Thursday, September 29, 2011

How Long Will I Live?

I have always maintained that we can get along without therapy with the use of tranquilizers and pain-killers. The only problem with that is that we can cut off the message of very early remote memory to the prefrontal cortex with medication but the imprint goes on rampaging throughout the system. Now, we have some supporting evidence. In the Psychiatic News (March, 2009. “Mortality with Antipsychotic Use in Alzheimer Disease.” Page 25) they discussed a study in which mentally ill patients received antipsychotic medication, and others who did not. (Haldol, Thorazine) The probability for survival was high in those who took no medication. After two years those who continued to use medication had only a 46 percent chance of survival, while those who took no medication had 71 percent chance.

In other words, being on drugs can kill you; and can kill you much faster than not taking drugs, given approximately two groups with the same mental health problem. Yet not being on drugs can kill us in a different sense; producing ineffable misery. Thus, drugs simply suppress pain, leaving its force intact. And, as I have said many times over, repression is the number one killer today because it underlies so many different kinds of diseases. Pain-killers put more pressure on the

system by adding to repression. So here we have a self-deluded state; a person out of touch with what he is feeling, and doctors add to that delusion by helping the patient deny his feelings. Long-term drug therapy can be dangerous to our health.

There is other evidence. There is a greater risk of stroke in those taking medication; an obvious conclusion when we are busy holding back pain and feelings; the pressure has to go somewhere, and the brain is an obvious choice because that is where we focus our mental efforts.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An Examination of Psychoanalysis (Part 3/13)

Freud's Second Model of the Mind: A Tripartite System

By 1914, Freud had reformulated his view of repression. He had originally conceived of the process as occurring in a simple and straightforward manner: the ego was the agent of repression, and the unconscious was the receiver of the repressed material. Now he contended that "a special psychical agency" was responsible for repression, which he called ego ideal, so named because it contained the ego's ideals, and had as its tasks repression, morality, conscience, censorship, etc. By 1923 Freud had changed the name of his new agency to superego, thus establishing his famous tripartite model of the mind.
In a nutshell, this model classified mental activity in terms of its
degree of accessibility to consciousness (whether it was unconscious, preconscious, or conscious), and in terms of its function: whether it was a part of the duties of id, ego, or superego. The ego and superego could operate on both conscious and unconscious levels, but the id remained wholly unconscious. Both ego and superego emerged out of the id, which was the prime material of the mind, and contained "the core of the unconscious, the source of all passions, and the biologically innate in man."[1]
Freud's last discussion of his model of the mind occurred in An Outline of Psychoanalysis (1938). Herein he maintained the germinative position of the id, and reaffirmed the same general topographic divisions and qualities of mental functioning described above.

Freud's three mental divisions often describe the interactions of the three levels of consciousness at a psychological level. The Freudian model does not correspond to the real neurological structures and functions which science is finding today.
Nevertheless, there are aspects of the Freudian model which cannot be discarded altogether. To be fair, the Freudian formulation does broadly imply (if it never specifies) some correspondence with underlying neurological structures. The psychological components of id, ego, and superego are seen as common to all of us, and therefore must rest upon those physiological attributes which as members of a species we have in common. In other words, the physiological side of the body-mind duality which Freud initially set his sights upon establishing and then abandoned must nonetheless have remained as a background to his thinking. Just because he could not see the connection does not mean that he ceased to believe it existed. We feel certain that if Freud had had the same experience and knowledge that is available to us now, he would have had little hesitation in renouncing (or drastically redefining) the id-ego-superego model in favor of a formulation which could be used interchangeably by both psychology and neurology. That is, after all, what he set out to discover when he embarked upon his Project.
Freud could not "see" the full unconscious, so he called it "blind." Because he did not realize that it could be known directly through feeling, he decided that it was "unknowable."

A Sexual Etiology of Neurosis: The Road from Trauma to Instinct

In addition to his work on The Interpretation of Dreams in the late 1890s, Freud was formulating his sexual theory of neurosis. Since patient after patient had reported infantile and childhood seduction traumas, Freud first conclu ded that these experiences were the cause of adult neurosis: the memories of the trauma had to be repressed, and so various neurotic defense mechanisms were developed. By May of 1897, however, he had shifted this view to what he termed "a big advance in insight" in which he now saw impulses rather than memories as the cause of the problem:
The psychical structures which in hysteria are subjected to repression are not properly speaking memories...but impulses deriving from the primal scenes.[2] 
Thus, what Freud had originally viewed a result of personal traumatic experience, he now saw as a result of universal and innate impulses.
By June of 1897 he had conceptualized the Oedipal Complex (hatred of the same-sexed parent by the child), and by July he was "viewing the psychoneuroses in terms of a vicious and dynamic circle of perverse libidinal impulses undergoing continual repression and resurgence."[3] {Emphasis added.} Freud himself wrote:
The result (of the repression and resurgence process) is all these distortions of memory and phantasies, either about the past or future. I am learning the rules which govern the formation of these structures, and the reasons why they are stronger than real memories, and have thus learned new things about the characteristics of processes in the unconscious. Side by side with these structures perverse impulses arise, and the repression of these phantasies and rise to new motives for clinging to the illness.[4] {Italics added}
By September of 1897 Freud had completed his fundamental writing to his friend Fleiss about "the great secret which has been slowly dawning on me in recent months." The great secret was a realization that the reports of early seductions from his patients were, in most instances, simply not true. This was no easy admission for Freud to make, as it brought into serious question the validity of psychoanalysis as a method of psychological investigation. After some inner turmoil, however, Freud reasoned that the commonality of the reports was in itself significant, and that surely it was reflective of some common, underlying principle of human behavior.
Freud now moved on to solve his theoretical dilemma by proposing just such a principle: reports of childhood seduction traumas actually represented infan
tile seduction wishes. These wishes were secondary manifestations (derivatives) of underlying (primary) instinctual impulses. In other words, infants and children have innate, sexual impulses toward their parents. These biological impulses give rise to mental wishes which must be repressed because of societal sanctions. The wish then surfaces in adulthood as a report of trauma, because that is the only acceptable way to express it.
What is the significance of Freud's theoretical shift? It seems twofold.
First, by minimizing the role of trauma in neurosis, Freud moved the focus of psychoanalysis away from personal, concrete experience and placed it on impersonal, imperceptible instincts and impulses. One of Freud's biographers, Ernst Kris, contended that, with this revision, Freud "turned psychoanalysis into a psychology of the instincts." The irony here is that although instinct is a legitimate scientific concept, Freud's successors have not brought Freudian instincts any closer to scientific (neurobiological) validation than they were in Freud's day.
The second significant aspect in this shift is the validity and meaningfulness Freud attributed to internal psychological processes. Although the memories of seduction traumas were not true in terms of external events, he contended that they did represent a kind of "pseudo-memory" which was a significant and meaningful fact in its own right. He further understood that repressed fantasies and wishes (which arose as the pseudo-memory of trauma) could exert the same lasting effect on personality as the actual experience. This innovative viewpoint really constituted a new view of reality. Intangible wishes, emotions, and fantasies --in short, the invisible inner worlds of man -- were recognized as having a directive impact on us equally as potent as the impact of the visible, external world.

Freud's Mechanisms of Pathology

Three more concepts in Freud's theory of infantile sexuality bear discussion. After 1900, Freud proposed three "fundamental mechanisms of pathological development," which were the vehicles of adult neuroses: fixation, regression, and the pertinacity of early impressions. He drew all three concepts from the biological sciences, reinterpreting them in a psychological context.


As we know, Freud by this time strongly believed in infantile sexuality. The question was not whether or not one had had some kind of early sexual experience, but what the consequences of those experiences had been. If the consequences were painful or punitive, a "pathological fixation of the libido" would probably occur, putting the child squarely on the road to adult neurosis.
Freud saw fixation in the psychological sense as the persistence of an unconscious wish , which had been dominant at an earlier stage of development. A simple example of this would be the adult who is plagued by compulsive overeating: in psychoanalytic terms he would be described as fixated at the oral stage of development. Freud initially emphasized the impact of sexual experience producing fixation. By 1905, however, his thinking had shifted to a new direction, now establishing heredity (rather than the actual sexual experience) as the critical factor which determined the outcome of the fixation:

He (Freud) recognized libidinal fixations as having three possible consequences -- neurosis, normality, or perversion -- with the particular outcome being attributed largely to heredity -- that is, to whether there is an organic disposition toward repressing the fixation.[5]
Theoretically, a person with the right genes could undergo a sexual trauma in infancy or childhood and come through it "normally." The main (if not only) variable in the issue of infantile sexuality thus became heredity. Sexual experiences were bound to occur; fixations were bound to occur; but neurosis would result only if there were an unfortunate "organic disposition toward repressing the fixation."


