Monday, July 12, 2010

On Avoiding Murder

Raoul Moat (left) with his brother
There is a story in the press today about Raoul Moat. He just killed himself after a police chase for over a week. Just before he killed himself, as the police were closing in, he said, “I have no dad and nobody cares about me.” To me that is the beginning of a primal. He shot his ex-girlfriend and a policeman, killing her boyfriend, instead of feeling the pain. He was sure it was “their” fault that he suffered. Maybe if the police could have said, “We care about you, Raoul,” it would have helped, and maybe not. But instead of shooting him there are options if we only we consider them. That is what police negotiators are for. Killing is what those do who cannot feel. Feeling is what those do who react properly before killing. How many times have we seen in a pre-primal the patient pound the wall and cry in anger, “I hate you. I want to kill you!” This prevents killing. It is the best antidote.

Raoul lost his last chance at love when his girlfriend left and began a romance with someone else. That was the trigger. So instead of feeling, “I am not loved. There is no more chance of love; love me, please!,” he started shooting. He began shooting because he did not know that he was into old feelings of deprivation and he had no access to what he was feeling. He was acting out in deadly fashion. My guess is that, had he been able to feel at that moment, he might not have started his rampage. This is all theory now but it points to a current societal problem. Some lose love, go into despair and find God. They have been saved, saved by the idea of God, unless we really think she comes out of wherever she is and literally lends a hand. Others get into feeling and reach for the bottle. Still others, all too often, reach for the neck of the departing lover and strangle her. But what they all have in common that makes the act-out obligatory is the reawakening of early deprivation. Otherwise there is no violent act-out. But when a lover leaves and it reawakens mother leaving the family early on, there is a compounded feeling which has incredible strength. Without help, without knowing one is acting out a feeling, the only alternative is the act-out.

But if we discussed feelings in class at school, if we learned about the act-out and the necessity for access to our feelings, some of us would not be so helpless before rising feelings. At least we would know what feelings were and how they force us to do crazy things. Raoul had to die because he could not feel, “there is no more hope. It is the end of the line. I have acted-out my rage and there is nothing more I can do.” We kill and then we kill ourselves; such a classic denouement. We hate them for not loving us and treating us terribly and then we sense all is hopeless. His mother, not surprisingly, said he would be better off dead. How about, he would be better off being loved. He was reared by a stepfather with plenty of problems between them. A stepfather is never what a father means to a child.

Some of us choose act-outs that are not so deadly. We stalk the exiting lover. We call her all of the time and plead. Then after she says, “no” enough we get threatening. It follows the primal sequence, without the act-out. We are desperate and plead, then furious that they did not love us, then hopeless again as we feel the utter pain of it all.
Raoul needed to get help early on. And what that means is not a bunch of soporifics and rationales about his feelings. Not pills to push down his feelings. Not cognitive ideas to explain and change his feelings. He needed to feel all of his terrible deprivation; he needed to experience and feel his feelings; that is getting help.


  1. There are those who can feel, those who cannot feel but suffer from rising feelings, and those who cannot feel and do not suffer from rising feelings?

    I think I'm the second one. I's another Janovian brain-twister

  2. Art, again a great revelation. The most revealing line IMO:- "...if we discussed feelings in class at school..." I actually feel that might create 'THE Primal Revolution', but there are a coupe of caveats, as I see it. Children, the younger the better, are so close to their feelings, that just permitting them to discuss feelings in class, are likely to get some to Primal. Unless the teachers were cognizant enough to let the child go there, they might actually compound the problem. The second factor is that a child feeling rage, fear or hopelessness against a parent in the class, still has to go home and live with that parent afterward. Would the child be able to cope???

    However, I have said and written that Primal Theory is so simple that even children can understand it, providing that it is described simply and briefly. I attempted that in my book in seven pages with no more than three short paragraphs on each page. Maybe Art you could re-write mine in a way to make really simple for children. Trouble is, you might have to write instructions for teachers to go with it.

    The biggest hurdle I see would be getting the educational authorities to accept the idea--a forlorn hope considering that they can't even take A.S.Neil's revelations; and he was one of them.

  3. This is off-topic.

    After I came across a Youtube video on the Net of France Janov giving a lecture called "Touching in Primal Therapy", I read the following compliments, after the video, by an admirer of the lecturer:

    Speaking of primal "touching"....>)
    Ok im convinced...old chics are hottttttttt!!

    she is soooooooo hooooooot!!

    I thought that was kinda cute. And accurate!


  4. What about "she calls and hangs up without saying a word" with a hidden number. She pretends you are the one stalking her whenever you try to write her just to understand what she wants...then she calls with a shacking voice pretending not to know who she is calling (using her business line) then hang up. Then you call back and she burst into mad laughter after saying she doesn't especially want to see you again...then calling again and hang up. Then leaves a message angry on your cell phone asking you to call back because her tricks doesn't work anymore and then again for months till you meet her face to face to say "it's over"...But well everybody knows that a woman would never ever do that...
    To feel the hurt of a lost love is so painfull but if you have honesty you won't blame the other for being responsible for everything...

