Patients' Comments and Insights
P lease scroll here to read comments patients have made about their experiences with Primal Therapy, and insights that have resulted. (All comments are presented with patients' permission. Many of the comments are unedited. In some cases, the comments are written by people for whom English is not a first language.)
"The upshot of me having such good therapists and having double sessions each week is that the therapy has now gone down very deep for me. So deep I almost can't believe it. I've broken through to some of my most powerful needs, and its left me half stunned - as if for the first time, the pieces deep down in you finally fit. As if you're literally being reborn before your very eyes. But reborn into what you already are. How's that for a thought twister!
I"m also writing this to say thank you again. You've literally helped save my life. I can't really find words to tell you how grateful I am."
It's so good to hear from you. When I write to you and Dr. Art J. it's partly an attempt to stay or feel connected from across the distance. Hearing back from you--your kind words--certainly stenghtens my sense of connection to you both and to the center.
I realize this month marks my fourth anniversary--four whole years--at the center. I feel in that time like I've lived a whole life almost. And in spite of this period of crisis I'm still in it seems because of the therapy that I grow a bit stronger each day. Which gives me hope (the real kind) and confidence for the future.
Please by all means feel free to use my comments on the website. And once again I want to say I can never fully express my gratitude to you and Art and to the center.
Dear Dr. Art J. and Dr. France J.: France: I just had to drop you a note of thanks for you help in getting me hooked up with Brenda Craven for my therapy. I could not be more pleased. I had some concerns about being able to open up over the phone to someone I'd never met in person, but as soon as I talked with Brenda, her warmth and empathy came right through. I've had two sessions with her thus far, and they have been wonderful in terms of relieving the pain that I've been carrying for a long time and that has been exacerbated by Michael's passing. Art: I had to send additional thanks your way for developing such a wonderful and powerful system of therapy. Deprived of it for so many years, I had forgotten the tremendous healing and release that come from deeply feeling feelings without letting the intellect get in the way. I have always been and forever will be grateful to you. Love to both of you,
LIGHT YEARS BEYOND ANY OTHER PSYCHOTHERAPY!
I am currently going through Primal Therapy at Dr. Janov's Primal Center in Santa Monica, CA. I can honestly say that it is the greatest adventure of my entire life. My only regret is that I didn't start the therapy 20 years ago.
When I started at the Primal Center, I was taking Vicodin every night for pain in my legs, hips, and back. My anxiety was such that I would cringe with a jolt of fear whenever the phone or doorbell would ring. I was frightened of driving. I was scattered and disorganized. I was depressed, in agony, and filled with hopelessness. I had difficulty reading and could read at most for five or ten minutes at a time. It all seemed like one big chaotic nightmare.
After only one month of Primal Therapy, most of the physical pain I suffered was gone. I might add that this pain plagued me my whole life. I'm not certain when I stopped cringing at the sound of the phone and doorbell. I just noticed one day that I didn't do it anymore. Nowadays I'm simply curious to see who is there. I still don't like driving very much, but I'm no longer afraid to drive. These days I can look around in my office and see that it is in pretty good shape. It used to look like I'd thrown a hand grenade in here. I feel good almost every day and more often than not, I feel great. My relationship with my wife is many times better than it was before therapy. We now shower together every day. This might not seem like much to you, but we had never showered together in all the years of our marriage. It is now an event we both look forward to each day. We love to wash and pleasure each other. We have become very familiar with each other's bodies, which just makes good sense now we are older and more vulnerable to certain diseases. It also makes us closer than we have ever been. I'm much less scattered now and can read with full focus for hours at a time and enjoy it.
I'm sure you've guessed by now that I'm not an unbiased reviewer. Primal Therapy is very dear to me. I'm livin' it, and lovin' it.!
I'm not writing this review to promote Primal Therapy. Unfortunately, at this time only a select few can have good Primal Therapy. There are too few therapists (in part because the training period is so long and rigorous) and too little time. Despite this, the implications of all the research and experience associated with Primal Therapy are not only many and profound; they are available for everyone to benefit from. This knowledge could revolutionize obstetrics, child rearing practices, and our education system. The effects of this would be to reduce mental illness, crime, drug use, and a host of other social afflictions. This would in turn revolutionize our prison system and law enforcement policies not to mention our nation's foreign policies.
During my life I have experienced a variety of psychotherapies including Client Centered Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Reevaluation Therapy, Tavi Group Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Feeling Therapy, Eclectic Therapy and even acquired a degree in psychology. With that I can assure you that Primal Therapy is not only the most effective, it is the only therapy that is real science, integrated with neuroscience so that the therapist can clearly evaluate the patient's progress. Because of this I can fully trust any of the therapists at the Primal Center because they all know where I stand in the course of my therapy. I'm sure the day is not far off, whenever you hear the word psychotherapy; you will know they are referring to Primal Therapy.
I have read all of Dr. Janov's books, including GRAND DELUSIONS, the one he has made available on his website (www.primaltherapy.com). Each of his books represents a step forward in his group's research of the theories and techniques of Primal Therapy. However, his latest book, PRIMAL HEALING, is as special today as was THE PRIMAL SCREAM in 1970. It is my opinion that if you are going to read only one of Janov's books, PRIMAL HEALING is the one. It is my favorite because it is a clear and precise compendium of all his work over the past 35 years. Just as THE PRIMAL SCREAM represented a quantum leap over all existing psychotherapies in 1970, PRIMAL HEALING today represents a quantum leap over THE PRIMAL SCREAM.
Finally I will simply say that if you want to be at the cutting edge of human advancement, PRIMAL HEALING is a book you must read.
Frank Robinette, CA, March 2007
Thank you so much to Primal for saving my life many years ago, and in the last few years improving my quality of life. I live today "mostly" pain free.
Primal theory is the only psychology (really psychobiology) that relates to
what I personally experience both externally and internally. It's the only
theory asking the why of behavior and ones physiology. Only it says "man is
the creature of the mind, feelings & emotion and body". Only it relates ones
behavior to what he feels inside. Only it offers cure to what ails me
mentally, emotional and medically. I've studied all the books on primal
D.A., NY June 2006
All I can say is that Primal is the only therapy that ever felt right
for me. My year in therapy has not changed my belief that Primal is
the only way for people to make real and lasting changes. Everything
else I have ever read in the field of Psychotherapy does not even
S.M., CA August 2006
I would like to thank Brenda, my therapist,
and all the people at the Center for the two weeks I
passed in there. I feel that it's been a small but fundamental step toward
the knowledge of who I am/was. I could not hope for anything better than what I've got and
I hope I can come back again next year.
There have been many times in my life where I have felt sad, betrayed, and lonely. In the past I never knew why though. It was always something that just lingered in the back of my mind. I always felt like that pain/anxiety would never get better or go away. After having two therapists before, I never got anywhere until I was introduced to a therapy based on this book. I then took the step to enter into this program and I don't regret it, even in the slightest. It's helped me so very much to be more comfortable under my skin, to free myself from anxiety and to help me feel my pain and get it out of my system so that I can live a productive life.
All I can say is that Primal is the only therapy that ever felt right
for me. My year in therapy has not changed my belief that Primal is
the only way for people to make real and lasting changes. Everything
else I have ever read in the field of Psychotherapy does not even
S.M, CA August 2006
... In any case ...I am touched by your response in that ....Art has been a Hero to me for over half of my life. Would that the earth be fortunate enough to have Primal available to every inhabitant we as a species might survive. The discovery and methodology certainly is there thanks to Dr. Janov. I remain utterly devoted to the Paradigm.
