Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Appearances and Essences

This article was first published on September 4, 2008. I just want to run it again, as it is so important.

Another way of looking at the difference between awareness and consciousness is that of appearances versus essences—of phenotype (appearance) versus genotype (generating sources). An approach of appearances is always individual while that of essences is universal, generating universal laws. Essence is stable while appearances are transient. Essence is historic; appearances are ahistoric. Essences are few; appearances are multitudinous – meaning an endless therapeutic search down the most complex, labyrinthine behaviors. Essences lead to consciousness, the confluence of lower centers with frontal cortical structures. Appearances lead to awareness without consciousness. Essences necessarily mean the understanding of concrete contradictions between the forces of pain and those of repression because that is the essence of the problem of neurosis. Essences mean dealing with quantities of hurt leading to new qualities of being. It means dealing holistically and systemically. Appearances mean fragmentation of the patient, isolation of her symptom from herself; treating the apparent. Progress in psychotherapy is couched in terms of appearances instead of essences; and therein lies the rub.

The reason the Freudians and other insight theorists do not generate universal laws is because they focus on appearances and not essences, on fragments not systems. I should say that sometimes they do posit general hypotheses but invariably they cannot be tested and verified because they have no scientific base. It is very difficult to compose a universal psychologic law from individual, idiosyncratic behavior that applies to one person only, or from an id or dark forces that no one can see or verify. Cognitive approaches seem to superimpose psychologic laws on humans—on (their) nature. By contrast, we believe that through careful observation we can discover the laws of nature and apply them to humans; after all, they derive from humans. Biologic truths are of the essence.

In Primal Therapy, we make every attempt to meld our observations and our own research and current neuro-biologic research. We do this by not having too many preconceived ideas about the patient, and maintaining an empirical attitude. We do not treat each symptom as an isolated entity to be eradicated. Rather, we know that there is an ensemble of symptoms tied together by something that links them. That “something” is what we must get at in therapy; it is of the essence. Thus, we need to see the whole, not fragments of behavior. To see the whole we need to investigate history which is the context for its understanding. We need to look beyond a phobia of elevators and see historic events (put into an incubator at birth, perhaps) that gave rise to it. The minute we are bereft of history we are devoid of generating causes, and therefore essences. We remain in the dark.

The Freudians claim to have a deep dynamic therapy but they stop at plunging the patient into old, infantile brains where solutions lie. They too rely on the here-and-now, on current ideas about the past. Reliving the past and having an idea about the past are not the same thing. One is curative; the other is not. One involves awareness, the other, consciousness. Even tears in psychoanalysis are derivative. There is crying about in their therapy: the adult looking back on her life and crying. But it is not the baby crying as that baby, needing as that baby, something deep that is beyond description that can go on for an hour or more. In “crying about,” there is never the infant cries that we hear so often in our patients—a sign of a different brain at work, a different brain system solving its problems in its own way. The patient in the here-and-now, ego-oriented therapies is walking around in his history while the therapist is focusing on the present. He may be physically present but his emotions are in the past.

What we discover about the cognitive/insight therapists and especially the televangelist psychologists is that they embrace old homilies, morality, and religious ideals that are in the zeitgeist, mix them into some kind of psychological jargon, and deliver them with a folksy air of, “I know what you need.” Too often it all amounts to: Get Over It! And we all shout, Yeah! For we too think others should just get down to business and stop whining. That is the George S. Patton syndrome. Develop a positive attitude and you won’t feel like such a loser. But it’s hard to feel that you are capable and can succeed when you have spent a lifetime with parents who reminded of what a failure you are.

Every insight therapy has the implicit base that awareness causes improvement. It is founded on the notion that once we are aware, we can make necessary changes in our behavior. Awareness can make us aware, and that is a positive step. But it cannot change personality, which is organic, and it can never make us conscious. We can be aware that we are too critical of our spouse. Maybe with effort we can stop that behavior. But if we understand the concept of the imprint, then we know that anything that doesn’t directly attack the imprinted memory cannot make a permanent change. We can be aware that we are working too hard and neglecting our family, but when there is a motor inside driving us relentlessly, that awareness is useless. Ideas are never a match for the strength of the brainstem/limbic forces, which, I remind the reader, have everything to do with survival. There is always a rationale for our behavior: “I have to be gone and work hard to support my family properly.” We have applauded this kind of neurosis in our culture, which adores hard work, ambition, and relentless effort. Being driven is about the most widespread of neurotic forms. If only we knew how to finish the equation: being driven by . . . (Answer: need). Translation: I was not loved in my infancy and I am in pain, which drives me incessantly. And besides, I can’t stop because my imprint at birth was that to stop was to die. I have to keep going to keep from feeling helpless, that there is nothing I can do. Those are the truths we find when we feel our imprints—the truths that when felt will stop our drive and allow us finally to relax.

