Friday, October 21, 2016
As I have written "à maintes reprises", many times over, we respond primarily and firstly to apparent problems in the present, and later to inner links that are awakened by those current problems, such as job losses or divorces. Those repressed traumas are ready to fire and when those links fire together they become wired together, solidified. That is the process I call resonance. The body and brain are busy reacting to what happened decades earlier during womb-life and birth. Those are the events we continually react to because of their remoteness, something that occurred when we were vulnerable and easily and heavily impacted. This is not only my hypothesis. Within the past 20 years, there have been literally hundreds of studies verifying the importance of early imprints, how they last a lifetime and alter our systems. Imprints lay down engraved memories that show themselves when we are alone, in a weakened state or otherwise too open to events.
That is what I believe may have happened to L’Wren Scott in those moments alone before she took her life. She must have had an inkling, a deep down unease and hopeless feeling that would have warned her. It was all hidden inside her, pushing through her weakened defense layers and making her feel so hopeless and “down,” despite her current surroundings. Being alone for a short time can set it off. It can first set off, “I am all alone and no one to hold and comfort me.” Just a few hours alone with no one nearby can do it. Remember, small things can set off huge feelings. If she were left alone and neglected by her parents very early on, the connection to despair of the past it becomes clear. She probably had no idea about imprints or deep-lying trauma/memory. That is the reason our theory is so important, so that people who are suffering can be aware of what is going on inside and understand where their despair and suicidal thoughts come from. This may avoid needless deaths. How tragic and unnecessary all this. And now you understand our mission: not money nor fame, but the lives of us humans. We all have a basic right to a full-length life.
The Way In Is The Way Out
You may wonder why a privileged and wealthy celebrity can’t find distractions for her despair. Why doesn’t she run away or go to parties and “take her mind off of it?” She cannot; the imprint confines her. She lives within that primordial memory and cannot imagine or think about other solutions. There were no alternatives originally, thus there are none now while awash in the imprint. And the imprint forces her to remain on the same route all over again. Her hopelessness (depression) is all-consuming. She cannot stray outside its bounds. The stabs of depression she suffers are reminders of the mounting memory that periodically surges upwardly toward awareness.
There is no way to know now exactly why she killed herself. But a clue to her motive can be found post-mortem, in the manner in which she chose to kill herself. Scott had just about everything in life; although she was in debt, she lived well and lived high with Jagger. Yet she took the trouble to go through the machinations of hanging. Why not take the simpler “way out,” with pills? Though some will find this hard to believe, the answer goes back to the very beginning of life: the way in is often the way out. The same imprint that produced deep hopelessness at birth – the root of depression – is also what likely led to her to choose hanging. I am not familiar with the circumstances of Scott’s death, but I am not limiting my discussion only to her. This applies to all of us.
The fact of the deep imprint also can lead to hanging for if she were strangling on the cord she is most likely to repeat the act. It was the closest she came to death and the trauma and its consequences remain. Fifty years ago, I wrote about methods of suicide and I noted that they followed the deep imprint. Being strangled on the cord would lead to hanging. Being suffocated in the womb might lead to gassing oneself. Being mangled at birth might end in jumping off a building or in front of a train. A mother drugging herself might be duplicated in suicide by an overdose of pain-killers in the offspring. Thus, the imprint, now embedded, searches out its duplicate, like most act-outs. And act-outs follow the imprint closely because there is a sense of approaching death early on, and it follows by approaching death now, where death is the final relief from this catastrophic imprint. That is also an imprinted memory – final relief. It is the final denouement of the imprint.
Recent research has confirmed the link between the nature of trauma at birth and the manner of suicide chosen in adulthood. In a study published in the journal Biology of the Neonate, K. J. S. Anand and associates state that in a number of suicides by violent means “the significant risk factors were those perinatal events that were likely to cause pain in the newborn.” (Anand & Scalzo, 2000). In other words, suicides will often choose a method that reflects the prototype of their birth experiences. Why? Because each prototype requires its own conclusion. For a neonate strangling on the cord, further strangling would have ended the agony. Those drowning in amniotic fluid at birth may opt for death by drowning. Those who received a massive dose of anesthetic at birth may take an overdose of barbiturates, or they might gas themselves in their garage. And so on.
