Primal Therapy and Repression…What Erik Hoffman Found.
My background blog about Erik Hoffman:
Hoffman: “During my stay in Los Angeles I had the opportunity to do an EEG study at the Primal Center in cooperation with Arthur Janov. We wanted to see if there were any changes of brain functions as a result of Primal Therapy. Twenty volunteer subjects with emotional problems were studied with quantitative EEG methods and brain mapping before and after one year of Primal Therapy. Another smaller group, functioning as a kind of control group, was studied before and after three weeks of intensive therapy.”
Our brains are places of constant electrical activity. This is because the cells in our brain, called neurons, use electricity to communicate with each other. When a group of neurons sends an electrical signal to another group of neurons, we call those brain waves. This is because a computer-generated electroencephalogram (EEG) test that detects and measures the electrical activity in your brain actually creates a picture that looks like a wavelike pattern.
Different areas of the brain generate different kinds of brain waves. Delta and theta brainwaves indicate nerve activity in the subconscious (low road) information processing areas of the brainstem and limbic system. Alpha waves represent the nerve activity of basic consciousness (high road) information processing. Beta and gamma wave appearance indicates progressively more focused and intentioned consciousness activity. This electrical activity expresses itself as sine waves on an EEG. The waves heighten as nerve activity increases. The wave widens as more and more neurons join in the processing.
When unconscious primitive signals of the low road reach the cortex, they are gathered together, associated with other conscious information, and examined against current input. High level, cortically informed responses to that information can then be generated. One such response is the shutting off of erroneous primitive responses such as those generated by imprinted trauma related signaling, which is the source of the anxiety neuroses. This is accomplished by the medial-prefrontal cortex’s influence on the amygdala…a site of traumatic memory storage. Repression prevents information flow to the cortex.
Janov spoke of both vertical and horizontal repression. That is, information can be blocked from conscious processing by preventing it’s flow from brainstem/limbic structures to the cortex. And it can be blocked from moving from the right hemisphere of the brain to the left.
Hoffman’s work demonstrated that repression of traumatic information interferes with the generation of alpha waves…that repression interferes with conscious processing. Here we have the effects of repression verified by electronic brain wave signatures. According to Hoffman, repression creates a “pressure” that interferes with alpha wave propagation.
The right hemisphere of the brain begins information processing earlier in our lives than the left. Therefore, when there is early trauma, that information is contained in this area. Being able to get this trapped information from the right to the left hemisphere is the task of trauma therapy.
Hoffman’s studies showed that there was less alpha wave activity in the right hemisphere of the 20 clients prior to PT. Then, after a year of PT, there was a large increase in alpha wave activity in the right hemisphere. He attributed this to the resolution of emotional issues, which decreased the “pressure” in the right hemisphere which, he says, was preventing alpha wave build up there. This “pressure” sounds a lot like the electromagnetic force I wrote about in my blog https://www.primaltherapyandnaturalhealth. com/post/primal-therapy-and-repression
Hoffman: “The most outstanding finding was increased EEG alpha baseline activity in the brains of these patients following therapy. An increase of alpha waves means better mental relaxation and a better conscious access to one’s body and feelings. I have also come to believe that increased alpha activity reflects conscious integration of blocked feelings. Possibly it also indicates a better integration between the left and the right hemisphere. The group mean alpha activity, in the back of the brain (occipital, parietal and temporal areas) increased significantly and almost doubled for the whole group of patients.”
Primal therapy… intentionally working with traumatic information… results in an electromagnetic alteration along the neural networks that hold that information…allowing blocked traumatic information to flow to the left hemisphere’s high road of information processing. Restoring the flow reduces the “pressure”. I’ll discuss this process in more depth in my next blog.