Psychotherapies Without Feeling
by Dr. Arthur Janov
Posted June 2005 on primaltherapy.com
Appendix: Primal Therapy: A Revolutionary Shift in the Paradigm of Psychology
by Agustin Gurza
Despite its popular success, Primal theory as a school of thought has remained on the fringes of the psychological establishment. It is generally neglected by the psychology departments of most universities, where humanists and behaviorists are in firm control. And when it is not ignored by academia, the theory is discredited as non-scientific speculation and often categorized as pop psychology along with est or Arica training, or as a lunatic eccentricity along with hare krishna or the more bizarre forms of meditation. In these attempts to dismiss the theory, Dr. Janov comes under a personal attack that often approaches slander. One professor on the psychology faculty of California State University, Los Angeles, once told a group of his students that there was no scientific evidence to support Primal theory and that Dr. Janov as a university student had flunked his courses in methodology. Neither statement, of course, is true. But it is difficult to counter the impression held and advanced by that professor because the professional psychological journals rarely, if ever, devote space to Primal topics. The adherents of Primal theory, in short, seem to comprise an underground movement that exists in spite of the psychological world.
This is not a complaint, however. It is a statement of fact. The point of this essay is to show that, if Primal theory is truly revolutionary, then its status in the development of psychology as a science could be no other than what it is. And it will become clear that the fervor with which the theory has been attacked by other scientists is actually part of a normal process that governs historical development in every science.
The model of that process which I am using is the one developed by Thomas S. Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, published in 1962 as part of the series of studies known as the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science (University of Chicago Press). Kuhn's original interest in the nature of science and its historical process came at the end of his graduate studies in theoretical physics, when he chanced into an experimental college course treating physical science for the non-scientist. "To my complete surprise," he writes in the preface of his work, "that exposure to out-of-date scientific theory and practice radically undermined some of my basic conceptions about the nature of science and the reasons for its special success."
Kuhn then abandoned his studies in physics and turned his attention to the history of science as a junior fellow of the Society of Fellows of Harvard University. His ideas on the subject developed over a decade and were finally formalized after a year spent at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. Discussing that crucial experience Kuhn writes, "Spending a year in a community composed predominantly of social scientists confronted me with unanticipated problems about the differences between such communities and those of the natural scientists among whom I had been trained. Particularly, I was struck by the number and extent of the overt disagreements between social scientists about the nature of legitimate scientific problems and methods."
An obvious criticism that can be leveled at the project I have undertaken is my total reliance on Kuhn's model. If one is to accept the arguments I make, one must accept Kuhn's model as an accurate description of scientific change, although it is a rather revolutionary view of science in competition with other contradictory views and it has created its own controversy among historians of science. Nevertheless, it is a view that has gained increasing acceptance and is now almost standard reading in social science classes at the university level. For a person who accepts the Primal theoretical formulation, Kuhn's analysis is particularly appealing because it describes scientific change as a dialectical process. The nature of that process will become clear subsequently and we will be able to understand, for example, how Primal theory can depend on Freudian theory for its existence, while it simultaneously requires the rejection of Freudian theory for its acceptance.
Kuhn introduced two fundamental concepts that need to be defined at the outset. First, "normal science" is defined as a stage of scientific development in which all research is solidly based on one or more previous scientific achievements. Those achievements must be universally accepted by the scientific community as cornerstones for further practice in the field. Examples of these types of achievements are the ones described by Aristotle in Physica, by Ptolemy in Almagest, by Newton in Principia and Opticks, by Franklin in electricity, and by Lavoisier in chemistry. These works and others like them have served for a time to define the legitimate problems and methods of a research field for succeeding generations. They were able to do so, says Kuhn, for two reasons: "Their achievement was sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group of adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity. Simultaneously, it was sufficiently open-ended to leave all sorts of problems for the redefined group of practitioners to resolve" (Kuhn, p. 10).
Kuhn refers to all such achievements as "paradigms," the second basic concept in his work. Normal science can only be carried out by scientists who labor under shared paradigms and thus are committed to the same rules and standards for scientific practice.
Having introduced these two notions, we can ask what scientific activity is like in a field before the appearance of its first paradigm -- that is, before the state of normal science is possible. With examples from the natural sciences, Kuhn shows that the pre paradigm phase of every science is characterized by fundamental disagreements among its practitioners. In the study of optics before Newton, for example, there existed irreconcilable differences among groups of scientists, each of which had its own view about the nature of light. One group thought light was composed of particles emanating from material bodies. Another understood it as a modification of the medium that intervened between the body and the eye, and still another took light to be an interaction of the medium with an emanation from the eye. "At various times," Kuhn writes, "all these schools made significant contributions to the body of concepts, phenomena and techniques from which Newton drew the first nearly uniformly accepted paradigm for physical optics" (ibid., p. 13).
Kuhn claims that this situation repeats itself in every science, noting that "fundamental disagreements characterized the study of motion before Aristotle and of statics before Archimedes, the study of heat before Black, of chemistry before Boyle and Boerhaave, and of historical geology Wore Hutton" (ibid., p. 15).
