Thursday, August 4, 2011

Still More on Retrieving Memory and the Right Brain


The orbital frontal cortex, which is the cortex just behind the eye sockets, reaches maturity between eighteen to twenty-four months of age. The right OBFC receives feeling information on the right side of the brain, and helps code it; it also helps control feelings and, above all, is involved in retrieving feeling information and integrating it with the left OBFC. This is a big job. Thanks to the right OBFC, we can know what we feel, and feel what we know; if only it will inform the left prefrontal cortex about what it knows and feels.

The right OBFC receives feeling information from below, from preverbal memories, and then provides a high level coding system that labels the feeling. What is important about the OBFC is that it has representations from the depths of the brain. In this way, we can make a connection between the awareness, and what happened to us even before birth. That is consciousness/awareness.

The right OBFC provides a map of our internal environment. Most early abuse and lack of love can be found coded there. If we want to regain conscious-awareness – full consciousness – we need to use the OBFC map to scan the non-verbal brain, the right limbic area and brainstem, to retrieve the most remote, ancient memories. Notice that I did not say “awareness,” which is left brain. Conscious-awareness is right-left brain working in harmony. We can be very aware and completely unconscious. We can be experts in politics or even psychology, and still not know what is inside of us. In fact, our hyper-alert awareness on the left can be motivated by the need to stay unconscious of the right. We can use he left prefrontal area awareness to dampen the amygdala/limbic areas and keep ourselves unconscious. I have cited earlier how in meditation the left OBFC becomes more active as the amygdala is less active. In some respects this is what happens in cognitive therapy; the left frontal area is stripped away from the right and treated as an independent entity. Thus, their efforts involve readjusting the left front brain to the neglect of other cerebral areas. Luckily or not, it is eminently adjustable and malleable. Ideas can be twisted and turned in so many ways; they can be “adjusted” so that we are convinced that we are feeling good when we are not. Thinking we feel good and really feeling good, involving the feeling centers of
the brain are two different things.

The right OBFC contains a model of what happened to us early in life. If we did not have a very strong emotional relationships with our parents early in life, the right hemisphere imprints will become a template for adult life that may cause constant broken relationships in adult life. We are victims of that template and then wonder what’s wrong with us when we cannot sustain an emotional rapport with someone. In that sense, it is more than a model; it is a fixed frame within which we operate. That frame is encased in biochemical chains, every bit as strong as links of steel. I have called this frame, the prototype (discussed elsewhere). The meaning is the same: lifelong patterns of behavior are organized very early in life, in pre-birth, birth and infancy experiences. The meaning is available to the right OBFC but not to the left. The patterns set up early in life become a guide for how we act in the future; for our adult compulsions and phobias as well as physical symptoms. That is why when we retrieve those early experiences with the right OBFC we can make immediate connections between our current symptom-- migraine, high blood pressure--and those early imprints. With the reliving the symptoms disappear, and we understand why. We carry around “broken relationships” inside of us all of our lives. We then develop a friendship with someone that soon breaks off, and it becomes a mystery as to why: the template. The template, as I have stated, involves all manner of biochemical processes. Thus, we may carry around very low oxytocin levels which helps determine how warm and close we can be to others. The brain’s neurochemistry, the levels of stress hormones and other activating chemicals, are all under right brain control. When these are altered they influence how we relate to others and to ourselves. In brief, we are rendered a different personality.


  1. Dr. Janov,

    Your sentence: “The right OBFC receives feeling information on the right side of the brain, and helps code it; it also helps control feelings and, above all, is involved in retrieving feeling information and integrating it with the left OBFC.”

    How do you understand the statement from the New York Academy of Sciences:
    “Despite an enormous increase in knowledge of the orbitofrontal cortex over the last 10 years, we still do not have an account of the critical contribution that orbitofrontal cortex makes across different circuits to support human behavior”.

    The UNI Oxford says:
    The human orbitofrontal cortex is an important brain region for the processing of rewards and punishments, which is a prerequisite for the complex and flexible emotional and social behaviour which contributes to the evolutionary success of humans.
    (link is too long to enter here) I have the study results if somebody likes to read it. (email:

    Now I’m confused. Is there another research paper that confirms " the OBFC is involved in retrieving feeling information and integrating"?

    I would appreciate some hints.

  2. Art: That is consciousness/awareness.

    Me: That is full complete consciousness/awareness.
    But how much awareness is possible, if any, when pain and repression is a continual part of the equation. It must vary according to how much pain or obstruction there is. Can some pathways be enlarged or pain signals rerouted? Though I can not site where, I know I have read it in your works before that rerouting can and does take place.

    So How much influence does our “will” have to redirect or to increase or decrease certain pathways?

    Art: We can be very aware and completely unconscious. We can be experts in politics or even psychology, and still not know what is inside of us.

    Me: Oh yeah, now we are closing in. Agreed, for one. So awareness if good for something. It is better than unconscious and unaware, too. Not nearly as good as both full awareness and consciousness. But when you can not have both, at least have one half, right?

    But it has been suggested that awareness is not possible for anyone neurotic. But this state, Art, seems to suggest that awareness without consciousness or full consciousness, is possible. But how much awareness is gained by a possible indirect route from the “feeling” below? Is there any? I only know that I can get confirmations or guidance from that silent intuitive side. Is there any communication tween the base feelings and maybe the right hemisphere, that does not allow consciousness to fully occur but can still let some affirmation or answer of denial to questions, yes or no types, usually?

