Thursday, April 14, 2016
What Happens When You Can't Feel? How Fascism Gets Its Start
I will use myself as an example. I worked in the meat-packing house when I was young. And once a month we played “the greased pig. “ We took a greased pig to the park and we stood around in a circle and dove on him to try to pin him down. The winner was the guy who could pin him down for 2 minutes. It is abhorrent to me now and unthinkable and cruel. Why? Because I could not feel the effect on the poor, poor animal. I saw but I did not see because my feelings were locked deeply away. I saw without feeling and that happened because cruelty was visited on me very early on, and due to its painful impact, I fell unconscious and could not feel it. I could no longer feel my own pain and therefore no one else’s. I participated in cruelty and never knew it. Herein lies the kernel of the cause of the Nazi Concentration Camps. So the zeitgeist is all important. It seeps into our minds like Trojan horse, stealthily, quietly and automatically. And soon we do not question anything. It took me decades to feel for those pigs, and it was far too late and now I cringe whenever I think about it. How could I do that? I could do that because my feelings and beliefs were miles apart to keep my own pain at bay.
First, we need to dehumanize the victims; they are dangerous, threatening, and not part of our world. The victims are not part of us. It is not that we are taught that. It is in the zeitgeist; we grow up with it and never question it. It is implied in our abattoirs, the way we treat and kill animals. Until recently doctors operated on babies without anesthetic because they believed that they do not feel pain. And we treat “junkies” apart, who can give up drugs if they are strong enough and make the right choice. They can choose not to be on drugs, is the current belief. In short, it is all in their head where choices are made; never in the body where pain lives.
How else can humans send young children to death without a second’s thought? In the same way I allowed us all to attack a poor, lost pig and never think about its consequences. He was just a thing to play with, not a living feeling being.
The kids were “Jews,” part of an evil empire. The leaders took away any empathy and offered a trick of the mind…..Jews. Humanity deformed. And they could do that in a society already highly repressed and unfeeling. The Nazis just finished the job. They inculcated a rationale to make killing reasonable and feasible. And for a society that was highly obedient and unquestioning it all made sense. The minute feelings push into conscious/awareness, none of that would be possible. The Nazis killed those who felt; they became the weak ones, cowards and far too sensitive, the faint hearted who would leave Germany vulnerable. Their so called weakness was a danger to German society. They had to be eliminated. Germany above all else.
And now we begin to understand psychotherapy where we create a divide again between feelings and cognitive behavior. In a sense we are preparing a welcome, a pathway, for the evil and the Nazis to come; producing an unfeeling society who rely on beliefs, uber ales. An evil we took part in. An evil that is the necessary consequence of a therapy that has eliminated feeling from any consideration. And when our feelings are twisted, all manor of hell can follow. They create the enemy for us and help us justify our violence toward them. We leaders now direct our anger toward those who menace us. Above all, those who are different from us, especially those who think. “When I hear the word intellectual I read for my gun,” as one Nazi leader put it. And my patients tell me that their therapists, when they hear that their patients are going to Primal Therapy, become adamant against it, scoffing and derogatory. They won’t read about it and do not want to know about it; it has a resonance as a danger … with their practice and beliefs and the pivot of their lives.
We are relieved when Hubert Humphrey can go to Vietnam during the war and ask the soldiers, “Did you get you any gooks today”? (An exact quote). You see, they stopped being young people just married and going to school. They became “gooks.” And we can kill “gooks,” with the approval and encouragement of the vice president of the United States of America. They were dehumanized. I went to Vietnam and met with them after the war. They were the softest, kindest people I had met in long time. You cannot are kill people like that. So we made them monsters, communists who wanted to destroy us. The story was that they were fighting not for their freedom but a proxy war for the communists, and we had to stop them. They were “part of a giant conspiracy that threatened our very way of life.” Notice all the abstractions: vague, no proof but ideas handed down to us peasants. Where do we go to find this great plot against us? That is the convenience of politicians who create enemies for us; it justifies our fears and hatred. Violence is soon in the offing.
And what happens to parents who go to psychotherapy? They still do not see really, how they treat their children. They cannot because intellect and cognitive processed have been apotheosized to the neglect of feelings. That is the ultimate deformation. Psycho--Therapy has helped us lose our humanity and compelled us to follow the leader (doctor, head of state, the same). Psychologists reign.
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.