Friday, January 8, 2016

Why Painful Memories Continue to Do Harm

In Primal Therapy our patients go back and experience damage from decades before.  That implies that the hurt is a long-term, almost never-ending hurt.  I have written about this earlier; it is part of a survival mechanism.  We retain the memory of menace and pain which stays "alive" until we can experience  it fully.  Enter the imprint:  a neuro-chemical event that "marks the spot and the time" of the damage, and when Primal Therapy is done correctly will lead us to the center of the imprint in order to bring it back into conscious/aware where we can start to feel it; often in small bits at a time in order avoid overload and abreaction.  That means feeling just enough so it can be absorbed and integrated.  It then becomes part of us, and is no longer ego dystonic (a bow to Dr. Freud).

When we begin a past feeling we reawaken both the genes and epigenes.  They begin to change in order to accomodate the noxious input the baby suffers.  The trauma rides piggyback on the gene and causes even a slight detour; that means we detour in our development, not just the cells.  And the experience either weakens or strengthens the genes and their connection to other brain cells. What happens is that the imprint changes the on/off switches in the brain, and again we are affected.  What all this means that the trauma, a mother seriously depressed during pregnancy affects the epigenetic methylation process where the cells are marked with a trace.  That trace is a reminder, a very serious reminder of psychologic work to be done to address the memory.  It is just a small tag with an enormous punch.  It changes so much about us:  how we breathe, move, our energy level, interests, how we learn and how much we can feel.  Above all, when the imprint is overwhelming it will help determine how deeply we can feel and how introspective we can be.  In short, we are changed as human beings; and to change all that there is a way: to go back and feel what the key imprinted memory is, fully.  It means undoing damaging experience and reversing history.  Think of that:  reversing history to stop our personal trajectory toward serious afflictions later in life.  If early trauma is ever-present, even though well sequestered, and we can stop its damaging effects and help normalize an individual.

Methylation is basically a marker and an aide to long term memory, and so long as there are changes on the genes the memory and its damage will persist.  Basically, it means we are no longer what our genes meant us to be.  That is why we see bone growth in our patients as the genetic destiny is finally unleashed.  Not being ourselves has multiple meaning which includes the neurons and the biochemistry.  It means recapturing our growth potential,  not in every case but often enough to make believers out of skeptics.  In the reliving it has to be all-encompassing just as it was when the trauma was set down.  The whole memory and all of its aspects are waiting for their chance to be liberated.  We cannot leave any part of the experience unfelt because that will mean only a partial improvement.  All of us suffered initially, and all of us must suffer again: that very same pain that we never fully experience at the beginning. 

 Originally, the pain was far too much to integrate so now we can go back as adults and experience it over time.  It can be done. We have done it over decades now and have verified the results.  We see it in the disappearance of life-long discomfort and of enduring symptoms.  In the Primal world getting yourself back is a literal notion, not a New Age mantra.  The problem is that biology will not tolerate any cheating nor any short-cuts.  The reliving takes time and it takes feeling.  There is nothing I can do about that;  embrace it and realize it is the path to wellness.


  1. Slightly off topic, or not:

    -"Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Marcia Angell is the author of The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It. But more to the point, she’s also the former Editor-in-Chief at the New England Journal of Medicine, arguably one of the most respected medical journals on earth. But after reading her article in the New York Review of Books called Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption, one wonders if any medical journal on earth is worth anybody’s respect anymore.

    “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

    Dr. Angell cites the case of Dr. Joseph L. Biederman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and chief of pediatric psychopharmacology at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital. She explains:

    “Thanks largely to him, children as young as two years old are now being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and treated with a cocktail of powerful drugs, many of which were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that purpose, and none of which were approved for children below ten years of age.”

    How much longer can the lies keep on deceiving us?

    Paul G.

  2. It was expressed perfectly, with no grudges, straight and clear. that few will listen is sad. I wanted to pass along that many therapists who have taken on th edaunting task of treating trauma based mind control abuse and programming, chock full of nedless torture, have all found the same method as you, which they call Abreaction therapy, but not by your definition, but by your practice. Daniel Ryder 1990 found as well that dreams tend to reveal the next upcoming memory for recovery and release (a primal). The dreams get more vivid as they get closer "to the top." And they indicate what sort of primal it is going to be for content. Abreaction therapy is pretty much the standard for helping Mind control victims. I know that is a politically loaded subject and I do not fault your avoiding it. But they do (unknowingly) support you theories. The main difference would be that most take some sort of religious or ethical route. It seems almost unavoidable when you face the evil and horror that these unfortunates have undergone and I know you know. I like your clinical straight talk like this article and the previous I wrote to you last time.

  3. Knowledge of man is man's Achilles heel!

    We know that we feel! And how do we know that? No... we do not know it if knowledge shall have its place in science! But it is well time for it.


  4. The human barriers against how love feels!

    The smallest particles are the biggest evidence about the science ... but then there must be knowledge of what the smallest components makes possible or impossible.
    To understand the science of it so we have to ask the right questions about what content is concerned.
    This is the not necessary for those who perceive their suffering for what it is in the name of science... they live science.


  5. Today I was feeling about how I don't want to do it (have my feelings) for you Art, which took me into feeling that I want life in spite of the fact that I knew my farther wasn't going to be there. I was so attached to wanting him to be there that , I stopped living ; stopped my birth process, to have my birth with him. So good to feel I'm doing it for me, because I want life, and I own my life even if he doesn't. What a releif to let that much go. I havn't finished with that feeling, but I'm well on the way, and even that much is a big shift in my outlook and motivation, and drive.
    Am I trying to prove anything? I don't think so, just wanting to express my gladness at having been able to liberate more of my feelings without more delays. Katherina

  6. Art
    Frankly speaking for me it is impossible to go to You to Santa Monica. It is to expensive, I have my own life which I have to live. You are so far away from Poland. I now that my trauma hits all my enviroment including my son. I want liberation I want to vomit but I don't have place. What can You say to me?

    1. Piotr, Is it more difficult to come here or spend every day of my life working on refining primal therapy? My motto is never let anything stand in the way of what you want or need. Art. Isn’t your life at stake?

  7. Art
    Past you mentioned that soon it will be available to see videos from PT. You said it could help the ones who don't have possibility to attend therapy.

    1. Piotr, France Janov's legacy program is a great help in understanding but is never the same as having therapy. The Legacy is to inform not to treat. art

  8. Sounds contradictory to scholars: Feeling repressed pain is what it takes to regain wellness. Let us not blame them for not understanding yet the scope of this assertion, for only he who has gone through the reliving process of a covered up event knows what he's talking about. And feeling takes some dedication, an effort (Yihad is written in the Q'ran) leading to profound surrender to the upsurging unconscious. This in its turn demands...time, same time as it takes to peal off an onion before you can get to its core. Oisters require, too, slow gentle and careful approach to unveil their treasure pearl, as women do to open up their inner heart, before they commit their existence to raising your children instead of someone else's. Keep up Art, whatever it takes. I thank God for your persistance. Lars.

  9. Despertaares,

    It's so important not to make a 'Sin Bin' when making dedications and that I fear is what happens when an upsurging feeling gets hijacked and becomes an 'out of place' passion.

    If primal theory is a flower then it needs a large and well secured garden for it to flourish in, with plenty of diversity (friends). . .

    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.