Friday, February 17, 2012

Statement by Harvard Professor Richard J.McNally Concerning Repressed Memories


The journal Child Maltreatment is published by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC). They published an often-cited article by Dr. David Corwin, co-founder of APSAC, which supports memory repression. Using documents in the public record, Dr Elizabeth Loftus and Dr. Mel Guyer independently studied the material on which Corwin's article was based. They published their conclusions in Skeptical Inquirer (SI) magazine. 1,2 Dr. Carol Tavris also published an article in SI which discussed research difficulties that Loftus and Guyer experienced in their study. 3
Although they carefully preserved the anonymity of the subject of the case study as "Jane Doe," the actual client initiated a lawsuit against Loftus, Guyer, Skeptical Inquirer and Tavris arguing invasion of privacy and defamation of character.
The following Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) brief was submitted by Richard J. McNally in support of the defendants, Elizabeth Loftus et al. on 2005-JUN-03. 4 It gives an excellent overview of the current status of recovered memory.


Honorable Ronald M. George, Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the California Supreme Court
350 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102-4797

RE: Nicole Taus vs. Elizabeth Loftus et al.
(1st D.C.A. Civ No. A104689, Solano County Superior Court
No. FCS02A557)

Dear Chief Justice George and Associate Justices:

I am Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. I have 250 publications, many in the field of traumatic stress and memory, including the book Remembering Trauma (2003, Harvard University Press). My research, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, includes laboratory studies on cognitive functioning in adults who report having been sexually abused as children. I served on the American Psychiatric Association’s committee for revising the diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I am among the approximately 260 psychologists and psychiatrists identified by the Institute for Scientific Information as “highly cited” (i.e., top one half of one percent of all published psychologists and psychiatrists worldwide in terms of citation impact). Accordingly, I am deeply familiar with the scientific issues involved in the Taus vs. Loftus et al. case. I respectfully request that you accept the Petition for Review in the above-cited case.

Statement of Interest:

How victims remember trauma is the most controversial issue confronting psychology and psychiatry today. Clinical researchers capable of understanding the relevant science realize that traumatic events -- those experienced as overwhelmingly terrifying and life-threatening -- are remembered all too well. Informed clinicians and scientists realize that emotional arousal enhances memory for trauma; it does not result in blocked memory for trauma. Indeed, people who develop PTSD are haunted by intrusive memories of horrors that they cannot forget.

Yet some clinicians claim that the mind protects itself by banishing memories of trauma, making it difficult for victims to recall their most terrifying experiences until safe to do so years later. These clinicians believe that a significant minority of victims, perhaps as many as 30%, are incapable of remembering their most terrifying experiences. They believe that victims repress, dissociate, or block out these memories precisely because the memories are so upsetting.

As I and others have shown, there is no convincing evidence for the claim that victims repress and recover memories of traumatic events. To be sure, some victims may not think about disturbing events for many years, if the events were not experienced as traumatic -- terrifying and life-threatening -- at the time of their occurrence. But not thinking about something for a long time is not the same thing as being unable to remember it, and it is inability to remember that lies at the heart of repression theory.

For example, a child exposed to an episode of nonviolent sexual abuse (e.g., being inappropriately touched by a stepfather) and who fails to understand the experience as abuse, may experience confusion, anxiety, and disgust, but not traumatizing terror. Such a child may not think about the event, only to be reminded of it years later. But this would not constitute repression, nor would it constitute a recovered traumatic memory because the event was neither understood as abuse nor experienced as terrifying at the time of its occurrence.

The notion that traumatic events can be repressed and later recovered is the most pernicious bit of folklore ever to infect psychology and psychiatry. It has provided the theoretical basis for “recovered memory therapy” -- the worst catastrophe to befall the mental health field since the lobotomy era.

