Tuesday, December 24, 2013

More on the Meaning of the Act-Out


I have written about how we, most of us, act out our unfulfilled needs and feelings. We act out because those needs remain active throughout our lives., and we still seek fulfillment even if we are not conscious of what we are doing. The act-out, in short, is as unconscious as the need/feeling. Since we cannot beg mother to love us when we are forty we try to get it in other ways, and those ways are known as act-outs. We can all choose our poison (how we do it), but too many of us never know we act out. But there is a hidden force in there that most of us do not understand. The drive, the compulsion has a biologic side; there is a churning of physiologic forces that wear down our organs because the act-out is, alas, unrequited and requires unrelenting effort for a lifetime. So it is not just behavior, it is what is going on inside of us, at the same time. That means tension, as all of us, is working overtime. And part of that work is dealing with the pain of unfulfilled need, which means repression.

The act-out is not benign. One might say, what does it matter that one has to keep active and unable to relax? It matters because the system is always on the alert to seek fulfillment. We become attached to authority figures tying to get approval, or attached to an aggressive man trying to feel protected. Or we gamble to try to feel like a winner. It seems so common that we think it is normal. But when the system breaks down later on it becomes the price we pay.

We need fulfillment early on. There is a critical period for fulfillment and it is rather short-lived and limited; it ends rather quickly. Any time after that our actions are symbolic; we can no longer be fulfilled; the critical period has passed. It is too late; sadly, it can never be made up for. So why is someone hooked on heavy drugs? Because he is not fulfilling old lacks that still need fulfilling. The drug is calming, perhaps, events during womb-life or at birth. But is never fulfilling. And here lies the enigma. For parents may be decent and loving, but they cannot make up for terrible lacks and traumas in the first few months of life. If love could do it then the problem could be solved, but it can’t. No matter how much a parent wants to, he cannot love neurosis away. Love cannot penetrate the barrier of the gates, which are busy blocking- out input from inside and out.

I used to think that it was the act-out that would be the death of us; but I now believe it is the underlying feeling that keeps the system activated and forces the act-out. The daredevil is constantly doing something death-defying. He is facing death and conquering it, a replay of his early life. But the imprint of approaching death is still imprinted and forces him to do it again and again. A counselor can insist that you stop this negative behavior but she doesn’t see the force below that drives it. Need forces unrelenting behavior. It is out of control because it is already controlled by unconscious forces, which are stronger than any act of will.

21 comments:

  1. Merry Christmas Art, and thanks for the articles this year (and always).

    Erron

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  2. The Primal Enigma Machine

    As I have said before, I, sometimes, interpret your texts, like when the devil reads the Bible. So when you are saying: “and here lies the enigma”, I read it as “in this aspect the enigma is lying/misleading”.

    The perplexity when love has failed to fulfil my needs, and has become painful has caused me a lot of doubts over decades. My interpretation of the impact of love has been somewhat restricted. Your message about the importance of love I have, intellectually, interpreted too literally, althoug, I within me had reasons to hesitate.

    My mother caused me a tramatic birth, which eventually led to epilepsy and a neurotic life pattern. She breastfed me for more than two years, and transmitted, in her modest way, love to me as long as she lived. Her love solidified my neuroses and my hyperactivity, which among other things led to my relationship with my father never developed into more than an unemotional, practical and administrative ritual.

    Thanks (!) to that my birth trauma developed into epilepsy, I was able to find my way to The Primal Principle / Evolution in Reverse. I did it with the help of Carbamazepine / Tegretol and a neurotics ability to act out and win the confidence of the surroundings. After 40 years of trial and error I have begun to understand the enigma / perplexity. Closeness and love was always too much to my encapsulated birth trauma. “The ugly head” of the trauma, the epilepsy, showed up at, among other things, too much touch and love and I escaped both figuratively and literally, when my leaky gates, and my hyperactivity, became too difficult to control. Several of my female relationships told me sad and irritated, that I was afraid of closeness, which each time filled me with painful feelings of inadequacy that threatened my inner control.

    I have often, in my environment, seen and experienced cases with similarities of my own enigma / perplexity. In these cases, a child, with repressed pain, developed into an abuser in the relationship with a parent, who, unaware of his / her own repressed pain and unfulfilled needs, easily give in to pressure of neurotic character.

    An encapsulated and repressed birth trauma, propelling distorting neuroses, can with too much love be provoked to leak pain, as well as hyperventilation can cause the chemical imblance and produce dizziness, blurred vision, muscle spasm and until unconsciousness. If all our needs from conception are satisfied, love, to a healthy mind and body, is as important as oxygen.

