Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Dear Poor Talented Amy Winehouse

She wrote a song about rehab and she was right: No No No.
If nothing else tells us about the failure of rehab this ought to be it. But we need to know why it is a failure. It is so obvious that I am reluctant to even discuss it; but I will to save other poor Amys the pain of it all.
The most obvious reason is that there is no science behind rehab. It involves a potpourri of a variety unproven ideas and methods that it is supposed to heal or cure: put them all together and they “all spell Dixie.”

Why is she so great? For the same reason that pre-psychotics in acting are so great. All feelings are right up on top. We can feel it and sense it and it moves us. That is their art. When I think of the great singers and actors in my life they are nearly always the most disturbed. They can project feeling because their gating system is weak or shot. And so what do they do? Take drugs that keeps on shattering their gating system. Until we get totally dysfunctional, sometimes violent poor Amy. All she was trying to do was kill the pain. Isn’t that logical? No one fills their body with drugs unless there is a need; most often unless there is great pain.

Ah but now, where does the pain come from, a pain so horrific that it creates unmanageable addiction later on. And now I become a little pedantic. It comes from birth and our life before birth. I know that is the title of my new book but it is true. The pain imprinted during that very early period is so damaging we cannot imagine it.
Especially since we can see it. It is in no way palpable. And worse, it is nearly always life-endangering. When a pregnant mother takes painkillers she is hurting her baby. When she even takes two drinks the damage is installed. And the parents are in a quandary; why are the kids so unhappy? If the mother fights with her husband all along her pregnancy she doesn’t have to wonder why her child is an addict or homosexual. Science now seems to say that fighting parents, an unhappy carrying mother can produce both, addiction and/or homosexuality. She is changing not only her own hormones but that of her offspring.

Now here is the rub. With that kind of background installed in the baby even the slightest adversity, the slightest lack of touch and warmth adds to the pain and makes the child an addict before he ever finds the drugs that make him feel normal again. When he finds that drug he is hooked. That agitated brain stem and limbic system which holds the pain is now calmed, and what a relief.

Let me tell you a story. I write music with David Foster and he had a regular singer that he used for his concerts, called Warren. A lovely guy who can act as if hypnotized and sing like Sinatra, or any other singer we choose. He was pre-psychotic. His father shot himself in front of him. No one survives that kind of pain. Nor did he. But he was hospitalized in a mental hospital for a while, Foster had a concert before the queen of England and he needed Warren. So we devised a strategy. We went to the hospital brought in a piano and decided that Warren would give a concert before the reigning psychiatrist. He did and he was released. But he was so drugged with tranquilizers during the concert that he was terrible. His feelings were suppressed by the medication. Ordinarily it is a transfer of feelings from his limbic system to ours, and we are moved. Not this time. But fortunately the queen never saw it or heard it.
Warren never survived all of this and we lost him, a dear and endearing soul who through no fault of his own died because of his pain.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Bit More on the Feeling and Non-Feeling Brain

I cannot trust it when people say they got a lot out of therapy, unless of course, they are feeling.  I can trust their right brain; it is to be trusted, like when they tell me their dreams and I know that the feelings inside doesn’t lie.  That feeling comes from the right brain.  That is why I always go for the feeling inside the dream.  It tells us where the patient is.  The story the feeling tells is just that—a story, a concoction derived from the feeling.  It is a concoction that makes rational the feeling and gives it some kind of sense; but the story is only important to help us get to the feeling.  The feeling gave birth to the story so let us not waste time on it.  Analyzing the story changes nothing because that same feeling will make up another one, and another until the feeling is felt and integrated.  No different from the obsession driven by a feeling.  “I don’t feel safe”, "I’ll be safe if I check the locks twenty times a day.”  Let us not focus on check the locks; let’s focus on feeling unsafe and why. That forms the emotional leitmotiv.

    So some say we in our therapy need to do follow up studies.  I agree, but they want self-reports from the patient re: their progress, and I say it is rarely to be trusted.  But the machines that measure feelings and pain, the blood and urine studies do not lie and reflect for us the truth inside.

Yes, it is also important for what the patient says but it must be accompanied by physiologic measurements, blood pressure, cortisol levels, heart rate, etc.

  So why the skepticism?  Because the feeling of happiness and progress in therapy is most often left brain and that can be very deceptive.  That is why using that brain to get to the past is an oxymoron.  It cannot be done; talking about the pass won’t get us to feeling.  I repeat, the ability to retrieve old memories is right brain.  It handles feelings present and past.  We need that road to go back, otherwise we are discussing the past but without feeling and experiencing it.  We are on the left road and it is not the right one, if you follow me.  Intellect and cognitive memory won’t get us there.          The problem is today in psychologic science that they won’t followup studies using the very brain that is leading us astray. And we really think  that if we discuss our past that is fine.  It is not!  It is a head trip and we have had enough of that.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On Resonance and Pain

This article was first published on January 17, 2009. I just want to run it again, as it is so important.

There is an experiment where a subject in pain was given suggestions that he was no longer in pain, and he wasn't. But when given naloxone, which chemically undoes repression, the pain returned. There is no mind over matter. It is more likely matter over mind. It all makes sense since there is the factor of resonance I have been discussing in all my work. That thoughts resonate down to lower physiologic levels and set off commensurate biologic processes that quell the pain that the person is suffering from. To think otherwise is to imagine that thoughts exist in space with no physiologic counterparts, not the facts. Isn't it incredible that we have pain and pain sets up the very thoughts that then trigger off pain killers in our brain? Then we can think different thoughts: oh boy! This therapy works. Don’t forget, resonance is a two way street; if only the cognitive/insight therapists understood that and stopped treating thoughts as viable, discrete independent entities that can be changed willy-nilly.

Thoughts and beliefs are the final station of a process that can begin deep in the brain, very remote in history (personal and ancient), wending its way upward and forward until feelings meet with their counterpart. In a way, then, we do every day what we do in sleep: we revisit our ancient phylogenetic past and also our ontogenetic past and then move forward in time to the present. We are clearly evolutionary creatures; creatures of needs, especially those that were not fulfilled. In our therapy when we have a very disturbed patient we may use tranquilizers for a time to block the deepest aspect of an imprint, thereby allowing the person to focus on the present and perhaps childhood. The medicine is not in lieu of therapy; it is to treat memory, a memory that cannot remain in its proper setting in storage.

When a person’s defenses are weak due to compounded lack of love throughout childhood, the past inserts itself prematurely into the present; there we find serious mental illness. That past can warp how we think and perceive, not because we have adopted “unwholesome ideas,” but because those thoughts are the result of a lifetime of experience. So it isn’t that two people just politely disagree; it is that two people see the world in very different terms. And they are very different individuals.

So how do we block the pain? In many ways; we block the thoughts about it, we block the feelings and also the force of it. We drug different aspects of brain function. When I took an MRI I taught the technician to bang on my feet at irregular intervals so that I could not organize a coherent thought about my fear/anxiety. It worked. I was so focused on anticipating the bang that I could not concentrate on fear. The fear was still there; only it never became a coherent force.

Let me put this together again: There is a resonance factor where all aspects of a memory are involved. I assume that it may be due to the same frequency oscillations, and perhaps not. Aside from that assumption the resonance is absolute; having seen it several thousand times in many hundreds of patient over many decades. We see it in veteran patients who have deep access; when a patient comes in complaining that he is not getting anywhere in therapy and she wants to quit. We only discuss this cursorily, helping her into feelings where she feels so stuck in her early home life, and then perhaps months later, she begins a birth sequence where we can see that she is indeed stuck and not getting anywhere. We see her writhing and squirming and grunting (never expressing verbally) that she cannot make it out into life. It has a powerful valence. As we dip into her history the tail of the feeling grapples with an earlier counterpart to the feeling. And then she relives being stuck, over and over again. It was a life-and-death feeling that she gets born and breathes. It is again life-and-death when she has a problem in her life because the force of that memory rises radically to disturb her functioning. Something in the present resonates with her history, and then she becomes a prisoner of that history; a prisoner of pain.

On Hypnosis (Part 11/20)

Views of Suggestion

While suggestion is necessary for trance, it also occurs outside of hypnosis. Most of us respond consciously and unconsciously to suggestions on a daily basis and throughout our lives. For instance, we buy certain products and choose certain brands for reasons we are not aware of, having been influenced by hypnotic suggestion used in advertising. Most children's personalities are shaped out of direct and indirect parental suggestion. The parent tells the child to "be good" or "keep quiet," or throws her a look to the same effect. The child obeys "if she knows what's good for her." Trying to please her parent or to avoid punishment, she cooperates. She is no longer spontaneous; instead her behavior adheres to the parent's instructions. Many of us grow up "not ourselves," more intent on "not making waves" and catering to other people's desires than on expressing our own individuality.

