Saturday, November 28, 2009

Stop The World I Want to Get Off!

When will the madness stop? Above all, the madness in the name of science and medicine. In the N.Y. Times today (Nov. 26-09) is a story about places like Harvard, of all things, doing surgery for obsessive disorders, depression and other psychological maladies. Here is what they do: In cases of obsessive rituals and thoughts which have been intractable to psychotherapy, they have decided to cut out those pesky afflictions with brain surgery, cutting out pieces of the emotional brain to ease the problem.

This surgery, they warn, is only for those obdurate psychological problems that do not respond to any sort of psychotherapy. It involves drilling four holes in the brain and inserting wires deep down. From there the procedures differ but in one key surgery, cingulotomy, they pinpoint the anterior cingulate for partial destruction. The rationale: they want to destroy some of the brain tissue that forwards emotional messages to the thinking brain, the prefrontal cortex from the feeling areas such as the cingulate. The claim is that this area is overly active in cases such as obsession in inputting emotional messages to the thinking, intellectual centers. There are variations to this theme but in nearly all cases the attempt is to suppress emotional pain from its apprehension higher up.

The claim is that standard therapy cannot touch the problems such as deep depression . This is brain surgery, remember. The result, according to the surgeons, is about sixty percent satisfactory, although we do not know the long-term consequences of brain surgery. There is one follow-up study which indicated that these patients seem apathetic and lose some self-control for years afterward. It is no wonder since we have cut out the person’s passion.

But what if we could do exactly what the surgery does? What if we could avoid a very serious surgery? I believe we can because primal is the only therapy to be able to go deep in the brain purely by psychological means. Because other conventional therapies do not have this possibility in their theories or in their therapy, they think that the only other solution is surgery. And of course deep depression sometimes is being helped by this surgery. Deep depression means just that; origins deep in the brain. So again, a therapy that probes the depths, the antipodes of conscious/awareness should work as well or better than to have one’s brain cut into.

I have not kept our therapy a secret but it is up to those who do this surgery to investigate what is out there before burning out brain tissue. What is sad is that this kind of “way-out” procedure can have positive stories on it in the New York Times and many other respected journals, while a “far-out” psychotherapy such as ours, cannot get a line printed in any newspapers. It is not “safe.” But here is a surgery that is decidedly dangerous and obtains cache in our country. So someone who compulsively washes her hands needs brain surgery? This, it seems, is recommended because, I think, the pain imprinted down low was too much for the usual tranquilizers. So, ergo, we cut out the relay mechanism that sends terrible emotions to the understanding cortex. So, no relay, no pain and no symptoms. If anything about this procedure is enlightening is that we see how compulsions and obsessive develop out of pain surging up from lower brain centers, and how ordinarily, the gating system keeps symptoms from showing. The pain is still doing its damage, however; only we are no longer aware of it. Certainly, the surgeons did not cut out the origin, the emotional imprint, they cut out the circuit that forwards the message to our awareness. That imprint is all over the brain and body. So a piece is cut out and the imprint is still there doing its continual damage. It will certainly find other outlets. What we will do then? Cut out more? The imprint is the conductor; it won’t help to kill the violinist.

In this highly respected scientific atmosphere the most outrageous modes of therapy are taking place.


  1. How far away is that documentary of yours? Maybe it should be free to download online for the sake of proliferation, if your institute can afford it?

    These neuroscientists need to focus on trauma-imprint theory and respect you as an authority on the topic, at least as much as others are. They should stop asking themselves whether or not you're "vogue" and instead ask themselves "What is right about what that Janov guy is saying; does he have anything to contribute?". It's the least they can do before they start drilling holes in people's heads.

  2. Andrew: We are still working on the documentary. art janov.

  3. "Highly respected scientific atmosphere!!!!" Not by rekoning. I have known from my hippy days in the 70's that there was something seriously wrong but could never put my finger on it. Then wow, in 1973 I got hold of abook ... "The Priaml Scream" ... and my whole life outlook changed. Finally: someone had figured out what was wrong.

