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.


  1. Madness designs what we need to "cure" a loveless childhood… we had no choice… the pain was devastating.... which killed the emotionally development. There was at the time no sentence against... sentences we later in life develops... sentences needed for relief of suffering... sentences we as professionals holds against cure. What a tragedy.


  2. Frank: So the body can go crazy before we go crazy mentally. Right? We go crazy with the equipment we have at the time. An infant can go crazy when certain of his cells become cancerous. art


Review of "Beyond Belief"

This thought-provoking and important book shows how people are drawn toward dangerous beliefs.
“Belief can manifest itself in world-changing ways—and did, in some of history’s ugliest moments, from the rise of Adolf Hitler to the Jonestown mass suicide in 1979. Arthur Janov, a renowned psychologist who penned The Primal Scream, fearlessly tackles the subject of why and how strong believers willingly embrace even the most deranged leaders.
Beyond Belief begins with a lucid explanation of belief systems that, writes Janov, “are maps, something to help us navigate through life more effectively.” While belief systems are not presented as inherently bad, the author concentrates not just on why people adopt belief systems, but why “alienated individuals” in particular seek out “belief systems on the fringes.” The result is a book that is both illuminating and sobering. It explores, for example, how a strongly-held belief can lead radical Islamist jihadists to murder others in suicide acts. Janov writes, “I believe if people had more love in this life, they would not be so anxious to end it in favor of some imaginary existence.”
One of the most compelling aspects of Beyond Belief is the author’s liberal use of case studies, most of which are related in the first person by individuals whose lives were dramatically affected by their involvement in cults. These stories offer an exceptional perspective on the manner in which belief systems can take hold and shape one’s experiences. Joan’s tale, for instance, both engaging and disturbing, describes what it was like to join the Hare Krishnas. Even though she left the sect, observing that participants “are stunted in spiritual awareness,” Joan considers returning someday because “there’s a certain protection there.”
Janov’s great insight into cultish leaders is particularly interesting; he believes such people have had childhoods in which they were “rejected and unloved,” because “only unloved people want to become the wise man or woman (although it is usually male) imparting words of wisdom to others.” This is just one reason why Beyond Belief is such a thought-provoking, important book.”
Barry Silverstein, Freelance Writer

Quotes for "Life Before Birth"

“Life Before Birth is a thrilling journey of discovery, a real joy to read. Janov writes like no one else on the human mind—engaging, brilliant, passionate, and honest.
He is the best writer today on what makes us human—he shows us how the mind works, how it goes wrong, and how to put it right . . . He presents a brand-new approach to dealing with depression, emotional pain, anxiety, and addiction.”
Paul Thompson, PhD, Professor of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine

Art Janov, one of the pioneers of fetal and early infant experiences and future mental health issues, offers a robust vision of how the earliest traumas of life can percolate through the brains, minds and lives of individuals. He focuses on both the shifting tides of brain emotional systems and the life-long consequences that can result, as well as the novel interventions, and clinical understanding, that need to be implemented in order to bring about the brain-mind changes that can restore affective equanimity. The transitions from feelings of persistent affective turmoil to psychological wholeness, requires both an understanding of the brain changes and a therapist that can work with the affective mind at primary-process levels. Life Before Birth, is a manifesto that provides a robust argument for increasing attention to the neuro-mental lives of fetuses and infants, and the widespread ramifications on mental health if we do not. Without an accurate developmental history of troubled minds, coordinated with a recognition of the primal emotional powers of the lowest ancestral regions of the human brain, therapists will be lost in their attempt to restore psychological balance.
Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D.
Bailey Endowed Chair of Animal Well Being Science
Washington State University

