Friday, October 7, 2011

The Death of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs has died and we lost a giant who changed the world literally. But I ask myself why did he develop cancer at such a young age? And I want to add my thoughts to this question, with the understanding that it is at best guesswork. It is a guess based on years of experience with patients, over sixty years, now, added to a great deal of current research.

Steve was an unwanted child. What does that say? That the mother was having trouble could not take care of him and had no prospect of being a mother to him throughout his life. He was given up for adoption. But in those nine critical months while in the womb there is a tale. And we know now that if a mother is depressed the offspring is also likely to have depressive tendencies. When the mother is anxious the stress hormone levels of the fetus/baby goes up and he too is under stress; not just a stress for the moment but a stress level that is higher than normal and creates havoc in the system. It is imprinted and remains a constant active memory. It requires that the system deal with it all of the time, and that means, inter alia, repression; a closing of the gates so that the pain remains sequestered. The repression is a serious, active force grinding down the system bit by bit, often unknown and unfelt until irreversible damage is done. Research today is full of information about very very early trauma and later cancer and heart disease.

It is my opinion that most of us untraumatized individuals remain fairly healthy throughout life. It takes a massive intrusion while we are just starting out in life before birth that warps the system and begins its toll. It is a stealthy enemy; a quiet, insidious menace that gnaws away month after month, year after year until the organ fails and disease begins its life. I am thinking that it happened to Steve Jobs because a healthy active nondrug taking human should ordinarily not fall so seriously ill so early in life. Of course, this is a guess and if I am proven wrong so be it; but I offer a proposal, a hypothesis, if you will, about what may have played into his disease. It is not an unreasonable assumption. And you know that even when there is no love and no loving figure to watch out for you in the first weeks and months of life the damage, heavy imprinted damage is there. Early it doesn’t take much to do it. And very early in life it can be only a matter of days or weeks with no parental figure that catastrophic illness gets its start. Needs are so intense in the womb and at birth, as well as the first weeks of life on earth. They must be fulfilled.

Otherwise the good seem to die young. So goodbye, Steve, you changed my world and you never knew me. But I am indebted to you for my life today. It is so tragic that you had so much to give and yet you may have been given so little to start your life. Life really is not fair because if there were someone up there judging good deeds and giving out rewards how could he or she have missed you.


  1. Dear Art,

    Here is one short story which confirms what you tell all us about very early trauma:

    Here in Serbia where I am, was in news, previous year, that one girl have cancer. She is about 9-10 years old. After birth she was in incubator because she was low in weight, and she was born earlier than 9th month in womb. During her life in incubator at some point electricity was missed for several hours in hospital, and babies didn't have oxygen. She was the only survivor of all babies in hospital. And last year when she was 9 or 10 years old, she got cancer.
    So this is very early cancer at person with very early traumas.


  2. you are so right, we did lose a giant; it's amazing how just one person, acting in concert with others, can make such a difference; of course i'm sorry Steve passed away so young, and i can only hope that he did not suffer unduly; at the same time, though, i do not hold out longevity as a goal, for myself at least; it's quality that counts, not quantity; and we all know Steve strove not just for quality, but for excellence; adios, amigo, and thank you, for everything; you truly left the world a better place.

  3. Steve Jobs

    We are many, with all our Apples-products, who are missing the image of Steve Jobs because we loved his ingenious, super-designed, well coordinated and sleek products which in so many ways are simplifying our lives and communication. However, very few did really know him.

    Much of his doubtless genious, wasn’t it a product of a neurotic, enlightened despot propelled by all the early imprinted pain which you with a fairly riksfree guess is assuming that he was exposed to.

    We needed him both as a visionary, designer, coordinator of the Apple concept and the marketing-related seduction genius, and of course, we also needed him as a myth and hero.

    My guess is that his early death partly was the price he had to pay to create one of the greatest business successes in modern history. Evolution gave us a tremendous compensation for his probably painful start and journey in life.

    Jan Johnsson

  4. Can't life be such a nasty tease. Especially when it is taken away from people so early and when they never really got to live it.

  5. Thanks for posting this.

    I didn't know jobs was adopted and I have actually had the thought for a couple of days now that perhaps there was some early childhood tragedy that resulted in aided in Jobs contracting cancer. It's very sad.

    I myself was born 2 months prematurely to a possibly depressed mother and have often wondered how that has affected me in utero and later in life.

    Anyway, I love all your work and am really looking forward to your new book. All the best from Helsinki, Finland.

  6. I received an email cartoon showing St Peter at the pearly gates introducing Steve Jobs to Moses (with the tablets of ten commandments under his arms): "Moses meet Steve, he's gonna upgrade your tablets." Underneath was a two liner that's been going around the net since Steve died: "10 Years Ago We Had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope, and Johnny Cash... ... we have No Jobs, No Cash, and No Hope."