Why is cognitive therapy so widespread today? To a large extent because it is far easier and quicker (and cheaper) to change an idea than a feeling. Insight and cognitive approaches tend to appeal to those in their “head”; this applies to both patient and therapist. Neither the patient nor the therapist is likely to realize the amount of history we are carrying around and how that affects our thinking. How else could we possibly ignore the horrendous things that happen to our patients in their childhood? Nowhere in the cognitive literature have I seen a discussion of basic need as central to personality development, of why the person cannot put the brakes on impulsive behavior. As I have mentioned, the ascending fibers from down below, starting from the brainstem and the associated limbic networks, alert the cortex to danger; they are more numerous and stronger and faster acting than the descending inhibitory fibers, which as we know come later in evolution. Here in purely neurologic terms do we see how feelings are stronger than ideas.

An early lack of love means that there is an even further degradation of these descending inhibitory systems, not only because of cortical weakness, but also because the limbic-amygdala forces holding the imprint are enormously powerful and are importuning the cortex to accept the message. The engorged amygdala is figuratively bursting at the seams to unleash its load of feeling. The dominant direction it can go is determined by evolution—upward and outward, impacting the frontal cortex. There is only one direction that repression can travel—and that is downward, to hold those feelings back. Ideas can help in that job just as tranquilizers can. I suspect that therapists who practice therapies that deny history, and deny imprints and biology, are drawn to such therapies, ironically, as a function of their own history. So long as the connection is poor and access impaired, the therapist is open to any kind of ideas that appeal to him intellectually. And what appeals to him intellectually is what is dictated by his unconscious. And that means that he might choose a therapy that operates on denial, such as the cognitive, because he operates on denial. He makes therapeutic choices that obey this dictum.

If a therapist, unconsciously, has a need for power, he is apt to dictate to the patient; it may be directions for living, relationships, choices, and, above all, insights. He will impose his ideas, his interpretation of the patient’s behavior. What he says will become the most important in his therapy instead of what the patient feels.

If the therapist has the need to be helpful and get “love” from the patient, he can act this out in therapy. I remember feeling my need to become a therapist and be helpful, trying symbolically to help my mentally ill mother to get well and be a real mother. No one is exempt from symbolic behavior. And it is certainly more comfortable for a patient to act out his needs and get them fulfilled (symbolically) in therapy, and imagine he is getting somewhere, than to feel the pain of lack of fulfillment. It is understandable that the idea of lying on a matted floor crying and screaming doesn’t appeal to some. Pain is not always an enticing prospect. Thus, the cognitive/ insight therapist can be similarly deceived and entangled in the same delusion as his patient: both getting love for being smart. It is a mutually deceptive unconscious pact.

Any time we are not anchored in our feelings we are up for grabs; any idea will do. It is good that the left frontal cortex is malleable, but bad because it is too malleable. It is the difference between having an open mind, and a mind that is so open as to be a sieve. The difference is having a left frontal cortex open to the right brain versus a mind too open to others and their suggestions precisely because it is not open to its better half. That is why a scientist can understand a great deal about neurology but practice a therapy that has nothing to do with the brain, which I have seen time and again—the bifurcation of consciousness. What he or she knows scientifically does not translate to the other side of the head because of disconnection or dissociation. He/she may be utterly aware and utterly unconscious.

In appearances, the therapy remains pretty much the same no matter what is wrong. The Freudians have a certain take on development and pathology. They will follow that irrespective of what is wrong with the patient, and it all adds up to insights and more insights. Other therapies specialize in dream analysis. They go on doing that without any proof of its efficacy other than patient reports. There are no physiological measurements. They neglect the fact that experience is laid down neuro-physiologically, not just as an idea; they neglect essences.

Think of this as magic: Take a tranquilizer and we can sleep better, avoid sleep problems, hold down acting-out, stop feeling anxious, be less aggressive, less depressed, stop bedwetting and premature ejaculation, and stop using alcohol and taking drugs. One specific pain pill can accomplish this universal task. Why? Because the essence, pain, is behind all of those disparate symptoms.

Pain will always remain pain no matter what label we pin on it or how we choose to deny it. Whether we feel ignored or humiliated or unloved, the pain is the same and processed by the same structures. The frontal cortex gives it different labels and we act out differently, but the centers of hurt treat them the same. Isn’t it strange that we use the same tranquilizer to ameliorate depression and children’s bedwetting? Maybe it is all one disease with different manifestations, and when we attack the generating source with drugs, all of the manifestations disappear for a short time. We need to learn from Prozac the most obvious lesson: It blocks all manner of symptoms. Therefore, if we, too, in a feeling therapy attack orchestrating forces, we can block and eradicate all of those different symptoms. Notice also that it is a nonverbal medication that slows down ideational obsessions. It tells us about the relationship of lower centers where there are no ideas to higher level thought processes, which deal with ideas.

In an anti-dialectic approach, which is that of appearances, there is no central motivating force. There is no struggle of opposite forces that move and direct us. It all remains on the surface—static. And because the approach does not contemplate the deep conflicting forces motivating us, there is no reason to delve into the patient’s history. It is all non-dynamic. Treatment based on dialectic principles means that there can be no ego or mystical forces that arise out of the blue, containing a mechanical, hereditary “given.” When the dynamics are left out, the therapy has no alternative but to be mechanical.

