Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What Do We Mean By, He's Damaged?

In the field of shrinks we usually mean his emotional makeup is askew; his views and perceptions are off,  and he can’t be counted on for stability and reliability.  He is damaged.

But do we also mean that he is physically damaged?  Do we take into account the physical aspects of the damage? Or does it find itself limited to the emotional?  In Shrinkdom never the twain shall meet; it is all rather ephemeral.  But we usually confine ourselves to the emotional.  But what about when the “emotional has physical effects?  And physical origins?  Usually it is a long leap from the emotional damage to the physical.  That  is why doctors spend their lives studying diabetes, high blood pressure, migraines and asthma, and it still eludes them.  It is as if the symptoms spring de novo apart from their roots and are taken as complete entities by themselves.  So we go on studying the minutia of the symptoms separated from their origins.  The result of all this study is to try to control the symptom not cure it.  Big Pharma is not so interested in cure when crushing symptoms is so powerful a choice; an incentive which can go in into infinity.  And sadly, patients who suffer so much are willing to accept the control of the symptom as the main goal of treatment.

There are many new studies on the physical and physiologic components of the emotional as to make them inseparable, which they are.  Oh wait  minute, are they twins?  Conjoined at the head with no chance of separation?  Not until we see them as a whole, can we see them as separate.  Oh  My.  Now we are getting complicated.  Not until we see the key feelings with both their physical and emotional components can we see them as two parts of the same damage.  Meanwhile we go on misplacing treatment onto the wrong damage.  That is, it is not that we are not treating the damage; it is that we are not treating the real damage and that is why the symptoms continue without cease.  We treat collateral damage and evade  the real target.  The target, well hidden, is the fount like a suppurating  wound that  constantly oozes its discharge, which we see as symptoms,  and call it THE  disease.  It is the result of the disease; terrible pain inflicted when we had no words to signal damage.  But there were physical effects on the immune system.  Thus, being drugged while in the womb has lifelong effects that trail us for a lifetime.

The real disease is so well sequestered that we cannot imagine that it even exists. Nor can we imagine the pain involved from imprints down deep in the brain.  It is ineffable in the true sense of the word.  Physical symptoms are more obvious; we can see an asthma attack or high blood pressure.  Tougher to see a carrying mother smoking or drinking.  She takes a cigarette and the damage begins. The baby/fetus begins his life of misery.  It is all so mysterious and worse, the damage may not show up for decades:  i.e, cancer or Alzheimers.  So, to make the link between two events forty or fifty years apart is asking a lot.  Meanwhile the grownup baby finds drugs that ease his pain and he is addicted.  It is tough to treat because we treat only the addiction to drugs.  We make it a criminal offense and we find ways to make it difficult to obtain.  And we think we have solved the problem.  We applaud those who stay off drugs and are “clean.”  They may pay for this kind of success with serious disease later on;  the pain below the addiction still remains and continues its damage.  That damage is both physical and emotional; they are one.  We go on to treat the obvious.

Research is closing in on early trauma and later disease.  A study at King’s College, London found long-term changes in the immune system as a result of: childhood trauma, sexual and emotional abuse, separation early from caregivers and general neglect.  All this proliferated in a myriad of illnesses.  Through  a study of biomarkers they found enhanced inflammation, far above the normal range.  (Valerie Mondelli.  Molecular Psychiatry, June, 2015).  Looking back at certain markers they could postdict trauma earlier on.  Here we note that early physical damage, a smoking, carrying mother, can turn into all kinds of symptoms both physical ,arthritis, or emotional, addiction.  These can be different effects from the same pain.  Some will search out strange ideas and beliefs, others will find drugs, some will find gambling and others overwork , still others overeat.  It is all ways to deal with the same early damage which no one sees.  We see the effects of the damage but not what cures:  the damage itself.  Too often the pain is so well hidden is that all we see is someone so shut down as to seem without feeling.  They are emotionally dead.

And what happens next?  We open Gambling and Alcohol Anonymous Clinics, Diet Programs, Self Esteem centers, ad nauseam.  And what do they treat?  Effluvia of surging internal volcano of pain.  We rush in to treat this or that; gambling or overeating with specialists in almost everything, who do what?  Suppress behavior and suppress the pain.  So they do the opposite of what is necessary: liberate the pain, once and for all.    Stop shutting down what cures:  feeling.    To do that we need to travel back in time slowly to reach the deepest reaches of the unconscious to open the gates of repression and begin to feel the real damage.  That is our target, the real damage.  Then the collateral effects seem to disappear.  How do we do that?  It is what I write about in many books and hundreds of blogs. It is not simple and took decades to figure out.  But now we understand the disease and what to do about it.  Why?  When we help patients relive traumas we see it in real time as the patient goes back to relive it exactly as it happened.  He is not discussing it; he is living and feeling it.  Elsewhere, I discussed a patient who moved out of town to avoid pollution until she finally felt the source of her pollution; her mother’s constant smoking while while pregnant.  There was nothing she could do about it as a baby.  Now she could keep on moving away from her perceived threats of pollution.  Her reactions were real enough but her behavior was anxiety driven from a time long ago.  She went to a cult to learn how to live in the present but she was still living in the past.  Her Primals began with “Help, I am suffocating."


  1. Arthur
    That's true, my body hurts all the time. I have: scoliosis, sunken chest, ear buzzings, muscle tensions and many others. If I treated symptoms, one go, one come. Now I have to go to surgery, I feel abandoned and lost. I do not know if this will help me or increase repressions. My dream is to be free from pain.

