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Childhood trauma and its consequences
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 12:13 pm 
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I took this from Van Winkle's site, which is an excerpt from Janov's The Primal Scream. Being real seems like a good definition of post-primal. It's a bit long to read but for those interested, still a good read.

On Being Normal, Chapter 11, The Primal Scream, Arthur Janov, Perigee Books, 1970.

It is the aim of Primal Therapy to make individuals real. Normal people are real by definition. Post-Primal patients become real because of their therapy. These patients still carry scars; however. They have been wounded many times over in their lives, and one cannot wash away their memories; one can only defuse them so that these memories no longer exert the force which made the neurotic act out symbolically. With so much deprivation as a neurotic, obviously the post-Primal person is not going to be a totally fulfilled human being. As a neurotic he could only struggle toward fulfillment. His therapy now frees him to fill his needs in the present.

When I talk about a normal human being, I am discussing a defense-free, tensionless, nonstruggling person. My view of normality has nothing to do with statistical norms, averages, social adjustment scales, conformity, or nonconformity. When a person is himself, how he behaves may be as varied and infinite as the number of people in the world. The normal is himself. Primal Therapy makes someone into himself, rather than tries to have a person "make something out of himself."

I shall discuss the normal in contrast with the neurotic. Later I shall draw a composite picture of a post-Primal patient: how he feels, what he does, and the kinds of relationships he has.

Being satisfied makes the normal relaxed. The neurotic who is dissatisfied because he did not have his needs satisfied must search out apparent sources of his dissatisfaction. This keeps him from knowing what the real sources of his unhappiness are. So he dreams of getting a new job, going after another college degree, moving some-place else, or finding a new girlfriend. By focusing on his bad job, nonunderstanding wife, etc., he hopes the basic discontentment will be removed.

I recall one patient coming into therapy one day complaining about the political turn of events in this country. He was obsessed with getting out and moving abroad. What he had to say about the political atmosphere seemed to be quite real. Nevertheless, when he felt his real discontentment, it did not change his ideas about the political situation, but it did alter his obsession to get out. What he felt was: "There is no good home for me." He had never had a good home. Bad home = bad homeland. His dream was of finding that good home elsewhere.

Because he is not where he is, the neurotic will never be content for any lasting period of time. He is using the present to work out the past. So he will buy a house and fix it up, and when he is done, he will want a new house. Or he will find a girlfriend and then leave her after he has "conquered" her.

To the neurotic, the struggle, not the result, is important. Thus he often cannot complete what he starts. He justifies his inadequate jobs on the basis of having so much to do. But he has so much to do because he does not finish. To finish and feel unfulfilled is to hurt. This is why so many individuals have a hard time in the last months of working for an advanced degree. It is also why some people cannot rest content with money in the bank. Just after getting out of debt, they must borrow again so as to maintain the struggle. To feel "I have arrived; I have money in the bank, and I still feel unhappy" is intolerable. The struggle takes care of that. Some neurotic house- wives rarely get up early and finish their housework completely. Then they would have to face the emptiness of their lives. Instead, they have one or two rooms in constant disarray; in this way they maintain their struggles.

The normal, who does not need struggle, who needs no obstacles in his path to keep him in that struggle, can get down to things. The neurotic, delaying the feeling of his Pain, delays much of the rest of his living. Indeed, feeling that Pain is the beginning of living for the neurotic. Until he feels it, he must be elusive, in terms of eluding not only what hurts but any unpleasantness as well. Because he is constantly on the move away from his real self, he tends to be flighty-if not physically, then mentally. His mind is filled with what he plans to do; he cannot sit still. He is on the move even in his sleep, thrashing about or perspiring. He may be so activated that he cannot sleep at all-obsessed with disturbing thoughts and unresolved business.

The normal can be with you completely. Part of him isn't locked away in "reserve"; the normal, therefore, can be completely interested. The neurotic is too often a whirlpool of distractions; his eyes, like his mind, seem to dart from one subject to another, unable to focus for any length of time.

