Wednesday, February 2, 2011
On the Act Out
A few years ago a man came to attend our training. He did not complete it, and instead went on and spent a lot of his energy trying to put down our therapy and theory. In short, instead of feeling his feeling of "I am a loser and a failure", we became the failure, we are the failure, not him. And he has to continue to do it, wasting much of his life, because that feeling of being a failure is close behind creeping up on him. Otherwise why spend months doing this? This is an act-out pure, denying and running from the feeling of being a loser who failed at a training where we are most lenient and give everyone as much time as they need. And the obsessiveness of anyone who goes on and on in the act-out means that the denied feeling is driving him.
This should inform us of others who act-out; we cannot dissuade them with arguments because that is not why they act-out. They are being driven by their unconscious and arguments are far too weak to change them. That is why cognitive approaches can never make headway on this problem. This man failed because he entered training stating that he already knew about this therapy; he could not learn because he could never admit that he really didn't know. He already had such a stake in being smart that he acted dumb and finally failed. None of this will stop him until he feels, which he will not do because he cannot admit he failed, that he was not so smart, after all. Any obsessive is being driven by his unconscious, and any argument to sway them will mean nothing. That is why the sex criminals who go to anger management or sex education are going to get nowhere. Again, they are not driven by intellect; intellect is not in the driver's seat. Their hidden feelings are. We can amass idea after idea, proof after proof, and people will amass counter-arguments to protect them against their own feelings. Now we know why in those endless TV debates no one ever says, “you are right and I am wrong. “ They go on with the same ideas year after year and they never change. So don’t think your good arguments will change him. They won’t. He will immediately plunge in to find more people who don’t like us and will search out more help to put us down because it has to be us the failure, not him. It is not a false idea he is holding; it is his whole life at stake; that he never succeeded as far as he thought he should.
This is also a lesson in dialectics on which a lot of my therapy is based; the interpenetration of opposites; that is, how things turn into their opposite. Acting smart makes you dumb, acting courageous keeps you fearful, etc. And in our therapy acting afraid makes us courageous and feeling dumb makes us smart. Feeling dead makes us come alive because we are feeling at last. Feeling pain makes it go away; feeling unloved finally allows us to be loved and to take in love. You get the idea; so long as we do not feel our pain it stays and wreaks havoc with our system. When we feel it it stops and we live longer, of that I am certain. One reason is that we reduce the stress hormone levels and that may mean longer telomeres which portend of a longer life. It seems to me that all unfeeling people, scientists too, need to put down a feeling therapy to keep themselves content with their lives, their philosophy and their therapy. Arguments won't do much to change them but feelings will. Alas, they denigrate feelings, to their detriment, to their humanity.
I wrote the above in response to the following email:
I hope you won't be upset that I sided with the man I defended you from a little bit. I find its good to confuse crazy people a bit to keep them from having a clear target. I find that creative views are not their strong point. I do think you may have exaggerated a bit in your claims but I suspect in general you are right on target. However I needed ammunition from Bruce to pour in against this "Debunking Primal Therapy" site, of which he had made me aware. Attacking the guy's position first allowed Bruce to gauge his response to me (and yes I hit a nerve somewhere there in the guy he responded and showed his condescending colors), this in turn will help guide Bruce's next move. The game is marketing and politics and between us I think we can make this "debunker" rue the day he started and in any case increase traffic to your website.
The guy accused me of not reading his blog then proceeded to say I was planning to do primal therapy without a "license" boy did that hope a shot for me to take. Along the lines of making a comparison of other "therapies" against Primal Therapy our attack is very much strengthened. I am additionally giving you the spot light as noble victims. I think I like this attacker he has given us more ammunition than we know what to do with, ha.
I even gave him another area of attack, which is myself. He can waste some of his banter and vitriolic out pourings of elitism on me, go ahead, ha.
Bruce and Peter are important allies for your cause and I try to see to any degree I can their positions even though I may differ somewhat. Like a charging bull, this guy can be distracted and misdirected and this takes away some of his steam.
I also like to play "good cop/ bad cop" with guys like this. I am confronting him and not in a very pc manner. This opens the door for Bruce to and Peter to be "nice guys" agreeing where they can with him and getting him to see new angles. This will make Bruce and Peter look great to those reading their posts, but allow me to make the stinging remarks that some may agree with and give him further troubles about. Lost in the chatter and confounded in getting out a clear message he may retreat for while or find it not worth his time, but this guy will regroup many times if I have understood his drive well. He seems a third liner to me, someone fled to his head, they get upset and they can be dogged as certain emotional skills on the second line are not well developed or connected. (Just my opinion, if I am wrong let me know.) First line pressure combined with third line planning and attack are things that remind me of wolves on the attack. They are one pointed and linear in their attack so distractions are hard for them to cope with if they are presented with what they experience as a threat. I had a psyche teacher and in my argument with him years ago about Primal Therapy I boxed him in until he let out a screech totally out of context his first line pressure exploding in a cry, he was a third liner in my opinion as well. He was fair and gave me an A in the class but the rest of the young folks saw and noted a "power struggle" between us, he had lost some of his air of authority. I retreated and we never discussed it much again, but I think he respected my position and the fact that instead of pushing it further I laid down my arguments and found entertainment and insight in what he said on other subjects giving him full credit.
I am writing a lot to let you see how I operate. This will allow you to see the contexts from which my view points arise and how I adapt them to fit the situation.
Always be frank with me and tell me when you disagree or wish me to change tactics. I will strive to comply. Obviously I have a good load of first line pressure myself but I try to keep it at bay or drain its force a bit (yes I know, a bit dangerous so I do that as much as possible as a result of third and second line feeling contexts).
When he presents horror stories which are available with any attempts at therapy, I have a personal come back that shows that his support of main line psychology is in fact oppressive. My life was pretty much cast in the trash by meddling social workers and main line but crazy psychologists who ran the Pine Rest facility in Grand Rapids. I will always be your ally Art, you were a voice of reason in a world that in my mind had "gone mad". They pretty much embittered me against the entire profession. They were a "Christian" facility and even pushed their particular brand of Christianity on us and had us all stand up feeling embarrassed in a Church we were made to go to in order to give praise to some "selfless" saint who served in their facility (which was more like a jail) and who was a member of that Church. The less training the "helpers" had the better we kids liked them and in fact the saner they seemed to be.
Any time you like just tell me "say this to this person" and I will do it. This will really throw them off guard as they will get a left hook from a pro expecting a more clumsy right from myself. How do you attack someone who seems to have flashes of highly educated arguments? Again it will throw him off guard, and pave the way for others to take advantage of any weaknesses in logic etc. that he might show as a result of too much pressure from the first line.
We will attack his positions from many sides and with many degrees, confuse him with it, pull him into agreements that will undo his conclusions in the end, until he makes mistakes that show people how crazy his attacks on you actually are.
I am not an unkind person but people like this stand in the way of others finding help and encourage suppressive forces in psychology that end up hurting people as they did me, when I was young and unable to defend myself well.
I hope this was useful to you, I am sorry that I can't write like Bruce or you can. I am just trying to help. Your France really paints well I love her one painting and will be looking for the others. I have been distracted by this attacker ever since Bruce informed me of this guy.
Have a really nice day guys
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.