    Whether we are truly feeling good down below or not, there is the possibility of being functionally accurate and rational, even anesthetized (happy as clam).

    But since you have dealt almost exclusively with those in great pain and need of relief, do we really know the parameters of functionality for those who have some measure of function and pain killed (ocytocin?) comfort? I do not think it has been adequately explored, because functional types seldom ever seek your therapy, I suspect. It would help them, no doubt, but since there is no urgency, most other things take priority, given the difficulty and our won short life spans in getting that therapy.

    Art: The meaning is available to the right OBFC but not to the left.

    Me: Not available to the left or just reduced to the left? Reduced to such degrees that much pain is kept away and only answers, without the full valence of pain felt and integrated.

  3. Sieglinde: I would never make a rash statement about the brain. If you look in either the Biology of Love or Primal Healing you will find the reference. Keep me straight kid. art janov

  4. A facebook comment: "Think about this; human Brain is a Triune brain (Tri-une 3-in-1) We have 3 general bio-computers inside One Necktop! 3 levels of consciousness, each brain has it's own specific intelligence, his own memory motor and other functions, his own sense of time and space, and EACH can work with the other 2 or independently -- 3 Brains all yielding for Control. Think about his; 1-line of consciousness, the reptile brain (survival mind) ~circa 400 000 000 years old brain. 2-line of consciousness, limbic brain (social/emotional mind) ~circa 200 000 000 years old brainˇ 3-line of consciousness, cortex (intellectual mind) ~circa 54 000 000 years old brain. BONUS: anterior part of primate brain has "frontal lobes" 700 000 years old (ONLY) 3/8 bulks of the brain ARE - frontal lobes. Why do Mistics report sensations "behind their eyebrows" , "between your ears" , and then their consciousness explodes and they "swim" in the river of "Cosmic Consciousness" --Brahman's Ocean of Infinity? There are as many explanations as there are cultures inside this "frontal lobes" peeking business happens. If it happens here in the west, and you are raving from the state of exultation and happiness impossible to describe, they frontal lobotomize you - you are nuts, you are not normal, happiness is pathology etc. (Well, that were happening some decades ago lol... lol lol) If we are constantly evolving toward greater complexity, and our brain also shows PRECISELY how it underwent each more progressive stage of ever increasing complexities (neuroscientists would have told you, frontal lobes are the most advanced meat part you have <-- higher mathematics, higher reasoning- planing, reality simulations (perhaps that's why women enjoy reading romance novels, they're simply enjoying masturbating their frontal lobes) etc. etc. - advanced problem solving intelligence. Then, we are to evolve into this idealized, highly valued "Sainthood" and "higher morality" -- take into consideration that "frontal lobes" are the seat of morality, Ken Wilbers work goes into ever increasing stages of morality (Spiral Dynamics e.g. Graves values system) Then frontal lobes are to mature if individual is to mature in their developmental level - emotional maturity - moral stage as well. "Frontal lobes" regulate the rest of the cortex. As well as reptile brain too, but frontal lobes give 'tone' to cortex, frontal lobes are your "character" !! "Character is Destiny" - quote. Okay, simple definition of brain modules and consciousness: reptile brain = 100% competitive 0% co-operative (Consciousness) limbic brain = 50% competitive 50% co-operative (Consciousness) prmate brain = 20% competitive 80% co-operative (Consciousness) frontal lobes = 0% competitive 100% co-operative (Consciousness) No wander now, that psychopaths who use 'almost none' of ther frontal lobes have no empathy/sympathy - they can kill without remorse and are incapable of feeling guilt and shame. Makes sense now? They are intelligent snakes with disfunctional frontal lobes. Now, contrast that to a Mystic who got his/her frontal lobes fully open/exploded - he/she is prime example of moral Summit this specie is capable of achieving / evolving into. He/she is an example to all of us to our unfulfilled potential. .. waiting us inside those frontal lobes."

  5. Apollo: You really need to read the critical passages in my Primal Healing that deals with all that, then you won't have to reinvent the wheel. It is has been worked out. art

  6. When we try to be "smart" by the thinking brain… we lose what we actually feels ... we think to avoid our reality… our feelings. Reality ... science will or cannot make itself known under these circumstances. We get sick of the attainment by intellectual exercises... but we can begin feel by intellectual exercises that are directed to where and what our feelings is about.
    What emotion contains... can never thoughts sort out. We can only experience through what all of these explanatory symptoms reports about. Anxiety and depression are reactions of suffering ... suffering that has its memory at the source of its events… events of feelings.
    The brain has two tasks… “Understand” the source of suffering… and heal with the science through primal therapy.

  7. Arthur, I have completed "Primal Healing" at least a couple months ago. I do not find the resolution that you suggest I would. I find a sort of back and forth thing with the intellect bossing the primal self while at other times the primal self being all powerful and bossing the intellect. It can not be both.

    I say, and using your quotes to prove it, that the inner self, the pain, rules the intellect always, the intellect being at the command of the other 2 and the servant of the other 2, a tool of the other 2.

    PLease, just refute me. If I am wrong, surely it will be easy to point it out for all to see. then I will have to put my tail tween my legs and eat a big piece of humble pie. I sit awaiting a chance for some pie. I need a good spanking, don't I? ;-) Don't I have it coming?


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.