Thursday, February 26, 2015

So What is the Meaning of Life? (Revised)


Stop asking the question and you will be better for it. I have written before, there is no meaning to life, only to the meaning we give it; to experience.   Someone in a coma is alive but there is no meaning to it.    We don’t have to ask what’s it all about; it’s about nothing.  Imagine two chimps asking each other what’s it all about?  That represents our feeling selves and down inside we react but don’t ask intellectual questions.  Down deep we are chimps.   Now that we are humans we ask the question when the answer lies on the feeling level where there are not intellectual questions.   If we deny our chimp selves we will be loaded with questions.   And when we are disconnected from our chimp selves we manufacture questions that never need to be asked, in the first place.   What am I saying?  That we make our own meaning and no one else can. Oh wait, Janov can.   Whaat?   What does Janov do? He puts us in touch with the chimp inside, that once and for all eliminates those questions about meaning.  Because now we are in touch with our chimps running around inside and they have no questions like that.  Once they are into deep feelings I have never seen a patient in a Primal ask about meaning; they are too busy feeling, not thinking.

And what could  a meaning be?  What do you want to get out of life?  To be famous, successful, appreciated?  Or any left over need from childhood.  It can be, I am good, smart, capable, helpful, powerful and on and on.  What it is not iand can never be is the meaning of your life.  There is meaning to experience; it gives me joy, it gives me pain, it makes me happy, successful, etc.   We abdicate our personal meaning the minute we think that someone can supply us with it.    The trouble is many of the questions and search for answers become an endless affair since there are no answers.  The minute we think we found one it seems to pale until we go onto the next one;  a certain vitamin or therapy or guru become interchangeable as what we search for does not exist—the meaning of our lives.  But if we are needy, a strong guru will have us genuflect before him,  lose all critical faculties and believe in him devoutly.  The guru needs devotees and we supply the unquestioned devotion.  Once anyone else locks into our unfulfilled need we are hooked, literally.  Our need is the hook; once a psychopath figures that out he has got us.   He can make us believe in the most outrageous ideas because we are hooked, addicted to his message of promised fulfillment.  We are hooked by need and that is prepotent over everything else.   It is unfulfilled need that is addicting.   The addiction (propensity for) is already there inside of us.

And that is what differentiates us in Primal from all other modes of treatment!  It is not the pills or the needles;  it is us!  We are the addicts, not the oxycodone or heroin.  We need to go deep inside of us, not dancing around the surface finding safer, less addicting pain killers.   And blaming how easy it is to get drugs at pharmacies. Blame the Janovian Gap; the gap between our deep imprints and our conscious/awareness.
Of course, many of us never ask the question about meaning.   There are two sorts; those who feel fully and do not need to ask the question about meaning; and then those who never fully feel and have unlimited questions to pose about meaning.   And then, alas, there is the third route; those who  do not feel and never ask any questions of life.  These are the ones who exist but are not living, the problem of so many of us.

So here we have a dilemma; those who fully feel are propelled to search for meaning;  and whose do not ask themselves about meaning, and those who do not fully feel and also never ask themselves what is it all about; they feel something is missing but what?.   They just live and never reflect about their lives.  They find a groove and stay in it and never put their lives in question.   Is that good?  It seems good for them to live the unreflective and unexamined life.  They do not wonder where their lives could be or what else they can do with it.   They are low in imagination and vision and do not seem to care; just as so many individuals in their seventies and eighties seem to give up on life and ascribe  no further meaning to it.  They have lost their ambition, their drive, their desires and the notion of what could be—what could they do-- with their lives.  They gave up on meaning because doing and thinking and feeling comprise the life of meaning.  Especially feeling; for that seems to be the essence.   I do not plan to join those who give up on life; my writing saves me and I hope, many others.  By the way,  I have a book, Beyond Belief, coming out at the end of the year.

