Thursday, January 5, 2012

On the Right and Left Brain. There Is No Cure Without Their Unity. (Part 5/5)

For therapists, what the patient says is put into context by the right so that the doctor can also read the emotional subtext of what is going on. In other words, the doctor is not just listening to words but emotions. The left brain needs to hear words and cannot make decisions until he hears the right words. It cannot suss out what is an appropriate move without them. For example, when president Bush was told the Twin Towers were bombed he could not react immediately. He could not feel what was the right thing to do. So he waited, waiting for instructions so his left brain could decide what to do.

It would seem that deep depression is another one of those right brain imprints that never quite make it to upper level left connection; and so the malady lives on untouched by conscious/awareness. Repression of feelings set in so early that we come to think that depression is some kind of alien, unknowable force. We feel “heavy” because the deep powerful imprints are being held down, and we cannot seem to lift the burden. We are literally carrying a load—of pain. These imprints are all nonverbal and exceptionally early. They are almost unreachable except with a therapy that can get down that deep. No intellectual therapy can touch it; which is why there is widespread use of tranquilizers in conventional therapy. Imagine how far the imprint has to travel to reach the higher left brain cortical canopy and make a connection. Then the therapist says, “tell me how you feel.” All is lost because it is preverbal and nonverbal and cannot be expressed in words.

A little example from my life: someone is writing the story of my life. And so he went pretty far to interview one of my shipmates on the battleship we were on together. My pal recounted the story of a Japanese submarine that came up to the surface and was trying to ram us. Then we and another destroyer fired on the sub and sank it. I have no memory of all this, and I was standing on the gun station next to my pal. How is it possible that I do not remember and never did, except small snippets? I wasn’t there. I was in my past and my terror without cease. Where is my past? I have no idea. But I do know that my left side was not properly registering events. I may have seen what I saw but the left side did not acknowledge it and so I have no memory; and it bothers me no end that my life went by unconsciously. I was unconscious of my life; and it happens over and over again that friends tell me about high school and I have no memory of it. I was so deep in the hold of my early painful imprints that I was never there in the present in my childhood.

Just because the patient is unconscious doesn’t mean the doctor has to be. The doctor needs to know about the right brain and what it holds. When it is ignored any therapy that follows must be misleading. The doctor needs to know about how prenatal events get imprinted on the right and what they do to the left. Above all, the doctor needs herself to be connected.

One might wonder why I believe the force of the imprint never lessens even when we are sixty years old? Because in the reliving the force is there with all of its power, and the blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate climb to monumental proportions.

We don’t need to study brain damage to understand the contribution of each hemisphere because neurosis and the disengagement from the two hemispheres can explain so much. In other words, neurosis is very much like brain damage without there being damage, only dysfunction, which is reversible. That is the good part. We can be disconnected neuro-physiologically through destroyed or damaged tissue, or we can be disconnected through gating without serious damage. The result, however, is the same. One side doesn’t know what is going on in the other side.


  1. Thank you so much, Mr.Janov,for this blog, and your books. I was wondering two things. One, is there any chance of you writing something about Dissociative Identity Disorder (what they used to call MPD), and whether or how Primal Therapy has worked on people who have it. And two, if you have experience with patients with Hepatitis C, as I have. Of course I realize that no amount of primals will cure a virus, but any input regarding Hep C and how it may interfere with or distort the primal process would be immensely helpful. I am fifty and have been on my own little primal journey for twenty years. I expect nothing out of you--just thought I'd ask. Thanks again.

  2. Dr. Janov,

    You write: “One side doesn’t know what is going on in the other side.”

    Sometimes, when triggered, we come very close to a memory. We need help going deeper to the pain if help is available.

