Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Exorcism

There is an article in the N.Y, Times (Nov. 13, 2010. “For Catholics, Interest in Exorcism is Revived”)about a serious trend in the Catholic church which is not so catholic, after all, and not quite sane, to boot. American Bishops are meeting to discuss how to prepare more priests to implement exorcism because the demand is so high. What the clergy say is that they need help to distinguish between those who claim to be possessed who may need psychotherapy, and those who claim to be possessed who are normal or legitimate, and would need the church’s help.

The clergy believes that not everyone who wants an exorcism really needs one. “It is only use in those cases where they devil is involved.” I presume they mean where someone is “possessed” by the devil. Now in case you think this is crazy, just remember that something like 80% of the population believes in the devil.

So let me get this straight. Those who are possessed by heaven and hell will decide on those who are possessed by the devil. None of all of those has anyone ever seen, felt or touched. It is all socially sanctioned delusions; all of it, by definition. But let us not be too quick to condemn it; I think they know that something dark and painful is in there but they just don’t know what it is. So they extirpate it symbolically where believers scream and yell, writhe and roll and do everything but put it all in context, which would really get rid of it. Real bad things did happen but it is not the devil; it is pain, and it is indeed in there and needs to get out.

We must not be too quick to condemn this since it is little more than what the electroshock therapists and the psychosurgery doctors do too. They slam, bang it, cut it out, do everything but solve what “it” is. If all of them, clergy and doctors knew what lay down there, there would be no surgery, shock or exorcism. All of them imply a mysterious, dark force, that like the “id” of Freud is unknowable, immutable and life-enduring.

And, immodestly, if they all knew that there was a way to get down deep in the brain safely without shock and/or surgery they might do it.

Now how on earth can a clergyman decide on one who is possessed be sane and one who is possessed be not sane? Possessed means insane, in my book. It is, as I have stated, a delusion, something that exists only in the person’s mind. But of course, if you believe that he/she/it/they exist you have no choice to agree with possession. And while we are at it I assume that those clergymen who abuse children would be possessed. By what or whom? By their childhood and their parents. They seem to be helpless before their criminal acts of destroying children. Their way out: let’s blame it on the devil. When you deal with “angels and demons” you are not, by definition, in reality, except the one you manufacture. It is called consensual validation; I believe because you believe, and since we all believe it must be true. Wonderful!
The priests claim that they can heal, not because they have the power; the power comes from Jesus. So now you have to believe in another abstraction.

Well you say, the notion of the devil has existed for thousands of years so there must be some truth there somewhere. Yes, the truth lies in the very early imprints that exist in the unconscious, which drive us unceasingly, and which, perforce we must give it a name—the devil. Yes, there is evil, done by humans, and if we do not know how pain drives us to be cruel, how unfeeling humans can be so bad with others, we remain at a loss to understand.

I understand that the church is training to do exorcisms because there are many shrinks doing training in primal therapy who have no idea what it is, what the science behind it is; where all you have to do is scream, beat the walls and wail. So shrinks, in the name of science and psychology, are doing no more than exorcisms.

I have seen films of exorcisms, and I have seen films of the Holy Rollers who roll on the floor and scream and yell, and then feel better afterwards. I call that abreaction. It is Primal without the feeling and the connection; but it is close. I have seen patients who talk “in tongues;” who babble on and on nonsensically but they get relief. The church says that those who can do that are no doubt possessed. In my groups I have patients get on their knees close, face-to-face, and babble but I want them to through all that to express their real feelings without any words. Within minutes the tears and sobs flow. It is a very good technique. When that fails I get the atheist to get on their knees and pray to God for what they really want; again, tears and sobs….and, real needs and real pain. They say that the ordinary work of the devil is giving in to temptation. It is not the devil, it is pure unresolved need and pain. When my patients feel all of that they are no longer driven to cede to temptation.

All of this, the church claims, is bringing back the old church values and “sanity,” I presume. Pardon me if I disagree.


  1. Humans have always come up with fairytale's to explain what they cannot understand. When we came to understand atmospheric electricity we stopped believing in Thorns' anger, for example.

    And now, as you basically say, we can stop believing in demonic possessions and "conversion experiences" etc. Now that we know how the brain can be (and is) pushed around by blocked pain.

    You're such a party-pooper Dr Janov. The "spiritual" must hate you!

