Sunday, May 3, 2015

You Mean the Brain is an Orphan?

 There is a picture in a new science magazine of a doctor holding a human brain declaring that she was going delve deep in the brain to find answers to so many maladies.   (This is the year of the brain, after all). Wait a minute:  what if the answers lie not in the brain but in the parents' brains who affected and infected that brain?   Don’t we want to know what environment that brain grew up in?   Was it an orphan?  Then almost for sure there will be brain impairment later in life.   And looking the brain cells will tell us nothing of this.  If that brain had no loving and warmth in the first weeks and months of life the brain will suffer but it won’t declare it.  All I am saying is that life in any form lives in an environment and is shaped by it, so how could we leave it out of the equation?

Could we ever understand ADD by looking at the brain in isolation?  Leaving out the events that were at the origin of the cause.  Could a kidney specialist know that his sick patient drank for thirty years?   Just by examining the kidneys?  Sometimes.  But not always.  That is precisely what is wrong with the Behaviorists; taking behavior as the sine qua non.  And worse, trying to change behavior without reference to what those behaviors were, and how they shaped us..   So we confine our field of inquiry to a vary narrow space that lets no new related information in.  They take an isolated brain without parents and try to figure out why patients have those compulsions or obsessions, and then try to change behavior into some “wholesome” idea of how it should be.  They force a behavior detour even against the biology of the patient.  His whole system moves to the left when it should move to the right.   It militates to the thinking cortex instead of the feeling one.  And he tries to obey; thinking before he feels so he is not impulsive.  Looking at full ashtrays to get over the urge to smoke and many other ploys that never look at causes. Above all, not understanding the imprinted memories lodged in the lower reaches of the brain that are deeply embedded, which force and drive behaviors.  There are roots to attitudes and behaviors. We are not decorticates rummaging around the world. But some therapies act as though we were; extracting the lonely brain for study without regard to its history.  Psychotherapy cannot be a-historic unless we are doing brief YMCA Counseling:  “You know you need to exercise more.”

Would we treat heart disease without knowing how tense the patient is or how he never exercises? We would be roaming in the dark.  When we say we are social animals it means we are affected by social events; we do not live in a vacuum.  We must study the total interplay of our physical self with outside events.  How can anyone get over his depression without knowing the originating events?   Yet that is exactly what we do.  Give pills for depression and if that does not work we give more powerful pills and then surgery for the brain and maybe electroshock, all without digging deep enough to observe those forces “alive.”  Going on blindly without seeing the brain at work deep down. Yes we can do that.  We see the brain live, meaning alive and living.  We see the pain memory and what it does and how strong it is; finally we see how it drives behavior.  Did I say “behavior”?  Yes I did. We see origins; no more guesswork.  Aah.  


  1. An email comment:
    Very clearly written and even with a touch of humor for me in the statement of absurdities practiced in some forms of therapy today.

    Great post Art.

    1. Art: In response to your post about your forthcoming book on rearing healthy children, I would consider that one of the most important books in history and consider it an honour to advertise it on my forthcoming website (details later date). I can recall in fact not a single person outside the primal world who "gets it" regarding how to treat children. However, when waiting for the library to open in the mornings here in Portugal, there is a youngish man who carries his 3 - 4 year old son lovingly and calmly and places him in his car before driving off to work. In two years, not once have I seen any trace of anger, irritation or impatience. He talks to him without trying to control, override or bully in any way and kisses him lovingly. The boy is always calm and alert. If only all parents were like that all the time. I hope your book becomes na international bestseller. My God, does the world need it. Gary

  2. Well,

    I just finished listening to Stefan Molyneuxs 'Bomb in the Brain' video Part 3 and stumbled over his 'Cure' section.

    Seeing as he quoted so many studies on epigenetics and referred to his 'friend' Gabor Mate, I was rather hoping he would have made a statement about more than just 'talking psychotherapy' and (good grief), CBT.

