Friday, January 14, 2011

More on Mass Murder

Below is quote from a well known neuropsychiatrist on the Giffords shooting.
It is in Scientific American, Jan 12, 2011. (

"What has neuroscience uncovered about the capacity of the person who shot Giffords, the person responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and many others (yet still a small percentage of people) to behave so violently?"

(Dr. Iacoboni:)

"What happens in these individuals is that their cognitive control mechanisms are deranged. Mind you, these individuals are not out-of-control, enraged people. They just use their cognitive control mechanisms in the service of a disturbed goal. There are probably a multitude of factors at play here. The subject is exposed to influences that lead him or her to violent acts—including, unfortunately, not only the violent political rhetoric but also the media coverage of similar acts, as we are doing here. A variety of issues, especially mental health problems that lead to social isolation, lead the subject to a mental state that alters his or her ability to exercise cognitive control in a healthy manner. The cognitive control capacities of the subject get somewhat redirected—we don't quite understand how—toward goals and activities that are violent in a very specific way. Not the violent outburst of somebody who has "lost it" in a bar, punching people right and left. The violence is channeled in a very specific plan, with a very specific target—generally fed by the media through some sort of rhetoric, political or otherwise—with very specific tools, in the Giffords case, a 9-millimeter Glock."

Let me get this straight. His “cognitive control apparatus was deranged?” You know when shrinks put your everyday language into psychologese and call it science, beware. What does that mean? “He is not out of control. He just has a warped goal? And that goal is?

He has no goals; he is awash in his past and it occupies all of his cognitive apparatus. And he is not out of control? I would like to know what is. The teaching and learning in psychiatry and psychology is faulty, to say the least. This is a man who has lost all control. And I might add to what I have already written that the prefrontal developing cortex can be seriously impaired during womb-life when oxygen levels are seriously depleted, or at birth when massive anesthesia to the mother shuts down so much of the baby and damages his frontal cortical area so that control is already weakened at birth. The child then has to be watched all of the time or he hits and hurts others or gets into constant trouble. Then the person gets older and takes drugs such as hash, pot and LSD and further damages the cortical control areas. Don’t minimize the role of pot in all this. Years of using it can lead to paranoid psychosis. It is not a matter that the shooter can not use cortical control. He has no choice because at long last there isn’t any.

"What are the signs that a person is disturbed enough to take action?"

(Dr. Iacoboni)

"The signs are quite visible, although difficult to interpret without a context—and unfortunately they unfold very quickly, and people can rarely witness them before the action is taken. The action itself is a sign, a desperate form of communication from a disturbed individual. Unfortunately, nobody was chatting with the guy when he left his final messages on Internet before getting into action. But I bet that if somebody was communicating with him before the act and saw those signs and read those messages on MySpace or whichever social network he was using, that person could have done something, could have engaged him in a sort of conversation that might have redirected his deranged plans. Indeed, by connecting with the subject, that person might have redirected some of the activity of mirror neurons toward a truly empathic behavior, rather than in the service of the deranged imitative violence leading to action."

You know that to think a good conversation can change a madman is ridiculous. I treated psychotics with the Veteran’s Administration and at the Brentwood mental hospital and in my own practice. We can see it developing and can pretty well predict what will happen. The problem is that here many people saw it coming, but the laws stop us from doing anything. You cannot jail someone on “maybe he will act out in the future.” I have been told many times, “Wait until he acts and then we will move in.” I don’t know the way out of this dilemma. I would like to hear from others. I do know that what happens early on is that trauma during womblife has a devastating impact that damages the gating system and depletes the important inhibitory hormones and neurotransmitters. The person no longer has all the marbles he needs to function. Because he is ill, he is more and more isolated and more in pain with no outlets and no one to talk to. Oh yes, they say, “he was always quiet and stayed to himself.” But, they add, he was always sweet. Sweet until the early rage breaks through.
And it breaks through because he was so sweet for so long; could not let out even a bit here and there. It stacked up and exploded. He needs all the chemicals that he should manufacture but no longer can; those medications that the brain produces but stopped when its inner pharmacy was damaged so very early on.