  2. Dear Art ,the lucidity of Your commentaries to the
    problem of exorcism and this old "mischiefmaker"(Jiddu Krishnamurti..)let be me literally speechless-
    only one big point-I do n o t let the evil doers
    here on earth be "exculpated"(the right word?..) by their imprints and father, mother and whomever neglect to them!!!!
    The hordes of "men????" stoning a seventeen years old girl because she had friend of the "false" faith (You see it on You Tube:Beware
    You could vomit in despise of these d e v i l s !!! clothed in the bodies of men.
    Please forgive my words -but I hate religions and their impact on history ! Yours emanuel

  3. There are probably many non-murderous religious people who are reading this website and they may feel some resentment. Emanuel's comment sent a chill down my spine and I felt hatred towards all Middle Eastern people....and of course it is wrong for me to feel that way. (I am so not going to watch the video). Despite all these horrific stonings and child molestations, there are many religious people who are not so crazy. They are crazy enough to believe in God, but maybe not crazy enough to ignore Primal Theory. I don't think we should be pushing 80% of people away from Primal Therapy.

  4. of course the placebo effect is well known and this applies to how people feel after the clergymen/witchdoctor has attended to their ills. Beliefs too are powerful and serve a defensive function in those cases where a double bind exists as in religion i.e. if science proves the belief wrong then this is interpreted as a devilish test of faith; a test of faith must be a sign of devilishness. Read the Golden Bough a while ago and really interesting to see how religion/gods/God evolved out of people needing control and some being to mediate with to offer relief for their fears, pains and unmet needs. In the pre-modern age God/religion made sense in many ways - you had no way to understand life, a short life-span, senseless suffering with no relief. But in the modern age it makes no sense at all - unless all hope is lost! (e.g. someone is holding a gun to your head and threatening to pull the trigger) It is the final calling station of human hopelessness in the face of our ultimate fate for many people and in this respect God may always be in vogue. Many confirmed atheists (TS Eliot, O. Wilde) caved in at the end. Of course many dont too e.g. Bukowski (although he did quit the drinking and took up Buddhist meditation)

  5. Such abreactions aren’t just the province of religious fervours but of psychological therapies as well in more subtle forms. Just the fact that we push people with punishing attitudes to see the “error of their ways” is just such an example whether in therapy or in our judicial systems. This insanity is ingrained in what people call normal healthy socially approved organisations quite apart from religion but yet highly influenced by the same forces.

    Invariably neurotic attitudes push to punish, push to get others to feel what they need them to feel and not what the person is ready to feel. So to me the modern psychological profession apart from your clinic, is better seen as the "state church". Such should be illegal but there it is. Amazing.

  6. There is only "knowing" and "not-knowing". there is no in-between. Believing is meant to convey some where in-an-between and then in many cases purports to be nearer knowing.

    Simple: the act of believing is neurotic


  7. As a survivor of exorcism in "holy Catholic Ireland" at the age of 4, I know the pain inflicted on my person by the men of god was to cause me nightmares and pain for 50 years until i did my own inner journey. I had no books and never heard of primal scream, but a dear friend told me that what I described was termed primal scream.
    I was deemed too intelligent by the men of god and by my mother- so therfore labelled a child witch. Oddly enough the witch label was used against me in adulthood too.because i was deemed a witch, so too my daughter was labelled at 3 weeks old. Needless to say i got out of Ireland because no way were these men in dresses going to perform their rituals on her.

    The pain of the exorcism is like having the flesh ripped of your spine.

    Hearing the voice saying to leave no marks on me has haunted me.

    Hearing them asking my mother to check if I was still breathing haunted me. What kind of "mother" was she to allow this?

    Luckily for me, my Dad came home early, grabbed me and never left me alone with my mother until I went off to college.

    Oddly enough Catholic men of god are never charged with abuse re exorcism, but African witch doctors are condemned as are others for supposed witchcraft- but not the Catholics- how crazy.

    The Devil and God get blamed for everything by these boys.

    The Devil does not hurt and kill people- HUMANS DO IT, then pass the blame onto the Devil.

    Humans go to war on the "instructions of God".

    No one else hears this god except the men of god???

    Anyone else hearing voices in locked away so why not the men of god too?

  8. Will.
    My daughter was 4 years old when she asked a room full of people from all religions "Why are you all paying those men in dresses money to talk to God, when you can all do it yourselves for free"??

  9. I got this letter in response to my blog:

    I responded recently to something Arthur Janov had posted on face book and I thought my response was clear enough that I would share it with you here. It concerns Primal Therapy and some other views expressed about religion and other therapies. I hope you gain some insight as a result of what I had to say, and as always I welcome your remarks and criticisms.

    Well, in regard to saying “it’s the devil” I think the most painful things to feel are those things we did to others because our own pain created a “monster” something “inhuman or inhumane”. It is too painful to feel that the “monster” is yourself, and of course it isn’t your “real self” so all this makes one vulnerable to the notion of something “possessing us from within”. This possession is pain but I can see their “belief” as a dissociation from a too painful realisation. When our culture gets into a need to “punish” they are actually pushing people to realise something too painful to integrate because it is first necessary to feel the harm others did to you and then your eyes will open to when you yourself were a “monster” or far less than perfect dad or mom, sister or brother, or friend. Out of order out of sync approaches lead to abreaction and not feeling, false repentance and false forgiveness, and unfortunately early release from prison. Such abreactions aren’t just the province of religious fervours but of psychological therapies as well in more subtle forms. Just the fact that we push people with punishing attitudes to see the “error of their ways” is just such an example whether in therapy or in our judicial systems. This insanity is ingrained in what people call normal healthy socially approved organisations quite apart from religion but yet highly influenced by the same forces.

