Monday, March 1, 2010

On the Rape of Lucretia

There are some lines in Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucretia that goes like this: “This earthly saint adored by this devil, little suspecteth the false worshipper; for unstain’d thoughts do seldom dream on evil. “

I was curious about why it is that so many of us fall prey to politicians underhanded schemes and false promises. So much so that systematically many of us go to the polls and vote against ourselves. I think it is because the average woman and man is not deceptive nor full of guile and so believes what others say; their unstain’d thoughts cannot imagine the chicanery of psychopaths who deceive and manipulate. Theirs is a kind of naivete. The bottom line is that they do want to do good. It is just that leaders dictate to them what that “good” is. And so they vote against health care. It is “socialist,” they insist. They learn that socialist is bad and they don’t want to do bad. That phrase obfuscates the reality and they go on lacking medical care. It is the same as in a research study the doctor gives a placebo ( a neutral medication) to a patient , saying it is a powerful painkiller, and she no longer feels the pain of the dental drill. Words become more powerful that experience.

Let me say that again: words and beliefs supplant reality and force us to live in a parallel universe, one that has no feelings. The domain of the cynic is a stained mind who does see evil lurking everywhere. And who, it is presumed, has the kind of mind that can also concoct evil. You know “it takes one to know one.” The honest person has learned obedience and not to challenge authority—the good child. It turns out that politicians do know best; for what is in their interest. Not for us. But their placebo, offering nothing in return, is adopted and guides our lives. Because we do not want to be “bad.”


  1. Art, 'Methinks the politicians doth protest too much'. The act of believing is an addiction: by that I mean it is a PAIN KILLER: and we none of us want pain, especially that kind of pain that seems to have no-end. It occurred to me as an insight this very morning that the 'belief' in a "daddy in the sky" is the same potential COMFORTER that all authorities promise. It is the PROMISE that gets us hooked, cos who knows, this one last time it might (just might) give us the relief we have spent a lifetime pursuing. I contend, that until you have delved the depth of the subconscious/unconscious (not recommended unless you are desperate), then you'll hang onto the most unlikely promise, whomever seemingly might promise it.

  2. Hello Dr Janov and all,

    I think people are really good at lying to others once they have first lied to themselves.

    I think most politician's believe their own propaganda, most of the time. Why don't we see this dynamic? In part I think it's because we don't want to see it - what we see in others is what we tend to see in ourselves, and most people also lie to themselves when convenient, I believe.

    In large part, I think we vote for our own image. Maybe we should take a line out of Shakespeare's "to thy own self be true". Always thought that's good advice.

    -Also, I liked your comment on the way children are basically taught to equate obedience with virtue. It's an irrational association in itself, and as historically demonstrated it can be terribly dangerous.

  3. As a Canadian, it always amazes me why universal health care has not been implemented in the USA, as it has been in Canada since the mid-60's. You would think that the vast number of people in the USA who have inadequate coverage, and who therefore face possible crippling debts if gravely ill, would demand access to this care; and that the upper classes who devote most of their money to mainly their own health-care would come up with a little more of their money to cover everyone. But no... Let the poor suffer and let them die if necessary, if they can't be "responsible" for themselves, say the vicious American Social-Darwinists...And the lower classes continue to take it on the chin, for perhaps the reasons Dr Janov spells out.

    As far as politicians, well, I do not think they all stink, just the vast majority. Again ,fortunately, we have had a minimum of decent politicians here in Canada who have implemented universal health care, old age pensions, accessible tuition fees for college, some humanitarian diplomacy..etc... In the USA it is worse for reasons which escape me. But, let me say, that you Americans did have one major politician 40 years ago, who was the epitome of decency, honesty, and compassion, and who almost became President, and that was the late Robert Kennedy. I leave you with this beautiful passage from a speech he gave in his last campaign in the 1968 before being killed:

    "...But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction - purpose and dignity - that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that - that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans..."
    Robert Kennedy, University of Kansas, March 18, 1968

    From Marco

  4. "It is the same as in a research study the doctor gives a placebo ( a neutral medication) to a patient , saying it is a powerful painkiller, and she no longer feels the pain of the dental drill."

    Art, it is important to avoid exaggerations. If you're not exaggerating, then I underestimated the power of beliefs.
    My tooth was drilled without anaesthetic...the dentist went too I know what sort of pain we are talking about here.

  5. So, would you call yourself a cynic?

  6. Hi Doc Art Janov, your description of the socio/psychopaths in power reminds me of the grinningly made remarks of my medical prationer "it is always good to make money" ... after he had told me "that all the advertised medicines against artritis would n e v e r "reach the destiny in the knee" my naive question how that?!! and where would be the ethics threin was the cause of this "answer" . And when we are at the at "summum bonum " (Schopenhauer) Severl hours ago I met a woman delivering letters for aprivate dutch company who makes money in Germany because they pay this lady 7 Euros brutto!! And the the politicians agree to this Ausbeutung (Marx) !! Yors emanuel

  7. isnt it true that wanting to be good is a result of an abuse?

    perhaps it is another reason why we obey to authority, seeking for an "approval", since we are abused by it ever since we are born[parents, school, religion, society, etc]

  8. Dr. Janov,
    My thoughts to On the Rape of Lucretia

    Most people submit to the “Zeitgeist” because they are afraid to feel and acknowledge their own pain and needs.
    Doing good, means to recognize one’s self first, - “be true to your self” (Shakespeare).
    But having learned in early childhood to blindly obey, the fearful, mentally oppressed, will continue the pattern later. The pattern of the lemmings going over a cliff becomes the “Zeitgeist pattern” all unaware people will follow.