Those who don’t feel spend their lives seeking what life means. They travel to see the priest, the swami or guru; someone to help them find the meaning of life.  And if someone has to give it to you, it means you have already lost it.  Why would you look for something that you never had?   Why spend thousands dreaming about someone who has all the answers when no one but you has it; and you don’t have to go to India to find it; just drop a few millimeters down in the brain and there lies meaning; the pool of feeling/meaning ready to add to your experience.  There lies joy, enthusiasm, dreams, exuberance.   Oh oh. There lies that chimp playing down below.   What more could we ask for?  And no one can give us that; only our own personal feelings can do it.  And it is free and not far away. The trouble is that when we look for it we feel we have to find that special someone who has the right pulpit for us to believe in.  And he promises so much; if we can only divest ourselves of critical thinking and go along.   And when he preaches and touches us we fill in the blanks and believe we have found it.  What?  Salvation, help, guidance, warmth, leadership and all of the things we missed as children.   We join with other believers and voila, we are saved and have a direction.   Oh yes,  that direction, as with his white robe, does not come free;  we need to pay a lot for it but we think it is a small price to pay to resurrect our hope in and for life.   That is what we are buying,  hope, born of early desperate hopelessness, someone to show us the way and to take an interest in us and our health and direction.……a parent.   We buy that in our all knowing, omniscient therapists; while all we have to offer is hopelessness; that dreaded feeling that will finally pull us out of the search for a greater life.  Yet that painful feeling is what liberates us; hope born from hopelessness.  It stops the act-out in its tracks, avoids the unrelenting search for an all-knowing “God”  who will not let anything bad happen to us.

And what does the depressive feel most of the time; “I have no meaning to my life.” And why?  Because he has no energy or “life force’ to get out of bed and produce a meaning to his life.   His repression has sucked the life out of him so he cannot feel any of the elements of meaning.   His feelings seem to be buried deep down under the ceiling of repression.  And why?  Because his pain has evoked the chemicals of repression into action; a pain he does not feel, only its after-affects.  He feels down and cannot get up to do anything.  His gates seem to be closed against him.  They have shut-away his meaning.   He is now susceptible to a guru, therapist, a life coach, and advisor, etc.  He needs to be drawn out, he needs someone to literally ‘breathe life into him.”  So many of them, by the way, do have serious oxygen deficit during the birth process which is imprinted and channels us.   He needs to be told what to do and how to act because he has lost his bearings, his feelings.

I have not mentioned religion that provides so many answers for those are lost, and they tell us what the meaning of life is, ad nauseam.  The more we believe the less we follow our own feelings.  We obey and find salvation in that.

Here is one of my bloggers and friends just wrote to me:   To select Evolution in Reverse as a treatment method is deeply linked to a conviction “that we are the evolutionary result of all history, personal and ancient.” I would never trust a religious believer, who lives by the Bible’s creation story / Genesis and the commandments, at the same time, to be a reliable Primal Therapist. Possibly, he / she can be an interesting PT patient seeking a cure for his / her pain propelled religiosity. My heart rate flew up into the 70’s when Art expressed his surprise that the Catholic Church has priests / specialists who recognize / root out the devil. It takes One (a pain propelled Catholic priest) to know One (the devil). Their roles /specialties are both pain propelled products of the same evolution. (The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, was appointed Person of the Year 2013 by the US news magazine Time. Without making other comparisons, the same magazine appointed Adolf Hitler, Person of the Year, in 1938.)

More than 100 years ago one of Sweden’s most talented personalities, the skilled biologist, scientist and Darwinist Bengt Lidforss got his career seriously disturbed by the bishop, acting university chancellor and devil worshiper Gottfrid Billing. In his book, “Why Evolution is True”, Jerry A Coyne tells us that anti-evolutionism, still today is very strong in the US and on the rise in England and Germany!

In 2006 only 40% of Americans (down 5% from 1985!!) believed that humans developed from earlier species of animals. We descend from a primate lineage that split off from our common ancestor with the chimpanzees roughly seven million years ago. (In France and Scandinavia 80% of people see evolution as true). According to Jerry A Coyne, evolution gets bumped down even further in the US when it comes to deciding whether it should be taught in the public schools. Two-thirds of Americans feel that if evolution is taught in the science classroom, creationism should be as well. In the US only 12 percent - one in eight people - think that evolution should be taught without mentioning a creationist alternative…

Seen from the bright side, 12% of the US population means 38 million people…
 I think that says a lot.