B F , CA September 2006
My own experience in Primal Therapy has helped me to live in the present. I know that the suffering from the present connects to deeper Pain on the second and first line and that feeling that pain helps to allieviate my suffering. The connections that are made help me to know how the valance of the Pain drives my acting out behavior. Not only do I know why I behave the way I do but I also gain direction in being able to change the way I live my life.
K.S , NY August 2006
Best therapy in the world. Only one that brings about permanent change. INCOMPARABLE. IT ROCKS !
G.B, NY 2006
Primal Therapy is the perfect solution to emotional healing. It is natural, practical, human -- and most of all -- IT WORKS !
J & L, NH Sept 2006
Primal theory is the only psychology (really psychobiology) that relates to
what i personally experience both externally and internally. It's the only
theory asking the why of behavior and ones physiology. Only it says "man is
the creature of the mind, feelings & emotion and body". Only it relates ones
behavior to what he feels inside. Only it offers cure to what ails me
mentally, emotional and medically. I've studied all the books on primal
D A, NY June 2006
Dear France and Art,
...I am absolutely certain that I could not have made these changes if it had not been for Primal Therapy. Things can seem completely bleak and hopeless. It was truly wonderful to be able to have sessions during this time. I have been able to feel more and more, and I have found out some amazing things. I didn't even know until recently that I live with a constant feeling of dread. Weeks ago when, I realized I am not worried about anything. It was amazing. I am always moved about something, always dreading something. Most of the time I am not sure what it is. But recently I have had truly happy days with nothing to fear or worry about. It might not sound much but to me it is extraordinary.
I studied the impact of birth experience on personality. I am really pleased because recently I heard that my poster is going t be presented at the annual conference of the division of health psychology within the British psychological society. My tutor very much to believe that my research will get published but I am not so sure.
I think I would like a time some spare time to have a social life. This has also been a big change for me actually being out there in the world. I have made a couple of really good new friends.
I am extremely fortunate to have been able to do Primal Therapy and to have help from the foundation. It has made all the difference. This year would have been unbearable without Primal Therapy. I really could go on and on thanking you. It is difficult to express what an enormous difference it has made to me. So thank you. My life is completely different to how it was when I left LA. I feel like it is my life now and I am in it. I can feel so excited about life and enjoy being in the moment and being with other people. Wow!
She will always be very special to me, as will the two of you. Thank you for everything. I hope you are both well. Maybe see you in September?
— V.L., England, 2006
"The meaning of being human"
Dear France & Art -
Thank you both from the bottom of my heart for all you have done for me. For showing by example the meaning of being human; what it is to be there for someone; what it means to dare. You have selflessly lain the greatest gifts at the feet of mankind - led the way in showing the difference individuals can make in the world, in a life.
— J.R., Massachusetts, June 2006
"Know who I am"
"An opportunity to feel"
— F.D., Germany, Christmas 2005
"Let the feelings come up"
I am absolutely certain that I could not have made these changes if it had not been for primal therapy... Things can seem completely bleak and hopeless. It was truly wonderful to be able to have sessions during this time... I have been able to feel more and more, and I have found out some amazing things. I didn't even know until recently that I live with a constant feeling of dread. It was only a few weeks ago when I realized I am not worried about anything! It was amazing. I am always worried about something, always dreading something. Most of the time I am not sure what it is. But recently I have had truly happy days with nothing to fear or worry about. It might not sound much but to me it is extraordinary...
....It is not the case that I am always feeling happy and content in life, and the past year has been extremely difficult with many times that I have felt very desperate. However I now understand how this therapy works, and it has given me the tool to "feel" my way through life. Many things that can feel so real - the dread, the feelings of being useless, unlovable, no point etc. still come up but now I have a way to "feel" what is behind them and know that these feelings do not belong in the present. I know that I will need to keep feeling for the rest of my life but I see this as a good thing. Before I lived my life trying to keep away from my feelings but it was very restrictive, now I can feel like anything is possible and if doing something brings up feelings then most of the time I am able to feel those and move on. I don't have to live a restricted life in order to avoid my feelings. What this year has really shown me too is how important it is to make changes in order to benefit from the therapy. No amount of feeling will automatically make things better. If you find it difficult to be sociable but friends are really what you would like, don't just wait for the therapy to work. Do the difficult thing, try and be sociable let the feelings come up, feel them and try again. My experience has shown me that it is extremely difficult in the beginning but it gets easier and easier and the feelings get less intense. I think it is too easy to wait for the miracle cure when it doesn't exist.
... Now I am looking forward to a time with stability in my work and some spare time to have social life. This has been a big change for me- actually being out there in the world. I have made a couple of really good new friends... I am extremely fortunate to have been able to have done primal therapy and to have had help from the foundation. It has made all the difference. This year would have been unbearable without PT. I really could go on and on thanking you. It is difficult to express what an enormous difference it has made to me. So thank you. My life is completely different from how it was - I feel like it is my life now and I am in it. I can feel so excited about life and enjoy being in the moment and being with other people. Wow!... The two of you will always be very special to me. Thank you for everything.
"There was no one to let it out to"
I know you must receive many much deserved "Thank yous" on a regular basis. But I feel you deserve another heartfelt "Thank you" from me. I found a copy of The Primal Scream while I was at a local used bookstore and the funny thing is the book literally fell into my hands. It was like I was meant to read it. Once I got through the introduction I knew that your book was IT. The book I have been searching for the last several years. I have spent a lot of time in the self help and parenting sections of every book store within a few miles of my home. So, after the introduction of The Primal Scream, I spent the next half an hour looking for a highlighter to highlight everything I knew I would need to come back to.
Now I will admit I have not finished your book. And maybe this letter to you is premature. But I can't tell you how much I have benefited from reading what I have read thus far. Things make sense now. I make sense to myself now. I have spent years trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Like I said, I have read many MANY books in the self help sections of the bookstore and nothing has ever clicked. I have taken a few things from this book and that book, but your book, oh my, was like it was written for me about me.
I have always tried to figure out why things never seemed real to me. It was like things were real but didn't feel real. Everything has always had to be BIG in a BIG way for me to even begin to have an emotional connection at whatsoever. Over the years my tension has come to an all-time high due to build up from things that have happened to me from when I was 5 years old. I literally have memories of the day that I refer to as "The day my life went to Hell." At the age of 5! Everything just kept building up inside and there was no one to let it out to. But let me tell you that your book has opened me up inside. I can feel things because I understand now. Your book has given me a boost of energy in my lifelong journey of recreating myself. I know now that what is wrong with me has a name and it is indeed neurosis. I may even be considered a classic case judging by how much is highlighted in this book that applies to me. I don't want to mislead you into thinking that I am going to try to literally heal myself. I have just become aware and with that awareness I feel the strength I have been needing to move forward and to live in the now.
I wish there was some way to thank you for what you have done for me. And I feel that I finally have the strength and the beginning of knowledge to become a better Mommy for my children. I even feel that I can give more love to my husband. Because IT IS OK to feel Love! I have always been secure with the fact that he thinks he loves me more than I do because at least I know if he loves me more than I love him than he must really love me a lot. But really, I think I might be able to let my wall down that was built around my heart. It's been there for so long it is almost like it is imbedded in me. I guess it is huh!?! It has been my way of protecting myself from further damage. As long as I did not let love in (or at [least] was selective) I wouldn't get hurt and so I could function and appear somewhat normal. Really on the inside I felt like my life was a TV show or something and that everyone was watching. Little hints that suggested I was suffering from neurosis. The funny thing is (well not that funny) NO ONE noticed. No one knew. There was no one!!!!
