Tuesday, October 25, 2011
An Examination of Psychoanalysis (Part 11/13)
Neo-Freudian Shifts in Free Association
Free association, the staple of orthodox Freudian analysis, has given way to what Harry Stack Sullivan and others have called "more genuine communication." Sullivan thought that free association was too often a case of patients and doctors indulging in "parallel autistic reveries." He and other heretical analysts led patients to talk about significant aspects of their lives in a more directed way.
Talking may produce insight, recognition, enlightenment, and all the other facets of awareness which analysts prize; , but it does not restore c onsciousness. To heal, t alking must lead into deeper levels of experience and memory.
I dealy, therapists should limit their directives. To speak while the patient is plunging into a non-verbal early event would be to abort the feeling. We cannot communicate verbally with a patient who is her non-verbal, pre-verbal brain. The genuine communication here is the fluid connection between the levels of consciousness within the patient and not the quality of the dialogue between patient and therapist. What is difficult in the training of primal therapists is to teach them how to ask a non-verbal question. It can be done.
What is clear in doing our therapy is that one cannot transgress levels of consciousness; the therapist must remain on the same level as the patient.
Time in Modern Analysis
One needs time to fully penetrate the depths of the unconscious. The statutory analytic hour (usually lasting only 45-50 minutes, in fact) means that the therapist is setting a limit at the outset as to how far his patients can go. With such a short time, what else can they do but restrict themselves to matters of the now? Going into the past can very easily seem like a waste of time. The way analysis treats it, it is.
The person in an analytic-style therapy may relate a current situation which unwittingly leads to a primal scene; there are tears and a welling up of feeling. What happens next is crucial. If this occurs at around 30 to 35 or 40 minutes in a 45-minute session, the analyst's response is predictably one of stepping in to seal off the emotion while encouraging the patient to organize his thoughts for tomorrow. From the Primal perspective this patient has been cut off from himself, stopped dead in his tracks, right at the point when an important primal feeling is about to occur. He is robbed of the only experience that can profoundly change him.
The painful feelings are memories that take their own time to be told in their own form. The 45-minute session suits a cerebral therapy where one feels for a few minutes and can then stop with impunity. Therapists may feel something has been achieved when they see their patients crying for a few minutes about a scene from childhood, but crying about and being in the grips of childhood is the difference between a few tears and sobs, and reliving ineffable Pain for two hours. It is the "old" tears we are after; the tears the child should have cried and never did. Baby tears are curative. Adult tears are ameliorative.
The shortening of the psychoanalytic session is bound to keep the patient hanging on. He either has to talk fast to get the feeling that he is covering the topics important to him, or he slows down and is able to deal with only a fragment of what is going on. He has a distended session. And no matter how many times a week he comes for therapy, the breaks in the flow of unconscious to conscious are determined by the clock on the wall, not by his inner time.
Imagine having to squash the feelings yet maintain a grasp of what came up, assimilate the analyst's interpretations, try to make sense of one's own thoughts sparked off by the aborted experience, all the while clinging to some tentative meaning with which to step back into the world until the next meeting. It is too much to ask. Such an approach inevitably produces a greater amount of headwork and therefore confusion. Meanwhile, having encouraged this confusion to some extent, psychoanalysis then presents itself as the means of unravelling the confusion through the medium of understanding. Thus the analyst ensures his own indispensability.
It might be argued that patients who go three, four, or even five times a week would invalidate my complaint about the distended session. Presumably, whatever was interrupted one day could be easily picked up the next day. It can't because the defense system has recovered sufficiently to prevent access. Indeed, the repressive barriers may be strengthened, because our defenses reflexively tighten their hold when Pain comes close. At the very least, patients are caught in the contradiction of allowing unconscious feelings to surface followed by a need to restrain those very feelings. A certain indeterminate cycle occurs here. The patient comes close to Pain, then is encouraged to push it back down and "think about it" until the next time.
Furthermore, I can't for the life of me figure out what the difference is between therapy three times a week or four times a week. Presumably, the four times a week goes deeper and further, which in my experience is not the case. Any analysis, even if it goes on seven days a week, will go no deeper than the defense system will allow. Unless Primal techniques are used, the therapy will remain on a superficial level, no matter how convinced the patient and therapist are that they have gone deeper. That is why many of our former patients who entered Primal Therapy after years of psychoanalysis say that in the first three weeks of our therapy they had gone deeper and learned more than in all the years of analysis.
I am convinced that the kind of material a patient dare not face until she is ready in psychoanalysis, which could be a year or two down the line, is material one can get to in two or three primal sessions. We also find out that the really deep material is nothing that can be recounted to a therapist, nothing that a therapist need dose out to a patient. It is something that neither one can recognize until the feeling is felt and is over. If the therapy is done correctly, Pain will arise in order and in integratable doses. The really deep material remains absolutely out of reach of any analyst who could not possibly guess what traumas lie deep in the neuraxis.
What also makes psychoanalysis interminable is that four times a week therapy deepens the dependence on the therapist, who is meanwhile encouraging his patient to be independent and "responsible." But in these terms, to really take full responsibility would mean to stand on one's own two feet and stop asking for constant advice. Still, patients don't really go to analysis for advice; they go for comfort, reassurance, understanding, warmth, and kindness -- and above all, a chance to talk to a "daddy" or "mommy" who will finally listen and care. The price they pay to get this is to be a bright student, offer up brilliant insights and remain forever dependent. As long as the therapist is in the driver's seat, the patient will continue to be a dependent passenger.
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.