Saturday, May 28, 2011

To my Colleagues and Shrinks everywhere

Forget what you learned in school: it is wrong

Forget what you learned about diagnosis: it is wrong

Forget what you learned about therapy: it is wrong

Forget what you learned about theory: it is wrong

Forget about your office setup: it is wrong

Forget about the fifty minute hour: it is really wrong

Forget what your learned about insights: it is wrong

Forget what your learned about therapeutic progress: it is wrong

Forget what you learned about relating to patients: it is wrong

Forget what you learned about how to treat patients: wrong again

Forget about what you learned about the unconscious: it is wrong





  1. Hi Art ,if "they" would only r e a d this!1
    I doubt whether they know You are still
    (thanks to whomever) here on this mad planet!
    Yours emanuel

  2. AMEN!!!

    I said the same in 2000, using other words:


  3. Art,

    This is what I believe is the basis for a legal process must take place... take place to justify all the suffering... the right to be "cured"


  4. Hi Dr. Janov,
    What to say-I see two of us,for fifty years,I am eighty five and you are very good looking old man,we drink coffee,smile,and make plans for wonderful and exciting future!:)Keep your good heart and sharp mind.Vukašin

  5. Brilliant;- Been needed to be said for a long time.

    BUT will they take note ???
    I doubt it


  6. What Frank is saying, I think, is that we have a basic right to be cured, and that is why we need to sue someone, shrinks, the government, etc, to establish that right. AJ

  7. "Forget what you learned about therapy: it is wrong"

    That's a good message for brave students. You know the professionals will forget your message because you're effectively saying "Forget about your life: it is wrong."

    We often hear of one political party spying on another in an attempt to reveal some dark secrets. It's an ugly affair, and I wouldn't like to see the Primal Center using tactics like that. But the result is predictable; both parties start spying on each other - looking for evidence. I'm just wondering how we can encourage the professionals to read your articles.

  8. Art

    It is entitled Art ... but I also say that I'm fucking pissed that primal therapy can be lost in this madness.


  9. Jack:
    “BUT will they take note ???”

    Yes! - they must, if enough clients walk out in middle of a therapy session, like I did.

    First, the therapist blamed me - the client, for not complying with the therapy.
    I told him, “I don’t need a new mental strait-jacket” (his limitation), “I don’t need your FRAME-THEORY” (one fits all).

    After walking out twice, the facility sent me a questionnaire and asked me to explain: “what complaints do you have?”
    I answered: the therapy you provide can be compared to a cancer patient receiving Aspirin.

    Unfortunately, most clients take any therapy, just to get SOME attention. This is how and why Guru-therapies can spring up everywhere.

  10. Hi,

    That would be a broad based match in every field of:
    "Expressors versus Repressors".

    For this inter-disciplinary and pan global "match" we will need a Mercy Department as well as a Justice department. Also umpires and referees trained in Primal Theory.

    I'm all for it, I have some gripes of my own worthy of compensation.

    In the absence of an established Mercy Department or advocates trained in PT, actions taken on the "Right to be Cured" would have to be verified by Arts' Clinic alone. Would other Psychotherapy organisations collaborate?

    I can't see it happening because Art is in the business of curing people not proving they can be cured using the legal system to bring actions. . . That would take a very large and wealthy organisation indeed, think of the flood of claims!

    You need advocates trained in PT. Interestingly there are advocates who do specialise in child abuse whos' professionalism might encompass PT. I wonder if any one has considered canvassing them?

    Paul G.

  11. How did we get from redoing everything about therapy to spying? Am I missing something? Professionals are not going to ready my articles because even if it is right and makes sense, no shrink is going to redo everything he ever learned.  When I discovered primal I gave up my old practice right away.  I lost money and patients but I knew I had to do the right thing.   art janov

  12. Art, if you were to weigh up the number of people damaged against the extent of damage seen in each individual, which therapy would you say is the most harmful?
    If shrinks are so hard to seduce, then perhaps we could try the reverse;
    expose their flaws for all to see. we could do a worldwide smear campaign with help from an organisation such as Avaaz. if we can help people to lose faith in the so-called authorities, we might see a new wave of healthy thoughts emerging from this sick world.

  13. Dr. Janov,

    “I lost money and patients but I knew I had to do the right thing.”

    What you did not loose is your integrity. Thank you.


  14. Hi,

    I don't wish to spread a defeatist tone with my afterthought here but any action remotely adversarial (particularly in the name of cure or peace) usually backfires by drawing a counter-dependent re-action.

    In a way the legal system is the most appalling farce, worse than politics. Really, Law is the 'governing' morality that reflects the repression going on beneath the surface.

    Politics is really the marketing edge of law.

    Law is the standard, the 'bottom line' of socially acceptable behaviour.

    We buy it. We pay it. We play it and we live and die largely by the letter of the law. The law adapts to cultural changes in morality and supposedly produces visible documents about it for all to see (and for all to feel included in)..

