PRI, live life from love, compassion and connection

PRI and suicide

The article starts with a reference to the consulting room of the therapist writing the article.

The client, a woman in the prime of her life who got married that year, casually mentions her intention of buying a shredder. This alerts the therapist who asks why she bought it, in order to know more. It appears the client wants to end her life and has the plan mapped out already: how and when. She talks about it without any visible feelings, as if it’s not about her.
As the therapist is genuinely touched, she feels compassionate and manages to establish a connection with the client, throws a life-line as it were. She explains that these feelings of inferiority, uselessness are an illusion. She helps the client to breathe and life flows back into her. The therapist realizes, once again, how important this information is for everyone, and colleagues in the field in particular.
The writer/therapist continues by explaining that these feelings of inadequacy, inferiority are in fact a defence-mechanism which, paradoxical as it may sound, once saved our lives but have now become life-threatening as they make us think that the world would be better off without us. When we’re captured in this mechanism, called Primary Defence, we are convinced that we’re unable to cope with what’s happening in the present (being laid off, a divorce or children leaving home to go to college), without being aware of the real source of the problem. This then may lead people to consider and commit suicide. Awful suffering, an unnecessary loss of a life, with devastating consequences for the ones who are left behind.

Past Reality Integration (PRI)

Primary Defence is a concept in the PRI method, which was developed by the Dutch psychologist Ingeborg Bosch (
PRI is a method which shows how defence mechanisms influence one’s life in negative way.
Old defence mechanisms are activated when in the present something (unconsciously) touches upon a situation that was life-threatening in the past and could not be properly processed in the brain. The perception and experience of the situation here and now are (unconsciously) coloured by the painful experience in the past that was repressed. So many unconscious processes! While we think we see the present for what it is, we’re actually held hostage by an illusion which is coloured by the past. Living in this illusion (defence) usually isn’t appropriate and may even be destructive, as is the case here with this Primary Defence.

PRI tells you how you can liberate yourself from these defences. Primary Defence, if mildly active, may incur slight feelings of insecurity, shame, guilt and light mood problems. In a severe form, however, it may lead to suicidal thoughts or concrete plans to commit suicide.

Statistics in the Netherlands

In 2013, 1853 people killed themselves in the Netherlands alone. That is four deaths a day. There are 100.00 suicide attempts in the country every year. It is the number one cause of death among young people between the age of 20 and 25. Every half hour a high school student makes an attempt. These are alarming numbers to which no adequate answer seems to have been found yet.

No connection

It appears that people who commit suicide, no longer experience any connection with other people. They may cry for help, but if this is or appears not to be heard, it may result in their suicide, as they may have felt that “nobody cares”. Very often, however, there are people who do care, but the layer of Primary Defence can be so impenetrable, that it may not be heard or received. It’s very important for people who have lost loved ones to suicide not to blame themselves or feel guilty. They’ve probably done what they could. For similar situations in the future, though, it’s good for them and all of us, to realize that these feelings of inadequacy are a defence-mechanism against old pain. These can be activated by situations in the present (called Symbols in PRI) such as divorce, bullying, negative body image, problems at work, and so on. Yet the feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, being unable to cope, which are activated, don’t belong in the present and are reflections of the situation in the past. The defence makes it impossible to see the present, situation in its true proportions.
If only people would know this, they could become more aware and realize there is help at hand.

Another example

The writer gives another example of a 19-year-old boy who starts wandering near the railway line every time he thinks things aren’t working out with his girlfriend. In therapy, it appears that the idea of his girlfriend leaving him, is directly related to having been deserted as a child. For a child, this experience is devastating, and feels “for ever”. This gives the client the illusion that if his girlfriend left him, his life would be pointless and there would never be anyone for him.

Good news

The good news is, that once we’ve grown up, it can never be as hopeless as it was back then, when we were small and completely dependent. As adults, we always have a choice, we have a sense of time and the possibility to see things in perspective. If a relationship ends, no matter how painful that may be, there will be other (nice) girls and we don’t need to end our lives for that. We can access the old pain underneath and see the present for what it really is.


May this information about PRI reach more and more people. This knowledge can be crucial and literally life-saving when somebody receives it in his darkest hour. If they can then realize that these feelings are nothing but a lid on the old, painful feelings from their youth, long past, it could make the difference between life and death.

Investigate if this can be true. Read one of the books by Ingeborg Bosch. Watch the videos from PRI on You-Tube or It may save your own life or that of someone you love.

filmpje suicide en

Read more ...