Monday, February 21, 2011

Sex and Healing

We can only heal where we are wounded. If the wounds are preverbal, then that is what must be addressed – such as reliving strangling on the umbilical cord and being stuck in the birth canal. Although it may seem odd to the reader, in order to liberate the body it must writhe, shake, and roll, perhaps, to the early lack of oxygen, or love; traumas that will then free us from their lifelong effects. We need to get down into our bodies. We must again undergo an almost seizure-like response to the birth trauma, which then will liberate seizure-like sexual orgasmic response.

To see a reliving of oxygen deprivation at birth or other early trauma, a reliving that can go on for 2 hours a day for months, is to realize the amount of compressed force that must be diverted elsewhere. It makes the development of "sexual problems" less of a mystery. It explains why people become obsessed with sex, or twist sex into something deviated. The spread of the energy of the pain on the first line can go in several directions – first, to vital functions, the heart and lungs, and also to sex. The pain can seep into sexual thoughts and be channeled into sexual rituals. It makes the ritual an urgent undertaking. The obsession is the end product of the pain, now transformed as it wends its way upward through the limbic system to the cortical thought processes. When we deal only with that transformation, we are on the wrong track, or at least on a very narrow track. As the old saying goes, to get on the wrong train means that every stop one makes is the wrong one. We must take care to board the right train that will take us to our destination. The tracks are nerve tracks with a specific destination. It is a strange track system leading backwards to early memories before chugging forward in time. Then it allows us to return to the frontal cortex and current life.

Sex is the vehicle in the search for relief. It can finally discharge the energy of suffering over and over again. It is a lifetime affair since the imprint is a lifetime affair. Sexual ritual provides relief on the second-line (limbic system), and the first (brainstem). It drives the person to spank or beat his partner while ejaculating or exhibiting himself while masturbating; and it never ceases.

Why is showing oneself naked sexually exciting? It is not intrinsic to the act, except for the inherent meaning it has to the person. We must think of it this way. What would happen if he showed himself naked as a child, without the masturbation? The parents would have seen him and responded to him instead of ignoring him. This is the dynamic in so many of our exhibitionist patients. Of course there are other complicating factors, but the central motivation is often as simple as that. The excitement of being seen and responded to – even with shock – is what excites. He is excited by his need and the hope of fulfillment and relief. The compulsivity of a ritual may be given its impelling strength by the pain at birth, which is a measurable event.

For an exhibitionist, "look at me, momma," can become showing the penis to female strangers so that they will look at him and pay attention to him; and of course, react emotionally. He is getting what he needed as a child, symbolically, not what he needs as an adult. So long as we treat it as an adult problem we are on the wrong track. It is a condensed symbolic act reflecting a lifetime of early experiences. We take the symbolic act out, showing the penis, in group therapy, and turn it back into the need – look at me, momma!

Grown men can’t suck on their mother’s breast, so they suck on their partner’s. The excitement is the same for the baby and the adult who never had enough as an infant. The excitement for the adult is the baby need, except that it takes a sexual turn. The need to suck never leaves. It is very true in my homosexual patients; I mention elsewhere that one man called his partner’s ejaculation into his mouth, "mother’ milk."


  1. Art: I could be an example of what you're talking about.

    When I was a kid I use to throw open the door to my sister's bedrooms when their school friends were staying over, and then I would drop my towel (from after my bath) are reduce my pee pee to an electric guitar (with sound effects and all). I did it to shock them. Maybe that need is still with me because I have just done the most hideous exhibitionist poses for my brother's music video in-the-making!

  2. That is also what makes woman so attracted to oral sex in my opinion,they think it is a big breast nipple.

  3. Great timing on this. I came across a new term watching the Today Show. It is primarily only used in Maine. Visual Sexual Aggression. Basically, exposing one’s self or another. But with implied sinister intent since all those who expose themselves are obviously and imminently due to rape at any moment. I marveled at how they seemed to fear the human body but I suspect it is really some clever political ploy to instill yet more fear in people.

    But as Arthur has pointed out, a lot of that exposure seems to be related to getting attention, not raping. But Arthur does not have the sinister political motives that Maine and others have. Ah, aren’t politicians great? What would we do without them? I mean, who does not like to get their minds and bodies “probed.” Talk about rape.