I remember one patient who saved up dynamite; having experienced anoxia at birth, he was going to put a stick to his head and blow his head off so that he wouldn't have one second of pain and hopelessness. He laughs at that now, but at the time it spoke volumes of his desperation. Another patient was obsessed with jumping off a building. During her birth by Cesarean, this person had felt wrenched into space with nothing to hang onto. Another patient, battered and squeezed at birth, obsessed about jumping off a bridge, head first.
I found this was almost a universal law: we attempt to die in the way our birth was threatened. Those memories, that of trauma during gestation, last a lifetime and lead to same attempt years later to die in the way it might have happened at the beginning. In other words, as the memory of the early trauma rises, the memory of the early result mounts as well. Thus early strangulation may lead to the same course of action with the final denouement; death. The logic of the system. It is confirmation of the imprint and its lifelong effect on the system. It drives behavior ineluctably. So the imprint includes the probable outcome – death. We need to consider suicide as another form of act-out. It channels behavior despite exhortation and encouragement; the sense of approaching death. What is often articulated for those who have no idea about the imprint is, “I don’t want to live anymore.” And even that is not fully articulated; it is usually a vague thought or sense. It is often not, “I am in so much pain I don’t want to go on.” It is just a vague sense of hopelessness and helplessness that leads to an attempt. It all remains vague and aleatory, a constant rumination inside of a black cloud descending.
Anand, K. J. S., & Scalzo F.M. (2000) Can adverse neonatal experiences alter brain development and subsequent behavior? Biology of The Neonate, 77(2), 69-82. Print.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
There is only one way to stop the suffering, and that is to revisit the imprint and relive the pain. Until then, we cannot know the real lack and what it is. That is why the system insists on reliving later in life. Our own system is pushing for real integration and liberation, because it seeks to become whole again. That imprint has only one goal in life; to be relived exactly as it was laid down. Its message is a constant warning of unfinished business. The pain from very early on has to be felt and dealt with in all its agony. The imprint knows no mercy. It wants conscious awareness somewhere inside even while the top cortical level does what it can to imprison it. Conscious awareness means delving into deep feeling plus ultimate awareness of what it is. The imprint will never leave until it is lived again, fully, in its original context. Enough rearranging of the chairs on the Titanic. We must join feelings with their thoughts and make ourselves whole. Fame won’t do that; I have treated enough stars to know that, and my patients also know it. There is no substitute for extirpating the imprint. None. Avoiding the imprint and we are leaving misery in place. Reliving it finally stops the terrible drive to feel like a success. That is different from being authentically successful, which is the drive to do things right. A little more relaxing.
To be loved early on, that is what sets the stage for your life. It means fulfilling basic needs as they evolve; it makes us feel confident and productive, but not driven. It offers daring and enthusiasm and a joie de vivre. It allows us to try but never in desperation. Symbolic love – the kind we get from fame and celebrity – has to be repeated over and over exactly because it cannot fulfill. Why not? Precisely because it is symbolic, a substitute for the true love we never got from our parents. When there is a basic lack of fulfillment early in life, especially during gestation, birth and infancy, an imprint is created that stamps in that deprivation, through the partially open sensory window. That imprint is embedded deep in the brain and stays there, almost inaccessible. We are aware only of a gnawing emptiness, feeling unfulfilled. Empty like a shell, as one patient put it. And that need, now unanchored from its source, drags us into the race for symbolic fulfillment. But it’s a race that never ends because it does nothing to alter the motor that’s driving it, which is the painful, buried imprint of getting no love when it really mattered. Once the pain is embedded and out of reach, we will seek out substitutes, so as to stop feeling empty. The agony from that deep, deep pain becomes a primordial part of us. It now confuses us, distracts us, and above all, stops our concentration. Oh yes; it depresses us because we live with an enemy in the house that we cannot escape. It lives with us and in us; it claws for its liberation; it wants freedom to live the pain, believe it or not. Yet we do what we can to stop it. No wonder most psychotherapy is aimed at repression and rationales, understanding but never deep feeling. They get a bit of relief, which the patient settles for; but no cure. So what does the successful person feel? Very little: Down, unhappy and unfulfilled. He has no other choice because those feelings will not leave even for mercy’s sake.