Barber contends that the fact that suggestion operates in everyday life is precisely the point which invalidates the concept of a special hypnotic state. Yapko agrees: "The trance state is a state differing from everyday mental experience only by degrees and not kind...there are no clear demarcations from the usual state to the trance state."[1] "Trance logic," or the hypnosis subject's unquestioning acceptance of suggested reality, no matter how illogical it may be, also occurs outside of hypnosis. It happens when a person lacks the critical thinking ability to objectively analyze whether something is "real" or not, such as when someone fervently believes in Heaven or in his guru's prophecy that Armageddon is coming.

According to Barber's research, trance is not necessary to elicit hypnotic-type responses – but suggestion and credibility are:

"When hypnotic induction procedures are helpful, it is not because the subject is in a "trance" or "hypnotized" in the popular sense of these terms. Instead the evidence indicates that they are helpful when they reduce the subjects' critical attitudes toward the suggestions and thus help them accept the suggestions as believable and harmonious with their own ongoing cognitions. Although hypnotic induction procedures are effective in reducing critical attitudes in some subjects, more ordinary procedures are often equally effective. Non-hypnotic procedures that have been shown to produce a high level of responsiveness to suggestions, presumably by reducing critical attitudes, include (a) exhorting subjects to try their best to imagine those things that are suggested ("task motivational instructions") and (b) urging subjects to put aside their critical attitudes and to let themselves "think with" the suggested themes."[2]

For Barber the essence of suggestion as a behavior-shaping force is credibility, and credibility requires a reduction in critical and evaluative abilities. Thus, any technique which achieves this – be it exhortations, urgings, or mild advice – could be called a hypnotic induction technique. Charismatic politicians, among others, can induce a sort of waking trance in some people, making them feel hopeful when a sober analysis of reality might lead to very different emotions. Barber additionally reports that suggestion has been shown to successfully block the skin reactions normally produced by poison ivy-like plants; to give rise to localized skin inflammation that had the specific pattern of a previously experienced burn; and to cure warts and stimulate breast development in adult women. He hypothesized that "'believed-in suggestions,' which are incorporated into ongoing cognitions, affect blood supply in the localized areas" to produce the above phenomena. Here the key term is "believed-in suggestions." I shall discuss the role of ideas in altering behavior in subsequent chapters.

For Erickson, suggestion was an important element in inducing trance. He agreed with Barber that suggestions had to be believed in and incorporated in order to be effective. But he focuses not so much on getting the subject to believe as on evoking and utilizing the subject's own innate potentials. In contrast to Barber, Erickson viewed hypnotic suggestion as something qualitatively different from non-hypnotic suggestion – a means of communicating new, therapeutic ideas that would block or alter old, non-therapeutic ideas:

"Ordinary, everyday, non-hypnotic suggestions are acted upon because we have evaluated them with our usual conscious attitudes and found them to be an acceptable guide for our behavior, and we carry them out in a voluntary manner. Hypnotic suggestion, by contrast, is different in that the patient is surprised to find that experience and behavior are altered in a seemingly autonomous manner; experience seems to be outside one's usual sense of control and self-direction."[3]

For Erickson, trance is a special state that facilitates the acceptance of suggestion. For Barber, trance is a fallacious term for procedures that reduce critical faculties and thereby facilitate the acceptance of suggestion. However, both view the acceptance of suggestion as a process involving the reduction of conscious mental processes in one way or another. Suggestion, therefore, is a matter of the mind, of suspending the subject's critical thinking. The trick is to word and present suggestions in such a way that they are accepted by the mind and then acted upon by both mind and body – so that the hypnosis subject will begin salivating as she gets ready to take imaginary pieces of divinity fudge from an imaginary tray.

[1]Trancework, p. 140.
[2]T.X. Barber, "Hypnosis, Suggestions, and Psychosomatic Phenomena: A New Look from the Standpoint of Recent Experimental Studies," American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 1979, _____, pp. 13-25.
[3]Erickson, et al., Hypnotic Realities, p. 20.

Monday, July 25, 2011

On Hypnosis (Part 10/20)

Not everyone can go into a hypnotic trance, salivate at the "sight" of imaginary fudge, or be hypnotically transported into the past. For those who can go into a hypnotic trance, there is great variation in the depth and type of trance manifested. What produces a trance in the first place? What accounts for what occurs during the trance and for variations in it? Furthermore, how to explain age regression and so-called past-lives regression in hypnosis subjects? It seems to be a matter of the giving of suggestion and the degree of responsiveness to suggestion, also known as suggestibility.

In hypnosis, suggestion refers to statements made by the hypnotist intended to influence the hypnotic subject. The most obvious of these are the suggestions used to induce the hypnotic trance itself. Suggestion is also the basis of a hypnosis subject's belief that hypnotism can help him in some way. Suggestibility is defined by Yapko, a leading hypnotherapist, as "an openness to accepting new ideas, new information."[1] It refers to a person's capacity to be influenced by another person, that person's words, or by hypnotic techniques employed. In the ongoing controversy within the psychotherapeutic community over the retrieval of repressed memories of childhood abuse, suggestibility is central to the question
of how to distinguish between a real memory and a "pseudo-memory" which may have been elicited, "implanted," or suggested by a psychotherapist.

In a 1982 study, Robert A. Baker showed how easily most "normal human subjects" can be hypnotized as well as "persuaded" to "remember" their prior incarnations. Sixty undergraduates were hypnotized with the intent of age-regressing them to previous lifetimes. They were divided into three groups of 20 each. Prior to being hypnotized, members of each group had been told they were participating in a study of relaxation and had listened to taped suggestions either supportive of or condemning the idea of past-lives therapy. Of the group exposed to supportive comments, 17 of 20 later reported returning to "another life" while under hypnosis. Of the group members exposed to a taped message which ridiculed past-lives therapy, only two did so. In discussing this study, Baker came to a number of conclusions:

* If subjects expected to have a past-life experience, they did, and if they did not expect to have one, they did not;

* The idea of having lived before seems both appealing and powerful;

* Most hypnosis subjects are highly suggestible and easily influenced by the hypnotist's tone of voice, manner, and attitudes; and

* Rather than evidencing the reality of reincarnation, past-lives regression is "the result of suggestions made by the hypnotist, expectations held by the subjects, and the demand characteristics of the hypnoidal relationship."[2]

Suggestion is the hypnotherapist's principal tool. Suggestibility on the part of the subject makes him "open" to the hypnotist's suggestive ideas. In the absence of suggestibility, a hypnotist cannot induce a trance, much less utilize the trance state for specific ends.

Using Suggestion to Induce a Hypnotic Trance

While the neurological and psychological mechanisms responsible for a successful response to suggestion are not yet established scientifically (though we may surmise what they are, as discussed below), the external effects of suggestion can be validly described:

The hypnotized individual appears to heed only the communications of the hypnotist. He seems to respond in an uncritical, automatic fashion, ignoring all aspects of the environment other than those made relevant by the hypnotist. Apparently with no will of his own, he sees, feels, smells, and tastes in accordance with the suggestions in apparent contradiction to the stimuli that impinge upon him. Even memory and awareness of self may be altered by suggestion, and the effects of the suggestions may be extended (post-hypnotically) into subsequent waking activity.[3]

Hypnosis is supposedly "induced" by the giving of suggestion. Because of this, much ado has been made in the last several decades over discovering and developing efficient hypnotic induction techniques. Of the leading hypnosis researchers, only Barber believes hypnotic induction procedures are irrelevant. The more common belief is that the techniques play an important role in establishing rapport with the subject,[4] which in turn affects how responsive the subject is to the hypnotist's later suggestions.

Ordinary hypnotic inductions begin with simple suggestions for relaxation that are easily accepted and acted upon by the subject. "You are falling into a deep sleep" is the suggestion which most readily comes to mind, with the subject's eyes focused on a shiny object dangling from a string and swinging back and forth. In the study on past-life regression mentioned above, the induction procedure began with the subject being told to fix his gaze on a spot above a ceiling lamp, while it was suggested that a "warm light globe" in the center of his head was moving slowly and systematically through his body, "warming and relaxing the muscles and melting the tension as it moved."[5] Once relaxation is evident, the hypnotist attempts to "deepen" the hypnotic trance, such as by suggesting increasing distortions in perception and memory. For example, an earlier suggestion to the subject that "Your eyelids are becoming heavier and heavier until they finally close," may now become a "challenge" suggestion than "Your eyelids are shutting tight... tighter... tighter. You cannot open them even if you try."

The next step is "utilization," or using suggestion to make the subject do certain things or be transported in a certain direction, such as to regress him into his own past. Perhaps the hypnotist says, "I want you to go back in your mind, back to a time long ago, when you first rode a bicycle, keep going back and back and back..." and so on. In one approach to inducing age regression, known as the "television technique," the subject is told to imagine a TV screen in his mind on which he will soon see a recording of an event in his life long ago. He will also be able to stop the picture if he wants, reverse or fast forward the event, and zoom in on particular details.[6]

In order to prolong a desired hypnotic effect, the hypnotist may give post-hypnotic suggestions for the subject to respond to at a later time. Post-hypnotic suggestion usually combines amnesia with the suggestion so that when the person later responds to the suggestion he has no conscious understanding of why he is doing so. For example, the subject may have been instructed to re-enter a trance state whenever he sees the hypnotist scratch his chin, wherever and whenever that may occur. Erickson reported many a subject or patient lapsing into a trance state upon encountering him at a later date – sometimes involving several years – in some unexpected social situation such as a conference or a cocktail party.