Because of an unloving, traumatic early childhood, a person cannot put the brakes on the amygdala or brainstem structures because he hasn’t the neurologic equipment; there is an impaired prefrontal cortex that does that. The cognitivist adds his frontal cortical weight to the patient so that their ideas, welded together, help control underlying forces. “You are strong. You can succeed. I will help you try. You just think you’re a loser but you are not. You are really a good person, not the evil one you think you are.” We see this in an experiment reported in a 2002 journal of Nature where electronic stimulation of the prefrontal cortex prevented rats from freezing up after they had been conditioned to do so at the sound of a tone (the one was paired with an electric shock). (FOOTNOTE: Nature (Nov. 7, 2002) When the therapist and the patient combine their thoughts in an insight session, it is no different from an electronic stimulation of that area. In short, it blocks the experience of terror and pain.

How is that psychologic notion different from the religious? The difference is that psychologists do not use the word evil; they call them negative forces. Shrunk to size, they are the same thing. And of course, the mass of current television psychologists are really televangelists in psychological clothing. They have wide appeal because they combine current religious precepts with psychologese (think Wayne Dyer). It doesn’t challenge anyone; it only confirms their prejudices. It offers cachet to them.

Then there are the drug therapies. Patients are given a variety of drugs for almost any condition. Talking to the patient is secondary. Patients are anxious—one type of drug. They are depressed—another type of drug. And, often the drugs have the same effect on the brain: killing pain. And if the drugs we give to patients do not work, we raise the dose. And if that doesn’t work we change drugs. Meanwhile there is no attempt to find out and address why they are depressed. Though we are trying desperately to find genetic causes, depression is not a necessary part of the human condition.

A recent newspaper article described a woman who is suing her psychiatrist because her husband was suicidal and his doctor kept changing his medication. She said that it made him worse. The doctors were relying on appearances, not essences, and were possibly misled. She claims that no one talked to him. Here is a case where even a little talking and some sympathy would have helped. There is a place for it. Maybe drugs weren’t the answer. This approach saves the bother of having to deal with the patient’s history and his early life. It saves the troublesome effort of talking to the patient and feeling for his anguish. Just that, feeling something for the patient, can convey empathy and can be therapeutic.

Treatment that primarily involves giving drugs considers the patient as a “case.” There is no personal interaction after a few cursory questions. “Tell me about your symptom but not about your life. Tell me about it, not about you.” I have been in that position as a patient, seeing doctors who treat me as a “case.” It is not comforting. But then there are the economics. Seeing many patients every hour makes it difficult to empathize or to even know much about the patient. After filling out a long questionnaire, we find the doctor entering the treatment room scanning the file, unable to really take in the essentials about us. History is another victim in current therapy, both medical and psychological. Today, psychiatry has become an arm of the pharmaceutical industry. They tell us what drugs work and we use them. The insurance companies won’t pay for us to delve into the patient’s history, to take our time to find out about her. They pay for immediate results. The conclusion: We develop new therapeutic theories to accommodate the idolatry of the here-and-now intellectual, drug approach. We have ceded our integrity for pay. We don’t do it consciously, but we don’t feed our families if we don’t accommodate to the new reality.

Of course, cognitive approaches are ideal. Tell the patient, in essence, “get over it” and “thank you for coming.” In the new zeitgeist, the aim of cognitive therapy is to get the patient over it, not to understand basic dynamics. What is basic in man is his reservoir of pain and how it drives him to behave. Once we neglect basic need, we are thrust into awareness because it is the beginning and end of consciousness. We cannot see the reservoir when we focus solely on awareness. Therefore we cannot see the reason so many people on are drugs, both legal and illegal. We try to stamp out the need with words, but we will lose that war because need is stronger than anyone or anything. It will not remain suppressed. No one is stronger or brighter than her need because need is inextricably intermeshed with survival, and survival reigns. If we want to stop the demand for drugs we must attend to basic childhood needs, starting with the way we perform childbirth.


  1. Art, this is not a question....this is just my interpretation; i think you have created confusion (for many) between the words 'integrate', 'resolve' and 'connection'.

    here's my understanding;

    if you want to have a successful primal, you must disengage from the neocortex and all of it's defences, until you are conscious only in the feeling centers. this means that you are not fully conscious of your surroundings. (i agree with Jack; you should avoid using the word "unconscious" in this context).
    now that you are at the source of the feeling, it will begin to unfold correctly, but it will not be a fully conscious experience until the neocortex is re-engaged.
    however, you say that the LEFT FRONTAL CORTEX goes dark during the feeling. i can only assume that the RIGHT FRONTAL CORTEX is the ONLY PART of the neocortex that forms the connection with the LOWER feeling centers WHILE the patient is crying deeply. this is the only way i can logically interpret your description of the intellect going dark WHILE the feeling becomes FULLY conscious from top to bottom DURING a primal.
    so at this stage we do not have a complete connection, as the intellect is still dark. but we do have enough connection to RESOLVE the memory. we have connection from the right frontal (i assume) down to the limbic and brain stem.
    AFTER the memory has been felt and resolved, we can then move on to complete the final part of the connection; the link from the right frontal brain across to the intellect on the front left. now we can use the word "INTEGRATION". integration comes after resolution. that final part of the connection might happen immediately or several days after the primal.
    so when you say "feelings are waiting to be integrated on the left" mean they are waiting to be felt and resolved first, and then integrated on the left.

