Monday, March 30, 2015
Drugs do not cause addiction; addiction causes drugs. If only we could keep this straight. If we only deal with the drug problem we miss the boat. Pain produces the need to quell it, which produces the need for drugs that will do it and suppress pain through the gating system. And generally, the earlier and more remote the pain imprint the deeper the pain and the heavier the addiction. There are levels of pain depending on the time it is embedded; the closer to how shattering the pain, the most remote, becomes the index for the severity of the pain and addiction.
All the addict is trying to do is normalize, which, when he takes key drugs allows him to feel normal. Who wouldn’t search out something that allows him to feel relaxed and OK in his/her skin? People pay a price for all this: addiction……but the addict doesn’t care; he wants surcease, an end to the suffering, even when he has not a clue as to where it all comes from. All we are trying to do is take away his drugs and put him back in pain. Who is going to win?
Neurosis is the way we go about trying to be normal. It is normal to feel relaxed, and not normal to feel tense all of the time. So we find ways to drain the tension; we run, masturbate, do gymnastics, etc. We are trying a gimmick that will settle us down.
I have written about addiction many times, particularly the piece by Bower (in Science News (March 22, 2014) https://www.sciencenews.org/article/addiction-paradox). He writes about two major articles on addiction, is it a bad habit or is it a temporary failure to cope. Guess which wins out? The temporary failure to cope. And scientists can only can only come to a conclusion like that when they have no idea what lies deep in the brain. In brief, being bereft of any evidence. So one group guesses this way and yet another guesses differently. Anybody’s guess goes since it is really a mystery where the key clues are missing. Oh by the way, what makes people MAKE THAT CHOICE? Oh you forgot about that? Maybe that is what is missing. This is what happens when you strip the human of his deep motivation and stay on top of his head.
Let me digress: I hesitate to use myself as an example, but my wife says she prefers to read my stories. So, we watch mostly French TV, mostly because there are no commercials and the content is fantastic. Last night there was a show on the financial crisis in France where the small business people are failing at a rapid rate. They followed a baker and his wife who were soon to go to a tribunal to see if they were forced to go out of business. They could not pay their small business partners and it looked bleak. So they filmed the court procedures and sure enough they were forced into bankruptcy. When you rely on statistics you get statistical answers. They are rarely human answers. But to think that a major addiction is simply a bad choice is as simplistic as it gets.
These were two simple people, who supplied bread for the whole community for twenty years. They had no sophistication in finance. Sadly. As they got up before the judges, she smiled, kissed her husband and tried to make it outside amid her tears. Asked what they planned to do now, since they were being forced out of their home which sat on top of the bakery, she raised her hands in hopelessness, trying to look optimistic. And then I broke down. My wife asked what was wrong, and I said they are so bewildered and lost and defeated. And as I went on I cried first for them and then said, “it’s me!” And the feeling got deeper, and took me back to the same feeling; a kid lost, defeated, helpless and hopeless and no one to help or even acknowledge the tragedy. Suffering alone, no help or empathy. I went down deep to feel that agony. So what? “OK you had empathy, now what?” The “now what” is that I didn’t turn to drugs or even think about them. I felt the pain so I did not have to hide it. That is what I get out of the therapy; no long time lingering pain but something I can deal with. My feelings came up instantaneously because the gates were open. I knew the feeling and what to do about it. Thus was not a manufactured insight. It arose, signaled, “I’m ready,” and tears followed. If you had 1000 tears to feel from your life of suffering then each bit helps to unload the burden. You cannot cheat your physiology. It demands a response; you can put it off but it never leaves and never stops its demands. That is why addiction. And that is why a therapy without feeling solves nothing because the biologic exigencies never leave. You can drug them or shock them or intellectualize them to death but if you do not respond to them, it is you who will die prematurely. That is one thing that cannot happen to me; a premature death.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
I am going to wax egocentric and use me as an example of what can go wrong in life. I have pondered how is it that a child can live 20 years with his parents and never once be touched, hugged or kissed. Even by accident. How could it happen that a parent does not ever put her arm around her child? I know. It was my life, never a good approving word from them. It drove me to seek approval everywhere and to do the things that might elicit a wee bit. In my case, my father could not express anything, good or bad. His greatest curse word was “What the sam hill”? It happens to children with parents whose neo-cortex is not driven by the feeling brain. No thought is underlain by feelings and therefore there is no feeling underlying what is happening. It is totally driven by the neo-cortex; and then we go to the cognitive/behavioral therapist to understand why; and there is no solution there. Because no one is dealing with passion and with feeling. They are dealing with disembodied brain that cannot get down to the feeling level because of deep repression/gating that blocks the passage. The result: passels of professionals concocting theories and therapies that are intellectually enforced: “I have my own hammer and I will use it willy-nilly on all patients irrespective of what is wrong with them.” Theories that are produced from on top, not intruding from below, riding feeling saves to inform the theory about and with passion and feeling. The theory and therapy remains uninformed. So in this barren, sterile word we have a parent who tucked my favorite dog, left him alone in the street and drove away.
