This month's article, will be a reproduction of an e-mail critique, with my responses, of my on line book
Help Me- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad by the above named psychologist.
[Links to Dr. Vereshack's online book and his other articles as well as reviews of Dr. Solter's three books are the bottom of this page - Editor]
Before we proceed, however, I would like to say some things about Dr. Solter's book, Tears and Tantrums: What To Do When Babies and Children Cry. This book can be ordered from: Shining Star Press, P.O. Box 206, Goleta, CA 93116, U.S.A. Ph. (805) 968-1868. The cost is $12.95 for one copy, plus $1.50 for shipping. Add 50 cents per copy for multiple books ordered. (U.S. Funds only). (Outside the U.S.A. add $2.00 for one book) Extra taxes may be applicable. For more information about this book, see Dr. Solter's Aware Parenting Institute web site.
In my opinion this small, easy to read soft cover book, is one of approximately five psychological works that will stand above all others in this century.
Now then, let us proceed to examine her critique of the on line book, Help Me-I'm Tired of Feeling Bad, authored by myself, Paul Vereshack M.D.
- In the 1890's Freud, published his Interpretation of Dreams, and handed us the doorway to the unconscious. This work set the stage for all our growth in this century.
- In the middle of this century Carl Rogers wrote Client Centered Therapy which introduced the concept of "reflective listening." It became the basis of our ability to really hear and draw forth the psychological depths in others. All therapists, regardless of their persuasion, rely upon it as a primary tool.
- In this century, Margaret Mahler, et. als. in The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant gave us the basic ideas of infant-mother bonding which has lifted psycho-dynamic theory to new and realistic levels.
- In the middle of this century, Arthur Janov in The Primal Scream showed us that the reliving of early trauma is an absolute necessity in the journey of psychological healing.
- Now, Aletha J. Solter with Tears and Tantrums has given us a new and profound approach to early childhood parenting. She has given us the simple principles which any parent can apply to raise a truly healthy child. No longer do we have to become psychologically split off from ourselves and live a life of fruitless
endeavor, as we struggle to right the wrongs perpetrated upon us by well meaning but ignorant parents. Dr Solter has placed health in the hands of our species in a way which has the potential to reshape human destiny.
One day, if the world makes her book compulsory reading for all young adults, my book may not be needed!
A. S. - p. 31: (Cap. 5.) About therapists who convert feelings into words too
soon, this is like what adults do to children: wanting them to verbalize their emotions because they can't stand to hear kids cry: "Use your
words," "I won't listen until you can talk civilly," "stop crying and tell
me what happened," etc.
p. 34 (your sucking nipple example):(Chapter Five, example three) This sounds more like a
compulsive attempt to meet an unmet childhood need that cannot possibly be
met as an adult, rather than a regressive healing experience. There
doesn't seem to be any emotional release. I'm not comfortable with this approach to therapy. Three years seems a very long time. Wouldn't she have
healed faster by expressing the emotions of not getting those
early needs filled, rather than trying to fill them as an adult?
P. V. - The patient to whom you referred came back from being in and out of a borderline psychotic process, and returned from years of being mute, in her previous therapy, to being able to access and share her childhood sexual abuse, which had been continuous from birth forward well into her teens.
A. S. - p. 35: (Chapter Five, e.g. 5) Is the remembering and re-living important, even without
emotional release? Or is the emotional release (crying) important? This is
not clear. Crying is not mentioned in this example.
Nurture is needed, until the patient has the ego strength to finally face those early traumas! It is my contention that when clients are deeply regressed, the nervous system once again opens to receive what it needs
When years of deprivation and abuse are offered to the young "wide open" central nervous system, the tree of life stunts and twists. In many cases, the corrective nurture, in terms of time, type, and intensity, will have to be applied. This is not about corrective abreactive emotional insight. It's about regrowing the garden.
P. V. - Both are needed, but sometimes they do not come in the order
that we might expect. Recall can come without feeling. Sooner or
later, however, expressing the feeling is almost always needed. She however would return from her reliving without a lot of fuss and rumpus but seemed to be in a kind of shock which would gradually dissipate.
A. S. - p. 36: (Chapter Five e.g. 5) This might be thought of as a corrective learning experience where she is in charge of the physical contact, and not made to feel powerless. But perhaps she would benefit more from clear boundaries, and heal more quickly by learning that a loving, supportive relationship can exist without sexual contact.
