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.


  1. Put simply: it's denial. Denial that were were not loved. The reason:- because we have been indoctrinated into what real love is. The child rearing books, ever since it was deemed necessary to give guidance on rearing a child/ren. If we have never had love, our notion of what love is; is objective.

    When might we learn that is a subjective issue?


  2. Hi,

    F**k it up royally I did; but it couldn't have been any other way because I wasn't the real me. . . covered over with a synthetic version of me; acquired by so many efforts to be some-one at all, some-one different from my dad, some-one my imagination allowed me to pretend to be.

    Paul G.

  3. How does one “give” love? I think it is impossible. You can give someone a glass of milk, for instance, but you cannot give love. You can feel love, for a child, a parent, a friend, a lover etc. If you can feel love, you are giving love. If I locked you up in a jail cell, then walked past you everyday and told you that I loved you, what is the message that you will be getting? That you are loved?

    I think many parents who were not loved, have learned to say the words almost automatically. I have seen it.
    The child will hear everyday: “Love you”, but her being tells her that there is no love coming forth from the parent. By simply allowing children to be themselves, from day one, is real love. It is unconditional acceptance. It is saying to the child: “You do not have to be this or that, for me to love you. I accept you as you are” Also, by allowing children to cry out their pain from birth onwards, and to express all their feelings including anger, through their teenage years and even as adults, you are really showing great love. As you said, Art, not many people can do that.

    So, in my opinion, love does come from the heart. It is a feeling, not a concept, not an idea. It is just love.

  4. To my beloved primal guide Art Janov,

    What a luck for me that you became a smart and “unloved” shrink. That way I too could get help to feel my pain and feel free and loved at last. I could finally stop doing what was done to me, which means that my daughter don’t have to obey but can question.

    As Albert Einstein put it in a letter to Sigmund Freud:
    “The sad thing with great men like you is that you have little influence of the course of political events. It almost looks as if this domain, on which the fate of nations depend, had inevitably to be given over to violence and irresponsibility.
    I think a proposal to set a new trend of childrearing (my choice of subject) should be given to you than to anyone else in the world, because you are least of all men the dupe of your desires and because your critical judgment is supported by a most earnest sense of responsibility!”

    I almost killed my self in the car a couple of months ago. I fell asleep while driving 80 miles an hour. However my reptilian reactions saved me and I was unbelivable enough left with a slight shock. I am now enjoing life in a new way and a feeling of that I “have to” do a lot of things have dissapeared. My book “Evolution in Reverse - Demystifying Epilepsy” will hopefully be printed before the fall.

    I hope your voice is improving after your italian treatment!!

    Jan Johnsson

  5. how can i go forward when i
    don't know
    which way i'm facing?
    how can i go forward when i
    don't know which way to turn?
    how can i go forward into
    i'm not sure of? oh no, oh no.
    how can i have feeling when i
    don't know
    if it's a feeling?
    how can i feel something if i
    just don't know how to feel?
    how can i have feelings when
    my feelings have always been
    denied? oh no, oh no.
    how can i give love when i
    know what it is i'm giving?
    how can i give love when i
    just don't know how to give?
    how can i give love when love
    is something
    i ain't never had? oh no, oh no.
    you know life can be long
    and you got to be strong
    and the world is so tough
    sometimes i feel i've had
    enough. oh no, oh no.
    how can we go forward when i
    don't know which way
    we're facing?
    how can we go forward when
    we don't know which way to
    how can we go forward into
    something we're
    not sure of? oh no, oh no.

    - John Lennon

  6. Patrick: Bobby Fisher, before he died, and who was never loved, said: The most healing thing is human touch. Without touch, no love. AJ

  7. Jan. I do hope that book gets out. love art

  8. An email comment:

    Thank you Arthur. You are in a class of your own. Thank you for not having experienced love as a child; I would not have come to these insights had you experienced wouldn't be there to tell, right? In my view we are all role players in a drama and your parents were given lousy dark roles in the tapestry. YOU were the privileged one, having given a lovely role, one of light and bright color. You could not stand out like this, had it not been for the dark nuance of your parents."