I have known for a long time that anything could cause me to completely be gone inside. But because of my defense of not allowing myself to "feel" completely, I have survived. All of this emotional damage had stayed locked inside that when that "something" did happen to lead me into an episode of what I call temporary insanity, I scared everyone. I scared myself. A flow of emotions from age 5 all came to the surface and I could not stop it! Now that I am reading your book, it all makes sense. So ~Thank you~ from the bottom of my newly awaken heart. I know now that I can swim above the water and I will, I promise you! I am going to have my husband read this highlighted copy of your book so he can understand and hopefully quit trying so hard. I think he has tried so hard to help me in all the wrong ways that I fear if it continues he too may be a candidate for primal therapy... Thanks again for helping me. Not only will I be a better mom, I will be a better wife, and a better ME all because of your book. You are special. (and so is everyone that had a hand in your book:) Just wanted you to know.
A truly Thankful Person
"Deep strong life"
— R.A., July 2005
A thank-you note
Dear Art, dear
— Anonymous, June 2005
"People who weren't pretending that everything was wonderful"
The following was addressed to Dr. France Janov
I am sorry that I didn't get to meet you during my three week intensive in April. I'm planning on returning in the fall, and maybe it will happen then.
In any case, I wanted to write and say how much I appreciated the time, energy, and patience that David put into my therapy. Valerie and Marie were wonderful as well.
I have been a long time believer in Primal Therapy. However, what surprised me most about my trip was how deeply moved I was in Group. I didn't anticipate what a relief it would be to associate with people who weren't pretending that everything was wonderful. The degree of vulnerability that people were willing to expose in Group was astounding. I will always remember it.
I was only able to participate in the May retreat on Friday evening, but I could tell that it was a special event and something that I want to do in the future. I think that sort of thing is a great idea.
Finally, I really appreciate the effort that you and your husband have put into helping others. I know that it is a labor of love - "easy" is not a word I would associate with any aspect of an operation that tries to help those who most need help. I also appreciate your husband's efforts to explain the therapy in scientific and quantifiable terms. Such explanations are sorely wanting in other types of therapy.
I would certainly recommend your center to anyone who seriously wants to try to recover her or his real self.
Seattle, WA (USA)
Poems: The Need; Screaming Relief
— Genevieve Simperingham, March 2005
Thank you for your email. You mentioned the three years of training and if I'm
able to stay this long. You know that it's not easy for Europeans to stay longer
than 3 months and I was thinking to come to L.A. once a year for one trimester.
As you don't have enough trainees to keep the training running at the moment I
guess it's not possible to 'just take part' in the training for only one
To tell you what I feel about the training I took part in two years ago: it was amazing to see how you handle the patients. I tried to find out how therapists are trained in Germany and it's just terrible that they finish their studies and do therapy just based on their books and theories. Nobody ever show them how to actually DO therapy. I guess the primal center is the only place in the world where proper training is given, especially tape review with you was incredible. You knew exactly what to say or do to show the patients the right track.
— March 2005
"It is part of human nature"
During the first two years of training, when you taught me thinking, I felt
strongly that you are the Philosopher of the 21st century. Of course, you can't
be recognized by the world, although you deserve it: the world will be lied to,
religions and politicians are the proof of it. I'm sad that you didn't get the
recognition you truly deserved. Because of you I have and still will save many
people's life. I will always make sure that they know that you have been my
teacher. You will be in my heart until the end of my days and thereafter in the
heart of the people I helped and so on. What you discovered can't get lost
because it is part of human nature.
Thank you Arthur for everything.
With all my heart and deepest feelings of love,
— November 2004
I "share how I felt when I was little or feel now in my life"
. . . Things worked out well in many ways. My relationship with my mother is so
much improved - it is the first time in my life that I actually feel that I do
have a Mom! Thanks to Primal! I just do not accuse her anymore but simply share
how I felt when I was little or feel now in my life. So she does not need to
defend herself and she simply shows compassion. All I ever wanted and I now get
from her [is] the positive dialectic to feel how much I needed her back then.
The accusing I did and can do in my sessions where I yell at her to finally find
the hurt need which is the essence of ME! That is so nice to have a Mom!
— C.G., November 2004
. . . I keep reading your books and I just want to thank you and cheer for your
writing and the light you've shed on psychology and birth and feelings and all.
So thanks. It is great stuff and much appreciated. . . . Thanks again. I look
forward to your next book. With much thanks and appreciation, L.B.
— L.B., June 2004
Comments on the May 2004 Mini-Retreat at the Primal Center
I think retreats are definitely a good idea. Seeing the therapists in an informal setting as well as spending time around other patients seems to break through some barriers and bring up feelings. Round table was also good. Helps to focus things.
I thought the mini-retreat was well planned, the food was excellent and I got a lot of benefit from attending it. I felt very comfortable meeting new patients and learned more about how the therapy works when listening to the discussion on Saturday evening. For me it was the best mini-retreat I've attended so far.
I think it's clear that being with people (enjoying them) puts me in pain. It brings up all the times long ago when I desperately needed love and companionship and didn't have it. So the mere fact of being on the retreat stirred up my feelings. I could see this in both my private session on Saturday and group Sunday morning. In both cases I had intense feelings, deep crying. In private session it was over my grandparents whom I loved and who loved me (I was triggered by opera music I heard in the group room - my grandparents loved opera). In Sunday group it was about having to go back to New York where I would be alone again. It was also about my intense need for Carole, my therapist, at this point in my life.
With so much stirred up in you I think it's very important to understand what exactly is happening. For that reason I found your Roundtable very helpful. It gave us a context, a better sense of the theory. It helped me to understand all that's been going on for me. The only criticism I would have is that I'd have liked to be able to talk with you a bit after the Roundtable, ask additional questions in a more casual, informal setting.
Anyway, that's how it was for me, France. A weekend I'm very happy about.
The mini retreat was very helpful as I was able to feel about how I can't get close to others, my fear of being judged and criticized, and most importantly about others not liking me. I have come out feeling less self conscious then when I first came in.
The roundtable was helpful, although I mostly couldn't concentrate enough to hear everything and the new patients were asking questions I already knew the answer of, but I understand they are lost as I was at first.
The food was good, David and Carole were very present all along for me, and that was really nice although I am still kind of feeling I am not worth it.
The thing that made me the most happy was when I found out that people were being helped with the cost. Even though it seems reasonable to you, the cost is prohibitive for so many patients. It is not the same as other retreats, because most of those are more like weekend intensives with constant therapy. Of course, the therapy at those is worthless 'cause its not primal and it is just another way of rearranging people's pain and defenses. But when most people add up what they are going to receive at the mini-retreat they don't understand the cost. I have heard this discussion many times over the last 4 years and usually I just say there is something that happens there to me (at the retreat) that is more than the sum of its parts. But, I don't think I convince anyone. I got in my feelings after the last one in the fall 'cause the food problem triggered me. But thankfully I was able to feel a bit about it so I was able to give myself the chance to go again this time. It always happens that I open up a whole lot deeper. Even if I don't get through the feelings, by the end of the weekend, I am on a more intense path because I touched on things that don't come up in my normal life. Because I have to be able to function, my body just does not let me go there usually. It has convinced me to have a mini-week with David, if it can be arranged. It was also great to see new people there and watch new friendships forming. There was a lot of "guy bonding" going on at this retreat. You should have seen ____, ____, ____ and others singing and laughing together.
This is not so much an appreciation of the mini-retreat as of the therapy as such. I would definitely take part in another mini-retreat should the opportunity arise.
Dear France et al.:
The mini-retreat was a surprisingly powerful time. The feelings generated by the continuous contact with other primal people in that atmosphere ultimately brought me to a deeper, longer, and more intense period of feeling in the morning group than I had ever experienced before. I was more "surrendered" to the feelings and I was aware that there was a huge backlog and inventory of unfelt feelings queued up. I hope that I will continue to feel this intensely and this freely in regular groups and sessions.
