Monday, March 30, 2015
On Drugs Again
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.
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.