Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Make a Cure (Part 1/2)


So you think affecting a cure is complicated?  Not that much.  But it does take a little thought.  Not much;  just add a heavy mixture of feeling and you’ve got it.  So let’s see how we do it. And while we are at it, let’s define it .  Not so difficult: cure must be tied to causes, to generating sources so that we can eliminate those events that caused it all in the first place.  If we leave causes aside, we can only palliate, and that cannot be cure.  If there is no “why” in the equation, there is no cure.

  First, we know that the brain has two sides; one more feeling and the other left side more thinking, grosso modo.  And that  the right side develops earlier than the left and absorbs  so much early trauma long before we can understand it and  give it a name.  We are driven by those right side imprints so that by he time we are born we are allergic, colicky, (and choleric—bad tempered), nervous and have to constantly move, epileptics, and so on.  So we are taken to  the  doctor who is mystified. But it can be  understood and treated….if…….if  we follow  science and brain development.

  The first thing to know is about the imprint and how and when it is set down. Then to know how imprints affect the whole neurophysical system.  Then how the imprints endure and run our lives forever.  Then, how to reverse the imprint.  It can be undone biochemically or, more sure and effective, through primal therapy.

  We do know that it is the right brain that is active when we retrieve old memories and when we relive those memories,  and it is only through that brain  that we can get to those memories, very early ones, that were registered on the right.  Otherwise no matter how much we dig  down, when we leave those memories  intact that still affect  and drive us.  (see all of Wilder Penield.  Also, Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. 9  420-8).  When we are in an intellectual therapy we will never dig out those early memories.  In our therapy we dig them out in nonverbal ways, nearly always through physiological means that have resonated from above. That is, when something higher up elicits the same kind  of feeling only deeper and nonverbal down below.  The point is that when we use talk as the key mode of therapy we still remain driven  and unresolved.  We  still leave a cache of feelings lying in wait.  Interestingly, when we  electrically stimulate the right side those early memories and early past experiences come up.

    When a baby or fetus is traumatized he is more sensitive to later stress.  His immune system is affected and he is more vulnerable to such things as Epstein-Barr disease or the herpes virus.  In other words, when there is a virus around he will be more liable to fall ill, especially if he were unloved even in  the womb (did not have his basic needs fulfilled).  (Health  Psych.  2012. July 2.  Fagundes CP et al.).  These afflictions are not considered mental illness  but they are often the same imprints involved in serious mental ailments.  Here there is dysregulation  of immune function but it can  other effects, as well.  Do we want to alleviate that immune problem or cure it?  To cure it, we must find the imprints.  They are there and when the patient is given access he will get there.  Memories will come to greet him.  Yes we must treat the allergies, etc., but that only deals  with manifestations not cure.

  So what sets cure in motion? The necessity for connection.  Connection of what and to what?  And what is that connection?  It means feelings moving from the right to left brain (connection), and sensations and feelings moving vertically from bottom to top  (from brainstem to neo-cortex).  All roads must lead to the cortex; from the unconscious to conscious/awareness.  They must move both horizontally and vertically.  The deepest sensations generally move from low in the brain  upward and forward to the new cortex;  they must move,  in short, following the dictates of evolution, from history to the present, from preverbal to verbal, from feelings to ideas and comprehension.  It is evolution  that dictates how the therapy shall  proceed, and we can abrogate that at our peril. When everything converges at the top we have consolidation and integration; we become whole and one.  We are no longer driven by the unconscious and finally can achieve a bit of objectivity, even in doing psychotherapy.  This is only a guess; it may be that we dredge up first line deeply placed first-line pain vertically, while the more feeling aspects are brought in horizontally.  Not at all sure of this.  It seems like first-line has a longer way to go to reach the frontal area.  But logic may not be logical.

