Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On Hypnosis (Part 25/26)


Comparing Hypnotic Age Regression and Primal Reliving

How does hypnotic age regression differ from a Primal reliving experience? One crucial difference is that the person in a Primal remains conscious: he experiences the intense emotion simultaneously with its cognitive and contextual connections. There is no dissociation of emotion from intellect. The person re-experiencing a traumatic event feels the original emotions intensely, and at the same time "knows" what he is feeling. He is "all there." He surrenders knowingly to himself rather than to another. Furthermore, he is able to connect his past experiences with his present feelings and so make sense out of both. 


In hypnotic age regression, the full benefit of reliving cannot be gained because consciousness has been reduced by virtue of the hypnotic state. It is a case of trying to have it both ways: of reliving without conscious impact, of releasing Pain without feeling it. Our research has shown that without participation of all levels of consciousness, there is little therapeutic value in going back to one's past. Indeed we need full consciousness for profound change. Full consciousness means the conscious regression to a lower state of brain organization. It means being conscious on a heretofore unconscious level.


The third level of consciousness is the level that is knocked out in hypnosis and that was knocked out in neurosis when the Primal event originally occurred. What this means is that hypnotic age regression utilizes the same disengagements of consciousness that were involved in the repression of the trauma in the first place.


The second important difference between hypnotic age regression and Primal reliving has to do with intense emotional response. As soon as the hypnotic patient gets into an intense emotional state (which we call the pre-Primal phase), the hypnotherapist usually intervenes with one technique or another to control, reduce, or circumscribe it. The assumption is that the patient might become dangerously anxious and hysterical. Erickson's admonition to his trembling and perspiring subject to "shove it down again" is an excellent example. In hypnotherapy, a feeling is seldom experienced in its entirety, and therefore cannot be entirely resolved. For the hypnotic subject to feel all the agony of a childhood means to be having a Primal, and for that you need full consciousness or a consciousness fully connected to lower levels. To get well unconsciously is an oxymoron. Unconsciousness is the problem.


One of the key differences between my approach and hypnotherapy is that Primal therapy is a natural, evolutionary one, in which the unconscious arises almost in linear, stratified form from the most recent and most benign of Pains to the most remote and the most dolorous of Pains. It is the nature of Pain to make itself conscious, to achieve homeostasis. The system is self-regulating and permits into consciousness that which can be integrated and accepted by consciousness. This is not the case with hypnosis, where it is the hypnotist who decides where and how to probe and how deep to go. This, I believe, among other problems, is a basic distrust of the human body and its miracles. It is an authoritarian approach, a manipulative one in which the patient is maneuvered hither and thither almost beyond his will, within the whims or preconceptions of the hypnotist. There is a basic lack of respect, a lack of understanding of the necessity for self- determination. Rather, the hypnotist, like the parents beforehand, manipulates the child again (the child need inside the patient), who is already manipulated and maneuvered away from his real self.


For some reason therapists think they have to do something to a patient. Perhaps it is a reflection of a technological society, in which individuals are considered as units which have to be repaired, adjusted or fixed in some way.

Conclusions


Before summarizing my conclusions about the nature of hypnosis and the value of hypnotherapy, let us look back at the positions of 
some of the early students of hypnosis. It seems to me that we have arrived at conclusions which these pioneers either reached or were reaching almost one hundred years ago. 


Charcot saw a similarity between hypnosis and hysteria, as each seems to demonstrate the characteristics of the other. He spoke of "pathological suggestibility" as the necessary ingredient in hypnosis as opposed to the "normal suggestibility" of the waking state. Bernheim believed hypnotizability to be independent of neuropathology and hysteria, describing suggestibility as a trait shared by all human beings, with hypnosis being almost entirely ideogenic. 

Freud at one time or another shared the views of his various contemporaries and used hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion to treat hysteria and other afflictions. However, he ultimately favored a psycho-physiological explanation of hypnotic phenomena because --and this may be his most important legacy of this period -- he felt that psychological and physiological processes ran parallel to each other in a "dependent concomitant" relationship. In other words, Freud supported a mind-body duality and initially aimed towards a psychotherapy which allowed for it. For instance, he felt that Bernheim's ideogenic account of hypnosis veered too much toward "a psychology without physiology." In the end he saw suggestion and auto-suggestion as taking advantage of the physiological capacity linking conscious mental states with purely physiological processes.


