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

Coming in October...

Primal Scream, the comical and powerful new musical, is adapted from the best-selling book and teams legendary music composer David Foster with psychologists and playwrights France and Arthur Janov. It frames a compelling story of two people who cannot love due to their childhood feelings, and of four other patients, each resolving problems through moments rendered in provocative, whimsical scenes, underscored by explosively entertaining music. Primal Scream is an exhilarating and unique theatrical experience.
For more info and to book your ticket:

Monday, July 21, 2014

On Primal Memory

 I think that Primal memory is of a different order of being from just plain cerebral memory.  When I go back to my childhood and earlier, I am always amazed at the clarity and purity of my memory.  Even with ninety years of experience it is if nothing ever happened to change or moderate that memory.    I wrote recently about the lady who cared for a young lion and then put him in a shelter.  She came back five years later and when the lion saw her he draped his arms over her and kissed and hugged her.  And I had a Primal.  It was the love I never had.  The Primal began with no one was ever happy to see me (the lion seemed to be in ecstasy), then moved on to a scene where I was home and my parents never looked at me or talked to me and suddenly I felt the need……hold me, cherish me, tell me you love me…….and on and on……….the pain of no love which I was never able to articulate because I never knew about love.  Until you get a smidgen of it, you cannot imagine what love is about.  When I was a bit more open to my feelings and saw a film, Brief Encounter, I began to see about love, and I began to realize what I missed. Just to be hugged was such a revelation when I first saw it.  But the point is that I was transported back to that lonely experience where every drape, chair and pillow was so, so clear.  Every facial expression of my parents was so ,evident…. No life there.  No emotion, no sign of caring.
 I felt like I landed on a foreign land but actually it was just a hidden one.  Hidden because the memory was too painful to be faced abruptly.  But once I got there, it all seemed so familiar.  I saw it with new eyes, new awareness and a new perspective.  I saw it.  And oh my, it hurt.  That hurt kept me from seeing it. I mean how can you be acutely aware that the rest of your life at home will be loveless?  How can a young kid accept that?

 And when I make a pit-stop at my childhood, feelings take me down to the gestational period and I relive a birth trauma where I cannot open my mouth no matter how much I want to in order to get some air.
 That experience with no words is also pure and untrammeled by later experience; it is like nothing else ever happened. And because it is so early it is imprinted for a lifetime.  It makes us act it out.  Never comfortable with a low roof over my head,  never have any blanket over my head, panic when someone pretends to choke me, and I had to get out every morning for coffee in order to come back and feel relaxed.  I  “got out” at last.  Getting out in the morning was my act-out.  There are many, many others who have to get out and go, traveling all the time, making dates, having projects never relaxing.  All the same act out.  And if you tell those people who cannot stop traveling what they are doing they would be insulted and think you are nuts.  That is because the feeling is bound inside the act-out and drives it.  It is hidden through the act-out; i.e., getting out.  It is the logic of the imprint and forces us to behave in certain ways.  I had to go to a café  each morning for years, never knowing why.
 Worse, never knowing I was being driven by a memory 80-90 years old.  Imagine!  Yet when we open up the system the driving, imprinted memory just sits there waiting its turn to see the light.  It doesn’t just sit there; it gnaws away at the system for years and years.  When the cover is taken off, when we literally open the gates it can breathe life again and react as it should have years before.  So when I say, I feel liberated, it is exactly the case.  That memory has never ever changed.  There is a purity about it that is unequaled.  And when I come out of it, there is a great wonder about life and the brain.  A wonder how Primal memory never leaves us ……….until we experience it.  Then we have a normal memory shorn of its powerful impact of pain.  With a Primal reliving, the lower memory then climbs the ladder of the brain to a cortical area where the memory is kept.  It is not longer hidden and out of reach.

 Why hasn’t it changed?  Because it is life saving; the act out is a constant reminder of what we must do to live normally.  We must never take it away from the patient until she is ready because it is crucial to our survival.  The act out, which we do time and time again is talking to us, but sadly we cannot hear it.  Every day, in every way, it explains what we are doing and what is behind it but we turn a deaf ear.  So we go on interrupting cause we cannot wait…… back then…………now transposed to the present.  If we can learn about our act-out we will discover intellectually, what the early imprint is about. It is right there all of the time whispering ever so softly as if it does not want to be heard before we are ready for it.  It says to us,  “you interrupt because you could not get out of the womb easily; so to wait means death is lurking.  And it has such an urgency that we interrupt.  We have to get those words out.  When we reliving getting out, it all becomes clear as lower level memories join with their cortical counterpart to make sense of it all. I use this example because impulsive patients almost always have this experience; not my interpretation of it, but because I observe.

