Friday, August 23, 2013

Why Is the Unconscious So Mysterious?

I know why. As one blogger put it: the body keeps fighting to tell me what happened in my life but my brain/cortex keeps fighting back and refuses to hear. It is not a willful refusal. The cortex just whips into action when pain levels get too high. And it reaches over and down into the limbic structures to keep them at bay, spritzing chemicals here and there to make sure feelings don’t get out of hand. Sometimes, that doesn’t work; feelings do get out of hand, and what do doctors do? They reach into their pharmacy for more of the very same chemicals (SSRI’s) that are lacking in the person, dosing him up so that feelings are again in control. Never seeing that those feelings, when under proper care, are liberating. All the person knows is that she is anxious; what the doctor and she do not know is that it comes from deep in the brain and needs exit in slow methodical ways. If they both only see anxiety then they are both lost. If they understand what it is, then they are on the track for proper resolution of the problem.

Generally, it is often the troublesome first line brainstem memories/ imprints that fight their way to the top, only to be put down again. And these memories rise with no words to them nor any scenes from childhood. They emerge from the dark depths where no words exist nor ever existed. They are pure forces, amorphous, no recognizable shape or sound, but they want out. They remain mysterious just because there are no verbal accompaniments with them. They need to connect to the prefrontal cortex. They “speak” of what happened to us at the start of our lives, impressions so vivid and strong, so menacing of death and so catastrophic and painful as to be overwhelming. A carrying mother drinking or smoking or going on crazy diets, all endangering the baby’s life.

That is why after a time in therapy when these sensations begin to rise up in therapy they can be severely disturbing to the whole system. And this is how we know how devastating they are, enough to cause serious ailments years later. We can see and measure their force; how it raises amplitude of the brain waves, how it speeds up the heart and raises blood pressure, and how when these sensations threaten to intrude into awareness, the person sometimes feel he is going crazy. And in cults, where they have no idea what is happening, they can go crazy. That terrible confusion is what the fetus feels— disoriented.

Now we have an idea why a person under constant stress can get very sick. The person imprinted with first line trauma can get sick because he has suffered chronic imprinted stress from the start of life that never leaves and never lets go. It is tenacious because it needs connection, to be integrated and be done with; the sensaton/ feelings needs connection so that it no longer stays an alien force. So in their infinite wisdom many shrinks help them stay unconscious by drugging them and repressing the early experiences. They do that because they have no idea that there are such deep forces hidden and barricaded by neuro-chemicals as strong as prison bars. This means that they think there are results with no ultimate cause; that symptoms just come out of the air. Why? Because they cannot see that mysterious deep unconscious.

And it is these aleatory, primal imprints that can cause massive drug addiction; and so we see the heavy use of painkillers to calm the symptom, but not what is driving it. Calm is not cure. And it takes a strong drug to hold down these pains because they are massive; they are nearly always life and death—a pregnant mother taking drugs or seriously depressed. These maternal habits are catastrophic for the baby and often result in equal and opposite catastrophic illnesses down the line. And sadly, they are a mystery in our field. The reason they remain a mystery is that the professionals have no idea of how to approach or get to these early imprints. Worse, they don’t know they exist. Even though the field of epigenetics should tell us something about it. So if I as the doctor spend a life-time repressing my pain, and it happens automatically, then I have no idea that anything is there.

 Of course I don’t put anything in question, I believe that there are only childhood memories and that’s it. This is as if there is no 9 months of gestation and absolutely no experience that affects the fetus during that period. And yet, in our research in many articles in the last few years and in our therapy, those first line imprints are critical.

If we want to change the world we better be aware of gestation and how to manage it, we must be conscious of the first line. Above all, we must change the birth practices. Automatic cesarean by appointment is a no-no. So is cutting the cord prematurely, so is bad diet and drinking. In the NY Times Sunday in the Science Section, for Christ sakes, there is a shrink saying it is OK to drink while pregnant. This counters everything we know. And what if she is wrong? Imagine the damage that can happen. My guess she is exculpating her own drinking while pregnant. How on earth can a major newspaper cite such nonsense. It is one thing to be fair but quite another to run pieces that can be dangerous.