It should stand fairly uncontested if I extend Kuhn's analysis to include the study of psychology before Freud. At no time before the articulation of Freud's theories was there ever a single universally accepted view about the nature of mental illness. Instead, a number of schools, some more scientific than others battled each other over basics. One took mental illness to be an "imbalance of the humors" so that depression was understood as a state of excessive bile. Another took it to be the result of dislocated organs, explaining hysteria as a wandering uterus. And there were the theological explanations (quite attractive in the pre-paradigm phase of any science) that irrational behavior was the result of demonic possession. Even as late as the end of the last century, Benjamin Rush, known as the founder of American psychiatry, was explaining madness as a disease of blood vessels in the brain and was thus placing his patients in a spinning chair as therapy designed to counteract the congestion of those vessels.
Although Freud certainly had his predecessors (notably Breuer, Pierre Janet and Jean Martin Charcot), it was his theories that triumphed as the generally accepted paradigm in the field. Indeed, it could be said that Freud's achievement was the establishment of psychology as a science. Freud's work had the same impact on his field that all other works of the same stature had on other sciences. First, the older schools gradually disappeared and the scientific community was unified under the Freudian paradigm. Specialized journals began to be published and specialist's societies were founded, while special curricula were established in the universities. Finally, the more rigid definition of the scientific group provided by the Freudian paradigm meant that each scientist no longer needed to build the field anew from its foundations, as had been the case in the pre-paradigm phase. First principles began to be taken for granted and the scientific community began to function on the basis of a commonly held body of belief. Thus, the chaos of the preparadigm phase (when all facts seemed equally relevant and fact gathering was a more random activity) was more or less eliminated. Freud, like Newton, Aristotle and Black, united opposing scientists under his achievements and ushered in the first period of normal science in his field.
Clearly, revolutionary paradigms are rare events in the history of science. The vast bulk of scientific activity involves what Kuhn calls "mopping-up operations," in which scientists attempt to answer the questions raised by a paradigm, increase the agreement between fact and theory, and generally bring more precision to the paradigm's articulation. Most science, in short, is normal science in which an attempt is made to force nature into the pre-formed box supplied by the paradigm.
As Kuhn puts it, "the success of a paradigm is at the start largely a promise of success discoverable in selected and still incomplete examples...[and] normal science consists in the actualization of that promise" (ibid., p. 23). The major empirical and theoretical tasks of normal science are provided by the built-in limitations of a paradigm in its ability to make theory fit nature, limitations which provide the most fascinating and most consuming problems of that phase of scientific research.
After the establishment of the Freudian paradigm, then, scientists went about the business of redefining the theory, confirming its predictions, improving its fit to nature and applying its principles in therapeutic practice. If, as Freud claimed, the psyche is actually compartmentalized into the ego, superego and id, then neurological research would hope fully provide some evidence to bring that psychic structure into compatibility with brain structure. Also, if a mental disorder is theoretically due to a bulging superego or an unruly id, then the problem should clear up nicely in therapeutic practice by cutting those two components down to size. And if the Oedipus complex is truly a central conflict basic to human nature, then the anthropological investigations of Bronislaw Malinowski among the Trobriand Islanders should provide evidence for that fact.
Needless to say, Freudian theory (more precisely, normal science based on the Freudian paradigm) has failed on all these counts. So many of the puzzles defined by the Freudian paradigm have resisted solution so stubbornly that many of its own practitioners have openly recognized its failure. That failure impelled psychoanalyst E. Fuller Torrey to announce that "psychiatry is dying," and by pointing to Kuhn's analysis, Torrey recognizes that the death is a natural process required for scientific progress.2
What exactly is the nature of that process? The question might have already occurred to some readers that if the majority of scientists spend their lives engaged in the activities of normal science, and if those activities do not aim to uncover novelties of fact and theory, how do these novelties ever come to be uncovered? Here we are faced with a seeming paradox because research under normal science, which is basically traditional, designed to promote and substantiate an established theory, does in fact regularly lead to revolutionary discoveries. Scientists systematically discover new and revolutionary facts without ever consciously looking for them. In fact, those discoveries are only possible when scientists are looking for, and expect to find, something else.
The resolution of that paradox comes with the introduction of Kuhn's concept of anomaly as the basis of scientific discovery. The anomalous fact -- the fact that is not anticipated by an established paradigm and which, once discovered, cannot be explained by the conceptual tools the paradigm provides -- can emerge only when normality is well-defined and well-understood. Kuhn explains it this way: "Discovery commences with the recognition of anomaly, i.e., with the recognition that nature has somehow violated the paradigm-induced expectations that govern normal science. It then continues with a more or less extended exploration of the area of anomaly. And it closes only when the paradigm theory has been adjusted so that the anomalous becomes the expected" (page 52).