I can find something in the arguments of almost all these theorists and practitioners to draw into a synthesis with the Primal understanding of hypnosis. In perceiving similarities between hypnosis and hysteria, Charcot and Freud were, I feel, beginning to recognize the interdependency of hypnosis and neurosis. Charcot certainly appreciated that there was something abnormal about the suggestibility needed to succumb to hypnosis. What I am not sure of is whether he understood that so-called pathological suggestibility differs from "normal" suggestibility only in the matter of degree. As we saw in the case of modern theorists like Barber, Hilgard and Erickson, neurotic suggestibility is so prevalent that it generally escapes distinction as being neurotic. This, I think, may well account for Bernheim's position of an inherent suggestibility in all human beings, rather than just in neurotics.


Freud's contributions lay as much in his reasons for rejecting hypnosis as in his initial espousal of it. Although results were often quite dramatic, they were induced for a short time only and depended mainly upon the personal relationship between doctor and patient. In a footnote to a discussion on sexual aberration, Freud states that "the blind obedience evinced by the hypnotized subject to the hypnotist causes me to think that the nature of hypnosis is to be found in the unconscious fixation of the libido on the person of the hypnotizer..." If we substitute "primal need" for libido, I couldn't agree more. Freud also came to realize that unconscious material could be arrived at without resorting to hypnosis; that if you confronted the resistances of the patient, the conscious mind could discover for itself the contents of the unconscious.

20 comments:

  1. You said that the patient surrenders to themselves and not the therapist.

    I think that's an important point you should push. I think a lot of people will have the opposite picture in their head or will be afraid of that...you know, thinking you might be a cult where the therapist gets in your head and "does to" the patient. Just a suggestion.

    Andrew Atkin

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  2. Consciousness ... the thoughts function to not let itself plagued… occurs at the conscious level ... awareness of the pain ... but not the consequence of it.

    Primal Therapy brings us there… there we are plagued by our consciousness ... feeling we depend on but which is so contaminated with pain that we are fighting against them.

    The feeling ... which also is awareness ... awareness in itself ... we can put our consciousness into awareness ... we are addicted to it ... we need it ... the consciousness that we can access through primal therapy.

    The cognitive methods are consistent with hypnosis ... experience something else than what consciousness really holds ... we shall be "aware" (a hypnotick stage)that suffering is an illusion... something sick... something we should not concern ourselves with.

    What about… if those therapists only could "understand” that the idea is working feverishly to preserve feelings ... feelings that we could "understand"… feel if we only had the opportunity to do so.

    The tone meanders through life… we just have to follow it to its "meaning" of life ... this is here cognitive and hypnotic therapies constructing a pause a distance ... pause for not understanding the evolutionary and physiological processes.

    Frank

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  3. A Facebook comment:
    Let's see if i can add something on Janov's gripping series on Hypnosis.But in a few instalments.Typing is not my cup of tea.But let's get down to it.Edgar Cayce.The "Sleeping Prophet".
    ‎ Edgar Cayce was a deeply religious Christian, and was unsure of wether his new-found gift was from God or the devil.For the next eleven years, because of fear of where his gift had come from, he made very little of his psychic abilities, until the time his throat paralysis took hold of him.This affliction occurred at a time when Edgar was apprenticed to a photographer, and was hoping to earn enough money to marry his fiancee,Gertrude Evans.This was evidently not a good time to be unable to talk above a muffled rasp, and the affliction began seriously to impinge on both his career and his love life.
    Cayce turned to hypnotism as a possible cure, after the medical profession had proven to be baffled by this affliction.A local hypnotist, who had heard of Edgar's poultice cure of eleven years before, proposed that he put Edgar into a trance and have him diagnose himself.Desperate for a cure,Edgar agreed to give it a go.As Edgar fell sleep, Layne suggested to him that he look inside his own body and p[inpoint the trouble with his throat.Cayce began to mumble, and then to speak in a clear voice.According to his biographers,Cayce said the following:
    " Yes,we can see the body.In the normal state this body is unable to speak due to a partial paralysis of the inferior muscles of the vocal cords, produced by nerve strain.This is a psychological condition producing a physical effect.This may be removed by increasing the circulation to the affected parts by suggestion while in this unconscious condition."
    The hypnotist was truly amazed.The voice came from Edgar, but was not his-he never spoke in that manner, and was at any rate incapable of clear speech because of his throat condition.Nevertheless,the hypnotist suggested to Edgar that he increase the circulation to his throat, and watched what happened for the next twenty minutes in utter astonishment.Edgar's throat turned pink, and through various shades until it was crimson with the increased blood flow.Finally, Edgar spoke again:
    "It is all right now.The condition is removed.Make the suggestion that the circulation return to normal, and that after that the body awaken."
    And , that i know, Cayce never relapsed into his throat condition. So, in the realm of "hypnosis" ... not every thing might be "hypnosis".We might still be trying to swim in an undefined conceptual maremagnum.