The normal, of course, is not split. This means that when he shakes your hand, his eyes are not looking elsewhere. He can listen completely, something which is rare in a neurotic society. The neurotic can really hear only what he wants to hear. Most of the time he is thinking about what he is going to say next. What he hears, as a rule, will be valued only if it refers to himself in one way or another. He cannot be objective and appreciate for itself what is outside him (and that goes for his children). Neurotic conversations can rarely transcend personal experience ("what I said," "what he said to me") because neurotic interest is in the self, which is unfulfilled. The normal is interested in his self in a different way. Everything in the world does not have to be related to it, but he is able to relate himself to the world. He is not using his outer world to cover the inner one.

The normal does not feel lonely; he feels alone, and that alone feeling is far different from what he felt before when alone. It is a separate, unattached experience devoid of fear and panic. Neurotic loneliness is a denial of being alone, a need to be with others in order to flee from the catastrophic Primal feeling of being rejected and really alone most of one's life. The inventors of Muzak and the car radio understood neurotic loneliness; these are like Pain relievers-defenses provided gratis so that the neurotic will not have to feel his aloneness. For the normal, they are often considered an invasion of one's privacy.

The normal is straight, and one can sense it in the way he reacts. The neurotic leads an exaggerated life, he either overreacts or under-reacts; since the time he found his true reactions unacceptable, he has had to react in phony ways or pretend not to react at all. For example, a patient had a neurotic friend over to see her new apartment. She asked her how she liked the decor. The friend said, "Oh, I wish my rug looked as good as yours." She only saw the room in terms of her own needs, and her reaction was a typically neurotic response. Or, if some neurotics hear a joke, instead of experiencing the humor and laughing, they will immediately counter with a topper.

Whenever someone must "identify," rather than feel, we see this improper reaction. Thus, the normal reacts appropriately, not because he is trying to produce an effect or has studied a book of rules, but because he can feel what is appropriate. This means that to be a good parent, he need not endlessly study parent guidance manuals. He will be a natural person, allowing his children to he natural people.

Because the normal no longer must cover the feeling of unimportance, he does not have to struggle to be treated as someone special by waiters and hotel personnel. For the neurotic, this is often a fulltime occupation. Part of the neurotic need is to surround oneself with people, not to feel alone, or to join clubs, to cover the feeling that one never belonged to a real family. All this incessant struggle is over for the normal.

When I think about the neurotic struggle, I remember a recent advertisement for a brand of scotch: "It can be a small way of paying yourself back for. all the years of struggle it took to get where you are."

Neurotic struggles are manufactured. Thus, a woman can spend years shopping for bargains and never feel that what she bought was totally satisfactory. Probably it wasn't. II she could have got her parents' love without struggle, then perhaps bargains wouldn't he so important. Bargaining is the all-American neurosis. It's much the same as the magic diet pill; it's getting something good for little effort, like scotch. What makes bargaining especially delicious is the struggle. The greater the struggle, the more valued the prize, except that this is not the real prize desired for the great struggle of the person's life. It is but a lowly substitute because years of struggle for parental love came to naught. Bargaining is the analogue of the neurotic's life with his parents with one difference: The neurotic finally wins what he often doesn't want.

Walking into a store and paying the list price are difficult for many neurotics because to pay retail is not to be made "special." Anyone can pay retail, and if you do, you are just like anyone else. The normal is not a compulsive bargain hunter. He tries to make his life easy, not difficult.

Closely akin to bargaining is the way neurotics treat money. One patient said that he could never keep money in the bank before therapy because it meant that he didn't have to struggle anymore. This man was in a constant struggle away from an early feeling of worthlessness. He had hoped (unconsciously) that money would make him feel worthwhile. But of course there was never enough money to do that. When he had money, he could not live with it because he still felt worthless, and so he was driven on to accumulate more. The normal is not using money symbolically to fill old needs. He feels worthwhile because he was valued just as he was by normal parents. Money is the natural preoccupation of so many neurotics because the neurotic, by definition, must feel worthless; he was not valued for what he was. Not being able to feel his true needs, he will always want more than he needs.

