Saturday, February 11, 2012

On Murder Again

I am going to explain what happens when someone “snaps” and kills. Specifically, regarding Scott Dekraai who killed eight people recently in Seal Beach California. He says now, some three weeks later, that “I know what I did.” So how is that possible to know what you are doing and still do it? The catch is he didnt’ know what he was doing when he did it, only later.

Is that possible to know one minute and not know the other minute? Absolutely.

Let’s talk about the crackup. But before I do that let me offer a little reminder; There are three levels of brain function. The top level is the thinking, comprehending one; externally oriented. Lower down is the feeling brain that adds emotion to the mix, and still deeper there is the instinctive reptile brain that processes the same instincts as the reptile. It adds urgency and power to emotions and to beliefs. All three have separate functions and yet are interrelated. And they communicated with each other by chemical means and also by electrical frequencies. And when something happens in the present it resonates with similar feelings from the past and they join forces. When defenses are weak, something in the present can trigger off allied sensations and feelings and then we get a powerhouse response. All three levels are involved in a conjoined reaction. Normally, there is a good defense apparatus so that the resonance does not reach too far deep down, thus limited the force of the reaction.

Here is how resonance works in the domain of anger. Something in the present makes me very angry; my wife is divorcing me and trying to keep the kids. My money is running out and she still wants more. She refuses to see or talk to me. She turns the family against me. I have been let go at my job due to injuries and I have no prospects for a new job. All looks bleak and I have no alternative. All these are assaults on my defenses. And they weaken so much that it all crumbles and there is no barrier holding back deeper pain. The problem is on the feeling level there are powerful emotions, but as it resonates still deeper anger turns to rage and fury. Human emotion because murderous feelings as the deepest animal level has access to the higher level. That is, in my lingo, the third line gives way to the first line reptilian brain where killer feelings reside. And for that moment the third line inhibitory brain is ousted by the first line instinctive brain and there is murder. The deepest brain level becomes the highest one temporarily. There is nothing left of the top level of the brain whose main function it is to inhibit. But that can only last minutes. Once the rage is expressed the pain level diminishes and some of the third line thinking, reflective brain returns to function. And Scott can now say, “I know what I did.” And he knows now but at the moment of crisis he did not know what he was doing; his rage machine took over and he became the reptile spewing out fury indiscriminately. After all, it is the top level that discriminates. It was usurped for that moment, the critical moment when he murdered eight people.

I have seen this rage over and over again when very disturbed patients begin to relive on the emotional, feeling level and suddenly are impacted by the lower levels. They begin to pound the mattress and the padded walls with an enormous fury that can go on for thirty minutes to one hour. In therapy they can direct the rage, connect with it and not be overwhelmed by it. Not so, on the street. I have filmed this rage, and those interested will see it when we release the film. The patient seems to be out of control because he is in the grip of powerful deep forces. But it is a controlled situation and is not acted out. It is becomes acted-out when the person has no idea that there are feelings deep in the unconscious, is helpless before them and has no idea about how to control them. His unconscious has taken over. And he kills.

And we can say of these people who are sometimes out of control that they may be pre-psychotic. All that really means is that their defenses against the deepest level of the brain are very weak due to the constant onslaught of pain early on in their life. And what do so-called anti-psychotic pills do? They dampen the lowest brain levels from responding. They help hold back the first line. They do this by souping up the top level so that it is more active and effective; and at the same time there are inhibitory medications in it that block the lower level pain; thus, we get a more active cortex and a less active brainstem and limbic/feeling brain. And in this medication there are chemicals that we should produce ourselves, such as serotonin. But we don’t because very early trauma has exhausted supplies, and we cannot make enough to blanket the pain. So when our inner pharmacy cannot do the job we need help from the external one. We can call it anti-psychotic medicine but all it is doing is making up for what we can no longer manufacture ourselves. Poor Scott had so many current assaults coupled with a lifetime of them that he could no longer inhibit nor defend. His defense system was not up to the job. Now when it is far too late he probably has a somewhat weak defense system that can inhibit. That won’t do his victims any good.

