As time goes on and I learn more about the human condition, I have decided to share some of my thoughts on what we are all about. I will publish my reflections on this blog, hopefully to enlarge our understanding of what makes us human. Art Janov

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Compulsion: Another Brilliant Piece from the N.Y. Times

There is a piece in the NY Times of Oct 14, 2014 (see
about the devilish OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) where people are so driven that they cannot stop washing their hands or stepping over cracks.  It gets much worse than that.  Not touching any object if anyone else has touched it.    Not turning doorknobs or any handles once they have been touched.  And the sufferer cannot stop and never knows what to do about it.  Nor does the therapist who goes on year after year treating the symptoms and never asking herself if there are causes?  It is like treat cancer year after year and never seeking out causes. 

Come to think about it, it is pretty close to any compulsion, smoking, drinking, painkillers, etc.  They are compelled to do it and can’t stop.  An excessive fear of germs, is another example. So let me see: if you have to smoke you are not obsessive, but if you have to step over cracks, you are.  What if they are the same?  What if they are both ways of dealing with pain and fear?  Would the treatment differ?  Not according to the NY Times……proper medication seems to be the answer and then a bit of Behavioral Therapy.  The article states that people do know they are obsessive but cannot stop themselves.  What does that mean?  I know.  They ask, “Do you have thoughts that make you anxious?” 
They claim that painkillers and tranquilizers work but most sufferers do not receive evidence- based medication.  And then they need Behavioral Therapy.  They claim that their psychotherapy can work even when done over the telephone. 

And “The techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy has proved most effective”.  The patient, they claim cannot change his behavior based on new information.  Isn’t that the problem with nearly every neurosis?  Sex addicts cannot change, nor can gamblers, nor can angry, violent people.  Do they need to learn new behaviors?  Yes, but only if we neglect causes; only if we mess around the edges and try to change the result of an imprint.    What imprint?  Why the one that is discussed in most scientific inquiries today.  The one indicating that there are enduring imprints that dog us for a  lifetime and change our symptoms and our behaviors, to say nothing of our personalities.  

This newspaper article only deals with management of symptoms, and does not attack causes; so of course the therapy is necessarily limited.  And can someone tell me what “evidenced-based therapy” is?  The method is usually based on exposure therapy.  Where you expose someone to a germ, putting a finger along a dirty wood plank,  and help her not feel so anxious.  “You see, there is nothing to be afraid of.”  Oh, yes, I see, and yes there is---an experience when I born that was horrendous.  It was imprinted.  How about not stepping on cracks: does Behavioral therapy help?  Well I don’t step on cracks anymore but I smoke more cigarettes per day. 

    It is not thoughts that create anxiety;  it is the contrary, anxiety provokes thoughts.  

So if they have it backwards can it work?  
Can exposing someone to anxiety situations help them lose their fixation?  Or if I talk to you and help you identify “unhealthy” thoughts can you get over them?  Are the causes thoughts?  Or are they way, way back in time to where anxiety is the primordial response to life endangering events?  And that anxiety is not and never was an aberration but, rather, a normal response to danger.  The person responded to this threat with deep brain processes.  Namely terror, now called anxiety.  It is called anxiety because the connection between the early event and its effects have disappeared.  So we cannot see what causes primordial terror; therefore we name it anxiety.  We name it for its concomitants; its basic reactions, shakiness, bubbling in the stomach, not its causes. 

We are treating the wrong thing with the wrong brain, and we expect help?  Yes we get help with the reactions where we either change them or detour them or deny them through  “healthy” thoughts.  
So the cure for them is to change how you see things.  And basically, don’t look.

I have to repeat. There is a world of science out there that therapists ignore; and who suffers?  Patients. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Deprived Children, Adult Believers

To be fully loved during childhood gives a person enduring peace. I mean this literally since very early love brings our internal supplies of the gating neurotransmitters up to normal.  A loved child will have no need to believe in ideologies full of hope and magic.  Someone at peace with herself has no reason to go to faith healers or to be "born again"; she does not need to retreat with a group of people to an ashram or a cabin in the woods to meditate, chant, deep breathe in order to find peace.

          Children need to be touched, caressed and soothed.  They need to be heard, protected and made to feel safe.  They need parents who will allow them to express their feelings and who will help them with those feelings.  When these needs go unmet, the foundation of a personality that will grasp at belief later in life is being built. One key biochemical reason is that love enhances the secretion of oxytocin and serotonin. Both are the juices that suppress pain and keep us comfortable.  Lack of love means a lack of those precious biochemicals; hence lack of defense against pain.  Beliefs follow.

