Monday, March 28, 2011

More on the Difference Between Awareness and Consciousness

May I respectfully suggest that most of the current problems in psychotherapy today lie in the inability to differentiate between awareness and consciousness; thus, the cognitivists and insight therapist believe that if the patient is aware she will make progress. And I suggest that awareness has little to do with progress unless you are happy to get well from the neck up and leave the body behind.

So, let’s define things: awareness involves the last evolved neurologic system, the neocortex where ideas, beliefs and perceptions lie. Consciousness involves the three levels of consciousness, the three key brain systems working in harmony and fluidity. Consciousness involves all of us and particularly our history. Awareness is ahistoric and since we are historic beings we cannot hope to get well if we leave our past behind; if we ignore our history and what happened to us from our life in the womb onward.

When we rely on awareness we are dealing with a thin sliver of brain function, disconnected from physiologic processes which areprimal the motor for how and what we think. Thinking and beliefs (which is what we are asked to do in cognitive therapy, believe the therapy and therapist) are ultimately malleable and change with the wind; not so with lower brain processes which involved survival, and should not be so malleable. When we rely on awareness we are avoiding our life blood, our feelings; that is what makes us feeling human beings.

Why is feeling so important? When we speak of “quality of life,” we are dealing with feeling. So we have one brain, the left, that is fragmented and the other that sees the whole. To become whole we must manage to recruit the fragments of our lives into a complete picture; for that we need both brains hemispheres working in harmony. That is one definition of consciousness and its differentiation from awareness. In therapy we see how this works when after a feeling, the patient will begin a litany of, “That’s why I did this and why I did that.” The fragmented behavior begins to make total sense. It has a gestalt context—consciousness out of unconsciousness.

The Problem with Left Brain-Centered Psychotherapy:

Unfortunately, we tend to glorify left brain awareness to the neglect of the right feeling brain. We expect the left brain to fight our battles, particularly, the internal enemies. We do this without taking into account that left-brain development came into being much later in evolutionary history than the right brain, and in each of our individual lives, in part as a means of disengaging us from the other side. One kind of brain tissue cannot do the work of another. The left brain developed different abilities to avoid a redundancy between left and right. The left brain’s activity helps soothe and calm us. It allowed and continues to allow us to defend against feelings that were too much to bear. We use the left hemisphere to rationalize a hurt or insult so it won’t create so much pain. Or at the mercy of needs of which we may be only dimly aware, the left brain can superimpose all kinds of needs onto a romantic object and imagine her to be wonderful, only to be disappointed two years down the line because it didn’t see reality. It didn’t listen to the right because communication was either reduced or non-existent. When perception is detached from need and feeling, we misperceive. For instance, if we need a strong protector, we will overlook the other person’s weaknesses and ignore his flaws. We "see" protection where it may not exist, or we get protection accompanied by total domination.

It is difficult to know what is real about humans if we take words alone as a sign of reality.

The left frontal area is also where we conjure up or embrace beliefs(*). Insights given by a therapist are ultimately beliefs to soothe and ease pain. So of course the therapy patient feels better after a session. She has knocked down painful feelings; that is one of the key roles of the top level neocortex—suppress feelings. Indeed, the words of a therapist, no matter whether right or wrong, can be soothing to our agonies. It is not only the content of what the therapist says, but just his words offered in soothing tones. Oddly enough, that tone affects the right brain, not the left. The content of the insight remains in the left. We can be fooled into thinking that the content of an insight is what makes us feel better, but in reality it is the reassuring tone, all along. It dampens right side pain, the pain of a father who never cared, was never soft, and whose tone was unrelentingly harsh. The therapist’s presence says, “I’m here now. It’s going to be all right.” Just being in his office can make us feel better. In other words, the left side allows us to be partially oblivious to ourselves. This is particularly egregious when it comes to psychotherapy, which traditionally has been left brain focused for over 100 years.

It is now apparent, due to an abundance of new research, that psychotherapy must address the right brain and consider how to affect right-left brain connections—as this is the way feelings become integrated. Psychotherapy must work to help not only ourmental state but our entire neuro-physiologic system. This is the difference between dealing with words (left brain) and the use of images, scenes, and feelings (right brain). The former is what occurs when we “reflect” on our past, while genuine emotional retrieval, which is what is needed for integration and genuine healing, requires access to the right brain feeling structures. Once again we see that it is not possible to use ideas and thinking processes, which literally came along millions of years later in brain development to affect what is lower in the brain, and developed millions earlier.

(*) The right frontal area is as involved as the left, although the contributions to the ideas are different. The right will tend to “like” grander ideas.


  1. Hello Art,

    Here I think is a good way to spell out the difference between awareness and consciousness:

    Intellectuals will know of the story of Plato's cave. This is the story of a group of prisoners who spent their entire lives, from birth, chained to a cave and knowing of no other reality than the shadows on the cave walls, of which were created by passing animals and people in the background. The outside world did not exist for these people because they had never seen it.

    Awareness is going up the prisoners and telling them all about the world above them. Intellectuals would call this "waking up". They are wrong though. Real waking up would be taking off the chains and letting the prisoners EXPERIENCE the world above them, first hand. It's then that we go from Awareness to Consciousness. Awareness is knowledge - consciousness is experience.

