Thursday, March 6, 2014

What Did I Do to Deserve This?


- Well my friends, it is not what you did but who you stood next to.
- You mean I could get neurotic just standing next to my father or mother?  

- Yes, yes.  But allow me to explain.

People exude who they are from every pore of their being.  I mean that literally.  An uptight, tense mother radiates her repression.  An angry father radiates his anger. They don't have to “do” anything; just be.  But it is worse than that.  When their underlying feelings show themselves we sensed we were right to avoid them or be very careful around them.  They distort our words, detour our natural movements and disapprove almost everything we do, not by words but by those looks.  And worse, when they show no emotion, a child next door almost drowning,  we know that feelings are what we keep to ourselves.  The point is that even before we have words a child is undergoing a lifetime of experience.  And the earlier the more impactful.    It should be obvious; those early experiences that directly affect breathing, digestion and elimination are going to do a lot of damage and will last a lifetime.

Secondly,  those experiences that lie on the feeling level will certainly inhibit later access to our feelings.

But now look at this:  Our genes form the matrix of later life; that much we agree on.  But there are epigenes, severe experiences that build a new “genetic” base called epigenetics and they get imprinted and compounded, change or distort the evolution of our genes.  They then become “inherited.”  We too often distort this with our genetic heritage, but those experiences are long duration  and largely impervious  to later events.  They become a meld of genes and epigenes.  Instead of saying, “she looks and acts just like her mother,”  we need to say, “her mother was “infected” with neurosis, which got imprinted into the system of the offspring.  And now…..she is just as hyperactive and ADD as her distracted and hyperactive mother.

In other words the infant who is being carried has caught what could be a fatal disease: neurosis, the same one lying inside the mother.  The baby will reflect the internal life of the mother and that is what will be imprinted inside him and last a lifetime.  Why? Because this is what had been  learned in order to adapt and adjust.  No words, no reprimands, no social neglect; just who she is,  does it all.  Look at the work of The Association for Psychological Science.  (Feb 3 2014). (see http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/for-infants-stress-may-be-caught-not-taught.html)  They discuss emotional synchrony.  The baby is learning how to manage the incoming stress of the mother.  They did studies of several different mothers who gave a talk with a different audience—one approving, one neutral and one not approving. Guess what?
The 14 month old babies reflected what happened.  Differences in heart rate and a greater stress response in those children of mothers who had disapproval.  The children “learned” through some kind of osmosis.  The were inculcated by the mother’s emotional state.  Now imagine that the baby and mother are one, where the baby lives inside the mother. The influences are far more impactful.

You see, you do not need to yell at the child; all you need to do as a mother, is be around the child and the damage can be done.  Picked up early that my parents were emotionally removed. So I never even thought to tell them that a wave hit me and I almost drowned but someone saved me. Those vibes get picked up very early in our lives.

So what gets transmitted?  Odor, facial expression. Lack of feeling,  body movements and on and on. All of the parent is transmitted to the child.  And the child never says to himself, “I guess that’s the way it is, “ cause that is the way it is.  Too often we are completely unconscious of it all.  We live as we always have in a state without acknowledgment of that is just the way it is.

All this to say that our early environment weighs heavily on this and can drive our behavior.  In an article by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, they found that unique experiences in the womb may give a more profound effect on epigenetic factors that influence health later on.  And though fraternal  twins share a womb there is also the difference in the structures of the umbilical cord and placenta which play an important role.  They found that even in identical twins there can be great differences in the methylation patterns between them. (see a preview of a Scientific American article on this topic: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-makes-each-brain-unique/)

So you say to yourself,  “Did I inherit my mother’s craziness?”  and the answer could be, “Yes.”  But not in the usual sense of inheritance.  Rather,  who she was, hyperactive (or depressed and down) while carrying, left you with a neurotic inheritance which still shaped your life.

So is it life-long?  I believe we can  reverse some of it in our therapy and we shall test it soon, but I also believe that the earlier and stronger the imprint the less likely it can be reversed.  The best we can do is love and hold the child right after birth and thereafter.  The best way to reverse the imprint is through the slow, methodical process of therapy where the least pains can be integrated first.  Finally descending to the great early traumas and the measuring the results.    In other words, we need to trust nature and all its processes;  chemical reversal is far too general and non-specific to each trauma.  It is a shotgun when we need a scoped rifle.  We need nature as a reference. It is when we leave nature behind that need the reference of statistics; never as good as nature itself.

