Thursday, August 26, 2010

More on Addiction

So many of us are addicted that I want to write a bit more on it. First of all, we are addicted to need; the lack of fulfillment of need. The depth of the neglect of the need determines how seriously addicted one is. We choose our addiction due to many reasons. But basically, how early the trauma or lack of love there is may be one factor. Then the compounding of the very early neglect, say, the lack of touch dating back to right after birth and on into infancy, is another component. So the continual lack of fulfillment exacerbates the pain. Never been touched, held or soothed makes matters worse. It all wraps around need. If there were a grandma who caressed the child a bit then the need is less severe.

Those needs start in the womb, which is a massive kick-start to addiction. If the mother drank to ease her pain then perhaps the offspring will sense physiologically that alcohol can soothe pain; the beginnings of addiction. If the pain goes on due to constant neglect by the parents, becoming severely debilitating, a devastating addiction is on its way. If the mother takes drugs during pregnancy then a pill taker is coming soon. And usually, the pills will be the opposite of what mother took. If she was on cokes, cocaine, speed, coffee, hyping up the baby in her womb, then we may have an adult who is addicted to tranquilizers and painkillers in order to calm his hyped-up system. The needs are at first life-saving so that lack of fulfillment generates great pain. As we mature the needs are important but not as life-saving. Needs before birth are much stronger than later on. They deal with survival. Once we survive well physiologically we can move on to social needs: to be listened to be looked at, understood, helped, guided, etc.

I cannot emphasize this enough: We are addicted to need. The earlier the need the more powerful its neglect. That is why Hollywood doesn’t destroy people; they are already destroyed by events that may antedate birth. The neglect may drive one to Hollywood because it is basically the land of the seriously damaged. It is the goal for those who are underappreciated and never paid attention to. The size of the pain leads to neurotic solutions commensurate with that force; now we need the whole world’s approval. How better than in the cinema.?

We don’t want to ignore genetics but in my opinion genetics is minimal; but life in the womb is critical. And so what is the addict doing? Fulfilling the need from that time; that is, trying to equalize or normalize the chemistry that was warped from very early on. He takes more serotonin (Prozac) to calm him. He would have had enough all through his life if his levels were not dislocated by trauma in the womb or at birth. He is trying to get himself back; get the parts that were missing from the start. That is why drugs make us feel like “ourselves” again. They make up for the deficit.

The choice of drug may be any number of things; food for Jewish families who put such importance on it. Wine for the French; you get the idea. But the force and strength of the addiction is not cultural. It is biologic, much the same the world over. If we just think, the need for (drugs, food alcohol) is first of all and most importantly, the need”. Period. If we make the mistake of treating the “need for” as the problem instead of the need itself we will never cure anyone of anything. That is, if we neglect history and address only the apparent problems we are bound to fail. Those few words, “Need for,” and “need,” must be clearly differentiated. One is the need direct; (pain/history/primal therapy) the other is “need for” (calming agent/kill pain/cognitive therapy).

The latter is what the cerebral therapies address, believing that is the problem. No. the problem is real need which drives the “need for” How deprived the real need is how overpowering the addiction. So many parents wonder what they did wrong because their child was and is addicted. Maybe they did nothing wrong because the root of heavy addiction goes back to long before they had a chance to mistreat the child. Never forget life in the womb. My book on this will be out in five months.

The reason that both addiction and psychosis have been so hard to treat in conventional therapy is that the origins lay back before we set foot on earth. Damage during this period is most often the origin of later addiction/psychosis; but there is no therapy extant, other than primal that can go so deep.


  1. Art,there is a difference between a person who contibutes a thought and a person who believes he can refine Primal Therapy.

    House, the TV show, depicts students throwing wild, random ideas to House, and he is quick to fire those who are too boring...but he writes the interesting ideas on a board.
    I am mildly interested in psychopaths (the people who ruin the world and prevent the spread of Primal Therapy). You say they cannot be reached. That's interesting.
    Am I trying to be better than you? Am I trying to invent a therapy that goes further than yours? nope. Just curious

    Nuerotic intellects are sometimes good, sometimes confused, and sometimes merely uneducated. I wouldn't say horrible.

