Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Murder and Being an Intellectual

Are they related? Are you kidding? Somehow I think they are. It started the other day when I was discussing with a colleague about a very smart scientist we know who has got into booga booga and how ‘we live in a parallel universe but don’t really know it”…blah blah. I was going to send him a piece that I wrote about booga booga, and then decided against it as a useless, vain attempt. He couldn’t hear it. Then I thought about the guy in Norway who killed 60 people in a murderous rampage. Nothing could have reasoned him out of it. Neither my killer or my intellectual could be reached. They were locked into an idea that was unshakeable. The left brain was being crowded out by massive right brain input.

Well, you might say, the Norwegian surely knew right from wrong so he was clearly sane. I mean he could decide on what guns to use and what ammo; what ferries to ride and made a whole series of “rational” decisions. Yet he killed at random. He wasn’t mad at anyone; he was just plain angry and had no specific target. He could not be reached; he was living in a brain that had no contact with his feelings, that absorbed a mountain of rage but could not connect. It was disconnection, dissociation, abstracted and alienated from one’s true self. He was being driven and importuned by his deeper and mostly right brain; beyond his control.

Isn’t that a bit similar to the intellectual who wallows in delusions and booga booga thinking? And he cannot be reached or have his mind changed? Both are victims of a deep and right sided brain that cannot connect. Both have rationales for their behavior and beliefs. These were not beliefs that one can be reasoned with; they had a force that first stops at a way station where complex and paranoid belief systems operate in the left brain, and then if the imprinted force is strong enough, carries the person into more complex bizarre behavior. And the point is that these strange beliefs live alongside perfectly rational thought systems, sometimes precise scientific beliefs. I attended a scientific meeting where one of the presenters said to me on the side. “I know you are from the hidden side of Atlantis. “ He wasn’t kidding, yet his presentation was unassailable. Clearly, there is a part of the intellect internally focused, that bends to right brain pressure, and another part that sees outside very well; the alienated self.

So what is the difference? Insane and not insane? If both harbor serious delusions, false ideas and irrational beliefs is there a real difference? One has thoughts out of control, and other has behavior out of control. We might say that there is enough cortical control left to understand that something may be irrational. Some chance to be reasoned with. With the Norwegian there was no functional cortex available; it was all submerged by pain. Pain became his total reality. Nothing to say, “I am overwhelmed by pain.” People had to die; his whole past flooded in at once leaving him no chance. It’s a bit fanciful what I am writing but it is food for thought.

Here is what science writer Bruce Wilson adds to the mix:

I checked the Wiki entry on Brievek. Here's his diagnosis:

"According to the report, Breivik displayed inappropriate and blunted affect and a severe lack of empathy. He spoke incoherently in neologisms and had acted compulsively based on a universe of bizarre, grandiose and delusional thoughts. Breivik alluded himself as the future regent of Norway, master of life and death, while calling himself "inordinately loving" and "Europe's most perfect knight since WWII". He was convinced that he was a warrior in a "low intensity civil war" and had been chosen to save his people. To the psychiatrists, Breivik described plans to carry out further "executions of categories A, B and C traitors" by the thousands, themselves included, and to organize Norwegians in reservations for the purpose of selective breeding. Breivik believed himself to be the "knight Justiciar grand master" of a Templar organization. He was deemed to be suicidal and homicidal by the psychiatrists."

He was clearly psychotic and a psychopath, but how different is he from Gadafi, Hitler, Kim Jong Il, or a host of other functional crazies?

The similarity between the psychotic and the intellectual is that they've completely lost touch with their right brain. McGilchrist likens our current culture to the world of the schizophrenic: non-feeling, non-empathic, individualistic, bureaucratic, no sense of the whole, rigid, obessed with rules. It's a schizoid culture. Like psychotic murderers, intellectuals are split from feeling; they resort to ideology rather than intuition, they support and uphold insane regimes (including the USA), they follow rules of logic rather than gut feelings, they miss the whole picture and focus on specifics, numbers, statistics, legal arguments, etc. Finally, intellectuals can easily justify mass murder as they did in Nazi Germany.

So I think it's a spectrum, with psychotic psychopathy at one end and cold, calculating intellectual psychopathy at the other end. Think Kissinger, Karl Rove, Machiavelli. You have those in the middle who are semi-delusional but functional.