    What a terrible shame that Stefan's epigenetic & evolutionary rhetoric ends with a vindication for CBT. . . It's as if he's ultimately working for the zeitgeist. . .

    I have to say that as soon as I saw the 'proliferation' of his opinions on line and the degree to which he likes to talk and lecture and monologue (way more than me - and that HAS to be a LOT)! - I was a little bemused by him PERSONALLY.

    What a shame he could not offer feeling therapy (Primal) even a mention in his MASSIVE dialogue. . .

    Paul G.

    1. My outlook:

      Stefan Molyneux's work is useful to the end of bringing attention to some serious problems, and he quite well describes them from an empirical-finding outlook. But his solutions show a lack of understanding, of course.

      He's an intellectual who has over-elevated the value of intellectualism. They all do it. They glorify their own defense systems rather than see them for what they are.

      He believes he's mastered his pain but he hasn't. You can see it in his face and his manner - he's got an intellectual lid locked down on a (still) high-pressure pot. He thinks he has achieved feeling, but he doesn't know that he doesn't know the difference. His overt crocodile tearing makes me cringe a bit, to be honest.

      Regardless, again, I think he has made an excellent contribution in his own right. He should be celebrated for that much I believe.

    2. Hi Andrew,

      -"He's an intellectual who has over-elevated the value of intellectualism. They all do it. They glorify their own defense systems rather than see them for what they are"-.

      But it's not just intellectuals who do this. . . What you've described IS the human condition for 99% of us (I do it too, though is it really "Doing"?)

      What rankles me about some of these 'intellectuals' is that they have the neo-cortical capacity (conceit?) to keep re-defining the boundaries of their defenses according to the varying social environments they encounter. Or in other words, the intellectuals are often infuriatingly adaptable (capricious?) INSIDE of the social paradigm. Put these intellectuals in the Siberian Forest to survive for a fortnight and you would see something completely different again, what exactly I'm not sure; but after the event you might be going: "Oh shit! NOW I get it"!
      I watched Stefan doing 'ad - hoc' psycho analysis on his radio show, whereby to my mind he seemed to be totally destroying some people whilst favouring others. . . But more importantly, HE seemed to be the person MORE important than the callers who undoubtedly gave him the benefit of the doubt and thus the 'moral high ground'. . .

      And yet he describes himself as a mere blogger and philosopher !

      To be perfectly honest Andrew, watching Stefan convinced me of only one thing:

      The seemingly endless denial and conceit of us humans in our attempts to avoid pain.
      This is also why I would now be very careful about how EXACTLY I were to promote Primal because us humans are so willing to hijack an idea and use it to prove the opposite.

      Paul G.

  3. Hi Art ,Apropos heart surgery :
    a twelve months old baby just underwent that kind of medical treatment...
    Has he any chance to "forget" that physical and for sure mental stress in the course of his
    recovering process.

    Imagine that tiny chest has been opened and for 5 hours the (female surgeon for that matter..)
    worked on it ...!
    Besides the the fact that he is now under morphine -something perhaps gets through his defense line-to his remembering centers .

    Hopefully he will succeed and live happily with his twin brother till 2100......
    Yours emanuel

