Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Pain Inside Need


Why does need hurt?  Well, it does not until we feel it. Then it hurts a lot, which is why most of us act it out.  We show our needs every day and every minute, which is how we know they’re there.   When we engage our therapist and show him how smart we are, how terribly insightful, we get a nodding approval.  Our act-out works and we don’t have to feel our need, even though that need is liberating when felt.   When the narcissist cannot be the center of attention he starts to hurt until he can gain that center again.  Indeed, all of us hurt when our needs are not fulfilled even though we have no awareness of that need.   And in fact, neurosis is designed to keep us unaware.  So we act out being helpless so we can get someone else to do it for us or to help us.  When there is no help we hurt.

But why the act-out?  Because it is a straight line from the need, except that the gates which diminish feeling access blunt the hurt and keep us unaware.  When we are unaware we do not hurt as much.  Unconsciousness is our savior.   That straight line from need also works in reverse; when we go back to it over time in therapy we start to hurt—hold me, touch me, say I’m good, hear me, talk to me—all of the needs essential for normal survival; to survive as a normal human being become alive again.   We hurt because those needs represent survival; we need to be normal and need to grow normally.  When we can’t the system says something is missing and provides pain to signal it.  Pain keeps the need alive.  Pain is essential to our survival and our normality.

I have treated film directors whose pathology rivals that of actors. When they are not on scene they hurt.  Yes they can even produce feeling scenes but it remains an act-out not a felt feeling.    They don’t really hurt enough to feel their need, but they hurt enough to feel depressed, alone and neglected.  Even when those needs are not articulated.  In other words, needs become shrouded by the gating system whose function is to keep us unaware and unconscious.  All this is particularly true of the earliest imprints where pain is at the maximum.   It is the most powerful, the most driving, and the least accessible.   Because it is least accessible, we usually ascribe our act-outs to arcane reasons or we most often deny them.

We see it in the deep trenches of the psyche; in sex which emanates from deep in the brain.  We go to therapy to solve our “sex” problem and we use the top level that has no access to deep levels where the imprints lie. Because the therapist nor the patient knows about those deep levels that are obliged to roam in a  different terrain from where the problem lies.  So if the patient needs to be spanked to have orgasm, words won’t touch.   I already wrote about a girl whose only touch from her father was when he lifted her skirt and spanked her bare bottom.  That touch fulfilled an unacknowledged need; it felt good and become a sexual need.  Or the need to see a partner’s face when she orgasmed.  My patient never saw his mother smile or seem happy.  Here he could see unalloyed joy.   It fulfilled a basic need for a normal, happy mother.   That is why I state that the act-out is often a straight line from the need.  That need never dies. We have two choices; either we feel it or we act it out into infinity.

So when we believe we are normal and are bereft of any deep need, look at the act-outs.  They are often subtle.  And they are also compulsive; we do it over and over again.  Leaving dirty dishes in the sink? The need, “Don’t make me do all the chores all of the time.”  Forced not to ask for help?  “I want to be good and not be a bother."
This to parents who really don’t want to be bothered.  The child fulfilled their needs in order to be loved, which never happened.   Or the compulsive gambler who cannot stop … he wants “lady luck” to help him and make him rich without him having to struggle for it.

Basic need, then, becomes symbolic need. That is the essence of neurosis.  We act on symbols. The “love” of an audience instead of the need for it from parents: “I will be anything you want me to be if you can love me.”

So here is the dilemma:  we need to feel need to overcome neurosis, and we need to act it out because we cannot feel it.  Solution?  A slow trip to the depths, to the antipodes of the brain where all those needs await us.  Take one more step and you are there; but alas, the last step is filled with primal demons which keeps diverting us.  That is why we need help in therapy; to help us bypass the demons for the moment and to step gingerly into the primal pool of pain.    Aah, the pool is a lot warmer than I expected and not nearly so dangerous.  After all, it is only me who I will find.  How dangerous could that be?

19 comments:

  1. Hi,

    my act out is to be perfect and competent and to have answers and to be critical of others failure to co-operate with my act out. . . Other people retract and then I am compelled to follow them like some kind of cheapskate Dickensian Lawyer with endless explanations about why and how and when and where and who and so on.