  9. Art, I also thank you for your many feeling insights... but wish you, yourself, had been more loved.

    I never "got" why someone named God would sacrifice his Son to "teach" any lessons to the very people He (God) had created. If we are imperfect (and God exists) it's due to Him. Why put the onus on anyone else to correct the results of His choices?

    The only thing that sorta made sense to me was if God was sorta imperfect Himself. Then he might have cloned Himself, come down to Earth as Jesus, and tried to set things straight (like a carpenter who makes a follow-up visit to the house he built to correct any mistakes).

    In such a case, Jesus (knowing he was God and we his imperfect "impaired learners") might have put on a dramatic show. He might have pretended to suffer ONCE so we'd never have to again. He'd let himself be crucified, pretending to suffer (like someone getting a tooth drilled under Novocaine) so we'd be free of our own internal crucifixions.

    That is He'd say: "Look, I'm taking all your so-called 'sins' (which are just lousy feelings created by lousy parents like ME who failed to love you enough) and pretending to suffer so YOU will finally stop beating yourselves up... and start having fun again like you did in Eden."

    Not sure how much "theological sense" that makes; it just makes Catholicism a bit less loathsome to me. How sick to "worship" a poor bastard nailed to a cross! Churches are like huge S&M clubs, parishioners getting off of someone else's pain.

    Anyway, I've struggled to get my father to love me. He SAYS he does, but rarely (nearly never) reaches out to call, speak with, or physically touch me. My siblings say I'm crazy for not "getting" that he DOES love me. Yet I always feel (!) that love without acts of love is no love at all.

    As stated above, "The most healing thing is human touch. Without touch, no love."

    Too true.

    Of course, like most things, touch can be misused, too (molestation, incest, etc.). Still, I always feel sad seeing scenes-- in movies and reality-- where a father accompanies his son to a bus/train/plane depot and fails to hug him goodbye. It's like watching a hungry person sitting at a banquet choosing not to eat and not feeding others.

    It's a sick definition of masculinity that says being silent and stoical is somehow "strong."

    What I love about this blog is that it gives concrete, daily, ordinary examples of truths underlying sometimes abstract Primal "theories." It literally "brings it all HOME," showing root causes of endlessly varied act-outs.

  10. Dr. Janov, and all:

    please explain, what is love.

    How you understand love.

    I think, I still don’t understand (right left hem-disconnect) the word LOVE.

    Maybe I feel love, but I can’t explain it.
    Is this possible?


  11. im reading all this comments and my heart fills with love.then
    is it really a feeling? is it a state of mind? is it the essence of being?

    as our head's fuel is thoughts, our heart's fuel is love.
    like a rechargeable battery, we are born it is empty and waiting for mom to charge it to full.
    if she does that fully, using her love solely,she made her child capable for all that comes with life , good or bad.
    if mom charged the "battery of love" now it is full for life time of loving oneself,one's children, one's friends, one's life.
    then, when meditating,or just peaceful, one gets the filling of "coming home".that is - love.
    love u all.

  12. Well, I don't know about that e-mail comment above expressing some thanks to Dr Janov for not having experienced love as a child, so that he could develop Primal. I would rather that everyone had experienced and would now experience love in childhood so that Primal would NOT have had to have been developed....

    These days I am reading a book called "Fear of falling" by a Barbara Ehrenreich, a left-wing activist. The book is an analysis and critique of the middle-class, and, at one point, she discusses middle-class chid-raising, and quotes from some child care manuals of the early and middle 20th Century . These authors suggest exactly what Janov does NOT recommend. It's quite chilling to read psychologists rationalise odious child-rearing practices. Probably stuff most parents would have done anyways, without the justifications of a book. But see science and scientific authority being used to justify subtle cruelty is horrifying.