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  4. Frank, i want to understand what you're saying, but i'm struggling; can you dumb it down for me, a little? thanks.

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  5. Grumpy: hey get together with others and see if I make sense. In my college days I used to not understand the psychoanalysts books and I thought I was stupid until I learned it was them not me. Maybe I don't make sense somewhere. Tell me where and I will try to help out. art

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  6. Hi,

    I used to believe I was stupid because I couldn't understand economics theory (there are several different ones) until I came across the idea of "Stable State Economics" and "The Perils of Free Trade" (Google it). Also, try "Economics of Relative Advantage" By Mcinder. . .. . .

    Anyway, after reading up on these latter subjects I realised that 99% of economic theories are unworkable and cause boom & bust etc. After that I didn't feel stupid or poor. Misinformed & Disenfranchised maybe. . . But not stupid.

    Paul G.

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  7. i can relate to feeling stupid; i have to understand the overall concept before the specifics can make sense for me; being in new situations throws me; i need time to adjust, to get my bearings, to figure it all out; i'm sure it goes back, way back to the roots, so to speak.

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  8. Hi,

    I'd just like to add that (as far as I can see) Primal Theory offers a unique opportunity to most of the Sciences, it even offers a new Q/C to limit bias in scientific observation (IS the scientist a psycho)?!

    Though there is resistance to change & defensive denial from established organisations, the spread of 'appropriate science' is inevitable. Science is now at the stage where it is explaining itself as-well as everything else. Science is becoming self aware (also in a predictably capricious and narcissistic way).

    Unfortunately for Art (& other like minded people) the pace is painfully slow, like watching paint dry, or observing the birth of a new religion (through a glass darkly) after a 40yr gestation.

    Social Anthropology is taking a turn as we Humans begin to observe (and categorise) our own collusion in collective global suicide. Unsustainable development. Unsustainable growth.

    From Scientific research about the distant past we know there have been dramatic extinction events and that the Human population dropped to less than 1,000 individuals only 80,000 yrs ago.

    F*****g Great! Said Jack.

    Nevertheless, in accordance with evolutionary theory, I'd like my genes to survive (through my children) and hopefully as they grow up they will notice and learn the truth about the Human Condition.

    I for one have now had my eyes opened wider than ever before and my heart filled with new purpose. Bloody frightening new purpose but more real and less confounding than any of the other 'purposes I believed in'.

    So from 'Brave New World' where all is 'out there' I have returned to brave new man where all me is inside now, where I can own what belongs to me and meet what belongs to others half way.

    Primal (true feelings) offers the opportunity to meet others half way without the confusion and pain of infringed boundaries. It does this by acknowledging unresolved pain as the underlying cause of defence and therefore human conflict. Even if only one person lives life true to this 'idea' then others will come to their feelings too.

    If you're worried about those dinosaurs with all the money and control, they will become extinct because evolution does not support the existence of 'top predators' for very long, it's unstable, the environment changes and the power gets devolved down the food chain.

    The fact that man & womankind have been the catalyst for extinction of other species should be no surprise. Having done it to other species we are doing it to ourselves. The question remains: "what will the survivors be like"?

    Paul G.

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  9. Hi grumpy,

    -"i can relate to feeling stupid; i have to understand the overall concept before the specifics can make sense for me; being in new situations throws me; i need time to adjust, to get my bearings, to figure it all out;-"

    Actually grumpy I feel your response is a normal and sensible approach to a task or a new learning situation.