    Contrarily,  we can perform therapy by evolution in reverse; using the neo-cortex to travel back down to suppress feelings.  Through the hope of getting well the patient is more repressed and sicker. He uses the last tool in evolution, language, in the service of repression instead of expression.  That is why insights/language  must always follow feelings and not vice versa.  You cannot fool with mother nature and her timetable.  If words came after feelings in our lives and in our history they must do so in our therapy. There is a reason to follow evolution because that is how our adaptation was built.  The problem is  that those who are repressed claim they feel better after cognitive help…..because feeling and pain are further away.  The mindfulness people think this distanciation is good.  I cannot figure out why.  They teach us to be more mindful  instead of more  feelingful.  They trounce evolution in a flight to their head.

    So how do we know that feelings are so important?  And that early imprints count for so much?  There are literally hundreds of research studies underlining this point.  There was a review of this work in the economist (July 2011). The major point they made was that a carrying mother’s stress can have long-lasting effects on how the genes unravel in the offspring, (a process known as  epigenetics). Those brought up in abusive and unloving homes (famine, violence, war, divorce, etc) had life-long changes in their development, including chronically high levels  of the s tress hormone, cortisol.  Women who were abused  by their husbands had children with excessive methylation of their  genes; an alteration  in how  the genes evolved.  And this alteration was passed on to the baby just as if it were inherited.  In this way, and in many others, the anxiety and depression of the carrying mother get translated into the baby.  And  the baby is born with an enhanced tendency to anxiety or depression in addition to chronically high cortisol levels.  In short, he is born stressed.  Later on,  he will over-react to tense events with higher stress levels. 
(See the study done at Welcome  Laboratory in the neuroscience department of the University of Bristol, England.  August, 2011). 

Their work emphasizes the long lasting effects of early trauma.  Higher stress levels affects learning and, above all, creates serious Attention  Deficit.  This is the definition of post-traumatic-stress-disorder.  And the point is that many of us carry around this latent high  stress level for a lifetime. (We tested many of our entering patients for cortisol levels, and they were  universally high).  Then we add an unloving home and other stress so that the latent levels  are inordinately elevated.  So then a man enters combat and later suffers PTSD, we think that combat did it.  Combat only exacerbated the reaction and made it manifest; it became an overt symptom.  He was already PTSD, only latent.  There is a recent study that shows that those who had combat fatigue generally had more trauma in growing up.    To cure this affliction we need to deal with combat and also the adversity from childhood that set the stage for it.  In other words, there were antecedents for this affliction.  Cure occurs when all the current and antecedent factors are addressed and relived.  (please see: “Embattled Childhood, The  Real Trauma in PTSD.  Scientific American Mind, Nov. 2012).    So a soldier can be aware  of his combat trauma and unconscious  of the traumas underlying it.  It is what we can’t see that  does so much damage.  Moreover, it is the traumas that occurred during the early critical period that are so deleterious; the critical period means when a trauma is set down while need is greatest and pain is at its asymptote. It means that imprint sealed in is almost irreversible in its effects (excluding Primal Therapy).  War usually doesn’t happen during a critical period but it is such a powerful force that its effects can be engraved  just as during  a  critical period.  It turns out that  PTSD is more predictable by childhood abuse rather than combat experience.  The internal war zone seems to be of utmost importance in producing PTSD.  There is, therefore a confluence of two traumas, one we cannot see and the other that is obvious.  We must not only treat what is obvious if we want to make sure that the PTSD does linger on and on.  To leave the basic prime-evil imprint intact and untouched means always that we must do something each day to handle the symptoms which never seem to go away.

    Abused children do have a dysregulation of their response to stress.  Cortisol is sustained, becomes toxic and does its damage over time. The person becomes hyper-reactive and over-responds.  And in the mother it can be passed on to the offspring.  He is born with a tendency to be anxious and hyperactive; born, maybe, with a propensity for Attention Deficit and learning disorders.  It sure looks like pure heredity but it’s not.  It is experience, laid on top of what has been inherited; an experience during the critical period.  It seems like one abuse cannot be that bad; but it is one abuse among many, and an abuse that is imprinted and endures and becomes a lifelong abuse.  That is why we must always include the concept of the imprint in any attempt to understand human behavior.