A case in point is Kuhn's description of the discovery of X-rays. It is worth quoting at length:
Its story opens on the day that the physicist Roentgen interrupted a normal investigation of cathode rays because he had noticed that a barium platino-cyanide screen at some distance from his shielded apparatus glowed when the discharge was in process. Further investigations -- they required seven hectic weeks in which Roentgen rarely left the laboratory --indicated that the cause of the glow came in straight lines from the cathode ray tube, that the radiation cast shadows, could not be deflected by a magnet, and much else besides. Before announcing his discovery, Roentgen had convinced himself that his effect was not due to cathode rays but to an agent with at least some similarity to light...
Roentgen's discovery commenced with the recognition that his screen glowed when it should not. The perception of anomaly -- of a phenomenon, that is, for which his paradigm had not readied the investigator -- played an essential role in preparing the way for perception of novelty...
The decision to employ a particular piece of apparatus and use it in a particular way carries an assumption that only certain sorts of circumstances will arise. There are instrumental as well as theoretical expectations, and they have often played a decisive role in scientific development. Paradigm procedures and applications are as necessary to science as paradigm laws and theories, and they have the same effects. Inevitably they restrict the phenomenological field accessible for scientific investigation at any given time. Recognizing that much, we may simultaneously see an essential sense in which a discovery like X-rays necessitates paradigm change -- and therefore change in both procedures and expectations -- for a special segment of the scientific community. As a result we may also understand how the discovery of X-rays could seem to open a strange new world to many scientists and could thus participate (80)effectively in the crisis that led to twentieth-century physics (p. 57).
This example allows us to isolate the characteristics of the process by which new discoveries lead to paradigm change. It is clear now that the process begins with the initial acceptance of a paradigm theory which establishes a research tradition. The paradigm provides the criterion for selecting the problems to be solved, it provides an assurance that those problems have a solution, it sets out the rules by which those solutions are to be sought and often it provides a prediction of what those solutions will be. Normal science proceeds fairly smoothly in its puzzlesolving endeavor until the anomalous fact appears. But the anomaly can only be identified against the backdrop provided by the paradigm. The more precise and far-reaching the paradigm, the more sensitive an indicator of anomaly it will provide. When scientific expectations are upset by the appearance of anomaly, intense attention is focused on the anomalous fact. Finally, the new paradigm emerges when the old one proves unable to explain the newly discovered phenomenon, no matter how far it is stretched.
Kuhn concludes: "Let me now point out that, recognizing the process, we can at last begin to see why normal science, a pursuit not directed to novelties and tending at first to suppress them, should nevertheless be effective in causing them to arise" (p. 64).
That statement contains the essential feature of the dialectical process. In social development, each stage of society "contains the seeds of its own destruction." In personal development, the undoing of neurosis involves the experiencing of the Pain that produced it in the first place. So in science, apparently, the traditional pursuit of normal science prepares the way for the discovery that will destroy that tradition and establish a new one.
Consider, finally, the discovery of Primal Pain and the formulation of Primal theory with the advantage of understanding the process of scientific discovery. In his introductory pages to The Primal Scream, Dr. Janov describes his reaction to the first Primal he witnessed in one of his conventional therapy groups. It is the reaction of a man totally perplexed by a phenomenon that could not be explained by any theory in his field with which he might be familiar. The discovery was so unsettling, I submit, because it was the identification of the anomalous fact that would require the overthrow of all psychological theory as it was known at the time. Dr. Janov may not have known this in advance, but it was certainly clear to him at the time that something was terribly amiss. Just as "Roentgen's discovery commenced with the recognition that his screen glowed when it should not," Janov's discovery commenced with his recognition that the patient had resolved a Painful memory by crying in agony when he should not. Freudian theory creates the expectation that when defenses are shattered, the malignant forces of the id will be released with horrendous consequences. Dr. Janov's observation that a shattered defense actually yields Primal Pain and its resolution is a direct violation of the theoretical expectations of the Freudian paradigm -- it is the perception of anomaly for which the old paradigm has no explanation. In this regard, it is more than just a coincidence that Dr. Janov, during his career, had read every word that Sigmund Freud had ever written. As Kuhn writes: "Novelty ordinarily emerges only for the man who, knowing with precision what he should expect, is able to recognize that something has gone wrong" (p. 65).
We are now able to see how the discovery of Primal Pain would require the elaboration of a new theory which, if accepted, requires the rejection of all theories that preceded it. The dialectical process requires that this be so. Suppose that scientific progress were not dialectical and that instead it proceeded in a cumulative fashion with the addition of fact upon fact and discovery upon discovery. (Kuhn observes that this is the commonly held view of science which is perpetuated by science textbooks.) If this were so, then all the scientific discoveries and theories developed along the road would remain as building-block foundations of later work. Clearly, however, the acceptance of the Copernican paradigm required the absolute rejection of all geocentric theories of the universe that had preceded it. Similarly, once Newton's theories of optics were generally accepted, there could be no coexistence with previous theories that took light to be something other than what Newton said it was. It is no surprise, then, that the acceptance of Primal theory aa a paradigm in psychology would require the rejection of any other theory that does not view Primal Pain as the fundamental cause of mental illness and its reexperience as the cure. That is what motivated Dr. Janov (unaware at the time of the dynamics of Kuhn's model) to write: "If the laws governing the development of neurosis and psychosis are specific then there can be no leeway, no false modesty or false democratic ideals, all of which would leave room for many approaches to the problem. There can be but one approach."