When she finally left my practice, she was greatly healed, not
perhaps completely, but so much better than when she arrived. She never cried, screamed or raged once in all the years we worked, and yet somehow she healed.
Is healing really occurring while feeling the therapist's penis? Was there emotional release? Can we always trust the body? Was this the patient who denounced you? Why? If it had been truly therapeutic, she wouldn't have.
P. V. - To the contrary, this patient was one of many who came to my hearing on my behalf!
A. S. - p. 38: Re your statement of sheepskin reducing infant deaths. I'd like a reference and a date. It's interesting.
I remember once listening to a client in someone else's practice. She would begin every session by cursing and swearing at her therapist in a "hideous" manner. At first I couldn't understand why the therapist would let her do this. Then I realized that cursing the therapist, was her particular doorway into experiencing the deep past. Only after touching my penis could this client "fall" into her deep past.
Years of therapy with a previous therapist had not accessed her past. Years of therapy with me, also did not open this door. Then finally, when I took this risk, the doors of her abuse swung open and she could finally re-experience her abuse. Even still, she could only translate herself into this reliving, when she touched me in this way. Nothing else gave her the congruence of present and past which would unlock the door.
P. V. - I saw it on a TV show. Check with your local hospital premature ward and ask them about this.
A. S. - p. 40:(Chapter Six, para. 23.) After your statement at the top of the page about adolescence and sexual arousal, I wrote: Primarily in those who have been deprived of sufficient holding earlier in life.
P. V. - I don't agree. I think it is one of nature's tricks to carry infantile need into the powering of adult sexuality. Adult sex deeply nurtures, and in fact, I feel that this is why a good sexual connection makes a good and nurturing marriage in addition to adult non-sexual marital nurture.
A. S. - p. 41: (Chapter Six. Section, "The sense of smell. . .") when holding women patients" I wrote: Why only the women?
P. V. - Men do not generally want sustained holding, at least not from me as a male. They would, I am sure, want it from a female therapist but where would they find it in this modern, frightened age. One man, a homosexual, started to become aroused and did not find this helpful. Another, himself a therapist wanted it and was very grateful to have an opportunity to experience holding.
A. S. - p. 42: (second to last paragraph)(Chapter Six, 8 paragraphs from the end): Holding therapy with attachment disordered kids is often imposed on them, and yet it seems to be
Long hugs seem to do better with men, given while sitting or
standing. These can be accepted.
P. V. - For children, yes. I am deeply impressed with Martha Welch's Holding Time. Try forced holding-type therapy with an adult female and you will be in court for the rest of your life.
A. S. - p. 43:(Chapter Six, Last section) It seems to me that one must make the distinction between
trauma reminders (congruences) which help a patient regress and
heal, and compulsive traumatic re-enactment, which is not
therapeutic. Perhaps one criterion would be whether or not the
patient is having some form of emotional release (laughter or
crying). If not, then is the touch therapeutic?
Try it with a resisting adult male and you could be severely
injured. So whether or not it might work lies on the far side of
these scary attempts. It very well might.
P. V. - This is a huge question. I don't have an answer for it. Please see the thoughts already put forward.
A. S. - p. 46: top sentence: Yes! It brings a feeling of connectedness,
which everyone needs.
When a patient sheds childhood based sexual dysfunction and seeks an adult corrective expeience, If they can't find a partner, should we use sexual surrogates?
I don't have an answer for this. It would make a great book.
p. 46: (Chapter Seven, para. 10.) about the sensual pleasure of nursing: Yes, nursing is an act of reproduction, and as such, must of necessity be pleasurable for the species to survive. The hormone, oxytocin, is released during breast feeding and causes uterine contractions similar to mild orgasms.
P. V. -Very interesting. I will break off here for now, and return to this later.
Thank you so much for your loving non defensive questioning I am
A. S. - p.60: (Chapter Eight, (second paragraph - last section): Perhaps the sexual touch in the earlier example was a form of acting out?
P. V. - Already answered. This is always a possibility, but in the end we have to trust our intuition, don't we? As I say, this risk is just too much to be borne.