All those childhood studies that think it is early childhood that is to blame, which it is, in a sense, need to convert their work to earlier times if they want to be accurate.

30 comments:

  1. More and more I get the feeling that the search for Genetic causes for this and that , and especially the search for specific genes to explain specific symptoms or deceases are a Waste of time . Nils

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  2. one of best advices that was told to me was to "take it easy".
    i just liked the way it slowed me down when i needed it.
    this is one of those letters that slows me down... and i like it.


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  3. I thought this was an excellent article, Art. I'm going to link it.

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  4. Art... your text is awesome!

    A threat to "hit" against... saves lives!

    The reaction children has because of the parents' only being... but is a threat ... is of a different magnitude than parents who forcing and threatening! It goes inwards and has no way of defend them self! It can be likened to defend against something unknown... something very scary... something that is not seen... something impossible to attack because it is its own defense to not discover it... it is its own being... the one and only... alone and prevailing... prevailing of madness ... without reference! One hell without its parable... with infinitely thick walls ... impossible to penetrate... a schizophrenic state is and remains! Many of us are close but at a border for a schizophrenic socially accepted state ... possible to cure!

    How shall I be able to perceive myself as socially schizophrenic... when I is... not to disclose my suffering... suffering as professional!

    How long do we have to view this phenomenon without being at the right to do something about it? Well we do... but not enough!

    An outcry echoes in the endless corridors for suffering!

    Frank

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  5. The closeness between mother and child sometimes is unbelieveable to me. Just the infant picking up on it's mother's ways, and if there is an imprint due to birth trama, it is much more pronounced; almost as though the child knows what the mother has been going through, almost like ESP. Then the child becomes an adult, and remembers how it was for his or her mother, the closeness that is felt; without ever any words from the mother throughout the years speaking of her life to her child. Uncanny. I especially liked the part where Art said: "Too often we are completely unconscious of it all. We live as we always have in a state without acknowledgment of that is just the way it is." In a way, I found those statements humorous, and oh so true.

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  6. This is indeed an excellent article. A case in point (or just one man's anecdote, depending on your view) about epigenetics: My mom and my aunt are twins. Whether they are identical twins or regular twins is not known. Anyway, my aunt is schizophrenic. Hebephrenic schizophrenia, started when she was young, and is difficult to treat. My mom's and my aunt's dad was a schizophrenic too, and so is my oldest brother. My mom's neurotic for sure, no doubt, but she has never been psychotic. Her neurosis and repression work just about well enough. Considering her childhood and all that, she has managed to adapt well - at least compared to my aunt. They were born prematurely, and were put in incubators. They had a violent father and a cruel mother. I'd be willing to bet a decent amount of money that epigenetics must have played a role in the difference(s) between them.

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    1. Hi Antti. You can't say, scientifically, that your grandfather's schizophrenia was passed on to your aunty directly through epigenesis unless his sperm was epigenetically programmed to create schizophrenia. I think that's a stretch. In your family's case it is possibly genetic, but I have my doubts.

      Here's why...
      For a start, "schizophrenia" is a very broad term, and it supposedly comes in specific varieties, and... those specific varieties come in different variations... and the list goes on and on. This gigantic list is acceptable to geneticists who know that genetic damage can occur anywhere in a chromosome, and consequently the symptoms can be anything and everything.

      But believe it or not, genes are amazingly durable. They are designed to withstand a constant onslaught of environmental radiation. They are arranged in duplicate on two strands so that whenever a gene is lost on one strand it can be replaced by duplicating it's partner instantly and perfectly. If both partners are lost, a complex algorithm is deployed to calculate a close approximate of what the genes should have been, and then new genes are created, and they are usually very good. Furthermore, sperm cells are designed to be incredibly fragile -- in their case it really is survival of the fittest (think of salmon swimming upstream to reach a breeding ground). Nature does not guarantee success but it comes pretty close, and it is the reason why we have managed to survive for millions of years.

      Oh but wait -- suddenly our scientists have decided that our genes are garbage -- and just recently a big wave of rotten genes has swept through half the world's population, causing a myriad of mental illnesses, and with it, a huge wave of drugs to treat the carefully diagnosed symptoms.