The case of Jane Doe has assumed extraordinary significance in the fierce debate over the reality of repressed and recovered memories of trauma. Videotapes of Dr. Corwin’s interviews have been shown at professional conferences, and the case has routinely been cited as proof that horrific memories can be blocked and then recovered. Accordingly, the investigation done by Loftus and Guyer has profound scientific, clinical, legal, and public significance because it reveals that this case is far more complicated than repression theorists have led us to believe. More specifically, it is not at all clear that Jane Doe was ever actually abused, and the second videotape may depict her recollection of the accusation of abuse, not of any abuse itself. Needless to say, repression advocates have vigorously attempted to frighten clinical scientists from discovering the truth about cases regarding alleged repressed and recovered memories of trauma. Legal action against Loftus et al. appears to be little more than an attempt to squelch inquiry into matters of profound social significance. Accordingly, I urge the Court to grant the defendants’ Petition for Review and to reverse the Appellate Court’s decision.


Richard J. McNally, Ph.D.
Director of Clinical Training


  1. hello. this is Bruce Wilson's answer to me about the people who promoted that Bias Cognition nonsense. Please note that these people have a stake in denying the idea of repressed memory; yet there are literally thousands of studies demonstrating its veracity. They have to stamp out any notion of the unconscious because they are and remain unconscious. art

    "What would you expect from Richard McNally, the shrink from Harvard who wrote this?

    "The notion that traumatic events can be repressed and later recovered is the most pernicious bit of folklore ever to infect psychology and psychiatry. It has provided the theoretical basis for “recovered memory therapy” -- the worst catastrophe to befall the mental health field since the lobotomy era."

    Andrew J. Gerber is an psychoanalyst and the creator of the emotional faces gimmick. His research includes fMRI studies of transference.

    It's like the Inquisition -- the higher up in the church they get, the more they protect dogma, and the more vicious they attack heretics.

    It makes me sick, too.


  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Art,

    That is what’s so tragic with your great country. It holds simultaneously the best and the worst on earth. Everyone has a chance to be programmed to become a millionaire. Performance neuroses, that do not meet real human needs, are highly rewarded in every possible situation, like, for example, in studies, careers, business and in politics. Hence in the name of democracy a McCarthy, a Kissinger, a Madhoff, to name just a few of the worst kind of manipulators, develop and grow out of all proportions. The fact that R.J. McNally arises at Harvard, the very status badge of the hard core, does not surprise me. Unfortunately, we cannot refute him, and therefore he can (and possibly feel obliged to) express himself sweepingly and threatening to those who are in a powerless position.

    For the one who has experienced, what McNally says impossible, how a repressed memory can be relived and change a life, his condemnations do not feel so heavy. The serious question is what effect his naïvety will have on the focusing of research and patient treatments before his manipulations turn against themselves and implode, which was the, logic, case with McCarthy, Kissinger and Madhoff.

    What force may create is uneasy and short, it dies like a whirlwind in the dessert away.

    Jan Johnsson

    1. Jan: The reason I get infuriated is because it is the same with guys like Kissinger, an arch war criminal who is lauded as a savior. These guys are causing great harm because they offer help that can never help. It is criminal!! Art

  4. It's very depressing as in the UK many cases have been lost due to Repressed Memory Syndrome.

    Before I go on I wanted to make something very clear. I do not advocate Freud's therapy as used by so many people and completely stand with those like Dr Janov who have rejected it and rightly so.

    However I have found it very interesting to see how many shrinks in the past such as Jung have jumped through hoops to come up with complex theories to allow themselves to deny what they must have come across time and time again when listening to their patients.

    Some of the UK's more radical thinkers such as Bowlby, Laing and Winnicot (especially Winnicot) got very close to understanding what was going on but my understanding and feeling is that all of them still held with the fact that the patient needed a conversation rather than needing to feel feelings.

    My own experience is that as a Boy I learned to accept my Parents view of me as me. Moulding in Religious terms. Thus any kind of suggestion by a therapist could easily send me off coarse with regard to remembering and in essence re-traumatise me.