    Reading what you said here put me immediately into a feeling and most of it was expletives about the Medical and Psychological profession (of course they are my symbolic daddy). that aside, I too have wanted to say "Stop the world: I wanna get off"

  4. Hi Arthur,
    Please don't get off just yet as voices like yours are very important.
    On the subject of when treatments are appropriate and completely inappropriate I'd like to ask about PT and whether there are any situations when you would not advise a patient to have it.
    As you know, I take some psychology classes at Helsinki Uni. and at present we are studying Bowlby's attachment theory. I got talking to my tutor about PT and was surprised to find (generally I do not have too much faith in the academic community in Harvard or anywhere else) she had some considered viewpoints on your work.
    It is these I'd like to put to you.
    In her view PT's goal is to rapidly reduce self-control and self-restraint in a patient. In this respect PT is apt for over-controlled persons who may suffer from muscle
    stiffness (e.g., in the neck, back, shoulders)and even muscle armours.
    Her criticism of PT was that it might be too rapid and that gentle and slow ways of lifting restraint might be better than eliciting very strong intrusions of affect in an over-controlled individual. Offering the example of a client using an A+ attachment strategy (for those readers not familiar with attachment theory this refers to those who strongly inhibit negative affect, who can be compulsive and delusional), she suggested that such a person who is not in touch with his/her negative affects may be completely
    overwhelmed by sudden strong affective intrusions. (This is a fear I share myself.) She even suggested there might be risk of psychosis.
    She added that an under-controlled individual, using the C strategy (someone wh exaggerates affect, is aggressive/disarming)PT might elicit more acting-out where a good supportive structure was not in place.
    (I should add here that in making these comments she spoke of PT and Reichian therapy in the same breath.)
    Though I am aware that PT and Reichian therapy are very different styles of approach my tutor still insisted that they both sought to liberate energy rapidly and that in some cases this might not be appropriate for all types of patient. As someone seriously considering PT these are points that I think are important to consider.
    I know in your previous writing you have said that PT is not recommendable for minors who are trapped in the toxic environment causing their repression. I also know you try to ensure people go cold turkey before treatment. But is PT a treatment that even its founder would not advocate in all situations?
    Will S.

  5. I just sent the following letter to Benedict Carey, the author of the Times article that Dr. Janov refers to in this blog entry. I wonder if he'll answer...

    Hello Mr. Carey,

    I have just been reading some of the more recent articles by you on brain research and related topics. One of the things I've noticed is that these days very little attention is paid to what are called the deep feeling or regression or trauma therapies. It's interesting, for example, that in the recent piece on brain surgery for O.C.D., there is implicit support for the idea that disturbance from deep feeling centers lying deep in the brain are causal in some of these very stubborn cases that don't respond well to cognitive psychotherapy. Aside from surgery, what about other methods to "go deep" after that culprit? Have you considered investigating or doing a piece on regressive therapy like Dr. Arthur Janov's Primal Therapy? That might be very interesting. Thanks for this series and good luck in future endeavors.

    Yours truly,
    Walden Mathews

  6. AYAYAY! A little bit of knowledge.......because we do go slowly there is rarely any danger. Where do we get the idea of falling into psychosis/? It does not happen because we know all of the signs and what causes it. What is it about liberating energy rapidly. That has nothing to do with our therapy. There are many kinds of people we do not take. Above all the psychopaths. And those who still live with their parents. Those who have not worked or functioned. They need some kind of "ego" strength. I see no danger in what we do but a lot of danger in the mock therapies where people are opened up prematurely with disastrous results. We are going very deep so the therapist really needs training to be able to do that. Our goal has absolutely nothing to do with losing control. Consciousness means gaining, not losing, control. It is astounding to me that those who propose to know a lot about us know zero. You need to ask a more specific question. But rest assured it takes years to learn to do this therapy properly and we let no one do it until that time. Training goes on all of the time. And it is quite safe. Too many people claim to be primal therapists or claim to be doing our therapy; they are definitely the danger. dr. janov

  7. Hi Dr Janov,

    I am very curious as to why you don't take on psychopaths, and also people who don't work of 'function'. Can you elaborate a bit?


  8. Well Walden good work and now let me know if he ever responds. I seriously doubt it. art janov

  9. I would like to add to Art's response to you Will, from Helsinki.

    I am a gay man. All down time the experts on Homosexuality have nearly always been heterosexual, without ANY F****n inner knowing about it.
    All down time we've had , so called, experts tell us about things they have no inner experince about. Why?--simple: Neurosis.