    Real forgiveness can’t happen until we have fully felt what happened to us in the first place, mouthing the words is a shallow expression and apt to mean either giving trust to those not deserving of it, or to a more stealthy or clever form of punishment. I remember a guy who used to say with strained anger in his voice “I forgive you.” Obviously he had not forgiven the person but was just in a shallow religious “act out”. The same goes for “repentance”. How can one truly repent without feeling what they had done to another or others in the first place? It’s crazy. Yet in our mythologies we see traces of sanity, because even insanity is symbolic of real pain and need, and it is interesting that Jesus was supposed to have said that anyone not “taking up his or her cross wasn’t worthy of him”. In the Christian mythology Jesus represents real love of course, and unless you feel the pain caused to you and then the pain you caused you can’t connect with real love i.e. Jesus. However in the religion we also find that abreaction rules by pushing first repentance and then forgiveness when it needs to be the other way around, and it need to be the result of feeling and not an attempt to change feeling.

    When people say primal therapy is revolutionary there is a reason for that. Love and sanity are indeed revolutionary concepts in this world, and revolutionaries like Jesus seemed to have recognised this fact. So often I try to get people to see the truth using the myths of their own culture. This obviously can back fire but it is in my opinion often a necessary step to taking up one’s “cross”, or better said, “one’s own pain, either from experiencing it or causing it”. Christians, for instance, need to take a good look at the “Jesus” in their own hearts, and understand that this “Jesus” is all the love they couldn’t connect to because they didn’t follow his injunction to “take up their own cross” or “suffering”. I am slightly annoyed when I hear the Christian song with this line in it “the consecrated cross I’ll bear”, that is not what Jesus was supposed to have said. He actually was reputed to have said we should take up our “own” cross, not “his”.

  10. Comment continued:

    Mythology can’t be accurately interpreted unless we get real with the pain and struggle for survival that human beings, real human beings, have experienced.

    Primal Therapy, correctly done, sheds light on social mythologies and this itself is a form of evidence for its validity. Improperly done, Primal Therapy, is no more than what the field of psychology has become: our state religion. State religions enslave, that’s why the early founders of the United States thought it should be kept separate from government. That has now been threatened by the “far right” of the Republican Party. They need to “ditch” that concept. Why? Religions are pain killers based on belief systems that differ, and when they contact opposing belief systems their efficacy for dealing with pain is weakened. When this happens the members feel as if their “security” and possibly their “life” is threatened. War can easily break out when this occurs.
    It’s hard to tell all the truth in a world so deluded. I applaud Arthur Janov for doing so. Want to be a real saint? Do the same. Goodness doesn’t happen in a heart that doesn’t feel its true reality. Again something that Jesus supposedly said: “If the light within you be honest you will be full of light, but if the light within you be dishonest you will be full of darkness, and if the ‘light’ within you is darkness how great is that darkness!”

    One great truth can be understood here. Love cannot touch the dishonest heart too afraid to feel it’s reality, and love demands only that such a heart become “honest” in a caring sensitive way, not asking anyone to forgive or repent concerning things they have never fully felt in the first place. The short version is this: honesty has to communicate with love or there is no real change.

    You don’t believe what Art is saying here? Then don’t believe what Jesus said either, because they are pretty much the same.

  11. comment continued:

    Jesus is not our excuse to used electric shock or the electric chair to fix our personal or social problems. When it’s not love it’s not what Jesus stood for, and it’s not what any nation should follow.

    Hate is not a family value, real forgiveness and repentance is. How do we come to really forgive and repent? We have to feel what it is we are forgiving and repenting from. Make sense? Welcome to the enlightenment of Janovian Primal Therapy.

    Let me end by saying that fake primal therapy isn’t effective. I was undergoing mock primal therapy when the therapist inserted, because of some need to punish, a vision of the faults I had as a child: “mean cruel hateful little David”. This took me right out of a feeling I could handle and the therapist’s response was “oh I guess you’re not ready for that yet”. This therapist didn’t “get it”. Also the dehumanising approaches of cognitive therapy and the punitive religious antics don’t work either. Can you now see why? I hope so, our world’s better future may well depend on this understanding.

    Art is very inspiring, and that is not because he abuses charismatic abilities, but because he has seen a deep core reality in our human experience and knows we must take action.