    Jan Johnsson

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  3. ........................JANOV.........................

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    ........................IS..GOD.........................


    merry christmas everyone

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    1. Richard: Very creative! Thanks, to you too! Art

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  4. Hi,

    -"Since we cannot beg mother to love us when we are forty we try to get it in other ways, and those ways are known as act-outs"-.

    But the pattern is learned at 4 seconds / minutes / days / weeks from conception / 40 weeks / 400 / weeks etc etc.

    When needs are still unmet (even following an obvious pattern: -"Why does my toddler keep doing that "-? and parents are still looking for the answer in the child rather them selves?

    I sense it's the estranged - ness of the 1st line. I have convinced myself that is also where 'Time / Motion' programming occurs. So, if your Mum was up all night with OCD (doing the hoovering / watching soaps etc etc) then also your circadian rhythms get programmed that way too.

    I'm sure there are two major 'time cycles' in society:

    1: The manufacturing (starts early).
    2: The social (starts 4 to 6 hrs later).

    If your mother was in the 2nd there's a good chance you just wont make it out of bed in time to start your 'manufacturing shift'. Many 'house-wives from the 40's, 50's & 60's sat at home waiting for hubby to arrive back from his job so that she could put on the 'social show' for him. She had to do this whilst pregnant too.

    Just so the patriarch could feel mothered. . . and all those office cleaning jobs to subsidise the house-keeping too. . . probably done from 10pm onward after 'he' has gone to bed (supposedly responsible for the kid). . .

    Regardless of the needs of the neonate in her womb.

    Circadian rhythms. . . Does the methylation / acetylation follow a time / pattern need ?

    Paul G.



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  5. The "act out" sometimes is used when all else fails. What Rollo May says: "Be true to oneself" has a lot of meaning to me. What can one do to survive, if they can't get primal therapy right away. To feel connections; to be a people person. The 'act out" I wouldn't really consider it an act of phoniness. Possibly it is the only way when one is suffering and struggling to show themselves what is going on. To me, as long as the "act out" doesn't hurt anybody, and isn't carried to an extreme constantly; it can be helpful. Keeping in mind Rollo May's advice, and always know about reality, keeping things in perspective....is that so wrong? Is it so wrong to "act out" at times if it for sure doesn't hurt anyone?

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    1. Coastbeach: The act-out is not a moral judgment; it is a scientific one to explain behavior. No one ever said it is bad. art

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    2. Hi Art,

      -"The act-out is not a moral judgment; it is a scientific one to explain behavior. No one ever said it is bad"-.


      Actually those who have been cognitively brainwashed are expert at pointing to certain 'obvious behaviours' in others and smugly reminding them / themselves / us : "Oh yes, she / he / you're acting out". . .

      Of course these 'observers' are never themselves 'acting out', they are merely passing comments from their 'observing'. . .

      I call it sitting on the fence; but that wouldn't be 'acting out' would it ?

      When feelings are absent cognition rules and we can infer 'moral judgement' if not actually defining a clear morality by 'pointing out the behaviour of others'. . .

      By default this infers a moral superiority. . . That the person who can observe is indeed impartial, objective and therefore without any personal responsibility for the outcome of 'others acting out'. Certainly these types believe themselves to be morally superior. Thus absence of feelings is also seen as morally superior; after all, feelings cloud the facts etc etc.

      I call it sitting on the fence. . . waiting to see where the outcome goes. . . thus always ready in advance to manoevre to another fence. . .

      If you try to draw them into a discussion about their motive they always assume you are trying to manipulate them and that therefore is your act out ! (After all, they are causing nothing and merely observing) .

      Then we have to define what 'projection' is. . . What is projection ? Scientifically speaking. . .

      Paul G.



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    3. Interesting, Paul. I don't think the absence of feelings always leads to a sense of moral superiority, but I can't tell you how many times someone has asked for my opinion, only to accuse me of having my nose stuck up my own ass. It happens almost every time. Is it my writing style? Or is it because they didn't really want my opinion? Does the unwanted criticism feel like one of Dad's condescending lectures? I don't know.

      There was one time when Art said to me "....before you pontificate, which I accept, think about this..." and it hurt because I felt very misunderstood and alienated. I tried to compensate by agreeing with Art; by saying to him "Yes I do pontificate -- I needed to be told." I was just trying to show some humility -- trying to be likable. But the truth is, I don't pontificate. I have a genuine concern (not always a friendly one but often a friendly one) for the other person's understanding. I genuinely want them to understand, but almost at any cost. And I sacrifice all diplomacy for lack of patience as I thrash out the words on my keyboard. And somehow the result is a comment that sounds like an arrogant know-it-all's rant. That is not me.

