Thursday, June 30, 2011

Being Unloved Makes You More Vulnerable to All Outside Events

Being unloved changes your physiology and makes you vulnerable to stressors that ordinarily should not be damaging. In other words when you feel unloved, whether you know it or not, it puts you under permanent stress. Then when something like air pollution happens it can affect you much more than others.

New research from the Keck School of Medicine at USC (June 2011. Also Science Daily, June 25, 2011. “ Exposure to Parental Stress Increases Pollution-Related Lung Damage in Children”, Amer. J. of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine), shows that once we are neurotic (loaded with primal pain) outside events affect us more than normals. As traffic pollution increased in high stress households (not enough money, low education level, lack of health insurance and lack of air conditioning), lung function decreased. I am going to assume that it is not confined to traffic pollution. That carrying around a load of unloved pain makes us susceptible to things in life that ordinarily would not adversely affect us. It is rather obvious, isn’t it? When we walk around with high stress levels it doesn’t take much to slop over into symptoms. It just needs a trigger. So neurotics (high stress levels) will become allergic to antigens that would not affect a loved person, all else being equal. And they will spend their lives going to allergy specialists who will do test after test and never find neurosis. They will find the results of it but not “IT.”

What is worse, is that the neurosis may have been set in during our lives while we were being carried inside our mother. Her fights with her husband may be the key to why the allergy is there in the first place. Her stress becomes her baby’s stress level which the baby carries forward in life as an imprint. And so this child has a greater tendency to inflammation and infection later in life. Spells at the emergency clinic testify to that. In some cases there is a common pathway between the pain of being unloved or traumatized very early on and the effects of antigens or pathogens. They live in the same house, so to speak, and react as an ensemble. Suffice to say that when your physiology is seriously affected other bad things will affect it and you will suffer. Not just from the antigens or bacteria, but from a body that is totally vulnerable before you even set foot on this planet.

So now we get an idea about such afflictions such as epilepsy, or migraines or high blood pressure, etc. For when there is a bit of damage it plays on the neurotic platform and thereby lowers the bar for symptoms. In short, neurosis, adds to the physical damage in such a way that the symptom becomes manifest, or apparent. And without the background of neurosis there may be damage, let’s say, antigens, pollen in abundance, yet no allergic symptoms. That is why we have had success with epileptics and migraine sufferers; we have raised the bar against their appearance. In other words, we have lowered the possibility for symptoms by lowering the background noise. The allergy may still be there, at least its tendency, but it is not enough to make us sick.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On Hypnosis (Part 3/20)

During World War I, hypnosis was used to treat victims of shell-shock. This once again brought it to the attention of the scientific community. The experimental psychologist Clark Hull finally established hypnosis as an object worthy of controlled and methodical laboratory studies. In 1933 Hull endorsed Bernheim's view that hypnosis might be the result of suggestion and suggestibility. Both World War II and the Korean War contributed to renewed interest in hypnosis. Societies for research and training in clinical and experimental hypnosis were founded. Hypnosis journals published research findings and case materials. Specialty boards licensed practitioners and disseminated information to the public.

The 1970s saw a curious development in the use of hypnosis. The spread of hypnotic "past-life regression" (which had been practiced since the 1860s, if not earlier, in Europe) sparked a new controversy in the field. Adherents of this practice (most of whom lack degrees in psychology or medicine) believe that events and problems in past lives can generate neurosis and other problems in this life. Thus, through hypnosis, one can gain access to past identities, relive past traumas, and eliminate their negative effects on one's present functioning. Although professional hypnosis organizations have condemned past-life regression, it has made its way into Ericksonian hypnotherapy, the school based on the work of Milton Erickson (1902-1980), the pre-eminent hypnotist in recent decades. Some hypnotists have even been able to induce "age progression," in which patients conjure up themselves in the future for ostensible therapeutic benefit.[1]

Today, hypnosis appears to be increasing in acceptability in the scientific community. Erickson's influence has extended beyond traditional hypnotherapy to family therapy and other clinical areas. Nonetheless, there remains no cohesive or compelling theory on the nature of hypnosis. Most agree that hypnotic phenomena are real: People are able to dissociate from pain in their bodies, regress to earlier events in their lives, relive traumatic events and forget them moments later, and experience significant alterations in perception. But what causes these changes? Is hypnosis an altered state of consciousness? Or does it merely active and channel normal processes, skills, and response preferences? This is considered the considered the state-nonstate controversy, and it leads us to the core problem of the nature of hypnosis.