There are other neurotics who can never spend money. Their struggle was possibly to try to feel safe and secure. But again, money alone cannot make an insecure person secure. This kind of neurotic is constantly postponing life: "Someday, when things are right, I'll take my vacation." He never lives. Instead, he clings to a fantasy of how life will be someday. That fantasy is intimately associated with Pain, which helps explain why so many individuals postpone so much of their lives. The normal, on the other hand, can get to things now. He has no old Pains dragging him back and making him put off matters. His real feelings eliminate the need for unreal fantasies.

The normal is stable. He is content to be just where he is and doesn't have to imagine that real life is "out there" somewhere. One woman put it this way: "I used to look in the mirror and see my wrinkles and get terrified. I ran to one beauty expert after another, tried special lotions, and when that didn't do it, I tried a facelift. I was in a desperate flight from feeling that my youth was over and I'd never have a chance to get what that little girl inside me needed. Seeing those wrinkles and some gray hair set off my hopelessness at ever being little again, and so I ran and ran. I went to parties and functions by the dozens. Tried to be 'in' and attractive. 'Run' was my middle name. I couldn't stop."

The normal can accept his age because he is living now and has felt and experienced his youth. He is not trying each day of his life to recapture something lost decades before. He is neither excessively worried about the future nor perpetually reminiscing about his past because he is not living a time that doesn't exist.

With the neurotic, "the personality is the message," to borrow from McLuhan's apothegm. The personality is warped toward the message it must convey. Thus, the laconic person may he saying, 'Daddy, talk to me. Draw me out"; the fumbling, disorganized sort is saying, "Mommy, I'm lost. Direct me"; the hangdog look, "Mama, ask me what hurts"; the depressive may he saying, "Don't kick me when I'm down."

Because the normal is no longer trying to say anything indirectly, he has no warped personality. Without old needs, people are just what they are. I am not sure how to explain this in any other way than to say that without a psychological frontispiece the normal just lives and lets live. As I have already pointed out, the body is part of that overall personality so that neurotics often look neurotic: we may find straight, thin lips closing down against unacceptable words, narrowed eyes "unable to see everything that is going on," as one patient put it. Or we will note drooping lips from unexpressed and unresolved sorrow and a jaw set in perpetual anger. The neurotic's entire organism is expressing the unconscious message. With no message to convey, we may expect a properly proportioned body in the normal, all else being equal. The physical changes I see in post-Primal patients lead me to conclude that some of what we believe is inherited may really be the results of neurosis.

The normal is able to enjoy himself. It is' surprising how few neurotics are able to do that without artificial aid, such as liquor. As one patient put it, "Fun torpedoes hope. I managed to turn everything into something not pleasurable. If the whole day went well, I would suddenly get irritable and pick a fight. I couldn't stomach a steady diet of goodness. It made me feel uncomfortable, like the ax was going to fall. I look back now, and I think that accepting all that goodness meant giving up my struggle to make my parents good people. If I accepted goodness wholeheartedly and really enjoyed life, I'd have to give up hope of having my misery recognized." The neurotic isn't after pleasure now, he wants it to make up for then. The same can be said for affection. The normal enjoys affection without reservation. But for the neurotic to do so may mean, "I don't need you anymore, parents. I've found someone to love me." It is terrible difficult for the neurotic to feel that he is never going to be that little boy or girl who is going to get from his parents what he missed.

An example of the difference between the normal reaction and the neurotic one was illustrated by a patient who, after Christmas, came in to say that he had got just "millions of presents." He needed to make it more than it was to fill the large lifetime void.

Over and over one reads that children need chores or jobs to learn responsibility. Children are pressed into service to earn money, even when there is no need. So, when a young child is asked by a neighbor child to play, the first question out of the parent's mouth may be, "Have you done all your chores?" Somehow, parents fear that to let children do what they want means that they'll never do all the "shoulds." So they put obstacles in front of each want until the child comes to feel apprehensive about the simplest wants and be, too, eventually avoids them. Later in life this person may never be able to act spontaneously without the nagging question, "What should I be doing first?" One patient told me, "If I had fun one day and someone asked me to come over and spend the night the next day, my mother would always squelch it because it was 'too much excitement!'- meaning pleasure. She was probably terrified that I had used up my allotment of fun without paying my dues."

