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Beyond Belief

Dr. Janov's new Book is out! (May 2016)

Dr. Arthur Janov examines the power of beliefs and how they are used as a mechanism for dealing with early trauma that goes as far back as birth. Beliefs are a way to rationalize with pain rooted deep in the unconscious, and reveal that love is a biological need. Dr. Janov applies engrossing case studies and his many years of experience to bring the reader one step closer to understanding human behavior, and how pain can become converted into an idea.

Available on Amazon: amazon.com

Shrink Rap Radio



Check out Drs. Arthur and France Janov's interview (June 23, 2016) on Shrink Rap Radio

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Are Primals Real?


Other than the testimonies of many patients about the reality of the Primal experience, there is also our research.  We filmed those reliving early pain at the UCLA Pulmonary lab.  While in the primal, reliving a lack of oxygen at birth,  patients had what I call locomotive breathing.  It sounded like a freight train and went on for over twenty minutes.  The patients neither got dizzy nor faint.  But in an experiment later with no reliving I had them breathe deeply for as long as they could.  Within a very few minutes they started to get dizzy and were about to faint. So what was the difference?  Why did heavy breathing make them faint in one case,  deliberately trying, and not in the other where feelings were coming up to be fully experienced.    That is, not trying for  a feeling.

The difference was a deeply embedded real need for oxygen. The patients were back in their baby selves trying to keep from dying from anoxia. It was not an exercise directed by a doctor but a need from inside.  And that was the difference. It told us why there was incipient fainting among all the research subjects, and it informed us about basic need.  Those were not faked actions but something organic and historic.  It demonstrates the difference between Primal and following directions from the doctor; such as “Tell your mother”, or ”Scream at your father for his punishing you”.  Those are useless because they originate higher in the brain in non primal situations, and do not reflect the brain and time when the punishment  occurred.  Following orders and feeling one’s past are two entirely different things. They reflect two different brain systems at work;  one is healing and the other is alleviating but not resolving.  We must talk to the right brain; the one that does not talk but can feel.  The mature adult brain cannot do it; the harder it tries the worse it gets because it remains alienated from the patient’s own history.

It is no different from patients who cry and cry over long periods in our therapy. Once opened up they cry for the thousands of tears they could not express at the time.  And the tears are real as is the sound of the crying.  Fake cries have a hollow sound with no affect behind them.

That separates Primal Therapy from other approaches.  If we want to reach the patient’s early history and what happened to him we must engage the brain active at the time of the original trauma.  This is precisely why cognitive approaches cannot resolve and cure.  We are dialing in the wrong  brain and trying to get it to do what it cannot do.  Feel.



Sunday, June 26, 2016

On What Helps Us Love


There is the obvious: being loved from the start.
There is the less obvious, abstracting the chemical elements that are part of the ability to give and receive love; i.e, oxytocin.  Being loved is the natural way; paradoxically, another way is to feel the lack of love, which seems to normalize so many biochemicals.  I have seen so many patients who are unloved by parents who cannot sustain a loving relationship.

This inability to love is now being recognized in the field  and doctors are prescribing a spray that enhances oxytocin. I have another idea;  let them scream out their agony over not being loved, in Primal Therapy.  What we find is an increase in loving in patients who have relived their pain over the lack of love. It is an odd dialectic that crying out not being loved can help you love, as one turns into the other.  Determined to love one’s wife or kids will help but it does not add the feeling element to the process. And it is the feeling element that is missing, at the start.  And can happen despite our best intentions. The will power needs to be driven by passion and  feelings.  Otherwise it remains a cerebral desire, bereft of feeling.

Those who take pain killers also suppress passion. But, suppose we are on pain-killers permanently; when there is great early pain, there is an equal and opposite reaction to hold down feeling…repression which is constant and obdurate to hold down great agony.  Then we cannot love completely.   And that can begin before we begin in this world.  Clearly, when we remove deeply embedded pain we enhance the ability to love.  We reopen the feeling channels.

Remember, feeling unloved means feeling; repressing it means no feeling.

Let us not look only at oxytocin because what we have found is that normalizing the patient elevates so many biochemicals to normal levels, as we have measured over the years.

We do not dissect the patient into his parts, a kidney, a heart or a liver. We try to approach the human being as a totality and expect changes as a totality, as well.  That is the trouble with Rolfing and Bioenergetics where muscle groups are targeted and worked on to the exclusion of the brain and mind.  Which means all that does not come from the central nervous system but the organs themselves.   Which is how we go awry studying the organ apart from the human being.  And we get changes in the muscle groups and not an organic change. Relaxing tense muscles is not the same as relaxing the whole person.  The tension usually arrives from experiences in life and those sculpt the human being.  I treated one person who had chronic arm muscle tension. He felt in therapy he was chronically holding back, hitting back his father who beat him incessantly.    Beware of the facile, easy answers.  We are not an arm, a liver or blood pressure.  We are humans, and therapy must be of experience.

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