Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Does the Brain Do When Attacked?

(I am taking part of this from somewhere but I lost where? Part from Shirley Ward)

The brainstem takes care of sensations and vital functions such as breathing, heart rate, hormonal output, the alimentary canal, digestion and urinary processes. Interestingly, during the zygotic period after fertilization of the ovum, the first organ to develop is the alimentary canal and digestive system. Bodily sensations of fear, such as stomach ‘butterflies’ or pain, originate in the alimentary canal and digestive system.
After fertilization, an embryo develops from the 3rd week, the primal brain structures (the spinal cord, midbrain) developing simultaneously with the organs and limbs. The brain/body architecture morphs into recognizable form by the 11th week of womb life. The first three months of womb life are ostensibly the most critical period of human development, because this is the time when all internal and external brain and bodily structures develop. During this critical period, the exposure of an embryo to certain agents such as chemicals, drugs, alcohol, nicotine and or cortisol may cause major congenital malformations. and safety are of paramount importance.
The period from the beginning of the 3rd month to the birth is known as the fetal period. The main characteristic of the fetus in this period is the rapid growth of the body and the brain and the maturation of the tissues. The brain functions in a partnership with the body and early embryonic memories are stored in the cellular structures of the body as well as the brain.
The zygote, embryo or early fetus has primary needs which can be met by the parents. These primary needs require the mother and father to be nourished in the healthiest way, to be fit and not have toxins in their bodies. The mother needs to be calm and contained, in other words, happy and contented. She needs to know that her partner will support and help her. The father of the baby needs to be involved and taking full responsibility for his paternity. It is best if each member of the couple loves each other and that they exist in a peaceful society. This state of affairs creates the best possible conditions for the tiny being to develop in the womb.
Very early experiences of stress or traumatic events in the womb , such as lack of oxygen or nourishment, or increased cortisol levels when a mother is exposed to prolonged or severe stress, will affect the brain stem. Neuro hormonal and chemical receptors and pathways of the brain are permanently affected by stress in the early period of brain development of the embryo A state of war, food shortages, famine, violence, conflict or loss will induce severe fear and anxiety in the parents, and particularly the mother, affecting the neuro-chemical development of the unborn child.
When, as adults, we experience inexplicable symptoms for example, sweating, increased heart rate and respiration, it may be that our primal brainstem memory is being triggered. Many people experience adult anxiety, panic attacks, fear, depression and other so called psychiatric symptoms, which may well be related to the very early months of womb experience.

A zygote and early embryo holds cellular memories of womb events in the body. No information is ever lost. Think about this. In terms of trauma it means that whole groups of people may be carrying memories of trauma that many generations ago and echoes of which are stored in the body and particularly in the brain stem. Unfortunately, because these memories are not easily retrieved, humans tend to act out their traumatic imprints on others and the world around them.
It is incumbent on us to prevent unnecessary trauma occurring to our offspring, and therefore recommended that each one of us, both individually and collectively, become conscious of our own traumatic imprints and commence a healing journey, both alone and with others. This link to Shirley ward’s article describes how people feel when they are assisted to relive their early conception experiences.
Love, the way humans feel love, is the greatest force in the universe. It is love that will help us heal and reassemble our past and our future. It is love that will help us to educate, to guide and to show others how to conceive in love.


  1. Wow, this is a really great link, thanks Art I will have to read it properly when I have time.
    I had to laugh, I could relate so strongly to some; I think rage is so universal. My Mother had been told she couldn't conceive (due to a horseriding accident) so when she found out she was preg w/me (her first) she was amazed. Reading Ward's article I connected w/how I feel everything is amazzzing! How much deeper our ideas &therapy may be in years to come.

    I thought the 3rd trimester of pregnancy was the most important, not the first?

    I received your new book today. I like the layout/small font.

