Monday, June 30, 2014

Why We Need Safety


There is a confluence of two events, quite unlikely, that explain something about human nature.  The first is something that my colleague, neurologist Michael Holden and I wrote about over forty five years ago.  It was about amoeba that lived in dirty water with black ink poured in.  They absorbed the black ink, as an external  menace into a vacuole and then when the place has clean water they discharged this intruder.  Back  into the water.  The second event is something I see on TV all of the time.  Someone is discussing the loss of a friend or relative and they tear up and scrunch their face and then it shuts off and they say “Sorry.  Excuse me.” They do not seem to understand the mountain of tears lying below. It is those tears that need to be dredged up and experienced, otherwise  they stay locked up and continue to gnaw at the system. The person gets sick years later and no one knows that they have been sitting on all those unfelt emotions.

How do we know?  Because people come in and cry those itty-bitty tears only to discover weeks and months later in therapy what they have been sitting on.  Then the inundation begins.  And when that happens, there are major changes in many biologic measures, as well as alterations and normalization of many vital signs;  blood pressure and heart rate descend.  Also there are significant changes in brain wave functions.  In other words, tears can change all that. And because that is  true it may well be that repressing those tears plays a real role in a number of illnesses, not the least of which is hypertension and heart problems. Not just one day of holding back tears, but of years of it happening.  Because to hold them down takes effort and energy which is being used up all of the time.  It takes work to hide from ourselves.

So what does India ink have to do with it?  Amoeba, as a basic minute cell shows us a biological process; waiting for safety, a welcoming environment to allow us to rid of all the junk and pain inside.  And that is exactly what is missing in psychotherapy; first, a notion of all the tears inside that must be experienced, and secondly, the need to provide an environment where those tears can be let out in full force.    That is right; “full force,” because rarely does a therapist sees that force, neither in others, nor in himself or herself.  They see this as “too emotional” and, “out of control.” So the tears are “discussed” not felt.  We do not live in a culture where full emotionality is not only accepted but welcomed. There lies the rub, to quote an old pal of mine.  What is his name?  William something.

The problem is that psychotherapy that evades and avoids emotions makes the patient sicker.  All the emotions are entombed in the head and the body goes on suffering unconsciously.  So in helping a patient become mentally aware he is at the same time becoming more unconscious.  What a dilemma!  We can learn from that amoeba.  He is only doing what is actually human:  waiting for a loving, warm environment to show his feelings and unleash his pain.  Let me add:  crying about it is not enough.  It has to be crying in context.  Tears must emanate from felt pain, not as an intellectual exercise, not as directed by a well-meaning counselor but tears that arrive automatically when the actual early memory is evoked. And careful, it is not always words that express the feeling.  It is often in body language or non-verbal emotions.  We need to know how to read that language.  That is why it takes so long to do primal therapy correctly; that mysterious language that lies below verbosity and has so many hidden meanings.  Those means, “I am not loved, no one wants me or cares about me,“ drives so much of our behavior and later symptoms.  And why is that? Because those meanings derive from actual early experiences where we were not loved.  They are not inventions. They correspond to reality, and reality is what we must deal with.  It is the name of the game.  We are historical beings; we cannot avoid history and get well. Our own history.

Crying without specific context and memory is only abreaction, the discharge of feeling without feeling it. It cannot ever be healing.  We are going back to origins remember, and that means long, long ago.  Feeling is healing, to coin a phrase.

40 comments:

  1. Hi,

    -"Crying without specific context and memory is only abreaction, the discharge of feeling without feeling it-.

    When you say specific 'context and memory' you don't necessarily mean a 'vision of an historic event' do you ? I mean, I understand it could be that too, but also this 'context &/or memory' could in itself be a strong specific feeling and a sense of particular circumstances too, couldn't it ?

