Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Memory of Hurt

There is a well known study of a population deprived of food that happened in the Netherlands.    It  showed how this deprivation was carried on to their offspring for years to come.  It was called the “Dutch Winter” which was produced by the Nazis, and devastated the population.  This was external deprivation rather than pure genetics.  But it was carried on as though it were genetic.  A current study asked the question, “how was it imprinted and what were the mechanisms by which that happened?”  (The memory of starvation is in your genes.  Science News.  Aug 1, 2014, see for ex:  And I must add that this is important because it has implications for us humans who were not starved but were deprived; i.e., starved for love, for example.  How does this affect the children who grew up with deprived parents?

My point is that the mechanisms involved may well be the same or similar; that is, as soon as there is deprivation of basic needs, dating back to the beginning of life , those mechanisms begin their work.  That deprivation sends a signal to begin to defend and compensate; to change to meet the disaster to come.  The brain begins to “borrow” some methyl to produce methylation to help dampen the pain of deprivation.  And the biochemicals, such as serotonin, also jump into action to help in the repression.  The whole system is swayed, and not just for the moment but organically.  Those changes are imprinted just as the food deprivation in the Netherlands was.  They shape us for lifetime; they determine our later illnesses and our subsequent behavior.  This and relevant studies are learning the exact mechanisms involved.

One key mechanism is known as “small RNA inheritance.’  RNA molecules are produced by the DNA templates that tell the system that needs are not being met: lack of oxygen from smoking mothers, for example.  Something is missing; something is amiss.  We are warned, and later symptoms tell us about early deprivation but we have no idea what that might be.  In migraines, for example, the vessels during the birth process where heavy anesthesia is delivered to the mother, are depriving the newborn of oxygen; the vessels contract and block blood flow, sometimes resulting in a lifelong battle against persistent migraine headaches.  And what is one key therapy for these headaches?  Oxygen.

And what is the cure for later obesity?  Deprivation again.  How diabolic:  We are starved in the womb by external circumstances or a mother on a crazy diet,  that deprivation is imprinted and makes us hungry for life. Then when we are too fat we have to deprive ourselves again.  We see how useless this all is.  Of course there will be regression toward the imprint because it was life saving early on against the memory of extreme deprivation.
We might believe it is genetic because it happened when we could not even see the hurting fetus. We just assume that it comes from some mysterious source…..genetics.  Rather, its source is epigenetics; how life experience plays on the genes.  So we spend so much of our lives unconsciously responding to memory; obeying its dictates and never even knowing we are being ordered around by our history and its imprints.

Do we have free will?  Not so long as that will is being driven by our history.  There is more and more evidence of the imprint, as there should be, because it is crucial to our understanding of the human condition.    How can we ever conduct psychotherapy without including the imprint in the mix?


  1. Hi,

    As much as I try not to use this blog as a clandestine 'counseling service', nor interrupt with yet another searing or pompous reverberation from my own (sometimes bitter/ sometimes sweet) experience, I am totally driven by the need for membership of a sane group of followers who see the world for what it is WITH OR WITHOUT external 'balancing' stimuli. . .

    So here I go again :

    - Primal Theory seems to offer an opinion 'below' the partisan (which is all that exists 'above'). . .

    Groups which form around 'Partisan Ideals' always collapse, they are not sustainable. . .

    Richard talks of a seamless flow of reality adjustment. . . Mmmm. . . Well, that's what you get as 1 devolves to 2 and 2 devolves further to 3. Devolution gets more complex because it "INVOLVES" membership. Various people talk about 'Evolution in Reverse' but I wonder if repression / adaption / neurosis is actually INVOLUTION and the REAL EVOLUTION is the attempt and success of truly RETRIEVING those SPLIT OFF parts.

    To put it simply: could it be that true evolution is to go against the mainstream and challenge one's 'unconscious' and be actually done with it ? ? ?

    So, to my mind, what is required is a club of people who write a memorandum for all members to agree NOT on WHAT TO agree on, BUT on WHAT NOT TO DIS-agree on.

    That I feel, I think and I reason is what Primal Theory must establish better. This blog has come around again to that old (1st line) chestnut. . . Look above to see Art's new crafting of one of his older messages.

    Why? Because if Primal Theory posits ALL AFFECTS caused primarily by BRAINSTEM IMPRINTS, then it follows there is a club rule. . . IE: that we are all members to support the exploration of that brainstem in ourselves, in each member. That is our duty to our selves and therefore a commitment to that membership MUST be enshrined in commitment to re-volution in reverse. . . so to speak. But there is a social implication here. . .

    In the past we discussed a Primal newsletter and a Primal dating agency and discussions have extrapolated on that but after all this extrapolation we are none the nearer to committing to Primal Therapy.
    Maybe there already exists an 'exoteric group' which can help people find their way into Primal but so far I am not aware of it and perhaps I havn't looked more closely at what's really possible.

    It is possible to train as a therapist but somehow I wonder if all this has done is offer 'would be (sole trading) therapists' an unfair advantage? At least from the point of view of those who know very well they NEED THERAPY, not training.

    I just need therapy, not the training. I would be lying to myself if I thought I could get therapy by applying for training as a therapist. That's why I decided to be and stuck to being a carpenter in the 1st place, many years ago . . I am still not ready to give up carpentry and I really can't imagine doing both carpentry and Primal as a therapist in training or otherwise. . . It's a great fantasy though. . . and on that note perhaps it's worth mentioning I believe Jesus should have stuck to carpentry. . .

