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.


  1. A hypnotic state that requires war to quiet pain for what this hypnotic state is based on ... is akin to a state that will never settle for less.

    Humanity has no chance against self-destruction with needs as requires it.

    Do we not understand what this means?

    A legal process about this phenomenon should not be an obstacle against the primal therapeutic science.

    We need a legal process to prove that insanity designs military defense. to protect them-self’s against a loveless childhood.

    An agitator gets humanity to listen when there is no alternative. What would it be with an “agitator” of primal therapy?


  2. Hi Dr.Janov,
    How are you ,man?!I just read and learn.Your science and work is real chance for reality.Don't stop.Big"Hello!"for all good people around the world!Vukašin

  3. Art; I quote you "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."

    If you are correct then how, when and where in our evolution did we create an intellect?? Without addressing that factor Art, we are going down the path we set some eons ago, when we created "Neurosis." Thinking and it's concomitant science and research is:- neurosis. If you disagree with that Art, then it incumbent upon you to show that we were always a "thinking" creature and that our recent science and researchers are beyond the bounds of neurosis.

    That's not MY feeling. there are;- I repeat; two states of being:- 1) A feeling-full one 2) A neurotic one; which is a debilitating disease, causing us to THINK. My definition;- THINKING is our first and greatest act-out. Science research and the rest is an outgrowth of a 'thinking brain'; the left lobe which, by my reckoning was meant only to allow expression of feelings, which I suspect is what it's purpose is in every other creature.

    I fear this comment of mine will not get posted, BUT I beg of you to post it Art.


  4. Vs Intellectualism

    Art >> “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.”

    Me >> We already have that. It gets ignored by mainstream “gatekeepers” and “censors” and “thought police.”

    Yes, feeling is vital and the only way to experience epigenetic healing. No argument there. But I have noticed this. Many who are PT fans and promoters, also do not believe there are gatekeeper, censors, and thought police. They do not believe PT has any real enemies. They are blind to the largest REAL obstacles. Is it for a lack of evidence or proof. Far from it. It is everywhere to be seen. I could write books full of it and many exist already.

    Just as it is irritating to here psychologists speak of treatment or curing or the like and yet ignore PT, it is equally so when PT fans can not see the handwriting on the wall and recognize the deliberate avoidance of PT by the mainstream orthodoxy. Or to argue how harmful, or at least useless, the intellect really is!

    It seems that blindness affects both sides of the issue. I do not recommend the intellect for PT. When in PT, it is feelings that are sought. But once outside of the PT center, the intellect will be desperately needed. What puzzles me is that for all the primaling and feeling that has been done, none seem all that much smarter. They still do not see the real world is all its ugly reality. They as often as not, see reason, logic and the like as the enemy. It is a hindrance in PT, but not outside it.

    My main contention is that one can not criticize using the intellect since no one has done it yet. Feelings do not seem to aid it at all, as it is said it does. And I contend that it is possible to use the intellect with reasonable success without PT, though in theory, PT should make it easier and more effective. In real practice, its effect is nearly zero.

    If PT is worth even powder blown to hell and back, it should improve intellectual function, not eliminate it. This I have not seen adequately demonstrated. I will deal with elitism next.


    Pet Ownership Improves Well-Being

    Analysis by Marianne English
    Thu Jul 14, 2011 06:49 AM ET

    “Overall, researchers found pet ownership to be associated with higher self-esteem, higher levels of fitness and lower reports of loneliness among participants.”

    Me >> They are a soothing influence, a drug is you will. Oxytocin is the result.
    “The three experiments relied on surveys from pet owners as well as individuals without pets. At first, it was unclear whether people sought comfort in their pets because they lacked closeness to family and friends. One experiment with data from 217 respondents suggested this isn't the case, and that closeness to pets increased with a person's affinity for friends and family.”

    Me >> Feeling and relative access to it is evidently more likely to draw people to pets. There is need as well. Pets compensate for what others often do not get from other people.

    “Another setup with a group of 56 dog owners confirmed the benefits of receiving social support from pets -- or at least fancying receiving support. Either way, owners' feelings seemed to complement existing relationships with humans rather than compete with them.”

    Me >> I have read too many reports of pets helping out some owners, psychologically. Pets are often the last refuge from a cruel world. I think pets are a blessing to those who need them. Its hard not to be moved and charmed by dogs, cats and other such animals. They are either a gift from God or they evolved together with humans. You take your pick.

