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Emotional Fitness

Janice Berger with Harry Hall
2000, Prentice Hall Canada

Reviewed by Sam Turton

Janice Berger is a Canadian psychotherapist and IPA member practicing just north of Toronto. Her book is a very warm, well-written introduction to the vital importance of feelings and the primal process, which she calls Deep Emotional Processing Therapy.

Rather than using a cumbersome, pseudo-scientific writing style typical of psychology books, Berger simply speaks to you. And instead of the usual little symbols and footnotes, she has a suggested reading list of important authors such as Arthur Janov, Alice Miller, Jean Jenson, Aletha Solter, John Bradshaw, and Harville Hendrix. This is a book for people, although it will also give the academics and medical professionals something to think about.

The first section deals with basic theory and practice, while the last portion is devoted to the trigger-happy domain of relationships. The body of the book, however, is a unique departure, and deals exclusively with feeling states. In fifteen sections, with many client stories, Berger touches on need, worthlessness, shame, guilt, anxiety, fear, panic, anger, powerlessness, hurt, regret, grief, loneliness, numbness, deadness, and flatness. Everyone can find themselves in this book! And it is presented in such a non-intimidating, common-sense manner that it is ideal to give to friends and family so they can better understand the process you are undertaking.

Primal veterans will not find many surprises here, but it's always refreshing to see through a different author's eyes. Rather than nitty-gritty session reports by clients, the case histories are general overviews by the therapist where the actual process of the feeling work is only hinted at. No doubt this is because Berger seems to feel that therapeutic guidance is necessary at the early stages, and I agree. Her main thesis, however, is that deep emotional work is a natural process that our biology needs to complete, and is not the sole domain of experts. It is a healing power we all possess.

Janice Berger has added a book to the primal library that belongs in our minds, on our shelves, and in the hands of everyone who can read.

Emotional Fitness is presently only available in Canada, but can be ordered on-line at

This article appeared in the Fall 2001 IPA Newsletter.

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