Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Bit About the Stalker

I hope in this piece to save you all a lot of angst and danger. So many of you get involved with a certain kind of person and then are surprised when a little while later he turns out to be a stalker, someone who won’t let go, someone who lives only for the day when you come back to him, someone who calls incessantly, and finally someone who makes threats and becomes dangerous. Let’s see how he got into this mess and how you got into it too.

This is now a scenario among dozens of possibilities, so I will recount only one. The young boy grew up with no love in his house; his father was cold and distant and is mother slightly warm but he had to struggle for her love. Then one day when he was six she ran off with someone else and he was left with his severe father. It could have been that she was only having an affair or was killed in an auto accident; you name the permutations. The point is that his lifeline and only chance for some love was gone, suddenly without warning. He was truly along, left with this pain and urgent need that lay there as a permanent strata, une couche in French.

Now he meets a young naïve girl and dates her and finally marries her. He is wonderful for the first few weeks and the the couche sets in and gets triggered off because in marriage unconsciously she becomes momma. This happens so often, where the girlfriend becomes mother as soon as she puts on the ring, and everything changes. So what does he do? He becomes possessive (of mother…”Don’t leave me), and he is controlling, “Where were you? Who did you see? What did you say?” and on and on. This never gets better, only worse, because the pain/need is imprinted and won’t just go away. This got so bad with one of the stars whom I treated that when they went to parties he watched his wife constantly and would not allow her to raise her head to look at anyone. The submissive girl, who grew up submissive to a controlling father, did not see anything wrong with this. It was just her life. She just went on living as she always had, giving in to controlling people so she lived their lives not hers. She paid the price for this because she imagined there was a chance for love.

But one day she meets someone and tries to leave. He says to her, “No one leaves me……and lives to tell about it.” He becomes suspicious, paranoid and he will make sure she cannot get away. She is terrified because he can be violent, the violence he felt when his mother left. He will follow his wife in a continuing effort for control. He will sneak into her house and listen to her phone messages. He is completely wound up in this because when mother left that was his last chance at life, and that feeling is still inside of him. He can kill because life alone has no more meaning for him; it means his life is over, there is nothing to live for. That is the pull of love and why love can turn to hatred so easily. First love and then the rejection; and what stops love is his desperate need for it and his overbearing control to make sure he is loved.. This produces the opposite—no love. She needs freedom and he cannot let her have it because to him it means rejection. He will first plead to ask her to come back but when rejection is certain there is danger and it needs to be reported. I had one man I treated who was clearly paranoid and thought his wife was cheating on him. She wasn’t but did want to get away; too frightened to try. I called the police because he was an immediate danger. They told me they do not act on “maybe” only acts. So he went home and pumped five bullets into her……and she lived, and he was put away, finally.

The paranoid is unchangeable and intractable in his beliefs because of the imprinted feeling down below that keeps him in its grip; as long as the imprint remains his ideas remain fixed, and they worsen. So when you get involved with a controlling partner who wants to know incessantly where you went and what you did; stay away. It will become dangerous.


  1. Hi Art

    So insightful and so connected - as always. Can you imagine the thought behavorists trying to intervene and change this individual's thought processes?
    Wishful thinking at its best.

    I am curious about the first line component. I suppose a first line event imprint could be many things, but given the man's out of control rage, and the life and death sense of urgency, wouldn't there also need to be a significant - perhaps life and death - struggle somewhere on the first line as well?
    Or, is the pain ocurring at the second and third line - in and of itself - sufficient enough to trigger such crazy behavior?