Peter Prontzos adds: don’t forget the common every-day delusions like spanking is good for children; blind patriotism is good and greed is wonderful. These are delusions created in the zeitgeist and adopted as true by most of us. Our social life, in short, creates our conscious awareness, in a way. I grew up working class. Thus the idea of crossing a picket line was an anathema to me. It was part of my social being, engraved in me. Physiologically, to this day I cannot and will not cross a picket line.

Don’t mix psychopath from the psychotic; they are very different animals. I have written about psychopaths before, and if necessary I will write again. Whatever Breivik concocted in the way of being the regent of the world they came out of a mixture of so much pain until he cracked and then that past became his total reality; there was no present. Rather his past was his present. This is not so egregious in intellectuals because their theories and belief shave a rational patina even if they make no sense. Like the Fox News shrink who claims that Gingrich’s affairs will help him with the presidency unless he is seduced by some foreign power: I cannot make this up. But once you are detached from feelings you can concoct all sorts of nonsense. Yet, these people concoct ideas derived from feelings even though they have no way to connect to them. Like acting dumb and unfaithful is good for you; and for the country!

There has to be a special category for Kissinger. Not a psychopath but some kind of diabolic manipulator, hated by my hero Joe Heller and written about well as a war criminal by Chris Hitchens. Hitchens did us all a service with his book on Kissinger.

So here we have many schools of psychology which are only elaborate rationales for the theorist’s own neurosis. In the early days in the split from Freud there was the Will to Power, That Sex was paramount in all neuroses, and on and on’ raising personal neurosis to the level of a theory. But it was still extrapolated pain; the right side pressing against the left and forcing it to think nonsense. You want objective? Be relatively free of pain. Then make a theory all you want.

Yet they went on with elaborate philosophies, studies that supported their position, etc. Much like EMDR today which is utter nonsense yet has thousands of supporters who swear by it. Worse it has hundreds of “research studies” to confirm its validity. So let me say it one more time, ad nauseam: Once you understand that there is an imprint, an engraved memory that endures even during gestation and dominates our behavior and symptoms, then if you do not address generating sources you cannot change. It is no more complex than that. We can dance around the edges pushing back each surge of feeling and crying out CURE! But alas, it is a chimera.


  1. we are all psychotic or psychopathic or a bit of both or somewhere in between. good grief. it's all semantics. i don't understand because i am too intellectual or i am not intellectual enough. blah blah blah. sorry art i don't see the point except that we are all unfeeling and delusional.
    no one has ever clearly defined the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic, or an intellectual and a psychopath.
    they all lack empathy, they all enjoy sex but not to it's full potential, they all show behaviour associated with brain damage, they all get annoyed, they are all delusional.
    some will primal more easily than others. some are more realistic and more compassionate than others. some have almost no sign of life in the limbic system, as seen on EEG scans.
    we all fit somewhere on a spectrum, but there are no clear divisions.
    i hope i am not an unchangeable intellectual. i guess i will know in the first three weeks of therapy.

    rather than saying the intellect is delusional because it is overwhelmed by feelings, i would rather describe it like this:

    the intellect receives "cues" from unfelt traumatic memories. most of the time we do not react to feelings; instead we react to cues.
    for example, if there is a devastating feeling that is trying to say "i am invisible - mommy is not interested in me" the brain will develop a defensive habit; the intellect will receive a cue that says "be visible now. do it. don't think about it properly. just do it." that is the cue - not the feeling.
    the neurotic person might decide to write a provocative comment on a blog, or he might start to believe in something magical, or he might decide to show his penis in public.
    he will obey the cue; he will choose a way to be visible. he will do whatever seems best at the time - whatever flows with his previous beliefs and habits, and whatever flows with his fetal metabolism. in this way his feeling of invisibility is totally avoided.
    the defensive cue/instruction is activated again and again by his unfelt memory. worse still, his hidden memory can be stimulated by a trigger, such as a girlfriend showing no interest in him. if his memory is stimulated enough, he may experience a relatively small amount of feeling, but only through neurotic outlets. there is never any real feeling....never any full normal experience. the most devastating part of the memory will remain hidden.
    the real feeling - the real devastation will occur only during a reliving.

    now put those words into a brief summary without creating any confusion. maybe one of the readers has the skill to do that. i don't.

