Thursday, June 14, 2012

Can Love Save our Lives?

Over the years, I have cited one study after another showing how loving parents produce healthier children in every way. I have also cited a good deal of our work noting how we have normalized stress hormones, serotonin, immune function, and vital functions (vital signs: all summed up in my book Primal Healing). There is also a good deal of evidence about how love changes animals and also makes them better suited to life. The NY Times (“The Spirit of Sisterhood” April 24, 2012) has discussed this.

Let’s look at some of the recent evidence. A growing number of studies suggest one potential mechanism linking stress and adversity in childhood and in the womb to cellular aging, disease, and mortality in humans: telomere erosion (Drury, et al., 2011; Entringer, et al., 2011; Epel, et al., 2004; Wikgren, et al., 2012). In the first prospective-longitudinal study with repeated telomere measurements in children while they experienced stress, Idan Shalev and his colleagues (Shalev, et al., 2012) tested the hypothesis that childhood violence exposure would accelerate telomere erosion from age 5 to age 10 years. “We examined telomere erosion in relation to children's exposure to violence, a salient early-life stressor, which has known long-term consequences for well-being and is a major public-health and social-welfare problem.” Violence was assessed as exposure to maternal domestic violence, frequent bullying victimization and physical maltreatment by an adult. Participants were children recruited from the Environmental-Risk Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally representative 1994–1995 birth cohort. Each child's mean relative telomere length was measured simultaneously in baseline and follow-up DNA samples (using the ratio of telomere repeat copy numbers to single-copy gene numbers).

Compared with their counterparts, the children who experienced two or more kinds of violence exposure showed significantly more telomere erosion between the age-5 baseline and age-10, even after adjusting for sex, socioeconomic status and body mass index. “This finding provides support for a mechanism linking cumulative childhood stress to telomere maintenance, observed already at a young age, with potential impact for life-long health.”

So here again, if you’re subject to violence you may live less long. But don’t forget the violence done to you in the womb when mother smokes or drinks, or is very anxious--that trauma occurs so early that it cannot be observed. Yet it happens when the whole neurobiologic system is just being organized, and it severely impacts the baby. The trauma is there, and can be implied through biologic measurements that I have discussed previously in my works, and in shorter telomeres in later life (Entringer, et al., 2011). One measurement, cortisol/stress hormone levels, rise, indicating the baby has suffered and is suffering inside. No one seems to notice, least of all, the baby/child/adult. But telomeres tell us: look out, there is misery there. And when there is overt suffering, as in violent homes, the telomeres shorten, resulting in our being on earth for a much shorter time. We sometimes can say, “I was hit every day after school,” but it is hard to say, “I was ignored every day after school.” The punishment and hurt is still there.

Unloving homes may also be terribly traumatic with effects on the telomeres. One way we know is that our entering patients, nearly all, begin therapy with high stress levels. And those levels, as shown in our vital sign and cortisol studies, move toward normal after our therapy. And we do know that chronically high levels of cortisol indicate possible telomere shortening. These patients are not all aware of their suffering when they start therapy. But the read-out screams suffering.

In almost every mammal there is the expression of love in one way or another. Chimps groom each other, while elephants rub trunks. Monkeys hug and kiss each other. There is something about touching and rubbing that shows love in almost every species. We need to translate that to humans who think that saying “I love you” is enough. It is not. It comes from the top and is not physical. If you could groom your child, rub his head and his back and cuddle him every morning—that is love and it has a direct physical effect. It is saying, “I am giving you life and I will help you be healthy and live a long time.” And, Oh yes, I will lengthen your telomeres. It is not hard to do, that rubbing and hugging, yet if we do it every day with the children we will rear great kids. It is that easy. You leave yourself 10 minutes very morning to brush your teeth and do your hair; take another 10 minutes and cuddle and kiss. That is all you need to do. Just kiss and hug and then watch. And that is very hard to do with a child who was unwanted; who was in the way and came at an inconvenient time. Faking it won’t do it. It is a feeling we are after. And sometimes resentment is there first and foremost; the child never had chance, unwanted from the start. And he will be resented for getting born.

It may seem like magic, all this, but it is not. The magic is love. It begins by fulfilling each and every need; in the womb it means a healthy life, no drugs, and proper nutrients. At birth, it means a natural one with no anesthetics if possible, with holding the baby immediately close to mother’s body, in a warm, calm environment. And, of course, to avoid cesarean whenever possible. I list what happens in my new book, Life Before Birth, when a good birth does not happen.

From then on, it means touch and hugs, listening to the child’s moods and understanding and reacting to them: I am just trying to list what I never got that made me a wreck in childhood to suss out what the needs are. It means caring and being interested in the child; not being distracted and occupied elsewhere in your mind. Being close to the child emotionally means he will be able to be close to others without fear. He won’t hang back and hide behind mother’s skirt in the presence of strangers. A loved child doesn’t do that. I have had loved children around me. They are always a joy. I can pick out in a group of children which child has been loved and had a good birth. I have done it before with success. They are different; they are normal. They act normal, look normal and their bodies are normal. Don’t forget the body in the talk about normalcy. That is what any psychotherapy should aim for. It is what we all want and need.

What we do not want is a therapist setting up some arbitrary goal of normality, and then guiding us toward it, so that we end up leading his life, his wants and desires, and not ours. It is our own body and brain that dictates a goal, if needed at all, and leads us to it. If we are normal we will lead a normal life. If we concentrate on behavior alone we will never be well. We must focus on the whole system that gives rise to that behavior. We can go to therapy and try to learn to act normal, and then we die prematurely from early lack of love. Remember, it is an act. If you were not loved early on it has to be an act. We do not grow out of our childhood; we only grow away from it.

Most mammals have pals or love objects that they hang with. It gives them strength to deal with life. Mice who have pals give birth to more offspring. They are giving life. A lioness will suckle another mother’s baby…giving love and life. A close friend is soothing and calming.

The critical period for when to be loved is closed early in life and that is that. Daddy leaves home soon after his baby is born, comes back years later and wants to make up for lost time with his kids. He can’t. It is too late. It helps a bit but does not change anything. It softens some of the blow and prevents serious compounding of the imprint. The kid still feels unwanted and unloved…it is an immutable imprint. We cannot erase history, but let me tell you what we can do about it….