    I would advise that those with money contribute money to support on going research concerning Primal Therapy paid to the clinic that knows how to do it. I would advise anyone seeking serious treatment to go to that clinic as a patient if it is workable, and I would advise others to speak on Art’s behalf where ever they are. Why? Because the “devil” of primal pain has many deceptions and faces and they should be seen for what they are and not for what they are not.

    Remember that I said this and not the clinic. I in no way get any pay or benefit from having done so, and I wish you would see that Art’s detractors usually do benefit from their off target critiques. Some by supporting forms of therapy that were such failures that their results, by their own testing, seldom show any benefit over leaving their patients alone, if not showing they were better off without said therapies in the first place. Remember the source when you hear critiques.

    Here’s hoping what should be the common sense of all this is something that was well communicated. I am open as always to any critiques.

    Thanks Arthur for all your sacrifices and hard study and work. Some of us “get it” at least a little.

    Now for general consumption again: I would like to add that “getting it all” intellectually does not qualify any of us to be primal therapists, nor do degrees from colleges. What qualifies any of us is to feel our own feelings deeply and being involved with helping others and understanding the science behind it all. How? Go here: http://primaltherapy.com/

    Thanks for your patience in reading all this. I hope you found it worth while.

  12. Art

    Religion has in itself caused much suffering! Why is not primal therapy an option for believers? Their suffering is in a very visible way and it is a terrible suffering believer repress? A key to that solution would be a tremendous gift… I know primal therapy has that… what I mean is the formula for others to “understand” it… I know that also exist and that is what you trying to show… but they don’t look at their suffering in that way… that is the problem.


  13. Hi ,I found it very worth while!! P.S. The best one matching the quality of Art`s ! emanuel

  14. I came home last night furious over having been informed by my daughter that she probably will fail in Spanish during the Fall semester. I thought of lots of punishments - no trip to Sweden, no Christmasgift, etc ., etc. but was still furious and full of pain and or punishment. Behind all this pain and anger is my lack of love and understanding from my father and my own disinterest in school.
    I could not fall asleep and went to my Apple and found what Art said about a long answer to his blog on exorcism. I read it a few times and had after a while no problem to pick up my own cross and enjoy the reading of comments which in their touching the primal principle is just as good as all our comments should be.
    I still have a problem with my daughter to solve which is not an easy one. However, with punishments I won’t solve the problem... She has done no harm to me...
    Jan Johnsson

  15. A very good article. Demons and exorcism are very questionable. Indeed, I believe one ought to be careful when it comes to religion and religious beliefs. Most of it does seem to be irrational. But keep in mind, everyone Irrational thoughts and behavior are found everywhere. In science, politics, business, religion! Its everywhere. Humans are irrational by nature.

    Of course, as I would see it, an objective and courageous intellect is an important part of helping to overcome irrational thoughts and thinking. Yes, the 1st and 2nd line do try to meddle with the intellect but the intellect does has the power to ignore them and look past them for solid answers of sound reason.

    But I ask this Arthur. Religion is kind of easy to pick on, isn’t it? Religion offers it self easily to irrational or un-provable ideas. Many can see this and those who are religious and deluded will prefer not to see it. But more dangerous and more subtle, as I see it, is not more readily recognizing the same irrational tendencies in areas where they are not supposed to be, such as science and academia.

    Arthur, your own problems with the recognition of your theory among the mainstream are largely due to either irrational science, politicized science, or things along those lines. Science and academia continually wear those religious halos as if they were heaven sent. But I see them as more insincere.

    I don’t think religion is the biggest obstacle to PT. I say Science and politics are far greater adversaries against PT. but for sure, when I mention these, you usually do not allow them to be posted. This perplexes me. What is there to fear from honesty and truth? Or at least open communication, rather than censored and controlled communication, which sounds much more like the religious tendencies you seem to condemn.

    I value consistency quite a bit. I don’t want to criticize something and turn around and do the same myself. That would and could damage my credibility, wouldn’t it? As I see it, PT is an on going process, even as religion or even just ethics and morals are. Life is never ending in its learning. We hopefully continue to learn till the day we die. I do not see much pondering of science and academia except in general non-threatening ways. Is there a fear for doing so?

    Part of the problem for PT is that the world continually puts forth its own propaganda, even as we both do. And they got us outnumbered and outgunned. It is that propaganda that needs to be explored more. I have noticed some religious people have even embraced PT and believe in it. Didn’t you find that back around Primal Man or just after the Primal Scream?

    Jack mentioned “There is only "knowing" and "not-knowing". there is no in-between.” An interesting statement. But possibly just a little too simplistic. While feeling is the ultimate cure, there is much that could be said for a courageous and determined intellect to get to the bottom of things. That humans seldom attempt to exercise it, speaks loudly. I say the general lack of “faith” in PT is due as much to not thinking as it is to not feelings. It seems like the entire brain is left unused, and not just a part of it.

