Debunking primal therapy website

Implications and information on various therapies and self-therapy that deal with the emotional connection of childhood experiences

Post by D.R.B. »

I looked at the new addition to 'Your Stories'. So it was Bernard! The same anonymous coward who got BruceW into trouble with the Primal Center also took a swipe at Bernard, which is an example of acting-out on this forum.

What with Cesar's verbal tirades and Phil endlessly repeating the same lame objection to criticisms (which amounts to just one person's opinion), I don't think Dennis or anyone else should be too surprised if this forum drives people away. Apart from Phil, who went to the Primal Institute in NY a quarter of a century ago, has anyone from Janov's present-day Primal Center come here to post an account of their experiences in the same depth as the stories on the 'debunking' site?


Post by timothy »

What the author of the site doesn't say is that many of the anonymous testimonies are his own. I don't think that it is very honest.

Post by Guest »

How do you know that the testimonies are his own? Do you know him? I wonder if he was the "endless questioner" on the primal page forum.

Most of his criticisms - like it being a cult, the therapist article, the abuse, etc - have been collected from other people's comments in previous primal forums. So perhaps he didn't have primal therapy himself as he claims.
Another guest


Post by Another guest »

I think people should have a look at the whole content of the 'Debunking' website before they try to dismiss it. Criticising the person who set up the site does not undermine the crucial questions he asks about Primal Therapy - especially when comments about the site author are all based on guess work and supposition.

* * * * * * Animal Farm * * * * * *

Post by Prince »

Interesting case histories on that site. They portray the A-J Primal Center as the Animal Farm of psychotherapy. Those who have been there know the truth. Everyone else is guessing. In the Primal Institute days Vivian was able to exert a restraining influence.
No, my name is not Prince. I am a bullsh*t artist formerly known as Janov Certified.

Debunking Primal Therapy site

Post by »

I looked at the "debunking" site for information and I was shocked to see so much sniping and sarcasm there. Is this a therapy forum for people to unload their anger? If it is I don't believe it will be a very useful way of doing it.
I have no idea if what you say about Janov is true or false (or both) but I do think that people who have dealt with their own rage (and we all have it!) would not give answers like most on here. Sorry, I am well aware that I'm not perfect (or even anything approximating perfect) but it is quite marked that many of you just want to put each other down. How about some constructive comments? (Oh, Cedar guess what's going to come down on your head now!) I only know Janov through his books, but what I have read makes sense to me in light of my own discoveries about myself. I haven't had primal therapy so can't speak from that experience. I do believe in catharsis, which is panned by so many psychologists etc. I think if people could get ENOUGH catharsis they would become more aware and able to change their lives for the better.

Post by Guest »

I should be immune to it by now, but I still find it shocking when heartless people completely discount the pain of fellow human beings who have been treated abusively -- by labelling it sniping and sarcasm, for example. Like in Nazi Germany in the 1930's, there are people around today who say authority figures should never be questioned or criticized. In this case, the Primal Center's staff are seen as authority figures beyond reproach. "They should be allowed to do whatever they want to The Jews." It's amazing to see the confidence of people who've only read the books and never experienced the therapy first hand at the official center. Some of Janov's most ardent fans have truly ugly personalities.
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Post by Dennis »

First of all I have a hard time understanding the information presented on that site because of its structure and layout bloopers. And the random reaching out to a variety of irrelevant scientific studies, including the bogus statements of Loftus, did not much for me to be convinced.

The criticism towards Primal Therapy is valid but it's criticism that applies to all forms of therapy. Jeffrey Masson wrote a whole book about it (Against Therapy). I think it's fair to say that institutionalized therapy has been a failure in our society. Especially when you promote a therapy that cures neurosis of which 99 percent of the populations suffers from.

Alice Miller's criticism in Banned Knowledge of Arthur Janov's Primal Center is also valid.

What makes a person decide to go to a therapist? He or she hopes to be helped to relieve the suffering that person experiences. Repressed pain is a real phenomenon and it's real pain. Why does a person pay a lot of money to a therapist? Because it creates the illusion that the responsibility lies with him. If I buy a service, for example a meal in a restaurant, I expect that I don't have to do anything but eat. To avoid the repressed pain, which is stored in our body and our whole nervous system, we seek out people and systems that will continue that avoiding. It's the same with Primal Therapy. If you want to have a person listen to you for 1 hour a week, why not give the money to your local homeless person. He or she'll gladly listen to you for more than an hour. But these people seeking therapy want an authority figure to be listened to and the whole parent-repeat pattern takes over. When a person comes closer to his or her pain, it gets worse. You feel worse. But feeling is essential and it's a process that needs to be continued, not for 20 years, but to get to the full expression of the pain. During that phase most of the damage can be done if the situation is not right.

That said, Janov did not invent pain. This pain is showing and it can be traced to an original event in one's life. That is easier said than done and we all have our own experiences how we denied it by intellectual cover-ups. I used to explain in detail about the discoveries of Janov to a girl I was in love with, in my early twenties, not realizing I was trying to convince a deeply depressed person to start living again. Just like I did as a kid with my mother. The feelings I experienced were very intense but never again I struggled to have a depressed woman trying to like me.

Janov's books have been very valuable to me but so have others. If anyone expect to get all the answers and all the cures from one author or from one therapy, is in another form of denial. And denial is the strongest and always underestimated factor when it comes to human behavior.

