Thursday, August 28, 2014

I Am Ninety Now...




I am ninety now so I have earned the right to reflect a bit. So here goes:

 What have I learned about life?  A lot and not much since it is what I have learned about people in my life that counts.  First of all, my great great staff, some of whom have been with me for fifty years, others thirty years.  It is a lifetime together that counts.  And yes, they and I have many flaws but we are all human for God’s sake and that is part of being human. They are not “my staff,” they are my friends, my good friends, all of whom I trust completely.  They care so much for their patients and for their lives. And my wife. We are together night and day for 41 years and it is not enough.  It is a double Pygmalion.  I changed her through the therapy and she changed me through her love. What more is there?

 If you did not suffer, chances are you would not be interested in Primal Therapy, nor my books nor me.  You can live a good life without me but a better life with me.  Why? Because I have found what feelings mean to all of us, and I have found what an open brain means.  Some of you already are there so congratulations.  Many of you, like me, are still learning about me about life and about what drives us.  You mean I am still learning.  Let me give you an example:  I used to work in a meat packing plant where they slaughtered pigs.  I stood next to the racks of pigs and heard them screaming, and thought nothing of it.  And I forgot it.  As my brain has opened up, I now hear those screams all of the time and I cannot shut it out.  It drives me crazy but they are part of me.  It is no different from now feeling the hurt and pain my parents inflicted on me, I now hear my silent screams.  I was never aware of it and never knew about it. After I felt my need over and over again I began to suffer from their behavior and just who they were.  I am ninety, remember, but my life at five years of age never left me.  I was driven incessantly by that hurt yet never knew about.  I could not sit still and never could even imagine that it was due to my womb-life.  I did not concoct a theory about it; I lived it.  l never knew I need to be held and touched until my body ached and screamed it out, time and again.  I did not even know it was about being held and touched until months and years after feeling raw emotional pain.  Then it got specific.  We do sometimes hold patients because it is a good tranquilizer and it brings pain levels down so that they can feel and tolerate it.  We give them a bit of what they need so they can feel more of what they need.  The totality is too much all at once.

 We have turned psychotherapy upside down.  I cannot imagine telling a patient who is crying deeply that her time is up.  It is inhuman. l We have no time limit on sessions.  When they are through feeling and only then do they leave.  They go on feeling, and finally they leave me as a patient and come back as friends.  Good, non-neurotic friends.  I will publish some of the letters I received on my birthday to show you what I mean.  Here is a letter that I received while writing this:

 Dear Art,

 What a privilege it has been to have know of you for so many years and also have met you in person.
 Your life’s work has given me and so many the opportunity to save themselves from themselves. To create a new life or just a life, a beginning of something great. It’s through Primal Therapy that I’ve been able to see myself, slowly become myself, evolve to who I was supposed to be, free of pain, free of painful acting out repression all day, every day.

 I cherish the freedom of my own will, free of being caught by a web of past pain that was ever present, yet invisible. Primal Therapy to me is about awakening from a dormant state of living, letting the original child, the original blueprint, so to speak, flourish and be allowed to just be as it was intended.

 thank you, Art!