    I am finally reading Primal Healing....should have done that long ago

  2. Dear Art ,why is it that I am (was..hopefuly..) so addicted to sugar containing foods-if it was only the s u g a r it would have been by far cheaper to ingest a little and all would be well!!!-My earliest memories are foods presented by my father -bread with sugar on it -and often my depressed mother gave us money to buy sweets instead of wholesome lunch... how i s a n e that was .My point is :did I really c h o o s e my "pain soother" or was it because those irrational behaviour of my parents.
    I was n e v e r in danger to drink alcohol or smoke or the "hard drugs" or prescrition drugs I got -b e c a u s e I felt immediately the sideeffects!
    My friend who was born half-dead always smoked beside his ton of anti psychotic drugs .. Yours emanuel
    P.S. when i read the refinement remarks ... of the P.T. I get sometimes a g r e a t longing to come and get rid of all the mental debris me

  3. We use the board a lot. France, my wife, is an artist and so uses visual aids all of the time in training. I want people to contribute but since I have spend years preparing books to help others understand, it would be nice if readers availed themselves of the information. It will be too late to sign up for training in another 2 weeks! art janov

  4. Emmanuel: Listen in Jewish life, fat means healthy so mothers plied kids with all kinds of crap, and then they get addicted to food. No surprise. AJ

  5. Art
    We have applied for Isabella… Aidas daughter at the Institute but received no answer yet? I am convinced that she will do well in primaltherapy. She will sign upp for training if possible?

  6. Art: Great article! I'm looking forward to your latest book. I also need to read your last two, so I can catch up and understand where Primal Therapy is today (I haven't read them all however. I've read 3 others. Your first, ... 20 years later, and The Biology of Love).

    I have a question or two and some thoughts on this statement (from the article above):

    "So many parents wonder what they did wrong because their child was and is addicted. Maybe they did nothing wrong because the root of heavy addiction goes back to long before they had a chance to mistreat the child."

    How is it possible that parents didn't aid in their addicted child's addiction, after birth? I'm sure there's a small percentage of parents who didn't make things worse (I'm guessing less than 10%) and if the majority of parents are making things worse for their children, than why mention the minority (it seems you're offering these parents a safety net... your kids are messed up, but you might not have been apart of their problems)?

    I (really do) assume I'm missing something here, and I would love for you to clarify this for me (or to show me where I can find the info).

    (If you have the time, please read my whole comment, just so you realize I'm not someone threatened by your research and therapy. I truly love what you're doing!)... (but I do get carried away sometimes...)

    Also, I believe if parents abuse their children after birth, they were defiantly abusing them while they were in the womb, e.g., with drugs/alcohol, husband beating the wife (or vise-versa), yelling/belittling the wife/husband, how the mother deals with her pains/fears/anxiety, dreams/nightmares/night terrors, other people, and anything else that makes the mother anxious, unstable, and/or scared... Not all mothers deal with all of these things, but most deal with some of these things.

    My thought on the profound life in the womb. I believe that because there are situations where the new born/infant/toddler sometimes fights for it's physical life and mental health/life, these traumatic situations are just as critical as the life in the womb.

    I know I stepped outside my bounds here. I did it because, I would love to learn why there seems to be this profound distinction between the life in the womb, and after birth. Is it because so many so called professionals still invalidate (or completely ignore) the importance of life before birth? If so, than I believe I understand you stating the extreme importance of life in the womb. But that being said, as someone who hasn't been fortunate enough to go back that far (and someday it would be great to do just that), I feel the need to validate that time of my life (because that's all I know right now), where I was "knowingly" hurt the most (after my birth). I can only imagine the horror of my mother's pregnancy, and the horrible effects it had on me, and still does.