I think that schools can help. When they see signs of out of control behavior in children bring it out to the authorities. And use feelings for discussion and for talking about out-of-control and what it means inside to all of us. Children will get it. We should not just punish kids but use the lessons of out of control feelings to really educate. So that kids can get a handle on themselves.
We cannot rely on parents for this because too often they are responsible for the problem; the punishment, indifference, lack of love, etc. They do not see and cannot afford to see.
Teachers and other students can. And we need to train psychologists and specialists in the primal orientation so that kids learn about themselves; that is the most important lesson anyone can get out of school. A good handle of ourselves. We need to learn about the inner world, not just the geography of the outer one.


  1. Dear Art ,I hopefully understand Your descrption of the"madmen(and women...)but what is it that drives that institutionalized criminals!!! all over the world-whether in China (they kill for 65(!)"crimes" l e g a l l y,or in yes in God`s blessed country- or some years ago "they" cut the hand and foot of a criminal who had stolen a handkerchief in Somalia (the "world press" representatives looked and took their photos...etcpp a d i n f i n i t u m ! Who are the r e a l madmen the "physician ,the onlookers the 19 year old boy /the victim) .?The real danger are the "normal" criminals!! Yours emanuel
    P.S. Did my letter with Ellen`s poems arrive?

  2. Comments to More on Mass Murder

    To read Dr Iacoboni's article is like watching somebody who is up against the ropes, defenseless, when his cognitive repression techniques no longer can defend him. The cognitive “star” therapists / analysts are in a way equally dangerous as the Giffords, only they shoot with stenosed sophisticated words in stead of 9-millimeters Glocks when a complex world with it’s massacres are overwhelming us.

    I agree with you, Art, when you say that the hope for the future is to teach the young about the inner world, not just the geography of the outer world. That way the future need no deranged science by Iacobinis. They are as difficult to make change their opinion as it is to change a madman. You don’t need to be a psychotic at Veterans Administration to fit into that picture. I have seen for myself. However, fortunately Primal Therapy gave me what cognitive repressive therapy was unable to give and helped me out of my dilemma.

    Let education of young people be part of the future strategy of Primal Therapy. As you say using feelings, for discussions about what it means inside to all of us, is something children will understand. I have made humble attempts, and the results encouraged me to continue!

    Jan Johnsson

  3. With respect, from my perspective working as a contractor in DC, it's hard to see how government should try to fix any of the problems you mention.
    1. Government isn't a source of wealth, and doesn't actually have money to be philanthropic. Everything they have is taken by force from needy people, drained away from people involved in good causes by dozens of taxes and fees. They are taking money away from struggling single mothers and giving it to farmers. They are taking money away from education and giving it to green energy. It's not even redistribution, cycling money around. It is actively destructive to everyone involved. Everyone is worse off as a result.
    2. When government's taxes and fees don't give them what they want, the government counterfeits additional money. Where we are today is if they had taken 100% of what people and companies made in 2010, it still wouldn't have been enough to fund government's 2010 activities. That's why everything we buy on a weekly basis costs more in 2011. We get more desperate single mothers, less productive farmers, less quality education, less green energy. Everyone is worse off as a result.
    3. There is a tremendous waste in government's transfer activities. First is the tremendous overhead of activities associated with taking money away from people. Second is the waste and overconsumption involved in the disbursement of the taken money. The underlying problems is that there is no market where people can withdraw and say they don't want the government product or service. There is no market where people can say that they don't want the government product or service at the price that is being demanded. Every product and service I see around me costs at least twice as much to deliver when government is involved, as compared to companies that are concerned with delivering what their customers actually want at a price their customers are willing to pay. Everyone is worse off as a result.

  4. Dr Janov,

    I've been taking care of children (babies about 6 months to 3 years old) in a kindergarten for 2 years during my civil service. I remenber one of them especialy:he was about 2 years and a few months old. He was pretending to cuddle babies in their park and then when no one was watching, he bitted them on the cheeks. The explanation from the pedo psychiatrist was that, his mother was pregnant, so he was jealous of all the babies...
    I talked to him to know why he was doing that. He was angry about that. His father gave him a slap on the cheeks ruining what I've tried to do. And he got another one for running to me after being slapped by his father. I think it's the day I realised you can't keep on working in those places if you really love children...

  5. What is taking place in the deranged mind? Unless and until we can fully define the "deranged" mind or, any mind for that matter we will never solve this problem. My immediate response is to suggest that talking about the 'deranged ' mind is an excuse to classify it as something beyond our understanding. The derangement is so simple and was so adequately outlined in the Primal Scream by formulating Primal Theory. If you have to refer to someone as having a 'deranged' mind you are actually saying you don't have a clue what is taking place in the mind of the person you are talking about.