    Yesterday, I was writing a tabular account of my life. I got up at 3 a.m. so I will not be disturbed while my mind regresses and brings up memories. While typing random memories I tried to organize them and add the most painful memories but I was interrupted. My husband needed help.
    Then I went back to writing and found out that I had lost the momentum. I could not go back into my memory as before. I recognized a feeling of impatience creeping up, ignored it and continued getting the facts I needed to record. Then, about 7 am my husband needed my help again. The feeling of impatience turned into aggravation and a memory-movie began to play in my head; remembering my mother yelling – “stop playing around, there is work to do”. Feelings of guilt and frustration were now in control, but I needed this account finished, so I pushed on. While more memories surfaced, I began to write in half German and half English and the chronological order was scrambled. What a mess, I thought. Then I came to the point where I should write about my rape experience. As I began to recall some of these horrible memories, my husband asked, “what’s for breakfast?”.
    Aggression threw me out of balance. I heard my pulse pounding next to my ear, my blood pressure was up (my normal blood pressure is 110). I never have time for me, was the irritating thought - but I continued.
    Halfway back in a memory, my brain was trying to put them into words - I was no longer able to write a decent sentence because of a sudden migraine. I paused for an hour to attend to my husband’s needs.
    An hour later I tried to recall the details I remembered earlier - I couldn’t. I cleaned up the mess in my writing as well as I could and sent the bio off. The migraine got unbearable and I had to take a Motrin.
    Late afternoon, the migraine loosened slightly and I got angry with myself, thinking why didn’t I copy the account I had to write back in August, to complete the bio. Irritated and reacting irrationally I did not even think about it.

    My two brains tried to connect and couldn’t. I got stuck between feelings and logic and I became dysfunctional.

    It looks like, that when the outside world collides with the inside world, the brain reacts with shutting down or explodes with a migraine/high blood pressure – just to name one of the many possible symptoms.
    In my case these old and hurting feelings have now words such as: leave me alone, I don’t want to be a servant, I need care and love, I need peace and quiet.





    You wrote: "...leave me alone, I don’t want to be a servant, I need care and love, I need peace and quiet"

    Those old feelings seem to reflect your current situation, too. Sounds like, in addition to Past burdens, the Present is no picnic.

    I'm not saying you put yourself in the spot you're in (though we all sometimes unwittingly DO), just musing about my own life.

    My mother was bipolar, my father aloof. I forget a lot of the early "horror shows," yet they must have been pips. My sister says when I was 3, and she 4, we already had the phone number to call our father ("Our Father, who art in hiding at work...").

    I do remember many days when older when I wished my real parents would return from Mars and take me home.

    Anyway, I've always been creative. I've also always been afraid to "own" said skills professionally. I was punished for success, attacked by jealous/threatened others. So instead of entering, say, advertising after college I entered Bedlam.

    Literally. Truly, I did. I worked in a locked mental ward for the "profoundly retarded." My "clients" were 60 men aged 16-60, only 3 verbal (and those at the level of a 3 year old). Here's a photo of the actual men:

    Ironically, and tragically, I began faux Primal Therapy at the same time. It about killed me. I'd start opening to pain, wonder aloud why I was working in a hell-hole, and be badgered by the drunk former-Army Ranger "leader" to "Stop whining! Just stick with the job!"

    It was the worst advice possible. I was "used" to the insanity of a mental ward. It had been my OWN home-life. And it kept me stuck. No ennoblement or personal growth resulted from suffering.

    What I wasn't used to was meeting my own needs. Instead of working at a creative job surrounded by attractive women (where I could have both lucre and love), I spent my days in a piss-and-poop filled environment encircled by disabled men who'd NEVER improve no matter how hard I tried.

    And now?

    I rented a place for nearly 30 years, afraid to buy lest my options (to escape?) lessened. When the landlord suddenly booted me to create a condo I had nowhere to go. I was unemployed and broke.

    So a friend put me in touch with his friend. That friend needed a handyman to help around the house where he cared for his parents.

    Looked fine on paper. Great even: million dollar house overlooking a golf course. Woo-hoo!

    The reality was less so.

    The son-in-charge discovered, nearing 50 (and just after I moved in), that he's severely bipolar.

    His 85-year-old mother is missing 4 toes from diabetes and is dying, cared for by hospice aides.

    His father, 90, has early Alzheimer's, diabetes, arthritic hands, an artificial knee, bad eyes, and poor hearing.

    It gets worse.

    The mother had 13 kids. Seven died during childbirth or shortly after. Five of the remaining 6 sued the parents in open court several years ago for sexual and other abuse. And won. Now only one child, bipolar, has any contact. And HIS main motive, I'm convinced, is to become sole heir.

