Monday, August 9, 2010

On Pain Killers

Some time ago I had back surgery. I wanted pain killers afterward for a lot of pain. Sorry, they said, the medical committee had come in and shut down heavy pain killers because of the possibility of abuse. So we all suffered. We suffered because men from the state capitol, who obviously managed to cover their pain, decided we didn’t need it. Today in the N.Y. Times is a story about the same thing. Washington State has pretty much decided the same thing. The abuse they say is too widespread, and it may be, but what about those who need it and are not abusing it? How can they tell the difference? Did they know how much pain killers I need? No they don’t. Only I do and I do. They doctor from that state who shall remain nameless, decided that we have to cut down on drugs. There is a picture of him in the paper; he is very very fat. So he manages to cut down on pain by stuffing his face with food, while he doesn’t like us to take pills to do the same thing. Shame.

Is it possible that more and more of us are in pain? Is it possible we need it? Do people who are not in pain compulsively take pain killers? I doubt it. Why on earth would they? Why do people stuff food down? Do they need it? They seem to. If we stopped them they would be in plenty of pain; then they would need pills; then they would know what pain was about. Alas, they can eat and never find out.


  1. Art, you could sue the hospital for failing to warn you of the unavailable pain killers and the unexpected pain you experienced.

  2. With regards to Pain Killers:
    There are a certain type of pain killers that I was given after a Hernia operation. It had an Opiate base to it and it really weirded me scared me as to how I felt on it. I quit taking it after only a couple of pills. All Dr. prescribed...but I noticed that regular Tylenol caplets did a good job of easing "after surgery pains" I was able to "Feel" alot of the pain later on and got clear of the discomfort in doing so. ( I'm a former Primal Therapy Patient )
    In my view, for a Dr. to issue a certain type of a pain killer in these circumstances is being Humane, on his or hers part...Ok?
    The incident of addiction to many of today's painkillers can really be scary....but only a few pills says "I'm still human".... in these types of situations.....then stop taking them when no longer needed.
    I think it was Dr. Janov who many years ago pointed out how The United States' population is one very heavily drug dependant people.... in a publication he had written.

  3. Art, I'm sorry to know your back has pain. As you are probably aware mine has been out of wack for four years now and were it not for pain medication I shutter to think of the alternitives. Question: If that you have personal experience with the back pain deliema...what are your thoughts on ones ability to Primal or do Primal Therapy with various pain medications flowing through ones blood=stream and there effect on the CNS and ones ability to experience historical pain? Devoted to the End, Barry.

  4. Yesterday I was seing a tv debate in the french channel TV5 about a book written by a Philosopher
    who criticise freud and the psycological science in general. The philosopher was very smart and his reasoning debastating and similar to Arthur Janov formulation.In the end everybody agree with the philosopher. Then the tv presenter ask the philosopher what is the alternative to psycological therapy and he could no find any sound answer.So it seems to me that society is realising that today psycology science is not working. Only needs to go a bit far to find the primal therapy.

  5. Barry: unless it is very debilitating our therapy can be done, but carefully. art janov

  6. Arthur, you are wrong. Hospitals restrict the use of heavy painkillers not because of the "possibility of abuse", although it is a factor, but mainly because they are dangerous in any dose. Read the literature. They are not safe drugs, simple as that. The advice to "sue the hospital" is plainly ridiculous, like so much of the comment on this blog. Your followers do not seem to able to spell, construct sentences properly, or argue rationally. What this says about your therapy I leave for others to judge.

  7. Hi Dr Janov, Great post. The world is not ready to deal with the reality of your work. What a tragedy. You like other great innovators throughout history, have felt the pain of being ignored, when bringing a message which people do not want to hear. However, your work has not been in vain. The tens of thousands of us whose lives are now tolerable are eternally grateful. Most warmly, Trish Hodges Australia

  8. Duncan They are not illiterate. they are from many countries of the world. It is amazing how many try to speak and write English. More power to them. There are safe drugs. I took them for my pain with no bad secondary effects. People need to kill pain to go on. Where is your mercy? art janov

  9. Hi Trish. Life Before Birth comes out Feb 1. art janov.

  10. Hi Duncan. If you want high quality comments I suggest you read the patients' stories published at
    Those people know what they are talking about.
    I've also read other happy stories scattered about on the net. Not too hard to find if you search for a while. Most of the patient-written stories I have read were about the so-called Primal Therapy in Australia, and most of those stories were warning people to avoid it. The Australian patients often assume that Janov's Primal Therapy is the same thing. An understandable mistake.

    As for objective arguments, I've yet to read a single argument against real Primal Therapy which does not rely on conjecture as the basis of the argument. Believe me, I've read a lot of arguments against Primal Therapy.

    The best I've read is the argument that primal therapy provides no scientific evidence. I have never read anything in those arguments about the case of two double-blind studies going unpublished without explanation. Nor have I read about the reasons why the primal center does not do any more of these incredibly expensive studies.
    The arguments against primal therapy are far more numerous than the counter-arguments. This means nothing. Objectivity means everything.

    It is quite possible that Arthur Janov is one of the biggest con artists in history. His bold claims, such as, permanent changes in vital signs after one year of therapy, could be totally fabricated, or those claims could be the result of improper science. It is possible....but we need to be objective.

    The Primal Center needs more money. It's case studies have NOT been disproved.

  11. Doctor Janov,

    the same people who restrict painkiller use for suffering patients don't really mind about legal painkillers (tobacco, alcohol...) even if they are not safe drugs (lungs, liver cancer...).
    Some people should learn the difference between "I don't agree with you/I don't share your point of view" and "you are wrong"...well thanks Doctor Janov to put up with all of our ludicrous comments... :-)

    Faithfully yours.

  12. I would like to add that it says a lot about what kind of Human being you are.

  13. Hi Art,
    thought you might be interested in this:
    James A.K. Erskine, et al. I Suppress, Therefore I Smoke Effects of Thought Suppression on Smoking Behavior. Psychological Science July 26, 2010, DOI: 10.1177/0956797610378687
    reviewed here: and elsewhere.
    This looks like, potentially, the beginning of a general experimental support for your critique of cognitive therapy.

    I'm retired in Sydney. Down Under but not out.

  14. The ignorant critique by Duncanhackett of Art Janov's so called followers really upset me.Most people here write well, and even if they did not, so what? I'd rather talk with an illiterate who would share his or her feelings with me, than some professor or professionnal who would mask their emotions under a mountain of philosophical or technical jargon, that's for sure!

    And Art Janov's responsible and convincing take on drugs makes total sense to me, as everything else he writes. After over 35 years of looking into these questions, no one comes close to Janov, Reich, and Lowen, in my opinion.


  15. So Arthur Janov is either the biggest con artist in history, or he is the great unsung hero of mankind. Take your pick, which will it be?

    Wait a minute, real life isn't made up of extreme polar dilemmas like that. It's made up of lots of constellations of possibilities that include the elements mentioned above as well as countless others not mentioned, all mixed in an unquantifiable way.

    But for some reason, this is not the forum to shed light on that particular aspect of existence. Here we have no intricacy, no subtlety, no movement or unfolding into new possibilities. Just stark right and wrong. Bold, insolent genius versus massive and hopeless injustice and ignorance. How so, people?


  16. A few years ago, I finally let all bloody hell break loose and screamed and cried, and beat the bed, etc...from all my repressed pain surfacing, and a funny thing happened. My life long chronic debilitating depression went away for the first time in my life. This is proof to me that Primal Therapy works. You cannot talk or read your way out of what you felt your way into!


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.