It seems crazy but I believe it to be true. You cannot change your telomeres and stress hormones by an act of will; it changes as part of a systemic change. But in a session, if you feel unloved within that early timeframe, you can normalize and live longer; and I believe the telomeres will not shorten as fast. Let me repeat: if you can go back in time to feel fully unloved when the imprint was laid down you will live longer. If you cannot do that and want to get on with life, life will bite you back and make you die sooner. I think that is a biologic law. You have to feel your need again; it is biologic.

When we get love very early in life it endures for a lifetime; it becomes the world’s best painkiller. And it avoids the need for later painkillers and tranquilizers. Love loads us up for a very long time with natural anti-pain medication. And when it was not there, we play catch-up all of our lives, taking pills to ease the pain over the love we never got. A love we never knew existed. So what to do? It is so easy to love a child from the day she is born; and that is pure prevention for a lifetime. It ensures health and longevity. Who can ask for more?

Drury, S.S., Theall, K.P., Gleason, M.M., Smyke, A.T., Devivo, I., Wong, J.Y.Y., Fox, N.A., Zeanah, C.H. and Nelson, C.A. (2011, epub). Telomere length and early severe social deprivation: Linking early adversity and cellular aging. Molecular Psychiatry, 1-9.

Entringer, S., Epel, E.S., Kumsta, R., Lin, J., Hellhammer, D.H., Blackburn, E.H., Wüst, S., and Wadhwa, P.D., et al. (2011) Stress exposure in intrauterine life is associated with shorter telomere length in young adulthood. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 108:33, E513-E518.

Epel, E.S., Blackburn, E.H., Lin, J., Dhabhar, F.S., Adler, N.E., Morrow, J.D. and Cawthon, R.M. (2004) Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 101(49):17312–17315.

Shalev, I., Moffitt, T.E., Sugden, K., Williams, B., Houts, R.M., Danese, A., Mill, J., Arseneault, L. and Caspi, A. (2012) Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age: a longitudinal study. Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication 24 April 2012; doi: 10.1038/mp.2012.32

Wikgren, M., Maripuu, M., Karlsson, T., Nordfjäll, K., Bergdahl, J., Hultdin, J., Del-Favero, J., Roos, G., Nilsson, L., Adolfsson, R., Norrback, K. (2012) Short Telomeres in Depression and the General Population Are Associated with a Hypocortisolemic State. Biological Psychiatry, 71:4, 294-300.


  1. Quote: "Faking it won’t do it".

    You sure don't have to tell me that. My mother faked it. I remember that well. And her hugs felt like a chore for me to get through - as they were. I use to hug her when I was young because of her depressive tone and I felt sorry for her. She confused it with me wanting a hug from her - I didn't. She could never give that.

    Not her fault of course - she can't control what she does not feel. Like all of us. But alas, the trauma-train of deprivation goes on.

    But what does frustrate me, today, is the belief in modern social workers minds that you can 'act out' love - that is, fool the child with our empty emotional dialogs. Such bullshit. And it leads to the denial of the real problem and likewise the abandonment of the real solution.

    1. Andrew!

      "Not her fault of course - she can't control what she does not feel" Andrew it is her fault and will always be... but if you get over it... do not longer suffer from it... that is all there is.
      Forgivness is the biggest misstake in the primal therapy process. If you want to be with her... then you also has to help her out... otherwise you are in a false relationship with her for the rest of your life. I guess you know!


    2. Frank: My neocortex doesn't even care. My limbic system is off-line (in part) and I will only know what I truly feel when I have the ability to even feel it.

      My original comment was really just factual - not emotive. It had nothing to do with judgments. I was only making the point that we ultimately are what we are and *in principle* cannot be blamed for it. Maybe I will hate my mother for a time and want her dead when I get to my pain? We will see, eh? Still, in the state I'm in I currently, emotionally, don't even care.

    3. Hi,
      -"Forgivness is the biggest misstake in the primal therapy process"-.

      and next to that is denial. . . I have found that the hardest thing to do whilst parents are still alive is hold both the grief/pain for the loss of what you should have got from them next to the constant reminder (through their continued existence) that maybe, just maybe, one day. . . .

      I have chosen to 'live' with this tension rather than deny it. In no way have I forgiven them though.

      Paul G.

    4. Paul: Forgiveness has that air of majesty about it where you bestow redemption on someone and you become the great one. art

    5. Part 1

      "Forgiveness has that air of majesty about it where you bestow redemption on someone and you become the great one"

      Forgiveness comes from a very religious base. If say a woman was gang raped and left for dead, society would happily accept her wish to forgive or not. Yet if a child is abused society pushes that victim to forgive the perpetrators which are often the Parents. Often young offenders are taken to meet their victims and see how this has effected them. Often the young offender will apologise and an appology is effectively saying "I will not do this again". Then perhaps the victim can say I forgive you. However any pressure to forgive can put the healing process back a long time as in essense the therapist and society are still siding with the Parents and not the victim.

      For forgiveness to flow the perpetrators need to have shown some remorse and contrition and how often does that happen with parents. In the afterward of The Primal Scream the guy who is being filmed during his therapy goes back and see's his parents and they start saying they are worried and he says by worrying they cause him to have something wrong with him. That was my experience and til the day he died my Father stuck with that approach and he was a Bastard for doing so. Take this to extremes and you have two Parents giving a tearful public appeal for information to help find their daughter and within a week they have been charged with murder and Parents can murder a child mentally.

      One can feel sorry for people because they are sick or pity them though this smacks of superiority. My Mother thinks she apologised for her physical abuse of me. She said her Mother smashed a mirror over her head and that she had to control me and then ran out of the room. By saying this she rightly held her Mother responsible for the abuse visited upon her and blamed me for her abuse of me. The next time I saw her she snarled "I apologised and you are an ungrateful little Sod". As you say in the Primal Scream the best way of judging a person's character is seeing how they treat their children. My Mother reverted to type. The words "I am sorry never passed her lips" probably because she had to spend her whole childhood saying sorry. Does that make it right for me to forgive her for what she had done.

      As Lennon said "As soon as you're born they make you feel small
      By giving you no time instead of it all". Often therapists insist that forgiveness is part of the healing process but it is in their time and not the hurt child's time. The 50 minute hour is about parental power over a hurt child and so too is forgiveness.