We cannot see first line unless we are in a therapy that aims for it. We do see the results. Do we go on ad nauseam beating down the symptoms to make them disappear and then pretend they do not exist? What does cure in these cases mean? Certainly not beating the symptoms down. It means getting at the generating sources—the imprints. It is that simple and that complicated. Otherwise, it is whack-a-mole all over again. The symptom pops up again, and we smash it again with drugs and surgery and shock. Or the weakest of all—talk it to death.

In our field the first order of business is to help professionals be aware of the deep unconscious. They need to learn how we get there. It can be a protracted trip but it is a sure one.


  1. Art!

    A very... very good description... simple and resolute!

    Why not set this in a questioning form to established around psychiatry and psychology under legal forms? You can not fail... the correct answers will appear in their denial!


  2. Without God death is the end of life... with God we never learn to live!

    Without god we can feel the pain for what the cost was for us as children. By using the “prayer” for what we needed from mom we will feel our need of her!

    To be or not to be... a daunting question when it comes to the ultimate death! Everything comes to an end... and nothing is more… a dark forever in a cognitive minde... something that it is cognitive extremely difficult to absorb... to be extinguished forever! A cognitive task for academics as then the cognitive ability restricts the "concept" of death!


  3. Hi Art ,
    as I learned an hour before from my brother that my dear sweet niece Sarah has deliberately! end the intake of "thed pill" to get pregnant by her new friend...

    She is diagnosed 2borderlin2 (which means booga -booga to me!)
    neverteless she is almost constantly in stress with her first (neurotic) daughter.
    So how on earth do women get the nonchalance from in their power!! to create an new human beeing) as in this case out of neurotic infatuation!!

    Not only the smoking , drinking and bad..eating and constantly tense mother are imo harming thes innocent beeings(till now I did NOT get
    notice that "any angel or whatever..has been aked for "incarnation" ....?

    Yours emanuel

  4. Art!

    ” In our field the first order of business is to help professionals be aware of the deep unconscious. They need to learn how we get there. It can be a protracted trip but it is a sure one”.

    The help you offer professional is life threatening for them... was life threatening and that is something that is not recognized against such a sophisticated device as an academic formation is the defense... it can be compared with... unprotected be standing in front of mom... when we were little and ask for the love that we needed... something we had to shut down because it was life-threatening... an eerie experience which is not possible without the primal therapeutic help!

    That said... there are opportunities to demonstrate the scientific content of the primal therapeutic process and if we can get the academics to understand... it does not hurt to feel but to resist does... we have gained a lot!

    But as you say ... "40 years later the primal therapy has not succeeded in its revolution". To escape suffering due to the panic suffering form has been priority through convincing arguments from established. Again... it does not hurt to feel but to resist does!


  5. I think Dr. Janov's guess: "she is exculpating her own drinking while pregnant", is pretty funny; but yet his "guess" is probably very true. Sure there are shrinks that want to be so "liberal-minded" they will almost say anything (why? To feel free or do they have "job burn-out") but this is absurd. Too bad someone can't do something about this shrink. A person like her, is supposed to be committed to doing good, not destroying.
    Some people who haven't gone through primal therapy, or can't for some reason, sometimes "grasp" at anything just to feel like the "normal" person; connected. Taking drugs, talk it to death (outcomes of birth trauma), hypnotize the person, thinking all these work, but as was said, it is only temporary. They almost end up constantly not "feeling free enough just to be "themselves" at the moment. It's almost a "fight"; people won't accept them, and they themselves, know at times, "things just aren't quite correct." This is kind of sad and very unfortunate for that person who does grasp at what they think might be a cure, might "correct" them. Sometimes, their lives might even seem idiopathic, because they realize nothing works. Sometimes, they even become frightened, because of themselves and how they have to deal with their world when they are not among family and "friends"; only to find that they "are never, hardly ever in "the driver's seat." Many times, they end up struggling, feeling frustrated; ending up just trusting themselves. They know that a lot of people just don't see their perspective on "life, people, and events" They look at their fellow human being who never experienced birth trauma, and possibly just can only "plain wish".

