Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Role of Evolution in Psychotherapy

This article was first published on October 26, 2010. I just want to run it again, as it is so important.

I have been thinking about evolution in regard to psychotherapy. Last night there was a program on evolution; scientists from several countries convened to discuss the possible evolution of dinosaurs. There were many explanations, none satisfying. One, however, seemed credible. The question was which came first dinosaurs or birds?, since fossils were found of dinosaurs with feathers. They studied birds found near the site that had similar appendages as dinosaurs and filmed them. They found that these birds were born knowing only how to run; as their personal evolution continued they began to fly. This seemingly added evidence to the notion that birds came second, not first; that birds evolved out of dinosaurs, not the reverse. It is still a moot question but it led me to think about our own therapy; observing a primal session explained so much about evolution. Specifically, about the primacy of thoughts over feelings.

In a reliving, feelings come before thoughts, as they did in evolution; and indeed, as feelings become preponderant they nudge thoughts and beliefs into action. Those thoughts evolve out the feelings—being suffocated during birth—leading to, “he suffocates me.” “There is no space for me,” etc. What resolves this is not a change in attitude or thoughts but feelings; the imprint, the generating source needs to be addressed and relived because it was not fully relived originally. It was at best partially experienced when it happened and then shut off due to its load of pain. It needs to be fully lived, connected and resolved.

When we look at the session we are exploring evolution; observing both phylogeny and ontogeny. It is my position that unless the system is allowed to follow evolution exactly there will only be abreaction and not a connected, resolved feeling; that is the reason to pay attention to evolution. During a reliving of birth where we find skyrocketing vital signs there can be no crying like a two year old, no radical movements of the legs and arms and no words whatsoever. All these come later in personal evolution (ontogeny). To do all this now is to defy evolution, which violates biology and how it progresses.
We cannot get ahead of ourselves in therapy. Evolution is not to be fooled with. If we do not believe in it then all is lost and therapy is a useless exercise.

The minute a patient who is reliving something in early childhood uses words like entertaining, satisfaction, disappointed, we know she is not in the feeling brain and it is not a real experience. A five year does not normally use those words. In other words, evolution is a check on the reality of what the patient is undergoing. If we don’t know how the brain develops, at least minimally, then we might err in therapy; worse, we might push the patient beyond her tolerance level, beyond where evolution allows her to go for the moment. We might push her back into her history where massive pain lies; and all that will accomplish is overload and then symbolic acting out or acting in. Example: a patient was coming close to a feeling of a sexual seduction by her father. The therapist was pushing for her to get there. She reached the lip of the feeling and then sat up and said, “I’ve been saved! Saved by the Lord.” She was saved by the thought of the lord as the feeling nudged the thinking/believing centers into action to protect against feelings. Here evolution rushed in to save the situation and it did so in orderly fashion.

So when we observe progress during a session we are seeing how the brain works; what functions it uses to protect us, how it recruits thoughts to make us safe and neurotic, at the same time. We see how neurosis can take place. Most of all, we learn how to do the therapy; what biologic laws not to violate. What we also learn is how impossible it is to fulfill needs that are long past their due-date.

When we look at the evolution of babies we learn the laws of fetal and infancy evolution; what are the key needs and, above all, when they can be fulfilled. That critical window of need cannot be violated. After the window is closed there is no fulfillment possible, only amelioration. We cannot love neurosis away. Pain is stronger than that.

Once we begin to understand all this we know that we cannot use a later-developing mechanism, thoughts, to bring about change in neurosis. Thoughts then become a cover for feelings, not a resolving process. One reason this is not Primal Scream Therapy is that screams come after grunts in evolution. On the way out of the womb but not as yet out, there seem to be no screams. If we force screams we are wrong. If we try to make something dramatic happen to prove how smart and effective we are the patient will suffer. If we are patient and trust evolution we are on the right tract.


  1. An email comment: "Sorry I was hard on you. I really am. It's just that, while I get your newsletters and appreciate them very much, I also grant myself the freedom to be just as outspoken as you are. I do get that I need some practicing poise and diplomacy in this regard (sigh).

    You cannot get personal in your letters, because they are written to millions of 'faceless' people. I, on the other hand, have no option, because a reply can ONLY be personal...sorry. This too I think is a compliment to you, because a little personal contact (however being in an email) gives some warmth in this cold impersonal world...even if comes as perceived negative critique. I'm also not a genius as you are with the written word (NO pun intended!), but that does not keep me away from writing in my own way too, addressing an issue near to my heart.