    6. I am still hurt and angry and know that my awful abusive and damaged family are spreading lies about me. I am the crazy one as far as they are concerned when in fact who are the crazy one's? The one's out of touch with their real feelings, bullying and controlling the next generation rather than someone trying to heal.

      Art, you are a very powerful authority figure to those of us who think PT is important and I for one have found myself doubting some of the things I have worked out from my past simply because you questioned my positive experience with Alice Miller. My enthusiasm for PT is massive and your books have helped me a great deal and I hope that my visit to LA in September is a positive one.

      I think Paul has every right not to forgive. I don't want to be magisterial in the view of my Parents and Sister. I know they are hurt people but they continue to hurt. My Father tended to place himself in a superior position so he could feel good about himself. He looked down on my Mother and me and pulled my Sister into that same damaging game. His insecurity was dealt with by seeing himself as better than others where as my Mother tends to bitch about everyone so dragging them down to the level she feels she is at.

      My view is that life is about balance (left and right brain in harmony??) and my family do not do balance because they are unbalanced. It is sad and hurtful to behold. I am hurt and sad so why should I see myself as any better or worse than them. I'm just trying to heal my wounds.

      I just feel sad for them which is a different view perhaps.

    7. Yes, how presumptuous to 'eat the sins of others', the great Sufferer bearing the burden of injustice.

      -How condescending we are to forgive those less fortunate than ourselves (perhaps caught out stealing our fortune) and how conceited we are to forgive those more fortunate than ourselves (having stolen our fortune and got away with it).

      Paul G.

    8. a husband and wife hate each other, so they both decide to get primal therapy. they resolve their deepest feelings, feel sorry for hurting each other, and then they look into each other's eyes, and...and...and.........KISS (with tongues)

      have they forgiven each other? no. they have FELT and RESOLVED all of that hatred, and now, in the present, the hatred is gone. no need for forgiveness.

      what is forgiveness? forgiveness is the neurotic attempt to accept pain.

    9. Hi Richard,

      this is so true. I wish my ex had done a feeling therapy instead of a CBT type therapy because I am sure we would still be together.

      OR, if we had to separate it would not be the way it has happened. We would have agreed there was an irreconcilable personality clash and made adult arrangements with friends helping both of us to re-settle as separate individuals. Those friends would not be freezing me, my son & my grandson out.

      I've whined enough about it not to need to repeat the petty soap opera details any more. Though I must say your words were going around my head only yesterday. . . you've read my mind.

      Paul G.

    10. I think the term "forgive and forget" is an innate contradiction.

      Because when you truly forgive you don't need to forget. You don't need to forget the past when you're at peace with it. And that I think is the meaning of true resolution.

    11. Andrew: You missed my meaning. Read again. art.

    12. Art: I think your meaning was..."Forgiveness is not a sincere feeling, but an exploited act-out for an ego trip at the "forgiven" persons (then belittled) expense ie. a way of saying "look at me - I'm the bigger person". You can correct me if that's wrong???

      ...My blurb was really intended as a follow-on from Richard's thing. I notice this doesn't show up in the reply function though. I'll take note to specify my reply's in future.

    13. Andrew: Couldn't say it better myself. art.

  2. The silent revolution of primal therapy!

    We are intellectually knowledgeable of how a war best can be won but we are not emotionally attached to how we ourselves suffer the tragedy when facing it at our own door... when our children will be killed or paralyzed if it affects us.

    This is a phenomenon to be of a human question to tackle. What are we willing to sacrifice for what we do not understand the consequences of?

    It has to be organizations beyond political and religious movements so that power does not become a question of how many people must be sacrificed to hold their power… power in an attempt to win something that just goes to lose... a child's life for something like this is a child's life too much.

    The science of human tragedy!


  3. Art!

    This is the reason why love is a "divinely gifted" phenomenon. We cannot possibly… by our self... without emotions... be of the value for what evolutions fundamental "gift" is... as we do not feel… understand.. recognize what the evolutionary process has in its infancy.


  4. This is a beautiful post, Art! Thank you for it. I always used to kid myself, 'Love doesn't exist, it's JUST a word!' That was because I never had any from any member of my family-ever. I then kidded myself, 'It's a luxury we can do without!' How can anyone think otherwise when they have had no experience of it? Of course, I have often felt it for people, or think I have, but how can a person be sure it's what it IS when they haven't received it when very young? I don't know. There is attraction but THAT may not be love... It's an unknown. John Lennon once sang, ' How can I give love when love is something I have never had.' He was right. Still, in my crippled way I love this blog and I love you Art. Please stay well!

    1. Anonymous: Well I will try to stay well. Apart from the fact that my doctor damaged my throat, I am in perfect health so I will try to stay around. I am just figuring out a newtitle for a book I am fnishing....called CAN LOVE SAVE OUR LIVES: ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, LOVE
      Any suggestions? I listen. Art.

    2. Thank you, Art!
      I DO write myself so I will think about that one carefully although my title may not be good for your book. O.K. Can you please tell me is it non fiction or autobiographical or .... please give me a few ideas what it is about.. when you have a little free time. For instance, is it a carry on of your book, (a beautiful book by the way!) 'The Biology of Love'?

    3. Yes, try to stay around, please! What's going on with stem cell therapy? Any good news? Je croise les doigts!

      For your next book, I propose the title "Love Our Soul". A French translation could be "Aime qui peut".

    4. Laurent: I need to wait another month to see if there are results. thanks for asking. art

    5. HOW TO FIND

      Arthur Janov, PHD

    6. Richard: Not sure. It sounds a bit like a "How to" book which I am trying to avoid. Try again. Art.

    7. Love
      the missing link. Jacquie

  5. For me love is experienced in the sense of attachment we feel towards someone. So that when they are not with you you feel that you are losing time, that something inside is dead and cant be activated until the other returns. The only love I experienced in these terms as a child was school holiday visits to a much loved aunt's house. After the holiday was over my mother would drive us back to our loveless lives with her. Like Andrews says, she couldn't control what she couldn't feel. But as kids my sister and I felt the difference between the two environments very much.

    I think evolutionary psychology has an interesting approach to the idea of love. It is that where the gap between a goal state (feeling protected, comforted, safe, securely attached) and the environmental (social and economic) resources necessary for its attainment are too great then compensatory behaviours occur as the child is forced to take upon itself the responsibility for those functions the environment has not provided for it. Hair pulling (aka trichotillomania) is one such behaviour that for me signals poor attachment, so much so that the body must seek satisfaction through chewing, sucking, licking and eating the hair/hair root.