    Primal Theory so elegantly and so simply stated what the derangement was. Art has spent the last 40 years in all his successive books taking about that very condition and as I see it, intimating that all of us to a greater or lesser degree got out minds 'deranged'. Simply put:- to be allowed to have our feelings and express them freely and uninhibitedly is all that is required, from conception onwards. Just because someone behaves in a manner that the rest of us consider anti-social is not a pre-requisite to suggest they are deranged, only; that their behavior is unfamiliar to the rest of us.

    Repress the feelings and the expression of an infant or young child is royal path to a life of derangement. The more repressed the more bizarre the need to attempt to get something out of life. One cannot educate anyone to stop being bizarre or non-understandable. This is the misconception where most of all this stuff goes awry and creates, wars, criminality, religion, politics all the way down to bar brawls and relationship problems. It's all one and the same process--to greater or lesser degrees. Jack

  6. Like too many people in the Psychology field, Dr. Iacoboni went into the field so he can avoid his painful childhood. Of course he has no idea why this guy did this, because he has no idea why he's doing what he's doing. He's a mystery to himself and therefore he's a mystery to everyone like himself who was beaten and humiliated. He hides behind his education, his title, and his white robe.

    The killer was so far gone because of all the trauma he experienced from his pre birth/birth, and after birth/childhood. His parents created him, abused him, then set him out in the world. He had no choice but to be this way.

    As confusing as his words were to most people, most people's words were exactly as confusing to him. He repeated himself over and over because he had to. When a person has something important to say, and people don't understand them, they repeat themselves in the hope that they will be understood --- it's a sign of desperation.

    He was obviously ignored growing up. He got the word and grammar part correct, but unfortunately for him, his use of words and grammar were grammatically wrong and very confusing to most people. His parents must have beaten the sense out of him.

    Words are too often used to invalidate feelings and it seems to have bothered him that the politicians/law makers, a.k.a. his parents, had the masses fooled with words. He could see through what most people couldn't see through --- the words that kept his parents from recognizing his pain.

    Why was grammar so important to him? Probably because his parents invalidated what he was trying to say by criticizing how he was using his words to express himself. On a horrible technicality, he would never be understood --- and always frustrated... Then he couldn't take it any longer.

    What all murderers have in common is that they were humiliated to the breaking point in their childhoods, then they take their rage out on scapegoats in a similar way that their parents took their rage out on them. This guy shut up his victims as his parents shut him up. When his parents were done with him, no one could understand him.

    His violent act was like his confusing notes he left behind. That was his way of describing the hell that his childhood was. He couldn't kill his parents so he killed the people who represented them.

    Everyone is fine until they feel humiliated. Then, when they snap, we get a glimpse of their childhoods and their pain.

    Unfortunately most people will be too afraid to look at the roll the parents played in creating this murder, because no one wants no remember when the slaps against them turned into beatings. So they must protect the parents of Hitler, Bundy, and Dahmer so that they can protect themselves from the pain of their own childhoods.

    Hitler's father was a monster. Bundy's grandfather (another monster) violently raped and beat up his grandson (when they all lived together). He was also Ted Bundy's father, which means his grandfather raped his own daughter (Ted's mother). And what Ted did to women has a lot to say about how he felt about his mother. Dahmer's father on the other hand fantasized about doing the things his son went to prison for (Hmmm, what was it that was done to his father, that his father did to his son?).

    In a magical world, all murderers had the best of parents --- so, no need to look there for clues. Bull shit! That's where the answers are.

    It's the family that produces murderers, enlightened witnesses, and everyone in between.

    There are too many people in the so called mental help field that had garbage for parents, and later, never had the courage to question them on how they were raised. These are the clueless Dr. Iacoboni's of the world.

    The question shouldn't be how could anyone do such a thing. It should be, "Where did this guy learn this --- and who is he really angry at."

    As long as we remain a mystery to ourselves, people will always be a mystery to us.

    Great stuff Art!! Thanks!

