Monday, October 31, 2011

An Examination of Psychoanalysis (Part 12/13)

Pain and Ego Disintegration

Psychoanalysts tend to view intense outpourings of emotion as a threat to the ego. The ego must be protected against "disintegration" -- against being overwhelmed by unconscious forces.
Of course, patients do cry in analysis. Some analysts even encourage crying. Most stop it short, however, when it nears Primal intensity, because they fear the patient will "fall apart." It is seen as an episode bordering on hysteria, and the patient will be given anything from tranquilizers to shock treatment to calm him, particularly if it goes on for any length of time.
I believe that one reason analysts cannot tolerate Primal feelings is because of their view of the unconscious, and more importantly because they are defending against their own repressed feelings. From my own experience doing conventional therapy, I rarely if ever saw the intensity of feelings we see in Primal Therapy. For a therapist to have one primal is to know the force of primal trauma. It is also to stop being afraid of powerful feelings. In addition, the therapist would never again have to guess or theorize about the unconscious. Paradoxically, because analysis does not go directly to the unconscious, analysts are forced to theorize about it.
We all know that the expectations of the therapist can have a tremendous impact on the patient. I believe that when the analyst distrusts intense emotions as dangerous and disintegrating, the patient picks up and internalizes this distrust. Then, what might have been a solidly intense experience becomes a fearful, hysterical one -- not because the emotions are disintegrative, but because of the distrust and suspicion inherent in expressing emotions.
Psychoanalysts fear Pain also because they do know what to do with it, and do not see that there is any permanent way to relieve it. We might all agree that neurosis starts with repression; we might agree that repression is necessary because we could not bear to fully experience something at the time it occurred and thereafter. Yet psychoanalysts cannot see that reliving the trauma -- or actually living it fully for the first time -- would in itself resolve the neurosis. Feelings and neurosis cannot co-exist. Concepts and neurosis can.
In many ways it seems that analysts equate the ego with the constellation of neurotic defenses. They do not want the defenses to disintegrate because they perceive their task to be that of reorganizing them into a strong ego. The paradox which analysts do not grasp is that it is the perpetual containment of Pain that is disintegrating. This great reservoir of agony weakens the defense system year after year.
In Primal Therapy, we aim for the controlled disintegration of neurotic defenses; we want a "nervous breakdown," a breakdown of the repressive defense system. This does not mean inviting psychophysiologic chaos, as our critics assume. We guard against the collapse of the whole neurotic structure all at once, working instead toward a gradual dissolution of repression both in specific instances of re-experience (a primal) and as an overall aim of therapy. The dialectic to which Primal Therapy conforms is that "falling apart" (of defense---if appropriately handled) leads to integration. Otherwise there is disintegration where one level of consciousness is alienated from another, thus ensuring the fragmentation of the individual.
People suffer because they are in Pain and cannot feel it. Primal Therapy provides an environment in which the Pain can be felt; not looked at, not understood, not analyzed nor even "felt" about, but felt as and for what it is. It is not disintegrating. We can measure the integration with our brain maps. We can measure integration in the slowing of heart rate and lowering of blood pressure. The person is becoming whole again.
I can understand how intense feeling might appear disintegrative. If it is abreactive in nature and not properly connected to the past it will be. The defensive impulse to rush in with one sort of anesthetic or cognitive smokescreen or another is very strong and is supported by an entire culture that is very heavily geared to the suppression of Pain. The trainee in Primal Therapy often has to learn not to intervene, not to try to close off the patient's feeling; he has to learn how to avoid satisfying his own need for control. If healing is to occur, losing control is crucial: not in the sense of mindless abandonment to insane impulses, but in the sense of a total (yet survivable) loss of repression so that the rage felt is enormous, the terror really terrifying down to the bones of personality structure. Losing control over one's neurosis is the way to rediscover the natural self-regulation which exists within any organism.
It is not up to us to define the so-called "ego" and then make our patients fit themselves into our concept of its well-adjusted version. That makes the patient's reality subordinate to the analyst's concept. Our job is to allow patients to define themselves and to discover their own health, which they will do if we do not constantly get in the way of that process.

Transference and the Corrective Emotional Experience

In analytic theory, the patient develops what is termed a "transference relationship" with his analyst. This means that the patient's unconscious reactions toward his parents are projected onto the doctor. The patient then encounters the difference between the analyst's reaction and his parents' past reactions and theoretically experiences a "corrective emotional experience." Psychoanalysts believe that experiencing neurotic behavior patterns from childhood in relation to the analyst now will aright the neurosis by showing the patient that his reactions are no longer suited to adult life. So important has the corrective emotional experience become that Franz Alexander, who coined the phrase, called it the "central therapeutic agent" in the psychoanalytic procedure.[1]
If, for example, a patient's parents were strict disciplinarians, unjustly harsh and critical, then a good experience with a different kind of authority (one that is understanding, accepting, and reasonable) should correct the old neurotic view. The idea is that the patient displays all his neurotic patterns toward the analyst. He can't take it when the analyst is nice because he never had it. He may even get paranoid about it, believing that the analyst is trying to trick him or manipulate him. But when he gets permissiveness and acceptance from the analyst, he should begin to understand that not all authority is harsh, unyielding, or unfair. He begins, according to Alexander, "to experience intensely the irrationality of his own emotional reactions."
It seems to me that the analysts have stood the process on its head! The problem with their corrective emotional experience is that:

  • the trauma is old while the ending is new;
  • the focus is on irrational behavior in the present when it should be on Pain; and, 
  • the real problem is with the parents, not with the analyst. 
 No present relationship, even one with a skilled and compassionate therapist, can in itself resolve irrational behavior. It can be deterred, redirected, but not resolved -- because it is not irrational. It is logical behavior given the antecedent circumstances. One needs to match the behavior with the original context in order to make it rational again. People experience the truth of this every day. A person who feels worthless because he was made to feel that way when very young can be told repeatedly by teachers, friends, and colleagues that he or she is really worthwhile and successful, all in vain. The old, worthless feelings are prepotent because childhood experience has engraved them throughout the person's entire system. So a person can be praised to the heavens yet hear criticism and that is what sticks. That is what matches the underlying feeling.
Even in apparently happy circumstances the neurotic will act neurotically. An example is the neurotic who marries a compatible, cheerful, and understanding person, and yet continues to suffer from chronic depression. Why doesn't that love alter the depression? Is a corrective emotional experience limited only to someone with a title "doctor," or can it apply to other lesser souls, as well?
If we are trying to change a viewpoint, then the analytic method may achieve it. The corrective emotional experience may well enable people to mentally separate past from present and to identify what is "irrational" in their present attitude. But such activity occurs at the most refined mental level, with emotion regarded as nothing more than a point of reference.
The premise of a corrective emotional experience might be expressed as follows:

Analyst to patient: You feel that people, especially those in authority, don't care. I'm here to help you see where that thought comes from, and to demonstrate by my behavior that that is a false assumption.

This is all well and good but misses the mark. It ignores the fact that the patient's idea that no one cares is a statement about his life (no one did care), not just an item from his private thought collection. It is the tip of the psychophysiologic iceberg. What if the person feels better and is relieved to learn that his feelings are irrational, out of tune with current reality? So much the better. That is helpful, not curative.
There is nothing wrong with changing an unrealistic view of authority, but it does not happen by telling a patient how irrational his feelings are. Feelings and irrational conduct toward the analyst are only symbolic substitutes for the original Pain. Why bother with substitutes when the original experience can be recovered via feeling?
Changing a viewpoint is well and good, but it is not enough. The irrationality of present feelings is only half of the neurotic picture. The other half that contains the seed of healing is the rationality of those feelings in their original context. A parent who is constantly harsh with a child forces the child to be defensive and "tough." Given the early context, this defensiveness is logical. The only way to experience that rationality is to relive the original event, not with a new ending in the present, and not in relation to the analyst. It must be relived with the very ending it actually had before repression set in, the ending that meant great suffering. Then the therapist will not have to convince the patient that it is irrational to be terrified of the waiter, the postman, or the doctor. The patient will simply no longer be terrified because he has finally released the original terror belonging to the original trauma. Once this occurs, he will automatically treat current relationships rationally and appropriately. This is not simple theory. This is what we see in our patients after a course of Primal Therapy. Neo-Freudian analysts have made important modifications in the stance of the therapist from the strict "blank screen" neutrality of the Freudian model. That is a good thing. The aloofness of the traditional analyst promotes transference because the patient can so easily project all his needs and repressed feelings onto the therapist. If this "blank screen" is inviolable, then the transference is maintained at the instigation of the therapist. When this is done deliberately it is because transference is seen as one way to unearth the subconscious.
What we are really talking of here is a trick. The blank screen tricks the patient into delivering up the repressed, unresolved conflicts of childhood. It is a device because the analyst is not being himself. The analyst hides so that the patient may reveal himself. But we have found that you really don't need tricks. In spite of their defenses, most people are willing to tell someone what is hurting them. Furthermore, it can be a hindrance if the therapist is forever neutral and aloof.
While discarding the barrier of the blank screen is a good thing, we must not regard the more human interaction of the therapist as fundamentally therapeutic in and of itself. Though it helps, the genuineness of the therapist is not the key to health except to the degree that it supports and encourages the real key, feeling, to have its way. It must be tied to the dynamics of the disease under treatment. The more human relationship is to be supported because it enhances the feeling process. It is easier to let go in front of someone you feel you know than in front of a detached figure who reveals nothing of himself. Total detachment may be appropriate for analyzing transference but it does not provide an atmosphere for full emotional expression.
In Primal Therapy, we recognize the inevitability of transference, but we do not make it the center of therapeutic attention. We do not try to enhance it or diminish it. All deprived people symbolize onto others. Unmet need attaches to whomever may seem likely to fill it. There is no doubt that the therapy situation lends itself to an exaggerated transference, particularly because it is an unequal relationship. The therapist is inevitably an authority, the one in the know. The mere fact that he is in a position to accept trust and provide help has a lot to do with the patient's symbolization. The patient reveals much more of himself than the therapist does, which may make the patient feel small and the therapist appear big or grown up. So transference exists willy nilly. The question is what to do with it.