In Freud's concept of regression, he again moved his thinking away from actual experience in favor of hypothesized forces. According to Freud the regression that occurs in the "severely neurotic" is governed by the "hereditary constitutional factor." This factor was itself a convergence of three different layers of experience -- familial, ancestral, and species-related -- which were either innate or inherited.[6]
Although the relevance of personal life experience was again minimized in this formulation, Freud somewhat reinstates its value with his third concept.

Pertinacity of Early Impressions

In the third formulation of this time period, Freud proclaimed "the pertinacity of early impressions" as another critical factor in his childhood etiology of neurosis. Recognizing the principle as a "provisional psychological concept," he offered a biological analogy from embryological experiments to justify his position: sticking a needle into an embryonic cell mass results in much more serious damage when it is done during the early stages of growth. The psychological corollary was that the earlier a trauma occurred, the more serious and enduring its impact.
Freud believed that early experiences were important to the degree that they affected libidinal development, and that relatively minor experiences could result in adult neurosis. Sulloway explains that Freud's "belief in the primacy of early experience...allowed Freud to attribute the neuroses of adults to relatively small disturbances in childhood libidinal development."[7] Thus instinct (libidinal development) remained the centerpoint for even this principle; it served to further minimize the role of trauma and experience in the creation of adult neurosis by reducing it to "relatively small disturbances".

[1]Sulloway, op. cit., p. 374.
[2]Sulloway, op. cit., p. 204.
[3]Sulloway, op. cit., p. 206.
[4]In Sulloway, op. cit., p. 206. (Original source: Origins, p. 212.)
[5]Sulloway, op. cit., p. 212.
[6]See Sulloway, pp. 289-309, for a detailed discussion of this factor.
[7]Sulloway, p. 389.

Monday, September 26, 2011

An Examination of Psychoanalysis (Part 2/13)

Freud's Biological Roots: The "Project for a Scientific Psychology"
Immediately after completing Studies in Hysteria with Breuer in 1895, Freud undertook one of his most ambitious projects: the formulation of a "Psychology for Neurologists." Comprising three notebooks (two of which contained over 100 manuscript pages), Freud's Project for a Scientific Psychology was probably the clearest statement of his desire to establish a neurobiological model of the mind. In explaining the purposes of the Project in the opening chapter, Freud wrote:

The intention is to furnish a psychology that shall be a natural science: that is, to represent psychical processes as quantitatively determinate states of specifiable material particles, thus making those processes perspicuous and free from contradiction.[1] [Emphasis added]

The content of the Project was ambitious: Freud proposed three separate systems of neuronal activity to account for the varying functions of perception, memory, and consciousness . He also proposed neurophysiological models for the "ego functions" (such as cognition, judgment, recall, etc.), sleep and dream states, and hallucinatory and hysterical states. Despite these rather formidable accomplishments Freud failed in the one area in which he was most interested: the discovery of a biological model of repression. He had wanted to achieve nothing short of "a comprehensive physiological explanation of...the precise neurological and chemical details of repression."[2] Since he viewed the problems of defense and repression as the "core of the riddle," his inability to solve the riddle constituted a major professional loss.
In writing to his friend Fleiss about the first two notebooks of the Project, Freud lamented that the third one, which dealt with the longed-for "mechanical explanation of neurosis," was not "hanging together." By 1896 Freud had abandoned the Project altogether. This failure triggered a decisive turning point in his career in which he ruefully abandoned the unattainable biological laws for more accessible and less disputable psychological concepts. He wrote:

From this point onwards, I shall venture to leave unanswered the question of finding a mechanical representation of biological rules such as this.... Perhaps in the end I may have to content myself with the clinical explanation of neurosis.[3]

This is precisely what Freud proceeded to do.

Freud's First Model of the Mind: A Bipartite System

What Freud had originally described in the neuroanatomical language of the Project in 1895, he now re-described in psychological concepts in his historical The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900. Here he presented what was assumed to be his first formulation of the structure of the mind a psychological description of the "psychical apparatus."
The unexpected discovery of the Project in the 1950s threw shadows of controversy over The Interpretation of Dreams , which had b een always regarded as Freud's first masterpiece. In light of the Project, some historians believed that Freud's psychological re-formulation in The Interpretation of Dreams amounted to nothing more than a "convenient fiction [that] had the paradoxical effect of preserving these [biological] assumptions by hiding their original nature, and by transferring the operations of the apparatus into a conceptual realm where they were insulated from correction by progress in neurophysiology and brain anatomy."[4] In effect, a kind of conceptual whitewash job. Sulloway evaluates:

Did Freud...simply retain old-fashioned neurological terms (e.g., "cathexis") while giving them a new and independent psychoanalytic meaning in The Interpretation of Dreams and subsequent works? Or, are the outmoded nineteenth-century neurological constructs so evident in the Project still holding up the creaking scaffolding of present-day psychoanalysis, as Robert Holt insists, and has their cryptic nature insulated psychoanalysis from a much_needed rejuvenation within the fertile field of neurophysiology where it originated?[5] 

We have no way of knowing if , as Holt suggests, Freud consciously or unconsciously intended to insulate and protect his theories by means of a psychological reformulation. It seems likely that his new terminology might have been a legitimate attempt to sustain psychoanalytic theory despite lack of scientific corroboration, and to propose concepts that might be clinically useful in understanding the human mind. What is noteworthy in this controversy, as Sulloway indicates, is not so much what Freud failed to do, but what his successors have chosen not to do . That is , o rejuvenate modern-day psychoanalytic theory "within the fertile field of neurophysiology where it originated." 

Freud's First Model of Mental Functioning

Freud initially divided the mind into the unconscious system and the preconscious system. Contents in the preconscious system, he theorized, could enter consciousness fairly easily. One need only give sufficient attention and energy (cathexis) to them and they would pass into conscious thought (the "transference phenomena"). A rarely purchased grocery item, an unimportant phone call, the title of a book, and so forth, might slip forgotten into the preconscious for a period of time, but could be remembered. Unconscious contents, however, never had direct access to consciousness. They had to first pass through the preconscious system, which modified them into a form suitable for conscious perception. Thus:

We were only able to explain the formation of dreams by venturing upon the hypothesis of there being two physical agencies, one of which submitted the activity of the other to a criticism which involved its exclusion from consciousness. The critical agency, we concluded, stands in a closer relation to consciousness than the agency criticized: it stands like a screen between the latter and consciousness.[6]

Here we see Freud's free use of metaphor ("it stands like a screen") to depict processes he had formerly described in Project in terms of cell permeability and impermeability, the "inertial pattern of neuronal discharge," and the phi, psi, and omega system of neurones. One might even say this new reformulation anthropomorphizes, with its "critical agency and its "agency criticized" submitting and excluding information between both sets of ideas. This is not to devalue the reformulation, only to point out the degree to which Freud had turned in a different direction.[7]
In essence, Freud suggests that we cannot receive anything directly from the unconscious. All unconscious wishes, impulses, and motivations first had to be censored and altered by a "passage" through the "screen" of the preconscious. This screening process was most clearly observable in dream activity. One could deduce the original unconscious content -- say, a desire to murder the mother -- and see how it was redressed by its passage through the preconscious: in the manifest dream, the dreamer makes several unsuccessful attempts to kill a pesky mosquito. And so forth.
What is interesting to note here is that even at this early point Freud saw the mechanisms of censorship and repression as non-pathological. They could become pathological through the neurotic process, but they were first and foremost a critical part of maintaining normal mental health -- so critical, in fact, that psychosis would result if they failed.

[2]In Sulloway, op. cit., p. 113.
[3]In Sulloway, op. cit., p. 126.
[4]In Sulloway, op. cit., p. 120 (quoting Robert Holt).
[5]Sulloway, op.cit., p. 120.
[7]It is important to realize that although Freud had opted to draw this "first crude map" of the mind in the hypothetical (and often metaphorical) language of psychology, he made lt quite clear that he viewed psychological processes as derivatives or secondary manifestations of the underlying and primary biophysiological processes -- which he still hoped someday to discover.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Revamping Psychology

What we need to do in psychotherapy is to rid ourselves of a class of elite cognoscenti who are the center of all psychologic knowledge. The patient is the only one who has knowledge of her unconscious. We therapists can only guess at it. When we operate on theories that are constructed out of the unconscious of psychologists rather than based on the internal reality of the patient, we become tinkering mechanics, altering our techniques more out of whimsy than science. Until now, there has been no theoretical web that encompasses both psychology and neurology, although there have been attempts to join psychoanalysis with neurology. It is, by and large, a shotgun wedding. It is the same as plastering an old outdated notion onto new science and hoping it will stick. If psychoanalysis ignores key internal realities, it doesn’t matter that we adhere certain neurologic facts to it. It cannot work. Why would we take a theory one hundred years old and join with it research that may be six months old? The marriage can’t last; the groom is far too old for the bride who has new ideas and new information. The youngster is trying to lead the old man but the old man is too feeble to keep up. Better a young theory that works within neurologic principles.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's a Matter of Life and Death

Remember how I always say that getting rid of childhood pain is often a matter of life and death, well there is now some evidence about this. (s. Entringer et al. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences2011’ 108 (33)”Stress Exposure in Intrauterine Life is Associated with Shorter Telomere Length in Young Adulthood.”