So why on earth does a shrink, have to recognize the deep brain? Aah I know why. Because the firepower behind most of our behavior lies the brainstem and lower limbic system. We cannot understand human psychology without reference to them. And because patients usually choose a therapist they feel in touch with, the bright person will choose an erudite intellectual for help; a help that can never arrive. A “loosey goosey” type will choose an anything goes, way-out-there therapist or someone who calls herself a therapist. So in the first case they get case studies, statistics and ideas devoid of science; while in the second case, they get unscientific voodoo where anything goes. What they don’t get is cure.
Patients go to get their neuroses reinforced.
The patients can get help, and it has been called “help” for decades, as if there were no hope for cure. You need feelings to be sensitive, to care and be concerned, to be insightful and perceptive. And you only get them in therapy when their importance is understood. You cannot teach anyone to be a good therapist, sensitive and insightful. We all learn that as a result of a feeling therapy or better yet, growing up loved.
It seems as though I am saying that shrinks need to know paleontology well or have a degree in anthropology. Nope. Just an awareness of the importance of the levels of brain function. Never be fooled by that narrow band of cortex into thinking that thinking is the sine qua non.
We can imagine animals life millions of years ago without being experts in their history. A therapist needs to understand the brain that is lodged deep, deep, down in the brain and must see what influence it can have on our thinking, impulses, feelings and behavior. He needs to be an absolute aficionado of science to see how evolution has carried us along. And above all, to understand the notion of resonance: how there is a neuronal/chemical trail that leaves its traces behind on our genes. We need to retrace its steps to see how those traces evolved; to see how we always have had an alarm system, only over time that system diminished and so we lost touch with the actual danger. Even though the danger remained hidden and sequestered. Our bodies will not shut off the alarm, leaving us anxious without knowing why. An anxiety state is a terror state. But over the millennia the top level became so alienated from deep down in the brainstem where terror is organized, that it had its name changed and we call it by some bastard word; terror had a rebirth and is now anxiety; but a rose by any other name...
It is such a waste: they ruin your life and then you carry on ruining it on your own without their help. Suppose you, by some chance, choose Primal Therapy. You go on suffering for years for what they did to you. More often what they did to you is repressed and you go on with your life, such as it is. But if you choose a feeling therapy; beware because many unfeeling people call themselves a feeling therapy; those who do booga booga. The point is that reliving history undoes history. To confirm this we shall soon embark on research with our therapy that goes back and undoes our history and allows us, in a way, to be born again. It is worth the price of admission to be able to shed our pain. It is miraculous, but not a miracle. We are going to look at the traces of methyl on our genes and see how dense they are and how vulnerable they are to change. We will quantify the amount of pain and the amount of resolution with our therapy. I have written about our peer reviewed studies in the World Congress of Psychiatry.
To me it is miraculous that we still have elements in us that belong to ancient creatures millions of years ago. Even more, how powerful those forces remain in us human beings and drive us, make us compulsive and obsessive, behave beyond our control and commit crimes that reflect those rage-full terrorizing epochs.
Let me give you a tragic example. My colleague today sent me an article and photos of babes whose mothers smoked while carrying. They had no idea of the harm they do, and we must educate all young people who plan on having babies; do not take anything in that can harm your baby: not one drink, not one cigarette, not one painkiller and no tranquilizers. All if this will change his brain system and biology for life. He will not get over it.
These are ultra sound photos of unborn babies. (From Durham and Lancaster Universities in the U.K.)(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/24/smoking-while-pregnant-_n_6930678.html)
They are self explanatory. And it points out for all time how what the mother ingests, harms the baby, almost without exception. Those scans, collected at 24 and 36 weeks of womb-life, show a rate of mouth movements much higher than normal. Worse they raise their arms to look for protection it seems, but there isn’t any for them. They are suffering! The nicotine in the mother’s cigarettes can change the central nervous system of the baby and with it certain brain functions. Again, they are suffering and they start life in pain. It becomes imprinted and changes them for a lifetime. Their whole system is defective from the start. How can any feeling mother do that to her child? And above all, how can any therapist ignore these key critical windows and hope to do an effective psychotherapy? Shame!
