Who Failed Philip Seymour Hoffman?
A few days ago, when I read about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, I got a flashback of his alternating unscrupulous and unhappy action in the movie “The Scent of a Woman” from the early nineties. His charming, open cheeky grin, on the verge of tears and anguish, was etched in my memory. The painful question of his tragic death became, intuitively, easy to understand.
Two days before Art Janov wrote about Hoffman, in a Reflection I interpret as a disguised PR for the treatment monopoly at the Primal Center, I had in my mind made my own similar reflection over his fate with repressed traumas. They had driven him through a career filled with the need for love and appreciation. Only superficially and temporarily, his acting career could satisfy his early imprinted needs / traumas in an uneven battle against worsening symptoms.
Those who once had been closest to Hoffman, his parents, had “failed” him. First in the early stages as fetus and newborn and later as a divorce child at an early age. Both his ambitious and screwed up parents certainly had been let down / “failed” by their backgrounds and suffered from traumas which the expertise, around the time of the creation of Primal Therapy, had only begun to deal with, with psychotherapeutic means.
The consequences that the parents had “failed” Hoffman was taken care of by, evolutionary, pain-relieving neuroses. This neurosis propelled him into a successful career, a vicious spiral of euphoria and increasingly painful anxiety. A trap and lifestyle made for serotonin supplements and quick drugs, including heroin. As an actor, Hoffman got 20 years of great successes alternating with deep depressions.
I think it is incorrect of Art Janov to say that all treatments, Hoffman underwent, "failed" him since they were unable to help him re-live his, presumed, early trauma. Probably just as incorrect as to say that Primal Therapy / Art Janov have “failed” all therapists who honestly and ambitiously is making efforts to cure mental pain because, they are not given the opportunity and / or the confidence to access the treatment methods, built on the Primal Principle. Primal Therapy, if developed under holistic considerations, might be used on more than a single isolated clinic in Venice, LA.
A variety of interdisciplinary research has, over the past decades, solved enigmas that have not been due solely to complex technical problems. They have had their roots in cultural, semantic, historical and organizational reasons etc.. It is seldom that a scientist, locked into his technical niche, arrive at the idea to “apply his scientific neurons and synapses to real experiences”. It is e.g. not a question of talent, memory capacity or stubbornness that a Chinese can remember three times as many digits as an American. The research had to look at causes entirely different.
To read i.e. Malcolm Gladwell’s books, about finding out of things real meaning and consequences, is a fascinating eye-opener. They give great hope that a leap even within the psychotherapeutic treatment will eventually occur when someone dares to develop The Primal Principle / Evolution in Reverse in a way so that it becomes a safe and obvious choice even outside the Primal Center.
That PT has not happened on a large scale, so far, has not been caused by that someone has “failed”. Things take time to realize.