    I forward clever jokes to friends from time to time. Although I know it's a defense I also know we need our defenses. Another example of that (thanks again Steve) is the iPod I bought only several months ago. I live far from the center of Sydney and was finding the long trip on public transport to buy high quality foods once or twice a week a grind. The noise would get to me and the too frequent incidents of unreportable child-abuse (you know the kind of thing that many people regard as normal). When I did the trip with my iPod loaded up with my favorite music including plenty of Don McLean songs it became something to look forward to and then simply a pleasant chore. You can view this as a defense but we need plenty of defenses day-to-day in this world as explained by John Lennon in "What ever gets you through the night". The key in this Lennon song is the verse "Whatever gets you to the light...". Post iPod, I have been having many more connected feelings both during the shopping trip and at home.

    The best defenses are ones, like clothes, that you can simply put on or take off as needed.

  7. Random thoughts about Steve Jobs?

    He had a vision and pursued it,
    he never settled for mediocre.

    He was a controller - so they said,
    but without,
    Apple would not be what it is.

    He was driven, in a hurry to get things done
    because I knew he had not much time.

    He said life is short,
    don’t live the dream of others.

    He said he had good parents,
    but he never said he love them.

    He stayed in his left hemisphere
    and became a man who could only look to the future.

    He needed to create something that is perfect,
    because he know something was missing inside of him because his mother abandoned him.

    Now he is in the “Hall of Valhalla” among other genius
    who, if you look back,
    have all had some kind of early trauma.

    Good by Steve, your deep anchored pain is over, but we will continue to enjoy what you have left us.


  8. An email comment:
    "Very touching and very insightful and something that needs to be said
    about the obvious gap that goes unnoticed in this famous person's life
    and development. Thank you."

  9. to all

    sorry I made a mistake.

    the sentence: "because I knew he had not much time."

    should read: because he knew he had not much time.

    was this a freudian slip?

  10. I wonder how "at peace with himself" Steve was.

    He mentioned he'd hired a biographer because he wanted his kids to know him better...that he'd worked alot when they were young. Would they give up the billions their father left them to go back in time and play "catch" with him more?

    Also, a NYT op-ed mentioned the dark-side of Planet Jobs, including Chinese wage-slaves creating Apple products:

    I hope he was happy. And I hope it helps some people express their love in the present instead of waiting until someone dies.

    Too often the price of high success is low satisfaction in terms of personal happiness (see the movie, VIEW FROM THE TERRACE).

    Was he doomed from the git-go? His mother didn't want him in utero. Did his adopted parents (did he ever speak about them publicly?) love him "enough"? If not, that's a set-up for at least a driven character. Do such folks ever truly rest?

    He talked about never settling. But that can be dangerous if your standards are too high. No amount of money, cars, artwork, etc. can fill the hole in your soul.

    I prefer "good enough" living, sorta like the "redneck" ethos of "just get 'er done!" The links below are, at least to me, funny...and all-too-human approaches to problem-solving. I think if we were loved enough for being the "very ones we are" we'd all be okay. It's the NOT getting of love-validation-etc. that warps us. Even poor kids, if richly loved, seem to do just fine.

  11. An email comment:
    "Dear Art,

    I read your blog "religiously". But then, I've been following you since your first appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in the 60's. As a rule, I don't read anything from you that makes my jaw drop, being as thoroughly versed in the "Primal Reality" as I am. But I did find your tribute to Steve Jobs to be curious and almost "unprimal" like. Jobs changed your life?? What I read sounded like what some people (I would hope millions) would say after your own demise...which I hope is still many years in the future; although I realize you must be a ways into your 80's by now (I'm 67).

    What I'm curious about is if you've more recently in Primal Therapy's evolution recognized the "imprint" in regards to how often it can occur before birth...and it's devastating effects, have earlier primal patients not been able to access these earliest "traumas", thus not have ultimately become as pain free as patients would now be benefitting from?

    As for PT getting acknowledged out in the bigger world, do you expect the research being done by others will ultimately stubble upon the primal reality? You've been persona non gratis in the scientific community, but there's a new generation coming up that you could help "train". Then again, I'm not part of this medical world, so I don't know what impact you're having. I hope millions of people are reading your blog; which I suggested you start. I'm glad you took "my advice".

    As for the impact you've had on me over these many years. I'm that handwriting analysis individual. The primal hypotheses helped me to essentially establish a whole bio-physiopsychological handwriting analysis of the most significant Frameworks/Contexts being in recognizing that the blankness of the paper represents Feelings, the graphic mark the Intellect...and it's the "blankness" (all around the "letters") that dictate the individualized structure of the letter (intellect interpreting Feelings). Furthermore, the 3 Levels (bio-physio-psycho) are demonstrated as the 3 Zones of handwriting...lower "p, g" etc. middle --letters without upper or lower portions, the upper "l" "t", etc. And that's just the beginning.

    Now if primal therapy could just start emptying the prisons to start with.




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.