      I yearn to be with people who have qualities that are better than mine. I want to admire wonderful people and learn from them. I am tired of tip-toeing around the defenses of those who are less than me. Yes I can say that without being arrogant. Some people are greater than others. That does not mean they are more worthy of love and respect.

      For example, I have no doubt that Art is more intelligent than me, more loving than me, and better looking than me if you allow for the effects of age. Art is GREATER than me in many ways. To me, that is a wonderful thing. I don't want to be better than everyone -- that would be a lonely existence.

      So Paul, next time you read one of my offensive comments, just ignore the unintentional tone and imagine I am speaking in a soft, humble voice. Emma unfriended me on facebook ever since I wrote that piece on the differences between males and females. I have tried to refriend her but to no avail. I think we should all try to be less concerned about other people's judgements/attitudes and more concerned about the huge quantity of interesting ideas that flow around in this website.

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    4. Hi Richard,

      I think it was planespotter who pointed out (to me in particular) that the ability to discriminate and 'criticise' is not necessarily 'a problem with blame'.

      I learned this certain type of personality typing system (which occasionally reduced me to tears about myself. . . or should I say about my excessively perfectionistic personality), anyway, having reduced to tears as a child (not about my personality) so many more times since my breakdown in 2009, now I can see that my own (rather obnoxious) tendency to tell others about themselves is a defense learned against the criticism aimed at me when I was a tiny tot. . .

      My parents are still bombastic pompous and narcissistic cognitists who still can reduce me to a depressed failure (followed by bouts of introspective drunkenness and drug taking). . . and all because they are stuck in their own defenses. . .

      Your post is very interesting, what I posted was not aimed at you at all. . . (nor what I perceive as your personality) but a certain personality type (and interestingly a corporate departmental culture) that rarely presents for therapy, rarely engages in relationships, rarely desires intimacy or touch and rarely extends an opinion unless threatened. Many of these end up in academia, the sciences or the civil services where mostly they do little harm and possibly much good . Some of them however (whether wittingly or UN-wittingly) find themselves in positions of extreme importance and influence where their fixation with cognitive autonomy and personal invisibility produces the most appalling consequences for their colleagues / family members / society at large. . . They're not psychos, they do have a conscience but their ability to empathise is very very slow and limited.

      When we are little we just can't take criticism. . . at that age we have insufficient defenses to 'process' criticism and take it all on board as a 'moral judgement' against our own true selves. Humiliation and repression results. But to uncover that repression we may have to bang up against some good mentors who solidly reflect back certain 'truths'. . .
      You're not the only one Art has challenged and he's certainly a master advocate. . . devils advocate too !

      At times I am excrutiated, mostly by the way my cognitive assumptions simply don't actually match up to the Primal / Evolutionary reality. By the way Richard I have been trawling back through the early posts in 2008 & 2009 and there is some really interesting stuff there. . . You are obviously having as much difficulty as I actually getting to Santa Monica. I often wonder if Art is running this blog as an interface for those of us who are ready and willing for real Primal & the 3 week intensive but can't get there yet. . .

      I do feel like I'm in a holding tank. It was a think tank before. . .

      Paul G.

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    5. Krikey Paul (and Richard) I am now concerned what I said. There is a personality type. I worry everyone is always cross with me. I have so many hang ups about how bad I am that I have really enjoyed being able to watch and learn and have a few opinions. After all people don't have to agree with me.

      Interesting reading your discussion with Richard. I think I spent much of my life in this semi sleeping state where I did everything I could to be loved. Alice Miller stated that the cruelest thing a Parent can do is to withdraw love from a child to force them to be who the Parent wants them to be. Boy was I a victim of that. Understanding that gave me such empowerment. I could see through the lies I had been told all my life. I saw the sadness and pain in my family. I may have talked about my family on this blog but that does not mean there is'nt great pain in losing them. I think so many people live lies because of that disfunctional approach Miller describes and are so cut off from themselves.