    “The experiments also touched on who's more likely to anthropomorphize, or attribute human qualities, to their pets. Participants with common signs of depression were more likely to see human qualities in their animals.”

    Me >> Proves my point. When life is disappointing, one needs a boost from somewhere. A pet often accepts unconditionally and shows what appears to be affection and is needed by the owner. Serpico found working with animals to be rehabilitating and “healing.” Many have found similar.

    The bottom line is that pets somewhat satisfy a need in humans and do relatively little harm. I am glad that they are available to people. Life is harsh enough. Everyone needs some sort of relief. If they can find it in pets, I can’t see much wrong with that.

  6. Élan vital = A will to live!

    During the last 12 months, my vital force has increased and taken over my thinking and doing. My consciousness has evolved in an almost magical way, and my organism is in all aspects serving me better than I, during decades, thought was possible. Suddenly, I understand what Bergson ment with “current of life”.

    It is not an euphoric feeling. It is a feeling of being able to trust myself, my senses and of being driven by my real needs, “a feeling of relief and confidence” to quote Julian Huxley!

    And I send my thanks to You Art Janov, to Rolfing, to my own curiosity and stubbornness and to my parents!!! And to Isabel, my daughter who gave me the motivation that was needed during the last 16 years to have the strength to feel the pain that filled every nook and cranny of my body and soul.

    Love Jan

  7. Whose Side are You on?

    Its easy to throw out nasty claims and insults, thinly veiled as being nice, tactful, or thoughtful. Evolution is full of holes and missing a good deal of logic as well. It has been promoted by the same powers that have sought to fill the world with war and death. Is that who you trust your science and logic to? Take a look at the world you are in. Is it not a madhouse? And yet so many trust it and rely on its “institutions” of logic and doctrine; carved in stone, they would have you believe; uncontestable and infallible! But being sort of protestant, I don’t buy that and never will.

    I believe and trust in myself at least as much if not more than the world whose true colors are real obvious, even to a caveman or a blind man. Pick your gods and authorities carefully. Elitism is not a reason and not a good defense, either.

    You can judge people by the things they trust. When madmen rule the world and make it a mess and you trust them as being benevolent and logical, reasonable, fair, decent, well motivated! You mean like those pat downs at airports? Like when the cops bust you for any little thing now and empty your back account? Those zero tolerance policies? Blatant corruptions? War upon war? Now who is being silly and absurd? You are, my primal friends and peers! Interesting people you support and are in bed with. You scare the hell out of me.

    It is a madhouse out there. And the intellect is all many of you have. It can still work, regardless of the claims of the man behind the curtain. Feeling is for therapy but outside of that, the intellect is all you got to cling to. That and the careful step by step assembly of bits and pieces of information and sharing your thoughts and ideas with others till you can make some sense of something.

    So let me beat this dead horse into pulp, if you would. Feeling is essential for PT. Feeling can be useful after, but does not appear to help much. You do feel better and function physically better. But not think better from the evidence I have seen up till now. Outside of therapy, there is the intellect. Get to know it real well. Its there for a reason; not a mistake or harm. A gift, either from God or evolution. You pick! Be grateful and use it outside of therapy.

  8. Jack: Let's get some comments on this. I do not agree that intellect is all about neurosis. study anthropology and you will see discussion of the opposable thumb, bipedialism, etc. art

  9. An email comment:
    " My mind is totally grateful to you and your reflections.......! I have tried to get this through so many peoples heads that I understand what they are saying and what needs to be done, but, I cant proceed, because I get very confused how....I know how to be creative, and to make use of that feeling...Im probably not making much sense, but this reading really moved me, like you may understand me, ME Gratefully Yours, Debra

    Would love to read more on this!"

  10. Debra: I am writing more on this right now. AJ

  11. Hi Jack - I met you at a Santa Barbara follow-up c. 1990; you're from Nottingham originally, yes? I bet you don't remember me, English guy who hardley ever said anything?

    Anyway, I related to your interesting posting. But why can't there be states that are a mixture of feeling and thinking, rather than only either/or? Also, many of our greatest scientific discoveries have been made from following instinct and intuition (both surely feeling-based). The holistic view seems to me likely to be the most accurate. Just my 5c.