    I know you are off-setting those who preach intellect (pardon the religious reference please) with an emphasis on feeling. Those who say intellect, are actually anti-intellect and phonies. But I think a balanced 2 sided holistic approach (feeling and thinking) might be worth looking at. I am open to any thoughts from anyone. I have nothing to hide or fear, even from criticism.

  16. Hi, there's an error on this system sometimes and I may have lost what I already wrote but I'll risk sying it again.

    From what I have read on this blog belief systems in the left OBFL can block emotional memory in the right OBFL. Meditation is cited as one cause.

    I have been doing TM for years, sometimes very regularly, sometimes not very regularly.

    Having digested Arts' words on the evloutionary process whilst awaking and falling asleep I have noticed how the deep and blissful state with deep breathing that I often achieve in meditation is also appearing during the awakening and falling asleep process.

    I am concerned that the TM technique may be a temporary cessation of thoughts allowing an experience of infant "Urobic Bliss" but actually blocking access to the trauma I need to re-experience. . .

    Any comments on this would be greatfully appreciated as I intend one day to do Primal Therapy and I can see that the more we all prepare ourselves for the Biologic Truth of our collective reality the more likely we will be to drop obstructing defences to access the lower traumas.
    I am concerned that the reason why I am having catharsis without direct memory is because of the TM I do/have done.


  17. It constantly amazes me how much Primal theory apparently explains about human behavior.This fine article on exorcism is another case in point. Of course,I cannot yet confirm from my own experience all of what Dr Janov writes, but it sure as hell makes sense to me, at this first stage.
    I noticed a certain tension in this article between being judgemental about such things as exorcisms and staying objective about such strange phenomena. Well, it is kind of hard not to see such odd religious people as ridiculous. I do it all the time and I don`t apologise for it. However, I am starting to be able to be more objective. A few nights ago, an acquaintance of mine phoned me and, amongst many other topics of conversation, she told me, with some fear that I might ridicule her, that she apparently saw two beings of Light this summer from a 4th dimension, and that she felt extra -terrestrials were coming to earth to help us get out of the mess we humans have made of our collective lives on the planet.Now this person has being going through a very hard time over the last year, the kind of hard time , in my estimation, that could lead to conversion experiences and other delusions, as Janov explains in his great Conversion article a few weeks ago.Of course,I don`t really know if that is the truth of the matter. Anyways, I read her parts of the article, and , not surprisingly, she took exception to it ( "spiritual" people don`t like to have their meaningful delusional experiences explained away psychologically, quite understandable especially if they provide some compensating comfort). One cannot intellectually convince people of the truth of what Janov says, I learnt again. It can be only experienced as true if true, and that goes for me also.Well I am glad to report that she took no offense that I tried to explain her experiences away because my intentions were OK, and she felt that. I can only listen to her as respectfully as I can, and hopes she eventually finds true relief.


  18. I`d also like to express my appreciation for the three-part letter in italics Dr Janov received from an unknown correspondent, and then posted for us. It just contained so many interesting insights, like his comments distinguishing true forgiveness from strained compulsive (third-line?) "forgiveness " , utterred by earnest guilt-filled hypocritical little saints and Ghandis , who then give all religious and spiritual a bad reputation ( I saw so much of this happen in AA that I can`t go to their meetings anymore). His or her comments about Jesus were particularly striking. Anyone interested in pursuing similar insights might wish to read Wilhelm Reich`s incredible book called " The Murder of Christ", a fascinating book not only about Jesus but the present bewildering human condition. Reich also has some insightful observations about "The Devil" as metaphor in his book "Ether, God, and Devil", and in a chapter called " The Schizophrenic Split" in his " Character Analysis" volume.


  19. I got this comment in an email:
    Hello Dr. Janov, Religion is governmet sanctioned (often promoted, too) insanity! "Pain & Fear are the parents of all gods", "Faith and Hope are sisters, both are the daughters of Desire", I.M.Gottfrei. Was your early explorations into the human condition influenced by Wilhelm Reich and/or L.Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics"? Love your works, wish you had appeared 15-20 years earlier, and/or, I had read your books when the first ones were published. Thank you.

  20. I got this other comment in my email:

    Art, What I am doing will become clearer as our alliances and plans gel into place as a primal community. This like a song almost came to me and I posted it.

    It has occurred to me that many see Primal Therapy as something arduous and difficult, perhaps even alarming. What I see in Janovian Primal Therapy is a touch of grace, a surprising love, that over turns protective barriers and limitations and invites people back to the freedom they have perhaps lost years ago, the freedom to simply be themselves. This freedom is not a freedom born of chaos, a momentary high devoid of the relishing of daily life, but a robust invigorating grasp of the drama of life and the freedom to once again laugh, not at anyone but with everyone.