    J'ai toujours apprécier vos lettres..merci!"

  2. Another email comment: "With all due respect i don't understand why are You wasting so much time and energy discussing about evolution. That is just one theory that is useless for anything exept to counter the creationists. After all you are treating humans and not birds although it would be fine if we could do something to help heal traumatised animals.
    For my understanding human ontogenesis perfectly fits primal theory. Do you need it only to emphasize something with words like "million years"...
    or is it just suthable for your cooperation with
    other scientists.
    I just don't care right now wether birds came after dinosaurus or vice versa and even if i could whitness it it still doesn't really matter.
    On the other side we whitness ontogenesis on a daily basis...
    For me evolution is interesting for understanding the intelligence of life from simplier to morecomplicated life forms and the connection between them.
    But maybe the creationists would also be helpfull here."

  3. And another one: "You SO contradict yourself. Sorry, but as much I am outspoken when it comes to brilliancy (as I have done recently in giving credit to a brilliant paper of yours), AS much am I outspoken with regard to bullshit as well...namely evolution. Evolution is bullshit and a feeble attempt of Darwin to prove God does not exist. Now it's called neurosis. Why do I say you contradict yourself? I say that because in this writing of yours you too are part of the intelligentia you 'made fun' of in that very paper (and justifiably so!) I applauded you for, trying to intellectualize the speculation of evolution. Evolution to this DAY could never be proven. The intricacies and complex dynamics and wisdom in ONE human cell could to this day not be unraveled by man....sorry...I can go on and on and on......"

  4. in response to the emails regarding evolution:

    you need only contemplate one overwhelming factor: TIME. given enough time, a bacteria cell can be formed through shear luck. chaotic particles collide into each other for zillions and zillions of years until they get it right. BAM! suddenly we are looking at a bacteria cell. if you throw marbles onto the ground enough times, one day they will land perfectly to form an image of the world map.

    if it is possible, it WILL happen. it is only a matter of time. remember, time is infinite.

    chances are, an accidentally formed bacteria will die immediately. so then we will need another zillion years of chaotic particle collisions until another bacteria appears out of nowhere. it really does go on and on and on.

    given a lucky environment; one that is perfectly protected from all of the chaotic creation and destruction, it takes very little time for a successful bacteria to develop into a worm, then a lizard, then a monkey. add epigenesis to the mix (another lucky break) and the evolution process will speed up even more. yes it is absolutely amazing, but look at the universe. it is amazing.....but it is not impossible.

    the human brain is amazing. it looks like a human brain surrounding a monkey brain surrounding a lizard brain. and it works exactly as one would expect if one was to observe the order in which it evolved. amazing but not impossible.

    the Bible could have been invented by some people who felt the need for some kind of law. in pre-Christian times there was no real way to uphold the law. perhaps they invented heaven and hell in a desperate attempt to control the rampage of neurosis. perhaps the writers were well aware of the effect that fairy tales had on their children. this is just a theory. amazing but not impossible.

  5. Hello Art,

    May I throw in my 50 cents worth on this topic?

    I believe in evolution in that everything we see has an obvious base in survival. Absolutely every function and component of us exists for a strict survival purpose, and is perfectly (well, usually) optimised. Everything we see can be related to evolutionary purpose and meaning (except the consciousness itself maybe - that is not the brain, necessarily, but the 'thing' that 'views' the product of the brains activity at least).

    And in nature we see natural selection everywhere as the "defectives" are weeded out.

    But where evolution may be questionable, in my view, is in the creative function; that is, the actual generation of new genetic code - not just the selection of it. The time scales required to achieve positive complexities, and the engineering behind it, are utterly formidable. So I for one am agnostic on *this* level.

    Is evolution an inter-generational genetic growth driven by some freaky and unknown force that we have not and maybe can't ever understand or even register? I don't know. I don't think anyone does.

    BUT it is ultimately superfluous. We can see enough to be confident with the general evolutionary outlook. It should be behind our reasoning.

  6. Andrew: That video camera is actually primal therapy where we do rewind history and allow you to go back in time to review your long ago past. art

  7. DNA, the fundamental building blocks of life, grows like a corkscrew worm. a tiny worm-like segment duplicates itself again and again, and we haven't even got to the cell stage yet. this relatively simple duplication pattern is the way all organic matter is built. humans and worms have a lot in common. the complexity of a highly evolved organism is not in the raw fabric, but in the way that the pieces interact with each other. complex interaction is not particularly difficult to achieve in an evolutionary sense.

    by far the most incredible achievement is the formation of the very first duplicable segment within a strand of DNA. if the earth is as young as it seems, it is fair to say that our DNA has extraterrestrial origins. if you are horrified by the thought that we evolved from a lizard, then you will wet your pants when you see the worm-like structures found in meteorites.