[1]_Yapko, M.D., Trancework: An Introduction to the Practice of Clinical Hypnosis. (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1990), p. 88.
[2]Baker, Robert A., "The Effect of Suggestion on Past-Lives Regression." American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 25(1), July 1982, 71-76.
[3]Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition, 1981.
[4]"The process of discovering what your client wants and how to best reach him is the process of acquiring rapport," writes Yapko, "arising when your client feels you have an understanding of his experience." Trancework, p. 102.
[5]Baker, op cit., p. 73-74.
[6]Council on Scientific Affairs, "Scientific Status of Refreshing Recollection by the Use of Hypnosis." Journal of the American Medical Association, 253(13), April 5, 1985, pp. 1918-1923.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

So Why Have Primals? or Relive? What's the Point?

Apart from the obvious answer of not living in pain and not being driven incessantly by unconscious forces there is even a more compelling reason—living longer and healthier. This is even more true of reliving the first line—the very early imprints that are more or less devastating. I want to explain why it is so necessary.

We know now that imprints during gestation, at birth and in early infancy carry a whopping impact, and that force is constantly rummaging around low down in the brain where it creates havoc and drives us unmercifully to act-out or to explode in anger at the slightest input. That imprint or imprints wears down organ systems and deviates the normal operation of key systems; the neurologic, immune, circulatory, and so on. And so too soon we fall ill of heart problems, immune problems or blood circulation difficulties.

But more important when there is almost constant anger eruptions driven by first line then a stroke is in the offing. How do we know that it is first line? Because as I have written many times, a little annoyance on the third line in the present, someone doesn’t move fast enough for us; to a real anger on the second line that makes us rip out someone: and finally pure fury and out-of-control anger that emanates from the first line tells us what line the person is on.

So there is slight emotion in the present resonating with similar but stronger feelings on the second-line, and finally pure fury or terror on the first line. That is the contribution each line contributes to a feeling. Now, when there is an out of control feeling from low down we have to keep it down all of the time. If we don’t have enough internally manufactured repressants such as serotonin, we have to buy them. If we cannot go to our internal pharmacy and order it we have to travel to one around the block and order it. The first is automatically done for us; when there is great pain the system knows it and supplies substantial painkillers, but sometimes the set points have been changed and there just isn’t enough to kill it completely.

These eruptions of anger in a person can be suppressed with drugs and pills but it will kill us, nevertheless. And the way it will kill us is mostly by cerebral stroke. The pain and its energy will rise up into the brain and destroy cells. In my view, the only way to prolong our lives is to relive and exorcise and expurgate that pain and its energy, finally vitiating its force and calming us. “Did he die of a stroke?” Yes, that is the proximal cause, but the ultimate cause is first-line pain. If someone is constantly losing his temper, beyond his control, we can pretty well believe that he is destined for a stroke or heart attack. It can be prevented, not by a cerebral therapy that uses the neocortex to do what serotonin does—repress, but by an experiential therapy that digs out very deep, underlying forces.

All of what I am writing is based on the notion of resonance; how each level in its own way represents a single feeling. Adding emotion or great energy to a feeling. As we evolve from the womb on there are radiating nervous circuits higher up that take on the feeling and add their take to it. And it also happens from the top down; something in the present causes a resonance, dipping down deeply to add to the force of a feeling. So a slight misunderstanding in the present can only set off deeper violent forces if they are already there, imprinted. Without that pain there probably won’t be that force that drives unceasingly. Of course we can be angry or fearful but without first line being involved there will be not murderous angry or paralyzing terror. If we stop therapy early, having resolved a lot of second line emotional pain, there still may be a significant residue of unresolved first line to deal with. It has to be address and integrated.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Do We Really Have a Shot in Life?

It may be that our destiny is sealed before birth, and then our basic personality is simply reinforced or compounded but not changed. Here is what several studies have found. That trauma while we are being carried affects us for life and sets up vulnerabilities that dog us forever. This is especially true when there are serious disputes and maybe violence between the parents during the gestational period. So the background level is high, and when there are dust mites or allergens in the environment this person will suffer the most. It is different for everyone. For those who are susceptible to migraines even a slight disagreement might lead to the symptom. And here is where heredity comes in, for there may be genetic tendencies toward migraine or high blood pressure or whatever. What will finally set off the symptom is the level of imprinted stress which raises the level of vulnerability.

There is a certain level at which symptoms appear, and that also means there are certain levels of pain that raise the risk of the development of symptoms. Our inbuilt serotonin level may then be inadequate to keep the symptom at bay, and so under just a bit of stress a migraine appears. It appears because the system cannot manufacture enough pain killers to suppress it. In general, what I have seen in therapy over and again is when patients become overwhelmed with a feeling, a symptom appears. It says: Overload.! Stop! Suppress.! It is somewhat of a biologic law. When a therapist makes a mistake and allows too much feeling to rise, or when she plunges the patient into pain before he is ready we will see a symptom. It is not always a therapist’s doing. It is simply through the process of resonance too much early pain has been dredged up too soon. The patient’s gating system is weak and cannot withstand too much input. One way we know this is that the vital signs rise sporadically throughout the session and do not fall below baseline at the end, as happens with an integrated feeling.

So the symptom in daily life comes up, which means overflow and the person goes to a doctor for migraine or to a shrink for anxiety, and what do they do? Prescribe painkillers. And they help; they bolster our own chemicals such as serotonin. Those drugs push the pain back down below the level of the symptom, and so, voila, the person no longer suffers. That is, she is no longer aware of her suffering. They push back the manifestation; not dealing with the real underlying force.

Let’s go back to gestation for a moment. If the mother has a chronic fear of a violent husband that fear gets transmitted, not only as fear but also as a chronic stress level. And the baby senses she is being born into a dangerous world. Afterward, she may be constantly on the qui vive, alert and too vigilant for whatever happens; a chronic apprehension. She has learned an important lesson in life before there was a social life. “You have to watch out for danger!” And what is that danger? She does not know. So later in life what does she do? She manufactures dangers—paranoia—there is someone coming to hurt me.” And that is a direct transmission from her mother, now duplicated by the offspring. The mother was in a chronic stress mode due to her chronic fear of her husband, and although it seems genetic it is her life experience that now makes the child believe she lives in a threatening world.

And as she enters into life this child has now compounded pain. This happens when life is terrible for the her. The mother has died, the father has left, a sister was killed, a parent was an alcoholic. There was no love anywhere. And she is now full of symptoms, perhaps full of allergies. And too often she goes to a shrink who focuses on later life experience because it is the most obvious; a divorce, a drunken mother, etc. But that is the origin; not the base. It is secondary. It is ignoring all those catastrophic events at birth and before. We know now that due to resonance later painful event resonates with something earlier and the whole force is evoked. It drives the brainwaves very high and fast, and the vital signs also very high. One simple example. There may be a heredity tendency to migraine; the mother and grandmother had them, but the fact of depleted oxygen both during life n the womb and at birth (a smoking mother and too much anesthetic at birth) affects the blood circulating system resulting in migraine. It is a primal or primordial response to the original circumstance. In order to eliminate the symptoms we have to go back to the trauma and its original context for resolution. That is, there still may be a tendency to migraines but it never becomes an overt symptom without a trauma that affects oxygen levels early on.

Symptoms appear when the person smoked pot for years that wears down the defense system. Then that very early pain comes bubbling up and the person senses that early fear again; there is that danger again, the same one the mother suffered from during gestation. The fear she transmitted to her son. Paranoia sets in. Paranoia is the idea evolving out of the fear. It says beware! Something or someone wants to hurt me; a danger concocted to justify the fearful ideas. The focus also happens in the general zeitgeist when those loaded with fear imagine the communists are coming to ruin their lives or the mafia. The danger has to projected onto a group that society has defined as dangerous; so they have a socially-institutionalized paranoia that doesn’t seem so weird or pathologic. The idea blends in, is accepted in the zeitgeist. But notice carefully because it is a mistake often made in shrink-dom; ideas follow out of feelings, not the reverse. Most of today’s psychotherapy is based on ideas changing feelings, which is not the case. Ideas can suppress feelings, but that is a different story entirely. But today too many focus only on ideas and insights neglecting neurologic science and evolution.

