Friday, April 25, 2014

The Unconscious As The Last Frontier


How come the unconscious is constantly neglected.  I know:  No one knows what it is or what it contains.  Best to let sleeping dogs lie, especially since we don’t know what kind of dogs we are dealing with.  One could be dangerous; but that cannot be true cause all we do is dredge up our own feelings; how dangerous could that be?  Well, let’s see:  no one likes or loves me.  Nothing will change.  There is no hope to ever be loved by two people  who cannot love.  I know those feelings and have relived them; they are painful but they cannot drive you crazy because you are feeling them. That means that your compulsive behavior, migraines, high blood pressure, epilepsy will go away for good because there is no residue of pain to drive the symptoms again.  What a relief; no recidivism.  The end of criminality.  But………but you need to feel a lot of the pain and not stop in the middle.  Otherwise, there is that residue.

So let me ask you this.  Why is all this love, this hugging and kissing so important?  Why is it the linchpin of primal therapy?  Because it is essential to our life, longevity and healing.  Nothing matters when we lack it and success means nothing without it.  Life is empty not because you don’t have it now but because the lack of love was imprinted even during gestation and overshadows everything in life.    So even when someone comes along who is warm and kind we cannot feel it because the imprint dominates and colors our lives.  And what happens? The person thinks it is others’ fault and seeks out love from others; alas, it will not happen.  What will happen is divorce.

So what really happens to us when there is no love, even during womb-life?  Your brain shrinks and you no longer play with a full deck.  I should add that most brain studies are on children but the results play an even more important role for the evolving brain of the fetus.  So how do we love a fetus?  Correct nutrition, careful behavior while pregnant; no very hot baths or sweat cabins, no flying, no extreme sports;  but most important you need to be normal. WHAT?  Janov is nuts, it seems. But if you are chronically anxious or depressed it seeps into the fetus and affects is functioning.  It will be either uploaded or downloaded; not normal.  And the physiology of the mother will be visited upon the baby.  He will end up with many of the maternal traits.  But wait a minute; how do we get normal?  Get rid of what makes us abnormal and that means imprinted pain.  Better yet, be born to loving parents.  Aah.

Look.  After we make for the best gestational life possible, we need to sleep with the child, hug and kiss him and help him feel wanted and welcome to this planet.  Talk to him, approve of him and lay off all the criticism.  Not so hard?  When it does not happen you have a brain that does not function well; does not remember well and cannot focus.  It is a smaller brain.  This is a brain that underwent serious neglect and abuse early on.  What they found is that the smaller brain has a right hemisphere, the feeling one, that lacks some essential elements.  The larger is nearly always the smarter one and the more socially adept.  When there is no close bond with parents, starting with gestation,  there will be faulty relationships throughout life.  But why do those with smaller brains seem smart?  Because they become intellectuals and that ain’t smart.  (For more on all this look up the Health Freedom Alliance. April 8, 2014, and also Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Early Edition). When we think about smart we need to think about emotionally smart, yet neglect causes the limbic structures to become smaller.  As they get smaller we find ADHD and lack of good focus.  Not surprising, there is diminished growth of the left hemisphere.  All this from lack of love?  Yes yes.

When scientists discuss this research why do they not follow suit and address those very early events that lay imprinted deep in the brain? Instead of using the higher level neo-cortex to suppress it?  Why do we need to plunge into the abyss of the last frontier?

When there is inadequate stimulation early on we do not get the full quantity of neurons we need; the half-full deck.  And, I might add, we lack the full arsenal of repressive chemicals we need to block pain; hence anxiety as a chronic state.  Chemicals such as serotonin get “used up” in the battle to keep the gates closed.  As a result the gates get “leaky”.  Pain passes through the porous brain, and we are very uncomfortable and can turn to drugs.

So where does addiction come from? Those in pain who need to kill it.  We usually address taking drugs and never “why”.  The key element is left out of the equation—pain.  And the rest of the equation is where does the pain come from?  Neglecting need, the most basic physiologic need to the needs of a growing child.  It is those very early needs we cannot see and never know exists.  If we leave those early imprints untouched we can sure addiction will thrive again.  Do-gooders help with higher levels but never the deeper levels.  Lo and behold; the one with the smaller brain is much more likely to be addicted.  And he will be violent. Why?  Because the early damage can exist on the deep brainstem level where violence is  organized and imprinted.  This means very early and deep damage.  We have found a way to go deep and we hope others will allow us to teach them and there abort so much suffering.  We need to travel where there are no words and even no tears; into our prehistory.  That is what this has made it all such a mystery.