    My understanding is that Freud early on in his career wrote his trauma theory about repressed memories and included this in his lecture about The aeitology of Hysteria (I got this from one of Alice Miller's books) and he found himself so ostracised from polite Victorian Society that he made a huge U turn and developed the Drive theories so the Victim could be blamed. Lloyd De Mausse in his forward to Alice Miller's "Thou shalt not be aware" talked about a young man who discovered that a young woman (Dora) had been sexually abused by her Father and instead of helping her he described her as hysterical. By the time her had met her he was in denial about his own discovery. He even alluded to the fact that he had been abused by his own Father.

    I find it interesting that this repression of the truth keeps happening over the decades because how can anyone accept that the unconcious is pretty much all trauma unless they recognise their own trauma.

    It is interesting that it is a religious website that hosts this letter and also has a section on spanking children.

    I went through decades being treated as some crazy person because I had started to remember the abuse I suffered at the hands of my Father. I worked it all out via evidence, dreams and bodily reactions so much so that in the end my Mother said on the phone to me a few years ago "But children forget and I have had to live with him". As usual her needs put first ie a roof over her head.

    In Victorian times it was thought that so long as a child was under 5 when the abuse finished they would never remember it.

    There are pockets of people in the UK who do understand how this can happen.

    I can't wait to visit LA and get in touch with little me on a more permenant basis.

    1. Planespotter: We await your arrival with open arms. art

  5. Replies
    1. Offering false hope is hurting people. It is criminal. art

  6. If Richard J. McNally cannot recover repressed memories, then how can he know whether or not they are there? Very ambitions to use the term "folklore" in something he does not and cannot know anything about.

    And you are right, Art. He does have a stake in denying repression. Otherwise he would be calmly agnostic on this issue (like a true scientists), rather than taking an emotive/definitive position on something that, again, he simply doesn't really know about.

    -Often you can smell the b.s just by the 'strangely' inappropriate reactions to the issue.

    1. Andrew: Elizabeth Loftus is another one who has made a career out of denying recovered memory. Remember our pledge: first do no harm. What they do first is........harm. can you imagine dedicating your career to denial and harm. It is what parents do when a child claims to remember something like incest. And it is what psychoanalysts did when patients claimed incest. They think and thought it was a fantasy. You are right, why are they so vehement except it makes good copy.? art

  7. "As I and others have shown, there is no convincing evidence for the claim that victims repress and recover memories of traumatic events."

    Perhaps Professor McNally has seen many videos of mock therapy. maybe he is conscious enough to sense the shallow behaviour of those patients. has he seen real primal therapy?

    what type of evidence is he looking for? he might be smart enough to know that a lack of CONVINCING evidence is not a good reason to completely ignore all of those who are convinced by the evidence. he might be smart enough to know that the quality of a patient's subjective experience is impossible to document with irrefutable evidence....therefore, the inherent difficulty in supplying CONVINCING evidence should be expected, and this difficulty should not be considered sufficient grounds for dismissal.

    If McNally and others could be encouraged to understand this crucial point, they might become more interested, or at least committed to studying the biological evidence presented by Janov.

    I could write a letter to McNally but my unprofessional writing style might put him off.

  8. It's interesting to see such denial by a senior shrink.

    It reminds me of Dr Brazelton's experiment (or recording) of how a Mother holds her child when it is first born. He filmed a Mother holding her baby daughter and the filmed that daughter with her own baby and each held and dealt with the next generation exactly the same. It seems that this suggests that Mothering is learned and when Dr Janov speaks of Mother arguing with husbands or smoking when pregnant and how this can adversly effect the baby it also suggests that the Mother is also reacting to to the perhaps new memories of how she was treated as a baby which could be very painful memories that she would only want to repress and thus she would be doing anything to shut people up who may be making demands on her because her mind is making every effort to continue the repression/suppression of those early painful imprints.

    Another reason why the undertanding of the fact that memories can be repressed is so vital.