    1. Well said Richard but hold onto your letter and after the first 3 weeks of therapy see again if you would have written it. Therapy usually wipes away super intellectuality. art

    2. “Therapy usually wipes away super intellectuality.“
      Dr. Janov, Oh noooooo!!! Please don’t tell me that my 50 years strive, in becoming an intellectual (I still have a long way to go), are whipped out by JPT????
      Oh dear, will I unlearn all my hart inquired tough defensive speeches? Will I regress to the emotional tear full child I once was? Just kidding 

    3. Sieglinde, I am discussing the retreat to the left brain unconnected to feelings on the right. Being smart is fine, being intellectual is not. Get it? art

    4. art, i am becoming more and more unfeeling. i struggle to get any pleasure from anything. if i try to do right-brain things more often, do you think it could slow down the repression? maybe i should try to stop disappearing into my head and just try to experience the world a bit more? problem is, it always seems to be two choices for me; feel nothing or feel hopeless. nothing is much better than hopeless.

  2. I guess it's pretty hard for people to accept the reality of the imprint. EMDR has arrived here in Finland too, when you think about it, it's really weird... The idea of reliving traumas from the time you were just an embryo or fetus, that must sound trippy to a lot of people. Yet to me it makes perfect sense.

    Cheers, A.J

  3. Hi Art,

    Brilliant, thanks.

    There are different personality types. . . Myers Briggs describes one 'constellation' or view of this phenomenon.

    I feel it is high time Primal Theorists cross researched 'type' with gestational & infant history; I am sure there is a pattern.

    As you have said many times from your empirical observations in the Clinic over 4 decades 'history predicts neurosis' or similar words.

    I feel such a study would really help straighten out the field of 'personality types' before the cognitives totally dominate that field as well (by cleverly and misguidedly offering the 'diagnostic manual' as an instruction manual for cure). Just reading the diagnostics and attempting to 'act as if' is not cure is it?

    I'm sure there's a pattern between the types and their history.

    Paul G.

    1. Paul, We have begun the first steps toward important research on primal. hang on. art

    2. Dr. Janov,
      Do you refer to Primal in combination with stem-cell research? If volunteers are needed – I’m available.
      I have enough damage (physical and psychological)and would make a good candidate.

  4. Hi Art please forgive !! but sometimes I wonder whether it would have been better for my success in life ... to be such a succesful,able smart
    You name it psychopath or "believer" inany trancendental nonsense than my actual me(shy ,anxiety ridden crippled ! with insomnia etc.etc
    and well thisperson longing to be sane a n d able ,smart and successful !! !
    Yours emanuel

  5. Like the Fox News shrink
    Hitchens did us all a service with his book on Kissinger.

    hey Dr. Janov, have you seen when Hitchens was on Faux News on that death of someone controversial, it's one of the greatest things of all time, and it has over 1 million views


    greed is wonderful

    well, there is a negative sum outcome such as someone stealing purses, one loses and the theif wins. Then there is a positive sum outcome such as someone buying flowers from a florist, they both say thank you because one wanted the flowers more than the what they paid for it and vice versa for the florist.

    The greed of the former must be stopped with force if necessary, the latter if done completely voluntarily is wonderful because its an the strongest anti-poverty program that needs no coercion.

  6. On murderers and intellectuals in a psychopathy spectrum.

    Your Reflections on the psychopathy spectrum, with the psychotic psychopath Anders Breivik at one end and the diabolic manipulator Heinz Alfred Kissinger in the other end, is very interesting. In a review of Christopher Hitchens’s book “The Trial of “Henry” Kissinger”, Richard Stampfle nails the central issue of Henry Kissinger’s criminal conduct: “He draws on the analogy of money owed to a bank - if you owe a small amount, the problem is yours; if you owe megabucks, it's the bank's problem. Likewise, if you are high on drugs, and kill one person, you have the problem; but if you are high on the arrogance of power, and cloak your actions in "statecraft," and are responsible for the death of millions, it is unlikely that you will be prosecuted, particularly if your country does not lose a war.”

