One way of helping someone remain attentive to their feelings is to encourage them to “give a voice to” the feeling that is presenting itself in the moment. For example, a tight feeling in the throat might manifest itself as an audible gasp or choking sound. Or, loud rhythmic breathing. By encouraging a person to “give a voice to” his feelings, you are helping to get that feeling heard. Then, we encourage the repetition of that sound. We experiment with it, increasing or decreasing it’s pitch and tone. Or, it might change into another sound. As you continue to give this sound a voice, it gradually becomes resonant with some sensorimotor artifact of the trauma you suffered. As the sound begins to resonate with an aspect of a past sensorimotor reaction, that reaction begins to disembody itself. It gets released from memory storage and returned to its original energy state. As it does so, it begins moving toward consciousness. If a lost piece of traumatic information can reach consciousness, it loses its power to fuel unwanted behaviors in the present. This is the power of a primal.
It’s fascinating, as both primaler and facilitator, to watch embodied memory come alive. It is as though the body is putting on a stage production and “we” are the audience. One by one, each sensorimotor component of our original unconscious survival response begins to reconnect with the others in the web. Feeling by feeling occurs as the nervous systems begins to re-assemble the entire, original imprint. Because repression always protects the integrity of the higher brain functions, only small pieces of that imprint can get processed in a single session. However, as the information in each piece gets cognitively processed, it loses its ability to negatively effect our present behavior. This incremental, positive change can be felt and measured. And, it is permanent.
As Janov reminds us: “…the memory of a repressed trauma [the imprint…fear memory information] is far more complex than simple verbal recall; it contains the original state of the entire system during the trauma and can be literally relived.” And….“In the primal, whatever the individual cell networks did originally to survive they will do again”.
As we facilitate others using inarticulate sound, and the other tools of primal therapy, we will get the chance to see Janov’s words come alive before our very eyes.