    I have discussed methylation before; the way that  part of the methyl group helps alter the expression  of a gene and seals in the  experience; thereafter, we have something that can  drive  our lives maybe forever.  A mother who fights with her spouse over time is  setting up future behavior on the part of the offspring.  It just doesn’t upset the mother but it also upsets the baby for life by changing his genetic evolution.  These are the experiences left out of the usual psychotherapy that are key motivations for how we behave, how we learn and how and if we make love.  It also plays a part in if the offspring can have children or is sterile.  It can also help determine if we become obese, to say nothing of mental illness.  In this period when the body and brain are rapidly developing, it is not a surprise that adversity affects so much of us (body and brain).  When a carrying mother is chronically stressed and anxious it affects the HPA axis (those of you who know about it, fine, and those who do not know the details can  look it up if you are  interested. Not important for the layman.), and therefore sets the stage for later anxiety in the offspring.  It can set up changes in his stress regulation mechanisms, and some of this is accomplished by methylation.  These are known as epigenetic events; beyond genes. Yet it happens so early it looks like genetics.  There is little question now that stress and chronic anxiety of the mother affects the baby’s HPA–hypothalamic/pituitary/axis.  It heightens cortisol levels, and chronically high stress hormones affects so many functions later in life, not the least of which is thinking and memory.  (see: KM Ratke, et  al, ‘Transgenerational impact of partner violence on methylation in the promoter of the glucocorticoid receptor.”  Translational Psychiatry, 2001).  Much further down the road it may affect the development of both Alzheimer and Parkinson disease.  


What is important here is that in utero, events and trauma set the program for adult behavior.  Especially afflictions such as heroin addiction.  The person is trying to calm something inside that she has no idea it exists or what it is.  Years later there maybe panic attacks that seem to come out of nowhere.  But they come out of somewhere; it is our job to find out where.  If we ignore early womb-life experience we will never discover origins, and we will keep looking into the current environment for answers.  What  is clear now is that some get addicted to heavy drugs to keep panic attacks from happening.  That is, it may be the same imprint involved in both; only the drug user has found a way to block it.  Not different when the panic-laden person who goes to a doctor and gets some of the same pain-killers included in heroin.
(To be continued...)

29 comments:

  1. Hi Art

    The one thing that I would say about this is that men seem to get it in the neck for causing stress to Mothers and that is unfair. Yes there are some pretty bloody awful men out there who abuse women. There are also women who abuse too. I do sometimes think you give them an easier time. Why would'nt a pregant woman be stressed due to her own abusive childhood? History repeats itself because no-one listens. My sister has turned into a real self absorbed horror in many ways. Has she been abused by her husband? No. However she was beaten mercilessly by my Mother when she was a toddler as was I. I think I was traumatised by seeing my sister beaten. This is common. Also I do get confused about the whole brain development. Does'nt the right Brain carry on developing until about the age of 2? Then the left Brain starts to develop. Thus dreadful beatings around the age of what are called the terrible 2's in the UK could also seriously traumatise. OK maybe not to the same extent as in the womb or just after birth but still seriously. I can only imagine what happens to many children when Daddy has gone off to work and they are at the mercy of an abusive screaming slapping Mother. After all is'nt God a distant absent Father who does not protect us when harm befalls us. I told my Mother that my little 3 year old niece was probably very frightened of my sister to which my Mother replied "no she is now good and well behaved". After all it would probably kill her to realise all the damage she has done over her life. Society ignores this violence and truama because it is so common.

    Great post

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    1. Hi planespotter,

      I have this image of my mum waving a 'Flatley Stick' at me. Somehow I have a feeling of proper defiance with that 'memory', I wasn't totally overwhelmed by her almighty appearance, nor her actual violence.

      Did you ever feel defiant? I think you do.

      I'm sort of stuck in a repeating defiance. Then grief. Then depression. Then despair. Then rage and struggle and exit. . . at last. In the end I get there. After a struggle. Defiantly!

