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The Lost Children

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

The first psychologists, shamen , believed that very bad experiences could chase parts of a person’s soul away. Some called the missing soul parts: lost children. It was said that these frightened children were hiding in a cave… the cave of lost children. They would wait there, sometimes forever, calling out for help. It was believed that an emotional healing could not happen, until these children came home. The shaman accompanied the sufferer on a journey of self discovery, during which it was hoped that the lost children might be found and convinced that it was safe to return home. Their return removed the suffering. (1)  This very old story of how we lose our emotional health and how we get it back is informative, scientifically accurate, and consistent with the practice of primal therapy!

Put in the language of neuroscience (2), the shaman story might go something like this:  when something very bad happens to someone, the discrete sensorimotor fear reactions (the children)) are blocked from high-road sensory processing (they become lost). This energetic blockage traps the bits and pieces of defense-related reactions in the subcortical structures of the brain: the brainstem, limbic system, and the basal ganglia (the cave of lost children). The trapped reactions become fear memories, which, when re-felt, create ‘disordered’ emotional responses and fear-related behaviors such as the anxiety disorders and chronic anger.

Another way of describing re-felt fear memories might be: the lost children cry out continually to be found and returned home. Once found, the lost children must be convinced that it’s now safe to come home. This is done by listening to their fearful stories in a place where they can feel safe. A sacred healing place, like a sweat lodge… or, a primal session.

1. Sandra Ingerman, Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self. (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1991). Http://www.sandraingerman.com/ 2. Pat Ogden, Kekuni Minton, and Clare Pain,  Trauma and the Body. (New York:  W. Norton & Co., 2006).

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