Tuesday, June 30, 2015
The Revolutionary Twins: Truth and Love
I often write that the simple truth is revolutionary but it is also true of love, and just maybe they are twin sides of the same coin. What is true for us humans is the need for love. I have spent my whole therapeutic life explaining in every way possible the effects of love and no love. The ultimate revolutionary truth is love; hence the twain can meet.
Why can’t my colleagues in psychology find the truth of love/feelings? What is so difficult about it. Why in every psychologic theory extant is it missing? It is like some mystery hidden in a closet that we all ignore, something we must not touch. And why is it so closely tied to truth? Maybe it is because the truth is so revolutionary that it means re-creating a whole new approach to psychotherapy reflecting the lack of love. It means overturning every Behavior/Cognitive therapy that is strewn about everywhere in our field. And when we lift the covers from this abstract theoretical blanket we find deep lacks of love wallowing in a cesspool of pain. There are groans and moans and we pay no attention to them because we cannot understand their language.
Maybe it is all avoided because we do not fully understand its importance in the psychologic scheme of things. If a parent pushes his child to succeed and neglects holding him, kissing him and nuzzling him, then of course it will be missing from his life, and above all, from his intellectual theories. How can an unloved child grow up to value it if he has never felt what was missing all of his life? Until this pain is felt it will be covered over and fancy theories will supplant his ideas about therapy. This is how a recent Scientific American explains in a recent title piece how (Too Much Praise Promotes Narcissism: June 17, 2015) We learn how too much praise can make a child self-centered, narcissistic and arrogant. This is what is called in Yiddish, a bubbminsa (spelling), an old wives tale brought down through history to “educate” our offspring. It is not that Scientific American endorsed it; but they gave it a prominent place in the discourse. This is shocking from a scientific journal but not surprising because it all comes from the same paradigm the intellect: uber alles. Or how about nursing a baby too long makes him addicted to sucking? Or how about holding a child too long spoils him? What is missing here? Clinical experience, but much more personal loving experience, being and giving love, which would dissuade anyone from believing this nonsense. What they cite are statistical truths which must take a back seat to biologic truths.
Let me cite one axiom: It has to do with need. If we allow nursing to go on until the baby no longer needs to, there is no problem. If we nurse him due to our need to appear hip and progressive, a great deal is lost and there is addiction in the making. He is no longer fulfilling his need, he is filling theirs. Since their need may be a deep pit, the converse of fulfillment of need takes place. It is too much and produces the same kind of pathology as fulfilling too little. The real need to both cases is ignored. We have abrogated the rule of need. If we hug him every time he cries and never let me cry over a fall, we abort his need to shout out his pain. Of course, he needs solace but he also needs to express himself. I have seen this in neophyte therapists who are far too quick to hug and give solace to a person who needs to feel his pain. It is aborted. We pay attention to his need and not ours things will usually go right; first, we need to have felt our need: to be bright and understanding, to be empathic and blah blah. Choose your unfelt need and you will know. If you need to be famous the child will be pushed to achieve, and love will be nowhere in sight. He will unconsciously be filling the need that you as a parent lacked when you were a child. You need to feel important he will do his damndest to be famous for you. He will be the best athlete in school or the highest level scholar. And you will praise him for exactly what you needed praise for and never got.
Luckily, I had parents who never cared for a moment, not even to know where I went to school. They had no ambitions for me, and there was nothing I could do to feel loved and approved. So I never became anything they wanted because they had no ideas or ambitions for me. I was a pure anxiety case, as a result because there is nothing I could try or be that would make them look at me or talk to me, not the least to say what I never heard --- that was good what you did. After all they were Russian peasants who knew nothing of child-rearing or love except that they should be working in the fields very young. And to quote this august scientific journal cited above, never praise them or else you will spoil them. I can’t believe this kind of thinking still exists but psychologic science seems to be in process of dumbing down, reflecting the zeitgeist. And why is that? For one key reason---FEELING. It went missing and not only cannot be found but no one knows it is missing. Wait a minute, I know where it is.
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.