  9. To all,
    My reaction comes strictly from the emotional side.
    Reading this sentence as a sexual abuse victim, I felt my heartbeat raising and heat creeping up from the chest to the throat.
    “For example, a child exposed to an episode of nonviolent sexual abuse (e.g., being inappropriately touched by a stepfather) and who fails to understand the experience as abuse, may experience confusion, anxiety, and disgust, but not traumatizing terror.”
    What is his modus operandi? Is he in denial; or just left hemisphere and biased?
    Did he ever hat a true feeling? No wonder psychology is still in the dark Freudian ages.
    We should not help building a higher throne for ancient “cognitive sun-gods”, by discussing their written malarkey.

  10. I can understand McNally's resistance to a certain extent, as an initial reaction to the idea of totally unconscious repressed memories. This notion does indeed seem to contradict every day emotional reality.I, for instance can't remember much before the age of 5. But what I do not understand is how someone could not eventually be open (at least a bit)to the notion of repressed memories after reading the evidence that Janov and other people present so coherently. Especially since the effects of these repressions seem to be so fateful to the well-being of human beings. Here we have this so-called expert arrogantly citing his Harvard professorship and his myriad publications , and all he can up with is a slander about lobotomies to bolster his case.


  11. Dr. Janov and all,
    Not all is lost!
    Adding to my earlier post now a very unusual and pleasant experience.
    The German Government has installed the “round table for sexual abuse”. One of their investigation includes interviewing victims of such crimes. Yesterday, it was my turn.
    A female interviewer called me from Germany. She did not ask me for my name, and she didn’t exposed her name or profession.
    The interview included:
    As a victim did you attempt to tell anyone or file a law suit?
    Who were the perpetrator(s) and did you receive therapy at the time?
    What are the physical and psychological consequences you live with and how should the Government prevent sexual abuse. I sensed at this moment that the interviewer is not a government employee, she sounded like a psychologist – so I switched gears.
    Before the question was asked, what do I expect from the German Government, she asked, would you like to have therapy?
    I answered yes, but not cognitive therapy and not the “Trauma Therapy” available in Germany.
    Why not, she asked?
    Following my instinct I asked: how can trauma be healed when symptoms muffled and the only approached is cognition, while the trauma imprint is in the lower right hemisphere.
    Aha - was her response; which therapy would you prefer? she asked.
    Primal therapy by Dr. Janov was my answer. She asked, the author of the Primal Scream?
    The tone of the interview changed pleasantly and she asked (don’t remember the exact words) what is the difference. I told her the answer lies in Dr. Janov’s latest book. She wanted the title which I gave her, - Life before Birth. I know that she knows what I was talking about when I rejected cognitive therapy as a therapeutic solution for sexual trauma. She knew the Primal Scream and will read Life before Birth.
    It is very rare to come across a psych-professional in Germany who is able to think outside the marginalized Freudian Box. One more gem in the jewelry box, I thought.

  12. An email comment:"This is hogwash! This "esteemed" Harvard professor has himself never made contact with his own subconscious. Therefore, he is drawing such conclusions on the basis of his own repression. I feel angry right now. In fact, enraged and frightened. IWould have liked to hear a response from you added to these letters. It is this kind of ignorance that kept me in the dark and in great suffering for decades in "therapies" that never touched on the realities of my childhood. I am still here today because I had a flashback on 7/26/1987, followed by several others. When I reported the first one to my analyst he simply said, "If repression doesn't work!" That was all. As more of them followed, I reported my suspicions about my father to him. What did he say? "There's no evidence." I wanted to believe him. Yet something inside me told me different. More flashbacks later and I quit seeing this man as he was harming me. I was afraid to personally confront him. His denials of my facts would only traumatize me more, still could. So I left some very angry messages on his answering machine. I have been doing self-therapy ever since. I had to bear all what had happened to me because I know no therapist, or person, who would believe me. I had hoped to one day convey it all to Alice Miller. Unfortunately she has died.