  5. Animals keep their social order intact by using a combination of love and violence. Affection and hatred. Feelings that exist in all mammals. We are not so pretty. I think it is important to control our natural urges to inflict pain, assuming those urges are not always neurotic. Let's not forget where we came from. We were not always beautiful with soft skin and clean teeth. We have laws now. For hundreds of thousands of years there was only one law: Go with your Feelings.

  6. Dr. Janov,
    please allow me to act out:

    “Children murder not” is a chapter in my book. All they try to do is try get rid of the “pain-maker”.
    Adults don’t kill them selves out of hate, they kill because they need to end the never ending pain.

    “He shot his ex-girlfriend and a policeman, killing her boyfriend, instead of feeling the pain.”
    Society, police only begins to care when someone is acting out.
    A girlfriend or any other friend/partner cannot replace the never received love. Nor can it heal the despair, a subconscious feeling of being unwanted, rejected, or the not being loved by mother.

    “He was acting out in deadly fashion”.
    He was at the end of his emotional rope – death ends all pain.

    “A stepfather is never what a father means to a child.”
    What about when the biological father who is an abuser?

    “Raoul had to die because he could not feel, “there is no more hope”
    We don’t need hope! Hope, that has its origins in religion, is a deception, an excuse for not acting or reacting. As children we need respect and love, a right to grow into adults and develop our true (non-manipulated by pain) identity.

    “We stalk the exiting lover.”
    Yes they stalk, expect from others what mother was not able to give them. They must control everything and everybody(instead in facing their pain), because they have no control over their emotional loss/pain and helplessness. Then they become codependent on a God and/or substance, continue the abuse in the same or other fashion, in search of the never received early love and ongoing pain. If CT, God or chemical substance, or numbing medication does not help quiet the down life smoldering raging in pain, they are sent by a Judge in the USA to “anger-management -control classes”.

    All these components makes a psychological imprinted damaged/sick society, who contribute in their ignorance to the destruction of the next generation because they refuse (or have no chance) to feel their own pain.
    In 2008, 9451 young people, age 14-25, committed suicide in Germany.

    As you can see, my work is pushing me against an emotional wall. Not because the pain I hear on the daily basis, it is because of the blind-controlling ignorance of people who could make a difference. PT is known in Germany, but also treated by professionals with suspicion, like a cult.

    Yes, I am very angry, because I WILL never accept the insensitivity and ignorance of governments and people who could make a difference.

  7. Hello,

    Discussing feelings and act outs starting in the early grades in school might be a pretty good idea. There is a high probability it would get watered to the point of uselessness by bureaucratic forces, but it would be worth it even if only a partial success.

    "Raoul needed to get help early on." That's for sure, but whether such help could be offered in a practical way is a whole other matter. "...he needed to experience and feel his feelings." You cannot impose that without doing damage. You can at best offer room for it to happen, but what if it doesn't? Very treacherous area, this. Let's not set unrealistic expectations about situations like this.


  8. Richard: I gotta take exception to your notion that "Animals keep their social order intact by ..... love and violence". If you are using the term "violence" from an objective view (the way we humans see them), there might be a point, but if we attempt to view what is going on with them 'subjectively', I suggest they are only acting instinctively to eat or protect. When there is no need to feed or protect, I don't see them being anything other than "live and let live".

    I totally agree that all we humans had for millennium was to 'go with our feelings'. How, I brainstorm, might we get back there?

    I have only one idea:- re-organizing child-rearing practices. anyone else have any other?

  9. Hi Jack,

    Well, my idea is very un-PC, but from a 'big picture' outlook I believe it is the right thing to do nonetheless.

    Introduce a system of Reproduction Licences:
    Want to have kids in our society? You must first receive a "warrant of fitness". If you are, by reasonable measure, too psychologically (and maybe physically) damaged then you can't have children.

    I know that looks ruthless on the face of it (and in essense it is), but so is neurotic humanity ruthless and our species is now far too powerful - for better AND worse. We really could screw this world of ours over...due to our current condition and our current material capabilities. Things are getting a bit scary; that shocking oil spill (for example) is only the beginning of what we could too easily do to ourselves and our environment, in the not to distant future.

    So I think today we need to consider some more serious action to clean ourselves up. We've just got too many sociopaths running our world, and too many neurotics who can and do too easily fall in love with them for just promising to be the "caring" mummy's and daddy's that we never really had in childhood.

    We also need focused education, like you say, and a strict focus on the removal of poverty and excessive stress on families (in particular). We especially need to remove unnecessary stress from mothers for between the time of conception, birth and the first year or so of their childrens lives.


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.