Monday, May 30, 2011

"Drug May Help Overwrite Bad Memories" from Science Daily (May 27, 2011)

Drug May Help Overwrite Bad Memories
ScienceDaily (May 27, 2011)

— Recalling painful memories while under the influence of the drug metyrapone reduces the brain's ability to re-record the negative emotions associated with them, according to University of Montreal researchers at the Centre for Studies on Human Stress of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital. The team's study challenges the theory that memories cannot be modified once they are stored in the brain.

"Metyrapone is a drug that significantly decreases the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that is involved in memory recall," explained lead author Marie-France Marin. Manipulating cortisol close to the time of forming new memories can decrease the negative emotions that may be associated with them. "The results show that when we decrease stress hormone levels at the time of recall of a negative event, we can impair the memory for this negative event with a long-lasting effect," said Dr. Sonia Lupien, who directed the research.
Thirty-three men participated in the study, which involved learning a story composed of neutral and negative events. Three days later, they were divided into three groups -- participants in the first group received a single dose of metyrapone, the second received double, while the third were given placebo. They were then asked to remember the story. Their memory performance was then evaluated again four days later, once the drug had cleared out.. "We found that the men in the group who received two doses of metyrapone were impaired when retrieving the negative events of the story, while they showed no impairment recalling the neutral parts of the story," Marin explained. "We were surprised that the decreased memory of negative information was still present once cortisol levels had returned to normal."
> The research offers hope to people suffering from syndromes such as post-traumatic stress disorder. "Our findings may help people deal with traumatic events by offering them the opportunity to 'write-over' the emotional part of their memories during therapy," Marin said. One major hurdle, however, is the fact that metyrapone is no longer commercially produced. Nevertheless, the findings are very promising in terms of future clinical treatments. "Other drugs also decrease cortisol levels, and further studies with these compounds will enable us to gain a better understanding of the brain mechanisms involved in the modulation of negative memories."

My comments:
I think that if you deprived anyone of the elements that go to make up anxiety or stress, you can diminish the reaction. The same if you suppress or cut out key brain areas, you also diminish the response to pain. And this is what EMDR does. You conger up an old painful memory and then the therapist distracts you so that you cannot fully react, and it is called cure. Here, what is blocked is the anxiety/alert/vigilance chemicals so you trick the body. What are they doing? preventing a full reaction. You have an aborted reaction. Here one is chemically prevented from retrieving the memory. Of course, if we cut out reactivity we are also a bit less human.


  1. Art: for me, this about the most absurd comment I've read. Unless we are able to define "STRESS" and "NEGATIVE" ... and next to state exactly what these drugs are doing in simple terms, this is just more scientific mumbo jumbo, hoping that the rest of us non-scientist will suck it up and THINK it's wonderful, and sort of subliminally explain it.

    STRESS is only possible if you are holding back feelings (Primal Theory). A fully-feeling creature doesn't experience STRESS ... in this sense; Fear, fight or flight, yeah!.

    NEGATIVE is a mathematical term that even mathematicians have a hard time explaining; and here we are applying it to feelings and responses. What a dumb creature we are !!!! There is no such thing as a NEGATIVE feelings: there are only feelings we LIKE and feelings we DON'T LIKE. All feelings are valid, natural and normal.

    Drugs. The definition of drugs. There are those that suppress FEELINGS and those that enhance them. That way, we non-scientists get a sense of the matter, rather than being in awe of it.

    Art; I would like your take on my comment.


  2. "if we cut out reactivity we are also a bit less human"

    yes. give the drug to a man and his cat. watch the man step on his cat's tail each and every day.

    but maybe this drug could be useful in therapy?

