Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Janov, in memoriam

Dr. Arthur Janov, the creator of Primal Therapy, has died at age 93. Though a bit poetic and speculative, it makes sense that he lived this long, as he was an exemplar of his understanding of healing, of release of the pains that cause our psychological problems. He deserves to be – he is in the pantheon of brilliant thinkers who could understand truths that later seem logical to so many people (though they still may understand only the surface of them). He saw that we are holistic in mind, body and time. We are also what we were. We are roots – birth and childhood – and we are the trunk, branches and leaves that grow from those roots.

We know the world of people is, in the main, lost. Our human brain holds pain which bends, corrupts, blinds us, or rather grows blinders to self and others. And then that brain passes that pain on to the next generation. Part of this lostness is to form psychological ideas that are “self-medications” – no different from so many big ideas like political, religious and ideological ones. Therapies that believe we can think our way to a healthy body-mind, can hope health into existence. Magical thinking, magical doing. Dr. Janov could see what a child knows better than his parents usually do, that we are responding to the injuries that remain virulent inside us.

Our need for survival, and to answer our obscured birthright of happiness and love, is tenacious. Even many of those psychotherapists who see our source in pain and starved need put that fact aside, in a box, and focus on the here-and-now and “positives.” What a disconnect! What a displacement of fact and necessary act. If we are hurt, we must go there, to the dark, to ‘where we are wounded,’ as Arthur said. I will never see my clients otherwise – as obvious to me as something exists.

I do see some things differently from the doctor. It is probably fair to say he was optimistic while I am more pessimistic. I believe that despite all the potential opening up and pouring out, we must remain a default of defenses, our same self, and that we cannot recover from our developmental stopping point. Am I more realistic than Janov? I think so. But he may have been better for people. Because ultimately we do need to have love, believe we can deeply recover.

What a great man he was!

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.