Tuesday, November 29, 2016
I have been wondering why it is that battle in combat did not seem to make me neurotic while seemingly innocuous events during home life did. I think I found one answer. That old devil… need … raises its ugly head. What happened early in life when need was at its asymptote, our system made sure that even banal events were embedded in our nervous system. When we needed holding and touch in the first months of life to mollify the appearance of agonizing pain, we found ways to encase the pain (defenses)and made the pain bearable when love went missing.
It seems that it is not like I need a piece of cake every afternoon; rather it is something essential to life and development; it is part of our biologic development that goes missing. Need is basic to fulfillment; they form an equation and when that equation is unbalanced we become so, as well. It is not just what goes into the mouth; it is what enters the whole system. It is like touch. It is not what we feel on our cheeks. It is what that does to the whole system; the warmth, the caring and love. A ruffling of the child’s hair can carry with it a note: you are loved, appreciated and wanted. A mussing up of hair carries a biologic message that says so much. You are wanted, I feel close to you and want to be near you. One touch contains pages of monologue without any verbal discussion. Touch is the message without words. But words without touch dilutes and vitiates that message into a loss of meaning. Words without feeling do not travel to the feeling centers. The actual message is lost and we are left with vacuous meaning that has lost its power to move others. It can no longer convey love. It becomes an empty vessel with no place to land. One then lives on a barren island bereft of meaning and above all, bereft of love.
Combat is not based on biologic need; quite the opposite. it is what happens then there is no chance for it.
So a slap on my face at age five conveyed a new message: you are not loved there is need to afraid. Do not look to me for understanding and compassion. Beware! You must obey without question. And you slip into obedience as a normal thing. You no longer expect kindness, just the lack of rage. There is a new “normal” in life: the lack of anger and the lack of danger. No needing love; needing just to avoid menace and threat.
Friday, November 25, 2016
I have often described the timetable of needs; that a baby must be touched immediately after birth; to be touched for the first time at age six is to late to stop the damage of unfulfilled need… To be talk to and listened to and explained to. An example of my life might help. I wonder why there has always been a terror of death in me. I remember that at age six there was an accident with my dog who was hit by a car. I did not know about soothing and easing the blow with my dog. I walked away at the very moment when his whimpering and cries begged me to stay with him. Now I am primalling about how sorry I am that I left him. I never knew there was such a thing as compassion and kindness. I never had it and never knew how important it was. Now I beg him for forgiveness. And I am in agony over it. How could I have been so unfeeling?
But what also was imprinted was the fear of death and the desperate need to have it explained to me and mollified. But my parents never talked to me, and I sensed that they never would. If someone had talked to me about fears that I had I know it would soften the blow. But it went missing and the terror was deeply imprinted. And in my primals, I learned not only is there a specific time to be held and hugged to ease the pain and fear, but there is a time to talk to children which would ease their terrors. And because it never happened, my terrors went on into the night and became exacerbated into devastating nightmares. Plagued night and day by terrors and night-terrors … and ADD, another phrase for night terrors, the same ones that plagued me all of the time. In the daytime I could not sit still or pay attention as I had terrors that fed into my system all of the time. How could I pay attention when internal input was nagging me all of the time? Those terrors were night terrors, imprinted from birth on when the deprivation of oxygen was so great. Above all, I could not move towards anesthetics, couldn’t move toward air and breath. I was trapped and I needed to move to respond to be put into so much hurt. Trapped is a lifelong feeling I carried with me. My primal: I have to get out of here or I will die. I never articulated the notion of death but it was there; the approach of death and more terror. That was the holdover from the past that dogged me constantly.
So now a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and to me too! I am making it better every day.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
We are doing staff meeting today where three different beginning patients were each taking a different pain killer. And each takes a pill according to the level of consciousness he was on and of the amount of pain he suffered. It actually is a diagnostic tool indicating the level of access the patient has to each level of consciousness; that is, the kind of pain that can access certain levels of consciousness. Predominantly, first line pain often calls for a first line blocker, the benzodiazepines such as
Xanax or Atavan. Or when the pain is based higher up and less severe, second line, we may use Zoloft or medication aimed at the limbic system. Here we use the kind of medication that was used up originally in the initial trauma in the battle against a lesser trauma. It needs replenishing and that is the function of feeling level drugs such as Zoloft.