  7. Everybody seeks to identify him or herself with a political party, a nationality, a religious view a skin color, etc. Why is that? The fight of good against evil, what does it mean? This identification, brought to its extreme consequences seems to be the problem. Why does man have to be "something" and not just be? I think the suggestion that we need to learn about the inner world is a most valuable one. Gabrio (Munich, Germany - Teacher, Sculptor

  8. Surely we are in a desperate situation in our world today. Primal pain is one of those things that builds and accumulates, from one generation to the next. As each becomes more saturated with pain, they are able to give less and less to the next generation. So each generation becomes more disturbed than the next. We used to have a fairly nice world. It has gotten much more nasty in the last 20 years, for sure.

    How can we reverse the normal flow of the currents? I don’t see how. It seems like the river must one day finally empty the lake reservoir that feeds it. Beware when the lake is dry. Primal Pain just keeps getting worse. Few ever take the challenge of facing it dead on and attempting to heal. Its much easier to run and hide, more natural, instinctive. It is not instinctive to look deeper into the monstrous abyss inside us.

    I also ask, does our world really want to help and stop this insanity? It is my pessimistic opinion that it does not and may even find some great benefit in letting this run wild. What great excuse can a cult leader have for their draconian rules than to say its for our own protection. So then we accept the marital law of the cult leader. Let he who has ears listen ;-|

    So I guess I would ask in regards to the world, does it really and truly want to get better? PT patients and fans are a remarkable lot for they have chosen to stop running and face the monster chasing them inside. Look how few have done such a thing! Very few! A mere handful so to speak.

    What I say is, be on the look out for crazies, for I have seen many of them around me over the years. I try to stay far from them. They are more numerous than ever before as Primal Pain sucks more and more into its abyss. At least there are a few of us how so not want to get stuck in that whirlpool of oblivion of the mind. But unless there is some meaningful way to reach the reasoning of more, I can not see how this will not spell many more problems to come. PP does not lessen, it grows. It’s a mental emotional cancer of the mind.


    How the body can thwart weight-loss efforts

    Arthur, the Life Extension Foundation (LEF from here on in) makes this point in the article linked above. I thought it a worthy topic to address sometime. You can kill the link if you want. I put the quote here for consideration.

    >>It seems so simple: Too much food and too little activity make people fat.
    But the actual processes that create and perpetuate that imbalance are proving to be astoundingly complex.
    Biology, physiology, psychology, genetics and environment figure in the obesity equation to varying degrees. Scientists are trying to understand how, in recent decades, the population has bloated to a point that lean people are a minority.
    "There is no simple answer," said Bernard Fuemmeler, a Duke University researcher who is studying the mind-body link in obesity. "People tend to think that it may be willpower or just a lack of control. And these may be reasons, but not explanations for what is driving the epidemic." <<

    I have mentioned Primal Theory to them once or twice. Clearly, the epidemic they mention is real but the cause is left unanswered. We know PP is behind the ever growing psychosis developing among humans. So when people try to lose weight, they are battling, not the body as much as the pain deep within. I know I am preaching to the choir.

    On the practical side, if PT fans were to show people how they might find great practical use for PT, in solving the many day to day life struggles, maybe more might take it seriously. Then again, maybe there is an Easter bunny, too ;-)

    But most of life’s struggles we would like to be done with, require extraordinary measures. Nothing more extreme than PT or a good head cleaning, if that is even possible.

    LEF seeks to extend youthful health and longevity, both nice things to obtain, if within reach. I have been doing so since 1980. Yes, PT would make it easier but PT is not easily obtained, either. But LEF’s goals are an obvious situation where PT would be immensely helpful, if for no other reason than to reduce nutritional needs in a goal to reduce aging and degradation. I might also add that extending life in substantial ways is not out of the reach of science.

    PT would be a good avenue for them to consider but again, it is not easy to help people gain the appreciation of this.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Jan: Jan I don't think you mean Giffords, she is the victim. art

  12. Jan: I think if we could take one school and base it on feelings and discussion of act-outs in kids things would be very different. We would learn to understand others, not punish them. art janov

  13. Larry: Jesus. There are so many smart people out there. Sometimes I wonder why i am writing all that stuff. art janov

  14. Sometimes I wonder how the human race continues.

    Reading psychohistory, it seems most of mankind's childrearing practices have been far from kind. Who started the practice of abusing children in the first place....and why? Did circumstances warrant it? How can beaten kids NOT tend to beat their own when older?

