Monday, May 24, 2010

On Unified Field Theory in Psychology

Albert Einstein spend the latter years of life in pursuit of a general field theory; that is, something to explain how gravitational field sand electromagnetic fields intersect. How they can be encompassed in a single englobing theory. We are also looking for such a theory so that we no longer chase down every new symptom or disease as independent of all others. This is particularly true when it comes to the psychologic and psychosomatic diseases. What should seem obvious, that neurology, psychology and biology all intersect in the human body, seems to have been forgotten in the piecemeal approach in these three disciplines. In order to understand them, therefore, we need to approach the whole system as it interacts. I believe that what we have now is an inchoate Primal Field Theory that links various aspects of the human condition together. For example, in the field of biology there are tumor suppressor genes that control runaway developing cancer cells. These interact with human experience (psychology), even in the womb, that affects these suppressor genes and may allow for the development of cancer. In addition that may then lead to later manifestation of brain cancer (neurology). If we look only at presenting pictures of the tumor our field of inquiry is quite narrow. Or if we look only at the presenting symptom of obsession we are again at a loss. Or if we examine only the blood system it is too confining to provide answers. A Primal Field Theory indicates how they all intersect and interact to produce disease. I believe we will never arrive at causes until we embrace field theory. Otherwise, we are the position of knowing more and more about less and less; studying the minutae of a symptom, hoping to discover ultimate causes. It won’t happen.

What I find even more important is how to treat these diseases. A psychologic approach eliminates a rounded understanding, as does any single approach such as the neurological approach. This permits such conclusions as someone acts out violently because he is deficient in serotonin. Or migraine is due to insufficient vasoconstriction. So we add coffee to the mix, and the patient gets better. Is the problem solved? The manifestation or symptom may be but not the basic problems.

How then can we be proficient enough to understand phenomena in all three disciplines? There are possibly a few in the world who are competent enough but perhaps, that is not necessary. Perhaps, field theory can set the direction of research and then specialists can help out. I am not proficient in biology, for example, but my experience, current research and our investigation of natural killer cells leads me to theorize that these cells which are on the lookout for newly developing cancer cells, are heavily affected by experience. We find that they work in see-saw fashion with levels of cortisol. When we reduce cortisol levels in patients, natural killer cells are enhanced.

We can add this or reduce that but we cannot understand the whole problem without a field theory. Otherwise, we will only find what we are narrowly looking for, and no more. Another example, we learn that telomere cells respond directly to cortisol levels; the lower the resting cortisol level the longer the telomere cells. Since this length may explain how long we may live, it is crucial to investigate it within a field theory. Otherwise we learn a great deal about telomeres (and the research is important) but not about how the psychologic/experiential affects it all. All aspects of experience are in play in our bodies at all times. We can abstract them for study but it is still an abstraction.


  1. Art, I feel you have perhaps opened up a great keg of worms for the scientific community. I followed every word in this blog but I was not as conversant as you with the biologic, psychological or medical modalities. Actually, excuse my impertinence, but I felt it was distracting to us laymen. I would prefer to offer an even simpler explanation of where mankind is currently at.

    The implications of Primal Theory suggest to me that neurotic man will forever search for stuff as a neurotic act-out, and he dose this buy THINKING--thinking that thinking is some superior facet of our being. I contend this is more EGO than any real advantage to living life. Ego being what we hope others think of us, rather than what we really know, deep down, we are. I agree with you Art that there is a unifying factor out there suggested by Einstein et al and Stephen Hawking's suggestion that it ought to be simple for us ALL to understand. However, it is somewhat presumptuous to assume the answer is to be found in science. Science, by it's nature is a THINKING exercise and IMO 'thinking', in and of itself, is neurotic. Sadly, there is no way we are able (as neurotics) to get beyond THINKING, but we can attempt to reduce it to it's simplest common denominator. That simple common denominator is IMO Primal Theory.

    Primal Theory IS Unified Field Theory. If this one single notion could be grasped and accepted I feel (believe) we could be well on the way to creating a better way of life for us humans. However, it would take, I conjecture, three or four generations in order to prevent trauma for the children, babies and fetuses of tomorrow.