So who gets addicted? Those first liners who are loaded with very early preverbal and often during womb life. These first liner may well be compounded by later traumas, neglect and indifference from parents. Thus, first line pain may not be addicting but when it is combined with infancy and childhood pain may well be addicting. That is why having a therapy of feeling may lessen limbic pain enough to wipe away addiction but still leave the tendency in place. I liken this to homosexuality where the person is becoming less addicted to male love (for men) as he relives first line pain and also some of childhood emotional deprivation embedded in his nervous system. Inside that obsession with male love is terrible need, and that need, unfulfilled, turns into the need for surcease,…. a temporary drug fix; i.e, a homosexual affair and/or a shot of whiskey or tranquilizer pills for the druggies. We can see from this that nearly every obsession has some kind of need behind it. That obsession, masking the real need, And it has to go on for a very long time so long as the basic need has not been felt and relived.
How do I know all this? Because luckily for the past two decades there is research on all this. Long before the laboratory neurobiologic research, we made the discovery of deeply imprinted pain in our clinical work but it took years to quantify the pain. We found biologic equivalents that pointed to when the pain lessened. And years later a new field of methylation came along to inform us of how pain got imprinted, and above all, thanks to measuring demethylation, how pain got removed from the neurobiologic system. Thus we knew how much pain was in the system and where, and then we found out how the pain was extirpated, and where. We came onto this because when patients reliving early pain, their drug addiction lessened; and after a time it disappeared. We saw that there were different levels of primal pain and different nervous systems that imprinted them. And then we saw symptoms begin to disappear but not always; which led to another discovery; that feeling was healing and that the more the patient felt deeper levels, the more severe symptoms left. We learned how the connections on deeper levels of brain function were essential to cure. And that there is no cure without a complete reliving of the basic need for love. And that love has different meaning according to the level were are operating on. The need for calm and proper nutrition, the need for a good and drug-free birth; the need to be touched and caressed, the need to be safe and understood. There are many, many more needs and any lack will be marked as pain; I mean marked, literally, as pain leaves a mark of methyl that says “there is pain” and how much. As pain is relived there is less pain, indicated by demethylation. So we now have a marker for less pain and the resolution of neurosis. If the doctor asks you, “Were you loved as a child?” and you shrug and say, “I do not know”, now you will know exactly. Because to be loved means to experience basic need and the body knows even when we were not loved. It cries maladies and makes us miserable because something is missing. In some cases we are sure it is a man’s love or another fix of a powerful painkiller. It tells us, “Watch out! Neurosis has set in”. Thereafter the habit still won’t go away until the need is felt completely. Until it is experienced we can only be partially well and healthy. The lack will trail us for a lifetime. Since every unfelt need prevents full healing we know that feeling equals healing. There are no shortcuts. Biology is not constructed like that. It never takes the easy way and neither should we.
Friday, November 18, 2016
I often write that the simple truth is revolutionary. But where is that truth? How do we recognize it when we find it? It is often not a truth we seek out; it is a truth that hits us from inside. A truth that can rattle our bones and can alter our thinking. I will often an example from my life.
I have been trying to have an MRI for a long time but I cannot make it. When I undergo the scan it seems likely my whole birth history arrives intact. And I fall into an anxiety state that is as spooky as anything I have ever undergone. It is not anxiety; it is terror of approaching death. So why is that? Because we carry it around all of the time, and when the circumstances are right it can be triggered again, especially when your head is not allowed to move, one cannot see out and breathing is more and more difficult as Primal suffocation raises its head. The baby feels all that and is in pure terror with no help, no one to ease the pain and no one to explain.
It takes place on the deepest levels of the brain where no concepts for understanding exist. And it leaves a trace, a methyl trace (called methylation). That marks the spot and indicates how painful it was and is. It agitates us so that we cannot think clearly and concentrate. We have to keep moving. I call it an “imprint” and it stays embedded in the brain and affects our anatomy, biology and neurology. It later drives our adult behavior and symptoms. If we do not recognize this we are doomed to not understand any of this; nor the origins of our compulsive behavior and recurring symptoms.
Our lives remain a mystery.
