Friday, January 29, 2016

The Act-out and More

The truth needs no defense…except…not feeling it causes a myriad of defenses.  Feeling is the opposite of defenses.

There is a certain paradigm in Primal which one blogger, Frank,  alluded to.   Truth needs no defense except when that truth is more than the system can integrate; then it requires defenses. That is why in booga booga land they live inside their defenses and imagine all kinds of things like freedom, liberation,  being one with the cosmos, etc.  They no longer feel the truth of their pain.  No longer know they live inside a defense. They grab onto  a strange unreal idea and ride with it; just so long as it keeps the truth away:  I hurt.

That is why after patients have deep feelings they come up with many truths about their lives.   It is buried and defended along with the pain.  Thus no one has to give anyone insights; they are already there just waiting for the exit.  And how do they get out”?    They hijack and ride along with the pain.

Let me give you an example from my own life.  Early on,  I had to go out to coffee all of the time first thing in the morning.  I just did it without thinking twice about it. Then the Primal: stuck in the womb, could not get out and I acted it thereafter for decades.  The hidden feeling drove me and I had no idea I was driven.  And if I drank or smoked to keep the pain down, I would still have no idea why I did those thing, which I never did.    But…I had to get out, and if I had been smart or primal enough I would have traced my obsessive ritual back to its source by asking: what am I trying to do…Why silly, I am trying to get out! Pre-primal I would say I need freedom and I want to feel free, but that would not have made any sense.

I had a patient who had a different obsession: she had to fuck all of the time.  (not a dirty word, just an accurate one).  It turns out…..  What are you trying to do?  She said she needed to relieve her tension.  And why?  Because if she did not fuck, her body temperature and blood pressure went through the roof:  she was in danger of dying.    So why fucking?  It was the most basic and deeply rooted instinct.  Its buildup put the body into tremendous stress.  She had to find release through the act-out because she never knew she had an imprint embedded deep down and she never knew that it engendered all that tension.
Hi, I am your doctor.  Any stress lately?  Not that I know of but I think there was a stress event 50 years ago not sure what it was but it raised my body temp and blood pressure a lot:  to this day.  “How would you know that”?  An instinct I guess. I mean why else would I have those chronic  symptoms?  Dunno,

Oh, what is this act-out?   Our  symbolic way to deal with an unconscious concretized memory.  It is like a blind person with no knowledge of his unconscious, trying to shake off a terrible trauma.  He does the best he can, and he comes close, symbolically,  just like my having to go out for coffee every morning.   Surely that obsession meant there is something buried down below.  Even knowing exactly what it is would not change one thing because the insight lives on top of the brain,  while the feeling resides at the bottom.  They are far apart.  Isn’t it amazing that the deep-lying feeling sends messages from below to approximate the trauma without ever saying what it is?   And why is that?   Because if it sent up the whole package; the whole truth, we would be in agony all over again.  And so our merciful brain has found back-up ways to protect us.  It keeps the truth from us even when we go on searching for the truth.  The longer the search the less we discover.  Aah, that dialectic again.   Those poor philosophers; in a constant search that will never be finished because……oh no, wait,  the search is really for pain and it is only the pain that can liberate.  Us.   Does that mean they are looking for pain and  don’t know it?  Yep.

Jesus, Janov, you are so arrogant and sure of yourself.  Is that wrong?  It is better to not be sure when I have lived it?  And when I relive it and my act-outs disappear?    The truth lies in that deep pain, not in the higher level cortex where the search seems to be concentrated.   That is why it cannot be found.   We are looking for results, not causes, and like so much work in psychology, focusing on results cannot reveal arcane causes.  Oh my.  It seems so hopeless.  Nope,  because real hope lies in reliving that very hopelessness that drives so many depressions. And what do we do instead of feeling hopeless and finding causes; we run from it, keeping busy, keep working  and run and run……away from ourselves.  You cannot find your salvation nor yourself that way.