      We can build survival on our island of defiance. Defiance would be a good name for a Primal Battleship. The one that got away, to fight another day.

      We'll get there in the end. After a struggle.

      Paul G.

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    2. Hi Paul

      Oh yes have I felt defiant but only once all the stuff came rushing to the surface a few years ago. I think some of Art's therapists have experienced that defiance. Dylan Thomas's poem about old age and dying kind of says it.

      Do not go gentle into that good night,
      Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

      I have got to the stage where I won't fade back into the shadow my parents made me into.

      I realised that when I was little I wanted to kill my Mother like she nearly did to me many times or so I felt. I wanted her to die so I could have a loving Mother, most often an Aunt who I adored, who I have since discovered was pretty horrible, bullying and unloving to my cousins. My defiance at an earlier stage was almost tucked away in a dark corner of my mind. On the whole I was still a child running about still desperate for my Parents to love me. When it all did rush to the surface it felt like an express train knocking me down every day.

      Yes defiance is brilliant and yes we will get there.

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  2. Art,



    Art,

    So... what you say is... for understanding... to be able to understand what you say... I must first "understand" what the limbic memories causes before I can get a comprehensive view of what it is you are talking about.

    My word as formed in the neo cortex has to get their task for what it is the limbic system contains... THAT BY UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS THE LIMBIC SYSTEM CONTAINS... which is my emotional memories... memories that speaks the language of a child.

    When I now call out for MUM when darkness falls and I get scared... I am back where I once was in the limbic system.

    So the simplicity of primal therapy is to overcome the resistance neo cortex holds... to "provoke" the child my emotional memory holds in the limbic system... to be my emotional memories who speaks the child language through my symptoms... symtoms of its reality... reality when I now cry out for mom.

    I connects myself to then... then... long time ago... to occasions for what once was... as been relegated by repression.

    This... to get part of what is hidden in the limbic system... the limbic system that controls all of my life through its symptoms... symptoms that do not... in clear text tell about the child in me... the child who cried out for mom when darkness fell long ago... an reality today through the hellish suffering by symptom... unconsciously to not be at its source.

    Frank

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  3. The Difficulty of Translating Principles into Practical Applications.

    In principle, it seems simple to define and cure an early trauma. Your books and reflections have during 40 years provided us with numerous examples how simple it might be. In spite of myself being a living example of how a serious birth trauma, and related anxiety, allergies, neuroses can be cured with ”a little thought added with a heavy mixture of feeling”, the principle of ”Evolution In Reverse”, seems in general to be a rocket, too heavy, to take off. WHY???

    You certainly do not lack the ability to describe and explain the processes, in our bodies and minds, which in unfortunate situations, of neglect and abuse, occur. As when a fetus or very young child is exposed to a trauma / pain that is too painful, the evolutionary reflexes rationalize / transform them to secure symbols to protect the child’s consciousness. Over the years, you have repeatedly proven and documented how our repressed / non perceived pain over taxes our internal organs, which, far too early, are worn out and give us heart attacks, ulcers, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, epilepsy, etc.

    Over the past 18 months, I have been able to compare my life to a contemporary frind’s life. As young people, we were both talented and had good reasons to be optimistic about the future. We came both from emotionally poor families who, however, offered us a rich ”smorgasbord” of practical and theoretical perspectives. We liked and felt attracted to each other and our outwardly appearances were healthy and charming, although we both were somewhat inhibited and insecure without understanding why...

    At the age of 19, our paths parted. I got epilepsy, was chemically lobotomised with heavy medications, and had for some years, gingerly, to build up a neurotic life pattern based on practical knowledge. My friend went straight on to the academic track, which led to a, seemingly, very successful career in the service of science. My epilepsy made it difficult to apply my neuroses in theoretical knowledge / studies which did not have as a purpose to deepen my practical experiences. My trauma / pain could only be suppressed with medication and intensive projects, lasting 2 - 3 years, which meant a total absorption of my mental and physical energy. This fatiguing lifestyle, I was saved from by The Primal Therapy, by applying ”a heavy mixture of emotions, added with a little reflection”. That way, using nonverbal principals compatible with my epilepsy, I eventually demystified my birth trauma, my epilepsy and my neurotic life pattern and could finally understand my problem.