    Love to those hiding from expectations of hurt, whose faith in love was damaged beyond their body's ability to handle the fear and the stress, whose bodies are locked in tension, and ravaged with a self that fights itself and enslaves itself, love, simple love is surprising. Light the morning light shining into hopelessness and despair the love found when we put down our clamped fists and lower our frightened arms is a flood of freedom and shows us not a monster but a trembling hurting child waiting to be free, waiting to dance in the light.

    What I teach is about seeing all this, some call it primal enlightenment. My teaching is like a gentle massage preparing the courage to take that risk of letting someone who loves you surprise your faithlessness with a love that embraces and releases you to be free.

    I will talk to you any time you need me and we are both available. I ask for donations and not pay, and only because like everyone I need to eat. Yet, my greatest hope is that many will join me in this endeavour and help others around the world on programs like skype. Why? Because it is time for the world to become primally enlightened.

    I cannot take you all the way. I am a voice crying in the wilderness of faithlessness, a call to the hearts that have grown helpless inside, but like John the Baptist I am not the answer, not the full answer. The answer is coming from a humble man by the name of Arthur Janov, whose clinic take take you through the darkest night of your soul to the light of love.

    Please check out http://theprimalmind.com/ for even more information like you have found here. Then go to the source of all this light at http://primaltherapy.com/

    You'll be glad you did.

  21. Another email comment:


    I have now finally got my blogg http://epilepticjourney.blogspot.com/ going. I hope that it will be of interest for people with epilepsy!

  22. PG: you have it exactly right. If there are imprints and your history is in there, which it is, then nothing in the present, no technique or ritual, can change it. It has be to be addressed. Everything else is a manipulation to push the pain away. It can only be temporary. By the Way, you are going to do PT one day? Don't think we will be there forever until you get ready. Remember my age. art janov

  23. >"The hordes of 'men????' stoning a seventeen years old girl because she had friend of the 'false' faith (You see it on You Tube:Beware
    You could vomit in despise of these d e v i l s !!! clothed in the bodies of men."

    Christians murder "heretics," too: Then and now.

    The US government recently dropped charges against GIs who'd formed a club to kill Muslims overseas. The reason given by the court was that the pictures (not even movies!) of the murdered were so horrific they might have caused ill-will toward America.

    Keerist! So it's not the killings themselves that must be stopped or punished. No, no. We must stop the public from SEEING what was actually done. THAT's the mad mindset of our most moral military in the world.

    The government acts like a neurotic, murderous parent who doesn't want their crimes exposed (like non-murderous parents not wanting their kids' suffering exposed). They fear that once "the world" SEES what is done and experience/FEELS the horror, things will change.

    And like all bullies, the abusers think their feelings must be protected, not those of their victims.

    Politicians know that abstractions give cover, letting them continue their mayhem. So they talk about the "noble causes" of war and the "brave sacrifices" soldiers make. They don't want graphic depictions of severed bodies and open coffins shown. Even the daily "body counts" of the dead-- announced during the Vietnam War-- are banned.

    To wit: Everything is done to make sure the actual horror of war goes unfelt.

    It's easier to call others "terrorists" and "devils" than to use the left-brain to learn WHY others hate (Maybe watching their wedding guests get ripped apart by our drones wasn't fun?); or employ the right-brain to learn why pain caused to others and ourselves isn't good.

    Christian conquistadors played chess (an intellectual game) with captured Montezuma. That was deemed dandy. However, when he refused to kiss a bible, they killed him. Words and beliefs mattered more than life to the followers of the "Lamb of God."

    Maybe God doesn't weep. Maybe He lives in His head, failing to feel the pain His children inflict on each other.

  24. Apollo wrote: "Jack mentioned 'There is only knowing and not-knowing. there is no in-between'. An interesting statement. But possibly just a little too simplistic. " This is exactly the psychological profession's response to Primal Therapy/Theory when it first came out:- too simplistic. What is so none compelling about being "simple????". That's a NON-ARGUMENT posing as a intelligent retort. That is exactly WHY thinking IS neurotic. Then continues with "... there is much that could be said for a courageous and determined intellect ..." Permit me to re-iterate: We are the only creature on the planet that "thinks"--all other creatures feel, then express their feelings in that same area of their brain that we 'think' with. They SIMPLY go with nature, which doesn't require THINKING--we have to BOGGLE the mind and THINK about everything--instead of feeling and expressing it.

    Copernicus and Galileo found a SIMPLE means to explain the then complex phenomenon going on in the night sky. Arthur Janov found a SIMPLE means to explain the seeming complexity of the human mind, BUT, that complex mind can't, as yet, get it's head around that ever so simple notion. It took the Copernicus/Galileo notion quite some time to dawn on us. I hope we have time ... before that 'intellect' destroys us.

