Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Timetable of Feelings

There has been an apotheosis of the thinking cortex in most current psychotherapies. The idea is when you change your ideas and beliefs thefeelings will follow suit. It is not the case; quite the contrary. The limbic system, particularly the amygdala has many more
neural pathways, hence more influence, to the neocortex than the reverse. Ideas and beliefs are weak arms to battle feelings; remember our feelings are important survival mechanisms and should be permanently strong. They should not be easily turned off in by ideas. In psychotherapy we need to pay closer attention to the structure and function of our brains so that we don’t concoct sham theories. Insights are not the powerful weapon we once thought they were. In fact, the major part of the twentieth century psychotherapy relied on insights as the principal focus. Feelings were too often neglected; again thinking that ideas could control and change feelings. What we need is a proper balance between thinking and feelings. We cannot have runaway feelings or cemented-in ideas that refract feelings. When a psychotherapy has ideas as its principle mode of operation there is bound to be an imbalance.

Animals can feel without attached ideas. But in humans, feelings have an ideational, comprehension counterpart that helps integrate the feeling. But we should not confuse ideas about feelings with the feelings themselves. A therapist who tries to “correct” a patient’s feelings is dissuading a biologic/feeling memory. Neurotic ideas are deviated based on historic feelings of the person. They are in line with feelings; only an outsider can diagnose them as deviated or neurotic. He can do this because he cannot easily see buried feelings that drive the beliefs. When the therapist and patient see and understand the feelings, the ideas will no longer be considered aberrant. But those feelings drove deviated ideas for survival. It is not whimsy or caprice that one chooses ideas. In fact, ideas are chosen by the feeling, not the reverse. “I hate women,” is one idea that a person can have due to a harridan mother who smothered her child. He hates his mother and then generalizes to all women. He is generalizing early experience and feelings with his mother. Hating women is our carte d’ entrée, allowing us to probe deeper. Once we lock-into the patient’s hate and then allow the patient freedom to express and feel it, he will automatically be taken back to origins of the feeling. And there lies integration and resolution. Comprehension is the last stage in the experience of a feeling.

When a patient begins to resolve a long-standing feeling (imprint) she has been liberated. When we rely on the therapists’ comprehension of what the patient may be feeling, all is lost. If the therapist talks more than the patient all is really lost; there is no hope of a cure. If the patient is feeling, she has greater involvement of more brain systems than with insights or ideas. It is deeper and more profound. For that we need a therapist who has access to her deep unconscious. For therapists who spend years perfecting the intellectual side of psychology to the detriment of feeling, it is a daunting task.

In our psychotherapy we help the patient to take the general and reduce it to the specific (hate women, hate mother), From this we can produce general laws that apply to a broad band of individuals, hence helping those others to feel, integrate and resolve. All patients need to experience a feeling and integrate it. Most all of us have the same brain system. There is no other way to produce a cure for neurosis; no shortcut to health. But to state that we must understand the role of ideas and feelings in our ancient history and in the history of the evolution of the brain. And when a patient abreacts and does not feel completely we can be sure there will be no progress. We have a very large feeling brain system; we cannot ignore it in a psychotherapy and help the patient to get better. I should add that the only time an insight can help is when the patient does not have sufficient access to his comprehending brain and needs help; that is not often. Some people really do need to enlarge their thinking capacity to help control metastized feelings. I am thinking of habitual impulsive-laden behavior. In any case, feelings generate brain states, not the opposite, at least not in the way I am discussing it. If we want to expand consciousness we all must feel what lies in the subconscious. When we become conscious of the unconscious we are on the road to health. I did not say “aware,” because awareness without feeling is just another belief system. Awareness is simply
gobbled up by the top level cortex and lies impotent in the brain. “You know you’re acting impulsively all of the time?” I know, but now what?