  2. Art, you are proposing a unified field theory...a project that keeps the scientists heading in a progressive direction, even when there is no one to lead the way.

    To do that, we must begin by finding a source of revenue. It doesn't matter where the money comes from. A unified field theory must be developed with independent funding because governments are not going to listen. You've tried for over forty years...that's long enough.

    OK....what's a good way to raise the funds? Anyone have any ideas?

  3. Dear Art ," what would be more important is to treat these diseases" -very well said but I wonder whether neurotics and post primal men by the way would have the strength or willpower to refuse a diatetic change for example in case high blood was not caused(only) by psychic reasons .When I lookat my diabetic friends it seems very difficult to quit sugar consumption as well ,in spite of life ìs in danger .I sometimes fear that after psychic illness is removed people think they are exempt of nature`s (o t h e r !) laws and keep on "sinning".Yours emanuel P:S. I would propose a fourth "item" in this field theory :social integration ,money etc....

  4. Richard: I am all ears and thensome. art janov

  5. Can science really change the behavior of human reaction?

    To know why we act the way we do has, in my mind, no bearing on the outcome.
    There are as many examples as situations that prove my point.

    There is plenty science that provides evidence of the origin for an illness that is not accepted, for many reasons, by medical professionals or governments.

    The person who acts out knows (subconsciously) that he/she acts out. Pointing out the reason, or providing scientific evidence, does not change their behavior.

    To know that low cortisol is the source of a dysfunctional immune system does not mean we can change the set point and prevent future illness. Cortisol test are not paid by most health insurance and many physicians don’t even know about the impact cortisol has. To know that PTSD and early childhood trauma can be the reason for it is known since 2002, but not accepted, neither in the everyday medical field nor by governments who are suppose to be the protector of human dignity..

    To know that high blood sugar is not always caused by eating too much carbohydrate, it can also be caused by MSG (Monosodium glutamate). To acknowledge this fact would mean the whole food industry must shut down their additives – and this will not happen. The profit from food with MSG is too great (nearly 70 % of all packaged food and meals served in restaurants).

    Mothers who have all the information why breastfeeding is beneficial to her and her child, will not breastfeed. To know it is not changing the outcome. She is driven and must fulfill her own wants and needs and will choose a career over her child needs.

    What I’m saying is, the “natural” human being no longer exist. Feeling what is good and right is erased by many. The majority has lost the wisdom of what sustains humanity in its intuitive nurturing original form.
    The reason is inflicted trauma that has changed the genes, and the now altered genomes are the driving force for our action and reaction. Humans are haunted and controlled by unfulfilled needs that in due course lead to irreparable deficits in the next generation. Scientific wisdom alone cannot help convert these alterations.

  6. Sieglinde: A very thoughtful letter. Do you all agree? dr. janov

  7. Sieglinde

    We must in some way with our "human" behavior… according to the standards we are human ... pursue the matter and hence using the commercial resources that can promote the dissemination of primal therapy.

    I mean… search for any "human representative"... a person known to "commercial"… kick-start the issue if it might be physiologically to feel see and hear ... and psychological how we interpret it? The evolutionary development of the brain has the solution for the elite… who desired equation in response to the question. It's just a matter of finding someone representative... a person to program and send  I will say it again "primal therapy is potentially among the most important of any research in any field over the past century " It has much that we attempt to do for it.


  8. I remember a interview to Savador Dali. He said something like "The day that somebody united the fields of neurology, biology and psycology will be the greatest discover of humankind". Also in an autobiography title "the secret life of Salvador Dali" trere's a chapter call "My intrauterines memories" where he explain he´s experience of birth that is very near the janov theory.I mean that it seems that artist a more aware of this new discipline.

  9. Sieglinde, for those who never change, I would say the facts are never actually 'realised'....never absorbed to a point where they become real. The neurotic mind is expert at getting lost. It's easy to forget facts while our thoughts are constantly pushed and pulled by huge unconscious forces. We look for somewhere peaceful in our mind, and if that peaceful little place has a few nagging facts surrounding it.....well.....let's just ignore those facts for now....because we must rest at some point. If we cannot rest at all we will go completely mad.