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
What is wrong with wanting more? Nothing if you really want more of what you need, and not what you want. What’s the difference, you say? A whole lot. Need, very early need, turns into want when it is not fulfilled. I want more money, sex, security, cake, beer, and on and on. What I mean to say is that avariciousness in any form that is out of control is driven by a deeper need. You cannot want 8 beers a day unless there are deep pains that transmute need into want. At his point, need is too painful to feel directly so the brain transforms it into something attainable. Ah, there’s the problem; old needs are usually biologic and cannot be fulfilled at age six.
We cannot go to school while nursing. So it has to become a want, and that want not only has to reflect what was missing early on but also what life presents to us. We later on can go buy a bottle of whiskey without ever knowing that anything is missing. The gating system and repression has seen to that. And parents who don’t mind if their child gets used to a bit of booze; a practice in France where the child is “immunized” against later abuse, and made tipsy so she can “hold” her whiskey.
But why the obsessiveness of the want? It is not that; it is the excessiveness of the basic need which is being fulfilled symbolically. That is why it needs fulfillment day after day; it can never be enough if we are fulfilling something we don’t know about that is not a basic need. The need for love and approval can become exactly that later on stage without ever knowing that something is amiss. “They love me. They just love me,“ is the message some actors take away, but they need to be loved over and over again. Or the need to be liked, having never been looked at or liked when young, makes the young child desperate to please, to help and to be of service, all for a drib of being liked and approved. And it goes on as long as the need does, which is usually a lifetime; or until the basic need is experienced so that it is no longer fulfilled symbolically. The need becomes what it is; it has to be felt or it will dog us but that is a small price to pay for not having to act it out all day and all year.
So how does this work? In simple terms there are gates in the brain that also respond to methylation, which helps open the repressive gates or closes them down. If the pain is terrible the methylation process steps in and shuts off key switches so we do not feel that deprived need any more. Yet, we still feel deprived, which drives us, but we do not know by what, because it is just too much to bear. So the specific need carries on; a better way to put it is “soldiers” on. It carries on the burden. In ancient history, as the brain evolved and with it the possibility to feel pain, there was also evolving switches in the brain to attenuate suffering so we could go on and get things done. That means survive. I have to wonder, “why else the development of a repressive gating system assisted by methylation. How is it that the brain can “borrow” methyl and use it to help our switching processes? The brain has to find a way not to be overwhelmed so it can function properly. If we think that every person at a bus stop is an enemy to hurt us, we lose focus and lose our ability to combat real enemies. If the switches malfunction we can literally go off the rails and lose our way. We close when we should open, and vice versa. And different biochemicals aid in differentiating when to open or close.
In neurosis everything must become a symbol of your pain. “Can I help you miss?” “Why do I look helpless enough to need help?” Or an actress I know just after finishing a great play was having dinner with me. A young boy usher approached her and said, "You were wonderful tonight miss…" And she answered, “Wasn’t I ever good before?” Everyone in her orbit had to praise her. Still never enough.
Those who get hooked on money need more and more if they are trying to feel safe, safe from an early poor and dangerous milieu. Once the chronic fear sets in, it is no longer possible to feel safe. This is really true when our parents make us feel unsafe and even earlier when the carrying mother is anxious, takes drugs and makes the fetus feel unsafe. Mind you, no fetus feels unsafe as a cognitive thought out affair. The pure feeling, encapsulated remains to dog us and forces us to try to feel safe later on. We don’t reach out. We don’t take chances. We don’t try new things. Why? If feels unsafe. We cling to her year after year so she can make us feel safe; which never happens. Primal forces always take precedence and supersede any current effort.
A mother starving in the womb where the baby is malnourished can produce a child who needs to eat more and more. Give her a small nibble and she starts again to want, not need. Need is history; want is present. We dredge up need from the past, place it in the present and it transforms into want. “I WANT OUT!” is usually true at birth but not now, yet a person has to get out all of the time to put her Primal need to rest. She now wants to get out; to see this statue or this concert or go shopping at this store. The target does not matter. It is what makes us aim at it. Worse, we never know what we are acting out. Since we do not know the cause we make up relevant act-outs and give it a rationale: “I just love to travel.”