    It is an irony of fate that Breivik, who in a murderous rampage executed 77 people, comes from Norway, a sweet and peaceful country with probably the highest standard of living on Earth. The same country, however, awarded Kissinger, who with his highly skilled political manipulations had/has caused the death of almost as many people as there are in all of Norway, in 1973 with the Nobel Peace Prize. Breivik, it seems, is fairly easy to label as a psychotic psychopath, and we even say that he could not be reached. (Did anybody try to reach him?) It is almost impossible to say the same about Kissinger. Being a diabolic manipulator of immense dimensions, without performing personal killing, he needs a special category. With respect for political, religious, and intellectual powers, we hide our definitions more carefully and refer to Christopher Hitchens, who really did us a service with his book.

    Having been through Primal Therapy during 4 decades, I have many times acted on the border of the psychopathological spectrum in order to arrange and change my life in accordance with prevailing conditions. I was in my mind convinced of what I was doing. However, I was and am the only one who has full transparency of my life before birth and the whole way to what it means to no longer to be a prisoner of pain. If, for example, at some unfortunate time, I had taken a wrong decision for which I could have been legally accused, it would probably have been impossible to use my real reason, to get rid of my imprinted pain, as an evidence or alibi.

    As a further evidence how subtle and often unpredictable the conditions for mental recovery are, I would recall that I found my way to Primal Therapy through a Danish psychopath, who knew Raphael Montañez Ortiz, the (destruction) artist in New York who performed absurd notions going back and forth on the stage shouting for his mother. The Dane, “reached” me by recommending me to read “The Primal Scream”. The rest is history...

    Jan Johnsson

  7. Well Richard...from what I've learned if a psychotic kills someone it's a mere accident which is not the case for a psychopath. It's not just semantic in a justice court for instance. The psychopath has the cognitive ability to plan what he wants to do.

  8. The psychopath doesn't feel his own pain. On the contrary the psychotic suffers so much his thinking brain is overpowered by pain. The psychotic is the "regular lunatic" everyone would recognized but you could trust a psychopath without being aware, that's why they are much more dangerous.

    1. On Sat, Jan 28, 2012 at 6:13 AM, swa wrote:
      You say, “The psychopath doesn't feel his own pain. On the contrary the psychotic suffers so much his thinking brain is overpowered by pain.”

      I do not agree.
      In my opinion the psychopath has no 3rd or 2nd line feelings. They act out (unaware of it) a non-verbal first line pain. There is a disconnect and often the problem is in the Corpus Callosum (an MRI would prove this point).
      Yes they have overwhelming underlining pain but they don’t know it. If you ask the psychopath, how are you, their answer is either I’m fine, or they express anger and disagreement by redirecting upcoming pain to an unrelated subject.
      A psychopath is not a “regular lunatic” and they are often highly intelligent but they are unable to relate (feel) other people’s emotion. They are agenda-driven and disregard the immediate life around them.
      They are passive aggressive, lay, manipulate, control and redirect daily family life for their own liking, by sabotaging the daily rhythm to conform to their agenda. They are often displaying fanatic or one-sided and unfounded opinions. They also make very realy eye contact.
      Their field of interest is very narrow and show only emotion when watching (just as an example) football (emotional unrelated). At the same time they can have an extensive knowledge in one area. I know someone who is a walking dictionary, knew every football player alive or dead, but shows the typical “emotional empty eyes” (missing emotional expression) when a person or an animal is in pain. After a long (several years) you find out that everything a psychopath says or does, is fake.
      We might consider, from an analytical point, dividing the psychopath from a person who has Asperger syndrome. At a first look, the outward signs, are very similar.

    2. Hello Sieglinde,

      I didn't write "a psychopath is a regular lunatic" but "a psychotic is..." just re read the sentence. I agree with what you wrote about psychopaths. About psychotics I meant that anybody would recognized someone "acting crazy" (like a psychotic).
      I met someone scary in a psychiatric hospital several years ago. He knew pages of the Bible by heart. He decided that my name was the name of the saint of the day like Mathieu or whatever I don't remenber. Then several days later he called me Francis. He seemed to be a very religious guy. He was staring at me when he was talking to me without blinking. His eyes reminded me those of a tiger I've seen in a circus when I was a child. He was on heavy medication and came from a place where they are "treating" dangerous people (Cadillac). I believe he was a psychotic anyway. He seemed just far from everybody from an emotional point of view that's sure.
      By the way, I don't try to win anypoint on someone, I'm not that competitive, especially when things I wrote are not carefully read.
      For instance I wrote: "The psychopath doesn't feel his own pain" and you wrote "I don't agree" and then you wrote exactly the same thing "In my opinion the psychopath has no 3rd or 2nd line feelings. They act out (unaware of it) a non-verbal first line pain. There is a disconnect and often the problem is in the Corpus Callosum (an MRI would prove this point).
      Yes they have overwhelming underlining pain but they don’t know it. If you ask the psychopath, how are you, their answer is either I’m fine, or they express anger and disagreement by redirecting upcoming pain to an unrelated subject".
      So that's a little annoying...but I'm not too upset about that anyway. I like this blog and I always read everybody's comments.