31 comments:

  1. Hope is the last refuge of the neurotic but you leave us with even little of that Art. The die it appears was set even before most of us were born and short of Primal Therapy there seems little we can do to change that.

    So what is left for me to do, to live my life as best I can and extract as much joy from it as possible knowing all the while the that joy I feel is not quite the same as yours, not quite as real as yours.

    I have often wondered when reading your writings Art why the human species seems so vulnerable to trauma, why trauma appears to be so easily inflicted upon us. We seem to be a robust species in a sense, perhaps too robust for our own good, but as individuals we seem to be the opposite, vulnerable, exposed and helpless to the ravishes of trauma. So for a time the species survives, but at the expense of the individual. What a contradiction. What a dichotomy.

    Hopeless or not I cannot but feel the truth in what you say, so keep on writing, and in the meantime I will keep on ‘fighting’ to find whatever joy in life I can.

    Regards
    Steve

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    Replies
    1. Hi Steve,

      you know...

      FALSE hope is
      NOT more
      ENJOYABLE than real hope.

      Might as well look at reality instead of chasing a
      FANTASY that will
      NEVER feel good
      ENOUGH.

      Art has left me with real hope, but I'm just trying to deal with life's necessary complications right now... I know I am taking too long, Art.

      Delete
    2. Steve: There is hope. our coming research is just that; seeing if we can reverse the imprint and undo history and the trauma. Thank God for the imprint. It means the memory is carried on and can be fixable. art

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  2. In response to Steve's comment while there might be other ways to change the distorted perceptions caused by pain it is the case that these will be difficult to locate and implement on one's own.

    I do the work of the twelve steps and stay in circles of other people with addiction problems to stay, at the very least, not on heroin. The steps try to address some of the perceptual problems people like me experience, which as Janov writes are caused by the pain we accrued as children and fetuses. When I shoot heroin everything suddenly seems fine or normal and I pursue this feeling constantly. I do think that I should visit the Primal Center and at least give myself a shot at a cure.

    The only reason we're so vulnerable to trauma is because we've systematically destroyed our feeling centers over the ages--God knows why--and we pass it down to our kids. An animal in the wild would never do some of the unfeeling actions that we do to our children and they're happy for it. They can shake off traumatic incidents as adults without much trouble. A shake here or there and back to munching on grass. That's only because they were nurtured properly and cared for by a connected parent.

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  3. "We need to travel where there are no words and even no tears; into our prehistory. That is what this has made it all such a mystery."

    Now that is a telling sentence. Frank Robinette's long piece talked about the importance of crying but I am now confronted with feelings before crying in your comment. I suppose all my crap erupted together. I have had times where I have had insights followed by the most incredible overwhelming feelings of relief. It was as though my whole body was allowed to let tension and hurt evaporate. My whole body going limp as so much tension just went. One of my cousins told me how he went into his sister's little girls room as the very small baby cried and cried and no-one came. He picked her up and this tiny mite just sank into his arms. She gave up and relaxed. Almost melted into his arms. Sometimes when I have felt the pain go it has been like that. I have melted. Every cell relaxing. Is that what you are talking about Art? Would be good to know.

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  4. Hi,
    -"So even when someone comes along who is warm and kind we cannot feel it because the imprint dominates and colors our lives"-.

    My ex beloved dumped me and now has another man. . . I think she keeps him in a box for fear of repeating what happened with me. She keeps me in a box for fear of realising what she discarded.
    And by the same token I also missed the point of her too. I tried to make her into something she wasn't. . . I'm too scared to get into another relationship. . . I have such major issues about abandonment and loss of my mother right in my face all the time I don't even want to try. Though I am envious of others. And this is part of my act out. I feel undeserving. I wonder who taught me to feel undeserving?
    Paul G.

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    1. Hello Paul!

      What is even worse is that someone who is warm and kind can be a threat to someone who not feel warmth and kindness! If more leaking hate than feeling love there is not much to do without help... and as long they are in use in top positions and working i fields of psychiatry and psychology... there will be no change!
      What comes in must in one way or another come out even the feeling of madness... madness a feeling from all there was of madness... the equation for what psychiatry and psychology have to fight against!

      Your Frank

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    2. Hi Frank,
      -"What is even worse is that someone who is warm and kind can be a threat to someone who not feel warmth and kindness"-.