    LOVE your lizard, don't hate it. it gives you pleasure when you eat and have sex.

    Andrew, you say the time scale is "formidable." is that a reason to reject the theory of evolution? science can't make time any smaller. time has no beginning and no end. get used to it.

    your repressed feelings are formidable and they are shortening your time on earth.

  8. Richard,

    "complex interaction is not particularly difficult to achieve in an evolutionary sense."

    Bullshit. It's obscenely difficult. Everything has to be just right, at the right time, for any progression to be reinforced. I do not dismiss evolution but retain an agnostic position in relation to parts of it. And yes I am quite use to it. And I am also rather fond of my lizard brain.

  9. Well, if someone else is going to bring up evolution, then I guess I can jump in, can’t I? What is that helical DNA? Is it not a programming language? Some programs for life are smaller or bigger than others. But I have never seen a programming language without a designer/creator. Nor have I seen programs come from nothing. If they did, software corporations would certainly stomp them our or be put out of business. I do not believe something can come from nothing. Even atheist Greeks did not go that far.

    But one has to know the history of publishing and who finances and promotes that published. Generous financiers made sure Darwin got lots of help and promotion. That every school (with a forced “audience” attending, had it crammed down their throats till by sheer repetition reinforced by authority and getting passing grades made some accept what none would, other wise. Give ma a room full of people who must attend my “classes, and I will have them believing in Mother Gosse and all sorts of things if I want. A captive audience? A cult dream come true. A programmer’s heaven or nirvana if you prefer.

    Evolution has no real science to it. It is pure speculation and imagination. Show me how you prove that Australopithicus ever was the predecessor to homo-habilus or any other Homo species. They have some similarities. So do dogs and cats. Show me a cat coming from a dog? But those who wanted to rule the world did not want any “gods” standing in their way. So when Darwin came up with a poorly thought out idea, easily refuted, they promoted it. Many acts succeed with good promotion.

    So now we came out of sheer nothing? How would you demonstrate that? You know, I would put far more credence in spacemen dropping us off than Darwin. And you will soon meet some “spacemen” in UFOs, no less, who will tell you that very thing. One will even claim to be the messiah. But You’ll believe them, but not me or God. Darwin will be dead then. But don’t believe these guys in saucers, either. They are from the same liars who have ruled the world for sometime now. Look every gift horse in the mouth and as they say in X-files, trust no one!

  10. Andrew everything does not have to be just right at the right time. you start with a very simple organic structure that constantly replicates itself (this process happens in lifeless chemical reactions). each replica is exposed to random distortion caused by a random, but relatively protected environment. when a replica is destroyed, another one will take it's place. when a replica survives and adds to the functionality of the original organic structure - perhaps by further protecting it while increasing it's capacity to absorb surrounding nutrients - you have the beginning of evolution on earth. it does not have to be especially difficult. as the organism becomes more and more complex through trial and affordable error, it will inevitably adapt it's own DNA to suit the changing environment. again, everything does not have to be just right at the right time. each cell and it's DNA is expendable during the process of trial and error.
    perhaps the first form of life was a virus (a chunk of lifeless DNA) which managed to inhabit a bubble in a pool of lifeless amino acids. in other words, it was little more than a typical chemical reaction.
    there are many natural chemical bonds that look very lifelike in their structure, but they are not alive at all. the universe is chaotic and organised. random explosions create perfect patterns.
    so i guess the real question is: what created such a beautiful universe? and of course we will never know.

  11. and don't forget, the more complex an organism becomes, the more capacity it has to function like a circuit board. eventually it will have enough information processing ability to evaluate it's environment and automatically 'decide' how to modify it's DNA. epigenesis probably existed at a very early stage of life.

  12. May I add the theory of probability and statistics; more appropriately, the laws of distribution, the old bell curve. the bell curve is the typical distribution of things random. Common events peak in a big hump in the middle of the 2D graph. It gets very small at the ends.

    It says that there are common, even consistent distribution results. Now I will apply that. If I throw 1 dice 1000 times, the laws of distribution, given 6 possibilities, each equal in chance, that after a 1000 rolls, there will be near to 167 occurrences of each number. Some will be a little higher or lower than others. Odds are not likely that it will be precisely 4 with 167 and 2 with 166, but it will be close. Variances will be some, but absolutely not drastic. There are limits to the variance, since the laws of distribution will distribute evenly with equal chances for all.