    All down time most, so called, experts are doing nothing but "opining" (from their own subconscious, childhood traumas) about their subject. The greatest of these IMO, were usually the religious clergy.

    Any advanced school of learning, if was serious about it's subject, would investigate ALL avenues and theories, until such times as they were invalidated. That's real science. This is not what, I feel, the Psychology faculties are doing, in any universities, that I know of. It's like what they did with Galileo: condemned him to oblivion out of hand. Study it on your own Will, through Janov's books.

  10. Andrew:
    You need some strength to do this therapy. Those who have never functioned will tend to give up when feelings surge upward. What I mean is that we cannot take those who are too weak to integrate feelings. There are many many reasons why we cannot take some people; those who really need a living arrangement supervised or controlled as is the case with psychotics. Psychopaths cannot be reached. They incorporate the therapy into their already existing pathology. We get very few of these people. art janov

  11. Arthur, thanks for responding to the points raised so directly. I will no doubt pass your comments on to my tutor. One point i could make though is that it is not surprising people misunderstand PT when it is a fairly guarded therapy - and no doubt you have good reasons to be protective. However, I am still seriously considering PT for myself. Thanks for offering such a distinctive voice in the world of psychology. There are not many people out there who have the courage to think in new ways and put themselves in the line of fire for doing so. Respect to you.

  12. My recommendation to Will and Walden:
    Read articles written by people who have gone through the therapy.
    I also think 'On Reliving' is something that every bloggaphile should read (in the menu to the left). It's a beautiful explanation of the fundamentals...a real work of Art.

  13. As the sort of person who would have lived with their parents(I don't now) I know what you mean about strength to do the therapy. If I ever start to get in touch with feelings, I try desperately to disconnect, to become numb again; to get back to safety.

    These lyrics by Madonna always seemed apt.
    "You think that you are strong, but you are weak
    You'll see,
    It takes more strength to cry, admit defeat."

  14. That's very interesting Dr. Janov, as someone who tries to read as much of what you have written I remember you wrote an article to the New York Times once:

  15. Will: Our therapy is anything but guarded. I have written 15 books on our work, published in referred journals, spoke at universities, have a blog and have left our training open to all interested. I don't think that is guarded; quite the opposite. art janov

  16. Hi Dr.Art Janov ,when we are at the medicine men obsessiion with surgery ... some 30 years ago I had a sypathectomy (cutting through a nerve) because of sometimes moist palms .. (a well known psychosomatic symptom ) and the longterm after effects:since the regenerating nerve causes ne w symptom :because of dysregulation resp adaption in cold tempertures I get frost!! bite (perniones,as in Latin ..) that are f a r more disabling etc. than the before moist palms!! So far as to the "wisdom" of medicine!! Yours emanuel

  17. To Arthur: 15 books i knew about but I didn't know about the journals. Would be very interested to track these down and read if possible. Can you suggest any titles etc? Also, does your institute conduct its own research or is that too expensive to do alone?
    To Jack: Thanks for the message. Unfortunately there are not enough truth seekers in the sytem whilst there are too many status seekers using academia for their own ego boost. However, i should say that the tutor i mentioned is not one of them but is a very committed and giving teacher.

  18. Believe me I know. I suffer constantly for what doctors did to me during surgery years ago. art janov

  19. Will: Read Primal Healing. There are many references to our research including several double blind studies. Recent article in Association for Peri and Prenatal Psychology and Health by me.

  20. Kaz:
    Wow I don't remember writing that at all. thanks so much art janov

  21. Hello Kaz Hey don't put it off too long. I am not forever. art janov

  22. no problem Dr. Janov, I am making every effort to come down soon, its my last semester before I graduate with a major in Addictions and Social Services.

    I am really excited about the fact that the therapy has changed more in the last 5 years than previous 30, which can be seen from reading the new books which are filled with multi-syllable scientific terms.

    The concept of having strength to do the therapy is new to me, I know that feeling is liberating and something to look forward to* Hopefully everyone will be strong enough to integrate their feelings when the time comes.

