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Primal Thearapy, Its Theory, How It is Done, Its Good Aspects and Shortcomings

During primal therapy the patient is lead to reexperience events in childhood when he understood that his parents did not love him unless he distorts himself seriously.
Views: 1.525 Created 06/26/2016

Primal therapy is a psychotherapy form invented by the American psychoanalyst Arthur Janov, which also founded a worldwide chain of institutes for the propagation and performance of this therapy on patients. Arthur Janow developed the method after a session with a patient that spontanously began crying and wiping and revealed a very important event in his childhood that determined his later nervous problems. The primal therapy states the assumption that the parents of the patient did not love the child as he was naturally, but steadily tried to transform him according to an unnatural scheme, and steadily gave him hints that he would not be loved as long as he is natural, and shows his natural behaviour and lusts.


Primal therapy has as its theoretical base that children do not get fully loved by their parents as the beings they are. Furthermore this leads parents to deny children basic needs for love, and also that it leads parents to force a child to become some other type of being than the natural child.

At some point the child understands that he is not loved for what he is. This creates an intense unbearable emotional pain for the child. To defend himself from the pain, and get some love and acceptance, the child then suppresses the feeling of pain, and begins to convert himself to the type of child the parents demand to have. He also hides the knowledge of not being loved as a natural individual, and the memory of the pain in his subconscious levels.

But the transformation by this kind of blocking the true self is seldome enough to satisfy the demands from the parents in the first place. There will therefore typically be several more episodes where the child undertands that he is not loved, and then distorts himself even more, while suppressing and hiding this knowledge and pain.

But an individual that is seriously distorted mentally and usually also physically by this process, will not function optimally. The process of keeping himself distorted will also deplete the individual for energy. Also the distorted state will cause a lot of new pain. The needs that the child have been denied must also get some kind of fulfilment, but only in a distorted way that the parents can accept. It is this complex distorted state with its symptoms that constitute neuroses and other mental diseases, according to the theory.

The theory of primal therapy has a very strict definition of what a normal, that is non-distorted person is. Among other elements it stresses in a nearly hysterical way that a person free from mental disease is totally heterosexual without any sexual feelings towards own gender, whatsoever.


The therapy itself begins by letting the patient stay in some quiet place, for example a hotel room, several hours and over night without sleeping. Thereby the patient gets into a psychologically labile state where hidden material easily pops up and where the defence reaction against revelations of such material is reduced.

Right after this wake, in this exhausted state, the patient will go into a session with a therapeut at a primal therapy institute nearby. The therapeut urges the patient to express any thoughts that comes up, and any memory that pops up. He also urges the patient to give expression for his feeling regarding the material that pops up through cry, scream, physical agitation and whatever else reaction he feels compelled to.

Memories of painful events and of the pain itself will then pop up and those will then be reexperienced, and especially those events in childhood where the patient understood that he was not loved and accepted. The exhausted mental state after the wake will make meomories more easily well up from the unconscious levels. The revelations will make the patient cry, scream and agitate until he feels mentally cleaned and satisfied.

The revealing of some material with subsequent reactive outourst will trigger a cascade of release of even more material and reactions,that ends by the patient feeling mentally relaxed and cleansed.

This process of bringing hidden memories of key painful events in childhood into the conscious level, will cure mental diseases of a wide variety and associated bodily issues too, according to theory. The theory holds that one or a few of these sessions will completely cure the patient.


Primal therapy definitely has some basic truth at its foundations, but the method is poluted by the prejudices of Janov himself regarding properties of a sound person, for example his strict heterosexual standard for a sound person.

A sound person is bisexual, not heterosexual. Also a strict heterosexuality will always contain an element of self-hate, since the person you are most near at any time is of your own sex, namely yourself.

Also the theory ignores the fact that not only the parents, but also the society itself and the institutions of society give the patient the message of not being accepted as he is in the first place. Furthermore it ignores that parents often acts after orders or expectations from the society.

Knut Holt is a business consultant and marketer focusing on the health field. At his site there is a lot information useful to improve health and fitness, including slimming and exercise advices. You can also find presentation of products to combat common health issues, to improve fitness and to improve sexual potency and satisfaction.


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