    All of us neurotics are stuck in the Plato's Cave of our minds. Imprisoned in the frontal contex and unable to migrate to the lower zones. We may come to know all about our unconscious feelings via any brand of psychoanalysis, but if we don't have the ability to actually experience them we will remain forever stuck in our neurosis.

  2. Art: Another great blog. Dare I put my two cents in to offer it from another perspective? well! I will.

    I had my first Primal way before I knew about "The Primal Scream" or Primal therapy. I was in a London clinic getting a penicillin shot and within seconds, dropped to the floor and found myself screaming at the top of my lungs "I'm dying, I'm dying". I didn't know I had that type of scream in me and there I was a baby in my crib (cot as we English called it) seeing, hearing, tasting in my mouth like I did as the baby me. The experince was almost overwhelming (I say almost because I did manage to get through it without going totally crazy) I knew that the doctor didn't have a clue about what was happening to me. All I knew was that if this was memory then all prior notions of what memory was went out the window. Also all sorts of revaluations (insights) about my early history came flooding back to me and I had no idea what to make of most of it EXCEPT that I knew it was more real than anything up to that point in my life (I was 33 years old).

    I tried talking to all my friends and read avidly all the books that might relate to this situation I could lay my hands on. No-one and no book made any sense to me and yet I refused to dismiss this experience as an aberration. Some seven years later I was lent a copy of "The Primal Scream" and only had to read the introduction before throwing the book in air and shouting. "I've got it" I could not put the book down and read it from cover to cover in two days (all 500 pages) then immediately started to re-read it, just to make sure I got it right. The first of the revaluations was that I had a 're-living' experience, not a memory, and that I connected to a part of my past which, in hindsight, made total sense.

    From that moment on the distinction between awareness and consciousness was for ever implanted in my very BEING. I knew I was connected to an inner me. The notion of an unconscious and conscious self made total sense. It became obvious,to me, that the "split" was created in early infant-hood. Integrating the conscious with the unconscious (subconscious as I would prefer) became the way for me to see it. Later, as I started to contemplate the development (evolution) of us humans, I saw clearly the divide between the right and left frontal brain as a consequence of neurosis, and the notion that there was this OTHER STATE OF BEING beyond neurosis.

    Not sure this will make any great sense to others, but I prefer it as yet another way to look at ourselves. Preventing this split in the womb and/or infant-hood might be the way of the future for human-kind. Jack

  3. So glad you brought this subject up. Chapter 8, no? Here are some things I see. I agree a lot with you in chap 8 that our global integrated “consciousness” is the sum of all the parts of the brain fully connected and integrated. This is the ideal state. Problem is that when needs are denied, a seemingly routine and even guaranteed outcome, that we suffer pain and integration is interrupted, for the sake of preservation.

    So hence the distinction between awareness, which is not connected by feeling or integrated with other parts, “Consciousness” for which I added “global” or “whole” or “holistic” consciousness. But where aspiring amoebas and I seem to lock horns is that I say evolution did not spend 3 million years growing toward a left frontal cortex for nothing, or worse, made a mistake. Being that the cortex is meant to be a part of the global integrated consciousness, there was clearly an advantage to having this intellectual ability.

    But aspiring amoebas say, no, the cortex was a serious mistake and of no use whatsoever. How much better if we could just scoop it out of our heads and be done with hit. But here is why I think this mistake has been made. They are not distinguishing the proper context. As well, perhaps the intellect is unfairly blamed for being hi-jacked by other forces within, who then bully the cortex to go along with their self-deceit and desire to run and escape. Lets start with proper context.

    When in Primal therapy trying to feel, the intellect needs to get out of the way. Fact! In this context, it is about trying to hook up and integrate the pain because the blocking of the pain is hindering the connecting and development of the whole brain, including the intellect. In this context of therapy, thinking is not needed and actually hinders. But in day to day life, the intellect can be very valuable thing to have.

    Pain is stored so that we can learn from it. Pain allowed to connect and integrate will allow the circuits to connect so that parts of the brain that were either lost to “awareness” or reduced in “awareness,” can now fully and easily connect and communicate with each other. We often find learning tough because the intellect has been isolated from the rest of the brain. But all sections being fully united and communicating, then in theory, learning should be so much easier and so much more capable and so much more quickly learned for now the intellect has “friends” and “helpers” to advance the “global intellect. Each piece of the brain, formerly isolated, can now draw on all the other sections of the brain to form a very powerful intellect composed of all skills, emotions and instincts.

    Without the help of all the other sections, the intellect is at an extreme disadvantage because it is isolated and without help or counselors and consultants, the other sections of the brain. Instinct and feeling are not much good without an intellect as well. All the pieces together make a real good team. United they stand, divided they fall or at least struggle to make sense of things.

    The purpose of PT, contrary to the opinions of amoebas, is not to get rid of the intellect or disown it, but to integrate it and make it far more effective as the useful tool it is, among the many tools of the global brain and consciousness. Am I wrong, Arthur? Speak or forever hold your peace for some of your students seem to be lacking some integration of theory, it would seem to me. On to part 2 of 3 or maybe even 4 ;-)!