 I learned about my terror of death.  Having approached death at birth, being heavily drugged and unable to get out,  I already knew what approaching death felt like; and as I began to feel those early feelings erupted too.  And I had terror attacks, never knowing what they were and where they came from.  It seemed like I was dying NOW,  Pure terror.  I don’t want to leave this earth but I have come to terms with it… still…I have no rationales for what comes later because it is nothing;  no special energy that exists that tells me that part of me is still alive.  Nothing remains of me except in the memory of others who loved me.  If you want to go on living you need to be loved, and you need to love, and realize that what endures is love and only that.  But look, to finally be liberated from pain and to live a free and feeling life is a lot; cherish it.  That is my goal, my job and my life’s work.  I cannot stand to see people suffer when they don’t have to.  I think now of Robin Williams.  Maybe we could have helped him. We have helped so many like him.  But if he knew about us then he would have at least had a shot at sanity and health.  That is why,  not I, but the therapy needs to be famous; to save lives.  Robin had a right to know about us.  He knew about famous rehab centers that did him no good.  I have fame by the loads, my friends and patients, my wife. That is plenty.  Applause is not a good substitute for physical love, kisses and hugs; aaaah  hugs and kisses.  What we all needed and need.  We don’t need a wise man to tell us about the good life; we need someone to help us lead it.  We don’t need someone else’s ideas; we just need our own.    We don’t need brilliant advice; the learning we get out of our own bodies when it feels, is a lot and enough.  What liberates us?  Feeling the pain that kept us imprisoned.  Those bars are stronger than steel.  We never see them or know they are there but they keep us locked in.  They make us behave in the same way over and over.  We act in self-destructive ways without knowing it.  And even if someone tells us we are doing that,  we nod and say, “I guess so.”  After doing 12 years of college and university all I got out of it was to know typing and spanish.  Most of the rest was useless.  Certainly, what we learn in psychology is really useless, coming from a bankrupt field that cannot ever acknowledge feeling.  There is the apotheosis of the intellect even when it is the opposite that counts.  Some of my patients had professors for parents but they could never touch and kiss their children so what good did their intellect serve when they were destroying their children?  And they never saw it.  They were blinded by their intellect and could not see around their blinders.  Feelings opens the pathways for sight and understanding; they opened mine and then I knew the mistakes I made with the children.  And then I could hear the pigs scream, and I will never eat bacon in my life.  What we need is a feeling society and it can start with parents and continue with teachers; but first we all need to know the importance of feelings. They are lifesaving.  Two twins born prematurely, were put into an incubator together.  They had their arms around each other, and did far better then those who lived in an incubator all alone.  We need each other; we need the hugs the caress and the kisses, as if life itself depended on it, and it does.

 Here is what we don’t need:  we don’t need booga booga therapy, bereft of science, where everyone goes around hugging one another and spouting love phrases.  We need to know that pain is imprinted very early right after birth and stays for a lifetime and will not change with a few well meaning patients hugging each other.  It is good for a moment but cannot last or change anything. We don’t need smart therapists.  We need feeling ones.  Beware the ides of intellect.

 What it is that we all want? Love, of course, but when it is absent and we never knew it, we settle for substitutes…praise, approval, a pat on the head, an “A” from a teacher, a letter of commendation, a medal for work well done,  etc.  And we need those things as strong as we need love because that is what is behind our need for approval.  I know, I felt, “say I’m good” dozens of times in therapy.  That is what I needed, a wee drop of approval, a bit of praise from someone who counted in my life and at the time it was needed.  If I get it now it is nice indeed, but not life changing.  At age five after being called stupid time after time cause my father felt stupid and needed me to boost his faltering ego, that is when it would have done some good.  You cannot make up for what you missed, which is what nearly every therapy does today. Those therapists care about you, are concerned for your success and advise you.  Yet what we all missed is imprinted and fights back against all the help now.  It cannot get in.  We must must must go back and relive, undo the imprint and correct history.  We need to reverse the pain and be free.  How hard is that? Not as hard nor as painful as you might imagine.  You cannot address the present and change your past.  As obvious as that seems; you can only change the past by going back and reliving it, undo the chemicals such as methyl that engraved the memory into the system.  It is reversing the imprint that is the sine qua non.  That opens the gates to feeling and then we can breathe again; literally as some of my shallow breathers began to breathe far more deeply after therapy.  See. feelings opens up the lungs and the vascular pathways so we can breathe and have more latent oxygen in the systems.  It means averting seizures and clogging of vessels.  It means lowering blood pressure all by itself and of stopping lifelong migraines.  It means lowering the chemicals of stress and clearing the top level neo-cortex so we can think clearly again.  You mean feelings can do all of that?  Yes, but, but, Primal feelings, not the unleashing of a few tears and expecting miracles.  It means releasing pent up tears that have lain there silently for decades waiting their turn.  We have given them their turn.