Those kinds of statements have made Dr. Janov less than well-liked by many of his colleagues. Most psychologists found it exceedingly arrogant for Dr. Janov to speak of having found the cure for neurosis when almost everybody else in the field had already given up looking for one. The despair in psychology has come to be so profound that most psychologists resign themselves to treating symptoms (behaviorists are the most conspicuous example). Some even circumvent the problem altogether by claiming that there is no need for a cure because actually there is no sickness after all. Practitioners with this latter bent take it as their goal to help their patients learn to live happily with their transvestitism, compulsive hand-washing, or whatever their neurotic behavior may be.
But Kuhn's analysis shows that scientific despair -- expressed in psychology as the abandonment of a search for a cure -- takes hold of the practitioners in any field when they are faced with the failure of the paradigm that has guided their work. The state of chaos and disillusionment which always precedes scientific revolutions increases in direct proportion to the inability of the old paradigm to solve the problems it has defined for itself. Kuhn provides a good example of the crisis state in his discussion of the state of astronomy at the time of Copernicus:
In the sixteenth century, Copernicus' co-worker, Domenico da Novara, held that no system so cumbersome and inaccurate as the Ptolemaic had become could possibly be true of nature. And Copernicus himself wrote in the preface to the De Revolutionibus that the astronomical tradition he inherited had finally created only a monster. By the early sixteenth century an increasing number of Europe's best astronomers were recognizing that the astronomical paradigm was failing in application to its own traditional problems. That recognition was a prerequisite for Copernicus' rejection of the Ptolemaic paradigm and his search for a new one. His famous preface still provides one of the classic descriptions of a crisis state (Kuhn, p. 69).
The professional insecurity that grips the practitioners of a science in crisis (as it has in the field of psychology today) always precedes the emergence of new theories. A prerequisite for the emergence of those theories (as in the case of the emergence of new facts) is the profound awareness of anomaly. The result of their emergence is large-scale paradigm destruction and major shifts in the problems and techniques of normal science. In the time between the awareness of anomaly and the completion of the paradigm change, the science exists in a state of extreme crisis that demands resolution. Briefly, we will examine some of the characteristics of that crisis state to see how closely they fit the contemporary condition of psychology.
First, a most common symptom of crisis is the proliferation of different versions of a theory. Kuhn writes, for example: "By the time Lavoisier began his experiments on airs in the early 1770s, there were almost as many versions of the phlogiston theory as there were pneumatic chemists" (p. 70). Today, there are dozens of schools and sub-schools in psychology, some adhering closely to traditional Freudian theory and others veering so far in other directions that their antecedents are hardly recognizable. In this respect, psychology has arrived at a stage resembling that of its pre-paradigm (pre-Freudian) era. Again, there is little agreement as to fundamentals and each theorist is forced to build the field from its beginnings. Increasingly, also, the research guided by the Freudian paradigm has come to resemble that conducted under the competing schools of the pre-paradigm period -- i.e., it is more and more a random venture in which all observable facts seem to have equal relevance. The reason is clear. While the Freudian paradigm operated satisfactorily it was able to fulfill its function in providing the criteria for research and otherwise guiding the activities of normal science. The loss of status of the Freudian paradigm and the resulting proliferation of new theories are, in Kuhn's words, "typical effects of crisis" (Kuhn, p. 72).
A most interesting feature of crisis states -- and the theory proliferation which signals them -- is that they occur no more than a decade or two before the enunciation of the new theory that will eventually replace the old. Kuhn concludes from this that "the novel theory seems a direct response to crisis" (p. 75). Again, the development of psychology follows the pattern closely, although only time will show whether the Primal paradigm is to be accepted as the revolutionary paradigm.
Finally, Kuhn makes a striking statement that allows us to carry the application of his model to the last detail. "These examples [from physics, chemistry and astronomy] share another characteristic that may help to make the case for the role of crisis impressive: the solution to each of them had been at least partially anticipated during a period when there was no crisis in the corresponding science. And in the absence of crisis those anticipations had been ignored" (p. 75). I suggest that in psychology, Primal theory was partly anticipated by the theories of Wilhelm Reich. But Reich was writing at a time when there was still great confidence in the Freudian paradigm and other scientists were too concerned with the actualization of its promise to consider its replacement. The time of crisis had not yet arrived. Psychology was moving quickly because the tools provided by the Freudian paradigm still seemed useful, and its practitioners were employing those tools •with confidence to solve the problems which the paradigm defined. Kuhn writes in conclusion: "As in manufacture, so in science -- retooling is an extravagance to be reserved for the occasion that demands it. The significance of crises is the indication they provide that an occasion for retooling has arrived" (p. 76).
If, as many have claimed, psychology has arrived at the occasion that demands retooling (if it is in a state of crisis), it will be instructive to quote Kuhn's description of how scientists behave when faced with crisis.