 When we do experience it, even pre-verbally, afterwards, it wends its way upward to offer us insights of what it was and how it drove us.  The higher level cortex now explains it all for us and helps make sense of its power.

 This process should never defy evolution and occur with intellect first with its cerebral insights, and then feeling.  It must always be in the order of the development  of the brain—feelings first followed by insights.  Those intellectual insights can never be curative without feelings preceding them.  Careful, obey the laws of evolution because they are rather strict laws.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

More on Stress in the Womb

Maybe it is hard to imagine a fetus suffering stress, but when a mother deprives herself of nutrients and the baby suffers, that is called stress. He cannot voice it but his stress hormones shout it out all of the time. Because it may be the first stress, it comes to be what the baby expects and automatically changes his system to adapt to his new environment. It is a completely naïve and vulnerable system. It may be called first-time learning, and it lasts. It continues on because this is the world he first meets and he cannot know it can be any different; just as if the mother is chronically depressed, where her system is continuously “down”. The baby adapts and maybe years later gets hooked on stimulants, uppers, to galvanize his system which was depressed long ago. If the early environment at home is suppressive and highly disciplined while lacking love and touch, we have the makings of a depressive. The point is we must not neglect those early beginnings in our understanding of mental illness. Let’s suppose he cannot concentrate in school at age eight. This is part of a post traumatic stress response which we cannot see or even imagine. He has been damaged in the first weeks of his life.

Just the simple fact of a carrying mother having an eating disorder can disrupt the baby’s eating habit later on. I have written extensively on epigenetic change. For the baby is traumatized even though he cannot show it; it becomes imprinted for life. It is called prenatal programming. A personal experience to demonstrate the point. At age five I was smacked repeatedly for crying by my father. I remember everything about that event. I learned and never cried again until adult life. So you see how early life impresses experience into the brain and physical system. If that had happened at age 12, I doubt there would have been such an imprint. At age five he was my only “friend.” I knew no one else and nothing else. He was my whole world. When he smacked me I thought I was wrong and bad. It hung onto my system for decades. I had no one to complain to and discuss with. At that age he was my entire world; my mother being psychotic. Since I have primalled about this, it lasted a very long time. And who knows if it didn’t play into my later ADD. My system still felt those smacks all my childhood, and prevented me from crying. I lived in a barren, sterile world with no love, but that was the only world I knew. The earlier the trauma and deeper the imprint with great force. So it comes out later as never “needing” love, never needing touch. It reawakens the pain if love comes along; thus it is avoided.

If the carrying mother continues on with crazy diets you can see the damage that it incurs. So here we have a field concentrating on there- and-now while the greatest damage has happened back then. How do we now? As patients approach these very traumas all of the vital signs mount inordinately.

Proper nutrition is one way the mother inculcates love. But if she is on drugs, so is the baby. The blood- vascular system are in many respects, one. Worse, the baby can be born addicted. He ”needs” the drugs later on. And if his system has been biochemically depressed, it may militate towards sex problems where libido has been suppressed, as well. After all, so many individuals complain that taking pain killer suppresses their libido. Imagine taking in pain killers at age six months pre-birth. The dose of the tranquilizer for the baby is many times that for the mother. The system begins to adapt to this neuro-chemical state. And it may be less aggressive, less able get and keep an erection. It is all part of the imprint where passivity was life-saving. When shutting down was the only way to block the input of heavy painkillers.

If I had to measure how strong the imprint is, I would state that gestation is the most devastating, birth and infancy next, childhood later and then adult life. So when we confine our psychotherapy to late years we neglect the key life experiences that formed us, those years when vulnerability to catastrophic afflictions set in. This is a short-hand observation of what impact life has on us at different epochs of our lives. It is the reactions we see in our therapy by patients reliving certain events during different stages of ontogeny that indicate the strength of the pain they suffer. And it is nearly always the gestational/birth traumas that have a massive impact on us. So reliving the lack of touch right after birth is critical, while reliving lack of touch at age thirteen is less critical.

So we cannot say that here-and-now therapy is progress in psychotherapy; we can say that proper therapy must always address our beginnings.
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