You know I read a lot of case histories of abuse, sexual and otherwise and other terrible events visited by parents on helpless children. But I was thinking that in my case and in many others the pain wasn’t overt and obvious. It was the subtext. Let me explain:As you know we all have needs that change as we grow up and evolve. And parents, when caring and loving, fulfill those needs. Natural and normal. But suppose they don’t. Then you grow up unfulfilled, but you don’t know it since you never had your needs fulfilled in the past. You don’t know you should be hugged and adored. You don’t know that you should be cherished and protected. You don’t know that you should be talked to kindly with care and asked about your feelings. So what happens? Since you don’t know that should be the end of it. Ahh, not so, because the body knows better than our conscious/awareness; it registers pain and it stays and drives us even though we never know it is there. Isn’t that amazing? So you cannot get on with your life. I never knew there were needs that had to be fulfilled until decades later when I felt them; either that, by some accident, someone fulfills a need or two: a stray hug or pat on the head, and are suddenly aware that something is amiss.I have already accounted how I went to a friend’s house when I was twelve and their mother was in the kitchen, leaning against a butcher block discussing life with them. I ran home and told what I had seen at dinner. My dad yelled at me and I never knew why; it was a rebuke against them that I wasn’t aware of.Then two years later I was walking out of a café and it was a circular glass affair where a mother and her young daughter were going in. I
heard her say, “You know people are not perfect , and you have to learn to accept other humans sometimes with their flaws. “ Five or ten seconds, at the most. That’s it. But I never forgot those words, nor the faces of those two people. Why? Because I never knew parents could talk to their kids. It was an epiphanic moment, not conceptualized as yet but it had a great impact. Later, I realized it was pain by inadvertence. It was not what my parents did, but what they did not do. It was missing and that is why I never knew about it; until I saw it and learned something that stayed with me. And what they did not do left my needs unconscious; in the oubliette. Yet, I was a mess, could not learn, could not sit still or concentrate. I was driven by unfulfilled needs; i.e., pain. This was a pain that no one could see, yet I was sent to doctor after doctor for a constant running nose (my tears found another route). You cannot deceive those needs nor forget them because the body won’t let you. The title of my next book ought to be “death by inadvertence.” This is not a joke because those needs we don’t know about are killing us; they give us heart attacks far too early and also cancer. You see, it happens because the needs not fulfilled are pain and that calls into being repression. It is that repression pushing back feelings that will kill us. And all that goes on without our knowing it.Those are the needs we are never aware of. We have to read books about “attachment theory” to get a hint about it. Imagine, we need to read a book and theory about holding your child, looking at her in the eye with love and talking to her a lot. It is like reading a book about the tribes along the Amazon. It is so alien.You do not get over those needs and “get on with life.” They cut short your life so you cannot get on with it; oh yes, for a while you can but you can’t fool mother nature and she will get you while you are not looking.
As time goes on and I learn more about the human condition, I have decided to share some of my thoughts on what we are all about. I will publish my reflections on this blog, hopefully to enlarge our understanding of what makes us human. Art Janov
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Saturday, December 3, 2011
On Pain by Inadvertence
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.