  4. Always blaming the intellect

    The poor intellect! Always the scape goat! The black sheep on the brain family. I am here to set the record straight. We know that when trying to integrate, which is the real purpose of PT, we are integrating those hidden blocked feelings. Thinking is not needed for this step. WE who appreciate PT know this. No dispute or argument.

    But having lived lives of denial of needs, we all end up fractured in the brain. The intellect is left to fend for itself without help and benefit of the rest of the “family” of the brain. Now the intellect appears to be the saboteur of the therapy process. But that I mean the intellect is blamed for rationalizations that blow feeling and healing and integration. But I am going to bitterly dispute this notion.

    It has been said, the intellect came up with some delusional idea to kill pain and block feeling. The intellect evidently assumed to be in control of the whole brain. Is it really in charge? Well, I see it as more of an obedient soldier who does as ordered. Or maybe he is a lawyer, or team of lawyers, hired to defend the primal self, who knows full well he is guilty but wants the lawyer to use his talents at sophistry to con and deceive the court with his eloquent BS.

    Within the mysterious “global consciousness” are many forces at work. I do not believe that even the intellect is strictly in the left hemisphere only, nor is the 2nd line completely free or independent from the 1st and 3rd. Everything is shared to some degree with the rest, but not a lot or anywhere near as much as it should be.

    But when one force struggles or competes against another in the brain, only one can be the winner. When one has prevailed, he takes control of the intellect and says, “find me a way out of this. I do not want to face this fear or pain.” So the intellect, the slave and suck-up to whoever has gained the reins of power in the mind, goes to work to find a good reason or rationale to block the pain, kill it, and give reason for it as well. What a dedicated servant, huh?

    Arthur has often struggled and likely been frustrated when some seem to do well and even go far and then suddenly, out of nowhere, they seem to abort the primal process and can not or will not go any further. Was it the fault of the therapist or therapy method? I think not. Was it the intellect? Nope! It was the prevailing will, hard to pin down to any particular area, that decided enough was enough and this damn therapy is coming to an end right now. Intellect, get us out of here pronto! Warp 10 Scotty.

    Ever heard the saying: you can lead a horse to water but you can not make him drink? The horse has a will of its own. So do we. You can convince someone of PT. You can even get them to come to Cali and start therapy. But you can not make them let the feelings come up. There may well be a struggle (there usually is in all of us) inside that we do not detect. They seem to be doing well and then it breaks down. We can not do anything about this. It is not the fault of Arthur or any other Primal Therapist. If the will is not willing, you are going nowhere. And when the will wants a way out, it will find a way out. Guaranteed !!! The intellect is a reluctant slave of the will.

  5. Part 4

    Consider this, my primal friends. The Primal Scream was published in 1970, after some years in the 60s developing. This, as best as I know, was the first time that global society, the race of human being, began to show an understanding of the problem. And all it took was . . . .3 million years. What a journey! Why so long? Because the intellect needed to develop. A need or ability to ponder and examine the self. Other wise, the problems sabotaging minds and consciousness, not to mention the body and health, would never be able to overcome the obstacles that had developed prior to the intellect.

    Now I do subscribe to a God/creation theory and would place our existence at considerably less than 3 million, but that is not important nor does it make a difference except that maybe the intellect was designed and created for that purpose rather than creating itself but this is not an important distinction at this point. I am willing to consider it from an evolution perspective for I do not have the hate or prejudice that many have for any belief in an intelligent creative force. I do not require that all minds see and think as I do.

    But what remains is that the intellect came about last and there must have been some reason. I believe it was to overcome pain and enable integration.

    Here is a paradox and puzzle for you all. It is law. Law is found in religion, philosophy, politics, war, science, and many other places, too. Human minds recognized that in order to live together in relative peace and harmony, that certain rules had to be agreed upon, observed, enforced, and even punished when violated. How did they do this?

    The intellect was able to see that stability and reliability were enhanced with certain behaviors and protections and order was destroyed when these were allowed to lapse. We recognize through law an order. It is a process designed to remove, as much as possible, selfish concerns of a few and secure and protect the mutual benefit of the many. This is a process of the intellect. The intellect has often served us well, but is, sooner or later, subverted bout our primal selves and their inherent selfishness.

    The intellect is sort of an attempt to right wrongs and enable long term survival. But as good as evolution may be, no one can prove that it is, in fact, perfect and infallible. It attempt may fail. But the intellect, to me, was an attempt to bring primal forces under control and allow this heightened intellectual capacity of humans to expand and not implode. Yet, as we start off the 21st century, we do seem to be sort of heading toward the biggest implosion we have perhaps ever seen and we maybe the cause of that implosion rather than comets, or earth upheavals.

    Why even here in this forum, we have those who resist the intellect and swear it is our doom. I swear it is our only hope. So will we all become amoebas (figuratively speaking) or will we proceed to the next level that was intended by the intellect?