    On the other hand I am so 'identified' with the underdog, I barely rise above the poverty I feel I deserve as a consequence of actually knowing myself to be far from perfect. . . Thus I fail my own expectations. This of course justifies my conundrum and I can resume my 'low life' knowing that actually I am a bit of a loser (but I'm only admitting that to you) and don't really deserve what most other people take for granted.

    This is called a double bind I think. I think double binds like this may be driven by the 1st line traumas and keep us continually inside our act outs no matter how well aware and acquainted we are with them (like me of mine above). OR even if we are aware of all this PRIMAL THEORY. . . . .

    This is why I have NO faith in other methods. At best I am getting some 'counseling' from my current therapist here in UK. In fact my therapist is a good counselor but this leaves him feeling like he hasn't really done much for me. . . . . But then, who ever said psychotherapists (or counselors) ever needed to DO anything at all?

    Apart from be there for the patient and acknowledge hir suffering. If the therapist is a Primal therapist then I assume what she has DONE is to Primal enough herself to be free from the denial she should not under any circumstances allow to interfere with her relationship with her own patients.

    It seems to me from what Art says above that the 1st line traumas are very different and access is therefore quite different too. It follows that access (to the 1st line) may well be entirely dependent on the WHOLE (orderly) methodology and clinical conditions (special room for three hrs etc etc) arranged expertly from trial and error over 5 decades at the Center in Santa Monica.

    Self Primallers are in a tricky situation because they have absolutely no other support resources to rely on to guide their process in a constructive (or do I mean deconstructive) way. . . I mean, how did they get access in the 1st place? Thus there should be the demand for more Primal Centers around the world because I believe there are many many people who are forced to HIDE and PRIMAL ALONE. I reckon there are many more than is immediately obvious and I wonder how many of them have even heard of Art and the Primal Center?



    Paul G.

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  2. Yes... Yes... Yes... Yes... Yes... Yes... Yes... Yes... Yes.

    Frank

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  3. OK Art I a question or two for you as this has thrown up a few for me. Before I applied to the Centre I watched all the video's on the Primal Centre website and also read in your books that a therapist can batter against a persons defences and not get anywhere because it simply makes the defence even stronger. If a therapist starts offering insights that ain't good either. My understanding is that one way you advocate getting past the defence is to side step it. To go round it. I have often found myself getting in touch with early experiences because I have been what I call blind sided ie asked a question which slips past a defence and gets further towards what happened. Sometimes it takes a few days for this question work it's way down and bring things up. Such a question can leave me feeling totally thrown and often overwhelmed but in a good way I hope.

    I have been feeling rather confused by my therapy recently. I have felt battered and also guilty because I have been asking to be listened to (believed I suppose). One needs to be believed. However I also want to be asked questions. I hope to be asked questions that throw me and unsettle me and get past my defences. I have found it difficult to be pulled back to something I had been saying 10 minutes before because I had been showing a lot of feelings then. I find it confusing and I get overwhelmed with anger. I feel as though I am on a journey towards something in my therapy and then suddenly get to wrenched back to something from 10 minutes ago does not seem to work for me. One of my defences is to easily forget and to get side tracked so if my therapist can help keep me on track I hope to get past my defences.

    I don't want approval from my therapist. I want support to help me through to difficult events and feelings. I do find that if I fell I have that support I end up getting in touch with feelings and events.

    I don't know frankly. I would find it really helpful if you wrote somthing about this. Also do you think that a Parasympath accesses feelings in a different way from a Sympath. I have have often thought they might.

    Feeling very confused by my therapy at the moment and losing confidence in it which scares me.

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    Replies
    1. Planespotter: No therapist is omniscient. So I always ask a seasoned patient if I made any mistakes. Sometimes I have and the patient helps me with it. Or if the patient wants to see a section of the session to go over it by all means the therapist needs to do it. It is a collaborative effort and must remain that way. If the therapist must always be right then something is wrong. art

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    2. Hi planespotter,

      I may have sent this twice:
      Hi planespotter,

      I think I understand how you feel. Most therapies rely on the 'transference / counter-transference'. A lot has been written about this but it's all rather vague. Art has said that at the Primal Center this 'therapeutic alliance' does not take such a precedence as in other therapies. Though, the issues still remain.
      Personally I feel the idea of transference and recognising it is good but to work within it and / or expect some benefits from it are mistaken, particularly in a Primal context.