    you haven't made it clear whether a patient becomes conscious of his surroundings at the stage when his neo-cortex re-engages DURING a primal.

    you haven't made it clear what you mean when you mention a direct connection from lower centers to top left (or is that front left). if you are making an observation of an anatomical structure, you haven't explained it's relevance to the primal process. perhaps you are making reference to how a birth primal is processed differently to an emotional primal.

    i think it is important to either clean up your descriptions of "connection"....or leave them out of your books. my cognitive therapist studied your work over a period of two weeks and was adamant that there were flaws in your logic. i tried to encourage him to look at the experiential aspects rather than getting bogged down in all the diagrams etc. but his conclusion was final: "Primal Therapy overlaps Cognitive Therapy in many ways but Janov has some flaws in his thinking."

    i hope this helps. the rest of your writing is brilliant and probably far more important than this particular topic (this topic is about the 1st, 2nd and 3rd line and how and when they work together)

  2. I am delighted with the new book "Sex and the SubConscious." I hope there would be some ad campaign with it, if possible (affordable). I believe this could bring in new interest, if promoted right. And Sex and Relationships are very frustrating for many and not well understood. Anything promising enlightenment could get some attention. I'm pulling for ya!

  3. Part 1 of 2
    PT vs Cognitive - or rather . . . . Internal versus External

    Arthur highlights the battle of PT vs Cognitive insight therapy (CI). Both focus on the patient and their internal struggles, trying to change behaviors or understand present ones better, or both, really. Clearly, we all agree that PT is the solution, not CI. CI does not address the real problems/causes. We all know that. None argue this that I know. Not even me. But continuing to argue this, perhaps helps avoid a touchier issue; namely, the real reason why CI remains popular and PT remains obscure. Harping on CI could be a diversion tactic from addressing the real cause. Just a suggestion.

    Now what I do focus a lot on, even as others have their continual focus, is not different approaches to solving internal problems, but rather, a focus on external world problems and choices made in life based on understanding the world as it truly honestly is. We will call this World Focus (WF).

    I have noticed this in recent net surfing travels, which I find here, too. Most people who have been very hurt or damaged, find many signals and feelings INSIDE that beg and demand relief and resolution, even as it should be. This preoccupies their minds as they seek relief. Nothing wrong with this. But now lets understand how it relates to the outside World Focus and understanding. Since these minds are occupied with internal matters, they have no spare energy or effort for external focus. They are distracted, preoccupied, overloaded, diverted, by virtue of their large amount of internal pain. No surprise here, either. The more pain or less coping ability we have, the more distracted we will be from any outside focus activity.

    This means that for those who wish to conduct subversive, “hostile to humans” activity, that they are or would be best served by having people loaded with pain. Can you not see the obvious potential advantage if this were so? People with lots of pain would have no time for an external focus. They would spend most time seeking relief or their minds would be continually scrambled by constant pain signals such as anxiety, fear, anger, etc.

    So what can we say about hostile to humans activity? Any reason for it? Does it exist and why? Well, if those who have large amounts of money and power want more, and want to avoid ever losing both, either, the money or the power, then they are best served keeping labor in the dark and poorly paid and DISTRACTED from thinking, of course.

  4. Art >> That is why a scientist can understand a great deal about neurology but practice a therapy that has nothing to do with the brain, which I have seen time and again—the bifurcation of consciousness. What he or she knows scientifically does not translate to the other side of the head because of disconnection or dissociation. He/she may be utterly aware and utterly unconscious.

    Me >> I know contradictions can exist in people. Have seen it myself. But I do not believe this is the main reason for why some know neurology and yet not accept PT. You fail to admit the network they belong to. In fact, you seem to resemble their blindness in that you do not see the obvious even as they do not. Only yours is in a different direction. You do not see the real practice of science, which is actually politics power. Science is propaganda and the media, schools and universities promote that. And if you were to admit what I say, You might lose your license or suddenly get some attention from where none has come before. That Old Orwell Orthodoxy would raise its ugly head and growl. I understand.

    Let me complete this quote:

    Art >> The frontal cortex gives it different labels . . .

    Me >> according to the directions of the primal forces below it.
    That is the part you leave out and should not. Just an observation.

    Art >> Notice also that it is a nonverbal medication that slows down ideational obsessions. It tells us about the relationship of lower centers where there are no ideas to higher level thought processes, which deal with ideas.