    I was at boarding prep school for about 5 years from age 8 to 13. Discounting holidays etc that amounts to about 1,200 nights away from home in hostile and lonely conditions.
    I have many re-living 'feelings' which are specific to lying awake all night waiting to be beaten by the psycho - sadist headmaster in the morning. . . dread mixed with grief. That must have been about 50 nights of terror ridden insomnia out of the 1,200 nights of pure loneliness where I just wanted Mum but couldn't cry. . . night after night after night; not allowed to cry. Waking up in the morning realising the shit situation I'm in again and again and again.
    Sometimes in my re-livings I get a strong sense of these two different feeling tones but I can't say a particular night stood out. Now that I am wailing for my Mum when previously I was 'gagged' not to. Some nights stick out,like traipsing off to the matron to complain of 'home-sickness', only to be met with compact indifference and instructions to get back into bed. . . I have a specific 'visual memory' when something gruesome happened. One night in the dormitory a fellow inmate attacked my teddy with a sharp knife; in defense I nearly lost my entire thumb. I remember the vision of going to hospital in the middle of the night and watching the surgeon sew me up and I can vaguely summon up the revulsion. . . What struck me was the way the headmaster blamed it all on me in front of the entire school the next morning. . . he just loved attacking vulnerable kids. . . That is a feeling of injustice which is dislocated from those events because the 'Regime' was all abusive; not just the headmaster and his prefects. . . F*****g institutional abuse is a Bastard like that because it is so hard to pin actual events down. . . the pressure of abuse is pretty much constant, like being in a prison camp.

    Re-living this is like reading the bloody dictionary. . . There are so many pages. My re-livings are changing though. I have realised for a while that back then my 1st line stuff was being hijacked by my 2nd & 3rd line stuff. . . I need a supervisor to help me unravel this. . . The bastards made me a slave to my own grief and all 'inside'. . .
    There was so much of this abuse going on at the school it's hard to pin down the feelings to a specific 'vision'. . . though perhaps the enduring 'vision' is of my dormitory floor, peeping out from the only sanctuary I had, under the blankets. . . feeling grief and loss for my Mum, night after night after night. . . All these nights have merged into one long prison sentence and I still feel like I haven't served my time yet; still at the age of 54. My grief for my Dad was suppressed too; after all it was his idea I should be there. . . no wonder I am only just starting to 'feel' the loss of my Dad now. . . 44 years later: -"Daddy"! But when these feelings are not abreaction it is obvious because my tears squirt like hot water and my wails are those of a child and the relief is profound.

    Currently my circumstances are tripping me into emotional diarrhea, where my feelings are trickling out through the day. Not having any carpentry to do for the last 8 weeks has not helped at all. Work is not just a palliative but also punctuation for one's feelings. . . Thank goodness I am about to start some contracts again.

    Paul G.

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    1. Paul G

      A very thoughtful and inspiring post. While I think Arthur's focus on emotional response and working through is v. relevant, I think also that it is helpful to you to develop your ethical understanding of what happened to you. Essentially these abusers were telling you that you were wrong, whereas it is quite clear that their abusive behaviour was wrong. Perhaps some further study of ethics would help you,because I can assure you that no philosopher of ethics would ever find in favour of the abusive teachers in your school. :)

      Daniel

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    2. Hi Daniel,

      thank you. Until I got onto this blog I didn't understand just how much I carried the blame for my 're-actions' to this prison sentence. I have been a bit of a walking 'time bomb' in this respect.
      I think that because we 'child prisoners' were being groomed for elite leadership in society, some of us (I for one at least) gradually over time came to question the regime and it's authoritarian morality. I must say that Primal Theory has defused some of my more explosive reactions. Primal theory should be taught in Primary Schools, it's not difficult to explain the three brains to children, nor to give them permission to sense and feel. . . That would be the beginnings of natural ethics wouldn't it ?

      Paul G.

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  2. My view: In an unfeeling society all we get is an unfeeling people's idea of what feeling is. And so the "feeling" shrinks of planet-neurotic get their patients to cry their itty-bitty tears, and they interpret that as a 'revolution'. And when and if they do ever see real tears (incredible tears from the past) then like Janov says it's not real feeling to them, but "out of control".

