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wallsofsilence.com • View topic - An Experience with Enchantment, by Curtis Knecht

wallsofsilence.com

Childhood trauma and its consequences
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:14 pm 


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:16 pm 


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:16 pm 


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:17 pm 


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:18 pm 
I think primal therapy is much more than a cult. Though I had never been in f o r m a l therapy, the process has done a lot for me. It has removed a lot of pain and tension from my body system, and life seems to evolve now like a calm and balanced stream. I'm content.

Certainly the therapy has not taken me to a feeling wonderland where everything is blissful, coloured and shining, certainly it cannot c o m p l e t e l y "undo and redo [my] history" (Janov) because in my conviction no therapeutic approach in the world, starting in adulthood, can do that. This is surely an exaggerated claim of Janovs'. But I have profited a lot from primal therapy and I am really content with the outcome of my personal primal process.

Whatever had happened in the Primal Institute, I don't know and to be true, it doesn't interest me a lot, but I think it's very unfair to take primal therapy to the realm of cultism. It is a scientific approach and it has worked for so many people. Mr Knecht seems to be one of those persons who have experienced primal therapy as a complete flop. Why does the process work for some but seemingly doesn't at all for others? I don't know.

Although Mr.Knecht's article may contain a lot of truths about the Janovs and the Primal Institute, I can't help thinking that his article is an expression of his personal disappointment and his personal failure in primal therapy.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:19 pm 
I have now been involved in disseminating Curtis Knecht's article twice publicly, as well as providing copies privately to any number of people who have requested it. I will try to explain why.

I am a person on the periphery of the primal community in a number of ways. I have never worked with the Janovs or with any therapist trained directly by them. I learned primal techniques seven years ago from a solo practitioner who lives in a different city from me, so I have not been involved with any group that could be considered a cult. In addition, although I have found primal techniques useful in my life, over the years that I have used them, I have simultaneously grown more and more skeptical of the theory put forward to describe primal therapy. In these ways, my story is unlike Curtis's.

In another way, my story (and I'm willing to bet most of our stories) is quite like Curtis's. I, too, came to primal therapy desperate and deeply unhappy. I, too, had tried and failed to find relief in other ways. I was in horrible pain, and consequently, I was quite vulnerable. I wanted to believe, and, in fact, I did believe in the theory — for a while.

I find Curtis's story a moving personal and cultural history — one that is simultaneously sad, frightening, and hopeful. As Curtis's article has circulated through Internet groups over the past couple of years, I find myself constantly surprised by the negative reactions of some people in the primal community. Personally, even though I feel that primal work has helped me, I'm grateful to read about potential dangers in the therapy and the way that it's been practiced. I can then assess these potential dangers as they might apply to me. Knowledge is power, even for feeling people.

I've had the opportunity to meet many people involved in primal therapy, mostly over the Internet. The more primal people I meet, the clearer it is to me that primal people are not significantly different from the general population. Some are functional in their lives; others not. I have never met a post primal person who is free (or anywhere near free) of neuroses. I have noticed a significant number of long-time primalers who seem to be stuck in constant primaling, and who struggle to function in their daily lives. I would not want to live that way.

An email buddy of mine had been mired in primaling for two decades. He read Curtis's article, and something clicked for him. He made major changes in his life, and for the first time in years, moved forward. Among other things, he removed himself from the primal world, so I haven't heard from him in a couple of years. I like to imagine that by breaking with his primal lifestyle, he opened the door to a full and expansive life. Certainly, the outcome of Curtis's story leaves me feeling hopeful that my friend, like Curtis, has found satisfactions away from the primal world that he didn't find within it.

So, I help to disseminate Curtis's article because I believe there's value in it for all of us, no matter where we are in our therapy or what we believe about the primal process. Thank you, Curtis, for sharing your experience with us.

Shelley


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:20 pm 
Shelly

You made some good points in your response. I agree with you on people who Primal for many years, and as far as I can see never seem to make any progress. I still have some questions as to what they`re primaling on. I think it would be good for some people to get away form the whole primal trip for a while and get back to the hear and now full time.

Having said that, my experience with therapy was very different from Curtis`s. I never got into the primal lifestyle (whatever that may be). The irony is that after the thrill of primaling wore off after the first few months it got to be a real drag. I really disliked primaling. The idea of going back there and going through that junk was not a pleasant experience. But I did like the results. I found it very much a healing experience. I simply feel more whole.

I have no doubt many people would consider me neurotic. Another irony is that I just don`t care. Perhaps we need a new definition of neurosis.

I think what`s problematic about Curtis`s article is that he falls into the trap of thinking that what his experience has been is the end all be all. There`s just to many people who have had a much more positive experience with primaling. The problem is that primaling is not for everybody. For some people it just doesn`t work, no matter how much they may want it to. I think some people need to recognize when it`s not working and at that point get out of it.

