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


  1. speaking of which, back in 1988 Brian Wilson, of Beach Boys fame, wrote and recorded a song called "Love and Mercy". which i've always loved; if you search YouTube you'll find it.

  2. I think it's a great idea to move in this direction. Though the best foundation for "positive preaching" is free video's on the internet.

    I've often thought that to persuade or enlighten someone you must always start where they are at. You might find that direct advice is a highly effective first step to a deeper primal theory type understanding, for maybe provoking mass interest.

    -Oh, research has suggested that homework does not even improve measurable academic outcomes.

    Andrew Atkin I think it's a great idea to move in this direction. Though the best foundation for "positive preaching" is free video's on the internet.

    I've often thought that to persuade or enlighten someone you must always start where they are at. You might find that direct advice is a highly effective first step to a deeper primal theory type understanding, for maybe provoking mass interest.

    -Oh, research has suggested that homework does not even improve measurable academic outcomes.

    Andrew Atkin

  3. A Department of Grace and Mercy

    What a wonderful thought! She is certainly needed, in L.A., in Mexico, in Uganda, in Irak, in Pakistan and in all other parts of the world. However, a minister of Grace and Mercy would have to be appointed by you, because all the good reasons for her appointment must be judged by the one who has been the leading participant in finding and defining the formula to real happiness. When you say “we”, who do you mean? The Primal Center, L.A., California, USA, the World?

    You are often talking about the evolution. Evolution is a harsh master. Acting like an enlightened despot with a determination which instinctively cares about “our” survival. If we are threatened by too much pain, it protects us as long as survival can be achieved. The evolution is only for individual happiness and survival when it suites the species in general. To “reverse” evolution, which you in a genial way has proved possible, does not change evolution as such, it modifies and improves “only” a limited number of life stories.

    I personally think that the evolution, with its development of endless neurotic painkilling manners and habits to run the world into an overpopulated, polluted place with an ever increasing lack of important resources and fair distribution for our survival will end our present culture. So it has done over and over again with earlier cultures. It won’t happen fast. However, seen from the perspective of eternity, life is like a second...

    None the less it has been a blessing to have been able to feel and understand the importance of receiving and giving love. To read your books during 40 years and to slowly, painfully understand how it eventually could feel when human behavior and it’s conditions are at their best. These experiences seem to be well protected secrets available only to a few. Personally, I was allowed to see the biology of love and to understand the evolution in “reverse” with your guidance to the price of my experience of going through inhuman pain during a horrendous and confusing birth process.

    These experiences gave me 20+ years to enjoy happiness and real life, and I want with my limited ability to give your message to those who want to receive it and ask for it!

    Jan Johnsson

  4. Arthur, I truly think this is perhaps your finest article. It feels more like the 1970 book or somewhere near that time. It offers possibilities and makes you dare to dream and imagine and ponder. The opening paragraphs were inspirational in possibilities. I’d like to see more of exploring these avenues. What would be the right thing to do. What is “normal” and “right: or should I say, “advantageous” in the long term.

    You speak of resonance and I feel that is people get to read about how it should be done, there will be some resonance struck. Ever seen people get jealous cause their kid is getting something they did not get as a kid, whether love, affection, attention, opportunity, good circumstance? They often feel resentment of jealousy. Some feel very warm and are delighted. Hey, I have had chicks melt at seeing kindness toward kids.

    Nostalgia is very big among some because of that resonance. It brings back their childhood, where the original “crime” scenes often live as well as the wish that they had better than they got. It’s a got way to open “hearts” and feelings. You know how hard it is to get people to face pain and fear. But much easier to recall a few warm times when young or suddenly remember how it used to feel when young before the world stomped all over you. Its very powerful.

    And now to flip that coin over. How wonderful would be the Dept. of Grace and Mercy. But surely we can appreciate why those sorts of things can only come if those in power at the top most levels want it and go along with it. But if their main goal is to manipulate and use people to their own selfish satisfaction and to the complete disregard of those they do it to, then there will be no chance of such a benevolent Dept. That is truly sad.