      Hold up, just one moment. What if we ignore the thousands of scientific categories, and just give it a broad name, even broader than "schizophrenia". Let's call it "imprinted pain".

      What if our genes were NOT designed to soak in stress hormones while they are trying to duplicate? Cortisol literally dissolves flesh -- it can cause far more genetic damage than natural levels of environmental radiation. But don't worry, nature has another backup system; every cell becomes methylated -- re-programmed -- programmed to do whatever works best for the entire organism. In other words, the genes are not coping structurally but they are adopting a new behaviour... they are using teamwork to build a viable life form in spite of the excessive loss of genes.

      So what we have is not typical genetic damage. What we have is epigenetic alteration, and if we replace the term "schizophrenia" with "imprinted pain" it is not a stretch to say that a psychotic episode could come from alterations caused by stress hormones.

      A huge wave of stress sweeping through the world... sounds more realistic than a huge wave of genetic carnage. But who knows for sure? Governments provide financial aid which encourages unfit parents to have children... so maybe there really is a genetic plague destroying the world. It wasn't long ago when mothers would say "I had eight children and raised six". It was considered normal to lose a couple of weak ones. Nowadays we try to resurrect the dead... and that is totally understandable.

      Going by the way you write so intelligently, Antti, I would bet $1000 that your pain is epigenetic.

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    2. I think that schizophrenia is a very misleading and destructive term. I agree with you Richard that "imprinted pain" is far more appropriate and many of the symptoms are simply the persons ways of dealing and repressing that pain. What is talking to oneself other than communicating with parts of the self cut off by trauma. What are the twitches and odd movements other than traumatic childhood events repeated from the position of a wordless victim with the body expressing what the mind repressed. What is the catatonic state other than a child frozen with fear repeated and repeated.

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    3. Can a baby acquire his mother's anxiety before he is born? Can a very specific feeling be transmitted from mother to baby? Hmmm... I think that's a stretch. Maybe the fetus receives his mother's adrenalin and then reacts to it in his own way. His reaction depends on the many variables that influenced his initial development. Perhaps he undergoes a generalized adaptation; he acquires an anatomy that is tuned to function efficiently with high levels of adrenalin -- consequently he may be susceptible to any adrenalin-related feeling such as rage or anxiety. Perhaps an anxious mother can produce an angry baby.

      Art, do your anxious patients tend to express rage too?

      Also, are your two doctor friends studying the way various hormones affect genes?

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    4. Richard: Yes we are about to embark on very advance research. art

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    5. Richard wrote "Hi Antti. You can't say, scientifically, that your grandfather's schizophrenia was passed on to your aunty directly through epigenesis unless his sperm was epigenetically programmed to create schizophrenia. I think that's a stretch. In your family's case it is possibly genetic, but I have my doubts."

      I don't really understand what you are saying here. I can scientifically say that my mom's and aunt's dad passed on his genes, and those genes included the ones that made my mom and aunt more likely to develop schizophrenia.

      Schizophrenia has a high genetic component, and today schizophrenia can be diagnosed more easily. It isn't diagnosed willy-nilly - in fact, back in the day all kinds of mood disorders (especially bipolar), personality disorders and psychotic symptoms were more easily filed under "schizophrenia". Not so much today. What I mean to say is, if you have a problem with the word schizophrenia, because you would rather call it "imprinted pain"... then you should also have a problem with the words "depression", "anxiety", "panic disorder", "bipolar disorder", "PTSD", "ADHD", paranoid personality disorder", "schizoaffective personality disorder", "bulimia", "anorexia", "alcoholism", "drug addiction"... and all somatic and psycho-somatic illnesses that happen to be the result of imprinted pain. Yes, they are the result of imprinted pain. We "primal people" know that. That doesn't mean it's useless to have different diagnoses for different conditions.

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    6. Antti check out this website:

      http://www.dnalc.org/view/868-Candidate-Genes-for-Schizophrenia.html

      It shows a desperate futile struggle to identify not only the genes responsible for schizophrenia, but also the very definition of schizophrenia. It is endless intellectualism because it is not guided by real insights. I do have a problem with all of those labels you mentioned because labels create the illusion that scientists are making real progress and know exactly where they are heading. They do NOT.