    Me >>Yes, I did notice. Non-verbal is also non-intellectual. The medication stops the instructions or impulses and pain from below, rising up, no? See who the boss is, inside? The intellect is merely a tool accepting directions from below.

    Art >> Because of an unloving, traumatic early childhood, a person cannot put the brakes on the amygdala or brainstem structures because he hasn’t the neurologic equipment; there is an impaired prefrontal cortex that does that.

    Me >> So does it follow that if the prefrontal cortex was not too wounded, that it might function fairly well?

    Arthur, I think I might have given birth tonight. It had been nearly 8 or 9 months so I knew I was getting close. Ah, with all that weight gone, I will not have too much more to say. Your reprint was a Godsend. Oh, sorry bout that. It was a blessing, OK? I appreciate it.

  5. Art >> We develop new therapeutic theories to accommodate the idolatry of the here-and-now intellectual, drug approach. We have ceded our integrity for pay.

    Me >>You call the drug approach intellectual? Why? I see little to nothing intellectual in any of their games. The Pharma-cartel loves their money and drugs keep people distracted and shut the intellect down or shut down the pain, so that they can zone out and watch TV uncritically. Ditching integrity sounds like a sellout and corruption and lies. There are people in prisons for the very same sorts of crimes. Doesn’t that beat all?

    Art >> We don’t do it consciously, but we don’t feed our families if we don’t accommodate to the new reality.

    Me >> I am a naïve idealist. If they knowingly make a decision to save their salaries, and believing that their salaries are truly in danger if they do not, then it is not “unknowingly.” It is very knowingly! If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like a duck, it’s a duck.

    Art, my question would be, Can the amount of pain/trauma accumulated, by quantified and measured in quantity in some way? This would be interesting. For it must be understood that the amount of those is going to vary in the population at large. And if by chance, some have too much damage, we know the therapy will be long with uncertain results. If the pain is lower than typical, then therapy might be short and not as difficult and perhaps more certain to be effective.

    If we can not measure, then we are left without an important piece of info that might shed more light on the theory of primal pain.

    Good night all!

  6. Dr. Janov<
    “The patient in the here-and-now, ego-oriented therapies is walking around in his history while the therapist is focusing on the present.”

    This is my battle, not only with therapists also with the legal system.

    The ego-oriented legal system is boasting that they have arrested 72 child abusers.

    Now what? The perps go to jail for a few years and are let out again. Then they arrest them again and appear as heroes again. Nothing is achieved, nothing will change. I’m so disgusted with those who pant for applause, and their repressed, oblivious claqueurs on the side of the road.

    Nobody asks why perps abuse children.
    AND - nothing is mentioned in the news about healing the abused children.
    Not all childhood-abused become abusers, but all abusers were themselves abused.


  7. To all:

    the latest research:
    "Association of Childhood Adversities and Early-Onset Mental Disorders With Adult-Onset Chronic Physical Conditions"

    "Controlling for current mental disorder made little difference to these associations."


  8. Richard: Well there are flaws in my logic; how apt for a cognitive therapist to say. It reminds me of this great painting of the nude woman and there is a little old lady looking at it inspecting the flower in the corner. he has missed the humanity of it all; what an incredible thing to discover feeling and how to access it and have professionals criticize the logic. Ayayay. Once you have a connection you won't have to clean up any description of it since I take it directly out of the behavior, the words of the patients and out of my own observations over 45 y ears. Think again. And do me a favor stop talking to the unfeeling ones who always find this minutia or that to find fault. This is not an intellectually constructed idea. it comes from the mouths of those who have suffered. And we have found a way to relieve that suffering. you pal should be jumping for joy at this discovery. Now you know why we make little dent in the profession and why my name is never cited or reference in any professional article. Now you know why I do not make speeches to professionals; They say, what about this fact or what about this statistic or why aren't there more followup studies, etc etc. If only they could feel the enormity of finding a way to get bad feelings out. art janov

  9. Apollo: We can measure. Check life before birth which cam be ordered aug 15 for september delivery. art

  10. Art: The description of the primal process is a work in progress of course. But the observation of the process was obviously happening decades ago.

    All we need to do is validate the observation to know what the primal is, and whether psychotherapy should move in this direction.

    So why can't psychotherapists just realise this? Why don't they just cut this shit and go to your clinic to see what's going on with open "layman" eyes? I believe some scientists spend their lives measuring and deducting reality ultimately to avoid just seeing it. Maybe because direct perception can induce a 'moving' feeling...which brings their conscious centre too close to the pain.

  11. I agree with Art, there is NOTHING LOGICAL about feelings. The very act of feeling defies logic. Logic is a construct of a thinking brain and by my reckoning a thinking brain is already perverse. However, and this is a big "however" the very act of writing (as well as talking, debating or explaining is part of that (perversity) THINKING. Art is very good at it, but the 'rational world' out there can pull it apart all they like, but since they know little or nothing about feeling-full-ness, they are trapped in their own cul-de-sac of what I call the 'thinking perversity'. (I feel Art doesn't agree with me that thinking is perverse, but if it is not perverse, what is it, in the greater scheme of things?).