  25. Here`s what one famous 19th Century polemecist had to say about religion:

    " Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions."
    Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

    And what Freud had to say:

    •From Civilization and Its Discontents (1930):

    •"Religion is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life. It is still more humiliating to discover how a large number of people living today, who cannot but see that this religion is not tenable, nevertheless try to defend it piece by piece in a series of pitiful rearguard actions."

    And Baron D`Holbach, French 18th Century philosopher of the Enlightenment:

    •If we look back at the begining we shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned or disfigured them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them; and that custom, respect and tyranny support them, in order to make the blindness of man serve their own interest. If the ignorance of nature gave birth to Gods, the knowledge of nature is calculated to destroy them."


  26. Apollo, the idea is not to abandon the intellect. The idea is to understand it's proper role. The intellect should never be used to solve a mystery.
    I'll explain: First we must trace an act-out back to the feeling that started it. A feeling must be felt so it is no longer a total mystery. The longer it is felt, the more it is resolved. Then the intellect has only a couple of EASY questions to answer: 1) how is this feeling affecting my life? The answer to this comes as a spontaneous insight. 2) What should I do to keep triggering this feeling until it is resolved? The answer to this comes from the spontaneous insight. During the whole healing process, there is never any need for intense analytical thinking.

    Your intellect is great for understanding your need for Primal Therapy, but until you are addressing primary needs, you are getting nowhere.

    When Jack says "think less and feel more" what he means is "when we can feel what we need, we don't have to spend all day thinking about it"

  27. With respect to Richard's last comment in his last post: "we don't need to spend all day thinking about" if we can feel. That is something I did all my life, trying to figure my way out of my problems. That never worked, led to a lot of arrogant rationalisation and intellectualisation, but it was the only tool I had, and it was all sanctionned by the encouragement of a head-centric alienated obsessed society where intellect is supreme. I mean I still do it, but a lot less. I try to set my problems aside if I can, and wait for insights that might come from a book, exchange with another person,from just walking in a park.
    Those parts of Janov's case histories where he describes the flood of insights AFTER the Primal blew my mind. It finally became crsystal clear what had to happen in any good psychotherapy: repressed feelings-and -insights in a holistic tandem.

    Besides what happens in intense Primal Therapy, we can also apply some of this in our daily lives by trying to express our day-to-day feelings to other. IF (a big IF) others are available and really listening to you, you can get potentially noxic emotions off your chest, which is a relief, and perhaps get some enlightening insights to boot.

    Due to Janov's understandable orientation to the toxic past, he perhaps has neglected the potential for healing HERE-AND-NOW habits and techniques that could help those of us not undergoing any past-oriented therapies, to maximise the potentials of feeling and life that we have in our daily lives, whatever our level of neurosis.But even if he agrees, we can't also ask Janov to do everything; it's been enough work, I suppose, just exploring all the hidden realms of the unconscious so well and solidly hideen!


  28. Hey Richard, I like that:- "think less and feel more" ... "when we can feel what we need, we don't have to spend all day thinking about it".

  29. Richard: We need a full explanation along with the charts you may send. art janov

  30. Marco: Someone mentioned a conference between France and I and my staff to kick around primal helpful hints. art janov

  31. Dr Janov: Well I'd like to hear about those helpful hints. One hint I would have for the rest of the human race ,that rarely ever wants to really listen to me, is "take a few minutes to really listen to someone around you; it will do them good and it will do you good. And, yes it might be uncomfortable at first; yes, you might have to turn off your TV or cell phone...You will feel less lonely, and if developed as a habit, you will live longer because your heart won't be under the constant stress of loneliness and blocked day-to-day emotions (in addition to the stress it may be under due to unconscious repressed emotions)"


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  35. Hi Jack W.

    I think maybe you misunderstand my point. What is often passed off for intellect is nothing of the sort. People running around in circles and never getting anywhere is not serious intellect. It is trying to avoid the truth in themselves and in the world as well.

    Academia and Science pretend they are so holy and righteous when it is lies they often concoct for reasons I will avoid in order to not get censored. Lets stop giving them credit ans exposing the phonies for who they are. But just as decent religion is often bitterly persecuted by mainstream religion, so it is with science and science mavericks, who are strongly resisted and persecuted, held down, held back, sometimes even killed.

    Now why are we so afraid of alternative views and findings, such as PT, for one? There is more I could say, but I'll just say, what is passed off as science is not always science or intellect.

    I am not running from PT. But PT takes money, time, circumstances and many other factors and you better like California or you are out of luck. So its again, not quite a simple as you might see it. But I am not here to fault you. I like and respect your posts, but to nearly shun the intellect as a means to recognize the validity of PT, does not sound reasonable to me so I spoke.

    Many people here recognized PT with their brains and feelings, not just feelings. I did. You did. Arthur did.