21 comments:

  1. On evolution:

    It is totally obvious we were formed from lower animals; that natural selection must be fact (how can't it be?), and that life tunes itself to the survival demands of the environment. The evidence is overwhelming that life evolves.

    BUT, there are still profound mysteries, such as:

    -The fact that life is so crazy-complicated that you would think that it began a trillion, trillion years ago.

    ....It is not unreasonable to speculate over the *possible* existence of some hidden dynamic behind the evolutionary process, because asking brute trial-and-error to create even a basic living cell might be considered a grand stretch.

    -It is totally incomprehensible how a computational/mechanical process--no matter complex--can experience itself and produce a consciousness, which is the essence of what makes life, life (and not just a biological machine)

    -It is incomprehensible how a universe can give birth to itself out of nothing...and happen just so happens to exist in a form that facilitates the potential for evolutionary processes.

    None of this proves in itself the existence of any kind of god, and certainly does not disprove the evolutionary process in itself. BUT it does prove that we may know far less about the ultimate truths behind everything than me might sometimes assume.

    But that is just mystery. I define religion as 'replacing mystery with superstition'. Which is just bullshit.

    Materialist-Atheism, is denying the existence of profound mystery altogether (as it seems). I would say that also is bullshit.

    And when Materialist-Atheists dismiss even the existence of profound mystery (and I'm not saying that's you, Art), which is in fact an irrational position, they give religious people a licence to dismiss science by highlighting the Atheists error. This I believe has been a mistake of the Atheists in trying to debunk superstition.

    ...Sorry if all that was a little irrelevant :)

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    1. Brilliant Andrew,

      The Hindus 'believe' the universe is constructed entirely from sound and scientific equipment can confirm that through many, many ranges of 'vibration' with correlating wavelength, amplitude and frequency. . .

      What I like about Primal and this blog is the 'vibes'. . .

      Paul G.

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    2. Andrew what you have written is brilliant.

      You could try reading Biocentrism by Robert Lanza MD with Bob Berman if you want a new perspective on those mysteries. Subtitled "How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe", I think it is worth reading even if you don't agree with all of it.

      Lanza says perhaps we should see biology, rather than physics, as the "primary" or most basic science.

      Graham

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    3. Andrew what you have written is brilliant.

      For a new perspective on these mysteries you could try reading Biocentrism by Robert Lanza MD wth Bob Berman. Subtitled "How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe", I think it is worth reading even if you don't agree with all of it.

      Lanza says perhaps bology, rather than physics, should be considered as th "primary" or most basic sience.

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    4. Hi Graham,

      I agree because it is through our biology that all our other perceptions are mediated. But it's interesting that repression hides this fact; it allows us to become 'little professors' who wax lyrical about everything but biology and emotions. Making Gods & Goddesses out of concepts and theories.
      It's pain avoidance. . . and the technology that comes out of physics doesn't necessarily serve biology very well either. . .

      Paul G.

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    5. Hi,

      an afterthought: On BBC TV Dr. Brian Cox (who is a physicist) has done a series of documentaries exploring the possibility of life on other planets by collating and analysing the PHYSICAL conditions needed to support basic biology.

      Unsurprisingly, there are many many places in the universe where these PHYSICAL conditions exist and now there is evidence to show that life may even have existed on Mars (yes, that old chestnut).

      It's a fascinating debate and one which corals billions of dollars / euros / pounds sterling on yet more PHYSICAL research.
      Dr. Brian Cox has become the doyen of the physics community with his silky smooth northern accent and his good looks. . . My bosses wife swoons if I mention his name. . . . He even alludes to the 'great mystery of life' and his documentaries are 'spell binding'. . . like a hypnotic trip. . . But he is firmly a physicist and firmly seeing physics as the CAUSE and biology as an effect.