    Since all of our comments and Art's writings are machinations of thinking then arguments are just the gymnastics of thinking and will go on forever regurgitating going no-where IMO. I critique Art for not stating his notions simply and directly, and yeah, yeah, yeah how else can you get across to the THINKING world. My bet is you can't, they are caught in that thinking cul-de-sac ... and sadly, there is no way out.

    My take;- Unless and until you have experienced a re-living event to that time in your existence when you couldn't THINK then there is NO getting through. The analogy;- how do you teach a blind man to see ... you don't; it's not teachable.


  12. Andrew: You have no idea how many scientists and shrinks I have invited to see our work including world renown neurologists. None was interested. AJ

  13. A facebook comment: "There is so much in this, it is jam packed.. It made me think of the way I photograph-- looking for the 'essence' in someone/something. I also thought of the x patient I saw today, who is back in psych. I talked with him, I always do (despite hospital ethics). He responds well to this, and if I'm asking basic questions about his family engages with emotion and never appears delusional. When I was on the ward I found it astonishing there was no family history in his files whatsoever, despite his revolving thru clinics for the past 15 yrs. His need is so strong tho, you can feel the pull of it and he always hits me up for money."

  14. Hi,

    -"My take;- Unless and until you have experienced a re-living event to that time in your existence when you couldn't THINK then there is NO getting through. The analogy;- how do you teach a blind man to see ... you don't; it's not teachable".

    Basically, with a few very minor semantic reservations, I whole heartedly agree with this statement.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again with a few intentionally added, slightly different words, (I'm quoting myself now): There are these "mendacious"- 'defence/projection' modalities that accompany repression in order to "let off the steam" so to speak (like joggers letting off the Primal Pool of pain).

    Once the connections between the two sides begins these "projective mirages" also change. It's difficult to say which is cause or effect.

    I speak from experience and it's embarrassing for me personally that this process started with another therapeutic alliance before I even found out about Dr Arthur Janovs' most recent blog truth. (I did read his book 25yrs ago but some liers in London gave me misinformation). . .

    I've said this all before.

    It is true that the so called "human" world is a shitty place and it might be true that there is a purpose to the human intellect beyond its' ability to heal the emotional scars we carry but I have to agree that "thinking" as a construct alone is unbalanced. Ok, Jack might feel what I said there is understatement but I know what it feels like to have connected and perceive the difference.

    It gets worse, for me, because the process I have become involved in could only end in Dr Arthur Janovs' Clinic in Santa Monica. I am in the unenviable position (on this blog) of knowing for sure that "what you think will change and radically". I don't really want to keep saying this because it is also a conversation stopper.

    Paul G.

    (PS, I'm certain that once we really start to care about how we feel and how others feel, from a 'grown up' point of view, use your imagination, then the conversations we can have and the thoughts we can have will actually help us get to our true feelings instead of making it all a talking shop).

    Paul G.

  15. Art (and all):

    Modern education isn't about enlightenment and understanding, it's about vocational training. And that applies to university graduates too. Great students don't satisfy interest - they just "work hard". Independent interest gets in the way. No time for it.

    Maybe this is part of where the lack of interest comes from? They don't care and maybe they've even been trained not to care? They will learn what they are told to learn and do what they are told to do. Human resources.

    I work and talk with various co-workers, some quite intelligent, every day and it gets a bit depressing to see the brute lack of ANY interest in things on the scientific level. As soon as I introduce a scientific leaning to a subject in the conversation, even on an appropriate and not-too-intensive level, I get this almost absurdly blunt lack of interest as the response. For example you can talk about psychopaths all you want but don't even dare bring a word like "brain stem" into the conversation....

    It makes we wonder where the hell this kind of lack of curiously comes from. I can't believe it's normal. And I think these vocational scientists might at base be just the same, which is my point.

  16. Hi Art,

    -"They say, what about this fact or what about this statistic or why aren't there more followup studies, etc etc"-

    In one of your earlier posts you talked about how certain types can 'manoever' into a more powerful position. Something like that. . . Also: "the repressed win"-

    Well, It really rankles doesn't it? I mean, anything you say can be taken down and used as evidence against you. . . anything can mean anything.

    Art, you have stuck your head out to the establishment with a neck too pithy to sever.

    There arn't many dissenters older than you so take it from a younger one:

    -" I really know how you feel"-.

    Really I do, I was part of a serious environmental group seeking certain types of structural change to governmental policy. . . I stuck my neck out, perhaps there was some deluded enthusiasm there but. . .

    Remember the French sank the 'Rainbow Warrior'?

    I wasn't on that ship but I did try to change the world in my locality and everything I have learned about social change from attending to this blog in the last year just makes me feel 'deja vu'. It's bloody repression. On a global scale.

    Paul G.