Let’s see how this works: When we are conceived and after few months we produce receptors for stress hormones. If the mother is highly stressed, if there are serious problems in the marriage the child will be born with an inability to handle stress. His stress level is already so high that he cannot deal with any more input. Later on, everything seems like it is too much. The slightest task become overwhelming, and that was set up before our birth. And then later the parents pile on the homework and the chores, believing that the tougher the homework the better the school. It is too easy to focus on all that to the neglect of original causes, the generating sources. The maternal stress level is imprinted in the baby. It is imprinted via the addition of methyl (methylation) to the stress gene, known as the GR gene. This then affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and we have a stress syndrome. We are less equipped to deal with trauma. And that inability is imprinted permanently. It is in the genes, actually in the epigenes, meaning, what happened to those genes while we lived in the womb. It looks so fixed and unchangeable as to be purely genetic. It is not. A mother’s chronic depression can produce the same result. It is not just a psychologic depression; it is how her chemistry changed due to her mental state. That chemistry is what affects the baby. It speaks to the baby in a special biologic language. So here we are; science is finding, is that stress in the carrying mother can imprint tendencies for a lifetime in her baby. And that is what I mean by, “Do we have a fair shot at life?” Not always.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Transforming Feelings Through Resonance

This article was first published on June 1, 2009. I just want to run it again, as it is so important.

How do we transform sadness into depression? Anger into rage? Fear into terror? RESONANCE. The deeper we go in the nervous system the more unreasoned, out of control, impulsive feelings/sensations there are. For good reason. The deeper we go, down into the brainstem the more survival, animalistic, immediate reactions are elicited. Rage and terror are there to help us react quickly to save our lives. Also there is deep hopelessness (the basis for severe depression). It is all there and can be triggered off in the present through resonance. It seems to me that all basic feelings are held together through specific frequencies which unite such feelings as anger and rage. Rage and terror are the first line components of feelings that are triggered off, resonate, with/by current feelings which are far less severe. Nothing in the present is ordinarily meant to be terrorizing. Yet giving a speech can be just that. Why? Because when one’s childhood is ridden by constant lack of love and neglect and often hatred by parents, the defense system is weakened and resonance can go deeper without impediment because of weakened or leaky gates. Those early traumas when early and severe damage our ability to develop a good gating system.

So giving a speech elicits terror, which actually has nothing to do with what is going on in the present. But what is resonated with is real and tells us a lot about what lies down there in that primitive salamander brain. Is there an immediate life-threatening event? Often yes. A mother smoking or drinking or taking drugs. A pre-psychotic mother can do it due to her high levels of mobilizing chemicals. The excessive vital signs speak to us in the language of the body, and they tell us how severe the early event was. This is particularly true in psychotics. I treated a young man who was born on a marine base to parents who were divorcing. The mother abandoned him and he was reared thereafter by a father who was nearly always absent, sent to war zones. There was trauma after trauma, meaning no love.

The problem is that we often do not recognize the resonance factor and treat the top level as the problem. In cognitive/insight therapy the patient is convinced that there is nothing to be afraid of. Ay ay ay. There is a lot to be afraid of only we cannot see it. It is like anger management. We treat rage through top level cortical pleadings when the real rage lies sleepily but stealthily down deep ready to pounce. Here is where words are but a weak, weak weapon for dealing with it. We must understand resonance, for that is what we must treat. We must attack what we cannot see; the imprint that has been there for decades, something that will eventually give us cancer or a heart attack, and we will wonder why?

How can we be sure about all this? One way is through vital signs. We systematically measure all patients’ sessions before and after. As the resonance factor kicks in, we find that the deeper we go in the brain the greater the vital sign measures. So down in the brainstem where much of our birth trauma and prenatal trauma is registered is where we find the long slow-wave brain signatures in our patients as they approach the deeper levels. It is where we see blood pressure of 200 over 110, and of resting heart rate of over 100.

Thus, the terrific impact these very early imprints have is demonstrated every day in almost every session. A patient comes in very hopeless and depressed and her blood pressure is very low. Another comes in with great anger and his heart rate is exceedingly high. It is of a piece, and we literally see the contribution of each level of consciousness during the session. We rarely if ever find a patient down on the brainstem level without resonance. This alone should guide us in the therapy of those who are ridden by out-of-control impulsiveness.

Someone comes to a doctor with chronically very high blood pressure and they immediately give blood pressure medication. And they should offer medication. It must be controlled. In our therapy, we have an idea already of where the origins lie because we are a therapy of genesis, of genotypes, not phenotypes. In fact the phenotype (appearances) is one way to arrive at the genotype. If we suppress the phenotype with medication we can almost be sure the patient will not get well. We know very little of the minute details of a malady but we know a great deal about genesis. This tells us a great deal about the status of the gates, how leaky they are, how solid and impenetrable or refractory they are. As soon as the patient comes in her body is sending out information. If she is awash in first line input we know where we have to go in therapy. Either help her into the imprint or perhaps helping with the gating system through the temporary use of tranquilizers.

A new patient with very low blood pressure and body temperature already signifies parasympathetic excess. We may have to boost her vital functions for a time with energy boosters. We may have to offer something that enhances stress hormone output. As I have pointed out, in our therapy we attack the conductor of it all, not the individual players such as blood pressure or heart rate. And that is the difference between what we do and what other therapies do. We have an overview. We know the music and it often has no lyrics.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On Hypnosis (Part 9/20)

In a piece published a few years ago in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis,[1] Edwin describes an experience of his own which reflects the way unmet childhood need affects adult functioning and generates its own ongoing repression:

I came home from an exhausting day and asked my first wife to fix me a cup of coffee (or a drink).  She had had a bad day too, and retorted something like "fix it yourself."  I experienced an unbridled rage that was so out of proportion to the provocation, and so unlike me that I felt I had to analyze it.

He then used self-hypnosis to "home in on" a distant, repressed memory, a memory which "came in as clearly as if I were there."  On the 12th day of his life, the day he was taken off breast feeding, he "was in a similar childlike rage at being denied what I felt entitled to."  From this revisiting of his past, Edwin had an insight:  "The allegory of the woman in my life denying me liquid refreshment is obvious."  He later consulted medical records in order to confirm the memory; his mother had had to stop breastfeeding him due to a breast abscess.

         Edwin uses this case report as evidence of the accuracy of memories retrieved under hypnosis, even memories of events going all the way back to birth.  He adds that, through connecting his "out of proportion" rage in a current circumstance to a repressed childhood deprivation, he was able to change his behavior in similar situations.  Rather than flying off the handle, he might say, "Oh, you had a bad day too?  Let's talk about it."

         In subsequent chapters I will discuss whether hypnotherapy really can lift repression and eliminate neurosis.  Suffice it to say for now that clearly remembering a forgotten event in the distant past is not the same as truly reliving it; nor will remembering it cure decades of neurosis.  Neurosis is a way of life.  By virtue of dissociation from prepotent inner realities, all neurotics are to some degree in a trance.  This is why so many people seem to be "out of it," "not all there," or "spaced out."  The neurotic's brain seldom works optimally on matters at hand because so much of her mind is preoccupied.  She does not react or respond  spontaneously to what is around her, or else she does so in a manner "out of proportion to the provocation."   Neurosis divorces one from proper perception and narrows it to a more and more reduced field. Here is the confluence of hypnosis and neurosis.  The pre-hypnotic neurotic is already in a hypnotic state.  She doesn't have far to go.        
If the hypnotic trance is only a specialized demonstration of the neurotic state, then its depth corresponds to the degree of neurosis.  Rather than descending into a trance, as the word "depth" implies, hypnosis makes plain just how far down the levels of consciousness neurosis exists.

         The illusion is that the trance is "achieved" by hypnosis, when in fact it is only illustrated by it.  We will see this more clearly as we examine the nature of suggestion and suggestibility, on which hypnosis inevitably depends, and which utilize the neurotic split in consciousness rather than dialectically integrate it.   Here again, there is no dialectic process, as it must be whenever a symptom is take for THE problem instead of a manifestation of a problem.  There is of course here no mention of pain or motivation for the addiction of smoking.  It is simply a given to  be stamped out.  It is purely a mechanical approach.

         I explore hypnosis in some detail because it has a lot to do with our understanding of the nature of reality.    For if a hypnotist puts a cold coin on your hand and suggests that it is hot, and you then develop a blister, where is reality?  In your head, your hand, or in the mind of the hypnotist?   Is reality what we think?   Can you change reality by what we think?  Can we therefore think our way to health.  Is sickness all in our head? (as my friend says, “Where else would it be?”)

[1]Edwin, Many Memories Retrieved with Hypnosis are Accurate, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 36:3, January 1994, pp. 174-176.

On Hypnosis (Part 8/20)

The Psychological Climate of Hypnosis

What psychological elements are involved in hypnosis? First of all, one could say that we have already been partially hypnotized through our preconceptions and expectations before we visit the hypnotist. We anticipate going through a process which the reputation of hypnosis has already preordained. When the hypnotist obliges us, these elements are immediately reinforced. Even more important than these anticipations is the desire to be hypnotized. What motivates this desire to surrender one's critical mind? To understand this motivation, I believe, is to understand how hypnosis works.

A person's desires are not only motivated by healthy drives but also by neurotic processes that result from unmet childhood needs. Barber says that a subject goes into a trance because of his desire to please the hypnotist, to make the hypnotist look good, to be thought special and be complimented, and so on. Barber might as well have described the everyday motivations of the common neurotic. The profound implication of Barber’s viewpoint is that hypnotic success is dependent upon pre-existing neurotic motivations. This is further support for the proposition that hypnosis and neurosis involve the same mechanisms.