[1]Alexander, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, p. 42.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Music in Us

Shakespeare said of a man who seemed all repressed and unfeeling, “that man hath no music in him.” How true it is because music lies down in the limbic system; and if you cut off the top level cortex you can still respond to music….and feeling. You wonder why we remember songs from our youth and still know the words? Because we still did not have a fully functioning, repressive neocortex; because we still responded to the music out there and in us. There was music in us until it got crushed out. It was feelings that sealed in our memories of the music and words, and they meant a lot to us, expressing our lives at the time. It all lies down below our later development which covered over the essentials, the guts of our lives. Then was when our emotions were strong, everything was new, including love. Our reactions were strong, often exaggerated but they engulfed us and gave big meaning to our experiences. Some keep that music alive, keep the access to feelings, while others let the music die and lose access. Having to struggle in life, with children, with job or school all help dampen our music and as time goes on we listen less and less to it, outside and in,particular, inside. Music helps keep our feelings alive, and vice versa. They are companions in life.

We can tell who has that music still; there are those with no warmth, no kindness, no concern nor empathy who understand so much and feel nothing. And it shows in their demeanor; in their dry unemotional relationships, in their lack of perception of the feelings in others. It is a solipsistic world for them. In the absence of music they relate to themselves bereft of song and harmony. They have no sense of emotional harmony in the way they relate, dress, furnish and make choices. Their friends are also bereft and are chosen for that manqué. Their philosophies of child rearing; their "Weltanschaaung" are similar because they hear the words but not the music. They can’t dance but they move to the unseen and unheard music of their lives. Beware a president who can’t dance. We need a human president just as we need a human parent. Someone may move too fast to that unheard music and therefore does not take the time with his thoughts and decisions; nor do we want someone who dances too slow and who cannot make up his mind. We need something between a waltz and rock and roll.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

“I’ll Have a Cup of Enlightenment, Please.” “Will That Be With or Without Feelings, Sir?” By Bruce Wilson

Mindfulness meditation is the current zeitgeist in psychotherapy. Not surprisingly, it fits hand-in-hand with the other dominant therapeutic modality: cognitive behavioral therapy. In fact, there is now a hybrid of the two called MBCT - mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Both techniques are based on the same mechanism—detachment from feelings and thoughts. The “how” of mindfulness meditation can be summed up simply: sit still for 30 or 40 minutes, keep your eyes slightly open, follow your breath, and pay attention to whatever is going on in your mind and body but don’t do anything about it. Just sit there. When you catch your thoughts drifting, get back to the breath. There are variations on this theme, such as walking meditation and meditation while doing yoga or manual work. In a word, meditation is about paying attention. Be here now! Nothing more, nothing less.

Buddhist meditation, such as that practiced in Zen, strives for a combination of concentration (such as counting the breaths) and open awareness (listening to sounds, noticing things in your environment, etc) The goal is the same—to be attentive to whatever is going on within you and without you, as the Beatles song goes. Vedic forms of meditation usually include a mantra or phrase that is to be repeated over and over while keeping the eyes closed. The intent is to create a state of bliss, which some people call transcendence but I call spacing out. TM, à la the Maharishi, is a form of Vedic meditation.

Today’s popularity of mindfulness in psychology stems from the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, famous for his stress reduction clinic, established in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. You could say that Kabat-Zinn made Zen Buddhism scientifically respectable by stripping it of its religious trappings and subjecting it to clinical research. Over the past 30 years, mindfulness meditation has swept throughout the medical world and is used to treat patients suffering from cardiac disease, terminal cancer, chronic pain, drug and alcohol addictions, and a host of other conditions. Indeed, the research shows that mindfulness meditation can bring a lot of benefit. Practiced diligently, it can reduce the stress response, lower blood pressure, improve immunity, ease depression and anxiety, and even thicken areas of the cortex involved in the regulation of emotions.

So if meditation is so good for you, what’s the problem? The problem, as Janov states, is that it is based on suppression of feelings, or rather, dissociation from them. Meditation is often not calming at all; in its more intense forms, it is practically guaranteed to bring up feelings. Humans are just not made to sit still for hours or days at a time like some sessile creature on the bottom of the sea. We are born to move and to feel, and when feelings do come up in meditation, they can be intense. Serious meditators often experience extreme anxiety or depression—even panic—but rather go into those feelings to find out where they originate, as one does in primal therapy, the meditator is told to sit still and observe them as one might observe clouds floating across the sky. Feelings are neither here nor there. They are to be regarded merely as sensations that arise from nowhere and go back to nowhere—ahistoric, meaningless, even delusory. Over time, the capacity to feel is attenuated as one’s consciousness becomes increasingly rooted in the moment. Here and now. Here and now. Here and now….

Truly dedicated meditators—those who meditate for hours a day and attend frequent retreats—often get to a point where they feel disembodied. Their sense of self diminishes as they advance toward the ultimate goal of enlightenment, where one transcends space, time, and life and death itself to become one with the universe.

Beyond Life and Death? How Real is That?

Admittedly, meditation can make you calmer, more focused, resistant to stress, and more functional, but it must be done daily. In that sense, meditation is like an addiction that requires its regular fix. Stop doing it and your feelings come rushing back. Meditators often report feeling more peaceful—even joyful—after years of practice, but at what cost? Where did the trauma go? What access to feeling has been sacrificed? I know meditators who seem more like animated pieces of wood than feeling human beings. Others may smile beatifically, but exude an aura of passive aggression under the peaceful exterior. Despite the dozens of studies reporting positive results, despite the brain scans showing thicker cortices and lower vital signs, one is led to wonder what happened to the pain. Does it just vanish? Is it true that mindfulness can heal trauma, as its proponents say? Or has the pain just been driven deeper into the body, leaving an appearance of being healed?

My hypothesis is that mindfulness meditation encapsulates those painful feelings and keeps them dissociated from awareness, much as an oyster encapsulates an irritating grain of sand within a pearl. And one must keep them encapsulated with daily meditation for the rest of one’s life. Therapists who specialize in treating PTSD say that mindfulness can help someone examine their traumatic feelings – look at them from afar so to speak – so they can be “reprocessed.” Reprocessing usually means “reappraisal” – i.e. rethinking your feelings rather than taking them at face value. Once again, it is an attempt to control feeling with cognition, in direct contradiction to the affective neuroscience principle that feeling (affect) always trumps cognition.

Personally, I've found mindfulness meditation to be useful for dealing with present-day stress. It can and does provide strength during those times when you need to keep things together but I’ve never mistaken it for healing. It is only an adjunct; a tool to help with difficult feelings and situations until one can resolve them through action in the present or through primaling, whatever is appropriate to the situation. Without attention to feelings, mindfulness meditation is little more than a virtual lobotomy.

Bruce Wilson

Thursday, October 27, 2011

All You Have to Do Is Lie Down and Feel It. Really.

All you have to do is lie down and feel it.....REALLY.

I was reading Arthur Janov's blog about MBCT...: Mindfulness - whatever that is , and Cognitive therapy : Just ignore patient's history and treat the RESULT of history, mix both and you have a new therapy.....REALLY ?

So : we are going to talk forever about what ails us. We are going to look at the crazy miserable person we have become - we are going to talk about it for hours, days, months, years, try to understand it, forgive and move on... REALLY ?

.......And we are never going to go to the origin of our behavior : all these arcane reasons : why we do what we do and how we become who we are : our history : all these minutes, hours, years of misery, of registering day after day that we didn't matter to the most important people in our lives, all theses instants when we needed a feeling of tenderness that told us we were OK, all these moments of silence when we needed THEM to be interested in us, their children, all these moments of utter despair for not being looked at with a smile, listened to with genuine interest, laughed with, accepted as a child human being, all these seconds of wretched pain for not being loved by the two most important people in our lives, day after day during all the years spent with THEM as we developed into adulthood....

..and none of it mattered ??? Or we can ignore it for ever and just deal with the surface result ?? ?

So, the surface, who we are now, isn't the result of all these seconds of agony, of our need for love, of the agonizing pain for not being loved ?

Yes of course it is , but since it is all buried, covered, deeply entrenched in the past, let's leave it there and not go back to it. It is the PAST after all. Let's deal with the present...

Except for : Every pain has been buried, by and in our brain. our physiology : There is repression" in and with every part of our bodies ( and we aren't going to feel it ").