    I caught an episode of Cold Case late last night. They told a story of some girls who were now adults but had committed or knew of a crime done as teens, a cold case waiting to be solved. They kept showing the present adults as being kids in the present, recognizing that they were still kids inside, in many ways. It was a cool technique, for sure. I liked it.

    But the world seems to be lacking this appreciation of how we are all basically still kids in many ways. For one, I guess it might put human face on pain and make us more understanding and compassionate toward human pain. Can’t have that if we want a militaristic law enforcement that will tolerate no dissention in thought or deed! So they invent laws and concepts to question motives and enable insinuation and guilt where none exists so that they might enforce zero tolerance and assume the worst in us all.

    Then its off to the gulags. But it does have the effect of scaring the rest into not even daring to question or speak. Ah, no wonder we are all so screwed up. We have our benevolent rulers to thank. OH, I’m being harsh I suppose ;-)

    But really, its clear to us that the surface behaviors are far different from what causes them. But I thought, what if we looked at all people as kids again. We always profess to care about kids. So if they always thought of each other as little children, maybe there would be a little more compassion for “those” kids as well as the actual ones.

    I recall a statement of a mad man, Charles Manson. He said we cry for abused children and claim to feel pity for them and then we throw them in prison. Well, he presents his side, but there is some truth in it. Too bad we did not treat the problem rather than the symptom.

  4. 3. The latest 30 years after having lived primal pain from my birth process.

    After 40 a lot of my sexual drive went into my career. However, I still looked for sexual arousal but my need for sexual release was decreasing drastically, caused by the feeling of and the fear for the connection between a seizure and an orgasm. Up til a point that my seductive style and my indifference practically to implement my sexual challenges have caused problems and criticism. The more pain from my birth process I have lived the less I have sex on my mind. Which of course also might have to do with my advancing age.

    Another turning point in how I channeled my seductive/sexual behavior was when I lived the pain in Primal Therapy of how my sister and father dethroned me at the age of 5. This primal brought up how I during 20 years had been obsessed by good looking, blond, curly girls (reminding of my sister when she dethroned me) which I could bring home to impress my father to get his attention.

    My instinct to arouse myself by being seductive and enchanting is still available, indicating that there is more pain in the “septic tank of imprints”. The other day when I visited a neighbour city, a beautiful woman, who went in front of me on my way to my car, suddenly turned around and smiled at me and said: “Hi, Jan, do you not recognize me?” No, I did not. In stead, I thought it was a pleasant mistake because the goodlooking woman was half my age. She continued: “But Jan, I’m the girl from Cordoba! Have you forgotten me, we went to the mountains together?”. Suddenly I could recognize her from our Hiking Club, which I joined last year and how we during a few hours walk had en enchanting talk together.

    I had to move my car, so I kissed her goodbye and went home and told the story to my daughter. She was not surprised. “You are such a charmer when you want, dad!”....

    Jan Johnsson

  5. "We take the symbolic act out, showing the penis, in group therapy, and turn it back into the need – look at me, momma!"

    At what stage does a flasher typically expose his penis to other patients? Does he do it while he is very conscious in the neocortex, or does he do it when he is deeper and less aware of the repercussions?

  6. Art,
    With all the recent focus on intra-uterine trauma, I am a little concerned that, should other, and perhaps unscrupulous persons read and become aware of this, it could create a plethora of “new” therapies being offered to unsuspecting people, where early pains are forced up out-of-sequence, e.g. “re-birthing and the like. I have a nephew who attended a “course”, apparently run by qualified psychologists, where patients were forced to cry, as he told it. (One of them obviously read a book of yours) Sadly, he nowcan’t stop talking about Aliens and UFO’S that he is forever seeing, as well as numerous conspiracy
    theories As you know already, he is a lost cause and it will not be possible for me to get through to him.

    Perhaps clear warnings to this effect should be posted with every such article dealing with gestational trauma,and also with any discussions relating to very early childhood pains.

  7. Hi,
    Well, if I were to say this 'hits the nail on the head',I may be crossing over into the realms of glib humor. Though I feel that in this case a little humor is indicated.

    How many of us were persecuted as small children for experimenting and exploring our emerging sexuality? How many of us before that had a sexual hijack partly driving that exploration?