      I'm quite sure he feels like God when he gets an insight and shares it with us on telly. . . .

      Paul G.

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    6. Thanks very much Paul and Graham for the kind words.

      To me, as far as science goes (the stuff we can hope to understand, at least), nothing is more basic than mechanical physics.

      Outside raw mechanics the best you can do is observe relationships, and try to find consistent rules. From what I know of it quantum mechanics is basically only that!...we don't really know how anything actually works.

      But I do have an attraction to the idea of everything (physical) being ultimately a wave, integrating via resonating standing-waves or something...how else could we visualise a material system that can mechanistically "work"(?)

      (sorry Art, I know that's completely off topic).

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    7. I am not sure even about my own ontogenesis. I was a child (whatever that means) probably and I was born on a date they told me… and that is the problem with every theory I read about.
      and it is not just a mystery. it could be painful mystery that holds more answers than we can imagine.

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  2. All you write about used to be me. I sought out the gurus - genuflected before them. It was pathetic, but there was no motivation to get out of bed. I was searching for the meaning of life. It was an elusive venture as I could never seem to find it. Then one day, through one of your previous patients, I began to employ your techniques and I can attest to the fact that once one feels the pain again and works through it effectively, they will discover that there is no meaning to life, other than what one gives it. Your work has saved my life. I am now sound and am now giving meaning to my own life. I am forever grateful to you and what you do. Thank you so much!

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    1. You are the reason I write Cecilia. art

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  3. Hi Art,
    Your mentioning of the gurus me immediately reminded me of a carton which I found decades ago
    in an issue of the Playboy (shame on me...?) which I have framed in order to look at it every time
    I work at my desk...

    I shows a " cavern man" whose answer to the vendor man of shakes goes like this;
    "2 and a half for one shake ?!... and You ask me what´s the meaning of life..?!

    Yours emanuel

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  4. An email comment:
    Thanks for Writing this...... Someone wrote a song about that... Enjoy.....one of my fav's..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEep67akIn4

    ReplyDelete
  5. Art and friends: Thank you. Here's a dance song which seems, in its lyrics, to encapsulate the "Primal Revolution" in progress. "Hey Brother! There's an endless road to rediscover...". It's on YouTube and there is a Wikipedia article about it. Some of the images in the video seem to relate to taking care of the brain as in the last sentence of your next post. I'm alluding to a nibble of chocolate and olives. I'm increasingly plagued with poor digestion which I'm finding ways around. I was left to cry myself to sleep when only weeks old, when I was hungry and/or needed a change of "nappie" - later I didn't even cry after I was terrorised by my father leaning over me and screaming in my face to shut up (I can estimate this in various ways to about 2 to 3 weeks of age). This leaves me in a catch22 now because as I'm sure most people realise on some level, the brain is, as always, made of flesh and blood. So I'm learning all the time ways around the involuntary reactions to the early abuse and neglect ways to allow my digestive system to nourish my brain, because only then can I become connected fully with myself and my "brothers" and "sisters". This is working for me. A square or two of Lindt's 90% dark chocolate after a meal for the magnesium which helps put me in the parasympathetic mode which is appropriate for digesting food and the bitter taste which for no known reason stimulates the production of bile which digests fats. Olives for the omega3 essential fatty acids without the omega6 (no hemp oil for me) and so on. I'm even in the process of cutting out sweet fruits - red capsicum is becoming my favorite fruit - partly because my need for calories has plummeted with the resolution of much of the early pains.

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  6. An email comment:
    "To paraphrase Art's patient, John Lennon: "Meaning is a concept by which we
    measure our pain." There is no need for any additional "meaning" when a moment
    is perfect, e.g. playing with your children, creating music, walking on the
    beach with the one you love, sharing an adventure with friends, and so on. It is
    what it is - the point is to make a society in which people have as much love
    and fulfillment as possible. In his autobiography, Bertrand Russell said he
    would gladly live his life over again. Can we honestly say that about our own lives?"