All this unconscious burying, rerouting, denying, which built us into who we are, the result of which is taken at face value and dealt with forever....If we lived two thousands years it still wouldn't be enough to dig out every strand of the rerouting of the pain in our system, -all the defenses being mostly unconscious- that we had to erect in order to protect ourselves from the abject pain of not being loved.

So why bother, why even try ?

To this day, I don't even understand why people don't see that and why they persist in wasting their time, their lives really, trying to figure out, talking ABOUT something they don't have access to . How can we understand something we really don't remember ? ""Intellectual understanding of buried feelings "! It would be funny, if it weren't not so tragic...

It is tragic, because we have only one life and we are going to spend it trying to figure out, trying to understand, trying to explain, trying to forgive...WHAT ? What we cannot figure out (it is all buried), understand ( the millions of rerouted neurons in our brain), forgive (our parents for not loving us) etc.....But what about the rage and despair that they didn't love us, what about the impossible task to understand that they destroyed our real chance at our lives, the one and only one we have, and forgive.

Yes, in most cases, it wasn't their fault : they weren't loved either. Yes we can still understand and forgive. But so what ? What about the imprinted misery/ neurosis : the rerouting of the Pain into all theses automatic defenses : mirrors inside mirrors, blocking our past, rerouting all our feelings and our thoughts, keeping us unaware of our original needs, our history, who we were, who we were supposed to become and who we became, : unconscious, neurotic, lost, hurting, looking for something, always.... But looking for what : ourselves ??

This sounds like a tragedy, doesn't it ?

But the real tragedy is all this group of very important people, all these scholars representing a whole profession, parading onstage and telling the people, : we are going to help you have a better life with MBCT : We have concocted a little cocktail of a bunch of theories, ideas of what ails you and we are going to fix you : a little bit of this and of that ( if you talk enough, and understand enough, never mind the part that is unconscious : your history). We promise you luminous days, full of words, understanding and forgiveness.

And the tragedy is that all these poor lost souls, will believe it, buy it, go for it and lose their only chance at life..

Yesterday I had a Primal : What is that ? Feeling the hurt, the helplessness , the hopelessness of not being loved, the anger, the despair, the need... to be THEM, as a child.

I was in pain yesterday, so if I wanted to feel better I knew all I had to do was : Go lie down and feel it it.

..and once again: the miracle happened : after 2 hours of crying, becoming that hurt little girl again, being with THEM, looking at THEM as if they are with me now, talking to THEM, begging THEM to love me. I understood new things, new strands of my life that have been pulling me forever in some unreal behavior"", I understood a new piece of "Why" "All my life".......

Why all my life, again, another huge piece. ...

Why ..I have been who I am, why I react in this way each time, why I get hurt so easily, why I could never do this, why I always did that, why I couldn't love, why I pushed love away, why I couldn't feel good, why I didn't sleep well, why life was miserable and so why I didn't care about it, why the sun on my skin left me indifferent, why beauty didn't touch me, why others misery didn't mobilize me , why, why, why my life could be so meaningless at times....,.,.

WHY : and it is so incredibly simple really : Today as I am writing this, I marvel at the miracle it is : I can go back there, not in thoughts, not by some exercise, not by talking a pill or chanting : but having "access" : whenever I want I can go back there, go back to the moments, the images, the sensations, the memories, the needs, the despair that little girl felt. It is all there, buried in me : all I have to do is let myself FEEL IT.

I still marvel at how my brain, my body have kept pristine, alive and real, all these instants where I felt I wasn't loved, how the memory of each second was buried but stayed in me.

How I had to NOT TO FEEL IT to be be able to go on, and so repress this unacceptable fact that the people who should have loved me most, nurture the best part of me, whose love should have made me grow, develop, allow me to feel joy and warmth, feel that all was well in this world, DIDN'T.

Who I was ? : Tragedy : my one life, : miserable, drugs, drinking, failed relationship, successful, so what ? .... a life that belonged to someone else ...literally..So why live : suicide attempt : five minutes later : over....

No, a reprieve, New York, a book :
"We are creatures of need"
I have needs ? I should have been loved ? It is not all my fault ? THEY just couldn't ? I am not bad, doomed, crazy forever. I can kiss my psychoanalyst good bye ? There are no reason for anything and certainly, no more reason to try to follow the myriad of ways I have been rerouting all this pain that made me a stranger to myself. ? You mean it is possible to undo all this misery, not to be stuck in my past forever ? You mean I can have a life, MY life ? it is all in a book.

........ I will know who I am, I will BE whom I really am, I will feel good, I will sleep well, I will be able to love really and may be to be loved. I will be able to feel my life in the present because the past will be gone, I will remember it but it won't pull the strings all the time..I will be free from it ...ENFIN, at last ?..

You mean, it is possible ? ... I left my job, my car in a street in Paris, left my key with a friend, flew to Los Angeles..

...and yes it is possible...It all happened and it is even better that I could have imagined : When I hurt, the past is always more powerful than the hurt in the present, so all I have to do is :


Each time, I go back there, that little piece of me, repressed, buried, comes alive, I feel what happened, I become that little girl hurt again, I understand one more piece of who I am. I come out of this incredible trip in the past, and then : I am completely in the present light, happy, alive, myself at last .

I still marvel at the fact that once I feel that old pain, my old needs, all the different ways I unconsciously denied them, avoided them, all this tortuous behavior to keep them away, all becomes clear : How my unconscious becomes conscious, and how I know now and forever : who I was, and who I had to become, and now finally : who I am.

...and I want to thank the man who figured it all and put it in a book . I thank him for my life.....forever.

So what I don't understand is why would anybody want to waste their life doing : What is it called : MBCT ?

France Daunic Janov

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An Examination of Psychoanalysis (Part 11/13)

Neo-Freudian Shifts in Free Association

Free association, the staple of orthodox Freudian analysis, has given way to what Harry Stack Sullivan and others have called "more genuine communication." Sullivan thought that free association was too often a case of patients and doctors indulging in "parallel autistic reveries." He and other heretical analysts led patients to talk about significant aspects of their lives in a more directed way.

Talking may produce insight, recognition, enlightenment, and all the other facets of awareness which analysts prize; , but it does not restore c onsciousness. To heal, t alking must lead into deeper levels of experience and memory.
I dealy, therapists should limit their directives. To speak while the patient is plunging into a non-verbal early event would be to abort the feeling. We cannot communicate verbally with a patient who is her non-verbal, pre-verbal brain. The genuine communication here is the fluid connection between the levels of consciousness within the patient and not the quality of the dialogue between patient and therapist. What is difficult in the training of primal therapists is to teach them how to ask a non-verbal question. It can be done.
What is clear in doing our therapy is that one cannot transgress levels of consciousness; the therapist must remain on the same level as the patient.

Time in Modern Analysis

One needs time to fully penetrate the depths of the unconscious. The statutory analytic hour (usually lasting only 45-50 minutes, in fact) means that the therapist is setting a limit at the outset as to how far his patients can go. With such a short time, what else can they do but restrict themselves to matters of the now? Going into the past can very easily seem like a waste of time. The way analysis treats it, it is.
The person in an analytic-style therapy may relate a current situation which unwittingly leads to a primal scene; there are tears and a welling up of feeling. What happens next is crucial. If this occurs at around 30 to 35 or 40 minutes in a 45-minute session, the analyst's response is predictably one of stepping in to seal off the emotion while encouraging the patient to organize his thoughts for tomorrow. From the Primal perspective this patient has been cut off from himself, stopped dead in his tracks, right at the point when an important primal feeling is about to occur. He is robbed of the only experience that can profoundly change him.
The painful feelings are memories that take their own time to be told in their own form. The 45-minute session suits a cerebral therapy where one feels for a few minutes and can then stop with impunity. Therapists may feel something has been achieved when they see their patients crying for a few minutes about a scene from childhood, but crying about and being in the grips of childhood is the difference between a few tears and sobs, and reliving ineffable Pain for two hours. It is the "old" tears we are after; the tears the child should have cried and never did. Baby tears are curative. Adult tears are ameliorative.
The shortening of the psychoanalytic session is bound to keep the patient hanging on. He either has to talk fast to get the feeling that he is covering the topics important to him, or he slows down and is able to deal with only a fragment of what is going on. He has a distended session. And no matter how many times a week he comes for therapy, the breaks in the flow of unconscious to conscious are determined by the clock on the wall, not by his inner time.
Imagine having to squash the feelings yet maintain a grasp of what came up, assimilate the analyst's interpretations, try to make sense of one's own thoughts sparked off by the aborted experience, all the while clinging to some tentative meaning with which to step back into the world until the next meeting. It is too much to ask. Such an approach inevitably produces a greater amount of headwork and therefore confusion. Meanwhile, having encouraged this confusion to some extent, psychoanalysis then presents itself as the means of unravelling the confusion through the medium of understanding. Thus the analyst ensures his own indispensability.
It might be argued that patients who go three, four, or even five times a week would invalidate my complaint about the distended session. Presumably, whatever was interrupted one day could be easily picked up the next day. It can't because the defense system has recovered sufficiently to prevent access. Indeed, the repressive barriers may be strengthened, because our defenses reflexively tighten their hold when Pain comes close. At the very least, patients are caught in the contradiction of allowing unconscious feelings to surface followed by a need to restrain those very feelings. A certain indeterminate cycle occurs here. The patient comes close to Pain, then is encouraged to push it back down and "think about it" until the next time.
Furthermore, I can't for the life of me figure out what the difference is between therapy three times a week or four times a week. Presumably, the four times a week goes deeper and further, which in my experience is not the case. Any analysis, even if it goes on seven days a week, will go no deeper than the defense system will allow. Unless Primal techniques are used, the therapy will remain on a superficial level, no matter how convinced the patient and therapist are that they have gone deeper. That is why many of our former patients who entered Primal Therapy after years of psychoanalysis say that in the first three weeks of our therapy they had gone deeper and learned more than in all the years of analysis.
I am convinced that the kind of material a patient dare not face until she is ready in psychoanalysis, which could be a year or two down the line, is material one can get to in two or three primal sessions. We also find out that the really deep material is nothing that can be recounted to a therapist, nothing that a therapist need dose out to a patient. It is something that neither one can recognize until the feeling is felt and is over. If the therapy is done correctly, Pain will arise in order and in integratable doses. The really deep material remains absolutely out of reach of any analyst who could not possibly guess what traumas lie deep in the neuraxis.
What also makes psychoanalysis interminable is that four times a week therapy deepens the dependence on the therapist, who is meanwhile encouraging his patient to be independent and "responsible." But in these terms, to really take full responsibility would mean to stand on one's own two feet and stop asking for constant advice. Still, patients don't really go to analysis for advice; they go for comfort, reassurance, understanding, warmth, and kindness -- and above all, a chance to talk to a "daddy" or "mommy" who will finally listen and care. The price they pay to get this is to be a bright student, offer up brilliant insights and remain forever dependent. As long as the therapist is in the driver's seat, the patient will continue to be a dependent passenger.