Faced with an admittedly fundamental anomaly in theory, the scientist's first effort will often be to isolate it more precisely and give it structure. Though now aware that they cannot be quite right, he will push the rules of normal science harder than ever to see, in the area of difficulty, just where and how far they can be made to work. Simultaneously he will seek for ways of magnifying the breakdown, of making it more striking and perhaps also more suggestive than it had been when displayed in experiments the outcome of which was thought to be known in advance. And in the latter effort, more than in any other part of the post-paradigm development of science, he will almost be like our most prevalent image of the scientist. He will, in the first place, often seem a man searching at random, trying experiments just to see what will happen, looking for an effect whose nature he cannot quite guess. Simultaneously, since no experiment can be conceived without some sort of theory, the scientist in crisis will constantly try to generate speculative theories that, if successful, may disclose the road to a new paradigm, and if unsuccessful, can be surrendered with relative ease (p. 86).
If one equates the therapy room of the contemporary psychologist with the laboratory of the natural scientist in periods of crisis, it can hardly be disputed that both behave the same way --that is, both engage in rather wild experimentation. In fact, the rules of normal science have become so blurred in psychology that the operative expression in the field is "anything goes." Nude therapy, sex therapy, megavitamin therapy, therapy by deprivation, therapy by indulgence, by moderation and by coercion. Who is to say that one is less valid than the other? Dr. Janov exhibited the stab-in-the-dark technique when he asked that patient in his office to call for his parents, not really knowing himself why he was making the request. In the face of the massive failure of traditional psychology, he, like many of his colleagues, was willing to try anything.
But this kind of random poking around, as Kuhn states, leads to the generation of speculative theories to explain the results. The question arises here: how is it possible to value one theory above the other? How, in other words, is the choice made that will show one theory to be better than the rest and thus make it worthy of the loyalty of the entire scientific community rather than just a part of it? In the conflict that exists today among psychological schools, each one claims success for its theory and each one amasses a barrage of evidence to hurl against its competition. But the most distressing thing is that the debate between proponents of opposing schools is often fruitless. It rarely leads to any resolution, it never produces a clearcut vista and it most often serves to further deepen the irreconcilable differences among them. It leads one to doubt whether logical argument could ever serve to win converts from one camp into another and settle the matter definitively. But if the process is not based on logical evaluation, then how does it really come about?
Since we have already seen that the choice of one paradigm means the simultaneous rejection of both its predecessor and its competitors, it is clear that much is at stake in the resolution of the scientific crisis. Imagine if Primal theory were accepted overnight by the entire psychological establishment. It would mean that thousands of analysts would have to give up their hundred-dollar-per-hour practices to undergo their own Primal Therapy, and that many of the practitioners in the human potential movement would have to start putting their clothes back on. Additionally, behaviorists would have to scrap their conditioning shock equipment and all biofeedback machines would have to be sent to museums as relics. In other words, it would not only mean the dismantling of a profession but also the destruction of the personal lives of its practitioners, who would have to make a sudden alteration of their entire view of the world. It would necessitate a basic redefinition of the field because the competing paradigms differ not only in substance but also in the methods, problems and standards of solutions they define. It is no wonder that the theoretical battles are so intense and that the proponents of the old school never give up their paradigm without bitter resistance. Often, in fact, the revolutionary paradigm does not triumph until the death of the scientists of preceding generations.
The acceptance of Primal theory, however, would have a revolutionary impact beyond the field of psychology, and even beyond science altogether. The sociological and political implications of the theory are so vast and so profound that social and political systems would also be endangered by its success. If the theory were widely accepted, society would have to rethink the fundamental tenets for its approach to solving social problems. Prisons, courts, schools, and the agencies of war would become subject to radical alterations. Previous psychological theories have not had revolutionary effects on these institutions because the theories, like the institutions, are repressive. A repressive society requires a repressive psychotherapy (such as behaviorism) to deal with its criminals, drug addicts, and drop-outs. Only Primal Therapy, as a truly liberating process, creates the possibility of a truly liberated society. The repressive forces in society, then, combine with those of the psychological establishment to make the acceptance of Primal theory an arduous battle.
The fact that there is such a battle, however, illustrates another feature of the dialectical process -- the interplay between opposing forces that creates new syntheses. This provides some clue to the nature of the conflict, and in this regard I would again like to quote at length from Kuhn:
To the extent, as significant as it is incomplete, that two scientific schools disagree about what is problem and what a solution, they will inevitably talk through each other when debating the relative merits of their respective paradigms. In the partially circular arguments that regularly result, each paradigm will be shown to satisfy more or less the criteria that it dictates for itself and to fall short of a few of those dictated by its opponent. There are other reasons too for the incompleteness of logical contact that consistently characterizes paradigm debates. For example, since no paradigm ever solves all the problems it defines and since no two paradigms leave all the same problems unsolved, paradigm debates always involve the question: Which problems is it most significant to have solved? Like the issue of competing standards, that question of values can be answered only in terms of criteria that lie outside of normal science altogether, and it is that recourse to external criteria that most obviously makes paradigm debates revolutionary (p. 109-110).