    The intellect is part of the whole collective integrated consciousness as was intended by a process almost beyond our detection. Amoebas really need to get this since they are unwittingly falling into the trap of the primal saboteur within. Their intellects have been hi-jacked by a frightened primal self who wants to run and retreat from this horrible fear that life and death of the whole human race may very well lie in the victor from within. We have opposing forces in us.

    They were mean to be complimentary, but they often end up in war and opposition. There was wars within and wars outside of us in the world. We need to win our own personal wars and stop helping others fight the external wars, also launched by the primal saboteur within. I guts to do one more brief part. Sorry ;-)

    by the way, you don't have to read them, you know.

  6. Part 5

    From George Orwell, 1945:
    "At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas of which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is not done to say it. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the high-brow periodicals."

    Orwell as brilliant in that he saw what many of us see, but he consciously recognized it and verbalized it in print. He saw that there was a power and influence all around that never said anything and yet made itself felt, known, and even feared. Most people are blissfully ( or is it?) unware of any of it or little of it, anyway.

    Those who exist in this prevailing power, authority, and orthodoxy, are expected to tow the party line and obey without question. If you challenge it, thereby said to be not behaving, you soon find out about this power very quickly and harshly, too. It is a rude awakening. Most important was Orwell’s last comment above.

    “A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the high-brow periodicals."

    Do you believe the above? You should. Primal Theory is a near perfect example of an unfashionable theory of psychology, rarely accepted or practiced, or even acknowledge by the academic mainsteam as well as the psychology mainstream. It gets little attention and is sought by few and served by even fewer. If it were a patient in a hospital, you’d barely see any signs of life. It might look like a coma patient.

    We live in an orthodoxy. It is all around us. It does not tolerate dissent. But within each of us is also an orthodoxy, and it, too, hates dissent. It is constantly vigilant in looking for any threats or perceived threats. And it controls its media even as it is controlled in the world. Our intellect is that media. It is not allowed to contradict the orthodoxy, the voice of authority and power. Our intellect is controlled by often tyrannical forces so that it is only allowed to do what the prevailing orthodoxy from within allows.

    To free the intellect, we need to feel .But to feel, we need the intellect. To get that intellect freed, we need to win that internal battle inside us for supremacy. It is a battle of wills.

    The will is what I will describe what Arthur described, that vague broad global integrated holistic connected (or not) Consciousness. The will does not exist in any particular place. It is the sum of the parts, connected or fractured. That will must come to realize that its best long term beneficial interests lie in becoming connected and integrated by the process of feeling.

    It’s a catch 22 for we can’t do it without one or the other. Both need to be on board together. The will and the intellect need to be together on this or it does not work.

    The intellect has been suggested to be sort of a sissy, something useless as long as we are “neutrotic.” But the intellect has demonstrated is ability many times in many ways over at least 4,000 years, if not 3 million. We have law or the aspiration to law. We have developed many survival skills and enabled many things far beyond the limits of our sense with computers and other such technology. The intellect can perform. Yes, it is hindered and has a very difficult time when cut off from the rest of the brain but it still can perform and work. It may need crutches or a wheelchair, figuratively speaking but it can function. We need to ponder our deep inner primal self to give the intellect some room and freedom. In turn, it can give the brain the freedom to feel and connect by getting out of the way while it connects.

  7. very well written Art. it just takes a little imagination for the reader to appreciate just how important your message is. surely a staunch left-brainer has the occasional dream which makes him feel a little more real for a few minutes just after he has woken up. if only we could capture those moments....the times when the left-brainer's imagination could help him to see the importance of primal theory.
    i don't know....i just think maybe a camping trip with a left-brain cognitive therapist. he and i wake up in the middle of the night in our tent because it's too cold. we both stumble outside for a pee in the bushes. still sleepy....cold grass crunching under our feet. you know...those moments when everything feels more real. not so damned analytical. there must be times when people are able to feel what you are saying. we can all feel to some extent. it doesn't take much feeling to appreciate everything you have written above. just a little imagination.

  8. Hi, I am hoping to put Art's comment within a slightly wider context perhaps because I am interested in viewing primal therapy within the wider tradition of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy to hopefully get a round view.
    Psychoanalysis has from the start focused on achieving insight and understanding in a patient rather than 'cure'. Therefore, psychological problems became equated with NOT being aware of conflicts underlying behaviour and the need to bring unconscious motives into consciousness. But curing or resolving said conflicts was another matter altogether.
    Cog-behaviourism has seen problems and disorders as essentially the result of bad learning or maladaptive conditioning which can be corrected. Pyschological health is therefore reflected and measured in appropriate behaviour (an adaptive mediatied response to a stimulus).
    Unfortunately, very few therapies emphasise capacity for feeling as a measure of health as Primal Therapy does. Perhaps some case can be made for attachment therapy or even existential therapy in this respect. Attachment therapy at least seeks to understand health in terms of the quality of primal/family relationships in as far as they promote basic evolutionary needs for safety, comfort, emotional warmth. . Existential therapy also tries to make people aware of the anxieties inherent within the human condition which in turn can be seen as engaging with right brain processes albeit indirectly. Here again, health is seen as becoming more realistic in one's understanding of life so that pain/anxiety can be integrated and accepted as part of living. Better capacity for feeling may in itself be a by-product rather than the main focus of such therapy.
    Unfortunately or fortunately, psychology is a diverse field which has no single definition for what health means, let alone awareness or consciousness. But whatever meaning we favour I think Art's focus on the need to go deeper to examine those structures that relate to human evolutionary history is the way we should be looking at treatment. But the fact is that improved feeling is far harder to measure from a scientific basis (and in terms of health insurance company criteria) than the clear outcomes of therapy (albeit less structural) that cog-behaviourist has a proven record of doing.