My position for years is that if we reverse childhood and intrauterine trauma we can lengthen telomeres. Why is that important? Because it seems that the length of telomeres can determine how long we live. I have defined telomeres previously but the importance of this article is that childhood abuse and trauma even while we are being carried will shorten our lives. What the research does not say is how to find a way to reverse the damage so we can extend life a long time. I believe that there are many ways to reverse the damage in neurologic damage but only one way to do it properly. For example, when there is trauma while we are in the womb there is a process called methylation that takes note of the trauma and marks some of the cells; stamped “trauma” here. And that will change us forever, including how long we live.

One way to reverse this damage is to demethylate. Change the methylation so that the damage is reversed. Another way is to relive the damage and be done with it. This is preferable because it is not one chemical that we are dealing with; it is systemic and covers and covers all the accouterments that went with the imprint. The imprint, remember, is that mark, that memory that stays with us for a lifetime. It is not just a wee mark; it has the capacity to change our brain cells, our hormones and the set-points and our neurotransmitters our neurotransmitters for life.

How on earth can we do that? We know that there are three key levels of brain function and we know that imprints of our life in the womb can be installed deep into the brain stem, limbic system and associated nerve cells. These imprints are engraved onto a naïve, innocent and very primitive nervous system. As our ontogeny progresses, our personal evolution, information through nerve tracks reaches up and forward to inform high brain levels; higher levels of consciousness. Fortunately, there are descending tracks descending tracks as well that reach down and affect the primitive imprints. Thus when a patient is reliving something from childhood or infancy that information can descend down deep and reawaken the first-line brain stem imprint which joins the fray; well, not a fray, but it dredges up a force where serious physiologic reactions physiologic reactions join the second-line childhood reliving memory, the feeling, and takes part in the overall primal or reliving event. That is the heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, neurotransmitters, and on and on, join the feeling and give it great force. It is now part of the reliving; part of undoing the damage. We see this in so many ways: during the reliving the first line which is activated, makes the brainwave amplitude skyrocket, we well as blood pressure and heart rate. And afterward. After the total reliving experience, there is a drop in all key indices below baseline. The body is normalizing and relaxing and healing. My guess is that it is also changing telomere length over time.

What we note here is how resonance works; higher levels of brain function trigger off associated lower levels through either chemical affinities or brain circuits (or both)that may have similar or identical frequencies. (much more of this found in Life Before Birth). Each level adds its specialty. The second line adds feelings, the third line cortex adds comprehension and the first line adds basic physiologic force. Think of it as rods that evolve carrying information upwards as we grow up and later when we vibrate those vibrate those rods they resonate lower down and set off deep biologic reactions. We do not see them as such because they are not a separate force; they become part of the overall reaction. As the rods vibrate they turn anger into fury, disappointment into hopelessness, fear into terror; and then as the reactions in the reliving go on there is a final normalization. So we relive the deep early imprints without being aware of it.

Is this clear? That when there is resonance, fear on the top level gathers the lower levels into its maw and uses the new input, (like a rolling stone), terror, as part of its reaction. That is, the very depths of resonance hit the brainstem where fury and terror exist and then they join the feeling being relived. There is no resolution or undoing the damage without reliving all levels. The good part is that we are not usually aware that we reliving a speech-less level; it just signs up and joins the army; an army of feelings arrayed against the suppressing forces of the intellect the intellect. The first line is giving a big physiologic boost to this army.

The feeling brain here joins the reptile brain for a wee party; and that party is a celebration of the joy of life because that is what is happening. We are coming alive again, lifting the yoke of repression and bidding bon jour to joy at being alive. We can’t come alive in psychoanalysis where only the intellect is engaged (ah yes, a few tears but never the first line, which after all, is our life blood).

My goodness. I got off the track. The researchers found that prenatal exposure to stress affected the development of the chromosome regions that control cell aging. It is as usual said in dry, unenthusiastic language instead of screaming out a discovery that will help us live longer. We can be emotional and scientific at the same time. Mothers need to have a calm, content life while carrying; that is for sure. But if they don’t there is a solution. After all, they can’t help it if there was a war going on or terrible famine. They are fearful and rightly so. This study did the obvious; relating stress we can all agree on: the death of a loved on, for example, but not the deception of a wayward husband.

What I have seen is that repressed individuals do get sick with all kinds of diseases too soon in life. They have no idea they are carrying around a message from the womb; letters from the underground (apologies to Dostoyevski), a message that foretells of an impending death.

Telomere length not only foretells of early death but also of serious disease on the way there:diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and I would add, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s .

Here is how they conclude: “A rapidly emerging body of human and animal research indicates that intrauterine conditions play an important role not only in all aspects of fetal development and health across gestation and birth, but also in a wide range of physical and mental health outcomes over an individual’s entire lifespan.” How can anyone make it clearer than that?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On the Inability To Say "Good"

Let me tell you a story, sadly, not a bedtime story but more like a nightmare. I tell you because many of you want to hear more about me. But I do not write about me as an exercise in narcissism; rather it is always to elucidate, to help others understand themselves.

Many years ago when my father was alive he came over to see the grandchildren. It was 1969. As he walked in he saw a bunch of papers on the dining table, and said, “what’s this?” I said it is a book I just finished called The Primal Scream. He leafed through it for less than 30 seconds and said, “We know all this,” dropped it and went on to something else. He didn’t have time to read even one page but he knew “all this.” It hurt, of course, but it was the leitmotif of our relationship.

He was a failure in everything he tried, took a correspondence course in law and failed that, and felt very stupid. He was, after all, a truck driver. He then would never allow himself to feel stupid again; hence “we know all that.” And he could be reassured that he was not stupid if he could put me down. Which he did at every turn until I was convinced I was stupid and never thought about college until I was sent to university by the Navy. The idea that his “stupid” son wrote a book was far too threatening to him. He could not let himself try to understand it, and maybe find out he couldn’t.

It is an art form never to say an approving word to your child in the twenty years you spend together. But his inner feelings would not let him do anything else. It was too painful to feel like a failure.

Now two forces were at work. One my left brain: “he couldn’t help himself. He had a driving, disapproving father himself. “ And the other--right brain: I hurt. And my primal was, “Say I’m good, just once, please!” There was where the hurt resided. He never thought about hurting me. He only thought about defending himself no matter what the cost to others. He wasn’t relating to me; only to himself. He couldn’t see the agony he was producing because he was trying to extricate himself out of pain. But his need set me on a lifetime goal of “say I’m good.” And I became good at what I did because I worked like mad at it. But it was always there in my behavior until I felt it in primal.

So you now see the difference between primal therapy and psychoanalysis: one is left brain; “after all”, says the doctor, “you have accomplished so much. You really are good.” And primal: “I feel bad. I hurt, say I’m good, please.” That stops the act-out and lets us rest. So the real feelings are down deep and right brain, while the excuse, the rationale is left brain and helps cover over the right brain. It can bury that brain amidst a flurry of rationales. And alas, it ensures that we spend a lifetime trying to get something in the present that never existed in the past. We chase a chimera, a phantom, some ineffable something that, believe it or not, we are never aware of. The act-out is as unconscious as the feeling itself. The chase is on and we simply cannot relax after that. We go to the beach, lie in the sand, and cannot stay like that for more than a few minutes than the phantom rears is head again. We run from the feeling just like my dad. He was a victim of his feelings which he never knew existed but that kept him from loving anyone. He was waiting for it first for himself.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An Examination of Psychoanalysis (Part 1/13)

Because Freudian and Primal theories appear to have a number of formulations in common, many believe that Primal Therapy was developed directly out of Freudian theory. From a historical perspective, Primal theory is clearly the logical extension of Freud's position on many issues. However, Primal theory did not grow out of a theoretical scrutiny of Freudian literature, nor is Primal Therapy a psycho-emotive rendition of psychoanalysis. Primal Therapy grew out of a discovery which at first appeared to be one person's private experience, but which then turned out to be a primary (primal) experience potentially available to most people.
This is not to say that Freudian thought had no influence apperceptively. On the contrary, the development and scientific validation of Primal Therapy is in many ways a tribute to Freud's pioneering concepts on the biological basis of defense, repression, and neurosis. These concepts show that Freud was "on the trail" of a psychobiology of feeling more than eighty years ago -- a trail that was cut short by a lack of scientific proof ,the primitive state of neurology and neurochemistry, and professional pressure. In effect, Freud was ahead of the science of his time. It is not unreasonable to speculate that, had he had the science and technology available to him then that we have had in this era, he would have arrived at the key concept of Primal theory and therapy: the permanent, neurobiological imprinting of Pain and its release through feeling.