The lesson we can take from this is that when deprivation and severe trauma exists while we are being carried, the first-line defenses are already in a weakened state. As a kid he may have had uncontrolled temper tantrums which evolved into murder. Was he responsible? Yes and no. But we can go a long way to avoid murderous rage by making sure there is as little trauma as possible when we live in the womb. No drinking and drug-taking by the mother. No fights with her husband. No crazy diets while carrying. It is easy for me to say. I am only the messenger. It is up to all of you to listen to the message.


  1. There was film on BBC Horizon yesterday 'Are you good or Evil?' They say scientists have found out that murderers ('psychopaths') have abnormal Amygdala in their brain when scanned. More insightful was the fact that those with abnormal Amgdalas and a good childhood didn't become killers - but couldn't relate sympathetically or would manipulate people even though they appeared to function normally. Same conclusion as Primal by another route! (but no cause or cure)

    1. Ain't we smart? art
      Is TV in England as good as I remember it?

    2. UK TV is a mixed blessing. We have great programs like "Frozen Planet" and great comedy and great documentry's and yet at the same time we have the most awful ignorant approaches to physcologicial issues. The BBC can do great stuff and then offer "The worlds strictest parents" which is probably going to do more to undermine any advances in understanding how kids need respect from the very start and then we have "Eastenders" full of violence and hypocracy.

  2. To the messenger.

    I read a resignation, from a Primal Therapy point of view, when you with ever greater frequency are telling us that you are “only the messenger” who is around to tell us what happens if a mother and her husband don’t love each other and fight and subject the fetus to crazy diets, drinking and drug taking. Not to speak of many others, for example, those religious mothers who decide to follow the bible literally and give birth with Pain. Your resignation I interpret the following way: To feel and reverse the evolution is working as a complete cure only in exceptional cases.

    Of course, the messages to all future parents are the most important thing, now that we know all the consequences you are explaining so pedagogically in your books and Reflections. We will obviously continue to spread your announcement to the next generations, but, I am left with a bitter sweet taste after all I’ve been through to survive. You helped me to a new life, and it certainly is a sweet feeling to have demystified my epilepsy. The bitter feeling I am getting when I think about those having my kind of suffering / medical history. They will have nowhere to go, but the traditional treatment which, by all it’s ambitions, is a paraphrase of cognitive therapy helped by drug taking.

    Let us hope for a worldwide revolution in childbearing so that the 9 months of pregnancy and the first few, developmentally critical years of life, occurs with unconditional love and maximum protection / care. The question, however, is if this is possible without, first, a new representative, universal social revolution will be emplemented.

    You stated from the start, decades ago, that one of the supporting pillars of the Primal Therapy was that it is true democratic in structure and function.

    Jan Johnsson

    1. Jan, I think Primal is truly democratic. We do not dictate to patients; they tell us. Our relationships is that of equals, not bigshot and underling. We don't contend to know what is inside patients and we don't have a secret language special to us. art

    2. Yes Art, that was why you with boundless and unconditional patience were able to help me. Now I finally have the strength and ability to be mindful of those who may fall into the same situation as I did. They will need the same democratic therapy that you provided me with!! Jan

    3. Emotions certainly can overpower normal conscious function and decision making. But I would say that this is good reason for why we should exercise and build up some restraint and control over emotions, whether that is training the stem or just enhancing the cortex and intellect. But whatever, most people’s restraints and controls are very undeveloped.

      Been reading on mind control and programming multiple personality disorders also known as Dissociative Identity Disorder. Subjects are selected based on several criteria and one of those is susceptibility to hypnosis. Some are too hard to hypnotize. Some are easy. They like easy ones if they also have some IQ and ability.

      But resistance to hypnosis (or torture) can be greatly enhanced by developing a strong intellect and independent streak, an ingrained independent thought and will. And undeveloped mind is very vulnerable.

      Like it or not, most people do not have sufficient development of mind and thought. It makes us much more prone to being victims of all sorts of things, including our own impulses.