  17. Art I stopped talking to the cognitive therapist a long time ago. i knew he was a dead end. but look....Jack is right. we need to get through to the authorities.

    and now look at the concise article you have just written:
    "Still More on Retrieving Memory and the Right Brain"
    CONCISE. PERFECT. there are no colourful red herrings in that article. i don't know whether that's an old article and i missed it.....but it's exactly the type of concise explanation i have been looking for. it IS simple so keep it that way. don't let us get lost in all the ambiguities.
    finally i can understand your terminology......."UNCONSCIOUS". yes i am totally unconscious. i am in an intellectual trance. i have known that for a long time but i just couldn't quite understand your explanations.
    don't underestimate the authorities' ability to understand a fool-proof article.
    well done. thank you.

  18. Jack, it is possible to get through to people who have never relived. When my brother first explained primal theory to me, he spoke in his usual concise pragmatic way, and the message hit me like a ton of bricks. it really changed my view of myself and a short while later i started to get very anxious. in just a few words, my brother had given an explanation for my numbness. i first noticed the numbness when i was 18. i was crossing a road and i couldn't really feel the 'presence' of the cars as they sped past quite close to my body. it was almost as if i was watching a movie. it made me nervous. i knew it was dangerous to be crossing the road in a trance-like state. i tried to clear my head and wake up, but i couldn't. every day after that i noticed it was always the same.....i was sleepwalking through the traffic. i thought it was tiredness, and hoped that i would wake up eventually, but i never did.
    i had decided to get primal therapy as soon as my music was finished. unfortunately that was many years ago. i became deluded in my music. i assumed my singing voice would be suited to my music if i just tweaked it here and there. i kept trying but it always sounded like shit. i assumed i could fix everything in the final mix. i assumed lots of things. i tried and tried and kept wasting time. but the goal to get primal therapy was ALWAYS at the forefront of my mind. Art's message did get through. according to Art, some people delude themselves to such an extent that they secretly intend to avoid primal therapy forever even though they say they want to do it. NOT ME. i need to to do a job that makes good money without putting my brain into a sort of intolerable mental prison. THAT is my problem.

    one day i decided to read one of Art's old books. my brother got it from the library. i got through the first chapter and couldn't read any more. it was too long-winded for me. i preferred my brother's concise explanation. but that's me. maybe others are different.

  19. Richard: il n'y a pas de quoi. de rien. di nienti. etc. you are welcome. you can try to get through to the powers that be. I have given up. art janov. The most difficult trip that anyone of us can ever make is from the left to the right brain. there is an article about his coming out next week. art

  20. Jack,
    I'm not perfectly sure about that but if "perverted" has the same meaning as in french, I would say that the thinking process comes from our survival tool, our neocortex. So if it's a tool, it's just how you use it which can be perverted. You can kill with a hammer or build a wooden house for people.Don't blame the hammer.
    Dr Janov wrote a lot about how we use too much of that thinking brain to repress our feelings.
    In the past our ancestors had the idea that taking care of wild corn, wheat and cattle could provide them food just in case there would be not enough wild animals to hunt and wild fruits to pick up. Our thinking brain help us to think about what might come later even when right now everything is ok. A fully non thinking human being is a baby or a young child.
    There is some kind of a religious target (or spiritual) like Zen in trying to achieve a perfect non thinking life as an adult.
    I can understand your point of view anyway. I don't know about your family background but if you have lived in a too intellectual environnement you might want to get rid of it if you feel it has ruined your emotional life.
    I had this kind of trouble with books (too many of them around me) I wanted to get rid of them. I was a compulsive reader since I'm 12. But that's what made me read Dr Janov's book's. If you feel something that nobody seem to feel you might try looking for the same thing in the outside world, in books for instance. They are just wonderfull tools when they bring you meaninfull things, but so many people have been killed in the name of books.

  21. Richard: There are only two types of people you get through to IMO. Those who are desperate and know there is something amiss with their lives; the others are those that have a re-living and it throws them for a loop they never 'thought' beforehand was conceivable.

    Neither type are interested in telling others how to run their lives.

    The AUTHORITIES that be are sure they know how the rest of us should ........ The operative word is 'authority'. Parents, teachers, professors, politicians, policemen, military men, religious leaders et al,

    Once we are able to feel relatively deeply; the only thing we knows is how we feel; the rest is circumstantial evidence. QED: quod erat demonstrandum.


  22. The question why PT is not recognized:

    Late engagements led me to a discovery and this conclusion.
    Most research results, regardless the subject, are not, or are rarely recognized or implemented by governments.

    University teaching and research results remain on an Island across the river from the public.

    For this reason, mythology, religion and hokus-pokus psychology can flourish.

    My question was why.... I found a simple answer.
    Politically seen: if we keep the public uneducated and repressed we can control them.
    The educators (universities) are on a self-limiting budget that soon must hit the wall of disinterest. Just look at restraint of: “The Newsletter of the Community of Neurochemical Societies”. No outsider can look in without becoming a member.

    Other researchers restrain their steps, not entering new ideas, because they find it easier to defend old established curriculum, than go against the money providing stream. For this reason, acknowledgement of new ideas is difficult, because they feel threatened (versus inspired) by new ideas, regardless how scientifically true they are.