The Evolution of Freud’s Theory:
Attributing Neurosis to Non-Existent Causes

The Early Years

Freud's first inkling of the nature of mental processes came about as a result of his work with Viennese physician Joseph Breuer. By the time Freud joined Breuer in 1882, Breuer had already discovered that hysterical patients could recall experiences under hypnosis which they could not recall in the waking state. The famous case of Anna 0. fascinated Freud, and he discussed it "over and over again" with Breuer.
Anna had developed a disturbing array of hysterical symptoms after the death of her father. Her speech, sight, and limbs were all seriously affected. Under hypnosis, Anna recalled the traumatic scene with her father in which she had sat on his bedside as he lay dying. It turned out that there were unexpected correlations between the details of that scene and the exact location and nature of her hysterical symptoms. To Breuer's surprise, Anna's symptoms gradually diminished with the repetition of Anna's recollection of traumatic events while under hypnosis, which Anna herself nicknamed "the talking cure."
The theoretical outcome of this work with Anna 0. (and with other hysterical patients) was the formulation of a "traumatic theory of hysteria" which described the role of the unconscious in the formation of neurotic symptoms. Co-authored by Freud and Breuer, the publication of Studies in Hysteria in 1895 marked the historical beginning of psychoanalysis. In it, Freud and Breuer observed several important factors:
(1) an experience could be barred from conscious recall if it were sufficiently painful;
(2) it could then be recalled under hypnosis; and
(3) the hysterical symptom matched or mirrored some detail of the original traumatic experience.
They concluded that a traumatic experience could exert a lasting influence, producing symptoms years later, even though the memory of it remained completely unconscious. Finally, they stated that only when the memory was retrieved under hypnosis, and "was accompanied by an intense reproduction of the original emotion, often with a hallucinatory reproduction of the trauma...the symptom disappeared."[1][2] They termed this process emotional catharsis.”
Here we see the seeds of several important principles of mental and physical functioning -- some of which have endured the test of time and some of which lapsed, later to be rediscovered.

* Pain and trauma produce repression.
* Repression results in symptomatology.
* There is a meaningful correspondence between psychological events and physiological symptoms.
* Repressed material exerts a lasting influence until it is released through recall and emotional catharsis.

Indeed, Freud's early work with Breuer broke ground which we all stand upon today, for in addition to laying the groundwork for psychoanalysis as one particular "school" of psychology, he was also laying a groundwork for psychology as a field and a science with its own rigor.

While hypnosis continued to play a central role in Breuer's work, Freud abandoned using it by the time Studies in Hysteria was actually published. He was dissatisfied with hypnosis for several reasons. One was that he found not all patients could be hypnotized . ; another that the hypnotic "cure" of symptoms was usually only temporary; and still another was that it could not influence many types of unconscious contents. Only those which were "seeking expression," Freud found, could be brought forth under hypnosis.
During his work with Breuer, Freud discovered that, if the physician listened sympathetically, patients could recall long-buried memories and motives without the aid of hypnosis. He then developed an approach that is as obvious to us today as it was thoroughly novel in Freud's time: he made the patient the focus of study by asking questions, listening, and then seeking to organize and interpret what was revealed. This new approach became known as the "free association" technique, and Freud was convinced that it accomplished what hypnosis could not: it tapped into unconscious contents, eliciting the "deeper, more primitive and imaginative components of the mind" while the patient was in the waking state. Freud became convinced that the same (or better) information could be retrieved without all the folderol of hypnotic procedures.

[1] Ives Hendrick, Facts and Theories of Psychoanalysis (New York): Knopf), 1967 p. 12.

Monday, September 19, 2011

On Hypnosis (Part 26/26 ... The End)

Uses and Ethics of Hypnotherapy

Does hypnosis have any uses? I think so, in two ways. As the forefathers of psychology discovered, hypnosis is experimentally useful as a medium for demonstrating aspects of consciousness and therefore the distortions of consciousness which we have termed neurosis. It seems to pull off its own mask and in so doing uncovers the dynamic of neurosis: the dissociation from Pain. It provides confirmation of the crucial physiological component of memory, the imprinting of trauma, and the physiological effort needed to keep it unconscious. It explains the basis for suggestibility. Through its evident failings, we may better appreciate the meaning of experience. To effect lasting change, so that someone has complete rather than neurotic experience, consciousness must work as a whole. 

Having said that, it should be noted that all of the above can be arrived at without once applying hypnosis. These matters are continually demonstrated in Primal Therapy, which is an entirely conscious process.

Perhaps the only occasions when hypnosis is unquestionably valid is in cases of chronic and terminal illness, to ameliorate painful physical conditions, and in surgery. Dissociation as part of the repertoire of the human psyche has long proven an adaptive response to excessive pain. That, after all, is the basis of neurosis. Someone in great physical pain or suffering the nightmares of debilitating disease might as well make good use of this capability. By all means, reach for the internal morphine.

As a foundation for psychotherapeutic treatment, however, I cannot support hypnosis. It runs counter to the very principles and processes of consciousness upon which health stands. In fact, hypnosis itself demonstrates why it is invalid because it reveals itself to be an active agent of neurosis. I cannot see how treating the disease with more of the disease can be helpful in any way. Hypnotherapy relies upon a diminution rather than a replenishing of consciousness. It models and amplifies the dissociation inherent in neurosis. It tends to take a single-cause view of symptomatology, thus bolstering the illusion of short cures. There is a reliance upon external authority as opposed to a trust of inner processes. There is an imposition of foreign ideas and assessments of reality that foster the very kinds of neurotic dependency and susceptibility which therapy should be aiming to resolve.

No matter what the apparent outcome, to render someone still more unconscious of his Pain means to take from him his only chance at real health. Worse still, it means to widen the internal split and deepen the disease.

In hypnotherapy or in hypnosis you can be told you are cold when you are really hot, you can be told you feel good when you feel bad, that you are comfortable when you are really in Pain. You can be told that your hands are numb and that you can numb the pain in other parts of your body simply by touching those spots with your hands. You can be told that you are eating divinity fudge when you are not, that you can recall and repress pieces of a forgotten memory at will and this will put an end to your suffering, or that you are going to return to a traumatic event in one of your past lives in order resolve your problems in this life.

As I discussed before, one can be suggested in a hypnotic state that one is undergoing a burn by a match and actually produce blisters. Thus meaningful sounds emanating from someone else's mouth enter the patient's brain and change his physiology and cellular activity enough to produce a burn blister. This phenomenon raises important philosophic and psychological questions as to the nature of reality. For if you produce a burn blister and you are not burned, what is real? If you are hypnotized to feel comfortable, when in fact you are very uncomfortable, what is real? In these hypnotic experiments, the primacy of psychological events over external stimuli is clearly evident. That is to say that reality is really first of all a matter of perception. What is really happening is that through someone else's ideation, a memory is evoked which takes primacy over current reality. This again is the Primal position -- that the past is prepotent over the present. Clearly there would be no burn mark if one had not already had the experience of the previous burn. And secondly, the concept of burn must also have been in the mind beforehand, otherwise there could be no manipulation. 

What is actually being manipulated, in fact, in one's history and the power of that history is manifest in the fact that a burn blister can be reproduced from a past memory with no current reality involved at all. Thus, the hypnotist says you are being burned, the brain scans it's memory for previous burns, and that memory innervates the cells to produce cellular change. In this way, someone else's reality can change your basic brain functioning and immune processes. This is the essence of neurosis: we first respond to our history, and then our current reality.

So it is clear that we have two realities, a subjective and an objective one. It is when we are disengaged from the subjective reality that ideas from the outside will have primacy. When we are no longer anchored in ourselves, external forces become our key reality and subjective realities become secondary. Nowhere is this more clear than with the masses who are manipulated by politicians by the use of abstractions and ideologies that only symbolically fill the void of real need.

In both hypnosis and neurosis you "buy somebody else's program." If you are solidly rooted in yourself no one can convince you that when you are cold you are hot, and certainly nobody could tell you are not in Pain when you are. Our genetic legacy allows us to be unaware and unconscious at times, When this goes on for an extended period of time, it becomes neurosis.

The practice of Primal Therapy shows that it is possible for the conscious, cortical mind to dissolve into the all-important contents of the subconscious without surrendering an awareness of what is happening while it is happening. 

Awareness must be allowed in because it has an important role to play in the process of healing. That role is attaching meaning to the Pain, mediating and communicating insight, and integrating and applying the experiences of the lower levels to present life. It is vital for a person descending into unconscious realities to know how he got there and how he got back. It is too important a journey to make with his "eyes closed."