    Emotions are not discrete and sometimes it's good to laugh and cry at the same time because I think it helps separate the issues for what they are. . . After all if my carers are persecuting me for my sexuality while it's also being driven by first line trauma then my trauma is sealed tight in guilt, shame and self loathing.
    I wonder what the Roman God Priapus would make of this?

    Thanks Art, this entry makes writing my trauma history so much easier and shorter.

    Paul G.

  8. Paul NL: Isn't that a bit of a stretch (no pun intended)? AJ

  9. Jan: I found that the epileptics I treated rarely has proper sexual outlets. But it was part of general overall repression which is usually the case in this affliction. Sexual convulsions often seemed to lessend the severity of the attacks. art janov

  10. Richard: he does it when he is ready, when he feels like it and only when we feel it is t herapeutic. Not always done. AJ

  11. No,I would call it compulsive behaviour,probably the expectation of relaxation as it has been for the baby.(orale phase....?)

  12. Hi,
    Thanks Bruce, that is very helpful and I urge anyone who hasn't yet tried the interactive site for the relationship between the histone and the genome to do so because it offers a simple way to consider the problem.

    I know diet and nutrition can only help as a palliative for first line imprinting but please suspend disbelief and consider the following:

    Dr Jarvis and the Cider Vinegar and Honey Cure.

    Dr Jarvis (I think he was a vet)investigated cattle and horses feeding habits, he discovered they only liked the acidic plants not the alkaline ones. He went on to cure milking herds from mastitis by giving them copious quantities of cider vinegar. He also investigated traditional farming communities that made and drank a lot of cider vinegar, there he found a lot of old people into their nineties still doing heavy labouring.

    Ok, my chemistry is rudimentary but Dr Jarvis' theory is simple; he says:

    In fight and flight situations the blood turns alkaline in anticipation of the muscles secreting lactic acid into it from vigorous muscle activity (running off down the road at top speed and/or fighting back) the alkaline anticipation is to stop the blood becoming lactose poisoned. Without the actual muscle activity the blood stays alkaline and important minerals precipitate out to clog the blood system, particularly at the densest point of the joints and tendons. He says the same thing happens at meal times as the blood anticipates the injection of acidic stomach juices. The use of vinegars and acidic drinks is therefore a palliative for the alkaline anticipation.

    He said Cider Vinegar is unique because it has a certain ballance of potassium salts which fools the blood system blind to it; ei: the blood recognises Cider Vinegar as a substitute for the lactose fight flight and digestion response thus preventing the precipitation of minerals in the system.

    Is it possible that The histone / genome relationship is also "loosened" by the correct acidity in the cells? Is it also possible that alcohol also does the same thing? I mean Methyl and ethanol are compatible solvents arn't they?

    This could explain why people drink alcohol and why it is so addictive; is there a theory for what alcohol actually does? Apart from analgesic and anaesthetic?

    Paul G.

  13. A facebook comment:

    ""Sado Masochism makes perfect sense now :))

    Nice story Jan, seizure like responses from (probably) birth trauma, strangling of umbilical cord etc. I had during Ayahuasca experience I initiated by myself. Regarding sex: of course as a young man more or less we all look for "release" in the form of limbic discharge whether it be because of "septic tank of imprints" or pure hormonal cocktail of adolescence :) Cheers !"

  14. Richard: He does it when he is ready, when he feels like it and only when we feel it is t herapeutic. Not always done. AJ

  15. An email comment:

    "The struggle for symbolic sex, a sexual experience that isn't genuine or real, can be found in struggles for relationships too, it can be a struggle for commitment; "Love me forever." I believe that those without at much first line pain or perhaps too much infant for first line pain go for the affection and yet the affection is never enough the pain is still there so the intimacy goes farther and farther. I have called it "affection sex", it isn't sex at all. Very normal appearing sex and sexual relationships may yet be very sick, and slowly damaging a person's health in its own more constricted way. I would hazard a guess that most people don't experience the real thing, they are too much looking for physical contact and affection that they were deprived of as children. Affection gone mad... I have glimpsed real instinctive sex once in my life with a young lady who put me on fire. I knew after that that anything else I had experienced was just for affection, the difference between the two types of experiences is extremely contrasting. After that even though the neurosis came back in full swing heralded in my dreams and the "feeling" went away. How sad that people settle for less than the real thing all their lives, and live out their desperation of early vital unmet needs, confusing mere relief with real wholly felt pleasure. "

  16. An email comment: (Part 1)
    "Dear Art, last night I was there again,fear fear fear and fear,and never sease..nightmares over and over I wake up so tired,exhausted all the time every day,cant hardly walk.
    The pain is too massive,it knocks me down,and yet...I think I havent felt it!!!!!!!!!!