The Nature of Hypnosis

Hypnotic trance: a state in which perceptions are altered either spontaneously or as the result of suggestion and in which there is a detachment from the external world.[2]

The elements of a hypnotic trance are well-known. Ernest R. Hilgard (1904-2001), long-time experimental psychologist at Stanford University and a prominent researcher on hypnotic analgesia, developed a profile of a hypnotized individual with characteristics that he felt was "sufficiently consistent" to serve as a definition. Specifically, if instructed, a hypnotized person:

*waits passively for information as to how to behave;

*pays attention only to the hypnotist;

*accepts distortions as reality;

*is highly susceptible to the hypnotist's suggestions;

*will readily adopt a role of being someone else, and

*may forget the hypnotic experience.[3]

Let's assume that these are all aspects of a hypnotic trance. Is there really something special about this state, something that distinguishes it from everyday consciousness (while one is awake or asleep)? Various researchers have given conflicting answers to this question.

[1]See, for example, Jonathan Venn, Hypnosis and the Reincarnation Hypothesis: A Critical Review and Intensive Case Study, The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research Vol. 80, October 1986, pp. 409-425; Robert A. Baker, The Effect of Suggestion on Past-Lives Regression, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Volume 25, Number 1, July 1982, pp. 71-76; Peter B. Bloom, Some General Comments About Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Volume 33, Number 4, April 1991, pp. 221-224.
[2]See Heap, Michael and Dryden, Windy, Eds., Hypnotherapy: A Handbook. Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1991.
[3]See Ernest R. Hilgard, Richard Atkinson, and Rita Atkinson, Introduction to Psychology (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1971, fifth edition), p. 173.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Toward a Unified Theory in Neuropsychology: a Paradigm Shift

In order to understand how pain becomes installed in our system and how we can eradicate it, I am going to address the following questions: how is it that early trauma permanently destabilizes the organism, and that reliving the trauma, even decades later, normalizes it? What are the mechanisms involved and how is it possible that reliving an event changes the brain and biological system? Our decades of research point to significant changes in the brain and biochemistry of our patients. Secondly, a good deal of current research, particularly neurobiological research is strikingly consistent with our hypotheses. I believe that no thorough dynamic psychotherapy can effectively treat a condition without taking into account historical imprints of early traumas. These traumas are often the source of many later symptoms, both physical and psychological. This means that therapies that do not address these deep, generating sources of

.behavior and symptom formation are, at best, palliative, which ensures that the symptom will eventually return and that neurotic behavior remains unchanged.

Here are some of our basic propositions.

l. That the underlying cause of so many adult problems is pain.

2. That this pain stems from very early in life, not the least of which is womb life and birth.

3. That the pain is imprinted in various systems of the organism and the central nervous system.

4. That the pain is coded and stored in key brain systems, particularly the limbic system and brainstem.

5. That the age at which the trauma occurred will determined where in the brain it is stored.

6. That this pain produces an overload of input into the brain system.

7. That the overload produces a neurologic shutdown to keep the pain from frontal cortical awareness.

8. There is then a dislocation of function in many key biologic systems as the energy of the pain is dispersed into various brain structures.

9. That the pain can be registered on three key levels of brain function (brainstem, limbic system, and cortex) or levels of consciousness.

10. That the pain produces a dissociation or disconnection among those levels so that there is no longer fluid access to them.

11. That the function of a proper therapy is to access key imprints on the various brain or consciousness levels.

12. That the suffering component of these traumatic imprints needs to be brought to prefrontal cortical consciousness for awareness and connection.

13. That this connection is the sine qua non of an effective therapy.

14. Once connection occurs the trauma is finally integrated and the blocked energy finally dispersed.

15. That the goal of psychotherapy should be connection by providing access to lower levels of brain function.

16. That Primal Therapy is an experiential therapy that coalesces with current neurologic

research, providing deep access to low-level neurologic processes.

17. This access is accomplished in titrated doses to permit connection and integration, which

creates permanent changes in many biologic parameters, most importantly, in the central nervous system. The kind of changes ranges from altering the amplitude or power relationships between the two hemispheres of the brain, as well as reducing the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Long Will I Live?

I have always maintained that we can get along without therapy with the use of tranquilizers and pain-killers. The only problem with that is that we can cut off the message of very early remote memory to the prefrontal cortex with medication but the imprint goes on rampaging throughout the system. Now, we have some supporting evidence. In the Psychiatic News (March, 2009. “Mortality with Antipsychotic Use in Alzheimer Disease.” Page 25) they discussed a study in which mentally ill patients received antipsychotic medication, and others who did not. (Haldol, Thorazine) The probability for survival was high in those who took no medication. After two years those who continued to use medication had only a 46 percent chance of survival, while those who took no medication had 71 percent chance.