* * * *

Sunday, September 18, 2011

On the Department of Grace and Mercy

With my tongue slightly in my cheek I want to offer an idea I have
held for a while. We make a minister of grace and mercy in the
cabinet. Her job, and must be “her” is to make sure we are all
happy. First of all, that is a tall order since almost no one knows
what real happiness is. So let me say at the outset that the best way
to be happy and content and to have a great deal of your self is to
have been loved throughout childhood. If you have them (parents) you
will have yourself. If they fulfilled your needs you will be whole
and content throughout life. No one else can “make” your happy. So
what can my minister do? She can go into the schools and pick out the
problem children, and instead of punishment she will explain about the
imprints and pain and use the child’s hurt to explain his act-out. He
will learn about himself and finally how to control himself, and the
other kids will also learn about feelings and how they drive all of
us. So a big piece of what goes on in school, many hours a day, will
not be wasted but will be used as the key learning experience, much
more important than learning about this war and that. They will learn
what it takes to get along with others and how feelings interferes
with it or enhances it. They will learn what goes wrong with
marriages and why. They will learn why people get sick and how
repression fits in with all this. It will indeed be merciful. It
will save a good deal of misery and help people be happier.
Remember, being fully loved is what makes us happy; all the rest is
playing catch-up. But that is important, too.

Then my minister will hurry over to hospitals and teach the kids
about their illness, what it really entails, how it happens and
exactly how the therapy will work. Here the child learns about
medicine his body and medication and therapy. He learns what diets do
to the system and why. No more mysteries; we use the child’s
experience to learn from. That is a good way of learning---out of
personal experience. You say doctors don’t have the time. Well that
will be the job of my minister of grace and mercy. She will be very
busy but she will save so much suffering and money. No more special
schools for disobedient kids. They will learn about themselves and
then help other kids. Who better to do it? It is being done is some
prisons. Yes, for a while we need all the institutions for neurotics
but there is something we can do about it.

My minister will organize child rearing and birth giving practices
in many communities so that we all have a better shot at life. Just
simple things like not giving heavy anesthetics to those giving
birth. Like putting the baby immediately with the mother, and on
and on. Like teaching that hugs and kisses are essential…throughout
childhood. Boys need it too and not just to the age of five. That
children need their parents, not boarding school, usually a dumping
ground for harried parents. They need individual attention
throughout childhood.

And above all, let’s the get idea of homework straight. I
recently was at the house of a friend who was trying to get his son to
do his homework. It is a tough but good school, he argued to me. And I
thought, wouldn’t it be better to play with him, to talk to him about
life and love, to hug him and kiss him, and then help with his
homework. Because all this will help ensure his happiness, and
isn’t that what we are all after. A well child is one who will be
successful whether he does all of his homework or not. But that
homework needs to be secondary to making the child happy. My minister
needs to rush in and warn against “tough” schools. They are not
necessarily the best. “Oh!”, You say, “he must learn or how will he
succeed in life.” Make him happy and he will succeed. Do not worry.
If he is totally loved he is happy. Trust me. I have relatives who
were totally loved and all of the kids, all of them, are very
successful. Would you rather have a very successful child who is
constantly miserable? A driven successful person lacks love, by
definition; otherwise he would not be driven.

Just a few hints: ask a child what he wants to eat at least once
in a while. Help him make decisions about his life and what will make
him happy. Where does want to go on Sunday? Etc. etc. What
college does he want to go to? Not the favorite of the parent, who can
help, but he has to make the decision. In other words, we ask kids,
“what will make you happy today?” If you think that would have been
wonderful in your lifetime with your parents, then you know it is
right for your kids. It is not utopian; it is possible now. All it
takes a little change and then watch the difference. Ah love.

(I will add here a bit from another piece I wrote to make my point

We can tell the level of pain and its time frame by the kind of
symptom or behavior that is apparent. When something happens in the
present it resonates with or sets off something earlier. In that way
anger that dips into the first line and becomes rage. Or fear becomes
terror, feeling disappointed in the present becomes profound
hopelessness on the deeper level. In the same way when the first line
is close we may go from a mild headache to a severe migraine. It is
not a different entity; it is a continuum which makes each symptom
deeper and more aggravated. So there is some slight adversity in the
present that resonates deeper down and the person goes for a Xanax.
He is quelling first line, deep imprints. Quelling terror and
hopelessness that goes along with the terror. After all, if there is
massive anesthetic at birth and the child cannot struggle to get born
there is terror and hopelessness, and the beginnings of addiction. Of
course the origin is mysterious and unknown. It was immediately
covered over by the gating system.

Thus, each level accounts for something deeper and more damaging as
resonance deeps down into our primal unconscious and triggers off
inordinate behavior or symptoms. First line events, therefore,
represent out of control symptoms and behavior—drug taking. It forces
us into over the top reactions. As long as that bottom rung, the
first line imprint is left dangling and not integrated there will
always be the tendency to addiction. It is that first line level that
contributes to profound addiction; and of course, until it is out of
the way we will always be vulnerable to drinking or drug taking. And
too, it will shorten our lives. There are those who say once an
alcoholic or drug taker always one. Not true. It seems so genetic
but it is not; it is epigenetic (of which I have written a lot). I
have treated heavy drinkers and drug takers with success but only
after arriving on the deepest levels of the brain. A caveat; they
must be treated in house for some time before getting back out on the

Thursday, September 15, 2011

origins of ADD and Leaky Gates (Part 4/4)

Frank: Yeah, and to this day I ache to be touched – just ache. And they wouldn’t touch me, they didn’t want it to get infected… Of course they weren’t touchy people anyway, so that was….

Dr. AJ: Were they very religious?

Frank: No. I was when I was a child. Boy, I used to pray every night: Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep, please let me die before I wake, and please, dear God, my soul you’ll take. I used to pray to die every night.

Dr. AJ: Gee, your life was miserable. Can you imagine a life like that?

David: Back to your point, coherence. Coherence was a problem; organization was a problem; time management is a problem.

Dr. AJ: Ok, how about organization?

David: Again, Pressure inside is just blowing the gates, and blowing cohesion – blowing all neurological cohesion to shreds. There’s no cohesion of gating.

Frank: The pressure disorganizes you.

Dr. AJ: So the leaky gates don’t allow you to co….

David: Come together

Dr. AJ: So what does this have to do with leaky gates?

Frank: You are stopping the leaks from coming up?

David: That is a good metaphor. It’s like the body – it’s whole function is going to stop the leaks – the leaky gates and try to give it cohesion. And it’s failing. Right?

Ken: It’s true, but there is another element for me. A lot of times it’s that I don’t care. I don’t care enough to organize something. I don’t care about anything a lot of the time, except finding some kind of peace or connection to myself inside, you know, getting…

Dr. AJ: That’s the whole story.

David: I can understand that.

Ken: It’s like… I finally can cry and then it’s… all this is me, and now I finally feel right. I was going to say that… (turning to David) you were saying something about always being bad or something. For me I’ve always had this unconscious feeling that I’m bad, or not right or something until it finally connects – a connected feeling, and then it’s, Oh, yeah, this is me. It finally feels right. And it’s very rare too.

Dr. AJ: It sounds like a nightmare.

David: Dr. AJ talks about having cohesion in therapy and having connected feelings. I understand that, and I can see it in my patients when they have a connected feeling and see the difference. But, I don’t know how to explain it but there’s a part of me that says, I don’t give a damn about a connected feeling, as long as I’m connected to the crying and the hurt it’s almost like I don’t care what it’s about. And it’s not like an abreacted disconnected feeling, it’s just that some of that pressure that gets put out from me it’s like worth a million bucks, when you go through a lifetime of…. (near crying) and nobody gets it. And you get pounded and pounded, and then they sit you down and say, what are your goals in life? And you just sit there. And part of you feels bad because you don’t have any and you know that you should and you can’t, but a secret part of you just wants to say Fuck you! Go to hell! Don’t talk to me about goals.

Dr. AJ: Because?

David: It’s been hard enough to get here. It’s been hard enough to get through life up to this point.

Dr. AJ: No goals.

David: Goals, goals, what are goals?

Frank: Wow, I’ve always had goals. But one of the things in my life was that when I got to a certain age… Well, everybody my age was supposed to do that – so why don’t you? Well, nobody ever taught me – and each thing – I remember the first – the first Primal I ever had about that - not being able to do things that I’m supposed to do. It started out with my writing – that I couldn’t get published and the feeling went right down to when I was sitting on the toilet saying Mama, Mama, come and wipe me I’m done. And her saying, you’re old enough to wipe yourself, now do it! But nobody ever taught me how. And now I’m supposed to know how, because I’m old enough to know how. And it was the same way… and the big thing that triggered it was when I was first married, my gramma called me up and said, Uncle Rex said you could buy his house, so you guys can have a nice house. I’m going to take you to the bank and get all the paperwork done. And I went with her the next day to the bank, and I sat down there – that was the first time I’d ever been in an office in the bank – and I sat down there, and just before the bank manager came in, Gramma says, This is your loan, now you have to handle it yourself. I didn’t even know what an escrow was. And the thing is that I was qualified to get the loan with the GI Bill. But I didn’t know that. (shrugs).