    My friend had no conscious problems to suppress neglected childhood feelings. The family’s scientific background and support from the university environment pushed the studies and research career and kept the childhood pain at bay. The price for a highly intensive and qualified research career, which contained predominantly theoretical models without regard to practical applications, in time became goiter, hypertension and stroke.

    Since we are both retired and free spirits, we can compare our lives and share the joys and sorrows of our experiences. The main balance is that we unreservedly share the understanding of the negative influence that a symbolic life filled with repressed pain had. Through my experiences and the help I have received from The Primal Therapy, I’m not afraid to show and tell about my relived pain. That makes my friend more open and willing to open up and to get a whole new outlook on the childhood, the research career and how repressions have been over taxing the body and the vital signs.

    It is during this ”primal process”, between two soul mates that I started to wonder about the practical setting that ”a little thought added with a heavy mixture of feeling” needs to get the simple principles of PT to become every man’s / family’s reality.

    Jan Johnsson

    (to be continued...)

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  4. planespotter: I think Art is very "fair" on the sexes. He clearly represents the neurotic behaviours coming from both Mum and Dad, all the time. But it's not about blame - it's about the fact of the human condition, and what we need to do about it.

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    1. Hi Andrew

      I agree it is'nt about blame though society seems very good at using that approach. It's about responsibility and few people it seems have the guts and courage to face that personal responsibility.

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  5. Dr. Janov,
    If an imprint can be “biochemically” reversed, how is the pain integrated; where is the consolidation and integration (a connection to the left frontal lobe) and how do we gain insight?
    Is it enough to lift methylation biochemically? Will this psychologically “cure” us?
    Sieglinde

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    1. Sieglinde: It isn't just an imprint in the brain; it is everywhere in us, and that you cannot erase except thru an experiential therapy like primal. Yes we can undo some of the repression in the brain but what about the rest of us? art

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    2. Siegelinde,

      This in small portions!

      The question of feeling finds its response in... It’s like throwing a drop of water in the ocean... it unites itself and disappear in what there is... You can then... just find what it is the ocean contains... water (emotions).

      An experience that includes everything that we are... and finds its solution in the emotional experience of what... who and how we are... "are in a sea in full hurricane".

      Understanding this process is not to belittle in the primal therapeutic process. The child in us feels much more than we can recognize (a physical experience).

      We are trying to get out of hell... in NOT wanting to being part of the ocean... being a part of our feelings as we are united to... united by it' symptoms... whatever they are! "This is the reason why we prefer the promises a cognitive therapeutic process promises".

      It is about listening to the resistance the big waves... the hurricane holds... the feelings holds. We are on...in the ocean in full hurricane... as drowns us... and yet we don't know... we don't listening.

      For our self’s... to understand your question... we must begin to understand... "feel" what the limbic system holds... what there is in the sea! We must awaken our feelings and that are not the easiest for us to do.

      Frank

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    3. if chemistry doesn't come from life
      it is counter life by definition.
      in the long term.

      in reliving that is what is happening.
      chemistry becomes the effect.
      not the cause of the reaction to reality.

      anyway, can you Art please check again that sentence?

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  6. More blah blah blah Arthur! I realise you only write these blogs to keep yourself occupied but honestly, where is the proof some of us keep asking for? Answer these questions, if you can/dare:

    1) how many new patients did the primal centre treat last year?
    2) how many of those patients would be prepared to say that after a year of therapy they are better off than when they started/glad they started?

    I've been reading the theory for over forty years. I know it inside out. I want proof that it works. When one of your former therapists has this to say about it:

    >>>
    Ultimately, I learned that Janov’s promise was a lie.