    Part of the revolution in psychotherapy will come from our shrinks and the rest of us seeing our insanity--and our insane perceptions--for what they are. Step 1. is to at least know we are blind.

    Andrew Atkin

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  3. Paul, I have no doubt that you have huge feelings in there...and big leaks. Without meaning to trivialise your recent emotions, which of course are immensely important, I think it is wise to let a primal therapist judge whether you are reliving or abreacting, and I think it's important that you don't assume that you are making progress. I don't want to be negative -- I just think it would be awful to see you suffering for years and years instead of taking the plunge at the primal center. Many of their patients tell stories of their wasted years before they got therapy. I am really trying to avoid falling into that trap any more than I already have.
    When people relive at the center, they unleash the type of force that would have killed them had they not repressed it in the first place. We are talking about a gigantic massive force that does not come out without a LOT of expert help. If you have already gone that deep...then that is amazing and wonderful, and I should not judge..... but I have had a tiny taste of my own first line feelings and I know that I am absolutely not ready or strong enough to feel them.... and even my second line feelings cannot be felt... they just hurt like hell in my throat and stomach... cramped, knotted muscles. I just can't go there. I know you and I are not the same.... and I shouldn't assume anything... just don't waste too much time.

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    1. Hi Richard

      I suppose one knows whether one is feeling or abriacting because often one's body gives signals. If I have had an insight I often know if it is real or not because of powerful feelings in my body. A great sense of relief. My body almost collapsing in relief and feeling the change. Deep breathing that goes on and on without hyperventilation. I got these well before going to the Primal Centre. Art's books helped me understand them and know them for what they were. Alice Millers wonderful book "The Body Never Lies" helped hugely.

      I must say that I react very badly to anyone telling me whether I am or am not abriacting. The angry hurt little boy inside knows what happened to me and all I have wanted deep down was to be listened too. Once listened too, many events just tumbled out. Sadly I have been confronted by some therapists who were too fond of steering me in the direction they felt was right and as Art says "Draping me".

      Everyone is different but we all have bodies and if we can learn to listen to the specific and individual clues it offers us about our past the better off we shall be, I feel.

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  4. Hi,
    -“Sorry. Excuse me.” They do not seem to understand the mountain of tears lying below-. . .

    I think people know a lot more about what's underneath but they (we) are brainwashed by social mores not to really let go (certainly in England this is true) . . . It would turn into a bloody great 'wail fest' wouldn't it ?

    We can't be having the whole 'congregation' breaking down and crying can we ? I'm not trying to be cynical but the consequences are a little scary. . . people would also end up having insights and before you know it people would be sharing all kinds of contentious information about historical events with each other and hugging and kissing and sacking their lawyers and getting pay rises and all sorts or genuine human stuff. . .

    What would the world come to ?

    Paul G.

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  5. Maybe if I did cry, I would feel better.....feel "released" in a way. I do cry, but only in private. No one really even thinks I could cry or have anything to cry about. So many people just don't know me at all....oh well, one reaches a certain age and realizes that it isn't important for some people to know me. Cannot judge a book by it's cover, but seems like people do all the time.

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  6. The way things are now, on the job I do, with people and situations, absolutely feel as though I can never cry publicly. Almost as though, possibly, people try constantly to "break " people down. Not me, I'm not like that. I do believe I have to be strong....publicly, for myself. Too bad that my life has come to that...but nowadays , for a single person, who wants to be single....I find it is the only way to live for now (until I am free from job).

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  7. The biggest mistake I could make would be to get a "partner" in life. Toleration, patience...I do have all that. One must need that to deal sometimes with family (not parents, but siblings) and then there is one's job in life to contend with. A simple job, now I just look at it as "punching the clock". It was made that way for many of us, although it has gotten somewhat better..(supervisors, people with power had to be reprimanded after 5 years or so of just "plain nastiness" that outweighed the pleasantness....that's how bad it was).but I do know it is best just to have this attitude. The initial start was enough for many people "just to get the message". So there it is, cannot cry when contending with this, which is why I went to school for 7 years in the human services field, so maybe someday I will get a job in that. I know I cannot deal with somethings, but I can't cry about that right now; but I know I do cry and am able to, which is important.