    I was crawling in nature,a cave,the hole become narrower and narrower,and there I was again,unable to do anything,and if I move,I die!this i sfirst time I felt this,,and wye now???day time now I cant hardly mannage to stand up,fatigue,pain body,,lioke it was present the pain,??turned around,I had this dream!!in that canale or cave hole,,,no one knows me,or impossible to call for help(redicoulous)and cry dont exist,nor complaining(like my life)same
    I living my birt imprint.and true.N OBODY UNDERSTOOD ME.i HAD TO SUFFER A LIFETIME!!!
    NOT to mention all the years of sufferin in classsroom,at work military sevice etc etc and then collapse,live on social benefits,homeless,no friends,did I have a baby?what happend?hes 13 yrs old now....
    did my girlfriend ever help me?no

    in my dreams,fear fear fear and fear too much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I completely done morning.maybe all chemicals run out???depleated.thats wye not grow properly..growt hormones dont exist.
    calmness dosent exist,only pain,and actually later on the day,,I little ok sometimes.

    another dream...just same same same over and ove...
    2 days ago,I was in a room,there was a cobra snake in there,and it was fast and deadly,it could bit me any second!!!I could not escape...all I did,was endure fear ....and I think,to let me die,actually would stop fear....endless fear.
    I know,the snake is symbol,as all other fears
    yet I dear not to feel die,,and its the only way for me ,,it is actually to die.then I relax.

    IN school,I went to black board to talk about a book,I hadnt read..befor I sweating...pale.
    I started to say somthing(I couldent even escape this situation!)
    I fainted,blank..fall straight down with my head into the floor...
    when I woke up,I was fine.
    my class mates was surprized I didnt hurt my head in the fall!!??
    the teacher embarrased,,told I was sick.and had to go home.

    in fact after fainting,I have never felt better and more relaxed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!like I let go..
    I felt ashamed.bisyckled alone home...sent home by teacher who said I was sick.
    I wasnt,I wanted to stay in school.
    but she told me to go home-I was sick.
    I never understood this,I felt ashamed,like I had done somthing wrong,I never understood wye I had to go home.
    and also had to lay un pillows on the floor to all embarresment,,I was fine,and then teacher told me to lay there...and I do as she say,,,oh what I felt bad,,
    I wanted to go up and tell it all,,,I wasnt even afraid of black board any more!!!like I let go,, no,john u sick lay down here....and then go out to go home.I was sad go home alone,all in school,and I must go home.I never understood.I was fine.
    and now thinking about this.


  17. (Part 2):
    "If I can bicyckle home 3 km,am I not then ok to be in school??just relecting on some basic facts.
    fuck,,she didnt want me in clssroom,I think now,she was so embarrased,,cos she sensed I was terrified!!to go front there...and then I bang,,,,she didnt want,
    but play with my fear they like,,but really encounter my pain,,they dont want.
    wye is it like this??
    we love play therapists,etc...but when facing true pain,,manny run off.
    Julian always talkative intelligent(in therapy)when I told him hes a fucking asshole and turned blue(I never told him he was bad to me0repression)life imprint)and when I did...he got sick and had to go to his room!!!!!!!!!!!
    I had turned blue.
    Keith John ur blue!!

    Now u see ,to say to someone they bad to me,,means break a lifetime imprint of never say it,never react never tellsomeone hurt me,just keep it in.
    never react.
    and when I did,I was blue.and all left,,,run off.
    wye are people scared of this pain??
    as long I am like this they can play with me,,joke hurt me,anything.I hurt but never react.they even smile at me,play fun on me...act out....anything but never my pain.
    neurosis is like a game we play,,fine fine...
    take a littl ebit at a time.
    But for me,I wanted to take the full step at once.not ok.
    even therapists with me want to take it the proper way,,step by Real..and then he got pissed,,irritated,,impassion becouse he didnt get anywhere,the way he wanted it to go...
    talk about follow a patient ,,where he she needs to go!!
    and how manny yrs training had he??????????
    The words you spell out,over and over janov,Art,is true stuff,but look on the work floor not same...
    That gave me a hint of reality.Books tells so great...but in reality it might not be so.