    "Primal pain is a pain that feels good, a seeming contradiction in terms but a just explanation for those who have felt pain and found that it is a great relief to unburden oneself of a crushing emotional burden."

    -The Primal Scream audiobook

  23. DR Janov: why would you not treat people who still live with their parents? Or those who never worked (they might have an inheritance)? And what do you mean when you say that those who have not worked need "ego strength"?

    I have always thought that those who need therapy the most, like psychotics, get it the least. And the middle and upper classes (already functional) get it the most , which is unfair. Marco

  24. Well Kaz looking forward to see you. It is a great adventure. art janov

  25. We stopped taking those who cannot function because they need a half-way house which we do not have. They need a supervised life. We are in no position to do that. Don't get too picky. We try to accommodate all who apply but we want them to have a good shot at getting well. Otherwise it is not fair to them. art janov

  26. This comment was sent to me by email:

    Dear Art,

    Please let me tell you that your blog this week - about Harvard "scientists" performing brain surgery on depressed people, people with compulsional behaviour - nearly made me cry! What do these so called scientists think? Are academics able to feel at all? Or, is it common among them - as it seems - that they are highly autistic!

    Art, please let everyone who reads your website and your blog know that Primal therapy is not only the only cure for neurosis, but also for Borderline! Please let the readers know that - if the patient really hangs in there and does everything that is scary in therapy, like telling therapists and oneself the truth, go for feelings, when you are triggered in group, and so on! I know it takes ALL your courage and hard work but this is the only way you can cure yourself! I know it out of OWN experience!

    How blind will conventional scientists stay? Art, I really feel sad with you! I feel sad that conventional therapists, doctors, psycho-people consider Primal Therapy "unsafe" and "dangerous" as you write! What they do with these surgery techniques is to bring psychiatry back to the level where it was about 100 years ago! At that time they cut off a psychiatric patients' corpus callosum! Art, I really feel with you that these techniques in summa summarum are what you call "monstruous" when you talk about electric shocks (which "new minded" scientists nowadays begin to use again!)

    And, yes, I really AM afraid that you will pass away one day and that no one will tell the world the truth about where all kinds of psychological conditions come from! What I also fear is that I will not get to see you again - simply because you and your staff have saved my life - and you simply deserve a hug and a sincere "thank you!"

    Please say "hi!" to all of your staff and your wife!

    Thank you! (No, I need to correct myself, "THANK YOU!")

  27. Another email:

    Dear Arthur,

    It’s around 36 years since I started primal therapy and 33 since I last saw you, so I’m not sure you’ll remember me. I attended the Primal Institute in Almont Drive from 1973 to 1976 after being interviewed in Cambridge, England by Bernard and Wendy Campbell. I’m attaching a recent photo in the hope that might jog your memory.

    After all the progress I’ve made since that time, I’d like to ask you one question - because although my experience confirms primal therapy as the only one that has any hope of delivering the goods, there is a proviso.

    Of those of my contemporaries from the seventies who I am still in touch with, or have news of, I am, sadly, the only one who has continued with his therapy. I think that back in the seventies a lot of us thought that one major, connected feeling might release us from our pain and free us up to lead an emotionally healthy life.
    Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that quickly and it isn’t that simple – which is probably why so many have fallen by the wayside.

    In fact, I think I may have been lucky (from a therapeutic point of view) in that, as I now know, my own life was wrecked by one cataclysmic event when I was around four years old – before which time. I felt pretty much loved, and contentedly myself. I think it’s possible it may be some vague memory of those first four years that has given me the drive to persist with my therapy – a kind of memory that my contemporaries possibly were not able to draw on.

    Today, I’m no longer predominantly depressed and withdrawn, but am instead mostly happy, outgoing and even popular. However, the fact remains that, despite all my progress, I have still not regained the feelings of my first four years and I still find myself unable to sustain a long-term relationship with a woman. In fact, I no longer bother trying to establish short-term ones because my locked-up body causes me too much embarrassment. One of the reasons I’m writing, though, is that I feel this same body may finally be on the verge of un-locking itself.

