Friday, August 15, 2008

Why we are Obsessed with Death.

I think it is normal to think about death and the end of our being. But there are those obsessed with it. Why? Because their system is already obsessed with it in the sense that death is an imprint that the body has always been dealing with. Let me explain.

Many of us come close to death at birth or before. The massive anesthesia given to a 130 pound mother is overwhelming for a 6 pound newborn. All of his systems are shut down and death lurks. Even though the baby cannot articulate it the system does in its own way. And later when we are capable of articulation we are still obsessed but now we give it a name and an idea. The death experience is ever present and does not go away because it is an imprint that cannot be erased. In infancy and childhood that imprint can move the child constantly in hyperactivity; then later in attention deficit problems, then still later a preoccupation with death. Enter religion. Its first task is to take care of death. It provides an ideology and a belief that diminishes the threat; it takes the place of the obsession. Now there is a new obsession--God. That idea suffocates the death fear for a time—until the next prayer. The belief has to be strong and persistant to keep the real fear at bay.

Those who obsess about it have in general weak gating systems; that is, the amount of early pain is so high that the gates have always been faulty. Death lurks constantly in the background and foreground. It is immediate and the person thinks he is going to die NOW! That means the memory is up on top just close to conscious/ awareness. Pills that suppress the pain do help and lower the belief system. Alcohol the same. But the appointment in Summara won’t go away. You know the story. The man hears that death is coming to his village and so he escapes to Sumarra only to learn that death has changed his itinerary and will come to Sumarra. There is no escape— because we cannot escape the imprint. It is real and that is what makes imminent death real.


  1. Art, somewhere in this blog site (i can't find it) i think you said "sometimes a person can primal unconsciously".

    that would be an unfelt primal, and the primaller would have no memory of the primal. do you understand the definition of unconsciousness? when a person is unconscious, he is unable to feel or perceive anything at all. he is effectively dead.

    was it just a mistake in your wording?

    i am interested in the purpose of consciousness. it seems to be necessary for healing.
    but while my testicle was being sewn to my scrotum (ouch?) i was totally unconscious. or was i?
    is it possible for surgery to be psychologically traumatic?
    my mother became half-awake and remained that way through most of her operation (anaesthetist's error apparently). she said it was hell.

  2. Richard: I never remember saying something like that. Are you sure you got it right? Patients who are advanced have relived surgery. My best description of all this is found in Primal Healing, consciousness versus awareness. you need to be consciously aware to primal. art janov

  3. Art, a long time ago I questioned you about your theory of how the different parts of the brain connect to form the type of consciousness that is necessary to primal. It seems to me that you are saying the lower feeling centres must connect to the right cortex and across to the left cortex in order for a deep feeling to become a fully conscious experience. i got confused because i thought you were talking about the 3rd line, 2nd line, and 1st line, and how they all interpret a feeling at different stages of a primal.....with the left cortex being the final participant (insights) after the reliving has occurred.

    you suggested i read a certain author to find out how the brain works. i apologise...i didn't take note. can you please give me his name again?

  4. here's an excerpt from
    Sunday, February 6, 2011
    More on the Imprint

    "The assumption by some researchers is that the process of methylation may be altered. And that possibly can be done when the patient goes back to the neurophysiologic state when the imprint occurred. It can mean changing the imprint and perhaps normalization of the cell. In other words, once that mark is made on the cell we are stressed for life until, and only until, that mark/event is revisit and relived. And it can be relived unconsciously; it can be re-experienced without a specific awareness of it once we are locked into the memory circuit."

    this is what you meant:
    trauma may cause the cells to methylate - a crude and permanent defence.
    during a reliving, the patient is not aware that his cells are de-methylating (returning to their de-repressed state), but he does feel the pain that was recorded while the original trauma was blocked from consciousness.

    now listen Art. everyone knows that a patient cannot make scientific observations while primalling. you didn't need to make the point about "no awareness of changes in cells". you gave an unnecessary red herring to a person who doesn't read carefully.

    your books are full of red herrings. intellectuals don't read carefully.
    i can't re-write your explanations until i understand them. i might be able to dumb it down even further.

  5. Richard:
    I have no idea now of whom I recommended. so let me think on it. art

  6. Sorry that is why I need another editor. I write for the public but sometimes I get carried away by the science of it. art


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.