    That is to say, randomness and chaos do have a pattern. It is testable and provable by anyone. Now if I say I want 3 numbers to come out exactly at 150 and the other 2 at 325 each, this is a very specific pattern and certainly would violate the laws of distribution. So its chances of happening are absolutely zero. Fact!

    Random distribution will never really produce a programming language, much less a program based on that language, such as DNA. To believe that programming languages and programs written in their code can come from nothing is absolutely laughable. It takes deliberate intelligence to design and make such things. But wonderful academic magicians, heaped in lies and pagan superstitions, tell us something can come from nothing but can’t demonstrate a single piece of evidence to that effect.

    For this reason, when Andrew says : “The time scales required to achieve positive complexities, and the engineering behind it, are utterly formidable.” He is absolutely right!

    In fact, for a programing language to come about and many thousands of programs come into being, it blows the odds all to hell and back. Evolution is just wishful thinking. Why, it sounds almost like neurosis. Imagine that! And that same theory of distribution? It can verify whether a collection of predictions can be chance or not. Too many connections and successful predictions can rule out random chance or accident and luck.

    Hey, I didn’t bring it up. I just added to it.

  13. Richard,

    Even with the best programers around, computer systems continually crash. To think that an accidental language or program can malfunction (mutation) and still work is very suspect. Many genes are simply switches. Epigenetics is the switching on and off of key switches.

    so can biological "programs" grow in a certain direction? Not without help says I. consider that empires do not grow accidentally by chance. Read the history of Rome by Livy, just the 1st 5 books if you like and you will see that Rome had ambitions and aspirations from its beginning. It marched deliberately and aggressively toward its goal of ultimate power and wealth. What is going on today is also deliberate and aggressive and has been in plans for several centuries if not 1000 years or more.

    Accident, chance? those are just myths. Most everything in our world has been controlled since the first little tribes came to power. then many tribes were brought under one ruler. Then many rulers brought under one big government and now many governments will soon be brought under a total world government and it will be no accident. You can take that to the bank and deposit it! Carve these words in stone. They will soon come true.

  14. Apollo, the bell curve represents a controlled environment. you said "Common events peak in a big hump in the middle of the 2D graph." what happens when a weed starts to grow over the area where the marbles are landing? what happens when a comet smashes into that area and vaporises all the marbles - causing their atoms to fuse into completely different molecular bonds?

    at what point do we decide that we have some kind of common event? you have to start thinking on a scale of entire galaxies before you start to see proper uniformity, and then you must ask yourself "is there a wildly different type of galaxy lying just beyond the reach of my telescope? all the galaxies look similar in this part of the universe BUT we could be living in an unusually uniform part of the universe; an area that was built in the same way that microscopic cells are built. a nucleus with electrons. a planet with moons. does the milky way function like a chromosome?

    if you think outside the controlled bell curve, you start to see that the universe has an ENORMOUS capacity for unlimited variation. i think the random formation of a very crude chunk of DNA with the most rudimentary program for self replication is feasible. after 405,728,491,558,936 zillion millenia, the very first organic 'nanobot' is created. i wouldn't say "IMPOSSIBLE!!"

    the organic nanobot lands on a protected planet. it develops into a more complex string of DNA as it continues to grow and erode. parts of it break off and slide into a pool of amino acids. a bacteria is formed amongst the bubbles. the bacteria develops into a worm. then an eel. then a modern fish. then a bottom-crawling fish. then an amphibious mud-crawling fish. then a salamander. then a lizard. then a rat. then a monkey. then a toumaï. then you, Apollo. stand on top of a hill and look at your world. you are a man with a long history.

  15. Hey Apollo,

    The powerlessness you feel may be caused originally by your brain chemistry set points and not by the external circumstances of our collective life or the collective lives of our ancestors.

    Most people have a fairly good idea (!) or 'memory' of good feelings and most of them/us are abjectly poor and much more controlled than us contributors to this blog. It doesn't necessarily follow that the controlling mechanisms in life have much to do with any particular individuals' brain chemistry. . .

    Just a reminder of the difference between inside and outside.

    Paul G.

  16. A controlled environment? Isn't that what DNA is in?

    Show me proof that Australo-pithecus turned into Homo-erectus or habilis! We did not witness it so how do we confirm it?

    Nice speculation but no substance. Show me the proof.