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  8. An email comment:
    Many years ago I saw a TV show on a new type of prison for younger men that had committed heinous crimes. In a group setting, these young men were asked to try and access their feelings about what they had done. These were tough guys with rock hard defenses. But, using techniques similar to Primal Therapy, slowly they would begin to connect. Unfortunately, when their level of feeling became so highly charged that they began to cry and scream very deeply-- real emotion about what they had done and the effect it had on others-- the rest of the group would tackle and subdue them. As someone who has experienced Primal Therapy and who had parents that stopped all displays of Pain, I found it hard to watch. The human body weeps for a reason. Would you stop a person from laughing if it became intense? If a person were drowning would you have them lower their voice as they cried out for help? When I was in conventional insight therapy I would leave my sessions with a headache-- almost every time. It felt as though the muscles used to cry were contracting to stop me from feeling. As a young child, my mom would hand me tissues and say, "Enough crying". Then she'd make me a bowl of bananas and cream with spoonfuls of sugar. My sister remembers her giving us phenobarbital as a pacifier. I don't remember this, but I know it was true. Now, I am paying a terrible price.

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  9. The public, society..."being out there" just absolutely stifles my emotions. Of course one has to survive, so be strong. The children, today, I almost think are being taught by their parents "not to feel emotionally"...not to even feel the cold winters. They are making them (children) so strong, so aggressive now, that the kids almost act inhuman with so much power. "Being out there", many times, is just suffocating. Some have become so stupid, in that, they think it is good to show no emotions and, as I said, to teach their children that way. Whatever....can't change a majority, but it's not good. So we try to be smart, put on a strong front....then go home, and one is able to "be themselves....be true to themselves at home." Sure I get tired of putting on a strong front, and would like to be myself most of the time in the outside world, but I find that never works, and it is totally impossible for me. What would happen is that I would have a feeling of being "overpowered" and then feel so weak, once I interact or succumb to the way people view me. Sad situation all over. It is almost found all over ....."a farce". Too bad, in some areas that it has become that way. Maybe we all should just be re-educated in the basics as to how just be human again. Maybe people have to be taught about emotions, or go back.

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  10. Art ... you need to write much more about the importance of getting to feel safe... it's the primal therapy begins for many!
    The driving force of getting to feel safe is a driver where I do things that I think others expect of me... what a mistake!
    What you write... is what all is about for me... getting to feel safe... safe to weep in solitude... yes... it's me... I do not even dare cry in solitude!
    I know what you mean ART... feel safe... to allow all those tears that need to come out... but it is tricky!
    It has taken a long time to recognize... conceptually understand what it is I'm doing... which I assume you mean is the reason for way primal therapy can take a very long time. To admit something... something that is now energy to not perceive security as indispensable... the physiological process to take on!
    As for all professionals in the field... I do not dare to think about... how are they supposed to feel "safe" other than for what they do... given all the attention they get?

    Frank

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  11. Regarding the above example of the amoeba, that brought to mind another use of the simple amoeba as an example of what neurosis is. In the book "Man in the Trap" by Ellsworth Baker, a Reichian therapist, he tries to explain the basis of neurosis by the following analogy: take an amoeba just bopping along merrily and stick it with a needle for a moment. It will stop for a moment "apprehensively", then , feeling safe after awhile, will resume its way.Stick it again repeatedly, it will then stop and CONTRACT and stay like that for a long while: the beginnings of defense, or as Reich put it , armoring itself against the hostile external world. Stick it a lot more and it will contract and DIE....

    Marco

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  12. again words won't do it, i guess. "i love you", "you are safe with me" can only provoke defense if there is no substance behind it. words could be distracting...
    can safety be vague, amorphous, abstract ?
    i think patient will watch out for surrounding till the last moment. then and only then the safety
    is experienced fully. with the feeling. only then the safety is concrete, meaningful.