    3. Can we always recognise a psychotic? If you walk past someone kneeling in the street and talking to themselves you can say that they are psychotic. Put that person in front of an alter in a church and they are simply a worshipper and a very acceptable member of society. Many Nun's and Priest's in the past saw visions and statures crying blood etc and they are now Saint's when they were probably completely crazy. Many monasteries in Europe are renowned for the powerful beer they brew. This maybe for sale to help the order survive though I wonder whether it was simply selling the remainder of the stock they had not used for self medication. How many Priests and Nun's in the past were psychopaths or sociopaths?

      As an aside if someone who was sexually abused but cannot remember they may see figures at the bottom of the bed. Society can tell them these are just ghosts and they are crazy. Interestingly the most common Ghosts in the UK are Priests. With all the scandals about child abuse by modern day priests in the catholic church I have often wondered why no-one has linked the two. Centuries of denied child abuse by pyschotic crazy people who believe in a non-existant God translated into folklore and ghost stories.

    4. Remove the soundtrack and all the dancers will look dumb and/or crazy..."my psychotic" would have scared me even in the middle of a church. And he might as well have been reciting the Mendeleiev list...the result would have been the same.
      It's more about the feelings they trigger in you and the "tainted glass eyes reflection" some have in their looks.
      I met another one in the same place; he was always asking "where is mister R...." which was his family name. He was 35 but sweet like a 3 years old child. The difference was in his eyes and facial set, lack of body stiffness and so on...
      I'm not a profesional so I don't rely on theorical matters. If you have the opportunity of watching some movies about the Nuremberg Trial and those made when the American army entered Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen or Buchenwald, you will see a lot of psychopaths (including women laughting and joking right in front of the camera while sitting on a heap of dead bodies).

  9. Art, a few things. First, you use the term "booga booga" which I'm not familiar with. I infer it means bullshit/magical thinking.

    Second, I don't really agree with you about intellectuals. Right now I work with a bunch of PhDs who are all hyper-intellectual. Most of them have PhDs in math or comp sci. I'm the only person on the staff who does not have a PhD. My impression of them, is that they are more empathetic than average. I will grant that they are more repressive than average in some ways. I also grant that hyper-thinking is a defense. But I just don't see any connection between intellectualism and psychopathic tendencies.

    Actually I think people who are hyper-intellectual or overly intellectual, are more likely to have a heavy 1st line burden. They don't seem more likely to be the enraged/abused type who now wish to hurt others.

    As for the intellectual who "wallows in delusions". There are lots of non-intellectuals who wallow in delusions. I'm not even sure that intellectuals are more likely to do that. I know a lot of people who see conspiracies everywhere, and they're not very intellectual.

    -Tom W

    1. Tom, you may indeed be right. AJ

    2. Tom: I have suggested elsewhere that schools (that support the development of common-brand intellectuals) are best suited to people who have lots of first-line pain (giving us the "nerds" as they are unkindly called), but have nonetheless had a stable childhood.

      The result? Lots of pain to be repressed and released through hyper-intellectual acting-out, but a stable defense system due to the virtues of their stable home life, in turn allowing them to function "well" and be productive as adults.

      But of course I can't be certain of all that. It's just the way it appears to me.

      -Our idea of mental sickness is based on the quality of the defense system - not the quantity of the pain. This is probably because mental sickness definitions are based on what is best for society, and not necessarily what is best for the individual.

      "Can you still work? Good! You're fit and healthy as far as I'm concerned!"