 I have been in practice for over sixty years, since my days on the Staff of Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, Psychiatric Dept. And what did I learn? not much.  I started practicing Primal almost fifty years ago, and what did I learn?  Everything.    Feelings taught me, and I became a patient of my clinic.  I sat in the waiting room and waited my turn like everyone else. And then I started to learn about myself and then about others.    New shrinks must have our therapy so that they can learn, so that they can suss out feelings in others and help them with those feelings.  If you want decent kids and a good marriage you need to feel.  I have seen what a primal child looks like and it is a joy.  His father is writing a book about him.  He just gets up in the morning and says, “wow, I feel so good today.”  So simple and so great.  He learns easily, has many friends and is most popular.

 If you want friends you need to be  friend, not in the booga booga sense, but in sensing when a friend feels bad and you know how to empathize with her, feel with her and be a real friend.  Not in buying expensive gifts cause that has little meaning for a feeling person; yes it is nice but not if it has to fulfill the task of deprived early love.  Then the receiver needs more and more and it never is completely fulfilling.  When you are full of early love, gifts are terrific but they are not used to make up for what you did not get. Then it is never enough; never enough money, chocolate, boats and possessions, fame, clothes and so on.  Never enough because you are trying to fill a vast hole.  Life gets so simple when you feel that terrible burden you carry around all of the time. You need less because what you need you already have…love.




25 comments:

  1. I think people who live such incredibly valuable lives for the world should age half as quickly, at most. That would include you and all the staff at the centre. You will live on in more people's hearts, minds and feelings than you could ever know. Xo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Art,

    That was beautiful Art. Thank you. You state is so well, dare I say painfully well. But so simply too, because life should be just that, simply living. But many of us cannot do even that for all manner of reasons. One look at the world today is all we need to see that.

    The following paragraph speaks volumes in my opinion, far more than the entire books of the so called learned texts from the so called experts. . .

    ‘I have no rationales for what comes later because it is nothing; no special energy that exists that tells me that part of me is still alive. Nothing remains of me except in the memory of others who loved me. If you want to go on living you need to be loved, and you need to love, and realize that what endures is love and only that.’

    Beautiful.

    You say so much in this post I could be here all night trying to tell you what it l means to me. For the time being then I will just say a big thank you for posting this and wish you a belated happy birthday.

    Regards to both you and France and all at the Center.

    Steve

    ReplyDelete
  3. "I don’t want to leave this earth but I have come to terms with it… still…I have no rationales for what comes later because it is nothing"

    "Nothing remains of me except in the memory of others who loved me."

    Art, I am sure you have heard of the hydra animals... they look like little worms with tentacles at one end and a suction cup at the other. Oh and one other thing... they are IMMORTAL. They will not die until they are eaten.

    When you die, the worms rise to the top of the food chain. We don't want that to happen. If a worm can be immortal, you can too. Just freeze yourself until scientists have discovered the way to make your cells proliferate without becoming cancerous. Learn from the worms -- please don't feed yourself to them.

    Mother nature can see that you are a very helpful member of the human species. That is why she has decided to slow your rate of aging. Needy humans are giving you behavioural and chemical signals which are maintaining the health of your telomeres. You are a precious psychological and epigenetic creation. Mother nature is proud of you. Don't let her down!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard: OK I heed your advice. Except Walt Disney was frozen and I hear he is not doing well. I hope mother nature is proud, explain more I love to hear it . art

      Delete
    2. Imagine taking your "last" breath, and then immediately (from your perspective) waking up like Buck Rogers with a medical team around you in, say, 2300, and with a defrosted Richard looking down at you saying "I told you so!".

      But as cheesy as that sounds...humans do have the ability to master anything mechanical, and our bodies are ultimately mechanical. A trillion nanobots could recover and reverse a dead body, I suppose.

