown that without participation of all levels of consciousness, there is little therapeutic value in going back to one's past. Indeed we need full consciousness for profound change. Full consciousness means the conscious regression to a lower state of brain organization. It means being conscious on a heretofore unconscious level.

  The third level of consciousness is the level that is knocked out in hypnosis and that was knocked out in neurosis when the Primal event originally occurred. What this means is that hypnotic age regression utilizes the same disengagements of consciousness that were involved in the repression of the trauma in the first place.

The second important difference between hypnotic age regression and Primal reliving has to do with intense emotional response. As soon as the hypnotic patient gets into an intense emotional state (which we call the pre-Primal phase), the hypnotherapist usually intervenes with one technique or another to control, reduce, or circumscribe it. The assumption is that the patient might become dangerously anxious and hysterical. Erickson's admonition to his trembling and perspiring subject to "shove it down again" is an excellent example. In hypnotherapy, a feeling is seldom experienced in its entirety, and therefore cannot be entirely resolved. For the hypnotic subject to feel all the agony of a childhood means to be having a Primal, and for that you need full consciousness or a consciousness fully connected to lower levels. To get well unconsciously is an oxymoron. Unconsciousness is the problem.

One of the key differences between my approach and hypnotherapy is that Primal therapy is a natural, evolutionary one, in which the unconscious arises almost in linear, stratified form from the most recent and most benign of Pains to the most remote and the most dolorous of Pains. It is the nature of Pain to make itself conscious, to achieve homeostasis. The system is self-regulating and permits into consciousness that which can be integrated and accepted by consciousness. This is not the case with hypnosis, where it is the hypnotist who decides where and how to probe and how deep to go. This, I believe, among other problems, is a basic distrust of the human body and its miracles. It is an authoritarian approach, a manipulative one in which the patient is maneuvered hither and thither almost beyond his will, within the whims or preconceptions of the hypnotist. There is a basic lack of respect, a lack of understanding of the necessity for self- determination. Rather, the hypnotist, like the parents beforehand, manipulates the child again (the child need inside the patient), who is already manipulated and maneuvered away from his real self.

For some reason therapists think they have to do something to a patient. Perhaps it is a reflection of a technological society, in which individuals are considered as units which have to be repaired, adjusted or fixed in some way.

Charcot and Freud

Before summarizing my conclusions about the nature of hypnosis and the value of hypnotherapy, let us look back at the positions of some of the early students of hypnosis. It seems to me that we have arrived at conclusions which these pioneers either reached or were reaching almost one hundred years ago.

Charcot saw a similarity between hypnosis and hysteria, as each seems to demonstrate the characteristics of the other. He spoke of "pathological suggestibility" as the necessary ingredient in hypnosis as opposed to the "normal suggestibility" of the waking state. Bernheim believed hypnotizability to be independent of neuropathology and hysteria, describing suggestibility as a trait shared by all human beings, with hypnosis being almost entirely ideogenic.

Freud at one time or another shared the views of his various contemporaries and used hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion to treat hysteria and other afflictions. However, he ultimately favored a psycho-physiological explanation of hypnotic phenomena because --and this may be his most important legacy of this period -- he felt that psychological and physiological processes ran parallel to each other in a "dependent concomitant" relationship. In other words, Freud supported a mind-body duality and initially aimed towards a psychotherapy which allowed for it. For instance, he felt that Bernheim's ideogenic account of hypnosis veered too much toward "a psychology without physiology." In the end he saw suggestion and auto-suggestion as taking advantage of the physiological capacity linking conscious mental states with purely physiological processes.

I can find something in the arguments of almost all these theorists and practitioners to draw into a synthesis with the Primal understanding of hypnosis. In perceiving similarities between hypnosis and hysteria, Charcot and Freud were, I feel, beginning to recognize the interdependency of hypnosis and neurosis. Charcot certainly appreciated that there was something abnormal about the suggestibility needed to succumb to hypnosis. What I am not sure of is whether he understood that so-called pathological suggestibility differs from "normal" suggestibility only in the matter of degree. As we saw in the case of modern theorists like Barber, Hilgard and Erickson, neurotic suggestibility is so prevalent that it generally escapes distinction as being neurotic. This, I think, may well account for Bernheim's position of an inherent suggestibility in all human beings, rather than just in neurotics.

Freud's contributions lay as much in his reasons for rejecting hypnosis as in his initial espousal of it. Although results were often quite dramatic, they were induced for a short time only and depended mainly upon the personal relationship between doctor and patient. In a footnote to a discussion on sexual aberration, Freud states that "the blind obedience evinced by the hypnotized subject to the hypnotist causes me to think that the nature of hypnosis is to be found in the unconscious fixation of the libido on the person of the hypnotizer..." If we substitute "primal need" for libido, I couldn't agree more. Freud also came to realize that unconscious material could be arrived at without resorting to hypnosis; that if you confronted the resistances of the patient, the conscious mind could discover for itself the contents of the unconscious.

