Saturday, January 24, 2009

On Marriage

You really have to work at marriage… No you don’t!

We have to work at marriage when we are needy neurotics who act out on our partner. We become demanding, critical and importuning, all because our early needs with our parents were never met. A normal, feeling person cares about others, sees to their comfort and wants to help make them content and happy. Someone in old childhood pain cannot do that. She needs and she wants — a daddy who will guide, protect, support and offer unconditional love. He wants a momma who is warm, uncritical and totally weak and dependent. In short, they both want someone who is not threatening. Can marriage counseling help that? No. It can ameliorate for a time, but neurosis is stronger than that. It predominates eventually.

Counseling never touches basic need, and it is need that drives us — old unfulfilled need that is engraved in our system, implacable, fascistic and unrelenting.

Marital counseling helps marriage… No it doesn’t

If you have to go to counseling early in the marriage, all is lost. It means it is just a matter of time until it ends definitively. Counseling is a delaying tactic. You are not going to heal a needy, dependent drunk with counseling. You won’t solve frigidity (I hate that word) in a woman who is so repressed that she has no feelings or passion left. You won’t change a man who desperately needs his wife to be his mother because he never had one. Those basic characteristics are set down by the age of three, believe it or not, and do not change much after that. You are not going to tame an angry person with counseling, someone who has pent up rage since childhood at parents who were repressive, cold and unaffectionate.

After we’re married I will change him…No you won’t

Marriage is a piece of paper. You are not going to change someone who grew up with a narcissistic, depressive mother who had not one second for her child; a partner who takes drugs and alcohol in order to feel normal. That piece of paper is no match for a lifetime of deprivation. He has been trying to find something that did not exist — love! He is still living in the past with those past needs, and you are never going to change those needs unless you have found a way to change your partner’s neurophysiology. You are not marrying a future illusion — or are you?

Ay ay ay! Is there no help? Yes. It is called reality. When you marry a woman who wants to return to work right away instead of having children, you are fighting her physiology — namely, her low oxytocin (the love hormone). Better get a blood sample at the start and see whether your partner is capable of love. Too much deprivation in the first weeks of life can lower oxytocin levels permanently.


  1. Yes I have tried to find something that not exist-love… the little boy in me can remember how the fight to get to know my mothers love become a need to talk to inanimate objects… to day I can be alone and feel that need… my illusion saved me but I never got to see my mum and dad… this is what all is about… of loneliness is love possible ... there's just me ... it is an experience without barriers

  2. Hello Dr Janov,

    No mixing words! And very true I think.

    Hope it's ok to be a bit off your topic? I found it interesting how you suggested, indirectly, that a woman should feel the desire to stay at home and have kids for a time. Society seems to project the idea that it's normal to either want to or not; but that doesn't make sense to me. Humans like every other animal are born to reproduce, so it seems very strange that the lack of desire to do so would be 'natural' for anyone. I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that something's fundamentally wrong if a woman doesn't have a direct desire to have kids. We would happily suggest so for any other animal, wouldn't we?

    Another example relating to this is the modern social norm of casual sex. This also seems like a strange "homo sapien default". Humans are heavily dependant on stable families for proper childrearing and we did not evolve as a species with contraception, so why should it be inherently natural for humans to have baby-making casual sex? This too wreaks of neurotic-impact giving us a "warped" normality - albeit socially reinforced.

  3. Andy I couldn't say it any better. But we have to be careful not to moralize. It is not that I am against women working. I simply see it natural based on research that women, when they have a baby, to stay home and nurture it. She needs to make sure that this kid will grow up normal and be able to love. dr. janov

  4. Dr Janov,

    Thanks for your reply - and I agree.

    In review I can see how my post has a bit of a moralistic tone, but I meant it in an essentially clinical way.

    Of course no-one can be blamed for their personal neurosis nor its subjective impact, and a woman who does not want to have kids (for whatever reason) should not have to, and maybe even shouldn't?

    I think my main point is that what we take for "natural" may not be, and it makes sense to be suspicious that our social outlook of 'normal' may really have a neurotic-base, simply because in some ways it notably contradicts "evolutionary reason".

    Also to say, I think a lot of those moral codes that we enthusiatically embrace probably only exist to compensate for our neurosis. Putting it simply: you don't have to drill "you shall be faithful!" into someone who doesn't want to screw around anyway.

    Hope I'm not rambling!

    Regards - Andy

  5. Hallo Andy,

    Perhaps the "homo sapiens fault" is that the feeling of sex has in no way the awareness of making babies in it.(some think that mankind would no longer exist if man would be aware)

    I have the feeling that you label things you don´t like with ´neurotic´.

  6. I live in an area where it's a very common religious dogma that women don't get high education but only run the household and give birth to the "God given" number of children, as they aren't allowed to use contraception. These conservative religious people don't think or act very psychologically, instead they cultivate traumas and neuroticism in their offspring by indoctrinating them with their adamant and intimidating religious conceptions and threatening... This issue just came to my mind, not in any moralistic manner. By the way, are you, Dr. Janov, writing a book about religion at the moment, aren't you?

  7. Paul:

    When I say "homo sapien default" I mean who we are minus the neurosis i.e. the "default" position of humanity. It has nothing to do with 'fault' as in relating to a value judgment of people.

    I can certainly relate to why Dr Janov doesn't want to get into moralism. It takes psychological discussions to places that are totally non-productive. That's not where I was coming from at all. Probably like Janov, I never have a moralistic attitude towards people or psychology on this level.