    4. I have a new idea, Apollo and Anonymous should open a new school of therapy called, "JUST GET OVER IT." ART

    5. Jan: I guess the principle I live by in my therapy and in my life is Self-Determination. Let people live their lives; do not impose what you believe on patients or friends. Let them come to the truth; that is the truth that sticks and endures. art

  3. I cannot ignore this message, it is very profound!

    Len Gibbs.

  4. Hi,

    Murderous rage in adults linked to 'uncontrolled temper tantrums'.

    My grandson has just entered the infamous terrible twos. It's almost impossible advising parents how to deal with this, nor is it easy to intervene when the parent is getting thoroughly 'triggered'.

    The child is reaching out. . . in the supermarket. . . for everything!

    I mean what a torture the supermarket is for a toddler, isn't it? So there we are at the check out and little one is on the floor, purple with rage, thrashing around like a misguided firework, squawking like a stuck pig. . . My son is only 21 and looks 17, the rich middle class parents frown at him but the young mothers smile. . . Grandad (me) looks apprehensive.

    I mean what do you do? As a parent you're not real if you just dissociate and 'wait for the symptoms to recede' because really that's a cop out. On the other hand when my 9yr old daughter waltzes off in a huff it only makes her worse if I do intervene, she just hates me. . .

    It's a minefield.

    Paul G.

    Paul G.

    1. Hiya Paul
      I would highly recommend the advice of Aletha Solter about tantrums:
      ".....tears and tantrums are built-in healing mechanisms that help children overcome the effects of stress and trauma. Acceptance of strong emotions is an essential ingredient in unconditional love and healthy attachment. Children need an environment that permits them to cry without being distracted, ....... This will allow them to maintain emotional health by regularly freeing themselves from the effects of frustrating, frightening, or confusing experiences. ........Children brought up with this approach grow up to be cooperative, compassionate, and nonviolent....." I think she's got her finger on the preventive button while Art Janov's got his finger on the cure button (for all those - most of us - who haven't been loved and accepted enough in childhood). J

    2. Hi Paul, interesting dilemma, the food store and the child of two.... may I recommend reading a few things, mostly for grand-dad and dad.... the child seems find to me.... there is a parenting column where a short bit is blogged daily:
      This one came out the day you posted here with Janov.
      Also, the incredible work of Norm Lee, an American advocate for children worldwide... his .pdf work called Parenting without Punishing, is very very insightful. My very best wishes to you in your love of your grandkid(s) and to dad. The work you do in loving your kids and there kids is the real cure for all our aches and pains...

  5. My daughter is very busy and she regrets there's no time to read at the present. Weekly when we walk in the woods I faithfully tell her about what you tell us in your blogs, especially now emphasizing life in the womb, and she soaks it up with interest. We can already plainly see the areas where she went wrong with her first and second children.
    I know she is spreading the word.
    I know she will not go 'so wrong' with her next baby.
    Thank you for being the messenger.

  6. An email comment: "There was a very interesting Horizon programme on BBC4 here in the Uk last night. A Californian scientist, Professor Fallon, can identify psychopaths from their brain scans. Basically their limbic systems don't work so they don't feel empathy or anything for anybody. Nor do they have any moral consciousness - they are totally selfish. However many are very intellectually manipulative and convincing. His work was initially aimed at the brains of serial killers, but what he discovered was that many top politicians and top people in the corporate world have brains which show the psychopathic signature.
    It would appear that there is a gene which is specific to psychopaths, the warrior gene, but it depends on their historical environment (birth/childhood) whether a gene carrier becomes a serial killer or a chief executive officer of a large company. This would explain why the worlds top bankers caused a global financial crisis due to their own selfish greed, receive trillions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts, then start all over again as though they had done no wrong. Aided of course by the top psychopathic politicians.


