Monday, December 31, 2012

Psychotherapy as a Cult

Maybe you think this is just a ploy to get your attention, or an exaggeration to ridiculous lengths but let us examine what a cult is and see if psychotherapy fits.  (Some of these ideas were inspired by a new book by Kramer and Alstad: The Guru Papers, and from my own forthcoming book: Beyond Belief).

  So what are the markings of a cult and a guru who runs it?  Absolute authority and someone without faults.   The leader is a know it all,  who runs your life and tells  you how to live.  Who demands obedience.  Someone who does not trust you thinking for yourself.  Someone who knows what is in your unconscious and interprets it for you; this teaches you to mistrust yourself and doubt your previous thoughts;  submission to the leader’s thoughts.  Never to question him or his beliefs even though it can lead to your deterioration…. A military mindset.   Accepting a new moral orientation.  An absolute belief in the leader’s theory. Believing he has a special wisdom and knows the secrets of the universe.   Best if you know nothing of the leader’s life so that he remains a mystery (nearly always a “he”).  Even if the theory makes no sense (as in Freudian theory) there is a need to believe and submit.

  Does this sound familiar?  Yes there are the cults and then there are therapies that fulfill nearly all of the requirements of  a cult. No matter what therapeutic approach it is nearly always the same.. A knowing doctor who knows what is best for you and will either tell you how to live, to find “wholesome thoughts”, or will do something to you to change your life. And what they do is based on a theory with little science behind it but lots of  free-form speculation masquerading as theory.  By and large, as with cults, we are renting a daddy or mommy who will tell us how to live because we feel so lost. They will protect and guide us, love us, be concerned about us and our future, and all they require is obedience; never said as such but implied.  But you do have to pay because the doctor says it gives value to the therapy and helps you treat it seriously.  This is what I was told when I came back from the war a complete wreck and needed help.   I was of course broke and could not pay.  The doctors who stayed home during the war wanted me to value their therapy when I felt I was dying.   And by the way most of them were Freudian psychoanalysts.   And when they gave speeches it was always, “A Psychoanalyst looks at blah blah”. They were Gods, cult leaders in every sense of the term; and my professors expected obedience at every turn and never to question their theories.

  The unspoken contract between patient and doctor is that they know what is best for you. No matter what kind of therapy it is always "I know what is best";   but they don’t.  That is the tragedy, and the patient stays for years thinking the therapist knows best. Since he makes his money keeping you in therapy he has an interest in the therapeutic longevity of the patient.  It is never expressed or even acknowledged but it is there.  Again, guru or therapist, the dynamics are largely the same.  Except in the cult it becomes dangerous to quit and the group can be threatening. That is not the case in therapy except the doctor warns about leaving therapy too early.  It seems to always be too early.

  We have had the experience of patients telling their doctor about Primal Therapy only to be pooh-poohed as a cult and worthless.   This often happens when the doctor knows nothing of what we do.  And what we do is the opposite of a cult.  We teach the patient what we do and want him or her out of there as soon as possible.   The only authority is the patient who knows best what is wrong and what is in their unconscious.    There is no great leader who demands obedience and insists on not being questioned.  Too often in patients, there is this search for certainty and we want a therapist who looks like a doctor and who speaks with an air of authority.  We do not want a hesitant doctor.  We do not want a doctor who is not completely sure of himself.  We want the rock of Gibraltar.  Why?  So we can relax, submit, be guided and taken care of.  Lovely.  And when we get that daddy and mommy that should have been,  we stay in therapy.  It is then a permanent act-out on both their parts.  The doctor gets the glory and adulation, while  the patient gets a kind,concerned doctor/parent.
It is addictive for both and that is why it lasts and lasts.  And never does the doctor call the patient on his act out; he encourages it; you must come three times a week instead of two, blah blah.   It encourages dependence, which is not what we want at all.

   More and more we come to trust the doctor’s advice and he readily supplies it.  We go to find out if we should get married, change jobs, go to school, leave this person, etc.  In our therapy we rarely if ever give advice; we believe in self-determination.  We want the patient to trust himself and not be infantilized.  By the way I finally found an Analyst to treat me for battle fatigue and what did we do? Dream analysis because that was his specialty.

    When your whole world is invested in your doctor you keep on going and do not question.  Your whole world is wrapped around him.  What does he think of my decision?  Would he approve of this or that?

  There are some in cults who change their names and become Swamy da da da.  It is as if  they had no history. But in current cognitive therapy there is also no history;  it is more and more a therapy of the here-and-now.  History doesn’t account for much.  Not a big difference.

  Here is the diabolic part in all this; once we spin a web of belief in our followers all we have to do is manipulate the beliefs. We have control.  Our beliefs/theories are now deeply inside the patient/follower and his life is in our hands.  He believes in the Id or Ego or Shadow Forces and other nonsense.  He has no other frame of reference.   In the cult they keep others away so that you will not have a contrary frame of reference; you are now a true believer.  The cult says the beliefs are our stairway to heaven while the doctor says you are on the way to more healthy beliefs and a stable way of life; ergo a stairway to heaven.


  1. In order to get the theory solid I have to question you again (I don´t like it),because you gave insufficient answers.

    It is not the first time I noticed you talking about breathing during womblife.Over the years I got this uncomfortable feeling several times.