      I have had two semi breakdowns in my life. After the last one when I decided to study myself and learn why I was the way I was. I observed myself. I watched and observed people mostly from my family and used the stories they had all told me as I was the listener everyone talked to. Interestingly when I stopped being the listener and developed an opinion they cut me off. Probably because my opinion hit too many bruises. They are still happy to cheer the naked king. I read about body language and loads of other stuff. I think part of me (the real me) has observed from afar (or deep down). One of my fathers more positive bits of advice was to read books because then one gained other people's insights into the world. I devoured so many books between 2005 and 2012 that my wife called herself a self help widow. Most were crap. My father did give me a book called "I'm OK, You're OK" which I think could be considered part of transactional analysis. One of the things which it engrained in me was that of negociation and fairness which is not something the rest of my family seem able to deal with. Years later I mentioned it and he looked tired and beaten and said "It does'nt work" and it was obvious he had tried to use this with my Mother whose life approach is to scream and bully her needs into being met. Interestingly one thing this built in me was a deep sense of wanting fairness.

      I have observed people not out of a sense of superiority but out of a sense of discovery and interest. Why do people do the things they do.

      I also think that PT is about honesty and so to progress one has to be honest with oneself but to do that one ends up hitting the wall of denial that so many others build round themselves. Perhaps (in my opinion which may be wrong) that is what you Richard hit with Emma. If as Art says a Primal person has no defences then honesty from someone else is not a threat. I have found that my honesty is perhaps too honest for some people though I like and enjoy being with people who are honest. It is refreshing. I would have thought that someone who is not honest with themselves will find it difficult to hear the honest opinions from somone else and how do these people often deal with this. Ostracisation (unfriending) perhaps.

      I have enjoyed reading posts from both of you and learned a lot and hope you may feel the same.

      Has anyone watched "Revolutionary Road". The Son in that film is brilliant. So honest while surrounded by dysfunctional people. Who are the crazy ones?

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    6. Hi planespotter,

      I've learned a lot from your contributions too, specifically your life experience has 'backed up' mine, Something about being English and the way we use scapegoating, freezing out, bullying and railroading to control and defend (it happens in all societies but the English version is just so obnoxious). You seem to be a survivor, tenacious and unwilling to let subtle anomalies go un-mentioned.

      I feel all the contributors on this blog who I sense I've got to know are tenacious and notice details. . .

      I have had a problem on this blog; I had been training a while back to be some kind of facilitator. As you know I chose carpentry for money having decided I was far too messed up to be a therapist. Perhaps one day I may work in 'facilitation' (for money that is), perhaps when I get too old to hold the carpentry tools . . . But my opinion about being too messed up to help others (professionally) has only deepened with the realisation of how much I need Primal.

      So I am stuck with the training I had, part time on and off from about 1994 to 2007 and this has shaped my life. After the RSA in workplace counseling I got into a personality typing system similar to Myers Briggs but with some special differences involving very challenging group therapy sessions we called "panels". These were not violent hot houses but genuine (and sometimes successful) attempts to descend through the personal to the essential. My history has therefore been 'modified' in a certain way and so too the way I use language to express myself and to describe situations.

      I can understand why so few psychotherapists from other methodologies would get involved in Primal but I am not convinced it has to be that way.

      Having done that training and then broken down and found my way onto this blog I find myself saying things that would be impossible any where else. But I'm not necessarily communicating exactly what I mean; though I don't always know what I mean either because I am only gradually finding out about my neurosis and so my meanings change (!)

      Thing is Primal changes everything. . . and I'm still in this blessed holding tank with all my baggage from the last 54 years. I hope my baggage is not crowding out other people in this unique holding tank. . .

      Richard, Primal is Best. . . (!)

      Paul G.

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  6. What more can be said than what you already did Art?

    My son's friend! He killed him self Christmas Day because of a hell none of us can imagine! He killed him self in attempts to feel better by escape his suffering... suffering he could no longer cope with... suffering for which he could have been helped with!

    The loneliness in his suffering became him too much... but no one of the established saw... heard or felt what was going on. He was as conscious of his pain... as he was for a long time ago... where no help was possible to get... and that... he could not handle!

    A professor who has hammered in words in sence to explain his theories... theories of quackery to prove himself of something impossible... an cognitive madness... self needing help... it costed my son's friend's life... a pal no one never ever will be able to help!

    "A counselor can insist that you stop this negative behavior but she doesn’t see the force below that drives it. Need forces unrelenting behavior. It is out of control because it is already controlled by unconscious forces, which are stronger than any act of will". Art... what more can be said... to run a legal process against a complete madness?

    Frank

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    1. Hi Frank,

      My son is struggling with everything in the last 12 posts of Arts. He's gone beyond the words but is at least saved temporarily by the power of purchase. . . retail therapy.