    I'll leave all with this one thought. Why did our intellect evolve? Was it an improvement or mistake on the part of evolution. Animals instinct works good in a jungle of instincts. But against man, its not quite as effective. but I am open to any and all answers, should any come along.

  36. Apollo: "I'll leave all with this one thought. Why did our intellect evolve? Was it an improvement or mistake ." A TERRIBLE MISTAKE ... IMO.

    I spent a great deal of time, 20 odd years, ruminating on this very point. The consequence of which I was able to write my book. In it I have a chapter titled "The Nature of Thinking", where I put forward a conjecture as to why we humans developed the ability to think. In short: we developed the ability to think (fathom) at the onset of becoming neurotic, whereby we had now lost access to many feelings, yet they were reverberating there in the deeper recesses of the brain--that required the organism (us humans) to make sense of these unknowing, unfathomable states of being.

    If you have a better idea of why we developed thought, let me know. Just saying: "there must have been a reason," doesn't cut it.

    So far as I know, no-one has ever conjectured or reasoned why this one creature (humans) developed this faculty--which in hindsight led us astray from living with nature ... leaving us with a debilitating disease.


  37. An email comment:
    "Dear Dr Janov,

    I had read your book, The Primal Scream, a few years ago, and was interested in your work.

    In addition, I am also a Christian and have been interested in 'deliverance' and how this is done.

    My question to you is whether you are aware of such people as Rev Bob Larson (American), and persons like him, who claim to exorcise people of demons through the power of God.

    Now, probably, as an intellectual, you would say that this is all nonsense and guys like him are good manipulators or conmen - and that demons don't exist.

    My take on it is that the demonic and paranormal do exist, as does the spiritual realm in general, and that people's souls can be affected by demonic oppression if they have been traumatised or abused.

    I have watched a number of Larson's exorcisms, however, and wonder if he is just good at inducing primal screams from people (as well as a bit of the demonic here and there). If you have watched any of the exorcisms (loads on YouTube and I attach a link here), would you be able to explain what is going on psychologically, or even spiritually. What is this man actually achieving - is the subject taken into a form of hypnosis-driven growing and screaming, or is the subject actually in a primal scream, or is even a demon being expelled?

    Whatever your view, i am sure you would agree that Bob Larson (or God) is very slick at what he does, whatever he is doing - which I can't be sure about - although there is a lot of speculation on the net about him.

    Do your clients exhibit similar kinds of behaviour - i.e. growling and screaming, when they are forced to face pain, and would you think that this man achieves an extraordinary reaction in his subjects in a small time frame. OR, it is just hypnosis going on - plain and simple.

    Since I am interested in Christian ministry, I would value your view, if you had a spare moment.

    I live in the UK.


    PS a recent link to Bob Larson in operation is at:


    The video seems to stick to start with (at 12 seconds and a couple of times after) but if you are patient is continues on - it's about two hours but the last hour involves the quite drawn out exorcism of 'Jezebel' from a woman from Equador. You could start the video from one hour in if you wanted to cut the beginning part. Would like to know whether you think this is all horrendous manipulation, or whether some or any kind of genuine ministry of whatever sort is taking place through this film."

  38. And my answer to it:
    Dear Caroline. I never heard of your people but I wouldn't be expected to. Years ago the Holy Rollers exorcised demons by simulating primals (before there was a name for it) and they rolled around and screamed and felt better afterward. If you scream it sometimes helps you to feel better only for a short while. See what I wrote in this post. Thanks for your letter. AJ

  39. Regarding Exorcism. The Catholic support groups refuse to offer help and suggest not to speak about it in case the victim is further ostracised by the community?
    I only pretended I needed help, just to see what the respnse would be.
    So in 2011, society taboos exorcism and wants to keep it hidden?
    I know for a fact that Primal Scream is effective. It must be natural to the human because how else could I have found it inside me, having used no books on the healing journey?
    Arthur, you mention psychologists using similar methods. Oh yes, I know what you mean. I witnessed a psychologist break my son down for disclosing abuse.She ignored the affidavits from witnesses and pushed and pushed to the point where my 8 year old son did not know his name, where he was and was screaming for me to take him home. The nightmares were unbelievable.
    Being a professional myself, i asked this psychologist - now advisor to minister for Children??-why did she do that and why is she recommending Electric Shock Therapy? Her answer still baffles me? She said, your son is too intelligent, too articulate and too strong willed like his mother- moi- and needs ECT to normalise him.
    Also ECT will burn out the memories of the abuse- which she claimed on tape he never suffered.?And then she proceeded to recommend the child be placed back with his abuser.I was to be cut out of his life totally.

    My son was 26 now and has yet to begin his healing on all this.

  40. Lady Portia: What a sad tale. There is so much professional abuse out there. The reason: there is no science of therapy to fall back on. It is every man for himself. Do what you feel comfortable with. AJ


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.