Sunday, April 7, 2013

On Anorexia Nervosa

There is a recent article titled, “Deep Brain Stimulation shows promise for patients with chronic treatment resistant Anorexia Nervosa.”   Sounds great. But wait. You mean they are going to drill holes in the brain!?  Well they say they have to because these people have suffered for years with no help.  (Science News, 7-3-2013 (See This is a Canadian study.  University of Toronto, A. Lozano, et al. Please see an article on this in Lancet).

   What they are doing is stimulating deep in the brain of the subcallosal, cingulate area.  Why are they doing that? Because they have found structural and functional differences between those afflicted and normals.   Make no mistake; these are serious cases with multiple hospitalizations.

  Is it any surprise when there are deep imprints that can alter the circuits of  the brain that there would be brain deviations?   Not sure if they mean that these are genetic differences.  When you have pain registered deep in the brain there are bound to be alterations in neuronal circuits. These circuits are compensating for the input of trauma.  Maybe they should be there?  It would help to know if there were, indeed, early trauma, which is what we have found.  I treated one severe case of a young girl who lived with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend  forced her to perform oral sex every morning before school.  This went on until the mother threw him out.  But the child continued to vomit all of the time.  She was diagnosed by another clinic as anorexia nervosa.

  Her therapy went on for months before we learned the truth of her condition and that she was trying to get rid of his sperm by vomiting.  Once she relived it the symptom went away.   This is a reminder to get information, lots of it, before we go drilling into our precious brains.  The problem is that we often cannot get the information we need verbally because the trauma may not be verbal, and only emerges after reliving other pains early on.  We need to do a therapy that may possibly unearth the origin of  the symptom, slowly over time.  It may not come up deliberately but only after allowing access to deep brain imprints, those same brain structures that they want to probe and stimulate electrically.  And by the way, these people were also deeply depressive.  I had already written several times about the origins of depression, and am preparing a scientific paper on it.   Again we are dealing with deep-lying imprints that are not obvious to observers.

  What they are trying to do is re-regulate dysfunctional circuits.  I am not sure those circuits are dysfunctional; maybe they are reacting normally to terrible input even while we are being carried in the womb; so clearly,  it cannot be easily detected by those surgeons.  Carrying mothers ingesting alcohol, drugs or bad diet can begin the affliction of being affected by things the baby cannot eliminate.   We have seen this in a woman whose mother was a chain smoker during pregnancy.  She felt she had to get something out of her system; she did not know what for a long time. Smokey rooms made her nauseous and needing to throw up.  So do we want to do brain drilling on her?

   And of course the electrodes were implanted in areas of the brain dealing with emotion/feelings.   Not so surprising, they found that this also involved depression.  After nine months following surgery three of the six subjects had weight gain, and four of them had mood changes with better control over urges to binge and purge.
And then the doctors say, “We are truly ushering in a new era of understanding of the brain and the role it can play in certain neurological disorders.”  I am not sure.  First of all, it seems they are labeling this a brain disease or a brain malfunction, and just maybe it is not; it is a psycho-neurologic disease not caused by the brain but reacted to by the brain.  If you will, it is a Primal disease with key imprints that change the brain’s function.  And it happens so early that it is largely undetectable.

   What they claim to do is “by correcting the precise circuits in the brain associated with the symptoms in some of these conditions, we are finding additional options to treat illnesses.”   It may be that they have it backwards.  Yes, there are symptoms that are associated with these conditions but it all may stem from something epigenetic, and it is to there that we must look.

  It is true that eating disorders must be treated because there is a high death rate involved if allowed to go on, but there is another way to treat it.   The problem is that with the success they have had, the doctors want to go on treating some many other maladies with brain surgery.  Therein lies the rub, as Shakespeare noted.


  1. History is Repeating Itself

    Mark Twain wrote: “It is not worth while to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man’s character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible”.

    When I read about the “Deep Brain Stimulation” (DSB) experiments by neurologists in Toronto with patients with chronic Anorexia Nervosa and then about how you guided a patient into her repressed pain and out of her anorexia, you first awoke my memory of the scaring history of surgical lobotomy followed by a number of specific questions regarding Primal Therapy and research.