    In the meantime, insanity reigns. TVs blast day and night. Bills ($15,000 for electricity alone!) go unpaid, the mother's terminal status keeping collectors at bay. There's miscommunication galore. It's THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER meets the Overlook Hotel in THE SHINING.



    Just like the public had no idea what 1970s mental health facilities were really like, no one can imagine how chaotic THIS place is where I now live. Protective Services has been out 5 times, yet won't pull the plug. It's all political, various agencies doing CYA ("cover your ass") instead of what's right.

    LESSON: Never depend on the state to look out for you and yours!

    So...why do I stay? Well, I'm not working now and need about $5K to move out and get my own place. It's also a difficult time for 60-something males to find any kind of work. So there's that. But there's also the piece about my past.

    Some believe the sansara cycle/karma is not about punishment. Rather, rebirth brings us back to where we got we can finally free ourselves. I believe that's in play now. For one thing, I'm seeing how I couldn't have helped my mother because I surely can't help the bipolar butt-head in-charge here. I'm also learning the futility of trying to "fix" everybody and everything.

    The hard (hardest?) part is the simplest: meeting MY needs. Not letting others manipulate me into taking care of them. Or succumbing to Sirens who taunt me to sacrifice myself because I'm "strong" and can "take it."

    Anyway, maybe some of what I wrote can help you Sieglinde (and others). Hearing your stories certainly helps me/us.


    You can read about the place I worked at:


    You can also see some pictures here:

  5. Dr. Janov and all

    "On the Right and Left Brain. There Is No Cure Without Their Unity."

    When trauma dominates daily life and when migraines force you to take medication, the results are nightmares.

    An ongoing migraine called for medication. I am not taking prescription medication at all. Only when in pain, I take Motrin or Aleve.

    The Nightmare:
    Deep snow everywhere - even though the temperature was about body-warm. I had to go up a very steep hill. I can’t walk up there, so I used my car. The car barely made it. Everything in the world was upside down. Doormats from my house were not buried under the snow, the fresh snow was under the door mats, under the wood pile under everything instead of on top.
    There was an eerie dimmed light, no sun, but daylight. The sky was blue, but it was not the sky it was the ocean where the sky supposed to be. I saw fish swimming where normally the clouds are and I knew the whole world has changed; something jolted the earth out of the natural order. Panic set in when I realized that the world will run out of oxygen in the next hour. Nobody will be able to breath, I cannot breathe. If just the ocean could be shaken back where it belongs, I thought, that would free the sky and we all wouldn’t have to die. Maybe we will drown if the water comes down all at once. I woke up in a panic.

    Waking up in a panic state, that didn’t subside until hours later, is a feeling I do not like or wish to repeat.
    I ask myself, which brain half is creating such unreal and alien symbolic pictures and why? What it the brain trying to transport to the upper region? Was it the medication? Is it an imprint that was symbolically expressed? Is it prenatal?
    Which brain is talking and why – how can I relate? Is it an imprint?

  6. Trevor,

    I find your account fascinating. I used to have a friend who would send me accounts of a guy who called himself Justin, who worked in a mental facility and posted on Alt Tasteless, around 1999 maybe. His stories were graphic, sometimes with humor, often with the true horrors of such things. As well, the ones treating were often as messed up as those they treat.

    But It is hard to turn away from real horror stories. I like my reality straight and undiluted. I have never been attracted to the mental health profession as I am partially of the belief that those who seek such were never sincere about what they sought. If they were, they would not need help. Help is another word for “I don’t really want to find the real problems because I might be some of those problems.”

    Glad to see your perspective on this forum, which often lacks, shall we say, variety?

  7. Hi Trevor,

    I checked out the disability sites, you've reminded me of my own predicament, though I have been able to keep up a good facade in 'ordinary life' I could easily have ended up in an institution like that in UK back in the 70s.

    Apart from the traumas of gestation, birth and infancy I took LSD & Psilocybin a fair few times from age 17 to 25. . . The last trip (combined with the circumstances I was in) just helped me realise how angry I was and how futile life can be.

    Interestingly the more trips I took the less halucinagenic they became (or euphoric) and the more they exposed in me my own repressed emotions and the strange behaviour of others.

    It sort of became a 'reality trip' rather than a wonderful escape.

    Ken Kesey tells a similar tale.