Dr. Janov’s essential insight—that our earliest experiences strongly influence later well being—is no longer in doubt. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, immunology, and epigenetics, we can now see some of the mechanisms of action at the heart of these developmental processes. His long-held belief that the brain, human development, and psychological well being need to studied in the context of evolution—from the brainstem up—now lies at the heart of the integration of neuroscience and psychotherapy.
Grounded in these two principles, Dr. Janov continues to explore the lifelong impact of prenatal, birth, and early experiences on our brains and minds. Simultaneously “old school” and revolutionary, he synthesizes traditional psychodynamic theories with cutting-edge science while consistently highlighting the limitations of a strict, “top-down” talking cure. Whether or not you agree with his philosophical assumptions, therapeutic practices, or theoretical conclusions, I promise you an interesting and thought-provoking journey.
Lou Cozolino, PsyD, Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University

In Life Before Birth Dr. Arthur Janov illuminates the sources of much that happens during life after birth. Lucidly, the pioneer of primal therapy provides the scientific rationale for treatments that take us through our original, non-verbal memories—to essential depths of experience that the superficial cognitive-behavioral modalities currently in fashion cannot possibly touch, let alone transform.
Gabor Maté MD, author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

An expansive analysis! This book attempts to explain the impact of critical developmental windows in the past, implores us to improve the lives of pregnant women in the present, and has implications for understanding our children, ourselves, and our collective future. I’m not sure whether primal therapy works or not, but it certainly deserves systematic testing in well-designed, assessor-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trials.
K.J.S. Anand, MBBS, D. Phil, FAACP, FCCM, FRCPCH, Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, Senior Scholar, Center for Excellence in Faith and Health, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System

A baby's brain grows more while in the womb than at any time in a child's life. Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script That Rules Our Lives is a valuable guide to creating healthier babies and offers insight into healing our early primal wounds. Dr. Janov integrates the most recent scientific research about prenatal development with the psychobiological reality that these early experiences do cast a long shadow over our entire lifespan. With a wealth of experience and a history of successful psychotherapeutic treatment, Dr. Janov is well positioned to speak with clarity and precision on a topic that remains critically important.
Paula Thomson, PsyD, Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge & Professor Emeritus, York University

"I am enthralled.
Dr. Janov has crafted a compelling and prophetic opus that could rightly dictate
PhD thesis topics for decades to come. Devoid of any "New Age" pseudoscience,
this work never strays from scientific orthodoxy and yet is perfectly accessible and
downright fascinating to any lay person interested in the mysteries of the human psyche."
Dr. Bernard Park, MD, MPH

His new book “Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” shows that primal therapy, the lower-brain therapeutic method popularized in the 1970’s international bestseller “Primal Scream” and his early work with John Lennon, may help alleviate depression and anxiety disorders, normalize blood pressure and serotonin levels, and improve the functioning of the immune system.
One of the book’s most intriguing theories is that fetal imprinting, an evolutionary strategy to prepare children to cope with life, establishes a permanent set-point in a child's physiology. Baby's born to mothers highly anxious during pregnancy, whether from war, natural disasters, failed marriages, or other stressful life conditions, may thus be prone to mental illness and brain dysfunction later in life. Early traumatic events such as low oxygen at birth, painkillers and antidepressants administered to the mother during pregnancy, poor maternal nutrition, and a lack of parental affection in the first years of life may compound the effect.
In making the case for a brand-new, unified field theory of psychotherapy, Dr. Janov weaves together the evolutionary theories of Jean Baptiste Larmarck, the fetal development studies of Vivette Glover and K.J.S. Anand, and fascinating new research by the psychiatrist Elissa Epel suggesting that telomeres—a region of repetitive DNA critical in predicting life expectancy—may be significantly altered during pregnancy.
After explaining how hormonal and neurologic processes in the womb provide a blueprint for later mental illness and disease, Dr. Janov charts a revolutionary new course for psychotherapy. He provides a sharp critique of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and other popular “talk therapy” models for treating addiction and mental illness, which he argues do not reach the limbic system and brainstem, where the effects of early trauma are registered in the nervous system.
“Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” is scheduled to be published by NTI Upstream in October 2011, and has tremendous implications for the future of modern psychology, pediatrics, pregnancy, and women’s health.