    At times a wonderful lie, a well-constructed lie, even a lie which contained pockets of truth which could be fresh and effective in their application. But at base-root-bottom, it was, and still is, a nasty little lie.

    The therapy did not work. Primal Therapy did not cure neurosis.
    <<<

    – That is what you have to rebut, Art. Written by Curtis Knecht in 1991. Twenty years after you started doing Primal. Show us some proof that a further twenty years have somehow produced what the first twenty failed to do. If I could believe the therapy works there is no end to how much I would support you, but these endless self congratulatory blogs do nothing to convince me, or I suspect the population at large.

    E.

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    1. Raindog: If, after you read the blogs and my books, you still need proof, all is lost because it is not in facts; it is in feeling. One primal is all the proof anyone needs. Yes that guy who never finished his therapy joined forces with a guy who failed training. Together they have a little cabal going. But we are soliciting all our old patients to see what they got out of the therapy. And with all that proof you won't be convinced because the truth lies in feeling. art

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    2. Hey raindog,

      Haven't you just found a few black pebbles on a beach filled mostly of multicoloured ones?
      Haven't you just asked the beachcomber to prove why all the other ones aren't black too?
      Havn't you just told us that you've been sitting on the beach watching the beachcomber for 40 years?

      I mean raindog, life's a beach but to spend 40 years sat on a beach wondering why most pebbles aren't black is really a very neurotic thing to do.
      You must have a very sore arse, that's all I can say. Well actually I will say that I also have doubts but I want to meet the beachcomber, or failing that his highly professional cohorts. They're the ones you can't see on the beach. . . they are snorkelling around in the shallows, sifting out patient's grief. If you could just look up from your pebble bound gaze for a moment you may see the occasional 'spout' of salty air blowing from their snorkel tubes. . . Like little whales. . . diving down to help us find our feelings, swimming in the shallows. Oh look, there's a couple of kids, holding hands and laughing as they splash in the shallows. . . life's short raindog, life is too short.

      Paul G.

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    3. Hi,

      I think many of us 'recovering neurotics' fall silent once we get properly into our journey. There's too much pain inside to talk about it. And too little life left to make an advertising campaign out of ground won back from repression. Often the people who say the least have the greatest proof.

      Proof, well I would be interested to know what the many hundreds have to say. . . but I'm not going to wait or hold my breath, I'm just coming to the centre to find out for myself.

      Paul G.

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    4. Hi,

      I just found out Knecht is involved in the 'Mankind Project'.

      I got invited to a 'non members' evening. . . Honestly, what a load of 'acting out' bollocks. It's all a symbolic ritual with mock primal by the fire. . . It's just so false and people who are damaged spill their stuff out in group according to a prescribed fire side ritual.
      The training is like learning to drive a bus but I wouldn't trust the driver with me as a passenger. . . Scary stuff.

      Paul G.

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    5. Raindog.


      I also wish that there was a tool that we could beat our self with... in our head so hard that a miracle would take place... but unfortunately it is not so.

      For those of us who do not fall into anxiety and depression by ourselves... we have to be so smart that we discover that something is not as it should... through otherwise normal socially behavior... such as shyness... fears and hate... those symtoms as we otherwise can handle by not challenging them.

      I want to tell you that we who managed to get past our social defenses... we know as well as those who suffers through obvious symtoms... that we also suffer through hell... just through those more "normal" social accepted symptoms... it's just a matter of how smart you are with yourself... the pain is there... what so ever!

      Hat a defense that was and is a most "natural" reaction and it's what we use when all else fails... when "we don't feel" that someone IS listening.

      Frank

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    6. Raindog,

      By not swallow what Arthur tells about show you that your defense works... it's just the question of how to turn it to your advantage.

      You can put it in the right context... what you do not swallow versus what Arthur claims to know and critically assess it against what you know about a therapeutic process versus what primal therapy talks about.

