Sunday, November 6, 2011

On the Frequencies in the Brain. How the Brain Learns About Feelings

In my book on life before birth I talk about the 3 levels of consciousness and how the imprint that is laid down deep in the brain while we live in the womb has spokes going higher containing that information which is integrated on the feeling level/limbic system, and finally on the cortical level where beliefs and comprehension lies. Through a process of resonance each level relates to the others in what I think is a matter of frequency. So suffocation even before birth when a mother is a heavy smoker or drug taker sends up antenna to the feeling centers where we manufacture a dream where we are suffocating and then finally to the frontal cortex where we believe someone is suffocating; “Leaves me no space to breathe.” And what is reciprocal is that currently someone leaves me no reason to breathe, crowds me, and then the cortical brain sends antenna down to the lower levels where each level reacts in terms of its capacity. The feeling level adds emotions to the mix while the very low brainstem level enhances all physiologic reactions and provides much more charge value or energy.

That is why I say that primal therapy is neurosis in reverse. We use the same electrical brain networks going up and down. They are all related through, I submit (only a hypothesis), frequencies. Each level has its own contribution to the totality of a feeling—energy/force—feelings—comprehension/insight. Painting a feeling is not feeling; it is painting…..symbolic of a feeling. Not a total physiologic affair, and hence never curative or ameliorating. It is basically an act-out. Nor can you play your feelings and make progress. Of course, if you are close to feelings you can play more "feelingful" but it is not therapy. I know. I used to do music therapy with psychotics in a mental hospital. We would play jazz for the catatonics who could barely move, they had what was known as “waxy flexibility.” We bent their arm to the music but it stayed there. I never saw any progress.

What they also found is that very high frequencies are not conducive to feelings and their connections. There is a feeling zone in my opinion, and when patients come into therapy with beta waves, very rapid waves, they are far above the zone.

It may be that a new patient will lock into a feeling for a moment and then skid off into an abreaction, because it is less painful. She has been detoured off the proper frequency; there is something “off” there and when one is tuned to feelings one can sense it. This is no more than to say that each synapse has its preferred frequency and may not accept any other. And the frequency is perfectly rhythmic. When the rhythm is thrown off there is less learning and less cohesion; less cohesion of feeling. What I think we do in our therapy is retune the brain, especially those who have imprinted stress. Once the pain and trauma is relived the brain normalizes; goes back to its proper tuning. And, lovely, we go back to the proper inner tune; we are finally in tune with ourselves: literally.


  1. my cousin has given birth to a very cute baby boy. she originally intended to have a voluntary c-section but after listening to my brother's (janov's) advice, she eventually decided to have a natural, drug-free birth. she took a long time to come to that decision and we didn't put any pressure on her because of the stress that might put on the baby.
    anyway, she was late getting to the hospital and started delivering in a corridor in the hospital. the doctors wanted to help her walk a long way to the delivery room but she refused and said "it's coming now!" they ignored her and hurried her along to the room. she said it was awful being made to walk like that but the pain was tolerable. when she got to the side of the bed she knew it was too late and squatted down to give birth on the floor. the doctors told her she needed to get up onto the bed. again she refused and said it's coming out now - and at that point the baby was really coming out. the doctors refused to let her do it that way and forced her up onto the bed. while she was being moved the pain "blew her mind." she said the rest of the birth was fine - getting moved onto the bed was the only stage that was totally unbearable. it was then that she wanted to take any and every drug to stop the pain, but there was no time for drugs.
    apart from the brutal uncaring arrogance of the doctors (surely they could've caught the baby while she squatted?) the birth seemed to go relatively smoothly and the baby looked surprisingly 'fresh' soon after the birth. his face was smooth and unwrinkled and relaxed like an older baby (i saw photos). i assumed it was mandatory for all newborns to look butt-ugly.
    all in all i think it was another victory to janov. it could have been much worse.

    i won't tell any more birth stories (there are babies popping out everywhere) i just wanted to mention this one because i think voluntary c-section is becoming popular and it's just so unfair on the baby when it's unnecessary. i heard that the baby needs to swallow a lot of vaginal bacteria as it is being born, and it needs the physical stimulation of a natural birth. also, the c-section involves a very painful, prolonged recovery for the mother, and some women actually prefer the birth pain.

  2. Art: I'm beginning to wonder if you you don't have an act-out: writer-aholic. I feel sure if you could get your vocal chords back in shape (I hope that happens for you in Germany) you could be something of a talk-aholic too. No sooner have you posted an new item and we respond, not getting it posted till the following day, and you have another blog already up there. I wished that your writing was getting more of a general appeal, but I feel, other than a handful of your faithful commentators; your message is not getting through, least-ways, to where I feel and hope it could have a real impact.