      Andrew Atkin

      Delete
    3. Scientists grow human babies from frozen sperm. Scientists cannot agree on the degree to which cryopreservation can damage the DNA in sperm, but still they grow babies which seem to be similar to those that grew from fresh sperm. Not surprisingly, there have been very few studies on the psychological condition of people grown from frozen sperm, and as far as I know there are no long term studies at all. Neurotic needs and money will always prevail in the political and scientific arena.
      But at least the frozen sperm gives us some indication of success in terms of basic biological function. Each human cell, containing an endless universe of genetic code, can be frozen and brought back to life.
      What kind of life? Well, Art would be woken from an induced coma when his heart and brain are considered functional and stable. He would most likely experience considerable psychological trauma as his brain tries to recognize all of the artificially rebuilt tissue. He may have no sense of identity and no intelligible memory, but he would still have a strong sense of self. He would probably benefit from a lot of gentle, soothing touching from a loving person (preferably France) while he is experiencing the initial psychological and physical confusion. One would hope that in time he would be able to develop an effective defense system, learn to walk and talk again, and when he is strong enough, undergo primal therapy again, assuming it will exist in the future.

      Delete
  4. You should be known in my country -Poland too, where 60 % of parents think that spank children is ok! and if we add to this 60 % the psychological violence, verbal and sexual abuse so how many children grow up with love .... I tray to share your texts on my walls and others but people do non share :( greetings from Poznań

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sabina: I know. Poland is like so many other countries where child abuse is approved. You have your work to do. Thanks for the information. art

      Delete
  5. Hi Art. A great statement and I like the way you disassociate yourself from camp booga-booga. That's important.

    Know of any way for internationals to get around the "over stayer" problem? Money isn't so much the problem for my brother and myself. Savings are pretty solid nowadays.

    Andrew Atkin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Andrew, - regarding the 'over stayer' problem, I am in the same boat.

      this is also referring to Gordon's remark below about the 'revolution' not happening.

      A while back I was ruminating (yet again) about the injustice of my wealthy ex partner now well ensconced in what was once my council terrace social housing. Thinking to myself (again) how on earth did this beautiful young well heeled woman end up as "The Poor Little Rich Kid in the Ghetto" and me and my son end up in the social mess we're in across town up a 'high rise' filled with scallys and junkies and all sorts of miscreants (us included of-course). . . I jumped out of bed, turned on the lap top and Googled "Cuckoo". . . (as you do when turfed out of your home unfairly by an equally dysfunctional person thinly disguised as a 'victim rising above her persecutor' -blah-). . .

      Strangely, serendipitously even, up came the most relevant sociology essay I have ever read:

      -"THE CUCKOO CLOCK SYNDROME"-.

      Subtitled: "Addiction to Command & Aversion to Leadership". I cannot remember the authors name but for those of you interested in this extremely pithy issue I'm sure the words above put into whatever search engine you use will get you the essay. It has been written for discussion. I do believe another subscriber to this blog may have referred to it also. . .

      So, besides myself with perfectionist frustration and the will to persevere ('get out') I have repeatedly over 4 years on this blog flagged up the issue of collectivising. . . Art has posted all of what I have sent on the subject and frankly it kind of looks like it is falling on deaf ears. . . But, with all my peculiarly perfectionistic perseverance I will persist in presenting the potential for Primal People to pull together and perform the almost impossible and make it Possible.

      First you have to read the essay.

      I posit that it is Primal Pain that prevents us from collectivising and thus we ALL remain DIS-empowered as INDIVIDUALISED reflections of who we really are; addicted to command and averse to leadership. Only the the very well heeled (such as my ex partner in social housing) can afford to make this journey across various 'ponds' and most of them are more than satisfied with the facsimile of themselves and the 'wealth' they possess to 'maintain' it.

      You may be asking 'why collectivise'? Read the essay. Many things are possible when people collectivise but the fear of relating in a committed group keeps us at bay, hiding behind more or less crumbling defenses. Why do we fear collectivising ?

      Read the essay.

      Paul G.



      Delete
  6. I didn't know it was Dr. Janov's 90th birthday; but then, as they say: "age is only a number". Art always seems so "in tune" and young in mind and body. Seems to me, that he always knows what one (at any age) goes through in this world. Primal Therapy is important.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi,

    I woke up this morning with the beginning of an important insight. This started last night after a period of massive stress abating with the gradual recovery of my son from his deep depression. He started eating again and accepting food I cooked. This is a repeating pattern, coming in waves.
    Last night we watched a movie together for the first time in months. He even laughed. . .