    So I quickly looked through your book ´life before birth´ but I see no etiology of how we get our oxygen.
    Indirectly you show the misunderstanding on page 132.

    You are writing about oxygen deprivation and say: ...redistrubuting oxygen to where it is most needed,namely,the key vital organs,the lungs and heart.
    The lungs? They are not working yet,so they are not vital.We get our oxygen through a blood vessel and there seems to be a backup system for the baby (brown fat ?) Also the oxygen levels in the blood of the baby are far less then in adults.

    With this knowledge I think your theory (of reliving womblife) gets in trouble with evolutionary laws.


    1. Paul, oxygen deprivation can damage the baby's brain, heart and lungs before it is born.

      The primaller will automatically get as close as he/she can to the most important original body motions and sounds. Obviously it will never be an exact video replay of the original event, but the primaller will fully experience the imprinted reaction to the trauma, and the reaction will be physiological too, such as blood pooling into the areas that were crushed by forceps, or the lips turning blue (as seen in Art's videos). An exact 'video replay' is not required. What we are looking for is the proper neurological connection that integrates the present with the past. And to find that connection we must travel from the act-out to the source, without activating defenses. When the connection is found, the primal will be whatever it will be. It is automatic. The mind and body seem to find the best way to heal. We don't need to start fussing about the points you have raised.

    2. More scientific grounded facts (sorry it's in french)
      The baby's blood contains more hematocrite (10% more) which help fixing the oxygen more efficiently (this happens in adult's body too when one lives in high mountains).

  2. Hi,

    In my desperate and unconscious attempt to find a real father who would help me make sense of myself and my relations with the world, I experimented with several 'cult' figures.

    The one I 'loved' most of all, himself valued science and encouraged his followers to take note of what science was discovering. In his writings he implored his students to experiment and find out for themselves rather than merely take what he said for granted.

    He famously asked "would you masturbate if I told you to"?

    He died in 1948 just about when Watson & Crick were making their famous 'discovery'. In his writings he refers to the neurology of the time with some understanding of synapse / dendrite relationships and of course the 'tripartite' structure of the brain.

    Perhaps his most famous remark was:

    -"MAN CANNOT DO"-. . . We have no will.
    Most of the work he did with his students brought about this realisation and many had what appeared to be 'breakdowns' of one sort or another. He travelled to America in the 20s and attracted the attention of several prominent psychotherapists who had become disillusioned with Freud. Interestingly this 'Teacher' also did not value 'dream analysis', One of his students later coined the phrase 'Psychosynthesis' to describe the 'Method' that this enigmatic 'Teacher' had developed.

    Nevertheless, he remained a 'Christian' and although he had made quite clear that 'God did not exist on the Planet'(a Northern Sufi idea) he also pointed out that it's not good to destroy a person's faith. He also advised his students not to give into 'negative emotions'.

    Let's face it, in the absence of Primal Therapy / Theory what choice does a traumatised person have in a predominantly religious society?

    So to conclude, I wonder what this particular 'cult' Teacher would have made of Primal? As far as I can see he understood a lot about trauma and he seems to have got close to understanding the 'sexual hijack' but he did not know anything about the imprints or epigenetics, how could he? . . . He described his 'Institute' as "a workshop for broken down machines" and he worked with several WW1 survivors.

    He lived in Paris during WW2 until his death in 1948.

    So I wonder what G I Gurdjieff would have made of Primal?

    Paul G.

  3. Hi,
    This has fanned the fire of my wrath.
    If there is a conspiracy to control the human race then what you have described are the Tactics.
    Yes, the Strategy is to gain control of our thoughts. The Aim? Is there an Aim when thought control offers enough power over others to get what you want?
    But who's Aim is this anyway? Are we all accountable? Who is / are the controllers? We've been through part of this before on the blog. There are no single 'causes' of 'social behaviour' but there are sociopaths in society, some of whom 'gain a foothold in leadership roles'. Remember? The ones who tend to trash opportunities and situations and then somehow never be accountable?
    My boarding schools were trying to make me into a sociopath and they nearly succeeded. I have spent decades narrowly avoiding repeating the brainwashing of the 'military style' internment there from age 8 to 16yrs.
    What happens is simple:
    Boys are traumatised deliberately to 'develop character'. Usually protracted 'separation from mother & family' is enough to make the threat of further trauma work. The psyche develops an 'edge for suppressing pain'. This happens through a highly organised and police style system of Prefects and Sub Prefects with 'disciplinary powers' sanctioned by those "In Charge". In a 4 layered 'class system' with the head boy / Head Master at the top.
    You have:
    1. Leader, (head master).
    2. Assistant Leader (head boy).
    3. Prefects.
    & 4. Sub-Prefects.
    The most effective punishment was actually being 'sent to coventry'. . . ie: separation from the group. Expulsion was not uncommon for minor misdemeanours, mostly refusal to obey authority! Expulsion would inevitably compel you to consider why your parents sent you there in the first place, a frightening prospect indeed. I eventually ‘ran away’, an act of sanity.
    There is no 5th layer with the prolls in. Prolls do not 'belong' at all.
    What I noticed and still to this day notice is that the choice offered to me to join in the 'hierarchy' meant that I had to leave behind my 'mates' and adopt an essentially policeman attitude to them; so I declined.
    The characteristic flavour of membership of the hierarchy therefore is that those at the bottom aren't part of it. They are the 'others'. They are the scapegoats.
    This 4 layered class system has been compared to Piaget's 4 stages of child development. This beggars the question: " is society an inevitable reflection of our development, or an 'Act Out' of it's unconscious disconnected structure"?
    I favour the second view because Primal explains the original causes behind the 'Disconnects'. Therefore, to be precise, I postulate that in a Primal World there would be little if any pressure to form elite and /or partisan groupings, the neurotic pressure would not be there to drive a 'disconnected' society in the first place. Personal 'need' to be in charge or need for a hierarchical relationship is therefore neurotic. Sociopathic even.
    We speak of the 'leaders' but what about the 'followers'? In my case I was desperately looking for Dad. Each of us recovering cult members has our own tale to tell no doubt. Many ordinary people just seem to want a life in which they don't have to consider others much or be responsible. These middle voting, 'moral majority' are also the "Lumpen Prolls" who are good at making money and paying taxes and consuming goods. They are often 'friendly enough' by and large. Of course they can afford to be. Yet so many of their children end up taken in by cults and psychotherapy (I was one of them) then they form elitist private membership groups and the whole cycle of false authority starts all over again.