I really got a lot out of the mini retreat. It certainly put me in touch with my defenses, I mean, I could see really clearly what I was doing to avoid my feelings. It also really brought up lots of feelings, which surprisingly, I was unable to get to most of. I think they will just continually come up, and awareness of them is the main thing I gained. Along with some friends and a closeness to people which will be very valuable for my time here in LA. Watching the films was good as it brought up some powerful feelings, though I was too scared to ask for help with them, which would have been really good. I'll know for next time!! It was great to spend time with the group and to feel a companionship in therapy - I'm not doing this alone. Also to see how people behaved to together, like cuddling and stuff, gave me a sense of freedom to express myself more emotionally in group and with other people and therapists. That was a really valuable thing actually.
The round table was excellent also, and explained a lot for me.
"It's begun to show me who I really am"
I am a new patient at the center and have just finished three weeks intensive. I wanted to send you a short note to say: thank you. Your therapy is so amazing, I still can't quite believe it. It's begun to show me who I really am, and what it means to feel. This is such a great gift to us all. I feel certain Art you've made the world a better place.
— R.A., May 2004
"To be there for them with all my heart"
Dear Art, France, Brenda, David, Ralph, Ruth, Jim, Carole and Marie,
— March 2004
"More clarity . . . and more strength"
My year at the Primal Center
— March 2004
"I don't deserve to be mistreated"
In my last session I was able, after resolving something in the present, to really cry for my dad to be nice to me, my mom, and my brothers and sisters and to not hurt us.
Since then there are big differences in my life, I am not constantly feeling
helpless anymore about what's going to happen next and my future, I am actually
not worried at all.
Most importantly I don't deserve to be mistreated and I will not get into abusive relationships anymore.
— V.P., March 2004
"Courage to go against what psychology teaches"
I want to thank you from my very heart for all the support and encouragement you have given to me. I couldn't have done it without your constant work running the Center. And for the courage to go against what psychology teaches therapists to do.
— C.G., February 2004
"Waking up with the royalty of the plain"
Please note: This poem was originally
written in French. English translation appears below.
— Nhc, Paris
"Seeing and feeling beauty"
— Lisa M. Powers, March 1, 2003
This story is not from a Primal Center
patient. However, he writes to us on a regular basis. We thought his last
message to us was interesting:
— January 2004
"It began to set me free"
One day, I relived in its entirety my tonsillectomy when I was four and a half years old. It was quite an experience. It took me almost three weeks to get into feeling it.
I lay on the floor at least two hours a day feeling my body go numb. This was from the ether they gave me for the operation (I guess I had to feel that total numbness and what lay beneath it to get to the experience). I could feel the body of a little boy inside me which became more prominent each day until it took over. Once that happened, my mind went for the ride while my body began to move around. I could feel hands holding my wrists and then they were twirling my arms around (the hands belonged to the nurse who was trying to get me to wake up from the ether).
Finally, after feeling a burp come up my throat, I began to cry just like a little boy. When that happened, my mind and my body came together all at once. I was that little boy as I rolled around on the floor. That is when what I call "the greased with silk" feeling began to come over me. I screamed at my parents how much I hated them doing this to me, leaving me in a hospital alone all night. Also, my Dad for calling me a "baby" when I was crying because I was so scared. He actually left the room, walking out angry because I wouldn't stop crying. I tried hard to stop crying for him and finally did by splitting off from the experience.
After I relived it, I was filled with insights for the next hour or so. From that moment on, my life was changed forever. It began to set me free. The tension was gone.
Primal Therapy, and only Primal Therapy, could accomplish that.
— V.M., September 2003
"I feel quite OK"
My sister told me that she and my mother are surprised how I react to my personal problems: how the therapy changed me. I would have been completely destroyed as I was in the past when I broke up with a girlfriend.
Today, I feel quite OK, even if I'm a bit sad that the relationship did not work: I thought she was the woman of my life.
— V.M., France, September 2003
I wanna say to you that those days of Primal therapy were really precious to me. I am very thankful for your help.
— A.F., Argentina, August 2003
"I was always waiting for someone"
As a child I had tremendous pain because I couldn't talk except when asked something and I couldn't reach out to others, but I knew there was a reason why I couldn't and everyone else could and I was always waiting for someone to pull me out of that state.
At 11 I told everyone I was a foster child and that my real parents would come and get me, I would constantly daydream that they were holding me. I always knew for some reason that there were answers.
In my twenties, I saw a psychologist for three sessions, at the end of the third I asked him what he thought, he told me he was only there to listen to me. He didn't have the answer.
Then I read "The Primal Scream", I had found the answer.
Primal therapy is a tool for me to resolve my pain and get the answers I had always been looking for that are only inside of me.
It has been months since I am able to talk and communicate with others and I am just beginning now to feel genuine empathy towards others.
This has always been an unreachable dream that has come true
Thank you so much Art for discovering primal therapy, I don't know what I would do without it and there will never be words enough to thank my therapists.
— P.J., August 2003
You cannot imagine how important Primal Therapy is for me and I cannot express my gratitude towards you.
— B.L., August 2003
It is always difficult to find adequate words and analogies to express improvement when it occurs. But I must say that all progress I have made through Primal Therapy has been permanent.
— P.R., August 2003
"Connecting the hurt to the need"
Of all what is so exceptional for Primal Therapy compared to other therapies one thing seems to me utterly important to stress: The feeling of the primal NEED in the primal situation. I do not know of any other therapy that does emphasize the importance of feeling the NEED connected to the primal situation.
In talking therapies I was encouraged to talk about how for instance I did not receive attention. I could cry about it and occasionally even cried in a memory. But nobody ever suggested for me to feel and ask for what I need. The longer time went on I remembered more situations of neglect, but I kept suffering in the memory and even later, coming out of the memory, I continued feeling sorry for myself and suffered. It lead to me being eventually overloaded with hurting memories and shutting it all down again. I never could go even near to a memory of being sexually abused. It all remained hidden.
Feeling need has now become such an important point for me because I begin feeling about my father sexually abusing me. Strange enough, I find that most of my time in the feeling I spend pleading him to be there for me and to love me and to support me (instead for abusing me - my needs). Having done that since weeks, crying my heart out pleading him, I have the insight that feeling the hurt of a primal situation is the start but it HAS to lead into connecting the hurt to the need. It's in expressing this need where the healing lies. Without that a feeling is not finished, and going on feeling hurt even in primal scenes without expressing the need in that scene would eventually lead to an overload (and a shut-down) such as it did to me in my talking therapy... meaningless suffering through a scene all over again. I find now that a prerequisite for new aspects of the sexual abuse surfacing is ALWAYS that I feel what I really needed from my father. This makes me understand that and why it was impossible for me in talking therapy to approach memories of the abuse. Only in feeling the need is the final seed for growth and healing - and for going deeper into the primal scene and resolving it. And only Primal gives that - no talking therapies.
And even though I go through horrible times theses days (before I am able to drop into the feeling) I feel often very very lucky that what has misshaped my sex life is now surfacing, giving me with time my own sex life back. I still want to write an article about it. Currently though I am so much IN the feeling of it that I do not have enough distance to write about it yet.
— C.G., July 2003
"Deep and durable"
Please note: This comment was originally written in French. English translation appears below.
La thérapie primale m'a beaucoup apporté et il me fait plaisir d'en vanter l'efficacité à mes amis lorsque nous parlons de croissance personnelle.