Monday, October 24, 2011

An Examination of Psychoanalysis (Part 10/13)

Neo-Freudian Analysis:
The Noncorrective Emotional Experience


So-called neo-Freudianism covers any number of different theoretical angles and therapeutic methods that have been developed over a long period of time by many different psychoanalysts. They come together as neo-Freudians because their positions , developed from Freudian psychoanalytic concepts modified rather than discarded the Freudian model for the origin and treatment of neurosis. Neo-Freudians tend to reject the same Freudian notions, though they do not always replace them with shared viewpoints.

At the head of the neo-Freudians were some of Freud's own colleagues who defected from orthodoxy at one time or another. Key figures in the emerging heresy were Alfred Adler, Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney, and Eric Fromm.[1] Although all of these theorists parted company with "the master" on significant issues, none of them rejected Freudian thought or methodology wholesale.
Emphasis upon the influence of childhood experience was maintained by the neo-Freudians, with neurosis still viewed as the result of unassimilated childhood disturbances. While "intrapsychic conflict" is still part of the more recent analytic focus, early life experience has been increasingly relegated to that of a reference point. It is thought to be helpful in understanding how the neurosis emerged, but is not considered to play an active role in recovery. The most obvious parting of the ways with Freudian orthodoxy came over the issue of instinctual drives (the libido), a central dynamic in the Freudian scheme. The neo-Freudians dispense with the issue of infantile sexuality (or at least show far less concern for it), favoring instead a focus upon the present environment with its ongoing interpersonal dynamics. As a result of this trend the matter of repression and the unconscious has gradually lost attention, with the here-and-now interactions of daily life coming to the fore.
Therapy for the neo-Freudians focuses on how the person feels in his environment, what he perceives his needs to be, and how he sets about satisfying them. It probes into problems of "self-evaluation" (such as insecurity, unassertiveness, and low self-esteem) toward the goal of helping the patient develop practical "self-management" skills. Working from the premise that the patient is disabled by bad experiences, the main thrust of neo-Freudian therapy is to provide what Franz Alexander termed a "corrective emotional experience." Here it is believed that positive experiences in therapy will undo tangles wrought by the bad ones. For example, because the patient "learns" in therapy that not all authority is strict and unyielding or indifferent, such new, good experiences will adjust his view of himself in the world and enable him to set about life with sensible, realistic attitudes and restored self-confidence.
The magical notion is that by working through the transference and aided by the corrective emotional experience, the person will change. Unfortunately, iIf chang e w ere as simple as a corrective good experience , then all neurotics who have loving partners as adults should stop being neurotic. Not the case.
After all, transference in Freudian terms means transferring emotional reactions in the past onto the present. It doesn't mean simply transferring onto a therapist. Whatever needs remain unfulfilled from child will be transferred onto anyone, including one's children. Thus the child becomes the act-out for old feelings and needs.
All of this is no more than saying that you cannot "love" neurosis away. That concept is an old liberal, democratic notion that love solves all.
Does it not make better sense to avoid analyzing the transference and go straight to the need, which is omnipresent? The transference will then no longer be possible. Besides, emotions are not there to be corrected; they are there to be felt. The emotional residue continues on until they are felt. If one hates one's father and is transferring that onto a therapist, a soon as the hate is felt in its entirety, over months and months, the transfer will disappear.
In modern analysis, the length of therapy tends to be much briefer than the protracted excavation of Freudian psychoanalysis. This seems to be the case 1) because immediately observable change in adjusting to the here-and-now is the objective of therapy, and 2) because the vast area of experience which lies behind the barrier of repression -- the past -- is largely removed from the picture, or if not removed entirely becomes a kind of after-thought of the therapy. Thus there are usually fewer sessions per week, with a reduced emphasis upon free association. The neo-Freudian therapist is generally more flexible and eclectic than his orthodox counterpart. He tends to play a more active role with his patient, intervening more readily to focus on patterns of attitude, behavior, and self-evaluation.
In the end, neo-Freudianism drifts towards behaviorism, bringing principles of learning and even conditioning to bear. By abandoning the more abstruse mysteries of Freudian thought, the neo-Freudians have allowed the vital importance of key concepts like repression and past causes to lapse. Because of the inadequacies in Freud's original techniques for dealing with the past, in their efforts to discard the inadequacies, the neo-Freudians have thrown out the past altogeth er, not unlike throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Shift to the Here and Now

Freud believed that current personal problems were founded upon the repressed experiences of childhood, the key to which were the stages of psychosexual development. Beyond that he was concerned with the clash between the murky remnants of man's primitive, instinctual life and the civilized being that he endeavors to be. Thus, neurosis resulted from the intrapsychic conflicts created by repression. For this Freud prescribed a lengthy mental probe into the unconscious to discover the root causes. This painstaking reconstruction of a person's history, when set against the backdrop of man's evolution and innate biological constitution, would lead to understanding of what was wrong and, in turn, provide the person with more conscious control over his life. The interpretations by the analyst and the patient's growing own insight would allow him to adjust to the prevailing realities of civilization.
The neo-Freudian analysts depart from this classical approach in several ways. The shift from emphasis upon discovering unconscious conflicts rooted in childhood to a focus upon current life situations has been gradual, as each generation of analysts has become dissatisfied with various methods of its predecessors. The first phase of rejection was instigated by Freud himself who, during the latter part of his life, had begun to lean towards making the ego rather than the id the concern of analysis. In a sense, it was not the personal past that was rejected but the innate, phylogenetic legacies of the species' primitive past that lost their central importance. Freud spoke of analysis necessarily fluctuating between the id and the ego. Modern analysts rarely bother with the id and its libidinal drives. They prefer to focus instead upon the ego and its defense mechanisms: the here-and-now aspect of consciousness. Those analysts tend to call in the individual's past only when it serves to throw light upon how the ego is conducting itself within the present environment.
Although modern analysts agree that neurosis may be the end product of repressed conflicts left over from childhood, they do not give these conflicts the same importance as did Freud, nor do they focus on the same conflicts. The patient, they would say, lives here and he lives now. Therefore the context demanding the most attention is the present one. Whatever its historical basis, the neurosis thrives at the moment and is clearly bolstered by the current environment in which the patient moves and has his being. This environment inevitably includes what are rather laboriously called interpersonal relationships. True, new-Freudians acknowledge, how the patient conducts himself within that environment may have a lot to do with how he grew up. But once he has become enlightened (which is the task of therapy) he will discard these anachronistic, self-defeating behaviors in favor of more suitable ones for the here and now.
The late Franz Alexander, a pioneering founder of psychoanalysis in the United States, enunciates the modern Freudian relationship to the past in this statement:

We could center the patient's attention on his real problems and should turn his attention to disturbing events in the past only for the purpose of throwing light upon the motives for irrational reactions in the present.[2]