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  13. To feel safe now, is almost "a joke". No wonder the terrorists find us , at times , to be such an easy target, we, the U.S. are at one another's throats many times. People don't want other people to feel "safe" now. People try to set other people to be "on edge" thinking possibly they will do better, but they don't. It's not the way. I thought at one time, is was great to please people, then I realized that one cannot possibly please anyone. There are so many people in the U.S. now, and to me, it just seems like we are "choking" one another off. Sure, there are still nice people out there, but they also see what goes on with others as far as someone's jealousies, or someone just in a bad mood that wants to make other people to feel as bad as they are....the mental attitudes in the U.S. has totally deteriorated. I really think things have to be turned around, and that starts with the youth in the U.S. When I was growing up, I used to feel safe , secure, but now I seek many times to "be alone" and live a quiet life. If I cannot cry in solitude, then I would never feel free, or feel safe. Sometimes I would just like to say in the U.S. : "people should just try to "back off" of people here, give themselves a break, "breathing room"...maybe we would come out a stronger nation.

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  14. Hello,
    Not feeling save as a child leaves a non-erasable imprint.
    Being in a constant state of alert, adrenaline goes in overdrive and sets the margin for the cortisol level, that can lead to PTSD and in some cases to gene-methylation.
    Just last week Travis Smiley had a war veteran by the name Ron Capps who thinks, he can write his way out PTSD.
    I left a comment on Travis website:
    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/interviews/ron-capps/#comment-708116
    Sieglinde

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    1. nice to hear from you again Sieglinde

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  15. Hello gain.
    Thanks for not giving up on me.
    It is nice to come back to a place where I can exercise my brain again and find confirmation that I have not lost ALL my marbles.
    In the last 2 years, my body and brain aged. I no longer could focus, enjoy anything, and became instead emotional numb and hopeless.
    Taking care of my dying husband took its toll on my brain and I noted short-term memory lapses. I slipped into a dark hole and had to stop my online studies (bio and genetics).

    Vanity (a feeling of self- awareness) woke up first, back in March 2014. I began to feel alive again and saw how much I had aged since 2012. Wrinkles everywhere due to extreme weight loss after the accident (Sept 12), and more weight loss after my husband died (all together 43 pounds). So I began to eat, even junk food, and gained some of my curves back, but too many wrinkles remain. Now I call myself “Madam Plissé” and post only pictures from 20 some years ago. It’s good to be in denial for a while – it helps surviving.
    After coming back from a 14 day trip to Germany in June this year, I started to sleep again at least for 6 hours.
    Since then, I have made progress and found my lost identity again. I have even begun to write again.
    Sieglinde

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  16. 'Mars One', a non-profit organization, has meticulously planned a six billion dollar one-way manned trip to Mars. Four "reality TV stars" will be blasted through space in a water tank, and will live on the dead dusty planet for the rest of their lives. Their home will be a plastic bag covered in dirt. All of the technology has been developed and thoroughly tested. The entire venture will be funded through TV advertising. Over 200,000 people filled out the application form to be a TV star/astronaut. So far that number has been whittled down to 700.
    This is no joke. One major aerospace manufacturer has signed a contract with Mars One, and several others are expected to follow soon. One of the world's largest broadcasting companies has signed a deal with Mars One, and the reality TV show is expected to be screened this year. Contestants will be living together in tiny Mars capsule simulators for months at a time over the next several years. They will be studied by psychologists to assess their suitability.
    It sounds like one of those cheesy eighties science fiction movies but this is real.
    What has the world become? So many people chose to abandon this wonderful planet in exchange for a bit of recognition. Recognition is worth more than planet Earth? This is a really sad, crazy story. The organizers, sponsors, contestants and psychologists are all driven by the relentless force of unfulfilled need. It is a disconnected force that is driving them to nowhere.

