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Stettbacher and Alice Miller: Doing self-therapy

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:26 pm
by John
I'm a junior on this topic and am finding a lot of confusion out there.

The very first review of Making Sense of Suffering ( Stettbacher's book) is this:

Quote from review:
I highly discourage anyone from reading this book, since the approach for curing it proposes simply will not work. How is an emotionally disturbed traumatized person supposed to get better by talking to himself about his past and recording this talk on a tape recorder? Where are the crucial dimensions of an emphatic therapist and his guidance? A traumatized person needs a safe environment where (s)he can express her/his feelings, since expression of true feelings is curative (see e.g. Pennebaker " Emotion, Disclosure & Health). I have read dozens of books on the brain and emotions and on psychology in general - this is the worst one. Certain sections sound as if they had been copied almost word by word from Arthur Janov. No studies of therapeutic outcome whatsover have been done on Stettbacher's method. To the contrary several studies on other therapies have shown that they do work (e.g. Janov's Primal Therapy (website).ch or bevavioural therapy) and that they have desirable effects on brain function, like reducing EEG beta waves indicative of anxiety or reducing hyperactivity in the caudate nucleus linked with obsessive compulsive disorder.

My interest would be to find out what's useful in Stettbacher and combine it with RST. Does anyone have any thoughts about Stettbacher's method?

There seems to be a lot of argument. Is it really legitimate argument? Is Miller really correct that this therapy isn't worth pursuing?

What about a combo with RST work? Would Stettbacher alone be helpful in the opinon of some people here?


Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 5:13 pm
by Bernard
If you're looking for more techniques to add to RST and the others you've tried, does that mean they weren't completely satisfactory?

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 5:38 pm
by John
Exactly. For example with all the RST work I found that the body had some serious detox-nutrition issues to deal with ( VanWinkle does a poor job of laying this out, other than saying "the body will detox itself"). I have a very active program of accupressure that is netting out truly great results ( like cleaning the lymphatic system). I had set a goal of 350 hours...and am up over 590 hours of RST now. My main issue? Same as what happened to Thomas Stone ( Cure by Crying): A vast underestimation of the repressed anger( trauma). He took 7 years to get through his...and did end up cured of neurosis ( as you can see from his book, Cure by Crying). Even though I've come a huge way, I'd like to see if there are ways of shortening the healing period. I only got really serious about RST 2 years ago. To be fair, I was not too good on making diet changes. And that slows it down a lot. Still, I'd say my improvement is dramatic. My whole reference group of people is gone.

I live in Chile, so therapy ( to me) is out of the question here. This place is totally sold on the western model of medicine. There are lots of people who use alternative medicine, and I have two people who assist me in this, again with great results. For the reason of the "American model" here, I invest more and more in self-therapy.

I'm after any kind of experience people might have with self-therapy...or insights, knowledge etc.

As an Alice Miller-Primal-RST forum, this seems like the right place to fish.


Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 1:55 am
by Guest
Hi John,

Some people on the PSG forum have tried Stettbacher's methods and found them too rigid and not helpful. But these were experienced primallers.
I haven't read his book myself.

You might also consider therapy by phone. Some people use the SKYPE system to do that. I have found therapy by phone to be effective. It might be something to consider. A few therapists offer this. It is obviously not ideal, but is an option for people in distant places.

Here is a link to an article you may find interesting:

It is concerning Alice Miller's statements on primal therapy and Stettbacher.


Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 2:35 pm
by Dennis
At Stettbacher's book is still mentioned on their list of recommended books. Because it deals with the same principles.

At you'll find some more information on Stettbacher's method. (scroll down to Primal Therapy, from Janov to Miller and Stettbacher)

In my experience people with severe prenatal and postnatal trauma will not be able to do Stettbacher's self-therapy successfully. But it might show you some aspects that were unknown to you before.

Millers critique was mainly towards the practice of his therapy in Switserland. After reading his book, many people simply didn't feel the strength to do the therapy themselves and wanted to do it there. They were in state of panic of not being helped.


Posted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 7:35 pm
by John
Phil and Dennis,

Good feedback and some stuff to think about. Thanks for the link Phil. I liked the solid clear and honest sound of Sam. Phone therapy is an option. With what I am doing now, I am making much greater strides than using conventional therapy locally here in Chile. The nine hours a week of physical therapy dealing with detox and organ-gland stimulation is beyond anything I had expected. Big changes. Life changing. You know it might be all I need. We'll see. In only two months, the change has been dramatic.