  12. "Jack: Let's get some comments on this. I do not agree that intellect is all about neurosis. study anthropology and you will see discussion of the opposable thumb, bipedialism, etc. art"

    Art: You are asking me to STUDY .... !!!!!! Wow! I'd rather just sit and feel. The world is full of STUDYING institutions (Universities et al) and few if any get to ANY universal understanding of anything about life. Sure they 'pull it it all to bits,' STUDY the bits and come up with conclusion that; to me at least; convey N O T H I N G , least ways about life and living it. To use the expletive @#$% the studying; it's getting us no-where, and no-one know that better than you Art. Who, but the miniscule few, get PRIMAL THEORY? As I see it, we humans with bipedalism and opposable thumbs, are running ourselves into the ground and extinction before very long, IMO. Perhaps before this century is out.


  13. Jack! hello....

    You have to remember that neurosis is not, at base, a parasitic infection - it is a survival mechanicsm formulated by evolution. There is, ultimately, no reason why the human brain could not have evolved so as to disintegrate its neurosis without pain or effort, or even with consciousness. So what does this mean?...

    Amongst other things (like the fact that we must learn from history - not deny it), it means that if the human intellect were employed PURELY for the purpose of managing unconscious pain (or managing our responses to it) then evolution would have to be regarded as outrageously stupid and/or inefficient. Because the brain *could* deal with neurotic pain in a vastly more simple way. It could just disintegrate it as a functionality of part of its in-built software. A tiny software upgrade on the neurotic system is of course much easier to evolve than an enitre frontal lobe.

    The intellect is ultimately just a tool to help us master our environment and survive. When it is used to that end it is perfectly fine. Thinking is not neurotic - neurotic thinking is neurotic.

    If you want to find the neurosis look into the emotional basis of the thinking, not the mere act of thinking in itself.

  14. Jack, if you believe that neurosis can be undone, then WHY NOT consider the undoing of neurosis in the intellect? the intellect has long tentacles which go all the way down to the brain stem. the neocortex was nature's latest development but it wasn't an afterthought. it was carefully integrated into the system because it helped us to survive in MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. why should you believe that neurosis was the ONLY WAY to survive? you say the intellect can NEVER function in a normal way. WHY NOT?

  15. Hi,

    -"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"-

    It's peculiarly interesting that Alice Miller said that we should check out our psychotherapists to some considerable depth prior to engaging with their 'professional help'.

    "After all", she said, "you wouldn't take your car to a mechanic without first finding out something about their ability and approach". . .

    I wish Alice were still alive to comment on the unfortunate fact that most people do not know the faintest thing about motor cars or how or why to maintain them. The same applies to our psyches.
    Most of us have not the faintest idea of how we as human organisms and 'conscious beings' (potentially), function or why. Somehow we just muddle along (often deceived and manipulated and deceiving and manipulating as we go).

    It has been said that interdependence is one of the main goals of our psychological development and evolution. This could be a pointer to what we need to know and why.

    I feel there is some merit in this view because it offers a vision of something cohesive on the other side of the chaos we currently live in.

    Interdependence happens because like minded people come together to achieve a common aim.

    At the first attempt we discover our unexamined assumptions.
    At the second we begin to understand the paths by which we found commonality.
    Only at the third attempt do we understand why Interdependence is a major aim in life, that it must comprise of a journey "through" the first two attempts and that the rewards are indescribable in words. A good story:

    - I knew this half conscious idealistic hippy who tried to change the world on the basis of his excellent (private) education and his technical ability to invent good solutions and ideas. Well intentioned but flawed.

    He persuaded a few other well intentioned people to set up a new organisation to promote traditional natural & environmentally friendly products, make and sell them.

    The project got off to a good start. Some of the members left because they discovered they did not want the reality that comes with the original idea. They went off to become therapists and healers. This hippy friend of mine got wiser and modified his 'idealism'.

    He set up yet another new organisation (still environmentally based) but with much better and realistic products and prospects. New people joined, were trained free of charge and left to become competitors in the same market place!

    Others left because they changed their minds.
    Unfortunately this formerly hapless hippy friend of mine ended up carrying the can for the caprice of his so called collaborators and now works as a sole trader (still in the same industry), occasionally working with one or two other like minded people.

    At last, after three attempts I see this formerly deluded and hapless idealist reap the benefits of his unwavering faith in the process. The last project he did he experienced genuine joy in the relationship with his collaborators, he put money in the bank and handled his detractors well enough.