    Although I doubt that you’ve come across many traumas quite like mine (a former primal patient I told it to back here in England couldn’t quite believe me), I won’t detain you with the details. Suffice it to say that about a year ago, I had a brief glimpse of what the real me with an unlocked body feels like. It usually takes months, or even longer, to go through all the feelings that turn such glimpses into something more permanent, and that’s the stage I’m at with this one.

    The point, though, is that it’s taken a very long time to get this far. As with pretty well everyone else, my childhood pain got more and
    more deeply embedded in my growing body throughout my formative years - with virtually no respite. So even though I can get into feelings relatively easily, my body takes a heck of a long time to adjust to the outcome – to believe it really can drop one or two more of its defences. It isn’t getting into connected feelings that takes the time, it’s the adjustments the body has to make after each one.

    So the proviso I referred to above is that nobody yet seems to have found a way of getting the body to adjust more quickly. And the question is: “…or have you?”

    Many, many thanks for all the help your therapy has given me, and my
    very best wishes.

  28. And another email:

    I comment your blog here.

    You write about your situation as the invisible 600 pound gorilla of psychiatry. In similar manner, four years after the Primal Scream Robert Pirsig published Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Last month there was a small time seminar about his philosophy at Oxford and it was still described like this:

    ...(his work) has still to make a visible impression on an academic discipline, despite the high regard in which his work is held by many academics.

    Five years after that book professor Betty Edwards published Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. If you ask me, I think that Edwards revolutionized human culture by showing that after a couple of days of practice, everybody can see reality on a totally different level - and as a side effect, everybody can instantly draw like a master.

    So there are three 80-something Americans who have demonstrated a fundamentally different understanding of reality. None of you have ever been proven wrong, and actually nobody has even tried. Edwards' situation is especially weird, since practically every reader of her book can prove her method for themselves.

    And yet, as you wrote, you and your peers have been sidetracked. Not argued with, but just pushed aside.

    I live in a mini-version of this situation. Just last Tuesday, as I exchanged e-mails with you, I attended a seminar on physical fitness. Most of the local establishment were there, so I kept pestering the speakers with my comments. Every time the reaction was the same. "Yes, you are exactly right. That truly is the crux of the matter." And then came a time warp and my comment never happened. The presentations and discussions continued from where I stopped them.

    I developed my own theory of physical health just to make money for more important matters. Actually, what little money I got ended up with you, because I spent it to send my friend to your center. Then I ran out of money and she ran out of visa, and ever since I have lived in this spectacular limbo: everybody agrees with me and nobody works with me.

    My point is that you, your American peers and even I over here, should focus on this limbo. We shouldn't just keep hammering our ideas again and again, because the mental lock of the listeners will not open.

    I recently counted that over the last decade I have made 48 succesful presentations of my idea in different organizations and companies. That might not seem like much, but every presentation was followed by two to four months of promising developments - and every one of those slowly fizzled away. The fizzling process kept me in suspended animation, so I haven't had time to make more tries. Also not a single one of those situations ended with an open rejection, or any kind of rejection. People just faded away and the projects were gradually abandoned like ghost towns.

    I think that this is not just normal friction of life, but a phenomenon in its' own right. It should be put on the table: look, here is an undisputed and revolutionary theory - and look how educated, professional people cannot face it. Don't concentrate on the theory, but on this strange, slippery avoidance. It is like the Louis Bunuel movie The Exterminating Angel, where a group of people are unexplicably unable to leave a room, but everybody pretends that there is nothing wrong and they just want to stay in that room.

    I read that you are making a documentary. How about putting some Bunuel into it: showing this open contradiction and keeping it to people's faces? Look, look, don't look away. My theory is not disputed, but it is not accepted, either. What is going on?

  29. Another email:
    Audrey Tyrka studies the interaction of neurobiological and psychosocial factors in the development of mood and anxiety disorders, as well as novel treatment approaches for these disorders. The ultimate goal of this work is to understand the risk and protective factors for mood and anxiety disorders in order to develop better approaches toward prevention and treatment.
    This excerpt is from:"
    The "janovian" hints go on and on, but as I said, this is only my personal impression.

  30. Art, I know when I'm over-reacting to a feeling of danger because there is no explanation. My act-out is to prove there is no explanation. Will this kind of realistic awareness help me in my therapy?