This declaration equate s only the present problems with "real" problems. It is presumptuous for the therapist to decide where the patient should focus his attention. Certainly the patient with his problems should be allowed the right to go where he must.
To refer to the past only to "throw light" upon motives is to miss the point on two counts. The past is not simply a record, a library of academic information; it is a living state which infuses, permeates, and in many ways determines the present. The neurotic does not live in the here-and-now. He is stuck in the past. His present is colored by the past. To use a modern colloquialism, "the past is happening." It is not a separate story written in the pages of some carefully preserved personal history book over which dust has fallen, but is alive in the cells, tissues, and chemistry of the brain and body. We are what we were, trying to get what doesn't exist; acting out a past we cannot feel. Yet we erroneously refer to the past as if it were an external place physically distant from us. To see someone racked by a repressed grief, to see man or woman dissolve into a hurt child, is to understand how the Painful past has lived on within us. To feel it oneself is to understand that much more clearly.
But the neo-Freudians have moved away from addressing that past and toward Behaviorism: stamp in good behavior, stamp out the bad/neurotic. This is not an improvement on Freud. Quite the opposite. They have moved toward a non-historical, non-dynamic approach when the opposite is called for. One can use behavior therapy, biofeedback, and other techniques to correct the blood pressure, but the tendency remains. Correcting the blood pressure through behavioral techniques tries to get the patient to live in the present. But it is only ephemeral.
Among the non-libido analysts, there was a move towards encouraging patients to show feeling. There was an increased recognition of non-verbal aspects of consciousness. However, these new directions were never taken quite far enough.
Karen Horney, a very well known analyst in the thirties and forties was one of the first to ask patients to report what they were feeling rather than just what they were thinking. It was a significant step. But to Horney the task of therapy was still interpretation of attitudes towards the self and interpretation of defenses. Although she paid attention to non-verbal signals in this endeavor, there is no indication that she saw beyond the underlying dynamics. While she accepted that a person could recall his past and reveal it verbally, she apparently did not recognize that emotional intrusions which often accompany these revelations are not simply caused by the memories entering awareness, but are in fact repressed memories themselves. They are not signals of ideas, attitudes, wishes, or other elements of the mental sphere but signals of the imminent eruption of intense Primal feelings. Freud and early post-Freudian theorists had a much better idea of the importance of not only uncovering "forgotten" memories but of allowing the affect or feeling bound up with the memories to surface simultaneously. His descendants would have done better to return to some of the original aspects of psychoanalysis. Although many modern analysts do pay lip service to the notion of allowing the feelings inherent in repressed memories to surface, what they do in practice often militates against such an experience.
The neo-Freudian equivocation toward actually feeling the past seems to have turned more recently into a headlong flight away from it.

[1]_I am not including Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich, Otto Rank, and Sandor Ferenczi. Although Freudian thought was their springboard for defection, they ventured beyond what is generally known today as neo-Freudianism.
[2]Franz Alexander, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (New York: Ronald Co., 1946), p. 88.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

On a Few Kindly Words

I watched Sixty Minutes last night as Andy Rooney said goodbye to TV. In his goodbye speech he noted that he became a writer because a teacher once said to him, “You know you can really write. Keep it up.” That was it; one sentence that set him a life pursuit. And I thought how little it takes to help kids find a direction in life. Just a few words when the child is seven or eight, a few words of encouragement is all she needs to pursue a talent. And how rare is that encouragement. Why is that? Maybe parents cannot see their child for who she is. Maybe they are so into their own need for encouragement that they cannot see that need in others. And it doesn’t even have to be direct encouragement. So many of us remember the name of a kind teacher decades later, and remembered that her kindness got us to study and learn; not the readin, writin, and rithmatic admonishments of our leaders. It is kindness that gets us motivated and always will be.

I still remember the names of my grammar school teachers who talked to me with warmth and caring. Mrs. Lopez taught me Spanish and Mr. Summers taught me typing. I still am good at that many decades later. And I remember my teacher, Mrs. Kirk, who took me to the zoo when I was in kindergarten at age 6. She recognized that I had a mentally ill mother, something I did not know, and wanted to be kind and caring. I only realized years later that she selected only me to go to the zoo. So how come after all this time I remember their names and not any of the others? And how come I learned what they taught? They fulfilled a deep need, a need in all of us, that I was not aware of. And they were human and acted like humans, not just like “teachers.” Isn’t that a lesson in all of our endeavors? What works is humaneness, a little caring and a little encouragement. It is not strictness and a driving teacher or boss. The good people make you want to learn because in that learning is love or how it gets translated.

And what amazes me is how little it takes. Just a few words over many years can make a difference. It says, “You are good. Keep it up.” Instead, because it is lacking, the child grows up acting out the need by driving herself so that others will say, “you know you’re good.” And then she comes to us as a patient to cry out, “Say I’m good!” Why? Because all the new encouragement still makes her feel empty and dissatisfied.

And current praise won’t be enough because of the critical period; that is the time when needs must be fulfilled. Encouragement at age seven is important, and when it isn’t there it will help slightly to get it later on. It will never stop the act-out if you cannot get it when you need it. Needs must be fulfilled on a timetable and only then. Then the love is locked-in and keeps us safe and content for life. When fulfillment is not there we are locked-into trying to get it forevermore. And “tough love” ain’t it. You can scare kids into behaving but that is not the same as loving them and having them really want to behave. Isn’t that true of all of us?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Mindfulness Therapy: Or Mindless Therapy

So, Drs. Dan Siegel and Jack Kornfield are giving a seminar in November at UCLA called, “Mindfulness, Healing, and the Neurobiology of Love.” Clearly it is exactly the opposite of what they advertise. And then there is the dubious claim that after the workshop the attendee will:

  • Identify three ways to heal trauma
  • Describe the nature of self
  • Demonstrate mindful practice to reduce suffering
  • Apply trainings of love, kindness, forgiveness and compassion
That is a tall order; far too tall for what they offer. And as a bonus we can get credit toward our professional license by attending. It is recognized by the California Board of Psychology. Dr. Kornfield, a former Buddhist monk and now is director of the Insight Meditation Society. Dr. Siegel is clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA.

So, what is it this mindfulness? I was going to say, more booga booga but I won’t, just yet. But we have to ask the question, “Where is the science in psychology and psychiatry today. What happened to our field? Is it bankrupt and taken over by the mystics? If so, why?

One reason is that too many of these professionals are left brainers, in their heads, intellectuals in the worst sense of the term, and they cannot merge ideas with feelings to see how necessary feelings are. Or in this case to use the intellect to get to feelings is nonsense; as anyone who reads neurology would know. And I have heard Dr. Siegel lecture on it so he should know. But the longest trip in the world for him is the trip from the left to right brain, from the neocortex to the limbic area. And what he knows but doesn’t is that we use the late-developing neocortex to suppress feelings when they are too strong; so to use that structure to get in touch with feelings is an oxymoron.

What they say is that you need to become extremely watchful and aware and that makes you at peace with yourself. Watch your in-breathing and out-breathing so you are more mindful. Cultivate detachment and become an observer of yourself; how you move, how you walk and how you breathe. To be very aware of everything around you. And on and on—if you want to become a Hindu. But is this science? Is this what the professor at UCLA should be teaching? Well, they say, we have the research to back up our claims. “We change vital signs and behavior”, and they may well have it. But let’s consider. There is an imprint of key memories going back to just after conception. There are literally hundreds of studies now of this research. Further, it seems like the imprint is engraved by a process of epigenetics involving methylation and other chemicals. The imprint is carried forward and affects behavior and the later development of disease. And we are driven by the imprints all of our lives; which is not more than saying that we are the result of our history, our very early history. If we do not believe this than we are “free” to concoct any kind of theory. But if we follow science we are constrained by it; that is, we must acknowledge history and memory. How can we ignore history and be liberated? No matter what any guru says there is no way to ignore our past and get access to our feelings and become “conscious.” Conscious of what? The external, the outside? That does nothing to help us access our feelings inside.

What they are teaching is how to suppress and get on in life, and then be more kind and forgiving. I repeat: there is no way to avoid historical imprints and be liberated. How can we avoid ourselves our feelings and we kinder? They offer to be more focused on the minutia and therefore we will be able to heal trauma. They don’t say how. They don’t say what trauma is and how it gets installed in our brains and bodies. It is all amorphous and ethereal, as all booga booga should be. We just fill in the blanks. But one thing we know; you can use the top level to block access to feeling, not access it. vTo gain access the neocortex must cede to lower feeling levels of consciousness; must give way to feelings and let go of the intellect. But when you go to school and use your intellect every day for years it is not easy to let go of it. Intellect becomes the apotheosis, and takes the place of where feelings should be.

These people have abandoned our raison d’etre. People hurt; we need to help them with that hurt and find ways to undo it, not to help them play games with themselves. Yes it’s fun at $300 a weekend, but underneath it all people are looking for answers for their lives. We as professionals owe it to them.

Dr Siegel in his video says that in neurosis there is an imbalance in the two hemispheres and we need to bring them together so he suggests guided imagery, relaxation techniques and to be able to name the feeling accurately; he claims when you do that the whole system calms down. In short, to use the top level to bring the two sides together, when it is exactly the opposite; we descend below and to the right, experience feelings and allow them to join the left hemisphere, and then the whole system will calm down. It is all a mind game, and I must reiterate, no matter what the claim, not matter what the research you cannot ignore your own history and be liberated or learn to relax. It is our central reality. Yes, we can try this maneuver or that day after day and achieve a change in vital signs but I guarantee you that the imprint will live on down deep and do its damage constantly. The problem is that you have to do key gyrations constantly in order to achieve some semblance of normal. But it is only semblance, not organic. And as long as the imprint is there you always regress. How can you not?; as long as reality is there you will be subject to it. But of course all this is based on science. If you ignore it, if you avoid epigenetics and the imprint then you can manufacture any theory you want. Hence the merging with the mystics. And of course, the real problems is that devilish intellect that rules the field and makes the purveyors of feelings a pariah or someone not serious.