    Of course most kids dont do this. They have teddy bears and other comforting toys to help them get through those moments when mum is not around. However, the toy only works if the person who it symbolises is able to offer a loving bond. Research has found that where the mother can't love the child for whatever reason then toys (or transitional objects) do not emerge. It seems as though the child cant gain comfort from the toy unless it knows what comfort is to start with. Of course Harry Harlow did deprivation experiments with animals too where they chose the soft cloth mother rather than the wire milk providing mother. (I got the latter as a mother unfortunately.)

    It would be interesting to know how primal patients who have endured loveless parenting slowly start to respond to transitional objects or real human objects. For example, could such a primal patient respond positively to a toy prior to experiencing a loving relationship?

    As far as hair pulling is concerned, one idea is that it is an innate behaviour triggered when a child is not supported in its adaptation to its environment. This may mean that it cant cope and feels stress that no comforting toy can alleviate. Hair pulling emerges as a means by which the child feels he can achieve a relatioship between 'inner' and 'outer'.
    For this reason lab animals who develop the condition can sometimes improve if their cages are enriched with toys etc. I think that ultimately love offers this same bridge between the person 'inside' and the world around them.

    1. Hi Will,

      -"Of course Harry Harlow did deprivation experiments with animals too where they chose the soft cloth mother rather than the wire milk providing mother"-.

      I think this says a lot about the difference between 'care' and 'love'. I hope Art can write more to extrapolate this 'dualism'. Perhaps 'care' is more important in the 1st line development but 'love' must soon follow if the 2nd line isn't to feel betrayed. I remember my brother saying defiantly to my tyrannical buffoon of a father: "Well Dad, I didn't ask to be born". . . Our parents really couldn't distinguish between 'care' and 'love' and consequently spoiled both. Many of us English are still very confused, I am. To me, love and care are not the same thing. they are not the same. Morality preaches 'caring' but morality can never love.

      -"It would be interesting to know how primal patients who have endured loveless parenting slowly start to respond to transitional objects or real human objects. For example, could such a primal patient respond positively to a toy prior to experiencing a loving relationship"-.

      Strangely my Dad bought me a large Chad Valley Ted when I was 5yrs old. I never really felt the need to cuddle him much till about 3 or 4yrs ago; I did lend him out to my kids though. Ted never went to boarding school with me but he was always waiting for me at home. . . (like my mother).

      As a 'privileged' elite educated male with compounded separation trauma it is hardly surprising I never felt the need to cuddle Ted much. So your questions about primal and transitional toys is important for me too. I got the idea of cuddling a transitional toy from a book about counter-dependency. I started 'needing' Ted a lot after my separation from my beautiful ex partner (of 17yrs). On the face of it, it looks like I was inappropriately attached to her as an unconscious substitute for my mother and merely switched to Ted after the separation.

      Actually it is much more complicated than that. My therapist at the time said Ted could be a substitute for anything or any one, including my own 'inner child/self'. Any way, it is important to understand that I have been in psychotherapy for a long time and gradually as my feelings became less repressed my Teddy became more, much more significant to me. So that by the time my 'divorce' occurred Ted was already there in the wings waiting for me 'to come home' to myself. This time around though, I knew how useful he could be; particularly because Dad gave him to me 47yrs ago.

      So I would cautiously conclude that a transitional toy could be very useful at any time for many different reasons.

      Like a real relationship, my relationship with Ted took time to develop. I mean in the last 3yrs. I have a sense of when and why I need him or not. . . He has also become a 'replacement' for my therapist. He doesn't have any weird beliefs, he doesn't argue, he doesn't charge a fortune, he doesn't operate on a fixed timetable from a remote therapy room and he's bloody brilliant at listening.

      Ted is my King and I am his loyal subject.

      Paul G.

  6. Nothing can say it better to oneself than to feel one's pain, alone with it bathed in it, expressing it. Love is easy to feel, once you've felt your feelings. Not to love is not to feel, not to feel is not to love, but to slowly dance between feelings and love, increases the honesty of the feeling and the sincerity of the love.

  7. The mechanical view of love:

    Love is a human functionality. It's a functionality like the video-card in your computer. When it gets "shocked" from deprivation the consciousness (which is like the nervous system of the brain) retracts from it, rendering the function off-line and redundant. From here we can't access the functionality of love, because it's like a computer-card that's broken and likewise inaccessible to the CPU. And this is why later love can't make up for serious early damage. You can't talk love to a brain that can no longer even 'hear it' when given.

    You first have to fix the relationship with yourself before you can even begin to have a relationship (real one) with others. How can you listen to the music when you don't even have your ears?

    1. Hey Atkin, how much can you scrape together for therapy? art

  8. Dr. Janov,
    thank you.
    This writing comes at the right time.
    May I translate "Can Love Save our Lives?" into German?

  9. Yeast for different purposes

    There is not a sentence, not a word and not an interpretation in your Reflection which I do not deeply sympathize with. Your message and your definition of the power of love during our fetal period, during our fragile growth and maturation and as a condition for a long life sounds good. However, given the world I daily experience and have experienced over the past seven decades, I have a feeling that you are presenting a recipe, in which love is the yeast of life with properties, which make our “fermentation” possible, without taking sufficient account of all the other ingredients that make a bread edible, tasty and sustainable.Through its many physiological properties, the yeast can be developed into different applications such as baking, wine fermentation, etc.. Some species of yeast can cause infection in people with compromised immune systems.

    When I am looking for a general explanation of what love is and what purpose it serves, there are many theories. It turns out, for example, very difficult to explain love to a hypothetical person, who has not felt loved and been loved. For such a person, love would be experienced as a rather strange if not outright irrational behavior. Among the existing theories that try to explain the meaning of love, there are the following categories: Psychological theories, most of whom believe love to be a very good behavior. Evolutionary theories that consider love as part of natural selection. Spiritual theories which consider love to be a gift from God. There are also theories that believe love to be an unexplainable mystical experience.