Récemment, une de mes amies s'est montrée très intéressée par cette approche. Nous avons fait des recherches sur Internet et y avons découvert votre site web.
Je suis heureux de voir que votre "Primal Center" est toujours bien vivant, tout comme vous, d'ailleurs. Vous avez toujours le feu sacré, toujours à l'oeuvre, en train d'écrire sur le sujet. Bravo! Ce que vous faites, même si peu de gens peuvent le reconnaître maintenant, sera très utile pour le bien de l'Humanité.
Je vous suis personnellement très reconnaissant pour les bienfaits profonds et durables que cette thérapie m'a apportés. Considérant l'ampleur de votre oeuvre, vous aurez probablement, comme bien d'autres avant vous, une reconnaissance posthume.
Merci, monsieur Janov! Je vous considère sincèrement comme un grand de ce monde.
— G.M., France, July 2003
Primal Therapy brought a lot of things to me and I enjoy bragging about its
effectiveness to my friends whenever we are discussing personal growth.
— G.M., France, July 2003
My eye sight has improved 20% in both eyes. The doctor told me that this is a pretty big improvement.
I've noticed after feeling that I was able to sit in front of the television without my eye glasses. Sometimes after feeling I would take my glasses off for a few minutes while driving just to see if there was an improvement . . . same thing, I noticed a huge difference.
— R.P., USA, June 2003
We are publishing this letter from R.P. because several patients have reported the same improvement.
Some patients who wear contact lenses but did not wear them during Primals have noticed that they do not need them or glasses for up to 3 days after their Primals.
I have personally experienced that same phenomenon quite often. You can hypothesize that perhaps the blood pressure in the eye is reduced as a result of feeling.
— Dr. France D. Janov
"I would not have made it to this day"
I'm a former primal patient. It really changed my life. I can't express how much I developed from going through the primal process. I want to thank Dr. Janov for saving my life, because without that therapy I would not have made it to this day.
It was quite an experience for me. Having repressed all my feelings for so many years as a child, I immediately had great results. I just wanted to let you know that the therapy was a success.
Thank you all.
— J.D., USA, June 2003
"He connected to his birth"
Dear Art and France,
I had an experience with my father, who is almost 92, when I was called to Germany because he was so bad that my sister thought he would not live much longer, that I think will interest you. To me it proves the primal theory that the body remembers everything.
My father has been a man who has always lived by his intellect alone and despised feeling as weak and found the notion, that our body remembers child hood and birth pain totally ridicules.
I need to tell you the events that happened before this experience first.
My father is 92 has Dementia/Alzheimer¹s, arteriosclerosis, cancer , a bad hip, bad heart and was recently also diagnosed with cancer in many parts of his body.
Sometime in October he broke his hip on top of it and had to go into the hospital.
There he seemed OK for a while and than he had a stroke on the right side of his body and started to deteriorate, refusing to eat and drink, and according to my sister almost died twice if they had not put him on fluids. So she decided to take him home , so he could die there.
At home he improved emotionally and let himself be fed, but he was moaning and wining for long stretches at a time, asked if he had pain and where, he would just say everywhere, My sister thought it was the cancer and had him put on painkillers.
The moaning got only worse and more frequent and he became more and more unresponsive. The night before I arrived he supposedly was very cold and had a yellow tint to his skin.
All through the weeks and actually month before this I had heard my sister say things, that he had shooting pain in the right side of his brain, (which reminded me of my own birth pain making itself known before I could actually connect it,) his neck also was constantly hurting him but the doctors could not find anything, and I was already thinking than, death being so close for him is bringing up his birth pain.
After the stroke and when he was home again, he said things like "I don¹t know what to do" "where to go" and was very distraught. He liked people to massage the very back of head, where the stem brain is, which is where I get tension and headaches when my birth pain comes up.
When I arrived in Germany I found him really bad, moaning and wining, and no words coming out of his mouth that could be under stood, even though he was trying to speak. My sister was ready to ask for stronger pain killers.
The night after my arrival I put a chair next to his bed and held his hand, and with the other hand instinctively put my hand on the crown of his head, it just felt right, and I just gently let it sit there.
After a while he pushed against my hand and moved his head around in it for a while, than he sight and breathed deeply, relaxed and fell relaxed and calmly asleep. I tried to pull my hand away slowly thinking he was sleeping, but he woke up again almost panicky, so I did the same thing over again just longer, put my hand on top of his head, and the same happened again, and he slept deeply and quietly since than, not restless as before
What is amazing in this is, that he has not moaned since than, has not needed painkillers, his speech improved a lot, he comprehends much more again, asks questions, participates in his surroundings, and most of all his almost totally lame hand arm and leg have recovered almost 75%.
My sister made a joke, that I should become a midwife, but I truly believe now, after a time where I did not even put all of this together, that he made a recovery because he connected to his birth, that is what he needed to do. Since he was and still is so close to death, and both are a passage into an other dimension, it seems only logical, that one would bring up the other.
Hope you are both doing well.
— K.R., USA, June 2003
"I am now able to express my anger"
These are some major changes I experienced, thanks to the therapy:
I always felt no one could like me or be interested in me. I am now able to feel a bit that people do like me. I also feel I am strong enough to handle it if people don't like me.
I always felt I must do something to feel important. Now, I can feel important even when I am not doing anything.
As a child, I was told by my parents I couldn't be angry with them. I am now able to express my anger.
Talking about feelings feels more normal and natural to me now.
— J.M., Norway, May 2003
"The worst feeling of all for me"
To Art and France and the Staff
It's Sunday afternoon and I just got out of a feeling. The worst feeling of all for me - that of nothingness. The first-line part of the feeling is that of utter deprivation - a pure physical sensation in every single cell in my body - of something I have no words for but that is essentially missing. It is pure physical need that is deprived and leaves me with the global feeling of 'everything is wrong and ALWAYS will be', 'I am dying if nobody does anything RIGHT NOW' and 'I need to get out there RIGHT NOW'. Coming out of that feeling I suddenly see two things:
First how I all my life have felt how I do not exist and how I behaved
accordingly - never showing if or what I needed. I suddenly understand how that
'feeling' 'I do not exist' was the defense against the real devastating
The other thing I strongly feel since months is that I am cured. Not from my pain. Far from. But from one of the most devastating diseases there are: from not feeling. I now dare to make moves in my life and to initiate changes that promote my own well-being. I do not any longer wait for something to happen. And I have developed a strong feeling of safety that comes from my ability to feel. Whatever happens to me I am able to feel its impacts on me and retrieve bits of myself. I am far from happy all the time. But I am happy to be real enough to live.
Thanks to you all!
— C.G., May 2003
It is really exciting what power felt feelings have - and what power they have when remaining unfelt...
...I never could let an orgasm happen to me because I fought the physical feeling of nothingness - and how that now changes 'cause I can feel the nothingness in every cell in my body and do not need to fight it (and an orgasm) anymore. What a change!!! ...Another primal started with 'I do not have anything' (my friends just bought themselves a house and I envy them and I feel so poor), went down to first line nothingness and the poor/physically depleted feeling in every cell in me, then after deep breaths turned into a feeling of being rich in my entire body (a pure physical feeling), and then after some minutes I was flooded by a feeling and a later insight: I suddenly felt rich because I have achieved the ability to feel, that's were I chose to put my money, and it gave me the home I never would have found anywhere with all the money in the world. I still would like to have a house but I stopped envying my friends and saw how I now am able to keep a job and build a house from scratch!
— C.G., May 2003
"The tools we needed to heal"
Your discovery, your work, your center with France and your superb group of
primal Therapists, gave my husband Ted and me the tools we needed to heal. And
heal we did!
