Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To Continue on ADD but on Addiction

to my readers: Before reading this piece please refer back to my recent article on ADD.

We understand how very early experiences even in the womb leave a trace, something engraved in the entire neurophysiologic system—an imprint. The imprints send information to higher levels of the brain as it evolves. The information that sends is loaded with a force, an energy or valence. The earlier the imprint the more loaded the information because it is usually a matter of life and death—not enough oxygen, for example. Or a mother taking drugs or drinking alcohol, or just being totally depressed.

The severity of the experience taxes the strength of the gates. That is, in order to relay information (often via the thalamus)to higher levels there needs to be a smooth flow of information; what helps keeps it flowing and not overloading higher levels is a system of gates. Thus, we produce chemicals such as serotonin and others that impede the flow of information when it is too much. Early trauma can overtax the gating system producing either faulty gates or what I call “leaky gates.” Thereafter those feelings and sensations intrude into our mental apparatus, and cause us to feel miserable or unable to concentrate. As lack of love, neglect and abandonment continue it weakens the gates so that we are chronically anxious or upset. We no longer produce the chemicals we need to hold back pain and keep the gates functioning properly. All this I have made clear.

What that intrusion also does is make us seek out those chemicals that were weakened or depleted in the service of repression early on. We are looking to be and feel normal. So we thrive on pills that enhance serotonin (prozac, Zoloft, etc.)or other drugs affected early on. So of course someone with a parasympathetic imprint takes cocaine or even coca cola and suddenly feels better and energetic. The ADDer often needs a boost for the prefrontal cortex, and so they are prescribed Adderral or Ritalin which is an upper that makes those neural cells more efficient. Or when there are leaky gates there is trouble sleeping as the deep imprints surge upward and force the prefrontal area to churn and ruminate. And there are many of these non-sleepers. But if the pain is great but the defenses hold and the gates are not leaky then we can look forward to cancer, or at least a shorter life. This is only an assumption but based on decades of clinical work. It is when repression is most massive and blankets feelings that our lives become shorter. If one can see the pressure in a Primal one would know immediately what happens to the cells from early pain. It is not simply a theory; it is observable every day in our clinic.

So once we know what happened in our womblife; was the mother a smoker, a pill-popper or drinker we have a good idea why we need the drugs we do. Or to put it differently, once we know what we get hooked on we can estimate what happened to us during womb-life and at birth. It is all no longer a mystery. So if you drink coca colas four times a day it may well be because you mother was depressed and down. She also depressed you. Contrarily, if you need to slow down with tranquilizers it may be because your mother was speedy and anxious while carrying. We are always looking for the other half of our nervous system.

Gates are good because they keep us sane and functioning, but they are not great when we lose access to ourselves and our feelings. They those gates are dangerous. It is usually a matter of too tight gates or leaky gates, and we can make our diagnosis and prognosis for therapy from there. Leaky gates puts us over the primal/feeling zone, while dense gates often place us under the feeling zone. A truly loved child lives in the primal zone all of the time.


  1. I'm in a bad emotional time, maybe the full moon. The point is that when I look at my life, I realize the great failure has been practically in every area.The misfortunes which have been in my family makes it hard about continuing to live .Not even primal therapy can take away this emptines. But has no been for primal therapy i should gone mad. I live in Spain, Barcelona, and there is no primal therapy center, to share my pain with someone. It's hard after being in Los Angeles doing the therapy can not talk to anyone once you're back to your home.Is like having a secret within you that you can not reveal because others are not prepared. This is one reason why this blog is good, it able you to share your concerns with people who understand what you mean.
    and now a mix of observations.
    - For me the big change I have doing more or less primal therapy, is my relationship with the children. Before i was cold and insecure with them giving me shame even catch them. Now the opposite is true, I love playing with them, listen and care.
    - About publicize the primal center, I think the problem is that threre are few therapists. So to create a demand for something that can´t be offered is not the best idea. Besides I get the feeling, from interviews I've read, is that Arthur Janov does not like giving too much publicity. For example, I read in an interview that when John Lennon said he wanted to announce that he has been saved by primal therapy, Janov said he was not interested in that kind of publicity.And writers such as Michel Odent who even prefaced a book of Janov, I have never read any reference in his books about Janov. Well it's a perception.
    By the way Merry Christmas to all

  2. Dear Art ,I tried several times to send the other poems by Ellen to Your email adress ..."mail unddelivered because of account overquota" was the reply..! Shall I try again or can You clear your email account abit or is it possible to send it to the blog...? Yours emanuel

  3. Chyron: What I told John was that our therapy was important and should not hang on the words of a rock star. That I wanted the therapy to be accept ed for its ideas and philosophy, not commericials. art janov
    I am for publicity but the right kind. There are few therapists but I and France train all of the time.