The normal's life is much easier in this respect. He does not keep himself from living the present, nor does he put his children into the struggle so that they feel guilty about being free and spontaneous.

Nothing is ever exactly right for the neurotic, because he was never right for his parents. It's an art form all its own never to say one praising word to a child, one phrase that means you're all right just the way you are, but patient after patient report they can never remember such a word. Instead, the neurotic parent must speak his Pain with every breath because that Pain is there every moment.

The result of being criticized for a lifetime takes many forms. For example, you can buy some neurotics a present, and they will invariably find something wrong with it. Or they will find the bad in anything because only the bad was found in them. When the neurotic reads the news, he reads about bad news: what went wrong; who else is miserable or did bad things. In a neurotic society where people must project their misery outside themselves to make life tolerable, news becomes synonymous with bad news. The normal is not feasting on the misery of others. He feels their misery and wants to help end it.

When you try to fill a neurotic's void, you have to remember what a bottomless pit it is. The neurotic may need very expensive gifts to cover years of emptiness and lovelessness. But no gift can do that, no matter how expensive; there isn't enough for in the world to warm a lifetime of coldness.

Even achieving long-sought goals is not always the answer. A patient of mine finally got his PhD and went into a severe depression. He thought that after eight years of terrible struggle the diploma was going to do something for him but he still didn't feel loved or important. He told me that getting that PhD was like producing the final miracle and he couldn't feel it. The normal is not hoping that something external will do anything for him, so be can let things be what they are.

For the neurotic, disappointment is the handmaiden of hope, hope which obscures reality often ensures that the person, will be hurt by his unrealistic expectations. The neurotic is bound to be disappointed by the Christmas party, for example, when somehow that party is expected to make him feel wanted and loved.

The normal is healthy. He doesn't have to run around telling doctors, 'I hurt," because he could never say it to his parents. Because there is no pull toward being unreal, no symbolic system to keep the body restless and fatigued, the normal is not only more healthy but much more energetic. His energy is used for the accomplishment of real tasks, not for struggling to achieve the impossible. And the normal finally knows when he feels good. One patient told me, "I never even knew if I felt good. I was so far from my feelings. When someone asked me how I felt and I didn't feel bad, I had to deduce that since I wasn't feeling bad, there was only one thing left-I must feel good."

The normal doesn't put anyone else in the struggle. He understands that children should be liked without having to earn it. So he doesn't make his children struggle for anything. Paradoxically, those children seem to do very well in life, contrary to the view that early struggle in life somehow prepares you for the later one. Many neurotics never even realize that they shouldn't have had to do anything to be liked by their parents. They have struggled for so many years to be liked that they can't imagine just being liked for being alive. The conditioning process of having to perform for approval begins almost at birth, where the child is "kootchy-kooed" to try to get him to smile (look happy). Later he is asked to wave "bye-bye" or to dance for the grandparents or to say this word or that, irrespective of how the child may feel at the moment. Almost every contact during infancy is one of performing at the will of someone else. This need on the part of parents and grandparents to get a constant response to them seems a subtle outgrowth of how little response they were able to get out of their own parents.

When one stacks the normal up against the neurotic, it's a wonder that neurotics last as long as they do.

If there were some key principle concerning real behavior, it might be as follows: Reality surrounds itself with other reality in the same way that unreality seeks out unreality. Real or normal people will not have continuing relationships with unreal people, and the converse would also be true. Phoniness becomes intolerable to the normal. He isn't going to flatter, submit, pamper, or mollify a neurotic in order to get along. He also cannot be charmed, conned, or dominated by the neurotic, so that unless someone is fairly straight, the relationship will he difficult. The normal will not be ensnared in someone else's struggle. One patient reported that before, he had had to finish his wife's sentences. She would start a sentence and then look to him beseechingly, and he would immediately jump in and take care of her. The reaction was automatic and unconscious.