      Listen to this (it is in the website):

      Schizophrenia Susceptibility Genes

      Although twin studies show that schizophrenia has a heritability of about 80%, the search for the genetic basis of this disease has been frustrating. Because schizophrenia has no distinguishing pathology or diagnostic criteria, it is difficult to relate gene changes to discrete physiological or biochemical changes associated with the disease. Schizophrenia fits the profile of a complex disorder in which multiple genes interact – along with environmental influences – to produce a range of phenotypes. In this model, each of a number of susceptibility genes will account for only a small part of the total disease risk. This is consistent with family and association studies that point to several handfuls of risk genes and no conclusive evidence of disease-causing polymorphisms.

      It then goes on (and on) about all the possible chemical reactions that may or may not be linked to schizophrenia.

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    7. "I do have a problem with all of those labels .... because labels create the illusion that scientists are making real progress and know exactly where they are heading. They do NOT".
      me too, Richard.
      not long ago i started to write a comment where i wanted to totally dismiss the importance of diagnose as a superficial, limited and vague labeling/targeting job that the patient can only have harm from, because the point is to help himself ultimately come to specific personal diagnoses by connected feeling-insight...

      but thinking about primal center and their preparations for therapy i considered that maybe it is not only about the outside diagnose, but also about WHO is making the outside diagnose. about how much and what kind of knowledge/experience the diagnoser has both inside and outside the primal room ( short and long term) because diagnose is interpretation of input. it is a survival skill. we lost a bigger or smaller part of this ability with the repression. the repression seems to be the opposite of being lost, of being powerless, opposite of stored real life threatening feeling: 'knowledge is power", 'time is money", "yes we can" "i feel good and intend to keep it that way".

      so who is the best outside diagnoser?
      a machine? a human? a combination of both?
      when learning photography in the beginning i know some students work with old manual and maybe even no light meter camera so that they can better feel and focus on the moment, the frame, the light... the subject. i can imagine 20 years from now a live view super scanner helping future primal therapists in their work but the first few years of training it is not allowed to learn from it. training their natural scanner first. knowing their natural being. i still wonder how much knowledge, how much diagnose primal center really depend from machines? cameras, microphones, bp/temp measuring devices, blood samples, computers...i hope it help them treat more patients more efficiently but probably only helped them to explore their exhausting limits in a different way then 40 years ago.
      maybe the point is is not to dismiss the diagnose or measurements but find the way how to make human and/or machine a useful tool in making real progress towards health. find the path...
      between the label and the human behind the label. between the neo-cortex and the imprint before it.

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    8. Japan does'nt even have the diagnosis of Schizophrenia and calls it something like "Social intigration disorder". I think all these labels like OCD etc etc are lazy boxes for lazy clinicians who won't or can't see what really causes all these symptoms which is what they are. Symptoms of repression of pain. I have cousin who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and yet my gut tells me this is wrong. Sexual abuse runs through my family like lettering through a stick of rock. It is denied and each new generation is abused and Scapegoated. My cousin had a number of fights with his Father when I would suggest he started to remember what happened. He is now drugged to the eyeballs. It is horrible. No different to the Soviets calling dissidents mad and putting them in mental hospitals. Madness of whatever kind is often a useful means of shutting a victim up and allows everyone else to get on with their lives. I know my Mother was sexually abused but I don't think she does or because she took total power in my family and like any Dictator she could tell herself lies and no-one would challange them. The most enjoyable thing I ever said to her was "Why don't you fuck off" and to see the deep and profound shock on her face was incredible. Not unlike the look of total bemusement and confusion when Colonel Gadaffi was pulled from that drainage pipe and shot. For a few minutes he was confronted with the truth. So many people with mental illness are trying to access their truth or are having the truth imposed upon them by a Body which cannot lie. Life suddenly throws up so many stresses that pretty well all defences collapse. Perhaps the start is in the womb but much is added later.

      With regard to diagnosis I think that if a patient can learn to trust their own feelings (and be helped to trust themselves) they will make much of the diagnosis themselves. I did.

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  7. Love is to day a hackneyed word... a hackneyed word for absence of love... something that we today lives without its cause!

    Love is to feel warmth for its child... in any case! Even during the child's protests! In love we perceives the cause... the foundation of protest... and is therefore allowed to "flourish"... flourish in purposes for its cause... a therapeutic process without words to be! Love is a need by its nature!