The birth trauma information is important to start to understand and integrate I think. Most of what I'm doing is unknown territory right now (Actively doing more RST and also doing the acupressure. A very potent combination).

As time goes on it seems important to know about Stettbacher's methods because it's connected to primal therapy. Anything connected to primal therapy (like RST) draws my attention. I think it's the real deal.

Dennis, your question about crying is a critical one. In a question about crying in a post of some time ago you had mentioned this....and that some people who had an ease of crying would find an easier time of grieving. It is my belief that the entire cure of RST comes from crying only. The anger expression is simply a set up for this stage. I have had lots and lots of grieving. This is how I knew I had done the RST correctly ( and again, I used common sense and didn't just leave it to "whenever you have symptoms".....I committed to the process at a much deeper level). Having said that, I think there is much to learn about RST and what to do. Using additional techniques along with RST is a must in my opinion. I also noticed that a person like me who I think didn't cry for 10 years ( that I can remember) almost certainly cries with sustained use of RST. It happens to me almost every time I put my mind to the therapy ( i.e. counting hours and setting aside a session instead of just "when symptoms appear). But the crying might come up 3 days later. At one point ( about 250 hours in) it was vitrually constant and quite deep. She had predicted this, but she suggested it was serial. Post flood and then "muddy basin". She predicts a year of crying. I may well be post flood now. It's quite possible. I did a ton of crying....more than anything I could have imagined.

VanWinkle seems to believe that RST gets at birth trauma. She may be right given the panic you mention Dennis. Let me know if this is what you mean. Getting to the panic and backing away. I entered some of this panic and it is beyond anything most people could even suspect. No wonder people build a life to avoid it.

I hold no doubt that defences have re-grouped at some level and taken on re-alignment to protect against these experiences of total panic. The worst for me was when I added acupressure and had a lot of stimulation of the pineal gland. That led to hours of panic at a time ( at night during detox events as well as food processing etc.) None of this happened with RST. There were about 5 nights of this. Just unbelievable. That's gone now. I know that the pineal gland is closely associated with dopamine, so there may be some explanation for that. I really don't know.

I was not pleased when I started to read about the pineal gland and ( as Clare had connected to) found out that it had to do with kundalini energy. Sorry Dennis if you don't yet understand the connection at the neurological level of these things ( energy) may well be the same as me having no clue about pre-natal trauma and how to access that. All of us have our knowledge in certain areas and things pop up. It's not my fault that they do. I'm not trying to present them to then "prove" them
(of course I'll give it my best try to explain what seems right to me). Just my experience ok? I think we need to be open minded. I got hit with the pineal effects hugely....and it scared the crap out of me. Especially reading ( below) the Dixon writings. And I read them while it was going on! I thought that it was all over and I'd gone over the top. That has all passed now (it's about 6 weeks back).

Here once again is the author who wrote about this after finding out about VanWinkle. I don't like quoting her, because other things she says frankly to me sound crazy. In any it is: ( her name is Jana Dixon)
Kundalini awakening represents the detoxification process during the temporary lifting of the repressive mechanisms of the "conscious" ego. Very many if not all factors lead me to this conclusion. For example fasting or going on a raw diet awakens kundalini because the body receives the energy and resources needed to bring about a detoxification crisis. Whereas the normal cooked diet requires so much energy and resources to process that it becomes an ally in the spiritual repressive mechanisms of the ego, as do all such addictions. A kundalini awakening is none other than a very exaggerated version of a normal cyclic detoxification process that affects us all.

"A detoxification crisis is the sum of many crises in separate neurons, and depressive and excitatory symptoms may occur simultaneously. Whether symptoms will develop depends upon the extent of the toxicosis, and persons who are experiencing symptoms are healthier than those who are not because they are detoxifying their nervous systems." ~ E. Van Winkle

The bipolar shift from over excitement to depression is characteristic of nearly all mental disorders including addictions and Alzheimers. Van Winkle associates the hyperactive stage with excess norepinephrine and other metabolites flooding the synapses; first this causes excitation in postsynaptic neurons and then noradrenergic receptors become bound up with these other factors (dopamine, epinephrine, serotonin, GABA, peptides, amino acids and various waste products) and depression ensues.
I'd like to have the luxury of falling into the pit of "burder of proof" and this and that and scientific method and all that. But I don't. I'm already doing RST with big impact, acupressure with huge impact, reading all about primal and looking into birth trauma. Anyone who is looking for the safe route and things that make them comfortable have already left the room even mentioning one of those things.