    Power exists among those with money. They got that money through selfishness, not fairness. One might say, well, lets start our own little utopia. Watch the movie “Mosquito Coast” with Harrison Ford. He tried to do that and it failed cause there are just too many @$$holes in the world. Its true.

    The people at the top in total power and control are psychotically determined to obtain what they seek and since Primal Pain is active 24 hours a day, they will always be seeking it. Its out of reach. Entropy will not be denied.

  5. Art… what you write sounds fantastic.

    I am sorry to tell you… but well over half of the teaching force is inappropriate their task. There is a retired headmaster who wrote a book ... in which she deeply regrets that it is 80% of the teaching staff that is inappropriate their task.

    The authoritarian methods have not been reduced ... they have grown and are on the rise... its also what the minister of education wishes here in Sweden.

    I often write about this ... I write to the minister of education ... without getting any response.

    What you see happens in our schools is also what we achieve. It’s not always a question about money… its a question about love. Love is as far from what it means as pain is the only thing we "know" anything about.

    We must make people feel ... know what it is that helps them to do so. Primal Therapy is the only solution. I know… it is perceived as big words ... but they are as small as the child needs its mother.

    But… it’s better to try your way than not do anything at all.


  6. Hopefully will the minister of Grace and Mercy build a lot of Primal Center.


  7. Art

    We alreddy have a ministern of Grace and Mercy... a minister that is necessary for this task... necessary... if we are at all to use the name for its purpose... your wife Art.

    The only question is how we shall establish this institution ... department passed all the opinions ... institution of free will... free will to sacrifice money for the for lawsuits if necessary... as you know... no body from the establishment of that "purpose" would stand up for.


  8. Hi,

    The Mercy dept. exists in rudimentary form through the acknowledgement by most authorities that repeat offenders have nearly all come from broken homes and/or traumatised pasts. Thus a developed Mercy department would need to extrapolate this 'admission of the facts' further than the existing provision.

    The problem seems to be that our repressor cultures need to make scapegoats out of 'offenders' to the point where so called 'law abiding citizens' feel absolved and vindicated with their own (lawful) projections.

    The class system is a multi layered version of this.

    The Justice department knows a lot about the link between childhood trauma and later criminal behaviour, probably as much as the Primal Clinic, but as long as the 'good citizens' need offenders to prosecute, the further development of the Mercy department will be limited by 'cost lead' decisions. IE: The repressors will still want to sling 'em in the slammer. The fact that Primal Therapy may in the end prove less expensive is exasperated by the terrible truth that most 'offenders' would not want to submit to their true feelings in a prison environment. . . Can you imagine breaking down and then getting buggered/beaten/blackmailed by the psycho in the cell next to you. . . ? Primal at first can make us vulnerable. People need a safe environment and it's difficult to see how vulnerability could be effectively marketed to prison inmates.

    Paul G.

  9. Dr. Janov and all:

    Now, a subject I like...

    We cannot teach a neurotic person to love: Teaching is cognitive while showing reaches the buried emotions.

    We need to know first why people react in coldhearted ways toward children, why they industrialize childbirth, and why they send kids into institutions... Why, finally are they no longer able to feel completely attached to the most precious gift in life – a child. Why can mothers no longer be mothers?

    Society has strayed away from the “natural way of life”, we call it evolution and in the process, they will destroy their own species.

    It’s the imprint of pain - and the daily stress - and social pressure that does not allow the stressed individual, the traumatized, to heal.

    Allow me to give you a natural example:

    A female dog in the neighborhood is chained to a 10 foot line since she was a 6 month old puppy. She had no shelter from the heat and had to sleep outside while the snow covered her in the winter. At not even a year old she gave birth to six puppies: she killed them immediately. A year later, the dog was vicious and dangerous and the same scenario occurred again – she killed 8 puppies.
    Tragedy struck and the neighbors had to foreclose and leave. I made sure the dog was put into good care with a farmer. When I visited the dog two years later, she was no longer vicious. She was free from being tied up and had everything she needed. What surprised me most was she had 10 puppies she lovingly cared for.

    Are we, as humans, so much different?