    “If you could groom your child, rub his head and his back and cuddle him every morning - that is love, and it has a direct physical effect. It is saying, “I am giving you life, and I will help you be heathy and live a long time.” This is a wonderful advice that you can give to most of all parents. However, for me being epileptic, with a horrific engraved birth process, cuddling and rubbing was pain and when I withdrew from physical caresses, which were not directly sexually related (quick sex yielded stress relief) I was double punished; I was considered unromantic, and I felt like a traitor who created pain in women who felt despised. I have much and long experience; I have attracted (evidenced by the content, I do not mention this to brag) many women, but I was always afraid of caresses, which brought up deep pain. “Love is wanting to be loved, Love is touch, touch is Love. Love is living, living Love”. Love is feeling, feeling loved. I often felt loved but I could not respond, I had to much pain....and I / my pain created pain in others...

    Since PT and you are attracting people with imprints of deep pain, I sense a risk of mixing advice for “normal / healthy” children, with those for patients who are prisoners of deep pain. There are yeasts for different purposes...

    Jan Johnsson

  10. Ok, This is just going with how I look at it through my experience in Primal therapy and the world. Courage of my convictions, right Art?
    Love is the most written about word in the history of human literature in songs, poems and novels. How ironic that this word which represents everything we need to be whole human beings is so elusively bereft in our evolution. The fact that our brains are biologically/physiologically set in a fight or flight mode keeps us in perpetual preparation for violence.
    These instincts as Darwin explained are primary in the need for the survival of an organism, and consequently our species. This primary instinct for survival appears to actually dictate that our needs of being nurtured, touched and loved take a secondary place of importance in the evolutionary process.
    We just are not advanced in our evolution as of yet for our need for love and everything this represents to take precedence ( or be equal to? ) our base survival. We seem to get just enough love/ nurturing to function adequately to screw everything up in replacing symbolically what we really never got enough of.

  11. wally, a loving parent will provide nutrition, freedom, protection, affection, education and all the other things that will prevent those awful secondary needs; fight, flee, freeze. love is the primary need. love is oxytocin and vassopressin and other potent chemicals deep in the brain which influence important psychological and physiological functions. with low levels of oxytocin, a pregnant mother may struggle to deliver her baby, and then struggle to bond with him after the birth. see what i mean? love is everything. hitler wanted to see what would happen to newborns who were given the minimum amount of love - nothing more than food, shelter and warmth. they all died in a short time.

    1. Thanks Richard.I was mixing up some basic concepts it appears. Darwin’s natural selection has nothing to do with our basic needs of touch, food, shelter and all that Art has written about for us to survive. Feeling loved has many facets that extend into a multitude of expressions for us to attain our full human potential. If those needs aren’t met adequately then we cannot survive period. There's no doubt of the horrific experiments by Nazi's during World War II but I could find no specific links to this. It appears there have been inhuman experiments on humans dating far back in our history. There was an article today about the fact that there exists 25 million people in the world today who are considered slaves in human trafficking. Our inhumanity to each other has and will not be changing anytime soon. As a further note to the above topic,the need for affection to survive was also studied by Harlow in 1959. What's groundbreaking is that Dr.Janov has brought all of the previous work in psychology up to speed into a working therapy of which I for one am immensely grateful.

  12. [Part 1]

    I called my 89-year-old dad this past Sunday, Father's Day. He lives in an assisted-living community with my stepmother, halfway across the country. Yet even when he lived 180 miles away, I didn't visit much. Nor did I call. It just hurt too much.

    Part of the problem was my 9-year-younger brother’s act-outs. He’s never wanted to talk about, much less deal with the fallout from our family history. I asked by father talk to my brother about his behavior or insist he stay away when I visited. As expected, my father remained neutral. Which meant him not seeing me much. My dad didn’t seem to care, not enough to stick up for me.

    He is the son of 2 British parents who had a dozen kids. His "reserved" temperament comes from them. When he met my Irish-Italian mother (on a blind date when his WWII ship docked in Brooklyn), he probably felt he'd died and gone to heaven. Her yang countered his yin. Turned out she had a hellacious childhood, manifesting itself as "manic-depression" after my year-older sister and I were born (a third, my brother, is 9 years younger than I).

    In the 1950s one didn't talk about "mental health" issues. So my mother suffered endless "talk sessions” with a repressed male therapist who felt the best way to deal with painful memories was to zap with electric shocks and mute with Thorazine. Basically, anything BUT feel.

    My sister remembers being 4 when my father gave her his work phone to call when his wife acted crazy (like not remembering us after electroshocks). Since no relatives lived nearby, we kids were pretty much on our own for a few sympathetic teachers and caring neighbors. Even then, no adult told us we didn't cause our mother's illness. Or got therapy for us. Or thought we might have needs of our own. We were to be selfless, supportive, and stoical.

    My mother’s therapy was mostly useless. She’d overdose, vomit, oversleep, let herself go. Neglected and beaten as a child, she neglected and beat herself as an adult.

    Our house was filled with drama, with little or no expressions of love. The library was my church… where I worshipped silence, the security of books, and the life of the mind/imagination. Anything to escape reality.

    Family dogs provided the only unconditional love. My father hid in his engineering work or reading newspapers or gardening. He never bothered to change my mother’s therapist. Nor did he seek therapy himself. The "expert" only began giving my mother Lithium when his intern suggested it…decades too late. So only for about 5 years did my mother experience any sort of "stability." At the same time she hated the weight the drugs added.

    She always said she'd die at 60...and did.

    I had a love-hate relation with her. I mothered HER, really, listening to her stories of childhood abuse. I’d get livid…only to hear her then forgive her parents. I was played with like a yo-yo. An emotional proxy, I’d vent feelings my mother kept inside. I was burdened with things my father and priests and therapists should have handled.

    I also acted like I had no needs, not wanting to burden her. So I mostly gave and she mostly took. I wanted/needed to love her to the degree I wasn’t loved myself. I felt my life was at stake. If I didn’t love her there’d be no love at all and I’d die.

    Unfortunately, when not giving me the love I craved, she actively sabotaged me. Whenever she found something I liked she’d used it to manipulate me. Finding I loved rock-and-roll, she’d commandeer all radios. And so on.

    All the while, my father remained passive. The emotional turmoil his kids suffered was not on his radar. Or its instrumentation was damaged during his own childhood.