    1. And my answer:
      I wrote a blog on this somewhere: same conclusion. Damage to limbic was before birth.

    2. Dr. Janov,
      We had the subject “murder and psychopath” before.
      I can only add one more thought and question to this; is it possible that the psychopath had a stroke while still in the placenta or at birth, that impaired the amygdala, or “destroyed the neurological circuitry”? (your words in LBB, page 196) Some psychopath can’t feel neither emotional nor physical pain. One other observation - the true psychopath (verses psychopathic symptoms) has no fright and flight reaction. They often remind me of a badger who has no fear or pain, only anger and smarts.
      If we like to meet one, all we have to do is see a politician, a banker, or talk to a Wall Street guy.
      The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason. - G. K. Chesterton
      Unfortunately Prof. James H. Fallon is not revealing his findings to the public:
      However, there is quite some information available at:

    3. If a psychopath was beaten to within an inch of his or her life as a child then I would argue that they are both going to feel pain later on. Look at Hitler. Beaten so hard by his Father that at age 11 he was nearly killed. He used to count the beatings.

      They can't feel the emotional pain or physical pain because they are so cut off from their early pain.

      In the same way that someone into S&M is simply saying they enjoy something so as to avoid saying they hated it then there is little difference between them and a physcopath.

      I was beaten by a great Uncle and had totally forgotten it. The evidence is a badly distorted spine which I did not know I had. My body expressed the event through a dreadful rash on my back which got better or worse due to stress.

      This great Uncle used to breed Goldfish for a living and had huge ponds full of them. I have spent my whole life with a "liking" for Goldfish. By "Liking" or loving Goldfish I think this acted as a shield to the true trauma hidden in my subconcious. For the last 7 years I have had numerous dreams about goldfish, huge ponds etc etc. All of these were my subconcious gently throwing up clues to my trauma.

      I found people who would listen to me including my wife so the trauma could rise to the surface.

      Thus perhaps even reasoning can be an illusion. I like Goldfish now but I'm not obesssed with them.

      I know someone who is obsessed with Dolls as is her Mother. Her Grandfather used to make Dolls. Better to be obsessed with Dolls than recognise that the maker of those Dolls may have abused the girls in his charge.

      This person who likes Dolls shows many psychopathic tendancy's I think. No empathy for anyone else, a narcisistic self obesssion and a hardness and harshness which she see's as love. If we can see cruelty as love then we can see pain as enjoyment and obsession as interest and delusion as reason.

  7. Art,

    I personally experienced the Primal Therapy as a therapy with rules, but democratic. It was / is a therapy with true democratic ambitions surrounded and influenced by a world of democratic dictatorships.

    Jan Johnsson

  8. It would seem to be that if a child has someone who can show him or her love and respect they tend not to go and murder someone. I still hold with the fact that if a child is subject to beatings and slaps when little they will learn that these are legitimate ways of dealing with situations later in life. I gather that such beatings and smacks leave leasions on the Brain.

    When I first started to remember what happened to me I felt the most violent rage. I think the rage of a small child totally and utterly controlled so much so that my real sense of self was pushed way down deep. My Mother said a few years ago "I had to control you" which rather confirms this. Seeing my sister screaming at her daughters and also slapping them too I am sure only goes to confirm this.

    I still sometimes get violent fantasies of lashing out but these are in my head and I don't condemn myself for them but see them as part of the healing process. Often I find that these are part of the remembering process which can only go to illustrate how violent my early childhood was.

    I had a number of teachers who showed me kindness and respect that I think helped me a huge amount in terms of growth. Some friends too. I used to obsess dreadfully about losing friends and i think that was almost a foil to actually recognising that my Parents never loved me. It's easier to worry about losing friends than to recognise that one was not loved. My friends were and are my family.

    If a child is having temper tantrums then he is reacting to how he is treated. I saw a woman recently pick up her little Boy by his forearm and drag him through a DIY store treating him in the most awfully brutal manner and then women wonder why some men beat them up as adults. I saw another Mother forcing her little girl into a push chair and this kid was screaming and the roughness she was experiencing was dreadful.

    Violence towards children does not often seem to be mentioned on this blog and yet I am sure that the vast majority of us who participate in it were slapped and beaten when little but perhaps cannot remember it. The Brain is still growing for a number of years after we are born and I am sure that that violence goes a long way to reprogramming our Brains when they are still forming.