    Paul G.

  4. I have a cousin who is adamant in her belief that you guys are a cult. I give her pieces of reason that she sees and understands, in the moment, but then those pieces fall out of her mind within the next 2-minutes because her fragmented right-brain cannot build up a developmental picture of reality.

    And she INSTEAD defaults to her internalized (and external) authority figures. Those authority figures are people who do not talk like me - they are people who talk like the know the absolute truth, and that the truth is absolutely knowable. These are people who are comfortable being directly responsible for what others come to believe, and are happy to have others believe what they believe even though those others don't test/know it.

    The lost and fragmented seek out a perverse and unrealistic form of security (like you basically said). And because they crave something unreal they get the pushers of the unreal - they get deeply arrogant bullshit people giving them their gospel, and psychopaths, and people who are often too stupid to know that things are not necessarily as simple as they seem...telling the lost how to live their lives.

    It makes you wonder if we should really be living in a democracy, if we all have to go down with these voting hero-worshipers.

    btw: Your second paragraph is an excellent description of religious practice. Looks like a perfect match to me.

  5. Hi Art,

    I thought you might be interested to learn that your whole thesis was unintentionally validated in one sentence earlier this year, by Eckhart Tolle:

    (I read the opening line and thought of you)

    Happy new year,


    1. Thanks Ben. I will read it. art

    2. Anonymous:

      DON'T waste your time with people who speak in JUNK LANGUAGE. There is no excuse for it now that we understand traumatic-imprinting in solid, down-to-earth terms.

      Junk language just creates the ticket for dickheads like Eckhart Tolle (I've seen and heard this guy before) to throw booga-booga go-back-to-sleep spiritual-spin on something (otherwise) very real and very important.

      Stick with Janov and people who speak WITHOUT the fairytale style language.


  6. Hi Andrew,

    Welcome to 2013.

    -"but then those pieces fall out of her mind within the next 2-minutes because her fragmented right-brain cannot build up a developmental picture of reality"-.

    You and a fair few of us on this blog, probably all of us have become pretty good at 'reasoning'. When connected to good science (such as Primal)our powers of 'reasoning' aught to produce a more lasting impact than merely 2 minutes.

    However, the trouble with people who have become 'a-historic' is that they can not hold onto a reasonable thought form for any longer than it takes to handle it and find out it is too hot for them to handle.

    They must dismiss the idea. They must discard their momentary 'interest'.

    Such are the limits of 'selective memory', the a-historic only 'remember' what they need to maintain the disconnect from their history. Yep, 2 minutes is about it. It's almost a deliberate precursor to dementia.

    Paul G.

  7. Hi Art,
    You gave a perfect description of my stalker. He was obsessed with being in total control of me. Thank the gods I'd had Primal Therapy before (and after) him or I never would've escaped. I've come to realize that not all psychopaths are stalkers but all stalkers are psychopaths.
    Best wishes and happy new year,

    1. Margaret: It was not supposed to be about stalkers but if it helps all the better. and happy new year to you. love art

  8. I’d make a few distinctions as regards cults. A full blown cult usually requires that members live with the leader, and have every aspect of their life controlled by the leader. But if members are simply under a belief system of the leader, and live on their own, most refer to that as “mind control” not to be confused with alleged “Mind Control” of secret government agencies.

    Further, as Paul noted, many aspects of society are arranged in cultic mind control, perhaps better described as thought or belief control. I would suggest our entire world is set up as one large mind control system, so as to be able to control nearly every mind on earth and make life very difficult for those who do not go along with that.

    I liked Andrew’s thought, too: “It makes you wonder if we should really be living in a democracy, if we all have to go down with these voting hero-worshipers.”

    Yes, democracy is not really democracy, if people’s minds are not thinking for themselves and easily influence to vote as the media direct subtly.

    But I do note that censorship without explanation is a typical trait of a cult leader. It is the desire to control all information and propaganda, with results always favorable to the leader, of course. I am both glad and sad that most of you out there have not had the experience of Jehovah’s so called Witnesses. Their practice of subtle thought control is a marvel to behold. Few religions are as effective as this group is. But eventually, a good number of them end up leaving, either due to giving up on God, morality, or seeing thru the JWs.