    We started talking more about his mother who died tragically in 2006. Neither of us have grieved the loss of her. Furthermore, I realised I had terrible guilty feelings about my part in her downfall.

    The authorities are 'sticking the fork' into my guilty feelings. I stand before their institutional might condemned as a 'condemning accuser'. . . I am faced with a pernicious form of 'resonance' down in myself.

    Resonance (in Primal Theory) is such a hard thing to explain / describe because (like all 'theories') without referring to ACTUAL circumstances (IE: some one's personal experiences) all you can do is speak generically. In the attempt to explain resonance to other non primal people you are faced with either referring to your own stuff OR some one else's. Thus actually trying to explain this core issue of trauma and recovery is very hard indeed. If you refer to your own stuff you are exposing yourself and making yourself vulnerable to misunderstandings and if you speak about some one else's stuff it can appear as if you are being hypocritical and accusing. Either way, talking about resonance can look like you have unclear boundaries and are talking tosh.

    Going back to the guilty feelings. . . this is my insight: I feel guilty about my Mum. Starting when I was very small, she got ill a lot with back pain and had to go into hospital (I was 'abandoned'). I think she got badly 'torn' when I was born too, ie: I inflicted pain on her. Well, I don't know because I havn't relived that yet. Then I was probably whisked away to be resuscitated. Then also (I am told) Mum couldn't feed me because she had acute mastitis which was very painful for her (this also explains why I used to like smoking so much). Thus, I have very early feelings of guilt and self blame about women. As a defense I have developed an acute mistrust of women who betray / lie / defer / dismiss / tergivistate and so on.

    I think I got stuck in the birth canal and needed a lot of RAGE to get out. . . My act out in the morning confirms this. . . . . and like so many other people, if any one gets in my way (out) I get VERY flustered. Then, I feel terribly guilty. So, I used drink and drugs to suppress the guilt. Attempts to rid myself of addiction exposes my rage and there I am as a family man looking rather aggressive and critical. This is the signature of a typical perfectionist who can easily go back to drink and drugs to cover up the guilt about being enraged about being betrayed. This can be exploited by others and was by my son's mother when she was a 'client' of the social services 23 years ago.

    Always trying to please, always trying to rid ourselves of guilt. People like this often work so efficiently nobody notices until they fail; and then others find they have become dependent on this suffering servant and begins condemning them for failing. So many 'unconscious' people rely on these hard working and efficient types. These guilty feelings are exploited by partisan groups operating with autonomy and no self reflection. This 'institutional exploitation' is very hard to challenge because the individual representatives are paid and empowered by the state. Thus a lot of collective guilt and rage from many people is focused away from themselves into these institutions. Social Services, the Police, the Prison Service, the Legal System and on and on and on. . .

    Tail between legs, cap in hand, eyes focused down, I am compelled to re-present myself to 'She Who Must be Obeyed'. . . in order to keep my grandson in the family.

    Paul G.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dr. Janov,
    You have laid out the fundamentals that a human being need before and after birth and provided a science- based guideline how to help when unavoidable circumstances deprive the innocent of a psychologically healthy future.
    It is my wish for you to be honored for your life’s work and that Primal Therapy is recognized World Wide as the only solution to heal the physical, psychological and genetic damage inflicted during pregnancy and in childhood.
    Keep going. I wish you well,
    Sieglinde

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mother Nature is proud of you, but a lot of people , also, are very proud of you and are "in awe" of you. The information you have....how you can help people. The importance, of the possibility of helping one live better, making them feel well, it means a lot to people.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Happy 90th birthday, Art. As we say in the sport of cricket, that's a good innings!

    You mention the screams of pigs in your head. I think it's a shame that primal people of the early decades failed to hear the screams of those who wanted the therapy to become a revolution around the world. Something went wrong somewhere - and we still don't know exactly what. Perhaps the needs of people to earn a living (either as practitioners or as paying clients) was incompatible with the needs of revolution.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I heard today at a CBT class
    that the "Behavioral Sciences" have
    decided on a new name for PTSD.

    A "trauma" is now called an "Aversive
    Life Event".