    I might have written myself into a corner, or around in a big circle. I don't think I quite did that? (15 more minutes at the keyboard, and I would have... I would probably need 30 more minutes, because I write so slow).

    To tie all this babble together, I stumbled onto your website last night, and I'm excited to have access to it. And because of my excitement, I believe my comment was way too long. I'll be brief (I hope) in upcoming comments.

    Anyway... I'm extremely happy that you continue to improve the therapy, and that you continue to prove, what you knew existed, before you had the means to prove it (and with all the new stuff that comes with those findings).

    And lastly (Finally!) I did PT late in 2001 (for a full month). It was a wonderful big splash into my past (if I write about it now, then everyone will surely hate the new guy... so I won't).

    I'm still working on my stuff, blah, blah, blah, and I look forward to upcoming articles (and reading as many as I can from the past).



  7. Frank: Not the institute. It is the CENTER. SANTA MONICA, CALIF. 209 ASHLAND AVE SANTA MONICA CAL. 90405

  8. Art

    Sorry I was at the institute at Almont’s drive in 1977- 78… that is stocked in my head sorry Art. We applied at your center for Isabella and got an answer which we had to complete… which we have done and got no answer. Sorry Art!

    Yours Frank

  9. With respect to Dr Janov's comments on Hollywood, I just happenned to recently come across these sane and interesting comments on the same subjest by John Patrick Shanley, who wrote a Pulitzer prize winning play called "Doubt", subsequently made into a fine very moving and intelligent movie of the same name, starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep:

    ''When I was in Los Angeles, I was in the above-the-line community pretty much all the time,'' he said. ''And it's a very small group of people who basically reassure each other that they must be doing O.K. because they're in the room with these other famous rich people. I found it, after a while, just antithetical to my nature. I like to make a good living, but there are limits to how much cash is good for a person to have coming over the transom every day. It's also addictive. Money is like heroin, and I grew up in a neighborhood that was destroyed by heroin. I've watched addiction all my life. Celebrity is like heroin. And constant praise is like heroin. And, you know, no one can resist constant praise. I had to get out.''

    And here are some details of his tough upbringing:

    Shanley's mother died in 2002. So what was the problem, exactly?

    ''She was a pill,'' he said. ''It took me many years of thinking, reading psychological tomes of various kinds, talking endlessly, writing plays, to finally say: 'You know, she was a pill. That was the problem.' And in my climactic interchange with my mother, she called me up and said: 'What was it? What was so terrible?' And I said very easily, very kindly really, 'Well, you just weren't very affectionate.' And she said, 'No, that's not how I am.' And that was the conversation. To get to that was a byzantine, tortuous road. But that was the crux of it. These things always end up being pretty simple.''

    Not really. In Shanley's ''Beggars in the House of Plenty'' (1991), Pop, a butcher, terrorizes his eldest son with a cleaver and says: ''You'll look for love to stop the starving thing in you that I put there, but nothing will stop the starving thing. I'll never approve of you.'' In the same play, Ma bemoans her recurrent headaches.

    ''My mother wasn't comfortable with me no matter what I did,'' Shanley said. ''When I was a kid, she had these terrible headaches, and was always screaming, 'Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I've got a splitting headache!' And many years later I said, 'Do you still get headaches?' And she said: 'What are you talking about? I don't get headaches.' I said, 'Wait a minute, when I was growing up you had headaches all the time.' And she thought about it and went: 'Oh, yeah. That's true.' I said, 'When did they stop?' She said, 'When you left.'''

    He went on: ''I remember I'd asked if she had seen 'Five Corners,' my first movie. And she said: 'No, I haven't. I understand the mother is thrown out the window in that movie.' And I said, 'Yeah.' That was the end of that subject.

    (excerpts from the article "The Confessions of John Patrick Shanley" by Alex Witchel. New York Times Nov 7, 2004 )


  10. Frank. I am amazed. Please t ry now. We have new people running the office. art janov


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.