To many people, hypnosis appears inexplicable or magical. In reality, what is called dissociation in hypnosis is really the everyday state of the neurotic. All the classic hypnotic phenomena – amnesia, time distortion, age regression, hallucinations, anesthesia, and catalepsy – depend on dissociations in consciousness. What trances of different depths have in common is a certain amount of dissociation, or disconnection within the self, such as when we repress traumatic emotional pain for years, or temporarily stop feeling a sore throat or headache.

I maintain that hypnosis is not an altered state in relation to the common neurotic condition, but it is altered in relation to what is healthy. The isolated consciousness of hypnosis is only a circumscribed demonstration of how neurosis works. The difference is that neurosis is set down during the critical period when the brain is forming and hormones are achieving their set points. It is then a permanent state. Hypnosis is a temporary one by redirecting one’s behavior through the manipulation of conscious/awareness. It is an unconscious input that attempts to stem the primal tide; to block the effects of the imprint. It does not change the imprint, ever. One can stop smoking with hypnosis but the need to do so never changes. The price we pay for lying to ourselves is a premature breakdown of the system sooner or later. Psychotherapy addresses the left frontal brain while the hypnotist bypasses it and seems to input the right frontal brain, the emotional, inwardly focused brain.

Neurosis as a Hypnotic or Post-Hypnotic State

I have maintained that hypnosis can be understood by looking at neurosis. In fact, neurosis is the sine qua non for hypnosis. Now let's see if we can just as easily understand neurosis by looking at hypnosis. Is there any fundamental difference between the two? Hypnosis is an intentional procedure, voluntarily submitted to for a distinct purpose. Neurosis is a global state, involuntary developed as an adaptive response to emotional trauma very early in life. It can be argued that neurosis is a post-hypnotic state, maintained by constant reinforcement of repression and dissociation. Hypnotic procedures can easily tap into that state to produce definite and recognizable post-hypnotic episodes.

What do I mean when I say that neurosis is a hypnotic or post-hypnotic state? It is apparent that in order to feel, the human brain requires the full use of its consciousness. Yet, as we have seen, the brain possesses the capacity to shut down part of itself to defend against the full conscious experience of Pain. The left brain can be disconnect ed from the right so that one side doesn’t know what the other is doing or feeling. This ability is brought into play when the naïve and vulnerable system of the developing child is faced with more Pain that it can handle – when for example the child is rejected, abused, or abandoned. The child's mind represses the Pain by functionally detaching much of conscious awareness from the lower brain functions (such as emotion and sensation) where the Pain is stored. We call this state a split, dissociation, or disconnection. The behaviors which arise to maintain it we call neurosis.

The dissociated person is left with a host of unresolved primal needs which, from their obscured position of repression, exert a continuous but unconscious force. This force directs a person into symbolic attempts to fulfill primal need. The person becomes an intellectual because that is what the parents' expected: a smart student who got good grades and whose main interest was books. Being an intellectual can be a symbolic route to feeling loved and to having one's other needs met. Yet this neurotic diversion plagues him with all manner of symptoms such as migraines and compels him to act in ways which maintain the disconnection, living in his head totally detached from his feelings. Only thoughts guide him. He therefore makes the wrong choices of partners in life because he is out of touch with himself and his real needs. An adult grows up around the unfulfilled child whose urgent needs remain the dominant preoccupation. He continuously seeks fulfillment while attempting to avoid experiencing the reality of deprivation.

Monday, July 18, 2011

On the Right Brain and Sex

In some respects sex and primal have a lot in common. First of all, in sex as the orgasm approaches, the left frontal cortex goes dark and the right lights up like a Christmas tree. And in a feeling the same thing happens. But wait! It is the same thing. Feeling is feeling and deep feeling, however it is manifest, is the same. So primal and sex are identical. Something sets it off, there is a build up of tension and excitement or stimulation and finally resolution and release. It is the analogue of most life processes. In the case of primal it is pain that sets it off but in the case of sex it is a handsome guy or pretty girl that does it. But look what happens; Once the sex is set off it gathers up with it the early pain and deep feelings and drives the sexual impulse. Sex is then hijacked by primal feelings and drives it. And the deviations sex takes depends on early life. Maybe it is the need for power over someone else, or the need to dress up like a woman (in males), or the need to be beaten or whipped. Sex is warped by our early lives. And the way we were warped in order to feel loved early on is the way that sex will be warped or deviated.

It is clear that in sex we don’t need a lot of talk, and the same is true in Primal Therapy; the less the better if we are to get into the right brain. And look what happens in both: the left thinking brain goes dark and “dead” and the right looks like a Christmas tree, all joyful and light. You cannot get completely into the feeling while prolix; both sex and primal suffer. But sex is feeling and primal is feeling, and life is feeling so why in hell are we focusing on the left cognitive brain? That brain can suppress sex and primal. And can then produce depression, and then we wonder why we are depressed, so we go to a shrink who helps us think more, and the result is more depression. And then he recommends pills to kill the pain and we feel better because those pills often diminish left brain function. Oh my!

What is then run off in sex are primal feelings and those feelings carry sex toward its ultimate denouement. So it looks like sex but it is primal. The orgasm is in lieu of integrated primal feelings. Full sex happens only with the absence of heavy pain. Too often what looks like a sexy person is someone with leaky gates who is forced to constantly act-out the feelings. Let me give an example: a boy lived with his divorced mother who had to go to work every day because she could not get alimony. The boy had no love and desperately needed it. His mother left her underclothes on the chair when she went to work. He picked it up smelled it. Later he rubbed them on himself; and still later in his teens he did the same thing while masturbating. What was he doing? Still needing to feel loved; still the build up of pain and its tension, and then the need for resolution. What we do in our therapy is finally allow the person to feel the early need, the build up of tension but finally real resolution, not the deviated one in neurosis. He feels the need and the pain deeply; we do not allow it to go into warped alleys but keep the focus on the need. And when this happens there is a systematic drop in all vital signs which work together to relax the system. This does not happen in sex where there is no final resolution, and so we get the Tiger Woods syndrome of the need for constant sex and release. That release is what I all abreaction. It is phony, neither resolving nor integrating. If Tiger could feel his pain his sex drive would diminish and he would not be driven. As far as I know it is the only way to diminish obsessive drive of any kind. It is, after all, symbolic of the real need and feeling. And the drive will be interminable; whether for sex, food, power, money or fame.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Still Talking to the Wrong Brain

For decades now I have been emphasizing the fact that in psychotherapy we have been addressing the wrong brain. If we really want to produce feeling human beings and not mental giants in therapy we need to skirt the left brain and focus elsewhere. Science has pretty well concluded that it’s the right brain that allows for reliving, not the intellectual insightful left brain. Several studies have emphasized addressing the right brain in order to penetrate the deeper regions of feelings. (W. Penfield 1958 proc. Nat'l Academy of Science USA 44 51-66. Also, Banceaud et al., 19994 Brain, 117 71-90) So long as we focus on the left frontal, thinking, rationalizing brain we will only get progress limited to the thinking, comprehending brain and not the feeling one. We will be loaded with insights that cover over feelings rather than expanding them. Progress will be limited to the psyche and not the whole system. That is why neurology and psychology must meet and inform each other. For it has been fairly consistent now that the right brain is chiefly responsible for reliving our historical feelings. If we ignore how the brain and emotions work will certainly go astray.

I suppose the philosophical dilemma is what is most important, feelings or intellect? They are both essential but feelings have been terribly neglected in psychotherapy. We have to right the ship and put feelings back to where they belong.

We cannot insist on a sit-up, insight-driven therapeutic approach and hope to get to feelings. Unfortunately, too many therapists believe that the goal of psychotherapy should be awareness and self understanding of feelings rather than eliminating the painful ones. What happens too often is that the patient uses her insight and her intellect to suppress feelings and then imagine she is doing well in therapy. Insights become an agent of self-deception. “Oh. I understand my feelings so now I am better.” Not so fast. Understanding feelings is not the same as feeling them. Feeling them gives meaning to life, to experience, gives joy and empathy; gives the person a new élan vital. Feeling them activates the whole system not just the isolated mental apparatus. I think insight has had an exalted place in therapy since the time of Freud because he , emphasized them, and he did that because they had not and still do not have a way of penetrating the feeling zone of the brain. Being left with only the cortex there was no choice but to focus on it and its functioning. Comprehension and insight became the lingua franca of therapy, and we still suffer from that unwitting deception.

And feeling them is not the same as painting or writing them. I see writers who can write about feelings yet cannot feel them, and so they live a life bereft. And they come to therapy in order to feel better but too often the therapy neglects feelings and so they cannot possibly feel better. They know more but still feel empty. Feelings fill that emptiness, and why? Because the patients can feel what that emptiness or loneliness is about and get to the root of it.

