Two Methods of Self-Help
Wednesday June 18, 2008
Dear Dr. Miller,
Since I started reading your books I tried to deal with my past in different ways, and I want to summarize shortly my experience and conclusions. First, I tried to use Jean Jenson's regressive therapy as described in her book "Reclaiming Your Life". This method caused me a lot of damage, and it really infuriates me to think that for ten years the publisher refused to remove your forward from this book. I already knew at the time that you no longer recommended this method, but I ignored this fact, and paid a high price. I tried this self-help method while I was trapped in an abusive relationship; Jenson recommends that we regard all the pain experienced in an intimate relationship as stemming from our past; this, she writes, should be the "working hypothesis" for working on our past. Such a "working hypothesis" is very dangerous. The result for me was re-traumatization that brought me to the verge of suicide. Today, I regard primal therapy in general as wrong and dangerous. The idea that we should make ourselves feel pain in a deliberate and systematic way reminds me of the pedagogic lie that one should deliberately create frustrations for children in order to "prepare them to life". Frustrations are inevitable, and similarly, pain stemming from childhood injuries is inevitable and reappears not only when we reenact our past, but also when we try to take good care of ourselves and to free ourselves from destructive relationships. There is absolutely no need to recreate this pain intentionally by failing to extricate ourselves from painful situation in the present.
The one thing that I do find helpful, just like you repeatedly point out, is talking my past over with enlightened witnesses. In the last six weeks, I have been participating in the "ourchildhood" forum, and I derive enormous benefit from it. The supportive environment, the empathy to the child I was, and the indignation towards my parents that Barbara Rogers and other participants express, help me to lift the veil off my emotions and to overcome the emotional block I was stuck in; it enables me to feel pain, mourning and anger, without endangering myself in the process. Until I encountered such empatic responses and engaged in an active and ongoing dialogue on my childhood, I could only progress very slowly and with much hesitation, often going round in circles and feeling trapped in a whirl of childhood pain and helplessness. I now realize how difficult it must have been for you to be on your own in your personal journey to freedom from your past for so many years. You are a very brave woman indeed.
Respectfully and Sincerely, N.
AM: Thank you very much for sharing with us your experience and your clear and helpful statement about the therapy represented by Jenson. In this mailbox, I have expressed already several times my criticism of her concepts, also of the ones of Ingeborg Bosch. I dislike of course the fact that for so many years this therapy was presented in my name, although it contains elements that contradict my own concepts without anybody realizing it. It was above all the idea of anger as an expression of "false hope," as well as many others, that I feel are misleading which caused my strong resistance. The mixture of Buddhist ideology with the child's fear of punishment for being angry necessitates that I don't want my name to be used in connection with this therapy.
I am glad that you could so much benefit from the forum and were able to explain so clearly what helped you to make progress in such a short time.