Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Bit of a Memory

I remember years ago I saw a TV interview show with a woman lawyer who was famous for wearing extra large hats. And the interviewer asked her to justify it. She said, "I wear them because I like them." And I thought wow! that was a reason?! I never heard that before because in Jewish life everything has to be explained and justified, and then you grow up and become an analyst so you can go on explaining. ay ay ay. and there I learned that if you liked something it was all the justification you need. Your feelings can justify things. What a discovery. If you grow up where kids are given orders and never asked their feelings they grow up unaware there are such things as feelings. If everything is cut and dried, "did you pick up the cleaning?," then feelings do not enter your universe of discourse. So I had to learn from television something I should have learned as a child when someone might have said, "How do feel about dinner. Do you like fish tonight?" Then and there you are inculcated that feelings count. Or, "I don't feel like taking out the garbage." It is usually met with anger as any dissidence is, but suppose someone said, "Why not? You know it is important for all of us." A dialogue instead of military orders. Some believe all that stuff and enter the army where they can receive and obey more orders; being told when to sleep, when to get up and when to eat. Military intelligence has got to be an oxymoron. Would any free and liberated emotional person want to do that? Does he love the idea of wanting to kill so much that he gives up his freedom? After all, it is the job of the military ultimately to kill. Yes protect too, but to kill if protection fails.

Children learn about feelings if parents know about them and listen to them in themselves. If they are prompted to seek out what the children are feeling. "I am not tired right now. Can I stay up another hour?"
What do you say? "You go to bed right now." Would you do that to a friend. a wife? Children are not another species. They are human beings like us. When parents wonder if you should do this or that to a child--should I pick them up if they cry,? they should know that you do not need to answer that question by asking someone. Your feelings should tell you that someone in pain should be comforted. That is not too difficult a question. Why do we think that children are not part of us? That they should under go some different kind of regime. Of course, any feeling person would pick up a child who falls. And she should cry; she is hurt.

I learned in my analyst days not to empathize with suicide cases and heavy depressives; not coddle them and reinforce their depression. Then I learned to act human with them; and I teach my interns, "When in doubt act human. Act like you are having coffee in a shop and show the kind of courtesy and empathy you would drinking coffee." If they get caught in technique they might forget that. And above all, follow their feelings, like their parents did not. Patients need that; they need a human there, not a dry interviewer and insight giver. Patients will pay the price for the insights by listening attentively, but a little hug might also help and above all, kindness. Yes, our therapy takes years to learn because the techniques are complex and a good deal of neurology enters into it, but human and humaneness are central. Everyone who comes to us had that lacking in their lives. We cannot love neurosis away but a little loving, reassurance and holding out some hope is also important; it brings down the pain level so that some of it can be felt. Patients never need to be busted or criticized. They have that in spades.


  1. Hi,

    On the other hand to quote Mick Jagger:

    "You can't always get what you want,
    but if you try real hard,
    you might just get,
    what you need".

    courtesy of the Rolling Stones.

  2. Art, you say: "I never heard that before because in Jewish life everything has to be explained and justified," Whilst I grant that the Jewish culture was instrumental in formulating modern human life; certainly with regards to the three major monotheistic religions, I am tempted to want to replace "Jewish life' with "human life" and say that 'everything has to be explained and justified; least-ways explained and reasoned. It is in the explanation and reasoning that I feel, as a creature, we humans have 'gone off the rails'.

    Having gone "off the rails" we seem not to be able to get back on them again. The rails we 'got off' were the feeling rails. However, we are not going to get back on the rails unless and until we are able to accept that there were rails we 'got off' and that, as I see it, is mankind's dilemma. It is our ability (or inability as the case may be) to reason rather than feel that leads is on the downward path to insanity, an insanity of self destruction. Whilst Abraham was instrumental in what we might see as the beginnings of it all, it actually goes further back that him.

    My metaphor of 'gone off the rails' might be a handy way of seeing our situation/condition, but doesn't necessarily help us get back on the 'feeling rails' again unless we are able to look at what caused going 'off them' in the the first place. Primal Theory gives us a hint, but won't take us far, unless we are able to see the perpetuation of trying to run our lives through our current cultures, education, political and philosophical 'off the rails thinking/reasoning' we currently inhabit. Alas, neurotic mankind is hanging on by his fingernails to all his developments since 'coming off the rails.'

    If we simply just look at all of our human innovations and discoveries we have come across from Copernicus/Galileo through Einstein and E = mc2, they all occurred by thinkers that got down to some fundamental re-thinking. (out of the box.) I see few willing to venture there. Ah well! or as the French say "C'est la vie " BUT this does not have to be "the life". There is a simplicity in it all, if only we were able to go back to that very simplicity that we ALL knew in early childhood. There-in is the genius of Primal Theory. Jack

  3. thank you, dr. janov. i regret not having you sign my "primal scream"book when i saw you in the center on ashland. i have been reading your blogs and your work has changed my life and my relationships.