  17. Apollo: The proof is offered in several hundred books including the works of Dawkins. AJ

  18. Paul >>
    The powerlessness you feel may be caused originally by your brain chemistry set points and not by the external circumstances of our collective life or the collective lives of our ancestors.<<

    You are absolutely right. It may. Or it may also be an honest objective analysis that causes it. How do we or I tell which it is? I’ll offer a suggestion which you can accept or reject or offer your own. But if we were to examine the reasons why I see no hope and much gloom due to ever devolving pain.

    Those reasons can then be examined for any merit. Now if my reason were that I saw a bad omen in the sky, therefore am gloomy, we would both have to agree I was pretty messed up. On the other hand, if I have noted some horrible atrocities motivated by world leaders and no sense of relenting of power, then we would have to examine the claimed atrocities for merit and then can trace it back to world leaders and show they have all power, then my conclusions might not be so irrational, at all.

    We look at the evidence and judge its legitimacy and merit. We observe how we get from point A to point B, to point C and on to the conclusion. This is how we weed out bad evidence or certify good evidence. If the evidence cannot be refuted, then we must accept it, however unpleasant and distasteful it may be. That would be moral courage. Its sadly lacking today.

  19. A tedious but crucial
    ...introduction to...

    by Richard Atkin

    Apollo, the very existence of matter, movement (energy) and mind (consciousness) will never be explained. The human brain is not designed to understand those concepts.

    The purpose of science is to learn the behaviours and relationships of the things we can see and feel, using our microscopes, telescopes, computers and yes, our feelings too.

    When you invent a concept, such as a Creator Of The Universe, you are trying to explain the unexplainable. That is not science. That is science-fiction.

    Science is the study of all OBSERVABLE things. The theory of evolution comes from the study of fossils and chemicals and living organisms. It is not an attempt to explain the unexplainable.

    By limiting his research to SCIENCE, Art discovered the REAL nature of the unconscious. By ignoring fictional concepts, he discovered something very non-fictional; a CURE.

    You can keep your God. God is the unexplainable. God is fiction. Fiction does not mean 'false'. Fiction means 'unobservable'. You can keep your God but you cannot include him/her/it in a SCIENTIFIC discussion. Primal Therapy is science. It will never be science-fiction.

    Many people assume that Cognitive Theory is science because it does not include anything unobserved. Well, those people are right. Cognitive Therapy is science. But it is outdated science. It ignores new observable discoveries. When you rely on mathematical certainties, (the bell curve, for example) while ignoring new facts which ultimately undermine those 'certainties'......then you end up with a false conclusion.

    Proper science is the objective collaboration of all available facts.


    There is no real argument. But I am sure you will invent a fictional one.

  20. If I were God (and no I'm not into Scientology) I would create the format evolutionary process, because I would want my little creatures to grow on their own accord. It's more interesting to watch plants grow than to sculpt something to a predetermined image.

  21. Richard >> the very existence of matter, movement (energy) and mind (consciousness) will never be explained.

    I disagree. Its being covered up to this point. But there are those who do understand it already. It is just that people will not seek them out since they are not approved establishment authorities and sources. That you might not be aware of these does not mean they do not exist.

    Richard >> When you invent a concept, such as a Creator Of The Universe, you are trying to explain the unexplainable. That is not science. That is science-fiction.

    I did not invent it. I examined in in the Bible and found it reasonable, with the help of true science and reason. Art can speak of listening to unseen forces yet condemn them. But those unseen forces do speak, so to speak. And I listen. Magnetism is one of those forces. So is gravity and many others. It is not un-explainable as you insist. I believe I know science better than anyone else here, including the host. I never claimed I was modest ;-)

    Richard >> By limiting his research to SCIENCE, Art discovered the REAL nature of the unconscious. By ignoring fictional concepts

    He does not limit himself exclusively to science, in my opinion. But You would not be in on that. He has found the real nature of the unconsciousness, no doubt there! He has made some minor errors in explaining it. He does not ignore fictional concepts. I know this from experience.

    Richard >> You can keep your God but you cannot include him/her/it in a SCIENTIFIC discussion.

    It is impossible to leave him out of science, for much of science is still unknowable or suppressed. In this regard, I am likely more informed than most. You can not accurately comment on what you do not know about.

    Richard >> Proper science is the objective collaboration of all available facts.

    On this we agree!

  22. Hi,

    We human scientists have also invented machinery to detect things / energies / anomalies (call them what you like) which our usual senses can not detect.

    There are also corroborated reports of strange people with strange powers. . . (such as the weird story of Edgar Case or the child who could remember crashing his fighter plane 60 years previous in the Pacific war against the Japs).

