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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Stress Is Not a Short Term Event

I think we are outfitted with inbuilt mechanisms to handle adverse events—stress.  But let’s be clear what stress is. It is not falling off your bicycle.  Or even breaking your leg.   Stress occurs when the event exceeds our coping mechanisms; when we no longer are able to integrate it and go on with life.  It usually happens in two ways; either the trauma happens so early and so life endangering, as very early traumas can be, overwhelming our defenses; or, it becomes a permanent event that wears down the various systems of the body over time.  It is usually the permanence of stress that is the culprit.

This has some scientific backing:  a new study in Germany (Dr. Georg Juckel) documented how long-lasting stress produced mental illness (see or The measured prolonged stress as it effects the immune system.  They concentrated on certain phagocytes (microglia). They help repair nerve cells; except, except, when they are overtaxed. Then they become  destructive.   That is when stress, having gone on too long, becomes its antagonist.  In other words, our initial repair mechanisms  turn into their opposite when stress goes on too long.  As we know, there is just so much we can take.  So those microglia cells now produce inflammation instead of reducing it.   Our good protective friend becomes our enemy. It says, “You asked too much of me and I can’t do it any more.”

When the triggering even goes on and on the destructive forces remain and do their damage.  They found that it wasn’t the trauma along that was the guilty party but how that trauma was embedded on deeper trauma:   those who were under trauma were many times more likely to develop mental illness later on if there was a history of severe infections during early gestation; especially true during the embryonic period.   We need to investigate the gestalt of entire panoply of illness; not just a single factor.  When trauma is compounded, the mother has a series of ailments or drinks alcohol or smokes from the start of pregnancy,  there can be serious effects later on, not the least of which are severe allergies.    I have reported on a patient with such heavy afflictions. She explained to me that her parents fought all the time during the pregnancy, finally ending in divorce in her seventh month.  My patient felt it all and seemed sure that all of the chronic battles affected her immune system.  She made constant runs to the emergency services in her community.

What is crucial here is that the embryonic state helps shape the newly developing immune system.  When there is severe influenza during this period the baby may well suffer later from all sorts of immune diseases, not the least of which may be the catastrophic diseases much later in life; and who could dream that those illnesses got their start during the embryonic period?    Above all, it is the chronicity of the trauma, the unrelenting terrible input, that does us in.   One sure thing, is the mother’s constant smoking; another is her chronic depression or anxiety.  They exist during the embryonic period and have very long-lasting effects.

I had chronic allergies as a kid, went to doctor after doctor to try to figure it all out.  But they were looking in the wrong place; they should have looked into my brain and the brain of my childhood.  There was the answer. And when I got out of the house all allergies stopped.  Today I have no allergies at all.    I do believe that allergy specialists need to reduce their immune studies and talk to their patients about their early life.  How was gestation?  And birth? Many drugs given?  I believe they will find many more answers there than in the allergy tests they study.

But isn’t all this self evident?  Pipe smokers who pass hot smoke over their lips and jaws often suffer cancer of those areas.  Remember Freud with his jaw cancer?  It is the constant friction, the assault and insult that does it all.   We are built to withstand just so much and then the body gives up.  It did what it could and it was not enough.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Pain Inside Need

Why does need hurt?  Well, it does not until we feel it. Then it hurts a lot, which is why most of us act it out.  We show our needs every day and every minute, which is how we know they’re there.   When we engage our therapist and show him how smart we are, how terribly insightful, we get a nodding approval.  Our act-out works and we don’t have to feel our need, even though that need is liberating when felt.   When the narcissist cannot be the center of attention he starts to hurt until he can gain that center again.  Indeed, all of us hurt when our needs are not fulfilled even though we have no awareness of that need.   And in fact, neurosis is designed to keep us unaware.  So we act out being helpless so we can get someone else to do it for us or to help us.  When there is no help we hurt.

But why the act-out?  Because it is a straight line from the need, except that the gates which diminish feeling access blunt the hurt and keep us unaware.  When we are unaware we do not hurt as much.  Unconsciousness is our savior.   That straight line from need also works in reverse; when we go back to it over time in therapy we start to hurt—hold me, touch me, say I’m good, hear me, talk to me—all of the needs essential for normal survival; to survive as a normal human being become alive again.   We hurt because those needs represent survival; we need to be normal and need to grow normally.  When we can’t the system says something is missing and provides pain to signal it.  Pain keeps the need alive.  Pain is essential to our survival and our normality.

I have treated film directors whose pathology rivals that of actors. When they are not on scene they hurt.  Yes they can even produce feeling scenes but it remains an act-out not a felt feeling.    They don’t really hurt enough to feel their need, but they hurt enough to feel depressed, alone and neglected.  Even when those needs are not articulated.  In other words, needs become shrouded by the gating system whose function is to keep us unaware and unconscious.  All this is particularly true of the earliest imprints where pain is at the maximum.   It is the most powerful, the most driving, and the least accessible.   Because it is least accessible, we usually ascribe our act-outs to arcane reasons or we most often deny them.

We see it in the deep trenches of the psyche; in sex which emanates from deep in the brain.  We go to therapy to solve our “sex” problem and we use the top level that has no access to deep levels where the imprints lie. Because the therapist nor the patient knows about those deep levels that are obliged to roam in a  different terrain from where the problem lies.  So if the patient needs to be spanked to have orgasm, words won’t touch.   I already wrote about a girl whose only touch from her father was when he lifted her skirt and spanked her bare bottom.  That touch fulfilled an unacknowledged need; it felt good and become a sexual need.  Or the need to see a partner’s face when she orgasmed.  My patient never saw his mother smile or seem happy.  Here he could see unalloyed joy.   It fulfilled a basic need for a normal, happy mother.   That is why I state that the act-out is often a straight line from the need.  That need never dies. We have two choices; either we feel it or we act it out into infinity.

So when we believe we are normal and are bereft of any deep need, look at the act-outs.  They are often subtle.  And they are also compulsive; we do it over and over again.  Leaving dirty dishes in the sink? The need, “Don’t make me do all the chores all of the time.”  Forced not to ask for help?  “I want to be good and not be a bother."
This to parents who really don’t want to be bothered.  The child fulfilled their needs in order to be loved, which never happened.   Or the compulsive gambler who cannot stop … he wants “lady luck” to help him and make him rich without him having to struggle for it.

Basic need, then, becomes symbolic need. That is the essence of neurosis.  We act on symbols. The “love” of an audience instead of the need for it from parents: “I will be anything you want me to be if you can love me.”

So here is the dilemma:  we need to feel need to overcome neurosis, and we need to act it out because we cannot feel it.  Solution?  A slow trip to the depths, to the antipodes of the brain where all those needs await us.  Take one more step and you are there; but alas, the last step is filled with primal demons which keeps diverting us.  That is why we need help in therapy; to help us bypass the demons for the moment and to step gingerly into the primal pool of pain.    Aah, the pool is a lot warmer than I expected and not nearly so dangerous.  After all, it is only me who I will find.  How dangerous could that be?

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