    But since time began, the goal of leadership has always been to control the minds of families, extended families, tribes, communities, states, nations, and the world. That the game, always! Most are completely unaware of that game.

    1. I note that many here see families as a cult situation, which indeed, a family naturally is. A cult can, in theory, be good, at least in the family situation, but is almost always bad in any other circumstance. When I child is grown up, they no longer need the control of the family to guide them. They become more independent as time goes on.

      But I want to emphasize, that many cult situations are not readily recognized, even though they are substantial. The military, for one, is a certified cult. They control your whole life and you have no real constitutional right or bill of rights when serving. They have total power over you and use it extensively and intrusively.

      But far more subtle, yet, is the use of media, TV programming and Movies to “influence’ you and guide your thinking and tell you what is going on. They can ignore anything they want, and you will never know you have been denied knowledge. Schools and Higher Education serve this purpose as well.

      Academic colleagues reinforce the “party line” and censor any fellow academic who dares go beyond the borders of what is allowed. Our employers have a huge amount of control over our lives and how we perform at work. If we protest our treatment, we are laid off or fired.

      If we have a social network like a church group or those we work with, they too, can heavily influence us and we do not want to alienate them, do we? Then we will be all alone. So we go alone with party and our comrades and try not to rock the boat and accept what we are told and who to vote for, etc.

      All through our lives, we are surround by pressure to conform and obey. That is the cult way. Interestingly, without detail, I promise a major cult personality will present himself and those in power will back him, and they will attempt an overt complete takeover of the world. That is what has been progressing now for some time. Don’t believe me. Just sit back and watch. But do carve these words in stone and throw them in my face if they are not here in less than 10 years.

      To go against the grain takes a special sort of man or woman. Few have that grain. We like to be told what to do.

    2. Apollo

      Society starts with Parents and our first mind control comes from them. Then we are sent to school where more mind control happens. We face Bullies and often we cannot stand up to bullies because we learned not to stand up to them at home. We are forced to fit in. The Tory government in the UK is a huge bunch of Bullies. Sent off to private school (torture camps) and we are all paying the consiquences. The Uk is not a pleasnt place at the moment. At least I can look on and think that as the right wing in the US and UK get more extreme it is because they are on the retreat as the rest of society becomes more aware. Look at the deluded belief of the Republicans that they would win so much so that Romney had only written an acceptance speech. The cult of delusion.

  9. Hi Art,

    Happy New Year 2013!

    What when the guru is your own parent and when you have lived in the guru cult all your life without knowing it? And all the way you've felt down and worthless. And even when you finnally realize what's going on, you keep feeling guilty for each act of non-obediance?

    In your books it was difficult to find the omipresent parent that wants to control every step you make, manipulates and suffocates the child, but very often I found the related feelings and sensations. Maybe you could write a post about that some day?

    All my best wishes,

    1. Hi AC,

      My entire family are like that. My unmet needs almost totally adapted to theirs. Except only I know this. . . They see me as the 'other' because we know I am not part of their 'coup d'etat'. . . Their 'presumptions' acted out on their 'Stairway to Heaven', their false 'Jacob's Ladder', their greasy pole of success. . . Their repressed emotions, their 'blind allegiance'.

      Good grief, sounds like I've really got a problem with blame, perhaps I had better get myself some positive thinking therapy and take control of my life. . . That is what they tell me, that is their cognitive bullshit.

      Paul G.

    2. Hi Paul,

      Thank you, it ease the soul to know I'm not alone in this. What is awful for me is the yo-yo behaviour. Each time my ideas are different of theirs, I'm roughly rejected. Later they explain how much they care about me. And even if I do not really feel that this is true (it's their cognitive truth, not mine), this "good feelings" testimony is enough to make me doubt and blame myself.
      Feeling guilty was my state of mind since early childhood. It's getting much better since I've started to primal.


    3. Hi AC and bloggers,

      an afterthought, we all need to belong and be a member of a group.

      Check out 'Group Dynamics Models' on Wikepedia and read about the fourfold levels or modes. Various commentators describe them in various ways, one version is:

      1. Authoritarian.
      2. Consultative.
      3. Participative.
      4. Consensual.

      You could take the back of a large used envelope and with a pencil quarter it and label it for each mode. In each mode draw 5 small circles in a ring formation; 5 is enough for a group dynamic model Then elect one small ring (member of group) in each mode to be leader by writing in a small l for 'leader'.

      In 1. the arrows go only from leader to the other four members, there are no other connections. In 2. the arrows go in both directions between leader and the other four members. In 3. The arrows are the same as 2 but with the addition of some connections between the other members.

      Only in 4. are all members connected to all the others in both directions.

      You can see how 'belonging' is directly related to the flow of information / transaction and you can see how easy it is to manipulate a group by the selective exclusion of those in the 'chain'. Exclusion resonates with everyone, that's how you get rid of the others and that's how you end up feeling responsible for those who have power over you, not to belong is not to exist.

      Paul G.

    4. Paul,

      That was a very good post! Something to stir thoughts. I have viewed it on more individual terms as to what are healthy relationships and what are not. Is it 2 way? Is it bossy one way of the other. Is there respect? Is there genuine communication both ways?