Siegel says we need to separate awareness from our feelings so you don’t moan and grown about your sadness; to get a handle on your feelings. Sounds good? Wrong. We don’t need a handle; we need our feelings. He thinks we can use awareness to help bring the two hemispheres together. Awareness is what separates them. Awareness came along millions of years after feelings. Why would we use to it for integration? Feelings are what integrates with intellect. Not vice versa. Primitive animal forms have some kind of awareness but they don’t have conscious/awareness; a sense of themselves and what they feel. In evolution the top level of the brain split off into awareness on the left and feelings on the right. Consciousness requires both. So there is awareness a la Siegel and then there is conscious/awareness. It is the latter that heals.

At the risk of being politically incorrect here we have a scientific congress by Siegel and Kornfield, organized by Solomon and Goldstein. I don’t think it is an accident that it is a Jewish operation. Jewish intellectuality is well known as Jews were in many countries where they had to carry their skills in their head since they were not allowed to carry any riches to other places. They were not allowed into the basic industry of America, iron, steel, coal, automobiles so they remained on the fringes, into the intellect. And they refined the intellect until it turned into its opposite, in this case: mindfulness turns into mindlessness as the intellect soars into never-never land, a combination of booga booga, Buddhism (or is that redundant?), taking pieces of neurology and applying it helter-skelter to psychology. Applying it according to a parti pris, an apriori set of ideas that are not organic to us humans. Neurology in this case is sorted and selected according to the intellect and wiggled into whatever hypothesis is concocted at the moment. It is a superimposed notion on human life rather than rising organically from our internal life; from our feelings. Ultimately, too many theories are simply ideas raised from the depths of the unconscious of the creator and elevated to the level of a principle.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Examination of Psychoanalysis (Part 9/13)

Wish Fulfillment

Contrary to Freud ’s theories , n eurotic dreams, particularly recurrent dreams, are attempts to deal with imprinted pain. Monsters, chaos, and catastrophes all depict the condition of the dreamer's feelings rather than the fulfillment of the dreamer's wishes. In the dream, no matter what the story, there is often a feeling of impending doom; the same feeling that arises just before a patient slips into a devastating pre-verbal primal.

While some dreams may contain wish fulfillment, it is definitely not the essence of dream material. Dream material is woven out of the concrete events of waking realities. If Pain is the chronic ingredient of that reality, it likewise will be the prime mover of dream activity.
Wish fulfillment is a seductive concept that again veils Pain behind a dangerous illusion of insight. Worse, it rarefies the unnecessary Pain of deprivation into an inevitable conflict of infantile desires.


For Freud and his followers, the preferred method of dream analysis – that has r emain ed unchanged for the last century -- use s language, words, and ideas a s the main tools of unravelling. Freud believed that when traced back to its origin, a neurotic idea would "crumble" and the patient would be "freed from it." Unfortunately, intellectual tracing seems quite limited because the neurologic system allow s us to go only so far before barring the gates. Ideas can alter, deny, distort, and repress feelings, but they cannot crumble them. Feelings don't "crumble." They are felt and resolved. And with that resolution goes the ideas which were used to defend against them.
Dreams utilize the first and second levels of consciousness -- primarily the second -- and are another type of language. They use scenes, pictures, sounds, scents, and images to portray feeling. While dreams are still symbols for the feeling, they are closer than third-level ideas to the inner reality. Making associations -- interpreting dreams -- thinking about meaning, just results in more symbols to cover the feeling
Analyzing dreams is the same as analyzing an idea and finding flaws in its logic. You can analyze a paranoid idea -- "people are laughing behind my back," for example -- all day long and not change it one bit. When one succumbs to the feeling of the dream, then one is directly experiencing the unconscious. That means giving into the feeling -- which might be one of terror or blind panic -- and riding the feeling to wherever it leads in the unconscious.

Structuring the Dream

Freud's dream work model requires that the analyst structure the dream for the patient. This action in itself modifies the dream, for the analyst can only superimpose his own view and theory. The dream will have a Freudian slant in psychoanalysis, and a Jungian slant in Jungian analysis. The theory is a preconceived set of ideas laid onto the dream in order to make sense of it. However, no theory is necessary at all, because the memory-imprint is all that is needed to make sense. The dream when felt will lead precisely to the time and place of the trauma. No theory need intervene. The analyst cannot possibly know more about the patient's unconscious than the patient himself. And even if his guess is correct, his insight communicated to the patient will not alter the problem within the patient. It will only give him one more idea to think about, and one less reality to feel. Only the dreamer, not the analyst, knows for sure what a dream means, but he won't know until Pain opens the gates and diminishes repression.
Let's take one of the examples Freud used to show how the application of his technique explained the dream.

A lady related that as a child she very often dreamt that God had a pointed paper cap on his head. How are you going to understand that without the help of the dreamer? It sounds quite nonsensical; but the absurdity disappears when the lady says that as a little girl she used to have a cap like that put on her head at table, because she wouldn't give up looking at the plates of her brothers and sisters to see whether any of them had been given more than she. Evidently the cap was meant to serve the purpose of blinkers; this piece of historical information was given, by the way, without any difficulty.

The interpretation of this element and, with it, of the whole short dream becomes easy enough with the help of a further association of the dreamer's: 'As I had been told that God knew everything and saw everything, the dream could only mean that I knew and saw everything as God did, even when they tried to prevent me.' This example is perhaps too simple.[1]

For Freud it was "easy enough" to see the historical parallels between the dream symbols and the dreamer's past. The patient as a little girl was made to wear the cap, so in her childhood dreams she puts the same cap on God -- she saw the plates of food "even when they tried to prevent me." And Freud believed that arriving at an "accurate" understanding or interpretation in this way was sufficient to undo the trauma.
There is a certain intellectual satisfaction in arriving at such a neat and clear parallel. In fact, Freud felt that "this example is perhaps too simple" because the meaning was so easily discerned. We have found that no matter how simple and transparent the meaning of the dream is, experiencing its feeling is, without exception, never "simple." While the intellect can view the connections as a well-fitted package, the body experiences the connections only through confusion, fear, and finally , agony.
What matters in this dream is the Pain that drove this little girl to her compulsive behavior, and the further Pain of her parents' reaction to it. Beneath her insistent need to see if her brothers and sisters had been given more could be the Pain of rejection and neglect. The dinner food was only a symbol for the love she wasn't getting. It would have been best left to her to tell us what it means, which she could have done had she been encouraged to sink into the feelings in the dream, feeling the Pain of that little girl as a little girl at the dinner table. She must re-experience the rejection and the lack of love; she must feel the Pain that drove her compulsive glances. She must feel the even deeper hurt inflicted by her parents. Not only did they not recognize her desperate need, they punished and humiliated her for it

[1]Outline of Psychoanalysis, p. 124.

Monday, October 17, 2011

An Examination of Psychoanalysis (Part 8/13)

Abandoning yourself to thought is a contradiction in terms. Patients need to abandon themselves to feeling. If they are unable to abandon their unreal defensive selves to find the real pained self, then they must indeed rely upon another's interpretation of their experience.
And therein lies the rub.
Defense against feeling is precisely what makes neurosis a matter of mystery and confusion. That the patient cannot be trusted to arrive at his own answers seems to be a self-fulfilled prophecy in the sense that he is prevented from feeling his long-repressed feelings -- the true source of elucidation. And since the therapist doesn't trust the patient to go where he must, the patient doesn't go there and the analyst assumes that the patient cannot be trusted.


Freud recognized that in allowing free association he was also inviting freedom of defense, or "resistance," as it was termed. This resistance had to be dissolved by the analyst's interpretations. Primarily, resistance is what "opposes and blocks the analytic work by causing failures in memory," although it also included the patient's criticism of his own associations. Freud believed that analyzing this resistance provided even more insight than the original associations :, as follows:

The associations which people wish to suppress in this way proves without exception to be the most important, to be decisive for the discovery of the unconscious thought. Resistances invariably confront us when we try to penetrate to the hidden unconscious thought from the substitute offered by the dream element."[1]

Freud needed to take this observation one step further. It is not an unconscious thought that the patient resists, but the threat of overwhelming Pain. Pain makes the thought intolerable; and it is the Pain that must be dealt with. The thought is only a cognitive abstraction, neutral in itself, until it is connected to the Pain that forged it.
What Freud did not perceive was that getting the patient to intellectually accept the analyst's interpretation of his resistance did not in fact remove the resistance; it merely changed its form. It is merely a substitution of thoughts, and no matter how accurate the newly supplied ones may be, disconnection is actually maintained.
Analyzing resistance is still a major part of the psychoanalytic method used today. The patient's resistance is worked on as a problem in itself. Freud believed that analyzing the resistance would eventually lead to the unconscious origin of the neurosis when in fact . analyzing the resistance is itself resistance. Analyzing the resistance keeps the person detached from the very feelings that could liberate him. It mobilizes the cortex in the service of repression, locking up the unconscious contents even tighter.
There is nothing to analyze about resisting Pain. Resistance is just one more mechanism of survival, a biological shutdown in the face of overwhelming danger. Ultimately, resistance is fear, and fear comes from threat, not thought. The system automatically resists more Pain than it can integrate. Resistance is normal and a survival function. To say to the patient, "You are resisting this or that" can make him feel guilty for acting normally. Resistance doesn't evaporate until the Pain does. Then there is nothing to be resist ant against .

