Sunday, May 22, 2011
Is there a Breakthrough in Breakthrough Therapy?
I saw a TV special on group therapy. They filmed a weeks’s worth of breakthrough therapy and allowed us to see the progress. Before I say it is all bullshit, I shall refrain from that word and say that it has value, only not the value they see.
Basically it is a one week group therapy where they are instructed to pound the couch, yell at your mother and then cry while those around you become a “family,” and hug you like brothers and sisters. I hope this does not sound snide because I think that anything that helps open up people is good. So this is a good third-line approach that gets people to consider feeling. They can cry and hug each other experience an emotional closeness, perhaps for the first time. But don’t see this as therapy; see it for what it is. A first step, a baby step toward feeling in the future.
I guess their idea is that once there is a breakthrough of feeling/crying the patient is one her way to progress. I never see any science in all this; it is doing what you feel comfortable with. It can last a short while and that’s that. The problem is that the ragefull guy will recidivize, and he will be disappointed cause he thought he “cured” it.
If they knew about levels of consciousness they would know that they only touched the surface, and that there are months ahead of feeling. Above all, the patient should know this so they won’t be surprised when their symptoms and old behavior returns.
I have written time again that to do something like pound pillows at the behest of someone else is useless. That is going through the motions of getting better without getting better. Again where is the science? It is sorely lacking in almost every approach I have seen. I don’t mind people declaring themselves therapists but at least have some kind of qualification. Here the patient is again a dutiful obedient child who takes orders. There is no sense of what feelings really are, even though they are supposedly a feeling therapy.
The therapist says over and over again how proud she is of the addicted, rage case. He pleased her, and I suppose that is good? But all this current therapy approach is a do-gooder,-liberal one but if you asked them what makes for progress in their therapy, they would be hard-pressed to answer. You cannot love pain away. If the pounding does not come out of a feeling it is just an exercise, no better than appealing to a higher power; you know, “God loves you and is proud of you.” I really don’t know how any approach can eliminate history and expect progress in their patients.
Unless we know how deep in the neuraxis rage lies we can never integrate it.
At one point the group was asked to draw their early family home, and then they cried about it. Fine but what then? How is that different from explaining to a relative about your childhood home and then shedding tears. Is crying in the present enough? It is helpful, nothing to do with cure. In all of this there is no sense of evolution; how the brain and consciousness unfold. It reminds me the courts sending ragefull people to anger management. What they do is get the rational mind to suppress feeling. Isn’t there a better way? Let those feelings up to conscious/awareness, to be expressed and resolved? It is not a plug for primal therapy; it is a plug for science in therapy. If we don’t do it this way then we are candidates for heart attacks, strokes, hemorrhoids and pure misery as we can never feel totally comfortable in our skin. Remember, managing anything including feelings leaves a powerful residue in the system, grinding away below the surface.
In the breakthrough approach there is a decision by the therapist on what feelings will be addressed. “Today is Shame day. We can all get to shame.” What if that is an irrelevant feeling for the patient? Again, no sense of evolution, no sense of letting feelings come up in proper evolutionary order. I know they all want to do the best they can but there needs to be some thought-out approach; which is also lacking in every booga booga /NEW AGE approach in addiction therapy. I am appalled by the total lack of structure and understanding there is. As an example of this, there is then a role playing in Breakthrough therapy where you become my mother and I become your father and we express feelings. Does anyone ask themselves, “What is the history of role play? Did it ever help anyone? If so, how?" This is a spin-off from Fritz Perls and Gestalt therapy. It is a kind of anything goes.
Whenever a doc runs the show, (shades of Albert Ellis). There will be problems. We are again his children and we obey. He is not learning about his patient; we are learning the rules of the game. The patient does not do what he feels like; he does what is required of him. In the name of feeling it is just so mechanical. “Do this and then do that!” Don’t think having a doctor’s degree is any better. It just gets fancier, with more high-falutin language, vis a vis cognitive therapy. Let me offer a solution — a solid, scientifically based therapy about feelings.
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.