  3. What else could we expect from the powers that be? Aborting overwhelming or just disconforting memories is the key solution they provide for the public through their mainstream media. A sort of easy way out to their/our inability to show compassion for ourselves and the rest of the suffering beings around us. That is what eugenics is all about. God, have pity for us all who are not aware of the consequences of our behaviour

  4. I got an email from Björn Asen that you have worked with in Paris... all according to him. I think it's essential to vent what is said and done in the name of Primal Therapy… so I'm sending over what he wrote to me. I hope you can make a translation as it is in Danish... you know my way of translation :)



    Beklager sent svar, men Primalterapi er nok et tema jeg kjenner svært godt.
    Jeg var på 80-tallet i terapi ved Arthur Janovs institutt i Paris og arbeidet sener ved London Association of Primal Psychotherapy i seks år. EMDR har visse likheter, men gir en langt bedre kontroll over helingsprosesse og er langt tryggere for ustabile pasienter. Jeg oppnår langt bedre resultater nå enn da jeg jobbet som primalterapeut.

    Jeg har tidligere sett på Janovs hjemmeside at han ser på EMDR som en slags metode å undertrykke minner og følelser på, men der tar han etter mitt skjønn helt feil. Med EMDR skaffer en tilgang til følelsesmateriale og tilhørende reaksjonsmønster, slik at en kan legge det bak seg.

    Vennlig hilsen

    Bjørn Aasen

  5. Frank: come on you know I don't read danish. And I never heard of this Bjorn. art janov Beware of false prophets

  6. First of all the language is norwegian and second here is the translation:


    Sorry for the late reply, but Primal Therapy is a topic I know very well.
    I was in the 80's in therapy by Arthur Janov in thr Institute in Paris and worked later at the London Association of Primal Psychotherapy for six years. EMDR has certain similarities, but gives a far better control over the healing process and is far safer for unstable patients. I achieve far better results now than when I worked as a primaltherapist.

    I've seen at Janov's website that he’s looing upon EMDR as a kind of method to suppress the memories and emotions, but he is, in my opinion, completely wrong. With EMDR you are provided an access to feelings and its response patterns so that you can put it behind yourself.

    Sincerely, Björn Aasen

    Without own comments Jan Johnsson

  7. Dr. Janov,

    “What are they doing? preventing a full reaction?”

    Yes. Because they don’t know how to deal with deep pain.

    Why do we need Metyrapone ? Oh I forgot, it’s the pharma-industry that benefits – the heck with the traumatized….
    The effect of Metyrapone feels like the mouth is duck-taped, just when you need to scream. Isn’t this what CT is already doing?


  8. Hi,

    Watching the little ones quite suddenly begin to try to talk (8 to 10 months) as the limbic kicks in, one can see the attempt to 'grasp a concept' also.

    This incestuous relationship going on between the limbic and neo-cortex in us adults (brought about by some form of denial of the 1st line snake brain) results in a continuous flow of new "Confabulations" to explain anything.

    Anything can mean anything. If there is not a triadic relationship going on in my mentation then whoever I believe I am can rationalise anything to mean anything.

    I am two years old, still trying to work it all out with my new found dictionary.

    If one is true to oneself one doesn't even need to have heard of or studied primal theory to see that people can & do make it up as they go along.

    The revelation that the 1st line drives the second and third produces a complete re-ordering of logic about how we think and reason about everything.

    These "Mad Scientists" are still like toddlers crashing about picking up and discarding bits of the environment and confabulating new theories to sell to their clients.

    It's almost as if a virus has gotten into them and is churning out a stream of thought mucous.

    Some-one please give them all a hanky and a vacation on that Primal Island to recover from that virus. Eughhh!

    I don't want to catch it again, I'm only just recovering from the last bout!

    Paul G.

  9. Hi,

    I feel I can make a distinction between negative and positive feelings and there's a good reason to do it.

    It's in my attachment (or association) I make (in my thinking brain) to my feelings. . . That has a lot to do with how my defences work (or are undone).

    So, for example if I think about losing my loved ones or losing anything, I can make a link with an earlier loss. That could allow unexpressed grief come to the surface if there are the right circumstances (probably I only think about loss when the pressure of the original trauma wants release anyway). So, that's an example of a simple association that leads directly to an original feeling. When I break down and cry because I can't find my car keys I may be missing the point (or my therapy session)!
    Anyway, what makes my emotions 'negative' is if still further, I attach (also by association) some other value to this connection: somebody else lost the key, the delivery is not my responsibility, they made me late anyway, it's my bosses fault, parents' fault, I'm bad. . . the possibilities are many. . . Thus emerges a range of passions with value judgements attached. Ab-reactions?