One last note on my act-out.  Why did I choose the trumpet for my instrument?  I was playing in a band, the psychopathic syncopators and I was hitting a high note and it felt like I was screaming……and it was, screaming in the only way I could.  Every week I went to the local mental hospital and played in LA.  With the best musicians around.   We went out for gigs in different venues and all the sax section who had lobotomies  had to hold hands so we wouldn’t lose them.   And all the girls from the area came and danced with the patients on Thursday nights.  One night from the dance floor I heard  “Art.  Art.  Arturo.”  A patient came up and hugged me and we talked.  “What happened to you?”(Hector Acosta)  ! pleaded.  He told me the story.  First of all he was a Mexican so that during battle he had to go down below and secure all the hatches with him inside so if we torpedoed,  the water could not flow into the rest of the battleship and sink us.   Hector was locked inside.   Why?  Cause he was a Mexican.  After months of this he cracked up and spent a long time in mental hospitals.  But it was no different while the blacks on our ship were fighting for their freedom, they were not allowed to touch a gun, and most of what they could do was cook and clean and wear white uniforms to serve the officers.  No one thought that was strange.

To this day I think the girls who came and danced with some psychotics were heroic.  They wanted to help the war effort and us sailors.   And it was wonderful.  I learned more about mental illness playing with my pals then I ever did in classes in school.


  1. "I learned more about mental illness playing with my pals then I ever did in classes in school."

    Yes, and from history, too. I thought that I would pass on that every serious therapist who treats mind-control victims uses Abreaction Therapy which you call primalling. so you are verified by some who treat the very worst and horrific cases of human abuse known to man. I know its not safe for you to talk, but at least there is a certain satisfaction you can keep inside. someday, I will explain "mindfulness" as the name is poorly chosen in my opinion, but its concept is also yours but with a name that would not make it clear.

  2. On the ideology of freedom (I hope this isn't too off topic?):

    When freedom becomes the "religion" in itself (related, no doubt to neurotics needs), I think people can have a stupid relationship to it.

    I was recently in a classical-liberal political party (called ACT) in New Zealand and ended up leaving it, because they thought that people who are completely off their nut should nonetheless be allowed to have children, no matter their condition, and anyone (like me)who even dared suggest that they be stopped from doing so is some kind of neo-Nazi eugenicist.

    This is what happens when ideological people live in their ideas before the real world. They make "highly principled" idiots of themselves.

    The truth is freedom is not the name of the game, with respect to human wellbeing. Outside physiological needs, it's just authentic respect for your fellow man that counts. Which is of course comes from being feeling towards others.

    For example, I myself found school as a child to be a total prison. But I know that I felt that way not because I was controlled and directed, as such, but because I was force-associated with miserable, unfriendly, and too-often plain nasty children, and cold and indifferent teachers. And I was forced to do utterly tedious schoolwork. I was "imprisoned" in an unfeeling context where I was not respected. That was the real problem.

    If we want freedom we should simply target humanity. Then freedom (that counts) is as inevitable as our respect for our fellow man.

    1. Andrew: You say "It´s JUST authentic respect for your fellow man that counts" Human rights, especially the freedom to choose, have come to supercede everything. However, they are granted only to adults, not to children or animals, whose rights they overrule. In the case of children, much progress has been made in the last few decades so that in many countries - mainly but not entirely European - physical abuse is now illegal after partial adoption of the UN charter of childrens rights, and in many countries eg Isreal, Cyprus, Italy, certain types of emotional abuse and neglect too.

      However, you omit to include the rights of animals in your comment. Why the hell is it just fine & dandy for ONE species of animals, humans, to decide it has the right to deny the right to life, food, acceptable living conditions, peace, freedom and happiness to the thousands of species of non-human animals? What gives this ONE species the right and indeed the desire to commit a trillion animals every year to lives of unimaginable pain and suffering in factory farms, vivisection laboratories and permanent captivity?