The neurotic isn't likely to continue a relationship where his neurotic needs are not being served. He has special requirements. He will tend to seek out those individuals who share his kind of unreal ideas and attitudes. We may often, expect, therefore, a homogeneity of thought within his group of friends when it comes to economics, politics, people, or general social phenomena. I am indicating that being unreal is an encompassing pattern. The neurotic must avoid reality until he is ready to face his own. Until that time he will create a comfortable but unreal cocoon around him in the job he has, the newspapers he reads, the friends he keeps.

The strength of the neurotic's social unreality will depend to some degree on how much of himself he is forced to deny. If a man was never loved by his father, he may have homosexual fantasies. Some may recognize these fantasies and accept them; others may deny them and possibly not even admit that they exist in their dreams and daydreams. The latter group would be more denied than the former. They may come to despise even seeing homosexuals and want to pass laws against them. In their social behavior, then, they will demand abrogation of any rights of homosexuals-all because they want a daddy and can't say so. These same men might be so fearful of their "weakness" that they come to despise it. Not only do they try to act strong and independent, but they will want to pass laws against "welfare leeches" or any other group that can't be tough and Make It on Their Own. To repress one's own needs, in short, often means denying recognition of the needs of others.

To try to change the social philosophies of some neurotics is tantamount to changing their whole psychophysical Systems. Neurotics believe what they have to believe in order to make life tolerable. To talk them out of their basic beliefs is like talking them out of their constitutional equipment.

The normal is not interested in the exploitation of others. There is nothing that he needs from people that is unrealistic. The neurotic, helpless before his Pain, often needs to exploit others in order to feel an importance he cannot feel. He must do this in order to cover himself. He tends to need others to say what is good about him, his child, his house, or his clothes.

Someone who is not normal cannot be giving of himself when that self is locked away inside. The neurotic may feign concern and interest in others and may convince himself that he is caring, but that self cannot care in any real sense until it can feel and express itself fully. So long as that real self is stuffed under fear and tension, so long as that self desperately needs, it cannot give.

The normal isn't likely to collect many friends as a buffer against feeling alone in the world. His friends tend to be neither trophies nor possessions. Post-Primal patients report that they can get along with other real people, irrespective of their personalities. It is their contention that real people are open and honest and undemanding and that idiosyncrasies don't seem to be a threat.

The normal doesn't need an appointment book full of Saturday night dates reaching months into the future in order to feel wanted or popular. A normal doctor wouldn't need a waiting room full of patients in order to feel needed. This last point seems to work in two ways. The neurotic patient may also become apprehensive when he is the only one in a doctor's waiting room and is taken in immediately. Because he has not struggled, waiting and squirming, he may feel that his doctor is not as good as the one who keeps people waiting an hour.

The normal, who acts realistically, will tend to be on time because he operates on real time, not on some time from the past. What this means is that he will not use time symbolically to feel something he cannot otherwise feel. He will not be late, for example, to try to feel important or to try not to feel rejected as in the case with the neurotic.

For example, being late can mean keeping unreal hope alive. It's one more way the neurotic is not straight with life. Or he will contrive a busyness that never leaves him time to feel. He keeps on the go, feeling a pressure from outside that really lies inside. Many neurotics manage their lives so that there is never time to live leisurely. They plan so many projects (time fillers) for the purpose of never having a free moment to feel or reflect. Pretty soon they have more to do than there are hours in the day. The result is that they are late to everything.

As discussed elsewhere, there are pseudo feelings that no longer reside in the normal. This means that the normal would be neither jealous nor guilt-ridden. The normal, content to be what he is, would not envy others, want what they want, or demand what they have. I suppose that this is another way of saying that he can allow others -his wife, his children, his friends-to be themselves. He isn't living through their achievements and successes. He isn't busy stamping out their signs of happiness and life. The normal does not feel alienated because it is Pain that produces alienation of one part of the self from another. (Perhaps alienation from self is what enables leaders to discuss killing so readily. Divorced from their own humanity, they may not be able to feel for the humanity of others. Death is evidently not a real tragedy for those who do not feel life. It is in this sense that being "dead" internally makes the actual death of others less real and, therefore, less horrifying.)