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    1. Hi Richard,

      so well put, I wholeheartedly agree. . . In harmony with that, a long time ago, at one of those "Big Green Gathering Events" on some 'plain' in the South of England, a very sharp fellow (later we worked on some amazing carpentry projects together), he said to me about the architecture of the 'church spire', he said: We shouldn't be building totems that point up to the sky. . . We should be looking down to the earth and worshiping that. He went on a bit, he also said "that's what really keeps us alive".

      Memory is such a strange thing Richard because as I was reading your words I could see my mates face and the expression on his face (in my mind) looks like your words.

      I so wish I could put like-minded people together in reality, rather than in my bloody imagination. . .

      Paul G.

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  17. "Crying without specific context and memory is only abreaction, the discharge of feeling without feeling it. It cannot ever be healing." I find this strange in that I have often cried without a contextual event only to start remembering the event later on. Art you say that many of your patients have been introverts (parasympaths I think) whereas I would describe myself as an extrovert (sympath). I am sure that many extroverts are running away from thier feelings and need to fall back into them whereas an introvert never reaches feelings perhaps and has to be encouraged into them. Therefore it would seem reasonable that a parasympath may remember an event and then cry while a sympath will cry and then remember an event.

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    1. Planespotter: That is a stretch. art

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    2. Hi Art. How do you mean?

      I remember reading about the experience of a certain Australian physcologist whose books did help me early on in my recovery. I discovered Alice Miller via her and you via Alice Miller. She used to talk about Introverts and extroverts and how her experience was that extroverts tended to feel feelings before they tended to have an insight while the opposite was true of an introvert. Obviously this is a bit of a sweeping generalisation. She tended to avoid dealing with the deep unconcious which is why I steered away from her.

      I suppose I am saying I find this strange in that reading what you say tends to contradict what I have read by you in the past that someone can cry a great deal and then have an insight. That is often how it happens with me and yet if you applied what you say here that crying without specific context and memory is abriaction then I am getting it all wrong for me anyway.

      I cried on and off for months before it started to dawn on me that I had been abused as a kid. I was then able to assemble events and memories into a story that contributed to a great lessening of anxiety and panic etc and often having those great feelings of a weight lifting from my body I asked you about a few weeks ago.

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    3. Planespotter: Remember when you relive preverbal events, the insights will come much later and the immediate results will be physiologic and then later verbal. art

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    4. Hi,
      I seem to have two distinct forms of arthritis. One, where over a long time my finger joints have become enlarged, mostly these don't hurt. Two, where the sudden appearance of painful swellings (close to and around all joints including hands , feet, hips, shoulders etc) after stressful experiences erupt within minutes. This is also 'tendonitis' etc. The last time one happened in my finger whilst driving (home?) from work and I could see/feel it erupt whilst clutching the steering wheel of my car- I cried with the pain and realisation of it. . .

      One 'post primal' physiologic consequence for me (I can only assume) is that these secondary painful swellings (including one which restricted my right shoulder - frozen shoulder syndrome) have over time abated and disappeared altogether. IE: my arthritis shows dramatic improvements. Despite my life being VERY chaotic and stressful.

      I can only assume that over time my cortisol system is regulating. . . I could also add that my rage is less explosive but closer to the surface and my dissatisfactions (ruminating thoughts) are spread more widely across everything in my life like a 'layer', or filter and that seems more honest to me. As if I am no longer actually unconsciously 'projecting' 'unmet need' into my outer experiences but 'experiencing' unmet need inside colouring my entire experience (a subtle but very important difference). This I assume is what one would expect if one were clearing 2nd & 3rd line pain effectively. . .
      It's hard to use words, easy to use too many to explain a simple situation. So, to put it differently: I think I'm getting closer to 1st line stuff. . . there, that's simple.

      I have to repeat that I am not deliberately trying to DO this. . . I simply am experiencing this in my life. I care not to imagine what would have become of me had I not found this blog. . . Or Dr. Janovs books. . . a different timeline would no doubt have emerged. . .

