The great challenge facing Humanity, if it wishes to evolve to the next level, is finding a way to release negative emotions without harming ourselves and others.

In the first installment in this series–found here–we discussed the problem and the presence of violence in our world—as well as the source of it. Much of it, we said, has to do with sudden eruptions of unwanted data in one’s mind.

We said that you can shove your unwanted data (bad memories, traumatic events) into your personal “trash bin” (the subconscious), but can never get it completely out of your mind. You can “overwrite” it with dozens of newer and better memories, and soon the bitter memories can begin to fade, but they will never be deleted.

Unlike computers, however, there seems to be no way to control if or when this “unwelcome data” shows up in our lives, triggered by something that causes it to spontaneously arise out of the subconscious and take over the conscious mind.

I believe that this is precisely explains the state of human affairs on this planet today.  Yet there some ways open to us through which humans can release these negative emotions without harming others or themselves.

Now, in Part II of this series, a look at what psychology offers around all of this.

Because such spontaneous eruptions can apparently be stimulated, and thus occur, at any time—nearly always temporarily controlling, and sometimes severely warping, our behaviors—mind scientists such as Arthur Janov and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross spent years looking at ways that this reservoir of emotional content could be emptied on command, at will, under controlled conditions, so that people took control of them, rather than they taking control of people.

Their idea was to engage in deliberate triggering of the subconscious to release the buried pain through the voluntary expression of it even before it is actually felt. The theory is that expressing emotion does just that: express it. That is, push it out.


Processes such as Janov’s tool (which he called Primary Therapy) and Kübler-Ross’ device (which she termed the Externalization of Repressed Emotions)—to cite two examples—involved top-of-the-voice screaming, or beating a set of old telephone books on a mattress, using a rubber compressor hose. Persons were encouraged to begin the screaming or the banging even when no negative emotion was being experienced in their present moment.

The result was in many cases remarkable, if surprising to the participants: the spontaneous “appearance” on the surface, a bringing forward to a place of present-moment consciousness, of intensively negative and apparently deeply-held feelings about another person or a long-past event—negative emotions that shocked many participants with their intensity, with many swearing that while they certainly understood that they held “bad feelings” about some things, they never knew they had such mountains of anger within them.

As Janov and Kübler-Ross suspected it might, the expression of these negative energies in such a dramatic way turned into the expulsion of them, releasing them from their captivity in the subconscious, where they had been held in some cases for many years, and allowing patients to “let go” of them permanently.

The idea, once again, is to release these long and deeply held emotions on purpose, under controlled conditions, rather than have them overtake us, becoming an episodic (or, worse yet, a chronic) aspect of our personality, behavior, and experience. (As in the case of the man who shot people in a Colorado movie theatre, or the person who kidnapped, beat, raped, and imprisoned three women in Cleveland over the past ten years.)

What can possibly cause such repugnant and repulsive deviant behaviors? Clearly, mental aberration, abnormality, anomalousness. Yet what causes this? Is it possible that there is a pain even more deep-seated than that caused by obvious childhood traumas or life-impacting tragedies? Or there be something along the lines of a “primal pain” that precedes all the others, and actually gives weight and substance to them?

If we can find the answer to that question—or at least one answer—we could go a long way toward eliminating eruptive anger, malevolence, violence, and killing from the collective human experience. We could create a society in which, at last, its members were much more safe, much more secure, and much more free from fear.

Will we, can we, ever completely eliminate every cause or source of attack, one human upon another? Perhaps not. Can we enormously reduce the number of such events occurring in our communal lives? I believe we can. Yet the solution I propose will come from the spiritual, not the psychological, community of healers.

And that’s where you come in.

(In the final installment: The source of the original pain—and the way to get rid of it. A surprising description of what you can do as an average, ordinary person to offer a non-psychological solution that, if it swept the planet, could change the world.)

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  • mewabe

    Neale, you have it all wrong regarding Primal therapy…what you are describing is pseudo primal therapy, which can be found out there, and which is NOTHING MORE THAN CATHARSIS…done by untrained people who DO NOT UNDERSTAND the primal process and claim to have been trained by Janov but were not, and were never certified.

    “Their idea was to engage in deliberate triggering of the subconscious to release the buried pain through the voluntary expression of it even before it is actually felt.”

    This might characterize Kübler-Ross’ process, I do not know hers, but I can ASSURE you that it has absolutely NOTHING TO DO WITH JANOV’S process. In his form of therapy, NOTHING IS FORCED, and the INTEGRATED FEELING is CENTRAL to the process.

    In other words, CONTRARY TO WHAT YOU WROTE, the expression of the feeling or of an emotion is NEVER undertaken before the actual feeling or emotion rises, ALONG WITH THE ACTUAL MEMORY that comes with it, and this is PRECISELY why the process is INTEGRATIVE and HEALING, because it INTEGRATES MEMORY, FEELING AND EXPRESSION all at once.

    I encourage you to seek actual information before dismissing a valuable process in order to advance the idea that what you have to offer is better than what another person has to offer, which seems to me to be an ego trip because not based on facts but on a personal desire to promote your way.