          The needy person may well become devoted to a deity who promises to understand everything, to nurture, to protect, and to supply all the unfulfilled needs of a lifetime.  This was the lure of EST some years ago (discussed earlier; a template for all later weekend emotional workshops). The leaders, who with the charismatic Werner Erhard, said they cared, while at the same time castigating and swearing at the members massed in a weekend retreat in some hotel room. They were called losers and useless, but if they tried hard they wouldn’t have to be, and the leader and his adepts would see to it that they got over those feelings that they actually instilled.  Of course, they instilled ideas that matched how the people really felt; and the believers desperately wanted to feel differently. They gave Erhard a fortune, to not end hunger in the world, but to end the idea of hunger in the world. Meanwhile the money went to some Caribbean island in a secret bank account.  And still they believed.

        One of our patients, formerly into belief systems, said that he used to fly into a rage when his wife didn't understand him.  He felt like it was life and death that she understands him.  He had an urgent need — for a mother, a wife, a god who would fully understand, hold and soothe him. He relived the trauma — a deep-seated need to have his needs understood, beginning at birth, a wrenching abandonment when he was too young to comprehend what was happening.  He could feel it, despite no understanding on a cortical level.  A need to be understood back then really was a matter of life and death.  His professional field was communication.

        One way that defensive belief systems come into being, even fairly early in a child's life, is when that child is taught not to express feelings, not to speak thoughts that are unacceptable, not to express resentment, jealousy, or other negative thoughts, not to speak badly of others, and never to say what is in her heart.  Once installed, the censoring process continues automatically.  The child comes later on to substitute ideas for what he or she really feels.  Having unreal ideas as an adult is just a logical extension of what happened in early childhood.

Yahoo News!

Arthur Janov Suggests that Stress During Pregnancy Leaves a Distinct Cellular Imprint that Predicts Mental Illness and Serious Disease

In his new book, 'Life Before Birth' (NTI Upstream, Nov. 2011), Arthur Janov makes the case that events during pregnancy and the first years of life leave a distinct cellular imprint that predicts mental illness and serious disease.

Quotes for "Life Before Birth"

“Life Before Birth is a thrilling journey of discovery, a real joy to read. Janov writes like no one else on the human mind—engaging, brilliant, passionate, and honest.
He is the best writer today on what makes us human—he shows us how the mind works, how it goes wrong, and how to put it right . . . He presents a brand-new approach to dealing with depression, emotional pain, anxiety, and addiction.”
Paul Thompson, PhD, Professor of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine

Art Janov, one of the pioneers of fetal and early infant experiences and future mental health issues, offers a robust vision of how the earliest traumas of life can percolate through the brains, minds and lives of individuals. He focuses on both the shifting tides of brain emotional systems and the life-long consequences that can result, as well as the novel interventions, and clinical understanding, that need to be implemented in order to bring about the brain-mind changes that can restore affective equanimity. The transitions from feelings of persistent affective turmoil to psychological wholeness, requires both an understanding of the brain changes and a therapist that can work with the affective mind at primary-process levels. Life Before Birth, is a manifesto that provides a robust argument for increasing attention to the neuro-mental lives of fetuses and infants, and the widespread ramifications on mental health if we do not. Without an accurate developmental history of troubled minds, coordinated with a recognition of the primal emotional powers of the lowest ancestral regions of the human brain, therapists will be lost in their attempt to restore psychological balance.
Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D.
Bailey Endowed Chair of Animal Well Being Science
Washington State University

Dr. Janov’s essential insight—that our earliest experiences strongly influence later well being—is no longer in doubt. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, immunology, and epigenetics, we can now see some of the mechanisms of action at the heart of these developmental processes. His long-held belief that the brain, human development, and psychological well being need to studied in the context of evolution—from the brainstem up—now lies at the heart of the integration of neuroscience and psychotherapy.
Grounded in these two principles, Dr. Janov continues to explore the lifelong impact of prenatal, birth, and early experiences on our brains and minds. Simultaneously “old school” and revolutionary, he synthesizes traditional psychodynamic theories with cutting-edge science while consistently highlighting the limitations of a strict, “top-down” talking cure. Whether or not you agree with his philosophical assumptions, therapeutic practices, or theoretical conclusions, I promise you an interesting and thought-provoking journey.
Lou Cozolino, PsyD, Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University

In Life Before Birth Dr. Arthur Janov illuminates the sources of much that happens during life after birth. Lucidly, the pioneer of primal therapy provides the scientific rationale for treatments that take us through our original, non-verbal memories—to essential depths of experience that the superficial cognitive-behavioral modalities currently in fashion cannot possibly touch, let alone transform.
Gabor Maté MD, author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

An expansive analysis! This book attempts to explain the impact of critical developmental windows in the past, implores us to improve the lives of pregnant women in the present, and has implications for understanding our children, ourselves, and our collective future. I’m not sure whether primal therapy works or not, but it certainly deserves systematic testing in well-designed, assessor-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trials.
K.J.S. Anand, MBBS, D. Phil, FAACP, FCCM, FRCPCH, Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, Senior Scholar, Center for Excellence in Faith and Health, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System