    There are many degrees of trauma
    but a child that is repeatedly assaulted
    and made to fear for its life has suffered
    an assault on its belief in its
    right to live.

    Childhood deprivation and abuse
    is likened to "Soul Murder".

    When I think of "trauma", I think
    of pain and loss; when I think of
    "Aversive Life Events", I think of
    breaking wind during a job
    interview.

    The course instructor said
    that "studies" show that "clients"
    with PTSD are 'traumatized" by
    the word trauma.

    I think the "clinicians"
    are ones that feel
    uncomfortable.

    Behavioral interventions
    are sound for a highly
    functioning man who
    is distressed over
    losing a job or a woman
    who has survived a
    life threatening illness.

    They are in real pain but it is not
    the pain of serious mental illness;
    the pain that shreds the soul and
    causes one feel as if life is a
    meaningless and endless flight
    from terror.

    An adult who has survived repeated
    physical and psychological abuse as
    a child has had a showdown with evil.

    Many survivors of childhood abuse
    suffer from the belief that evil won.

    A confrontation with human evil
    is profoundly disruptive to the
    psyche.

    CBT can help a person proceed
    with therapy.

    But it cannot heal the soul.

    Rob Goldstein

    ReplyDelete
  12. Art,

    Alas, I can only imagine how good life could really be.

    On the subject of immortality, as Richard says, there are a small number of life forms on Earth that are considered ‘biologically immortal’. Yet a biologically immortal living being can still die from means other than old age, for example, injury, disease, predation, lack or destruction of suitable habitat etc.

    Biological immortality is off course a very different matter from the biblical promise of resurrection and the subsequent immortality that it describes as ‘life everlasting.’ Biological immortality is not the same as and is very unlikely to be ‘life everlasting’.

    If I read you correct Art, when you say "I have no rationales for what comes later because it is nothing; no special energy that exists that tells me that part of me is still alive. Nothing remains of me except in the memory of others who loved me.” I feel you are talking about what might happen after death and whether life continues in some shape or form.

    My guess? It doesn’t.

    Which leaves me everything to live for but nothing to die for and you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Regards

    Steve

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve: exactly and well put. art

      Delete
    2. Hi Steve-

      -"Nothing to Live or Die For"-.

      Imagine that. . .

      Paul G.

      Delete
  13. Hi Art,

    -"I have seen what a primal child looks like and it is a joy"-.

    what do you mean by primal child? Do you mean a child conceived and brought into this world by parents who have little or no trauma, through therapy and / or themselves being ex primal patients ?

    Trust me to want clarity on this.

    Paul G.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paul: who are post primal and loving. art

      Delete
  14. An email comment:
    "Visited your website and saw your blog about being ninety and allowed to share your thoughts, "I AM NINETY NOW SO I HAVE EARNED THE RIGHT TO REFLECT A BIT."

    There's an episode from Star Trek (original series) where Captain Kirk says to an alter ego of Mr. Spock: "In every revolution there is one man with the courage to speak out, think about it Mr. Spock, you can be that man." I paraphrase but something pretty much like that.

    To me, you are the man who has spoken out. Yours is a powerful voice which I and - I am sure - many others have welcomed (and needed to have around!) over the years as we try to put the pieces of our past together and heal. A voice, and a message, that one can hold onto when it is needed the most.

    For all the times we hear people say, 'oh but that happened a long time ago', you'd think neurosis would have just gotten up and walked out of the room by now.

    If only we could be so lucky.

    I love you, Man."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so nice to hear. It is letters like this that keep me going. art

      Delete
  15. 20 years ago I used to work in a German Kindergarten. I bought some of your books, I think it was called "Das befreite Kind" back then and gave it to some parents to read. At least I saved a lot of Kids from beeing hit. And those Kids where allowed to cry, same way they where allowed to be happy. Today when I look back, I still was a child when I did Therapy in Venice (20). Today I am allmost 40 and I still sometimes dream beeing in one of those rooms in the old Venice-Center with Howard, Lesli, Brenda or whoever:) Nothing is more in my Memory than this time in my life. Thanks Art and I wish you another happy 90 years, (frozen or not;))

    ReplyDelete

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