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.


  1. So does someone who's primaled no longer seek or need sex? Is sex post-Primal only to reproduce? If so, why do we need to reproduce?

    Should we not seek comfort, sex, massages, etc. (that is comfort, things that make us feel better) unless and until we first "primal" or get "clear" or "find Jesus"?

    I understand act-outs (too well!), but self-denial is no answer either.

    Can we not, like exercise, build up to bigger and better things (say, Primal?).

    Again, I'm talking from fear now, since I did "faux primal" and it harmed me. I opened way too soon (at the time there was no concept of "too much;" patients who didn't Primal (abreact, really) were shamed and told unless they really, really, let go they were doomed. Irresponsible/inept therapists retraumatized me. So I'm very wary of "take one huge incredible life-threatening shit and all will be well" solutions. Sink-or-swim exhortations don't work with me.

    Sometimes sex CAN be a help, especially for those who hold themselves back too much.

    As I've written before: I'd like a bit more practical here-and-now advice, given few in the world are ever going to make it to Art's Institute. Aren't there some guidelines for "good enough" living?

    And loving?

    Part of this, of course, depends on others. If you find a lover who "gets it," s/he won't try to shut you down, for example, if you start crying after orgasm. They will understand that feelings merge. That it is perfectly natural sometimes to cry when you are happy...and to laugh after you cry.

    I just worry about setting PT up so no one can be "really" happy until they reach the ever-receding summit of some mystical Everest on the West Coast.

    I'm pretty sure that if I'd gotten enough imperfect, all-too-human hugs and kisses when I was young I wouldn't have been so attracted to things like porn. I remember reading Vonnegut once, a character fishing off-shore with his sons watching swells carouse on land. The father said something about porn being like people who clipped pictures of fish. That it wasn't the same as doing what THEY were doing: actually fishing.

    It's all about obsession, I know. The "there's never enough" act-out a la Tiger Woods. If he'd been allowed to date in highschool, instead of endlessly trying to please his father with "perfect putting," he'd not be in the stew he's in. But is his only hope PT? What about hanging out with people who like him for who he is, folks he can tell the truth about his background to, who would let him cry about it. Or do what he needs to feel his pain without having to move to CA and your Institute?

    Or am I just projecting?

    The irony, of course, is of all the wounded people I know, Tiger is best least financially... to see you.

    Oh well.

  2. The scary thing about this article is that those deepest primal forces must be resolved and felt before sex can function adequately in those who are not doing so at present. It can take a long time to get down to those most basic primal forces. So the solution is a long challenging one. What must be must be. If ya want the cure, you must pay the price, which is time and effort, for sure.

    But I would also see this, which is accurate and true, as rather discouraging to newbies. Many promise quick easy fixes, which are usually not fixes at all but sound nice. Choosing a long hard road is not easy but it would work. But it is also why I think PT needs to be far more common and available. Which means obstacles that prevent more acceptance and attention must be recognized, identified, and ultimately, overcome.

    But them thar is fighting words as those in power do not like competition in competing wills and plans. An attempt to help, if it is sincere, must address the real obstacles and not dance around them. PT is the way to go, but PT is rare and uncommon. So the help must extend to making PT far more available. In order to do that, it must accurately identify the real problems holding it back from us all.

    That might take some courage for identifying “obstacles” will mean getting some people in power very mad and upset. They do not like being fingered. So if the desire to help and spread the word is real, it will be hard to avoid ruffling feathers and drawing some unwanted attention as well at the good attention. Any brave souls up to a little bit of confrontation with “obstacles?”

  3. You know, I have heard that when we are aroused, we who are male, that is, experience a migration within. Our left frontal cortex and our penises trade places. I don't understand why science has missed this obvious transmigration. Women are often quite aware of it. Maybe more of them should be scientists ;-)

  4. Art, i wrote a comment to Jack today well before reading the above article. i mentioned the left brain "lighting up like a christmas tree". now i just read that phrase again in this article. that's a bit freaky because i never looked at this article at all. but the coincidence is too much. maybe my eyes did catch the phrase as i scrolled down to the comments, and then when i wrote my comment, i thought i was being original, but in fact, was reacting to a subliminal suggestion. i'm thinking...i don't have a mind of my own. i am a machine, literally.
    when i was a teenager, i talked about an interesting concept while my very drunk father sat and listened. the next day, when he had sobered up, he came over to me and said "Richard...i've just thought of something." he started to talk about the concept. i said "dad.....i know....i told it to you last night." he exploded in anger and screamed "that's impossible because i only just thought of it now!"
    as he spoke, he really did seem to be thinking it all through for the first time.

    do we think our own thoughts? or do we merely believe that we think our own thoughts....without ever knowing that we are reacting automatically to unconscious cues?

    de ja vue seems to be the opposite sybdrome.

    must be hypnosis...

    one other thing. you said the left brain goes dark during a feeling.
    it lights up at the end of the feeling when it's ready to be integrated??? is that it?
    do you think i'm stupid Art? do you think i am lazy minded? you think you've explained it? everyone thinks they get it until i ask them to explain. they are surprised when they can't.
    "by george he hasn't got it." forget it Art. you've done your best. i won't bug you any more. i don't want to become an obnoxious bore.