      Frank

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    7. Paul: I would like to know more about it. art

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    8. Hi,

      Ok, the fire side ceremony starts with a ritual honouring of the four directions drawn from the North American Medicine Wheel. Each of the four directions symbolises an 'attitude' or posture. I can't remember which ones. Carl Jung developed this into his philosophy of the unconscious. It's important to know that Jung developed these theories after he discovered a rare book written by one of the last journalists to interview Chief Sitting Bull (who was a medicine man actually)I've read all this stuff and I can't remember the blessed book, it's really worth reading. The Myers Briggs Typology was also developed in co-relation to this work. It's important to know this because as with so many ancient traditions there is a grain of truth and value to the system. Not least of all in basic 'orientation'. At least that's what the 'warrior tradition' followers believe.

      So after this 'orientation' using the ancient rite follows a series of 'talking stick' type interactions. There are rules that the facilitators have to keep decorum and there are 'ideals' about the psyche and relations with others. For example: You might "Get a Charge" from another participant. . . you are then encouraged to explain this "charge" to the person on whom you feel 'it' is coming from and (inside of the rules which of course included a strict promise to confidentiality) the problem is resolved through an intimate discussion about those issues.
      Then people may or may not be able to bring to the group personal issues, traumas and so on. The one I saw included what appeared to me to be an act out about sexual abuse by a family member, collapsing on the floor, screaming, etc. . . I couldn't tell if it was an act out for the new comers to see what might be possible or if what people were doing would always be like that. We all had to be silent and face the drama of those who were dealing with the issues at hand. I felt really uncomfortable and couldn't keep my concentration.

      Trainees are induced on special courses and eventually progress to be facilitators. There is a bit of an element of pyramid selling.
      Anyone who has actually done this training would probably disagree with what I am saying, it was only the open evening to non members so perhaps what I saw was, shall we say "a presentation".

      What I didn't like about it myself was the way the 'trained facilitators' had such a particular 'power'. . . It's hard to explain, I'm so bloody counter-dependent anyway. . . but I reckon form what I've learned about abreaction and what I know about my own pain that it's not for me. I feel there is something not right about it. It's too good to be true. . . Where's the catch? The catch is that the training is just too short, too glib, too prescriptive and last but not least it's all too male! It's macho!

      Where's the women? I wan't to talk to some women in group. . . I don't actually want an all male group. I'm f*****g fed up to the back teeth with 'separatist' movements.

      Paul G.

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    9. Raindog
      you're right to be upset because yes, this blog doesn't give any proof that the therapy works. But I have no idea what could be a proof, except trying the therapy yourself to have your own point of view.
      I started the therapy in my late twenties then I had to stop and start many times due to money and living in Europe. Finally that was not such a bad thing because I don't think I would have feel then what I feel now in therapy in my late thirties. Something to do with being mature. The other reason is that I found out peoples who left therapy then came back did better, mostly because feelings are very good at hiding when you're in therapy then to show up when you're back to your life.
      Forget about the quick one year cure and the 100% satisfaction garantee but don't forget about deep feelings and their ability to make you feel sane. Since I had access to deep feelings, such as anxiety driving me to feeling tide (to my bed) by my mom as a child I really feel like everything else I felt before in primal therapy (not deep feelings) has no value, so I understand that those who did not reach that deep level can dismiss their therapy. I know many, my friends, who did not have the chance to keep in touch with the therapy long enough and I feel lucky.
      I was also lucky to establish a wonderfull connexion with some of the therapists. And transferance. Not everyone has that chance. It's life, some peoples cope with others, some other don't. The debunker did probably treat his therapists from high, same as he does in his website with his friends (I'm one of them) when he should have accept to be like a little kid facing his therapist. that is necessary in therapy but you can't if you don't establish a trust relationship.
      My advice to you would be to meet with janov's team and with the debunkers too, to compare what they have to offer. I personnaly know both of them. See a therapist sit for a patient during a group and you won't pay more attention to the bad portraits on the web. they are not 100% perfect because they are human.
      I read janov's blog often, it's about human condition, not primal therapy. There is a lot about science, not much about feelings, you won't learn more about the therapy in it, that may be a misunderstanding between some readers and the writer. I wish it was more about feelings.
      Some stuff seems exaggerate and unproved to me too, as the promise for living old and cancer or disease free, but this doesn't have to challenge the value of the therapy in making peoples feeling sane. I used to be very insane and it was exhausting.