      I was reading a conspiracy oriented piece the other night (and not uncommon for me to do, either). Most groups are controlled, as I see it. That means if you want to belong, you will pay a possibly very high price. True, the alternative is substantial isolation, but if I must give up my soul and integrity for acceptance, that price is too high and rejection is far preferable. Its not a choice many make, but it is the only one I can live by.

      I find you can enjoy limited relationships, limited to perhaps one pursuit, like some tennis buddies for tennis, or hockey, intellectual stuff on forums, and those sorts of things. But since most people are “connected,” they are also compromised and are not allowed to think or see much.

      Those in power know how very important it is for nearly all people to want to be accepted and belong. We might think that sex or drugs would be the most enticing, but I would say that “belonging” is right up at the top. But it is also what causes so much misery. We often put up with so much in order to belong. Too much, perhaps.

      It reminds me of an illustration from Jesus of Nazareth who referred to a broad wide spacious road that everyone was taking and walking on, which road led to destruction. It is assumed by many that he speaks only of personal destruction, but it could be bigger than that. On the other hand, there is that narrow cramped and diffi-cult-to-travel road which few chose to walk on, but it did lead to “salvation.”

      But I do note that many great discoverers were often persecuted souls, who often did not even get recognition in their own time. And if they did, they did so by being very strong and self-guided, which really is a gift of luck, since to be so is more likely a combo of circumstances that we had no choosing of, which led to what we are.

    5. Hi Paul,

      It helps. I finnaly understand why the manipulator most often demands secrecy. He can do it in so many ways: by explaining how special your relation is with him comparing to the others, saying your complaint might hurt the others, blaming yourself so you are ashamed telling someone else, emotional blackmail etc. It's the isolation that makes you vulnerable, nowhere to go.

      Ok, if you are strong enough, not belonging to one group is not as dramatic as long as there are other groups you can attend. But I guess the danger comes when your universe is very limited and when the inside is shaking.


  10. Dr. Janov,
    These are my thoughts all along...If the theory doesn’t fit your true need, you are re-moulded (mind-manipulated) so you fit into their theory-mould.
    New ideas are forbidden. Your own needs disregarded. The “leader's” modus operandi must never be questioned and any real evidence for its effectiveness is overwritten by hierarchical/authoritarian left brain thinking.
    And all the obedient needy clients sing hallelujah – Pappa/Mamma (therapist)knows what’s good for us. The ones who say it does not work for them will have an entry in their records saying “non-compliance, rebellious attitude”.

    1. Yes, Sieglinde, I know that one about the rebel. Have been one ALL OF MY LIFE and I have truly been punished for it BUT I am glad I have not- to date- kow towed to family,childrens homes, school, college hierarchies rules and authorities yet. Every single one of these institutions go against the individual (also the child!) and his right to and the existence of his/her life and feelings. So I am glad I have held on by hook or by crook to my downright rebellious way of thinking and being.Yes, planespotter, England is not a pleasant place to be now. Was better in the 1970's by far! The police last year made thousands of arrests of children for 'crimes' such as I quote for throwing conkers at a tree.' Things I did as a child in the 50's with the comparable freedom we hade then. The nanny state is mad here. Also the police are MUCH too intrusive. I hate it.Still, would rather be a woman here than in India right now, considering the current news stories.All the best to you. Are you skyping for your therapy now?

  11. Hallo, Paul and happy new year! I so understand what you mention about the schooling to turn ultimately boys into men after seeing on t.v. over Xmas an old film called: 'Goodbye, Mr Chips'. It says very precisely and movingly what happens in some boys boarding schools. Have you seen it?

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      yes a long time ago, I can't remember which version. There's also 'Tom Brown's School Days' which is strangely dark whilst superficially entertaining. . .

      The one that most reflects my experience is 'if' with Malcolm Macdowell. Made in 1969.

      I urge anyone who wants to know what modern English Boarding Schools are really like to see that one. Proper subversive stuff!

      Paul G.

  12. No one there to help me in Sweden... help me… of my then need for love!

    If I am the pain for my need of love! I have no reference to it... I have nothing to compare with!

    I am in the room of nowhere as unconscious of my need... and I also have to be... as the danger of consciousness is of life and death.

    I can never leave the room before I feel my need... before I am there.
    If not... then I've have never been there... been there without reference... relations of pain and need. So... will I remain in the room of nowhere... unaware of my need!

    All I have is my sick world and no one to help me out. To be or not to be... that is the question!

    We all need to be aware of what is going on in the brain stem... the limbic system and neo cortex... or the correct order neo cortex the limbic and brainstem... this is the crucial question for humanity!



  13. We got a problem!

    We can't attribute mom to be as loving as our need shows... why we "created" us gods for the purpose. When I see how people worship God… it is not difficult to see the enormous need that has emerges. To imagine a mother be worshiped in this way ... it is not difficult to see which needs that was dammed up without being satisfied.

    It is hard to see the possibility for Primal Therapy run out of steam through all those billions of people who so clearly worship their mother through god ... worship for mercy for its need... needs who alleviates sufferings.

    A need "teleported" into a world much later... now… later without perceiving the context of the need... "teleported" as it instantly is... are now... far from when it was… then was… that is way... we have forgotten and repressed.

    It is terribly frustrating to see how this can passes without a revolution necessary its cause... how human memory fails... but also that no one suspects god to be an illusion representing the need for mom… mom of love for my life.