  5. Trevor: How on earth did you come to that conclusion after reading my piece? I wrote about full sex once pain is out of the way because pain requires repression, and repression dampens sex, as it must. Simple. art

  6. when i was fourteen i was having mind-blowing orgasms. the feeling was absolutely extreme - bigger than the universe, and afterwards i would feel total relief and bliss for quite some time. 100% satisfaction.
    i was a feeling person. i didn't fit in at school. no real friends and no real enemies. i felt an awful darkness every time i entered the school grounds. i adored Helena Stevenson but was utterly terrified of talking to her. she was very gentle and confident and understanding. i turned to mush every time she entered the room. finally, i phoned her, trembling, and made a fool of myself, and she said no. she was kind to me afterwards but i couldn't bear the embarrassment and kept my distance from her. i wish i had more courage back then.
    but at that age life was rich and had many rewards. now i can't feel. i am always in a trance. now that i am less conscious of the anxiety, i can be the cool psychopath while others act like fools. that's a slight exaggeration, but it is a good way to describe "growing up."
    there are lots of blog readers trying to be grown up. trying to be cool. trying to be more mature emotionally and intellectually. TRYING to fill a void.




    if you can't see the emptiness in your crappy adult life, compared to the fullness of your crappy childhood, then that is even more reason to get primal therapy. and if you can't get the therapy, don't try to be a feeling person. just try to be yourself as much as possible. you won't be able to feel more than your body will allow. if you want to cry, then do it. it might provide some temporary relief but it won't bring you full feelings. let's not kid ourselves Trevor! be brave. you won't get hurt again.
    i look forward to seeing you at the primal center Paul.

  7. Can you say that someone who is leftbrain sees the rotation change in this picture when aroused?

    For me it´s clockwise (sorry)

  8. Trevor,

    I really appreciated your post. We share many similar concerns about the availability of PT and the single mindedness of PT as the only solution when it is so rare and hard to obtain and no guarantees when you do it.

    To Art,

    I think it does need to be addressed as to what people might do while PT is out of reach. I know, that sounds like psychotherapy but not exactly the same. Perhaps our intellect may be more useful than has been acknowledged till now?

    Is it more harmful to use good sense and logic to avoid many possible pitfalls while being in pain and neurosis? Obviously, some of us are not convinced it is. But Elitist arguments that we can’t possibly know cause we are neurotic does not quite seem reasonable. Many things have been solved by neurotic minds.

    If we can not obtain PT, what is the next best course of action? I think nutrients are very helpful. Amino acids can help equalize the internal mind. Many nutrients reduce internal damage. Can a rational approach accomplish anything?

    Psychotherapy often fails because therapists do not tell the truth. They lie to keep the patient coming back. Maybe the patient needs to hear the truth, even at the risk of offending him in doing so. I’m all ears.

  9. Oh Bloody Hell!

    Trevor you have saved me all the words. What you have said has brought me completely to my feelings and the tears are rolling down my cheeks.

    I kid you not.

    Paul G.

  10. Richard,

    what you are sayings is fascinating because I have noticed for a long time that some people need to believe that an idea is "their own" idea before they will even consider it. I was like this for decades before I began connecting with my true feelings.

    I reckon it's counter-dependence; the little toddler has got to work it all out for himself, she will not be told and many repetitions might be needed!

    This age from 1yr to (51 in my case)! the babber has just got to say "NO", my way, and swipe the bowl of food onto the floor and look at it as if it will jump back onto his high chair top!

    It's enough to drive the sanest of parents bonkers. No wonder so much damage is done at this stage whilst frustrated and angry parents "swipe back" with retorts, admonitions, wet wipes etc etc.

    Anyway, my point is that we seem to be programmed to understand a thing or concept partly by 'counter-conceiving' it, ie: arguing with it, denying it. It seems to be a bit like the way one needs to look around the back of something to fathom it's shape, 1yrs onward, watch the babbers having a good look at things, pick them up then discard them!

    Good salesmen and marketeers really know how to exploit this sort of psyche by playing 'devils' advocate', reverse psychology.

    look at a recent Kelloggs diet breakfast cereal ad on telly which starts:

    -" It's a womans' prerogative to change her mind". . . . Enter the sexy somethings in their red dresses, fingers in mouths, pouting/smiling into the camera!

    Boy oh boy, those marketing persons really know how to exploit the toddler in us.

    Paul G.

  11. Apollo: All I can think of is educating you and hopefully in the fall if my stem cell therapy works I will go back to giving lectures at my center. Also very important France is finishing the legacy problem so that everything we know and do will be on disc and tape. art janov

  12. Apollo: LIFE BEFORE BIRTH will be out aug 1 at art

  13. Thank you for the link. It doe snot work but I typed it in and that worked fine, it would seem. I bookmarked it.

    I appreciate your putting up with my critiques as well as complements. I very much appreciate learning all I can. I just can't accept anything without thoroughly testing it, sort of like taking a car for a drive to see how it handles and if I can validate it somehow. Only minor conflicts anyway. Its better than what anyone else is doing! I salute you!

  14. A facebook comment:"Funny. Sometimes you just need somebody to say the right words in the right manner and it all comes in place. Thanks. "

  15. Hi,
    Funny. Sometimes you just need somebody to say the right words in the right manner and it all comes in place. Thanks. "

    Yes thanks,


  16. I can't help but think how circumcision has affected so many millions of men - and some women in the USA. So much trauma. So much healing is needed.


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.