    1. Jim, Usually there is a first line component, but mother's abrupt leaving at an early age can do it too. art. beyond stalking into murder is often first line

  2. Wow, thanks so much for this Art, great to hear you writing on this-- I deal w/this every day in work. We had one case where the 'perpetrator' was under a Violence Restraining Order, not to come within certain distance, not to contact his partner etc who was staying at a refuge. So he took to living in a tree nearby where he could see her coming+going, truly crazy.
    I was asked to write on the crossover btwn mental health +family/domestic violence for the state's DV Solicitors handbook. With regard stalking, and possible killing, I drew attention to Primal theory in the obsession wrapping the pain up/keeping it at bay. Unfortunately this is new perspective in the DV field as controlling behaviour such as stalking/killing is still mostly viewed as (male) 'entitlement' issues/a social problem. And as you say, we are dealing with the extremely dangerous.
    Thanks, Jacquie

  3. Art,

    Can you imagine how many "professional" in your area that cannot recognize their suffering because they are blocked at their first "step"… because of your knowledge... for what you present? "He thinks he knows something I do not know" is a defense that bury what should be at the world’s knowledge decades ago?
    Art... there is plenty to do for what your science presents as a consequence. They can walk over corpses in their quest for love and in the meantime the suffering suffer diabolical torment.


  4. Art,

    Can you imagine how many "professional" in your field that cannot recognize their suffering because they are blocked at their first "step"… because of your knowledge... for what you present? "He thinks he knows something I do not know" is a defense that bury what should be at the world’s knowledge decades ago? Art... there is plenty to do for what your science presents as a consequence. They can walk over corpses in their quest for love and in the meantime the suffering suffers diabolical torment.


  5. Hi Art,

    -"Now he meets a young naïve girl and dates her and finally marries her"-.

    Though you talk of an extreme situation here where the man can't let go due to extreme Primal unmet need; nevertheless, this dynamic is common enough.

    But who in this very common situation (varying only by 'degree') is the more naive? And which of the two deserves most to rely on the love and affection of the other? And do the children need to see the parents getting on like that? yes they do, children need to see parents love each other. So the 'demand' for love and affection is very great indeed, from all quarters.

    In a relationship each party needs to find a way to grow and/or become conscious of their own unmet need. To be loved can be extremely challenging for some-one who expects so much without knowing it.

    All too often women enter relationships with un-real expectations about the man and his actual human abilities let alone his human condition. In an almost childlike way women expect without knowing it at all that the man should be her primary carer. Yes indeed, women expecting to be taken care of. . . this is very, very common.

    Honestly there are droves of so called well educated women in our modern societies who are so controlled (or neglected) by their own mothers (and/or fathers) and so wracked with unmet need themselves from their own childhoods, that the courts are filled with applications for divorce, for social housing and for remuneration from the former 'man' far beyond any 'reasonable' request.

    I know of several situations in which the woman becomes the stalker. Yet these never really make the headlines. Also for better or for worse we have a cultural system that puts separated women (and women who need to separate) straight back into their Kinship and straight back into the unexamined role of Primary Carers.

    'Fait Accomplice".

    Paul G.

  6. Hi,

    There needs to be laws that set standards for relating and co-parenting. This cannot be achieved without a 'co-parenting bill'. Particularly regarding relational 'disputes' which are always going to occur, to the point of separation even. Currently parents of children are not regarded equally responsible for those standards (of relating and co-parenting) to be met. If it comes to separation the child is automatically thrown to the 'Primary Carer'.

    Under the current law of 'Primary Carer' no standards for co-parenting could be set in the first place. The gross assumption that absolute power is best still obstructs common sense. No account is taken (or could be) for the effect that the absolute power imbalance has on any given family and (in the event of a separation) to the excluded parent and her (or his) ability to contribute to the well being and growth of her / his children. The situation is totally disingenuous. Totally.

    It is a confidence trick of the mind about appropriate exercise of power. In this case it is the wrong assumption that absolute power is the best form of power for one person (and particularly one parent) and should not be shared with any one else. Individualistic tyranny.

    This is what Alice Miller called 'Poisonous Pedagogy'.