    Thank you for your blogs. They're my only support. "

  13. Another email comment:
    "Wow Im so confused what in the world is he talking about? I retreive and relive memories all the time I shudder to think what my live would be like had I not read primal scream and primaled on my own for many years I often wonder if I will ever get them all felt and then get on with my life but I never wonder if I can do it or not Its pretty horrible to think that people like this have so much power in influence. Sandy "

  14. This guy is fucked up in so many ways, wow.. I cannot even start.
    Let me tell you, I know many Psych &Psychiatry Professors; their titles mean nothing in *real* terms. I've also studied myself at a Harvard adjunct. This is total bullshit and reinforces the Emperor's New Clothes we are still tragically living with in this (otherwise great) profession.
    Thank 'God' I also have the Arts

    1. jacquie, i think your experience in the industry means nothing in real terms. if it's not primal, it's false hope. i like your rawness.

    2. Thanks Richard :) I like my rawness too
      My experience in the industry contributes to the great foundation I have to study Primal, which is what I want to do

  15. Hi,

    Only since getting onto this blog from having read Alice Millers' books has any of the intense emotional experiences I have had in life made any sense to me (in the real meaning of the word "Sense").

    My insights are now so profound I cannot share them with but a few other friends and family and then only occasionally under duress (they don't always appreciate my sentiments either). One compatriot is my 21yr old single parent son, father of my grandson. Even then, the more salient, juicy bits I save for my responses on this blog, thankfully not all get published. Thanks Mr. Scrutiniser for saving me from my worst excesses.

    Basically, all the therapy I have ever had has been like a laborynth in which I pay money for the counter transference but does the guide actually know the territory? The last one, 'body-work psychotherapy' would have been much more useful to me if he (the therapist) had contextualised his remarks according to Real Primal Theory. He told me he knew the theory but actually he could have re-read the New Primal Scream with me and sent me to California. Why did he not do this? Well, he had his own agenda didn't he? He certainly has his own business. He did help me get somewhere. . . but I found the books and this blog all on my own!

    The last time I saw him in the supermarket he was so spaced out he didn't recognise me. Maybe he was trying to avoid me. Maybe it wasn't him. . . Oh my God! Am I paranoid now? Oooops, Time's Up anyway.

    Time's always up once you've paid for the 50 minute hour. Then the counter-transference is all yours, isn't it? After all, you've paid for it havn't you?

    Although therapy needs an alliance it also needs to be 'patient centred' according to the science overview, not to the personal relationship with the therapist or even the trained responses he can make; to an extent the patient needs to know the real basics as well. I mean, look what happens when the patient finds out the truth, but the therapist doesn't? Where's the feedback mechanism? There isn't a feedback mechanism in any of the conventional therapies because the "alliance" is totally subjective and personal to the greater training and so called knowledge of the therapist.

    If therapy continues to need the counter-transference relationship as a significant vehicle for healing then access to the ever revised knowledge of traumatised imprints is essential for both parties in the alliance. The therapeutic alliance must be ruled by and according to a "Robust" theory based on "All The Evidence".

    People are still using the counter-transference in a magical or coaching way, or both together. Interestingly the Jungians have a saying: "Participation Mystique" to describe early (merged) feeling states. Yet these Jungians totally fail to understand that this 'language' they use is indeed part of that therapeutic 'mystique'. It is a resonance, interestingly feeling full but not cure, like the shower before diving into the swimming bath. It's not the bath.

    It is the mystical interpretation of ignorance, a wash, and a way to convert anxiety into false hope. Particularly if you really need a friend to lean on. This way a little bit of crying is followed by a lot of "personality re-invention". You can make a new architectural façade for your terraced house, a new render. But you will still stand to attention, in a row, stuck on the same street. Housed into the history of your past.

    A fanciful coaching system for your imagination will give some of the interiors a new look, a make over, for your idealisation, for your defences, for your relationship with culture and your new 'self image'. Better adapted to get on in the world.