  2. I definitely think that the best way to attempt to diminish collective world wide accumulated primal pain is to heavily promote what is right for sex, reproduction, in womb care, early post birth treatment and continued compassion and understanding of just how sensitive kids really are.

    If more knew just how they were or could affect the child, then maybe more attention would be given and much less pain created.

    To try to cure someone after the fact is much more difficult, due to us having to work, and often being chained to our jobs and circumstances that keep us from “just feeling it.” Thank you Nancy.

    Art, you heavily promote the solution to undoing pain, but I think the emphasis should be on preventing pain. I notice a movement called “Attachment Parenting” and I think it’s a great development, since it seems to adopt most “Janovian” recommendations for babies and kids. Maybe you should take a look at it and comment and offer more advice on it.

    But prevention is the most likely way to advance the human race, if it is at all possible. To try to cure after damage is done, is a long shot since it depends on people finding out about PT and that is not likely. I stress emphatically: PREVENTION!

  3. Shirley Ward relies on the statements written by neurotic patients as do all other psychotherapies including cognitive behavioural therapy. none of those therapies incorporate biological facts.

  4. To be here and now all the time must be of a tremendous effort in sense of experience life… life to not feel about such a thing as anxiety and depression… shame and hate.
    Seconds of “enlightening”(lust to live)… enlightening a word I don’t like… as it refer to more suspicious areas as religion… but still gives a color to what I try to explain. It’s fantastic to look people in their faces and feel to be there… what a kick. Art can’t you tell about that? I know… it’s impossible but still I want you all to know that there is something more to experience than anxiety and depression. Thanks to your Primal Therapy Art.


  5. Apollo: I agree and that is why I wrote Life Before Birth. I totally believe in prevention. art

  6. Jacquie: Oh you are so right; there is nothing more than loved and be loved. But thanks for the accolade. art

  7. Apollo, your first paragraph sums it well, but you forgot birth itself.
    I've always believed in preventive medicine, and w/the necessary information Primal is now heading that way..
    Last night was a gorgeous loved &be loved night for me, w/my sister and her kids 3, 6. I cannot get enough of cuddling and kissing them, children are so sensual and adorable. Then my niece, 6, showed me everything in her bedroom, what an honour. I wish I could upload a picture.

  8. many parents shit on their children, then ask for forgiveness. some children forgive. unfeeling parents make grotesque noises when they try to feed off a child's hug. when children don't forgive, the parent's mock apology vanishes.

    mmmmmmm kids are so delicious

  9. Dr. Janov,

    My I post these two excerptAbused children 'have brains of frontline soldiers and are more likely to get depressed'
    by Mike Swain, Daily Mirror 6/12/2011

    CHILDREN exposed to violence at home show the same brain changes as war veterans.

    Scientists have used brain imaging for the first time to try to discover the long-term impact of physical abuse and domestic violence on vulnerable children.

    When children have been exposed to violence at home their brains become more “tuned” to possible threats, the imaging, published by the journal Cell Press, revealed.
    The altered brain states may be a kind of defence mechanism abused children develop to protect them from anger.

    Read more:

    Every five hours a child dies from abuse or neglect in the US.

    The latest government figures show an estimated 1,770 children were killed as a result of maltreatment in 2009.

    A recent congressional report concludes the real number could be nearer 2,500.

    In fact, America has the worst child abuse record in the industrialised world. Why? The BBC's Natalia Antelava investigates.


  10. The pain children are dished out is tragic. But, it needs to be pointed out that when we abuse adults in the work place, trivial police traffic fines, businesses abusing with the protection of the law, no less. Schools also horrendously abuse kids and we don’t mention that.

    After adults are continually harassed outside the home, and having already acquired much pain from their parents, only assures that they will come home and abuse their own kids in utter frustration with their daily torment outside.

    We say we love children but if we do not stop the abuse of adults who are parents, then there is no hope. Do you know how tragic this insight is? Even that monster, Adolf Hitler, acknowledged this very problem of adult abuse at large. If we ignore it, which we do, we have sunk to his level and worse.

