Sunday, November 8, 2009

Primal Pain And Primal Therapy is a Matter of Life And Death

The question is, “Why I am writing all of this? What difference will it make? Am I drowning the fish? Without appearing too dramatic I think it can be a matter of life and death. And Primal Therapy a matter of life!
An article reported in Science Daily (Oct. 7, 2009) indicates that those who had trauma while being carried and after in childhood died on the average 20 years earlier than those who did not have those risk factors. The average age of death, according to the Center for Disease Control, (David W. Brown) was sixty; not long enough and not close to the age 79 of the non-risk group. What the study showed was that those children exposed to six or more risk factors were at “double the risk of premature death.” Lack of love, that is, lack of fulfillment of need very early on, can be fatal. (see also, The American Journal of Preventive Medicine. November, 2009)
The risk factors included: living in a household with subtance abuse, witnessing domestic violence, a battered mother and its effect on the fetus, verbal and physical abuse, mental illness in the home, parents who were separated or divorced. Any of one these is powerful enough to create life-long damage. This is data from over 17,000 adults.
Lifetime trauma exposure to the mother was very important. Was she, while carrying, under stress?
The two most popular ways out of this planet are heart attacks and cancer. It is fairly well established now how womb-life affects heart function later on. Now there is evidence how that same set of traumas while we live in the womb can lead to cancer. University of Toronto researchers have completed a study on physical abuse early on and the occurrence of cancer. What they did not study is the more subtle abuses originating during our time in the womb. It can only be inferred. But from our experience observing patients this kind of trauma is shattering. (see July 15, 2009. Neuron. Esme Fuller-Thomson). They controlled for the usual factors such as smoking, drinking and being inactive physically, and still the rates of cancer were very high. They hypothesize that there perhaps is a deregulation of cortisol production. This makes sense since our starting patients were quite high in the stress hormone and normalized after one year of the therapy, and have a low incidence of cancer after the therapy.


  1. Dr. Janov,
    what is hindering people to seek PT?
    I fear, it is fear it self, which is grater than the lack of money or any other reason for not seeking therapy that heals trauma. Are people afraid to discover themselves? Or, are they so use to the century old destructive pain, that they cannot live without it?

    A 26 year old mother (sexually abused at age 4) with a 14 day old baby rather goes back to work to buy new SUV, instead of staying at home and breast feeding her newborn. She is reading all your material but claims not to have the money to see you. Another goes on a expensive vacation so he can feel a bit better for a week or so, but they would not spend a penny to get really well.
    Others love to see every week their cognitive therapist, to get a refill on sugar water, or get another belly rub, that will last until the next session.

    I know a person who spent in 20 years a fortune seeing a (cognitive) therapist. She is not willing to make an appointment with you. Are these people “therapy junkies”?
    What will it take to convince these neurotic people, that healing is better than keeping on managing the pain. I’m out of answers.

  2. Well Sieglinde I suggest you ask in depth to these people why they won't come. art janov

  3. It's easy. They won't come because they don't want a lizard in their brain. In software, we can write programs that don't fail, but customers are never interested in that either.


  4. Maybe they're afraid of real change which is what primal therapy is about, right? Maybe people who avoid PT want a therapy that gives them the parental attention they crave from childhood rather than reality. But ultimately and then again who really does want reality?

  5. Will, great that you are thinking of doing primal therapy. I hope you do. I don't think of primal therapy in a negative way. I think of my pain in a negative way, and I think of the Primal Center as my dumping ground where I can offload all my pain. We are living in a golden age. We are surrounded by everything we need. When we get rid of our pain, we have the opportunity to enjoy what should be described as utopia. Sorry if I'm sounding like a religious cult member....but it's true. Golden opportunity.

  6. For what it’s worth I do think what you say has had a big impact on people even if they don’t necessarily come to primal therapy. There are many people who take you’re views to heart when having children, with the knowledge that what they are giving their children will be a better life than the one they have had. In my own example, I would say that my children are much healthier mentally and emotionally than I was. The family that I grew up in was much different than the one I have given them. My family was full of many of the things that you mentioned. None of which exist in their lives. On the other hand, there are many people who seemed determined to make things as unreal as possible, unfortunately many of them are in positions of authority in the medical establishment.

  7. People who know about PT, who need it yet do not do it are just not ready yet. They are still looking for a painless way out. I know because I used to be one of them. I have several friends in long-term conventional therapy and/or on daily psych meds. I have mentioned to them my experiences with PT and how it has worked for me and how it has profoundly changed my life. I have even (unwisely perhaps) confronted them on occasion with feedback pointing out clear signs that what they are doing isn't working. Without exception they angrily dismiss my points with utter nonsense and then pretty much tell me to go F myself. This has caused me to reflect on how I ended up in PT: because nothing else worked. I tried everything under the sun and in the end all of them were merely coping mechanisms that probably would have sufficiently helped me to "tough out" the rest of my life. But for me this was not enough. I knew I could survive my miserable life, but what would be the point of that? Has evolution brought conscious life down through countless millennia so that it's finest creation, human life, can suffer? Do we exist to be born under punches, reared with indifference and left to struggle for the rest of our lives in a loveless, painful battle for mere survival?

    The person who finds Primal Therapy and sees it through is a person who answers that question by saying "Hell no!"

    If I have to swim across an ocean of tears and feel the abominable pain of years of mistreatment and neglect to reclaim my life, to reclaim my true self, then by God that's what I'll do.

    But I must say that even after many PT sessions I'm still not where I want to be. I've come a long way and I'm grateful to Art & PT but still, I am 48 and I still don't know what people mean when they say "I am in love." I am hoping to find out before I die. Thanks Art, for giving me a fighting chance.

  8. Good Lord: You are very welcome. art janov

  9. Now I have a name for this unbearable pain I have had all my life and live with daily.


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.