Dream Analysis

In addition to free association , Freud used dream analysis to treat neurosis. In fact for Freud, the interpretation of dreams was "the via regia [royal road] to the unconscious." In his Interpretation of Dreams, published in 1899, he described how he came upon the similarity between dreams and neurotic symptoms:

If a pathological idea of this sort can he traced back to the elements in the patient's mental life from which it originated, it simultaneously crumbles away and the patient is freed from it...My patients were pledged to communicate to me every idea or thought that occurred to them in connection with some particular subject; amongst other things they told me their dreams and so taught me that a dream can be inserted into the psychical chain that has to be traced backwards in the memory from a pathological idea. It was then only a short step to treating the dream itself as a symptom and to applying to dreams the method of interpretation that had been worked out for symptoms.[2]

Freud applied his free association to interpreting dreams. In fact, he came to realize that dreams were often the best material for analysis. Since one is asleep (i.e., unconscious) while dreaming, there is little censorship from the ego so that the dream provides the purest possible presentation of the unconscious.
Freud's theory of dreams centered on one main concept: wish fulfillment. He believed that unconscious wishes from infancy and childhood animated all adult dreams. Since "dreams contain the psychology of the neuroses in a nutshell," unravelling their meaning via free association would also unravel the neurosis. Thus, the patient once again reclines on the couch in a relaxed, self-observant manner while producing associations to each part of the dream. Importantly, Freud believed it essential for the analyst to structure the dream for the patient:

If I say to a patient who is still a novice: "What occurs to you in connection with this dream?" as a rule his mental horizon becomes a blank. If, however, I put the dream before him cut up into pieces, he will give me a series of associations to each piece...[3]

These associations, when properly interpreted, would reveal the infantile wishes that actually motivated the dream material in the first place.
Freud broke important ground with his work on dreams, for dreams were generally regarded as nonsense by his contemporaries. Just recognizing that dreams were meaningful was a major breakthrough for psychology. The problem is that his views -- which were again a beginning -- have remained unexplored, unchanged, and unexpanded by his successors. Ernest Jones writes that the conclusions Freud made public in his Interpretation of Dreams "have experienced only a minimum of modification or addition in the half century since the book was published. Of very few important scientific works can this be said."[4] Jones viewed the lack of change as an indication of Freud's accuracy and thoroughness whereas others see it as an indication of his successors' rigidity and compliance.
Based on Freud’s theory, dream analysis is unfortunately another intellectual exercise that negates feeling. Dreams appear to contain images of something more profound. Until real causes are released from below the gates of consciousness/awareness , dream analysis remains intellectual guesswork. In precipitating real change, mind games are not helpful. What is helpful when using dreams in therapy is asking a patient to relive the dream in order to get to the feelings and imprints that gave rise to them. The symbols, images, and stories often reflect imprinted memory. Too often, intense dreams represent early non-verbal imprints remote from the dream itself. To understand an image and its theoretical underpinnings has nothing to do with cure. Only feelings can bridge the gap, and only Pain can lead to feelings. It is feeling that is the royal road to the unconscious; feelings are what is unconscious.

[1]Outline of Psychoanalysis, p. 122.
[2]Interpretation of Dreams, pp. 132-133.
[4]Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, p. 229.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Toward a Grasp of History

Once we have a firm grasp of history and its evolution we will know that addressing mental illness is not a matter of just understanding it but being immersed in it; submerged in our history, in its feelings, ceding to its power until words (our top-level brain) will no longer suffice; only feelings can. Words will simply not do it; in fact, words are the antithesis of cure, inimical to any therapeutic progress, as odd as that sounds, because they are too often used for a defense. As a matter of fact, in many situations the more the intellectual brain is active the more suppressed the feeling centers are.

I practiced Freudian-oriented psychotherapy for many years. One key reason was that there was relatively nothing else for the practice of dynamic psychotherapy. At least Freud posited an unconscious, and were he alive today I am sure he would not be a Freudian.

Let me start with my first important observation in therapy. A young man in conventional group therapy was recounting a visit he made in New York to see Raphael Ortiz in the theater of the absurd. He said that Ortiz was marching up and down the stage shouting mama! And inviting the audience to do the same. When they did many people in the audience began to cry and scream. I encouraged this young man to do the same. He refused but I insisted. Finally he began to scream mama!, fell off the chair and was writhing in pain on the floor. It went on for a half hour, something I had never seen before. When he came out of it he touched the carpet and said, “I can feel!” He felt different. I taped this session and for years afterward I listened to it to see what secrets this held. I also tried this again on other patients with very much the same result. I knew that I saw something that therapists practically never see but I did not know what it meant. I finally figured out what it meant only years later. I tried to see what these patients had in common. It was feelings—access to feelings that made the difference. It would take another twenty five years to figure out what was going on inside the person and her brain; but there was some basic truth I had uncovered. The result, I believe, is a new paradigm in psychotherapy; and it is not just a belief.

Obviously, if we allow patients to go deeply into their past without any intellectual interference we can learn so much. There lies a sequestered reality undreamed of in our field. And there lies the cure. By “cure” I mean arriving at ultimate causes. If we see time after time that those with migraine often relive oxygen deprivation at birth we begin to realize that perhaps oxygen deprivation may be one “cause” of later migraine. Particularly when those migraine begin to disappear after many relivings. This without a fixed theoretical mind-set. The same is true of many symptoms. Until we see in therapy the relationship between high blood pressure and traumatic events around birth we cannot alter it significantly. “Cure” means addressing and reliving the ultimate cause of our behavior and physical problems. We cannot do that until we acknowledge that very early events, even before birth, are imprinted and endure for a lifetime; that in order to eradicate serious even life-threatening symptoms we need to go back and relive those suffering aspects of an imprint that could not be experienced originally due to their load of pain. In my book, Primal Healing, I document the many, many studies that confirm the enduring power of early imprints.

There is no Jungian unconscious or shadow forces to blind us to the patient’s reality, no id nor other mystical notions. We can observe and later, we may draw some conclusions. Those conclusions would follow our observations. The problem is the need to absorb current observations within some kind of pre-established theory in order to make sense out of it. Some of the past trauma makes no “sense” in the ordinary scheme of things. there are no words nor scenes to put to it. I saw birth reliving for months and told my patients this was absolute nonsense because a local university neurologic department said that it was not possible. But they continued on and I had to reorient my thinking. Not only is it possible but we have seen it now with hundreds of patients from many countries of the world including those individuals who never read about it in my books. It is a measureable event. And we have researched it at the UCLA Pulmonary Laboratory as well in several brainwave studies.

Thomas Kuhn wrote that in the evolution of science there are periodic shifts or jumps that represent major changes in the direction of a particular scientific discipline. He labeled these jumps Paradigm Shifts. In our view, Primal Therapy and Primal Theory represent a major paradigm shift in the science of psychology. And in the course of this new perspective I want to demonstrate how a brain system designed to allow us to function under stress is in fact at the root of our mental problems. It is the story of the evolution of the brain and feelings. And evolution cannot be ignored in the therapy of human beings. Let’s take the case of deep depression. There are now modern techniques to ameliorate it—from tranquilizers and pain killers to drilling holes in the brain and probing deep down. The reason that we have had to used drugs and surgery is because there is no therapy extant that can go deep enough to affect the areas specifically involved in processing emotional pain. We can and we do. It is why we can use the word “cure.”

On Curing Steve Jobs (updated)

What I write now are simply musings. But I wonder if there were anything that could have cured Steve Jobs. I want to offer a possibility. I use him as an example without fully knowing his early life but only as a means to explain why people get seriously ill so early. Let’s start from my hypothesis that events during life in the womb imprint trauma in the cells and foretell of serious disease later on. (read Life Before Birth for a fuller explanation). These events, a smoking, anxious mother, a drug-taking depressed mother, distort and detour natural cellular processes in the baby. It doesn’t show up for perhaps decades but it often will happen. The carrying mother’ state is reflected in the neurophysiology of the baby. And in Steve’s case it was not an auspicious beginning. His mother was impregnated by a Syrian, heavily objected to by the family; so much so that she had to give her baby, Steve, up for adoption. Can you imagine her state? Rejected by her family, carrying a baby that is a pariah to the parents. She had to be full of anguish. The bad part of that it is not a temporary affair that blows over when she gives the baby up for adoption. That torment can leave a mark on the cells of the baby which may stay a lifetime. That mark or tag has to do with changes in the chemical methyl in a process called methylation. Methylation changes how our genetic unfolding plays out; to me it constitutes the primal imprint. It endures and changes how our genetic legacy plays out. It, in effect, changes heredity through what is known as epigenetics.

But methylation affects many biologic processes, dislocating and distorting function. It changes heredity by turning off some genes that should be on and turning on those that should be off. Our development is affected.

There is new research that points out how the imprint can result in cancer and heart conditions later in life; not to omit Alzheimers and severe allergies. The imprint takes place as the brain is rapidly changing and evolving. Very few of us can avoid these implications. This may have been so in Steve’s case. The earlier the trauma the more drastic the later effects. In Steve’s case it may have begun when his mother discovered she was pregnant; from then on she lived as an outcast. And he suffered from it, a silent agony that was never recognized and never acknowledged. It became overt as he matured. And it was a mysterious disease; no one knew how it happened or why. Oncologists tried to suss out more and more about the disease so as to guess how long he might live. As the cancer went on there was no more talk of cure, just sustaining. But they will never find out the hidden mysteries involved in this disease by only examining cells. We need to look at the generating source; at origins and how it became engraved; for a good deal of current research and my own clinical experience point to womb-life as a serious culprit. How could it not be? A rapidly developing brain disrupted and distorted? It is difficult to suss out because there can be forty years between the primal imprint and the outbreak of disease.