In other words, being on drugs can kill you; and can kill you much faster than not taking drugs, given approximately two groups with the same mental health problem. Yet not being on drugs can kill us in a different sense; producing ineffable misery. Thus, drugs simply suppress pain, leaving its force intact. And, as I have said many times over, repression is the number one killer today because it underlies so many different kinds of diseases. Pain-killers put more pressure on the

system by adding to repression. So here we have a self-deluded state; a person out of touch with what he is feeling, and doctors add to that delusion by helping the patient deny his feelings. Long-term drug therapy can be dangerous to our health.

There is other evidence. There is a greater risk of stroke in those taking medication; an obvious conclusion when we are busy holding back pain and feelings; the pressure has to go somewhere, and the brain is an obvious choice because that is where we focus our mental efforts.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On Hypnosis (Part 2/20)

What is the common factor that makes it possible for one approach to fit into such widely diversified therapies? It seems to be the idea that hypnosis somehow makes the inner person more accessible. When an individual relaxes into a "trance" state, memories, pains, and traumas as well as solutions and potentials supposedly become more available. Hypnosis is viewed as a direct route to the unconscious, where old demons can be exorcised with the least amount of discomfort to the patient. Traumas can be relived and resolved without any conscious participation; symptoms can be relieved without any knowledge of their source; compulsive behavior patterns can be broken without undue effort; defeatist self-images can be overhauled in a session or two.

In effect, hypnotism is based on the belief that the "unconscious" mind can swiftly heal the patient without the "conscious mind" ever being involved. Because of this apparent ease in effecting change, hypnosis has become one of the most popular forms of therapy. It is popular from the patient's point of view because it is like magic. Indeed, hypnotherapy expressly draws one away from the “why” – the reason for the neurotic symptoms in the first place. As a result, hypnotherapy draws patients away from a cure.

History of Hypnosis

The first attempt to explain hypnosis in naturalistic terms came in the 1700s. An Austrian physician named Franz Anton Mesmer (1713-1815) proposed that healing could occur through the transference of "animal magnetism." His procedures became known as mesmerism. People still speak of being “mesmerized.” Mesmer intended to bring hypnosis into the realm of modern science, but his techniques only contributed to its aura of mystery, magic, and charlatanism. Dressed in flowing silk robes, Mesmer would appear before his patients, who were gathered around a tub filled with water and iron filings. These would purportedly help transfer to the patients "the marvelous animal magnetism exuding from [Mesmer]." At some point the animal magnetism would trigger convulsions in the patients, which would remove whatever symptoms had been present.[1] (I suspect the convulsions represented a release of accumulated primal energy, which might well yield temporary relief of the patient’s symptoms.)

In 1784, a committee of inquiry convened by the King of France discredited Mesmer's ideas. The committee found that in fact that no such magnetism existed, and the striking recoveries were due to "mere imagination." Hypnotism was again linked to mysticism and quackery.

Nevertheless, by the 1840s it had spread to various parts of the world. Two surgeons working independently of each other – John Elliotson in London and James Esdaile in Calcutta – discovered that the mesmeric trance could be used for pain control during major surgery. Another 19th-century English physician, James Braid, agreed that Mesmer's techniques could be useful. He dismissed the concept of animal magnetism, however, and introduced the term hypnotism (from the Greek hypnos, meaning "to sleep"). This referred to a "nervous sleep" brought about by a concentration of attention. Braid believed hypnosis was a sleep state, or at least a state of consciousness existing below the level of conscious-awareness. These views divorced hypnosis from mesmerism, and tempered the medical profession’s negative attitude toward the use of hypnosis.

In subsequent decades, two scientific viewpoints on the nature of hypnosis crystallized. In the mid-1880s, Hippolyte Bernheim, a professor of medicine at Strasbourg, saw hypnosis as a normal phenomenon, resulting from a psychological response to suggestion, and not involving any special physical forces or processes. By contrast, Jean Martin Charcot, professor of neurology at the Sorbonne, considered hypnosis a pathological phenomenon which occurred only in hysterical patients and which did involve the physical influence of magnets and metals.

Sigmund Freud stepped into the controversy in the 1890s. A former student of Charcot, he became interested in the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool for treating neurotic disorders. Freud found hypnosis useful in helping hysterical patients recall forgotten traumatic events. He also used it as a technique to alleviate physical and emotional symptoms. In an 1893 case study, for example, he described how he used hypnosis to help a woman who was not able to breast-feed her child. After inducing a hypnotic trance, Freud "made use of suggestion to contradict all her fears and the feelings on which all the fears were based: 'Do not be afraid. You will make an excellent nurse and the baby will thrive. Your stomach is perfectly quiet, your appetite is excellent, you are looking forward to your next meal...'" Freud went on to comment about his "remarkable achievement." Hypnotism successfully alleviated the woman's physical symptoms, restored her appetite, and allowed her to nurse her child for eight months.[2]

Later, however, while compiling his book Studies in Hysteria, Freud discontinued the use of hypnosis and instead concentrated on the newly-developed techniques of psychoanalysis and free association. Later, he employed dream analysis as "the royal road to the unconscious."