    I think we have to be careful not to get too many impressions from the text format. It's too easy to get people a bit wrong due to the limited ability to express ourselves with text. For example, when I said to Janov "No mixing words!" I was reacting to his writing style contrasting to how most other people write on this level - not affirming him like "Hey man - you go sock it to them!".

    For the record, I don't have a problem at all with casual or promiscuous sex, if that's what people mutually want to do. I just think it probably has a neurotic base. And I also think it's probably a good thing that many woman don't want to have kids in that it helps us to avoid over-population. But again, I was not trying to have that conversation.

  8. We need to spray oxytocin into our air conditioners.

  9. it's not natural for a woman to stay home and nurture her baby....with no friends around.

    Western segregated lifestyle should be improved.

  10. Dr. Janov-
    As a highly sensitive woman (India) who has suffered a lot of emotional pain and stress since childhood; and who has been in deep therapy(deep feeling,gestalt,TA,spiritual,natural primal psychotherapy) to try and heal- to live a "normal" life that includes children, husband, the whole package; and also to express my self and my potential through meaningful work, I cannot accept anyone telling me, talking down to me, by saying I am not normal if I don't have kids. I will follow my soul in its wisdom without ever judging myself that I am somehow WRONG. If I do not have "enough" oxytocin in my system then so be it. It was my destiny.I do not fundamentally judge other human beings the way you do.(Is it a male thing?) I would rather not have a kid- than do so and scar it for life the way my parents did because of their completely unconscious behavior. Which, by the way, I don't hold against them because that's all they could do- being of that generation in a particular social context.
    By the way, my boyfriend has also been in therapy after meeting me; and is much more aware of his issues now and more conscious of his neurosis. As a result our relationship has improved during seven years.
    As a big follower of your work- my therapist gave me Anatomy of Mental Illness right at the begining- I am surprised that you have such a reductionist view of the human soul and psyche. Just by knowing myself I know how infinite and complex I am and so is everyone else. If I were to see myself through your (neurotic) eyes- I might as well throw in the towel now.
    Kaushalya Gidwani. Mumbai.

  11. Windancer:

    I just want to say that not having children may be a very natural and "healthy" thing for someone to do, if they have been heavily emotionally damaged. Countless people have kids for the "wrong" reasons, and there's nothing necessarily "normal" about that I don't think.

    I don't meant to reply on behalf of Janov, but you have definately got him wrong as far 'judging' goes. Defining something as natural (non-neurotic) or not doesn't mean that you value-judge people for their neurosis.

  12. hi windancer.

    If you are selfish, weak, judgemental, wrong, abnormal etc. it does not mean that you are less than anyone else. Everyone deserves to be loved and respected. You will always be a beautiful and important human being, even when you behave in an ugly way. You just need to get rid of the pain so you can be free to be yourself.

    There is a big difference between 'neurotic eyes' and 'scientific eyes'.

    Ofcourse, it's impossible to be completely scientific when we feel such strong needs all the time. I can see why you are writing like this. I liked reading your comment. You sound like a person, rather than a piece of text.

  13. You Know that Anatomy of Mental Illness came out in 1971, and I mentioned in it a bit about serotonin. We were going to make a pill as a tranquilizer but dropped the idea. I never make judgments. If you are low in oxytocin then we can expect certain behaviors. These are scientific facts, not moral judgments. dr. janov

  14. I will add one comment. Would it not be an advantage if a new mother could not breast feed, and science tells her not enough oxytocin. It is about science not morality. dr. janov

  15. Dr. Janov, Richard, Andy-

    Thanks for replying to my post.

    Andy- You are absolutely right about a woman not necessarily wanting- or needing- to have children because she has been affected by her own damaging childhood. It can happen! I notice you say nothing about men wanting or not to have children. Aren't they supposed to also have the requisite biological need to have children as part of the normal course of things?
    However- how can we equate human beings with animals when we are so much more than animals? You can call it evolution; for better or for worse we have huge neocortexes along with all the good things and bad things (neuroses) that they imply! Human babies need more than any other species this thing called "love". So what is "natural"??
    If we all had immediate access to primal therapy then probably all women would eventually feel the natural urge to have children; and all men would want to settle down with a woman and raise a family.

  16. Hello Windancer,

    I didn't mention men because I wasn't coming from that angle - not an issues of the sexes, but neurosis.

    To say, I think it is probably natural for men to be monogamous as well.

    So what is 'natural' in non-neurotic terms?

    Dr Janov has often refered to what he calls "the neurotic split" which is where our defense system functionally isolates different zones of our brain, so they don't "talk" to each other.

    I think that's probably right, and seems to me to apply to sex and pair-bonding. If the mid-brain and brain-stem are connected, then the event of 'making love' and 'having sex' are one, as the brain systems responsible for the behaviours/experiences are connected and are therefore, very really, one system. Likewise, I doubt it would be experienced as desireable or at least comfortable to have sex with someone that you don't love, if you are non-neurotic?

    Of course I can only speculate because I am neurotic myself and I live and observe in a neurotic world, but that's my best guess.

    I would summarise [and again I can only guess] that love is the "gateway" that leads to strong erotic interest, and erotic interest will then develop in response to a woman's natural (as in 'automatic' and subtle) signals given when she is feeling genuinely sexual. i.e. the woman is ready when she is ready, and the man is ready when she is ready.

    By contrast, I think neurosis makes a mess of human sexuality, and leading to messes as far as family-creation goes. We hold the aftermath together with colourful and varied social control systems. Other animals, less sophisticated, just leave their kids for dead (a consequence of inadequate attachment) and stop the inter-general transfer of neurosis in its tracks. Unfortunately or not, us humans are too clever to do that.


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.