      I'm not sure which of the two of us in my previous 15 year relationship were less able to embrace and receive the warmth of the other. Problem is, with masks on, each lover feels the loss from their childhood as if the other lover were the cause of it. Only Primal takes the masks off and exposes the 'unmet need'. Then everything can change. . . If only. . .

      Such is the 'power of love'.

      Intellectuals don't suffer in their relationships with others like this, they just get sex and attention until the money runs out or their beliefs begin to diverge too much, then it's "time to split".
      If the intellectual is in a relationship with a feeling person they can procrastinate until their fence becomes too uncomfortable; they can keep on sitting on the fence whilst getting the attention, but, without much access to feelings they don't see the need to respond. Eventually they conclude (in their heads) they don't need the hassle of dealing with the consequences of their procrastination. . . so. . . they split.

      It's important (for Primal people) not to carry on trying to get the attention of intellectuals who can keep sitting on the fence. . . It's comfortable and convenient for these types, just as long as they keep getting the attention.

      Paul G.

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    3. Two people blame each other -- neither receives enough love, neither gives enough love, but it's always the other person's fault... always the other person who is cruel and unfeeling. "WHY DON'T YOU TRY TO UNDERSTAND ME??? I ALWAYS TRY TO UNDERSTAND YOU!!!" Yeah right.

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  5. Well written Steve. I feel you have put into words very much what I have recently been pondering in my mind. At age 57 I too am still hoping, searching and fighting for a consistent joyful state of being. I often think more of my "damage" came after birth with trying to integrate and survive within a dysfunctional family environment. Thanks for your input here.
    Regards
    Theresa

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for that Theresa. In reply also to Richard (25 Apr.), I think I have perhaps not been clear enough in what I was trying to say. I wasn’t suggesting that false hope is more enjoyable than real hope. I was trying to suggest the opposite, hence the frustration I sometimes feel.

      To explain, it has often been noted on this blog that not everyone can make it to Los Angeles and undergo Primal Therapy. And even if they could, there just aren’t enough therapists to go around. So some people, like myself perhaps, are faced with the realisation that they will probably carry their pain with them for longer than they would like, knowing that despite their best efforts, despite the real enjoyment that they do get out of life, they will never be truly free of their neurosis, and therefore they are left perhaps with the realisation that they will never feel the same depth of feelings that those who have under gone Primal Therapy do.

      So that is the reality I speak of, and it can be a harsh one in my opinion. But I would rather face what I know is real and leave the fantasies to those who want them. They are not for me. Reality can be hard while my feelings are all I have. But you know what? I wouldn’t swap either of them for anything else. Life is too short not to live as real a one as we can.

      And Art, you are of course correct. If it weren’t for the imprint, then the human body would never have the opportunity to undo the trauma. Without that imprint, the trauma would indeed be indelible. It is quite remarkable that the human organisms contains within it at all times the remedy to that trauma, and is waiting in a sense to finish unfinished business and reach a state of wholeness again.

      Thanks again to Theresa and Richard for their replies.

      Regards

      Steve

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    2. Hi Steve,

      You have said it all for me.

      By the way, this blog tends to pit us into adversity through the medium of written words which cannot always convey our real feelings nor the way forward to greater hope. If we were in a 'face to face group behind closed doors' we would all be able to see and feel the sense and meaning of each others expressions in ways that this blog (or any blog) simply cannot.

      Thus our 'messages in a bottle' are 'floating on an ocean of despair'. . . and this little blog island sanctuary shouldn't have to be swamped with such a high tide of hopelessness. Perhaps we could build some houses on stilts. . . or a fleet of canoes to reach other islands. . .

      Paul G.

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  6. I must tell you this: not ALL traumas were caused by unloving parents. Some of us had to spend a LONG time in hospital as children. (not their fault. If a child has a serious disease they can´t very well keep it at home. THAT would be loveless.) In the 50-ies the situation for children in hospitals was HORRIBLE. (and my ma tried her best to make it better for me. Even quarelled with the doctors in my presence.) That I didn´t become autistic is a miracle. (ONE WHOLE YEAR. It´s like ETERNITY for a 2 y o.)
    Inga

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    1. Hi Inga

      I am fascinated by your piece. I have a God Son who was diagnosed with Asbergers and it turns out his Mother had a very difficult birth with him and he then spent a month to six weeks isolated in an incubator. I have said to her on numerous occassions that this could well have contributed to his diagnosis. Once out of hospital before we knew it he was put in the care of a child minder. For one thing they would not have bonded after birth with floods of Oxytocin due to the seperation so I think she has always been rather distant from him. Not unlike my own Mother and me.

