Sunday, May 22, 2011
On the DSK (Head of IMF) case
So the head of the IMF is alleged to have sexually attacked a maid. His friend, the philosopher Bernard Henry Levi wrote a piece in France saying, “I am a close friend of Strauss Kahn for 25 years and I know he would not do anything like that. He is not that kind of man.” So you say. But does he really think he knows anyone? Does he know what goes on in private in a man’s home? Can he tell a man’s sexual proclivity through a friendship? I doubt it. Why? Because nearly all of us have secrets and a secret life. It is the nature of neurosis that we hide part of us; that we have fantasies no one would even dream of. I treated a famous athlete who needed to wave his penis at women. He was at that moment out of control. Do you think his friends would know about that? How about another well known athlete who was addicted to porno magazines. And addicted to have to dress up in women’s clothes. Do you think his friends knew about that? We got to the basis of all that: his mother left him when he was five to go to work. He was left with a cold nanny who never touched him. The only way he could feel close to his mother was to hold her clothes and later rub them on while he masturbated; a way of getting relief from his terrible tension and unfulfilled need. He was close to his mother. It was his way of feeling loved; something we will need and something we nearly all act out in different ways to feel some warmth. It can be stuffing ourselves with food, to feel fulfilled, acting out sexually in order to feel held and touched; you name your poison.
So let us get back to Mr. Kahn. He comes out of the shower and he sees a maid. He is supposed to have jumped her. If I tell you that at that moment he was psychotic would you believe me? So let us define it. He gets sexually aroused; now on top of that there is triggered many other imprinted impulses lying deep in the brain/nervous system. And for that moment it is all bursting through his neocortical control apparatus.
There is any number of current studies indicating that our memories are imprinted dating back to just after conception. Those memories are imprinted low in the brain, beginning with the newly developing brain stem and limbic/feeling brain. They are imprinted into the reptilian/alligator brain. There is indeed a snake running around in our heads and it contains the memories engraved why back before birth that have a life-or-death urgency to them. Under current emotional/physiologic stimulation those memories/impulses are dredged up with the current situation through a process called resonance. They join together and become a dangerous ensemble threatening our control apparatus. In everyday life there is not enough stimulation to cause that dredging; but when sexually aroused it can be all triggered off. It can happen when we are extremely frustrated or furious about something. We really don’t know anyone until we see her or him under stress or some kind of excitement. So Mr. Levy you really don’t know. You are not going to see it at a dinner party. But you will see it in our therapy when we lift the lid of repression and a patient becomes immersed in all of those early memories. That is how we really get to know someone. Otherwise, in the absence of great emotional stimulation the shrink knows very little about his patient. He only sees the surface; so even the doctor cannot see what the patient is really like. We help put the patient under stress; not by threatening to hurt her, but by simply finding a way to allow emotions to rise; emotions that are a serious threat to the integrity of the organism. In one patient every time he got close to his deep-lying pain he had an erection.
There we saw the connection…..between emotional arousal and sexual behavior.
So at a certain moment deep-lying pain resonates with sexual arousal; critical judgment is gone and one is in control by unconscious pain. That is, his thought/judgment is waylaid by all of his impulses at once. In psychosis it is a permanent affair; all of one’s very early pain takes control of mental processes and the person is delusional and paranoid. He is psychotic. The difference is that in sexual assault it is momentary, set off by high level sexual arousal which then triggers off other deep-lying pain.
Sexual arousal raises the stakes, as it were. If she were an older person it may not have been a problem. But otherwise he was out of control; in control by deep forces. His possible lack of early love or trauma while being carried by a (just an example) highly depressed mother lowers the bar of acting-out. His gating system cannot hold back the tide. Others who do not have those early imprints can have a functioning repressive/gating system that can keep control. So it is the nature and strength of the gates that determines who will act out (out of control) and who won’t. And those gates depend on the nature and strength of early trauma for their strength. Gestational trauma, followed by an early lack of love in the home, plus traumas in school can all bind together to produce leaky gates and a subsequent act-out.
So who gets pushed over the boundary and who doesn’t?
We are meant to be controlled by our reptilian brain because it involves basic survival mechanisms. To get of the way fast, to hide when in danger, and to attack when necessary, etc. Some of us had traumatic gestation and some only had major traumas after birth. The earlier the trauma the more powerful it is. That last point: to attack when necessary gets mixed up with current sexual stimulation. His snake brain took control and he (allegedly) attacked. When the neocortex can safely put the snake back in his hold there is no more danger.
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.