The Hurting

Album: The Hurting (1983)
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Songfacts®:

  • This is the title track of The Hurting, a concept album about the writings of psychologist Arthur Janov, the evangelist of suppressed childhood trauma and developer of primal scream therapy. Roland Orzabal explained to Mojo magazine December 2013 why he and his Tears for Fears partner Curt Smith connected with Janov: "Curt and I were council house kids," he said. "Not easy upbringings. There was illness with Curt's father. Illness, and mental illness with mine, and domestic violence between him and my mother. Both middle children of three boys. We identified with Janov's beliefs, that the child is the victim, in a sense, and all the traumas of your childhood, even pre-natal, form your personality and are the cause of neurosis and depression in later life."
  • Primal scream therapy was a type of physiotherapy in which patients, often in groups, were encouraged to scream and behave violently to relive birth and the sufferings of infancy. The treatment was named by Janov in his 1970 book Primal Scream. John Lennon and Yoko Ono were among the well-known experimenters and several of the songs the former Beatle wrote in the early 1970s were inspired by his experience of the therapy, including "Mother" and "Working Class Hero."
  • Orzabal and Smith soured a bit on Janov after the psychologist came to one of their shows in the mid-'80s. "For us, it was sort of like meeting your hero at that point of time," Curt told Consequence of Sound in 2014. "So we went out to lunch with him, and the entire lunch revolved around the fact that he would like us to write a musical about primal therapy. And that's why it was too Hollywood for us. Which, by the way, he has now done. We just saw posters. I was cracking up. Roland called me and said, 'Do you realize there is a primal therapy musical now?' And David Foster has done it with him."
  • After Smith had kids, he became even less enthralled with Janov's theories. He explained: "One of Arthur Janov’s primary ideas is that children come in as a blank slate, and now having had children, I know that’s absolutely not the case. Your DNA is running through them whether you like it or not, and they can turn out differently. I have two kids. One is exactly like me, and one’s exactly like my wife, and we deal with that in two different ways. These are traits they have that I knew I had when I was a kid, so they wouldn't know about it."
  • In the album's liner notes, Orzabal explained how the song came together: "Curt went to see the Thompson Twins when they were a seven-piece, and as he was telling me about it, I was playing it on the guitar - 'What? Like this?' - and that's how it started. The lyric? Typical feeling sorry for oneself and typical identification with the victim that runs throughout the album!"
  • This was used in the 2006 comedy-drama The Lather Effect, starring Connie Britton and Tate Donovan. That same year, it was featured in the comedy-drama Starter For 10, starring James McAvoy as a first-year college student in 1985.

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