      Animals cannot of course primal, therefore it is technically beyond the remit of this group to include them in our discussions, but being as emotionally and physically as feeling as ourselves and so many species still outnumbering us on this planet, their rights ought to be included in all áreas of human activity and discussion. Wherever they are not, humans are guilty of the worst arrogance as a species I can imagine. By what right do we assume that we and we alone have all the rights we accord ourselves and yet deny them to non human animals? Does nature create all species of animals to be tortured, abused, and barbarically murdered by just one species? Or does it create all species for the purpose of enjoying life in freedom? When we talk of only ourselves, we are ingoring 99% of creation. Do they not matter? Gary

    2. Hi Andrew,

      -"This is what happens when ideological people live in their ideas before the real world. They make "highly principled" idiots of themselves.

      I've done that. I began to realise that no sooner did the opportunity to point out someone's words seemed to confirm or contradict my 'bias' I was ready to 'crucify' them with my ideals and jump down their throats. No wonder I ended up in social housing with no friends. Still, it's never too late to learn from my mistakes. I'm off to a 'tree recycling' meeting later today; I'll try to make new friends there, without stuffing logs into people's eyes !

      Paul G.

  3. My true Art!

    "The truth needs no defense…except…not feeling it causes a myriad of defenses. Feeling is the opposite of defenses". So... we live with ideas for how they limit us... why it is so difficult to come to grips with what science presents! Ideas almost impossible to let go of because they continue to defend them against life-threatening experiences! What a sad story!

    How are we ever going to see a professional who let go of their ideas for what symptomatic reactions restrict the medical skills... that is their livelihood... so they would begin to feel the cause of their own limits as it is life-threatening?

    There must be a completely different order of how to exclude professional knowledge... it to be limiting for what sensing is up to.

    Your Frank

  4. Hi,

    I think it's important to find common ground with Primal. Here's a few quotes, allegedly from Carl Jung:

    -"Emotion is the chief source of all becoming-conscious. There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.

    Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.

    The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.

    Seldom, or perhaps never, does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly and without crises; there is no coming to consciousness without pain.

    The dynamic principle of fantasy is play, a characteristic also of the child, and as such it appears inconsistent with the principle of serious work. But without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable. It is therefore short-sighted to treat fantasy, on account of its risky or unacceptable nature, as a thing of little worth"-.

    I wonder what Carl Jung would have made of Primal?

    Paul G.

  5. This is good what Art has to say. Many times, it is unfortunate, we "imprison" ourselves. To get out, to feel release from social functions and parties gives me a feeling of strength. I find freedom in working, playing an instrument , doing something creative, or just being outside. To give yourself "a break" and feel freedom is a good thing. The normal person, doesn't need this (desperate sense of freedom) as much as the traumatized adult or the one that has gone through severe trauma/pain growing up. One does better if maybe they aren't looking for an "outlet" all the time or trying to find the answer to find the sense of constant freedom (that should be fixed....most of the time, that feeling that the traumatized adult has. Even work is better than going to a social function, and to some
    that makes no sense. Some feel more freedom at times working at their job, than attending a social get together; finding the social party more confining than their 9-5 job. A sense of freedom is always good along with a sense of relief; then that person isn't so "clouded" by others. Of course, one would be more successful possibly if they didn't have this yearning to be free all the time.

  6. A truth more painful than the organism can integrate!

    Everything suggests that the evolutionary approach with repressed pain is for the survival of the species. Both in the short and longer term. Eternity takes care of itself. Sometimes repressed pain become the mainspring for innovation of both technical and organic nature. The Primal Principle made its random entrance when the destruction artist Raphael Ortiz, during a seance, provoked the gates of repressed pain in a young man to open. When followed up by a gifted seeker of the truth Arthur Janov, with own repressed pain, this led to the discovery of the Primal Principle / Evolution in Reverse.

    When the discoverer of the primal principle, during the last decades has re-lived his own repressed pain and could see his act-outs disappear, then it is a deserved arrogance he displays and annoys his critics with. It is fascinating that a non contemptible measure of earlier act outs has given us the Primal Principle, the opportunity to re-live repressed pain and to live on without the act outs. A logical conclusion (if logic is included in the context), in a neurotic society, is that act outs when they occur selectively, may lead to a less neurotic society. A confirmation of this conclusion is Alice Miller's life. Her lifelong struggle, propelled by unbearable pain, got the whole world to understand the implications of the Black Education and its social connection with home / school / church. This has slowly (too slowly) led to a recognition by the legislation, in more enlightened countries against corporal punishment and physical and mental child abuse.