  13. [Part 2]

    I stormed out of the house one night (literally into a snowstorm) after telling him I was tired of his wife steaming open my mail, eavesdropping on my phone calls, and chasing my friends away. He responded with "Well, you have to understand that your mother....", at which point I cursed him loudly…then ran outside. Two hours later, freezing and wet, I went to a friend's house. His mother called my father. When I returned home, my dad mumbled, "It won't happen again." By my mother's look, it seemed he'd taken a stand...somewhat…for once. For the most part, though, he took me for granted. He paid bills and did what the law requires of parents, sure. But he did little to make me feel special. We fished because HE liked fishing. He never asked what I’d like to do. Nor did he watch me play sports, or attend my graduations, or care if I was in love or not.

    In some ways I wish he’d beaten me. It would have demonstrated SOME passion. Mostly he seemed sterile and I felt invisible.

    He’s frail now...with early Alzheimer's. So I decided to call. I was happy to note his mind was still quite sharp, his dry humor functioning. I told him I might come for a visit later this year. He perked up at that. The conversation lasted about 15 minutes and was pleasant enough. I was glad he was alive and not in pain and with his second wife.

    However, since the call I've been troubled. I think I called to prove I was a "dutiful" son. And hopefully remain an heir to whatever money he might leave. And perhaps worried Jesus might kick my arse if I didn’t "honor" my father on his "special day." Still, the more I thought about it, the more I felt I was repeating an old script: me reaching out demonstrate love to HIM, instead of him doing what a father naturally should.

    I also remember how he’d reacted when I asked him for a loan. He said, “I don’t know. I don’t want to help you onto a slippery slope.” Well, I was already a good way DOWN that slope. And a good part of that was due to my holding myself back, waiting for his paternal blessing.

    He didn’t see that my financial request was really asking, “Do you love me? Do you care enough to actually do something for me instead of just mouthing words?”

    Since the call I’ve re-called (!) many things I’ve done to get love. Most have been indirect: doing favors and offering freebies for folks so they’ll praise my creativity, spirit, generosity, etc. Why? Because I learned I had to earn love as a child, masking having needs myself.

    I mean, why have needs if they aren’t met? Better to live alone, masking it by becoming a social butterfly. Easier to bring others together, or take photos of them at parties, than meet my own needs. Because if I take care of myself it means I don’t matter. Not enough for others to do it, starting with my own parents.

    That’s how it FEELS anyway.

    I don't consider myself stupid, yet it's amazing how blind I can be until things like calling by father stop me in my tracks. I thought about what visiting him would entail. It’d mostly be a burden. I'm living hand-to-mouth now. I can’t really afford to buy plane tickets, rent a car, reserve a room, take him and her to dinner, etc. Plus it’d take time and I’d be alone. And what would I get in turn? Little or nothing. I’d have to again pretend I had more emotional and financial reserves than I do.

  14. [Part 3]

    I’d tell someone in my situation, DON'T DO IT! Yet he's my father. And sometimes blood IS thicker than the mud. And he’s aging. So the aching heart battles the rational head.

    At the same time, I know the real pain is in the past. I don’t miss him today as much as I mourn what I never got as a child: his tender mercies. When he dies I don't know whether I'll feel liberated or crushed. It's painful now because he's alive and still unable to give the love he never did…and probably couldn’t. He doesn't "see" the real me because he doesn't know himself. Yet even if he didn’t mean to run over me (metaphorically speaking), I still have a broken leg.

    Anyway, I spent most of today reliving scenes from my own THIS IS YOUR LIFE show. Memories of under-and-over-doing so many things. Paths not taken, shooting past marks, pushing happiness away, holding back due to fear of failure and success. Times I drank or slept too much, missing out on love and education. So many attempts to kill pain and not be fully present.

    And regarding the present: I kept asking myself why I continue doing certain things. Worse, I wondered what, if anything, I CAN do that’s not trying to compensate for the past. Sometimes I worried if I’d ever leave my room again (during a few Buddha-under-the-Bao Tree moments).

    I was in faux Primal Therapy decades ago. It did far more damage than good. Yet there WERE a few moments of clarity, when I felt like I was going insane but suddenly felt (mostly while sobbing on the floor, having slumped off a chair), that I was just hurt and afraid. That I wasn’t crazy like my mother.

    Alas, the serenity didn’t last long. The so-called therapists were too inept/evil to permit that. Still, I knew there was another way to “be.”

    I wonder how different my life would be had I been held, kissed, loved more. I’m blessed with good health and looks, yet feel I’ve misused both. I don’t exercise enough and imbibe too much. It’s like I’m afraid to be all I can be physically for fear it’ll anger fate. And while I feel “handsome” when someone tells me I am, I’m very insecure. If someone tells me I’m ugly, I believe them, too. It’s due to being teased about my looks by my sister (and some peers) while a gawky pre-teen... and being emotionally incested by my mother. Why date in highschool when that meant merciless teasing in and out of my home? Safer all around to use porn. It let my body feel good for a while instead of the death-like pain of being untouched at all.

  15. [Part 4 of 4]

    If you’re loved enough when young a lot of life’s “big questions” never arise. They’re already answered or don’t cause angst. Loved kids don’t worry about “what it all means.” And they don’t confuse self-worth with success or failure at DOING things. So they take more risk, safe in their own skins.

    Leo Bascaglia said on his PBS show that he never suffered “existential crises” because as a child he was too busy being hugged and kissed by relatives to wonder if he or life “mattered.” On the other hand, Camus was big on the “Absurd.” Might some of that have come from not knowing his father, having a deaf mother, being burdened with tuberculosis, and having witness the madness of WWII? It would seem unstable beginnings lead to “worrisome thinking.”

    Of course, kids can be abused under the guise of “nurturing,” too. Just like guys can perform rote-but-unfelt “bro hugs.” I’m talking about kids getting sincere, heartfelt demonstrations of affection a la Goldilocks: love and care in just the right amounts.

    Now, while I intellectually know I was short-changed by my father, I wish I could cry about it more. I’m better than most males when it comes to emoting (overcoming the training we get at age 5 to mask pain, suffering, need, etc.). I also know it’s not “manly”--- and is in fact harmful—to “choke back tears.” But I also know it’s hard to do. The tears come out only sporadically, like during certain movies scenes. At such times I become aware how half-alive I’ve been.

    It’s like when you’ve been alone too long. You get used to it and think life is “just that way.” Then you fall in love and remember all the songs and movies and dinners you’d have enjoyed so much more if you’d shared them.

    How cruel that children, deprived of love through no fault of their own, face so much MORE pain and suffering thereafter. Instead of being compensated for losses, they’re saddle with more penalties. Parents break their legs. Then they learn the world rewards sprinters. Then they’re mocked for not moving fast enough. Then they’re denied medicines and remedies to heal.