As I note elsewhere, when the patient is locked-into a feeling, history will present itself. When she is engulfed by rage we know that the origin is first line where rage began its life. When the vehicle of feeling begets anger we know that we may be dealing with events later in childhood. When the patient is triggered by mild fear in a session into terror we know it is first line in origin. When her feelings lead to fear we know there is a limbic/feeling origin, and it is there that we must focus. We cannot skip evolutionary steps and help the patient. We cannot ignore the deep feeling because it is there and needs to be experienced, but in a correct biologic timetable. If she is locked-into anger and then rage in a session we need to take the feeling with the least valence to work on. It is that lesser powerful feeling that has the best chance of resolution and integration. Taking a feeling (rage) out of evolutionary order in a session usually results in overload and lack of integration. Ours is not a theory of random psychological states but of a hierarchy of integrateable feelings. Rage and terror tells us where to focus a patient. It unerringly turns us to the page we must address and to the era where it all began.


  1. Art, I take your point in this blog and understand it, mainly because I have been familiar with your work for over 30 years. I also understand why your write at great length on the matters you touch on, being qualified and professional. But I am not sure just how much you are able to get across to us laymen and the public at large.

    I'll give an example;- on Public Broadcasting TV , especially during pledge drives we get a plethora of 'self help' advocates that go on for hours giving lectures and then offering (if you will pledge) books, tapes and CD's on how to implement their 'methods.' Even though they attract large audience and at the end of their lectures are applauded greatly, it is my sense that not a single person comes away knowing how to implement the advice given and even for the few getting the books and CD's after much studying don't seem to get it either. Our brains, I contend, need simple and relatively short instruction.

    An acceptance that neurophysiologically we have a two part brain, left and right hemispheres where the sensations of feeling are registered in the left hemisphere and their emotional responses (expressions) in the right hemisphere (I think it's that way round). From that we might extrapolate that thinking, also created in the left brain: behind every thought is a feeling. If this is a reasonable way to look at the mechanics of the brain, I suggest there are some enormous implications. First; thinking is not intrinsic to our being and that if we were able to fathom the feeling behind our thoughts (and ides) we might see more clearly the purpose and a manner in which to conduct our lives, free of all the compulsions, crazy behaviors that are non productive, and perhaps many of the disabilities impeding a quality life.

  2. A patient is in a feeling. He is furious at his father. His breathing starts to change slightly, and his body starts to adopt a new position....he is beginning to enter the rage that was required to keep his brain alive during a terrible birth. But this transition from anger to rage is only just beginning, and the Primal Therapist is able to prevent it. We must deal with the anger directed at daddy, and keep dealing with it until it is resolved. Then we will have less overall pain, which means there will be less tendency for chaos when it is finally time to deal with the worst terror. As it was with the anger, we want the terror to be processed naturally. First it must be felt in it's raw, brain stem form (fetal behaviour etc), then interpreted in the limbic system (I imagine that would be some kind of feeling that bridges the past with the present...a kind of awakening...possibly screaming....less fetal behaviour) and then finally the frontal cortex (an awareness of a feeling which was felt and resolved and is no longer a problem in the present).
    We get down to the fetal feeling by starting in the frontal cortex (usually) and going down in reverse. A patient might start with an obsessive thought, the therapist doesn't allow that defense to block the way, then the patient might start screaming and then finally he might start thrashing quietly on the floor like a baby trying to be born. The important thing is to get all the way down to the origin of the feeling, where it can begin properly. It cannot end properly if it does not begin properly. The brain is designed to work a certain way, and of course that is the best way and the only way. People really need to try to understand this. If we try to do it a different way, then we are assuming that the brain parts can cooperate with each other in a variety of different ways. Well, they can, but those different ways lead to neurosis and psychosis. There is only one natural way to hear sounds, see objects, feel heat, fall asleep, wake up etc. There is only one natural way to feel a trauma and resolve it.

    Not sure if I got it right with the screaming part. Close enough I think.

  3. Dr. Janov,

    "For therapists who spend years perfecting the intellectual side of psychology to the detriment of feeling, it is a daunting task."

    Thank you for the balance that that statement brings. There is frustration with the state of the practice, but it's never fair to blame people just for ending up with what they were given. And...

    "I should add that the only time an insight can help is when the patient does not have sufficient access to his comprehending brain and needs help; that is not often. Some people really do need to enlarge their thinking capacity to help control metastized feelings. I am thinking of habitual impulsive-laden behavior."