    Now, I am really paying the price because my living experience all the time is like your description of the strange outfit you live in.

    I can't tell who the inmates are from the gaolers.

    I havn't found any theory to explain this interchangeable role a patch on Primal.

    Paul G.

  8. A facebook comment: "Dear Dr. Janov, I have a friend who tells me she admires the primal work of a close friend of hers. She says he has been having " connected primals" for years. Yet, though this person used to have crying primals, for many years now, he has supposedly been having " connected primals" without tears. I have said that a primal contains tears. I would love to know what you think about this. Can one have " connecte primals" almost daily, for years, without ever crying? Sorry if this sounds like a stupid question, but this friend of mine knows many primal people, and is a devoted primaler herself, and I wanted to get it from the source. My best wishes, and thank you for your amazing work which has been so helpful to me. "

  9. PART I:

    Funny how "The Sixties" were so drug-fueled. I didn't see at the time how booze-fueled The Fifties were...a la the advertising TV show, MAD MEN. My parents were numbing themselves after a world war, living lives of white-picket-fence conformity. I was numbing myself, trying to find excitement in a conforming world. The trouble is we couldn't bridge the "Generation Gap" to talk about our common pains.

    I was reckless with drugs, too, but not excessively so. Neurotic, not psychotic. I was never tempted by heroin or cocaine or sopors/downers. Mostly I was interested in "mind-expanding" drugs like MDA, pot, and LSD.

    Looking back, I see I was foolish. I underestimated risks I personally took. Not because marijuana was "evil." Just that for me, with my background of not being loved enough (and having been subjected to a bipolar mother's scary behaviors), I putt myself in jeopardy. Others, with different backgrounds, faced different risks.

    LSD made me anxious. In Janovian terms, my already-leaky gates tended to open more, letting in floodwaters. I suppose I didn't have the right to say anything was too much. How could I? I'd been forced to live in a crazy house where parents ignored or actively harmed me.

    While others sat calm and smiling as drugs kicked in, I'd be pacing back and forth, wondering why people were riding huge chickens.

    Pot mostly made me a time I wasn't dating much. That is, during a time of supposed "free love," I was lonely and needy and made to feel even MORE needy.

    Not good.

    Certainly not the "endless fun" drugs were touted to provide.

    Amazing how complicated things get when simple needs aren't met. I just wanted to be held. Instead I read or wrote or acted out. Didn't know how to land the fish, close the deal. My confidence had been taken from me in childhood. The "crazy" way I acted, the "risks" I took were masks for my feeling stuck.

    Balance is all, no?

    Like Art says, both brains are needed. We seem happiest when the needs of soma AND psyche are met. I lived far too often in my left brain. Or maybe right. In any case, my "intellect" and "creativity" got workouts when mostly I'd have settled for love and love-making. I had skin-hunger big time.

  10. Part II:

    There are PUAs ("pick up artists") who think the answer (at least for males) is unending sex. Yet many of them seem driven.

    On the other hand, some academics swear by the monastic "life of the mind." Yet many of them seem miserable, too.

    Again, balance.

    That's why I'm skeptical of a "feelings only" life. Or even what it means.

    For some there is pleasure in building things. Others like painting. And so on. So it seems to me a full, happy life entails meeting the needs of the mind, body, spirit, and feelings.

    An eternally smiling "wise man" who doesn't come in out of the rain, who doesn't know how to build a shelter, will not smile for long. Similarly, an architect who has no love in his life seems limited, too.

    I remember reading Hesse and his tale of the the young Buddha. The latter began by thinking he knew it all, then saw dead people, then tried various Ways (sex, business, study, etc.). Finally, I think he gave up under a tree...and/or thought about jumping in a river...and suddenly was "enlightened." A sort of confusing lesson. It DID seem, though, that the protagonist was seeking "meaning" he'd missed as a young, over-protected prince.

    Yesterday I went to a party. I'd spent the week doing things I liked: reading, contributing to this blog, building a few shelves; etc. At the social gathering, though, all I wanted to do was dance and meet a girl to date. I didn't give a hoot about "imprints" or "primals" or the "meaning of life." It seemed simple at the beer-fueled time: food, shelter, love, and meaningful work.

    It that neurotic? Maybe so. But then it seems pretty neurotic NOT to love and be loved, no?