    Therefore science does offer evidence for things that science alone can not explain.

    I am also not a scientologist or a theosophist and I am prepared to accept that we do live in "a cold and inhospitable" universe. . .

    Nevertheless what do we scientists think and feel when faced with evidence of the (as yet) unexplained?

    I have a fascination with patterns and systems and processes. Sometimes 'science' (with a small s) tends to be discussed in a rather 2 dimensional way; ie: as a freeze frame shot of a much more complex set of events. When one includes the ever changing flux through that "ultimately unique objective" TIME, then the processes and patterns that unfold become a living experience rather than a piece of information sound/ sight-bite.

    Y,see, the way I see it is that we form 'fixed opinions' or 'fixations' and these are the mirrors, distorting mirrors which we hide our wounds behind. We seem to have special mirrors tailored to our specific wounds. For example I love to sort my tools, oil them, care for them and revere them but woe betide any-one else who doesn't and there I go again because I am so defensive about untidiness that I can project the clear light of consciousness back out onto other (untidy people) from my wonderful distorting mirror and say: "IT'S ALL THEM". All along I am hiding my pain of loss and abandonment.

    I can even keep a journal to collect all the evidence and I can run double blind experiments to prove that keeping shit together is right and making a mess is wrong. I may be right (generically) but will I have any friends left at the end of my life if I carry on like this?

    If I keep on shining my version of the light of clear consciousness (bounced off my distorting mirror) onto other people (real or imagined)I am going to end up one hell of a lonely old f**k.

    So, in the interests of maintaining and improving my good relations I am trying very hard to step out from behind my distorting mirrors and show my self as I am, warts and all.

    Ok, this is risky, you all might say "eugh"! but at least you won't be dazzled by my distorted light.

    So much discussion about science is a chaotic firework display of distorted light which came from where? Originally where?

    Paul G.

  23. paul, one of the most interesting articles i have ever read was written by apollo (in a different blog). i value his neurotic contributions and yours too. we all have hidden motives don't we? we can't change until we get therapy.

  24. Paul,

    If I understand your correct, anomalies are not to be ignored, and I would agree. Evidence is never discarded in true science. Some have not learned that but you do seem to have. I tip my hat. As for the rest, it has the appearance of running around and avoiding any hard conclusions. but I could be wrong. One more thing. There is a big difference between being alone and lonely. Some people like lots of people around them. I don't. People are too often problems and of not such good motives. You take what you want and I'll pursue what I want most. I was not born to win popularity contests.

  25. Apollo: You know what Sartre said: l'enfer c'est les autres. (hell is the others) art

  26. Hi,

    Apollo you are a champion of studied exposee. Not a rock unturned I'm sure. I like running along on top of the rocks sometimes. . . .

    Richard, you appear to be a clown as well as me and no you have not been half bred with a chimp; and Jack I reckon you're right about 'thinking' being essentially neurotic. Not all thoughts are neurotic though, Jack, you know we know you're right about what sort of 'thinking' is and isn't neurotic.
    Jan you are living truth.
    Sieglund you are a strong person, thanks and Frank, Art's right, your English is poetically strange, I love it.
    Trevor, "it's psychotherapy but not as we know it" and Emanuel after I read about John Lennon again in this blog I went to my workshop and heard John on the radio sing 'Imagine' and I just collapsed and wept.
    For all the others on this blog who have also touched my heart but whos' names I have not remembered:-


    Paul G.


    When a human zygote does not split completely, you end up with siamese twins. the skin does not grow according to the boundaries set by the bones and muscles. the skin chooses the outermost layer, regardless of the structures that lie beneath. organs that cross each other's path are fused to form a functional circulatory network. blood vessels are not fussy - they will readily compensate for an incorrect anatomy. each separate brain will select it's share of the conjoined nervous system. there is often very little argument between them. certain muscles may be slightly spastic where the two nervous systems connect, but this electrical confusion is often barely noticeable.

    this is amazing. the distortion is contained within the limits of successful functionality. every organ is designed to adapt to the distortion. all animals, even bacteria, are designed to accommodate distortion. the adaptation occurs not only in the way organs are formed, but also in the way they function and in the way chemicals are altered to find the best balance. an abnormally small heart will beat faster. an oversized bone will become more porous.

    who are we kidding? we are designed to mutate. we are designed to evolve.

    human women are not designed to be impregnated with chimp sperm.