  4. Emanuel: can you send it to the blog? I don't know what overquota means. Art Janov

  5. Dear Chyron: I was really touched by your story, and can relate to much of what you wrote (except about having done Primal, which I have not).


  6. Art, what things have you learnt from other therapies or therapists. For example, it is said that another therapist introduced the term “imprints” before you took it up; and that Helen Roth first discovered birth primals. What other therapies do you look out for for new developments? Afterall, people learn from each other and nobody works in a vacuum.


  7. Dear Art overquota means that Your e-mail account is "full2 ,replete...with lenghty mails.. so that
    n o new emails get through -I tried a " simple2 one without attachment. it did got through .Perhaps You ask Your secretary... Yours emanuel
    P.S.Otherwise I´ll send it via mail
    like in the good? old days!

  8. Hi,
    From the previous entry. . .
    Though I don't like to hear it, I'm glad to be put straight on the insignificance of meditation!

    It's interesting though painful watching my own belief system crumble in the face of this ongoing discussion. Chucking out old clothes, don't fit any more, seems now that they never did. . .

    My life has been falling apart in cycles since I was 15. For all of us at some stage of retrieving lost feelings I too can confirm better relations with my children and also more courage to challenge the falsities in others.

    Last night I held my 6 month old grandson flat in my hands whilst he writhed like a snake, quietly, grunting and sort of struggling for breath, looking up at the light in the living room. It gradually dawned on me that he is re-living his birth, writhing like a fish or snake looking at light at the end of the birth canal. I'm talking to my 19yr old son (the babys' Dad) and and he's telling me this has been happening regularly since birth and that he also holds him and looks into his eyes whilst he is doing this.

    Is my Grandson spontaneously Primalling? I am so close to my feelings most of the time now I seem to be resonating with people in a way that is both heartening or frightening as some (who are obviously v frightened) rebel and reject me. . . (often with the look of a very scared lizard in their eyes).

    We gotta have some defences and the hazard to all of us of loosening defences and retrieving feelings is the confusion and dissorientation that comes naturally with such change. It's good to take a stand sometimes, in my opinion. That's what the toddler in us used to do to begin the process of individuation. . . NO! Don't be hurt by other people nor believe in their opinions, they may not understand their own feelings let alone yours.

    Good Luck and Best wishes to all for the new year to come.


  9. Gordon: ay ay ay You want me to list here what I have learned from other therapies?: Let's see I wrote a 600 page book on it which is on our website, Grand Delusion, and another 14 books. After you have read them write and ask me again. I have been using "Imprints for 43 y ears. And I guarantee that no other person discovered birth primals. There were many afterward who made a religion out of it but it is today a quite precise scientific undertaking. And has nothing to do with rebirthing. art janov

  10. Emanuel: I emptied a lot so it should work now. Let me know. Art

  11. An email comment:
    "Dear Dr. Arthur Janov!

    Since many years ago I`ve read all of your books in german. I`m a guitar teacher and studying Psychologie. As the leader of a austrian Health organisation
    in respect of vitamins, minerals and aminoacids, I`m sure, that there is a connection between enviromenttoxins and behavior. On the other hand there
    is primal pain, which causes a lot of deseases.

    Now my question: Is there a connection between ADHS (Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder) and birth-trauma? A lot of parents of children with
    symptoms of ADHS in Austria told us, that their child have had a birthtrauma. All symptoms exist from the very beginning. In general the doctors here give the children medikaments like:"Ritalin"-has a lot of sideeffects like those of Morbus Parkinson..a symptomtreatment..

    An Austrian film-organisation: Schrittwieser-Film"Spielball Mensch" (translated: Playball Human being) asked me about your Therapie in this connection.
    I`m very interested, because I`m sure, that the Primal Treatment is the best way to go straight to the main point of pain and in the end to the feeling.

    I have had a wonderful birth myself: In just 5 hours I was born and I smiled afterwards. My mother also told me, that she did not have so much pain
    although she did not get any painkiller.
    I´m very glad that you found that way, to help so many people to find out of their pain.
    Kind regards, Eva Schumacher"

  12. And my answer: YES, There is a connection between birth trauma and ADD. It is all discussed in Life Before Birth AJ


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.