— L.C., April 2003
"Face it as a feeling"
Fear has ruled every aspect of my life, paralyzing every action I made. It
isolated me not only from other people but also played havoc on my creativity. I
was too afraid to dance, act, write a short story, design a quilt or display my
photography. Projects were never started or finished, abandoned once a mistake
was found. It had to be perfect! I desperately wanted to share my creative side.
Something deep inside of me kept nagging to be seen. My creativity was hidden,
too painful to uncover, I had to control it. Primal Therapy has been a way for
me to experience my fear and face it as a feeling. My fear no longer had the
same paralyzing charge it once had on my creativity. I took small steps to share
my artistic side, as imperfect as it was. I faced the fear, took action, and
— P.B., April 2003
Here are more poems composed by a patient. They are first presented in the patient's native French, then in English.
The following English translations were created by Sandrine Marten.
— Christiane N.H, France
Above all, I will always be grateful to you for what the therapy has brought to Jorge and I. It has created a real sea change in our lives.
— Rita, Canary Islands
"It was like a pressure cooker"
Here is what Stan wrote to me recently about his seizures. I make no claims about a cure for most seizures but what he has to say is instructive - Dr. Arthur Janov, January 2003:
I had Grand Mal seizures, about one a year before therapy.
I would have smaller seizures all of the time and also while sleeping. I would bite through my tongue. When I would wake up from the seizure my muscles would be sore to the point that I couldn't stand up and my stomach would burn. My whole body would ache and I was completely exhausted and hurt. The recovery period was typically about a week. I couldn't talk because of a swollen tongue due to the biting. I would have this feeling in my head that I can't even describe. It was like my head was underwater and I couldn't think clearly, so I usually slept for the first few days after the seizure. I would feel suicidal for about a week afterwards. Although my inclination was to kill myself because I was in so much pain, the thing that kept me going and the reason I didn't kill myself was that I would repeat over and over to myself, "I didn't feel this bad yesterday and if I wait long enough this will go away."
Details are hard to remember because everything was a blur, and it was difficult to think clearly. Immediately after a seizure it would take me about twenty minutes to remember what day of the week it was, but I would remember my name and I would know where I was. Typically, I would lose 2 to 3 days of work. After a seizure my eyes couldn't take in light. It was like I was in a really dark room and the only light I could see was any light that was directly in front of me, as if being in a dark tunnel with a train coming at you. I had other occurrences, like standing in line at the supermarket, where I would not know where I was and the doctor told me that it was probably a type of a seizure but on a small scale.
I have no idea how many feelings I have had. I didn't cry for about the first year and a half of primal therapy. I could tell that feelings were coming up because I was feeling bad whereas before therapy I was feeling nothing. The single most important event in my therapy was going on Klonipin. My very early pain, some from birth, was pushing up, while my mind was pushing down. My feeling level seems to have been getting smashed. Klonipin allowed me enough access to start feeling; otherwise I was overloaded.
In a session, I would start to cry briefly and then I would start coughing and shaking and I couldn't go back to the feeling. The Klonipin relaxed my body enough so that I could cry for a longer period of time and I could descend from things that bothered me in the present to the same things that bothered me in the past. I cried for 1 to 2 hours, twice a week, for 3 years. The biggest feeling was that everything is hopeless. The hopelessness was that mother was never going to love me, my father would never love me, and that I was in a world of shit; that nothing would ever get better. I had this feeling that my life was a prison sentence that I had to endure. I thought about suicide constantly because it seemed that it was the only way out of the prison. For example, I was in a scene in therapy in the house I grew up in, at the bottom of the stairs, looking up to my mother who was standing at the top of the stairs, and I was crying because I wanted her to come down and talk with me. She never talked with me. I would cry about wanting my mother to pick me up and to hold me and to talk with me.
During this period there was very little birth feelings. I had one previously had feelings where I felt stuck and my mother was that my mother wasn't helping me to be born. Although I don't know for sure, I suspect that a seizure is an explosion designed to get me unstuck and born.
Eventually I got to feelings of, please love me, please talk to me, and stop ignoring me. These are the feelings that changed my epilepsy. The key to it all is that I have all this stuff I have had to keep inside. I was never allowed to show any emotion and I had to act like everything was fine. So, after twenty years of having to hold everything in, it was like a pressure cooker and my body couldn't hold it in anymore and I started to have seizures. Every feeling I have in Primal therapy reduces that pressure a little bit more.
As a result of years of feeling, that pressure has been reduced enough that I no longer have seizures. Today, I am off all medication, and I feel good more often than I feel bad. I used to feel bad 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but now I might feel bad only a few days out of the month.
— Stan, USA
"My life had been restricted by pain"
During my therapy, I realized how much my life had been restricted by pain. When I felt hopeless, blocked or anxious I felt the feeling and connected it with my childhood pain. As a result of my insights I have changed the way I deal with both business transactions and my personal life. This has made a tremendous difference to my self-esteem and . . . happiness
— M.C.C., England
What I like about Primal Therapy is that it enables change at the visceral level, which is the only way true change can take place.
— S., USA
"For the better"
[The following was addressed to a therapist:]
Things have really changed for me and I have been able to change things for the better in my life. The fact that I have told my parents that I do this and have been able to talk to them about feeling is just amazing, unheard of and unbelievable.
I am very grateful to you. Thank you.
— M.N., England, November 2002
"I marvel at all the love I have in me"
I wish to thank you for the priceless/invaluable well being brought to me by Primal Therapy.
I will always feel a deep affection and admiration towards Dr. Janov.
Forty years ago, I suffered from post-partum anxiety. The way I was treated was an aberration: put in isolation for 15 days, tied by one foot for 2 days, locked up for 10 days, given psychotropic drugs (haloperidol, moziman and sleeping pills). I did not see my 3 young children for 6 weeks.
At the Primal Center, I found the complete opposite to this old-fashioned psychiatry. I am still not completely free from all my anxiety but my feelings are coming up little by little and I marvel at all the love I have in me – for my deceased father, my sister, my grand child – and to be able to make love quite often with fantastic feelings while in my youth I could stay 6 months without feeling any need for it. “You need to be able to access first line to be able to make love in a satisfying way” (The Biology Of Love). This is so true.
Please receive a big hug.
PS: I have forgotten the fact that I am able, for the first time, to have a friend and to get out of 60 years of insensitivity.
— F.L., Denmark, October 2002
"The work she has done with me is exceptional"
I am taking this opportunity to express to Dr. Janov my gratitude for the existence of Primal Therapy and its continuity. I have been extremely lucky to be treated by the therapist you assigned to me. The work she has done with me is exceptional. I wish you fructuous research and long life to Primal Therapy!
— S.G., Brazil, October 2002
"The first method to have had a positive, dramatic effect"
I have just returned to South Africa after another three months at the Primal Centre.
It really was a fantastic three months.
To be precise, I spent 36 years conscientiously co-operating with psychiatrists and psychologists with no results or negative results of a devastating nature. Primal Therapy is the first method to have had a positive, dramatic effect.
— B.J., South Africa, October 2002
"Changed my life"
The therapy has changed my life! I'm living in THIS world now, with all its beauty and joy and pain, not in a tortuous "fog"! My conscious and unconscious mind is pretty well connected. (I only dream in the here & now!). . . . I want Primal Therapy to go on!! I want it to be available to my son, if he should ever need to do it.
— L.G.., Germany, May 2002
"It's primalling and not talking that resolves and frees us from past pain"
At my return to therapy to the Center I slowly fell back into a pattern I had been in during my previous stay, especially the three week intense. Again I began accusing my therapist for being unconsidering and mean to me, for torturing me. Anything she did felt wrong to me. The feeling was "somebody is mean to me and maliciously torturing me and nobody is there to protect me". It was finally triggered off in all its load by a woman in pre-group who yelled names at me while it was my turn to drop into a feeling. None of the therapists interfered. It was very painful.