There are other aspects of the confluence between feelings and knowledge. There use to be scream clubs where groups of college students would get together and scream; implying that they were doing a sort of psychotherapy. But now we know that without cortical connection a scream is just a scream, unconnected and therefore not integrated into the system. In short, a release or abreaction with nothing curative. Here again we need to understand the relationship between lower and higher brain centers and how they interact. We know that emoting in and of itself is just a discharge of the energy of the feeling without integration. Thus we need to understand the triune brain to see that a feeling is made up of different levels of brain organization, none of which can be ignored. There needs to be the energy portion, the emotional and the intellectual or psychological. And we need to know how pain comes into existence and how it becomes eradicated. We need to know that there is a gating system and a defense system and how they interact. There needs to be science involved with carefully constructed hypotheses that can be tested and measured. We need to know what we mean by cure and/or progress in psychotherapy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

On Hypnosis (7/20)

Inducing Unconsciousness

It is indeed remarkable that a few words traveling through the air, penetrating the ear as sounds, even monotonous gibberish, can cause a person to effectively lose consciousness and fall into a trance. These sounds apparently pick up a meaning in the brain which radically reduces the highest (cortical) functions of the nervous system. Once these sounds acquire meaning, they begin to exert a biochemical and neuroelectric force to shut down transmission among many nerve cells. Consciousness is severely restricted and the person pays attention to a very narrow range of stimuli. This is no different from what happens to a young child who is being admonished by a parent and told to behave differently. Those words can cause the child to alter her feelings about herself and to change how she behaves, all unconsciously.

In other words, ideas can shut off, distort, and alter aspects of consciousness. This happens, however, only if the person giving the ideas has authority in the eyes of the person accepting them and is the dealer of love and the remover of possible Pain. It is what occurs when a charismatic individual convinces someone to believe in outlandish ideas. Thus, there may be little difference between a cult leader talking to a disciple, a parent talking to a four-year-old child, and a hypnotist talking to her subject. In each of these situations it is possible to render the person unconscious in a selective way. One sure way is to manipulate need—unfulfilled need—for love, safety, protection, direction and guidance, warmth and against whatever the future may hold. Someone who has imprinted terror needs to find someone who will stave off the “demons” whoever they may be. Someone who will pave the way and make our journey in life safe.

The Neurology of Unconsciousness

Key structures in the limbic-emotional system, or the second-line consciousness, mediate in what occurs in both hypnosis and in the neurotic trance. The amygdala and the hippocampus are involved in making feelings conscious and in making feelings repressed and unconscious – dissociating feelings from acknowledgment. The hippocampus can retrieve emotions and with the help of the thalamus, can keep them out of consciousness. It is what accomplishes entrance into the hypnotic state; Peter Brown notes that the limbic hippocampus is heavily responsible for the disconnection from conscious awareness. The amygdala can activate emotions and can keep current input from triggering off those emotions. The thalamus and basal ganglia, Brown writes, help by refusing to relay certain information from below to higher levels. In that way, too, we remain dissociated.

There is yet another system that keeps us alert and consciously vigilant, and that is the reticular activating system of the brain stem. If that system is blocked we are less alert and critical. Some sleeping pills work directly here. In the lulled, parasympathetic state of a beginning trance, it is that alerting system that goes off service.

But it is primarily the limbic system, where the emotional level of consciousness is organized, that "decides" whether to make a feeling fully conscious. It is here that dissociation can take place. It is here that the rhythms of the brain can be slowed down into the theta (slow) rhythms indicating the predominance of a lower or second line level of consciousness at work. Here is where the input from the hypnotist enters and is accepted unquestioningly. As the brain rhythms slow even more into the delta range, down to 2 or 3 cycles per second, the person can enter a deep trance where even suggestion no longer enters. She is "out," no longer in this world; she is rigid and unyielding. She is operating on the first-line only, where survival functions dominate. The left hemisphere of the brain, with its severely diminished activity, is now practically useless. There is no critical capacity whatsoever. Attention is narrowed only to the voice of the hypnotist and what he is suggesting, and even that is at a minimal level.

All of this is no different from discussing the various levels of consciousness operating in neurosis, and how imprints of trauma can occur on the two lower levels of consciousness which for a lifetime thereafter drive our behavior and symptoms. No hypnotist in the world can overcome or erase a first-line or second-line imprint because early trauma is impressed into the neurophysiologic system as a permanent memory. Those imprints which alter our brains and our physiology must be addressed in any psychotherapy. Therefore, there is no hypnotist who can "cure" any neurosis. A hypnotist can, perhaps, attenuate symptoms, by combatting the imprint with suggestion after suggestion day after day. That can have some effect, but it is not permanent. Manipulating the first or second-line is not the same as imprinting an event. Hypnosis can have short-term effects which endure because of other factors such as reward, external motivation, punishment, etc. Nonetheless, one cannot imprint suggestion. It takes a very high valence or force of an event, something that threatens our life or our integrity to be imprinted. Imprints occur during the critical period when need must be fulfilled. When we are not loved or held in the first months of our life on earth that will be imprinted, together with the changes in certain hormones of love such as oxytocin and vasopressin. There will alerations in the hormones of stress and they will reman as permanent souvenirs until we go back and redo and undo the imprint that caused so many deviations in various of our systems.

All of this is not meant as any exhaustive discussion of the neurology of hypnosis, which is well beyond my purview. It is only to show that the same mechanisms involved in neurosis are the mechanisms involved in hypnosis. Hypnosis, in short, is a condensed and circumscribed, temporary neurosis. It involves dissociation as a sine qua non. It involves disconnection and blind obedience. It involves uncritical behavior as if one were on automatic. And in neurosis one is on automatic, automatically running off the program laid down by one's caretakers in childhood. If we were never close during the formative months of infancy it will be imprinted so that later we will be unable to form permanent emotional attachments to others.

On Hypnosis (6/20)

The Neurology of Hypnosis

With the discovery of the brain's hemispheric laterality (See the work of Gazzanaga and Bogen as well as: Psychology Today, May 1985, p. 43), the terms right brain/left brain have become virtual household concepts. The brain is divided into two halves, with each half mediating qualitatively different processes: the right brain mediates non-rational functions and holistic perceptions, while the left brain mediates the rational and specific. The right is holistic while the left is analytic. The right is internally oriented, while the left is externally focused.

Another recent neurological discovery is that of the "triune brain," where the division is concentric rather than lateral. Less well known than the concept of hemispheric laterality, the discovery of the triune brain may be more significant.

Based on Paul Yakovlev's research, the triune brain model describes the brain as organized concentrically into three zones or "neuropils."[1] Each zone consists of an interrelated network of nerve cells with its own biochemical composition. Each zone has its own storehouse for consciousness and memory. The three zones or levels of the brain develop chronologically in the fetus and newborn just as they did in human evolution. At birth and in primitive animals only the first level is operative, mediating visceral and body activity. By the sixth month of life the second level of brain development emerges to mediate the limbic processes of feeling and emotion. There is some evidence that in evolution this began with the turtle, which shows some limbic structure. The third or cortical level, which mediates all cognitive functions, is the last to develop and in its full development is uniquely human.

How does this relate to hypnosis? The dissociation so critical to all hypnotic phenomena hinges upon a disengagement of the third level of consciousness. It is precisely this third level that predominates in relation to the outer world. This part of the brain perceives, reflects, reasons, rationalizes, and comprehends. Its task is to process and evaluate information, to know what is: what the temperature is, the conditions of the environment, if danger is near, whether the body needs food or sleep, and so on. For hypnosis to be effective, it must disengage the third level, so that the individual is no longer able to independently process information.

A trance state occurs when the person operates from the emotional (second) or physical (first) level of consciousness without the benefit of the critical intellect (third level). In this state, no cognition is employed to determine whether internal and external conditions coincide, whether how one feels and acts is reality based. This is why children are generally more responsive to hypnosis. They do not have the well-developed evaluative functions of the adult. Childish complaisance is the neurotic feature in the adult which enables the trance to occur and sustain itself.

Notice two key phrases in Erickson's report of the woman in the somnambulistic trance: "with...juvenile directness, earnestness, and simplicity," and "in the manner of a small child." I believe his demonstration uncovered the woman's latent childish tendencies rather than inducing them. The subject's pre-existing complaisance allowed for even further dissociation (from what she ordinarily experienced) so that even external clues would not disrupt her trance.

Erickson's demonstration points up another crucial aspect of the hypnotic state. Unencumbered by personal embarrassment and social restraints, the subject was free to act as childishly as she was. Under normal circumstances repression defends against the admission of neurosis. Under hypnosis, with the last remnant of rational perception suppressed, neurotic people can allow themselves to be as dependent, childish, and hurting as they really are. The hypnotic procedure reveals what the self-censorship of repression conceals: the essence of the neurotic self. It does so, however, by avoiding full conscious experience, for it is this experience that provokes feelings of Pain. Clearly, we cannot get well through unconsciousness because that is the definition of neurosis. It takes full conscious/awareness to become whole.

Thus, the attraction of hypnosis is the apparent opportunity to have it both ways: you can show who you are without feeling the concomitant Pain. And this, as I shall explain later, is exactly why hypnotherapy cannot in the end be therapeutic.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What About Reliving? Is it Necessary?