    It really is that serious, but we can't feel how serious it is. We just go on and on like mindless robots....stuck in a very small realm of consciousness. I feel that way right now. I can only describe myself. Perhaps the hardcore intellectuals or the sympaths don't feel any nagging sensation at all.

  10. Dear Art and Sieglinde ...unfortunately I have to agree to Your pessimistic view of the matter -but w i t h o u t feeling scientists -they d o exist - there would be only profit makers in all those god-damned industries!! Yours emanuel

  11. I do very much agree with Sieglinde.

    If one also can see (can stand seeing) that Nature has always been inclined - been so as a matter of a principle as eternal as one that would have to be part of any fundamental physicist's "TOE" - our lineage to take a turn in the direction that Sieglinde touched so unusually well and widely on, then one is on the verge of an 'Encompassing (or extended) Primal Theory' for how we are, and for how we get (develop) and got (evolved) to be all the ways we are.

  12. The "natural human being" may not exist anymore. Or they will be expelled to reservations like Huxley's Brave New World, though we would call them eco-communities. If people are conditioned / raised to obey authorities, then anyone not being an authority has a very slim chance of being heard. When my youngest sister was pregnant, I put Leboyer's book "Birth Without Violence" on the table. My mother freaked out and made it clear my sister shouldn't read the book. Not because my mother had read it, but because delivering a baby is something only the medical establishment can advice on. For them childbirth is like going to the dentist, you don't experiment yourself and you don't take advice from anyone who is not a dentist. As a man I had no right to tell a woman what to consider before delivering a child. That's my experience.

  13. I am going to be a bit of a party pooper here because I dont think a Primal Field Theory is necessarily a good idea. But before I give a reason why I think that it needs pointing out that scientific disciplines are growing closer and this is part of a wider realisation of how biology, psychology and neurology are underpinned by evolution itself. Darwin's theory is the greatest force for unifying different fields and it is doing so as we speak. But it takes time for data to be collected, observed, hypothesized, theorized, tested, deductions drawn, re-tested ad infinitum. Science is a slow process and this means that it is sometimes behind where we want it to be and behind where we know it should be. But the alternative situation is one where people rush and make hasty intuitive connections that turn out to be dead ends. Indeed, when we consider how inadequate Freud's 'theory of man' is today in the light of new scientific discoveries we can see the danger of premature hopes. Indeed, where theory is incorrect it can actually hold up real progress because new thinking becomes stifled. (How much time and how many patients were not treated properly because people clung to Freud's grand theory?) The scientific method, as seemingly incoherent and disparate as it seems ensures that new ideas and chance discoveries do emerge even if this occurs in a sporadic and seeming chaotic way. Once the aim is for complete unification or harmonisation then surely that might be seen as a form of neuroticism. Science is a never ending story and there is no end in sight.
    However, Primal theory does already play a role in helping to establish greater unity within the field of psychology. (NB: There are actually 53 separate fields of psychology at last count!). It seems to me that Primal Theory is part of a greater movement in psychology that began with the decline of behaviourism (itself a reation to an intrapsychic approach towards the 'isolated' individual self) and the increasing consciousness that there is no individual divorced from his context, that the person is always part of the interpersonal, that we are raised and embedded in what Winnicott called a 'holding environment'. To my mind Primal Therapy is about helping people emerge from the pain they are in by feeling it and integrating it. This is itself an evolutionary process of transition from one physical state to another and it is in creating this movement that PT links to biology and neurology too by recognising man as evolving animal. Indeed, psychology has recognised this inner evolutionary process in the work of Piaget and Kohlberg amongst others. Most recently the constructive developmental approach has sought to develop it further (see The Evolving Self, Kegan, (Harvard 1982) (especially pages 122 to 124 which extremely strongly echoes Dr. Janov's position in my view and well worth a read too).
    What I am trying to point out is that science is moving in a good direction but it will always be up to us as individuals to interpret its data. Why should we expect any greater unity in science than what we find in society at large. But that doesn't mean there aren't good people out there doing really good things which are producing strong convergences in different fields. But lets not rush to convert convergence into unification just yet - it wouldn't be scientific!