[1]Ernest R. Hilgard and Josephine R. Hilgard, Hypnosis in the Relief of Pain. Los Altos, CA: William Kaufmann, 1975, p. 2.

[2]Freud, S. (1893). A case of successful treatment of hypnotism. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.), Sigmund Freud: Collected Papers (Vol. 5, pp. 33-46). New York: Basic Books, 1959, p. 36.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hypnosis (Part 1/20)

Hypnosis currently enjoys widespread acceptance among the public and the scientific community. Hypnotherapy is generally believed to provide significant relief of both physical and psychological symptoms, and its use is on the rise. Of 1,000 psychotherapists surveyed in 1994, 97 percent considered hypnosis a worthwhile therapeutic tool.[1]

There is no question that hypnosis can be useful, particularly in the area of pain control. It is also widely used in treating the symptoms of neurosis including anxiety disorders, insomnia, and addictions, but with little permanent success. This might be explained because the state of hypnosis is similar to an extended but temporary case of neurosis. What I shall try to demonstrate in the following pages is that most of us who are neurotic are simply in a long-term hypnotic trance.

A permanent state of post-hypnotic suggestion can begin early in our lives when authority figures (parents) "suggest" certain behaviors based on the possibility or withdrawal of love. The suggestion is usually not consciously undertaken by the parent; it is simply the parent's unconscious needs translated into expectations and imposed on the child. The child, unaware of what’s happening, slips into the behavior without a scintilla of reflection. Part of him then is asleep or unconscious without his being aware of it.

In fact, you can use the concentrated and condensed neurotic state known as hypnosis to demonstrate the process of neurosis – that is, how neurosis comes into being. Hypnosis does not eliminate the sources of neurosis, nor does it integrate consciousness. Rather, it disintegrates consciousness, thereby achieving dissociation, in which two or three levels of consciousness act independently of one another. Hypnosis demonstrates the interactions of different levels of consciousness in both initiating and maintaining neurosis. Hypnosis and neurosis in fact utilize the same neurophysiological mechanisms. Hypnotic suggestibility is itself contingent upon a pre-existent neurotic state. So when psychotherapies use some form of hypnosis, they misapply the principles of consciousness and, as a result, actually reinforce the neurosis.

The use of hypnosis dates back to man's earliest history. Until recently, it has been shrouded in mystery, magic, and the supernatural, associated with everything from Druidic healers and high priests in ancient Greece to shamans, gods, witches, devils, and quacks. As a therapeutic technique, it predates psychoanalysis by at least a century. Freud used hypnosis therapeutically before discarding it in favor of psychoanalysis. Over time it has gained popular and scientific acceptance, been assimilated into a wide range of therapies, and been applied to most types of medical and psychological problems.

Today hypnosis is used to treat psychosomatic symptoms such as ulcers, migraines, and colitis. It is used to manage pain and in rehabilitation cases where organic damage has occurred. It is used to alter physiological functioning, such as to reduce blood pressure, relieve asthmatic symptoms, and alleviate gastrointestinal distress. It is also used in dentistry and obstetrics. It is used to treat addictions such as overeating, alcoholism, smoking, and drug abuse; to treat phobias and sexual problems; to enhance memory and studying abilities; and even to make warts disappear. It is also used to deal with varying emotional and psychological problems.

While hypnotherapy is now considered a treatment category of its own, it is almost always incorporated into the particular therapeutic orientation of each therapist. Thus it may be used by therapists from such diverse areas as psychoanalysis, behaviorism, ego psychology, gestalt, and even holistic transpersonal groups.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How Can We Not Focus on Very Very Early Life?

I know I am in danger of drowning the fish but with all the new evidence available it seems so obvious that we must go back to those key shaping events at birth and during our womb life.

A recent study found that babies in the womb feel their mother’s anxiety as early as four months in gestation. The baby’s anxiety level rises and falls with the mother’s anxiety cycle. (This is work at the baby charity known as Tommy’s). Anxiety was measured in the mother’s blood as well as in the amniotic fluid (cortisol levels). The fetus/baby was feeling anxious, not as a cerebral event but as a biologic one. And his system is learning to be alert and vigilant; the problem is that this vigilance becomes an imprint that endures a very long time and governs his life.