    Janov is far more intelligent than you imply in this false description of his form of therapy, and I am truly disappointed to see the superficiality of your thinking and your method.

    Furthermore, a person who actually understand healing and the human psyche cannot separate the spiritual from the psychological.

    • Victor

      Wow Mewabe!

      I think you´ve been fair enough, but I feel you´ve been a little rude also… Truth can sometimes be rude, specially when it is sprinkled with some anger. Yes, anger can be very ´ok´ and this time I think that it would be, say, justified, if you felt some.

      Just expressing some of my feelings about what you wrote…

      But if there is something that in this opportunity I think Neale and you agree, it´s in the huge importance of this matter: the healing of suppresed or unconscious emotions-feelings.

      I think we´re entering finally, far beyond than just the surface. And I agree with you that usually, many of the so called ´spiritual´ stuff is used as you said, as opium or Prozac. Just for avoiding awareness specially when it is related to difficult or painful issues… All in the name of ´positive thinking´…

      So I think we´re in good terrain here.

      You seem to know very well the Janov´s therapy; if I don´t remember bad, it was very publicited in the late 60´s, because many celebrities, including John Lennon, and Yoko Ono, used it. Are you talking by experience or by references?

      What other approaches do you know that you think work well?

      I´ve been interested some time ago in the Hoffman Quadrinity Process. I think it integrates psychology and spirituality as ONE process…

      I´ve been interested too in Family Constellation therapy, that many people, including my wife, report as very deep and healing.

      My best regards

      • mewabe

        Thank you Victor…

        I know Janov’s therapy from books and from actually doing it. John Lennon did not finish it, he started it and stopped, and went back on drugs. But some of his songs reflect that period of time (“love is real”, and “mother” especially). I think it helped him reach deeper into his soul, but he could have gone further in his own healing.

        Victor, I have not heard of these other forms of therapy.

        Regarding primal therapy, beware of fake therapists, who claim to do primal or deep feeling therapy but are not qualified. Generally speaking beware of anyone who offers something that can “heal” you in 2, 3 or 4 days.

        Whatever you choose, true healing is not an easy process. When you hear people say, in America, “I won’t go there”, “there” is precisely where real therapy takes you, in the most uncomfortable place of all, where it often hurts like hell. So be prepared and have some support and some form of fulfillment and happiness in the present.

        I did not mean to be “rude” to Neale, only very clear. Clarity can at time be perceived to be “brutal”…I apologize if I have been, to Neale. It was not my intention at all. But I did not attempt to wrap my words in sugar because it takes so much time and space…I wanted to cut to the chase. And I have learnt that disagreement can unfortunately often lead to feelings of being offended no matter how gentle the wording, Neale himself has experienced this on this very site, people choosing to be offended although his expression is kind and mild.

        I am truly passionate about the truth on this matter, because I think it is a crucial one.

        Again, to Neale, I am sorry for having chosen a form of expression that is devoid of social “lubrication”, I just wanted to get to the point quickly and as clearly as I could, although I ended up writing a mini book.

        All the best to you Victor

      • mewabe

        I need to add a thought…

        “The person who has not healed indeed has an irrepressible urge to immediately SUPPRESS OTHERS when uncomfortable feelings come up (“negative” feelings). This is why many parents DO NOT ALLOW their children to feel and express their true feelings, unless these are comfortable for them.
        This is why most are uneasy around people who express uncomfortable
        (‘negative”) feelings…because it triggers their own suppressed
        baggage, which they would rather not face.”

        There are great implications to this…if we think about this a little more, we can see the ORIGIN of repression in society, from the suppression of ideas, of sexuality, of love, to the extreme control and oppression of populations. We can also understand how this suppression leads to explosions of massive, unfathomable violence, such as WW1 and WW2.

        Basically, the less we allow ourselves to feel our own pain and that of others, the more the likelihood of violence. Suppressed pain leads to violence, against the self or others, because suppressed pain causes suffering, and suffering leads to violence.

        This is why Janov titled one of his books The Primal REVOLUTION, because to undertake such healing leads to a revolutionary change within the self, and could lead to a revolutionary change within society if widespread.

        • Grimm Greyes

          In my own experience of moving through negative emotions caused by past trauma (and a touch of natural inclination to be angry), I have found that everything is associated with the Ascension of Consciousness. I don’t mean this in some pseudo-spiritual way, I mean it quite literally.

          As we embark down the path of discovering the self, travelling through our shadow is necessary. We have to have the courage to truly look at these thoughts and emotions, and connect them to whatever idea or belief has become anchored in our mind. These idea’s and beliefs are ultimately connected to our ‘identity’ which is ever changing with the ascension of consciousness.

          Its as if these dense idea’s and beliefs weigh us down, and through they’re release we become lighter and more open.

          In this process I have also noticed that repressed emotions (energized thoughts) manifest in times of idle-ness. “An idle mind is the Egos plaything” I always say.

          To return to the topic, I think violence will never be resolved within human society. No. We need to evolve beyond mere homo sapien sapien’s before we let go, collectively, to the idea’s and beliefs behind violence.