    1. Coastbeach I am sure Art is right about a therapist dumping their own unaknowledged trauma onto a patient just as Parents so often do. Alice Miller described abused children as "poison containers". In the same way how many therapists go into therapy to help themselves unconciously. How many people who have never really known who they are, go into therapy so they can tell others who they are, so perpetuating what happened to them in early childhood. After all so much of Society is about everyone telling each other who they are. No-one is allowed to be themselves.

    2. hi coastbeach7 & planespotter,

      I have been conversing with people involved with 'old school' symbolic psychotherapy. Basically it relies on symbolic personal belief as a way to circumnavigate the 1st line. This is 'preference' rather than 'choice' but is marketed the other way around.

      Basically, like religion it appeals to the unresolved narcissism in us. We can supposedly make ground, achieve goals and most of all seek advice from a higher consciousness (alegedly). We can petition the powers that be (thus absolving ourselves of actual responsibility to make decisions based on our own true feelings). We can be "Teacher's Pet" even; but never, never, never be ourselves. For that we would really want to break down and cry as our little selves and beg for mercy from those parents who should have been there for us, not glean the guru for advice. . .

      Paul G.

  6. To me, it is the non-chalant mood of the parents and doctors that bothers me. One bringing a new person into this world, may not be able to afford the new one, but can certainly, at least try and give the baby quality care into coming into this world and thereafter. Parents who know their child went through birth trauma, should work with them somewhat if possible; not something the parent should "just ignore" and "hope for the best"; that everything "works out", "falls into place". A good parent, along with good prenatal care, will give praise to their child when he or she is doing something good; worthwhile, mentally positive. Usually a good parent knows that it can't be ignored, and seeks help. The psychiatrist, psychologist, or physiologist shouldn't ignore the symptoms of a traumatized child, if that child is in despair, traumatized and distressed. Ignoring the child doesn't make the problem go away or telling the parent to "go home, relax, have a drink", your child will probably turn out o.k., even though it is apparent the child is in "pain, sad, and nervous for some reason." The child having gone through a birth trauma, doesn't mean the parents and doctors should just "give up and ignore"; mainly because they don't know how to treat this child. The doctors took an oath, to try their best. Just because they "can't reach the child"; can't break through barriers; they shouldn't tell the parents, "there is nothing that can be done for this child to help them." The doctors should try their best in helping the health and well being of people. Possibly, if the doctors are smart enough, and really care, they should make refferals or suggestions; such as seeking help in primal therapy when the child is old enough.

    1. Hi coastbeach7,

      It's the 1st line stuff. It's different from the 2nd. It is isolated by dint of the fact that when it 'became' it was the only brain and therefore solitary in it's existence. The main hazard for the 1st line therefore is 'alienation' (all alone with it's non verbal, sensational pain). Thus repression and denial must follow as the limbic and neocortex system develops.

      Once we start really trying to accommodate the 1st line back into our field of view things can change. Doctors and Nurses need to acknowledge the 1st line imprints.

      Those of us lucky enough to come into contact with the idea of the imprint and it's (solitary) veracity, may be able to make room for it in our consciousness, starting with awareness and that's what your post seems to be saying; well said for the 1st line.


    2. Coastbeach7: Oh yes, oh yes. The non-chalant mood. And the non-responsive mood. Too many times I've seen parents just *not reacting* to what their children are saying - or screaming, for that matter - at all. And I mean *not at all*. It's like they couldn't care less. An older brother beating up a younger brother - as young as an infant, even. Mother just stands there. Jesus Christ.

      Shit is fucked up.

    3. Hi,

      The non-chalant state. . . It's what most of my peers and I attempted to be in the face of authority at boarding school. It's a defense against authority and parents do it with their children to avoid the authority their children have "with them" as a consequence of the unconditional love the children heap on their parents.

      Parents can't quite cope with it due to the lack before; in the generations before. The little ones love us as parents unconditionally; we are their gods and goddesses.

      So we faze out in the face of real little characters, before we try to make them into caricatures of us.

      We are trying to retrieve the parts which are truly characters of ourselves, not caricatures of our parents.

      Paul G.

    4. Hallo Paul
      Regarding your above comment. I wrote a good poem about the truest love there is: being the love of the child for the parents. And it went into a book of poems I self published on Amazon. You are so damn right in what you say here! Sandie.

  7. The academic dilemma!

    They do not experience what they feel and do not feel what they experience... an otherwise fundamental experience for the "meaning" of procreation!