Dr. AJ: So they don’t educate you, either. They don’t talk to you…

Frank: They hung me out to dry.

Dr. AJ: When I tell my friends that when I was young my parents never said anything to me… they sent me away for three years, well they never said you are going to so and so, they just packed my bags and I was off. They don’t talk to you. (Motions to David) Is that true with you? That’s bizarre isn’t it?

David: I remember asking my dad, You said you were in the army, Dad, what did you do? None of your business. Dad, how old are you? None of your business. What’s insurance. Dad? None of your business.

Dr. AJ: So what should be the cure for this? I’m curious, you said the program helped you. You saw the program?

David: It didn’t help me, help me. It gave me a little bit – like they understand what I go through. That’s about it. But they don’t really understand it.

Frank: How do you deal with ADD? You go to Primal Therapy. One of the biggest gains I made – it was just so funny and I remember telling you about it (motions to David). You get this little feeling and it goes (motions with finger tips together, and shifts them slightly) click. But it affects everything. My inner core just went click… A change in attitude, and that’s when I stopped beating up on myself. It had been a heavy session and David had just said I’m not going to let you come in here and beat up on yourself anymore. And I thought he was in his shit.

Dr. AJ: What.

David: He thought when I said that, that I was in my shit.

Frank: Cause he seemed harsh – and that’s the only time I’d ever seen him harsh.

Dr. AJ: Right.

Frank: But the next day it was just like… God, I don’t need to beat up on myself. I don’t deserve this.

David: And I don’t want to get too close to someone. And I never can trust them. And I remember this particular day just after a feeling, (shrugs) nothing. Ok, I just had a feeling, and walking out the door, and walking down the street, and walking among people and not feeling that fear, that anxiety… and it was like: Oh, my God, this must be what my life could have been. And I had to take pause. It was like… where’s the fear? It was quite an eye opener.

Dr. AJ: You too, Ken?

Ken: Oh, yeah, I mean I’ll just have moments when I have a feeling and really feel connected. It’s just like a moment of grace. It’s like… I’m here and I’m not scared, and I’m not wrong or anything.

Dr. AJ: You live with it all your life and most of the time you’re not aware of it. That’s just you…

Ken: Yeah and then those moments are gone… well, that was something but I can hardly talk about it. Then it’s gone and it’s like, I think there’s something there. I think there’s something better.

Dr. AJ: It’s funny, huh. And

PRIMAL PRINCIPLE: you don’t feel unloved until you get some love in the present, then you can go back and feel unloved. Otherwise, you carry it around with you until you die.
Back to what you were saying, Frank.

Frank: I was talking about the feelings I was having in that session when David told me I couldn’t beat up on myself. And as I remember it was a lot of feelings about my whole family beating up on me. Literally, my brother used to beat me until I was unconscious sometimes.

Dr. AJ: And the parents do nothing, right?

Frank: Oh, they’d say (shaking his finger at Dr. AJ) Now you’d better stop doing that. When I got my eye put out and the doctor said I couldn’t have any jars to my head, they’d say, Now if you hit Frank, you’d better make sure you hit him on the arm and not in the face or the head anymore. He can’t take any jars to his head. And my dad would say, So help me God, I’ll tie your head down in brackets, so it doesn’t move when I beat you.

Dr. AJ: It’s amazing, isn’t it? Well, listen. Guys, we’ve got to have staff meeting.

Ken: Let me say one quick thing, back to the outlet, and me not being ADD – I don’t think. One other thing, when I was a kid. It was all physical, like the sports, and I was one of those kids with a lot of tics. I’d just be going nuts with tics (histrionics), I was all over the place. So it came out physically for me.

Dr. AJ: Yeah, it got channeled into his body.

Frank: Yeah, I’d have said that’s an ADHD thing.

David: I never experienced tics like that, but I remember a session years and years ago that Dr. AJ did for me. In the middle of the feeling I was going towards the birthing, and my eye started to tic involuntarily, and it just kept ticking and ticking. It was just the weirdest thing.

Ken: Mine were voluntary, Mine were voluntary. It was just something that I had to do. Like I could make myself not do it but I felt like I had to do it.

Frank: Like flexing your muscles.

Ken: I would make it happen.

David: Oh, you would.

Ken: Yeah, I do it now even. Sometimes. Not as much though, and I try to hide it as much as I can. When I was a kid it was a lot more exaggerated (demonstrating).

David: Well, what does it do for you?

Ken: I don’t know, it’s just something I have to do it’s some sort of tension outlet or something.

Frank: It’s like an isometric thing. You stretch the muscles so you can relax them.

Ken: Yeah, they were all over the place.

David: I have a similar thing.

Dr. AJ: You don’t have that.

David: Oh, you’ll see me in staff meeting sometimes and my eyes will go like that and my facial expressions. I think it’s similar to what you’re talking about. I think it’s just a little discharge of that pressure or tension or something.

Then talk of the business mechanics of the meetings. Finally Dr. AJ turns to Frank.

Dr. AJ: Was it elucidating?

Frank: Oh, yeah, it was particularly elucidating listening to David. Realizing he had real experience of what I go through.

Dr. AJ: He’s a classic ADD, a classic. It wasn’t until he was with me that I encouraged him to go to school. He didn’t think he could learn. He was sure he couldn’t learn.

David: Yeah, that and I just didn’t want to go through the nightmare of it. And go put myself back into that.

Frank: I was really afraid when I started and when I found myself competing with these young girls… There were 12 of us in the class and 11 of them were girls. They were young girls, and a lot of them already had their masters in something else and they were all the scholars of the school and… How the hell did I get chosen to be in this group? Of course, thank you, and I also got a lift from Joseph Wambaugh.

Dr. AJ: Of course I was also a severe ADD and I could barely make it out of high school and couldn’t concentrate much. And what happened was, when I joined the navy they gave you intelligence tests. And I forgot about it because I had no intention of going to college. But one day when we were on our way to Okinawa and Saipan. We were on a ship – we’d had seven battles already and were on to our 8th battle. Then a destroyer pulls up and says we’re taking Janov off the battleship and taking him back to officers preflight school, because my IQ which I had taken 2 years before was very high. So on the way to a battle, which is serious shit – lot of kamikazes. Then when I went to school, I got straight “A”s and I thought: you know what? I can do this. I could feel my brain change.

(The End)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On Hypnosis (Part 25/26)

Comparing Hypnotic Age Regression and Primal Reliving

How does hypnotic age regression differ from a Primal reliving experience? One crucial difference is that the person in a Primal remains conscious: he experiences the intense emotion simultaneously with its cognitive and contextual connections. There is no dissociation of emotion from intellect. The person re-experiencing a traumatic event feels the original emotions intensely, and at the same time "knows" what he is feeling. He is "all there." He surrenders knowingly to himself rather than to another. Furthermore, he is able to connect his past experiences with his present feelings and so make sense out of both. 

In hypnotic age regression, the full benefit of reliving cannot be gained because consciousness has been reduced by virtue of the hypnotic state. It is a case of trying to have it both ways: of reliving without conscious impact, of releasing Pain without feeling it. Our research has shown that without participation of all levels of consciousness, there is little therapeutic value in going back to one's past. Indeed we need full consciousness for profound change. Full consciousness means the conscious regression to a lower state of brain organization. It means being conscious on a heretofore unconscious level.

The third level of consciousness is the level that is knocked out in hypnosis and that was knocked out in neurosis when the Primal event originally occurred. What this means is that hypnotic age regression utilizes the same disengagements of consciousness that were involved in the repression of the trauma in the first place.

The second important difference between hypnotic age regression and Primal reliving has to do with intense emotional response. As soon as the hypnotic patient gets into an intense emotional state (which we call the pre-Primal phase), the hypnotherapist usually intervenes with one technique or another to control, reduce, or circumscribe it. The assumption is that the patient might become dangerously anxious and hysterical. Erickson's admonition to his trembling and perspiring subject to "shove it down again" is an excellent example. In hypnotherapy, a feeling is seldom experienced in its entirety, and therefore cannot be entirely resolved. For the hypnotic subject to feel all the agony of a childhood means to be having a Primal, and for that you need full consciousness or a consciousness fully connected to lower levels. To get well unconsciously is an oxymoron. Unconsciousness is the problem.

One of the key differences between my approach and hypnotherapy is that Primal therapy is a natural, evolutionary one, in which the unconscious arises almost in linear, stratified form from the most recent and most benign of Pains to the most remote and the most dolorous of Pains. It is the nature of Pain to make itself conscious, to achieve homeostasis. The system is self-regulating and permits into consciousness that which can be integrated and accepted by consciousness. This is not the case with hypnosis, where it is the hypnotist who decides where and how to probe and how deep to go. This, I believe, among other problems, is a basic distrust of the human body and its miracles. It is an authoritarian approach, a manipulative one in which the patient is maneuvered hither and thither almost beyond his will, within the whims or preconceptions of the hypnotist. There is a basic lack of respect, a lack of understanding of the necessity for self- determination. Rather, the hypnotist, like the parents beforehand, manipulates the child again (the child need inside the patient), who is already manipulated and maneuvered away from his real self.