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  7. Hi Art, I hope you are doing well from your throat troubles.
    It's been a while since I posted a comment on your wonderful blog. My latest approach, remember? was very closely linked to the subject you are exposing here, and I feel commited to point it out again. I have been having an inside dialogue with myself ever since concerning the point of evolution and the scope of traumatic consequences that the split-off event you're talking about must have affected our closest chimp ancestors -probably the Australopithecus Afarensis some 300 thousand years ago. I mean, all evolutionary scholars are eager to accept the hominid lineage was broken in some truly misterious but unnatural way and the advent of what we know as homo sapiens . Every anthropologist assumes we should be still dealing with silex pointed arrows by now should the evolutionary chain have been kept in a natural process. My point is that that event, whatever it is (and there are some good studies pointing in that direction), lies behind the seemingly bottomless trauma that our species carries on since the beggining of the times. And that does not collude with the womb traumas we all experienced in any proportion. anxious carrying mothers are the result of the violence experienced by (inoculated to?) the chimp we once were, and still are somewhere.
    I mean becoming a thinker in a rather fast way -surely in a very short lapse of time in evolutionary terms, and being forced to leave therefore the "feeling mode" (one can't feel and think at the same time, can one? ) is what I believe happened to us. Your brilliant approach to the origin of fear of a human being, the fear of feeling abandonned, ought not to be cut off from the so called religious bibliography, what creationists conceive as the holy manuscripts. A truthseeker can not, should not may I say, discard the arguments of dogma believers, because their surely distorted way of conceiving the origin of life itself might hide a very interesting clue to solving their puzzling radicality. And you don't envision helping release the weight of guilt in some humans and simply putting the rest of them aside as the hopless part of humanity. There is truth behind every door. The split-off event is open though. Ever heard about the clay sumerian tablets? Could it be it is just me who put that together with your discoveries and find out our begginings as humans on earth involved an emotional price we have been paying ever since?
    Best wishes
    Lars

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    1. Hi Lars,

      I've been having similar thoughts about exactly when & why 'we' became thinkers but couldn't put them into words like you have done.

      -"one can't feel and think at the same time, can one"? Perhaps that depends on how much connection there is. . . vuko made a point that stuck in my memory, that we can learn to use the neocortex as an instrument for connection rather than defense.

      Perhaps it's possible to have some reflective thoughts about feelings while feeling; but if the feelings are strong (original?) enough, then all of the neo cortex becomes an organ for connection and all thoughts recede.

      Paul G.

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    2. Hello Paul, I understand what you mean. After all our neocortex need not be an obstacle to our "well-being" but rather a tool for reaching out to a more complex and fascinating way of experiencing Life. But haven't you felt an overwhelming sense of relief while crying out for...nothing? No arguments, no analysis, no questioning, no nothing. That's what I meant. The border between anger for having been abandonned and despair facing the tsunami of feelings lying behind is very thin. But I agree with you. The thinking brain is surely meant to be much at ease when feelings are at command so to speak. The Thinking brain should be the practical tool-kit to perform on stage what feelings can't but suggest. All women want "their man" to behave" like men" so that they can fully play their own roll. Carl Jung introduced to the world the inner child within us. I've had this connection shut down for decades. Not completely, i must say, otherwise I wouldn't have survived the mess I found when I landed on this world of despair. And I'not just talking about my genetic family, but the smell of chaos I breathed the minute I was pushed to elaborate weird thought at school.