The fetus is constantly adapting to its environment. When the mother’s system signals danger so does the baby’s. The difference is that the baby’s adaptation is being imprinted on a naïve and innocent system that has no other frame of reference. The mother’s anxiety eventually comes to an end, but that doesn’t mean it ends for the baby. It becomes a biologic memory where the baby is learning to be on the qui vive, always a little too alert and vigilant; hence overreacts later on to the slightest hint of danger. That original fear has burnt a memory into his brain—and becomes the imprint. It is the platform or springboard for later reactions. It makes them excessive or inadequate.

It has been found that the slightest change in the mother’s diet can affect the baby and produce a propensity for later obesity. In animal models it was found that changes in the protein input of the carrying mother significantly changed the weight gain or its lack later on. Obesity being one later result. Again, the baby is learning to adapt to its most important and only environment it knows. The problem is that the adaptation endures and the adult system is always expecting what happened in the womb—via the imprint. The adaptation continues until it becomes maladaptation. It is not a wrong reaction; it is just a reaction to an old event and not appropriate in the present. My definition of neurosis. So he sees food at age thirty and immediately has to eat. Or he sees a frown on someone’s face and immediately becomes anxious. This is known as one-trial learning and is important.

So next time your shrink offers you insight into your unconscious--beware! The only person who has direct and precise access to your history is you. If we try to understand inordinate behavior of any kind, particularly addictions we need to carefully look at life before birth. It is where trauma diminishes development of those inchoate cortical cells that suppress pain; and imprints trauma which constantly agitates us, even when one seems impassive and non-reactive. And when we have a first-line imprint you have a continuous powerful force stimulating us from within. It needs quieting with the strongest drug available because imprints on that level are nearly always life-and-death matters. So if we look into ourselves we can actually see those shaping events from our earliest months. If we are obsessive about food we can bet that mother’s diet while carrying plays a role. Or if we are easily set off with anxiety we can bet that mother carried around a bit load of anxiety herself. The baby was anxious because the mother was, and his system shouts “danger”. Perhaps for the rest of his life.

You know why I am concerned about the Anthony Weiner affair? The life of the baby being carried by his wife is at stake. Her stress level must be enormous and so will be the baby’s, as well. The problem is that his level is imprinted and a constant weight for him. He will have to take drugs just to feel comfortable. How very sad!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

So You Think the Government Will Solve Addiction?

I would like to tell you a soothing bedtime story but all I have is bad stories. Today in the news is the story of neuroscientists Nora Volkow. She is in charge of studying and treating drug addiction, head of the national institute on drug abuse. God help us because she won’t. She has decided that addiction has all to do with less or more dopamine. She is studying dopamine pathways, etc. She says, “addiction is all about dopamine.” And headaches are all about aspirins. Or, “headaches are all about serotonin.” You fill in the chemical blanks.

You know why they think that? Because they are scientists, in the strict sense of the word. They see chemicals, cells, hormones but never never the human being. Why is dopamine depleted? What happens to us to make that happen? They don’t seem to believe in the unconscious or very early imprints; they don’t believe in early reality so they look at cells and chemicals. Reminds me of the big painting of the nude and the little lady in the Victorian dress is looking only at the flowers in the background. Now I know why she never answered my letters, or why the previous director told me that I had to go through a friend of his. It is not just politics; it is unconsciousness on the part of the scientists who studied in order to avoid their pain and their feelings, and now cannot see how on earth our early life could lead to addiction. It makes me heartsick to think that addicts everywhere are waiting for help and what they will get is more or less of dopamine. (NY Times, June 14, 2011, Science Times). And people who might help are ignored.

This is not sour apples, not pouting; but what it is, is heartsick, knowing that addicts will never get the help they need. And they will suffer and go to jail while scientists study less and less and learn less and less. I guess the whole human being is too complex to grasp and understand, especially by those who have no access to feelings and who do not see how feelings are paramount in the problem. It is not a disease. It is survival. Trying to be normal by taking the drugs to normalize the system that was detoured by early pain. By taking powerful painkillers to counter powerful pain set down even during gestation.

I have treated so many addicts from glue-sniffers to eating disorders to heroin takers. They are trying to beat the pain. Why can’t the scientists see that pain? They could if they could see their own; but alas, they cannot. A caveat: you need in-house therapy for heavy-duty addicts, but they can be treated if they are watched for months until the pain subsides; that is not done overnight. Do you think anyone puts powerful drugs into their system if they didn’t need it; out of caprice?