    Though with howard,I did start to feeeel!!!I had only one session with him.
    God what wished he was my therapist.
    sad sad sad.

    I get what u say,,and whats it about.
    But can u tell uss who cant go to center(a couple of million poor people in the world who need primaltherapy)what should we do???
    How can we feel out imprints..
    How should we do???
    soince we are blocked to go to church,gurus in india,or any other therapy,cos all are bad.
    Pleas tell uss now what we should do.
    give uss somthing to start to feel correctly.
    instead of sucking breasts,show penis,smoke,over eat,drive fats,feel bad,anxiousness,anger..endless...

    please Art,tell uss,,
    the whole world is waiting,"

  18. Another email comment:
    "Art art art art....ok, sure. If they are screwed up they are screwed up. Then again, there are those of us who are not driven by Pain and are not wounded. They do seem hard to find...just look at this mess. That's the reason you had a MANDATE to in put into to the field or population a slew of ceritified Primal Therapists. You failed to do so. One can only wonder why. Keep writing. Barry "

  19. And my response:
    Our standards are very high. Because when people come to us they are expecting us to treat their precious lives. We do not take that lightly. And so it does take years to train a therapist. art janov

  20. Not driven by pain and not wounded. Were they born on earth? I do not know how one can completely avoid pain and wounds in our world. But perhaps it could be said that some are far less damaged than others, and some far more wounded than other. So some of us are not suffering to any great degree and we might handle life fairly well .But the pain still operates and has its way with us, regardless of how functional our intellect and lives are.

    We are all frustrated that there is not more availability of treatment but that also depends upon people seeking treatment, which are not many, either. Lets be realistic. If therapists are to treat people on a full time basis, they will need to be compensated enough to maintain a living standard. That is essential. So there have to be patients who want the “product” before you can employ more therapists. Supply vs demand. Fairly simple stuff.

    Therapists need to be adequately trained and that seems to be quite the challenge in itself. I guess the only reservation I would have is that if it is so hard and dangerous, is it also practical to do? There does seem to be more demand that can be fulfilled. If PT is so dangerous, should it even be done? Are we tampering with forces nearly impossible to control well? Do we expect too much? I don’t have all the concrete answers but I then go on to what another brought up.

    Since option 1 is get treatment in Cali and many can not make that accommodation, then what? This is what some seem to be asking and quite legitimately. This is where I come in. I think we need to be able to strengthen the intellect, the cortex, to be able to silence the pain from below for times to be able to judge, weigh, evaluate, ponder, contemplate and determine what is a good course, a productive course, with long term benefits, not those short term fleeting sensations.

    Many would like answers more concrete like, what would I suggest? Start anywhere you want. When you find something you want an answer to, search for it and do not stop till you have it. But even here, this works for those with minimal pain. For those barely coping or coping poorly, this might not work so well.

    But as it stands for me right now, it seems the process of training is not realistic. Years to train? Very long. It may never catch up. But to meddle and do harm does not seem good, either. Such powerful titanic forces are dangerous to let loose or deal with recklessly. I don’t see a solution. It is humbling and even frustrating that there may not be an answer . . . well unless there is a god or God. But that is another topic for other forums I would guess.

    Let me say this. Whatever you try to solve with thinking, avoid simple easy pat answers. And never think you got it all right. Always be willing to take another look at something. Most minds, motivated by PP, want the simple easy quick way out. Do be so easily satisfied with what you have concluded and do not be afraid to put it up to a challenge. If it cannot handle a challenge, then it is not a very good idea. For me, truth is always far more powerful than lies or errors. But it will take effort.

  21. Art: You have often said that it takes 4-6 years (or more) to properly train a Primal Therapist, and that it is very intense work, which is why there are so few of them. And recent work in educational psych has shown that it takes about ten years to gain mastery of one's field; half that time ought to bring a person to competence as an apprentice in most fields. (Malcolm Gladwell recently wrote about this in "Outliers".)