  4. I really liked the direction in this article. While PP is addressed, it is the suggestion that as far as it is possible with any of us, we should show some kindness and decency. To some degree, if we are not totally damaged, we ought to be able to find some mercy and compassion in us somewhere. I think it is too easy for people to make excuses and cop out. But the more we can reduce this tendency, the more mercy and compassion will abound, perhaps tilting the odds a little more in favor of real feeling for others.

    As for children, I have often marveled at how little feeling most have for the kids. They are not moved by a small child with their delicate feelings. Maybe the feelings are not even recognized. Maybe most have had their own feelings disregarded some completely that they come to believe this is just how it is.

    It is easy to slight children, since they have no power or control at young ages. And most adults sort of believe that the feelings of children are not even important, or maybe even non-existent. Little wonder there is such callousness. Adults might laugh at puppy love .But it is real to the child, even if not realistic.

    I recall when I was a kid, adults often tried to cheat us at stores or on my paper route. We fault child molesters and rightly so, yet we ignore the many other ways children are exploited due to be being small and inconsequential. We can be quite the hypocrites.

    I think most people just let decency or kindness pass all too easy. We hate being put out or bothered. We don’t like our lives interrupted for anything. Maybe too many have absorbed too much pain themselves to be able to spare some interruption. But again, the more we make excuses, the more it tends to get worse.

    To me, our having PP does not excuse us from being responsible for our actions, in a positive beneficial (to ourselves) way. It would be great if we could all seek and get treatment tomorrow. But for many, it will not be possible for now, maybe even ever. So then we must except what we can control, within reason, as some carry more than others in burdens from the past. But still make an effort to resist nastiness rather than give in to it.

  5. I don't agree Paul: When I NEEDED LOVE but didn't get it I tried real hard to get it. I did get then ATTENTION, but NOT LOVE!

  6. Try teaching this to social workers, who are trained to not to be human. Within 6 months of training their e-motions are shut down and service users- children and adults suffer.

  7. Paul,

    The truth is... you do not want what you can not get... desire is not a force... but to change strategy is ... desire is a need of the impossible. To be or not to be ... that is the question.


  8. i've got nothing to say. god dammit

  9. Wonderful words, Art. And the truth.

    I get frustrated and sad sometimes when I hear that PT takes so much time and energy...and money. Who has the resources to take such time off, spending 2 hours a day for MONTHS to deal with buried feelings? What percent of mankind can get "unneurotic" by such means when there is just one place to do it?

    I often wonder: What can the rest of us do?

    I like your current post because it reminds us that of faith, hope and charity... the latter (another name for "love") is the most important.

    Raised by parents unable/unwilling to give me the love and care I needed, I was attracted, in a way, to jobs and situations that were toxic. Only I didn't see them that way. I thought no pain, no gain. I bought the "tough it out" message. But how strong, really, are men who "fight back" tears? What are they afraid of? Is it really wimpy to cry when pained?

    I often felt "crazy" when young. I looked for a candid camera (a TV show at the time) to affirm my views and offer help. I didn't have protective relatives around. The Catholic Church of the era urged self-sacrifice a la Jesus. So no one guided me. Love was teachers paying I became "smart." Yet what degree can match a lover's embrace?

    Philosophy stressed logic and reason. Psychology's "Freudian slips" meant everything had a deeper meaning. There were no accidents. "Feeling" like doing something was not enough. The "experts" making the rules had not, themselves, been held enough. No one took THEIR feelings seriously so why should their audience, students, readers, etc.?

    Making iPhones takes more than "feelings." True. But how many people use them in lieu of being with actual people, doing things that "feel" good? How much technology distracts us from simple, restorative pleasures?

  10. Hi Art ,"they have that in spades" how t r u e
    this was with me with those "therapists" ...only one had with his remark "You had to s u f f e r alot in Your life" a profound effect on me!1 yours emanuel

  11. It is a good reminder that children are 'human' too. In the UK this sometimes gets lost in because of concerns over liability. For example, a teachers union was advising peripatetic (spelling?) music teachers not to touch pupils in case it offered grounds for a law suit. Yet it is hard to teach someone the piano without helping them adjust their hands. In Finland where I am now live teachers hold their young students' hands and can hug them. Sadly this is not allowed in the UK. As a result there is a wall created that works against the operation of real dialogue. The tragedy is that the cost of protecting the many from the few (paedophiles) creates much greater social pain because British children lose out on closeness to adults and a climate of distrust results. It means if you are not getting human contact in your home from parents the chances are you wont find it outside either and may well need therapy.

