One morning in 1970 John Lennon received a book through the post
— The Primal Scream by Arthur Janov. The book's subtitle was Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis. After John's disillusionment with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation, this new method of psychotherapy became the 'The Next Big Thing' for him. Soon, Arthur Janov was invited to spend three weeks at John & Yoko's home at Tittenhurst Park in order to demonstrate his therapy method. Not long after, John Lennon & Yoko Ono travelled to Los Angeles to experience a course of Primal Therapy at Arthur Janov's Primal Institute.
What happened next is outlined below using extracts from a book,
The Love You Make: An insider's story of The Beatles, co-authored by Peter Brown and Steven Gaines, a music industry biographer and journalist.
Peter Brown was a manager in the Epstein family business in Liverpool before Brian Epstein discovered The Beatles. Later, he became part of the Beatles' management team and was eventually appointed Executive Director of Apple Corp., the Beatles' financial organization. He was best man (and the only guest) at John Lennon & Yoko Ono's marriage ceremony in Gibraltar. After the group broke up, Peter Brown accepted a job with a music industry management agency in New York and got an apartment overlooking Central Park. When John & Yoko visited him there they liked the view so much they wanted one like it, and found an apartment nearby in Dakota Mansions — where John Lennon was shot in 1980.
There's a section about Primal Therapy in the book spanning pages 326-330 in the paperback edition. Peter Brown writes: "For nearly three months they spent two half days a week in therapy with Janov." Unlike other patients, many of whom had to stay in seedy lodgings, John and Yoko rented a house with a swimming pool in Beverley Hills. [or in Bel Air according to other biographers]
There came a moment of disillusionment with Janov. According to John, one day Janov appeared at a therapy session with two 16mm cameras. John wouldn't even consider having his session recorded. "I'm not going to be filmed," John said, "especially not rolling around on the floor screaming."
According to John, Janov started to berate them. "Some people are so big they won't be filmed," Janov said. Janov said that it was coincidental that he was filming the session, and it had nothing to do with John and Yoko's fame. "Who are you kidding, Mr Janov?" John said. "[You] just happen to be filming the session with John and Yoko in it." ”
The authors have a lot of praise for the so-called "primal" album, Plastic Ono Band, but it's clear from the events which happened later that the beneficial effects of primal therapy didn't last. According to Peter Brown, by 1972 John Lennon had become addicted to heroin or methadone [He couldn't confirm which it was. Page 327]. In 1973 John Lennon separated from Yoko for more than a year and lived in Los Angeles with May Pang, a period that the mass media portrayed as an alcoholic haze marked by bizarre antics in public places. On page 375 Peter Brown writes:
There's a http://debunkingprimaltherapy.com website, to which I contributed book quotes, including the ones on this page.