    From my own bitter experience one can not trust the law to represent cure, peace or resolution.

    It makes sense to know the law and to see what would happen if a law suit were brought against you! Because in the beginning and the end a sword has two edges and there will always be an adversarial nature governing the law. That whole counter-dependent world can only act adversarially; either / or.

    The Berlin wall did not fall due to a court action. That event was brought about by a huge pressure of human passion for change and human love for each other.

    Every time the United Nations gets a sniff of the need to "Act" the legal system ruins the initiative by having to legally prove a resolution.

    Art has mentioned many times how very deeply we are conditioned and implied therefore how little freedom we have to "Act".

    The legal system is not a vehicle for action but for "Acting Out". In my opinion much harm could come to Primal Therapy and Theory through trying in any way to use it to sue anybody or anything.

    What we need is the "Berlin Wall Effect". Study what happened in the thirty years leading up to the fall of that repression where the "gates" started to leak and then became finally "blown" and we will have a model for what is already happening in the field of Human Mental Health.

    Currently in Europe there is a move to further enfranchise Health in deeper legally binding buerocrasy. Herbs are nearly banned, UK national health sold off to private health etc.

    Things are gonna get worse before they can get better but if a good seed falls on good ground it will grow and eventually undermine the walls of repression. Glib that may be but it's true!

    Please don't scatter the good seed of PT on the stony, arid desert of the legal system!


  15. If professionals ever read my stuff I will write an article about each caveat I wrote about in "It is wrong." art

  16. Paul G: Don't look to me to push things. It is enough to write stuff. I had to read many books and some one hundred journal articles for my new book. You all carry on. AJ

  17. An email comment: "
    Your advice to your colleagues and shrinks everywhere!

    May I use it as an introduction to my book? My whole life has been filled with additional pain whenever I met shrinks and doctors, who applied what they had learned, very often with the best of intentions.

    I met one (1 !!!!!) person who really believed in me. He/you saved my life. You told me that I had to live my pain to survive!

    Thank you so very much Sir!"

  18. Richard: Smears are never productive. I think a better approach is to write how it should work and hope they fall in line. art janov

  19. let's develop a Primal Island. It's not such a corny idea. Nice tropical or semi-tropical climate, (kill the mosquitoes) and live off the land, just like a hippie cult but without the paedophile cult leader. we could have lots of quaint cottages scattered all over the island, and even a marina which would be used mostly for recreation, but sometimes used for travelling to the dark side. all dark dwellers are welcome to come and live on the island, but only if they want to get better. they are not allowed to spread their darkness on the island, but they are allowed to feel it and resolve it.

    i think Art would say "Richard, when you can love the world, i doubt you will need to isolate yourself from it."

    and i would say "Art, you are probably right but the island is a good idea."

  20. Maybe too late to post on this one but in some of the things that Art criticizes in psychology he is not alone. As a psych. student quite a few of the books on our reading list have:
    - challenged diagnosis and labelling practices
    - focused on the human aspects or common factors of interpersonal relationships as having more value than therapeutic techniques per se.
    - attacking training methods of psychologists that do not encourage them to be open to reflecting on what they are doing (ie. a bit more humility!)
    So in no way is Art the lone voice in the wilderness here. He is part of a larger human movement for change, though a notable member of that movment.

  21. Dr. Janov,

    may I translate: "To my Colleagues and Shrinks everywhere" into German?

    Waiting for your permission.

  22. Sieglinde, You have my permission for any of my writing. Art

  23. Vukasin: OK OK, we do coffee. Where are you? art

  24. Richard: When I treated John Lennon he had a bright idea one day and he wasn't kidding. He wanted to rent the QE2 the giant steamship, and we would sail around the world doing primal. I told John I didn't think it was a very practical idea but marvelled that he could afford such a thing. art

  25. Hey Art!

    I've got an old Landrover camper & trailer; maybe we could go on the UK Festival Circuit (and especially the Glastonbury Festival healing field) evangelising Primal to the 'alternative' sector. . .

    That is affordable!

    Actually, there's quite a few influential people who would be totally gob-smacked if you were actually to make an appearance at Glastonbury Festival.

    Paul G.

  26. Thank you Dr. Janov,

    Just out of courtesy; all translations can be found at:


  27. Paul G: OK I give up. What is it? AJ

  28. Will, when millions of Cognitive/Behavioural patients show recurring symptoms, of course the professionals are going to debate amongst themselves.
    Look at all these cloned university graduates. They act like lost children clinging to a security blanket. The blanket is smelly and old, but it's all they've got. Don't you see? They want to improve the blanket. They will never dare to throw it away.
    You read a few arguments and suddenly you believe there is a "larger human movement for change" ?? You're dreaming!!
    Be brave, Will, don't get trapped in the blanket

  29. Paul: Now I remember. It has been 30 -40 years. Art.


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.