Thursday, August 9, 2012

The risks of primal therapy

Alice’s truthful words below are exactly why so many try to suppress her books, because she exposes how gurus and cult leaders use primal therapy and other regression methods to manipulate people and that is exactly what Daniel Mackler is trying to do and others like him and that is also what I witnessed happening at the cult People Unlimited and it’s obvious that is also what happens in Scientology and this is why we have to be very careful with primal therapy and any other therapy that uses methods of regression and never put our lives in someone else’s hands. The trick is to face, feel, experience and witness the repressed feelings of the child we once were as they are triggered by present events without losing adult conscious.

 “…In the last few years I have come to the conclusion that primal therapy is not always free of dangers, that it is imperative for it to be embarked upon under expert guidance and not as a form of self-therapy. This conclusion is tantamount to a retraction of my earlier ideas on this subject.
Numerous studies on cult groups have enlightened us on the latest methods of human manipulation. It transpires that these groups frequently use primal-therapy techniques to brainwash the members they have recruited into a state of regression and thus make them completely docile and malleable. Thus primal therapy runs the risk of being misused for commercial purposes and reinforcing the individual’s dependency on the group rather than encouraging his autonomy, as I had originally hoped. Today, however, therapists are using new approaches with awareness both of the advantages of primal therapy (its closeness to feelings) and of its dangers (manipulation and addictive-dependency on pain), and they attempt to use this awareness to the benefit of their patient.
In my preface to the paperback edition of Jean Jenson’s Reclaiming Your Life (Meridian, 1996) I have set out my queries and doubts in connection with primal therapy; I would refer the reader to that text for a more extensive discussion of the subject. Shortly after the publication of the way version of The Drama of the Gifted Child by Basic Books in January 1994, letters from readers and subsequent research on my part made me realize that my recommendation of primal therapy as a form of self-help had been premature. The swift initial successes were unfortunately not of lasting duration, and many correspondents reported that the anguish aroused in the process was too great to be borne alone. So it became obvious to me that it is all but impossible to live through and dissipate these anxieties without expert guidance. At the same time, the awareness was borne in upon me that in a state of regression it is not possible to judge the competence and integrity of the person one has turned to for such guidance. This opens up all kinds of opportunities for abuse. The intensive phase with which primal therapy begins is an immediate obstacle to the formation of a balanced, critical, independent assessment of the therapist’s abilities by the client. The fact that the attendant uncritical and irrational expectations of healing and “salvation” can lead to the establishment of totalitarian sects is borne out by the crass example of mass abuse at the hands of the exponents of “feeling therapy” as described in detail by Carol Lynn Mithers in her book Therapy Gone Mad: The True Story of Hundreds of Patients and a Generation Betrayed (1994). But this study was possible only after the community she describes had disbanded, something that frequently takes decades. Today we know that such groups exist and that members of sects are done irremediable harm before they become aware of the fact. And when their dilemma finally does dawn on them, it is frequently too late to do anything about it because they have lost all contact with their original social background and hence have no sources of moral support or financial assistance outside the sect, to which they are then frequently shackled by the debts they have run up.  

Despite the eloquence of Mithers’ example, I would still not have been fully alive to the danger of abuse in primal therapy without the information on the way sects operate that I derived from the publications of the Swiss journalist Hugo Stamm, who interviewed me for a weekly magazine. The literature on cult groups helped me understand the psychological mechanisms exploited by sects and similar groups the world over. Gurus bent on maximizing their commercial gains and personal power profit to a high degree from the loss of the perceptive faculties forfeited by so many people early in childhood.”

Taken from the Preface to the Revised Edition of 1997 of the Book “Breaking Down the Wall of Silence” by Alice Miller


  1. I went through Primal Theraphy It was the greatest experience of my life.It saved my life and catapulted me into an incredible and very real grasp of myself.To me it is the greatest discovery of the 20th Century.You FEEL what happened to you you KNOW what happened it isnt some abstract psycho babble psychologist talking at you.If you are in a lot of pain and have the guts to do it and the money it dont waste your time on anything else.Apart from being amazingly theraputic the voyage itself a voyage into yourself is incredible !

  2. Unknown, I'm glad you had a good experience with Primal Therapy, but it does have its risks if the therapist has not resolved their own childhood repression.