    In my opinion it is immature to tackle a task based only on the immediate function, "Just tell me what to do and I'll do it". How could an adult achieve lasting results with any thing by starting like that?

    That's how my trainees end up sawing the tenon right off when putting a shoulder on a timber joint, these ones just keep on sawing. . .past the line. I always teach people to try to understand why they are doing a task.

    It's irresponsible to leave children half educated this way. That's how we do it in modern schools and then the kids try to get work and they're nearly unemployable because they don't have a grasp of the bigger picture.

    Even the washing up needs space on the drainer to do it, where does it all go? etc etc. Without a bigger picture and a sense of place and purpose the washing up ends up falling off the drainer onto the floor and smashing. Ridiculous if it weren,t so wasteful and pointless.

    I've noticed it's the most unconsciously repressed people who approach a task like this and it is impossible to teach them anything, they always work in a mess and eventually some-one else has to finish the task for them.

    I conclude by saying in this case your observations are true and normal even for non neurotic people.

    Take your time, get your bearings, figure it all out. There's nothing wrong with that.

    Paul G.

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  10. Grumpy

    You will never be able to figure out what happens ... you have to stop thinking. Funder force in itself is blocking the signal that just makes you wonder. It is a bit tricky but the child in us understand what it means.
    When I am thinking I am not making room for all my soffering. The child in me is in its tone in everything I do… and what I do… is to put a lid on… when I am think about it.
    A "thought" which lead to memories that I will never come home ... that I never got a chans to be at home… is enough for little Frank making himself known… come to the surfes and back to where the signals started.
    We will never make it by making an analysis about our life. Call The Primal center.

    Frank

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  11. art, i must warn you, this comment is horribly intellectual. please do not read it if you need a break.

    __________

    when you look at a brain's electrical activity, you will notice that the patterns don't lose much symmetry as they change. this is why i am not so interested in searching for observable differences between the left and right hemisphere. i am more interested in the differences between the three layers from top to bottom.

    for now, i have chosen to abandon some of your terminology so i don't get lost in the seemingly contradictory descriptions in your theory. for example, when a patient is writhing like a fetus, you would say he is "conscious in the first line and no other" yet he is aware of his surroundings, and he is aware that the feeling is just a memory. that sounds like third-line awareness to me. your explanations encourage me to think in absolute terms. maybe that is the reason for my confusion. are you oversimplifying?

    i have written a more elegant theory based on your teachings and my own intuition (yes i am trying to be as arrogant as possible). i'm not sure whether my theory is exactly the same as yours. i hope it is.

    ________

    my theory:

    consciousness is proportional to electrical activity. where there is a concentrated spike of electricity, there is a focal point in one's percept. where there is a diluted spread of electricity, there is a peripheral or global awareness in one's percept.

    to be fully conscious, there must be widespread electrical activity (global awareness/consciousness) in all three levels of the brain. full consciousness must be achieved before a person can primal. a patient who is "too high" or "too low" will exhibit a lack of global consciousness in one or more levels of the brain. when the patient is in the feeling zone, the focal points in the neocortex will change to a wide spread of electrical activity. if the patient is entering a birth primal, the limbic system will also have a widespread of electricity (no spikes). the brain stem region will have widespread electricity AND spikes as the memory begins to form.

    when you allow a wide spread of electricity in all levels of your brain, YOUR ENTIRE BRAIN BECOMES CONDUCTIVE. it becomes a blank slate. this allows ALL of a memory's necessary networks to connect without interference. when a normal person spontaneously retrieves a non-traumatic memory, his brain would have performed a simlar function; all three levels would have lost their spikes and become spread-out as the brain rapidly scanned all of itself, without any distractions (without any intense focus).

    a semi-conscious intellectual, deep in thought as he walks down the street, might show a predominance of hot spots in his neocortex, and also a lack of spread-out electricity in his neocortex. a fully conscious person, deep in thought as he walks down the street, might show a wide spread of electricity in all levels of his brain and also some hot spots in his neocortex.