  4. Talking about orphans...My cousin and his partner just succeeded in their second attempt to "buy" themselves a child. Weird as it sounds it can't be further away from reality. Let me get deeper into it. He and his beloved Mathew wanted so badly to experience parenthood that both agreed to not only rent a woman's womb, (so there's a market for those purposes, naïve me), but to make sure the egg one of them -finally his husband- was to fertilize not even belonged to that woman but to anotherone who in her turn would donate hers for who knows what philantropic purposes. It seems they wanted to make sure the newborn baby would never ever be able to connect any dots to his/her ADN lineage (that's no surprise if we pay attention to their own childhoods, filled with overwhelming motherhood and, of course, deprived of loving fathers, too busy trying to comply with the Patriarchal legacy of productivity and profitability). Whatever the case, they both deeply believe they have the right to build up a "normal" family despite the fact that none of them is able to carry, let alone labour, the forthcoming child. At firts attempt the unborn succumbed to those plans at sudden death, short before it was brought to light. No problem, we'll get a better carrying mother, the best that money can buy (what better investment for our money that that of helping a woman in financial disgrace) and we'll try again. And they did. Hannah finally agreed to be born regardless of the despair she will definitely carry and see grow month after month as she was taken away from her carrying mother right after birth.
    Both Mathew, the genetic father, and my cousin, the "second" father, are proudly filling ever since, their facebook walls with countless pictures of the new family. In their defense I'd say this is a habit of heterosexual beginners as well. Did they ever consider the right of the baby to chose her place in the equation? No. They simply acted as their thinking brains thought was best for their common goal. Of course a couple of heterosexual partners is not deprived of that evolutionary impuls (rather it is driven unconsciously by it), but in a way, and despite the dangerous liaisons involving natural progeny, family crap is family crap after all. I would beg the reader not to get me wrong, but I won't. And that is because however much heterosexual partners fail to express love, however much homosexual couples will care for their purchased babis, they are litteraly stolen from her moms, and not even given the chance to be breastfeeded for a minimum lapse of time. If kittens do get plenary indulgence in that regard before adoption, why does not a human being merit the same? . Of course the carrying mother played her part, making herself believe she didn't feel anything for the baby she had worn in her womb for 9 months. She got her paycheck. It was not her firts successful attempt into eugenic business.

  5. Hi Lars,

    Its amazing what people can do when they have cast iron gates / no access to real feelings.

    Having defiled, deforested and overpopulated this one, we will soon be populating other planets and congratulating ourselves heartily on our meritorious achievements.

    Paul G.

  6. An email comment: Part 1

    "Evolution Will Keep CBT Only As Long As It Is Needed

    Why is Art constantly ranting about CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and other “half-therapies”. Why! What is the deep lying reason? He is right (and I’m one evidence of that his Primal Principal is working). However, he won’t get credentials easier for that reason due to missing scientific papers, which none has seen so far. The most important thing is that the holistic approach to the Primal Therapy must cover both psychological, physical and social complications/repressions in a free interdisciplinary mix.

    Abraham Maslow, who also was a genius who was ahead of his time, tried, for decades, to justify dynamic psychotherapy and self-discovery. “ If we have a need for vitamin B12, psychotherapists can say, that we have a need to be loved or a need for safety.” He was, however, “cool” and knew that blind love for one’s subject leads to subjective conclusions and a missed divergent truth. “In the effort to achieve “scientific,” uninvolved, don’t-care objectivity, the anthropologist, for instance, may buy the whole package that he mistakenly ties to this kind of objectivity. He may become scientistic rather than scientific, may feel it necessary to drown his human feelings for the people he studies, may quantify whether necessary or not, and may wind up with accurate details and a false whole”.

    Maslow referred to common phrasings as “science can tell us nothing about why, only about how”. “Science is not an ideology or an ethic or a value system; it cannot help us to choose between good and evil.” “The unavoidable implication is, then, that science is only an instrument, only a technology, to be used equally by either good men or villains.”

    I don’t know which buttons Art is pressing in my feelings. It hurts me when he is using/pleading/referring to his scientific proofs as a weapon against “half-therapies”. The realization of the Primal Principle that correctly, individually, applied may cure childhood traumas and resolve neuroses does not work in general. Evolutionary survival mechanisms are not only psychologically strong, they also form, together with physical and social factors a complex pattern of dead ends.

    Within the 200.000 shrinks, Art (we) are usually ranting against, there are a number of bright people. Louis Cozolino, well known to Art and his pals, has written a book “The Making of a Therapist”. The book is being read by current and future therapists among wich several certainly CBT-related (and I hope Primal Therapy-related). A wonderful book showing the imperative of a “skinless” sensitivity both towards himself, as a therapist, as against his patient. The book fits my time with the Primal Principle and the way I learned to see, interpret and understand myself in my social interactions. I truly hope it will be a “must-read” at Duke University, Duke Integrative Medicine, in their Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare."