Anthony Weiner had an imprint that drove him to act out in exhibitionism. Once the imprint was there the act-out had to return in force and it did. No different from a severe physical symptom; once treated it remains a danger for years to come. It is an ineluctable force from which there is no escape. We cannot run from the imprint; it is part of us. On the contrary, we must run toward it, experience it and then be done with it. It has been part of our lives; only now it must be part of our conscious lives. My belief is that the earlier and more powerful the imprint the more like it will dog us for a long time. It is that recurring nightmare with the same demon chasing us. I know, I owned one for years. It never let me be free. I was living in a nightmare and never knew, but my whole system knew it well and expressed itself every night in those nightmares. How did I find their origins? When I travelled deep in the brain to where those deep imprints lay. I relived all the origins and my terrors disappeared. They were allowed to rise above the gating system to be faced head on, and I do mean “head on”. I then knew immediately why I had to sit in a restaurant with nothing over my head. I had to drive a convertible for the same reason; and that reason was so arcane as to remain unbelievable . When patients started to tell me, “It feels like I am living my birth.” I told them, “Enough of that nonsense, let’s stay rational and away from booga booga explanations. That means “I” the discoverer of this whole process, did not believe in the most important part of it, until, the evidence became overwhelming. So I fully understand when it is poo-pooed and scoffed at by others. If we do not believe in the imprint there is no way whatsoever to understand mental illness. Imprints are the safe haven for the secrets of the unconscious.
Monday, November 14, 2016
Anything that goes into a carrying mother’s system will affect the baby. Medication, above all. And we may not be aware of it, but the biochemicals processing anxiety and depression too. The mother and fetus are in many ways one system. The mother is depressed and so is the baby; he will be largely more lifeless than normals. Heavy repression is going on, which diminishes energy levels; which is also very true in anxiety where energy levels are increased. The baby may be born hyperactive and soon may not be able to sit still or concentrate early in life.
Here is a study that throws light on the problem. (Science Daily sept 18, 2016, Depression in Pregnancy, see https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160928101100.htm) This study maintains that depression can reduce the enzyme in the placenta that breaks down stress hormones in the fetus which then produces epigenetic changes when the baby is stressed. The DNA remains the same but how and when it is expressed changes. Here may be the beginning of mental health problems in the baby. It may look like inherited depression, but no. The carrying mother’s physical state has much to do with it. Experience changes how genetics is carried out. And that too often includes the medications the mother takes which alters the baby”s system. An adult dose for a newborn may be overwhelming and life-threatening. Any drug can produce major biologic changes in the baby. We need to be aware of that. A baby is not an adult. And too many mothers take a couple of pills in the morning without thinking of the lifelong consequences on the offspring. “It is just a mild painkiller,” we rationalize but it is not mild for the baby. These pills may aid serious repression. It can set up a lifelong prototype of being “down” in the baby. As the pills inside of him re-set a new his natural state: repression. He is sent to a doctor in his childhood. He is asked whether he has taken any drugs? “No” he says, unaware of the embedded memory of drugs that his mother and he took together when he was a fetus that set up a prototype.
In one sense, the depressive mother’s “down” tendency can become part of the child’s inheritance and it becomes very difficult to separate out what contributes to abnormality. Is it really experience or pure genetics. I vote for genetics given expression by experience. Is it inherited? We have to understand inheritance to know what we mean. Are we inheriting pure genetics (blue eyes) or are we inheriting a hyperactive system which may be a combination of the two. Some of the recent research shows a wide discrepancy between actual age and methylation age (an accumulation of life’s traumas). The latter is far more accurate estimate for our longevity. It makes sense that trauma wreaks havoc on our biologic system and curtails its endurance.
It seems now by carefully studying methylation age (the age of accumulated traumas) we are measuring one’s longevity. It is something we have noted for decades; that early life lack of love, neglect and lack of touch shorten our life span. They certainly point to the build-up of serious illness. Most serious scientific papers urge the search for what factors we can add to prolong good health. My vote is for our therapy because when we lower body temperature on a long term basis for example, we extend life. I recently quoted a study on body temp that seems to confirm this point. Why? Because we reduce the constant work of the body, save energy so that system is more relaxed and healthy. Early life is critical to how long we live and if we are to inherit terrible afflictions. Love the child at age one and prevent illness at age fifty. Not a bad bargain.
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.