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Primal Therapy, Repression, and Elnora Van Winkle

The Imprint is a collection of remembered unconscious survival reactions. When these reactions are environmentally cued, we become anxious. Distressed. Our behavior becomes actively or passively defensive. We exhibit the so-called anxiety disorders, chronic anger, emotional withdrawal, etc. Fear conditioning establishes the imprint.


These reactions are generated by the brain’s defensive subsystems, which are located in a primitive part of the brain. They produce automatic, genetically programmed survival responses to danger.


Traumatic experience generates overwhelming information, something that our nervous system defends against, at every level of biological function. Overwhelming information threatens high-road information processing...consciousness. The nervous system protects consciousness by repressing that information. Repression is an encapsulation event. Arthur Janov describes it, in its biologically simplest terms, by using a single celled organism that encounters a toxic substance in its environment. It traps that substance within a section of its plasma membrane, pinches it off, and sequesters it within its cell body, until such time that the substance can be safely released.


Elnora Van Winkle, a now deceased pathologist who had an interest in primal therapy, saw evidence of toxic encapsulation of noradrenergic byproducts in the autopsied nerve tissue of the mentally ill. Noradrenaline is used as a nerve transmitter in the sympathetic nervous system…the system that revs us up for fight or flight reactions. Too much neurotransmitter in the nerve synapses forces its encapsulation in surrounding nerve cells. A condition of chronic imprint-generated arousal would account for the excessive noradrenaline.


Our nervous system processes information in a two-phased, sequential process. Normally, information flows through the primitive, stimulus-response route…called low-road information processing. After this, information takes the consciousness route…called high-road information processing. Traumatic information doesn’t make the second part of the journey. Repression sequesters ‘excessive’ information within the low-road, like a cell sequesters a toxic substance.


Or, thinking in energetic terms, the primitive part of our brain has been adapted for use as a capacitor…something that can temporarily store energy surges in an electrical circuit.


Information is trapped in the low road, on amygdalic memory molecules. Stored in protein, these memories passively await activation by environmental cues. Activated, they move toward consciousness again. We begin to feel anxious again. We act out again. We repress again. The unprocessed memory goes back into storage again. Etc.


Unprocessed traumatic information, thus, condemns us to a lifetime of re-experienced survival reactions. Their unending occurrence leads to distress and despair, which compels us to use the drug of our choice to induce moments of relief.


Neither medication nor cognitive behavioral therapy acknowledge the existence of the imprint. The former actually facilitates the repression of the fear signalling from the brain's defensive subsystems. The latter ignores the survival-related signaling, while attempting to forge new behaviors. Both, thus, continue the existence of the imprint and it disruptive information.


In an earlier blog https://www.primaltherapyandnaturalhealth.com/post/primal-therapy-and-repression, I wondered if repression and primal (un-repression?) could be electromagnetic events.


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Source document: Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6625; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18126625 Radosław Stupak and Bartłomiej Dobroczyński at Jagiellonian University are Polish Rese

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