Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hello Dear Reader,

I am going to talk about myself, not as a measure of self indulgence, but in order to impart some of what I have learned about myself over the years.

I was an anxiety case most of my life. I could not concentrate, sit still or be tenacious, and I suffered nightmares. I think a lot of it was due to my life in the womb and at birth. Add to that my pain filled childhood and it can be understood. But why did I not know about this pain that was driving my life? If much of this took place before I was even on this planet how could I be objective about it? It was just me. And how could I feel unloved in my childhood? I was just me. It was not until I got a little love in my life that I began to understand what I did not get. Many of us do not reach that understanding because our personalities are so deviated from the start that it all seems normal not to get love. For example, my parents never talked to me or said my name. I never realized this until one day age thirteen I was at my friend's house and their mother came down into the kitchen and leaned against the sink and stayed talking to them. I ran home with this epiphany and told my dad that Mrs. Winters was talking to her kids, and not just for giving orders. I simply never knew that parents should talk to their kids. Nor did I know that parents should say their kid's name when addressing them. It was usually "hey you.' When I went down to join the Navy the gray haired lady asked my name. I told her and she said it back to me in an unhurried warm way. I felt something changed inside. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside and did not understand why but it marked me.

It marked me because it revealed a need I knew nothing about. It is why when my patients cry out their needs they are in great pain.

The reason we don't know it is because before we have words, painful feelings are engraved into our system. and they create physiologic reactions that simply feel normal to us. And if we never find love we never know about our unfulfilled needs. Sometimes we have so much pain early in life it crashes our defense system completely and we recognize that we are in pain. That is not the case with most of us. I always thought that nightmares were in all of us. Whenever I told someone I had a dream i always meant a bad dream. I grew up thinking everyone had only bad dreams. And since there was no one to talk to I just went on thinking like that.

It is the rare person who feels unloved during their childhood. We are just programmed by our imprint before birth and birth/infancy lives and we carry out the silent program. We either "dance" fast or slow by our imprint and we never even know that it is an imprint. This is why when we someone hugs us later in life it can hurt. It brings up the need and its lack of fulfillment. Some of us, therefore, avoid hugs. We become a cold personality because it protects us permanently against pain. The pain is lack of fulfillment of need; each time there is a slight fulfillment there is pain. You feel what you didn't get.

And the minute someone says or shows that they want us we become suckers because we never felt wanted. So we learn about that need when it is filled. I treated promiscuous girls who thought they were bad because they gave sex the minute someone showed an interest in them. Suddenly someone feels wanted. We are so unconscious that we are not even aware that we have an unconscious or that it continually drives us.

When you grow up not being able to concentrate it seems normal and you think that it is just the way things are. You never believe it could be any different. And you don't think about"different" because that is the way things are. I did not think that I could not concentrate because I never knew what it was not what it looked like. We keep making the same mistake in life because what we come to believe is normal warps us. We keep marrying the wrong person because the same need and its deviation continually drives us. We want a dominant man like our father so we can struggle to make him soft and tender; and it never happens. We marry "the struggle." We marry someone hyper critical so that symbolically we can have someone who approves of us. We are redoing and reliving our imprint all of the time.


  1. Hello Dr Janov,

    We (better say I)need to keep a fight, until we(I) go to primal therapy.It is impressing for me-you have so much problems in critical period for your development and still you are here with us, with energy, love, and plans, and good will, nice, organized(I suppose ) life...happines and joy.
    You are my hero as a person, as the scientist, as a human being, as everything you are.
    You menaged to resolve many problems -yours and others.
    Have you ever think to write autobiography and publish that?

    My best,with all my humanity,


    Post Scriptum:
    'my best' i took from my hero!

  2. I enjoyed reading about your childhood Art (would you ever write an autobiography?). What you say about needs being unrecognised and so you don't know what you don't have until you experience something different is so true. My best friend's parents treated him differently to me too and it meant going back to my home always very depressing. I could sense the doom as soon as I walked back in the house. It makes one wonder just what remains to be discovered and recognised by man about man. I guess we must wait for the change that is to come one day...perhaps.