    It is the standstill of time, that creates the mildew in the mind society, they enviably will suffer from later.
    Only a stand-off, or a breakdown changes the rhythm that throws out old beliefs and methods. I think society, on all levels, is not hungry enough yet for a change (meaning they are repressed, but still have enough catharsis).

  23. To SWA

    I viewed your links and comments. I have a few observations. Rape is routinely ignored in law. You can not even publish the name of the person who raped you, or say it was rape. So victim has no rights or free speech. The laws are designed to protect the guilty. We are lied to 24 hours a day, all year long, year after year.

    Teens are routinely kidnapped and forced into prostitution and cops never respond if a father says we got the criminals and my daughter held up in this building. The cops will be hours getting there. They are part of the problem. They help the kidnappers. And I am supposed to believe the cops are not in on anything. Sorry, but I do not believe it.

    But while we trivialize the worst rapes, we make huge productions over very minor offenses. There needs to be proportion and balance to law. If one exposes himself, he is almost guaranteed a 3 to 4 year sentence in Main. But Rape? Often nothing or community service. They strain the gnat while gulping down camel.

    The legal (court) system is ever worse. It is a total fraud, in my view. Not even worth addressing. I speak from very personal experience. Try nad defend yourself in a whistle blower suit and see what you get. Try to defend your father’s land being robbed. Zero!

    If they cared about children and broken kids, they would care about enforcement and justice. They care for neither kids nor justice. Insult upon insult leads to ever more pain. The pain will hit a breaking point.

    You are a person who cares. You feel pain when you see the harm cause you once (and often) were harmed.

    I would be wary of the child porn bust. These are often governments who sponsor these porn displays and boards, hoping to get some interesting people. They sometimes net celebrities and professionals. They also makes us believe that pedophiles are all around us everywhere and we should hide in our closets and never come out. The National Enquirer once featured a bust of a ring that was known by governments and allowed to continue so they could catch people. So they were, whether they want to admit it or not, co-conspirators in the promotion of child porn. What is more, allegations exist of all sorts of child sex abuse in high circles of power. And there is no better customers of porn and child porn that our government workers.

    We need to stop believing the lies and deception that they really care in anyway about people. Call me a cynic. You would be right ;-)

  24. Andrew: you know I was thinking that as we grow up in school we must have courses in neurology, the mind and a bit about medicine. My knowledge helps me treat my friends and above all my dog. In school I want everyone to learn to venerate all life, especially animal life. AJ

  25. Paul: I remember the Rainbow Warrior very well. I was living in France at the time. And I know all the names of the culprits. Artj

  26. Yann: I say "thinking" is perverted is in the sense that all other creatures that have right and left brain hemispheres, we are the only creature that has developed an ability to 'think', other than to use that left center to express feelings. I conjectured (but my conjecturing could be way off) that we were once like other creatures and just used it to express feelings, but due to circumstances that were perhaps a survival mechanism, due to what-ever, we developed to the point we are now in, whereby we seem to need to figure out the nature of the known universe and come up with notions so convoluted you REALLY DO need a PhD in applied mathematics. Most of are way below that facility. My stating that thinking is "perverse" is to suggest that we are now using this hemisphere to do something it was never originally meant to be. Of course, I came to this notion in evolutionary terms. However, it is merely a conjecture on my part.

    For me, using the word 'perverse' is meant to give pause to 'thinking' as some superior super noble act. With humans dominating the planet and creating civilization, economics, and law making, I contend, we'll destroy nature, the planet and perhaps the rest of all living creatures. Do we have that "right" (whatever we mean by 'right') to be so dominant??????

    I merely wish we could become more feeling-full and less neurotic.


  27. Jack

    What a clear statement:
    “There are only two types of people you get through to IMO. Those who are desperate and know there is something amiss with their lives; the others are those that have a re-living and it throws them for a loop they never 'thought' beforehand was conceivable.
    I agree.

    May I include CT-Therapists?

    Helpfully (so they say) and caring (so they believe) they “guide” the psycho-distressed in the direction of a better life.

    It is the psycho-distressed/mute who assumes a control/manipulating position to create more mutants who then become “masterminds”.


  28. Yann,

    We do not use too much brain to displace feelings ... we use as much as needed in order not to die of suffering. That is how the brain "can work"... to repress pain and that is what awareness... thinking sheep assignment then the pain... consciousness threatens our system.
    The brain works at conscious awareness ... two separate entities for the sentence to be beneficial to each other but by unfortunate circumstances parted ... but can suppress pain ... feelings we would not have survived to be aware of ... something that we deal with cognitively ... thinking structures.
    That is how the brain works ... beyond OUR awareness of suffering... IF IT CAN… but not beyond awareness of the suffering ... it's just so... our feeling is so cluttered with pain that links to conscious awareness can only take place with a sophisticated technology ... a technique Primal Therapy offers.
    The child in us knows.



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.