A baby's brain grows more while in the womb than at any time in a child's life. Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script That Rules Our Lives is a valuable guide to creating healthier babies and offers insight into healing our early primal wounds. Dr. Janov integrates the most recent scientific research about prenatal development with the psychobiological reality that these early experiences do cast a long shadow over our entire lifespan. With a wealth of experience and a history of successful psychotherapeutic treatment, Dr. Janov is well positioned to speak with clarity and precision on a topic that remains critically important.
Paula Thomson, PsyD, Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge & Professor Emeritus, York University

"I am enthralled.
Dr. Janov has crafted a compelling and prophetic opus that could rightly dictate
PhD thesis topics for decades to come. Devoid of any "New Age" pseudoscience,
this work never strays from scientific orthodoxy and yet is perfectly accessible and
downright fascinating to any lay person interested in the mysteries of the human psyche."
Dr. Bernard Park, MD, MPH

His new book “Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” shows that primal therapy, the lower-brain therapeutic method popularized in the 1970’s international bestseller “Primal Scream” and his early work with John Lennon, may help alleviate depression and anxiety disorders, normalize blood pressure and serotonin levels, and improve the functioning of the immune system.
One of the book’s most intriguing theories is that fetal imprinting, an evolutionary strategy to prepare children to cope with life, establishes a permanent set-point in a child's physiology. Baby's born to mothers highly anxious during pregnancy, whether from war, natural disasters, failed marriages, or other stressful life conditions, may thus be prone to mental illness and brain dysfunction later in life. Early traumatic events such as low oxygen at birth, painkillers and antidepressants administered to the mother during pregnancy, poor maternal nutrition, and a lack of parental affection in the first years of life may compound the effect.
In making the case for a brand-new, unified field theory of psychotherapy, Dr. Janov weaves together the evolutionary theories of Jean Baptiste Larmarck, the fetal development studies of Vivette Glover and K.J.S. Anand, and fascinating new research by the psychiatrist Elissa Epel suggesting that telomeres—a region of repetitive DNA critical in predicting life expectancy—may be significantly altered during pregnancy.
After explaining how hormonal and neurologic processes in the womb provide a blueprint for later mental illness and disease, Dr. Janov charts a revolutionary new course for psychotherapy. He provides a sharp critique of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and other popular “talk therapy” models for treating addiction and mental illness, which he argues do not reach the limbic system and brainstem, where the effects of early trauma are registered in the nervous system.
“Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” is scheduled to be published by NTI Upstream in October 2011, and has tremendous implications for the future of modern psychology, pediatrics, pregnancy, and women’s health.
About our Therapy

Our therapy is constantly evolving. If a therapist has not had additional training in the past 3-5 years she is not up to date. The basic principles are the same but the actual therapy has taken a radical turn. It is much more precise, predictable and mathematical in practice. We have tried to tighten up what we do in keeping with current neurology and physiology. It is a constant learning experience. It is finally for the well-being of the patient who now has a much better chance of doing well. Yes, it was good before, but there is less time wasted now because the techniques are honed and the theory takes on more and more precision. We see patients from some thirty countries in the world, each with different cultures. It is up to us to continue the refining process so that the patient has the best chance of improving.

Training in Primal Therapy

The clear understanding and application of the theoretical and clinical aspects of Primal Therapy are essential in order to provide effective therapy. Citing the most current findings from the field of neurology, trainees will learn the role that the physiology of the brain plays in the shaping of mental illness. The training will thoroughly examine the scientific basis for Primal Therapy and discuss the unique clinical approaches employed in the treatment of various emotional and personality disorders.
For our first year students, the training will entail extensive work in the understanding of the basis for Primal Therapy. On the theoretical level, there will be an examination of issues that range from the nature of the unconscious to the nature of traumatic imprints and their lifelong effects on physical and mental health. On the clinical level, trainees will have the opportunity to learn proper diagnostic and therapeutic procedures as they relate to Primal Therapy.
Furthermore, first year students will be mentored by our third year students in order to ensure that the key concepts in Primal Therapy are clearly understood. There will be an extensive library of training notes and taped lectures from the past two years available as well.
For our second year students, the training will provide a unique and varied opportunity to gain more clinical experience. Through closely supervised clinical sessions, trainees will gain a deeper understanding of the various applied therapeutic methods and hone their skills as future therapists. In addition, second year trainees will have the opportunity to work with first year students thru discussion groups, tape reviews, and clinical sessions.
Our third year students will continue to hone their clinical skills through a rigorous series of didactic clinical sessions. These sessions will be video taped and will be reviewed by Dr. France Janov and our senior therapists.
Dr. Janov’s books have been translated in some 26 languages, have been bestsellers in many countries, and his theory is taught at many universities. He has combined decades of clinical practice with the latest in research. It is the therapy of the future.

To apply, please visit our website at and select the ‘trainee’ option when filling out the questionnaire. For further information, please feel free to call us us at (310) 392-2003 or email us at

We look forward to another exiting year of training. We hope you will join us.

My best,

Dr. Arthur Janov
Founder & Director