Suggested Reading

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  The following books are a limited selection that relate to the practice of Primal Integration. The "Essential Introduction" books are, in my opinion, necessary background reading for anyone seriously interested in pursuing primal work.

I have broken down the list into the following sections:

Essential Introduction
Extended Theory and Perspectives
Mythology & Belief Systems

Essential Introduction

Facing the Wolf: Inside the Process of Deep Feeling Therapy
Theresa Sheppard Alexander
1996, Dutton Books

Alexander's book describes a process very similar to the therapy aspect of Primal Integration. It is an easy read and sets the stage for deeper understanding. The author's approach appears to be very client-centered and non-directive, which I feel is crucial.

Why You Get Sick, How You Get Well: The Healing Power of Feelings
Arthur Janov
1996, Dove Books

Deep feeling/release experiences had been occurring in both the psychotherapeutic and expressive arts communities for years before Arthur Janov came up with the name "Primal Therapy" and wrote The Primal Scream. Celebrities such as John Lennon, James Earl Jones, and Stephen Jobs were attracted to Janov's primal therapy, which he claimed was "the only cure for neurosis"! Unfortunately, because of this professional arrogance, the medical and scientific community has tended to ignore both Janov and the highly valuable aspects of primal therapy.

In spite of Janov's misleading statements about his exclusive therapeutic superiority, his elaboration of essential primal theory is still unparalleled, and is at its best in this very readable book.

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Reclaiming Your Life : A Step-By-Step Guide to Using Regression Therapy to Overcome the Effects of Childhood Abuse
Jean C. Jenson, foreword by Alice Miller
1996, Meridian/Penguin

To the general public, "Childhood Abuse" brings up images of physical and sexual violence. In this book, Jenson's definition is very broad and includes the entire spectrum of childhood neglect and trauma. Rather than focus on abusive situations, the book deals with the common present-day problems of adult relationships and how to unravel the issues with deep feeling therapy techniques.

Making Sense of Suffering: The Healing Confrontation With Your Own Past
J. Konrad Stettbacher, Foreword by Alice Miller
1994, Merit Publishing International

It is generally understood that the highly respected therapist and author Alice Miller discovered and unraveled much of her own abusive childhood history by working with Stettbacher's methods. Since writing her foreword, however, she has removed her support dues to claims regarding the authenticity of Stettbacher's practice and the potential dangers of doing this work alone, as he suggests. In spite of the stiff translation, I find the book to be a simple and effective manual for those working in conjunction with a reliable and experienced facilitator.

Cure By Crying
Thomas A. Stone
1995, Cure By Crying Inc.

In all seriousness, I believe this book could be renamed "Primal Therapy for Dummies"! It has large type, important statements in bold text, diagrams, cartoons, jokes, and is even written in a "gee whiz!" conversational style. The author is a layperson who created his own version of deep feeling therapy. Due to its potential for considerable influence, I'd like to point out the book's strengths and weaknesses:

  • important emphasis on deep crying as the essential healing expression
  • a thorough listing of many excellent methods for finding feelings.
  • a guide to good and bad therapy
  • an excellent, stripped-down guide for facilitators
  • disjointed theory
  • a cavalier attitude toward the potential dangers for those with severe trauma histories or with inadequate personal support
  • a misrepresentation of "real primal therapy" as still being directive and defense-busting
  • a misrepresentation of "a real primal" as being a pristine, movie-like reliving which, though it can occur, is not the norm
  • the overly intrusive technique of repeated questioning
Gestalt Therapy Verbatim
Frederick S. Perls
1974, Bantam Books

This book is the definitive "workbook" on classic Gestalt therapy by its founder. This modality is excellent for working with dreams and inner conflicts. In this book, as in most Gestalt therapy, clients are not guided to go as deep as they could. "Fritz" was also very controlling and aggressive, which is not at all necessary in actual practice.

