Sunday, May 1, 2016

Un Unsung Hero in Our Midst

I published this article in July of 2015, but since my wife France is launching the Legacy program, I would like to remind us all about her incredible contribution to Primal Therapy.

There is someone who is doing heroic work in the shadows who does not get paid but who works many hours a day.  She supervises all clinical work, and teaches the basics of the therapy, runs the administrative side of the Center and deals with all outside inquiries.  In short, the pivot around which the clinic revolves. Her crowning achievement is the Primal Legacy Program. This is the result of 6 years of constant effort to construct a program for professionals and laymen so that the therapy can be understood by all clinically and scientifically. It is the first attempt by any therapy to publish its hypothesis and practice as a result of Dr. France Janov's teaching and supervision. (Available now).
She is the engine, the motor for the advancement in  the practice of Primal Therapy. She is there to help therapists work with patients.  Who could do any more?  She is our resident savant……Dr. France Janov.

It is hard to realize, even for me, how much work goes into directing even a small clinic, a clinic that has patients from 38 countries, and requires communications among people from many countries of the world.  And oh yes, she is my wife of 42 years.

What does it mean to run a psychiatric clinic?  It means knowing the latest science so as to help therapists know how our therapy fits in with science.  It means knowing the various afflictions people suffer and why.  It involves knowing about people from different countries and how they differ as a population; for ex., what is the most repressed country and what is the least?  It is a wide-ranging job that requires clinical skills, financial ability, relevant science and how to help our therapists relate to foreign patients some who only have minimal skills in English.  Needless to say, it is a job well done, too often done in the shadows by someone who manages to keep it all going well.    Our thanks to France.


  1. Hi Art & all,

    I noticed in the video that the Vietnam vet said understanding Primal Theory was key to healing in the process. This theme has cropped up many times on the blog. But why not? I mean, he's right, because the whole point 'in' evolution is to evolve a process whereby the organism can maintain a defense and a balance despite / inspite of the 'environmental impacts'. This requires a passage in time, a 'reprieve'. That is how evolution works. But after you've mastered that repreive. . .

    Yet I sense there are two aspects, there is the original 1st line 'imprint' and then there is the 2nd line interpretation of it. In the 'descent' the order is essential but the content doesn't matter, the dreams and images are not 'it'. It's the feelings and sensations, the 'resonance down' that's significant. The feelings are the flavour (the smell, the scent) of the connection, of the 'access'.

    Thus why words never can be the medium for the access.

    Paul G.

  2. Merci beaucoup France and Art! Your work, and writings help.

  3. I just wanna be myself. Art you look so relaxed, without tense on this trailer.

  4. It is certainly important to be reminded of France Janov's work, as well as the work of others who have put these theories into practice over the years.Just last night, I was reading passages from two of Janov's books, and I was moved as usual by the unheeded cries and rages of infants apparently underlying so many traumas, and wondering why this all has to be so for so many people and on such a widespread scale, now and in the past.I was wondering about me and what made me what I am, now again longing painfully for a new girlfriend with no one in sight, after once again being subtily rejected. What's wrong with me, will I end up old and alone as so many do? It should not have to be this way for anybody.
    I was also reminded of the first time I came in contact with a person into Primal, about 40 years ago.I used to hang around this New Age centre that offered courses in all sorts of alternative methods of healing. One day, this guy who I had seen around there a while, came up to me and confided that he secretly wore women's clothes sometimes (not as a transvestite).I did not laugh at him or flee in any way, but just listened. To this day, I am moved that he felt he could confide such a secret to me. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do for him. At one point, there was a special day of activities where representatives of various therapeutic systems could present their stuff to an audience, and he demonstrated what a Primal was apparently. He was thrashing and writhing away, and I did not know what to make of it. I don't know if it was a Primal, or an abreaction, or maybe just some faking.I knew little about Primal at that point.I doubt he had been to Los Angeles at the Primal centre of the time, so all this "Primalling" probably came from some mock primalist(s) in the Ontario area at the time. And , oh yeah, then came the weirdo rebirthers in Montreal afterwards (early 80s), whom I felt skeptical about even before I read Janov's critiques of them. That story is for another time.


    1. Those Canadians ruined the lives of so many who are all stuck in abreaction. It would take months to reverse it all. art

  5. ...and love seeing how you treat people, your so patient and kind on the trailer, and how your students love and care for you...

    1. I had a great teacher... my father... I do everything the opposite of what he did and vowed never to be like him. art

  6. There are levels of teachers, and I'm in no doubt that You and France are among the most advanced of teachers! ....time for me to make my vows to never be like my bad teachers!


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.