As time goes on and I learn more about the human condition, I have decided to share some of my thoughts on what we are all about. I will publish my reflections on this blog, hopefully to enlarge our understanding of what makes us human. Art Janov
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Saturday, June 26, 2010
Today I want to discuss the importance of theory not in an abstract way but in terms of what can help us humans.
There is an article in the New York Times today about a study of those with high blood pressure who took medicine for lowering it. Later, it seems there was a slight increase in the appearance of cancer. Why should that be? “Lowering” means ultimately repression. Basically, pushing down the symptom, keeping it on hold and putting pressure so it won’t rise again. In my view there is most often an imprinted force pushing blood pressure high to compensate for the unwanted intruder—an imprinted traumatic memory. So the blood pressure is high, let us say, because of a mother who was totally depressed while carrying, and had to be given heavy anesthesia during the birth process. The newborn suffers. The result may be a tendency toward a rise in blood pressure in the offspring. Let us not be simplistic. The pain goes to the areas of vulnerability. Perhaps there is an inherited tendency. But the high blood pressure will be permanent so long as the imprint remains engraved in the system and is not resolved. So the system is reacting normally due to an abnormal intrusion. The disease is not high blood pressure but what caused it to rise. Of course the blood pressure is pathologic and must be addressed. But we are attacking a normal response to an abnormal input.
Now for the theory. I have written many times over about how each of us will die. Some cancer, some strokes and heart disease. We have found that those with massive repression beginning in the womb and extending into infancy and childhood are more prone to cancer; the hypothesis here is repression without any outlets. It can lead to epilepsy and/or cancer. Those are by and large the withdrawn, introspective, depressive types whom I call parasympaths, those controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system. (see my Primal Healing). Others are the anxiety types, those whose carrying mother may have been highly anxious and tense. These are the externally driven types, the on-the-go individuals. It is when these individuals are forced to stop being on the go, running here and there, that they run the risk of a stroke or heart attack. If they fall ill and cannot act out they are in danger of a heart attack. The engine is racing but it has no place to go.
Cleary, in my scheme, anything that increases repression thereby increases the possibility of cancer. So sleeping pills, tranquilizers and blood pressure medication to lower the reactions to the imprint can induce cancer. Is that not obvious? Those who push down pain enhance repression. And that puts the system under great pressure. So all the efforts to change the symptoms come with a price. It is the symptom that is normal; it occurs for a specific reason; however, the reason is rather recondite and therefore not obvious. The underlying imprint forces the system to deviate; that is, to react abnormally, at least in the eyes of the treating doctor. And when the doctor focuses on the behavior or symptom he is treating the ostensible problem but not the real one. And that is why his treatment will ultimately fail. And if the doctor is predominantly left-brain the treatment is almost guaranteed to fail. For she, the professional, cannot see beyond what the patient says, cannot see the underlying feeling because she cannot see her own. She is forced to skim, both in her life and in her practice of therapy. And unfortunately, skimming won’t fix anything, which is fine for an actor but not scientists.
Primal Therapy addresses feelings, that is why a person who does not openly suffer, who has no access to feelings rarely chooses to come to us. She wants to go on skimming, going through the motions of cure without its content., She secretly wants to remain neurotic. In our patients there is usually too much access to feelings; there is active suffering. It is why we may be called the therapy of last resort.
I don’t think many of us would suffer high blood pressure if not for experience beginning in the womb. Of course I am not excluding genetics, at all. But I don’t’ think genetics accounts for the almost universal appearance of high blood pressure. Our research on high blood pressure in our patients resulted in an overall 24 point decrease in diastolic readings. And the appearance of cancer in our patients after a year of therapy is very low.
Let us not forget that repression is highest the earlier a trauma exists because the trauma is life-threatening, so womb events and birth trauma account for massive pain and therefore heavy repression. That is why I think first-line traumas that exist from womb life and infancy lead to life-threatening illness. That is, life threatening imprints result in life threatening illness later on.
So how do we know that the high blood pressure is normal given the trauma? Because when we address and resolve the trauma the blood pressure changes radically……it goes to real normal.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I am going to talk about myself, not as a measure of self indulgence, but in order to impart some of what I have learned about myself over the years.
I was an anxiety case most of my life. I could not concentrate, sit still or be tenacious, and I suffered nightmares. I think a lot of it was due to my life in the womb and at birth. Add to that my pain filled childhood and it can be understood. But why did I not know about this pain that was driving my life? If much of this took place before I was even on this planet how could I be objective about it? It was just me. And how could I feel unloved in my childhood? I was just me. It was not until I got a little love in my life that I began to understand what I did not get. Many of us do not reach that understanding because our personalities are so deviated from the start that it all seems normal not to get love. For example, my parents never talked to me or said my name. I never realized this until one day age thirteen I was at my friend's house and their mother came down into the kitchen and leaned against the sink and stayed talking to them. I ran home with this epiphany and told my dad that Mrs. Winters was talking to her kids, and not just for giving orders. I simply never knew that parents should talk to their kids. Nor did I know that parents should say their kid's name when addressing them. It was usually "hey you.' When I went down to join the Navy the gray haired lady asked my name. I told her and she said it back to me in an unhurried warm way. I felt something changed inside. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside and did not understand why but it marked me.
It marked me because it revealed a need I knew nothing about. It is why when my patients cry out their needs they are in great pain.
The reason we don't know it is because before we have words, painful feelings are engraved into our system. and they create physiologic reactions that simply feel normal to us. And if we never find love we never know about our unfulfilled needs. Sometimes we have so much pain early in life it crashes our defense system completely and we recognize that we are in pain. That is not the case with most of us. I always thought that nightmares were in all of us. Whenever I told someone I had a dream i always meant a bad dream. I grew up thinking everyone had only bad dreams. And since there was no one to talk to I just went on thinking like that.
It is the rare person who feels unloved during their childhood. We are just programmed by our imprint before birth and birth/infancy lives and we carry out the silent program. We either "dance" fast or slow by our imprint and we never even know that it is an imprint. This is why when we someone hugs us later in life it can hurt. It brings up the need and its lack of fulfillment. Some of us, therefore, avoid hugs. We become a cold personality because it protects us permanently against pain. The pain is lack of fulfillment of need; each time there is a slight fulfillment there is pain. You feel what you didn't get.
And the minute someone says or shows that they want us we become suckers because we never felt wanted. So we learn about that need when it is filled. I treated promiscuous girls who thought they were bad because they gave sex the minute someone showed an interest in them. Suddenly someone feels wanted. We are so unconscious that we are not even aware that we have an unconscious or that it continually drives us.
When you grow up not being able to concentrate it seems normal and you think that it is just the way things are. You never believe it could be any different. And you don't think about"different" because that is the way things are. I did not think that I could not concentrate because I never knew what it was not what it looked like. We keep making the same mistake in life because what we come to believe is normal warps us. We keep marrying the wrong person because the same need and its deviation continually drives us. We want a dominant man like our father so we can struggle to make him soft and tender; and it never happens. We marry "the struggle." We marry someone hyper critical so that symbolically we can have someone who approves of us. We are redoing and reliving our imprint all of the time.
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.