Monday, July 19, 2010

Stop The World I Want to Get Off

I wanted to re run this article:

When will the madness stop? Above all, the madness in the name of science and medicine. In the N.Y. Times today (Nov. 26-09)is a story about places like Harvard, of all things, are doing surgery for obsessive disorders, depression and other psychologic maladies. Here is what they do: In cases of obsessive rituals and thoughts which have been intractable to psychotherapy, they have decided to cut out those pesky afflictions with brain surgery, cutting out pieces of the emotional brain to ease the problem

This surgery, they warn, is only for those obdurate psychologic problems that do not respond to any sort of psychotherapy. It involves drilling four holes in the brain and inserting wires deep down. From there the procedures differ but in one key surgery, cingulotomy, they pinpoint the anterior cingulatedfor partial destruction. The rationale: they want to destroy some of the brain tissue that forwards emotional messages to the thinking brain, the prefrontal cortex from the feeling areas such as the cingulate. The claim is that this area is overly active in cases such as obsession in inputting emotional messages to the thinking, intellectual centers. There are variations to this theme but in nearly all cases the attempt is to suppress emotional pain from its apprehension higher up.

The claim is that standard therapy cannot touch the problems such as deep depression . This is brain surgery, remember. The result, according to the surgeons, is about sixty percent satisfactory, although we do not know the ling-terms consequences of brain surgery. There is one follow-up study which indicated that these patients seem apathetic and lose some self-control for years afterward. It is no wonder since we have cut out the person’s passion. But what if we could do exactly what the surgery does? What if we could avoid a very serious surgery? I believe we can because primal is the only therapy to be able to go deep in the brain purely by psychologic means. Because other conventional therapies do not have this possibility in their theories or in their therapy they think that the only other solution is surgery. And of course deep depression sometimes is being helped by this surgery. Deep depression means just that; origins deep in the brain. So again, a therapy that probes the depths, the antipodes of conscious/awareness should work as well or better than to have one’s brain cut into. I have not kept our therapy a secret but it is up to those who do this surgery to investigate what is out there before burning out brain tissue. What is sad is that this kind of “way-out” procedure can have positive stories on it in the New York Times and many other respected journals, while a “far-out” psychotherapy such as ours, cannot get a line printed in any newspapers. It is not “safe.” But here is a surgery that is decidedly dangerous and obtains cache in our country. So someone who compulsively washes her hands needs brain surgery? This, it seems, is recommended because, I think, the pain imprinted down low was too much for the usual tranquilizers. So, ergo, we cut out the relay mechanism that sends terrible emotions to the understanding cortex. So, no relay, no pain and no symptoms. If anything about this procedure is enlightening is that we see how compulsions and obsessive develop out of pain surging up from lower brain centers, and how ordinarily, the gating system keeps symptoms from showing. The pain is still doing its damage, however; only we are no longer aware of it. Certainly, the surgeons did not cut out the origin, the emotional imprint, they cut out the circuit that forwards the message to our awareness. In this highly respected scientific atmosphere the most outrageous modes of therapy are taking place.


  1. Art

    I will probably not be able to repeat my wish in off times for you to pursue a legal process about the question of primal therapy’s eligibility before it is full communion manner run over by the symptomatic improvement of what the interventions of the brain will show. No one will ever listening to the pain when all of our “conscious” system working against that knowledge and offer our life no to.

    Art… you can prove the eligibility of primal therapy… what is there to wait for? They (the “professionals” in the field of psychology and psychiatry) must be seen for what they do ... appear for arguments in media… which are not up to scratch at the demonstration of primal therapy’s eligibility. The needy are many and they will possibly react?


  2. Art, madness abounds, and I get the feeling that the population at large knows there is something very radically, radically wrong. No-one (there are just a few exceptions) knows exactly what is wrong, so those that have a vested interest (usually 'profit') offer some 'fly by night' solution then start experimenting on anyone they can get there hands on, to make a buck. Madness, insanity are not a strong enough words. "How," I scream, "can I/we few, get through and say 'hey guys, we got it all wrong'". It took Copernicus and Galileo many years to get their concept through. My feeling is we don't have the same luxury of time, they did.

    I suspect Art you are as frustrated as I am. It pains me. Maybe, just maybe, nature will smack us were it really hurts and cause us to do a HUGE amount of re-thinking, OR better still, throw us all into deep Primals, so deep we'll not be able to symbolize it into something convenient that keeps the madness intact. Do I fantasize too much?

  3. Hi Dr Janov,

    I do take your point about the general ineffectiveness of conventional psychotherapy (talking, analytical, cognitive), and specifically about its total inability to deal with pre-verbal trauma, which obviously can't be reasoned with; hence the supposed need for the invention of blunt instruments like this Frankenstein-esque surgery.

    Having experienced an isolated, but protracted period of delusion-inspired mania (14 weeks) a couple of years ago, I still wonder to what degree people's subconscious beliefs about themselves affect their emotional well-being. Maslow's hierarchy of human needs identifies self-esteem as a key component, and it does appear as though people who were raised by neurotic parents who taught them to believe they were 'bad' from a young age tend to fare poorly in adult life.

    It seems like everyone has a so called 'map of reality' that is composed of mental constructs about themselves and the world. People's beliefs do seem to affect how they feel in some ways (although not capacity and range), but maybe that is just a neurotic expression of hope. For an intellectual parasympath like me, those 3 months of dopamine-fuelled invincibility seem like a wonderful dream now (preceded by an acute period of intense psychological distress, during which I was suicidal - sudden polarization ensued).

    Do unjust, detrimental beliefs about oneself compound legitimate emotional suffering? Some people have been taught to believe dreadful things that have no basis in reality.


  4. Hi Ben.
    The magnitude of a true feeling cannot be affected by a false belief. The two are disconnected. The belief can only provide a way to disconnect. However, a feeling can be compounded by earlier trauma. For example, a birth trauma can amplify all future feelings of isolation.

  5. In this modern age the amount of Pain inflicted on children exceeds the capacity of our repression system, which was working fine for thousands of years.Its happening too fast, there is not enough time for evolution to increase our storage space for Pain. So a variety of drugs are developed and called to the rescue. When they fail, there is brain surgery. IT IS MADNESS. But the world is not ready to face it's Primal Pain, so madness has to continue. Are we approaching a tipping point where pain itself will force it's way to the surface? [universally I mean]. It seems to be headed this direction, which gives some room for optimism. It's not going to be an easy ride, though. Its already tough.
    Cheers, Shalev

  6. Just to follow on from my comment to Ben...many therapists attempt to provide the "correct belief". A primal therapist never does that, because he knows the "correct belief" is yet to be discovered. A primal patient will get down to the origin of the feeling, where the story can begin to unfold. The correct belief will emerge later, and it will be something the therapist could never have known. At the end of a session, it is the patient who informs the therapist. Not the other way round.

  7. I was looking through some psychology forums, hoping to find a place where therapists and neurologists are debating and sharing knowledge. Couldn't find anything like that. Can anyone recommend a website?


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.