Years ago I had back surgery, painful affair. And the State decided not to allow us in the hospital to have powerful painkillers because they were so worried about addiction. Can you imagine? Doctors who cannot feel their pain deciding that others have to. So the repressed win and they take a detour in studying addiction that will NEVER lead to cure. And they get all the money for their studies because it can be quantified; so much dopamine, so much this or that. Where are the feelings? Where are the humans? Where is there attention to their early lives? Where is the acknowledgement of history? Volkow may know about pain but can she feel it?

Monday, June 13, 2011

More on Self Esteem

Someone told me the other day that she wanted to see a shrink because her feeling about herself is lower than “poo poo,” as she put it. So I asked, “What do you expect her or him to do?” “I don’t know. Help me find out what’s wrong.” They can’t do that because they don’t know how. All they can do is become cheerleaders, “You are capable, you know. You are a good person and I know you can do it.” Blah blah. That kind of help lasts about four minutes because it is battling a lifetime of neglect that makes any of us feel like poo poo.

Why can’t shrinks do it? Because they cannot go deep into the unconscious, deep into history and the brain to find out. Why not? They don’t have the techniques; they don’t know how. Worse, they don’t have the theory. I will give it to them if they want. All they have to do is ask.

Let me give you an idea. A patient was born while the mother was depressed. She did not pick up and cuddle her baby right after birth. She was also depressed while carrying, another weight on the child. The baby in the crib cried but her mother didn’t come; “let her cry it out,” was the mantra. And also the father came with an angry voice and face and told the baby to shut up. In childhood there was no touch, no caring and no love. Get the idea? All this makes the baby feel unimportant, not worthy of anyone’s attention: worthless. I am only touching on a few of thousands of experiences which reinforce that worthless feeling. I will offer my own life. My parents never answered when I called. My mother was hallucinating and delusional and my father was lost in his fantasies. He read the paper at dinner while we were not allowed to talk. This was repeated night after night.

Now how can a shrink offering encouragement counter that? If we cannot delve back in history and feel what all of that did to us how can we cure it? We carry around all of that every day, and the earlier all that occurred the deeper it is in us. Just never having anyone come when he cried in the crib is devastating. The baby is just learning about trust, love and caring; and he doesn’t get it. He can only feel it is him; something is wrong with him. And later they tell him something is wrong with him, or worse, they treat him with indifference as though something is wrong with him. The point is that those feelings set in very early, beginning with no loving right after birth, which sets the prototype of “I am worthless.” It is never articulated but we act it out. We don’t recognize love when it is right in front of us because we don’t know what it is. Or we choose someone lower than us or who is bad for us without understanding that those poo poo feelings dog us and drive our choices and behavior. Imagine: it begins right at birth when we are totally innocent and naïve souls. The feeling is engraved into that innocent system and to never come out again because it is deep in the unconscious.

Now we go to a shrink who knows nothing of our history and is often not interested because his therapy is in the here and now. And it is in the here-and-now because the shrink’s psyche is wholly in the present as he too is bereft of his feeling base. That’s why he is usually a shrink. I became one to cure my mentally ill mother_symbolically. It never happened; and it won’t happen with patients; I know. I was a Freudian therapist for 17 years and cured no one. The word “cure” became an anathema, a no-no. Another wonderful syllogism: we do a therapy that cures no one, therefore “cure” is never our goal. Wonderful.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Charter Member of the Unloved Club

Someone wrote me on facebook, a girlfriend I have not seen in decades. We talked a long time, only to find out that she was in love with me. She never told me but I also could not sense it because growing up unloved I had no idea what it was when I saw it, or at least unable to recognize it when it was in front of me. And among my friends and patients most of us grew up unloved. How strange when the most natural thing on earth is to grow up loved; to be hugged and kissed by someone who is glad to see you, cherishes you and misses you when you are gone. So many of us pass by love; and the only way to avoid that is two-fold: either you get into my therapy and feel completely unloved. When you do that you finally feel and then you can go and find love. Or, you find someone who loves you. You finally know what it feels like and it opens you up to more of the same; a rare occurrence because those of us who feel like shit never go straight for love. We either need to buy it, offer the guy or girl some kind of reward or job or gift. Or we pursue her because we cannot imagine she would freely approach us. We never expect it to be mutual, and when by chance it is, we manage to f---k it up royally, all so we can feel unloved again. It is like the gambling addiction; not to win but to lose so we can try to win again. We are addicted to the struggle for love, not love itself.