    Finally, interesting and sensitive statement by Einstein, as quoted by Jan Johnsson . Einstein also once met for a long time with Wilhelm Reich . Reich met with him to explain his theories about a new primordial cosmic energy he called orgone ,that he felt he had discovered. Einstein was interestd at first because some results of Reich's experiments definitely pricked his interest. But then, he brushed Reich off. Reich's theories were too threathening to him.That's not say Reich was right, but his experiments can be reproduced so as to either refute or confirm them . Which would be important because some parts of the orgone theory had practical implications for the real sources of cancer, leading to possible prevention and cures. These theories and case histories with cancer patients, written up in Reich's "The Cancer Biopathy" seem to coincide, in part ,with some of Janov's comments about the sources of some cancers, here and there in some of Janov's books (especially about emotional resignation being a possible source of cancer).


  13. Sieglinde: Certainly in The Biology of Love and Primal healing is a long discussion of love and what it is. Meet me halfway and read my books. art

  14. Marco: I read the book and everything she writes. art

  15. Sieglinde, this is my definition of neurotic-love:
    The desire to use your friend to satisfy your own needs symbolically.

    And this is my definition of real love:
    The desire to satisfy your friend's needs.

    "What do I feel?"
    You are asking that question because your feelings are not flowing properly.

  16. Hi Trevor,

    "Churches are like huge S&M clubs, parishioners getting off on someone else's pain".

    So true, it seems to me that this remark sums up the incestuous relationship that thinking and feeling can have when the third element (1st line) is repressed and/or denied.

    Basically the thinking part can observe pain & suffering whilst 'holding hands' with the feeling part that can empathise but the denial of the 1st line keeps the individual (s) in a state of paralysis. Thus emerges a religion that worships the tragic. Some psychotherapies are uncannily like this too.

    Charlie Chaplins' movies have a lot to say about this. Pathos.

    Paul G.

  17. Hi Seiglinde,

    this is from John Lennon (Hey, look, I'm in a JL frame of mind lately):

    Love is real, real is love
    Love is feeling, feeling love
    Love is wanting to be loved

    Love is touch, touch is love
    Love is reaching, reaching love
    Love is asking to be loved

    Love is you
    You and me
    Love is knowing
    We can be

    Love is free, free is love
    Love is living, living love
    Love is needing to be loved

    but it really needs to be heard. Do what Art says and meet him halfway? There is a rendition on his site:

    The genius in the lyrics is that it acknowledges Love can't be explained, so if you can say "I can't explain it" maybe you are further along the road than you thought? If you can feel something of "needing to be loved" you know more than you 'think'...

    afterthought: Many years ago during a similar conversation with my wife I said “I don’t understand what you’re saying, what is this? I sort of know how I feel, but ‘Love’ is meaningless to me!” If I recall correctly she later said that was when she realised why she hated my mother. Hmmm...

  18. raindog: You do know that many of the songs on the Primal album came out of our discussions together? (plastic ono band) art janov

  19. Dr. Janov,

    I have read Biology of Love. Thank-you.

    What everyone calls Love, comes naturally to me. It has no name and is only a reaction.

    I am able to feel a baby’s or a child’s needs and fulfill them without making any fuss about it.
    I reach out to others in need, provide, hug and touch, and this is done without thinking or debating.
    I fill, every evening, the water barrel for the Antelopes who can’t find water anywhere else in the high desert, and provide nesting places for birds.
    I’m able to feel the pain of others, their despair and also their happiness.
    I care for others' well-being without expecting anything in return or neglecting my own needs.

    All this and more is done without association with the word LOVE – I call it “natural reaction”.

  20. Art, sorry to be late getting back, I have been ill. Yes, I do know the debt in the album to his therapy with you. And also to Yoko, I feel, in things like Imagine, with her poem "Imagine the clouds dripping, dig a hole in your garden to put them in" as the backdrop...



  21. May be there is also another explanation and that is that you were not interested in her.


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.