  14. Yes, I would agree with Sieglinde. Her observations about the current state of humanity beg the question as to what happenned far in our past that most of mankind has become so neurotic. What was the "Original Neurosis" , then passed on from generation to generation? Other living things are not crazy like we are (unless they have contact with us).It's all pretty strange and puzzling...

    Secondly, with respect to the fact that knowing intellectually why we behave has no effects on our behavior: I think about that often while I read Dr Janov's books, because , of course, reading his books is mostly a head trip. One would then have to do Primal Therapy to get any real benefit. Since I have no intention of doing that (not because I am not convinced), I wonder if I am wasting my time reading his books. But I continue to do so because it is so FASCINATING to read them (sayeth Mr Spock!).

    Back tomorrow possibly with my explaining Wilhelm Reich's Unified Field Theory , based on the presence of apparent primordial cosmic Orgone Energy in living and non-living systems....unless there are objections here to my mentionning his theories...and unless I find myself unable to summarise his complex theory.


  15. CBT: Project Management Disguised as Science

    I was visiting my mother in a rehab hospital today and found myself talking with a social worker educated in the state where I live (CT). She majored in psychology there. I said to her, "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy", nodding and smiling and enunciating clearly. She said "Yeah, that's all there is." I said "whatever happened to Primal?" She said, "Insurance companies won't pay for it. For insurance companies to pay, you have to be able to show progress at regular intervals. If a patient does not show progress at regular intervals, then insurance stops paying." I had heard something similar from a physical therapist (about physical therapy and insurance) only minutes earlier. But the conversation continued... I said "But what if the psyche doesn't actually work that way?" She nodded enthusiastically and said "Yeah, exactly." I commented that the depth/feeling therapies seem to have been pushed aside, but that I had had such therapy decades ago and found it helpful. This brought additional affirmation from the social worker. Hmmm, we weren't in conflict.

    Following this conversation, I found myself thinking of Art Janov and the so-called "cognitivists", and I realized I was very confused now as to exactly who they are, as this was apparently not one of them?

    Yo Richard, why don't you raise a ton of money and start an insurance company with...a difference?

    Just sayin'...


  16. Will: You are clearly a professional. Yes? others opinions? art janov

  17. One of the world's very best physicists who also is very passionate (uniquely so) about trying to counteract activities (of people) that stifle progress by/within the process of Science (am referring to Lubos Motl), has made me aware that there most likely already exists a mathematical-theoretical framework that approximates (what can most realistically be meant by) a TOE.

    Even though an important part of this mathematical framework ("string/M-theory") has recently been shown to throw new and more deeply revealing light on inorganic chemistry I doubt that "string/M-theory" (or any other mathematics) will ever be used to re-formulate the 'evolutionary philosophical type' principle that I might have caught a glimpse of and have tried to express precisely textually.

    This insight (that I have tried to express) has its roots in the indisputable truths contained or implied in Art's primal theory. That is, what primal needs of individuals are, and approximately how a 'massive enough' negation of any such need or needs must necessarily initially be handled and obviously can and in many individual cases are subsequently automatically "developed around" in order to be individually and often also reproductively survived.

    The only thing that I might have added is the realization that the role of *such predicaments'* in the phylogeny of fauna is to in tandem (in combination) with evolutionary pressures of "opportunity type" form naturally selective scenarios to the effect of creating a (not so strange) attractor in the direction of AEVASIVE (ambiadvantageous evolved...) adaptations.

    This principle does (ultimately) pertain to the (by string/M-theory indicated) in some ways infinite and in some other ways 'infinitely constrained' Multiverse's apparent capacity to generate sufficiently Earth-like biospheres (at least one such!).

    As some of you might be able to see(?), I was not just enthusiastically (and AEVASIVEly) plaiting together my explanatory philosophical terminology _as a joke_ (which I of course partly also did), and for it to turn into nothing but a joke.