    So, the next question: are you training any *trainers*, to extend and continue the work?


  22. David: We are dealing with every kind of symptom and behavior you can imagine plus we see people from twenty different cultures. So it is complicated. art janov

  23. Arthur, have you seen any traumas from bullying such as in schools and that sort of thing? such bullying can be pretty traumatic, can't it?

  24. Apollo: It is usually as a side issue. Parents are the number one. art janov

  25. Art,

    About Apollo's post...
    I agree with you Art… but regard to all these children coming from homes with parents suffering… who in their turn sending suffering children to the school… children who need to preserve their defense by hearting others… the school will also be a place for that… and in that sense become a hell for others.
    That will also be true about teachers who preserving their defense by educating children… they are also children from homes without love.
    A child from a loving home can of cause handle many of those problems… but that is far from all of them.


  26. Hi,
    Great posts,

    It is true that parents are number 1. Actually this was Alice Millers' central point.
    There is a way our cultures fudge the issue of 'Loco in Parentis'. So rather like the way a small child cannot bear the parental blame for a transgression, we parents have to find a way to share the monumental responsibility of parent hood.
    It seems the problem with our civilisations is that 'parenting is parented by the state' and thus we parents can so easily fail to register our responsibility nor illicit the right support from other friends and family.
    Notice how "corperate responsibility" is at last becoming something to consider.

    In the same way the responsibility for neglect & abuse of children cannot be delegated, we parents have to face the consequences for our misdemeanors, otherwise (to spell it out) we will be further driving their repressions deeper whilst building a false hope. In no way do these (now widely debated) issues require any more justice than they do mercy.

    I don't believe the child in us ever "grows up", it's just that the neo-cortex becomes an ever learning inter-face with our relationships. . .

    If we can't get to the first line pain and/or deny it's existense then we get disasterous distortions in our relationships, through society eventually acted out internationally. The old saying "as above, so below" should really be written: "As Below, So Above".

    Thus spake one boarding school survivor.

    Paul G.

  27. I have thought about the dilemma of parenting. We are really poorly equipped if not unqualified to be parents. But if we are to do the least damage, we would need to get a fair amount of control over ourselves, perhaps using the intellect to cause us to pause while we ponder our next actions and to take notes so to speak and resolve to not make the same mistakes again. But this might be easy for one less disturbed than many, but much harder for those deeply embroiled in pain.

    But the real difficulty as I see it is that human nature easily makes excuses for itself and wants to justify its every action and vindicate itself, whether right or wrong. this is our main obstacle.

    We are damaged from birth, in all likelihood. How do we produce something better from something inferior. It is a big dilemma. But someone will have to bite the bullet and get tough with themselves, making no excuses and with courage admit their own failing and errors and make ever effort to do better. Again, effort is not a human strong point. we all want the easy way out.

    I think there will always be anomalies where a damaged person will produce someone with less damage. But most will keep on producing much the same as they are and as we accumulate the pain of society, the damage will mount and increase, till one day, perhaps we will join the dinosaurs, except that it will not be a comet or asteroid impacting and rupturing the earth but pain reaching a climax which dissolves society into one big social fireball.

    Have we seen the cross roads or yet to see or have we long gone past it, ignoring what we saw. I can't answer that but I am concerned. I can say this. There is an easy way to take, and a tough way. Oddly, it does seem to touch off resonance with these words:

    enter the narrow cramped gate leading to life, which few are finding or traveling for broad and spacious is the road leading to destruction and many are the ones traveling it.

    Put yet another way, anything worth having, is worth struggling for. No pain, no gain.

  28. Apollo: Pain closes the gate to life, and feeling it finally opens the gates wide open. AJ

  29. An email comment:
    "Hi, Art thanks for writing this. Baby need, can be quite painful. Many years ago, I had some primals about needing my mother, and how she never listened to me. First there was anger, then hurt, but at some point I started having a tremendous amount of pressure in my jaws and mouth, becoming quite painful, the pain began flipping from the right side of my jaw to my left.. Afterward I realized that I have always had this tremendous "thirst" for knowledge."


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.