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    10. Raindog: Have you thought about the Mankind project? It may suit you better than Primal. art

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    11. Hi,

      It's also important to understand, I feel, that you can get invited / induced into this cult (?) because some one you know has been induced and then they can invite you. . .
      This is how I got invited to an open evening, because some-one else who knew me said "come along". . . On the face of it: harmless.
      Nevertheless when I went to see this guy a while later I got what you could call the "Hard Sell". . . he explained how he had realised that as an adopted child he had been carrying his 'anger with his Dad' and not known it and now that he was a fully qualified therapist (I think it took only a year, or less) he had finally 'arrived'. . . Sort of thing.

      Now I've had a similar experience of being "Hard Sold" membership of another 'Existential Group' that operates internationally (pyramid selling?) and the flavour of it reminded me of a certain state of mind that I also occasionally fall into. . . It's called "Evangelism". Then one becomes a "Proselyte".

      The power of group is a substitute for the parents we never had and through a process of what can be called "Community Building" we can (temporarily) reach a state of enlightenment where previous neurotic feelings and sensations are (temporarily) pushed down. The actual state, in my opinion, is an enhanced dopamine rush, like Ecstasy. This is the feeling of being loved and valued that we should all have had when we run into the arms of our loving father or mother.
      The catholic church , any church, mastered this thousands of years ago and the design of those amazing buildings was all part of the "Allusion". So too all those wonderful choral pieces, particularly in the Minor Chords. Reduces me too tears, every time a coconut.

      So, the allusion of Mankind Project is that you can run into the arms of your loving group and even become a 'loving father' yourself. . . Then you can deceive yourself that you have 'arrived'.

      But the catch? You have to keep on going back ! You will become addicted to the group. Also, you have to keep on evangelising and recruiting new members, new 'spawn'.

      I'm sorry, it makes me feel like vomiting really, as I think about it. You see I have been struggling with ab-reaction for donkeys years. Luckily it's not all ab-reaction. . . I mean, I can tell the difference. Further more in me, it's changing, it's not the same old , same old. But I know I need the experts at Art's Centre because I know they know all about this and I know that they will know how to help 'train me' to become my own therapist and at some point I will not need to keep on going back for more.

      Paul G.

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    12. Hi Raindog, I can give you my perspective, as a long term on and off again patient. The therapy can certainly cure and do all that Arthur says. For most, it is a struggle between accessing deep feelings and over coming their individual defenses. The less damage there is to begin with, the easier the process will be. In my case, there was a tremendous amount of damage and it has been a very difficult process. The theory, which Arthur focuses on in his blogs, is quite sound. As for the practice, success can vary. Bottom line, accessing deep feelings is the only way to heal, and Janov's therapy offers your best shot.

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  7. Art: On some level when I came home from Vietnam I knew I was particularly more fragile emotionally than before I left. I've never quite understood the PTSD dictum that states it usually takes a 5 year gestation period before the symptoms become exaggerated egregiously which in my case they did. I think the term "decompensation" fits here perfectly. It breaks my heart to see the epidemic of suicides that could be prevented if they were as fortunate as I to enter Primal therapy at age 29, 8 years after getting out of the service. I love reading how you connect all the dots to what escapes the experts in the field though their perception of how earlier physical and verbal abuse is a predictor for those that do develop full blown PTSD. As Jonty would say : Spot On ! :)

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    Replies
    1. Walt: I was thinking of you when I wrote it. art

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    2. Who's Jonty?
      Is he from Newcastle?

      Paul G.

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    3. Paul: Jonty has been a long time colleague. art

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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.
Editor