    And what does "healthy" living look like today? Since most of us didn't get the love and care we needed, are we now imagining a state that doesn't exist? Do we make ourselves neurotic by imaging an "all natural" state, like children raised by wolves? Does the pain of not being loved "enough" make us imagine a pain-free, un-neurotic lifestyle that doesn't exist?

    Some believe "thinking" itself neurotic. But why are our brains capable of thought then? And would an unneurotic person sit smiling all day, never thinking about, say, building a shelter? A TV show once showed a brain-damaged man who lived "totally in the moment." It was horrible. He couldn't remember anything-- not even his daughter-- for more than a few minutes. Like computers, we seem to have long and short and "volatile" memory capabilities for a reason.

    While killers get coverage and discussions, what do healthy, ordinary folks look, sound, and act like? I ask because I didn't get much positive feedback growing up (bipolar mother, aloof father, older and younger siblings, but no relatives). I remember wondering if I was crazy or hyper or nuts...being surrounded by much that was crazy. I think being held and comforted and listened to would have helped me a lot. I coped by doubting myself and trying to make everyone else happy (after which, I suppose, I hoped they would help me).

    Nuns said the most perfect human soul would STILL not be good enough for Jesus. That he'd love us despite being sinful. That seemed more like pity than true compassion. It also sounded like something parents did, "putting up" with pooping urchins.

    Of course, if nuns had held us and rocked us (instead of hitting us) we'd not have cared about being "sinners." Their words didn't matter. Their acts did.

    When love is conditional, hell commences.

    So would grandma's hugs have cured neurosis ("good" hugs, of course, not incestuous ones). Is the attempt to be neurosis-free a Sisyphusian feat, doomed to failure because it seeks inhuman perfection? How much TLC would have stayed Giffords' shooter's hand?

    Everyone talks about being kind to others, yet look what happens if you feel sad? Folks suddenly badger you to "put on a happy face" and says "crying makes you lonely." We condition each other to bury things we're afraid of feeling. We don't want to see the clown's tears. But why not? Crying cures the blues. Makes us whole. Heals our souls.

    Meanwhile, guys who learn they have prostate cancer keep silent. The only time they express feelings is to cheer their favorite sports teams. No wonder men die sooner than women: They stuff the very feelings that would let them live longer and more fully.

  15. An email comment (Part 1):
    "> Jan 16, 2011 – 9:06 AM,

    Dear Dr. Janov,

    I have been receiving your posts by email on the 'Human Condition' for some time. I appreciate their value and your wisdom, and that you generously have chosen to share your accumulated awareness with the rest of us. THANK YOU!

    I read your recent impassioned comment on Mass Atrocities with great interest. Your articles have been most illuminating and enlightening.

    I am presently writing a book on our medically induced harm at birth....'DYSTOCIA BY DESIGN' and have been for some time been educating myself on the 'Human Birth Condition'.

    When I read Sarah Paulin's harangue as her defence against the vitriol attracted by her violent rhetoric, I could not sit on my thumbs when she said:

    "acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own and they cannot be attributed to a society at large."

    – Sarah Palin

  16. Part 2:

    "Acts of monstrous criminality"
    DO NOT
    "stand on their own"!

    They are intrinsically linked to society at large. A society culturally manipulated by massive misinformation, marketing and controlled by aggressive propaganda. A people steeped in media massaged reality and truth. And worse: a society that allows and encourages it.

    We have become no better than our ancestors who acquiesced to the same ‘blood libel’ untruth, contorting the perception of Jewish peoples in order to ameliorate our repugnance for their attempted extinction.

    Similar propaganda and promotion facilitates unquestioned adoption of unsound American policies and procedures at birth. Creating a nation of many who have been isolated and alienated from birth. Those who suffer from early unrequited love and lack the warm bond necessary for nurturing a loving relationship with our parents, family and society at large. 'Belonging' is not fostered as naturally intended but instead severed through unnecessary high level intervention at birth. Interventions which contrary to belief create fear, pain and suffering; culminating in ONE THIRD of all mothers in the USA having their babies excised like a malignancy from their womb. Women are eviscerated both literally and figuratively at their most vulnerable and vital time of life. A time nature provides for women to discover their innate power and miraculous ability to foster and fortifying life long health, peace and empowerment. Baby'a first experience of violence is a threatening scalpel. Baby's first glimpse of the world is confused and contorted through eyes obscured by mother's blood. Creating more toppling dominos of trauma that inconvertibly rewires the brain.