    I do feel that most of the comments (mine included) are mere head trips (thinking) and would like to hope that more of your readers were able to express feelings fully. I for example spent 40 minutes after waking this morning crying. Crying about the whole range of experiences from early infant-hood, child-hood through the whole gamut of many of the sad things I had in my life and much of that relates to very recent sad events for me also.

    I have a current lover who does not like to see or hear me cry even though I explain this is my therapy and life mode. I don't know how to change any of this, but have written a second book about a do-it-yourself feeling therapy (not Primal Therapy) and hope that might offer some general relief to the abundance of neurotics with their act-outs.

    Not sure my second book will meet with your approval, but as soon as I have got it edited I will send you a copy.

    Meantime, hope the stem cell work, worked out well for you.


    1. Jack,

      Thanks for reminding me that Art Janov has a problem with speaking ("get your vocal cords back in shape"). I wrote to the Janovs and complained how they wrote in the Primal Man that "Primal Therapy cures stuttering" and gave the specific page after France told me that they had very little experience with clients who stuttered. France actually interceded in emails between me and the Center who was inviting me to come in for treatment for my stuttering problem!!! That was when she said they had very little experience with stuttering. I know this is not related to your blog entry but even though I would not wish anyone to have a speaking problem I guess I can feel some satisfaction that now Arthur Janov has a speaking problem. Perhaps there is justice in the world since I worked with a Primal Therapist on my stuttering and my speech got worse and he thought he could help me because of what was written in the Primal Man.

    2. Anonymous: I do not remember ever writing about a cure. are you sure it was me? now I know much more about it. art

    3. Page 384 of Primal Man says : "Disorders such as alcoholism, drug addiction, ulcerative colitis, asthma and stuttering are readily cured in Primal Therapy". "Cured" was in italics in Primal Man. I have emails from France Janov who says you don't have much experience with stuttering. Is it that you know much more about it since 2007 the date of her email ? And if so, what is it? Why not share it freely with everyone, especially those who stutter, right here, right now and show us your generosity and correct the misstatement made in Primal Man, I think that would be fair? I would suggest that the fact that Primal Therapy cannot cure stuttering is an indication that the Primal Theory is flawed.

    4. Anonymous: You are so right; if we cannot cure everything in the universe the theory must be flawed. art

  3. Hi,

    I was present at my daughters' birth and your words take me right back.

    Paul G.

  4. Jack: The stem cell people cancelled 2 days before we got on a plane to go to Germany. So I am not looking around for stem cell help. Thanks to Bush there is not much there as doctors are still afraid to do it. art

  5. Hi Jack,

    -"I do feel that most of the comments (mine included) are mere head trips (thinking)"-.

    I agree, mine too.

    "hope that more of your readers were able to express feelings fully"-.

    But Jack, we can't use this blog and words for that, for that we need therapy.

    Anyway, all of us like to use words to share our thoughts and all of us tend to chose them after reflection. Sometimes my thoughts embarrass me and sometimes my thoughts bring me to myself and sometimes my thoughts bring me to others too. . . through my words, on this blog! Yours too!

    Paul G.

  6. Art: That's a real pity. Was hoping you might be able to prattle away by now.


  7. Jack, EVERYONE is selling false hope. the primal center has been buried by the competition. my advice: keep it factual.

    neurotic feelings do not lead to a better life. you're a good writer but you ain't no therapist.


    I encourage all of you to watch the film "The King's Speech" which justifiably won many Academy Awards last year. In it, if you did not know, it is the true story of an "unorthodox" speech therapist named Lionel Logue who helps the King of England at the time (reign 1936-1953 ?) with his stuttering. His methods, as depicted in the film, include various bodily exercises , inquiries into the King's childhood, encouragement of emotional expression, etc.... Pretty holistic and psychosomatic, if you ask me. Beyond all that , it's also just a great work of art.

    To Jack Waddington: I would have to agree somewhat with your criticisms of the blog here. I have tried to open up emotionally to all of you, but I am not getting any response. So I am going to drop it.That is not necessarily a criticism of Primal. Perhaps exchanging here publicly is just not safe enough, and we all do not know each other. Although I have not done Primal, I can't see how all these incredible discoveries and case studies could have been made without great trust and oppenness, much more than the average in our society. Perhaps that can be done only in private and over a trust-building period of time. In the meantime I enjoy reading Janov , who is never into a head trip ,in my opinion.If you are open and vulnerable, as I am today, his words get in there, pretty deep.Perhaps the rest of us sometimes are sometimes pretty intellectualised, but that is better than nothing, a first step.


