Tribute to John C. Pierrakos, MD: My Healing Journey with John (Learning to Love)

~Pam Chubbuck PhD  © 2006, rev 2015

It was 1969. I was in pastoral training in Washington, DC; young, scared, numb, the mother of three young boys and in a bad marriage. I was desperately trying to come alive out of my numbness – and seeking God somehow. I was studying holistic spiritual counseling. My friends Ann and Danny heard that John Pierrakos, a holistic and spiritual psychiatrist, was giving a workshop in Massachusetts. John had a reputation for seeing and doing things that others could not – seeing energy, for example. His work was known to be strong, deep and to the point. We jumped into Danny’s truck and arrived late that night. Next morning as we sat in a circle, my heart pounded louder the closer to my turn it was. All I remember was feeling terrified. When I spoke all I could say was – “I’m scared.” John was the last person to speak. He looked directly at me and said, “I’m scared, too.” What a relief! The eminent psychiatrist was scared; it must be OK for me to be afraid, too.

3772649The next time I saw John was in Phoenicia, NY at The Center of the New Age of Man. (Later to become The Phoenicia Pathwork Center.) My pastoral training class was there to do a training workshop with him. In the group I hesitated, fearful, until the last moment. Finally I volunteered to work. I needed help to come alive.

As part of the process of Bioenergetics and Core Energetics, John had me work with my body on a mattress – kicking, hitting and yelling. I felt better. Relieved. Then, near the end of my session, a moment came when John leaned over my face and looked deeply into my eyes. I immediately and spontaneously wept. In that instant I knew that I had never been looked at with such love by my mother. It was both terribly painful and healing. I suddenly had hope. “Such love exists,” my heart said, “This love can heal me.”

I knew then that I would continue my work with John to heal my pain and open myself more fully to love. I did not know then that my relationship with him would span over three decades, and transform my life. I could not have imagined that John Pierrakos would become my therapist, mentor, colleague and then, my good friend.

John co-created Bioenergetic Analysis with Alexander Lowen, MD. He was just beginning to create Core Energetics when I began to study in professional groups with him several times a year. I continued learning in this way for ten years. It would be many more years before Core Energetics had an official training program. Those early years were a tremendously exciting time to be involved in this process. I knew John before he met and married Eva. Their love and connection expanded and unified both of their work. Eva’s spiritual Pathwork and John’s body-oriented Core Energetics integrated as their relationship unified with each other and with God.

John used his knowledge of the human energy field and the chakras to assist him inJohnYounger (b0,c0) helping people heal. Back in the 70’s this was very innovative. John was able to see and perceive the human energy field and the chakras. John taught us to perceive and measure energy and to understand the psychodynamics the measurements indicated, as he was making those discoveries himself. The medical profession was not yet ready for his teachings, John told me one day when I asked why he wasn’t speaking about what he knew at medical meetings. It would take another 15 years for the world to seek John’s knowledge. At the end of his life John had professional Core Energetics International Training programs in Australia, Canada, Europe, Mexico, South America and United States..

One could only become a patient of John’s if he accepted you. I asked him on two separate occasions a year apart before he agreed to work with me. I then worked with John for ten years, traveling once a month to New York from Virginia for a two hour session. A session with John was worth months of therapy elsewhere. The sessions consisted of deep bodywork and equally deep analysis of where I was holding back my Life Force and why. John taught me how to work with my Mask (false self), my wounded-ness (my Lower Self), and the divine nature of my human being (my Higher Self or Core self).

John taught me that I could not fully experience my spiritual core until I worked to uncover the way I cheated my Life Force — the way I held back my true self. He asked me, “How do you kill your Life Force? How do you kill your loving feelings?” By asking that, he meant how did I stop my energy flow. I was the one who stopped it now and I could not blame anyone else, past or present. John would tell his students, “The tragedy is not what happened to you as a child; the tragedy is that you cannot give or receive love now.”

John showed me that in order to experience my divine spiritual nature, I must uncover and expose my hidden wounds and express my negative feelings fully. John taught me to look for my distortions about life; how I drew negativities to myself, and how to work toward changing that. He taught me that I was the creator of my own reality and that I must take 100% responsibility for my life, and that by doing so I would experience a most wonderful freedom. John taught me to risk opening my heart to give love and accept love, and that I must make moment-to-moment choices to keep opening to love even when the going got rough. John taught me that I am a divine being, a woman of God.

After I was certified as a Bioenergetics Therapist I continued working with John. My life had changed dramatically for the better. I felt good most of the time. Stronger. Healthier. I had better relationships and more love in my life. I learned to forgive my parents for being human. No, they were not perfect, but they were divine. I apprenticed with John for 20 years as I followed him to workshops and classes, watching and listening. I became a Core Energetics Practitioner and later an international trainer, because I observed and came to know, that helping people in this way was the most exciting, rewarding service I could imagine.

John walked his talk. He did his work and asked for help when he needed to. John taught that in a therapeutic relationship both people are learning and neither is better or worse than the other. John taught that working through the heart and connecting from Core to Core is the best way to assist someone. (CORE = Center of Right Energy)

John Pierrakos was a genius with a heart. He was a pioneer in the holistic practice of medicine and psychology. He is known worldwide for being the first western psychiatrist to bridge psychology and spirituality. He taught me that love is the only energy in the universe. Everything else is a distortion – a cry for love. John taught me to surrender to my body, and to be human as well as divine.

John taught me to stay the course, and not to believe in my demons – the ones who want to keep me stuck, but to believe in my Core, my Higher Self and my spiritual longings. Most importantly he taught me that life is a spiritual evolutionary process; that everything (especially the most difficult challenges), is an opportunity for me to become more conscious.

As I teach and do my best to live Core Energetics, I especially pray to embody John’s basic teachings about love and the importance of working with our bodies to gain health.

My life’s work is to help people love and heal. I am grateful to John for his teaching so that I may pass on his loving energy to others. Thank you John. Godspeed.



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