  12. Thanks Frank,
    My desires seem to be influenced by un-met needs both from gestation, childhood and adult life.

    I quite liked those Stones lines because it has helped me discriminate on this matter.

    I feel I understand what you mean by "desire is not a force. . . but to change strategy is".

    Perhaps that's where some effort is required. Isn't this also very different from merely 'compromising'?

    Paul G.

  13. Hi Lady Portia,
    I was once a single parent of four children under four yrs, all on the social services child protection register because their mother was very, very ill, traumatised from her own childhood, she later died.

    In the end I concluded that the 15 social workers and family support workers involved in the case over 5 yrs (whilst I was dragged through the family courts 4 times before I finally got a court order for one of the children) were just officers for upholding the child protection law. Their "intervention" was really only "recconaisance" and info gathering.

    I estimated that "in the interests of protecting the children" the authorities spent nearly £750,000, most of that on "Professional Wages". . . during the whole period prior to getting the court order I received about £100 in travel expenses and nothing else.

    This is a true story, I'm not making it up. A story that went un-witnessed, most of all by the "officers" themselves, after all, "If I couldn't look after the kids, they had to". . .

    Institutional abuse is rife, it is systemically part and parcel of the class system (which Tony Bliar told us no longer exists); beware.

    Paul G.

  14. Dr. Janov,
    It is a part of my memory,it is my pain.

    Finding myself doing something and not really knowing why...
    Functioning, without seeming to live was the childhood imprint, pleasing the parents so you will not get punished. My own identity was erased because as a little child I was burdened with the responsibility of whether my parents felt good.
    Yes, I am a parentified child.

    Now, one lives and doesn't know why. Wear big hats, keep under cover, keep on pleasing others, or cover up our vulnerability by neglecting our fundamental needs, because we don’t know what they are....
    If some spark of life is left, we attack, defend everything that has a hint of pain, because we never could defend ourselves. As adults, we continue caring for others because we don’t know how to care for ourselves... we never learned how.
    Who are we if we can not feel ourselves, who are we without an identity?
    We are the parentified, a lost identity in pain.

    Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D., assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School speaks about Positive Psychology. How can a person live and learn mindfulness when the present is covered with pain originated in the past.

  15. welcome back Will (i wonder if Walden still comes here...would be good to hear from him). regarding your comment, i think it gets very complicated. they are protecting the male teachers too. in new zealand few primary school teachers are male. mothers seems to be phobic about the idea of a male offering any kind of affection towards their children. most guys don't want to be viewed as a potential paedophile. i think the mothers' phobia is not entirely uncalled for. most people on this planet are not genuinely affectionate. if they try to get physically close to their students, there is reason for concern. these anti-touching laws were developed in response to the complaints coming from uncomfortable kids. we should be listening to the kids. as for teaching piano...i think those anti-touching rules are overkill. mind you, i couldn't stand it when my grandmother grabbed my hands and twisted my fingers into the right position.

  16. Apollo

    “To some degree, if we are not totally damaged, we ought to be able to find some mercy and compassion in us somewhere”. Apollo we are totally damaged… the mercy and compassion you are talking about is because of need and fears and got nothing to do with mercy and compassion.


  17. Hi,
    AS I read more of our contributions I become more and more in touch with my own true feelings.
    What have we humans done to our selves? So many stories of brutality and ignorance of the facts about our earliest years. We are making ourselves into re-packaged commodities and trying so hard to sell them to each other.

    It's a frustrating lie that keeps us in Pseudo Community.

    Our sense of self seems trapped between two mirrors (like the ones found on opposite walls of an elevator), all we can see is a chronic endless reflection of a reflection. Where is the real person caught between two mirrors?

    Only when I get down to my true feelings do those dreadful, hollow reflections disintegrate and I can see myself and the world clearly.

    Paul G.

  18. Sieglinde: Hello. Your words are wonderful, as always. Do they comfort you?

    I often experience what you describe. It's like I don't know what I feel (or think I have no right to feel what I do) since I had no one modeling healthy expression. My mother bounced from mania to despair for no apparent reason. And my father's universal emotion was apathy. Or "being reserved."

    The result was my wondering if I even had the RIGHT to feel.

    Mostly I "got" the message that I was to defer to others, their feelings being more important than mine. That continues to this day. My elderly father, at 89, is still king. I'm to suppress my needs to meet his as his Alzheimer's progresses. How bitterly ironic: I'm to give to ever-more-child-like HIM what he never gave ME as a bonafide child: unconditional acts of love!

    My current decision is to stay away, letting others care for him. I feel guilty, though. Still, I know if I gave direct care I'd feel like I was slowly killing myself.