    Without love... we are planting hell on earth! We "just" need to learn the cause of it... learn about the symptoms for missing love... and we will se!

    Frank

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  8. It is interesting to experience in an everyday situation how a parent can press those "Buttons" installed so early in life. I had not seen my Mother for 5 years until I went to see her last September. I do not like her, don't love her and frankly feel far happier and content with her out of my life. She is a bully and a coward. She is not aware of these feelings as yet. However when I did meet up with her it was incredible how quickly I switched back into a slightly cut off approach. It was only when I had left, met up with my wife and had a good nights sleep that I started to get back in touch with the more concious and aware person I have become over the last 5 years.

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  9. First let me say... all that I am expressing here on the blog is what I learned and teach me... and nothing else! I am putting it in context for how I see it... I in my self is qualified to possible perceive the content. Something I think we all do until we get the scientific content on the table. And it is not too often in cases of how psychiatric and psychological trained explains... but "understood" because they themselves do not "feel" the circumstances of psyiatriska and psychological phenomenon! Intellectual understanding is extremely limited in their ability!

    To live through processes of what childhood talks about gives completely new opportunities to explanations around psychiatric and psychological phenomenon than what cognitive possibly can live up to! I can express my self more scientifically about psychiatric and psychological phenomenon! I'm more logical than what you can imagine. I could be wrong... but wrong for what science in its smallness tell about... something I easy can put up with! I want us to go forward and then is issues important... but meaningless if wrong! I have no difficulty to recognize scientific implications to be right... only they give a logical explanation for their content!

    It would be great if we could personalize Schizophrenia and other physiological disorders of psychological symptomatic ailments! Which you do Art but with a number of sentences impossible for intellectuals to boil down to being personalized.

    If so... the difference between schizophrenia and other symptomatic disorders pain that exceeds the limits of procedure for what other symptoms are able to scramble... a state impossible for our system to resist... flowing through hippo campus... in to neocortex as impossible can manage to intellectually analyze the emotional content... with results of schizophrenia! A lot in the limbic system as via hippo campus impossible can be converted to possible symptoms of social acceptans. How will we be able to personalize it in other sentences?

    It is in the state of an electro-chemical process that only through another electrochemical process can find ways to cause... the emotional memories of its symptoms in a order for what symptoms here and now accounts!

    Genes are not transferred in memories of events from one generation to an other... they transfer shortened telomeres... which in its nature causes all these emotional symptoms... if so!?

    Frank

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    1. Frank, please get help with your English so we can understand better. Art

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    2. Art,

      I'm sorry to say it, but I do not think that pain driven, distorted thoughts, how well intentioned they may be, can be straightened and understandably translated using a left brain-oriented educator in English. My impression is that Frank first need Primal Therapy of the best variety.
      Jan

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    3. Jan

      It may be a good scheme to be left brain-oriented... although some confusion underlying the sentences... it as confused sentences sometimes can paint up what already... long ago confused sentences are cemented at... impossible for others to even imagine... it might also raise questions around issues of vital importance!

      But otherwise you are correct Jan... my commitment is the basis for what could be possible... for myself to complete my straggel around my feelings!

      Your Frank

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    4. Jan,

      Do you know how much we think of something to strive for goals!?
      If we believe in the right thing and therefore seeks the right goals... it must still be better than others... even if questions in time are not relevant to what the goal will ultimately show?
      Maybe it's the only way to achieve the revolutionary impact around primal therapy!?

      If we play on the same pitch with what arguments produces (Intellectual)... more than just for the science so maybe that gives space to also agree on something!? I doubt it ... but it's well worth a try!?

      What can you do to help Jan? Do you know how long-term it took for Copernicus... to evidence his argument... long after his death! How many sentences that had to flow under the bridge before it was adopted is a matter for us to consider? Whatever you do in the proper sense... it is a sentence for the better!

      Your Frank.

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  10. Art!


    You explain by the way you express yourself that something extra is there for us all! Who can be so clear in its mind that everything else falls for its ignorance... it at ninety years!? If god existed it would be the explanation for many... but in your loneliness carry all this ... what a great life! You are close to me for what you are in your knowledge!

    Your Frank.

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  11. An email comment:
    "One day I am convinced you will be heard and heeded, I just hope it is in time."