    3. Andrew: Another good point. Art.

    4. Hi Tom W

      I would agree with Tom. Perhaps it is to do with the way the Brain is wired in each individual. Perhaps your colleagues always had someone who showed them some love so they are not out to kill people. I have read that intellectualism is a very good defence against great Pain. Dr Janov is not the only person who suggests this. Alice Miller states in Drama of a Gifted Child that such a defence is very powerful. I would also suggest that your colleagues perhaps do have empathy for others but perhaps not much for themselves. Many children are brought up to have empathy for their Parents due to their parents unconcious demand for their own childhood needs to be met by the child. It sure as hell happened to me. In essence the child's true self was partially murdered seeing we are discussing murder. People like Hitler did not have anyone who showed them love so the all out rage was perhaps not watered down. Perhaps one can then see a spectrum. Gadhafi cowered in a drain pipe at the end of his life and his rage during his life was focused through sponsoring terrorism though he never decided to invade a foreign country. Hitler on the other hand was perhaps even more cut off from his true self and happily invaded his neighbours (as did Sadam Hussein). Thus Hitler also had no compunction about killing himself. He perhaps had even less empathy for himself than Gadhafi. It seemed that at the end of his life the Pain hit Gadhafi in his dying moments.

  10. How do I know that my anxiety of dying is suffering from a time of an emotional blockage... the beginning of suffering... the anxiety and depressions source... associated with... for what I have anxiety today... when the professionals just want to help me to alleviate my anxiety? That I… by myself… would achieve this consciousness falls on its own impossibility .It is impossible to know anything... when my system is hooked on symptoms from fleeing to not know… know from where it come.

    Anxiety of dying is so "well" associated with my symptom when the intensity of death appears... at that time... I cannot "imagine" that there is of any other reason.

    I can be helped to think differently... think as the symptom is at its source of my childhood... to move the focus of my suffering to its source where it is "repressed"... my history where I suffered hell.

    My anxiety keeps me "aware" of suffering... from there... turn my thoughts to focus on my history... the source of little Frank... when Dad threatened to hit me because I took a slice of bread from the dining table… that is what has to be done.

    In the world of thought it is not seen for the disaster it is… that I am threatened by my own father because I picked a piece of bread from the dining table… is not in focus for what disasters it caused… that is the achilles heel for all the professionals in the psychological field.


  11. Only my thoughts will forever bind me at the dock... my thoughts as fear open water... away from sailing on the high seas. My words take me out on open water... words that bridge... navigate to feel the open sea where the winds may speed. In storm and hurricane I feel the forces of life... how the sails are torn apart and must be prepared for new storms. Painful memories of how I would have learned to sail blossoms in a sea of memories.


  12. Hi,

    Yes, the poor old intellectuals often get a bashing and thrown in with the rest of the nutters (other 'types').

    How does one classify different personality types? There are a few systems. By the way Jungs' is the most out of date IMO.

    I can be very intellectual sometimes but that's not my main type.

    Some of the sweetest loveliest people I know are certainly the intellectual types but they have all become 'aware' of their 'bias' of their tendency to retreat into their left brain as a defence. These are willing to come out and show feeling.

    The sign of the hardened intellectual is in three chronic behaviour patterns they themselves have not identified as a hubris, 1: Gathering & Withholding information as a control mechanism. 2: Adopting an 'either / or' mental attitude or in other words a 'combatitive mental approach' (think of the lawyer in court, anything can mean anything as long as winning the argument is the outcome) and 3: Re-framing historical events, ie, bending the truth, chameleon opinions etc.

    Some intellectuals I know employ all three of these 'strategies & tactics' and I truly wish I had never met them. They can be very influential and charming and successful but usually show condescension and zero empathy. You can't say these types are psychopaths but they often get good jobs working for psychopaths. . . Not at the sharp end but in various government bureaus. . .

    Paul G.