I mentioned on the other forum my belief in sending and recieving of energy....and that I think it's the way codependencies line up to be processed. I don't know how that works, and I don't share ANY of the attitude the new age people do in falling into a flaky world of woo-woo and whatever. But what I do know is that it is happening. At least it's happening to me...over and over again. In the most obvious ways ( or at least undeniable ways).

Dennis, I'm curious about what experience you might have had that led you to think that people like me with birth trauma ( obvious birth trauma....I spent at least a month in an incubator being born at less than
7 months) don't have much of a shot with Stettbacher. I'm not looking for you to prove anything here, I'm interested in what you've experienced.


Posted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 10:32 pm
by Dennis
John, you can read Stettbachers book without worrying ending up in a downward spiral of misery. Books are not dangerous.

As I've written before, I traced back a traumatic experience through a nightmarish dream that kept coming back for years. I was lying on a bed and couldn't move no matter how hard I tried. I felt there was an invisible force in the room of pure evil that could destroy me in any second. The fear that I felt in those dreams is beyond any fear I ever felt in real life. If I would have felt that in real life, I would surely have become psychotic. I could deal with this in my dreams because I practice lucid dreaming since the age of 7. Some years ago, after dreaming it again, I asked my mother of the time I had burned my foot as a baby (we lived in a very small house and my mom had put the hot kettle on the floor, where I eventually crawled against it). I was 6 months old. She said at the hospital they tied my arms on a table and she wasn't allowed to be with me. She said I was screaming and looked very frightened.

John, I think you could have experienced similar fear because of your physical therapy. Maybe you got flooded with fear and pain and new defenses are being built. The future will tell you. Maybe because of your integration of later traumatic experiences, you've got closer to the earlier ones. Maybe the wish for female physical touch is very strong because of that.

I really believe that a person can resolve traumas through lucid dreaming. Janov mentioned it, too. But in our world, people cannot choose to go to sleep when they want and to wake up when they want. If I hadn't been unemployed for so many long periods, I would have never discovered it.

One of the worst traumas a human can experience is separation from its mother after birth. Maybe you react so intense to this physical therapy because a body has a memory of its own. Connections are made at another level. Being born premature also has a reason, connected to an accident or a mother who doesn't really want a child. I can imagine that after that everything becomes a survival.


Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:47 am
by John
Dennis you certainly made an impact. I'm not sure really what to think about a lot of things. Like everything you have said in this post. It occured to me that if I had been given these insights 3 months ago I wouldn't have been able to admit or handle them. Everything is timing. Now? After what happened with my physical therapy I feel there is a lot I can handle ( this was EXACTLY as you described in your dream....but during the hours of 1:00 - 5:00am fully awake. I was completely dissociated from my body and only felt my eyes. Just awareness. It's not an experience I'd ever want to repeat. It lowered gradually over 5 nights. I feel pretty powerful now.

I find what you say about dreaming to be bang on. One of my most serious poisonous pedagogy repeat events was a close friend. One I had had for many years.

Here is the dream I wrote upon waking ( imagine if I had been able to use lucid dreaming):
"A close friend XXXXXXX is continuously jumping from the 8th floor of a condo and I am always there to break the fall. I absorb most of the blow and then he doesn't get hurt ( the impact is tremendous). Someone else comes along and I notice how they must see it. I look at the ground and the balcony above and suddenly feel powerfully how dangerous it is. I see a small concrete ledge beside me and marvel how he could jump so many time and never hit it. I know he is in the elevator going up to jump once more".
This was an asymptomatic person who was always feeling great. Always. But surrounded by addicts. He had lots of money, I was struggling. I had built a life to never be abandoned by him. From not knowing there was even one person around me who had been sexually abused as a kid, it went to 10 in a space of 5 years. This is what I mean by sending and recieving. Something is surely going on! Almost all of these people are out of my life. I thank RST for this ( and my higher power...but that remains to be defined....don't forget that VanWinkle said her RST therapy was a "higher power" gift. I don't believe in religious higher powers or anything traditional....just something outside of me that is greater than me).

The dream showed me what was going on and without it I would not have been able to accept it as clearly as I have. Joan of Arc waiting on the ground trying to stay a child. Mood-altering with pain. An addict. The more pain the better. The "most pained" and thus in control. A total identity to stay a child and never grow up.

The concept of premature birth and what it might mean is new to me. And what you say about the mother's motives. I don't doubt that for a moment. My mother is an alcoholic and hates men. Unfortunately she didn't drink for 25 years, and that of course is the worst alcoholic of all. One that doesn't drink and hasn't done any recovery work.