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  12. I actually happened to read this just when I'm getting a break from my mom, and I have been thinking very much about how relax things seem to be when she isn't around. Honestly, routine headaches that I used to get stopped as soon as I went away to college years ago.The thing is I feel bad every time I recognize her "arrested development" and how that passed on to me. I feel guilty when thinking about how my life would improve by putting space between us. Of course that comes from thinking about what she has provided me with and how she was left being a single mom. Her neurosis definitely seeped into my being, but then again she was the primary parent. A situation that is still confusing to me, because I know that I do owe her.

    -R.J. K

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    1. I don't believe children owe their parents anything. It is a parent's moral duty to provide everything the child needs, and for a normal parent there is no need to think like that because it just feels right. A normal child loves his normal parents, not because he owes it to them, but because he just feels what he feels. He didn't choose to be born and he didn't sign any contracts. My parents tried very hard but I feel no love for them and I don't owe them anything.

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    2. Hi Richard,

      So, at what point do you think a parent can let go of his / her responsibility to their children?

      I mean, damage has been done, when can a parent ever let go of their failed responsibilities ?

      I think that many men, particularly men, sense intuitively that they are best off not becoming parents.

      If I had to go through life again (knowing what my neurosis is) I would not choose to be a parent nor would I have chosen the neurotic women I had relationships with.

      Richard, because of your involvement with Primal Theory and access to this forum, until you have children of your own, or choose not to (for whatever reasons you may believe in), I feel you are in a uniquely privileged position to judge all other parents.

      So, appealing to your privilege I ask you answer my questions, most sincerely asked:

      -"When can we parents let go of the mistakes we made" ? How can we support and repair what we have done wrong ?

      Lastly, would it be better for neurotic children if their parents remained resolutely unapologetic? What happens to you or me or any one for that matter when our parents admit their mistakes and feel remorse? How does that affect things Richard?

      Paul G.

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    3. "How can we support and repair what we have done wrong ?"

      Paul, I think the best thing that anyone can do is provide their children with information on primal theory, or at the very least, allow their children access to this website.
      Parents should try to provide an environment in which their children can develop their own independent views. Of course this is almost impossible because the child is already damaged by the parent's view -- but if we don't at least try to respect a child's need for self-reliance, how can we hope that he will ever develop enough self-confidence to knock on Janov's door and plunge into the past, and feel the person who crushed him for years?
      Is it a healthy situation when the crusher tries to get closer to the crushed before therapy has begun? Is it a healthy situation when two siblings help each other to knock on Janov's door, and both get therapy at the same time, and feel a new primal hatred towards each other! I have no idea.
      Perhaps Art has some thoughts on that, based on his thousands of patients who interact with their siblings.

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    4. Hi Richard,

      ok, thanks, any advice for grandad too. . . ? I'm really struggling here, I mean, I should have already made a million, done Primal, paid all my insurance dues and be available 24/7 with a big pile in the country.

      Unfortunately neurosis has rather stunted my "success" rating. . . I have none of this. Neither do about 4 billion other grandads. . . (it's nice to be able to hide in a crowd). . .

      Luckily for you there is a chance you might actually do Primal before you breed.

      But on the other hand. . . you might not. You might end up in my shoes thinking to yourself: "Where did I go Wrong"?

      And yes, once two individuals who commit to a common family interest discover Primal it opens a can of worms. . . all the better for baiting the fish in us with. . .


      Paul G.

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  13. This peace is important to me. When I was twelve years old, I was sitting opposite my father at the table having lunch. No one else beside the two of us were in the kitchen. It was summer, the sun was shining and a curtain covered the kitchen window, protecting us from the bright sun. It was peaceful. I looked at my fathers hair and his eyes. Suddenly I saw that he felt uncomfortable. It happend when I looked straight in his eyes. To me it meant "do not come too close to me". I raised from the table, left the kitchen, realising he does not like me. I changed. Thereafter I had problems looking at peoples eyes, I felt uncomfortable being around just one person. Being around two persons (three including me) was not as difficult. My feeling of being nervous spread around and had from now on problems making friends.

    My dad never hit me, was never cruel. Sometimes he was even proud of me. "Nothing" happened in the kitchen sitting opposite my father. But I got neurotic.

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    1. Jan: This is exactly what I mean. 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