  7. Part 2: "There is now in my life, a woman, Eva, who worked as a researcher, leader and pedagogue in a well-recognized university. As the successor to her father and grandfather, she has led, lived and breathed research, in search for the truth. During their combined 100 years of research, they have in their environment, probably, seen more talents come on, develop and flourish to Nobel Prize candidates and laureates than there are patients who can stand up and say that they have been cured by PT.

    Despite her compact research background, my friend Eva has become completely convinced about the possibilities of the Primal Principle/Evolution in Reverse. She knew me already when I was a charming (her words), headstrong teenager. Our paths parted among other things due to the consequences of my epilepsy. We did not see each other for 53 years, though, we had another in mind. As a result of our re-established emotional ties, due to my book about my epileptic journey and due to Art Janov’s Reflections, her approach to the mechanical truths of Science have been revised.

    Eva has, over four years, using interdisciplinary methods, in a sensational way regained normal vital signs, throwing her diabetes and goiter medications and lost 30 pounds. She is very fond of Art Janov, possibly more than I.

    You shouldn’t incriminate/nag at cognitive therapists, Art! Evolution will only keep them as long as they are needed!

    Jan Johnsson"

    1. We must do something about our way of thinking! NOW.

      Evolution does not care about what we think... but evolution is affected in the sense of delay in view of what we believe. In other words... our thinking causes a hell because we "entitle" us to believe in something that does not benefit the human foundation! We need love to develop in a healthy sense of what evolution purposes! We also know how the "process" must be in order to experience love. January we know today.


  8. Another email comment:
    " Dear Art thanks for writing.

    I always feel a little saner, after reading something you wrote. Its maddening, that people who are often so far removed from their feelings seem to have so much influence on the profession. And yet after all this time, they the chronic followers of CBT, have made no progress, in helping people. I feel that's because, there are more interested in just having the power of an authority figure. They are looking for laws, that can turn therapy, into something like physics. But instead, are perpetually chasing their own tails. They won't feel it, and won't look deeply, because they don't speak the language, and don't have a feeling nature to begin with.

  9. Hi Jan and Art & 'email comment',

    The issue here seems to be whether or not imprinted traumas during the critical window can be ameliorated at all through indirect intervention, alternatives , palliatives , exercises etc.

    Art has stated that it is physiologically impossible to reverse methylation any other way than through the DIRECT regaining and reliving of those imprinted 'memories', so that they become re-connected as opposed to split off and incarcerated in the repression of gene expression. Blah.

    I believe him. I believe him because of what I understand about biology & chemistry and mechanics and physics and from my own profound emotional experiences and observations of INGRAINED behaviour in myself and others.

    For these other palliatives to 'work' (I have tried many) I have always had to 'believe' something fantastic about them and thus having regressed back to old ways later have realised that what I believed was actually a fantasy producing another different kind of mild (therefore socially acceptable) psychosis, an image of cure, not real cure. Scheherazade. . .

    Don't get me wrong, I also know I could live a healthier lifestyle, but to gain that now I will have to 'go sick' for a substantial period of time because the current work demands on me keep my act outs firmly in place. My biggest act out is of course my unhealthy lifestyle filled with substitutes for the love lost in infancy. . .

    A vicious circle not easily broken and though I am now ensconced in my new bedsit it still feels like another one of those 7 'places' I have put my head down in over the last 5 years and NOT my own. I still feel 'on the run' and I still feel a fraud, even more than before.

    Paul G.

  10. knowledge about epigenes is promoting all kinds of approaches including minfulness... is epicenetic still useful as a primal pain index?
    this outside half science could be the perfect companion for all those half therapies. what will be left after the epigenetic pill? a system that is precisely regulated from outside towards perfect obedience.

    1. vuko,

      brilliant example of the power of reductionism. . . how it 'incorporates' half of what is needed to make the other half impotent.

      Or another way of putting it is: "I agree with you so that I can rob your ideas". . .

      Paul G.


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.