      When we talk lucidly we touch on suicidal feelings and this Christmas he didn't get out of bed (Chronic Fatigue as well as Clinical Depression) till 2pm whilst I looked after my grandson alone. . .

      Christmas kills old and young alike. My son is on full benefits and he spent all of it on Stereo and Christmas presents (£1,000) whilst feeding my grandson on el cheapo pizza. . .

      Those marketing boys certainly know how to take advantage of the desperate. . . RETAIL THERAPY. . .

      I wonder where it will all end. . .

      But, as you know, "MERRY CHRISTMAS" and all that consumerism jazz. . .

      Paul G.

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    2. It sounds as if it is moving forward with your son... I hope for a "happy ending"!

      "Marketing boys" do not know themselves what they are doing they find themselves under the same heading "RETAIL THERAPY" ... there is not much difference between buying or selling in the case of relieving of suffering... more than one are selling and the other buying... both are of a cognitive order!

      Christmas as a "consumerism jazz" is also a jazz as can be a remembering of memories in a terapeutsk sense... I think we shall use it!

      Merry Christmas to you to!

      your Frank

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  7. An email comment:"Art thanks for writing this...

    I love your writing especially, when its simple and straightforward. Somehow it helps me feel connected to myself, a little more, and puts things into perspective for me. I always think about that line your wrote in Prisoners of Pain, that went some thing like, "the symptom or symbol is the contradiction between the feeling and the need to repress it..." Its good to feel, Thank you.

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  8. Hi,

    -"Love cannot penetrate the barrier of the gates, which are busy blocking- out input from inside and out"-.

    That was almost one of those 'throw away' remarks but it has hooked me into a pithy question and possibly answered it. . .

    There has been a lot in my life to make me feel foolish and increasingly alienated until this point now where I am frightened of nearly every one; except children (and even some of them can be terrifying to me).

    As I understand it, due to my upbringing in very exclusive prison camps for the 'privileged', I have become super sensitive to the gross discrepancies in all societies across the planet. I never bought into that privilege and now I'm paying the price of my 'downward mobility'. The main rub is the realisation that repression is almost universal and most of us humans are carrying around (totally unaware) an 'organism wide' pool of pain. Distributed through every cell, replicating itself 'automatically' without any more will than the will to replicate. . . We are protected from it by the gates. . . But as you say the gates shut out good things too, as well as keeping the inner shit battened down. . .

    And so in my ponderings I am considering our 'act outs' and how our gates may be the 'lens' through which our perception is coloured thus coaxing a particular type of 'response' / re-act-ion / resonance. It's hard not to be a 'behaviourist' in this respect. . . I mean if you want to write about Primal and repression and the effects in individuals then pretty soon you're going to be up against those gates (in your readers / publishers) which keep all manifestations of love out as well.

    Primal as a theory is an intellectual form of love. Those gates are shutting out Primal Theory. Many many times I have witnessed people breaking down and crying and perceiving their pain AS IT IS and love floods in. . . But then, those gates slam shut and the old perception / cognition kicks in and people go back to their old beliefs and (defensive) behaviours. . .

    I am no exception. . . Well, perhaps I am. . . If only I could get to the Primal Center I would find out for sure. . .

    IF ONLY there were a different way than words to transmit the truth about Primal. . . because those gates shut out love of all kinds. Consequently people en mass are impervious to the truth of their situation. . .

    I think the answer is in the Legacy Program. I think despite all the mock Primal (and even because of it) and despite all those padlocks and cast iron gates and act outs and repression and crazy belief systems you must publish the truth in all it's scientific and practical forms direct from the Primal Centers banks of information.

    Have I really answered this pithy question ? I think so because once the Legacy Program is published those of us wrestling with this pithy question who are also perhaps in the position to write and publish could write and publish in support of this Legacy. . . To Petition for it even.

    Given the current lack of availability of Primal around the Planet it would seem the Legacy is all there is to combat those gates; 7 billion of them.

    Paul G.

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    1. Paul: Hang on, Dr. France tells me it is coming soon. Art

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  9. An email comment: "Just wanted to wish you and yours a happy, healthy new year. I enjoyed your recent blog on the "act-out". It was the clearest and most concise description yet. I was thinking based undoubtedly upon our seminars back in the 90s that our "systems" are overtaxed and on high alert because "they" cannot, in a sense, actually distinguish between an external toxin and that of the "enemy within" on the rise. Happy New Year.

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    1. And my answer: You are exactly right. 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