    When I was younger (in my twenties) I used to lash out if I felt threatened. I know this has much to do with the sexual abuse I had endured and deeply forgotten (as well as the spanks I got as a little Boy. However the defence mechanisms were on high alert (the Amygdela I gather). I remember once going back to my college residence having been to a larger town on a Friday night. A friend started larking about and play wrestled me from behind. I instinctly lashed out and kneed him in the Balls. The poor bloke was gob smacked and I was mortified. A red mist had come down. Another time I had been to a party and a bunch of friends were sleeping on a bench waiting for a train. One friend shook me to wake me up and I hit out. Instinctive life preservation stuff. Not from pre-birth but from a deeply traumatised part of me that had been abused.

    In some ways these situations were remeniscient of the original abuse so my early warning system did it's best to protect me without having the time to sort out whether the new situation was a threat.

    1. Let me say it again; Gestation life does not make you beat someone later on; it is the platform that is triggered off when something bad happens in the present. I wrote about resonance at least six times. Art.

  9. poor Scott. poorer victims. it takes so little to set some people off. i see it all the time. though rarely on this scale. thankfully.


  10. I have a new idea, Apollo and Anonymous should open a new school of therapy called, "JUST GET OVER IT." ART

    I think the Veterans Administration already opened that school of therapy. Their EMD, hypnosis, drugs, and behavior modification tool bag boils down to that John Wayne charge, "Just get over it. Dude!"

    And long ago, that is the essence of what the Chaplain told our platoon at the make-shift funeral of my closest friend. "Get over it dudes. Now, get your rifles, and gear up for your next patrol."
    The more things change, the more they remain the same. Chaplains are now replaced with a monstrous toolbag of mind tricks.

    1. Off-topic: A few days ago I read a book called "Manic" by one Terri Cheney, a resident of the Los Angeles area and an ex-lawyer in Hollywood corporate circles. The book is a memoir of her manic-depressive disorder. Luckily not having ever sufferred from this particular disorder, I had no idea how disruptive it was ( I am suffering though from a milder depression these days, a rare occurrence for me, thus my interest; not to mention I am courting a lovely female with the disorder). While reading the book, I started to intuitively notice patterns to her life that seemed to fit the Primal formulation. I did not go looking for this, beleive me. Many questions also arose. I then remembered a short piece Dr Janov wrote on the disorder for his book "The Primal Revolution". I then read it attentively, and was struck dumb by the soundness of his explanation , not to mention his explanation of the case study included as an example. Now, I do not know if what he wrote is right, but it sure sounds right on paper! Anyways, considering how debilitating this disorder is and how many suffer from it, it is tragic that Janov is not taken more seriously. I wrote to the author of the book, Terri Cheney, to tell her a bit about Primal , but got no answer, not surprisingly.


    2. Hi Marco

      Alice Miller also has a good explanation about so called Manic Depression on page 40 of The Drama of being a Child. I must read "The Primal revolution" to see what Dr Janov says about it too.

  11. Look at Hitler. Beaten so hard by his Father that at age 11 he was nearly killed. He used to count the beatings.

    planespotterFeb 15, 2012 05:03 AM

    hey planespotter, there is a great detailed analysis here:

    And so "I resolved not to make a sound the next time my father whipped me. And when the time came-I still can remember my frightened mother standing outside the door-I silently counted the blows. My mother thought I had gone crazy when I beamed proudly and said, `Father hit me thirty-two times!' "

    1. Hi Kaz

      Thanks for the link. No Spank is a great website. If you have not done so already then "For your own good" by Alice Miller is a very enlightening read. It lifts the lid on so many tyrants. It changed the view I had of the Second World War. Years before I read "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" which is a brilliant history and combine that with Miller's writing and it turns the world upside down.

      It's tragic to hear a small Boy so in denial of all that emotional as well as physical pain and also his desperate need for love from his Mother that he thought himself crazy for counting and how it eventually killed millions.

  12. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for that, I followed up that column.

    Toddlers and infants (it aught to be obvious to us parents and adults) do not understand the significance and value of 'stuff'; how could they understand our 'rules'? (Though of course some parents just assume their children are naughtier than they are themselves stupid and cruel to assume toddlers could understand the rules, how stupid is that)?

    Supermarkets are designed to appeal to the older child in us (the one that so say 'knows our needs' and can shop for them, about 7/8yrs onward, can read and write shopping lists, can find stuff, even after the managers have shifted it all around to make us walk further and buy more).