  28. When it comes to psychotherapy there have been endless theories. Your theory as far as i am concerned is so far fetched that you would NEVER be my therapist.
    Please allow me to illustrate. What ever the theories of how our brain changes during child hood , These chances were completely transparent to me. The memories i have as a child started out when i was in a stroller. So lets give a good estimate of 1 to 2 years old. i was not conscious of any change as to who I was my needs and what made me happy never changed. Up to 6 years of age i lived in a small German community with 2 elderly women. between my outside environment, nature which i loved , I was very happy and content even bliss full.I lacked nothing. Then at 6 suddenly i am put on an air plane whisked away to the USA to a place that in comparison was a city. I was now living with my grandmother and aunt, I i did not get along with my grandmother.The new environment was drastically different and was overwhelmed with constant tasks thrown at me every day. I had to learn English FAST. I had to go to school which was yet another environment.I could go on but in short my world had been turned upside down inside out. The trauma caused me to develop panic attacks and not the physical kind . But panic as a result that i no longer felt safe about anything. The panic attacks were daily attacks of complete fear. This went on for 3 years then I was moved to Peru to live with my mother and step father. We lived high in the Andy mountains where once again we lived in a small community.I enjoyed the mountains. I got along great with my mother and everything felt like my life was in control again and i felt safe again and all the past trauma was forgotten.My panic attacks disappeared and life was quite normal again.
    To the next point i have spent 4 years after that in an English boarding school where life was very much like being in an orphanage and juvenile detention . More trauma. By now i was back to the panic attacks and developed phobias like cancer. When I left life was better but was a nervous mess with beginning signs of depression and difficulty in sleeping Which led to insomnia that worsened by the day . I received some rather unorthodox treatment by a nutritional psychiatrist. Eve I thought he was nuts but it was exactly what i needed at the time. I got a lot better but the prolonged lack of sleep (another trauma ) still left me a bit dazed. From that point on i was in and out of therapy for 32 years. only one therapist ever helped me. And she was an intern. What possible experience could she have not to mention I was about twice her age. She had no theories. No she was a very caring and dedicated woman who showed her dedication within each session.No mater what i said or felt no mater the depth of despair she always maintained a very positive attitude. never fought with me on my feelings and under all circumstanced did not let anything bother her. The result was THE VERY FIRST TIME i have ever felt totally safe with a therapist I totally let down my guard which is not an easy task. It was then she made subtle suggestions which had very profound effects on me. I would guess a kind of clinical hypnosis but i was always awake. It is amazing what a good therapist can do and give all the credit to her intuitive powers. She always knew what to do at the right time.I also believe she was also practicing "induction therapy because of her great attitude it rubbed off on me and the rest off the patients that were in this day treatment center.In her case it was not so much her education and endless theories but who she was. I am sorry but Good therapists are like precious diamonds because there are so few of them . This is just one job you have to be right for. It has little to do with odd ball theories. All your theories really benefit you and not the patient for every patient is unique and unless you can deal with that no amount of education will make you a good therapist.

  29. Anonymous: You mean I can't be your therapist? Listen it is nice to be warm and intuitive and treat you like your parents did not, but you cannot love neurosis away. you need science and also a caring person. It reminds me of many years ago the "No nothing party", just go on feelings and to hell with logic. Science does not preclude warmth but if you have warmth and no science: LOOK OUT! art janov

  30. You think science is every thing. You hang on to it like a suckling child for warmth and security. And all this time has anything really changed? What we all need is a little security , and something to hang on. More important love. Are we any better off? Is science the answer to everything now? It has become the NEW GOD we have all come to venerate . True science has brought new cures and at the same time new curses.Science is a tool when used properly can help us but in the wrong hands it will ultimately enslave us.It is not a substitute for love and spirituality. You may feel that religion has failed us and for this reason you feel God is dead. But you of all people should know the minds propensity to free itself from all culpability for the choices made. You should know how we all have weak egos that drive us to be better than every one else. We all blame God when we make bad choices that hurt us or some one else. Some times we forget we have free will and maybe we us that free will to the detriment of others. You are quite wrong with your assertions because I have been in the psychiatric system for over 30 years and up till now , the result being that in the end i really had to do what i knew was right for me. I have survived with my sickness for about 30 years no thanks to the a system that is so obviously flawed. Nothing is absolute you should know that. I have been traumatized by Random events that when when i look back at them now realize that some times you simply cannot blame any one or anything but move on and take it as a lessen in life. Personal responsibility leads to growth. We cannot predict what Challenges life will throw at as. And we cannot predict what blessings will come either. I have been wounded but but knew deep down inside me that I must get back up. The choice before me always was , will i drown myself in self pity or will i seek to find some contentment and joy where ever that might be. I am glad your system has failed me because it made me look at the strength i had inside me. But as you must realize as one gets older the options decrease. What really is the truth about psychiatry It is not an exact science . The brain is a complicated thing. But like every other organ it breaks down with enough abuse. Then there are a plethora of medications whose effects are are not specifically known. The PDR admits that. But it is "assumed "They work a certain way. REAL scientific right? My illness has taught me things about my mind that all the years of brainwashing (oh i am sorry i meant schooling)you went through cannot even fathom. And as i have said your wrong because the treatment program i am in now has one of the best reputations in the area and has survived many others. Yes the treatment program where even the supervisor is the most down to earth and caring person. All of the therapists and interns here are hand picked picked by him These are people who DARE to think for themselves some thing rare to see especially in academia where free thought is slowly being chocked to death. Especially when it comes to evolution a diseased idea creating the fundamentalism we see in dangerous religions. Those scientists that are at war with religion use this utterly twisted logic and why am I not surprised it is twisted? Is not most religion replete with ideas that utterly insult the human intelligence? So science fights fire with fire. Fighting the absurd with the absurd . That is not to assume that there is no answer.

