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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Sunday, January 1, 2012
On Going Hunting
In the news today is a photo of two congressmen going out hunting with their orange uniforms and very large guns. I thought: is this fun? What fun could there possibly be to deliberately go out and kill an animal. Either killing a baby that will put his parents into a deep depression; yes they do get depressed; or kill a mama so that the baby will die soon from the same depressive malady that becomes deadly as it affects the heart and liver. Are they aware that they are killing members of a family, beings that have feelings, whose feeling brains are massive? What joy is there in the killing? Oh I forgot, those very big guns. I leave you to figure out the meaning.
There must be something atavistic about this ritual; perhaps it harkens back to the days when the best hunter was the hero who made sure of our survival. And maybe now they consider themselves heroes, macho, like Hemmingway, who measured his shark kills on a scale, in keeping with his loving bull fights, something so ineffably cruel that defies imagination. So again, what is it about killing, mostly a male occupation, that makes a leader of one country visit another, and the first thing they do is go hunting? It is all so Freudian and obvious. Is there any thought to whom they are killing and why? Nope. Just a habit. The quarterback Brett Favre loves to hunt deer with a bow and arrow. Putting an arrow through the head of a helpless deer that is fun for him. But wait, he also placed a photo of his penis on the internet. “I am a man, a tough man, at that.” Is there some relationship? Of course. I kill therefore I am a man. Ayayay. A play on the, I think therefore I exist. His motto is, I don’t think therefore I exist.
Anyone in touch with their feelings could not hunt. They would feel and understand about animals and their feelings and needs. It is a real feeling being; therefore, I would first teach all school children the veneration of all life. They would be in touch with their feelings so that before the impulse to hunt, they would say to themselves why I am I doing this? And the answer would come quickly. I feel insecure. I feel unimportant. I have hate inside me from own parental neglect. And on and on. Mostly hunting is a proof, of sorts, that I am a real person, a real man. And then what? They have to do it most of the time because it is an addiction that comes out of feelings and needs.
Of course there are strong cultural forces at work where hunting is part of the zeitgeist. And from the time the child can speak his head is filled with the glorification of killing. But there comes a time in life when we need to ask ourselves questions about ourselves; what am I doing and why am I doing it? Unhappily, that day never comes to a lot of us. We go through life dragging this body around and never demand who we are and why we act like we do.
I have watched baby chimps go into a deep depression and die after their parents were killed by hunters, and I think, how could anyone do that? I am sure there is always a good rationale but even paranoids have a seemingly good rationale for their murder—so and so didn’t pay up on his drug debts, or she left me for this other guy. But just for fun and for no other reason to call up a friend and dress up in those orange jump suits and go kill, that is way beyond me.
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.