  13. As usual, very enlightening.I remember many years ago starting to think about this strange mental split I noticed in some religious people that I would encounter from time to time, and that Janov refers to in this article. The first time was in Quebec City in the boutique of this strange Christian sect. The boutique caught my eye from the outside because it was selling all these old Catholic relics, really very weird. So I start talking to this woman running the place, dressed as some sort of nun, and gorgeous to boot. She tells me eventually that she had a Master's Degree in some discipline that would have demanded some good analytic thinking. Yet she also beleived this whole strange theological system, and had dropped out to live in the country with this cult.. I could not beleive it!!How was this possible, I asked myself!? My sister is also like that: degree in Italian and German literature, AND a Mormon (35 years now)! Anyways, Janov's explanation sure makes sense, but to really be convinced I would eventually have to see for myself the changes from Primal Therapy (or from some life trauma)in someone with these "mind-forged manacles" ( as some poet put it... Blake?). That's always the limitation ,for me at least , here on this site : if you haven't experienced it , all this interesting Janovian theory just remains interesting theory, with no power to change us.

    I also appreciated the reference to the late Christopher Hitchens. I usually enjoyed reading his stuff; his ripping Kissinger apart was beautiful. I mean look at this guy Kissinger when he is on TV: I don't think it is age that makes him come off as some half-dead repulsive arrogant professor. And most of the Establishment media, diplomacy, and professoriat respect the guy, even some may differ with him to a certain extent (he's part of the club). None ever confront him deeply about Vietnam, and Indonesia, and East Timor, and Chile etc...But Hitchens did, and all power to him! I remember when Gerald Ford died, Hitchens wrote a bitter attack against Ford and Kissinger for giving the Indonesian government of the early 1970's approval to attack and massacre East Timor , or somewhere (an article published in a conservative paper here in Canada!).It was beautiful: speak ill of the dead if it is necessary, and Hitchens did so. Despite some centrist and conservative leanings, he still was partly that rare radical of the Left that had access to the mainstream media, so he could pull off such an attack , which ordinarily would not have been published in the straight media. But he had his problems I suppose: I think his drinking and smoking did him in prematurely.Too bad.


    1. Hitchen's loved a good argument and I can imagine that his great intellect was able to partially rise above the Pain because his drinking and smoking was drowning and snuffing it out (or masking it and repressing it). In the end it did for him which is sad.

  14. Hi Marco,

    Arts' "Beyond Belief" shows a relationship between hypnotic trance and belief systems.

    I remember a hypnotist telling me in soothing tones that hypnotherapy works best for those with a high IQ. . .

    Now there's a very clever belief to believe in. Particularly if you are either just about to pay £50 (or be paid £50) for a cure for anxiety.

    I don't just want to be clever though. I want to be true to myself and to other truthful beings. That is not too much to ask. Is that too much to ask?

    Now a while back Art said in this Blog (several times) that the main difference between his own position and most of the psychotherapeutic industry is in his recognition of the 1st line trauma imprints vis a vis the industries' almost total ignorance of them.

    Ok, Art has also said that it is possible to do a therapy and get to a certain stage of cure (ostensibly). This cure may have got the patient to a certain stage where they can manage their symptoms (recovery) but the turmoil of the 1st line imprint rages on. I wonder what these types believe in to be able to 'feel cured' yet not be?

    The mental split you see in those religious types is not limited to them or their particular belief either. I become a bit split like that when I hear something about myself I don't like; this is my dissociative state but I don't like that either. It comes when there is an affront to my defences precisely where I have the greatest wounds.

    I suggest this IS my personality, personality IS the marriage. So, if I have certain belief systems in place I can quickly shut down the bright light of consciousness before it ever shines on my pain. Better still I can deflect or even focus the external light back at the source and turn around any criticism of my most precious wounds onto the criticiser. Having a belief system is ideal for this because there is a predictable 'script' to work from, to compare others' words against and to measure 'their worth' (to your belief system, to your defences). Thus I listen to what others say carefully to make sure they believe what I believe. Then I am never challenged.

    This is how the psychopath plans hir victims murder. . . by believing the victim deserves it. (This could also be psychological annihilation by default, ie: neglecting others in favour of your own well being). So this is the person falling slave to their own defences. It is like negative feedback on a sound system. Belief and Pain form an alliance to keep the truth hidden. An un wholy marriage.

    I feel there are varying degrees of psychopathy. It's called "Personality Disorder" now. . . I think that's helpful because there are many different types of fixation. Different styles, different degrees of fixation, of 'dissociative mental reasoning' ; but it's true there seems to be this "believing" going on everywhere. I feel we should give up belief altogether. Faced with our gating system alone we are then prepared to really, really, really need Primal Therapy. As long as we feel and believe as we do in this 'dodgy marriage' of belief and pain then we are prey to delusion and won't find our way to true feelings.