  31. to Arthur Janov I agree with most of your comment.But let's be a little honest here. I think that evolution although it has been well presented in such a way as to "sound" scientific, And i feel free to say this since you know how the mind is good at deceiving itself.I think people are loosing sight of what spawned the idea to begin with. It is in of itself not so much a science but a carefully written piece of work based on Charles Darwin appealing to atheists who for themselves have searched out religion at some time and found it insulted to their intelligence.And I have had the same experience myself. But I am not going to assume there is nothing out there just because religion is no longer recognized as a reliable source of objective information about who or what might be. Also I invite you to see some of the much undesired consequences of this idea in the future. Right now every one is focused on the "benefits"of evolution which is being exaggerated a bit. It has become the new panacea .This of course could be seen as rationalizing because the end result is that if there is no God then there is technically no right and wrong. You may not believe that. but I am sure many do.No higher power to answer to. Governments , powerful wealthy entities and others could use this as an excuse for Genocide (Not that they need an excuse) There are far too many people in powerful places looking for any excuse to rationalize their barbaric behavior. I have read already how some evolutionists believe that helping the poor is interfering with the evolutionary process.Then again medicine is interfering in the process because sickness is a form of natural selection. In every outbreak there are always people who have an immunity to an illness. So really using evolution in psychology is what i would call a "conflict of interest". Maybe not now but in the future.

  32. anonymous:
    an animal is made from a perfectly spherical bubble. a piece of the bubble moves inwards to form another bubble inside. in a tiny moment we end up with a three-layered bubble. it is like a ball of jelly (jello for americans) which is surrounded by a fluid, which is surrounded by a thick skin of jelly. i am not God....i'm just a guy who spent a few minutes reading this stuff. the outer layer of the bubble forms a slit which folds inwards to create a long tube just beneath the outer layer. from this area lots of free floating particles spill into the fluid between the two layers of jelly. the free floating particles join together to form tiny bones and muscles. the long tube turns into a spine. as the spine feeds on the outer layer of jelly, it forms a brain at one end. some of the outer layer turns into skin, and some of it turns into nerves which spread downwards and creep through all the muscles below. further below, the inner ball of jelly turns into a stomach and lungs and other internal organs.

    this growth process is identical in all mammals. there are some very slight differences in fish and some more fundamental differences in insects.....but even insects are extraordinarily similar in the very first stages of development.

    if you look deep inside the jelly of any animal, you will see tiny little clusters of slimy string (chromosomes). if you unravel them, you will see little coiled strands of DNA. if you study the appearance and behaviour of each and every distinguishable deviation within a strand of DNA (each and every gene), you will see the difference between a bacteria, an insect, a lizard, a chimpanzee and a human.

    properly trained biologists can SEE the microscopic pattern of evolution; complex patterns come from simple patterns. we have microscopes. nothing is hidden!

    properly trained primal therapists can SEE the psychological pattern of evolution. the pattern is extremely important. most people seem to think that a primal is little more than a temper tantrum or some deep crying. it's not. it's nature flowing in it's correct pattern. as soon as the pattern is violated, you will SEE neurosis or even psychosis.

    what was the original creator of the pattern? what created the creator? what created the creator of the creator.....

    you don't need to think about god. you need to think about the problems that CAN be solved.


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.