Scream Therapy (Primal Therapy)

Scream therapy received a lot of buzz in the 1970s. Since then it has gone out of mainstream favor but is still practiced today. It is most often called Primal Therapy. The originator is Dr. Arthur Janov who believes that when we are growing up we do not always get our needs met, and that causes us pain. If the pain is not expressed, it becomes imprinted in our body.

Repressed pain can cause mental, emotional, and physical health problems. Scream therapy practitioners gradually take clients back in time to re-experience their pain. Re-living the pain is called a Primal and it gives clients access to their emotional brain. Dr. Janov does not believe talking, alone, goes deep enough to release the imprint of our personal history.

Dr. Janov’s Proof

For proof that each of us carries the imprint of our life in the body, Dr. Janov witnessed and filmed two patients who were spontaneously reliving the trauma of anoxia at birth (too little oxygen). This took place at the UCLA Pulmonary Laboratory. Blood gases, oxygen levels, and physical posturing were all measured during the hour and a half Primal experience.

All the data collected by Janov (and others, see below) paralleled what a baby leaving the womb would go through during anoxia. Both patients had been imprinted with that experience when their mothers received too much anesthesia during childbirth, reducing oxygen flow to their babies. The two patients could not have manipulated or faked the complex data taken.

In 1984, a study revealed that though trauma early in life depresses a person’s serotonin level, a course of scream therapy brings that level back to normal. Another study found this therapy enhances the immune system.


Dr. Janov teaches that scream therapy works because during a Primal the right and left, top and bottom areas of the brain are integrated. The parts of the brain can then communicate and effectively process the painful issue. This allows the client to express or “scream” away the pain.

Scream therapy starts with three weeks of individual counseling and is followed by individual, group, phone, or Skype sessions. There is talking involved in scream therapy but the point of it is to find the pain and release it.

If you want more details regarding this therapy, takes you to Dr. Janov’s site where you can watch extensive videos presented by himself and others.

Note: Dr. Janov’s associates during UCLA study: Dr. Donald Tashkin, UCLA director; Dr. Eric Kleerup and M.B. Dauphinee, pulmonary scientists.

photo by Crosathorian


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