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Different Types of Primals

by Barbara Bryan

There are different opinions on what a “primal” is. David Freundlich, M.D., one of the early primal therapists, defined it this way: “A primal experience is the reliving of those early life events during which the child turned off his primal needs and pains and developed a personality split and an unreal self.” Dr. Freundlich developed a summary of the various types of primals. Quoted here are some of his basic primal types:

“ Full Primal – A complete feeling-thought-body experience during which specific childhood traumas are relived and accompanied by such basic feelings as need, frustration, pain, fear, hurt, aloneness, sadness, helplessness, and anger. Even during birth primals, the observing ego may vary from alertness to minimal awareness. The therapeutic value is in releasing incompletely felt childhood scenes, and making connections between these traumas and neurotic symptoms, compulsive behavior, and acting out.

Partial Primal – Pure feelings such as anger, fear, need, hurt, and pain are experienced and expressed unaccompanied by memories, scenes or images. These feelings, sometimes stemming from pre-verbal sources, are often frustrating for the adult to tolerate because they are disconnected from visual or verbal memories. The reverse, the reliving and acting out of memories devoid of much feeling also occurs. Nevertheless, they help to strengthen the cognitive understanding of repetitive life patterns.

Incomplete Primal - A primal that has not been worked through fully, and results in residual tension and confusion rather than a feeling of relief. Sometimes one primal activates others which are incompletely experienced.

Positive Primal – Although most primals are painful, positive primals are also important; feeling love for and from one’s parents, recapturing “good” or happy aspects about oneself as a child. These experiences help us to re-own positive parts of one’s history and real self.

Present Primal – while primals traditionally are the reliving of the past, primal-type experiences, they also involve the expression of basic emotions related to more current situations where the person allows himself to lose control and be overwhelmed by feelings. Sometimes these occurrences trip off primals from the past.”

I am sure we could all add to this list and our definitions of a primal may vary, also. This could start up an interesting discussion on Ewail. Here is my brief definition: “A primal is a letting go of conscious controls of the body and emotions which opens up the unconscious to awareness.

This allows memories and insights to emerge which have a healing value.”


    Articles by Barbara Bryan
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Guidelines For Buddying
Guidelines For Peer Primal Groups
Types of Primals

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