What that paragraph means, in practice, is that a debate between a Primal theorist and a behaviorist is logically impossible as long as the latter does not recognize the inner life of the patient as a legitimate area of scientific concern. In the same way, it is a dead end endeavor for two therapists, one Primal and one Gestalt, to weigh the value of their respective therapeutic techniques as long as the latter does not recognize the overriding importance of the patient's past and gears his therapy instead toward the goal of bringing the patient into "the here and now." And what could possibly be the outcome of a debate between a Primal theorist and a follower of Abraham Maslow as long as the latter firmly believes in the existence of the human need for symmetry, a concept which to the former is an outright absurdity that has no place in his theoretical construct?
Still, this only underscores the vast difficulties in resolving scientific crises. It does not help answer the question: how are paradigm debates resolved? "Part of the answer," Kuhn writes, "is that they are very often not. Copernicanism made few converts for almost a century after Copernicus' death. Newton's work was not generally accepted, particularly on the continent, for more than half a century after the Principia appeared. Priestley never accepted the oxygen theory, nor Lord Kelvin the electromagnetic theory, and so on" (Kuhn, p. 150).
When the current debate in psychology is at its most passionate, the proponents of one school often consider the proponents of all the others as fools. For example, it seems inconceivable and ridiculous from a Primal point of view for a therapist to try to teach a patient how to be more aggressive and self-confident (how to say no and not feel guilty). For the conditioning therapist, of course, the technique is not at all ridiculous because his learning theory tells him that the undesired behavior (timidity, shyness, etc.) was taught, so that it can be untaught while new desired behavior is learned. For the Primal Therapist, the neurotic behavior is seen as a total psycho-physiological response of the organism that simply points to the underlying Pain that caused it and which will not go away at the exhortation of a teacher. It is little wonder that the one is looking at the work of the other as derisively as they would both look at a person who still believed that the world was flat. With the advantage of hindsight, we are all tempted to consider old discarded theories with some amusement and wonder how it could be possible for an intelligent man to believe that hysteria was the result of a wandering uterus. And when we think of Copernicus, for example, we wonder how his contemporaries could have resisted his ideas so stubbornly for so long. We might even accuse the resistant scientists of human folly, of refusing to accept what to us now appears obvious, of not being able to admit their mistakes even when faced with compelling proof.
But Kuhn sees the matter differently: "I would argue that in these matters neither proof nor error is at issue. The transfer of allegiance from paradigm to paradigm is a conversion experience that cannot be forced. Lifelong resistance, particularly from those whose productive careers have committed them to an older tradition of normal science, is not a violation of scientific standards but an index to the nature of scientific research itself. The source of resistance is the assurance that the older paradigm will ultimately solve all its problems, that nature can be shoved into the box the paradigm provides. Inevitably, at times of revolution, that assurance seems stubborn and pigheaded, as indeed it sometimes becomes. But it is also something more. That same assurance is what makes normal or puzzle-solving science possible. And it is only through normal science that the professional community of scientists succeeds, first, in exploiting the potential scope and precision of the older paradigm and, then, in isolating the difficulty through the study of which a new paradigm may emerge" (ibid., p. 151).
Nevertheless, although "resistance is inevitable and legitimate," conversions of the scientific community to revolutionary paradigms do take place sooner or later, and we can now look briefly at the nature of those conversions. For this, I will simply present Kuhn's points, in outline form, from the chapter "The Resolution of Revolutions."
1. "Probably the single most prevalent claim advanced by the proponents of a new paradigm is that they can solve the problems that have led the old one to a crisis. When it can legitimately be made, this claim is often the most effective one possible" (p. 153).
2. "Claims of this sort are particularly likely to succeed if the new paradigm displays a quantitative precision strikingly better than its older competitor" (p. 153).
3. The claim to have solved the crisis-provoking problem is, however, rarely sufficient by itself. Nor can it always legitimately be made...Sometimes the looser practice that characterizes extraordinary research will produce a candidate for paradigm but initially helps not at all with the problems that have evoked crisis. When that occurs, evidence must be drawn from other parts of the field as it often is anyway. In those areas, particularly persuasive arguments can be developed if the new paradigm permits the prediction of phenomena that had been entirely unsuspected while the old one prevailed" (p. 154).
4. "All the arguments for a new paradigm discussed so far have been based on the competitor's comparative ability to solve problems. To scientists those arguments are ordinarily the most significant and persuasive. But...they are neither individually nor collectively impelling. Fortunately, there is also another sort of consideration that can lead scientists to reject an old paradigm in favor of a new. These are the arguments, rarely made entirely explicit, that appeal to the individual's sense of the appropriate or the aesthetic -- the new theory is said to be 'neater,' 'more suitable,' or 'simpler' than the old. Probably such arguments are less effective in the sciences than in mathematics" (p. 155).
Kuhn's last point is crucial and it should be noted carefully. The reasons for it are explained below:
When a new candidate for paradigm is first proposed, it has seldom solved more than a few of the problems that confront it, and most of those solutions are still far from perfect... Ordinarily, it is only much later after the new paradigm has been developed, accepted and exploited that apparently decisive arguments ...are developed. Producing them is part of normal science and their role is not in paradigm debate but in post-revolutionary texts.
