First, why isn’t our therapy available in more places? Why just Santa Monica, California?
Because it is a very complex affair, requiring years to learn, so there are only a few who have mastered it and they want to remain in our group. We are dealing with dozens and dozens of different problems, from suicide to anxiety states to migraines and severe depression, to name but a few. We have to learn how to deal with all of this. It takes perseverance and tenacity, a real sense of wanting to help humanity for pay that is not extravagant, and lower than therapists deserve. France and I take no profits and no salary (except what the Feds require us to take to keep our insurance), and we haven't for years.
We do not have profits because the fee today is only about 10% more than what it was 40 years ago. But expenses are ten times as high. Just our malpractice insurance is more than the rent we used to pay. France and I have kept the clinic going for many years just for the love of it and the people we can help...and it is reward enough.
This is never a therapy to be practiced alone. We need each other to keep us straight, to check our systematic errors and correct our techniques. Those who have gone on alone inevitably make systematic errors which get worse over time. And we need to keep up with science, which changes daily. Those who are alone with a big practice do not have the time to do that. We learn every day from each other what to do in this kind of case or another. There is always something to learn. And a small practice means compromises; fewer sessions, fewer or no groups, no vital sign research, etc. It is too easy to relax the strict discipline that is part of primal therapy.
And how about drugs?
Sometimes we get in a hurry and want to do drugs to speed things up; always a dangerous idea, because the system opens up slowly and only on the person’s biologic timetable, not on ours. We do use certain drugs on some patients, not to subvert the evolutionary timetable but to slow down too much access to pain; this typically for those who took drugs and now have leaky gates, those who have previously used drugs to subvert evolution (and this includes pot). You cannot extrapolate from your own case to that of many others with regard to using drugs in therapy. You need a broad range of patients to be able to make proper diagnoses. If the therapy is done right, the patients usually get there; some much slower than others, and rightly so, since they are far more defended and often in deep emotional pain. Anything you do from the outside, like drugs, abrogates the slow evolution we need in a therapy that follows evolutionary destinations tightly. The point is that the patient’s body knows much more than we do; we need to respect that. Repeat: only if the therapy is not done right does it become necessary to use drugs to hurry up the process. The pain, no doubt, was laid down in heavy increments, slowly, over years, and it is not going to be undone in a few weeks or in a weekend seminar.
A supervised dose of LSD is ridiculous. What will the supervisor know and do once it is too late? And who can predict the exact outcome of LSD? Once the gating system is cracked it may be cracked forever. Do you want to take that chance? And who knows how leaky someone’s gates really are? Are you prepared for a psychotic reaction? It is a precious thing, our brains; not to be messed with.
The problem is that because a therapist doesn’t know what he is doing, he tends to blame the therapy. And decides therefore to use drugs, thinking it will speed up the process. No, it won’t. It will flood the patient and produce delusions. I refer you to current work where patients are given hallucinogens. These patients’ delusions with LSD can meld with the therapist’s, so that they seem normal while the patients are literally going crazy. The doctor sees patients’ “cosmic unity” as a good thing, whereas it can be pathognomonic of serious mental illness. The brain is not something to be tinkered with. There is plenty of science now to help us understand how it works. Primal therapists need to understand recent science.
I have studied LSD for a long time; there is nothing to be gained from it except serious damage to the gating system. That is what it does: shatters defenses and lets feelings up (see Carhart-Harris, et al., 2012, for a detailed look at where and how psychedelics work in the human brain). Can you guarantee that those defenses will re-establish themselves? I cannot. If you want to see how psychosis comes into being, use LSD. It shatters the gates and allows cerebral flooding; then the cortex must go to work to suppress it all with bizarre ideas that try to corral and bind the feelings. The best way to loosen up someone up is to do the therapy correctly.
Look: our neurosis, our repression, built itself up through an adverse evolutionary trajectory. We need to use evolution, evolution in reverse, to correct that—not to overlook it. How can you overlook evolution since it is a law of nature, not some intellectual concoction dreamed up by someone who likes to look dramatic and powerful?
Carhart-Harris, R.L., Erritzoe, D., Williams, T., Stone, J.M., Reed, L., Colasanti, A., Tyacke, R.J., Leech, R., Malizia, A.L., Murphy, K., Hobden, P., Evans, J., Feilding, A., Wise, R.G., and Nutt, D.J. (2012) Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 109(6):2138-2143