    There is only one reason for it... and that is... primal therapy do not let itself be presented... something that falls on our own shoulders.




    1. What you say probably fits many people. But why I believe in God, as opposed to needing God, does not fit into your assumptions. There are other possibilities. I personally fail to see why Primal Therapy and theory must, of necessity, rule out God or only allow for insanity as a reason to believe, or if you prefer, need.

      What remains is that we have this pain deep inside us that is responsible for most of our suffering and it needs fixed. PT is a therapy and science, and not so much religion or philosophy. Most have trouble separating them.

      Further, when religious hypocrites are found, many disown religion and/or God. Yet, when science or politics reveal their own hypocrites, we do not disown those. Why is that? Sounds like a grudge against religion and God or gods. Why not disown politics? Why not rebel against science? I think those offended by hypocritical people perhaps need a bit more therapy of the primal type. There is a lot to say for consistency in judgment.

    2. Hello Apollo!

      God can be a "director" of all believers' needs through the primal therapeutic process!


    3. Oh Apollo, you're incorrigible !

      Nobody is ruling out God, least of all the atheists on this blog. I suppose the difference between an atheist and a reactionary (like me, or you) is that atheists not longer 'believe'. . . Belief always has to 'win'. . . So atheists tend not to argue the point, they simply don't beleive.

      -"I think those offended by hypocritical people perhaps need a bit more therapy of the primal type"-.

      I would try not to prescribe Primal before I had it myself. . . Unless I could prove that Primal was beyond my reach (or beneath my belief system)?????????

      Paul G.

    4. Hi, Afterthought,

      I have realised that in the absence of connected feelings (ie: where there is repression) then beliefs are required to 'fill in the gaps'.

      Beliefs are a fixation. . . Beliefs can be about anything. I can even 'believe' I'm worthless or some one else is. . . Beliefs do not necessarily come from an all controlling force outside of oneself. . . Although of course some tyrannical people insist that others must believe the same things they do. . . or else!

      Beliefs are part of our defence system, but that I'm beginning to feel is a 'construct', we put up a wall of beliefs in the absence of real feelings. De-constructing beliefs is inevitably a pre-cursor to discovering your essence because the beliefs, like 'blocks in the wall' can stand in the way of recovering true feelings.

      A myth of mock therapy is that you can carry your beliefs intact into true feelings. A warning about real therapy therefore is that you may need (at some point) to dismantle your belief systems. . . Either that or they will crumble in the face of recovered feelings. Or both.

      Paul G.

    5. Well Paul,

      As I see it, one does not need to do anything with beliefs, if one is going into primal therapy. You will not know what beliefs have to come or go until you start feeling. Some may remain, quite valid. Somme other may crumble. It is rather pre-mature to assume you can figure it out for yourself or anyone else until you have done it to the point of fully reliving birth.

      That is why arm-chair or keyboard-monitor treatment of others is so laughable. One can not always be sure of what is behind someone's defenses or beliefs or whatever. After the feelings are out, then you can be sure.

      Or, you can claim the therapy went wrong when some beliefs remain, and blame in on the intellect, I suppose. and it may well have went wrong but whether the intellect is to blame or not, I have my doubts. Usually fear is at the heart of most running and delusions. Fear comes from the 2dn and 1st lines, not the 3rd. But what do I know, right?

    6. Hi Apollo,

      It would be great to be in group therapy with you because together we would be able to contribute a fair dollop of reason. I love reason but I know it's my feelings and sensations which are distorting my reason and so, I do not trust my reason as it stands alone.

      Beliefs are 'stand alone' reason. Beliefs are thought constructs requiring no feeling to 'stand up'.

      Beliefs do not include feelings and as such may need active de-construction in order to get them out of the way of true feelings.

      I have needed to actively dismantle my belief systems because I was 'programmed' in an elitist cult as a child. I was signed up for my programming before I was even an "Itch in my Daddies Pants". I was 'sent to boarding school' before I was conceived.

      I have noticed that those who have been 'programmed' in a cult tend to try to maintain the basic structure (hierarchy) of the belief system because without it there are no other 'systems' available to the 'victim' (patient) to retrieve true feelings.

      Therefore the problem with cults is that without the basic programming you might as well be dead.

      It's a catch twenty two situation. You have used the word blame. . . I'm not blaming any one or anything, this is a twist that perhaps your cult programming has put into you. My cult programming certainly put blame into me and it would do; that is how hierarchy is maintained. . .

      That is why I have researched Group Dynamics and attempted where possible to apply it in my activities. So, (please forgive my vociferousness here), I know what I'm talking about.

      Yes it is true that we need a strong intellect; but a strong intellect is a double edged sword. . . by this I mean one edge can face out to define and to 'discriminate' (in the true meaning of the word) but the other edge faces in and so you have to ask why do I hold onto the hilt of this extremely sharp tool? Why do I hold onto this 'cutting' device so tightly?

      Why Apollo, do you hold on so tightly to the hilt of your sword?

      Paul G.

    7. Hi Paul

      Well, listen, Its true that I kinda cling hard to the sword. Perhaps a little too easily provoked, too. And my natural mode is one of tenaciousness. Listen, when you are born on the bottom of the barrel as I was, you either come out swinging or go out dead, so to speak. I love competitive sports. I like challenges. These do sort of make me a bit contentious at times, as you might have noticed.