The normal seems to sense the pulse of life of others. He can be tactful, not out of a deep dishonesty, but because he can sense the Pain of others. He feels how much reality others may be capable of feeling.

The normal is sensitive in the true sense of the word. He not only is mentally acute to the needs and drives of others, but has a total organismic sensitivity where his mind and body are directly affected by stimuli. I would differentiate neurotic, mental sensitivity from the openness of the normal. I want to clarify this point because there are many neurotics who are acutely perceptive and who do see accurately into the personalities of those around them. What they cannot do, I believe, is feel the situations they are in because they are acting out denied feelings at the time. So, for instance, a brilliant man may be expounding on some philosophic point at a dinner table, acutely sensitive to the kinds of people who are his listeners, while being totally insensitive to the fact that he is dominating the conversation. He is too busy acting out his need for attention and importance. This is why it is crucial for a therapist not only to be trained in perceiving the personalities of others but to be normal. If he isn't, he may be acting out his need to be needed, for example, with his patients, thereby countervailing any good his insightfulness might bring.

The normal no longer suffers from "looking forward to," in order to escape the emptiness of the present. One patient said, "I used to rationalize that I wouldn't want to be rich because the rich must be unhappy. They can have everything they want and therefore have nothing to look forward to. I see now that if you can enjoy everything at each moment, you don't need anything to look forward to."

The normal doesn't confuse hoping with planning. He may plan for a future situation, but he doesn't keep himself so full of plans that he has no present. It would seem that some neurotics keep things in the future so that they can never quite take pleasure now. I believe that this derives from early in a child's experience when to have led his life his own way, to do exactly what he wanted, would have meant rejection and possibly abandonment by parents who expected things done their way. He had to put off doing what he wanted, hoping for a future time when he could enjoy himself. This may go far to explain the idea many of us have had as children-"When I grow up, I'm going to be so happy." It would seem that some neurotics continue this pattern into adulthood. The normal, having given up unreal hope and the struggle to please, can lead his life as he pleases.

The neurotic "wants"; the normal "needs." For the neurotic to want what he really needs is to feel Pain, so he must want substitutes -something attainable. The normal has simple needs because he wants what he needs, not some symbolic substitute. The neurotic may want a drink or a cigarette, prestige, power, high grades, or a fast car-all to cover Pains of emptiness, worthlessness, powerlessness, or whatever. There is nothing to cover in the normal, nothing to fill up.

Life seems to conspire against the neurotic. He wants so much because he got so little. Yet because he has had to twist his personality in strange ways to satisfy himself even minimally, he becomes the kind of person who turns people away. His cloying demands, his dependence and narcissism become intolerable to others. The normal, who isn't trying to fill a lifetime of personal neglect in each social contact, is often sought after and emulated.

The neurotic is a taker. No matter how much you may do for him, it may not matter because he must have those needs fulfilled over and over until they are properly connected and resolved-something usually that can only be done with Primal Therapy.

The normal operates on the "musts" instead of the "shoulds." Neurotic behavior, in the Primal context, means the abdication of personal need in deference to parental wants and needs. Parental wants become the child's shoulds. A "bad" child is one who isn't doing his shoulds. The young child, trying to be good so he can be loved, tries to be what his parents demand. He does this with the implicit hope that finally they will fulfill his needs-that they will hold him, for instance. But parental needs can never be fulfilled by the child no matter how hard he tries. So the situation arises where the child is perpetually trying to satisfy his parent, to make him happy or pleased. It will never be enough; no child can make up for parental misery.

The shoulds of the child are the needs of the parents. Not to perform them means giving up hope for parental love. Neurotic children become so involved in the shoulds-being quiet, polite, and helpful-that they lose sight of their personal needs. Having lost those needs, they want what they don't need.