For some reason therapists think they have to do something to a patient. Perhaps it is a reflection of a technological society, in which individuals are considered as units which have to be repaired, adjusted or fixed in some way.


Before summarizing my conclusions about the nature of hypnosis and the value of hypnotherapy, let us look back at the positions of 
some of the early students of hypnosis. It seems to me that we have arrived at conclusions which these pioneers either reached or were reaching almost one hundred years ago. 

Charcot saw a similarity between hypnosis and hysteria, as each seems to demonstrate the characteristics of the other. He spoke of "pathological suggestibility" as the necessary ingredient in hypnosis as opposed to the "normal suggestibility" of the waking state. Bernheim believed hypnotizability to be independent of neuropathology and hysteria, describing suggestibility as a trait shared by all human beings, with hypnosis being almost entirely ideogenic. 

Freud at one time or another shared the views of his various contemporaries and used hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion to treat hysteria and other afflictions. However, he ultimately favored a psycho-physiological explanation of hypnotic phenomena because --and this may be his most important legacy of this period -- he felt that psychological and physiological processes ran parallel to each other in a "dependent concomitant" relationship. In other words, Freud supported a mind-body duality and initially aimed towards a psychotherapy which allowed for it. For instance, he felt that Bernheim's ideogenic account of hypnosis veered too much toward "a psychology without physiology." In the end he saw suggestion and auto-suggestion as taking advantage of the physiological capacity linking conscious mental states with purely physiological processes.

I can find something in the arguments of almost all these theorists and practitioners to draw into a synthesis with the Primal understanding of hypnosis. In perceiving similarities between hypnosis and hysteria, Charcot and Freud were, I feel, beginning to recognize the interdependency of hypnosis and neurosis. Charcot certainly appreciated that there was something abnormal about the suggestibility needed to succumb to hypnosis. What I am not sure of is whether he understood that so-called pathological suggestibility differs from "normal" suggestibility only in the matter of degree. As we saw in the case of modern theorists like Barber, Hilgard and Erickson, neurotic suggestibility is so prevalent that it generally escapes distinction as being neurotic. This, I think, may well account for Bernheim's position of an inherent suggestibility in all human beings, rather than just in neurotics.

Freud's contributions lay as much in his reasons for rejecting hypnosis as in his initial espousal of it. Although results were often quite dramatic, they were induced for a short time only and depended mainly upon the personal relationship between doctor and patient. In a footnote to a discussion on sexual aberration, Freud states that "the blind obedience evinced by the hypnotized subject to the hypnotist causes me to think that the nature of hypnosis is to be found in the unconscious fixation of the libido on the person of the hypnotizer..." If we substitute "primal need" for libido, I couldn't agree more. Freud also came to realize that unconscious material could be arrived at without resorting to hypnosis; that if you confronted the resistances of the patient, the conscious mind could discover for itself the contents of the unconscious.

Monday, September 12, 2011

On Hypnosis (Part 24/26)

Guarding Against Suggestion in Primal Therapy

It has been argued that suggestibility operates in Primal Therapy; that patients come with certain expectations which they self-fulfill. Because a patient thinks he will get well he does; he feels Pain because he expects to feel Pain; he has a Primal because he thinks he will, and so forth. Certainly the potential for suggestibility exists. But if the therapist does not offer suggestions, that possibility is no longer possible. Wherever there is primal need you inevitably encounter suggestibility; because it is ultimately need that you are manipulating. There is no power greater than need to move and motivate human beings. A neurotic is always in search of a suggestion. "Do you think this dress suits me?" "What shall we order for dinner?" "Do you think we should go to the Jones house?" Suggestibility, whatever its form, must hook on to basic unfulfilled need to gather its sources for power. 

We are well aware that people come to us full of hopes and needs, both real and unreal. It is up to us to recognize which are which. We can do this best by first having sorted out our own needs before listening to someone else's. Then we may better trust that our judgment, perception, intuition, and instinct are not being distorted by our own Pain and need. 

In Primal Therapy we recognize the possibilities for suggestion but we take measures to counteract them. For example, we might slow down the defensive maneuverings of the rational-analytical mind so that feelings have a better chance, but we do not attempt to dislocate or hide this level of consciousness. We aim instead to see that feelings pass through it. We want the patient to be fully aware of what he is doing, saying and feeling. He is engaged in a profoundly important experience, so it makes no sense for part of him to be off somewhere else.

The patient-therapist interaction is also an important tool of therapy. The trust of the therapist and a willingness to follow his suggestions in the therapy in order to get to feelings do contribute to success, but there must be a crucial balance. We do not want the therapist to be a pied piper while the patient, in trance, follows passively along to another's tune. It is the patient's life, it is the patient's sickness, and above all, it is the patient's therapy. He is not simply a passive recipient of "suggestions" or insights from a therapist. His unconscious "knows" what happened to him, even if his conscious mind does not. He has the answers. We don't. It is only arrogance that would lead us to believe that we know better what is inside someone's head than he does. His reality sets the scene and determines the course. The patient, then, must lead the way.

Sometimes the neurosis tries to take the lead because it resists the move towards Pain. At this point the therapist intervenes in the role of the agent supporting the expression of Pain. The therapist may see ahead of time where the patient is headed, but, unless a helping hand is clearly needed, he lets the patient arrive there in his own time. Although the "lead" keeps changing hands, the direction is determined by the patient's history and physiologically-imprinted experiences. Healing is not a question of the therapist trying to influence or "change" the patient. Healing does not emanate from outside. It develops from the inside, like all healing processes, from a cut to a burn.

The argument that Primal Therapy operates by virtue of suggestibility is invalidated on several points. One factor is that a person without Pain would not invest the time, money, and inconvenience to come to a therapy, particularly one that offers pain, not pleasure as its immediate goal. Inevitably, the pleasure will follow the Pain. But Pain is primordial and there is no fully enjoying pleasure until Pain and its handmaiden, repression, are removed. Physiology does not permit us to skip steps. We have no need to act out Pain or to expect it unless it is there. At least I have yet to meet a truly healthy person who would choose to spend his time and money acting out a painful childhood and then act as if he had recovered from it. By virtue of such behavior a person would reveal himself to be staging some sort of neurotic scenario.

Secondly, the notion that one can suggest oneself into being well is to seriously mistake the meaning of the word "well" and the state which it describes. Suggested health is shallow and unreal because it is global; it is simply superimposed. This kind of mask of health does not look, sound, or feel right to those who enjoy a more interconnected consciousness, but it can fool others. We never automatically accept a patient's professions of himself as well because to do so would be to take a superficial view of health and human reality. For it would ignore the deeper physiologic processes of brain and body and the disease which permeates them. Someone can think "well," look "well," behave "well," but still not be well. This is why Erickson's claims that one hypnosis session can forever banish violent lifelong somatic headaches or make the adult affects of childhood trauma totally vanish do not ring true to me. 

In Primal Therapy we know that we can use (and have used) objective indices of change to guard against suggested cures as a result of patients reading my books and acting out preconceptions. These objective indices are based on the knowledge that Pain has physiological correlates. Patients who do not truly feel Primal Pain will not register significant short-term (after a single Primal) or long-term (over a period of therapy) changes in their vital sign readings. Even if the patient expects to get better and believes that he is better, we do not consider this valid unless his vital signs so indicate. (This form of assessment is not always necessary because an experienced and sensitive therapist can reliably match the conclusions drawn from vital signs readings by intuitive judgement.) The point is that we, like other therapies, would be as vulnerable to the argument of cure based on suggestion if we were to accept the subjective, third-level reports of patients alone. 

The third important reason for the lessened possibility of suggestibility in Primal Therapy is that generally one suggests someone away from Pain not into it. The classic experiments in hypnosis nearly always involve not feeling pain. It is far more seductive to be offered something that will counteract suffering, that would allow one to conquer it, to surmount it, to rise above it, but never to feel it. People are attracted to hypnotherapy precisely because they want the easy way out; they are already seduced by the notion of a magical therapy where everything happens unconsciously. They already are ready to flee Pain.