    When I asked him how he felt he said: "indescribable". I knew there was so much in that because I knew what he had been through to get there, I am his friend.

    Paul G.

  16. Hi Art ,just an hour ago i refused to buy alcohoic
    bevereges for two (nice!) 17 years old girls
    (as they wished me to do ).
    Some minutes aggo I had seen th"result" of it`s consumption on the street..and I was shocked !
    And this pleading of these girls me really got me nauseous !
    I think THIS was a confluence of feeling and thinking in (my still so neurotic) mind !
    Yors emanuel

  17. Jack: To be feeling doesn't mean you have to be anti intellectual. art

  18. There are three of you seemingly not agreeing to my notion, and I suspect many, many others. I need to take that into some considerable consideration. This notion of mine is not something I thought-up after a 10 minute brain-storm. It was something I came up with from a 20 year preponderance of the implications of Primal theory.

    If there were no precedence of a single persons notion that was refuted by many, but never ultimately seen as correct, then I would abandon my notion and put it down to my own quirkiness, BUT there is an example to the contrary. Copernicus and then Galileo came up with the notion that it was us, on planet earth that was encircling the Sun and NOT, as was the general consensus a flat earth and the universe en-circling us. Sure, at the time, Galileo's notion seemed preposterous for quite some time, until some (few) began to see that his idea actually began to make a great deal of sense and helped in formulating advanced ideas about the 'heavens.'

    I feel strongly that if this notion of "thinking" being our first and greatest act-out: from there-on-in a lot of other 'things' would fall into place and we would begin to see more clearly a way of dealing with life. Almost 99.999% of the thinking that goes on actually prevents us from making progress towards bringing to an end this SINGLE DEBILITATING disease that only we humans seem to suffer ... allow us to live (like all other creatures), WITH NATURE, as opposed to or current 'modus operandi' attempting (neurotically IMO) to conquer it ... a forlorn task.

    Andrew: "You have to remember that neurosis is not, at base, a parasitic infection". It never was a REMEMBERANCE for me; so! Andrew, what caused your "thinking" to deduce that I THOUGHT it was a "parasitic infection". That, to me, is why most thinking is OFF.

    Richard: "Jack, if you believe that neurosis can be undone, then WHY NOT consider the undoing of neurosis in the intellect?". It can, but the intellectual vehicle to undoing neurosis is, IMO, through a re-think our CHILD-REARING PRACTICES ... BUT no-one so far has gone there except (in all conceit) Me ... Check chapter 28 in my book "Child-Rearing".

    Art: "Jack: To be feeling doesn't mean you have to be anti intellectual. art". BUT It doesn't suggest either that being intellectual is conducive to feeling ... and, by my reckoning, tends to promotes the very opposite.

    If, as Benjamin Lee Whorf suggested, we THINK in language, then all these words are mere yadder, yadder, yadder and are taking us no-where. Not that I am am any better at getting beyond words ... alas, BUT my notion helps me considerably in navigating my life ... somewhat relatively contentedly. Maybe after I am dead and gone some-one will pick up on my words and say, "Hey, this guy had a point."

    Dismissing my point after a few minutes of brain-storming ain't getting through to me.


  19. It looks a bit contradictory that one is against science and still uses it to prove ones opinions.
    How else does one know that the neocortex is not that old or what a neocortex is in the first place?

  20. A thought that nothing else do than keep pain at site are perceived as such ... when we through therapeutic activities feel that thoughts are protection against horrible pain and that existing thought would not even be relevant if the pain would not be ... then there are many wonderings of way and how the evolutionary process created protection against itself? Why are there thoughts to protect us… and why should it be thought if it did not protect us? Is thinking a shelter for the evolutionary process to precede against the horrible experience of pain ... pain that otherwise my end our lives?


  21. Hi,
    -"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".

    In TA, transactional analysis, there is a game called: "Uproar". . .

    This is what goes on in the spectators of a football or rugby match. This is our societies' ab-reation/ defence/ projection and the 2012 Olympics in London are the epitome of that behavioural club. A societal projection of the 1st line struggle to survive whilst co-operating with our peers.

    The problem with sports is that it can be used to re-program the way the 1st line trauma hijacks the 2nd line limbic "affiliation to the group/team/sibling RIVALRY".

    The Nazis organised the Luftwaffe this way. . . like a team of dogs with an absolute charismatic leader, sport killing. This is why the RAF were nearly wiped out in the early days of the Battle for Britain.