    How hard her life was, I have not been able to understand until now. During the past week, I read the book of of her son (Martin Miller) “Das wahre Drama des begabten Kindes" with the subtitle: Die Tragödie Alice Millers.” Martin Miller describes in a revealing manner his own, confusing loveless childhood as the son of a deeply repressed Alice Miller. Her relationship / marriage, since the Warshaw time, with Martin's fascist father, distorts the picture of human interaction further. Martin tells the story of Alice's life in Poland as a young talented Jewess with a well-off family. Before the war, Alice got the opportunity to study a couple of years in Berlin and to learn German. This had importance for her circumstances, as Polish-speaking to survive WW2 under a false name, and Polish passports among Nazis and informers in Warshaw. She lived with Martin's father during the war under the constant threat of being betrayed and deported to a extermination camps.

    After reading Martin Miller's book, I am happy to be able to understand the significance of the horror Alice Miller has had to live through in order to survive and later become powerful / motivated to perform her unique life's work. This understanding I attribute Arthur Janov who so comprehensibly explained that the truth needs defense when it is more than the organism can integrate.

    Jan Johnsson


    Martin Miller's book is not in English but available only in German. An English interview with Martin Miller can be found here below.

    1. Hi Jan,

      in one of her books Alice Miller credited Art with being (possibly) the only genuine therapist she could recommend. That is how I got onto this blog.

      Paul G.

  7. What a long strange trip it's been - The Grateful Dead
    I was never a deadhead groupie but I have felt how emotionally dead inside I was from a lifetime of denying my aliveness. Once I discovered that I wished to create music, I became very dedicated as I had never pursued anything before in life with such passion. It has brought up much pain and now 20 years later I don't feel like I need to produce and try to have people hear my work. It's out there for the small niche or genre that I write for but I am much more comfortable in the process of truly enjoying the creating of the songs than ever before. I don't feel so driven. I was driven because I needed to be acknowledged that I existed. That I had something special to offer that came from just me. I was denied this so completely that I told my father during our attempts at reconciliation (which never did get reconciled) that the reason I went to Vietnam (I volunteered as a navy corpsman with the marines) was to go die. He looked at me but said nothing. That's how I thought I could finally get back at him with all the hatred, anger and pain I still had inside me. I would go have an honorable death. I'm still letting out that pain only in therapy. His life at the end was filled with dementia and confusion. I feel sorry for him now, dead these many years and can feel sad for him. He was just a hurt kid just like me. If we could only have known this together.

  8. Probably am also the way I am (besides being in birth trauma)because I was in (unfrtunately) 5-year relationship. Sure everything was great in the beginning (had me fooled), but then he really treated me badly when I wouldn't "go away" with him. Really didn't want to after I saw how he was. Why would I want to be in a foreign land with someone who didn't like/love me for me, but if I went away (oh thngs would have been different). Tried to make it work without my going away, but in the end, family and friends told me just get out of the relationship. Didn't matter how I did it, so I lied......was told to make something up and I did. Since then I feel a lot better. He knows all along I lied (not that I even cared because I was physically abused along with mental abuse). It was so bad , the relationship, that I even told him "it's me, not you " to get out of it. I know I am easy to get along with, but he was/is impossible (the abuse, jealousies for no reason...etc.) Never an ounce of understanding or love from him. Sure I have had boyfriends since then (a few).....and compared to that one they all ended up friendly, and I have no regrets in any of my relationships except for that one, which I have to just "disregard". But I don't hate anyone, and don't hate being with people....just many times like I have more strength not attending all the social occasions I am invited to. Feel freer......which is important to me. And now I have no regrets of not attending a social occasion. My family lets me be free. If I feel like attending, fine. They , my family love and understand me , and have never put any pressure on me. It's not like they treat me "special" or anything like that.....but, they know and I appreciate that.