    Mother and baby's recuperative time in isolation results in alienation at the most auspicious time of life for both. Time lost in isolation eclipses nature's window of opportunity for bonding. A natural act necessary for attachment, nursing and a long, satisfying and loving relationship. All essential for healthy development of mind and body and a happy and harmonious life.

    Postpartum depression, colic, SIDS and myriad other complications and syndromes are western maladies manufactured by our obstetric practices.

    The result– noted in evidence based scientific studies,
    is anti-social behaviour, aggression and violence.
    The very seeds which increasingly germinate
    "acts of monstrous criminality".

  17. Another email comment:

    "I agree with you Art. Schools can be places where true education takes place- learning about who we are and that involves learning about our feelings and not just how to memorize facts and plan to act. Truly disturbed children do seem to fall through the cracks and then often wind up destroying their own lives and sometimes destroying others lives at the same time. The very fact that individuals can become dangerous adolescents and then adults attests to the general blindness of our society in my opinion. In a truly healthy society these acts of violence would be rare, seen and understood for what they were. But, we seem to rationalize these acts by incorporating violence as a part of our "nature" to be controlled at best.

    But the problem is that most of us are so cut off from our deeper feelings and needs that we don't even recognize them anymore and anyone trying to to awaken us to them is often seen as not being "realistic" which is just another cognitive ploy to shield us from ourselves- from the "knowledge" of these feelings and needs. It would mean recognizing and in many cases actually feeling the pain of unmet needs.

    We can't all go into therapy tomorrow nor would I reccommend that in the long run. Of course, some of us with the motivation and the means to do so, can and should. I think a good place to start for children and adults is simply to recognize and accept our natural need for safety and that means to help promote a society that is genuinely supportive in providing what we as human beings really need. We all don't have to be free from our past hurts and emotional/mental issues to see this and help whenever and wherever we can to make a difference in this direction. Of course, it is unrealistic, for me or anyone to ever expect consensus on this point of need and safety. But, human beings do seem to strive for it even if the means to acquire it is grotesquely counter-productive like a pre-emptive war( eg. the 2003 US invasion of Iraq) And this brings us full circle to the recent Arizona shootings: the use of violence can be seen as a very twisted means to defend against( to be "safe") the truth of our inner lives of pain and the reality of our unment needs."

  18. Another email comment:
    "I dont really know what you mean about letting our out of control feelings teach the lessons but it would be great if we could trust teachers to help our kids. When my kids were in school the teachers caused more problems than the kids did. My grandson is having a lot of problems and it is breaking my heart. He struggled for hours to get born and then finally they did a c section on my daughter-in-law and he was finally born. He is three now and is constantly hitting and getting in trouble. His mother tells everyone how horrible he is and everyone but me agrees with her and tells her she should hit him back. I do everything I can think of to help him. I have been primaling for years and it is helping me but I was so damaged that it is a very slow process. I strangled on the cord at birth and was later relentlessly mistreated. I have reached the point where I can see it is really noones fault. I dont blame or hate my daughter-in-law for the way she is treating my grandson but I know she and my son are hurting him a great deal. When he gets so angry I fear he will do something terrible when he gets older. I dont know what to do really but I think I am more real than anyone else in the family and I am just hoping with all my heart it will be enough to save him."

  19. My response to it:

    Just a note about my experience. When my niece was four and was whining all of the time, we are on the sand and I took her, put her in a birth position and helped her with a primal. She never whined after that. I do not recommend this in general but I did it and it helped. art

  20. And another email comment:
    "I love your work and have tremendous respect for you. I just feel that demonizing a particular political perspective is counter-productive. Liberals and conservatives alike have their share of fanatics. And they all spew venom. Not that it matters, but the sick man that murdered people in Tucson was a devout liberal. But that has nothing to do with his mental illness.

    Again, I love your work. I also love J. Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta, Becker (The Denial of Death). I see you as being in the same category as those revolutionary thinkers. Thanks again for writing."

  21. Trevor: I am one that feels that thinking is, in and of itself, unfeeling; neurotic. You ponder, I suspect to back up you notion "why are our brains capable of thought then". If we were to take a real honest and serious look at our history (evolution), and dismiss the notion that we were always a thinking creature, then we might see why we entered on the quest to make sense of stuff that began to reverberate in the newly formed 'subconscious'. and therein was the beginnings of the thinking creature, using that part of the brain that had hitherto been involved only in expressing feelings. Once there was a disconnect between feelings, specially in childhood, we started on the downward spiral to make sense of this subliminal stuff reverberating in the subconscious by inventing myths, belief systems, counting systems (mathematics) and all the other counter productive activities (neurosis) of relatively modern mankind. My conjecture ... some 20 to 30 thousands years ago.