    How could any god permit that?

    Maybe the one who let his own son be crucified. Or other deities representing parents who expect “children” to suffer and blindly obey. Imagine, though, if instead of “because I say so” and “you wouldn’t understand” and “it’s my house” and “it’s for your own good” parenting and religiosity, we told children that god was Mr. Rogers?

    Glad there’s a “Mr. Janov’s Neighborhood,” too.

    1. Trevor,

      I have similar perceptions about my 'family'.

      My Dad bought me a Teddy but my 'Father' made me feel guilty about missing my Mum.

      My Dad wanted the best for me but the best costs money and my Father made me feel guilty for wasting my private education. . .

      I went on holidays with my Dad but my Father 'took' me sailing. . .

      My Dad gave me hugs but my Father rejected me. . .

      If only there would be one apology that clearly acknowledged his errors. . . Then I would not be waiting, waiting, hoping, hoping. . .

      Paul G.

  16. This article is worth being read, both by those interested in research and of those who doubt the impact of a father's love.

    Jan Johnsson

  17. Hello to all:
    Can we apply love to breastfeeding?
    It has been proven that breastfeeding produces many hormones beneficial for mother and child.
    There is another, under-reported benefit:
    “The protein is adiponectin, which is secreted by fat cells and affects how the body processes sugars and lipids -- fatty substances in the blood. It's been suggested that adiponectin is involved in the metabolic syndrome, which includes insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease and occurs in 20-25 percent of adults. Higher levels of adiponectin have been associated with less disease.
    If adiponectin is present in human milk, the Cincinnati Children's researchers theorized, the protein could have an influence over the metabolic "programming" of infants. That is, it could affect adiposity, or "fatness," later in life.”

    I have lost the study paper where researchers claim that children who were not breastfed may be set up to become obese.
    Loving a child includes preparing a child for life with all that is necessary and in this case, to prevent obesity – the latest and growing epidemic. When a mother holds a child against her own breast and lovingly gives the food of life, is their more love than that possible in this world?

  18. Art, is AUTISM healed by Primal Therapy? are there cases?? What is autism for the Primal Theory??

    thank you,


    1. Rob: YOu probably know more about autism than I do. I never treated it. art.

    2. Hi Art, are narcolepsy and also tourette syndrome healed by some of your therapists?


    3. A friend of mine's son is severely autistic. He was born w/intervention (forceps) that would normally be done under anaesthetic (epidural block), for some reason it wasn't. In my mind he has massive shut done. But this is just one case. Jacquie

    4. it is for shore a good research point for the Primal Institute, isn`t it? its probably more difficult for an autist to make his own way to Primal Therapy, maybe that`s why you haven`t treated it..


    5. Nenad: We had some luck with narcolepsy but I never promise a cure for anything. art

    6. Rob: I am not sure what you mean since we are the primal center and I have not been at the Primal Institute for 30 years. art

    7. i`m sorry i didn`t knew that. so primal institute is part of the misguided primals there are around?

      anyways, i think that the life in the womb could help to understand better the cause for autism that is still unknown. correcting : it would be a good research point for the Primal Center.


    8. It seems to me that in his anxiety to differentiate the Primal Center from the Primal Institute, Dr Janov has managed to evade the actual point that Rob was trying to make:

      "Its probably more difficult for an autist to make his own way to Primal Therapy, maybe that`s why you haven`t treated it.."

      Might it be true that their are some types of patient you haven't had much experience of, just because they haven't been able to make it to the Center?

    9. Graham: It is also true that we cannot accept people into therapy when I do not understand the affliction. It would be dishonest of me to treat something I know so little about. Art

    10. "anyways, i think that the life in the womb could help to understand better the cause for autism that is still unknown. correcting : it would be a good research point for the Primal Center."


      In the 1950's and 60's "Refridgerator Mothers" were seen as the cause of Autism and Asbergers. Alice Miller is of the opinion that Autism is simply incredibly deep emotional repression. I have a God Son who has been diagnosed with Asbergers. He is refreshingly frank in his questions about life and has no sense of humour. His Mother is a depressive I would say and yet does not even recognise she is. She had a very difficult birth and her Son ended up in an incubator for a number of weeks. This must have had a profound effect on him. He is a "Day Dreamer" and is very forgetful. His Father is critical of him and both his Parents laugh at him and mock him for his affliction. I have tried to get both of them to read The Primal Scream as well as some of Miller's books to no avail. His Mother is the sympath I would say and spends her whole running away from her feelings and is too scared to look inside her head. She can be a dreadful bully. Thus the Boy's problems are probably caused by a combination of things at first line.

      I think that sometimes condition's do have known causes and then Society moves on and avoids looking at them. It's bit like Art's frustration with the gay community for pushing to have homosexuality accepted as "normal". Femenism has also tended to sometimes allow women to abdicate responsibility as Mothers. Motherhood is now often beyond the realms of accepting responsibility. Miller wrote a piece called "Are women as violent as men" for her website and it was published in one of her later books that I have. Shortly after her death it was removed. This suggests that there are some who do not like that subject discussed and thus society is never as honest as it needs to be for true liberation of the species including those with "autism".

    11. Hi planespotter,

      From the early days of English feminism it was influenced by the upper middle class lesbian minority who still see "ordinary" people as 'breeders'. This 'movement' has down classed since then.

      I'm a breeder.

      There is an arrogance that accompanies repression. . . There are different styles, mine is perfectionism; I'm such a bloody know all. The lesbian / feminists are responsible in England for making womens' empowerment into a separatist movement. That is their arrogance.

      I have found that ardent homosexuals of both sexes are often the most sexist. Contrary to the notion that many women love gay men, in England many lesbian women Hate men. That is true and it has spoiled old school feminism. Consequently you can find misandry in nearly every child benefit form, every social services office, every hospital and every doctors' surgery.

      You may not notice this until you become a single parent father.
      Up against the 'Mothers' Union' which assumes all primary carers must be women and all 'normal men' must be good bread winners and only interested in 'one thing'.

      Same old same old.
      Paul G.

  19. An email comment:
    "A love in the present ,is better than no love at all.
    even though it not cure,but it relaxes uss,makes us have relaxation,fele good,maybe for the first time in life.only that is quita amazing and good.if then we cant do primals,,well,,then we cant.