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  12. Paul G

    I like some of the things you suggest. I have always despised “free trade.” Its not free at all. As for extinctions, I had some thoughts. First, if there were a god and he did start this whole thing, He likely has something in mind. But I digress. It is so ironic that extinctions of the past seem to involve perhaps foreign bodies impacting earth and ripping cracks in the mantle, often spraying debris everywhere and causing volcanic explosions and debris and maybe tsunamis in some places. Super volcanoes also may ignite and cause some serious extinctions. Climate changes can raise hell, too.

    I offer this to all:

    But perhaps our greatest threat now is not some outside interference from outer space or our planet undergoing “growing pains” this time. Maybe it is the thing created or evolved that will now introduce the next great extinction. Great intelligence without the accompanying fulfilled needs to produce sound stable humans will finally overcome all good judgment and bring us all to an end with insane attempts at genetic manipulation, environmental manipulation, unleashing the true vast powers of physics, even yet not fully reveal but soon to be, and most of all, psychological manipulation and harm inflicted.

    In sum, these might be our last gasping breaths before we are swallowed up by our own madness and productions. I find it more than a bit ironic that this so called Jesus foretold a time where “unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved.”

    Are we coming upon such a time? Was this prediction a damn good forecast of impending danger slowly growing over centuries? And if the “god” and “salvation” parts are wrong, might the destruction of all flesh still be worth considering? I don’t want it to end but if we rule out God, I don’t see any other realistic alternative. Primal Pain goes from bad to worse. I call it psychological entropy where energy goes from higher states to lower states until it is all dissipated. We are devolving.

    Of course, the new “disputed” physics says energy may be infinite. But for the moment, that physics is considered heresy and “unapproved” food and drugs. Or consider that if we are dissipating and devolving, then how did we get to a more previously high (and highly constructed) form to begin with?

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  13. Richard: oversimplifying? reduction ad absurdum art

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  14. Richard,

    Your way of seeing it is not bad, if I understand it right. But I'll add a few thoughts as is my tendency.

    I note some traumas can recall very vivid memories. A VietNam War veteran might remember a horrible event and oddly, remember vivid details such as the heat, the scents, the little back ground noises, all sorts of things we might not ordinarily recall. A heightened level or awareness, elevated by something. time can also slow down.

    When I broke my leg skiing at 15, everything seemed in slow motion as I was twisting and tumbling. No break felt. It was after I had come to a stop and laying there that suddenly the pain shot up.

    The plane that went down in the Hudson River and safely landed in the water, amazing at the least, had people who had time slow down, too. Some felt remarkably composed and rational. Some had changes of life and attitude after that. Life threatening events can do that.

    Even in sports, when you 1st lay tennis, good fast hard-to-get to shots scare you and you panic and run for all your worth to try to get it. But as you get better, those situations slow down. You still move fast but you’re not scared and everything seems so slow. You have time to think, believe it or not.

    Focus is something for the intellect. There are times when you must block out distractions. A tennis player can not worry about the crowd, the cameras, the plane flying over. It is all ignored and blocked out while you focus on the very important job at hand. We have various levels of heightened or lowered alertness and concentration. There are times when isolated focus is needed. Panic is not an option. It can kill.

    So your theory has to allow for these altered states. The whole brains adapts to whatever situation in comes upon. Its response depends on the situation. Not all focus (blocking out) it bad. But there does need to be a return to normal. Many have elevated stress due to PP so that they can not return to a state of relaxation. Diabetes, and cardio vascular problems will result.

    You seem to imply that all narrow or concentrated focus is bad or maybe diminished brain alertness. Not quite sure about that one.

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  15. Hi Apollo,

    I experience involving & evolving energies distinctly differently(I think we need the involving to learn a new skill. . . you have to get 'involved' to learn. Then you need evolving energies to practice the new skill and perform). Involving energies seem to rely on previously evolving efforts, in so far as you can't learn something if you haven't already built up some knowledge/ experience/ energy/ money/ credit/ wealth to 'invest' in the 're-programming'. This could be 'Love'. Art said that loved children become successful. Love gives us the credit we need to learn from an early age. Loved children are already on the crest of the wave and that is why they can get involved on the learning cycle and learn quickly and efficiently.

    So, I suppose it's a bit like surfing. . . you climb up (with effort) onto the crest of the next wave and as you slide forward and down and pick up momentum you learn a lot on the way down and if you get good at it you keep on going, you keep on learning! If your eyes are open and your senses switched on that is.