In my next session my therapist tried to help me feeling the pain of being without protection when somebody is mean to me. To me it felt as if it was her actually BEING mean to me (she didn't protect me from the feeling). My pain was too much so that the focus stayed on her. I wrote two letters to the Center, complaining about my therapist's way of working with me. I accused her for having tortured me and I demanded she would apologize. After four weeks my wrongly focussed and thus unresolvable struggle and suffering were finally ended when my therapist was taken away from me.
Immediately the feeling broke through with its right focus. My first memory was how my mother had refused me food for 24 hours when I was four years old. She wanted to punish me for that I never could eat much at a time and that I often refused food because I felt sick in my stomach (due to pain because of my mother being mean to me beyond belief). I had cried for hours and begged her for food: *Mommy, one egg, only one egg". She laughed at me and turned away. In my primal I looked at her and for the first time in my life I screamed out my pain of my mother wanting to starve me (the PAIN).
Then I remembered how my mother had told me the Brother Grimm 'fairy tale' Hänsel und Gretel" when I was four years old. In the fairy tale a stepmother wants to get rid of her two stepchildren and leads them into the deep forest where she leaves them all alone to die of starvation. I had made my mother tell me that story every evening. And every evening I had told her the end of the story that I had invented myself: the children would find their way out of the forest and go to the police. In my primal I saw myself standing in front of a police man and I cried my heart out, pointing at my mother and begging him to give me shelter and come home with me (the NEED). Then I felt again how I all alone stood behind my mother when she denied me even this one single egg. I cried for her to turn to me, to hold me, to caress my cheeks and tell me with tears in her eyes "C., I'm so sorry" (for having denied me food) and "You gonna be alright, I'll help you" (to make my stomach pain go away) and she would lay her hand on my belly. (the NEED).
After the feeling I had to face several devastating truths on my accurate act-outs. I had not been able to see that it wasn't my therapist who had put the pain into me. She was only the person who brought me in touch and tried to help me with the pain. Which had meant to me that it was her who was so mean to me. I had even tried to turn her I into the Center's "police" (through my 'childhood glasses' it was the staff meeting and Art and France Janov) by writing letters (my need to go for shelter to the police in the 'fairy tale'). And I had demanded the apology that I so desperately had needed from my mother.
This feeling took four weeks of projection and suffering to finally be felt and integrated. It tells about its incredible load. More and more memories are popping up now on how my mother had been torturing me.
The major insight I have from it is how devastating unresolved childhood pain can be for adult relationships - in my case: to my relationship with my own therapist.
Another insight is how Primal Therapy has made a difference in my life compared to a "talking therapy' I have had before. Even back then I had projected my mother's meanness on the therapist just as I did with my Primal therapist. Though back then the therapist had no tools to help me into the feeling. We TALKED about it but the focus stayed wrong at her for several years. It lead to that I finally had to cut her off because the pain became too much- I quit the therapy but was left with the unresolved pain of my mother having been mean to me. In Primal Therapy the unresolved pain came up again. I got help with FEELING the feeling and my brain took it back to the real PAST events with my mother. It's primalling and not talking that resolves and frees us from past pain - it frees us from the devastating effects past pains can have on our present lives.
Though it's such an irony: I found the feeling. But the very person who tried to help me feeling my pain I lost - because of the very pain that someone else 30 years ago had put into me. It's such a loss to me.
[Note from the Primal Center: Once C.G. was able to feel the described feelings in their past context, she was allowed to have sessions again with her primary therapist.]
— C.G., USA, March 2002
It is always a happy, tearful experience reading Art's work because I feel there is someone finally on the planet that really understands the inner reality that I have lived in. Before reading Art's work and having the understanding that is contained within his work, the only conclusion I was ever able to come to was that something was wrong with me and I was just "crazy" because I couldn't understand all the "feelings" that kept intruding into my present experience. It ultimately left me feeling bad about who and what I was. I hated it and had no idea it was a form of distortion in relation to my early experiences and the time frame. Art and your [France Janov's] work has changed that all around as you know. I now understand the source of all the unexplained feelings of the past and it has put the feelings in their proper perspective. THAT ALONE HAS MADE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE WITH MY EXPERIENCE OF MYSELF. I can't help but love you guys for it! My gratitude is eternal :-) :-) !!!
— A.B., USA, November 1999
"In the very physiology of one's body"
Everyone reading this should know that Primal Theory and Primal Therapy has been refined, and just as important, it has matured. . . . The result is profound change not just in thinking and behavior, but in the very physiology of one's body.
— C.R., USA, November 1998
"How drugged must I have been"
I need to share the following with you: Remember a session with you when I drowned in a feeling where I felt heavily drugged and couldn't move and stayed so for several hours? I am ending up there again and again after having felt younger "no-way-out-and-I-cannot-do-anything"-memories. It is a connected feeling - though so far it didn't make sense to me considering what I knew about my birth. Yesterday night I learned from my mother something about my birth I didn't know before: In the first phase she breathed in nitrogen oxide when labour was too painful for her (that part I knew). The news is: my entire birth took only four hours. And just before I was born she was asked if she wanted to have a drug injected. She wanted - and she was so drugged that she has no idea how I actually got out of her. How drugged must I have been then...
Isn't that amazing! And that's what I wanted to share with you before the session next week!
— C.G., Canada
"If I've never thanked you for saving my life and making it worth living - at times joyful and beautiful. So I'm thanking you now!"
— L.G., Germany
I was very upset with a mistake my boy friend made, inordinately mad. I was furious and yet my head could tell me that what he had done was not so horrible.
So, in my session, I let myself get angry at him. It built up into a rage, I let it out. I reached a peek of furor, then it decreased. It was then replaced by a feeling of being completely overwhelmed and then despairing. The despair was deep, tainted of hopelessness: “it’s too hard to live like this”, “bad things will always happen from others”. After crying a long time, the feeling became “I have to make things right, I have to take care of everything because nobody else does, I have to be an adult all the time”.
And of course being an adult or behaving like one was the defense I had to put up so that I wouldn’t be helpless at other people’s hands and overwhelmed. Suddenly an image came to me: I was a little girl (4 years old) and I was welcoming adults when they came to visit, sitting with my legs crossed and talking politics with them. As I see that serious little girl, it makes me cry deeply (until now, I always felt it was cute, and I was sort of proud of it, it had become a “family story”). I am suddenly feeling that I am responsible for my parents. The memory of me calling the cops when I was about 7 rolls into my mind. I was worried that my parents were not back home while the curfew was on. I also felt so responsible for my younger brother, as if his life depended on me protecting him. The image of me sitting on the beach with him nestled inside my arms brings great sadness and tears, like we were alone in the world.
I also remember that when I was a child, I felt I never wanted to be an adult: adults lives seem to be so hard and so unhappy… I wanted to stay a child forever. The irony is, I was never a child and I was behaving like an adult.” I suddenly see myself being furious at 4 years old because I cannot reach the entry doorknob: it is too high for me, I am too little. I hate it: I know why now: it means that I couldn’t open the doors myself, someone had to help me.
It then appears clearly to me that when I grew up, I was always on top of everything and everybody. I was totally responsible, in control, and very “adult”.
It all connects to the present again: it is suddenly clear that during the last few month of my therapy, I have started having a hard time being constantly the one reliable and responsible and having a very “irresponsible” boy friend. I kept wanting to change my life, to “play” and be “care free”. Intellectually, I believed that the root of it was that I did not want to take care of anything or anybody anymore and that I wanted my boyfriend/daddy to take over and take care of me.