    Conversely I can put a spin on a good feeling (joy, bliss, humour etc) and make a good feeling even better. Good stand up comedians know exactly how to do this. So do politicians and "leaders". That's one reason we so like to satirise our leaders; it's a great old tradition (in Europe anyway, particularly England).
    How we relate together in a group or at home or with our loved ones needs this emotional/ value judgement quality. What this ability (to lend a value and quality to feelings) does for us as members of a group is to legitamise having feelings together and focus our attention (in comedy) on the absurd or on "Issues" if it's politics. (Same difference, dare I say).

    So in some way this spin we can put on feelings is both the door by which feelings can be unlocked and also the trap by which they can be held in a defence.

    Art has said that it's possible that crying de-methylates the histone / epigenetic programming but so also could laughing. Isn't it true that these two emotional states can co-exist simultaneously? So many times both the tragedy and the absurd mix to make the tears and laughter merge.

    What Art seems to be saying is that our 1st line trauma is pushing the amplitude on our feeling/thinking spin (of positive and negative attachments). It is probably pushing the wavelength as well; the rate at which our "positive and negative attachments" unwind.

    Because I have yet to relive my 1st line traumas I have to live in a tragicomedy and I'm the main clown.

    My previous therapist could not understand that he is one of the actors in it (and the only one getting paid), so I had to leave. Now I'm saving my pennies to go to California.

    Paul G.

  10. An email comment: "Dear Doctor Janov,

    Firstly, I admire your work and look forward to reading your "reflections on the human condition".

    Elsewhere on the net, you mention that in the next couple of months, there will be some video footage of work done with incest survivors.

    I would appreciate knowing when this is available and where!

    Could you let me know details of any work done in London, UK? There is a website LAPP (London Association of Primal Psychotherapists) which claim to base their work on yours and that of Alice Miller. However, when I rang them today, they told me the preferred treatment for trauma is EMDR. I pointed out that you do not subscribe to the use of EMDR and was clearly told that you were wrong!

    Needless to say, I will not be ringing them again.

    Thank you."

  11. And my answer: I don't know why people who disagree with me and put me down insist on using my name for their therapy. They won't the best of both worlds? I just ran many many pages on what is wrong with EMDR. That should tell you what you need to know. EMDR is a simplistic, naive unreflective approach that in the long run helps no one. We are making the film now so hang on. art

  12. Jan: I never heard of this guy. Why do they call it the London Primal Assoc when it has nothing to do with me or my work? art janov

  13. It seems to me that this drug helps us not be human and have normal and real responses to life. It makes us look on the bright side, and we see what that does in cognitive therapy. If we cut out the brain sections that give the orders for the stress hormones we also block negative pain. Do we really want that? The problem is that these people can no longer retrieve trauma, which is the only thing that we have to integrate and resolve pain. Aj

  14. On Björn Aasen's response: I forgot to mention that once you have undergone surgery you can operate on cancer; or wait; if you undergo primal therapy you can forego 6 years of training and do therapy immediately. And then you can come to the conclusion that EMDR is a proper therapy. ayayay That is why buyer beware!! art janov

  15. An email comment: (Part 1)
    " I have had to notice that I can't think my way out of pain and anesthetizing it is like taking an aspirin for a headache, you life your responses become more numb. The effects of primal pain are insidious and invade every part of you.

    It seems to me that with primal pain we don't love ourselves intellectually, deeper still we don't love ourselves emotionally, and we don't love ourselves physically. Telling ourselves to do so, telling ourselves to quit smoking, over eating, putting ourselves down, failing to plan sensibly, or sticking with a discipline that may help us, all of this telling is tellingly inadequate.

    We mistake enemies for friends perhaps even on a cellular level and we shun the friends that might love us choosing rather the friends that aren't friends but who allow us to blindly struggle for what was once and is now impossible, the essential needs for security and nurture that never was and will never be.