  2. First we have to gain knowledge... the scientific content for what symptoms show... it before there is any chance to do something right for what cause is! What's so hard to understand that? This applies to many areas that people otherwise implements daily so why not in the psychiatric field? It is because of the abstraction... the limbic system does not exist for what intellectuals sentences require. It's how the neocortex lays "smoke screens" against the memories of catastrophic feelings... it as a result of only neocortex are at work.
    The disaster... as the limbic system carry are and remain isolated as long as we allow intellectual guide the task! We must somehow put an end to the era of psychiatry... because these individuals just allows themselves determine what shall be! They are on top of their own controlling against own suffering as other must follow... and if they would find themself to be wrong... what would they be capable of doing... is what they do!


  3. Reading this I thought of the term psychosomatic, which has largely negative connotations. Such 'ailments' are treated w/some mistrust, as it's thought an emotional cause produces a physical symptom that isn't 'real', but is an expression of the (underlying) emotion. Eg: an upset stomach is seen as a psychosomatic symptom of anxiety; whereas 'we' know that pain in the brainstem acts on the digestive tract as well as producing (emotional symptoms of) anxiety. This is a little complex; I hope I'm being clear. But to me its just another way people avoid the truth; remain neurotic. Jacquie

    1. Hi Jacquie,

      from what I understand about myself, my son and others I know with 'signs & symptoms' it's not strictly fair to say -"its just another way people avoid the truth; remain neurotic"-.

      Perhaps you don't actually mean what the words you use imply; but to me you imply some aspect of 'free will', of "Choice": that the patient is deliberately 'doing it to themselves'. . .

      As you can see I have a bee in my bonnet about 'free will'. What I would prefer to say is that the organism always tries to find a state of balance and so if one aspect is seriously 'skewed' then all other aspects 'adapt' and there you get your 'signs & symptoms'. . . I suppose you could say my words are homeopathic and yours are perhaps a tad 'allopathic'.

      What seems to be required is imparting Primal Knowledge to patients so that they can begin the journey down to the originating cause, without self blame or false starts (or should I say 'forced starts').

      The danger in the notion of 'free will & choice' is a kind of moral 'one upmanship', when applied by one to another. . .

      Only I can have free will & choice about my condition, and then only after I am informed correctly about universal principles. . . as soon as I start turning the notion of 'free will & choice' onto another (a patient) then I am effectively making a moral judgement on hir.

      That is most likely to result in the poor patient making a forced and false start from the wrong station.

      Nevertheless I do agree that when using the term 'psychosomatic' people can misinterpret what is a legitimate (though generic) expression for the relationship between the psychological trauma (feelings) and the body.

      'Free will' implies thoughts come first thus prejudicing the notion of 'psycho / soma'.

      I don't mean to be intellectual here, I mean to help people grasp the issues in their lives without judgement and so from where THEY can make an effective start.

      Paul G.

    2. Paul: Hi, I thought I wasn't clear.. Sorry. I like to write so succinctly sometimes at the expense of meaning. I meant, people interpreting physical (somatic) ailments as *not real, but as false expressions of an underlying emotional (psycho) state to me is not seeing that the mind &body are one, so to speak; that when in pain we suffer emotionally *and physically. Of course your 'signs & symptoms' are real. Best, Jacquie

    3. Jacquie,

      see how ready I was to misinterpret you. . .

      By the time I had completed what I wrote I had actually realised we are both on the SAME side ! I just couldn't help pressing send. . .

      Ah dear, the price I pay for having not had sisters and also been sent to an all boys school.

      Paul G.

  4. I keep trying to post here but it dont wprk.hello mr janov.its greg curtis from england with a good story.
    25 uears ago o read th bopk.and bingo..ot took over.never lookd back

    1. Kev, please rewrite so we all understand what you mean. art

    2. Kev: it's been 25yrs (since landing upon "the book") for me too! Also have never looked back :) Jacquie

  5. An email comment: "Thanks for writing..

    I couldn't help thinking when I read this, of something I read somewhere a long time ago. I am sure I will ruin it, but here goes anyway. When ever someone is blind, no matter what action they take, they will fall into a hole. I think thats the basic problem, here. Unconscious people can't help but get things wrong, because what ever they do, their actions come from their unconsciousness.

    The people who create these treatments are also unconscious, groping trying, to figure things out, but since they are also unconscious, what ever they do, starts out wrongly, and usually ends badly.

    Insanity, takes a lot of work. Its back breaking work, that never ends, because it takes you father and farther away from yourself. No mater what you intend. "

  6. Art: I just read this on the web, which is a comment on a long article by a woman on how her "perfect" boyfriend gradually took over her life. I post it for two reasons: (1) because generally people & institutions deal more easily with concrete abuse eg physical & sexual, rather than the more hidden and complex emotional, as is the case with mental health professionals, and (2) in case others on this blog feel they might be experiencing this. Gary

    Chicago Says No More

    9 in 10 Americans, when asked to list indicators of domestic violence and sexual assault, do not include repeated emotional, verbal abuse and controlling behaviors. Abuse is primarily about power and control. Domestic violence and sexual assault are so embedded in our society they can be hard to see. There is a culture of silence around these issues. It is crucial to stand against this facelessness by understanding just how many of us and how many people we know experience this abuse.We can overcome this paralysis through education and a willingness to speak out, to examine our own attitudes and ask ourselves how we can do better and do more. Get involved and be a part of the movement to change the culture and the conversation surrounding these issues, to recognize their indicators and their impact. Raise your voice and do not be a part of the silence. Say NO MORE: http://chicagosaysnomore.org/take-the-pledge


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.