  11. To Trevor,

    Yes Trevor, written personal memories can help others.

    Either these accounts trigger a similar experience, or inform us about occurrences we don’t know perceive well before that they exist in our lives. In both cases something is needed – empathy/insight.

    If we cannot feel what the person is writing about, it cannot be helpful.
    I can relate to your “locked mental” experience.

    While in an institution for “fallen girls”, I and many others, were forced to do weekend duty in a similar establishment. It was not the mentally ill who got to me, it was how they were treated - force fed, medicated to a point where they became walking corpses, or were tied up in their beds and/or received electroshock treatment. Many of the people there were the result of rape/incest, born during WWII.
    This was the starting point for me to research the methods of Nazi-doctors (Mengele and others), because I believed that these ill people I saw, were not treated any better. I wanted to establish a hypotheses regarding the making of Mengele into a human butcher.

  12. Sieglinde,

    It is sure the damping medication for migraine causes nightmares... the brain that causes this is the left... the thinking because it has no place to dispose the leaking intensity from the right... the approval of reality.
    That we can drown belongs to the reality as well to the nightmares... we are just not accustomed to the reality that exists... we have not grown up a life... we have grown up during fugitive from life ... escape from life etched without opportunities to feel and understand… feel the context of the pain that caused the phenomenon... phenomenon because not being of reality... not being of the science primal therapy tell us about.
    All you feel of fear is what the left brain caused by the reality from the leak of the right brain… but the reality then... is not the reality our left brain picks up now. The reality then was and still is to much for us to handel at one time... as we can know because we "know" of the reality for what ever symtoms do to us. That is what the primal therapy can help us with. That science is what all the "professors" around the world has nightmares about.


  13. Remembering my uncle told me that he was artellery navy sailer on a corvette in North-Atlantic during WW2. They escorted merchant ships from America to England. A submarine torpedoed the Corvette and 47 perished. My uncle escaped on three rafts along with 27 others. Later he hit one of his shipmates in New York. He had to tell him what he had experienced when the ship was torpedoed. He did not know what had happened. This dramatic experience was completely obliterated.

  14. Hi Dr Janov

    When you first announced that you were going to be writing these pieces about Right and Left Brain you specifically told me you were. I have found them really interesting and informative. I can appreciate that you can't put everything that everyone adds and not everything is relivant however I feel a bit frozen out. I've read the Primal Website from cover to cover so to speak and all my personal progress has been via feelings and then insights. I used to pee for England and now I don't. I used to have bad night sweats and have a raised body temperature quite often and don't very often now. I may not have had Primal Therpay yet and hope to this year, but at the same time one of the reasons why I feel I have recovered a great deal is because I have been very honest in my feelings (or as much as I could).Am I putting too many up (out of enthusiasm) or have I broken some unwritten rule.

    Best wishes


  15. So Nightmares are the subconcious/repressed feelings banging on the doors of concious. Trauma breaking through in broken and metaphorical form. I think Dr Janov stated in Primal Healing that the most important part of a dream or nightmare is the feeling behind the dream or nightmare. That is how I have worked with my dreams. My dreams often have a theme hidden away with the feeling. The dreams may be different but the theme and feeling are the same.

    At moment I have dreams about falling or the fear of falling. The feeling is one of great fear and also great upset. I always wake up wanting to cry.

    My suspicision that I was sexually abused by my Father came from dreams and evidence that I was able to assemble from memories which came to the surface after dreams and crying so much I thought I would drown. The realisation was terrible and shocking and it shook my sense of who I was to the core. No wonder I forgot it.

    I know it to be true because two years ago knowing that I would remember my Mother said on the phone "But children forget" and "I have had to live with him".

    It wrecked so much of my life and understanding how the left and right side of the brain work puts it all into perspective.

    Right now I am in a blocked/repressed state. I can't cry (though feel I am crying inside) and find that very frustrating. I am not sleeping and when I do the dreams are powerful though I wake frequently from them.

    I had my PT interview on Thursday last week and then went to see my usual therapist on Friday. I felt shaken and vunerable which I am sure is because my defences had not had chance to up again.