    I have in an article ( accounted for that incapacitation, apathy and irresponsibility are the rule rather than the exception in surgical lobotomy. In 1949, when I was very young, and still an “undetected ADD-talent”, the Nobel price was given to António Eges Moniz. He developed a lobotomy technology that would prove disastrous. It has been one of the most criticized prices ever and has been considered a severe stain on the Nobel Committee’s judgment.

    The neurosurgeons’s (hopefully) benevolent technical expertise is obviously contrary to research in epigenetics. Epigenetics is a close ally to Primal Therapy trying to find explanations about how evolution as a natural protection is handling traumatic experiences of mental/physical pain. It can thus be unwise to drill in insufficiently known parts of the brain without taking into account the multifaceted processes between the different layers of the brain.

    When I read your candid and touching, and easily understood story about how you cured an anorexic patient by guiding her to relive the pain and the abuse that caused her symptoms, I wonder:

    Why do the Primal Center, in practice, work as a closed institution?? Why do not all your successful treatments spread like wildfire among physicians, scientists, patients, donors, research agencies not to forget politicians, etc., etc.? Cured anorexics, epileptics, mentally ill people, etc., etc., are living, breathing proof.

    What is missing? What fears and inabilities are holding back / have held you back from getting the message out about the primal principle as the missing step in the psychotherapy revolution that Freud once started? To research around telomeres, to achieve 120 years of age is fascinating, but to save lives here and now is more urgent!

    Only to get started and to learn to understand the primal principle may be the beginning of an exciting life story even if cure takes time and costs money.

    Jan Johnsson

    1. Jan: We had a major meeting yesterday with a brain scientist to kick off our research which will be world shaking. We need funds to pay him and a biologist to carry out the work. Dr. Justin Feinstein is on board to begin work. I wrote already on the work in general, but in the next few weeks we will expand our plans and publish them. I don't why the field misses out on our work but alas, it is so. Explain to me why. Art

    2. Art,
      Pleas tell me if I can be of any help. I don't have a lot of money but I won't cost you anything. The support Eva and I promised we will meet. Looking forward to receiving your plans. Good luck! Jan

    3. Jan Sorry I forgot what it was but we had a most exciting research meeting last week and we are going ahead with it. I will publish as we go on. art and yes ou can help but you would have to be here!!

  2. Art... words are not enough... in a legal process they will do to the science!

    What can we imagine is a way forward? Talking and writing does not seem to help... yes to the needy it does but far from what is necessary to a revolutionary process!

    That it through a legal process would be meaningless due to the phenomena of using words in a rhetoric that benefits wacky beliefs is not a reason for not taking the "responsibility" involved in attempts to "save" as many as possible towards the full crazy prank that now eg in Canada.

    Words may very well be enough if being used based on what science presents to prove primal therapy... a question arising in that sentence... what do they have to put against science?

    I can imagine... that in a legal process there will be so many primal patients who could tell their experiences fully in harmony with what the scientific content presents. That will say much more than just ideas.

    Ideas is the only thing they have in attempts to "prove" relief as something to be of science which in itself causes serious illnesses... something they speaks very quiet about... all that in the name of suffering... which have a science as prove its cause.


    1. Hi,

      The Law is a 3rd line filter on our social relationships.

      One can't mix 3rd line filters with 2nd line relationships; at least not at first.

      We gotta be trained first, to make the connections.

      In law, when using the legal facility you will be up against filters that prevent your 'main evidence' (as an emotional being) from having much relevance to the grievance first brought, by you.

      The grievance being 1st line (in origin) and the law being the 3rd line (in your life and every one else's).

      Those who control the process will make sure you are either guilty or innocent. There are no other choices.

      If a good idea ends up in this system for too long, then even the workers in that system start to wonder why? I mean, the lawyers themselves would not want to put a good idea on the horns of a dilemma would they. . . ? Would they?
      In a good system of justice, (which would also include "Mercy"), those with experience could enrole those with a conscience to be trained by those who had made a real connection with their 1st line stuff, then maybe, just maybe the 'law' could help people find Primal Therapy.

      Currently the 'Law' is an act out of the failure to make that connection, therefore it is the last place to try to gain ground for Primal.