The robbery of children's needs is often subtle. Neurotic parents will remind children, "You should be happy. Stop complaining. Look at all we're doing for you. We've given you everything." Often children are convinced. They look around and see material goods and believe that they have what they want, and they no longer even know that they need something desperately-love.

The tragedy of the shoulds is that in performing them, the child imagines that someday, when he does exactly what they want, his parents will shower a rainbow of love upon him. But since his parents themselves need what he can never give them, that day never comes.

To operate on the shoulds is not to function according to ones feelings. So the shoulds contain not only hope, but anger as well-anger at having to do what one does not feel. Having spent a lifetime doing what he did not want to do, the neurotic often has a difficult time doing what he must. The normal does what must be done because he acts in terms of realities.

The neurotic is often indecisive because he is split between repressed needs and doing the shoulds. The normal can decide for himself because he feels that self and what is right for it.

The neurotic relies on others to supply the shoulds. "What should I order from the menu?" In this way, he maneuvers his life so that people go on providing shoulds for him and he never allows himself to function according to his feelings. That simple question - "What should I order?" - is often a sign of the neurotic's deadness. It is saying, "I have no wants, no feelings, no life. Live my life for me."

The normal is not in the search for the meaning of life, for meaning derives from feeling. How deeply one feels his life (the life inside him) is how meaningful it is. The neurotic who had to shut down against real catastrophic meaning early in his childhood must be in the search, conscious or unconscious. He may try to find meaning in a job or travel, and if his defenses are working, he may imagine that his life is meaningful. Other neurotics sense that something is missing and set out on the quest for meaning. They may travel to gurus, study philosophy, steep themselves in religion or cults-all to find a meaning that lies but a deep breath away.

The neurotic must be in search because real meaning is Pain and must be avoided. Thus, the search becomes the meaning; because the neurotic cannot fully feel his own life, be must find his meaning through others or things outside him. He may find it in his children or grandchildren, their accomplishments and successes. Or it may lie in holding important office or making big business deals. It is when the outside things are removed that the neurotic suffers. It is then that he may begin to feel, "What's the use? What is it all for? What is the meaning of it all anyway?"

The normal lives inside himself and does not feel that something is missing; no parts of him are missing. The neurotic must feel this way if he ever stops his struggle because part of him is missing. One patient put it this way: "I have a fascinating job. It's too bad it doesn't interest me." It had no meaning for him.

The neurotic, unable to feel the full meaning of his life, must often invent a superlife or an afterlife - places where real living will go on. He must imagine that somewhere lie the real meaning and purpose if it all. He may think that savants can find it for him when only he can do that. The normal, by discovering his own body, has no need to conjure a special place where life really is going on. Implicit in the neurotic's seeking out psychotherapy is that possibly it will help him find a more meaningful life. It, too, becomes one long search. The normal has made a simple discovery: Meaning is not some-thing to be detected, only felt. He therefore does not race to weekend seminars on how to live the good life, find joy, or whatever.

The neurotic's search is exemplified by a patient who was formerly a philosophy major in college: "I liked philosophy because I never had to know anything for sure. I never understood how much I wanted that state of limbo. I couldn't feel what was right in life, any way, so limbo was perfect for me. I searched in the heavens and in the intellectual clouds for some super meaning-all this so I didn't have to face that all my years of hassling at home had no meaning. It was senseless. Finding meaning in Descartes and Spinoza was a pleasant cover for all that."

The normal is not trying to derive meaning from special occasions such as Christmas and Thanksgiving (Primal season, as one patient put it). The neurotic may be depressed during the holidays because the holiday gatherings did not make him feel loved or that he had a real, warm family.

The normal has no need to make life what it is not. He has no need for the broad philosophical search. He knows he is just alive and living, no more.

One could spend the test of this book describing the normal. Normal is, simply, whatever normal people do--and not digging endless holes to climb out of.


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Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2006 7:49 pm
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I did three years of primal with a group of ex-trainees of Janov in the early 70s and felt the need several decades later to begin again.

I agree with the above post, but think that Janov likes to keep his analysis of normal and such "in house", that is, without any real references that might come across as spiritual or even as "philosophy".

More later.

Chucky


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