Before those texts are written, while the debate goes on, the situation is very different. Usually the opponents of a new paradigm can legitimately claim that even in the area of crisis it is little superior to its traditional rival. Of course, it handles some problems better, has disclosed some new regularities. But the older paradigm can presumably be articulated to meet these challenges as it has met others before...In short, if a new candidate for paradigm had to be judged from the start by hard-headed people who examined only relative problem-solving ability, the sciences would experience very few major revolutions. Add the counter-arguments generated by what we previously called the incommensurability of paradigms, and the sciences might experience no revolutions at all.
But paradigm debates are not really about relative problem-solving activity...Instead, the issue is which paradigm should in the future guide research on problems, many of which neither competitor can yet claim to resolve completely. A decision between alternate ways of practicing science is called for, and in the circumstances that decision must be based less on past achievement than on future promise. The man who embraces a new paradigm at an early stage must often do so in defiance of the evidence provided by problem-solving. He must, that is, have faith that the new paradigm will succeed with the many large problems that confront it, knowing only that the older paradigm has failed with a few. A decision of that kind can only be made on faith...
This is not to suggest that new paradigms triumph ultimately through some mystical aesthetic. On the contrary, very few men desert a tradition for these reasons alone ...But if a paradigm is ever to triumph it must gain some first supporters, men who will develop it to the point where hardheaded arguments can be produced and multiplied. And even those arguments, when they come, are not individually decisive. Because scientists are reasonable men, one or another argument will ultimately persuade many of them. But there is no single argument that can or should persuade them all. Rather than a single group conversion, what occurs is an increasing shift in the distribution of professional allegiances" (ibid., p. 156).
Now, finally, we are ready to ask questions of the Primal paradigm that will give us the proper indication of its strength and validity as a candidate to replace the Freudian paradigm and unite, once again, the scientific psychological community. What were the problems that led the Freudian paradigm into crisis, and can the Primal paradigm legitimately claim to solve those problems? What problems, on the other hand, were resolved under the Freudian paradigm but are left unresolved by the Primal paradigm? What predictions can be derived from the Primal paradigm that are not the same as those derived from the Freudian? And what experiments should be devised to test those predictions? What areas of inquiry -- what part of the observable data -- seem important under the Primal paradigm but irrelevant under the Freudian, and vice versa? What new areas of difficulty are opened up under Primal theory that did not exist under the other theory? Can experiments be devised that would supply empirical evidence giving the Primal paradigm a quantitative precision superior to its competitors? How useful can we claim the Primal paradigm to be in providing the criteria to guide normal research in the field? What kind of research questions does it suggest and what are the ways in which experiment could bring Primal theory into a closer fit with nature? And finally, are the questions that the Primal paradigm is uniquely equipped to solve the ones that it is most significant to have solved?
Some of the answers to some of these questions have already been provided by Dr. Janov in his previous works. The rest will have to remain for future essays. I would only like to make a personal observation that brings us to a point that Kuhn does not discuss. That is, simply, that I personally do not need any arguments to convince me of the accuracy and validity of Primal Therapy. My own experience in the therapy has been more than convincing. That experience simultaneously provides me with an intuition about the limitations of other therapies. Dozens of Primals over the past year and a half have steadily and permanently reduced a tortuous anxiety that had been acute and constant for about four years before I started therapy. That anxiety had proven formidably resistant to the attacks of other non-Primal therapies. And now, knowing the feelings that were the basis of that anxiety, I can see clearly the patent absurdity of trying to massage or meditate or teach that anxiety to go away. In other words, the consciousness that I have gained through therapy dissipates any need I might have had for proof of Dr. Janov's theoretical statement that "tension is feeling disconnected from consciousness."
The crucial point here, however, is spotlighted by the very way I phrased the previous sentence. I wrote that experience "dissipates the need for proof," as if scientific proof and personal experience were mutually exclusive concepts. I am aware that I wrote the previous paragraph with the assumption that a hard-nosed scientific type may find it interesting, but would certainly not accept my little testimonial as any kind of proof for the theory. My statements are much too subjective, and my personal experience would first have to be objectified (comparing my pre-and post-Primal tension levels through vital sign measurements, for example) before it could be included as valid data for scientific argument.
Dr. Janov has already stated that his discovery of Primal Pain was possible only because he bothered to listen to what his patients had to tell him. Above anything else, he used the hundreds of personal experiences related by his patients as the raw data from which he derived his theoretical constructs. And now that the theory and the research program are in more advanced stages of development, he continues to rely on the personal experience of his patients, both as validations of the established hypotheses and as guides to further theoretical refinements. In this regard, he writes:
We must understand that statistics are not synonymous with science. Too often we rely on statistics to try to prove what we can't feel. We fail to understand that feelings validate -- that feelings are not something to be shunted away as irrational and unreasoning; if something feels right to a feeling person, it is likely to be right, especially when we are talking about human endeavors. Statistics measure quantities, not qualities; and feelings are qualities of being.