Alan


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:20 pm 
Alan,

I agree with you that people's experiences with primal therapy seem to vary widely. Like you, I have also had a positive experience overall. In Curtis's article, he says that there are aspects of primal therapy that have therapeutic value. I suspect that the specifics of what those valuable aspects are also probably vary from person to person.

Perhaps this all simply boils down to honesty. Each of our therapy experiences is more likely to be helpful and safe if we can all be more honest with ourselves and with each other about both the positive and negative aspects of those therapy experiences.

Shelley


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:21 pm 
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Thanks for posting this article. It's an interesting perspective from an individual. I've always been sceptical of words like primal community or primal buddies. I'm even sceptical of the therapy. It looked like Janov underestimated the enormous defences in people. But he emphasizes too much therapy and not prevention. How about preventing neuroses? He shows very clearly action - reaction in his discoveries about human behavior. If the Pain is real and we had a life time of suppression or repression, our whole system, our body and mind has adapted to that over the years, out of survival. I once said that being a therapist has a neurotic base and I believe more in the value of enlightened witnesses (as Alice Miller calls them), but that can be a therapist in rare cases.

One of the hardest things for me was finding healthier people instead of hanging around my neurotic friends. Because that way I had to deal with my own neuroses. I can imagine that goes the same for therapists and many of them get burned out after a while.

Finally, primal theory/therapy taught me what reality is. If it's sensitive to cultism, then you find a lot of cultism in all aspects of society. It all comes down to the individual. I've always seen it as a tool that I could use to create my life as much as I like it to be. I don't get stuck in analysing the tool on itself.

Dennis


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:23 pm 
Were there any times when Janov and staff discussed dianetic therapy (or scientology)? Did Janov ever say that he read dianetics, tried "auditing", or visited an L. Ron Hubbard lecture?

It seems that Janov closely studied the bigger therapies (psychoanalysis, gestalt, client-centered, etc. - re: his online book "Grand Delusions") and borrowed techniques / ideas from them (e.g., reflecting questions back onto patients comes from client-centered therapy) and packaged them together with his own discoveries and views. Then he claimed that his was the only therapy that worked and denounced the other therapies. That is why primal became cultish - Janov was able to fixate suffering people's minds solely onto primal as the cure. But of all the big therapies, primal most closely resembles dianetics (which started in the 1950s) - yet he has never mentioned it. Both involve reexperiencing trauma and reexperiencing birth, and even have similar concepts like "tracking / time track", etc. One primal patient who experienced both has already commented on their similarity. So it would be good to know if this was just a coincidence or whether Janov specifically learnt things from dianetics.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:24 pm 
It is very welcome to read some critical text about primal therapy. What I?ve got out of reading Janov?s books is, that there were made many mistakes in the first years of practice. Janov himself didn?t talk much about them, only mentioned them in a single sentence. He did not make clear that some hypothesis from his former books were wrong.

Don?t get me wrong, I am gratful of the knowledge I?ve got out of them. But he has a tendency to ignore critical aspects. And that is what I have found in some other "primal-forums" too. There seems a fix on the words "primal" , "primal-therapy" etc. If there are other names for it or other kind of treatments, mostly it is ignored or not believed.

Here in Germany there exists a therapy called "accompanied reliving". It uses the same biology but did not call it primal. There are some interresting differences to PT (One of them is, that is is also used for the treatment of babys with a traumatic birth)
In Netherlands/Belgium there is the "Speyertherapy" which is also based on reliving past traumas.

Also there are the self-help-methods "Cure by Crying" and "Redirecting Self Therapy" which both based on the curative effects of crying (RST first deals with anger).

If you compare these therapys, you can find that Janov uses methods of marketing to make people believe, that there is only one curative thing called "primal". But our biology is not a human invention.

I would be glad about discussing other successful methods too.

Best wishes
salago


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 Post subject: primal and dianetics
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:25 pm 
I emailed Curtis re: primal and dianetics. He says this:

"I ... never remember him [Janov] attributing anything to Hubbard's Dianetics/Scientology.

My best reading of his main influences is that they were the cathartic early Freud and the experiential stuff of the 60s and 70s coupled with the brain research of the times ... and the work of Frederick Leboyer and others on the birth arena.

... I think Art considered it [Scientology] in that vein [as a religion] at the time and probably would have included it in his thinking about religions.

We discussed other therapies all the time and I don't recollect Scientology being talked about. Possibly coincidental simolarities, possibly an unrecognized or uncredited influence, most probably the phenomenon of synchronicity of ideas."


So this really was an amazing coincidence. Both Hubbard and Janov developed reexperiencing-based therapies, and they both attributed the basis of their work to Freud's work. So Janov cannot claim to have discovered the only cure to neurosis. Rather, the therapeutic climate after WWII was ripe for reexperiencing-based therapy to be discovered - and, as Salago has pointed out - a number of people came up with the same solution.


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