      I am currently getting some support from my old therapist where I live. He's suspicious of Primal but he's useful and he doesn't 'drape' me too much. . . he knows my history and top of our agenda is finding for me a doctor who is sympathetic to psychological disorders and knows a bit about prescribing anti depressants / anti anxiety drugs.

      This will result in me beginning to meet the criteria set for my actual admittance to the Primal Center as a patient. Nevertheless, as far as I can see, until I get re-housed somewhere appropriate, I cannot commit to any new regimen or expect of myself any particular new 'discipline'.

      Maslows Hierarchy of Needs is largely correct. . . without a 'home' very little can be achieved beyond a certain point. I have experienced homelessness many times in my life and it is a seriously LARGE part of my act out. This 'act out' of mine has also become clearer in my perception.
      There was a time by the way, in UK when 50% of the population was 'peripatetic' and moved around the countryside working on farms. These people lived in 'benders', wagons, and occasionally 'tied cottages'. . . I have spent 30 years exploring this 'old world' genre and I am almost ready to write an essay about that. . . I could call it "Connected To The Land". . . there is already a movement called "The Land Is Ours". . .

      Yes indeed, insights come a long time after. . . MAYBE EVEN CENTURIES AFTER. . .

      Paul G.

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  18. Hello again.
    It is nice to come back to a place where I can exercise my brain again and find confirmation that I have not lost ALL my marbles.
    In the last 2 years, my body and brain aged. I no longer could focus, enjoy anything, and became instead emotional numb and hopeless.
    Taking care of my dying husband took its toll on my brain and I noted short-term memory lapses. I slipped into a dark hole and had to stop my online studies (bio and genetics).

    Vanity (a feeling of self- awareness) woke up first, back in March 2014. I began to feel alive again and saw how much I had aged since 2012. Wrinkles everywhere due to extreme weight loss after the accident (Sept 12), and more weight loss after my husband died (all together 43 pounds). So I began to eat, even junk food, and gained some of my curves back, but too many wrinkles remain. Now I call myself “Madam Plissé” and post only pictures from 20 some years ago. It’s good to be in denial for a while – it helps surviving.
    After coming back from a 14 day trip to Germany in June this year, I started to sleep again at least for 6 hours.
    Since then, I have made progress and found my lost identity again. I have even begun to write again.
    Thanks for not giving up on me.
    Sieglinde

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    1. Hi Sieglinde,

      I know what you mean about caring for seriously ill people. I have been 'hovering' attentively for my (chronic fatigued) son for the last 6 months and was also the main stay for my grandson (whilst also holding down contracts). . . Massive stress; followed by really bad short term memory lapses and extremely poor judgements sometimes. . . Loss of identity, yep, loss of interest and almost total despair and hopelessness. . .Not good. I've also gone grey and fat from over eating and drinking as a compensation.

      Denial for a while. . . . Mmmmmm. I know that one only too well. But it is amazing how resilient we can be, in the face of adversity.

      Take care,

      Paul G.



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  19. Hello Sieglinde,
    I wish you the best to start feeling, living, studying and writing again. How did you feel in Germany after all the years of distance, did you still find some roots, friends, old or new memories?
    After all that loss of weight you need good care and friends to support you, age is just a continuity of experience,
    Tete en l'air, Madame Plissé, Monica.

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  20. I hate it when Journalists ask the person they're interviewing what the tears are about; the person then either shuts down or goes into deeper pain such that the topic then needs to be changed. I cringe every time I see it. It also seems exploitive. Feeling is largely a private matter and yes, needs to be in a safe environment. The therapist &their institution need to create and provide this. Jacquie

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    1. "Feeling is largely a private matter and yes, needs to be in a safe environment."

      Hi Jacquie, what you're saying is applicable only to today's crazy world. When we were bonobo-type creatures, feelings were a communication between two or more people -- definitely not a private thing. I think even food tastes better when your friend is eating too -- sharing your experience.