Here the wants that emanate from needs have lost their roots.
Attention ladies and gentlemen we have lost our connection; we hope the power can turned back on soon. We will when we use resonance to find those roots again and experience them. Don’t forget that the cognitive brain has to travel back in time millions of years to reach the archaic brain who holds all the secrets of our early history. And then he needs to do a dredging operation to bring it back to the surface for experiencing. Happily. He has to do none of that. The system will do it for him; use the right orbito-frontal cortex to go down and take a look and then report back. “You know what I just saw? Sharks and alligators and strange creatures I never knew existed, but they seem to have a similar brainstem to ours.”
One thing I must add is that earlier and deeper the imprint the more obsessive and compulsive the act-out. Never more obvious than obsessive sex. The early drive is so relentless and compulsive that it drives the person constantly. He and she are victims of impulses because on that early remote level the reactions always expressed as pre-verbal impulses. They are therefore the most difficult to treat because they involve life-saving mechanisms. Remember the film ”She’s gotta have it".
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
A lot of you are writing in about justice and seeking justice in your lives, just as I, when younger, read police stories where there was always justice at the end. But, but, though I did this for years I never knew what I was doing. My life was unjust but I had no words for it nor any conscious awareness of it. My life, like yours, is just that: my life as I lived it. I never knew about any alternative. I never knew what life should be about since all I saw was how my life was. I never knew I should be treated with respect, that my parents should know and call me by name. I never knew that I had a right to do nothing without feeling "lazy". I never knew that children should be hugged and kissed because it never happened. How was I to know? You don’t know what is missing until you first get it; then you know. Or if you begin to feel your life in Primal Therapy and you feel what you needed, what was missing and why it hurt. You finally find out what was missing through your feelings, not your top level cognition. That won’t tell you doo-doo about yourself.
Too often we put ourselves in a replica of our early lives, trying to provoke a different ending but it never happens. We get involved with mean people or critical ones hoping for a smidgen of love, appreciation and approval. We never think it out; we are just attracted to those who will give us nothing. One woman patient told me that immediately when she saw a tough looking guy she was attracted to him. She wanted a strong father who took charge very unlike who her father was. Another woman was attracted to a strong man who would lead and guide her like her father never did. So what did she get? A man who took control, dominated her and ordered her around. She obeyed like a little child. She got part of what she needed but did not want the other domineering part, which she also got.
Some men want a mother for a wife and want her to do everything around the house. The little girl complies and does it all because “daddy” says so. The problem is that this can drift into the husband’s paranoia: where did you go today? Who did you meet, what did they say? What time did you come home? “Never do that again without my permission.” This man over the years becomes dangerous. Until he stalks and follows. She is in danger. They almost never escape until it is too late. Look for the warning signs and do not hope for the best; it is not to come.
What is behind all this? So many things but basically an absent mother, or mother who left for someone else, or an indifferent cold mother. He needs her close NOW, and has to make sure he has her. She is now his mother and he, and she, cannot differentiate what is real and what is not. Watch out for someone suddenly showing up, as if by accident. You are being followed. And if you do not act like an obedient child, violence ensures. He will beat you up. And even when he does, you will go on hoping for something different and stay around. She and he are trapped in the past and cannot distinguish the present. It is all acted out. She needs a father who helps and guides her; while he needs a mother who is always there for him. Getting our needs from the past fulfilled in the present seems natural, and the way it should be. Alas, it can only happen during the critical period when we are in the womb or in our infancy. There is a time limit for fulfillment and only then can it happen. After that, we act-out, trying to get fulfillment in every way we can. It is never enough. How can we get over that? Only one way: go back to the critical period and feel the need during the critical period again; with it the pain and then you will be free to stop the act-out.
What is so diabolic is that we never know we are acting symbolically. We keep on doing it because the deprivation of need during the critical period keeps it alive. Need is eternal. It only dies with us, not before. The need is often so distant and alienated that it is like from a strange country. We act on it but never know we are doing it. So we are squeezed at birth and suffocated and we keep on keeping windows open; or we keep on moving there and there because to stop means (back then) being helpless and hopeless. And guess what? When we stop we slip into depression: hopeless and helpless. So here we see manic depression. Keep on moving till we can’t and then feeling depressed—hopeless. We remain in the grips of history, of our past even though we never understand that simple fact.