    Dr Janov says at the end of this piece that we can be neurologically damaged or be 'cut off' due to gating issues. My experience would seem to be the latter. One does not know what is going on on the other side. Sometimes it takes a great deal of effort to NOT remember. It is heartening to me that perhaps I do not have the Brain damage I thought I had and am simply still trying not to remember something. My experience of previous episodes of something coming to light would suggest that this is happening again.

    1. Planespotter

      I've had dreams of falling all my life. The last was 2008, falling off a bridge. I did fall and I hit the water. In my dream I thought, I’m dead now... But I was not – as you can see.
      So many people have the “falling dream” and I wonder why.
      Dr. Janov, is there an explanation?

    2. No one's dream can be generalized. It only has meaning for you and your history. There is no no no universal meaning just like in life, not one thing means exactly the same for everyone. art

  16. Planespotter: fear not. You are just fine. art There are no unwritten rules because there are very few rules at all.

  17. Planespotter,

    I am a bit like you, I also have recurring nightmares and suspect I was physically abused in my childhood. Can't remember anything before 4 - 5yrs.

    Everything Art has said about the 'sexual hijack' helps me a lot because I now realise that trauma from gestation & birth can get mixed up with later sexual development and parental abuse (or neglect).

    Sexual abuse takes many forms. Can be as bad or worse when committed psychologically (such as being beaten for masturbating at boarding school).

    I feel that some children (and I am one of them) have an attractive pull that others (both children & adults) find irresistable until drawn in too close; then, the intimacy becomes too much and a rejection follows. There need not be sexual contact; it's also a sensual & psychic attraction. "One to "One" is an expression that seems to fit well.

    I feel I was once very well bonded to my mother but this was traumatically interrupted two or three times through my childhood.

    Now I am caught in a recurrence of attraction and repulsion. The repulsion being a defence against the primary loss.

    My dreams keep reflecting this rupture in 'connectedness'. Departures, collapses, . . .

    Paul G.

  18. Has'nt the whole issue of Left and Right Brain been seen but not understood right through the last Century. Extrovert and Introvert would seem in some way to reflect this imbalance. Extroverts are Right Brained and Introverts Left Brained. One of the writers I read early in my road to recovery was useful though I think flawed. The whole mantra behind her mental health theory was that we are all either Extrovert or Introvert while never even thinking that perhaps both these are slightly crazy positions and not real sanity. She professed that real sanity was the balancing of our internal world and our external world and one could see how an Extrovert is in the World but never looks inside his or her head while an Introvert never enters the world Proper.

    Star Trek has Spock and Kirk. Spock is the cool unemotional thinker (Left Brained) while Kirk is the emotional side (Right Brain). They often work together to win out. The fact that one has to venture into the Stars to explore this says a lot about Society. It did after all involve the first interacial kiss on US TV between Kirk and Uhura.

  19. Art,

    I just discovered your web site a few months ago and now your blog. I was introduced to all this work by first reading Fritz Perls "Gestalt therapy" from 1953, which lead me somehow to Alice Miller's work on trauma and then Konrad Stettbachers 4 step program.
    I guess I am what you call a "self-primer" and had a lot of other new age stuff in the past to get me ready for this.
    I seem to be doing fairly well and at a pace that allows me continuous breakthru's with a healthy respect for my defense mechanisms. That is, I am trying not to push anything that feels harmful. I am simply finally letting the pain emerge.
    What do you think of Stettbacher's work?


  20. Anthro: It is amazing to me that people want to cash in on the notion of Primal Therapy, or using my name. If they are really onto something new why not use their own name or some other name? They just want to take advantage of my 40 years of work, where they do not have to put out any effort. It is dishonest and Stettbacher is one of them. Let us not confuse me with the charlatans, the copiers and plagiarists. We do science and I have no idea why any of them do; one thing for sure they do not do serious therapy nor scientific therapy in any way.
    Be careful of those who cash in. They are poseurs who harm people. Years ago we looked into a lot of professionals who use my name or the name Primal; not one did it carefully and properly. If people want to do our therapy we have had training for many years. Why don't they train and do it right? They are harming people and should not be allowed to practice in my name. The only recourse we have is to forewarn others, about how the therapy should be practiced, and then it is up to them. They either decide to do it right or not; it is their lives. I have not seen a single scientific work on the part of the poseurs. They are in business not in the practice of the healing art. 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.