Now that I can see the potential depth of what primal therapy deals with, it's easier to see that my own progress is nothing short of astounding.

I have an old book by Stephen LaBerge I never really read. Many years ago as I started to read it I had one and only one lucid dream. I still remember it. It lasted 20 seconds. I was in a friend's place sleeping on his couch and realized I was dreaming. I started to act in the dream. I simply walked to his balcony and threw myself off....realizing I might wake up at any moment. I knew I couldn't get hurt. I flew down and saw a red cigarette pack called "DeMaurier" I had seen many many times. As real is in real life. I had never read it's fine print though, and there it was on the side. As I was getting to waking up I decided to try to read and memorize the words on the side. I looked at them and they just danced and shifted every time I tried to make a cognition. Amazing. So there was no way I could verify if they brain in waking time was able to register that level of detail. Pretty fascinating.

I feel this is an underutilized tool and I'm going to read the book. It's just that the first few chapters are boring to me....but with the goal in mind it might well be worth it. I've written a lot of dreams down. I believe in them as a source of primal information with total confidence.


Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 12:55 pm
by John
Continuing on the concept of using dreams in self-therapy, here's a link. It's a bit commercialistic and has a "flaky" feel in it's presentation in my opinion, but skimming the info ( articles and excerpts) they offer could be good. More of an issue for people like me who have yet to develop the capacity to do this therapy. Is this stuff in line with what you've experienced Dennis?


Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 4:35 pm
by Dennis
John, I had a quick look at the site you mentioned and there's some interesting information about lucid dreaming there. I know Laberge doesn't write very exciting. There's another interesting little book called Creative Dreaming by Patricia Garfield. That's also about lucid dreaming and widely available.

It's also interesting to think, for example, that our metabolism reacts the same way in our dreams as in waking condition.

Sounds indeed like an intense experience you had during those nights. How did you cope with it, mentally? What went on in your head? Were you aware that you were awake, or semi-awake?

Talking about higher powers... Do you believe in an after-life? What are your thoughts on death?


Posted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 4:32 pm
by Guest
Dennis, I missed this post and discovered it today.

Dennis wrote:
Sounds indeed like an intense experience you had during those nights. How did you cope with it, mentally? What went on in your head? Were you aware that you were awake, or semi-awake?

Talking about higher powers... Do you believe in an after-life? What are your thoughts on death?
During the first evening there was no coping. It was just several hours of sustained and on-going terror, completely outside of what I had ever experienced before. Mentally I could not gain any thoughts. Like a machine with cogs that had no teeth. Turning but not gaining any grip. Just spinning. I really have nothing to compare it with, only that now I am not afraid of it. I was aware that I was awake, but the problem was that there was no "identity". In other words I had no sense of grounding either bodily or mentally. Perhaps this was a birth primal? I had been doing way too much therapy .....writing, three sessions of accupressure a week, RST, working, changing my diet. So I got nailed I guess.

What went on during this experience wasn't a fear of dying, it was a fear of living. Kind of like feeling that you might be buried alive and not die. More than panic really. An awful experience. Since there was no body identity, there was only a complete hyper awareness. It all sounds like a primal event doesn't it. It's just that my conception of a primal event is much much shorter. Not hour after hour. What made it sustain was this mad fear that I had tapped something too big and now I wasn't coming back. The next night was nothing like that, but awakening in deep fear and feeling that something was attacking me.

Since these nights I feel my mental health has improved sharply. Now I have a stronger body identity and a stronger mental identity. I sense there's quite a ways to go, but recently I'm starting to appreciate the great distance I have come.

I believe in a Higher Power because of what is happening around me....and I'm trying to build that belief. I say this simply because of coincidences, which are too numerous to mention. And they have increased and increased over the last couple of years. It's no so much that there is a separate Higher Power, but that I am a part of it. Integrated to it.

Death? This is a great fear as it would be for all people suffering from emotional incest ( which generates self-rejection....or narcicism). Since I had passed so much time waiting to be saved or waiting for the child's "transcendental" experience to get now what I didn't get has been in an addict context: One day is too much and a thousand days are not enough. Suffering and waiting. Denial.

But I believe all of this is changing. I also think that my presence here is very important.


Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2006 1:34 am
by Dennis
John wrote:What went on during this experience wasn't a fear of dying, it was a fear of living. Kind of like feeling that you might be buried alive and not die. More than panic really. An awful experience.
Sounds like the experience when you were boxed and secluded from human (motherly) touch after your birth. That is pure terror, where the baby is having no intellectual skills to be able to deal with such situation (no thoughts), only awareness and senses. Not knowing if it will die or stay alive.


Imagine what a baby has to go through!
John wrote:I believe in a Higher Power because of what is happening around me....and I'm trying to build that belief.
Isn't building a belief system just another defense against pain? A man can only take a certain amount of pain, and if there's a flood of pain, defenses will be built. I'm agnostic myself and I'm open to the idea that there are greater forces at work, but I'm not going to belief in anything, or act to it. A beautiful tree doesn't have to believe in anything either to flourish.

John, what or how does your belief deal with death?


Posted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 3:37 am
by Guest

I want to say I really appreciate your posts. You have a huge life experience behind you and that's clear. This is clearly what you are drawing from. I'd like to get into some interesting thoughts on Higher Power. Yes, you're right. It's mostly defence. But not all. It seems to be a theme in trying to evolve to greater heights. Being able to work with ideas that are clearly rooted in defences, but not entirely. Like you, I've had a lot of life experience. And strangely in some areas I'm absolutely remedial.

Great photo....worth more than a thousand words to a kid born at 6.5 months in the 1960's. It really makes sense.

I think the views on death are going to be revelatory. The effects ( thanks Dennis) of birth trauma are likely what you are getting at as an ongoing neurotic mediator of the death concept.

I'll get into it more ( higher power and death) after thinking on it. It's a big topic.


Posted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 10:17 am
by Cesar Tort
[edited to fix apostrophes]

Hi Dennis.

I liked your post and photo. It conveys the idea of what God is. Freud said (and I rarely quote the guy!) that what a child should feel the most, helplessness before an omnipotent adult, may be the cause of theism.

I used to believe in God. Not anymore. Do you remember the "problem of attachment to the perpetrator" in my response to Chickadee? Well, that must be the origin of all monotheisms.

Of course, I still have my own personal God and savior, Karellen. But I know all too well it is pure projection.

John: you just said in the other forum that there is only one important metric for healing against which all therapy can be measured: individuation from family of origin.

Well, it's Christmas night today. I am here a block from the place where I spent my childhood (all of my family moved far from here long time ago). I spent Christmas absolutely alone. And I feel good.

Have a happy 2007 all of you. :D

P.S. I'm still fighting my little wars. This time in the ADHD Wikipedia article. Millions of people look at that site: the most ranked on Google for scholarly searches. Take a look:

little war

Posted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 7:47 pm
by cc
Cesar Wrote:
I liked your post and photo. It conveys the idea of what God is. Freud said (and I rarely quote the guy!) that what a child should feel the most, helplessness before an omnipotent adult, may be the cause of theism.

I used to believe in God. Not anymore. Do you remember the ?problem of attachment to the perpetrator? in my response to Chickadee? Well, that must be the origin of all monotheisms.
This is very good Cesar. Great Insight! Very much the same feelings I experienced.

After my apostasy from the three cults I was in, I stopped believing too, especially when I started to become aware of the sickness and the terror that I went thru as a child.

But something has changed in me since facing a lot of these injuries from my past. Prior to healing some traumas, (To me) everything I learned and was told about God were all lies, dissociated concepts, power plays, pretense, etc. And this God does not exist. He is based on Poisonous Pedagogy (PD).

Today, I believe that there is a designer of our universe. He is not in me as dissociated gurus would say. And he is not some higher self that is waiting to be developed in me. He is an Entity and separate from me. He is not anthropomorphic and He is not male or female.

It?s hard to explain this Cesar because thru my healing, I realized that I stagnated a lot by looking for a higher power to heal me and this can not be so. I don?t use God to do my healing (anymore). It?s difficult to explain. If I don?t use God for my healing then what do I need him for, right? This question is fair but its something that PD frame of mind would ask. I don?t think that I am able to clarify more but I hope to write about this in the future as I learn to express and write better.

For now, at least to me, there is too much evidence to support that a Designer of the universe does not exist.

Cesar Wrote:
Well, it?s Christmas night today. I am here a block from the place where I spent my childhood (all of my family moved far from here long time ago). I spent Christmas absolutely alone. And I feel good.

Have a happy 2007 all of you?
Have a happy 2007 too Cesar.

This is your ?general? speaking. I am glad that you are feeling good and I hope you have been well ?Commander?! I feel good too but I?m not alone ? My animals won?t let me be. Ha-ha.