    Implanted fear and disrespect is a mental rape of individuals, who are a part of a nation.
    Look at the pattern of childrearing recorded since 1790. It was common to beat a child, although every adult knows how it felt to be beaten and how the experienced violence made them fearful adults. Instead of being true to the self, they continue the imprint.

    Only the one who knows who they are, will NOT follow the pattern of lemmings.

  9. Walden: ah no. I grew up working class and have an abiding faith in humanity, especially the average Joe, not the fat cats. I do not have a lot of faith in institutional types. The conventional ones who run science and professional associations. They love statistics. art

  10. Richard: Suggestion and hypnosis do work on pain. There is a lot of information about it. Wake him up and kick him in the butt. art

  11. Marco, I can tell you firsthand that Canadian healthcare is a disaster.

    Dr. Janov I wish more people used science and statistics, its would fix psychotherapy for one and it forces nice sounding intellectual rhetoric to the test of the real world.

    Also using using the word work is a misnomer, farmers using big tractors and high tech storage and transportation will get paid more even if farmers with cows and shovels are working harder. Productive and non productive is accurate to the real world and it puts the class warfare poverty hustlers out of business.

  12. If people were to think for themselves then they would need to differentiate between themselves and the world more frequently. In other words, they would have to strive to get some perspective on the situation they are embedded in - and this is everything anti-health care politicians don't want. They would have to develop internalized values whereby instead of following (other people's) rules, they have their own principles. Not all people are at this level of development and poor education systems and poverty dicourages it. They also side with the anti-universal health people because accepting they have been screwed over by their country for so long would be quite painful for them. Heightened consciousness of the world requires acknowledgement of pain as Dr Janov's work would seem to testify to.

  13. message for Kaz,
    I don't know which part of the world you live in but to bash Canadian healthcare seems to me to be an easy target. Any system has its problems - just ask the millions of American who have no healthcare at all! As you point out, statistics put rhetoric to the test of the real world.

  14. nice posts. hey!!! i live in Greece. health-care? what is that? i here it since i was a kid but i never felt it, understand it, sense it, saw it. one goes to the hospital, suffering. the doctor says: tests we did tell us you have a heart problem. you must have a surgery or you'll die soon. the patient believes the doc. ok so far? then he mast arrange an appointment with the doc he wants. he has an insurance and the doc knows that. he talks with the doc and the fucking bastard asks from the patient an amount of money under the table for the operation to be done. usually the amount is huge and not negotiable. the patient finds another doc hoping he is a feeling human and will ask nothing. maybe if he has a friend who is a friend of a doc and hopes he might agree for a lower price. still no way for "free". paying the doc is illegal here. but nobody talks. some journalist put secret cameras to reveal the under the table money the doc demands. as we watch that in greek tv we don't believe that the doc will be punished or.. and we are so right. they never get punished or.. that is why they are among the very rich bastards in this world..
    Health is something we know. Care is what we miss

  15. Art
    I got a question… what is psychology?

  16. Hi,

    I just noticed that my comment is hanging out there in no particular context, and must seem really odd.

    As I read the article, I, like Richard, thought there were some oversimplifications. The "honest person", the "cynic"... I consider myself to be both honest and cynical, and somewhat naive at the same time. Words in my mind don't supplant feelings; they augment them or just fail to jibe, or strike me as outright false. Am I unique in not fitting a single simplistic profile of the kind offered in the essay? How about you, Art, are you a cynic?


  17. Walden: No, pas du tout. je ne suis pas cynique but un peu careful. art janov

  18. Can a cynic really know they're cynical? Given it's a defensive standpoint, why would they own up? How?

    All these pointless labels. We feel or we don't...


  19. Erron: Well you are right. And it is right, either we feel or we don't. I can suss out who is feeling or not feeling in seconds. I have done it in a room full of kinds. Sussed out who had a good birth and who didn't. AJ

  20. Hi everybody,

    I take medications, for example prosac(fluoxetine), and I pay for one box, just simboliclly one euro(but only with recipe)and I am unemployed. Here in Serbia everybody have health insurance. Maybe, this is legacy of socialism, but still is ok. Do Obama trying to put usa in that mode of health care?
    If it is so, than it is okay, for usa, in my opinion.
    We need more humanistic world, who has empathy and undertstanding for those who are ill or disadvantage in every sense.


  21. Arthur,

    It's a curious thought...with all your experience I can understand that you would have developed a very strong perspective on the way people are, and the level and kind of pain they have, just from seeing the links over the decades between observable character/behaviours and their driving neurosis (as you kind of suggest). Diagnosis must become much more efficient with time, for a primal therapist.

    It's an encouraging thought that you (and no doubt your experienced therapists) can make a diagnosis quickly and accurately, for us future patients.

  22. Andrew It is getting to be almost mathematical which makes me happy. art janov

  23. I find I get brain washed without even knowing it. I'm embarrassed about this, since I try so hard to keep my mind straight, but I guess sometimes I watch the news and don't question something and then later, in my mind, it becomes a fact. My friends get really pissed off at me about this and set me straight pretty quick tho. Maybe this is what happened in '04. It took me years to figure it out, but maybe everyone got brainwashed and decided to vote for a psychopath. I'm just guessing, since I'm from Cisco and I don't really understand how W got in the second time. The only time I've had health ins. is when I was working for the Gov. Other than that I've been keeping my fingers crossed, since my therapist (sort of a Reichian) is costly. What also boggles my mind is how people could complain about paying more taxes than people who make less than them. Never in my life have I said to myself: "Shit, I have to pay more than those suckey working class peons!" I can't even come up with the proper language to finish the thought--it's disgusting! I came from a very conservative upbringing, but I was intrigued by the stance the Dems took on the issues--I always voted liberal. I could see through the b.s. of the right wing and I can't really understand why others can't. I was an outcast in my own family, so maybe the upside is I could think for myself.


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.