This discussion requires an important distinction which hinges on the crucial phrase from the preceding quote: "to a feeling person." Patients in other types of therapies have often claimed that their "experience" in the therapy has radically altered their lives and made them better. Additionally, religious people often offer their personal "experience" of God as proof of his existence. And they claim, furthermore, that people who have not had a "spiritual experience" would never be persuaded of religious truths. Is not this type of experience equally as valid as that of Primal patients, and does it not offer proof for the particular mode of therapy or style of religion it is called upon to justify? The answer can be found in the very definition of neurosis as a disconnection from feeling. Neurotics are people who did not fully experience their past and therefore do not fully experience their present. How can we accept the experience of an unfeeling person as proof of anything when that person is disconnected from the very core of his experience -- his feelings? The Primal experience is the only valid one because it is complete.
Clearly, if access to feelings can serve as validation of Primal theory, then lack of access serves as de facto invalidation. A scientist who does not have even minimum access to his feelings does not have the necessary condition for proof of a psychological theory that claims that "neurosis is a disease of feeling" (Janov).
It should be clear from the above that to convince a non- feeling scientist of the validity of Primal Therapy is a problem that somehow transcends argument and proof in a way much more profound than Kuhn states. For if a psychologist is to accept the validity of Primal theory, he must accept the fact that he himself is neurotic. Moreover, intellectual arguments advanced by a scientist to discredit Primal theory can often be part of his personal defense structure and are thus totally immune to logic. We know that Pain, when repressed, can produce highly convoluted webs of ideation which can only be removed by experiencing the Pain that produced them. When that ideation takes the form of a paranoid idea, it is not difficult to see that it is a neurotic symptom. When it takes the form of a psychological theory the problem becomes very complex.
This suggests that Primal theory will eventually have much to contribute to the sociology of knowledge. It also adds a new dimension to the problem of paradigm debate that could never before have been considered in the history of science. Kuhn explains how profound an experience the conversion to a new theory can be. He describes it as an entire shift in an individual's view of the world, a truly unsettling process. "It is," he writes, "rather as if the professional community had been suddenly transported to another planet where familiar objects are seen in a different light and are joined by unfamiliar ones as well" (Kuhn, p. 111). And elsewhere, Kuhn adds:
To make the transition to Einstein's universe, for example, the whole conceptual web whose strands are space, time, matter, force, and so on, had to be shifted and laid down again on nature whole. Only men who had together undergone or failed to undergo that transformation would be able to discover precisely what they agreed or disagreed about...Consider, for another example, the men who called Copernicus mad because he proclaimed that the earth moved. They were not either just wrong or quite wrong. Part of what they meant by 'earth' was fixed position. Their earth, at least, could not be moved. Correspondingly, Copernicus' innovation was not simply to move the earth. Rather it was a whole new way of regarding the problems of physics and astronomy, one that necessarily changed the meaning of both 'earth' and 'motion.' Without those changes, the concept of a moving earth was mad (p. 149-150).
Clearly, those kinds of shifts in world view are mind-boggling, even when what is involved is a change in the view of some part of the external universe -- the heavens, or a falling body, or chemicals in solution. In psychology, however, the object of observation is the individual, his behavior as well as his inner life. If changing one's view of how the heavens operate can be a disturbing experience, how much more disturbing must it be to change one's view of how man operates? Apart from the resistance that we now know to be an essential element of scientific change, the fact that man was the object of question was a major reason Freud's theories caused such an intense reaction. But still, no matter how difficult it may have been, the acceptance of the Freudian subconscious could be accomplished without requiring the individual to change himself substantially. What possible consequences, after all, could be contained in a person's admission that she (or he) was envious of a penis? How could this change the person's life? Obviously, the changes would be restricted to the realm of ideas. Penis envy is an idea. To accept it requires a conceptual adjustment that could be carried out leaving the core of the person's personality in place.
To believe in Freud, one must believe that somewhere inside himself there lurks an id that is the seat of murderous and perverse impulses. That is not a pleasant thought, but neither does it seem to pose imminent personal danger. Note with what facility and frequency perfectly wholesome characters on television confess a profound insight: "You know, there's a little bit of the murderer in all of us." A bit frightening, maybe. But so what? The Freudian subconscious, in short, takes on such grotesque fairy-tale qualities that it can easily be accepted by everybody and still remain at a remote arm's length from personal reality.
On the other hand, to believe in Primal theory, one must squarely face the fact that inside him lies the hurt and need and despair of his childhood. Analysis only requires one to talk about feelings. In Primal Therapy one is required to feel them. To undergo the therapy requires a thorough transformation of how one looks at his life and how one lives it as well. An indication of the depth of this experience is provided by the evidence that Primal Therapy produces physiological changes in the brain, something which psychoanalytic insight could never do. To accept Primal theory, then, is to accept a personal truth that is more devastating than any ever discovered in the history of man and science. The revolution of the paradigm conflict in psychology today, therefore, is made doubly difficult if the Primal paradigm is held up as the alternative paradigm. Then the final revolution would require a shift in man's view of himself: a shift that undermines both the security previously provided by his confidence in his own sanity, and the comfort inherent in his concepts of insanity.
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