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Extended Theory and Perspectives

The New Primal Scream: Primal Therapy 20 Years on
Arthur Janov
1991, Enterprise Publishing

The original Primal Scream was a sensational book that forever branded primal as "scream therapy," which it is not. It also described the early experimental attitudes and techniques, such as "busting defenses" which are no longer in use. The New Primal Scream, however, sets the record straight and is the most thorough compilation of advanced primal theory and case histories to date. It is large, challenging, and quite technical. WARNING! - beware of the "Janovian Elitism."

The Biology of Love
Arthur Janov
2000, Prometheus Books.

Neurology, as it applies to psychology, is a hot topic. Books such as Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, The Emotional Brain by Joseph LeDoux, and A General Theory of Love by Lewis, Amini, and Lannon, have gained a great deal of attention. The authors, however, still seem blind to the blockage and potential release of repressed memory within the biological model they propose. Janov's book, by contrast, is all about that very connection. For those interested in biological primal theory, it is a tough, but valuable read. It is not a book about useful methodology. WARNING! - beware of the "Janovian Elitism."

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Mythology & Belief Systems

All belief systems are what we call myths, and whether they are religious, scientific, economic or political, their misuse can have an extremely restrictive effect upon one's healing and growth. Negative core belief systems are some of the most stubborn and destructive elements of personality. The following books are excellent introductions to perspectives that are more conducive to healing and growth.

The Power of Myth
Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers (Contributor), Betty Sue Flowers (Editor)
1988, Doubleday Books

A Joseph Campbell Companion : Reflections on the Art of Living
Edited by Diane K. Osbon
1991, Harper Collins

An Open Life : Joseph Campbell in Conversation With Michael Toms
Joseph Campbell, Michael Toms
1990, Harper Collins

These and other books by Campbell, such as The Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Masks of God series, are some of the most enlightening I have ever read. His approach and experience of the unity of all belief systems is compelling and delightfully expressed in his own life stories. I also highly recommended his many talks on audio and video tape.

Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Ogalala Sioux
As told to John Neihardt
1961, University of Nebraska Press

This is an extraordinary, verbatim story of a native elder who grew up on the plains before the European Invasion. Black Elk's words describe his struggle to maintain a natural way of living and feeling in the wake of the oncoming neurotic civilization. It is an inspiring glimpse into a healthy mind and an original way of life.

Tao Te Ching
Stephen Mitchell (Translator)
1991, Harper Perennial.

Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching
Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English (Translator)
1972, Vintage Books

Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching
D.C. Lau (Translator)
1963, Penguin Books

The Tao Te Ching is loosely translated as "The Way and Its Power" and is one of the oldest books in written history. It is attributed to the reclusive Chinese sage Lao Tzu, who lived and described a fully connected way of life and being, in harmony with nature and the universe. His "non-approach" helped to originate Zen, and is in alignment with the fundamentals of Primal Integration as I practice it. The cryptic ancient Chinese has often been translated by inexperienced scholars, resulting in many poor and confusing editions. A few of the more acceptable ones are listed above. This is a way to live by.

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Zen is a stripped-down version of Buddhism that attempts to get to the root of life. Like most spiritual paths, much of its theory strangely ignores early trauma as an aspect of the historical origins of our suffering. Its practical method of meditation, attitude of non-judgment, and essential focus on the here-and-now are, however, some of the most powerful tools for Primal Integration work. With these techniques, deep feelings can be either accessed more easily or held at bay; and as a regular practice, they are unparalleled in their effectiveness for integrating primal feelings with everyday life.

In the following books, please keep in mind that formal Zen "masters" still tend to suggest "accepting" or "breathing through" a deep feeling rather than expressing it fully. Having practiced extensively myself, I see this as a repressive block in their approach. This does not stop us, however, from creating a unique and rich union of Primal and Zen.

The following authors are all from the Zen tradition except for Pema Chodron, who is a Tibetan Buddhist nun.

Nothing Special : Living Zen
by Charlotte Joko Beck
1994, Harper San Francisco

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
Shunryu Suzuki
1971, John Weatherhill, Inc.

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings
Compiled by Paul Reps
1971, Charles E. Tuttle Co.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Pema Chodron
1997, Shambhala Publications

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