  9. Art, I wonder what your take is on the recent research which was reported on the link found between genes associated with excessive synaptic pruning in adolescence and schizophrenia? This is being hailed as a major finding which points the way to future research. Does this in some way fit in with primal theory?
    I'd just be interested to hear what you think about the significance of these findings? I am a long time primaller and a fan of your writings.

    1. Phil, can you send me something on it? I read it and then I lost it. art

  10. Hi All,

    On the subject of dodgy prescribed drugs (so far three varieties have not worked for me):

    -"Families have claimed over many years that antidepressants drove loved ones to suicide, but this has been dismissed by medical companies and doctors who said a link was unproven.

    The review was carried out by the Nordic Cochrane Centre and analyzed by University College London (UCL), who today endorse the findings in a British Medical Journal editorial.

    After comparing clinical trial information to actual patient reports, the scientists concluded pharmaceutical companies had regularly misclassified deaths and suicidal actions or thoughts in people taking antidepressants to “favour their products”.

    Professor Peter Gotzsche, the lead author, from the Nordic Cochrane Centre, said: “Antidepressants don’t work in children, that is pretty clear, in the randomized trials children say that they don’t work for them, but they increase their risk of suicide.

    “What I get out of this colossal under-reporting of suicides is that [antidepressants] likely increase suicides in all ages.” Commenting on the findings of the review, Prof Gotzsche added: “It is absolutely horrendous that they have such disregard for human lives.”

    Experts said the review’s findings were “startling” and that it was “deeply worrying” that clinical trials appear to have been misreported.

    It's hard to know what to believe isn't it?

    Paul G.

  11. An email comment:
    "Thanks for your work, books and this blog.

    Your recent blog-post "The Act-Out and more" raises a lot of questions for
    us non-therapists.

    You wrote that acting-out is:
    "Our symbolic way to deal with an unconscious concretized memory."

    Your "going out" example from your own life implies that acting-out is not
    voluntary. So who or what is generating the action?
    Is it the sub-conscious? Does the sub-conscious have its own agenda or does it
    act in some kind of homeostatic way to bring about awareness of deep
    You have written that repression blocks upwellings from the sub-conscious.
    If repression is active in a person does it block things from flowing TO the
    How about a blog on the normal relationship between the conscious and the
    sub-conscious. Is a constructive partnership possible?"

  12. And my answer:
    When repression is not effective the imprint rises for connection but it is transformed into an act-out before it becomes conscious....I had to get out each morning to feel free and shake my malaise.  I never ever knew the origins of needing to get out.  And the act out would never stop until I felt the origins and relived them.   The memory is continuously   pushing and forces all kinds of act out behaviors.  The behavior has to be close to the original imprint to make act outs effective.  The brain knows, even when we don't.   And offers up all kinds of reasons for our behavior except the right one.  Art

  13. Another email comment:
    This man has so much wisdom and understanding one day in the distant future the booga boogas and the cognitives and behaviourists might try their mindfulness trips & discover a little of What Dr Janov knows.
    I guess if your in pain he talks your language.
    I know he is right & I have 'suffered' most of my 62 years
    but the knowledge he has conveyed in his books has actually saved me from giving up on 'life'
    In pain but understanding why,thanks to him,makes it bearable.
    With thanks"

  14. Strong words yes... but not less the thruth!

    If there was something to stand on... it in a way to reach them necessary in understanding the primal therapy's effects! But there is non... there is not even any air to breathe around those who have to listen. So their understanding around primal therapy is what defence organizes and limited to!

    By just trying to breathe there... you feel the "suffocating" atmosphere similar attempt to breathe under water! A feeling? Yes maybe... but also a reality for what they causing choking around the world... a truth for every one who perceives what suffering is all about.

    Trying so hard to breath... like breathing water... and no one there to help! My parables talks about what it is we face for what their "profession" is limited.

    To visit a clinic in need of help with depression or anxiety is completely in analogy to commit suicide... that's what help you get... they try to smother their patients as it is what their medication exposes patients to!


  15. It's not just what our history tells us about death... but also how death restricts our life... an emotional experience that makes the here and now mean something completely different than what longing causes.
    There is much more to do than go around and be afraid to live!