At times it seems like I am drowning the fish; going on and on about how you need to relive in order to cure. And I have already drowned the poor fish in insisting that we need a therapy of feelings, of the right brain and the deeper areas of the limbic system and the brain stem. If there is to be a cure. So what is the proof? Here we go again on the difference between statistical truths versus clinical ones. We tend to over emphasize the statistical because it has mathematics and seems more scientific. And it looks objective, whereas the clinical approach just seems too subjective.

So over the years I have made my subjective findings and await support from the statisticians. The reason I know that this is a futile effort is that some of the world’s leading neurologists and neuropsychologists have made the case in neurology about the importance of feelings yet conduct at the same time therapies that are at base anti-feeling. They cannot seem to make the leap from the third-line prefrontal neocortex down to the feeling centers in the limbic area and below. They seem to have mastered the neurology but cannot become the avatars of the voyage from the right to left brain; cannot make the connection from sensations and feelings to the frontal connection for integration; cannot finish the trip from the right brain to the left, from the intellect to feelings. Why? Because the scientists seem locked away from their feelings, giving feelings a small nod before ignoring it. They cannot make that leap from right to left because it is at once the longest trip and the most complex, and the shortest and easiest trip to make once there is access to feelings. Therein lies the rub: because there is absolutely no way to gain access to our feelings through the intellectual route alone. It is a contradiction in terms. What we need to do is eschew the intellect, let it cede to the limbic/right brain and access will appear automatically. The more we try to use rationalization and intellectual comprehension the worse it becomes and the more “in the head” we are.

It is repression that drives some of us into our heads and which keeps us from knowing how important feelings are. And it is the lack of repression that allows some of us to feel and to suffer; to know that we are suffering and need to change. When pain/feelings rise to the top is when we comprehend our own reality and no longer have to build an intellectual super-structure over it.

There are numerous findings that seem to support my point: (Penfield, W. Proc. Natl Academy of Scie. 1958. Also the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 1997. 9 420-80). What they found was that when there was electro-stimulation of the right hemisphere temporal cortex in human subjects there can be a reliving of the past. That this stimulation offers the person access to her feelings. The researchers point out that it reflects an involuntary persistent activation of interacting neural networks, and that this allows for experiential consolidation. In brief, it gathers up aspects of feeling from various parts of the brain and then allows for consolidation.
This means integration and resolution,, which is the goal of our therapy. This is no more than saying that we need to address the feeling brain as well as the intellect if we are to help patients. If we stay in the intellect the patient will only get well in her head. And her body will eventually disintegrate (literally, from lack of integration). So the head thinks all is well while the unconscious is rampaging around trying to make sense of all that inner turmoil. Because of little communicating between feelings and their comprehension the turmoil will remain. There can be no connection; and that is the be-all and end-all of proper therapy.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

How Do 200,000 Shrinks Miss the Point About Primal Pain?

(from: The Rise of the Caring Industry.   R.W. Dworkin.  Hoover Institution, June 2011)
Today in the U.S. there are 77,000 clinical psychologists, 192,000 clinical social workers, 105,000 mental health counselors, 50,000 marriage and family therapists, 17,000 nurse psychotherapists, and 30,000 life coaches. Most of these professionals spend their days helping people cope with everyday life problems, not true mental illness. More than half the patients in therapy don’t even qualify for a psychiatric diagnosis. In addition, there are 400,000 nonclinical social workers and 220,000 substance abuse counselors working outside the official mental health system yet offering clients informal psychological advice nonetheless.  This is to say nothing about the number of psychiatrists.

How do these hundreds of thousands of mental health professionals miss the point about primal pain?  I mean pain is central to mental illness.  How can it be ignored by the very people commissioned to solve neurosis and psychosis?  It is like studying physics and nuclear energy but never mentioning atoms.   Implicitly, it means that they do not consider emotional pain to be at the root of emotional/mental illness.   So what do they think?  I have to go back to my psychoanalytic days to see how I was thinking.  And all we all thought about was the symptom and how to cure it.  Not curing the human being who carried the symptom and the individual who was responsible for the symptom.

   I am not decrying the fact that professionals do not embrace Primal Therapy, but simply trying to understand why they cannot see the pain.  It is there in every patient I have ever seen.  Why is that? Because I have found a way to dig deep in the human unconscious, otherwise you simply cannot see it, even though it is right there before your eyes.   And there is the pain bright and cheery (or not so cheery).   I had a patient (a mother) today who felt deeply.  Afterwards, she had all kinds of insights about how she treated and ignored her daughter.   And the question is, how did she see something so clearly after feeling her pain, that she could never see before she felt her feelings and needs.

    Currently, in the name of progress, psychotherapy has become a here-and-now affair.  As if to say the patient has no history. We are now in the same boat as creative intelligence, psychoevangelicals who say there was no history beyond that of a handful of years.   We can find no real justification for this approach.  Yet, shrinks are implicitly stating this in every therapy session.     They ignore causes and origins.   All that is left is the present.  It certainly simplifies matters.  The problem is that it becomes simplistic and bypasses historical truths.  It eliminates  complexities, of which we are prime examples.  It forces us to ride along on the surface; and we couch our results on surface phenomena.   And then we tailor our therapy to fit into the simplistic scheme.  And we are the last to know about feelings and needs.

    One of the problems here is that therapists are the tool bearers; they take what they have learned and apply it to the patient, thereby learning nothing new; and certainly nothing about the patient.   All they are really doing is refining their tool, whether it be EMDR with its wand to wave in front of the patient or a biofeedback machine  to hook -up the patient, or the ideology of Freud about sexuality, and so on.   It is the apotheosis of the tool and tool-bearer.  And all this prevents the therapist from really inquiring into the patient and her history.  In this case the therapist is seeing herself or himself; how good she is doing or not doing.  The patient is something of an afterthought.   This seems an exaggeration but it is basically the implication of today’s psychotherapy.  Bringing the tool into the session means the therapist has already made up her mind.  She has already decided how the session will go; and it is she who decides the goal of the session, not relying on the systematic unraveling of the unconscious.  The session will go at the therapist’s pace and not that of the patient.  So now we begin to understand why the doctors do not see the pain.  They leave no room for it, no room for any surprises in the therapy.   They leave no room for a change in philosophy or in technique.  They don’t have to change at all.  That is not science; where each new bit of information can change how we go about doing therapy.  They are sure that it all is fine, and that all that has to happen is the patient fit himself into the theoretical scheme.  The doctor needs to analyze your dreams or have you do certain exercises and rituals;  the currency the patient must pay is with insights.  The greater the number of insights the better the patient is, they say.

 The article about the number of shrinks goes on to discuss the following:  “People want to be able to go about their daily lives with the knowledge that someone is there for them.”  So that is the role of the shrink? If you had someone there for you in the beginning of your life you would not need it from a shrink. When you get it from a shrink it is known as symbolic acting-out; the all-wise therapist will watch out for you, protect you, read your mind and keep you safe.  And the problem is, and what makes therapy so addicting, is that the patient is getting what he can from the shrink to make up for what he did not get from his parents. But as we know, once the critical period of need is gone it can never be retrieved.  After the period is over all fulfillment has to be symbolic; and that is why therapy is often interminable; because it is never truly fulfilling.  It is a palliative that we require over and over again.

     And here is more of the Dworkin piece.   “Traditional long-term psychoanalysis, where a therapist spends years poring over the most insignificant details of patient’s life, has given way to what is called “short-term therapy” — therapy conducted over a period of 20 sessions and typically lasting no more than six sessions. Traditional psychotherapy seeks to explain a person’s problem in depth; short-term therapy seeks only to solve that problem, whether or not an explanation for the problem can be found, and so requires less time. Most psychologists, social workers, counselors, and life coaches operate these days within the short-term therapy framework. By focusing on a person’s problem, short-term therapy mimics the experience of real friendship. People don’t expect a real friend to psychoanalyze them when they have a life problem; they expect a friend to suggest a course of action, or to at least raise their spirits. They expect a friend to advise them or help them feel better.

In fact, this new therapeutic style is key to understanding the growth in the number of caring professionals and, indeed, the rise of an entire “caring industry.” Today’s caring professionals offer the same service to lonely, unhappy people that friends and relatives once did. They do so because so many Americans are lonely and unhappy.”

   We do need someone to talk to in life, and for that a shrink can be helpful; and my guess is that if they just talk about life and not spread around insights the session would go just as well if not better.  There is a lot of loneliness out there.  One reason that it becomes embedded and shrouds us is because it is something that may have set in very early in life when the baby was not held and caressed after being born; nor was she held and kissed enough in her infancy.  Here an aloneness sets in; a profound alone/loneliness is engraved.   It can be a feeling brought forth through the process of resonance where being alone for a few hours can elicit that deep aloneness where early human contact was essential for survival.