    Combining my awareness with some of my near-primal dreams, I would like to think I have a small 'Janovian Gap'. I would like to think this means I will primal easily. Some people do.
    Maybe it's the opposite. Maybe I'm loaded with a huge amount of pain, and this is the only reason why it's getting close to consciousness. This could mean it will be difficult for me to primal?
    Obviously you can't make any predictions for me, but I am curious to see your comments on this subject. What type of person can primal easily?

  31. The above reference to the book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenace" touched off some fine memories. When I was in the university town (Missoula? Bozeman?) where Pirsig once worked as profesor, I met one of the characters in the book, Prof DeWitt (?), an art profesor that Pirsig stayed with when he went back to the town with his kid, years after his psychotic breakdown. What a treat! A cool guy, and all the other people at this gathering too.But I am mentionning this novel mainly because it is , in my opinion, ,like Dr Janov's "Primal Scream", one of the rare BALANCED works coming out of of the counter-culture of the 60`s. By "balanced" I mean :promoting an alternative revolutionary challenge to the prevailing sick Western culture in some field, without going into excesses in the opposite direction. Specifically with respect to Pirsig, his critique of the excesses of our technological society does not veer into a fundamentalist anti-technological stance, like so many hippies got into. Similarly, Janov's book did not get into any spaced-out New Age nonsense then and now (whether psychological or "spriritual"), stays scrupulously scientific despite its great challenge to existing psychological scientific paradigms (behaviorism especially) , and unequivocally rejects such dangerous practices of the hippy era such as use of LSD, and was not afraid to characterise homosexuality as a neurosis, which common sense also says that it is (this is scientifically objective, not homophobic, which is highly different).So bravo to both of them: any real revolutionary , in my opinion, is walking a fine line in this society, in that he can get ripped apart by the existing dogmatic opposing herds in his field that may assail him or her from each side, leaving her sometimes batterred and alone. Marco

  32. Marco: Speaking of that era try to read Ginsberg's Howl . a brilliant poem. art janov

  33. Richard: Those who primal easily are those neither over nor under the feeling/primal zone. Too sick you feel right away but cannot connect--overwhelmed. Too much pain and too repressed cannot feel because under the feeling zone. We know what to do in these cases. Rest assured. you want to know a lot before plunging in. I understand but sometimes you just need to go and do. art janov

  34. No....I've known enough for a long time. For a long time I've been wanting to plunge in. I have never been afraid of your therapy. My concerns I expressed in the past were about whether I will be able to get through a feeling of "I am going to die". I have never been afraid to feel it. I was concerned I won't be able to feel it. I know I can't die. You see what I'm saying? When I say "I would be in LA yesterday if I could" I mean it. You're assuming I'm afraid to do the therapy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    I'm not earning much and I can't expect free therapy and free airfares and accommodation while having no job in LA. I need more time.

  35. Do what you have to. we can both wait. art janov

  36. Dr Janov: First I would like to clear up a possible misunderstanding in one of my previous posts on this thread, to wit that I was accusing you of not doing more for psychotics. Beleive me, I realise the limitations of what you can do, and what psychotics would need. I accuse you of nothing. Your track record speaks for itself. I only brought up the point in a GENERAL way, ie, that some greatly sufferring people out there are getting the least help. That point came up for me even more forcefully and poignantly last night, as I came across a woman, half-passed out on the cold pavement of a street. She was so drunk and/or stoned she could barely walk and talk. And some arrogant teenager, moreover, equally ripped, was propositioning her with some gross sexual advances. Anyways, I brought her to a hospital, and I wonder since then what is happenning her, and how she is, where her life will go...

    And thanks for the reference to "Howl". I've read it many times. It is very powerful, a great poem. But I keep my distance, as much as I can, from the Beat lifestyle because I don't want to end up like Kerouac, dying by pucking my guts out at 49 because of alcoholism.

    Finally, mention was made of the incomparable Shakespeare on another thread, and I would like to share the following quote by him with all of you: a lament expressing the anguish of all who have sufferred from emotional illness. And the quote is especially dedicated to Dr Janov and Jack Waddington:

    Macbeth (distressed) to a doctor:

    " Canst thou minister to a mind diseased,
    Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
    Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
    And with some oblivious sweet antidote
    Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
    Which weighs upon the heart? "

    Pure genius. Marco Ermacora

  37. "They need a supervised life."