As the intellect becomes increasingly overtaken by the rising feeling of need and of Pain, one sees how easy it would be to inject the patient with one's own interpretations and suggestions -- to brainwash. One witnesses the susceptibility and gullibility fostered by years of unmet need. There is the need to trust and believe in someone, the need to follow and be taken care of, the need to be told what to do, the need for explanation and comfort, and so on -- all of the urgent needs that in some cases make a person believe it will be beneficial for her to be seduced by her therapist, as in Erickson's case study.
From a psychotherapeutic standpoint, when one sees all this, one has a choice. Either you suppress the need and Pain with mollification, "education," substitution of ideas, and counter-suggestion, or hand back the need and Pain so that it may be experienced through to its roots and finally resolved. Any therapy which does not deal with Primal Pain as its primary goal can never resolve neurosis or its symptoms. It is ineluctably non-dialectical and reactionary. The same can be said of any political system, as well. Either you fulfill need -- personal or social -- or you suppress it.

The pervasiveness of need explains why someone who can elicit Painful scenes in hypnosis stops short of allowing the patient to experience these traumas consciously. The nerve ends of the therapist's own deepest hurt are too exposed for comfort. When the discoveries of the patient put him disquietingly close to his own unconscious Pain, he may take repressive measures by encouraging the patient to "shove it back down," or by diverting him with suggestions which counter the painful reality. This is what we might call Painwashing .

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Insanity in the Treatment of Insanity

I read something in a respected scientific journal that set my hair on fire. I wonder how long it will be until shrinks catch on to science; to neurology and evolution. An understanding of these would prevent a lot of the current nonsense in psychotherapy. A case in point: the article, “At Risk for Psychosis” (in the sept/oct issue of Scientific American Mind ( The reason my hair is burning is not because they are incorrect and unscientific but because so many will go on suffering due to this lack of understanding. It isn’t just some shrink missing the point; it is that this kind of therapy is a waste of time and misleading.

So what is it? It is this: “In one type of therapy practitioners encourage patients to look for evidence supporting their delusions.” If it is a delusion and is false, why would we force the patient to look for supporting evidence? Unless of course we think it is all in the mind, this psychosis, and therefore we can convince her otherwise. It is, they reason, just a matter of illogic logic. We straighten out their ideas and voila, all is well.

So first let us look at psychosis. We know now that many kinds of psychosis derive from imprints very early in our lives; for example, a smoking pregnant mother can lead to later psychosis in her child. But there are many studies indicating that how the mother feels and the drugs she takes while carrying can have serious adverse effects on the offspring. An anguished mother can lead to sexual dysfunction and mental disorders years later. That is, those early memory/imprints are the most powerful because they impact the developing brain and its effects on the organ systems, and because they are often a matter of life and death. When a mother is heavily anesthetized while giving birth, that drug overpowers the neonate and leaves a lasting impression. It weakens the child and makes her vulnerable to disease later on. When there is later trauma, psychosis could be on result. But mental psychosis is only one of many options in reacting to trauma. We can go crazy in our body, as well.

First let us look at this brain of ours. We know through my writings, that there are three distinct levels of brain function: the brainstem, limbic system and cortical-thing/believing one. They all have the capacity of reacting to early pain in very different ways. When there is early pain engraved while we are being carried, the pain is first registered and then moves upwards in an attempt to connect to its cortical/comprehending counterpart. Unfortunately, repression blocks its travel and keeps it hidden. There are many more neural pathways leading upward than downward. The route for the neural circuits, therefore, is one way, not a two way street. More information flows upward toward conscious connection than downward. In brief, contrary to cognitive therapy and its offshoot sisters, ideas do not change feelings; rather, feelings move upward and change ideas. This is what it is meant to be in terms of evolution. The lower brain levels predate later ones by millions of years. The earlier ones are survival systems, don’t forget. They are meant to be strong and invulnerable. If they could change easily or were weak, our survival would be threatened. In most primates this abundance of neural cells leading from the amygdala to the cortex is evident. And those higher level connections are found almost throughout the whole neocortex. There is a range of brainstem connections to higher cortical centers, as well. This includes the locus coeruleus which in some respects is the terror center of the brain (at least one of them). Here again we begin to understand how a lower site, the locus coeruleus, connects higher up and drives obsessions and paranoid ideas. It is what keeps awake at night ruminating about hurts or imagined hurts. It is these projections to higher areas that can account for delusions when the lower level is triggered by current events; a rejection or an insult. When a patient relives what I call first-line, brainstem imprints, he can stop his ruminations and delusions. It is how we know, among many other ways, how lower level imprints drive higher level thoughts.

The work of Dr. Jaak Panksepp (author of Affective Neuroscience) is most relevant here. He demonstrates how the brain circuits are more plentiful and move upward and forward rather than downward. This is especially true of the feeling structures such as the amygdala which has its circuits reaching upwards toward the neocortex. There are other scientists (Luiz Pessoa), who demonstrate how certain structures are suppressed; they are recruited by feelings and thereby diminish cognitive/insight/understanding. In short, feelings reign over thoughts. If we want to understand psychology we must first understand how the brain works and how evolution is built into our human brain development.

Contrarily there is evidence now to show how cortical/insight/thoughts can suppress feelings. There are structures alongside the temple of the brain that have to do with integration of feelings; that is the orbitofrontal area.

From this structure there are relatively few networks leading down to feeling centers. Let’s not drown the fish. Feelings drive thoughts much more than thoughts drive feelings. This should undermine the cognitivists, but it doesn’t. We will see in a moment why this is so important in alleviating suffering.

Feelings are genetically coded to unravel and appear on a timetable to help us survive. That is why they are so strong. They boost alertness and vigilance and keep us aware. And they work in see-saw fashion with awareness. The hyperawareness we see can ultimately suppress feelings for a time. Too much arousal can shut down feelings and put us over the feeling/primal zone.

OK, let’s get down to the business at hand. In this piece on psychosis in the Scientific American Mind, they want to have the patient gather evidence to support his delusions. They think that if they crack their intellectual defense it can lead the patient to logic so that he can see his craziness. “So you see, there is no reason to think that way.” But there is and it is not faulty logic; it is created to push down the powerful feelings. A way to bind that energy and keep it logical. That is the point, isn’t it? The paranoia is trying to use his inherent logic to make sense out of his feelings.

Let’s share the framework: feelings/sensations with great power are engraved into the brain and physical system. Their powerful force moves toward connection.
They can go all the way to the top in our therapy or they can be blocked at certain levels. When blocking occurs against this massive force, the body and its cells can go crazy. In other words, there are many ways to go crazy and cancer is one of them; where the integrity of the cell implodes and overspills its boundaries. Or some of that power reaches higher up and stimulates the production of ideas—of paranoid ideation. It is the same impressed pain extending to different areas. Here feelings move toward the higher levels and gather up ideas to deal with them. Thus early trauma and lack of love move around in the brain and force sometimes elaborate thoughts—they are coming to get me and want to kill me. I have seen enough of this to lead me to know that some devastating feelings are behind those thoughts. “I am dying in the womb” may be the real feeling, and the delusions is “they want to kill me”. In any case, despite the rhetoric, death is the end result.
The delusion about “they” is just the ginger bread covering the feeling. The important part is dying. And is why if want to get to causes we need to explore the deep-lying terror. It is never a matter of logic and illogic. Illogic is often forced by imprints.

The delusion is an outgrowth of a terrible feeling; it is designed as part of a defense. To spend time changing the defense is a useless enterprise.  The problem is feelings, not ideas the patient has concocted. Why does he have those feelings and what are they; not why does he think like that? Where do those thoughts come from? If that question is not considered, the patient will go on suffering. It should be very clear how strange ideas arrive when we give delusional patients strong medication that works on lower brain areas and it stops their delusions. We don’t really touch ideational areas of the brain yet they change radically. Clearly it is the lower centers that send messages higher up to distort thinking and create paranoid ideas.

What the current researchers want to do is create another diagnosis in the diagnostic manual called, attenuated psychosis syndrome. How that helps is beyond me, except that it gives the inventor some cachet? It is psychosis but not really. It is all couched in behavioral terms such as (and I am not kidding) hallucinations or delusions once a week; you or a loved one is bothered by your symptoms, symptoms have appeared or worsened in the past year; and above all, no other disorder can explain the problem.

They want to ape medical diagnosis where if you get headaches more than once a week you have the migraine syndrome. And how is it that my diagnosis depends on whether someone else is bothered by it?

There is nothing, nothing about the patient and her history; just behavior. But of course what else could we expect from cognitive/behaviorists? Now as to why patients are required to gather evidence for their delusions, I am at a loss. But if you assume ideas are the problem and not the history behind them, then you might agree with all this. And allow the patient to spend his time in the futile search for supporting evidence. It is all about suppressing symptoms, suppressing behavior. It is assumed by them that the ideas are what’s wrong instead of seeing what caused those ideas; but if you believe in cognition alone, then of course there is no higher place to go than ideas. If you believe that ideas emanate from nowhere, as you must if you believe in the cognitive approach, then you may focus only on ideas. No deeper force exists for them. It is all part of the “mindfulness” approach; it is all in your head and it is that head we must deal with. Only those bereft of feelings and unattached to their history could think that way. They personally skim the surface and so does their therapy.

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.