      It's only natural to ask why a person is crying -- if the person crying were not overloaded, she would be able to listen, cry and hug -- all at the same time (even if not able to talk) -- all parts of her mind would listen and communicate with her friend's normal mind -- no exclusivity. And her normal friend would accept any type of answer, whether it be words or just a tearful hug.

      When people primal, they do not enter an exclusive part of the mind -- in fact it is the very opposite; all brain parts are becoming properly connected. The main difference between a primal and a normal situation is that the therapist must be careful to avoid stimulating neurotic connections. The therapist must follow the neurotic path (initially revealed in the act-out) back to its origin, and then leave that neurotic path far behind while the patient discovers the real one.

      Delete
  21. Enjoyed your song with Celine and Mr. Foster; very powerful and delicate. Good luck with your new production. Music and feelings really go together. Sheri

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  22. How could I possibly feel the need of my mother when her money replaced it... it from my need at the time when my need for her physical closeness was so fragile that it was equal to my death for not getting it... money became at time my "salvation" to not experience my need... without them and at the Centre... it would have saved my life a lot earlier... what a tragedy!

    Mom was a duck mom for what food and clothing was the case but getting a hug... warm physical hugs were foreign to her... hugs that would have meant much more than to always have food on the table!

    Mom worked frantically with all that was necessary... everything except love us children. She was not too sure how the morale would be educational... which meant I could escape into my own world while mom stuffed socks and cooked food. It was quite different with dad at home when I dared not show myself and he was satisfied with it. Mom worked to keep our home together while dad showed how he hated us kids!

    Back in the present! Mom is now dying in a hospital one hundred kilometers from here. I visit her as often as I can while panic about her dying which reminds of how much I need her. How her money has protected me from total despair through life. I have done all what was possible to defend myself because of life threatening experiences as she avoided me... a loneliness that is now about to take shape for what all was. I'm back at the time when everything took place... at time when my eys saw what my awareness could not register.

    An outcry echoes through my body... an outcry for memories of a need impossible to ever satisfy... a need that overflows all broadens... but rescued by my frantic screams that focuses on memories when mom did not see me and rivers of tears flowing over my cheeks.

    Daring to be loved is not of this world for freezing like ice sheet keeps what long ago was frozen! Find the need... the need of proximity is something we all looking for.

    Frank

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  23. "We can learn from that amoeba. He is only doing what is actually human: waiting for a loving, warm environment to show his feelings and unleash his pain."

    ________________

    hope I am not misinterpreting the context, is this really so different from this? apart from one is trying to relive and other trying to mask symptoms:

    "With the behaviorists it is a matter of the shoemaker sees only shoes in the world. All that is missing from the behaviorist scheme is the human being; to them it is only an evolved rat."

    http://www.primaltherapy.com/GrandDelusions/GD10.htm

    ReplyDelete
  24. In reviewing these articles and information about your upcoming musical questions arose in me, being an actor/writer.
    As an actor one is taught to dive into real or imagined scenarios in one's mind to convey the charactor's emotionality. The techniques taught always seem like an entryway to a Primal experi
    I have found it confusing to identify storylines that are/ are not the charactor's, that are /are not filled with mine/the character's pain.
    Who in your proposed simulated on stage Primals is having the feeling? How would an actor deal with his or her own clarity of stage fright triggered first line intrusions/ feelings while keeping one's level and context of feeling in the required range for the performance/character's context and how can real healing take place in such a situation?
    What real or imagined scenario would one really be dealing with?
    I step back from many roles where I can sense a real person is/was involved as I find no resolution for either them or me in feeling their pain.
    I respect your work and wish you a belated Happy Birthday.
    My questions though remain.




    N

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous: Don’t worry it. come see it and you will find answers. It is worth the trip. art

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    2. Thank you...I don't think I can...my child and I spent years dealing with judges and medical examiners in an insane reversal of the use of psychotherapy. My voice can't be heard as to what pain is felt when such scenarios on stages are played, but I thank you for listening this far.

      Delete

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