  3. Dr Janov,

    Thanks for sharing some of your personal experiences in this article. I don't think there is anything self-indulgent about doing that. In fact, I hope you will share with us more of the experiences and struggles of your life. Why not write a short biography even? I'm sure many people would be very interested.

    I don't mean to pry, but how did you get yourself out of this black hole of anxiety? Did you get help? If so, from whom? Did you do it on your own? If so, how?


  4. Nenad and Will: Yes, as a matter of fact a very fine writer is doing my biography. AJ

  5. Art, can you talk for long periods now, or is your voice too damaged? You were having trouble communicating with your writer. I hope your throat is not giving you too much grief.

  6. What an inspiration. Thank you.
    I was instantly taken back to a moment I felt this kind of warm feeling for the first time.

    At the age of 11, my school friend, a very poor family with 8 children, took me to her house. On a big mattress, on the living room floor, her mother was breastfeeding her newborn. The four youngest, age 1-4, were lying next to her sleeping.

    I needed to share this warm feeling and try to tell my mother that, the people she called “lowlifes”, are actually loving people.

    The experience manifested. At this age I decided not to judge people by what they have.
    What remains until today is a conclusion, being a good mother does not need money.

  7. biography might be ok but less and less read books. make a movie.

  8. Art,
    I think Nenad spoke for all of us. There should be a statue of you in every city in the world.
    Once more, a heartfelt thanks from me. But for you, I would not be here today.

  9. Dear Art h o w do You know m y life experiences with parents ,siblings and the like...
    are we a l l lterally created equal...? Only one remark I do not remember a n y nightmares during infancy or adolescence -despite my continous suffering during the last decades. Perhaps there was enough nightmares during the days that my sytem shut up during the nightt..?
    A second remark : For heaven`s sake- where do You get all inspirational wisdom from -have You
    an inbuilt fountainhead in Your mind?!!
    Yours emanuel

  10. Richard: My throat always hurts. It has been badly damaged in surgery. art

  11. Athanasios: I am trying to make a movie. need help. art janov

  12. Marco: I dug myself out a lot and then PRIMAL! AJ

  13. Art,
    I have couple friends working in movie industry here in Serbia. One is director, other is cynematograph. They did already some documentary movies.
    Perhaps they can help.


  14. Art: I'd like to help about doing a movie. I have some knowlege in the film craft and i think some creativity too. So if you want help in ideas or whatever, let me know, it will be a pleasure for me.

  15. Chyron: Please contact me when I return from france on july 29 and then we can talk. art janov.......thanks so much

  16. Nenad: Yes thank you. I will be back in LA July 29 could you write me then and we can make a plan. art janov

  17. "I never realized this until one day age thirteen I was at my friend's house and their mother came down into the kitchen and leaned against the sink and stayed talking to them."

    Interesting. I thought it was normal for all parents and teachers to be dry and distant. I wonder how many normal families exist in this world. Probably not msny. I guess that's why there is such a big market for happy-family sitcoms. They provide a model of a family that has it's ups and downs, but always returns to 'normality'. A beautiful fantasy for people to believe in.
    As a kid, I hated Sesame St and didn't like the way the usually brave Kermit was so off-character in that show...way too 'nice'. I only watched it because I wanted to see Bert and Ernie. Big Bird sucked. Everyone so friendly....BORING.
    I worshipped the Muppet Show. I liked Kermit whenever he would bravely try to explain something to Miss Piggy, and then she would hurl him a huge distance through the air. I actually felt intimidated but wanted to watch it from the safety of my armchair. I was never interested in anything nice. All of my drawings were of dinosaurs and vampires and stuff.
    Probably a combination of neurotic act-out and low oxytocin levels. Probably why people think of "Primal Scream" rather than "Primal Healing".


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.