We keep on gambling because “lady luck” is going to help us win. We have compulsive sex because we have so much pressure inside that we do not know exists. In the case of sex it is understood: it rises from deep in the brain, long before we have words for sex. And often long before we can have a relationship that includes sex with another person. It is called onanism. You relate to yourself only because you lack the social skills that could combine love and sex. You are no more than a pressure cooker. Others are but a relief valve for pains that have no emotions, only impulses. There was some guy who once called this an impulse neurosis. A prisoner of Pain (Oh I remember who he is). Impulsive people are loaded with preverbal pain that comes from the time we were preverbal. Daah
Friday, March 13, 2015
For years I was drawn to crime stories in the newspapers. Ordinarily, we would not consider that an act-out but it was, as so many small little act-outs are. Understanding the act-out helps me comprehend the more egregious act-outs. Those that are damaging to others.
For each act-out there is almost always a feeling behind it; and the more compulsive and obsessive the act the stronger the feeling and usually the earlier it is in life. That is one way we know where the “push” comes from and on what level of brain activity it lies. So in rage we pretty much know it is brainstem, first-line. This is also true of other feelings or sensations driven by the first line: terror, not fear; fury, not annoyance; suicidal hopelessness, not passivity.
Mind you, I never knew I was acting out or even what an act-out was. But when I got to the feeling under it, I finally knew. And what was it? I was looking for justice. I wanted the guilty party to be found, judged and convicted. I clearly was acting out my feelings at home. I was told to do things that made no sense, punished for acts over which I had no control. Made to feel guilty for the least transgression. I was continuously afraid of making a mistake. I was looking for redemption. It is also why I had a Primal over that lion I wrote about who was raised by a kind lady who came back to see him after five years; he hugged and kissed her. I waited years for someone to say they loved me. That all was forgiven and that I was not such a bad person, after all. And in many of my Primals I cried, “Say I’m good. Please!” For those parents who were unloved and never were approved of, they are looking for the same thing. Before they can say someone else is good they need to hear it for themselves. It never happens.
Many act-outs are in the sexual realm; and that same feeling I had can be transported into sex. Wanting to get even; looking for justice. So a person wants to dominate and command her sex partner; reliving exactly what happened to her. That reliving is an attempt at resolution. It is also a way of “getting even.”
One woman needed to be spanked again and again in sex. What was behind it? Her father pulled down her panties to spank her. That bare-skin contact was what she desperately needed, and she got it with punishment. She became obsessed with spanking and needed more and more of it in order to orgasm. Imagine! Instead of pleasure leading to climax, it became pain. Look deep into the act-out and we find pain.
What we see is how all relevant feelings congeal into a focused act that symbolizes those feelings in the same behavior. If I punish someone over and over again they will certainly look for justice. It is not only act-outs that are involved but act-ins also. So those same feelings can produce a migraine or high blood pressure. Once they surpass the limit of repression to hold down the feeling there are act-outs or act-ins. That depends on many things; a vulnerability of certain weak organs…..tendency to allergies, for example.
Or a prenatal history that forced act-ins. A highly blocked fetus who is parasympathetically dominant. His modus operandi is to be repressive not expressive. I wrote a book on this called, The Imprint. It is complicated and needs to be read more deeply. It is in the way the imprint is laid down. Maybe later I will expand on it.
But imprints dog nearly all of us. They force acts that are completely unconscious and therefore cause all kinds of misery in the world. So if you cannot feel wrong then you will be a master of figuring out how others are to blame. Until you feel, feeling wrong is devastating for a young child because it means he is not loved. He has to shuck that “wrong” immediately and make you wrong. There is no relief from his abuse except for him to feel wrong in context. Always in context for that and that alone is resolving.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Let’s start with the easy stuff first: nightmares. They are defined as something panicky, anxiety producing, terror, proximity to death, strangling, feeling crushed, out of breath and cannot breathe. And that is just the beginning. But where does it come from? Why, your unconscious, of course. So why don’t we feel it all of the time? Because at night in your sleep you live in the unconscious and your gating system kicks in to keep it hidden and suppressed. But, and it is a major “but,” the gating system is weaker when we are unconscious, which, after is what sleep is. It is only when the charge value of the imprint is so great (heavy methylation) that it can burst through to higher levels and provoke conscious/awareness to make us aware of the pain and terror. Here we become aware and awake to stop the terror/pain. Awareness becomes the final defense against up-surging feelings. We are suddenly conscious and now aware of the unconscious; but we don’t say, Oh my, something is up from down bellow. We say instead: I just had a terrible nightmare, and we do not question it any further. We think it is the nightmare itself and not what provoked it; not what giant force lay below to heave it to the top. That is how alienated it is from conscious/awareness the precise origins in our remote past. When we walk around the world, aware and awake, we can keep busy and keep deep feelings hidden.