    Thinking mankind IMO all to eagerly assumes what has never been stated. I call that the 'nine dot syndrome', whereby we box ourselves into assuming the solution is within the bounds of current assumptions. It is precisely this, IMO, that prevents the mental health professionals from seeing the 'wood for the trees' and goes on blubbering away at assuming answers about mental ill-health can be found in MRI scans of brains by statistical analysis.

    I am reminded of the very last line in the film 'Bridge Over the River Kwai" when an officer seeing the whole tragedy unfold, mutters;- "Madness ... utter madness". The way we humans conduct our (for the most part), miserable lives. IMO we could change it all merely by understanding that the fetus' infants and young children just need to be loved ... unconditionally, until they spread their wings and find their own friends, lovers and lifestyle in their own good time and of their own free will.

    I despair. Jack

  22. Jack:
    TO MY READERS. Don't be shy, if something is not clear write and let me know and I will try to clarify. Would you like me to write more on depression? I am writing for all of you so what interests you is what should interest me. art janov

  23. Art: not sure if you think I am shy.

    Why I said "I despair" is that I despair at the state of the world and mankind, and for all the so called smart people in psychology, psychiatry and medicine that go trundling on with their MIR brain scans and statistical analysis going no-where and don't see the folly of their endeavors. The PBS News Hour last night had a section about an hypothetical mentally ill person being discussed by a panel of, so called, experts and not one of them was able to suggest where it all goes wrong. These guys, I know, are aware of your work Art, but said nothing about it. I despair at the UTTER stupidity of these so called smart guys. Do they have a brain ?? I could lose them ... and I never got passed a high school diploma.

    There ... that's my feeling ... and I'm sticking to it. Jack

  24. Jack:


    I'm still confused and not sure if we fundamentally disagree about “thinking” or it's just a matter of semantics. Not all thought is sterile. Poetry is not prose, and even prose can be moving. I know that music is powerful in movies, yet most films have dialogue. I believe that’s for a reason.

    I went to a faux Primal Therapy practice years ago. It retraumatized me. The alpha male running the show felt thinking was all “head-shit.” I believed him. Yet even the cavemen in “Quest For Fire” showed they were thinking, not totally feeling.

    What would life look like absent thinking? How would children “totally loved” live? I’ve had my share of LSD/pot highs that felt “it all coming together.” Yet I don’t see how one could live doing pot or LSD all the time. Maybe unneurotics live that way, but who knows?

    (And truth be told, I was not a little paranoid during and after some trips. I agree with Art that removing gates to soon can cause flood damage to the psyche. Then again, not having been protected enough as a child, what did I know about limits…or if I even had the right to set them?)

    I don’t like the idea of Original Sin. And saying “thinking” is neurotic sounds a lot like OS. That is, both posit an idea of perfection that imperfect beings can never meet. I think (!) if we are loved enough imperfection doesn’t bother us. Just like well-loved kids seem brave because they don’t associate outcomes of things they try to involve their self-worth. It’s like when Leo Buscaglia said he never “got” existentialism because he never wondered about his worth or right to exist. He said he was too busy being hugged and kissed and comforted by relatives.

    I DO think “thinking” can be neurotic, of course. I see it when euphemisms are used to dampen emotional reactions. Or when people talk endlessly about loss instead of crying. But that doesn’t mean, to me, that words can’t contain, carry, or convey emotions.

    Is thought required to build shelters? Cars? Computers? If so, is that neurotic? How would a totally feeling person do anything? I’m certainly not saying intuition isn’t important. Just that feelings alone seem as dangerous as thinking alone. Like Art, Alice Miller felt one had to connect deep thoughts WITH consciousness to be whole. Otherwise we can fall under the sway of charlatans and others who manipulative emotions.

    I don’t like the idea of “thought” being the new “sin.” I don’t think lobotomies make people more fully human. I think we can cogitate for more reasons (how ironic!) than simply defending against unbearable pains. And just like I think schools should be more attuned to students’ feelings and emotional needs, I believe education should be more than just students sitting in class “grooving.”

