Cool Intervention #3: Primal Therapy

Cool comes in many forms. In the case of Primal Therapy, cool means unorthodox, controversial, and powerful enough to ruffle feathers after 40 years. None other than Dr. Arthur Janov himself chimes in as we dig deep to explore one of the Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions.

First off, Primal Therapy is the name of the modality, Primal Scream was the name of the 1970 book where Janov claimed mental illness can be eliminated by therapy that involves experiencing and expressing repressed pain fromchildhood. Sometimes this results in screaming, sometimes sobbing, whatever it takes to express the hurt. The decibels don't matter as long as clients access and express these raw, early emotions. Why is this so important? Take a look at this:

"The number one killer in the world today is not cancer or heart disease, it is repression." - from Why You Get Sick and How You Get Well

According to Janov, unexpressed pain and painful memories place undue stress on our psyche and physical bodies, and may cause illness. Everything from hypertension, allergies, asthma, panic attacks, heart palpitations, ulcers, phobias, depression - each can be potentially traced to repressed emotion. Address the cause (early pain), and the symptom will subside. 

Janov was educated at UCLA and the Claremont Graduate School before working at a Veteran's Administration hospital and the Los Angeles Children's Hospital. During his own therapy he discovered an "eerie scream welling up from the depths of a young man lyingon the floor" and created Primal Therapy as a result.

Working with core emotions must be revitalizing because at 85 Janov shows no signs of slowing down. He is the author of thirteen books related to Primal Therapy including The Primal Scream,The Biology of Love, and more recentlyPrimal Healing. His new book Life Before Birth will be published this year. He founded the Janov Primal Center in Santa Monica, California, where the work continues. He even has his own blog

Most everyone associated withpsychotherapy has heard of Primal Therapy. Whether they love it or hate it, Janov's work has forced the field to wrestle with the significance of repression and raw emotion in their theoretical formulation. If this area were completely unimportant, Primal Therapy wouldn't cause such a ruckus. Furthermore, John Lennon wrote a great album after his time with Janov, so there's that. Here's to the ruckus, and a big loud, throaty welcome to Dr. Janov:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-therapy/201002/cool-interve...

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Replies to This Discussion

Ah, this is a great therapy, thanks, Linda, for posting this!

Yes, what a relief it is!

Lara, I'm not a screamer by nature either.....more of a crier, I guess....OR, I tend to cook when I'm upset.  When my autistic daughter was in grade school, we had a lot of grief from the teachers not doing their jobs.  It wasn't unusual for me to come home, make bread, spaghetti sauce and the pasta to go with..

So am I, Marcie, but I only do this when no one is around.  Crying, that's different.  Even my husband Gary cries.

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