    How can it constantly amaze me that thought can't trump feeling? What is this insanity of words practiced by every politician and every preacher on every street corner? We sing songs to soothe ourselves we rage at those who are sick with this disease as if there were a person bent on evil that could serve as our whipping post victim for all our miseries in life.

    I see shows on television that seek out the deeply pained and barely rational elements of our society so that we can laugh at them, and on some shows the self righteous hosts get harsh with them or even scream at them all to the amusement and jubilation of the watching studio audience.

    What a sad and miserable lot we are on this planet. People say there is no primal pain, but at the convenience stores they sell pain killers and distractions from the pain and things that turn into pain killers in the brain. These stores wouldn't in fact survive financially without the sale of such items, never do they make their money from selling bread and milk. The more staple foods are sold almost as an after thought.

    Is it getting worse? I believe it is, due to our population increase and the increasingly artificial lives we lead in our push for modernization, a modernization increasingly ignoring real needs in preference to neurotic symbolic ones. I once saw a young man in a convenience store with a waxed paper bucket it was a huge soft drink that if it had been half filled with ice was still a serving of soda pop that once was a treat for my sister, myself and our two parents back in the sixties. Welcome to the future."

  16. Part 2: "When disaster strike we remember that all human beings are our family. When global warming increasingly has shown itself to be significantly human made and we see life itself threatened on this planet, we suddenly remember that life on this planet is necessary to what we call home. Yet, when our awareness isn't present, which is most of the time, we kill one another in wars, all diplomacy and banter across long tables always yielding nothing or next to nothing, and daily we do things like drink water from plastic bottles that took more water to make than the water they hold, and we are slowly losing our fresh water supplies.

    This all said, we say we have no primal pain inside us, we say we are machines with a chemical soup that can be manipulated by "modern" therapies. What nonsense! Feeling is essentially who we experience ourselves to be, and the only thing that ties us to our survival.

    Silly Arthur Janov they say, meanwhile they use ridiculous things like EMDR to treat psychic trauma, and barbarous electroshock therapies for those who did not "improve" from their attempts to talk the hurt out of damaged suffering people. Yes, and if this all fails and the person is seen to be not valuable socially it is ok to unleash great hatred on them and still not face what is inside each of us: a diabolical force against our very survival that can only be removed with enough force to change fake struggles that feel like we need them for our very survival.

    Yes this can be done in a classy fifty minute hour session with fragile furniture pleasing to the therapist tastefully arranged, and when the person if lucky begins to cry they can be given tissues and told to suck it up till the next "session". Yes, and this is something the sufferer pays for, or the rest of us pay for through insurance costs.

    Preaching and politics won't change this world, only feeling what is real can do that, and it doesn't happen on cozy couches in short time spans by people more interested in what they are having for lunch or dinner later than they are with the suffering of their patient.

    Art, if I'm making this up about our society, then Fox News is unbiased and Santa Clause is real.


    You know what? I am going to put this on my website and all over the social sites. What can they do? Shoot me? Jail me? Maybe I shouldn't give them any ideas, ha."

  17. Hi,

    Mmmm, yes, the London Association of Primal Therapists. . .

    In an earlier entry I mentioned I'd been to see this lot 20yrs ago.

    They told me that Primal Theory was integrated into mainstream and the 3 week intensive was no longer needed.

    Anyway, It's not Arts' fault others are using the word "PRIMAL" to garnish their own menu.

    But I tell you, I wish these frauds had not said that to me because I became quite mislead and confused. I only recently discovered the TRUTH. That I discovered accidentally in Waterstones' bookshop one day when I stumbled across a book of Alice Millers in which she refered to Art Janov. The rest is history.

    As Art keeps saying: BEWARE OF FRAUDS>

    Paul G.

  18. Paul G: We eagerly await your arrival. Don't forget my age and that I don't go on forever. art

  19. Hi Art,

    tears will be shed when you do eventually go.

    Many of us with Dads of a similar age to you will lose the mentor we should have had 50 years ago.

    Still, I'm saving my pennies and finding ways to do "Training" in USA in order to extend my visa.

    Paul G.


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.