For it is my opinion that under ordinary circumstances people should not fall seriously ill with mysterious ailments at a young age, and 49 is a young age. In fact, I believe that when it does happen that an illness overtakes a person it is almost inevitable that premature afflictions will take place later in life. And here we have a situation where it seemed the father was also banned or at least left with no contact with his son—ever. What we do not know is whether he went to an orphanage or a short time before he was adopted or not. Whether in those crucial days and weeks after birth whether he had love, hugs and caring; or was bereft of all that? If so, the suffering was compounded and the imprint embedded. Thus his future could have been foredoomed, an ineluctable force that eventually killed him. I must add that I am using this example only to indicate the factors that play into later disease so that we can all be more aware of the impact of early life.

I know that there are genetic cancers that may have a purely hereditary source. But it is also likely that there are many epigenetic cancers that come from imprinted trauma during life in the womb—methylation. To refine the notion a bit more, there are hereditary sources in later cancer that may only become apparent when the genetic tendencies are compounded with traumas in the womb. We know now that methylation has an effect on some tumor-suppressing cells so that the possible outbreak of cancer is increased. We also know that in our therapy there is a great enhancement of natural killer cells after one year of treatment. These cells keep on the lookout for newly forming cancer cells and move in to destroy them. They are not strong at the beginning of therapy when imprinted pain is at its height. Tumor suppressor genes can cause cancer cells to die by blocking cell growth. Imprinted trauma can interfere with their functioning so they are but a weak army fighting the overwhelming force.

I have seen this in epilepsy where the attacks may be genetic but the level of imprinted stress puts the patient over the top, and frank disease erupts. And when we remove some of the pain/stress in these epileptics the seizures cease. We have normalized the stress level so that the system can tolerate the input without producing a symptom. Thus, symptoms are often a sign of overload; the body can tolerate just so much stimulation and then slops over into perhaps a migraine or high blood pressure.

We have seen this in some patients who were treated by untrained therapists who allowed too much pain to erupt, the patient becomes overloaded and she leaves with a headache. We know what the mistakes were and we move quickly to avoid that happening. In our therapy the patient can turn a seizure into what it really is, major very early trauma—or, the birth trauma, and we then find that the seizure was the primal turned inside out. That is, when early imprints are threatening they can become a seizure if there is that genetic tendency. That tendency may drive from many sources: genetics, epigenetics, a crash on a bike, serious high fever while being carried or in the first months of life.

Still we rarely see a cancer in our patients which may be due to the therapy and also because most of our patients suffer from “leaky gates.” They cannot repress effectively; hence, they suffer all of the time but there is no massive repression with no outlet, often the requisite for later serious disease. I believe cancer as a deep cellular affliction requires massive repression as we mature. What this means is that great early imprinted pain calls into being massive repression to deal with it. It is an automatic process.

So here we may have an anguished mother, no father which means the mother is all alone to face the birth, a birth that will force her to leave her child forever, and no warm, kind parent to make it alright. On top of that we have a child perhaps totally on his own for the first critical weeks of his life until he is adopted. Let me add that there are critical periods for the fulfillment of need as we develop. Once that timetable has passed nothing can make up for the lack of fulfillment. It can be ameliorated so as to keep the stress level low enough to avoid the symptom but nothing can erase the memory/imprint. That is the basic fact of pain; pain which remains and forever leaves a basic tendency: toward developing a symptom, drug taking or drinking.

There may be a way to deal with womb-life traumas. As our patient digs deeper and deeper into his unconscious he eventually comes to infancy in therapy. That reliving can trigger off still more profound and remote imprints, the first-line physiologic/cellular components of the imprint set down while we are being carried in the womb. The reliving of infancy trauma then incorporates the deep physiologic aspect which becomes resolved and integrated, as well. It may be how we can relive and eliminate those preverbal events. That is, we may undo the traumas that have lain inside us for decades; the traumas that may result in serious disease.

Steve’s having been given away may have been an harbinger of future disease; an ineluctable destiny. It is for this reason that if one has had a womb-life filled with sturm and drang the only way to avoid the unavoidable is to have a therapy that can ultimately dig down deep; a prevention, for once a symptom sets in with possible end-organ damage it may be too late.

Now let’s remind ourselves that these traumas are registered deep in the brain and create havoc, and they resonate higher up as we evolve and disturb our emotional and intellectual/learning capacities. All levels resonate with one another and form a single coherent entity, possibly through similar or identical frequencies. To trigger-off the top level can mean setting off the bottom rung of the memory, as well; and unless the person has deep access to himself, not a usual occurrence, the illness is being compounded; the pressure on the cells greater. The early force has been dredged up by some circumstance in the present but has no where to go so it remains to create serious damage and tendency to catastrophic illness. The more catastrophic the imprint the more catastrophic the affliction. The force is so great that until one relives the first line or observes it there is no way to explain how ineffably powerful it is. Once felt or seen no one wonders how it can create major illness.

I want to emphasize how we can relive something that happened while we were being carried in the womb. It has to do with resonance. There seems to be a specific frequency and/or chemical affinity between layers of the brain. When we relive traumas in our therapy we eventually trigger off the related first-line deeply imprinted early imprints that dislocated cellular functioning. So we relive something in our childhood, a rejection, which gathers up into the reliving process the prototypic early imprint and the whole thing is relived; more than relived, there is integration and resolution. That means that the damaging womb-life imprint is also integrated so that it no longer creates the tendency to disease. The question is whether that disease tendency is really gone and really integrated. Has the imprinted been reversed? We need to study methylation in our patients to see what kind of changes occur as a result of the therapy. We want to know if we truly can permanently remove aspects of our history, of our early traumas so that all critical imprints can be reversed. Can we remove all latent tendencies? That is the generating source, the origin that detoured cellular life can be removed. And I believe it is the only way to do it to conquer the disease; assuming it has not gone so far as to be fatal. Otherwise the cancer comes back time and again. Experts look to the properties of the cancer to figure out why when they should also look into one’s early life to figure out why. Maybe therein lies the answer.

Steve had an idea about all this; for in the Rolling Stone of October 27, 2011, he discusses all this. “In 1972 Jobs met a bohemian girl named Christann Brennan. They soon embarked on a big, messy teenage romance, taking LSD and talking about The Primal Scream, a book by Arthur Janov…… For Jobs it was away to live more fully……and a way to overcome the pain of being abandoned by his birth parents. Steve explained to me how both LSD and primal screaming opened up stored trauma in the medulla. He would repeatedly talk about Janov’s ideas in regard to how mothers and fathers would fail to love their children and walk out on them in so many ways, creating and perpetuating trauma.” He knew. But he could not know what was raging inside of him so profoundly buried into the antipodies of his mind. He was brilliant about so much in his outer world and so bereft of the knowledge of what was killing him.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More on Epigenetics: How Your Life in the Womb Becomes the Story of Your Life

You know when you see fat people they look like they were always fat, like it was inherited from fat mothers and fathers. Well you might be right…….half right. And it is true that those in school who were fat still seem fatter twenty years later. So why is that? Well a new study out helps explain it. That plus what I have written in Life Before Birth will give us a good idea what that is all about.

The study (“Epigenetic Gene Promoter methylation at birth is associated with Child’s Later Adiposity’ (fat) Godfrey, K.M. et al. Diabetes, May 2011) What it states is that a mother’s intake of food during pregnancy produces epigenetic marks on genes producing a tendency to be fat at age nine and after. Now as I have written before, that epigenetic mark resulting from changes in the methyl is called methylation and is, in my terms, what produces the imprint. It was changed by mother’s fat and her nutrient intake while carrying; increased fat mass along with low carbohydrate levels. This may cause hyper-methylation and a tendency for heaviness in the child. Because the child first learns the most important lesson of her life; what kind of world to expect and what kind and how much she should eat. Her dietary regime is being formed. If it is saying, “you don’t have enough and you need to eat more” then that is the lifelong message. It is not heredity, although it may look like it because the mother is also fat. The big difference was the body fat index.

The link, they say, between mother’s intake and the child’s later tendency to be heavy after a few years is pretty convincing. The uterine environment and the human adult phenotype (how fat she looks) is unmistakeable, as they did the experiment with another group and found the same thing. What it shows is that experience during womb-life will track us throughout lives, and as I show in the book will cause serious disease, including cancer and Alzheimers Disease, in my opinion, and any number of personality disorders. It is the most crucial time of our lives when there is the most rapid growth of brain cells and organ systems. It is here when critical set-points for all kinds of systems and biochemicals are being set down. So there can be deficiencies in thyroid hormone, for example, or not enough serotonin in help keep pain at bay and make us comfortable throughout life. Here is where personality is beginning to be formed and here is where we begin to have weight problems (age nine) for the rest of our lives. Here is where we need to pay the most attention to our babies. If we are not calm and are fighting with our husband there is a greater chance of homosexuality in the offspring. It is not a time to be taken lightly; a new life is being formed.

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.