    One of the illusions of surfing is that this is easy. . . I'm not a surfer but I did sail boats as a kid and learn the same moment-um on a run with the sea behind. If you get it right the waves push you forward a lot but the tiller works in reverse sometimes because the sea pours forward under the hull, faster than your forward momentum, watch out, if you get too involved things turn inside out and back to front, and like a Primal, oops, up and back down the rear slope of the wave you thought you had climbed up onto! Swamped.

    Sometimes Apollo you just have to let it all go, get swamped, get washed up on a beach, let it all hang out to dry.

    Paul G.

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  16. Paul G,
    you have some good points there. If I can’t do, I should not teach, right?

    I do have this observation, though. IN the 1st published study from Standford University in Gifted Children, they found that early high IQ often did not lead to success. They found that High IQ kids often experience great resistance in school, jobs, and life. You will not find large numbers of them being super successful. They are by appearance, rather limited in success. If you stand out or think for yourself, you will not often be appreciated. Go ask Socrates about that! ;-)

    One either learns to walk a delicate tight rope or one just says to hell with it and follow their hearts and minds, anyway, and damn the consequences. But still, I found you observation a good recommendation to anyone. But I think fear, primal fear, keeps many from just doing and not being afraid to try and fail. Your starting to feel liberated and I have seen changes. Its impressive to watch. But I noticed at the fitness center I went to in 2004/5, that there are those like my self who have drive and get good results and there are those who just don’t have the drive or push. That push is what one might call a gift from our birth experience. I t can also be accurse. I am a parasympath with some sympathy tendencies at times. Maybe after several failed struggles, I got out on a last ditch effort and so it keeps me going back and forth. Who knows what lurks or hides down there, right?

    Glad you’re still posting and growing.

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  17. Hi Apollo,
    and also for all of us who wish their fathers had been able to be more loving:

    My Dad sent me to boarding school, probably against my Mums' wishes, certainly against mine. I was 8.
    The Headmaster enjoyed beating children. I frequently laid awake all night waiting for the ritual beatings in the mornings.
    This has exasperated my 2nd line traumas and exposed the drive from my 1st. Leaky gates, projections, depression, mania, outbursts, symptoms, drugs alcohol, living on the margins, homelessness, near bankruptcy, etc etc etc. . .

    My Dad was the son of a millionaire and the money that paid for my elitist education was from Pop.

    Only later did I realise my Dad hated me because I got 9 Oxford & Cambridge 'O' level qualifications. He himself flunked the posh boarding school Pop sent him too.

    My Dad has always blamed me about money, blamed me for the problems in my life and had nothing to do with his grandchildren. I could go on but I really don't want to make this blog into a dumping ground.

    All I can say is parents can be really narcisistic about their own children (or step children) and act out their own unresolved sibling rivalry or parental neglect with them. Sometimes Loving, sometimes Hating. . . . .

    Some mothers just can't see their symbiosis with their daughters either. . . controlling them with 'care'.

    Lets hope we can all do more than just live with the consequences but actually find a Primal Therapist to helps us get the process properly under way.

    Paul G.

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  18. Paul: We're still here you know. art

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  19. Paul

    I don't see your writing as just creating a dumping ground. It is really interesting to understand your past and the healing process you experience. I don't think Art will mind, either, since his books are loaded with such experiences.

    My father, past and present, blames his wife and kids (my brother deceased and I) for not only his problems, but perhaps all the problems of the world. Yes, its true, I run the world in secret. Brilliant, am I not?

    So I know much about what you speak of. Most all of us face lots of opposition in life. Its a shame when our biggest opposers are one or both our parents. But it is a very common story, regrettably. Keep letting us know how things are going. I like the day by day informing, as opposed to a brief summary in Art's books.

    I really liked Art's ministry of Compassion vision, too. We are told by the media what is normal and we deserve a 2nd opinion like Art's vision, be it only a vision at this point.

    We can really appreciate our problems and obstacles when we see what should be, but is not. Your willingness to share with us is very commendable.

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  20. Hi Apollo,

    Now you've brought me to my true feelings and I wasn't expecting that! Thanks because sometimes I despair.

    Paul G.

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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.
Editor