    And thanks again for this. (It may be more often than you imply.) I have read you many times to say that Primal Therapy is often the last resort of patients who have struggled for years (decades) in other therapies. I have wondered whether those years of struggle really contributed nothing, or whether they were important in setting the stage for the deeper work they would now do in your therapy. My intuition is that people need to complete the knitting of the defensive "sweater" before there is enough yarn to begin a safe and controlled raveling and return to naked truth, if ever. Anyway, it is important that you have said something here other than "everyone just needs to feel, that is all". That is sheer hell for someone with nothing but impulse and no way to make a life or even a relationship in the present. How I regret my long misunderstanding of this point!


  4. Fascinating article, beautifully written, and very clearly explained.

    It floors me to think that a Primal Therapist can apparently guide a person from a specific conscious attitude ,like "I hate women", to the underlying unconscious attitude and attempt to clear out the stuck energy.Wow. I suppose there are therefore endless conscious attitudes or triggers from daily life that can be used to start the journey downwards, or am I mistaken about that?


  5. Dear Dr. Janov,

    As long as psychological expertises are written, using old belief such as “reliving a trauma is re-traumatizing”, it will "create a god within". To shake this fundamental throne is nearly impossible because it has too many followers who never question the subject or ask for proof. These blind disciples of old teaching must hold on to their confinement, their artificial deity, otherwise they must face the unexplainable “uncontrollable” emotion in them selves.

    I just finish analyzing a 61 page expertise on long-term consequences of abuse that was presented to the German Government. Among endless outdated references (no scientific evidence included) it was suggested to guide the client in therapy into the “here and now” without provoking past memories and without allowing excessive, uncontrollable feelings in therapy.

    I recommended you in 2009 to the German Government to write the expertise on the subject. But, the Government felt more comfortable with their Inland-Professors who hold on dearly to apotheosis thinking.

    Now once again, the one in pain receives what they don’t need and being told to be a “good victim” and don’t complain.

  6. Art,I'd like to compare PT's approach to that of constructive-developmental theory which is heavily based on Piagetian ideas but seems to have a lot in common with PT and relates to the idea that words and ideas are not enough to change feelings.
    In this therapy pain is the outcome of seeking to detain (or repress) one's evolutionary motion (development). (if you stub your toe, pain is felt more acutely if you seek to repress the sensation rather than go with it.)
    As psychologist, Robert Kegan writes:'psychological pain and perhaps physical too is about resistance to the motion of life. Our attempt to deny what has happened and is happening causes us pain. Our refusal to accept deviation from our plans or anticipation causes us pain. When the body tenses and defends against its reorganization, this causes greater pain than the reorganization itself..digging in and defending...any mov't that sets us against the movement of life…will cause us pain...grief, mourning and loss is a dying of a way to know the world which no longer works. And yet a new balance will emerge again and again.'
    He makes the point that, 'Disequilibrium weathered [which I compare to Janov’s concept of felt pain] can lead to a new better construction of the world which differentiates and reintegrates the understanding of the prior balance.'
    It is this process of surrendering the old self and re-emerging that identifies evolution itself as the process of motion between these changing states. Indeed, for Kegan, the person IS the ongoing activity of meaning making itself. In this sense, the facts or problems one has are not seen as the issue the therapist must deal with for these are only reflective of the larger process of meaning making which the therapist seeks to facilitate. e.g. if my problem is that my mother doesn't love me then in terms of meaning making the issue is actually how can I understand the world and myself in the context of not being loved.
    Kegan notes that,'the source of our emotions is the phenomenological experience of evolving – defending , surrendering and reconstructing a centre.' (evolving self. p.81-82. Harvard Press, 1982)
    So, I think PT and constructive-dev't have some things in common. Neither believe that changing ideas and feeling per se bring about change unless that change leads to something deeper. For PT is is accessing the seat of emotional disturbance that brought about the pain which was in turn repressed and led to loss of feeling. For, Constr-dev't theory it is about taking the pain as indicative of a meaning making process that is being fought against and which the therapist can help by providing a supportive environment in which pain can be felt, recognised and understood.
    Comparing these 2 theories is interesting because it reveals that there is an evolutionary process going on in our lives, one which can go awry when we are unable grow properly. This is usually because we are placed in an (family) environment in which expressing our pain might lead to more terrifying consequences conflicts e.g. loss of a mother's love if I tell her I hate her.
    But Art, what do you think about the Piagetian idea that pain is ultimately a problem of meaning making? For if a child had had the developmental capacity to understand his problems (& could have put them into perspective or could have found some way to deal with them at the time)then the pain may not have led to repression. In my opinion both theories have much in common: pain integrated into a greater feeling or new sense of self that accompanies a more meaningful understanding of who one is.