    We need to, as best as possible, provide for real rights and protections from adult abuse, not the token lies dumped on us by governments, who cover for business while it rips us to shreds. If we can not make the work place more fair and humane, you can forget about anything else and dig a hole in the ground, jump in, and pull the dirt over.

    Our world is monstrous and horrifying, beyond words, really. And its going to get worse. Notice how what few rights or protections we had are now evaporating daily. Its going from bad to worse. You don’t have any right anymore. Guess how that is going to impact kids? So while helping kids is important, to focus only on them and allow the outrageous abuse of adults is sickening and narrow minded.

    PTSD is so wide spread now. Many are not military casualties, either. But this can be said, abused people are so easy to manipulate and push around. They are too awash in pain to have their minds function adequately. They walk around hypnotized and paralyzed, almost dead, really. You see, zombies are real, after all. Any solution to pain must be one for all.

    MLK said that an attack on anyone’s rights is an attack on all people’s rights. Can we accept that premise? A very good one at that!

  11. Hi Apollo ,Amen ,Amen ,Amen!!!
    In Germany there own 11 percent of
    the population 7 Trillion Euros the
    "other people2 140 Billion!!! Yors emanuel

  12. Sieglinde

    Have you ever wondered why many people go into the military. If one is brought up in a dictatorial home where one has to blindly follow orders without question where better to carry on one's life unquestioningly but in a very similar set up. Half the Brain washing the military needs to do in terms of creating unthinking killing machines has been done for them. One can carry on following orders and then also be able to take one's anger about one's own abuse out on legitimate enemy targets. Is it any wonder that so many military personel find it difficult to survive in the wider world where negociation and self worth are more previlent. I would argue that the soldiers who develop PTSD had a head start in that they were mistreated as children and therefore are less able to handle the great stress of war. I was such a mistreated child and then suffered for years at the hands of a so-called caring Doctor and a pretty useless NHS when it came to so called mental illness when I was just trying to remember that abuse which society refuses to aknowledge and was thus labelled as delusional. My delusion was that i had a happy childhood and loving Parents. I now have PTSD mainly I think due to the trauma of not being treated well by that system and my family. Because I started out traumatised I found it harder to cope when I did start to remember due to the great anger and pain that errupted flooding my Brain with Cortizol I think. I now find I cannot write as well as I did and my Brain does feel different. Right at the beginning of the Primal Scream Art says that men suffer because we are expected to be tough and unfeeling and then wives wonder why thier beloved dies younger of heart attacks etc. I would suggest that Boys are expected to be doers and doers don't think so perhaps we are conditioned early on not to and that is perhaps why the junction between right and left Brain is less connected in many Boys. Is that as much a trauma rather than a physiological thing in men. The US has one of the worst mental health records in the developed world perhaps because it does not recognise how badly treated it's kids are. Beaten at school in many states with fibre glass paddles with holes drilled in them to cut wind resistance. Probably huge uses of drugs during child birth and the medicalisation of a natural process. I would argue that the macho society where military victories are treated as great parts of history and a countries indentity is the society which creates that PTSD. I wonder what people would be like for example if the "Terrible Two's" were not punished as tantrums but treated as a child learning about feelings and experimenting. Maybe that junction in the Brain would be far better connected just because of that. That BBC investigation picks up on much and the expert says blaming Parents is easy. I would blame Society and Society is Parents as who dares criticise Parents. While society advocates any kind of hitting or smacking of children it presents people with great hypocrasy.

  13. Planespotter,

    I thought your observations were quite good. I also note that though you suffer from PTSD, you still managed to discover PT. You still have a fair amount of good sense, even if you struggle. It is possible to experience adversity and still use your head. Certainly, PT will make life much easier, but it is not a luxury we all can afford. I hope you get the chance because none of us should have to carry around too much and too many do carry too much.

