What does Primal Therapy have to do with science? To illustrate how applying principles of Dr. Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy can provide additional information that’s relevant to recent scientific research, let’s start with the How do we assess “importance” in our lives? An example from scientists’ research choices study.
Do you agree that a person’s need to feel important can drive their choices in their career and personal life? Although this wasn’t explored by the study, the subject scientists’ needs to feel important were likely the underlying impetus for why they shaped their careers to become the Big Frogs in tiny puddles.
Do you agree that an individual’s need to feel important is NOT a basic human need on the same level as nourishment, protection, and socialization? How do people develop this need?
The view of Primal Therapy is that the need to feel important arose from perhaps hundreds of early experiences during infancy and early childhood when a child was made to feel unimportant by the behavior of the people who mattered the most to them at the time. It’s a need created from the pain instilled by caregivers when they didn’t fulfill a child’s real needs such as food and touch.
Can the regular scientific methodologies be used to research the origins of the need to feel important?
- It would be unethical to develop proof by depriving human children of their basic needs.
- Would a survey of parents and other caregivers discover factual histories of how they treated their infants and young children? Good luck with that.
- Could researchers use an approach such as the Early emotional experiences change our brains: Childhood maltreatment is associated with reduced volume in the hippocampus study, which used the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire and Adverse Childhood Experiences questionnaire? Answers to these aren’t reliable self-reports of experiences during the 1,365 days from conception through age 3, which is when the need to feel important likely begins to develop.
- Because biology can’t always inform us about behavior, animal studies couldn’t provide direct evidence for the origins of this human need. The most relevant animal study I’ve curated was The effects of early-life stress are permanent alterations in the child’s brain circuitry and function where the researchers used an indirect approach:
“The current study manipulates the type and timing of a stressor and the specific task and age of testing to parallel early-life stress in humans reared in orphanages. The results provide evidence of both early and persistent alterations in amygdala circuitry and function following early-life stress.
These effects are not reversed when the stressor is removed nor diminished with the development of prefrontal regulation regions.”
Do the impacts of early experiences of hunger affect our behavior, thoughts, and feelings today? is one of the studies that showed several other ways people are impelled to develop substitute needs now for what they really needed back in their early lives.
But relieving an itchy symptom (a substitute need) doesn’t resolve its cause (the impact of an early unfulfilled need.)
A principle of Primal Therapy is that with a lessened impact of early unmet needs, people will feel less impetus to fulfill substitute needs – such as the need to feel important.
So welcome to the Surface Your Real Self blog! I’m sure you will find some topics that interest you.