  7. Hmmmm. No one’s commented yet? Guess I’ll weigh in. Apologies if I ramble. This will be in 2 parts.

    PART I

    Just as "rationality" is now ascendant in therapies, "technical" philosophy trumped the more lyrical musings of Camus (as well as the puzzlings of the ancients) when I was in college. It was like the Industrial Revolution: Science and logic seemed poised to answer all the important questions. Department heads forgot that industrialization actually brought cars and machineguns. In fact, modernized countries with famous philosophers and fine arts waged wars more horrific than Spartans had ever imagined.

    It seems a price is exacted when left and right brains are not equally valued.

    I had a roommate once who practiced rational-emotive therapy. I've never met a more calculating person. He was a therapist in a school system, yet hated kids. He was the epitome of the “cool, calm, collected guy” who stuffed feelings. He constantly complained about neck pains, though.

    Today I was moved by Lindsay Lohan's tears (She was sentenced to 3 months in jail and 3 months of therapy). I don’t see her as a spoiled brat. I see her as someone who’s in pain because her drug-addled father failed to love and guide her.

    Will her “therapists” badger her to “grow up” and “get over” her early neglect? Maybe I wonder because I still struggle with that. Yet folks who urge us to “move on” never say how it’s to be done. I suspect that’s because few of them have truly freed themselves from the Past.

    I grew up with a bipolar mother in an era when the “solution” was electroshocks and drugs. The male “expert,” probably upset that her feelings resonated within him, inflicted failed “memory-ectomies” on her.

    My father is a “reserved” son of two British parents. Getting him to show love has always been like pulling teeth. His kids are supposed to show him love, not vice versa. I want to “rationally” love and forgive him, yet can’t let go of wanting his love. So the "cognition vs. feelings" debate is not abstract to me.

    Sometimes I think effective therapy is what caring adult do: Offer comfort (by words and real gestures) while compassionately explaining how the world works. It takes emotions seriously.

    Kids raised that way (being validated and encouraged) grow into confident adults. Patients treated that way grow healthier.

    Yet look at the world: Most jobs champion fast-paced environments with multi-tasking. That sounds crazy to me. Fast-paced means they haven’t hired enough people. And research shows employees do best when they have control over workflows and can do enough of one thing long enough to feel comfortable. In fact, every changed role/duty/task taxes our brains. Yet businesses promote and reward folks who “think” a lot while “feeling” little. If your wife or parent or close relative dies, companies THINK you should be “over” it in 3 days!

    Few therapies, much less companies, agree with Art that “our feelings are important survival mechanisms and should be permanently strong.” Instead, they want weak feelings and compliant “thinkers.”

    Ms. Lohan and Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson all “performed” to get love. Many look up to them when they “succeed.” It’s like stars are children who don’t complain, play when hurt, and bury feelings...resulting in "success." Studios, like lousy parents, promote those who stuff feelings best. They tolerate human foibles only so long as scandals remain profitable.

    Lindsay coped by burying pain in drugs and drinking. And maybe sex. She remains unhappy. Society now says she should grow up and leave her childish ways behind. But should she? Maybe the actress is just acting-out unresolved conflicts.