    It's hard to feel your own needs when they've been routinely denied or ignored by caregivers.

    You wrote: "I was burdened with the responsibility of whether my parents felt good." Me, too. That's led to years of trying to make others feel happy so I can feel good, too. How terrible to have to earn what should have come naturally...and abundantly.

    It's almost unconscious. I readily do things for others (building websites, listing fun things for others to do, etc.) as if I have endless time and money. I don't. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Yet giving that up feels like giving up all hope of ever feeling loved. Which Art says is exactly what is a lanced boil healing outwardly from within.

    Intellectually I "know" he's right. I'm trying to fill the hole in my soul instead of experiencing it. But I'm emotionally pulled toward performing deeds for others (my act-out), like comedians/actors do. Who lets go of a trapeze until another is at-hand...or a safety net stretches below?

    I like your term "parentified child," too. It's better than "inner child." Yours shows the genesis: being forced to parent one's parents.

    > " neglecting our fundamental needs, because we don’t know what they are...."

    Yes, yes!

    > "As adults, we continue caring for others because we don’t know how to care for ourselves... we never learned how."

    Or if we did, and tried, but were called selfish by those who selfishly wanted us to put THEM first.

    > "Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D., assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School speaks about Positive Psychology."

    Coincidentally, I just read about PP on another site before visiting here. Apparently psychologists are now working with the military to make "better" soldiers. Something called "Comprehensive Soldier Fitness"(CSF).

    The author cites critics of Positive Psychology who note "its failure to sufficiently recognize the valuable functions played by 'negative' emotions like anger, sorrow, and fear..."

    It's like the army wants Killer Panglosses, Murderous Pollyannas, and Smile-Button Assassins...not full humans who might just choose NOT to fight.

    Maybe Art can give his take on PP and/or CSF in a future blog.

  19. Trevor,

    No, there is no self-comfort in my words – only the recognition of a primal reality. The foundation of all pain we care in us.

    When we regress (second level), the mask comes off, the harsh reality becomes vivid and the pain attached to it can be felt.
    WHYYYYY is the outcry! I was only a child! Why did you act out, misuse me to fulfill YOUR needs!
    Than, the inside begins to clarify.
    We finally begin to see the after effects of our pain - and - we finally can see and feel the pain of others.

  20. A facebook comment:
    ""Is not it fantastic that, in a deterministic / evolutionary world, we have the tools, to be looking for a joyful interpretation of it all. (Or the opposite). All to many of the inhabitants on Mother Earth cannot live from joy, love and laughter only. They need shelter, food, health, knowledge, democracy etc., and still, in less than 100 years (like a blink of the eye seen from the perspective of eternity) all are gone and have become seeds of new life. To have been through my life has been a both joyful and a painful privilege. I want to tell it here on Dr Janovs blog because he helped me to get a new life. He taught me to live the pain which for decades had twisted my mind and prevented me from enjoying the beauty of reality. Good night! ¡La selección española se mide al conjunto checo en directo desde el Estadio de Los Cármenes de Granada! ¡Hasta la proxima!"

  21. Another facebook comment:
    ""I'm going to word it differently.The freer we are, the more free will we have. And i also believe two people can stay together for good. In some circles, see, they call them twin flames. Not twin souls. One can have many twin souls.But only one twin-flame. And i think we are in life, so we can garner as much love as possible. So, you know, one day, when our moment of departure comes, our hearts can explode in a blossoming of as an absolute love as possible, and as a liberated laughter as possible .An as an absolutely joyful death as possible. And then we will have become joyful seeds of new life for life itself."

  22. Another facebook comment:
    ""I agree that we do not have to agree. That is part of the imaginary position of feeling free. However, I believe in evolution and determinism and what that mean to a free will. I even believe in a sensual kiss. I have feelings from a 40 year love story pouring out of my heart and mind day and night. For decades, my epilepsy / birth trauma dwarfed and suppressed these feelings. Nothing never convinced me that we are here just for the stroll and scenery, even if I had short "rendez vous" with these routes, as well. By the way, why we are here?"

  23. An email comment:
    "Some of you may already be aware of this research but I will give you a link here concerning the "shrinking of the hipppocampus in those suffering long periods from PTSD". I know, lots of definition needed in that statement, I hope the article will help. Also check this site concerning low dose hydro cortisone cutting the risk of PTSD.

    Long live the Primal Revolution! Actually, may it be successful, pass quickly and become the standard view in the field of clinical psychology.

  24. An email comment: (part 1)
    "Who are we?
    Please Hear What I'm Not Saying

    Don't be fooled by me.
    Don't be fooled by the face I wear
    for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
    masks that I'm afraid to take off,
    and none of them is me.

    Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
    but don't be fooled,
    for God's sake don't be fooled.
    I give you the impression that I'm secure,
    that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well
    as without,
    that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
    that the water's calm and I'm in command
    and that I need no one,
    but don't believe me.
    My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
    ever-varying and ever-concealing.
    Beneath lies no complacence.
    Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
    But I hide this. I don't want anybody to know it.
    I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
    That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
    a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
    to help me pretend,
    to shield me from the glance that knows.

    But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
    and I know it.
    That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
    if it's followed by love.
    It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
    from my own self-built prison walls,
    from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
    It's the only thing that will assure me
    of what I can't assure myself,
    that I'm really worth something.
    But I don't tell you this. I don't dare to, I'm afraid to.
    I'm afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
    will not be followed by love.
    I'm afraid you'll think less of me,
    that you'll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
    I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing
    and that you will see this and reject me.

    So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
    with a facade of assurance without
    and a trembling child within.
    So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
    and my life becomes a front.
    I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
    I tell you everything that's really nothing,
    and nothing of what's everything,
    of what's crying within me.
    So when I'm going through my routine
    do not be fooled by what I'm saying.
    Please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying,
    what I'd like to be able to say,
    what for survival I need to say,
    but what I can't say.

  25. (part 2)
    I don't like hiding.
    I don't like playing superficial phony games.
    I want to stop playing them.
    I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
    but you've got to help me.
    You've got to hold out your hand
    even when that's the last thing I seem to want.
    Only you can wipe away from my eyes
    the blank stare of the breathing dead.
    Only you can call me into aliveness.
    Each time you're kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
    each time you try to understand because you really care,
    my heart begins to grow wings--
    very small wings,
    very feeble wings,
    but wings!

    With your power to touch me into feeling
    you can breathe life into me.
    I want you to know that.
    I want you to know how important you are to me,
    how you can be a creator--an honest-to-God creator--
    of the person that is me
    if you choose to.
    You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
    you alone can remove my mask,
    you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
    from my lonely prison,
    if you choose to.
    Please choose to.

    Do not pass me by.
    It will not be easy for you.
    A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
    The nearer you approach to me
    the blinder I may strike back.
    It's irrational, but despite what the books say about man
    often I am irrational.
    I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
    But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
    and in this lies my hope.
    Please try to beat down those walls
    with firm hands but with gentle hands
    for a child is very sensitive.

    Who am I, you may wonder?
    I am someone you know very well.
    For I am every man you meet
    and I am every woman you meet.

    Charles C. Finn
    September 1966

    This is the original version of "Please Hear What I Am Not Saying"

  26. Another facebook comment:
    "@Laurent - We definitly can not live without feelings! It is part of our human physiology. We may eat that fish, even if we don´t like it. We have to go to bed , even we are not tiered; We maybe kill somebody while in the military. But the feeling that we don´t like it is still there! We may be able to suppress it, but it is still there! And if you suppress it, it will be stronger and will show up in your dreams or when your suppression does not work anymore. So your feeling will allways be part of your live. A homo sapiens without feeling is not possible by law of nature. Feelings are part of evolution to survive on this planet. What you like is good for you, what you don´t like protects you from pain. (I hope my english is understandable:))"

  27. Another facebook comment:
    "Violeta wrote:
    "So is the conclusion that we are born knowing how to experience our free will and that we spend our lifetime trying to forget it?"

  28. Another email comment:
    "¶ Ten years now, in the summer of 2001 (not long before 911) I bought a used copy of "Therapy Gone Mad" by Carol Mithers, about what occurred at The Center for Feeling Therapy, a "center" that broke off from the Primal Institute in 1971. They used "busting" quite a bit and it degenerated from there.
    The author contended that they sort of started out as a kind of gentler Primal Therapy but in the space of a couple of years, it was a completely different.
    So moving it was that I drove out to where their "compound" was in Hollywood, above Sunset Boulevard. I pulled over that sunny day and wept quite profoundly for the young people of my generation, who sought help; most who had read The Book, "The Primal Scream".
    The crying was profuse and most heartfelt for this planet of broken-hearted race.

  29. > "what occurred at The Center for Feeling Therapy...They used "busting" quite a bit and it degenerated from there."


    I experienced a similar debacle at a "faux Primal" place in Boston during that same era. The "hot seat" was supposed to free you, like a drill instructor yelling his lungs out in your face. It was, in essence, abused people abusing others...many thinking they were helping (like parents beating their kids "for their own good.")

    EST was like that, too: Locking people in hotel ballrooms so they couldn't pee... the better to make them "face their stuff." Compassion was seen as weak and "enabling."

    Of course, it often turned out that "gurus" were frauds who made a lot of money bilking the wounded instead of nurturing them with the milk of human kindness (L. Ron Hubbard, Werner Ehrhardt, Carlos Castaneda, Fritz Perls, etc.).