  9. It is not difficult to understand that you have something about you that we others have to struggle with. When you talk about awareness and consciousness as two sentences differ from each other… with an inportens of life and death… you put your thumb on the difference between feeling and thinking as the answer to come alive or not... fantastick Art.

  10. Richard,

    I do not think we can feel to some degree... because we do not know when the "feeling" is… or what it is about... we are confused or not. Either we “feel”… or my feel… we are not sure... we can express the right words for the feeling but it's oh so far from the consciousness of it.
    We are confused or not... the degree of its matter is only at it's sense when we begin our therapy... then the degree will determine how much suffering we have to go through and also my where we were at our previous understanding. The degree of consciousness we had... will only tell for how long we have to be in Primal Therapy.
    To “understand”… be conscious about what Primal Therapy is all about our own pain... pain we can not stand. Not in our understanding… awareness of it.


  11. Apollo: I always wonder why I write when there are so many bright people out there who turn a phrase better than I can. AJ

  12. Apollo: You are a creationist? Who'd of thunk it. AJ

  13. Apollo part 5: In order to feel we do need the intellect at first but it must soon recede as lower levels take over. If that does not happen there will be no cure and no improvement. The idea is not to get away from the intellect but to get away from the intellectuals who use intellect as a defense. art janov

  14. Hey Will! It is not that hard to measure feeling. We measure repression which is a function of repression of feeling. Read Primal Healing. It takes time and that is why it does not interest insurance companies. They don't look at feeling or health; they look at profit. Bright stuff, as usual. art janov

  15. An email comment:
    "Thank you for your continued "insights" into the emotional sphere. I have been doing primal self-therapy since 1988. Slow, excruciatingly painful, with the shockingly criminal abuses "my little one" endured finally exposed. Yes, indeed, they clarify my unhappy life choices.

  16. First when You did not hear me and did not publish my comment with some quotes from M. Feldenkrais, it disappointed me. Wether You did not dare to disclose it for some reasons, or if you want to keep your Reflections orthodox, is of less importance. It had the result that I tried to put F.’s definition into my own experiences.

    During my horrorfilled birth process parts of my head, arms and legs were numbed and during stressful situations the same thing repeated and happened for decades. For many years, behind it all, I had consciousness of a pain that was possible to get rid of. When I read the Primal Scream, I became aware of my pain behind my epilepsy. Later with a harmonious Primal awareness/consciousness, I could benefit and explain the consequences of the far too reckless Rolfingsessions in Boulder 1979. I lived the pain, the fight for life and death over and over again for years and became increasingly conscious of my real feelings. I felt relived when I no longer needed part of my neurotic, leftside, intellectual act outs to protect me against my pain.

    Now, doing Rolfingsessions for the second time I am somewhat surprised and pleased to experience how the numbness from birth has stayed and grown solid in crucial parts of my body’s muscles and fascia. When trying to change these conditions I realize that the left brain’s awareness is not knowing how deep lying, unconscious, realities are working. However, introducing the basic movements according to the gravity, I am starting to get aware of my consciousness, and my feelings and reactions are getting better and more natural.

    It seems all complicated when I try to describe it in a compressed few sentences. Seen over a lifetime it is a marvellous, real, liberating feeling to be both aware and conscious. ”Evolution in reverse”.

    Jan Johnsson

    You always wonder why You write when there are so many bright people out there who turn a phrase better than You? As in Primal Therapy we all need a wise catalyst!

  17. Dr Janov: in case you have any self-doubt (as expressed in one of your messages to Apollo), you turn a phrase as well as anyone. You`ve been able to very adequately describe your basic discoveries. It amazes me how you can clearly go over basically the same important themes, but from new and always enlightening perspectives.The Primal Scream, in particular, has incredible depth and power.Every sentence is brilliant.I can see now how such a book could change lives by reaching people in the secret recesses of their sufferring souls when practically no one else could reach them (like great music). Everything you write, in my opinion, is worth reading, and I give your books and articles all my attention when I read them .

    Now, as far as this article, I always find those of your articles dealing with the intellect and its proper relation to feeling as particularly relevant, because I`ve had problems all my life, like so many others,trying to render to the intellect what is of the intellect, and render to feelings what is of feeling.Before persons such as yourself pointed out such problems in contemporary people and society, writing in the field of psychology, many artists after the Industrial Revolution, in their own way, pointed out the diabolical in the excesses of the intellect by creating such characters as the Mad Scientist, unfeeling extraterrestials with over-developed heads, films like Metropolis incarnating dystopias with huge impersonal skyscrapers and masses of half-conscious drones walking the streets and working in oppressive factories, etc... Now this does not mean that we have to get into anti-scientific , anti-technological or anti-industrial excesses, but we have to move personally and collectively to some type of new balance.