    But love in present is better than no love in present.
    cos love in present ,,do change streess hormones,,cortisol levels hear rate.I have experienced it myself in vito!!

    I no need proofs or brain map.

    i feel it.

    then if in present no have hand hug or kiss,or love,,well,,we cant change day lifes reality what happends.

    But,I make better when have love in present,,it changes me,though very short time an dslowly, amuch harder way to go.than haved been loved early.

    eeven though,we nt primal ala Arturjanov.

    Love in present,do change you!!!!!!!!!!
    any one who have experienced,would agree.

    Trie it!!!!!!!!it works.the primals can actually come naturally!!!!!!!!!as a matter of Love.,it opens every door,,,Johnny Cash...sings..that makes me cry..that song,,i shiver in spine when listen to it,,and in a primal here...I listened"remebered that song,,and I had shills inside my spine!!
    How massive love is to uss,,only love can make us walk mountains,,swim oceans,,do great things,,or sit calm under a tree and just feeeel pleasure,,of sunshine,,shadow and a smooth breeze,,its is to be alive here and now.

    to say,,,-I feel so happy,,,and tears flow..for no reason,,its just so "

  20. All this talk of Love..I can tell you as a surivior of child abuse..physical, mental and sexual it can be done- to survive. I hated myself and them..ran away at 15 got married at 17 had my first child at 21 and second at 22. That began my journey to make myself healthy for my children. Loving them was truly the thing that saved my life. Loving myself gave me the power to change my life.
    You can survive and break the cycle. Live with great love for your children, god and life.

  21. Art

    Thinking about in regard to children and their parents, I wonder if the INSTINCT to love children and do what was right for them at every given moment was once in the human genes. If early men and women naturally possessed an instinct to REALLY respond in the right, loving way to their children.It is obvious that there is no longer an instinct which the animal kingdom largely has retained, which is why they (appear at least) to be so affectionate to their babies. (Aside from a programme about meerkats when a mother repeatedly rejected one female child. She had several others.)But the human animal has at some stage in their development become extremely cruel or emotionally detached from the feelings and needs of themselves and their off spring. It can't always have been so! I am sure you have written about this. But, the INSTINCT to love and cherish the child seems to be one that has either died or been forgotten.

    1. Anonymous: I donno. We do indeed liberate the ability to love in our patients and they can now love their partners to save the marriage, and love their children to save their lives. Art

    2. Hi Art & Anonymous,

      I feel there are some instinctual drives to nurture and to care and love, still inside us humans but it seems that repression is to blame for the absence in us when it is absent.

      It's repression that's holding back these instincts. That's my feeling about it.

      Paul G.

    3. What is Instinct? I wonder how much of this is inherited and how much from very early experience. After all Dr Brazelton proved that the maternal so called instinct was actually learned. If we are treated badly by our Parents we may also experience afffection and love from other sources and because our physiology needs love to develop properly we turn towards it like a flower to the Sun. My Mother was not a very loving person and my Father a sociopathic dictator. Thus when my Aunt showed me kindness etc I absorbed it like a dry sponge. In fact my whole family have this odd interaction where other Mothers (and Fathers) show more affection towards a nephew or niece than towards their own kids and probably because this is how they experienced love as children themselves. An unconcious reaction to early trauma. Therefore everyone can beleive themselves to be loved and yet not see that they are not loved by the person they need to be loved by. I even wonder whether this is the basis of extra marital affairs. If one experiences the major love in one's childhood from a source external to the nuclear family one will always look for love in that way so when married that marriage can never provide the deep love one needs so one tends to fall back on childish experiences and look elsewhere.

  22. You are right, Paul! I DO hope you are not allowing the shrinks to give you a 'psychiatric assessment'. What do THEY know? I can't think of a title for your book, Art though I have given it much thought! Sadly I can't see myself coming to the Primal Centre as I can't afford the money involved for lodging etc + fares + 50 pc. therapy and I've had problems with the application process which I finished in May. Also I have found skyping to be much too difficult. I tried it and had a lesson in a library on it. How can anyone with surging feelings go through the rather complex and ,considerable details of getting onto a skype system on a computer? So it looks like all the odds are against me but that again is the story of my life so I'm not surprised! Sieglinde, regarding breast feeding, I am glad I never was, for my cold mother hated my guts for no reason and made all my three sisters hate me too. I think I would have feared drawing in her hatred if she had done that to me or hugged me even once. When I was nine I told her, 'I wish you were dead!' (my only response about the considerable daily humiliations, and violence I endured.She told me I'd never forget what I said and always regret it. I did later, for she had cancer and I didnt know it and she died (poor woman) a few months afterwards. I DO think people should contribute to the therapy as it is in need of money and it is largely unrecognised and is so important!!!!Art has been saying earnestly on this web site that the Primal Centre are in urgent need of money!

  23. My own personal experience is that, if we as young children, do not receive the loving physical contact we need to help us grow into happy, healthy adults, we begin a life-long search in every area of our lives for that love. In my case, tranquillizers and alcohol to block out the pain.

  24. Hallo, way2sunny!

    I was very interested in your comment here. I alos think that, despite the terrible things that you say have happened to you, you were one of the lucky people who managed to escape! Yes, escape, for you found and created love and rejected your birth family, not going back to an unending cycle of trying to change them, to 'persuade' them to love you by behaviour. I presume you haven't had so called 'friends' who somehow are exact replicas of your cruel, dominating family, either? You have done the best and bravest thing by liberating yourself through difference, by turning your back on the past. I quite envy you frankly! Not everyone with a terrible start has a choice or stays so open minded as you have. Bravo to you!!!

  25. Forgiveness isn´t that complicated. If you´re really SORRY you hurt someone you just spontaneously SAY so. "Oh I´m SORRY." And if you have a good relationship the other one won´t say (haughtily) "Yes I forgive you, you poor sinner." :) But just HUG you. (a moment of heart to heart.) On the other hand to forgive someone who isn´t sorry is just stupid. The other will just think "Who cares??" (or if the forgiveness is done just in your MIND won´t even KNOW it.) The MOST stupid of all is to forgive say Hitler for the Holocaust. "The Holocaust was HORRIBLE. But I forgive you, Adolf. You didn´t know better, you poor sod!" :) (the implication here is that the forgiver is GOD.)


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.