So many adults have so much neurosis that loving a child becomes almost impossible; that is filling his need and not their own. They want a smart kid, athletic child, passive, obedient one or more aggressive one; whatever the parent need is becomes the child’s destiny; her life and her future. He wants an obedient child and he gets it; someone who cannot get going. She cannot get a job or be aggressive in the market place because she is waiting for her orders; something she got all of her life. Parents who cannot sit still have a hard time loving their child because they are too busy doing other things; going and doing without cease. They are driven by internal promptings, primal promptings that will not let them rest, nor relax enough to hug their child, play with him at length and be there to listen; to be there for him. They have to travel all the time to keep from feeling constrained (at birth or after in the home), and so the child is again bereft.

Parents too often lead the unexamined life; they just go on doing what was done to them. They demand obedience and no sassing from the children. They expect to be obeyed without question; the makings of a good Nazi. “I was just following orders.” These parents haven’t learned about feelings and their crucial importance. And so many do not know that all that counts in life is to be loved and love back. There is nothing else; everything else is fioriture, gingerbread, topping on the cake. But beyond that, and this is crucial, we need to grow up loved, valued, cherished, adored, kissed, cuddled and hug. That is love. It comes from feeling human beings and sets the whole tone for our lives. With it we feel loved, secure, confident, open, optimistic and free. Without it, we spend a lifetime trying to overcome it. We drug and drink so that the pain remains covered. We don’t really know we are in pain. We just feel ill-at-ease, lousy, uncomfortable and icky in our skin. And we cannot overcome it until we feel it; and we cannot feel it until we know it is there. And we cannot know it is there when we go to therapy because the therapist is in his head and doesn’t know it is there too. He became a shrink because his parents set him on the program. He became smart and unloved. And we cannot know it is there until we feel loved; but diabolically, we never do, since feeling unloved supersedes it. It washes any chance we have away. We need to know we are in pain. That is the first step. Then feel it and shred its effects. Then we are free; free to feel loved at last.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Smart People Do Dumb Things

In the news today is the story of a very smart congressman who did something stupid; sending pictures of his body and his private parts to many women(LA Times article). For a public figure to take such a chance, knowing that he risks having millions see his photos (and they did) is stupid; or is it?

So what makes someone take such risks? His marriage and career in the balance. And why doesn’t his smartness kick in and stop him? I mean he loves his wife very much; why ruin the marriage?

Because no one is smarter or stronger than his need.

Need overwhelms any thought almost every time. Why should that be? Because need and its fulfillment always deal with survival, and always derive from very early in our lives when fulfillment was crucial. It is that which mounts and suffuses our critical capacity; no different from hypnosis where someone can suggest we lose that critical capacity and we do. We become Sinatra because we are told to. Or become Nazis because the pressure is there to become them. We lose our critical capacity. The congressman’s need shattered his critical mind.

What was that need? I surely do not know. But I have treated “weeny wavers” (excuse the expression) for years and have seen the motives behind what they do. I often have them do it(exhibit) where it is safe in group; and where afterward they fall into the feeling: “look at me! Pay attention to me. I am important. Please care about me. See me. Want me.” And so on. The penis gets the attention, which is what the person wants. And is often the only way he finds to get that attention. Those are not the only motives but we can be sure that deep unfulfilled need is behind it all. If not, the critical capacity would kick in and stop the act-out. And it is an act-out; acting out a need and feeling that was left over from early in life.

I have written how the right brain feeling areas work in see-saw ways with the upper level frontal cortex, so that when a need/feeling is too much the thinking brain steps in and blocks it. And vice versa, when the thinking brain is weakened, either with drugs or alcohol, or when the person just falls asleep, the feelings see their opening and march upward and forward and usurp thought. But deep need is always stronger than the higher levels. It was this way in evolution where survival was paramount; where feelings guided us to safety.

If the need is not a leftover, chances are, it will not be so strong as to shatter rationality. So here is a very rational and brilliant man, and yet he acts dumb. Because his need drives him toward “symbolic” fulfillment wherever that leads him. It guides him, not his rational mind which has taken a vacation for a while.

Let me say that need/feelings are always smart and they drive symbolic behavior to remind us of leftover lack of fulfillment. It keeps the gap alive. Paradoxically, they make us act dumb because we are acting out in the present needs from long ago. They are inappropriate now, but were appropriate back then. Always think “back then.” But those needs never disappear. They remain and make us act out in accordance with what they are and were. One man acted out with his penis, “be happy to see me,” something his mother never was. And the women he flashed were NEVER happy to see him but that never stopped him from trying. He needed a caring mother who was so depressed that she never even looked at him. She stared at the floor all of the time. The need is expressed differently depending on the circumstances of the deprivation. And who did it. If our congressman could have laid down and felt his need/feeling he would not have acted out.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A New Therapy in China

Listen, I have a new therapy for smokers. Every time you pick up a cigarette I smack you in the head. After a while you will find a lessened desire for cigarettes. And I can produce the research that shows that after six treatments there is a lesser desire to smoke. Is this a joke? An exaggeration? No, simply a parallel for what passes for therapy these days.