  8. Art!

    I can see myself when I meet you... meet you in honesty of my life... my tears will flow in safety for what you represent in your life... a safety to be... an opportunity for me to come to life... a life that also belongs to me!


  9. An interesting piece.

    I wonder where the kinds of feelings that start to rise to the surface start and end and what reactions the body has to all this. I have just developed quite bad Tinitus in the past few days and Boy am I pissed off and angry about this. I think this is related to a beta blocker I am on as they can cause this condition. However is my Tinitus actually related to early trauma too. I sure as hell hope so because then I at least have the chance to beat it. My sinuses have partly blocked for months now which suggests to me an inability to cry at the moment. My Eye's get very dry by the end of the day. This suggests a lack of fluid from my tear ducts. Again a lack of being able to cry so perhaps the Tinitus is also partly to do with this. I hope to God that it is.

    1. Hi planespotter,

      I've had tinnitus in my left ear for two or more decades. It's like the sound of high pressure water in a pipe to a tap hissing.

      I think it all began when I started playing in very loud jazz rock bands back in the 80s. Most of the percussionists I know all have some sort of hearing problem. Then there was that really loud thunderflash at a fireworks display, it went off about 20 meters from me. Then there's all those power tools, extractor fans, chainsaws, tractor engines, forklift trucks, you name it I've listened to it.

      Very occasionally the sound completely disappears and that is almost more frightening.

      If you have any more information about tinnitus and drugs / neurosis please write about it.

      Paul G.

    2. Hallo, planespotter

      I know how you feel about tinnitus!!!!!!!! I have heard loud roaring in my ears all night long for a few years now which keeps me awake, yes despite sleeping pills. I thought the noise was outside me but ear plugs, three in each ear some nights, doesn't make the noise disappear. It's a truly terrible affliction which gets no help or attention from G.P.'s or any understanding or even a little sympathy from friends. People view tinnitus as an hysterical reaction or even a form of slight madness but there is NO treatment. You have to live with it!Are you deaf at all for I have a bit of this and there is a link there. Good luck to you with the malady.I have been told by my doctor that it is incurable. It's Hell! And they should find a way to treat the condition.

    3. planetspotter, if you can't wait to get better sniff a glass of salted water from cupped palm of your hand. salty like sea water or maybe less. and wait few minutes before you blow your nose... do it before eating ). you can google about the details.

      i wouldn't at all be surprised if there is a strong correlation between tinitus and very early trauma. my current mood can set the ringing.

  10. Totally off topic but interesting

    1. Planespotter: Very interestng and again confirms what we have believed for years. art

  11. Primal therapy has much to do with security... Security to be able to experience a threat of life... security for what can lead me in my suffering! A contact with someone who can "strengthen" me and let me be where I am in my horror… horror for what it really is. In all meaning make themselves known for what security issues mean to help me to open the "door"... a door that conceals life-threatening experiences... experiences that is in my mind and for what my eyes looks at… at the time in front of my dad when he threatens to beat me… a horror which cannot be rendered in words!

    Primal therapy is about what I actually feels in my haste... what is shown in front of my eyes... when I as little just has my needs... and cannot interpret my dad's insanity as his own... just be me in my pain of life-threatening intensity!


  12. Thanks Paul for pointing this out. I never knew this and really would like to look into this more; eventually. Dr. Janov's books have helped a great deal, but I know there is a lot I still don't know.

    1. Hi coastbeach7,

      I only recently worked this out for myself. It was a sort of logical 'aha'.

      There are many correlations in life. The first guest to arrive at a party may also be the loneliest; the first child born to unfeeling parents; the first person to arrive at the 'winning post'. . .

      Being first can be solitary where ever you are.

      Paul G.

  13. AnttiJ,
    Why, when parents have children, I wonder why they are like that. Acting like "nothing is going on". No discipline, no interfering. Just let the kids "take the reigns" and let them go wild. Maybe parents should start going to school for parenting, if they can't go "back in time" when some parents really cared how their child acted, and not make them "so agressive" as the child is nowadays. Years ago, without all the video games, without all the technology, it was a lot simplier for the child.
    I think the parents forgot about "basics".


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.