  8. PART II

    Art wrote that “psychotherapy relied on insights as the principal focus. Feelings were too often neglected… thinking that ideas could control and change feelings.” Every few years a new theory comes along (“team work” or “total quality management”) to revolutionize commerce, too. Most fail because they ignore human feelings. CEOs give touchy-feely peptalks about loyalty and belonging to the "corporate family" while insisting that workers remain subservient robots. It truly is like a dysfunctional family, one that gives the appearance of being rational while acting cuckoo. It's like the Monty Python skit where "veddy proper" British male judges wear female undergarments beneath their robes.

    Art also says the solution is “a proper balance between thinking and feelings.” But what is that balance? And how do we wounded recognize it when our radars have been miscalibrated? In the movie “Slingblade,” comfort food was biscuits with mustard, not steak.

    “ Neurotic ideas are deviated based on historic feelings of the person….[An] outsider…cannot easily see buried feelings that drive the beliefs.”

    Yes. Because the feelings were buried for a reason. And that reason is often suppressed or mocked if later revealed to others. In “The Deer Hunter,” for example, Christopher Walken escapes prison by playing “Russian Roulette.” Later a clipboard-carrying military shrink debriefs him. Walken remains silent, looking out a window, crying. He has no words for his pain. And knows his interrogator will never understand. He feels so alone, in fact, that he will continue to seek relief through death by playing ever-more games of Russian Roulette.

    So what will Lindsay Lohan do? Money-fame-youth-sex-etc. offered no balm. Will she be allowed to feel angry? Or sad?

    I’m sad because Alice Miller recently died.

    I’m also sad because my father will probably die without showing me the love I want him to.

    And I’m further saddened because I can’t stop myself from wanting his blessing. I know “intellectually” that he’s probably unable to express love because he wasn’t shown enough by HIS parents. But that understanding” doesn’t help. It’s like learning the person who ran over me didn’t mean to. So what? I still have a broken leg!

    And heart.

    I hate that America sexistly says males shouldn't cry. Tears are rain to dessicated souls. But knowing a good cry is often the solution (!) doesn't make it easier. So often it feels like going insane instead of sane. That's what happens when you get shamed for doing what comes naturally as a child.

    Odd, too, how we're to cure ourselves when others eff us up. Few exit the womb tortured (though, I guess, Art now thinks otherwise). In later life we're to act like we're all self-made. Well, who gains by that? Certainly not the wounded. Certainly not those whose self-confidence was hobbled by others, morphing into self-doubt.

    And how many millions suffer because they think others can't or won't help?

    Sometimes I wish I WERE purely rational. Then I wouldn't hurt so much knowing a simple call from my father would make my heart sing. Instead, I have the curse of Spock, feeling/thinking I'm going out of my vulcan mind.

  9. jack always very intelligent. That is why I enjoyed your book. Slight errors but still very very good. Same with Richard. you both have a great grasp of things and thetheory. art janov

  10. Richard. that is not bad for an explanation. If we do not get down ultimately to origins the act-outs based on the imprint will continue ad nauseum. art janov

  11. Walden: You know walden when I do a session I generally talk to the person for the first 30-45 minutes. We then feel and then talk again for up to an hour. This is my style, it may not be others. What I try to do is take off from the last session, connect to feelings today and then an overview. We never deride talk in our therapy however, I probably do not say 50 words during the feeling part of the session. After feeling we never talk to the patient until they first talk to us. art janov

  12. Marco: You are not mistaken. It took almost 40 years to figure it out and all of us are still learning. It is a most complex process. art janov

  13. Will: You know what? I have written many books, outlining my ideas. It is wearying to try to compare it or not to other approaches. But I will publish this and see what others see. art janov

  14. Dear Dr. Janov,

    As long as psychological expertises are written, using old belief such as “reliving a trauma is re-traumatizing”, it will "create a god within". To shake this fundamental throne is nearly impossible because it has too many followers who never question the subject or ask for proof. These blind disciples of old teaching must hold on to their confinement, their artificial deity, otherwise they must face the unexplainable “uncontrollable” emotion in them selves.

    I just finish analyzing a 61 page expertise on long-term consequences of abuse that was presented to the German Government. Among endless outdated references (no scientific evidence included) it was suggested to guide the client in therapy into the “here and now” without provoking past memories and without allowing excessive, uncontrollable feelings in therapy.

