Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Primal Scream

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 01 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e696
  1. Premkumar Jeyapaul, consultant psychiatrist for older adults, Salisbury Community Mental Health Team, and cognitive analytical therapist
  1. prem.jeyapaul{at}

So called primal therapy was pioneered by Dr Arthur Janov in the late 1960s. He describes it as a natural therapy based on his hypothesis that most psychological disturbances are disorders of feeling that can be traced back to the traumas of conception and childbirth.

Janov’s belief challenged and contradicted classical Freudian and neo-Freudian schools of thought, which suggested that we are born neurotic and with a healthy set of defence mechanisms that enable us to function well in society. However, primal therapy is based on the assumption that we …

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