    What about leaky gates? Who would want 'cast iron gates'?

    Paul G.

  15. Let me add here , now that I am thinking about it, that there was a lot of intellectual-bashing in alternative psychological and spiritual circles over the last 45 years, and that is something we must guard against ("You're in your head!") .As someone who was very intellectual (and got bashed), and also went eventually to the other side and got upset about the guardedness , verbality, and dullness of some intellectuals, this criticism applies to myself also.


  16. Marco, you stimulated some thoughts for me on mentioning contradictions in education vs. beliefs. This is not aimed at you but to all. As noted by others, psychopaths can kill or order killing yet have great love for their own kids, sort of, at least appearance wise and superficially.

    Many psychopaths can simply flip a switch and feel or not, it would appear. It is somewhat like this with degrees in college. Degrees are nothing more than certifying that you will believe and do as you are told. No logic taught, no independence allowed. Education is a fraud and has been for over 200 years now.

    So when people embrace silly beliefs or irrational ones, and those are not limited or exclusive to religion as some would have you believe, they are doing so because something in those beliefs appeals to them, likely on a 1st level feeling. Is it compatible with education? Of course it is. Education forbids you to think outside the box and what is authorized. Just hear and obey, or else! How are they any different, really?

    I notice people who assume that education and science are infallible and always presented with good motives. That is the big lie. They are just politics. Politics just wants you to go along with the plan they have devised. Most education is a waste of time. Education need to be pursued independently, to avoid political pressure. Most people are afraid to do so.

    Religion does not have to be irrational. Just logical. Most religion, like most science and education, is politicized and irrational. Ah, but many here do not like that idea that everything is political in control and irrational, too, since it ignores the individual and his thinking and needs. I do not ever see this confronted admitted here. I see prejudices and false accusations instead. And no logic, either. The fruit does not fall far from the tree, some say.

    It takes a lot of courage to dare examine our own thoughts and belief systems. Easier to find fault with someone or something else external.

  17. Yes Apollo, find fault with something or some-one else.

    But that would more likely be driven by earlier trauma, down the line some-one else was to blame, weren't they?.

    I used to be quite "the blamer". . . that's my personality disorder. I'm still like it a bit, probably always will be to an extent; like the faint sound of a previous recording on a magnetic tape.

    On the other hand I work bloody hard and value & support my small circle (very small circle) of friends & associates. Since discovering the truth about the 1st line all my self blame and judgemental ism has evaporated, except maybe for the obvious denial around me, but even then I try to "turn a blind eye" to that too.

    I tell you, you can't win in the face of a cognitive attitude. If you cry you're weak, if you bottle it up and freak out you're aggressive, if you have no opinion about other's opinions you're obtuse, if you laugh it's "at some-one". . . Seems to me that the cognitive attitude is ideally suited to the narcissist because it allows a never ending deflection against resonance and empathy and , well, feeling.

    Am I rambling?

    Paul G.

  18. Thank you Planespotter, Paul, and Apollo for your comments in reply to my observations.

    Wrt other matters: just finished reading parts of a book called "Street Freak" about a former trader on Wall Street and his experiences at Lehman Brothers, a big bank that went bankrupt, and whose collapse in Sept 2008 set off the financial meltdown.I could not understand most of the finance stuff , but I did understand his account of his personal life, in which he sufferred from paranoia, bipolar disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder, not to mention a suicide attempt and a stay in a psych ward.Interesting how his symptoms fit right in with the whole culture of Wall Street: obsessive quest for wealth, meretorious recognition, mania, macho attitudes etc...He is out of that scene and is now a writer, feeling better but drugged for the obsessions and compulsions though.


    1. I had a thought on this: "a former trader on Wall Street"
      In my head, it was this: "a former traitor on Wall Street"
      Aren't they all traitors there? Betrayers?

  19. "I could not understand most of the finance stuff"

    hey Marco,

    check out Bought and Paid For, its the best on Wall Street written with no jargon.

    "As a result, the big banks responsible for the credit crisis get rescued, while small businesses and ordinary Americans get crushed by higher taxes and irresponsible spending."

    1. Please no more political rants; this is a psych column not politics. art


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.