    Do I judge them too harshly? Maybe some were honestly doing their best. And sometimes the problems come from followers. I mean, how many followers of Christ became killers in subsequent centuries, certain Jesus was on THEIR side?

    In many ways, I and others risked being children again, hoping our therapists would be the kind, caring, guiding parents we never had. Too often we just got used again. We were sacrificed on the altar of therapists' own needs.

    Some folks seemed to benefit. Others killed themselves. And few of the leaders/therapists fared well in the end.

    > "I pulled over that sunny day and wept quite profoundly for the young people of my generation, who sought help..."

    ...and didn't get it.

    It WAS tragic. Like WWI poets wounded in combat being swiftly rehabbed so they could become cannon fodder again. What a waste, then and now.

  30. Thank You for Charles C Finns’s ”Please Hear What I am Not Saying”.

    During 40 years the single most influential ”You” in my life's poem has been You = Art! Thanks to the full confidence I felt for You when hiding behind a thousand masks. The unbearable pain You helped me clarify and live was behind my confusion, and fear and aloneness.
    I may be playing my desperate game into the end of my days, but the consciousness of that the answer often lies in what I am not saying makes things a little easier. I just need to listen carefully to what I cannot say and not be fooled by what I’m saying.
    Jan Johnsson.

  31. Hi Art
    This is off topic for this thread. The April Scientific American issue mentions two companies that are offering telomere analysis as a service.
    They are Life Length and Telome Health. The Scientific American article can be read from Life Length' web site. My guess is the cost of such analysis is coming down; could be useful for your research.

  32. Frank said: “Apollo we are totally damaged… the mercy and compassion you are talking about is because of need and fears and got nothing to do with mercy and compassion.”

    Totally damaged, Frank? If so, then we are beyond help, are we not? That we can recover would seem to indicate something salvageable somewhere. And you seem quite sure that you know where I am coming from. Perhaps I am in the presence of a prophet? A psychic, maybe?

    I will say this. Not all are damaged to the same degree. Your comment seems to suggest that without PT, we are absolutely incapable of mercy, compassion or intellectual understanding. This seems to contradict at least 6,000 years of human evidence or perhaps 3 million years if you prefer evolution. I would suggest that your ideas perhaps could use a little more thought.

    There are a number of those hear who seem to believe that any pain renders and reduces us to intellectual equivalent of one celled amoebas or a rock. Perhaps even less than human. I am puzzled, Arthur. I will soon quote some of your writing to show these amoebas how wrong they are.

    These are the ones making excuses for why we do not do as we should do. These ones say we can’t help it, we are retarded and incapable of sensible thought and action. Why don’t you just chop your heads off or have a lobotomy since you don’t need all that grey matter anyway, right? Its an overkill. Evolution was drunk at the time, I guess.

    You reduce being a human being to complete irrelevance and helplessness, boys and girls. PP certainly is harmful but many of us only discovered it because it made logical rational sense and answered many puzzles.

    Or as Buggs Bunny once put it, “Of course you know this means war!”

    I will suggest this, my primal friends. Your deep internal feelings are scrambling your minds and thoughts. You are not yet able to truly make sense of what is going on if you do not allow the intellect to be a part of the global consciousness of a healed primaled mind. Buy “Primal Healing and read chapter 8 real careful like. You need it bad!

    A quote from @Laurent in this blog: “A homo sapiens without feeling is not possible by law of nature.”
    No exception was made or distinguished between a primal-ed person and a neurotic one.

  33. Hi Trevor,

    I have been trying to write my trauma history in the new light of Primal Theory. I was recently faced with a dilemma: "should I try to question my domineering (also fit and active) 84yr old dad with pithy questions about my early years, or should I just carry on letting him project his own un-addressed stuff onto me whilst I dutifully play "Pseudo Community" with him.

    The advice from therapists and books (you probably know this) is often to write a letter putting all the gripes in etc and NOT send it. . . The risk is that one can become even more hurt as one opens oneself up to further torment from the original abuser; if you confront.

    Well, I had questions that needed answering and I HAD to face the old bugger with them.

    Actually (like the proverbial CIA agent under oath in court who "can't recall) dad couldn't "remember anything about my early years". That would have been ok if he hadn't also put me down snydly yet again.

    I completely let go and told him a few things about what an abusive father he had been, he couldn't remember and tried to defend himself by being obnoxious back. Now he won't talk to me because I have hurt his feelings. Yet again I have failed him as a son.

    Who needs fathers like this?

    Interestingly I am now quite significantly more able to stand up for myself, to let go and cry when needs must, to be true to myself and others and to continue more deeply grieving the loss of a father who died the day he sent me off to boarding school.