      I would be very interested in deed to hear why you think you could have developed Autism (though luckily did not). I am wondering whether this is because your Mother did care so made up for the bad time you had or do you think it for another reason.

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  7. If you try to understand!

    The psychological phenomenon for what memories carry with them! If I live with the anxiety for death... it has nothing to do with the upcoming death... but emotional death as I have lived through!

    Frank,

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  8. Art, your healing throat is really great news, but I have a question:
    Now that you have no throat pain to focus on, have you started to over-react to some other type of irritation? I wonder if a reduction in real pain will increase your sensitivity to pain from the past.

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    1. Richard: Not totally out of the woods yet. art

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  9. The problem is that people have to read medical studies or magazines or whatever to start hugging, caressing and accept those gestures as normal.
    Especially if men hug each other, they could "become" gay!
    And once more, we need others' approval to express our feelings and our lives, although deep inside we already knew what was right and wrong.

    I am not referring to you Dr. Janov when I am saying the above, since I couldn't agree more with your words and your therapy.

    It is just so silly to let others decide what WE should DO.

    One day, ex. eggs are good for us but not more than 3 per week. Then 6 are just fine. Then more than 2 eggs are not allowed. And then...go fuck yourselves you retarded scientists and all those phantasmagoric soi-disant articles that tell us how to live with our brains and not with our feelings!

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  10. Obsessed with the unconscious.

    I have slept a few nights at your claim that “the unconscious is constantly neglected”. For my part, I maintain that I’m obsessed / spellbound by our unconscious. Getting there has gone for instance by the insights you have brought me on the Primal Principle and Evolution in Reverse. Countless other writers exemplified by Dostoyevsky, Proust, de Beauvoir, Miller and Gladwell have shown me how boundless comprehensive our unconscious is in its ability to draw from pain, repression, truth, lies and create fantasies / symbols and identify human characteristics when they are at their best and worst.

    When our parents do not meet our basic needs for love, hugs and kisses, Evolution provides us with necessary talents to compensate for shortcomings. It’s fascinating and horrifying that these compensatory talents become both physical and intellectual intoxications that must be repeated to keep the painful lack of love repressed. This agonizing struggle comes at the price that we over-tax our internal organs, which shortens and degrades the quality of our lives. Health Care and the pharmaceutical industry, each with their intellectual backups are the two visible, grotesquely inflated symbols of our endless symptoms of the diseases.

    The interesting and hopeful is that our, often vital, compensating talents have taken us to the point where we, in fortunate circumstances, can learn “to lean back and feel a stab of pain” caused by the lack of love and attention and / or early traumas due to neglect or stupidity. I have personally experienced how neuroses, compulsive behavior, high blood pressure and epilepsy have reduced dramatically when there is much less residue of pain to drive the symptoms.

    Through my dreams, I have over the years gradually developed a trusting relationship with my unconscious. Over many years, my life was dominated by nightmares, and when these were not satisfied to let me fall freely or to be tortured and suffocated, they sparked fits and grand mal seizures. I can now, after patiently for many years re-living my birth trauma awake, remember, interpret and re-live the pain in my dream. These processes occur in connection to that I experienced something during the day that had a symbolic connection, often to my birth trauma.

    My latter years sleeping routines have taken me to the point where I in my dream decide to defy the fear, to lay back and feel a stab of anxiety. Often I wake up relieved, enlightened and refreshed. Memories of the nights experiences give me a reason and sometimes content to a blog / comment.

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    1. Hi Jan & Art,

      Carl Jung also said the unconscious was the last frontier. But he was still immersed in the world of symbolism and that is what keeps his followers endlessly interested. Trainees in Jungian Psychology get to qualify by also developing an art of one kind or another. Indeed developing some kind of art is seen by the Jungians as a prerequisite to healing. After all, the symbols are just so fascinating aren't they? They are a mystery and like our hunter gatherer forebears from the ancient world we keep on hunting them out as if they were a matter of LIFE or DEATH. Each new discovery a 'kernel' of truth and some 'nourishment' for our soul. . .

      Anyone who describes themselves as a priest today or a thousand years ago is just milking the hunt for those old 'chestnuts'. . . Sequestered by those 'squirrels' in our minds, living in the 'winters of our discontents', waiting for the 'spring of our youths'. . .

      Had enough yet? Or shall I carry on "waxing lyrical"?