Now there are sleep clinics who treat it as a disease and do all kinds of ploys to deal with it. Not once have I heard them discuss it as a memory imprint on lower brain levels. Not once a mention of the unconscious. But the nightmare says loudly what it is and what force it has; a force that can burst through various gating sites/levels to bring us sharply into awareness. So we need to be aware to stop that force in the unconscious: hyperaware to block the unconscious. Enter the intellectuals. They continue to provide awareness in lieu of consciousness.
If we look closely we see that all of the reactions/symptoms of the nightmares are exactly those of the traumas at birth and before. No air, feeling crushed and squeezed, blocked, no exit, need space, need to move, etc. Instead, what they need to do is to deal with act-out against the feeling. Aah, another sign of the unconscious at work; forcing our act-outs, our continuous behavior which is repetitious and compulsive and also obsessive. In one sense, psychotics or deeply disturbed individuals are running off their nightmares. For obsessives we need to look deeper. What is the function of the act-outs? To bring closure to the early traumas. To finish the sequence; and no act of will can stop it because it is most often a life-and-death matter. An example: we have patients that have to be constantly on the move. They plan and make projects without cease, just so long as they travel and go and do. That is trying to provide a proper ending to the “no exit.” Of, “I can’t move and can’t get out. If I stay still I will die.” And many of these patients when deprived of constant movement do feel hopeless and helpless. In therapy they finally can arrive at the memory. Over many months, however. Getting there too soon can be overwhelming and produce mental aberrations, as the top level becomes aware much too soon, as is the case in nightmares where there is the burst-through of terror that cannot be dealt with immediately. That is why Primal Therapy is done in small steps, a bit at a time.
Let us not confuse a feeling with a reaction to it. Because when we do that we start to treat the wrong thing—the reaction. If is something makes me angry cause they scared me and made me afraid, we need to treat the anger and then the fear. First the reaction and then the feeling. We must not stop at just the reaction because we miss the first, basic step. That is the stop that is resolving; the stop that contains the feeling that needs experiencing and resolution. Banging the pillow and screaming out will never get us anywhere; it does not involve the context of the feeling and the feeling itself. You can cry and scream; and then you can really feel. Feeling is the answer.
An allegory of this is the big planner who has scheme after scheme to make it big and get rich. He never gets anywhere because he forgot about evolution and the need for a methodical pace. The system knows this in preventing us from becoming conscious prematurely. Except when one takes gate/crushing drugs that plunges us into the unconscious. And then you know what happens? You become “one with the cosmos,” and other pseudo almost psychotic states. Too much is being released forcing the top level neo-cortex to try to make sense of the input; to try to make it rational, providing rationales for what is happening. And even over time the person is engaged in finding constant rationales through booga booga. They call it mystical experiences and I call it pre-psychotic conduct.
They come to believe in magic, in special people who have all of the answers, who will lead us and guide us toward Nirvana. Or special nutrients or exercises provided by experts; never realizing that they have the answers inside of them; all they need to know is already there. They can get there and trust themselves if they know about how reality awaits. When you have lost touch with that self and therefore can no longer trust it you need to believe in something else, something “far out” of this world. That is when the boundaries of your existence cannot surpass the outer layer of your skin. You become all wound up with yourself, looking for answer after answer. They take special oxygen pills never knowing where the lack of oxygen lies. They do learn a lot about nutrition, which is important. But the world of feeling and the world of booga booga never seem to come together. One can be real in one’s work and irrational outside of it.
So for those therapists who don’t believe in the unconscious, which is the case in the cognitive/Behaviorist world, ask them where nightmares come from and why? They have an evolutionary function; to keep us alive by keeping us aware of danger. The problem is that now the danger is inside and we need to be aware of it to avoid menace. But what if we are only aware of danger from outside? We will die much sooner from the danger inside which we have neglected.