    We Brits were still trying to fight "fairly, organisedly etc etc.

    There's this famous cliche about the early luftwaffe 109 pilots remarking about the "line of idiots" who were easy to shoot down because RAF Command were telling the (17yr old) pilots (in 400 mile per hour Spits with only 10 hrs training) to line up in rows to shoot down the nazi bombers.

    How F****** stupid is that?

    There you have the essence of "Scream Club". Organised chaos.

    It's ironic how it took the intervention of the Americans to help make sense of a difficult situation.

    Could it be that Western Californian Psychotherapy has yet to play a role in freeing Europe from the tyrany of post Jungian symbolism?

    Acted out on the survivors. Epigenetically.

    Paul G.

  22. Paul: You will have to read science now. There is a great deal on the neocortex. AJ

  23. Mr Janov.
    It is very refreshing to see someone approaching psychotherapy using scientiffic method. Your theory is an eye opener and I intend to study it deeper in the coming months.
    Also I am interested in hypnosis and your descriptions really put it into a new perspective to me.

  24. Tony Riley: No I don't remember you Tony and no I am not from Nottingham but Oldham, near Manchester. There are many states of 'THINKING' and few of feeling so it is not a mixture, but a lop sided thinking situation that promotes IMO, the neurotic status quo.

    Sure, many of greatest discoveries are an out-growth of a THINKING mankind that suffers a very DEBILITATING DISEASE. Just because YOUR THINKING figures, "most accurately" does not mean it is accurate. The Papacy at the time of Galileo were equally of the conviction that they were accurate and not Galileo. We now see this differently. You are, by my reckoning, way too invested in thinking. Fine, if that is is what is serving YOU best, but the greatest achievement of science and it's step parent; 'thinking' gave us the Atomic and Hydrogen bombs. Big deal; and not, IMO, a great advert for science and/or thinking.


  25. When we release ourselves from pain caused by narrowing we get access a brain that can think ... is it for better or worse? It's there… if it is because of the evolutionary process of survival… so... we might as well use it in a legal process.


  26. Jack, you are saying we should
    1. educate people on better child-rearing practices
    2. ignore all other areas of science
    3. try to think less and feel more

    I agree with your first point.

    I partially agree with your second point. We should ignore BOGUS science. But we should encourage more scientists to engage in reality-based thinking (thinking and observing without assuming). With a lack of right-brain intuition, they will continue to make silly mistakes, but that doesn't mean their science will be useless. Unfeeling people can be very useful.

    I disagree with your last point. 'Try to feel'. That is a ridiculous notion. The left frontal cortex is very good at 'trying' to do something specific. If you 'try' to focus on being more feelingful...without any thoughts whatsoever...your left-brain will light up like a christmas tree. My feelings leak when I least expect it. And no matter how big it seems, your leak is not your real feeling. It's a twisted trickle coming from a boiling ocean of pain. You seem to forget that.
    I agree with you if you mean 'Try to release some tension in a harmless way'

    Do you really believe that you are the only person who has pondered for more than a few minutes? We all need what you need, Jack. We all spend a lot of time searching.

  27. Art & All:

    Just want you (all) to know that when I don't post I still read. And very much value this blog. I suspect others do the same. So don't assume only those who write here are involved. Some just don't post as much.

    Also, I still wrestle with writing, here and elsewhere. Part of me thinks "writing" is what one does when one isn't happy or getting what one wants. Like when someone said "Understanding is the booby-prize in life...what you have when you don't get what you need."

    Sometimes I think Jack is correct. That writing, like "thinking," is neurotic. On the other hand, does anyone REALLY know how a person would act who was born perfect and received perfect love?

    (Can you say "Jesus"?)

    On the other hand, even those blessed with good upbringings must do SOMETHING. We are, after all, corporeal/temporal beings. Would we all just sit like "fools on the hill," meditating in perfect bliss, doing nothing? No dancing, eating, making merry?

    It reminds me of the report George Plimpton filed years ago about a wunderkind found in some temple. The kid had perfected what George called, if memory serves, "throwing the orb." Baseball scouts heard rumors of this perfect-throwing-machine and clocked his tosses at 130MPH. Since I'd often though samurai would be great at baseball-- being so spiritually/physically in synch--the report made sense. I bought it.

    Until, days later, I realized I'd heard the "report" on April 1st.