    For example, I also enjoy being able to say (with some degree of logical/rationally derived sense) the follow fun thing:

    When a (the) TOE of physics is philosophically combined (not mathematically mixed) - or is seen to complement as in "seen to be a peripheral part of" my (of course only very marginally my) or any other similar enough ultimately encompassing (but even so not devoid of explanatory power) evolution pertaining philosophical take on "What Is going on", then one have something that can be described as a framework for a "Foremost Overview Of Truth" or 'FOOT'. %}

  18. I remember reading an article as a young man that quoted research work done by clinical psychologists. I had slowly started becoming aware that there is something seriously amiss in the way children were being “reared”. (One does not rear a child, you let it grow)

    I was upset and angry at the gross stupidity of these so-called “scientists” . The article described how clinical psychologists had determined that children needed eight hugs a day.

    My god, I angrily joked with everyone. “What would happen if they got nine hugs a day? Or god forbid, what if they only got seven, or perhaps seven-and-a-half?” .

    I had arguments with some friends who were doctors, about all of this. Listening to them going on and on about how we don’t really know what children need because the studies have not been done.. etc., made me sick to the stomach.

    I said to myself and anyone who cared to listen: “I bet if you had to tell clinical psychologists that children need love, they would first have to take 50 children, expose them to “love” , and then another 50 who would not be so exposed, (double blind study) for ten years and then evaluate them, and only then would they be able to agree or not.”

    Is science still mired in that awful mindset? With exceptions, I think so. Radio and television talk-show “experts” disgorge the most inane ideas and arguments about human psychology - witness Dr. Phil - although I have noticed that the word “feelings” - ala Art Janov - has popped up here and there. They still know nothing.

    Obviously, these researchers cannot simply accept the beautiful simplicity of nature and evolution. As a young man, I needed some sort of a standard, or blueprint by which I could
    measure things. I turned to wild animals. Bingo. Free animals always do right by their offspring. Do they need science? Have they read books on child-rearing?

    Sieglinde, although I am also saddened by the present state of human suffering, I do not think that our genes have been radically or permanently altered, simply because all or most newborn babies have the ability to cry. In my opinion, as long as a baby can cry, there is the possibility that, given the right circumstances, it can be helped to get rid of its pain. What is also sad is that the right help is not universally available at present. The damage comes after conception, as recently pointed out by Art. For some, the damage comes and continues throughout their lives. We have to educate parents about the fact that babies need to cry their pain out right from birth. We need to educate young couples about natural and non-violent birth, as described by Frederick Leboyer. We also have to teach the entire world how to listen and to let people cry. Sadly, Primal therapy cannot be franchised in a nilly-willy fashion around the globe. It is all very sad because the suffering is so universal and immense. Patrick

  19. Hello all,

    I recognize Sieglinde's message as being one of hopelessness and finality. Among the items of futility lie science and knowledge. Dr. Janov asks if we agree.

    No, I don't agree. While it is true that knowledge by itself is not strong enough to counter deep instincts of survival, there are dynamics to look at other than just the most obvious and direct ones. For instance, Sieglinde notes that knowing about the benefits of breast feeding does not make reluctant mothers do that. This is true. However, in a larger scope, the knowledge that has circulated in the last twenty or thirty years in this area has now infused the mainstream to the extent that breast feeding is widely accepted in public and recommended by the medical establishment. This rise in support of breast feeding means that many on-the-fence cases will be swayed for the better, even while the stubborn ones will remain. The numbers matter. It means a different percentage of breast fed individuals reaching professional and voting ages at some point, leading to positive feedback effects both in this particular area of infant care and other areas of infant care, and perhaps in yet other unanticipated places. And so on. If the next generation is measurably more gentle than the current one, then even if the delta is tiny, there may be an important movement afoot. This is evolution itself.

    I'd like to point out something that may not be obvious. Primal Therapy bootstrapped itself in a place where no such therapy existed before. In order for that to happen, there had to be a functional application of knowledge, new and old, being applied by people who at that time and by any measure would have to be considered neurotics. The individual course of therapy itself includes the ability to learn your primal style (that's knowledge too, not just feeling) and apply it in the face of well learned habits and powerful forces to the contrary bubbling up from below. Yes, there is a way to use knowledge for good, and knowledge is not doomed to a status of feebleness.