    Wow wow wow! Mind-boggling to witness therapists know just exactly what it is their clients need!

    As it may be true that, while going through acute crisis, most "psychotic" (whatever that term means) people need a secure environment where they can be safe from (further) assault and trauma, "secure" doesn't mean "secured", as in "supervised". Or why not simply "controlled", as in "Let's lock 'em up and throw away the key!"??

    How about a little more respect for the person in crisis, and his/her own knowledge of what s/he needs?

    Marian, Denmark, blogger and expert on her own needs

  38. oh well, not to misrepresent myself, I'm fairly content with life(apart from practical issues).

    Any way, there have always been people, and theories that have to struggle for acceptance, in science.

    A good example is Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who studied star evolution and worked out the Chandrasekhar limit. The limit describes the maximum mass of a white dwarf star, ~1.44 solar masses, or equivalently, the minimum mass, above which a star will ultimately collapse into a neutron star or black hole (following a supernova).

    from wiki:
    "When Chandra first proposed this limit during his fellowship at Trinity College in the 1930s, it was opposed by Arthur Eddington and much to Chandra's frustration none of the established physicists in Europe came to his rescue"

  39. Marco: What wonderful writing. I never get tired of him. The literary genius of all time. Art janov

  40. " Canst thou minister to a mind diseased,
    Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
    Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
    And with some oblivious sweet antidote
    Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
    Which weighs upon the heart? "

    If I was to use a Shakespeare-to-English translator, it would read "Can you somehow obliviously tear out or burn my bad feeling?"

    In Shakespearean days, if no person could be blamed for another's grief, then the fault lay with demons. Doctors drilled holes in the skull to let the demons out, or they invented magic potions to kill them.

    It all sounds too familiar doesn't it? I hope Walden's letter has some effect on the Harvard students.

  41. Art,
    I wish I could say God bless you… that my illusion could fool the truth… a saying worthy you fantastic work… but for now I will say… you are fantastic… amazing and outstanding. I will do all I can to have people listening to what you are talking about.
    Frank Larsson

  42. Richard: Why don't some of you write to Harvard? I still love Shakespeare. I mean, isn't that great? art janov

  43. Frank: Well thank you. It was nice to be appreciated especially when the professional world ignores you completely. art janov

  44. I've never read Shakespeare. I don't read much. I see genius in certain parts of movies where everything comes together to create a powerful effect....the music and images. I prefer stuff that doesn't require any intellectual interpretation. I might make a movie one day. My music album for kids is almost finished. I hope they like it. It's fun but it's a little bit scarey too. The main character in the music video and book (still to come) is orphaned and adopted by a couple of aggressive creatures (aliens). I'm using a trick used by some other children's book writers (making the reader relate strongly to the main character). I want it to be very immersive...but not too depressing. I'm learning from my of which is likely to do primal therapy in the future (I think).

  45. I sometimes wonder Art if we/you are 'struggling' with the professionals and sciense in general. The professionals are busy justifying their work with science. That to me IS the problem (yeah, I know I am crazy, arrogant and concieted). Science has for ever been searching for "Unified Feild Theory". well ! I turns up NOT in physics, science or mathematics, but in psychology. Priaml Theory IS Unified Field Theory. Why???? How???? because we now know what is wrong with us humans, period, end. And we now know how to prevnt it--thanks to Art Janov.

  46. Jack Waddington,

    I think that's just it. The psychology world seems to be made up of a mass of people researching a mass of incoherently related parts, but no comprehensive whole. We have people studying this that and the other, and never knowing what the whole thing is all about.

    I think primal theory moves in the direction towards giving us the big picture, and helping us to get things in proper perspective.

    It seems like the psychology world is not even interested in a "unified field theory" of the mind. Funny that. On that level I think you really do stand on your own, Dr Janov.

  47. "The professionals are busy justifying their work with science."

    Well said, Jack. Real scientists don't care if they are right or wrong. They care if the science is right or wrong. Neurotic scientists will look for arguments instead of answers.