      Fortunately for the real world, people like you Jan can tell us how those symbols really 'fit' into our lives.

      Thanks Jan for your great posts. I must read up Gladwell. Sounds like a pragmatic kind of person.

      Paul G.







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    2. Hi,

      -off topic but Dr Jago Cooper's documentary about the Easter Island People, Rapa Nui
      is back on BBC I player again till May 12th.

      This is well worth watching.

      Paul G.

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  11. OFF Topic: Hi Dr Janov. This is just a suggestion for the subject of a blog article.

    I have just finished reading a book called "The wolf of wall street" recently made into a movie.

    The book is the memoir of a particularly obsessive and greedy Wall Street guy, Jordan Belfort, who was also an addict. After a long period of what you probably call "acting-out", he converts to AA, gets caught money-laundering and goes to jail. He is now about 50 and a motivational speaker (!?). What do you think causes someone to love money so much and splurge on all sorts of possessions, some of which are also status symbols for their over-inflated egos, and their quality has to be the best of course..They do a lot of coke, frequent prostitutes, feel no remorse ripping people off,involve themselves in shady deals, are racist, sexist, homophobic. They feel they are invincible and will never get caught. It's so bizarre:the most rapacious and powerful parts of out economic system seem to consist of this type of male (mostly males in Wall Street).

    Anyways, I thought it might be an interesting topic to explore, also why some people gamble excessively, and blow everything sometimes.

    Take care.

    Marco

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    1. Marco, my guess is you already know the answer. art

      Delete
    2. Hi,

      My question about this is how do you tell the difference between some-one who is (shall we say) 'acting out' with psychotic behaviour and some-one who is completely unfeeling, IE: properly psychopathic.

      It's not just a 'sliding scale' is it? It seems to me that you can put any 'ordinary' (neurotic) person into a position of extreme good fortune (for themselves personally) and they can behave psychopathically. Remember the old adage: "Power Corrupts and absolute power Absolutely Corrupts. I mean, a naive (and repressed) person can find themselves in a complex situation in which they behave not only 'inappropriately' but also psychopathically precisely because they can not comprehend the consequences of their actions; perhaps because they believe some-one else's lies. . .

      Isn't this why the law is so concerned with 'intent'? Why was the 'defendant' motivated, what was hir motive?

      Thus the problem with empathy and remorse is also partly the problem of maturity and understanding. . . I mean, I don't expect my 3yr old grandson to fully comprehend complex loyalty situations. . . and I have found that the majority of adults can't either. I certainly could not (when I was younger) and as a consequence I made bad decisions which resulted in other people getting hurt.

      Some people who have been forced by the law to face up to their 'psychopathic behaviour' do indeed discover their 'conscience' and ultimately the law requires they do before parole is granted. Realising what you did wrong is still a powerful force in morality. Thus inherent in this line of questioning is the possibility that people can change, people can find their feelings and their empathy.

      For some when that happens it is too much. . . What will become of Oscar. . ? I don't think he's a psycho. . . he's an extremely neurotic super sympath in a psychopathic society.. . Will society use him as a scapegoat, or a warning to others.

      Paul G.

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    3. Paul, people don't change. My neighbour was a Jahova's Witness for most of his life, but then over a period of several years he weened off it and became an atheist. But he is still totally religious in his thinking -- he still makes bizarre decisions based on his interpretation of New Zealand law and culture.... he cannot think for himself -- he is still a 'cult follower' and he always will be.

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    4. Hi Marco

      I must say that I have an obsession with money and get very very fearful (almost crazily so) if I start to think that it is going to dry up. I have often thought that money (for me at any rate) is not only actual security but also a metaphor for earlier security and supposed love. If for example we are often given physical things as expressions of a Parents "love" rather than actual expressions of love ie touch, respect etc, then we can find ourselves becoming obsessed with these false expressions later in life as stresses become great. Add to this the crazy drive to push children to be successful and the related giving of love if we are and any kind of feeling of failure means we would and cannot be loved but rather than recognise it and mourn it, we become obessed with the trappings of wealth so we can "feel " loved.

      Alice Miller's "Drama of being a child" describes this perfectly as does Art's writing.

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    5. Planespotter: Very well put. art

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  12. Hi Richard,

    -"people don't change"-.

    Could you elaborate on that rather final statement please? Are you sure? I mean Primal allows people to change. . . or are we saying that people are always the same but become more feeling? Are we splitting hairs here? Am I asking too many questions?

    Paul G.

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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