    Paul G.

    1. Paul, what can we do? More people in the world, more people are here to just find suffering, many people just suffering by the way they are born and what happened in the womb. For some, nothing gets through. What Dr. Janov has to say , possibly it is "Arts new crafting of one of his older messages." but what he has to say is important. Before reading what Dr. Janov had to say....I was suffering in life more. Just reading what he has to say and I do believe what he has to say is important for me and to other people. If one cannot afford primal therapy right now, then Dr. Janov's books and his e-mail blogs will have to "suffice" for now. Before reading anything about what Dr. Janov had to say....I was going around really "wondering" about myself. Wondered why at times I was the way I was. I do believe that people are better having received Primal Therapy, and having reading Dr. Janov's e-mail blogs, his books....he doesn't get through to a lot of people, a lot of people just don't know or realize because there are so many people in the world now. What Dr. Janov has to say, in my opinion, is very important to reveal; to express and to get "the word" out there.

    2. Hi coastbeach7,

      -"what can we do"?

      let me extrapolate for a moment:

      When we do try to "get the word out there"-. . . remember there will be an opposition who can only deny the obvious. Try not to over-react to their denial. . .

      Try always to be passionate despite their accusal you are angry, and try always to be persuasive despite their accusal you are 'manipulative'.

      Their denial always reduces your evidence. . .

      Evidence of feelings, that is their denial, not yours. Stand firm in the face of denial.

      Paul G.

    3. Hi coastbeach7,

      thanks for responding. I'm frustrated with my own 'will less ness'.

      But also I am suffering because 'spreading the word of Primal' to the social services where I live has resulted in a disaster. My son is soon to be assessed by an independent shrink to see if Primal Theory has made him ill. . .

      Or more to the point that I have made my son ill by discussing the past with him (in a Primal context). I have also (allegedly) made him resistant to 'other forms of therapy'. Allegedly. . . All because of Primal Theory. . . Oh yeah, I stupidly admitted I have PTSD and abreaction and even some re-living experiences. . . so now I'm not being considered as a viable carer for my grandson should my son fail his 'parenting assessment'.

      Thus my grandson is likely on the adoption register. Apparently I am the cause of a 'self fulfilling prophesy'. . . By discussing traumatic history. . . Furthermore old FALSE allegations of serious crime (by me against my son) have been wheeled out from the records and are now staring me in the face. . . Just to keep me quiet I think.

      Because I am 'resistant'. . . Thus the authorities are playing "thought police".

      You Will Not Discuss Primal for fear of having your children removed from your care because you are stuck in the past and resistant to other 'cures'.

      Paul G.

      Beware who you discuss Primal with. . .

  2. Hi,

    Free Will (it'sa rap):

    Free Will is a pill
    without a name
    or a brand,
    It's just a grand way to say:

    I know what I'm talking about.
    I am my own brand,
    I'm handy and I'm ready,
    I have a plan.

    It's a heady place up here and over there I see
    what I want.
    So, in front I go get it and (you must agree)
    I got it from my font of desire.
    I have it and that's me.

    I am not a liar ?

    Sony, Nissan, I pod
    My God,
    My rod and my staff, don't laugh, this IS all me. . .
    Coz I am free to buy and to purchase to lever and to holler:

    Give me a Dollar!
    Give me a Dime!
    Give me a watch. . .
    So that I AM On Time.

    It's Sublime;
    that I have the time. . .

    to recline on my couch of free will. . .
    and consider this pill in front of me.

    And the thrill of takin it;
    of what next to get
    what next to buy,
    what next to believe,
    and on what next to rely.

    DIE ! ?
    Who ME ?
    No never, not now,
    that will happen later. . .
    I aint no fire in the great-or
    some mate to ask out later and later. . .

    No, man, I'm livin
    In the here and now,
    I got free will
    Can't you see ?

    Are you a sucker for the punch in my line?
    Are you denying the life in your blood?
    Well then forget it man if you whine
    Coz I am livin the free life and it's good. . . It's fine.

    It never ends.
    Did u send me an invite?
    Did u mend your unwanted reality?
    Did u write?
    Did id you love and despair?
    Did you dare ? ? ?

    Did you find out love bites?
    That It's not fair?
    and unreal. . .
    Did you learn to feel ?

    Shit man, r u twistin my mind ?
    R u sayin there's no free will ?
    U aint kind, you r too much ! ! !

    Don't speak such !
    Coz all I want to hear
    Is my mantra dear:

    Free Will, Free Will, must take my pill,
    Free Will, Free Will, must take my pill,
    Free Will, Free Will, must take my pill,
    Free Will, Free Will, must take my pill.

    Take my pill,
    take my pill,
    I believe I will. . .

    Paul G.

  3. is imprint a memory or epigenetic change? the word imprint suggests something durable, so my interpretation is that imprint is a memory (experience). everything else is a measurable manifestation of that memory - epigenetic included.
    that is one of the reasons i think we cant catch and define the imprint from outside. so slippery it is. adjusting and reacting to new environment.
    it intrigues me for some time this line between real and unreal...
    i should read more about it .. but ahh.


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.