    We can, and do, learn from others via books. Personally, I miss Alice Miller’s wonderful tomes. And look forward to Art’s blog. That being said, there are times when I want to read Dostoevsky and others when I don’t want to read at all.

    To me, it’s a matter of balance. Sometimes I want to write and study and read. Other times I want to run, shout, and dance. It’s like the difference between a poorly written play and “Death of a Salesman.” I think language can transcend itself. I think thoughts can lead to and encompass feelings. And I know we can “be” in non-verbal states, too.

    So…is Art neurotic for writing? Are the thoughts he has while writing neurotic? Are grammar, spelling, rhetorical styles, allusions, metaphors, etc. all neurotic because not fully “feeling”? Would a fully unneurotic person communicate only telepathically?

    Again, I don’t know if or where we disagree. I’m coming from experiences with bad PT practitioners who mocked thinking. They caused great damage. They also felt no need to monitor clients medically. Plus their key techniques involved confrontation. So I’m glad Art uses modern medicine, too. And follows patients’ leads. And takes things slow.

    In a way, it’s the kind of treatment we all should have gotten growing up.

  25. I too despair. The trouble with all those smart people in psychology is they think they are very smart. Blinded by their 'smartness'. They are smugly not smart at all. Blinkered. And we pay the price for it.

  26. Jack, brains are not the problem with academics and practitioners. that is your interpretation. But I would say it is the utter lack of brains and not following the evidence, or even worse, deliberately avoiding the evidence.

    It is those feelings you rave about that are driving and interfering with the thoughts of the mind. yes, feelings can help guide the mind but they can also sabotage it.

    I believe that anyone who uses their heads can see PT. It really is that simple. Its not rocket science nor incredible feeling. Many recognized despite all the interference in the world from below. So of us choose to look past it and see the truth and others prefer to go along with the feeling conspiracy against the mind.

    I think we see the same yet look at it very differently. You say the mind is at fault. I say the emotions are at fault. who is in control, the mind or emotions?

    Yes, minds can go astray when led by emotions. Its a fact. It happens all the time. Intellectuals are often not intellectual at all. It is a deceiving appearance.

  27. Trevor and maybe Apollo: I feel you are complicating matters for yourselves by coming from your current state of thinkingness. As an embryo, infant and young child you were ONLY a feeling being. Through trauma you were pushed, slowly, into becoming a thinking being and from which you now operate. Your thinking about the nature of thinking, through your current thinking is what, I feel, you are now doing. I am suggesting there is another way of being that transcends this whole 'thinking business'. When Danny Wilson collapsed screaming for his life on the floor in Art's office he eventually came out of it saying "I made it! I don't know what, but I can feel" It was/is a whole different STATE of being. If you've been there, then it makes a whole total different sense; if not, then you're left floundering about this OTHER state of being. There is no way of imagining, comprehending, figuring it out, if you've never been there. All the thinking jibbery pokery by whatever way you twist and turn this frontal lobe will not cut it. You are merely spinning your thinking wheels.

    Is there perhaps another way to address the other state of being (fully-feeling) from the blindness we currently occupy? I don't really know, but my conjecture is to suggest that by looking at other creatures and having a sense they operate ONLY from feelings and that somehow they seems to live life in this feeling STATE and seem not to be so overtly troubled by it, is all I can suggest. It does, in my experience, require a whole differing approach. For me, it makes life so much more simple in my day to day dealings with life. Not that it eliminates sadness, anger or fear (that's life) but when happiness, joy and contentment come along I am able to feel it for what it is and for as long as it lasts. My way of describing this is to say "I get off on it" whatever 'getting off on', is supposed to mean. The mystery of life has evaporated and been replaced by the magic. I suspect that is what the Buddha was trying to say. Jack

  28. apollo is right. it's relatively easy for us to understand primal theory. it's very methodical -- easy food for the left brain. but without good access to the right brain, we can't understand the evidence. we can't understand why a patient showed her ass. her behaviour was too complex.

  29. Jan: I think if we could take one school and base it on feelings and discussion of act-outs in kids things would be very different. We would learn to understand others, not punish them. art janov

  30. you mean a school that allows young children to primal?

  31. Not necessarily to Primal but maybe.....more to teach them about the feelings they are acting out; the nature of feelings and how they drive us. 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.