    I recommended you in 2009 to the German Government to write the expertise on the subject. But, the Government felt more comfortable with their Inland-Professors who hold on dearly to apotheosis thinking.

    Now once again, the one in pain receives what they don’t need and being told to be a “good victim” and don’t complain.


  15. Will,

    I think it is important to look at the different approaches as you are doing, finding similarities and differences. It helps refine and focus the concepts independent of the Balkanized terminologies used to describe them. I can understand Art's weariness in this area to an extent, but I also think that punting on your question the way he did is an unfortunate choice.

    My take is this. There is a lot of truth to the "meaning making" point, especially from the adult brain perspective. It seems like the adult human brain does concentrate experience into meaning, and that is intrinsically how it works under normal influences. Under abnormal influences I'm not sure.

    The idea that pain is the result of fighting our flow also has some truth, but is incomplete. If that's all pain is, then you have to wonder what would make an otherwise flowing organism interrupt the flow. It seems when I ask that question, the answer is again "pain". If you don't acknowledge that, then the message is something like "we're off track for no particular reason, so let's get back on track and that should be easy". But that's intuitively wrong, because it's not so easy.

    So here's the thing. In your author's views, there is meaning making, there are biological flows, and there is pain from interrupted flows. And then there is denial of a whole other category of pain. So because of that denial, we should throw out the whole concept?

    I don't think so. I think that attaining depth of self knowledge is something that moves in small increments. Unless a particular theory is a barrier to your next increment, it's not a real barrier. If while posing only hypothetical barriers it also gives you the crumbs of nutrient with which to help make your next increment, then it is valid and useful.

    A snake makes many skins in its lifetime and sheds all but the last one.

    I hope this answer was useful.


  16. I got this comment in an email:
    Jack: A very interesting post. May I add here at the Primal Center when a patient finishes a feeling
    he has fuller fluidity between his left and right hemispheres. Therefore, he feels what he thinks and thinks what he feels because his thoughts and feelings are now connected. This allows him fuller consciousness.

  17. Morey: What I hope your statement postulates (hope that's the right word) is that thinking and feelings are tandem factors in all creatures except neurotic humans. There the situations is, according to Primal Theory, expressions relegated to the subconscious fail to connect (elude the conscious) and finish up as thoughts, (thinking in perceived isolation) without the thinker realizing that his/her thoughts have roots in the depths of ones brain (their history). Hence, I suggest that thinking, by neurotics, not connected to it's parent feeling, is an act-out (defense). A proposition that meets with an enormous amount of opposition.

    As a side issue, this makes non-sense of Descartes' statement:- "Cogito ergo sum", 'I think, therefore I am'. In all conceit I have amended that to read:- I feel, therefore I be, (exist).

  18. Sieglinde,

    They say: “reliving a trauma is re-traumatizing”

    It should be pointed out to them that you are not re-living the trauma as such (in a primal) - you are living it for the first time. And it is the lack of original living that was the problem, as it led to the imprinting (rather than feeling) of the pain.

  19. Walden what is an increment? As far as I know, an increment is a primal

  20. For those who can't primal, we could define 'increments' as 'better defences' - ones which allow for a better quality of life. I think it's good that there is some help out there for people who will never be able to primal, but it's a tragedy when that 'help' actually makes the patient worse. It's a TRAGEDY. I know a woman who received electric shock therapy when she was a child (no anaesthetic) and she screamed each time while they held her down. She is a mess now. Another friend of mine had some other kind of psychotherapy, when he entered his psychosis his therapist had no idea what to do, she burst into tears and left him alone in the room by himself.
    I know there is bad therapy everywhere, so we have to be careful when we are talking about 'increments'.

  21. I thought Andrew's last comment was a superb explanation.

    Jack, thus far I don't think anyone has opposed the concept you provided in your last comment. I thought that was well-written too.
    There is enormous opposition to your absolutist theory: the intellect is nothing more than a chunk of meat whose only purpose is to provide an alternative to feeling.


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.