Friday, March 6, 2015
No, but we often treated as a disease. So what’s the disease? The changes in our neurobiology that cry out for the disease. What? Addiction is not the disease; what it really is something we use to calm the disease; a little help from our chemical friends. Enter pain killers, alcohol, sweets and on and on. They step in to help the brain suppress the pain, the need and the agony. And since we go on treating the wrong thing as The Disease, we never find a solution. So Heroin use is not an addiction? Of course it is, but addiction is not to be conflated with disease. It is the poor man’s attempt at a solution; doing what he possibly can to soothe and calm.
What is the disease? Thwarting of need, leaving it unfulfilled, to hang there gnawing away at so many of our systems, doing damage. The system cannot develop properly with many biologic systems unfulfilled and so it accommodates, and alternates, and deviates until we may have too much or too little cortisol, serotonin, immune cells, etc. There is where the disease lodgers itself well hidden and out of the way. So what do we do? We treat the symptoms of the disease and it is an endless task because so long as the real disease is untouched there will always be symptoms. Unless, the “therapy” is successful, and the drugs the doctor give us drive down the symptom and make it disappear. Herein lies the key difference between a symptom of disease and its origin. Why do we keep on treating the wrong thing, year after year, hoping and praying for a different outcome?.....a cure. And why is it so elusive? We are chasing the wrong dog. And that is why all those helpful ploys offered by so many experts give therapies that make us come back over again. Out of sight out of mind? No. Out of sight held captive by the mind.
I read many scientific journals and recent one is about addiction, (Science News, March 2014. The Addiction Paradox). They state that drug addiction has 2 faces; chronic disease, and a temporary failure to cope. Bruce Bower, the author, claims that addiction is a “solvable coping problem rather than a chronic, recurring disease. Really? So I take heroin because the boss is putting pressure on me or my wife wants to go out dancing more often? All this is put forth by those who have never see the pain below addiction, who have not seen how long it lasts and the damage it does. Yes, we can take a drink or a few Prozac when we have a deadline for a paper to write but that is not the addiction we therapists treat. We treat a deranged neuro-biologic system forcing us to find solutions while the experts try to find ways to stop us. When we break a leg they might give us a few pills because they can see the damage. But what about the damage that happened before we had verbal memory? The damage that lies in less oxytocin or serotonin? That cannot be seen; therefore it must not be important. And what happens when we treat rats and pigds and humans with touch and kindness and warmth? All have their oxytocin levels rise significantly. Does that means they were lacking something? And when we offer pain killers to those deprived animals and they take to it with alacrity what does that mean? It means that they need it; they hurt! Is that so difficult to understand? Why is there this war against drugs? Yes drugs do damage but they are an attempt at damage control.
Of course the other choice for the scientists is to call addiction a brain disease. And then we spend years examining the minutia of the brain to find answers. We need to see how experience affects the brain; that is what we need. Then if we fail we can call it a brain disease. But I have seen hundreds of addicts mainly travel back and down to the first months of life, continuing on to their infancy, and there we see the terrible hurt those individuals have suffered. If there is no access to those deep-lying biologic memories then there is no choice but to think it is because of a defective brain. When my patients overcome addiction they have no brain damage, unless, unless years of use, even of seemingly benign drugs, finally disrupt function.
The author agrees that addicts never really get rid of addiction? Why is that? Because they never get rid of the need which still lingers in its neural cave forcing the tendency to use soothing devices. Warmth and caring in the present does help; witness the good the 12-step program does. The problem is that you have to recognize that there is a higher power than you and you must accede to it. Wait a minute; we are the higher power, and we have control given the right circumstances. As long as need lives on in encapsulated form we will require weekly visits for reassurance and help. But when basic primal need is extirpated, we don’t need a surplus any more of constant human reassurance. . I am writing about deep early need but that also encompasses early childhood where love means so much; guidance, protection and warmth. These count but they build on a structure already partly in place. But believe me they count a lot.
In a self satisfied piece, one expert on addiction assures us not to worry because many addicts mature out of addiction by their thirties. Do they also mature out of their pain or is it better hidden? This is an age-old saying told us by our doctors in the forties and fifties; don’t worry your child will grow out of it. By some magic? We never grow out of need. It is in place to stay. It must be experienced for us to grow and mature. And its pain is a warning system that says, pay attention, there is something lacking. Do not push it away except at your peril because it will always, always, come back to bite you.
And there are others, many others in the Behavioral Cognitive School, who think addiction is a decision, a choice both in and out of it. Make a good decision and voila, all is well. Only people who live in their head could think that. They have not seem the great pain addicts are dealing it. Yes, we can make a decision to stop, and suffer thereafter. Is that what we want? More pain? The problem is, how can I get strong enough to make a decision to make a decision?