A. S. - p. 69: Chapter Ten, (bottom sentence - para. 7.): Why only non-psychotic? I have heard
that many forms of psychosis can result from early trauma.
P. V. - A genuine psychosis, with thought disorder, delusions and hallucinations requires almost always, a genetic or chemical imbalance of some sort. There are exceptions of course, (e.g. psychosis due to sensory deprivation). This is beyond the scope of this book, except to say that even psychoses should have psychological help. There is certainly a person under that set of symptoms!
A. S. - p. 77: (#3, first sentence): No! Not true for infants or young
children. Only true for people whose spontaneous healing mechanisms
(specifically crying) have been repressed. Children make
repeated attempts to bring their attention to their pain. They
know how to heal.
P. V. - Thank you so much for pointing out this error. That paragraph should have the words, " after childhood" added at the beginning. I will correct this.
A. S. - p. 85: (Chapter Fifteen. Para. 6 - bottom paragraph):
P. V. - Yes!
A. S. - p. 90-91 (Chapter Seventeen): I get the impression that it is the merging itself,
the re-living of the pain that is important to you, and the emotional release (i.e. crying) is of secondary importance. Are you talking about crying? yelling? moaning? all of the above?
P. V. - Externalization is crucial to healing. I say this over and over again in the book. Your not seeing these often repeated statements is why I ask readers who will turn to it to save their lives, to read it three times. For instance, even in the p. 90-91 mentioned by you here, this point is made at the top of p. 91. See also Chapter Twenty-Seven numbers 9 and 10 where these instructions are given with extreme specificity. Congruence is completed by using exact externalization!
A. S. - p. 92 (Chapter Seventeen): Yes, body position can be a control pattern that
interferes with the healing process.
Also please see Chapter Twenty-Four under the second, 'purity of therapeutic work.'
P. V. - Refer to the bottom paragraph on page 31(Chapter Five, Para. 5 and 6.). Also see congruence Three on page Twenty-Eight, (Chapter Four, Congruence 3.) especially paragraph four. Particularly notice the warning in the last three paragraphs on 'The Second Purity,' Page 151.(Chapter Twenty-Four)
A. S. - p. 95: (Chapter Nineteen - 3rd paragraph): Do you imply that young children cannot
handle or integrate traumatic information? If so, I disagree.
What do you mean by an open or closed nervous system? I think
that defenses are only necessary for children when people around
them cannot accept the children's strong emotions. Otherwise, they
are not necessary. Children who have been raised with full
permission for expression of feelings
P. V. -Yes, yes, yes
A. S. - p. 98: (Chapter Twenty, 'the first device') Children whose emotions have not been repressed know exactly what they are feeling.
This is a book for adults, and as I was writing it I was not
thinking about children in terms of healing. Of course children can integrate traumatically stressful information of all kinds. Some therapists emphasize the importance of insight but it is not always absolutely necessary for children or adults to have it, in order to heal. (e.g. children's non-insight oriented play.)
It certainly does help, however, and in adults it is very
important, although not crucial. One of the things your book has
brought home to me is the fact that a child not allowed to
process early non-verbal stress may come to adulthood with an
ocean of pain which needs to be released, but which may never give rise to a specific insight because it is so deep, so old and so diffuse.
This is why adults can primal for years without the
insight they often feel they need but which in fact they do not.
What they need is tensions release. Please reread Holistic
Insight, Stage One, page 141.
You have raised a crucial point here which I neglected to include
in the book. When I correct your other valuable insight with Brent, my technical consultant, I will add a comment here about children's huge capacity to integrate trauma especially using your book, plus Dr. Welch's Holding Time.
p. 123: (Chapter Twenty, number 9. 4 paragraphs from the end (1st paragraph) This brings up the whole issue of determinism versus free will. The more unprocessed trauma one
has, the less free will one be. One's actions are somewhat
predetermined because so much of experience consists of trauma
reminders. That's why neurotics are so predictable. But I think
that free will does exist for people who are healed from trauma.
They are able to create new, adaptive and creative responses to
new situations, based on flexible thinking.
P. V. - Although your comments are a little theoretical since I have never met a person who was healed of all their trauma. I have found that often I get an immediate sense (an inner contraction) that something is wrong but it might take minutes, days or months to fully know what it is. The adult brain is far too complex for immediate specific understanding given the deviousness of adult manipulation.