    Will, I really liked your piece on science. I love the balance that you bring when you comment here.


  20. Well, I said yesterday that I would perhaps further contribute to this important topic by explaining Wilhelm Reich's Unified Field Theory in the realm of "psychology" (which , for him ,like for Dr. Janov, is really a holistic psycho-biology ), and his Unified Field Theory of the Universe; but , after re-reading some stuff by him last night, it would be impossible to adequately summarise here, and I also don't think I understand it well enough. But, if anyone is interested anyways in what Reich had to say , here are a few leads . In the realm of "psychology", and especially with respect to his philosophy of science, all his books deal with these topics of course.His theories, in my opinion, are very similar to Dr Janov's, but Dr Janov disagrees. We will let each interested person come to their own conclusions about the differences and similarities between Reich and Janov (personally, I think they are both geniuses with amazing insight into human beings; I say this objectively, not to flatter).

    Reich was a cross-disciplinarian par excellence because he had to be , given the data he was collecting on human beings and their neuroses from various angles, and data on various other living systems. With respect to his Unified Field theory of the Universe (he did not call it that), he claims to have discovered an energy called Orgone which pervades the whole universe as a substratum, and which has a definite quality in living systems. See his " Ether , God and Devil" for an elaborate explanation. Now, most people would be asking by no: how come other scientists have not discovered this Orgone Energy? Good question, of course.Reich was a scrupulous scientist and his experiments are there to be replicated, and practically no one has done so. I don't know personally if this energy exists since I have not replicated his experiments. Reich claims to have been able to "accumulate" this energy in what is called an Orgone Accumulator ( a concentrated form of the energy ). Again, I have never been in one, but most people who have been in them report the same effects on various living and non-living systems. On human beings,for example, most report a pleasurable expansion of their selves, bodies, and various psychological and physiological effects. Reich presented his Orgone data to Einstein, and the latter did not refute Reich, but he did not follow up on the data either.Reich also used this orgone accumulator in his treatment of cancer patients, as an adjunct to his his bio-psychotherapy of these patients, and the results seem significant. See his tome "The Cancer Biopathy". Reich, by the way, came to the same conclusion as Janov about some cancers; the cause: MALIGNANT DESPAIR.

    Well, that's enough. As I said, this stuff is complicated , and I don't know if I can really do it justice.


  21. Dr. Janov, thanks.
    Richard: “for those who never change”, is exactly my point. The question is, why they don’t want to change? What is holding them back? A deep underling fear of not being loved, not getting their need fulfilled? When fear dominates, all reasoning fails.

    The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 1 in 3 babies in the United States are delivered by c-section. Some health care experts believe that many c-sections are medically unnecessary.

    If we look at the movie Nils Bergmann produced we understand why natural birth is absolutely and not only for the babies immune system. The same reason applies to after birth care and feeding: (the movie can be a big trigger)

    The question is, how many mothers are willing to do these most necessary steps for their child? Only a mother who is in tune with herself, who is not controlled by fear.

    Emanuel: is it really a “pessimistic view”?

    macor22: This is what I’m asking: “What was the "Original Neurosis", then passed on from generation to generation?”
    I have found three generations of neurosis in my family. Nearly the same pattern of abuse, domination instead of love and respect, neglect and rejection was handed down like an heirloom. The sad part is, two of my brothers continued the childhood imprint.

  22. Hi Will, good to hear from you again. I don't really understand your argument. I don't see how it could be harmful to pursue a unified field theory. It is nothing more than an attempt to understand how everything connects.

