Thursday, December 4, 2014
Can We Learn to Love?
Is that possible? To learn to love? Is it ever possible? Nope. Just a wee bit? Nope. How about liking someone more? Yep. Then learning to love should be possible? Nope. What can we learn as adults? How to build a computer, fix a propeller, mow the lawn, blah blah. But love? Here we are confusing two parts of us that are often antithetical. Learning is top level; cerebral, a brain devoid of feeling. Don’t forget; it cannot feel and is not supposed to. It can interpret feelings, explain them and write about them ad nauseum. But when feelings surge forth, the top level recedes. Love is deeper in the brain, does not need language or learning. In fact, it is impervious to learning. The more lessons we have on how to love, the less loving we become. Saying “I love you,” all day long is not a substitute for hugging and kissing and showing joy at seeing each other.
The military learns to take orders, and obey without thinking. Feeling would screw it all up and we wouldn’t be able to kill any more. And why is obeying so important? Because it blocks feeling. You would not hear a woman who is hugged and kissed often complain, “You never say you love me.” It was just said in the language of love. It exudes out of every pore. But what you can actually learn is motivation, a willingness to work and study. That comes within a loving environment. The teachers that I had who patted me or put their arms around me are the ones I learned from. So I perfected Spanish and typing; and after about 12 years of four universities I learned very little else. I learned a lot from those who called my name and asked me how I felt and how I was doing. So, Mr Reagan, it is not the three R’s, readin, writin and rithmatic. It is kindness, generosity and interest from those who teach; who show approval and encouragement. Who love teaching and the students who learn. School is not the military and “military intelligence” is a contradiction in terms. ….,an oxymoron.
What was so important that I learned about child rearing was from my dog. She taught me about loving and how important it was. I gave her every freedom yet she always stayed by my side. That is why I always took my dog to therapy sessions. She heard cries and licked my patients who then cried and screamed—they never cared and never showed empathy like my dog. When we are loved the right feeling brain grows and develops and we learn nuance and music and art and kindness and empathy and love; that is a lot of learning. And that is the springboard for real learning. That is why most of my Ph.D’s cannot learn to do the therapy, even though they know every theoretical answer. They cannot sense what the patient is feeling; cannot know when they make a right or wrong move in a session. Cannot know when to stop pushing a patient (in order to feel that they got the patient to a feeling, even though they overloaded her.).
How do we learn to love? How do we learn to be a good therapist? We don’t. My kids, when they were young, did my therapy and they were right on most of the time. If they got a doctor’s degree I am afraid that all feelings would have been squeezed out of them. Primal Therapy is an art within a science. We need to understand nuance coupled with scientific understanding. Not one or the other, but both at once, conjoined into one outlook; one therapeutic perspective.
So we know what is going on inside patient, both in her feeling brain and in her intellectual one. But alas, we have very smart therapists talking endlessly to patients while crushing their feelings and taking them out of any chance to get well. Because, they cannot get well in their head alone , but everywhere in their system. But intellectual therapists are satisfied to get patients well in their thinking, intellectual brain. The feeling part, the sexual one, the artistic one is neglected and overlooked. And what do we get? a smart dummy, who knows history and literature but not their own history and not what they could write if they were in touch with their personal literature.
I would like to redesign a doctoral program that includes empathy, touch, hugs and kindness. I would remove all statistics and graphs and concentrate on the doctor herself; help her understand her life, her beginnings and how it shaped and sculpted her. I would offer her Primal Therapy so she could learn everything she needs to know about treating another person. And guess what? No charge. I do not think medicine and therapy should be paid for. We do that with our taxes. It is not a profit making venture. I tried for years to offer my therapy to several governments. I took my son to see the English Minister of health and offered him my therapy. He smoked a pipe, took a deep breath and said, “Let me see if I got this right. You have a psychotherapy that cures, are willing to have it examined by our specialists and there will be no costs? Whereupon my 12 year old son said, “Dad let’s get the hell out of here before it is too late.” And we did.
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.