  48. Hello Jack,

    It's probably true that a lot of science research is a matter of "looking for love in all the wrong places", but I think it's not for us to judge people who are interested in things like unified field theories and the like. It's possible to be interested in physics even if you're not what Richard is calling a "neurotic scientist". And speaking of science, isn't it a bit unscientific to assert that we know how to prevent mental illness? That would be a rather difficult study to set up, wouldn't it?


  49. Andrew Atkin thinks that Dr Janov is on his own with a "unified field theory". Actually Wilhelm Reich also had a unified field theory, which I see as very compatible with Dr Janov's work. But Dr Janov , of course , disagrees .Anyways I think both have made remarkable discoveries in seeing the Big Picture as far as human beings go. I always wonder how come Science, in the field of human affairs has always been, for the most part, so fragmented, and specialised.

  50. mister janov,

    i was going to ask what has already been asked by previous posters namely why certain people are not taken.

    this has been a illuminating seeing as one of my personal life goals is to experience primal therapy-- alas the cost [$] is of some concern. we'll see.

    i have a question about your "vetting" process:

    what are your privacy standards? if you are not accepted what then happens to your application?

    i have some questions and concerns but i'll leave it at that.

    i thank you for your time-- not only that but likewise for all that you have contributed towards the increasing understanding of the human condition.

    may we one day meet and do our work.

    best wishes,

    [seattle,wa | 26yrs old | commercial photography, video production | & student]

  51. Herman: cannot write. I had an accident. AJ

  52. Hi Walden,

    Judging people who are interested in things like: "Unified Field Theory" was not my point. I was attempting to embrace a far greater concept. To me, "Science" in and of itself is, a neurotic endeavor. I know this I MY notion and not that of Arthur Janov. I have written and published a book that explains this at great length. To mention this in a blog is perhaps seemingly provocative, arrogant, conceited or even misguided. I accept that others feel differently. No other creature does Science, or for that matter many other things we humans indulge in. The other creatures live with 'nature'. We are the only ones that try to control it. That, to me, is the essence of 'neurosis'. Jack

  53. This comment has been removed by the author.

  54. Dr. Janov,

    "Nope" it's not a hard study to design? You must be kidding.

    Jack, science means knowledge, not control. I agree with you that control over nature, at some degree, is excessive and unhealthy. However, it's naive to think that only humans exert control over nature. Living things exert whatever controls they can to make survival possible. Beavers make dams, for instance, to control the the depth of nesting waters. And so on. Intelligence to the degree that it exists in humans may be relatively new, but that in itself does not make it unnatural.

    Our intelligence gives us the ability to observe correlations among phenomena, to refine views on cause and effect, and to have responses which are not limited to those capable of the more ancient brain. You can put a negative spin on all that if you like, but why?

    Sure, there is harm done when one cannot feel the outcome of one's actions on others. But dismissing science and the intelligence that backs it is throwing out too much. I haven't read your book, so I don't know the whole of your position.


  55. Jack

    To suggest that the scientific endeavour is inherently neurotic seems to me to be just plain silly. Maybe you prefer the idea of a future humanity living in some latter day paradise where the lion and the lamb lay down side by side and everyone just smiles while watching the grass grow. . . not for me I am afraid. I have little doubt that some scientists are neurotic, others maybe not, but it is humans who are neurotic, not science, and science, like any other human endeavour can be pursued "un-neurotically". Art's Primal Theory for example is a truly remarkable piece of genuinely scientific work in my opinion.

  56. Jack, what is your definition of science? Other therapists question the scientific validity of primal therapy, while Art says other therapies are not real science.
    It seems like everyone has a different definition.

    One definition of science from "Knowledge gained by systematic study"

    Using this definition we can say that any religion can be backed up with science. We can systematically study all sorts of "evidence" such as scriptures and possible remnants of noahs ark etc. until we come to a logical but assumptive conclusion.

    Another definition:
    "Knowledge or skill reflecting a precise application of facts or principles"

    This one is getting warmer but if the facts or principles are irrelevant then we can still end up with bogus science.

    In other words "science" is whatever you want it to be. Proof is whatever you want it to be.

    I'd rather forget about the word "science" and instead, focus on "results". Most therapists are not smart enough to realise they should be looking at Art's results. Therapists need to compare each other's results. They won' I won't call it science.


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.