      The problem seems (forgive my presumption here) that you and I (and many others) who have already been in the European tradition of psychotherapy will have to an extent become conditioned by this 'transference / counter transference' aspect of the therapeutic alliance. You already mentioned how an earlier NHS therapist knocked you totally out of kilter with their denial and I feel you may be paying the price for this now (I sense I am also, by the way).

      What particularly attracts me to Primal is the fundamental acceptance of early imprints and the need to gain access. The Therapist is there for that and to offer safety and security in the process. All else is secondary. I purport that all this other therapy we have been getting has confused us and it probably confuses others we come into contact with too.

      Now that sounds like I am blaming the victim. . . but this IS the fundamental problem with brainwashing and manipulation. . . It is that the person who started the manipulation is long gone and the CONSEQUENCES remain in the patient.

      This is what I particularly DON'T like about conventional therapy. These CONVENTIONS do not recognise the 1st line imprints and thus lay open the patient to a succession of "false dockings" in the Harbour of one's own Soul. There we are trying to get back 'into port' (so to speak) but the ropes don't seem to reach and people on the key are looking the other way. . .

      So fed up I am of this 'charade' conventional therapists allow us to 'waltz along with', that I have begun conducting my own de programming with my old therapist but he does not know that is what I am doing, neither could he. . . until perhaps he begins to fundamentally change his view and really take on the consequences of HIS 1st line imprints. He has told me that he has indeed had experiences of crying AS an infant and currently I am attempting to open up the subject of AB REACTION so that we can begin to address this MONUMENTAL MISTAKE some of us may be making.

      Basically I need some one to listen to me and (in the absence of Primal) no more that that. This leaves most people feeling powerless because the desire to FIX a WOUNDED individual is very strong. Compounding all this is the MISGUIDED brainwashing we went through before with less than adequate therapists who themselves were still tangled in this transference. . .

      Take care and good luck.

      Paul G.

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    3. Hi Paul

      Thanks fot your comments. Really appreciate them. :-)

      The NHS therapists who knocked me were people I met 25 years ago. I was a different person then. Far too trusting in authority figures and far too easily led by them. Brainwashing by my Parents as you say.

      Art's and Alice Miller's books changed all that as well as reading Bowlby, Liang etc. I take Art's points on the latter. I think they were heading in the right direction and often saw the consequence of lack of love but did'nt "see it" if you see what I mean. I still see that they were haeding in the right direction. It's just the fact that Art managed to go further into the heart of darkness.

      I think tranference is useful and needs to be understood because it is part of the human condition and most probably part of the defence system built by poor parents. However if a therapist can understand this and ask the right questions they can get past those defences to something more profund. I know Alice Miller used transference a great deal but also wrote like a Primal Therapist too very often.

      I used to carry "Thou Shalt Not Be Aware" with me whenever I went to a therapy session. I took it to LA and it went to many of my early sessions. It was stuffed full of Postit notes and was for a long time my lifeline. I trusted that book and Alice Miller far more than anyone else for a long time because I always felt that she listened to me. I have an e-mail from her just before she died which I treasure.

      I know I was an incredibly hurt little Boy and because of that I find it difficult to accept any kind of comment. I did a huge amount of work in my recovery myself and found the journey really fascinating and rewarding. I think the little Boy I was needs a sense of being trusted to feel what I need to feel and do it in my own time and then maybe he will have the confidence to move out of the shadows and really tell his story. I have always needed to be able to tell my story as I am sure you need to too.

      Good luck to you too.