    People are emotionally no longer free: Otherwise mothers would remember their natural love for her children. The gateway to their own mother-emotions, their feelings for themselves and their own needs, is blocked by pain.

    Another real-life example: A life-changing impact was achieved when I showed a mother with 13 children, the tape of Nils Bergman's Kangaroo Mother Care.

    When the tape stopped, I watched her as she slowly regressed. Her face became red, her lips turned white, her eyes had an empty stare while she pulled up her legs on the chair and wrapped her arms around the knees (almost like a fetal position) and begun to whimper. The whimper turned into a cry, which went on for one hour. Then she said: “why did nobody show me this tape 18 years ago...”.

    She stopped having more children, because she realized that she had so many children only because she needed to please herself, her own loneliness as a newborn and the parental neglect (inside). She had 13 children because she wanted something that belongs only to her.
    Now she could see how she repeated the pattern of her childhood. Yes, she cared for the newborn but neglected the rest of her children. Her two oldest children had to become mothers very young, missing their own childhood development in the process.

    Please understand that I do not perform any therapy; I only teach (show) that there are other, more natural ways to live, and give birth. The amazing part is, everyone who sees the Bergman tape reacts emotionally and regresses into their own pain.

    I hope I have not intruded with my impressions on “how to care”.


  10. Paul: Several prisoner groups wanted the therapy but the ruling bodies never allowed it. art

  11. Frank; Not sure. His job is mercy and grace, not construction. art

  12. Something that should be said. PT can be offered, even if the state were to pick it up, free of charge (but at great tax expense, unless you bully therapists into much less pay.

    But anyone entering PT must, of their own free will, want to get better. You can lead a horse to water but can not make him drink. If anyone resists PT, it will not work at all. Even some who do not resist have a hard time fully letting themselves go and feel.

    So education is not the end all. But, if people continually have a presented view of the proper way to "behave," then it can allow them to think about it and possibly change their actions. It can enlighten. But since the status quo-establishement-orthoxy prefers damage and "blindness," It will attempt to prevent any promotion except its own. It does not like free open competition in promotions and propaganda. Schools are designed to exclude all but one source of propaganda.

    There is the real obstacle to Primal "Education."

  13. Hi Art,
    Then perhaps that's my projection of my own fears.

    I must say that on reflection there is something that has happened to my resilience and to my sense of purpose since I came to my true feelings. More resilience and more purpose.

    So I should not be surprised some prisoners wanted Primal. I wonder how the debate proceeded?

    I mean, how did the prisoner groups come into contact with Primal in the first place and then how did they petition the authorities and on what grounds was it refused?

    Have you written about this already?

    Paul G.

  14. An email comment: "In all honesty, I'm not sure the world, as a whole, is ready for P.Therapy(Dr.J)

    It just plods along.

    People are born, get careers, express their creativity in their own ways, raise families, usually don't enjoy their children that much (truth be known), but do enjoy their grandchildren (I'm perfect aware of Dr. Janov's explanation for this phenomenon), have challenges--some of which they are able to meet; and die.

    Some people can love more when they die, some can't.

    There seems to be a larger framework here that encompasses Primal Theory, while not invalidating it.

    Is this reason enough to be sanguine, accept one's fate. I hardly think so.

    Within the human psyche, there is the endless, insistent "cry for freedom". Dr. Janov discovered, in the very least, techniques to allow patients to begin to learn how to cry again, along with other experiences that lead to assimilation of repressed material--ideational and emotional.

    We have the inner capability to "do much more".

    A suggestion would be that people eschew, as much as possible, substances that tend to keep the defense systems status quo.

    Food has to be number one on that list.

    We all know the others: drugs (wow! that's a huge world now with the smorgasbord of pharmaceuticals), alcohol, and many obviously obsessive behaviors such as "too much sex", "too much masturbation", etc."

  15. Paul: Some of them read the book and got a group together and petitioned the heads of the prison where it died a slow and agonizing death. art

  16. In my estimation, for the great majority of people out there reading this, your success on this diet is dependant on the degree you follow the recommendations in the book. If you refuse to follow all of them, your milage may vary. If so, then don't blame the diet while at the same time not revealing your own failure to follow directions


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.