My boy friend’s mistake pops up in my mind again, and surprise, the feeling is: “why can’t I be a child, you won’t let me be a child, I need it!” And that’s the bottom line, that is the need, because it was never being fulfilled, I became the “child-adult” I was, and never really wanted to be.
So as a child I never wanted to grow up to be an adult but I really was. As an adult, I still wanted to be a child (unconsciously) but couldn’t. I realized that wanting to change my life in the present was somewhat unreal and somewhat real. Unreal because the child who needed to be a child belongs in my childhood. Real because obviously my act-out of having the whole world depend on me is not necessary and my life can be more care free, which I fully intend to implement. Actually, it comes as a great relief that I can take it “a little more easy” in a lot of areas of my life. My boy friend’s behavior is no longer an issue; and if it becomes so, I know where my irritation comes from (if any) and what to do with it: feel it. I don’t have to hate him for it or need to change him. It is extraordinary how programmed we are from our past. Each time I discover a new part of myself and uncover the consequences of a repressed feeling, I marvel at the ability of the human system: to go back there and undo the damage!
— H.H., USA
"Something my mother never told me"
Since I was 13 or 14, I’ve been having the impulse to leave the house whenever my mother would be mad at me. I used to say “when I’ll be 18, I’ll leave”. She would answer “here is your bag, why don’t you leave now”.
Now I still have the impulse to leave, my boyfriend for example, whenever I hurt inside. I realized after a session that the reason I leave is because I need him to tell me to stay so that I know he loves me and care, something my mother never told me, I wish she did.
— Y.D., Sweden
"Out of here"
I did Primal Therapy briefly but incorrectly. My therapist was MS. She was a good therapist, but I was trying to cut corners (and costs). I didn’t do the three weeks, just a few private sessions and groups. Groups were particularly helpful. At the time my defenses were still very tight, and I had trouble accessing feelings. But at group the crying and howling of other patients reminded me exactly of my home life when my Mom was in the mood to beat kids all weekend, and I could get into some second-line feelings from that. I quit after just a few months because I had found some relief, and the “maintenance drinking” had fallen away but I was still using cigarettes, still resistant and unable to access more feelings.
My minimal experience with Primal Therapy did demonstrate that this is the medicine that is capable of fundamentally uprooting a person’s neurosis. I read the rest of the primal books, and promises myself I would have to go back and do this stuff right. The feeling that something has been chasing me down the road all my life is something I can no longer live with. The feeling of needing to “get out of here”: out of a job, a relationship, a town, has hunted me down to where there’s only more “outa here” I can get, and I’ve never been suicidal.
— I.R., USA.
"She wanted me to be a little white girl"
My mother… She wanted me to be a white people kid instead of me. (one of the little girl my mother took care of was Janet who had a long blond pony tail). Mother told me “Don’t you wish you had hair like that instead of Mexican black hair?” She wanted me to be a little white girl. I wasn’t. All my life I had to be secretive and that’s where some of it comes from.
— P.K., USA
"I understand my whole life"
[The following is a patient’s insight right after a birth Primal:]
“… So I survived…Most incredible experience of my life. Now I understand everything. I understand my whole life. Maybe this is the beginning of the end of the bad things I do to myself.
I understand why I constantly ask for help, because no one was there to help me. I was just laying there, screaming to be helped and no one helped me. At one point I felt as if I was going to die – as if I was trapped. I see how in my life I put myself in situations that made me feel trapped in. Engineering studies, my back was against the wall. No way out. I was putting myself through years of something that was immensely difficult.
And now again moving to Paris. I made myself do it. I do something difficult to get triggered, so difficult I can’t cope. I’m putting myself thru impossible things and I always survive. But it’s a hell of a struggle. Living in Paris triggered me the most. It was my birth. I cannot live here. There’s something very physical in Paris. Noise feels like an intrusion, an attack. Narrow streets and high building lock me in”.
— R.E., Italy
"Tremendous strength to continue"
...Then I also want to make use of this opportunity to thank all the staff there for the 3 weeks that I spent at the Center. You were right when you said that I had come to the right place - it surely is. My 3 weeks gave me tremendous strength to continue with my life, as well as to make all the plans and arrangements that I am currently making. I so wish that I could also thank Dr. Janov personally for the great way in which he has contributed to humanity in general, and to my own life specifically."
— E.G., New Zealand
"Because I was scare[d]"
[The following is uncorrected text from someone for whom English is not a first language:]
I remember France Janov on a talk radio saying something like “what is important is not only to feel the pain, you have to go to the need behind it”.
For many months, I was pretty quiet during the groups. But because I may have to go back in France soon, I did every group in the past few weeks with a lot of exhaltation, expressing my feelings in front of everybody. I did express myself much more in my everyday life too. Since I am more active, I feel everybody hate me.
Today, I did not speak at the pre-group. I just sat, waiting for my therapist to come to see me. When he came, I just said “I was scare to speak because I feel everybody hate me when I do”, then I cried. I did remember how my father was kidding on me when I was young, when I had something to say. He hated me because I was the intellectual one of the family (THE PAIN).
Next I did remember my teacher complaining about my speech desorder when I was 10, my French teacher when I was 12 too. At these times, my speech desorder was hard to undergo for me. But they both treated me as if I did in purpose (THE PAIN).
After that, I bagan to think about the furnitures in my bedroom when I was young, before I moved out at 11. I was “flying” in my old village, and then in the nearby city. I suddenly “saw” a taxi, at the station. It surprised me but I could not figure out what was the meaning. I forgot the taxi and after a while, I felt in tears. When I was young, I did a speech therapy, in the nearby city. We used to take the bus, my mother and me. Sometimes we had to take a taxi, to go back home. I cried again and again, missing these times when my mother was alone with me. She was there for me (THE NEED).
The whole thing last between 60 and 90 minutes.
What I did learn from this feeling is that when I was young I was maybe not scare to speak because of the desorder. Maybe I was just scare to speak because of the way peoples (and my father) reacted to me. I had the confirmation a few weeks later. Indeed, while I was going in my feelings, I spoke with my old speech desorder. It happen very often now. I could not pronounce “R” correctly. I figured out that it happen when my lower lip is stretch by fear (or anger, it’s not clear yet). All my life I did believe I was scare to speak because of my speech desorder. Today I realize that I had the speech desorder because I was scare.
Before, I used to speak with a chocking language. I think it was only a defense. By that I mean that if people would react badly to what I said, I could believe it’s only because of the way I spoke. Now I speak more in a real way and I feel much more vulnerable. But it’s me.
After feeling the need I realized that when I was young I neede my mother so much. It may seem stupid but I was not really aware of it before. I always used to say “I can take care of myself”, it is act out. I realised that that even though I was always around of her, she was never really there for me.
The biggest problem of my life is that I could never leave my mother. I always had the need to go back to her. Even at 15 and than at 22 years old, I gave up the schools of my choice because of that imprint.
Feeling the need of my mother created a split between the mother of my needs and my real mother. I don’t put my needs on my real mother anymore. I can only accept that my “inside” mother doesn’t exist anymore (did she ever exist). It give me the will to look forward and make my life as an adult. My need to go back to my inside mother still exist, and my soon departure for France triggered it. During some groups or with my Buddy, I screamed “maman, I don’t want to go, don’t let me alone Maman”, being scared to leave my inside mother whereas I’m going back to where my real mother is. Now I know I have to feel this need when it occur.
— Olivier, France
"Living my life"
“I have to stop living my death and start living my life.”
— W.A., Greece