Success is not a feeling; being loved is. Fame is other people’s idea of our achievements; it is in a way their feeling…admiration, humbling, important, etc. And why does even the most accomplished person never feel satisfied nor fulfilled? Because all of his fulfillment and all of his admiration is symbolic; it is not the love he needed early on. It covers it over the lack of love, sits on top of the real need. The feeling window is now closed, and leaves an emotional vacuum in its place. It is the imprinted pain that cannot be erased no matter what kind of success is there. And it drives him for more and more – more money, more applause, more awards.
Finally at the top of his fame he feels still unfulfilled and a failure; there is nothing more to gain, nothing more to try for. He looks at all his billboards and feels empty. What does it mean? “I don’t know what else to do to feel good, to feel successful.” It seems that life is empty. There is no point; suicidal thoughts thrust their way in, as he feels the real deep feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that he has been escaping from in his work. The pain that drove it all is still alive and gnawing inside. It says, sotto voce, you are not loved and that is all that matters. Something is missing and you have no idea what that is. You have failed at what matters most; to be adored, admired, encouraged, held and caressed. That is the constant malaise that speaks of something missing. “All your drive was to try to feel loved, and you believe you are, but not by the people who really matter, and not at the time when love was a life-or-death affair.
I treated one film director who became seriously depressed when he was no longer on stage. He felt useless, unneeded and unwanted; he started to feel his old feelings once again, only before therapy he drugged his hopelessness and now in therapy he is feeling it for what is really is. He began to feel the childhood part of the pain with parents who did not want him around; he was convinced there was something seriously wrong with him. This lay on top of the earlier pains of a sense of dying, of suffocating and losing consciousness. But not being needed on set began the whole process all over again. The first part was the feeling of “I will die if I am not loved,” and then much later, “I am dying and there is nothing I can do to escape.” This was the ultimate helplessness and hopelessness, the key elements of depression. Resonance always involves the chain of pain; the neuronal linkage from one set of neural processes to another. It is why something innocuous can set off catastrophic feelings.
Review of "Beyond Belief"
This thought-provoking and important book shows how people are drawn toward dangerous beliefs.
“Belief can manifest itself in world-changing ways—and did, in some of history’s ugliest moments, from the rise of Adolf Hitler to the Jonestown mass suicide in 1979. Arthur Janov, a renowned psychologist who penned The Primal Scream, fearlessly tackles the subject of why and how strong believers willingly embrace even the most deranged leaders.
Beyond Belief begins with a lucid explanation of belief systems that, writes Janov, “are maps, something to help us navigate through life more effectively.” While belief systems are not presented as inherently bad, the author concentrates not just on why people adopt belief systems, but why “alienated individuals” in particular seek out “belief systems on the fringes.” The result is a book that is both illuminating and sobering. It explores, for example, how a strongly-held belief can lead radical Islamist jihadists to murder others in suicide acts. Janov writes, “I believe if people had more love in this life, they would not be so anxious to end it in favor of some imaginary existence.”
One of the most compelling aspects of Beyond Belief is the author’s liberal use of case studies, most of which are related in the first person by individuals whose lives were dramatically affected by their involvement in cults. These stories offer an exceptional perspective on the manner in which belief systems can take hold and shape one’s experiences. Joan’s tale, for instance, both engaging and disturbing, describes what it was like to join the Hare Krishnas. Even though she left the sect, observing that participants “are stunted in spiritual awareness,” Joan considers returning someday because “there’s a certain protection there.”
Janov’s great insight into cultish leaders is particularly interesting; he believes such people have had childhoods in which they were “rejected and unloved,” because “only unloved people want to become the wise man or woman (although it is usually male) imparting words of wisdom to others.” This is just one reason why Beyond Belief is such a thought-provoking, important book.”
Barry Silverstein, Freelance Writer
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.