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Childhood trauma and its consequences
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 9:14 pm 
Shelley, as you were concerned that the discussion with Dennis about 'evidence' was straying from the initial topic I started a new one. I forget how long ago it was that a campaigner against attachment "therapy" posted a message on the PPP. He posted links to a couple of websites cataloguing abuses by attachment therapists. Webmaster John didn't buy it. It is worrying that shysters can dazzle unfeeling people into applauding abusive methods merely by adopting certain labels like "attachment" or "primal."

It seems to me that a robust distinction needs to be made between Attachment Therapy and Attachment Parenting. The latter is a nurturing approach to the needs of young children, while the "therapy" is a coercive form of abuse perpetrated on older children who don't conform to behavior patterns which meet their parents' expectations and demands. Attachment Parenting, by contrast, is exemplified by the wealth of information provided by Jan Hunt at http://www.naturalchild.org and Althea Solter.

I think backing for coercive therapies and the problem of religious people who, unlike Jesus, don't take sides with the weak and powerless members of society, both stem from an extreme form what psychohistorian Lloyd DeMause calls the "socializing mode" of childrearing (basically coercive). What he calls "helping mode" child-rearing corresponds to the approach that Jan Hunt and Althea Solter advocate. If ALL religious people, christian or otherwise, were opposed to war, practiced tolerance, and behaved like good samaritans, their example would be something to admire. Instead, the USA, Israel, and the Arab countries are all awash with rabid religious warmongers. Three different faiths with the same thirst for violent retribution.

In case you're wondering, Shelley, I'll state my position. It seems to me that neuroscience is moving in the direction of confirming Janov's underlying biological propositions, while the authors of "A general Theory of Love" (see my reply to salago) are probably correct in their view that good relationships are the source of emotional healing. Theresa Sheppard, former director of the New York Primal Institute, said the same in "Facing The Wolf." However one defines them, 'primals' may be helpful to some people as an adjunct to a supportive therapeutic relationship. I believe, however, that the idea that 'primals' are crucial is merely a marketing ploy.

Like IanC, I sometimes I wonder why I continue to participate in a forum in which the 'primal' proposition is the crux. In the present climate of mental health orthodoxies it's hard to find backing for the idea that a person's emotional history is the true source of disruptive feelings. There's Alice Miller's mailing list, but I wouldn't want to read a constant stream of posts like the letters on her website.

* Mojo *


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 11:05 pm 
Shelley wrote:
Perhaps if we stopped ignoring human emotional needs, the need for religion would fall away.

It seems to me that opinion leaders in psychology and the biological sciences are notable for ignoring human emotional needs. Not all psychologists, but many of the ones who's theories are taught in Psych 101.

* Mojo *


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 2:26 am 
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".... their view that good relationships are the source of emotional healing. Theresa Sheppard, former director of the New York Primal Institute, said the same in "Facing The Wolf." However one defines them, 'primals' may be helpful to some people as an adjunct to a supportive therapeutic relationship. I believe, however, that the idea that 'primals' are crucial is merely a marketing ploy."

Theresa Sheppard may have said this but she performs primal therapy.
Then there are the successful self-primallers who apparently have no good therapeutic relationship. But no doubt they make use of the relationships they do have in their lives to be able to primal.

It also depends on how a primal is defined. Many would say that it is a connected feeling. I think that healing starts as the feeling level expands in the primal process. This is even before the person has a true primal.
Some people are able to start having primals quickly in therapy, others don't. In my case it took a long time. I think a primal is on the continuum of feelings. So it is just a type of feeling. So in that sense, there is no need to think that it is crucial, the other less connected feelings are important also. But it isn't a marketing ploy, in my opinion.

The therapeutic relationship is important so as to be able to express feelings. Expressing feelings is healing when they progress to increasing
intensity and depth. The most healing feeling to express is a connected primal. It has everything to do with having a person reclaim their emotional history and feeling self. This won't happen just because of a supportive therapeutic relationship.

I would include the non-connected preprimal feelings as primals also.
They tend to have various degrees of connectiveness. They become more connected little by little until a full blown connected primal can occur.
That is how it has happened for me.

If the feelings don't become more connected and there is no progress then those feelings might be called "abreactions". Janov seems to say they have to be connected or they are abreactions. But in practice I found that the Janov therapists recognise the value of increasing connectedness of feelings even before their definition of a primal occurs.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 5:46 am 
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In my case it took a long time. I think a primal is on the continuum of feelings. So it is just a type of feeling. So in that sense, there is no need to think that it is crucial, the other less connected feelings are important also.