And the Primal Center being a cult? Janov's newest book in planning called Beyond Belief seems to tackle that first hand. From his website:
Beyond belief!
under consideration by publishers

This book examines what forces in us drive us to believe in mystics, healers and gurus. What unconscious impulses lead us to join cults, and reveals how feelings become beliefs in the brain. Dr. Janov discusses all of this through the autobiographies of patients who have lived it. He also examines how the government functions as a cult with the same dynamics as any cult leader from Jim Jones to Rajneesh and to Ben laden.

There is a chapter on the born again, conversion experience and why that happens. Another on what makes a leader or healer and what makes a follower. He cites many research studies on how thinking something will kill pain actually does, and why that happens. He analyzes belief systems and how they function to keep us comfortable. That the brain doesn?t care if it is Islam, the Republican Party or ?the secret,? it all works the same in the brain. What he points out is that the thought of a deity makes us believe in it whereas it is the thought itself that relieves and soothes us.

This is the first thorough account of how beliefs work in the brain to bring us comfort and calm. But it is a spurious calm since there is a seething caldron of pain that lies below beliefs that will make us sick and shorten our lives.
As always there's plenty of material to talk about. I agree that cultism is present in our ordinary society, in regular schools, offices or factories. You'll see it everywhere. People are depressed, they harm themselves, they harm the environment, they harm children and animals, they commit suicide.


Again, all what is written here is my opinion, not general facts.
Everything I write here is my opinion, not absolute truths but I don't want to start every sentence with[i] in my opinion[/i]...
Silvis Rivers

Post by Silvis Rivers »

I recall when I went to the Paris Primal Institute(1980's). I met Janov there and I was in a lot of emotional pain . In the first few weeks the therapists helped me to link together severe early losses that I had gone through as child. I had half cut some of these early losses off and later in the early 1990's when I found my children's homes files I could see why I had been having dislocated flashback images of a filmic type with the odd gull flying about in me and the feeling of sea ..

In fact I'd been placed in a home by the sea in the 1950's . It was in Wales . Therapy helped me to integrate and tolerate the emotional pain of those times . The flashbacks of the unknown gull and sea s stopped .. I even went to see the Children Homes where my sister and I were placed .. A powerful journey with a blue electric ghost of a child accompanying me ...And welsh mountains that talked in my memory ....

I'd had a shit family that created many seperations for me to tolerate . I ended up going half mad as a teenager. I later rated primal therapy as a way to navigate back to some sense. It agreed with my own instincts . I could not rate it as a "cure" though ...No , more like a set of tools to survive a seriously bad development with .. I just wanted my "self" back too .. The anguish of only having a half self was too much to bear and that is the way my life was as a child ..

I cannot see how anyone can be "cured" of painful developmental imprints that have embedded within them the pain of (in my case) having no safe attachments , losing parents and family as well as living after those events of abandonment and within emotional isolation and suffering sexual and child abuse , beatings and deprivations ..

What I have experienced with a primal therapist is a degree of empathy and internal reach that has saved my life on occasions . I feel grieving in any good therapy with any therapist that allows the real self its own journey is often underestimated by our cultures and that for some of us it needs to be a place of repeatedly letting go ...NOt a thing I state lightly

Its not much of an advert for Primal Therapy I am giving here . It did seem to make many claims that I thnk can only give way to the harsh reality that early human pain and unmet needs will from time to time reactivate and will need another trail of grief to ease them ..

I rather liked Alive Miller's take on therapy that grief and mourning are part of the emotional trails of damages that will need to be revisited often

What I can say is many people I have seen in "Primal Therapy" seem to have done well but when I have talked to some they are minded to acknowledge the scars they have that can burn now and then .. They have seemed to be realistic about it ..

Primal Therapy if done well is useful to connect old feelings and to convert old unmet needs back into realiseable hurts and finally losses .

But I am realist and know there are other therapists who are empathically gifted to be able to enable suffering back into resolvable connections . There's also the problem of "degree of suffering" in people . I mean the level of pain in some is very high and very complex and not so in others so each story of therapy had becomes unique .

Anyway .... When I saw Janov in Paris he said

"You are a gamble "

Yeah .... I am still here for a time ....

And I like to draw sheer cheek and take the piss

Well its the therapy's fault because my inner child is rampant now ..

This should make Dennis smile its called "SAXUAL DEVIATION"

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Post by Dennis »

Thanks for your story, Silvis. A therapist cannot force anyone to feel the old pain but a good therapist knows when to push and when to hold back. I'm sure that some people didn't realize there was much more pain from their lives than they realized. Like you said, 'I mean the level of pain in some is very high and very complex and not so in others so each story of therapy had become unique.'

An important thing in primal therapy is that's it's not about feeling better. Any other therapy I know is about making the person to feel better about him/ herself. And many therapies try to make the person think to feel better. As people have strong defenses against the pain, they want to avoid the pain by wanting to feel better. They don't want to feel depressed, agitated, scared, withdrawn, etc. That's why people grab drugs, go to parties, over-eat, over-consume, have careless sex, just so they feel better. But only as an escape from their pain. Primal therapy is about feeling real.

Some people acknowledge the pain as the key to healing. But as Janov writes in his book Primal Healing:
Arthur Janov wrote:It's not enough to feel pain in therapy, for we must understand that inside the pain lies the need, the need that was first converted to pain when it was not fulfilled.
So people who are stuck in pain for years is another defense. It's really about someone's unique life to understand the causes of his or her suffering.

What a nice painting. I assume you made it when I read the initials. Good name as well!