      I went to a zoo last year in Buenos Aires and as I approached a badly kept cage the old orangutan inside came closer to the thick glass. we stared at each other for almost 30 minutes in complete silence. I'm pretty sure most of us have gone through something similar sometime. Though we couldn't talk verbally, I know he was telling me something. I knew in his eyes. And so I felt he was. I simply told him I was sorry. I cried, God knows I did. I just don't know why. And don't need to know. Perhaps some old memories from my deep limbic ape brain were allowed to show up. It felt good. Very good. Then I hugged my daughter. Needed I do that? Yes, why not. But she understood. I strongly belief it made her understand. I wish schoolchildren have the opportunity to have that connection before they become thinking adults. It seemed to last for hours. Then I smiled and we kept on visiting the rest of the place. You know, achieving the knowledge of a crumbling event that "made"us all (whatever race we belong to, there's a mitocondrial DNA we all share) what we are, doesn't heal the open injures. Primal therapy does. Only the soft tenderness of your own tears will. But for those of us who have already weapt, cried and sobbed and who knows what more, I personally find it amazing to rediscover our common link to our ape ancestors. I don't want to be an ape again simply because I'm aware that extinction might happen because of our ignorance, our disconnection to the rest of Creation. I belief in human kindness. It took us a huge deal of pain to get here. Why not take advantage of it, despite the trauma behind our epic saga. Once the feelings hold the micro, nothing can stop us from happily embracing that tool we call the thinking brain. Will the pit of agony ever be fully emptied. I don't know. I guess we'll always make errors, and therefore hurt someone we truly love. I guess I was feeling sorry for that and that argentinian ape helped me go through a Primal. And Janov was there, I suddenly realized within the ape's eyes. Though I've never met Art in person, I love him already and am deeply thankful for his priceless commitment.
      May be it is all about keeping the pit of insane garbage as clean as possible. Awareness of the cleaning process. It's a duty. We don't just make physical exercises in order to reach an everlasting stage of fitness, do we?.
      don't envision a Life without tears. Laughter wouldn't be that amazing without a certain dose of bitterness. One keeps walking. The walking, that's the goal. Thank You. I love you.

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    3. Hi Lars,

      -"But haven't you felt an overwhelming sense of relief while crying out for...nothing"?

      YES. Right now, your words have opened me up.

      -"Don't envision a Life without tears. Laughter wouldn't be that amazing without a certain dose of bitterness. One keeps walking"-. . .

      So true. Thank you.

      Paul G.

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  8. An email comment:
    Feelings... give meaning to life.

    That's all.

    The purpose of life is: Reproduce.

    Thanks for everything.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey Art
    Really nice! Neurosis makes everyone unfeeling, uncaring, many retreated to their heads: "The UNfeeling Supermind" (Barry Long), indifferent to even the most hideous suffering, pain & cruelty. Loved the essay you sent recently when you said animals have the same feeling base as us. Why wouldn´t they? But very few people will accept this because when you don´t feel yourself, you don´t feel childrens feelings or animals feelings so you can treat them - as here in Portugal - with the most incredible insensitivity and callousness imaginable. So adult humans appoint themselves the most superior species on the planet, with rights to do anything over lesser beings; children, animals,....yet it is these "lower" beings who are ALL FEELING, and the unfeeling adult, not remembering how S/he once FELT long ago, kills the feeling child and tortures the animal....billions of animals living & dying in unimaginable conditions (www.viva.org.uk) every day because humans are so incredibly separated from our instinct we don´t even know we´re bloody frugivores!!!! (www.foodnsport.com) Do animals have to read books and see nutritionists? Did you know the diseases affecting Western humans; cancer 40%, blood sugar disorders 90%, arthritis 90+% (eg...) are almost entirely absent in the wild? In our conditioned stupidity we look to experts for all the answers. We believe anything, however stupid, however illogical, however inhumane, because "they" are right. But there is a sizeable minority thinking for themselves, questionning more and more globally; the inner bubble pops, then the next inner bubble pops, and so it goes on as you feel more and more and the full extent of tragedy around us is gradually in stages unveiled. But the further you go, the more you see the more it hurts and just as you begin to breathe a sigh of relief and think you´ve found a sane person...surely she gets it, I´mean it isn´t fucking rocket science all this, it´s just what all kids know, the younger, the more they "know"....just as you think you´ve found a simple, feeling being, they say something real crazy and you realize, they´ve been taken over by the bodysnatchers......and who is left? Except Art, France and a few others...you´re right Art we MUST stick together.

    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