    Currently "Mother Knows Best" because she is the Primary Carer. Though the reverse used to be true didn't it? Back in the mid 20th C. the law in US and Europe was changed from fathers having 'absolute parental responsibility' (formerly called "Custody", the children being 'inmates' of course). The general assumption was that the new shift of power must be appropriate because mothers gestate, bear, nurse and tender to the primary needs of us all for the beginning of life. On the face of it, it makes sense. Give the power to Mum (Dad can get on and work)?

    It's hard to understand the complex motives behind those radical changes in the law then; one thing seems to be sure though: neither men nor women grasped the idea of interdependence, of collaboration, of co-parenting. Then the Law had to give all the power to either parent, it could not conceive of power shared.

    In reality it was just a pendulum swing. Which parent is going to question and support the other with what advice under the current 'Primary Carer' situation? As before and so now the parent without the power cow tails to the other with.

    Primal Theory could take root in law by insisting both parents take equal responsible for their childrens' well being , a 'co-parenting bill' would pave the way for this.

    Co- parenting in law could pave the way for Primal Theory in society. It would be a very quiet and gentle revolution based on a natural modification of the existing education system for parents and children. Laws to co-parent, no turning a 'blind eye' to the attitude of the other parent because he / she is the Primary Carer, in Law but sharing the responsibility. Also (particularly for men) feeling confident to contribute and involve himself fully because the law expects him to co-parent.

    Currently most fathers are taxed for sperm and not encouraged to participate in the lives of their children, particularly after separation. Mother knows best. Linda Nielsen says all this.

    Paul G.

  7. The whole issue of absolute power is such a minefield. All these legislators, Parents, government officials, shrinks etc all taking absolute power over a being which is totally powerless i.e. the infant. All these people taking power because they too were powerless as infants.

    The whole principal of PT would seem to me to be taking someone back to when they were powerless and defenceless. If we were treated with respect from the start then why need defences.

    As Lloyd de Mausse says about the correct response to a newly born child "Hello, welcome to the world. How can we help you grow".

    Mother knows best is one of the most caustic and blindly destructive phrases on the Planet.

  8. Boys are socialized in the West to stuff emotions, starting around age 5. They are shamed for showing pain, need, fear, uncertainty, etc. Women (as primary caregivers) tell boys to be "in control" of themselves and wonder why they turn into "controlling" men. Females can be as manipulative and violent as men...they just tend do it in different, usually more covert, ways. Poison kills as effectively as bullets.

    For decades we heard that "men had all the power" and "caused" domestic violence and other half-truths/lies. Guys are finally firing back, setting the record straight,. But who knows what will be enough. Society isn't doing too well by male vets returning from recent "wars" (often quite damaged mentally). And few care about the armies of divorced dads who are treated like ATM automatons, their broken hearts not worth a sou. Men are mostly view through a utilitarian human "doings."

    Both genders co-create the world we live in. It's a dance. For every male stalker there's a female counterpart...perhaps a "gold-digger" looking to get from bling what she didn't get from her family (love).

    There are political aspects, to be sure. But how many battered men have no shelters to go to? How man run from men who appear sad, lonely, etc.? The VA seems mostly interested in keeping males on killing fields, not helping them heal. Many young men today grow up without fathers (post-divorce). Some are very angry and/or feeling lost. Millions of them-- and their parents-- could use help (including Primal Therapy), but who will pay? Who will create the resources?

  9. When I was a daughter in the 1950's the father nearly always was the sole authority over his household, earned the wages, was the one who disciplined his children of both sexes to 'bring them into line' and often the family was in COMPLETE obeisance to his domination, which was unquestioned. Even the mother, his wife, who had to do absolutely everything, all the work in the home and to do with it and the children, would also submit to the man, the father's authority.Even during a time of rations in England the dinner plate with the only decent helping of food was his. He sat at the head of the table and woe betide anybody who used the same chair! He got the respect if that is what you can call it but it was mixed with an unmentionable element of fear. The cruel threat made to children was:'You wait till your father gets home!Then, you'll know about it.' This was the threat of punishment which was always present to the helpless child.


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.