    That is, it was an April Fool's Day joke.

    It similar to the reality-check I got years later, having thought for a long time that samurai were the very best fighters (I watched a lot of samurai films with my father--classic B&W ones by Kurosawa, etc-- one of the few times I at least got physically close to my dad). Then I watched a show on European fencing a la The 3 Musketeers. I learned Euros would have matched, maybe even beaten, the samurai.

    That is, there's a limit to what ANY human could do. There are no "supermen."

    So I guess it IS all about limits. Every now and again we hear about a new earth-shaking "answer." It could be a business practice or diet or electronic gizmo or...therapy. Only later do we learn the limits, the clay feet of the gods we endlessly construct and seek. "Total Quality Management" gives way to "Just-In-Time Inventories" or something else.


    The older I get, the happier I become with "good enough" living. I suspect the whole search for "perfection" has mostly to do with not getting enough "good enough" hugs and kisses when we are young.

    If you get yanked too soon from the comfort of grandparents, no amount of subsequent political/business/etc. "success" will replace that beloved ROSEBUD.

    Art, you yourself say PT isn't for everyone. And even if the world COULD be cured, how many healings can you realistically do in your Institute, given your limitations (in terms of time and energy and trusted co-therapists), not to mention the cost patients must pay?

    I guess I'd like more general/practical tips for living better in general. Jesus himself didn't last too long, and suffered mightily. And his Apostles didn't fare to well, either. So maybe his Commandments should been more realistic. Like... "Commandment 1: Have a good meal with friends once a week." Etc.

    Just feeling a bit lost at the moment.

  28. Paul:


    "There's this famous cliche about the early luftwaffe 109 pilots remarking about the "line of idiots" who were easy to shoot down because RAF Command were telling the (17yr old) pilots (in 400 mile per hour Spits with only 10 hrs training) to line up in rows to shoot down the nazi bombers."

    True, but, doesn't every commander do what he does based on the Past (lessons learned in prior conflicts)? They say all Generals start fighting the current war based on the Past. It's why Brits lost 20,000 in one day, mass assaulting machineguns thinking it was only Napoleonic cannon and rifles they'd face. Or so their "leaders" (safe from the front) THOUGHT.

    Also, didn't science/technology aid the Germans...with faster planes? And wasn't it Hitler's hubris (his Past that conditioned him) that kept the Luftwaffe from slaughtering the Brits at Dunkirk? Adolf went from military objectives to blocked feelings.

    So it would seem that both science and "street smarts" are needed.

    Plus wasn't the British discovery and use of RADAR (science again, developed to ease suffering of their tribe) that won, along with Spitfires and ballsy 19-year-old male pilots, the "Battle of Britain"?

    Too bad, though, that the lesson of war is never learned: "There are better solutions than bloodletting."

    Alice Miller said children who are truly loved never want to harm others. So Jack is right about that: We DO need to raise children differently.

    The problem is, we can't start from scratch. A well-loved child will still run into kids who were robbed of love, raised by parents who, themselves, never got what they needed. And deserved.

    I know it really doesn't need to be said, but even so: Jack, I value your input. I think (!) we all do. Your words comes from a lifetime spent learning. Right or wrong, you should keep making your case.

    We can all learn from one another. We're all here because we know we missed out on important things in our childhood. So we limp along now, trying to move forward as best we can. It's always a more pleasant journey with fellow travelers.

    We needed love back Then...and stilll do today. And even if we're sometimes too "intellectual," I'd like to think love and care and good intentions informs our "mere" thinking.

    Besides, we're not telepathic. We need to communicate "somehow" with others. If words don't do it "all," at least they can sometimes point the Way. Otherwise, how do we tell wise mutes from the silent insane?

  29. For Jack

    Jack says: The world is full of STUDYING institutions (Universities et al) and few if any get to ANY universal understanding of anything about life.

    ME: True. But they are all controlled and play by false pretenses. They are not sincere in their stated objectives. It is lies and deceit so do not use these as an example of all “studying.” They do not want universal understandings of life. They want to control life and direct it as they please, disregarding any feeling for other humans.

    Are we running ourselves into oblivion or is someone driving us in that direction against our will? And doing so precisely because we do not bother to think and understand what is truly going on around us. We would prefer to stick our heads in the sand and ignore it all and maybe it will just go away.