    So, for me, it was better I finally told him face to face. I still hurt and anxious and a traitor but I was hurting and feeling traitorous before anyway.

    I also feel stronger being a grandad to my young sons' son, my grandson.

    Be true to your self and find hidden resources.

    Paul G.

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. Yann, I know a lot about incest since I treated a whole group of them, and in our coming documentary there is a film of one of them. Yes, keep reminding me and I will write about it since it is the most psychotic making event in a woman's life. AJ

  36. A facebook comment:
    "And let's see if i make the whole thing i have a playful and mischievous side to me. My "daimon" ? As i'm having a metaphysical feast. I'm reading Gordon Phinn's trilogy. "Somehow we arrived at the "god level", as i called it, and slipped into its all-enveloping lack of activivity, its endless comforting nothingness.The beautifully upholstered void, as i now sometimes call it.And as i now know, just a touch of omniescence is enough.A little too long there and you don'twant to come back.Astral plane paradises are all very well, especially for the wounded on the road to recovery, but nothingness has got all those heavens beat hands down.Just wait till everyone else finds out! Anyway, we slipped out of that one and i began chattering on about the next level down, what i then called the Jesus/prophet level.I expounded at length about the necessity of Jesus' sacrifice, how we needed divinity in a human body as an example to inspire and imitate as incarnate souls basically just could not relate to God.God was too remote to be of much use to the average schlep 2000 years ago in the Mediterranean. Where was all this coming from, i wondered as i walked back to my vehicle expanded sense of self was the obvious answer.And that expansion haunted me for months, if not years after, until i learned to incorporate it into my daily life.The initial bout of haunting lasted a few weeks until plateauing out, the new level of being somehow incorporated.""

  37. Apollo,
    It can’t be better explained then what Art says in his last comment on his blog. ”More on the difference between awareness and consciousness”

  38. Apollo,

    Not wanting to understand something that makes us feel pain... pain... we could not possibly deal with as small... pain that makes us hate as a defense of what we would otherwise experience. Apollo ... so close yet so far away.


  39. After reading the anonymous comment about The Center For Feeling Therapy, and Trevor's subsequent follow-up comments about that and EST and other schools of what I call the the Schools of Sadistic Psychotherapies, I just want to say that this all brings up Bad Memories. We of the "60's" generations ,who sought relief from our torments brought about by being raised and living in this half- insane society,encountered a whole slew of incompetents, exploiters, sadists, and spiritual buffoons on our healing journey. The worse in the psychotherapy field from my personal experience were GESTALT and EST. May Fritz Perls , Werner Erhard and their followers rot in hell! And it sounds ,from what I only read about, that Synanon was just as bad.And think about all the "alternative" "spiritual" cults out there (Rajneesh, Krishnas, etc...)!While the anonymous poster weeps for us, my reaction is also one of intense anger against these people, for having taken advantage of my naivete and need when I was young.

  40. hi apollo. i like your courage and independence. i know a few people who are stuck in jahovas witness. one of them i like very much, and i think i have lost her forever. i don't think she'll ever think for herself.
    ok, so you've got this small feat. i don't think i would have got this far with 'primal knowledge' if my brother hadn't placed it right under my nose. i would have been just another 'amoeba' for the rest of my life. luckily i didn't have any institution trying to pull my attention away from PT. i didn't have to make a pioneering effort to make the discovery. i got lucky. it seems that you didn't need luck. you got here on your own. that's very commendable. i mean that. my brother deserves that compliment too.
    it's nice that you want to be more compassionate, but you won't be able to muster up any more compassion than your defences will allow. that's basically what Frank is saying. no one is suggesting that neurotics are unable to help themselves.

  41. After I read that touching piece "Please hear what I am not saying", I realised that it sounded familiar. I went to a book I own, and there it was, as a preface to a privately published book, called "Transformation", by Donald Pollock, an ex-convict (1975).It seems that that piece was written by a convict, not named in the book, who wrote it 3 days before he committed suicide. He was an inmate at the St Vincent de Paul penitentiary in Montreal , and so was Pollock , who probably knew him. Sad story.

  42. Paul:


    You wondered: "should I try to question my domineering (also fit and active) 84yr old dad with pithy questions about my early years, or should I just carry on letting him project his own un-addressed stuff onto me whilst I dutifully play 'Pseudo Community' with him?"

    Funny. I asked mine for a small loan, mostly to see if he'd give me even THAT substitute for love. He balked, saying he didn't want to endorse the "slippery slope" I might be on. He didn't get that I was well down the hill.

    He didn't say Yes...but he didn't say No, either. Still, his hesitation crushed and angered me. He HAS money. And I wasn't asking for it gratis. I just wanted a small loan.