    Finally I really appreciated that quote by Orwell that Apollo reproduced for us. The conformity which Orwell discusses has been a preoccupation of mine for a long time.If there is one thing that can irritate me , it is the conformity which so many groups enforce on their members.When Orwell writes that this conformity is surprisingly effective, he is so right.It is a chilling experience to even partially question the basic ideology of most groups , and to then feel 99% of the people tuning you out. I used to do this in AA,and they don`t need to turf you out bodily for you to get that they don`t want to hear that God does not exist (for example). And all this with beatific smiles on their faces. And in the realm of politics, it floored me to read that the bankrupt policies which led to our recent massive Recession were so entrenched, so pervasive amongst the ruling elites, that practically no one saw the recession coming...except for a few isolated Cassandras who were dismissed out of hand, even losing their jobs. Well they turned out to be right. Just as Dr Janov and Reich will eventually turn out to be considered right by the mainstream. Eventually... but not in my lifetime.

  18. Apollo: We DON''T feel the intellect, we THINK it. First; let me say I am a very intelligent person and I know it. I don't believe it and I don't need others to confirm it I've known it for many years now and I use it in my daily life. When I first read the "Primal Scream" I went to see Wendy Campbell in Cambridge, England, who was thinking about opening a Primal Institute there. At the end of the interview she said to me that I had a very intelligent understanding of Primal Therapy; albeit that my intelligence was my greatest defense. I knew instantly she was correct and also knew that if I was to be successful with the therapy I was going to need to drop my defenses (intellect). That had a profound influence on me then, and there-after in my therapy. Sadly, I will never be an ameaba and will never be able to rid myself of my intellect. That came with the territory ... my neurosis. but I did know that it was a great hindrance to becoming feeling-full.

    To me Apollo; you convolute your brain with all this intellectual stuff and are defending like crazy, seemingly in order to hang onto it like it is a life and death situation. Believe all you like; but to me one either KNOWS or one DOES NOT KNOW and there's no middle ground. It's just another mental process for avoiding FEELINGS (pain). What Art was trying to get across in this blog IMO was there is another STATE OF BEING ... beyond neurosis and that neuro-physiologically he was describing it as 'AWARENESS versus CONSCIOUSNESS. We are the only creature on the planet that has this proclivity to THINK and assume that we are cleverer than other creatures. Evolution wise, thinking (I conjecture) has only been around for about 20,0000 maybe 30,000 years at most . We created the intellect in order to not FEEL (pain). But that's a concept that requires us to make a "conceptual leap". Something IMO that few of us are able to perform. Try reading "Gospel According to Jack" Jack

  19. Art, theoretically, it is possible to remove about two thirds of your brain. Your eyes, face, skull, and entire body, including the remaining third of brain tissue, could be disposed of. So now you are nothing more than two thirds of a brain, hooked up to an artificial blood supply. So long as you remain conscious (and yes, it is possible) you will not lose your sense of self. You will continue to be YOU. We can take it a step further. Many of the cells in your two thirds of brain can die gradually, and you will continue to be you. and some of those cells can be replaced (the brain does grow during adulthood) and you will continue to be yourself. BUT your feelings will change. you will probably feel bad, but you will be yourself.

    So can you be an Atheist? Who'd of thunk that! You are a conscious entity whose existence seems to rely on two thirds of a brain grown from some DNA that was grown inside a microscopic droplet of mucus.

    And somehow, you KNOW that this chain reaction can never happen again, despite the unfathomable quantities of mucus randomly exploding in a universe too large to comprehend. What were the odds of you coming into existence, and what are the odds of it never happening again? Let's consider a time frame of infinity. Yes infinity. Or do you KNOW that the universe is going to terminate itself forever? Apparently that's impossible. It would seem that matter and energy are interchangeable and one form must always exist at any given time. it is more probable that the universe has many parts that rhythmically expand and contract perpetually, with molecules endlessly exploding and joining to form accidental life forms.

    Are you lucky to be alive? you got ahead of all the other sperm, got to the egg first. did you succeed on your first attempt? or have you been trying for zillions of years? here's the could you possibly fail? if the universe is truly chaotic and it's motion is never-ending, then it is impossible for your DNA molecules and the life-giving environmental molecules to remain separated for infinity. THEORETICALLY you will be born again (*)

    if you want to get rid of this comment forever, you could try sending it to your 'recycle' bin.

    (*) if anyone is feeling suicidal, please don't listen to this might be totally wrong. i think we should all live with the theory that we only get one life.

  20. Hi All,

    Apollo, you've saved me thinking and writing, lovely!

    "The idea is not to get away from the intellect but to get away from the intellectuals who use intellect as a defense. art janov ".

    This one made me fall over laughing. If only you guys knew what was going on in my life at the moment you might understand how "funny" this is for me.

    Frank, within seconds of reading your post I was on the floor too. Thanks for the clarity on the difference between 're-living & memory', I had been struggling with this till now. Great.