   In the article they say that half of all Americans feel lonely and, also a bit unhappy.  Where as twenty percent are either depressed or anxious.  These are like unforced errors in tennis; nothing seems to provoke it but there it is.  But we have a good idea of what is causing it.   And look at this.  “An estimated 95 percent of Americans have low self-esteem. Consistent with these trends, at least 15 percent of Americans are now on a psychoactive drug at any given moment.”  Why is it that we all have low self-esteem?  I just wrote on this; a few of the reasons have to do with being ignored as a child, not listened to or respected when we spoke.   It can begin when we are crying out in the crib and no one comes.  Some of us learned to let the child cry. The result is low-self-esteem; I am not worthy of people coming to help and soothe me.    And it is magnified many times over when you say “mommy, mommy,” or “daddy, daddy” and no one is listening.  No one understands your moods, your feelings or energy levels.  Or the parents live on another planet of rules and regulations, of traditions and moral codes but never feelings.  They live within their own history and pain, and cannot pay full attention in the present.   Emotionally, they are somewhere else.  It is compounded when you eat what your are given and do not have the right to dictate what you will have for dinner.  Low self-esteem.   You are not very important.  You obey or else.

  The article goes on “Under our very noses a revolution has occurred in the personal dimension of life such that millions of Americans must now pay professionals to listen to their everyday life problems.”  And why is that? Because so many parents are so preoccupied with making a living, paying bills that they not only don’t have time but don’t have the mental freedom to focus for very long on anything outside of themselves.  They are prisoners of pain and the children are the one’s in prison, an emotional prison where there is no one to talk to, no one who understands (that is the ultimate loneliness).   There is no one to go to who can help.  The child is surrounded by unfeeling robots who go through the motions of parenting, who need to read books and how to act with children, as if they never had  a childhood themselves.     Unfortunately, they are so alienated from their past that they forgot what it’s like to be a child.  The point is that very early gestational trauma, the mother anxious or depressed is sufficient to cause it, gets compounded as the child grows up and experiences neglect and lack of touch and love.  All this needs to be taken into account.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On Hypnosis (5/20)

Variations in Depth and Type of Trance

Both Hilgard and Erickson believe that there are definite, varying levels of hypnotic trance. For example, there is a stuporous trance – a state in which, according to Hilgard, spontaneous thinking stops and the self becomes "meaningless." In Hypnosis in the Relief of Pain, Hilgard maintains that the notion of depth in hypnosis cannot really be measured and can only be described by the person experiencing it. Still, he gives this description of a person in an hypnotic stupor:

Relaxation of the body increased for a time, but he [the subject] eventually no longer felt identified with his body. It was as though it was a "thing" left behind, so that it no longer made sense to ask him further about body relaxation. Relaxation of the body was succeeded by a peacefulness of the self, but beyond a certain depth this concept also became meaningless, because the self was no longer present. The environment also faded progressively, until finally a state was reached in which the only part of the environment that remained present was the hypnotist's voice. Time passed more and more slowly, finally reaching a point at which it ceased to be a meaningful concept. Spontaneous mental activity declined until it finally reached zero.[1]

Another kind of trance is a somnambulistic one, in which mental and physical capacities apparently remain normal. Erickson made frequent use of the somnambulistic trance both for demonstration and for therapeutic purposes. I’ll now describe an example where Erickson had called upon one individual to demonstrate the somnambulistic state. He then pretended to conclude the demonstration and dismiss the subject. But he continued, hoping to observe genuine "hypnotic behavior" rather than behavior designed to please the hypnotist.

Knowing about the subject's fondness for sweets, Erickson told her that as a reward for her performance she could choose from a platter of homemade candy. With the subject “still in the somnambulistic state," she was asked to name her favorite candy, and "expressed a marked preference for divinity fudge, and even as she spoke she was noted to salivate freely in anticipation." The hypnotist went into another room, called back with satisfaction that there was indeed some divinity fudge, and asked her whether she wanted to help herself to it at once or later. "So far as divinity fudge is concerned, immediately is scarcely soon enough," she reportedly replied. Erickson then returned to the room bringing napkins, pretending that he had a platter of candy in his hands, and saying that the platter contained a variety of candies in case those present had different preferences. Next he approached the subject and told her to go ahead and select the largest pieces of divinity fudge.

With the juvenile directness, earnestness, and simplicity so characteristic of behavior in the somnambulistic state, she replied she would. After scrutinizing the imaginary platter carefully, she made her choice of a piece and, upon urging, a second and a third, but she explained that she was taking only a small piece for the third.

The imaginary platter was passed among the group. Each person pretended to take a piece of candy and eat it. The subject then became restless, wandered around the room, and finally sat in a chair next to the table where the imaginary platter had been placed. Subsequently, "in the manner of a small child who wishes another helping of candy," she looked furtively back and forth between the imaginary platter and the hypnotist, until:

...with a slight gesture of resolution she learned forward, scrutinized the platter carefully, and proceeded to go through a performance of selecting carefully and eating several pieces of candy, now and then glancing in a hesitant manner.

The platter was passed around again. When it was her turn, the subject again selected and ate imaginary pieces of candy. Erickson notes that, throughout the performance, two "medically-trained members unobtrusively watched the subject" and independently observed her "increased salivation and swallowing," as well as her use of the napkin to wipe her fingers. Then Erickson concluded the demonstration and awakened the subject.[2]

Thus, we have stuporous trances in which the environment, the body, and the self become meaningless concepts, and we have somnambulistic trances in which hallucinatory fudge is merrily eaten with the context of normal group interaction. How can these states be possible? Are these reports mere fantasy or actual descriptions of altered neurological functioning? And if the latter is true, which brain structures mediate hypnotic trance states?

[1]Ernest R. Hilgard and Josephine R. Hilgard, Hypnosis in the Relief of Pain (Los Altos, CA: William Kaufmann, 1975), p. 21.
[2]Milton H. Erickson, "Experimentally Elicited Salivary and Related Responses to Hypnotic Visual Hallucinations Confirmed by Personality Reactions," Collected Papers of Milton H. Erickson on Hypnosis, Vol. 2, Edited by Ernest L. Rossi (New York: Irvington, 1980), pp. 176-177. Originally published in Psychosomatic Medicine, April, 1943,5, 185-187.

On Hypnosis (4/20)

Non-State Theories

Theodore Barber, a leading hypnosis researcher is a strong proponent of the non-state theory. For him hypnosis is nothing extraordinary; it is a normal, everyday behavior mistakenly given a special name. So-called hypnotic behavior, according to Barber, can be understood as being the result of interpersonal factors, such as the subject's desire to please the hypnotist by successfully carrying out what is requested of him, much like what often happens between client and therapist in any kind of psychotherapy.

Barber points out that all attempts to define hypnosis to date have involved a semantic merry-go-round: a person is said to behave a certain way because she is hypnotized. But how do we know she is hypnotized? Because she behaves a certain way. Or worse yet: A person is in a trance because she is hypnotized. How do we know she is hypnotized? Because she is in a trance! While the concepts of trance and hypnosis are used to define one another, they are also used interchangeably. According to Barber, proof that hypnosis is a special state of consciousness requires the discovery of behavior other than that used to describe it.

Furthermore, if hypnosis is a special state, shouldn't instruments clearly indicate its difference from a waking or a sleeping state? "For nearly one hundred years," writes Barber, "researchers have been trying to delineate an objective physiological index that differentiates the hypnotic state from non-hypnotic states...The attempt to find a physiological index of 'hypnotic trance per se' has not succeeded."[1] Specifically, physiological measures such as EEG, blood pressure, pulse rates, and body temperature do not demonstrate any variation between a "hypnotic" and "non-hypnotic" state.

Peter Brown, who has studied what underlies the phenomenon of hypnotic communication, modifies Barber's thesis as follows: "Though there are changes in brain functioning during hypnosis, they are not unique to hypnosis nor are they uniform across all subjects...The changes in brain function that occur in hypnosis are similar to the normal ultradian variations in activity and do not appear to differ from changes found in other types of absorbed concentration."[2] Brown adds that "It is easy to speak of an 'altered state of consciousness' or of 'dissociation,' as if we know precisely what these terms mean. The evidence suggests that the trance state involved substantial changes in cognition, emotion, perception, and physiologic regulation. But these changes do not exist in a vacuum. Intermingled with them will be the surrounding context for the individual: their previous history, current concerns, and the quality of the interaction and degree of rapport they experience with the hypnotherapist."[3]

According to the non-state theory, the vital functions and behavior of someone in a hypnotic trance are not dissimilar to those of someone who is not in a trance. People role-play, act, distort, conceal, fantasize, and imagine themselves as others while awake, and they also do these things while hypnotized. While either in a hypnotic trance or an everyday trance, they are able to consciously or unconsciously focus on a particular stimulus and tune out all others. Moreover, Barber and other non-state theorists say that what happens to people in hypnosis can be explained largely in terms of the relationship between the subject and the hypnotist, based on the subject's psychology, motivations, and drives. As children, they try to please their parents; as students, they seek approval from teachers; and as hypnotic subjects, they do the same.

[1]Theodore X. Barber, Hypnosis: Scientific Approach (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1969), p. 7.
[2]Peter Brown, The Hypnotic Brain: Hypnotherapy and Social Communication. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1991), p. 175.
[3]Brown, The Hypnotic Brain, p. 241.

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.