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    4. Hi planespotter,
      firstly: Yes the transference is important. Nevertheless though the therapist may have the best of intentions for you she is still potentially 'hijacking the scene of the original crime' if she attempts to use your transference to develop an (allegedly) effective counter transference. What is an effective counter transference? Actually if you think about it, it can never be more than a boundary for the therapist which you as her patient define by being unconsciously driven by your perpetrators inflicted traumas on you. I still don't think it should be the larger part of the therapeutic alliance.
      To my mind the therapist is there as a guide (and an encyclopedia for your nervous system) and a WITNESS for YOU of how your nervous system got distorted. Not as an intellectual nor a symbolist but as an ALLY working for your ACCESS to YOUR PRIMAL PAIN. Primal removes all masks because it's aim is always, eventually the 1st line.
      Secondly: These traumas belong to YOU, not the therapist. Nor do they even belong to your perpetrator. She could never take them back, could she? No. That is why forgiveness (or blame & revenge) is such a blind alley.
      So having accepted that our traumas belong to us it makes little sense to rely on a relationship with someone who purports to 'borrow' your perpetrators crime as a kind of 'proxy'. . . I think it's dodgy. It's inevitable your therapist will feel your 'resistance' and also the force of your dissatisfaction with carrying the burden of grief and pain. . . But hir main solidarity is through hir having Primalled enough to be relatively more FREE.
      This is what allows for EMPATHY with you. EMPATHY is for the receiver NOT the giver.
      Empathy is a factor of the freedom of the empath. Empathy cannot really be 'learned'.
      We can talk about features of empathy but WORDS are not empathy.
      Victims survive our re-living experiences through proximity with another feeling being. This being lays their attention on our suffering and becomes our WITNESS. Alice Miller made a big point of Witnessing. To feel witnessed IS to have received empathy. There was someone who SAW your PAIN so that you don't have to HIDE it or DENY it any more.

      Paul G.

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    5. Paul says!

      "What particularly attracts me to Primal is the fundamental acceptance of early imprints and the need to gain access. The Therapist is there for that".

      What "that" means is the most simple but extremely complex question... a question "we walk around like a cat around hot porridge"... our neo cortex cares!
      We can explain ourselves next to "day of death" only we do not have to question why we suffer.

      Sorry Paul... it's not meant to be for you... it is a destined question (for me) for what we do as we do when we avoid the foundation of who we/I really are.

      Frank

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    6. Hi Art & planespotter,

      -"No therapist is omniscient"-. . .

      No, but, they CAN BE in the eyes of a new patient, particularly if the patient has already become conditioned to the presence of another authority/ies. I mean, we all ARE to a greater extent aren't we? Particularly after a few more therapists/bosses/partners in life, the trauma gets re-enforced.

      By the time the patient is "seasoned", I presume the therapist will have ceased to be omniscient BUT something else will have happened during that period (of naivety).

      If primal therapists are using the 'transference' then surely they must be in a primal context, particularly the 1st line.
      This would explain why, in the sound proofed rooms (all snug), the therapists rarely position themselves up on chairs opposite the patient (like a bloody 3rd line interview) but aside or behind. . . or how the patient feels best, at least to start with.
      During this naive stage in the relationship, by default the therapist is becoming or has already become 'omnipresent' in the senses of the patient. Potentially 'omnipotent' to boot, surely these 'below the threshold' sensations ARE the language of the 1st line transference?

      How the Primal therapist handles all these situations (in the transference) I do not know; the patient is conditioned by hir omnipresence and omnipotence. I can see 7 years training is not too much. I can also see that a team is needed to share the burden of responsibility. Perhaps the Center rotate therapists and / or a pair might work with one patient, seems possible/sensible for some patients to me.

      My most important point is that during this naive period, time seems to stand still. But we don't actually live longer as a consequence, well, we might. Unless this relationship 'floating out of time' is used to aim at the true descent we will be 'treading water' without really knowing it. So every moment spent 'enthralled in the warm (or maybe not so 'warm') glow of ones SUPERIOR could have life shortening consequences, if for no other reason than time has merely passed whilst (pleasantly?) dominated by another. . . You may never get that time back. So this is what I think is dodgy about the 'transference / counter transference' relationship. You could spend years of your life getting "towed along" by your unconscious awe of your therapist/partner/boss. It may not be 'awe', it could be 'permission' or 'denial' or all sorts of complex stuff you're not aware of. This is how we get brainwashed. This is why I am convinced beyond any doubt that Primal is a true principle of psychotherapy. If followed and you can get access, you will become more free. I feel that when Art mentions the transference as less important. . . or similar words, this is what is meant. The 1st line changes everything. Freedom from imprinted pain is the aim, no longer does therapy need to be another mentors 'script' learned subliminally.