    Your Frank

  16. Intellectuals have a myriad of explanation in their attempts to protect their profession... or they do not respond at all... as they more are afraid to lose than they perceive their profession to be!

    So ... what is it to feel? It is to know that we have a limbic system for its critical impact to be human! If we snatched an pacifier from a small child's mouth... so we will hear an despair from being deprived of something the child is unhappy to lose. It to be compared with an reaction as an intellectual defending his profession. Otherwise he would be flourishing for what science tells of us! Now we know what it is to feel!

    Why is it so difficult to come to grips with already established at the psychiatric and psychological institutions around what primal therapy presents? To be heard in the case... it prevents itself because "professionals" always have something to say in the case of their profession... it is their work... an area they defend... it is their profession without seeing its consequence... they are only looking through neo-cortex for answers... which prevents the content of primal therapy to be heard... it because the limbic system is part of feelings... an indispensable part of the brain that must be present... absolutely necessary. The limbick system is in an incredible pain... which is the phenomenon to be solved!

    The question of just being intellectual in case to explain the cause of mental suffering... to only intellectually explain the content of anxiety and depression that has its source in the limbic system and brain stem... it falls on its own absurdity... it can be likened to ask a question to someone as impossible can answer. How should an intellectual know... it without his feeling brain?


  17. Almost whole my life is act out. Now I am in new job. 8h working, 2h for transit. There is so little time left to me. I think people who are working hard all week doesn't have even any concept that trauma drives them. All seems to be lost.

    1. Hello Piotr Urbański!

      I've thought a lot about the issue you bring up... a question overpowering when we look at the global scale for what work manages to hold back emotions of "trauma".

      It was a question here in Sweden... a number of years ago for the risks of extending the holiday from four weeks to five... for what the consequences would be around suicide and murder... an experience authorities had for what previously extended vacations caused.

      So the question you raise is a question you must learn to manage and make selections for what you want and can do... the little boy in you will never go awaya... he will be there when you are ready to deal with him.

      "All seems to be lost" it's not just a loss... it also contains what was lost! A loss that took me many years to arrive at... I could just "run" there was no one to help me so I was running... and still do... but much has changed.

      Your Frank

  18. can we say that act out put us on top of situation. gives power, hope. gives sense. the system tries to make us sane while we deal with the unknown. system translates that enigmatic information so it is not confused. if fails, anxiety and other symptoms of leaky gates result in confusion. the show is falling apart... the decor is crumbling (on the actor?). true past context is braking the whole present stage and system struggles to put it back to place. suffering and inflammation is result. or maybe, just maybe - connection. but in therapy i think suffering could be prevented. and it should be. at least in theory this process could be smooth. the stage carefully disassembled and transported away... no need for it any more. it did the job well. we survived.

  19. A Therapy Session: A Primal
    My Struggle:

    It is so hard, so hard to live, so hard to get what I want, so hard to know what I want.
    Life is dark and not worth living.
    I don’t know what to do, I need help, I don’t know how to live and how to get what I want.
    I don’t even know what I want.
    As a child I was not wanted and I was not supposed to want.
    Life was dark and empty.
    The struggle to be born, so exhausting, I am so tired, I feel like my body will break into two.
    As a mother as soon as I gave birth to my second daughter I felt like I was being torn into two because I couldn’t give to them both equally.
    In my feeling, my primal, I writhe and writhe, so hard, my body breaking, it’s so hard, I can’t breathe, I feel rage.
    Finally, peace, I breathe deep delicious breaths of air, my body feels relaxed and I am at peace.
    I survived, I made it, I am born.


    1. Jean, I read this and wrote about it before. It is so well expressed and so poetic. There is a poet inside. art

  20. An email comment:
    This man has so much wisdom and understanding one day in the distant future the booga boogas and the cognitives and behaviourists might try their mindfulness trips & discover a little of What Dr Janov knows.
    I guess if your in pain he talks your language.
    I know he is right & I have 'suffered' most of my 62 years
    but the knowledge he has conveyed in his books has actually saved me from giving up on 'life'
    In pain but understanding why,thanks to him,makes it bearable.
    With thanks"


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.