    I sense in myself the need to suppress my feelings when in a difficult situation. Fight and Flight needs awareness though of course this is risky because without the feelings one might hit the wrong person or run in the wrong direction. Thus, maintaining consciousness before needing the restriction of awareness is crucial.
    Wild mammals cannot be trained to hit and/or run. . . they just do, in a preprogrammed way.
    We need to be trained to understand this difference. The more trauma a little one has the more difficult it is to train her.
    Last but not least, from what I understand about carpentry and design:

    "Function must not be confused with purpose". So, awareness is a lot like function and consciousness is a lot like purpose. Don't confuse the tool with why you are using it. . .

    Paul G.

    PS, the problem with amoebas is that they have spent too long vegetating in a consumer society and have lost the ability to make things for themselves. We humans need to be trained to make things and then actually do it, for ourselves. Other mammals do not need this training, we do.

  21. I am not claiming to be any sort of expert, although I am quite curious about the world, in fact I have even bought "The Gospel According to Jack" and read bits of it. There may be a lot to be said for Jack's views on the origins of thought, but it occurs to me that he may have to look back a lot earlier than the 20,000 to 30,000 years that he proposes.
    One of the authors I like is Stephen Oppenheimer, who has attempted to synthesize evidence from several different disciplines (including genetics, archaeology, climatology and linguistics) to explore the deep history of humankind. In his highly readable book "Out of Eden: the peopling of the world" (first published in 2003), he points out that the human brain stopped growing about 300,000 years ago. The people around then known as Homo Helmei (or archaic Homo Sapiens) had an average brain volume of 1,400 cubic cm, slightly larger than ours (with a body the same size as ours). They must have had a considerable cerebral cortex, and what would they have been using it for if not for thinking?
    In the same book, Oppenheimer draws on the work of anthropologists S.McBrearty and A.S. Brooks, showing for example that painting with pigments, and the use of bladed tools, were both invented some 280,000 years ago, and that items were being traded in Africa over distances up to 200 miles by 140,000 years ago. This would seem to suggest that people could think by then.
    Like I said I am only a layman, I might be interpreting what I read naively, and there could well be more recent research that I don't know about. In no way am I intending to dismiss what Jack has said, but just to give him and others "food for thought". So I hope this gets published.

    Graham, England UK

  22. Graham: Thanks I am going to order the book. art janov

  23. no desire to be astute at this stage...just my thoughts in response to Jack and Graeme's comments...

    Neurosis in Animals:

    I bet we were neurotic before we stood on two legs....before we had an intellect. A kitten came to my door, scrounging for food. She was almost dead, barely able to walk. I picked her up and felt her skin slipping over her ribs. Totally starved. After her first meal and drink she flopped down onto a pillow and slept for two days without moving! I gradually brought her back to health. She is now about four years old and her body is very stunted. She will always look like a kitten. She hisses at ALL cats. If one of them inadvertently walks within about ten feet of her food bowl, she will try to sever the jugular of the offending cat. She's not affectionate with humans....doesn't like to be picked up. Almost never purrs...she does sometimes for a tiny moment when she knows there is food coming. She's fat because she eats from many different houses now. I am giving her tiny portions to make her feel 'fed'....otherwise she squeals for HOURS until I feed her. I think she's carrying an imprint. Her defences are not intellectual, but she certainly has defences.

    Baby circus elephants are chained to a post. They pull on the chain, in great distress, for months. When they are adults, they are tied with a light rope instead of a chain. The elephant could easily break the rope but it NEVER tries. Is the elephant naturally too dumb to detect a difference between a thin rope and a heavy chain? Or did the elephant go crazy in those first few months of life after birth....crazy to the point where it could no longer recognise it's own strength and size compared to the tiny man with the whip.
    Wild horses are 'broken in' in much the same way. They learn to live with pain. They suppress their instincts, and accept a life of imprisonment and slavery. Are horses neurotic?

    The human intellect helps with repression because it can....not because it was specifically designed to do so. The intellect is a multi-tasker, as are all parts of the brain and body. The brain works as a whole, even when it is full of blockages. It's not really a battle between the intellect and the feeling centers. All parts of the brain play their part to ensure an optimal state of neurosis. Neurotic pathways and gates are carefully constructed and maintained in all parts of the brain, until there is a suitable time for healing. Unconscious memories are carefully preserved aswell. Electricity is regularly sent through the imprint circuitry to make sure it doesn't thin and lose information. This background maintenance work creates a background feeling of unease. A here-and-now event can draw upon the same circuits that are needed to bring a similar but traumatic feeling into consciousness. In this case the uneasy background feeling will come closer to consciousness. In short, I suspect this resonating effect is caused by shared circuitry. Electricity always appears to dart around the same areas even when the person is doing completely different tasks. I'm guessing that similar feelings share the same circuitry, except for some instructions used to separate the finer details and strength of one memory from another. My suspicion is based on observations of the retina and other job-sharing/multitasking parts of the body -- all obviously designed for compactness and efficiency. But none of this is important. We can just call it resonance.

    I wonder how often wolves primal when they feel safe in their pack. Wolves certainly dream, and I'm guessing there may be a connection between dreams and the background maintenance work required to keep traumatic memories preserved for decades, if not a lifetime.