      Paul G.

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    7. Paul, remember the critical period? Nohing now can change what is imprinted back then and that means the transference by the doctor or patient. art

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    8. Hi Art,

      you said it.

      Paul G.

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    9. Hi Paul

      I agree with a lot of what you say. If a child grows up as I did always trying to second guess how a Parent is feeling or will act in a particualr situation because that child fears retribution for a wrong word or act then the adult that child grew into will always be sensative to how the Therapist reacts to the patients actions/words/feelings. When I talked about the Therapist asking questions in response to the patients projection I was resupposing that the therapist would be aware of this and be aware that earlier events would have been the cause of the particular projection while also being confident enough to know that the only person who is going to eventually know what that event was is the patient so being careful not to "Drape" (as Art puts it) the patient with the therapists own presumptions about what happened which is difficult. I agree that needing a witness (which suggests a passive none actioning role) is vital so that the patient can make a difficult journey in a safe supportive and empathic environment.

      I remember having a conversation early on with my Uk therapist where I said I needed her to be my Ariadne. In the Myth of the Minotaur, Ariadne gives Theseus a ball of thread so that when he has slain the Minotaur he can find his way out of the Labrynth. I have always thought that this myth is so evocative of someone (Thesueus) dealing with internal demons hidden in the depths of the subconcious (Labrynth) and having the support of an enlightened witness (Ariadne).

      Either way I would have thought that transference is part of Neurosis because a fully concious person is going to have the emotional strength and resilience to deal with difficult evenst and feelings rather than emotionally dump on others.

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  4. "Don't make me do the chores all the time"...that passage in the article above really resonates with me. More specifically, when I was young, I HATED to be forced to cut the grass.Why bother? Grow some goddamm tomatoes there instead of a lawn, or something! That memory of all that suburban bourgeois nonsense comes back to me often since there are a lot of lawn mowers in my area to set the memories off. This rage comes over me, like in my upper back and neck, a terrible frustration almost driving me mad in the "crazy" sense.My mother used to also call me "lazy' all the time, almost obsessively. I'd try to convince her otherwise by pointing out I was a top-of -the-class student, and that took work to achieve (I didn't learn algebra telepathically!). But,nope...Nothing could convince her otherwise of my profoundly contemptible nature. Afterwards I even stopped getting good grades in my college years. Like, why bother? What's the point? I then spent most of my life leading a marginal existence economically, which is not surprising, I suppose. Another child of the middle classes becomes a "lazy" dope-smoking hippy, like zillions of others!

    16 years old, first summer job in an Italian meat factory owned by friends of my parents. On the first day, I get lectured to by the boss about "hard work".Obviously, my bad reputation has preceeded me. I listen to this fascist bullshit with a kind of nodding hypocrisy, like "Yeah,yeah sure"..but ,secretly in my soul, it's like..."give me a goddamm break, and shove your work ethic where the sun do not shine!". I do my work, never mix with the other employees, eat alone reading a book, my usual pattern: keep away from the dumb servile "hard-working" masses.

    Over the last few years, I've felt very drawn to any movie about slackers, like "The Big Lebowski", a middle-aged layabout. Can totally relate to it, like so many other people can, because it's a cult hit. And it's nice to be able to laugh a bit about it. Also, found out recently about a TV character called Maynard G. Krebs (played by Bob Denver of "Gilligan" fame) in an early 60s sitcom called The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Here is what the Wiki article about the character had to say:

    "The Krebs character, portrayed by actor Bob Denver, begins the series as a stereotypical beatnik, with a goatee, "hip" (slang) language, and a generally unkempt, bohemian appearance. His abhorrence of conventional social forms is signified by comical reactions to three words: "work", "marriage", and "police". For example, whenever the word "work" is mentioned, even in passing, he yelps "Work?!" and jumps with fear or even faints. He serves as a foil to the well-groomed, well-dressed, straight-laced Dobie, and the contrast between the two friends provides much of the humor of the series."