    Your right on in that most who end up PTSD likely had previous abuse. I note that Jaycee Dugard in her interviews, was so resilient in what she went through. A remarkable woman. But from all said, I believe her mom really loved her. She held out hope forever that her girl would one day come back to her. That’s serious love. That is why Jaycee was so resilient. I was most impressed by how she reacted to having her 2 girls. She wanted to be able to give them everything she knew, even if it was not much. I would love to see interviews with them talking about growing up with her.

    It is not a situation you would expect remarkable things to come from. But they happened anyway. Lets face it, our society loves to lie about life. TV lies all the time. I have been re-watching 60s TV and they show life as full of conscientious men of great integrity and benevolence when just the opposite was true. Things always worked out so good and justice always prevailed. Only thing missing was the fairy godmother.

    Schools are vicious and brutal. No one should ever be sent to school. Why not just take them out and beat them yourself? We have no real compassion or concern for kids. We give lip service and not much more. But as well, our society does abuse adults/parents and that only makes it all worse for the kids. But you made the most important 1st step. You discovered the problem. Most have not. And you even found a possible cure, even if hard to reach. That’s 2 steps. You are part of a very small group of people who give a little more thought to life.

    One wish I would have, is that you see people as the cause of problems, not guns, drugs, religion, etc. All those things are nothing without people to misuse them. Its all about people. Don’t lose sight of that.

  14. Hi Apollo

    I discovered PT via a long and twisted road of EMDR, Cognative behaviourial therapy, 10 years on Zeroxat and all the other "caring" ways Society and "traditional" Physcology and Physciatry denies the trauma visited on many millions of children. I think I have always been able to cry which perhaps saved me. I discovered "Drama of a gifted child" by Alice Miller and I suppose that was the start of real discovery. I discovered The Primal Centre via her work. Frankly her books were like life rafts in a very stormy sea. I then read the Primal Scream and it made so much sense. While doing Cognative Behavioural Therapy it seemed crazy that someone who was suffering from awful panic attacks like I was, was suppossed to sit down and repress my feelings. I suppose I am what some may call an extrovert (or was). I felt feelings but could not put them in context. Perhaps I am more thoughtful and understanding of myself now. With regard to Guns, Drugs and Religion they are all created by people so I agree. I suppose in the end we all try to understand the ways we were manipulated by our Parents, schools and greater society. Guns have never played a part in my life except for an air rifle as a kid. However Religion did because while my Father professed to be an agnostic he had actually left the Catholic church due to Vatican 2 which amongst other things stopped blaming the Jews for the death of Christ. It was a small step along the road to a more liberal church but that did not suit my racist and controlling Father. He hid his true feelings and imposed a very tight control behind a clever veil of liberalism. It is people, but sometimes to get to the understanding of the people who hurt one one has to understand the institutions which they used against one.

  15. to planespotter

    Yes I did wonder why many people go into the military. My observation came to the same results as yours – it is the abused who will re-abuse or even kill. In many cases many joined the military to act out their deeply rooted hate, but they call it “defending the country” against an enemy who never really existed (excepted inside themselves). As I dug deeper in the mind of these “heroes”, I found much unsolved helplessness, defenselessness. Most of all, a unloved child who was controlled and dominated instead of loved.

    “I would argue that the soldiers who develop PTSD had a head-start in that they were mistreated as children and are therefore less able to handle the great stress of war.”

    This was my argument after Professor Elbert Uni Konstanz, of Germany revealed his research, that nearly everybody is ready to kill if pushed hard enough, even women, and not only in a defense mode. In my letter to him I asked if he selected people for his study, with or without childhood trauma. Unfortunately Professor Elbert, who normally is very open to questions, chose not to answer my question.

  16. SWA,

    You stumbled onto something with your professor. You know you are on the right track when they go silent. He did not know there was a difference tween childhood trauma or not. Oops! Silence says a lot!


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.