    But no. Even that was too much to grant. I wanted him to say, "Sure, son. No problem. You know I love you. Your happiness is the most important thing to me. much do you need?"

    Instead I told HIM, sobbing, that I was sorry I'd called. I added that I was also sorry I'd had him as a father. Trying to sound brave, I finished by huffing that he'd never hear from me again.

    After the initial shock, fear and sadness set in. I feared he'd die without saying he loved me. Or write me out of his will. And I was sad that he, at this late date, still couldn't bring himself to use the right-side of his brain. I realized that even if I'd been more patient, he's really never been there for me emotionally. I always parented him. I always had to figure him out, offering tender mercies per his feelings.

    Today I still wish he was warmer. My siblings say I should "let it go" and "accept him as he is." I can't. I can't pretend I don't want anything from him. He was/is my father. I want MORE. I just wish I felt more solidly that I DESERVED more, too.

    I decided it's better to let my brother and sister care for him now. It hurts me too much to be around Dad. The price of "Pseudo Communion" is high. It leaves me feeling sad, lonely, empty.

    I suppose many males feel this way. It's why so many cry watching FIELD OF DREAMS. We all miss the times we should have had with our dads.

    My father has early Alzheimer's. I wonder if it's the result of his spending years trying to forget his earlier life...and that of his children?

    a son accuses his father (at the latter's birthday gathering, in front of the whole family) of molestation. The other siblings attack the son, trying to protect their father. Finally, however, pater admits his crimes...and lauds his son for never giving up, for always following his suspicion (while the others gave up).

    I wish I'd gotten similar affirmation, recognition that I've seen things accurately, been true to myself, not caved to pressures to "be nice," or pretended my father was warmer than he was/is.

    How terrible that so many men think fatherhood is mostly financial.

    Before the Alzheimer's started, my father said he didn't know about much that had happened in our house. He said he'd been on trips, etc. Yet he never apologized, nor said he was sorry that we kids suffered so much. It's like our lives were a radio show he'd listened to.

    Like your father, mine "won't talk to me because I have hurt his feelings. My brother is like him that way: downplaying the damage he does to others' feelings, being hypersensitive to his own. The world is to cater to him, not vice versa.

    Maybe it's better this way. At least I'm not stuffing my feelings to accommodate father (or brother). At some point giving so much to others is masochistic. Psychologically suicidal. I need to prime my own self-esteem engine, not let others drain me trying to handle their needs and feelings. I wish things were different, but they're not. At least my sadness is reality-based.

  43. Marco: Remind me to publish what I wrote on cults. Werner Erhard use to sit at my lectures take notes and then apply the ideas to his therapy with disastrous consequences. He called to say that he was sending his plane for me to come to dinner. Of course I never accepted. He had an enormous stash of money. I knew the lawyer prosecuting Synanon. They put a rattlesnake in his mailbox. They always degenerate. I bought Perl's tape on what he does. It made absolutely no sense. Buyer beward. AJ

  44. Dr. Janov,
    Please write about the incest. I’m desperately waiting for.

    20 years ago I wrote (very mechanical) about the memory of my incest, but I never could address, this movie in my head, emotionally.

    Thanks, Sieglinde

  45. Trevor: I saw Celebration; it is a remarkable powerful film. When I was in psychoanalysis 100 years ago, and that's not much of an exaggeration, the shrink asked me why I called my mother every week. I said, "I am waiting for her to say she loves me." Never going to happen, but the need was so powerful that despite all evidence to the contrary hope springs eternal. art janov

  46. DR Janov: I read some stuff you wrote about cults in one of your books, and I thought it was brilliant. Was that in "Prisoners of Pain"? I can`t remember.If you have more material about cults, I`ll read it, that`s for sure.

    Luckily I was not in any very oppressive cult (an offshoot of EST). There were a lot worse, some cruel and murderous. Still, it took me 10 years to get over my resentment at having been exploited. And it can still rankle.A lesson here perhaps is that not every alternative in psychotherapy and spirituality from the 60`s was a constructive alternative to mainstream institutions.

    As far as Fritz Perls, there`s that famous story of him sneakily going across a room to sexually grope a young woman at the Esalen Institute. She tells him to bug off, and rightly so. I mean,what is this abhorent behavior from someone who was supposed to have been one of the great leaders of the counter-culture in psychotherapy?!One of his disciples, whom I did a few sessions with while I was attending college , was such a harsh arrogant person, I could not beleive it. I dumped her quickly,and never had anything to do what these psychotherapeutic fascists again.


  47. Marco: I wrote about cults in Beyond Belief book which is not yet out. art janov

  48. Dr Janov: I'm really looking forward to reading "Beyond Belief".Tell us when it comes out.


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.