    I love that about him fainting possibly when he hears the word "work". So I suppose I am not the only one since the 60s who reacted aggressively or passively against that "hard-work" reactionary ideology in our society, backed up by threaths of parental disapproval and loss of love for not performing "chores" and not being a "good respectable boy", a "bad" character, in other words,destined to ruin and destitution apparently.

    Marco (an anarchistic NON hard-working Italian, a rarity in the Little Italies of the world)

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  5. Art: I wonder what your thoughts might be regarding what's going on in Ferguson, MO? I just read the entire transcript of Darren Wilson ( the cop who shot Michael Brown ) and having been in life and death situations, I came away wondering about the insanity of the racial divide. I can see how this white cop felt his life endangered by this young black man. Is this a racist response? Race aside, what are the facts of the human struggle ( life and death ) in this scenario? What a complex complicated divisiveness we as a human species exhibit. Reality is seen through our pain. Nothing else can take precedence. Not facts or science. Really our pain trumps everything. Ultimately, if we are in touch with our real feelings we can hopefully see reality as it really is and not skewed through our pain. It is a hopeless feeling towards believing we can ever evolve into better people both black and white. I still want to believe we can.

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  6. The question is... how the established care sees himself as a scientific care?

    Can politicians' choices of what care should be conducted undermine what else healing processes contain? Yes... here in Sweden it is like that. If you ask the established care what they know about primal therapy... you get the answer "we have political directives for what care should be conducted"! What the politicians' are saying is "It should be economically justified for what care given". That is how the politicians' considering the value of a human and the established care follows in the footsteps. Is that not a criminal offense... then what is?

    Frank

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    1. Hi Frank,

      As Malcolm Coxall so pertinently points out in his book "Human Manipulation", we have reached an age where the 'individual' is (allegedly) supreme. Thus 'law' and 'rights' are supposedly tailored to meet individual needs.

      This is a fundamental aspect of democracy, that ONE SIZE should NOT FIT ALL.

      In UK there was once a directive that if a patient could prove that a particular treatment regime had some chance of working where it was not easily available, well then that patient could appeal to various 'authorites' to have that treatment and to get it paid for by the NHS.
      I doubt this facility still exists though it still seems possible for patients to go abroad for some treatments (usually cancer cures) and they don't always have to foot the bill, or all of it.
      In the end the big corporations control these democratic processes and slow them down to such a pace you are likely to die before actually getting these 'democratic benefits'.

      Paul G.

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  7. An email comment:
    ​When you cannot get the help to feel, and your act outs are taken away from you by circumstance​, the energy that drives these submerged feelings can become absorbed by the body. It feels like an overload of electricity running through your nervous system. The doctors call it neuropathic pain. It feels different from "regular" pain. It touches your psyche in ways other pain doesn't. It waxes and wanes with stress. Sometime I can lessen it by thinking of the images that I know are tethered to my pain-- I suppose just a tiny bit of the feeling is given license, but I can't get that convulsive force I sense is waiting to liberate it. I wish Primal Therapy for everyone in the world, but selfishly, I wish it most for myself. I have been deprived of romantic love most of my life. In the summer of 2013 I had a brief love affair. The effects were astonishing. I woke up every morning and cried my eyes out. My physical symptoms abated enormously. I believe I was in the throes of Oxytocin, which dampened the fear centers of my brain and allowed emotion back into my experience. I wasn't having Primals. But, there are many levels of feeling before connection that, at least, alleviate the suffering. For me, being involved with a woman was a positive "act out" that allowed the juices to flow through my nervous system w/ less resistance. I refer to this as "lubrication". It's just an abstract sort of term for a better state of being. I'm going to try Oxytocin supplements, but it scares me. I've had a few birth Primals and some of the most horrific dreams imaginable, and I know what lies below. I am angry because something that occurred before I ever stepped foot into this terrible world has deprived me of a decent life and created one I wish had been aborted. I don't know where I'm going with this. I feel as if I stop, I'll retreat further into my pain and darkness. Writing is another act out for me.

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  8. An email comment:
    Wow! I will put this on facebook. Is it possible to just primal the feeling of what a "mess" you are? Sometimes it all seems a bit over whelming.

    ReplyDelete

Review of "Beyond Belief"

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“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.”
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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