A. S. - p. 137: (Chapter Twenty-Two, section 3.) Another example of a time pebble: The client says "I need
help." This could be a genuine need for assistance in the
therapeutic situation. But yes, it could also be an unmet
childhood need for help from a parent who was not responsive.
For instance in my joking with you about being good. We can see
the insecure adult male striving to get above a woman he respects and fears. We see the baby in me struggling for a connection with the treasured mother while doing it in a so called adult joking
style. I am so desperate on some level to correct my childhood
abandonment that I would even allow myself to fall into a kind of
joking style of communication which is based on the false idea of goodness and badness and it's use in manipulating the child. I would do this with a
woman psychologist who stands for everything that opposes this kind of attitude.
You would almost certainly sense that something is wrong, but no
matter how enlightened your childhood, I doubt if you would see it
all in one moment. Of course you might, but this only discusses
the tip of an iceberg which I could go on describing for hours.
Please accept my apology for joking with you in such bad taste.
Aletha, free will is an illusion. Please see my discussion on this subject, which is contained in John Speyrer's interview of me on the Primal Psychotherapy Page. I believe that we receive everything, not just some things, everything, from deep within our sub-conscious minds.
People who clear their neurotic pain receive a more versatile
response from their own depths but they originate nothing from
their conscious mind. This is one of the great psycho-biological
tricks that keep us falsely understanding the nature of our
existence. Please refer to my January, 1998 article on the Primal Psychotherapy Page about depth therapy and spiritual enlightenment where I write in depth about this issue.
P. V. - Chapter Four, the Introduction on p. 23 - 24 (Chapter Four, 2 paragraphs before "Congruence 1.) discusses this
issue -- we always live in two landscapes -- present feelings
are real and so are the past feelings that over determine them,
e.g. A cigar is sometimes just a cigar.
A. S. - p. 144: When infants or young children release trauma completely
after it occurs, their faces are incredibly serene, and they look
like little gurus. Perhaps they are in a state of what you call
P. V. - Adults also, after a deep primal have that "washed clean" look on their face. They lose their normal facial expression, the one with which they manipulate the world!
A. S. - p. 145: This is the first written attempt I have seen to make a
link between depth psychology and Eastern religions. Very
Psycho-biological awakening or "clearing," in infants, is most probably Stage Five (see Chapter Twenty-Two, Holistic Insight Stage 5) without the symbolic interference. It may possibly be real and fully awakened bliss. However, I am inclined to feel that they are not having an experience of actual satori. I think that this may require the adult brain, in order to fully comprehend what it means, to see that all conflict which has put us in the conundrums of a lifetime is resolved.
William Wordsworth, the renowned English poet, wrote of . . ."trailing clouds of glory, we come from God who is our home."
Please see the satori article to which I referred earlier.
P. V. -See that January 1998 article, on the The Primal Psychotherapy Page.
A. S. - p. 151: (3rd & 4th paragraphs)Chapter Twenty-Four "The Third Purity": Yes! These are control patterns
in children: rocking, thumb-sucking, head-banding, etc. These
movements inhibit emotional release.
p. 151: Touch that comforts: I would say touch that shuts the
patient down, or causes the patient to go numb.
P. V. - Touch can open and touch can shut down.
A. S. - p. 152: (2nd law of regressive therapy - end of Chapter Twenty Four): "...we are in a feeling
and must not act on it": To get back to the issue of sexuality, wouldn't
sexuality in the context of therapy be an example of acting on feelings
rather than feeling them? Perhaps a client who wants to fondle the
therapist's penis should be encouraged to feel that desire rather than act on it.
P. V. - Fondling can open up a person in deep regressive therapy as well as shut down the person. Fondling was that person's gateway. What I would do next time would be to have her touch a penis-like object or a male doll. I would not risk my precious mind and body to such an experiment again. I was half my current age and hadn't yet lost my trust in my fellow man/woman.
A. S. - Well, those are all the notes I jotted in the margins. You can
see that your book got me thinking about a lot of things, and making connections with my own work and my developmental perspective to all these various issues.
Aletha J. Solter, Ph.D.
P. V. -Aletha . . . thank you. I hear your good will, your concerns,
your cautions, and your teachings.
Paul Vereshack M.D.