Uses and Ethics of Hypnotherapy

Does hypnosis have any uses? I think so, in two ways. As the forefathers of psychology discovered, hypnosis is experimentally useful as a medium for demonstrating aspects of consciousness and therefore the distortions of consciousness which we have termed neurosis. It seems to pull off its own mask and in so doing uncovers the dynamic of neurosis: the dissociation from Pain. It provides confirmation of the crucial physiological component of memory, the imprinting of trauma, and the physiological effort needed to keep it unconscious. It explains the basis for suggestibility. Through its evident failings, we may better appreciate the meaning of experience. To effect lasting change, so that someone has complete rather than neurotic experience, consciousness must work as a whole.

Having said that, it should be noted that all of the above can be arrived at without once applying hypnosis. These matters are continually demonstrated in Primal Therapy, which is an entirely conscious process.

Perhaps the only occasions when hypnosis is unquestionably valid is in cases of chronic and terminal illness, to ameliorate painful physical conditions, and in surgery. Dissociation as part of the repertoire of the human psyche has long proven an adaptive response to excessive pain. That, after all, is the basis of neurosis. Someone in great physical pain or suffering the nightmares of debilitating disease might as well make good use of this capability. By all means, reach for the internal morphine.

As a foundation for psychotherapeutic treatment, however, I cannot support hypnosis. It runs counter to the very principles and processes of consciousness upon which health stands. In fact, hypnosis itself demonstrates why it is invalid because it reveals itself to be an active agent of neurosis. I cannot see how treating the disease with more of the disease can be helpful in any way. Hypnotherapy relies upon a diminution rather than a replenishing of consciousness. It models and amplifies the dissociation inherent in neurosis. It tends to take a single-cause view of symptomatology, thus bolstering the illusion of short cures. There is a reliance upon external authority as opposed to a trust of inner processes. There is an imposition of foreign ideas and assessments of reality that foster the very kinds of neurotic dependency and susceptibility which therapy should be aiming to resolve.

No matter what the apparent outcome, to render someone still more unconscious of his Pain means to take from him his only chance at real health. Worse still, it means to widen the internal split and deepen the disease.

In hypnotherapy or in hypnosis you can be told you are cold when you are really hot, you can be told you feel good when you feel bad, that you are comfortable when you are really in Pain. You can be told that your hands are numb and that you can numb the pain in other parts of your body simply by touching those spots with your hands. You can be told that you are eating divinity fudge when you are not, that you can recall and repress pieces of a forgotten memory at will and this will put an end to your suffering, or that you are going to return to a traumatic event in one of your past lives in order resolve your problems in this life.

As I discussed before, one can be suggested in a hypnotic state that one is undergoing a burn by a match and actually produce blisters. Thus meaningful sounds emanating from someone else's mouth enter the patient's brain and change his physiology and cellular activity enough to produce a burn blister. This phenomenon raises important philosophic and psychological questions as to the nature of reality. For if you produce a burn blister and you are not burned, what is real? If you are hypnotized to feel comfortable, when in fact you are very uncomfortable, what is real? In these hypnotic experiments, the primacy of psychological events over external stimuli is clearly evident. That is to say that reality is really first of all a matter of perception. What is really happening is that through someone else's ideation, a memory is evoked which takes primacy over current reality. This again is the Primal position -- that the past is prepotent over the present. Clearly there would be no burn mark if one had not already had the experience of the previous burn. And secondly, the concept of burn must also have been in the mind beforehand, otherwise there could be no manipulation.

What is actually being manipulated, in fact, in one's history and the power of that history is manifest in the fact that a burn blister can be reproduced from a past memory with no current reality involved at all. Thus, the hypnotist says you are being burned, the brain scans it's memory for previous burns, and that memory innervates the cells to produce cellular change. In this way, someone else's reality can change your basic brain functioning and immune processes. This is the essence of neurosis: we first respond to our history, and then our current reality.

So it is clear that we have two realities, a subjective and an objective one. It is when we are disengaged from the subjective reality that ideas from the outside will have primacy.  When we are no longer anchored in ourselves, external forces become our key reality and subjective realities become secondary. Nowhere is this more clear than with the masses who are manipulated by politicians by the use of abstractions and ideologies that only symbolically fill the void of real need.

In both hypnosis and neurosis you "buy somebody else's program." If you are solidly rooted in yourself no one can convince you that when you are cold you are hot, and certainly nobody could tell you are not in Pain when you are. Our genetic legacy allows us to be unaware and unconscious at times, When this goes on for an extended period of time, it becomes neurosis.

The practice of Primal Therapy shows that it is possible for the conscious, cortical mind to dissolve into the all-important contents of the subconscious without surrendering an awareness of what is happening while it is happening.

Awareness must be allowed in because it has an important role to play in the process of healing. That role is attaching meaning to the Pain, mediating and communicating insight, and integrating and applying the experiences of the lower levels to present life. It is vital for a person descending into unconscious realities to know how he got there and how he got back. It is too important a journey to make with his "eyes closed."

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[1]_pp. 91-102.