I am reminded of this by an article in the L.A.Times. (“Chinese cures for being gay”. May 22/11 LA Times article) Here is the therapy, and I quote,” They get some beautiful men to walk around naked beside you, or make you watch gay porn.” This from the leading Chinese expert on homosexuality. You know what an expert is? Someone from out of town. This one is from out in space. The article goes on, “The man will naturally get an erection. When his erection reaches a certain level, the instrument emits an electrical discharge, which upsets him. They repeat the process until the man doesn’t get excited anymore.” They claim progress in China since the authorities have removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. Another Chinese expert states that gays need to learn to accept themselves. He goes on with more nonsense: “Homosexuality is innate, not something that can be cured.” Why do they come to this conclusion? Because they have no way to delve into the deep unconscious and see what generating sources of deviation lie there. Since they have no way to treat it, it must be untreatable. One of those syllogisms that I love.

So let’s see what this is all about. I have treated many homosexuals over the years. They almost never come to get over their homosexuality. They feel bad and want therapy for their misery, like anyone else. And sometimes they wake up one day and have no desire for sex with the same gender. It was cured by inadvertence. No one tried to do it but after feeling basic need for many months things change. It happens sometimes, not always, and it happens when there is what I call “second-line” homosexuality; that is, severe deprivation of love during childhood. There is a deeper origin, trauma during gestation and birth that also plays into homosexuality: first-line origin. This is very tough to treat because the origin is so remote and early, and because the imprint is so engraved into the entire system. Oh yes, that brings me to another facet; homosexuality isn’t simply a matter of the behavior of sex organs. It is a state being found in the altered immune system, brain circuits and physiologic processes. It does no good to extract the sex organs for study and therapy as if that is the be-all and end-all of the matter; like headaches is only a matter of the head. Yes, it is manifested there, but it is a reflection of the person and her history. If we ignore history we are forced to take the presenting manifestation as THE problem and treat it apart from the whole system. It is a fragmented approach where we treat fragments of the person instead of the person herself. So there is an imprinted memory of trauma, which is ultimately manifested in high blood pressure. We treat the blood pressure but not the origins. It is always palliation.

Why would we focus on homosexual behavior if the behavior is driven by basic unfulfilled need? If, for example, there was a cold, punishing father in the boy’s life or a tyrannical mother he may search out warmth from a man. Is that wrong? Does it need to be treated? Or is that natural, something that all of us need — love? Many of my patients became fixated on animal love because that was all there was in the household. Should we punish it? Drive it away? Smack the person when he sees a dog? Why would we smack someone who gets an erection when he sees a naked man? He is excited by the possibility of male love (mixed with sex).

I offer an example. I treated a gay man who loved sucking penis; and now I shall simplify. His feeling when his partner came was “mother’s milk.” His basic need was for a warm father and for sucking and having the breast, both of which went missing. Now would we want to smash his head when he gets an erection? His need became sexualized but it is still basic need. Do we want to double his neurosis by increasing his load of repression? His sexual response is keeping the need alive. It is a point of access, not for punishment but for accessing the need and his pain. He may be acting-out the need for a loving father or out of fear of angry women (his mother). Do we want to castigate that and make him deny that need? So what are the Chinese doing? Extracting the penis and treating it as the problem. Smacking the erection and warning it not to get hard again when it sees naked men. Like the absence of an erection constitutes treatment of homosexuality.

Here again they focus on the presenting problem because they remain on the surface and are content to stay there. There is no unconscious in their scheme, so they harken back to pre-Freud days; talk about retro. It is much better to feel what you were and are missing than to drive it underground; because that deprived need is what drives all of us all of the time.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We Finally See Someone

We finally see the colors of people like Assad of Syria, someone who was praised by our leaders until his people marched for freedom and democracy. Then he shot them down. I bring this up because I do not believe you can know anyone until you see them in all sorts of conditions. And that is why I think that therapists can never know their patients until they see them in extremis; in a variety of deeply emotional situations, where we see how they react. If we never see our patients except in intellectual discourse we can never know them. They can don their mask and make us believe the opposite of who they are; vis a vis Assad. Put him under stress and he becomes an assassin......alleged

We treated a killer some years back. We discussed the case for hours before we took him. When we got down to feeling he was only a hurt little boy, someone who lashed out. He wasn’t a professional killer; he killed someone in a bar fight. We discovered that he never wanted to be a tough guy but had to be given the violent family he grew up in.

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.