      I would be of the opinion that beliefs and their systems are actually caused by feelings. We are not just talking about religious beliefs here. It is beliefs about life and living. I might belief that the world is a dangerous place. Some might feel quite safe, at least until their first “surprise.” I am of the belief that knowledge and real education are essential and important, if not even life saving and disaster preventing. Those are beliefs, and they usually have some sort of feelings behind them. Some can be quite passionate about ideas or beliefs as well. I often am.

      But consider this. As militaries develop, they learn lessons, often painful ones, by their mistakes and they create rules to keep at all times so as to avoid future disasters and become more effective. It helps for people to do the same with life. Belief systems are essential. We all need some set of beliefs about life and how to live it and avoid bad results and get good results.

      Once you have been involved with a cult-like system, you learn some valuable lessons that many will never experience, and so they do not develop very strong or elaborate belief systems for survival.

      Sadly, those who know best how to survive, are those who have been through the worst. For those who have had no rough knocks, they are still vulnerable to most abuse. It can even end in death. So the irony there is that while carrying primal pain can lead to shortened life spans, so too, can being naïve and unaware also lead to premature death or bitter loss. So the intellect is never to be ignored, no more than pain should be.

      Why do I hold my sword tight? I guess it is because it is survival, while other methods are not. Life challenges us to the core. Its not for the weak. Like the jungle, the fittest survive and the rest die. But as well, when I come across error, it is not just a threat to me but a threat to all. Its just that many do not see it as a threat. But after you have survived cultic-like abuse, in which deception and error are everywhere, you quickly learn how dangerous those things are. I suppressed a lot of me while controlled by JWs. Being fooled and denying yourself have been very bitter pills for me to swallow. Never again, I said! I learned to be much more sharp and cynical and question much more and believe ( as in trust), ironically, much less. Most still trust most around them. I feel bad for them. They too, suppress a large part of themselves to belong. I’ll never do that, again.

    8. Hi Apollo,

      I also hold on tightly to the hilt of my sword and "I am never so happy as when I have an Axe to Grind". I expect you can imagine me in my workshop whistling a happy tune getting it "Razor Sharp", smile on my face. . .

      I know it's true that abused and controlled people like us have a lot to offer other sufferers. Finding out that most Primal Therapists are ex primal patients (ongoing primal patients?) has helped to relieve me of the burden of my cult programming. That burden conditions me to believe that because I am f****d up I MUST DESERVE TO BE. In cults 'authority' is assumed to be AN END IN ITSELF and suffering a consequence of 'Original Sin'; ie: if you feel shit it must be your fault. It still astounds me how people can believe in "Karma". What 'goes around' does not necessarily come back and bite the abuser, at least not without some 'intervention' by those who care to act, perhaps with a sharp sword.

      This is how the hierarchy maintains it's basic structure. The 'feeling' just beneath the threshold of consciousness is "BLAME / GUILT". Like a weird 'bi-polar' belief system if you're not to blame then you also aren't guilty either but some-one else must be to blame and should feel guilty. Either / Or. There is no 'personal responsibility' involved in this whatsoever.

      I can't quite work out where I got my sword from in all this 'melee'.

      I did go digging around in some 'old tomes'. I found a few gems of ancient truth and some really good steel. . . I think perhaps I forged my own sword in the fire of my grief and yes, I too hold on tightly. Woe betide any abuser who faces me with dubious intent; particularly my pompous, tyrannical buffoon of a father. All I have to do now is show him his own reflection in the polished surface of that blade.

      Paul G.

    9. Paul,

      I think you’re right about the hierarchy using people’s feelings of guilt and blame to keep them in line. I did not have that particular problem, but I suspect it is because I got some pretty good love and reinforcement in my 1st 7 years, at least in comparison to what most get. So when my father went nuts at 8, I was able to endure. Not without wounds, but I did not feel the blame or guilt. But when I went to a new school at age 11, I got picked on at first. They had never seen innocence before and were fascinated and amused. I guess I was seen as a freak show. It probably set me back for about 10 years, leaving me with doubt about myself and no confidence. So that is a little bit like guilt and blame.

      I think many of us had bad controlling fathers. Mine had no control over anything in his young life so he was a control freak. I vowed never to be what he was/is. I’d sooner throw myself upon a spear. But, he was, whether due to emotional neglect or born to older parents and bad epigenetics, mildly retarded. Many do not detect it but some do. Its shows now in old age much easier. But part of my effort to develop self-control was just the fear of ever becoming like him.

      But it is amazing how much the religious conflict affected me. I knew it was coming, but when it did, I was not prepared its powerful impact. As well, God how I hate being lied to, betrayed, and by phonies, no less. Used ,too. Trust came real hard, if it really ever came, after that. But it did help me to see through many more phonies. Government became so transparent, as did science, politics, history. Funny how one major impact can change your whole life and even enable you to suddenly see and be aware of so much. So ironically, while the JWs drew a lot of blood from me with their sucker punches, they also enabled sharp piercing vision. Hey, at least I got something out of it, right?

    10. Hi Apollo,

      I am concerned that what we have gotten out of our 'cult programming' is the re-enforcement of "Loner Training".

      You sound like a 'loner'. . . I have become a loner too. It's the self sufficiency that organised abuse 'generates' in it's victims.