      If you could present a case for a new discovery, which could really benefit mankind, you would have to be in a system that presupposes the intent to genuinely collaborate. A contract to collaborate. It's pointless trying to gain ground by petitioning adversaries. What's the point of that?

      So, the commitment that arises out of this insight in the social sphere is only to those willing to commit.

      How do you measure that?

      Paul G.

      This entirely levels the field. The science of true collaboration would need a contract based on the willingness to collaborate in the interest of the whole group. (Ok, to spell this out - "To put aside one's personal and apparent 'need' for the greater scientific good of the whole society).

      In theory, at least. But 'theory' is based on personal belief and inclination.
      If Primal is going to succeed, then somehow, we gotta collaborate and mobilise to do same. The standard for this would be based on findings from the Primal Centre. Not in Law but in Science.

      Science without the profit motive of personal gain.

      Paul G.

    2. Have we forgotten that we understand from what 3rd holds... holds as possible scientific content without understanding what primal therapy presents... I mean the schooling we got in our neo cortex can also be of possible science for what primaltherapy holds... that as a possibly start for what primal therapy scientific holds in a legal process.

      Not the least empathetic reactions when they in a legal process are proved to be wrong.



  3. Art first of all I will say I sincerely hope that your new attempt will succeed... but ... but ... but!? Is there anything I can do pleas let me know!

    Art... I know why the field misses out on your work!

    “The problem is that we often cannot get the information we need verbally because the trauma may not be verbal, and only emerges after reliving other pains early on. We need to do a therapy that may possibly unearth the origin of the symptom, slowly over time.”

    Talking to the neo cortex that cannot possibly give an answer... only makes sense to the sentence to be meaningless. The question is... how to evokes something that ruthlessly defends itself... recklessly due to life-threatening experiences now present against what primal therapy of science tries to explain.

    We cross the river to get water! It is a threatening experience to someone... whatever happens in the sense to understand something he / she does not understand as defense against what is of need.

    To experiencing threat in a legal process for this meaning has in its science no other meaning than to be for what science presents.

    Man is in need... not known or acknowledged tried!

    I wonder how long it will take for me to understand your opinion of not pursue a legal process?


  4. a comment by Vuko that got accidentally deleted:
    Few days ago you wrote about the need for revolution...
    now you hoping the world will be shaken...
    yet in therapy the pace of the patient is the best
    and the only way for the connection to happen.

    the unreal (social,economic,educational...) system
    is based on biologic need to survive. i learned that from you (i mean intellectually).
    What could be a consequence of eventual shaking this system.
    if you really had the power to shake it would you think of possibility that earthquake could strangely rebounce on already seismically vurnerable LA area? Shaking the human world outside the padded room of Primal Center is dangerous. Right?
    Now, maybe i speak from my disconnected
    1st line life... but are you so?
    I don't think you will, can and should shake the world.
    You will get more and more information to help you with your
    work. You will meet people that for some time will help you
    to collect and organise these informations and some that
    will hopefully help finantially. Again, maybe i am projecting
    my repressed feelings on this subject... i want to contribute
    finantially but it is not much individually.
    In the past half century you have shaken not the world
    but the whole Universe in those rooms. I respect your effort
    to do more! but am affraid of resulting less...
    Maybe you are finally ready for the world but don't will the world be ever ready for you?? a peace at the time maybe.
    i hate to write you this letter! maybe i'm wrong!

    1. Vuko!

      Your fear is reflected from what you carry with you from your limbic system... what the child in you is the carrier of. Do you want to know and feel why... go to the primal center!

      We understand just based on our own terms... what lies within our personal ability to understand... the rest is left at the consequences of what it is we do not feel.

      To understand something that in itself keeps the child in us at distance... at distance for what it is we need to feel before a change becomes possible... that can not be done before we have discovered the child in us... the child who is so keen to tell what we dont feel. It will only happen... what so ever... at a pace within the bounds of what experience is possible!

      Whatever happens around the discussion of changes that will "shake the world" is in the sense for what science is going to prove... and that against what current "science" in psychiatry and psychology are as far away they can get.

      With the good memory of that primal therapy exists and what it contains it is pure quackery for what is now going on in theme area of psychology and psychiatry!



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.