Thanks for explaining how the feelings emerged while you were undergoing the therapy.

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This won't happen just because of a supportive therapeutic relationship.

Yes, a supportive therapeutic relationship without connected feelings could end up as a kind of addictive co-dependency.

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Janov seems to say they have to be connected or they are abreactions. But in practice I found that the Janov therapists recognise the value of increasing connectedness of feelings even before their definition of a primal occurs.

I think this distinction between Janov's dogmatic assertion and what actually happens in practice is a point that should be emphasized. It makes sense to me.

* Mojo *


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 7:22 pm 
I'll try not to dwell on the subject of war, because it's off-topic, but I will say this:
Newspaper opinion polls in the UK have consistently shown that the majority of British citizens think Tony Blair was wrong to support GWB's invasion of Iraq. From the comments (flame wars) I see on political blogs I get the impression that political opinions in America are more deeply divided than anywhere else in the free world.

I like this painting by a Californian artist:
http://artofmarkbryan.com/liberator.html
and there's a Colombian artist who depicted the Abu Ghraib abuse:
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0412-06.htm

Re: Alice Miller...

Alice Miller's letters section, and I assume the mailing list too, caters for readers who want to provide confirmation of what she says in her books. I think that at least some of the visitors to the primal forums who ask searching questions may be hoping that former Janov clients can explain not only the issues that led them to primal therapy, but also what happened during 'connected feelings' that led to an improvement in the quality of their lives.

ian copeland


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2006 2:55 am 
The Mark Bryan painting is great. A painting like that is more likely to make people stop and think about what's going on than a thousand bumper stickers.

* Mojo *


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2006 6:06 pm 
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It seems to me that opinion leaders in psychology and the biological sciences are notable for ignoring human emotional needs.


That's true. Nowadays most psychologists attempt to explain all aspects of human behavior in cognitive or evolutionary terms. It's what Professor Simon Blackburn of Cambridge University calls the "the Swiss army knife picture of the mind."

http://www.phil.cam.ac.uk/~swb24/reviews/Pinker.htm
(Meet the Flintstones)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 5:31 pm 
Thanks for making the distinction between attachment therapy and attachment parenting, Mojo. Personally, I'm a big fan of Jan Hunt and Aletha Solter. I wish I had known about their work when my kids were little. I give Solter's books to new parents as baby gifts.

Also thanks for telling us where you are coming from personally. Skeptical as I am of the science, sounds like in the end our views on primal therapy have some things in common.

I can't direct you to the study at the moment, but years ago, I remember reading the results of a study that showed that "success" in psychotherapy was more closely related to the quality of the relationship with the therapist than the type of therapy used. As I recall, like most of the studies comparing various kinds of therapy, the study relied on the participants' self reports on how they were doing. One has to wonder whether they would be more likely to say that they are feeling better in order to support a therapist they feel closer to.

But, on a personal level, I believe that close therapeutic relationships have helped me. I think that's been about trust. I open up more, to myself as well as others, in an atmosphere of trust. That might just be me.

Quote:
I sometimes I wonder why I continue to participate in a forum in which the 'primal' proposition is the crux.


Yup. Me too.

Quote:
In the present climate of mental health orthodoxies it's hard to find backing for the idea that a person's emotional history is the true source of disruptive feelings.


We differ here. I don't see things that way, and I'm not looking for backing for any particular idea. Maybe I'd just like to find some fresh ideas that might spark my own processes.

What happened to Alice Miller anyway? Is it me or her? Her books grabbed me when I first read them many years ago. I finally stopped after Paths of Life. It was almost unreadable. I checked out your link to her website. Nothing for me there.

Loved the Mark Bryan painting, Ian. Thanks. Also enjoyed the article on Pinker's book, D.R.B.

Shelley


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 12:03 am 
To D.R.B.

It's interesting that the debate about human nature, even among psychologists, centers around ideas put forward by philosophers. The Ultra-Darwinist, Daniel Dennett, author of Consciousness Explained, is a Professor of Philosophy at Tuft's University. I looked up Simon Blackburn's full title on the Cambridge University website. He is Professor of "Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language and Philosophy of Psychology".

Shelley wrote:
I can't direct you to the study at the moment, but years ago, I remember reading the results of a study that showed that "success" in psychotherapy was more closely related to the quality of the relationship with the therapist than the type of therapy used.

There have been many research studies which came to the same conclusion. I provided a link to an article about therapy outcomes in another post. Although 'primals' may not be crucial, I do believe an atmosphere of trust is essential.

