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The Big Answer


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The Primal Scream

a book by Arthur Janov

(our site's book review)

Usually included as one of the fad therapies of the 70s, Primal Therapy is one of the deepest and most intense therapies ever conceived. Janov had noticed that conventional therapies weren’t curing neuroses, so he invented this new brand of cathartic therapy as the ultimate neurotic purge. It requires of the patient much time, money, effort, courage, patience and robustness, and it isn’t to be casually approached. No longer very popular because most people seem to have concluded that Primal Therapy is doing it the hard way—and it truly is hard and strenuous, his theories are no longer in vogue. It’s hard to argue with his competent analysis of how neurosis comes to be and how “the struggle” to get people in one’s life to fill one’s unmet childhood needs is really a symbolic attempt to actually get one’s parents to give one the caring they never did give, but it is questionable if the curing of neurosis needs such Herculean methods. One could say that those who don’t seem to get anywhere with the easier therapies might profit from giving Janov’s therapy a shot, but only if their problems are so intense as to be profoundly in the way of a decent life.

A primal scream
A primal scream

If one follows the relationship advice, self-esteem advice, family advice, and self-actualization advice of Hart, Gordon, Dyer, Helmstetter, and Pollard (and do not forget David D. Burns' Feeling Good) if needed, and goes for short-term psychological counseling therapy if serious psychological barriers block one’s life path, one is unlikely to need radical methods like Primal Therapy.