Legacy Program



Learn Primal theory and clinical practice: the Legacy Program is now available!

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Un Unsung Hero in Our Midst


I published this article in July of 2015, but since my wife France is launching the Legacy program, I would like to remind us all about her incredible contribution to Primal Therapy.

There is someone who is doing heroic work in the shadows who does not get paid but who works many hours a day.  She supervises all clinical work, and teaches the basics of the therapy, runs the administrative side of the Center and deals with all outside inquiries.  In short, the pivot around which the clinic revolves. Her crowning achievement is the Primal Legacy Program. This is the result of 6 years of constant effort to construct a program for professionals and laymen so that the therapy can be understood by all clinically and scientifically. It is the first attempt by any therapy to publish its hypothesis and practice as a result of Dr. France Janov's teaching and supervision. (Available now).
She is the engine, the motor for the advancement in  the practice of Primal Therapy. She is there to help therapists work with patients.  Who could do any more?  She is our resident savant……Dr. France Janov.

It is hard to realize, even for me, how much work goes into directing even a small clinic, a clinic that has patients from 38 countries, and requires communications among people from many countries of the world.  And oh yes, she is my wife of 42 years.

What does it mean to run a psychiatric clinic?  It means knowing the latest science so as to help therapists know how our therapy fits in with science.  It means knowing the various afflictions people suffer and why.  It involves knowing about people from different countries and how they differ as a population; for ex., what is the most repressed country and what is the least?  It is a wide-ranging job that requires clinical skills, financial ability, relevant science and how to help our therapists relate to foreign patients some who only have minimal skills in English.  Needless to say, it is a job well done, too often done in the shadows by someone who manages to keep it all going well.    Our thanks to France.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Why We Need a Therapy of Feelings


Because that is what is lacking in every neurotic I treat.  And the damage they do to their children is ineffable. They cannot feel it because they are still repressed and miles from their feelings. Therefore, they have no feelings to guide them.  They need to refer to ideas to guide them, so in the old days they read Dr. Spock for guidance and he was largely very wrong.  They never referred to their own instincts because they were buried with their feelings.  It was the blind leading the blind, leading those who could not “smell” the truth.  I use that word because the old smell brain over history became the feeling brain. And when we repressed our feelings, the instincts and the sensibility went with them. And then we had unfeeling souls who Shakespeare said of them, “they have no music in them”. If I drank, I would say, “I’ll drink to that”. Those poor souls have lost the essence of life, and then they go to therapists who help finish the job by directing them to their head. Mostly they go nowhere because they have no idea what is missing and the intellectual pundits have no idea either; how tragic. The doctors look to changing ideas when they should be looking for access to feelings that would solve so much. Those feelings send antennae throughout the system creating havoc and terribly wrong perceptions and beliefs. The ideas, meant to offer feelings to bolster ideas and perceptions, mount such horrific pain that drives their ideas beyond their ken; so we get nutty beliefs and delusions.

It is not ideas that are nutty; they are doing their best to combat the influx of imprinted pain. Alas their efforts fail and become “kooky.”   Let us not forget evolution here; feelings mount for connection and resolution. That is their “raison d’être”. They need connection to be done with pain, but it is often too much and the pain stays inside to produce illness and symptoms of all kinds. Then we have specialists to start to treat the symptoms but who have no idea of their provenance.

Now imagine if we had only therapies of feeling. No more insights before feelings which defy evolution at every step. There are no words among chimps but lots of feelings. We are chimps with words and now we seek to cut off the chimp/feeling self in deference to words.  A therapy of words?  Where did feelings go?
Help people feel?  Wouldn’t that eliminate so much dumb violence in the world. People could feel the consequence of their acts and would shudder. They would never hit/spank a helpless child, again they would sense how wrong it is. They would not beat their animals for the same reasons. They would love their wives, husbands and children because they could feel what they need. They would touch, hug and caress them and utter words of kindness and approval; words of support and encouragement. They would be THERE for them in every sense of the term.
They would ensure a drug free birth and know that gestation is crucial for the child’s development, so no drugs, alcohol or crazy diets. That there is a living being inside.

They would know that those who are addicted are in pain; the idea is not to take their drugs away but to take the REASON FOR THE DRUGS away.  If, if, only they knew what the reasons are and where they lie.  We do not take medicine from the diabetics.  They need it; so do addicts need their medicine.  And pain killers are for pain; the problem is that we have no idea that early life leaves a residue of imprinted pain for life. So they drug and we just think that is just a bad habit because we cannot see the reason for it. A therapy of feelings would seek out and find the pain so it will no longer be a mystery.

But to have a therapy of feeling we need someone who is feeling and knows its importance; not an easy solution.

We don’t have to stop killing and hunting because no feeling person could hunt and kill a mother who is safeguarding her babies.  And we don’t have to imprison those who drink and drive because that kind of obsession with alcohol would be gone.  Ooh.  Is it that easy?  It is not that hard.  All we have to do is teach about feeling in school with classes, not in therapy but in feeling where students would sit for each other and help each other feel.  It is not that insurmountable.

And once they get to first line where rage and anxiety live, there would a way to extirpate all that. We have treated those who kill but now could not even imagine it.  And believe it or not, we treat a lot of anxiety and panic cases with success because we know where the origins lie and how to get it out of the system.  And they are so relieved to get those feelings out of their bodies.  That can never happen in a therapy without feeling. Again, when there is deep repression all access between levels of conscious are sealed off and feelings can no longer inform action.  So there are uncontrolled rages and what happens?  They are sent to “anger management”.  Like feelings are a business to be managed.  But to manage is a top-down affair, while the person needs a bottom up affair. He must reach deep into the brain and brainstem to get at the solid imprint that lives there. That can take months but it is essential when dealing with what lives deep down: utter hopelessness from a birth that was drugged or allowed no egress and left a residue of helplessness and hopelessness and a body temp way down into the 96’s.   A sign that the body had to give up and abandon hope as the forces against the baby were overwhelming. It was never thought out; it was FELT, because no words existed back then.  And that is exactly why we need a therapy of feeling if we are ever to get to the root of the matter.

What is the mystery of treating depression and anxiety? No mystery at all when we see the deep brain at work; when we actually see its effects.  It is only complicated when you only stay on top… and don’t center on feelings in the therapy.

Only feelings will lead us to the generating causes. We need to treat the tooth that hurts when we find the abscess. But if we never know an abscess is there?  The patient will go on suffering, and nor he or the doctor will know the answer because the suffering is repressed and out of sight. Behavior is only a sign of the underlying cause. If we are to help patients, we need to address the cause.


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.
Editor