All experts agree that the addict cannot go it alone; cannot be cured without continuous psychotherapy. I suggest that they cannot get well so long as they are in therapy because the doctor is now the calming influence. He cares. He has warmth. He guides, and above all he is totally interested in you. Who can disagree with that? As long as we keep going we have exchanged one addiction for another; both designed to ease our pain, insecurity and low self esteem, especially when the doctor approves of us, is happy to see us and hopes to see us again and again for years……..for our fix.
After the war I was a mess, so I looked up some shrinks for help. They all wanted me to pay in order to be better motivated. I just got out of the navy and was already well motivated, so I call the Veterans Administration for help. I got an Analyst who spent msot of our time analyzing my dreams. We never went into why I was such a mess. I learned something there; beware the ides of March.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
I had a Primal in my sleep last night. I will tell you about it because it lays bare what is going on in the unconscious. And I will try to answer the question, “Why in your sleep?”
Is was about my mother, whom I rarely have feelings about because she was emotionally absent and never really “there.”
There is an old saying that if you raise your kids right they leave you as children and come back as your friend.
But what if you were not reared (the correct word) right? They stay your children forever looking for the fulfillment the parents should have given you.
Once you have all a good part of your need and can begin to see them as people, a lot changes. Your need no longer clouds your perception of them and that leads me to my Primal. In my sleep I was crying deeply and saying, “I’m so sorry. So, so sorry.” I was not nice because my mother was pre-psychotic, I treated her later on as “crazy Annie.” I could never see her limits, yet within those limits she and my father, two lost souls from Russia, did the best they could. They never heard about, nor knew anything about love. They never even knew that parents were supposed to talk to children. Their parent left for America for years to find work, leaving them on their own. They abandoned me for years in other places because they were left, and that is the way life is.
For me, everything was a mystery. I never knew their history except what I learned from my aunt. I knew nothing about their lives, their finances… nothing. They never knew about touching, softness or caress. It was a daily struggle to make a living. We were working class and my sympathies have always been working class.
So in my primal I began to feel how unfair they were to me but also how unfair I had been to them. I wanted and desperately needed, what they could never give. So long as my need was strong I could not see beyond the need. No one is smarter or stronger than their need and no one can see beyond it.
Why in my sleep? I think it is because at this late date my unconscious and consciousness are merging. They are become almost one. So what should happen on the top level happens during the lower level. Why? Because having felt for years the gates are now pliable and allow feelings to rise almost at will. They rise when I and my brain are ready for feelings.
How do I know? I don’t, except that my body temp remains very low which is usually a sign of far less work the body is doing to maintain its equilibrium and the work it constantly does in the service of constant repression. That is a great effort. It used to be higher. I no longer have nightmares nor do I think my unconscious drives me because that unconscious is now mostly conscious. I control it, not the case at all when I was younger. Back then, compulsions and obsessions abounded. I will spare you the details but I was run by the unconscious as so many of us are who have not felt. And that unconscious , more than any bad diet, will shorten your lifespan as it gnaws away at the heart, liver, kidneys and other organ systems. Of course proper diet is critical, but not as critical as the force of the unconscious. That maims and kills. That sends too many prematurely to the great beyond.
What happens in sleep? Some of the childhood pains reside there, and like all Primal Pains they need liberation. Not everyone has to have merging levels of consciousness but it is critical to reduce the pressure that lower levels exert all of the time. When they drag the system down into depression or speed it up due to anxiety, they need to know that there is a way to dredge up and eliminate those forces forever. After all, those forces are only you and your feelings. Nothing else. So how bad could it be? It is now part of my life; not part of a psychotherapy but a state called living. We laugh and we cry; that is also known as sanity. It is not that we are so emotional. We have eliminated all that extraneous force so that emotions are commensurate with reality. Not a monster driving entity.
When we are not emotional it is a problem; because we means repression and suppression and the emotions are hardly being contained as they whiz around the brain creating havoc. If are made to laugh we are also made to cry. It is natural, biologic, not an aberration. And because we often suppress this biologic tendency we suffer. We have denied our biology. We cannot do that and be healthy.
We often believe that we can think our way to health and sanity. Nope. We think our way to denial, to neurosis, to a false consciousness but not to health. For health and healing we need feeling; that is what makes us human; feeling human beings.
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.