    Again, I note that those who lead and bully us in the world, also would prefer that we not think. You seem to go along with them. Is it merely coincidence or is there a common bond tween you and them? Just asking.

    It just seems to me that you might be associating thinking with the world and the world at large does not think. Hence the problem. Only a few souls at the top do the thinking and directing as they please for themselves. they do not care about those they herd.

  30. Hi Art,

    Yes, you're right I will have to read science now. I love to study but I'm going through a really counter-dependent re-living which is mixed up with the excessive rote learning we had to do for exams at boarding school.

    It's why I dropped out at 18. 12 hrs a day swatting for exams. . . It's left me with a really dodgey relationship with my intellect. . . sometimes cuttingly accurate and useful, other times easily persuaded by the weird and wonderful, like Primal.


    Paul G.

  31. Trevor: I am not a YMCA counselor and cannot give advice. What I can do is offer access to feelings so that people can make up their own minds.

  32. Here is an easy left/right brain test.For me definitely clockwise:

  33. Jack,

    The Catholic Church knew Galileo was rights. Their own mathematicians confirmed him. It was the threat to their theology and power that made them reject Galileo. Church actions were always motivated by politics, not science or an objective reading of the bible.

    A knife can be a great servant. Steak is tough to eat without it. But it is also quite capable of being used as a weapon of murder. Is the knife the problem or the user of the knife. Was physics the problem or those motivated by power to use physics to make atom bombs? You confuse intellect with motivation, do you not? An intellect can be helpful, no? But who or what motivates the intellect, that would be interesting to ponder.

    Our biggest problem as human beings is our motivations, not abilities. For what its worth.

  34. J.
    Maybe you should see the movie Quest for Fire,dated 80.000 years ago to see how man can think with primitive language.
    (the scenario is using the best scientific knowledge of that time)

  35. Hi Trevor,

    By about 1942/3 the allies had pretty well unanimously agreed that all asasination attempts on Adolf should be stopped because the psycho was worth more to the allies alive than dead. The psycho was so wrapped up in childhood "rackets" he was a useless war planner.

    Basically the psychopath was more of a liability to strategic Whermacht planning than the allies entire fighting machine.

    By D-day the allies were worried that the German attempts to kill the psycho might actually work and then the German Army really could reverse the psychos' useless strategies, turn the Axis forces around and defeat us allies on the beaches.

    So, somehow, the allies contacted the German resistance movement to stop these asasination attempts.

    Bizzarre eh?

    Paul G.

  36. Art. I am glad that you posted "To be feeling doesn't mean you have to be anti intellectual" Let's face it, human intellect allowed you to start this blog, develop Primal Theory and do many other things besides. Human intellect also allowed me to come to California and do Primal. Where would we be without human intellect? Probably all holding hands together and singing kumbaya?

    As you yourself have said, it is not the act in itself that is neurotic; it is invariably the feelings that drive it. This single sentence speaks volumes in my opinion.

    Someone else on this blog said the same thing slightly differently " If you want to find the neurosis look into the emotional basis of the thinking, not the mere act of thinking itself".

    So Jack, I have to disagree with your notion as well. Thinking itself is not necessarily neurotic, but those who are neurotic, well there thinking possibly is. But you may be surprised to know that not all of humanity is neurotic.

    And by all means if you want to sit around and just feel, then that is your choice but to suggest ALL thinking is neurotic is well wide of the mark and I would suggest such comments however honestly intended do not reflect well of this blog or of Primal Theory itself.

    Which is why I am glad you posted Art.


  37. Hi,
    Ok, I'm not really a devils' advocate, or a scapegoat (though I am an outsider trying to get in) but Jack did say that until one has had a re-living experience from early trauma. . . . well. . .

    I mean, I have to agree with that because there are these distortion/projections that operate with repression; they seem to drive what we believe. That in turn becomes a self fulfilling and self defeating prophesy. What we believe then steers us. . . astray. . . or back on course.

    I resonate with what Jack has been saying because of a mental exercise I have been doing for 20 years or more. It is the idea that one can vasilate or ruminate in an obsessive way, that is neurotic. Then one can truly ponder a thing or an idea or situation.

    This involves feelings, does it not?

    So, the debate Jack is raising is challenging us all to look within and ask if the thoughts we think are serving understanding and growth (and feelings) or are they serving the continuance of our neurosis.

    Ok, I did an "either/or" there, sorry. . .

    Paul G.


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.