  24. Richard: I will tell you a bit of my life so that maybe it can help others. My life at home was barren and sterile, apart from no love, there were no books, records or anything of culture anywhere; after all, dad drove truck. But when I was seventeen a cousin came to my house with his college friends, and for the first time I heard an intellectual conversation, and it was WOW! I never knew you could talk about anything other than did you do your chores? I never knew there was a universe of intellect in the world. It was a discovery that lasted me the rest of my life. I sought that out as a real need, to learn to think and reflect. I never knew you could reflect and think about things. Sounds strange but if you grow up in a home with no outside interests it is a miracle to discover. And now I never knew that you could feel. That feelings counted and were the essence of life. And it seems half the world, especially of shrinks, does not know that either. art janov

  25. Richard: I had a dog who was abused early on. I put his head in my armpit and stroked him. He cried like a little puppy. To me that was a primal. I rescue dogs. My current dog was badly abused at the start of her life. I could not put a collar on her for months. She never learned to play, is always slight depressed, can't chase a ball etc. I give her a good life, which is all any of us can do. She has to keep me in her sight at all times, which is why I take her to work. One reason I rescue animals and give most of my money to animal shelters is I needed to be rescued early on. I act it out with animals. I give them what I needed, but that does not negate their need. art janov

  26. Hi Art!

    You say: “I always wonder why I write when there are so many bright people out there who turn a phrase better than I can. AJ”

    Not better Art! Just different. If things are put enough different ways, they will reach enough different views to increase acceptance. In this case, we all work toward the same goal. Help people appreciate the real problem for our behavior and how to fix it, no?

    A creationist? It depends on how you use or define that word. I do not believe in a 6 day earth or universe. I accept the billions of years for the Universe and Earth sometime in that. I would limit man to about 6,000 years but far more for the rest of life previously. Dating could have some flaws but the 600,000 years for life is not unreasonable. But one not need fear scientific “evidence.” I see it this way: If God did make the universe then He also made the laws of physics and to ignore those laws and evidence would be to ignore God. So science and God must harmonize. I rather like both.

    I understand how feeling can be interfered with by the intellect. I guess my only real contention is that the intellect is not the source or controller. The primal self of emotions and instinct are the controller. The “intellect” is very powerful but always under the control and direction of what ever parts of the primal self have prevailed to take control of it.

    Look at it this way. When bullies rise to power in governments, they also take control of money, industry, academia, and whatever else. Science has often reflected whatever political wind has blown by at the time, rather than be independent and objective as its mission should be. We have bullies in side us that push us around and drag us into wars we do not want.

    I think the intellect can be useful if the right part of the primal self can gain control of the intellect to force an acceptance of Primal Theory and then later, a submission to PT but the intellect backing off or being backed off.

    But what some miss here, I suspect, is that intellect comes back after, now integrated with the rest of the “brain” parts so it can be more effective, working together with the other parts instead of in spite of them.

    But do notice that some here definitely do not like the idea of a good or independent intellect. It stands their hair on end. Hmmm, what do you suppose is behind that? What nerve am I hitting? ;-)

  27. Hi Jack W !

    Jack, You said: “Believe all you like; but to me one either KNOWS or one DOES NOT KNOW and there's no middle ground.”

    This is exactly me contention, Jack. You see it all cut and dried, black and white, and not middle ground. Sounds a bit like my old religious “buddies” who tossed me out on my @$$ in 1990.

    Yes, in order to feel, or more properly, Jack, in order to bring to consciousness and integrate, we have to let the intellect recede and get out of the way. I understand that perfectly. But afterward, the intellect comes back and is more useful than before since it is now communicating with the other parts.

    So the intellect is always with us and will be much better once we allow feelings to come up and form those circuits of connection. But then after, we need that very powerful intellect to further help guide us along in harmony and unity with the rest rather than isolated from them.

    It is my impression that you see us as better off without the intellect at all. The intellect can be a problem in trying to feel and heal. But the purpose of healing and feeling is to unite with the intellect, not persecute it or gouge it out. We want to make it better.

    What you also miss is how many come to recognize and believe in PT. It is the intellect. They have no feeling to lead them there. Just the intellect. And it works. But when the intellect bucks, it is not by choice of the intellect, but the choice of the primal bullies from within that take over the intellect for their own “sinister” purposes. We can lead a horse to water but we can not make him drink. If they will not let progress continue, they use the intellect to stop it.

    You see the intellect as the one in control. Honestly, when have you ever seen humanity as a whole guided by intellect rather than need? What causes murder, greed, lust, gluttony or any other vice? Is it not our needs driving us like slave drivers? Think about it, Jack. Who really is in charge of the intellect? It is our needs. Don’t blame the intellect. Blame the need!

  28. I like it when you share Art. Thanks.

  29. Art, i love your comments about dogs; you can learn a lot about a person by how they treat our canine friends, and animals in general....similarly, i remember reading an article in the paper years ago (i wish now i had saved it) about a woman who made it her mission in life to rescue other people's plants (houseplants mostly) that were on the verge of extinction, and nursing and tending them back to health, ie not just letting them die; just reading about her moved me a lot, and it still does...nelson


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.