You haven't placed your credentials as a connoisseur of scientific ideas on the table. As a skeptic myself, I've read quite a few articles on the Quackwatch site. It soon became clear that the site doesn't ask searching questions about orthodoxies which are widely accepted by scientific and medical institutions. For example, in your reply to Dennis, you linked to an article containing a table of "Relative Evidentiary Value of Study Type for Hypothesis testing." It gave clinical trials a rating of 100%. There's a colossal amount of evidence that clinical trials conducted by pharmaceutical companies are heavily biased in favor of the outcome that the sponsors seek (see http://SellingSickness.blogspot.com and many other similar blogs, not to mention a large number of newspaper reports of corruption within the FDA). The article mentions clinical trials and case studies with sample sizes in the hunderds or thousands. These are the exception, rather than the rule. The majority of published clinical trials contain fewer than 100 subjects, although the authors state their conclusions in terms of percentages. And not all clinical trials are "well designed."

If a person wants to know about areas of dispute within orthodox science Quackwatch is not a helpful resource. In my view, the only scientific theories which are 'solid' are the ones -- to use Ian's words from the "Looking for evidence" topic -- that can "reproduce the observations reliably under a defined set of circumstances."

Concerning Alice Miller, I certainly agree with you.

* Mojo *


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 6:28 pm 
Mojo,

You make a good point about the 100% rating given to clinical trials in the table in the Quackwatch article. It's a misleading number, giving the impression that clinical trials are 100% trustworthy. However, that's not what the author intended to say, and in fact, he mentions the problem of bias in clinical trials in the text of the article. The table was meant to rank various types of studies from most reliable to least reliable, but clearly, there are problems with even the most reliable types of studies.

Letting the pharmaceutical companies test their own products is a nightmare. It's a piece of the disaster that we've created by providing medical care on a for-profit basis in the US. And unfortunately, because so much of the medical research done in the US is used worldwide, our nightmare infects medical care throughout the world.

I simply don't blame science for this. Science is just a system for observing the natural world in order to understand it better. I don't think there's a flaw in that system. Science works fine. It's not infallible. There may be problems with the people who use it or the way it's used, but the great thing about science is that the mechanism for correction of mistakes is built into the system.

I just watched a lecture on TV this weekend by the physicist Lawrence Krauss in which he mostly talked about why we shouldn't teach "Intelligent Design" in public schools. One of the things he said that stuck with me is that he feels sad that he has to spend his time defending science in lectures like this, rather than sharing with people all the wonder and joy that he experiences as a scientist.

Shelley


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 8:23 pm 
Well, as you've probably guessed, the unquestioning idealization of science is an issue I feel strongly about. My "gold standard" is that observations can be reliably replicated under a defined set of circumstances. When it come down to current orthodoxies in field of mental health I am in agreement with David Kaiser, M.D., in his article Against Biologic Psychiatry.

I checked out Lawrence Krauss via Google and found his July, 2005, letter to Pope Benedict XVI. It seems to me that the Catholic church is not the 'baddie' in the "Intelligent Design" debate. Previously, I discovered that the director of the Vatican Observatory opposes proponents of Intelligent Design. If you feel there's any more mileage in this divergence from Attachment Therapy, maybe it belongs in a new topic?

* Mojo *


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:59 pm 
Mojo,

Thanks for the link to David Kaiser's article. He makes some excellent points.

I find I'm a pragmatist in these matters. Through many years of depression, I got little (if any) relief from medication or talk therapy (including traditional psychoanalysis). The depression has improved during the time I've been involved with experiential therapy.

But that's just me. I know others who have found relief in medication and in talk therapy. I don't have answers. Just lots of questions. I hope that continued scientific study will answer my questions someday. If we don't try to learn, we won't. Meanwhile, we're in the dark ages of understanding human mental and emotional functioning, and we all have to muddle through.

Just to clear up the chronology on Krauss' letter to the Pope, in 1996, Pope John Paul II made a statement supporting evolution and science. In July, 2005, the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna responded in the New York Times to an op ed piece by Krauss on Intelligent Design by attacking "neo-Darwinists" for portraying the new Pope as a "satisfied evolutionist."

It was at this point that Krauss wrote to the Pope, asking him to clarify and reaffirm the position supporting evolution taken by the Church in 1996. Several months later, the Vatican Observatory came out publicly in opposition to Intelligent Design. The Pope never responded directly to Krauss' letter, but perhaps the statement by the Vatican Observatory was an indirect response.

Shelley


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