    1. But Marco Art above has indirectly stated that Primal Therapy can't cure stuttering.

    2. Anonymous: I am not sure about that. art

  9. Jack: I was hoping the same thing but I am a victim of the scientific illiterates. Thanks for the wish. art

  10. Hi,
    a great reminder Art, keeping it physiologic-- this is the body in all it's entirety we are dealing with, but yes, I also agree with you, strangely people do not seem to think scientifically.
    Richard, there's such a gap between hospital birthing and home, even in vaginal/natural deliveries. Part of what I wish to draw attention to in my (photographic) work on birth, I will publish when complete.

  11. Art ! Please do write!!!
    I is v e r y helpful 1
    yours emanuel

  12. To Jack Waddington,

    It looks like you have specific expectations others don’t have. I’m glad that my left brain gets nourishment I can’t get anywhere else. Sure my right brain needs primal help, which I know cannot come from a blog.

    Also, I have knowledge about new people reading the blog and they are very glad that there is so much detailed information.

  13. Richard: You are absolutely correct: I ain't no therapist. I state in both my books that "I have never been asked, nor trained to be a [Primal] therapist".

    I'm flattered that you suggest I am a good writer. In High School I barely got a low pass in English language and I am to this day an appalling speller, and so thankful for spell-checkers. Both an old buddy of mine who is great at English and studies the origins of words and my ex lover and current companion who's first language is not English also thinks my English is appalling.

    I did have a couple of questions about your comment, the first being "EVERYONE is selling false hope." Who is 'Everyone?" The second point:- "neurotic feelings do not lead to a better life". Neurosis is to me the pathology of feelings so 'neurotic feelings' seems like a contradiction in terms; to me only feelings and their expression lead to a better life IMO.

    Art: who knows, maybe things might change. I would like to hope so for you.


  14. Hi Jack!

    Art does not have a writing “problem.” He responds to the input and load. That seems right to me. I might have faults with Art, but that would not be one of them. Now as for no one listening, I had a fascinating experience checking out a video on YouTube on Cognitive awareness. A long comment I read from someone right on this blog, was, as best as I can tell, lifted word for word from this video and related source. And many things discuss on this forum were all in this video. I was baffled yet pleased. I realized that all our talks on psychopaths, and so many other things did get notice. They may not have posted here, but they made their presences felt on video. You just can’t stop truth from spreading. Some see it as a plague, others as sunshine to warm the soul. See it as you will. Iron sharpens Iron, I am told. I would say they are right.

    As for your emotional expressions, I am glad you have them. That they are misunderstood is unavoidable. People know so little about nearly anything that it is as if they were blind or zombies. Only those who know PT can sympathize with you. Capt. Cognitive says: Knowledge is power! ;-)

    Art, you are a victim of conspiracy and suppression, not illiterates. They know full well what they are doing. Try Dan Haley's "Politics in Healing" and then tell me its illiterates.

  15. Hi,

    -"Jack: I was hoping the same thing but I am a victim of the scientific illiterates. Thanks for the wish. art"-.

    On the subject of belief: I was a victim of excessive authoritarianism as a child and that happened in 'association' with a science education. . . So, I ended up, pretty quickly believing that Scientists are fascists. . . such is the way the belief system can 'permeate'. This common amongst us all.

    The problem with the authority assumed by the 3rd line is that it operates to alienate and marginalise the 2nd line. This so by projecting, acting out &/or transferring the un-addressed split off feelings. Thus in society at large the scientists can maintain the status quo precisely because they have a monopoly on comprehension of the intellectual facts, whether in 'support' or 'denial' of, or 'affirmation' of them.


    So, conventional therapy supports our attempts to 'think our way out of an emotional problem'.

    It's a very attractive seduction, isn't it?

    Paul G.

  16. SWA, Sieglinde: You say:- "It looks like you have specific expectations others don’t have." Not sure what you are really getting at, but I have little expectation of neurotics. I personally just attempt to keep feeling as much as I can. I sure in the past did my share of acting-out and defending.

    Apollo: You say:- "Art does not have a writing 'problem.'" I didn't call it a problem I suggested (tongue in cheek) it could be a compulsion, act-out.

    To me, (perhaps only to me), it's all very simple (my second favorite word) and that in the simplest of explanation we get the greatest message across. Primal Theory IS so, so simple IMO and it is that simplicity of explanation that might (just might) get the greatest message across. I feel strongly that we are intrinsically a feeling being and that 'thinking' and it's attendant attributes (language, education et al) came along not that long ago in evolutionary terms to us homo sapiens.



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.