  23. Patrick: you are right. It cannot be franchised although I have had offers from businessmen. Obviously we would not consider it. It is a precious gift for the patient and us. We nurture it carefully and never commercialize it. art

  24. Dr. Janov, quick question: How do the stuffed animals at the Primal Center work, I don't think I read any mention of stuffed animals anywhere

  25. Kaz: for those who had teddy bears etc during childhood it rewakens many memories. art

  26. Since the blog theme is; "Unification Theory" I'll throw in my two cents worth:-

    A unification theory is a theory (idea) that makes 'sense' of EVERYTHING.
    But understanding is the booby prize, because it settles NOTHING.
    Making sense signifies the 'mind' integrates what's going on, without an inner conflict in the thinking process.
    Theorizing (ideas, thinking) are only what neurotics indulge.
    In order to transcend neurosis we need--SADLY--to have a "Unification Theory of Everything."
    There's only one way IMO to transcend neurosis--prevention.
    Therein afterward, we can just LIVE

  27. Dr. Janov,

    According to the Justice Department, an estimated one million children in the United States are abused yearly in the production of child pornography, a $3 billion business annually.
    This one million speaks only of child prostitution, not including all other child abuse.

    A clinical social worker and executive director of Hedge Funds Care, Preventing and Treating Child Abuse said: “I wish I had an answer for Judge Weinstein’s plea that we treat rather than imprison this type of pedophile, the viewer of child pornography. But there are no known acceptable and effective treatments. And until we have such a cure, and since this is a crime, then jail is the place where they belong.”

    My question is, how much can PT help child molesters?

  28. Sieglinde,

    I think it behooves us all to remain open to the idea that no matter how far we think we may have come, we are not necessarily better than those "others" in whom we can identify this neurosis and that neurosis. If we find ourselves thriving on "the difference", then it is a signal to look again. Without humility there can be no real change. That's how I see it.

    Cultivate a taste for weeds, and chew often, and with company.


  29. Dear Dr Janov, A British psychologist called Oliver James appears to subscribe to many of the principles you expound in your books (a bit of a renegade too, by all accounts), especially with regard to raising young children well, aged 0-3. 'How Not To F**k Them Up' is his latest book, which is just about to be published.

    In an article for The Times newspaper a week last Saturday, he mentioned personally undergoing 'The Hoffman Process' recently. Upon further investigation, this modality is much closer to Primal Therapy than conventional cognitive approaches, because it is focused on childhood experience and feeling unresolved emotional issues. Are you familiar with this, and if so; what do you make of it? Sounds like PrimalTherapy-Lite to me, but surely that must be far preferable to CBT? It appears to be widely available as well.

    Ben, England.

    PS: Creating this blog was a masterstroke - did you anticipate that it would become a forum for erudite discussion, via the comments facility?

  30. Sieglinde: Sorry it sounds bad but I try to treat those who merit it. I cannot treat a pedophile because I think it is a major crime, destroying someone's life. Most of the psychotic women I have treated have been sexually abused, incest as a child. It is horrific. art janov

  31. Ben: I never heard of the book, Ben. But I will look it up. I never heard of the Hoffman process. And I only did the blog cause my wife insisted on it for over a year. Finally I ceded to her wishes and I am glad I did. I now realize that there are so many erudite people out there. It is most reassuring. Going to Paris tomorrow. art janov

  32. Ben: Speaking of erudite people. I am going to start a new semester of training for all those interested in September. Thus far all students tell me they are and were fascinated. Lots of CDs and films to see. art janov

  33. Hello Art Janov,

    I was just reflecting on this...

    I think 'Primal' (Janovian trauma-imprint theory) is in effect a "unified field theory" of psychology for the simple reason that it comfortably correlates with biology and psychology (human motivation), and of course it makes excellent sense in relation to itself, as a psychological system, and in my view excellent sense in terms of evolution - that is, we can understand why it should have come to be for adaptive purposes.

    I don't know of any other theory that does this at all. I can't even imagine how another theory could make sense like primal theory does.

  34. Hi again Dr Janov,

    Off topic, but I want to ask the question:

    I know you have mentioned that there are some neurotics who can tolerate a certain drug without dying, whereas a 'normal' could not.

    Do you think this applies on the emotional level to some degree as well? Does neurosis also serve to galvanise the system to tolerate further abuse but without further damage?
    So, for example, after you have recieved a series of emotional shocks so that that 'damaged' part of yourself shuts down, can that part of you (that has been put off line) in turn no longer be further damaged (as much), regardless of future shocks?

    Any thoughts?

  35. Andrew: If we are to have a level playing field you need to read my books Primal Healing and The biology of Love. then we can discuss. art

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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.