    It's natural for toddlers to reach out, grab, yank, twist and pull, then 'discard behind and move on'. It's almost like swimming. (Then run away laughing, ha ha ha ha)!

    My way (and my 21yr old sons') of handling this stage is to run a tight ship at home so that there are hardly any things, objects to hand that the toddler is not allowed. This way he is not being continually humiliated and frustrated by adults constantly telling him "NO"! and snatching the valuable object away.

    In the supermarket I try to let the toddler reach out for stuff we actually need but that doesn't necessarily get round the automatic "reach, grab, yank, twist and pull" which in my opinion is a totally natural reflex ( and when you're looking the other way, Crash)! And so, inevitably, when we get to the check out, we get to where the supermarket managers have put THE MOST ATTRACTIVE THINGS, the space is constricted (and everyone in the queue is anxious to get checked out). . . It's like a torturous sort of birth canal isn't it? You even get 'born' with a load of 'baggage'.

    Ah well,

    Paul G.

  13. Hi Art

    I will step way out on a wishful speculative limb.
    I am speculating that if there is measurable, and perhaps quantifiable [?] changes in the amygdala, then perhaps there is also a corollary change in epigenetics ? Perhaps the methylation process at time of imprint leaves a measurable and recognizable fingerprint.

    Two possible patterns quickly come to mind. Perhaps the quantitative number of methylated epigenetic changes might be measured.

    Hopefully, however, perhaps different specific sequences of methylation can be identified - like a finger print. Methylation might be taking place at key molecular site to indicate severe trauma, and at other key molecular sites to indicate less severe trauma.

    Perhaps methylation occurring at key specific sites might distinguish between first line or second line pain. We might eventually measure the distinguishing fingerprint of a premature birth, versus say the fingerprint of a strangulation on the cord event at birth.

    What a potential scientific breakthrough. A methylation fingerprint database would hold for focusing the therapeutic community on the patient’s actual condition versus what is going on in the I say, you say, we all say, booga booga world.
    A methylation fingerprint database would also hold the potential for predicting future emotional vulnerability.

    Yes, we have already known for decades that the primal process creates measurable, systemic and metabolic changes that undergo normalization over a period of primal connections. And other treatment modalities make weak and narrowly based claims about achieving gains in health and longevity.

    But a science based therapeutic yardstick, would change all that. The behavior modifiers would have to scramble to show any epigenetic changes in their methods. Or, worse the brain modifiers might have to explain why many of the changes that do occur under behavior modification are actually increasing methylation - making the patient sicker inside at the genetic level!!

    I also would enjoy speculating about reading such epigenetic fingerprints before any person is allowed to assume a position of political power over others. Imagine, for example, taking a peek at the epigenetic fingerprint of “Doctor” Henry Kissinger. “Oops Mr Kissinger, it appears you are an irredeemable psychopath and compulsive manipulator. Sorry no public office for you .” :)

    Methylation finger printing, might hold the key to cleaning up the booga booga environment of current psychology, as well as clean up our political scene. What a double boon for mankind.

    There are other nuances to this methylation fingerprint idea.
    In a recent email, Bruce Wilson posted a link to the website page of Jaak Panksepp, PhD. “The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions.”

    Dr Panksepp is currently promoting major research in the evolution of affective disorder in animals - to better understand the evolutionary trail in the organization of consciousness.

    Suppose that future epigenetic research in other animals reveals an epigenetic finger print to be a strategic place along the evolutionary development of consciousness.
    Next, suppose that the epigenetic fingerprint in a dog, or primate, is found to be similar? Suppose the same epigenetic fingerprint found in primates is also found in a human. Same fingerprint, similar disorder?

    Every evidenced-based advance in science, generally destroys many old paradigms. Being able to read epigenetic fingerprinting would help to clean out the charlatans of science, as well as the psychopaths slithering though the corridors of power.

    1. Such a good idea as usual. Jim, I hereby name you my associate. Art

    2. A reply from Bruce Wilson:
      It's not unreasonable to think in terms of an epigenetic "fingerprint." In fact, there's an effort underway: The Human Epigenome Pilot Project.