      At work it reveals itself in what I call the 'sole traders' mentality:

      -"I'm alright, Jack"-.

      But the thing about it is: it is exactly what 'Authority' wants; divide and rule ok? When authority exacts abuse on it's victims it divides them away, fragments them from the group.

      Therefore Apollo I say that our cults have won, they have made us into loners. It's taking me a long time to overcome my fear of crying infront of another person, that was put into me by my father at the school gates. . . by the time I was 16 I realised he was infact just another member of staff. . .

      Paul G.

    11. Greetings Paul!

      Yes, I am a loner, but not by regret. It is the preferred of 2 choices. I do not like that I only have 2 choices, but that is something I can not change. I wish there was a 3rd choice.

      Organized abuse, a very good term I might add, is world wide and very pervasive. That is the real problem. Think about those around you. Can you relate to them on many levels? Levels other than superficial? I find for myself, not that much.

      Authority does love the old divide and conquer, that is, isolate and suppress. You are correct. But I am not so sure about the cults-winning. For me, a semi-cult awakened me to the real and fickle nature of people. It did make me a bit sour and down on the human race, took some of the air out of my sails. But I see much more now. I wish I did not have to pay the price to get what I got, but I would rather pay it and get it than not get it at all and not pay. Ignorance is not bliss for me.

      So I am a loner by choice. Not much choice but a little. At least I do not get surprises anymore. I almost always see it coming. I avoid lots of troubles in not extending myself due to false hopes. I am a realist. I lie that doctrine that AA promotes. They call it “Acceptance.” They simply accept life as it is because they know that can not change it.

      Bu at least you and I know the score in that we understand PT and how it affects us and the world. That is no small thing. We understand life much better than many. I may never get a million, nor have a harem (damn!), or travel the world, or have anyone sing my praises, but I am happy with reading and learning, and growing. I am easy to please. My expectations are low so that they are easily obtainable.

      So you see, I am not quite a dumb as I look or write ;-)

  14. Hi Art,some 20 years ago I had contact with the followers of a cult leader
    Sri..Shinmoy .
    I had enrolled therein because of loneliness... I was constanty attacked
    because of questioning his quotes and opinionions( for example he "double-condemned the victims!!(my opinion!!) of suicide by "promising2 them that after this..they woul endure more pain than burned in in boiling oil in lifetime here (which happens too often..)

    Well nobody seemed to feel this sadism and only listened to the beautiful poems,songs etc.
    well this guy was a VICTIM too -he die at age 70 ...(heart attack -all the
    "lifting records (You might have heard that lifting with one arm many people..)

    And it is said :once he "tried to copulate " with female followers and appeared to no sexual feelings at all (after decades of denying it)

    And for authoritative psychotherapists :I longed ! for somebody to understand my main!! problem and with compliance/coaching would help me
    to function(at least...)
    NOPE only ridiculous TALK ,self-agrandizement,and yes You are right
    Yours emanuel

  15. Paul - like your input
    A J - I grew up in a cult, and this is where what you published elsewhere about meditation/transcendental meditation makes sense.
    'Meditation' is absolutely central and vital to the cult operation; -disconnecting your cortex from your limbic system and then later reconnecting it to the leader's cortex, or 'having an empty mind with no pre-conceived ideas'/ 'you cannot fill a vessel that is already full'/ etc, as they like to say.
    Thus the brain of the cult leader also becomes the parent of his follower's children.

    Lonely Al

    1. Anonymous: well put. Can you explain more about the process of meditation and how it is supposed to help? art

  16. Apollo, hallo!

    LIke your blogs. Can relate to this one. I am a loner too. Chosen like you have done. There is a general myth that the media likes to spread about loners being dangerous or mentally ill. You know, they man who goes out on a shooting rampage before he takes his own life, but many loners are possibly highly sensitive individuals and probably unusual, gifted, artistic, or clever so it is no bad thing, I think.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Some good points L. Al

      Meditation is a scam for the most part. It advocates emptying the mind, putting it in park, so to speak, and going bread dead, as if that is going to help anything. But I will suggest worse.

      When one “falls” into a hypnotic trance, especially the really deep somnambulistic type, all the sensory input is shut down, the intellectual resources completely shut down, suspended, while the focus remains solely on the hypnotist and his “instruction.” The “hidden observer” loses all critical or analytical ability.

      The hypnotist has the ability to do whatever he pleases and upon the awaking, the hypnotic subject will never know a thing happened.

      The neo-cortex is there for a reason, to protect us and give us the critical analytical thinking and reasoning abilities so important to our growth and protection. Our instincts are very important, especially in the early years of life. But as we grow, we need those intellectual abilities to help us break the umbilical cord, and wean ourselves from the “breast” and become independent minds that can deduce and strategize without depending upon others exclusively as we did when we were kids.

      But this is what powerful people fear the most, independent thinkers, who have no regard for peer pressure of any sort.

      Primal therapy is great in the treatment center. But outside that door, we need our intellectual abilities on full alert. It is also my opinion that the “hidden observer” in each of us often prevents the intellect, since it senses danger in such bold independent thinking and what that might threaten. It is a fascinating subject that deserves so much more discussion.

      Organized Religions are the bane of the world and controlled by the power people of the world. They often support Meditation or practices that include repetition, chanting, etc, designed to make our minds shut down and become empty. You do very well in warning against this.


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.