Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Permanence of Needs

Allow me to relate one research experiment we did to verify my point. It was at the UCLA Pulmonary Laboratory.We wired two patients to a number of instruments, oxygen levels, carbon dioxide, and blood samples every 3 minutes while they relived, as it turned out, oxygen deficit at birth, something we had not planned at all. Neither patient observed the other so we had a rather pure experience on the part of both men. After the reliving, we did another experiment where each patient mimicked the primal in every way (same movements and breathing) except being in the past. Both almost fainted after 3 or 4 minutes in what was clearly a hyperventilation syndrome (clawed hands). While in the past feeling they breathed very deeply (I call this “locomotive breathing” because that is what it sounds like and seems to emanate from the brainstem--medulla), for about twenty minutes with no hyperventilation. What the researchers from the pulmonary laboratory found was that when the patient was back in the old feeling and its context of anoxia at birth the body needed oxygen; the patient was “back there” in every way, not the least of which was physiologically. It was evidence of the veracity of reliving; that patients can and do go back in time. And they not only go back psychologically but in a complete biologic state. The corollary to this is that the early need for love stays the same and does not change throughout our lifetime. We seek symbolic, substitute fulfillment but it is never fulfilling and compels us to go on seeking more and more, always in vain. The critical time when need must be fulfilled has past.


  1. > " the early need for love stays the same.... We seek symbolic, substitute fulfillment but it is never fulfilling and compels us to go on seeking more and more, always in vain."

    Wouldn't that depend on how great the need was and how much was unmet?

    If only "perfect" amounts of love will do, then most of us are screwed. Yet even perfectly-loved people die. So what's the point?

    Well, I suppose if you get "enough" love you don't worry so much. We all die, but only some really live.

    Getting or not getting love is the difference between the "intellectual" Karamazov brother (who talked abstractly about God's death permitting all) and the family servant (who took him literally). It's like reading about people being shot versus getting shot yourself.

    I say all that feeling a mule just kicked my guts. My near-90 father just moved from 3 hours away by car to 3 hours by plane. He and my stepmother will occupy an assisted-living unit near her kids in the Midwest (USA). It's been in the works a while, but no one told me.

    Why not?

    Forced to suddenly move 2 years ago (my rental unit being converted to a condo), I asked my father for a small loan (he has money). He balked. Crushed, I cut off contact.

    I was REALLY asking if he loved me, if I mattered to him. I ended up feeling angry, shamed, like a "loser." The rest of our nuclear family then nuked ME.

    Dad's always been emotionally constipated. His flat-line introversion was matched by my mother's bipolar ping-ponging. In both cases, they failed to give us 3 kids "enough" love for us to feel safe and secure. There were no relatives around to witness things or help, either. So I've had a life-long craving to be told by my father that he loves me...without my having to tell him I love HIM first.

    It's not that he hates me; it's just that he's reserved to the point of indifference. He lavishes love on plants, though. I envy his vegetables, fruit trees, and flowers.

    His moving now moves me because it was unexpected. And because even though I didn't visit, it anchored my world. Now, it's like a life-long friend dying. And another reminder that the love I need from my father won't be forthcoming. He denied me the regular, repeated, ongoing "tender mercies" I needed. And deserved.

    It's hard feeling validated/confident when your own parents don't love you enough. "Thinking about" children is not enough. Love requires demonstrations, acts. My now-tender stomach knows that much.

    Yet my "keep my distance" stance crumbled completely. I scrambled to call him to say I loved him. Scrambled to visit, too, before he left (he'd already gone).

    So was my Primal Need taking over? Perhaps. Even so, I'd settle for The Old Man saying he loved me now and again, meaning it, and acting like he did. Perhaps holding me spontaneously.

    Oh well, Maybe PCs loaded with cameras and Skype can bring our family together.

    One can hope.

    Yet doesn't Art say hope is not helpful?

  2. Trevor: We all die but some too soon. And some live in pain. The point is to stop the pain. I have written that if I bring your father into a session and he hugs you and says "I love you" very little will change. But if he stays outside the door and you feel terribly unloved by him and scream "love me!" everything changes. art janov

  3. Hi Trevor,

    The tears are rolling down my face as I tap the keys.

    After reading Alice Miller (and then getting onto this blog) I realised that for my own sanity I had to reject my Father, fully.

    I don't know which is worse, your waiting endlessly for the love your father gives only to plants or me waiting for my father to acknowledge the abuse he perpetrated and also 'delegated' to the staff at the boarding schools he incarcerated me in.

    I think, I feel it's all an unjust and traumatic horror for us kids and we are f****d up adults now because of it.

    Anyway I decided to tell my father what I thought of him and our 'real history'; for a while all communication was cut off. This was very tough because he had recently been forced to separate from my demented mother and he was struggling indeed. Family falling apart his end as well as mine, etc.

    That period for me was the pits (about 9 months ago) because I was beginning to get to my true feelings about separation from my mother as a child distinctly 2nd line and different from the grief of separation from my spouse of 15 years. I was very down and am still struggling, but for having totally ruled out my father and any hope of reconciliation there I also rid myself of a real obstacle in my regression.

    Nevertheless after finally giving up all hope of getting the parenting I should have had from the parents that never were I realised inside of me my own unmet needs. I now know my wounds and I now am better equipped to protect myself from future wounding, particularly other stupid men, particularly at work.

    As it happens my ex mother in law is also a 'touch-less' unfeeling gardening obsessive control freak so I really understand. All the more so because the former 15yr love of my life is following in her mothers' footsteps, (she is loaded also). Worse, I see my ex' and her matriarchal symbiosis utterly controlling our daughter. As I make plans to finally move out of the family home (and the tears are still rolling) I wonder what fathering I will actually be able give our daughter in the future? Already it seems the plants and the garden are far more important than family relations;( y'see plants don't answer back or give hugs do they)?

    You are not alone, you are not alone.

    Paul G.


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.