      The problem is that it will take decades to identify complex methylation patterns associated with specific physiological traits and diseases, let alone primal imprinting. But in theory, it can be done.

      First, one would have to identify a clear link between trauma and methylation. That's just begun with the GR (glucocorticoid) and the 5-HTTLPR (serotonin) genes. They've already identified vulnerability to suicide through methylation of 5-HTTLPR. Over time, they'll identify more methylation patterns associated with other genes to create a sort of "trauma epigenetic" map. As for methylation patterns associated with 1st line and 2nd line, that's way off.

      Ever the scientist, I have to say that we must avoid putting too much hope in reductionistic biology. Epigenetics could turn out to be as unreliable a marker for psychological traits as genetics is turning out to be.


    3. "Jim, I hereby name you my associate. Art"

      Hi Art,
      I accept. Now what have I got myself into?

      Hi Bruce,
      Thanks so much for that informed update. Yes, it is speculative at this point. Hence I started with,
      "I will step way out on a wishful speculative limb..."

      But there is some science in my wishful speculation. As we move from general vital sign changes, such as blood pressure, or body temperature, etc. which can be triggered by a wide variety of early imprints; as we "zoom in" from there to methylation along a specific molecule we are getting closer and closer to where "the rubber meets the road" - so to speak. By learning to read at the molecular level we may be taking a quantum leap into "specificity."

      For example, methylation at sites A, C, G, might trigger not general but a highly specific disease outcome - or just a very narrow set of disease outcomes.

      Whereas methylation at sites A, C, E, might trigger another set of very narrow disease outcomes.

      Isn't the exploration of millions of years of evolutionary wisdom getting to be fun? We got to where we are with the epigenetic mechanism of modern animals, because it worked better than all of the other evolutionary outcomes, mutations, and trials over millions of years, that did not work.

      I support Panksepps's work, because if these epigenetic changes are found in other animals, primates, dogs, cats, then the evolutionary mechanism that survives to this day in modern humans is that much better tested over many more millions of years -- i.e., we have a pedigree. Given time evolution tends to gain robustness.

      And the next step in this evolutionary mechanism? Did someone mention a primal ??

    4. Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
      There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
      Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
      Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
      It's easy.
      There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
      No one you can save that can't be saved.
      Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you
      in time - It's easy.

      All you need is love, all you need is love,
      All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
      Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
      All you need is love, all you need is love,
      All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
      There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
      Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
      Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
      It's easy.
      All you need is love, all you need is love,
      All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
      All you need is love (all together now)
      All you need is love (everybody)
      All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

    5. Jim: What I need is both of your help in figuring out how to design a before and after study on our patients for methylation and acetylation and exactly what we need to do.? art We want to see if primal reverses the imprint and does that lead to longer telomeres and a longer life. Can use anyone's help. Art

  14. Hi Planespotter: Thanks for your referral to that Alice Miller book. I beleive, though, that the correct title of the book is "The Drama of the Gifted Child".


  15. Jim RM
    “A methylation fingerprint database would also hold the potential for predicting future emotional vulnerability”.
    This would be an enormous leap and I would be the first one who helps gathering the data (doing the footwork) and collecting it.
    The question is what can we really do with this database, after the damage is done.
    When we discover an “illness” or a gene-malfunction, we need a remedy. Stem cell therapy is one solution but has Dr. Janov trained enough in JPT's to help healing the remaining millions?
    I think the next step will be in repairing malfunctioning genes.
    Just think for a moment how many university textbooks, the ICD and DSM's that have to be rewritten... and some snake-oil gurus and self-glorifying Professors would have to disappear.
    I’m dreaming the dream of a healthier future.

    1. Sieglinde: Is there a way of measuring acetylation and methylation in term so high strong the imprint is, and do we reverse it. Is heavy methylation for ex, lead to cancer or psychosis. art

  16. Dear Dr Janov,
    I just want to say I am an admirer of your work, and it was greatly helpful in my search for the truth.


    1. You are welcome. it is distinctly my pleasure. 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.