    Paul G.

  16. "You can make a new architectural façade for your terraced house, a new render. But you will still stand to attention, in a row, stuck on the same street. Housed into the history of your past."

    But it's no good if the foundations are built on sand. Freud said Therapy was like Archeology which does tend to blow McNally out of the water!

    McNally hides behind his titles. "The Lady doth protest to much, Methinks!'

  17. Maybe Dr Janov could create a page in which everyone who wishes to, can write down their experiences of remembering abuse, birth trauma etc. Add links to all the other websites (such as Alice Miller's) that support this and we then have a powerful counter to such hokum.

    Frankly the publication on this religious website means he is preaching to the converted.

    In the end the Internet saved me. It offered me many routes to follow and I was lucky enough and sceptical enough to be able to slowly filter out all the crap.

    1. Planespotter: A very good idea. Let's try it. Art

    2. I don't mean to be a finger-pointing moralist, but I think people who have gone through the primal process, successfully, should do at least a little bit to give others the opportunity to discover what they themselves have been lucky enough to discover...

      So I agree, too, I think it would be a good idea to provide a format for "primal people" to express themselves. Can always be anonymous of course.

    3. What a great idea Andrew, I like that
      That could inadvertently promote Primal too

  18. And here are a couple of articles from the The Daily Telegraph that seem to back up the existence of repressed memories.

    To quote from the second article:

    "This conforms with the discovery that people who were sexually abused by a person of trust, such as a parent, are more likely to report having forgotten the abuse than those abused by a stranger. A child growing up in a household in which they must continuously confront the person who committed the abuse is more likely to suppress the memory."

    Of course a child is going to "forget" abuse by a Parent. Where else are they going to go. I am sure this is as much to do with our species ability to adapt to it's surroundings as changing skin colour to deal with the amount of Sunlight available. It's the Stockholm Syndrome.

    For McNally to admit to the existence of repressed memory would mean he would have to admit to all the other cruelties and abuse visited on the vast majority of children for the child's own good. It would be interesting to hear his views on corporal punishment in the home and at school.

  19. Does it have to be just people who have been through the Primal process? There are many people who have remembered abuse and probably sometimes find the world against them. I sure as hell have. In the end it's about breaking a taboo. The fact that Primal Therapy seems to offer more than many other therapies is a good thing but maybe such a site needs to welcome a wider range of people who have remembered. That way PT would gain a bigger audience too which is no bad thing.

    I am very grateful to Alice Miller because without her writing and a supportive e-mail from her I don't know what I would have done. Her suggestion in one of her letters to a reader to consider The Primal Centre to discover the secrets of her childhood got me looking too. There are many who contributed to her website who I am sure would put their story onto this new page should Dr Janov decide to do it. For one thing I know of no other website other than hers where so many could tell their story and give support to others.

    1. Planespotter: I am swamped. I am open to whatever you all want to do but if you want me to do research and write on what is new in science then I cannot do more. art

    2. Hi Dr Janov

      I don't mean to swamp anyone. My enthusiasm gets the better of me sometimes. It's great to be able to express my views and have them taken seriously.

    3. Planespotter: No one is swamped and you are taken very seriously. art janov

  20. Hi,

    "Maybe Dr Janov could create a page in which everyone who wishes to, can write down their experiences of remembering abuse, birth trauma etc".

    Remembering abuse; I can't easily fathom how to use words to describe the 'pre verbal' remembering that happens in me occasionally. I suspect this is one reason why not many people who have actually had Primal and are now managing their own (formerly repressed), now up-welling feelings in small titrated doses, have not much to say.

    What can be said? It's difficult.

    It's so difficult putting feelings into words. The pre-verbal feelings.

    All I can say at the moment (ab-reaction apart) is that on my seemingly good days I'm thinking to myself that I havn't been in touch with my true feelings for a while and then bang! There they are, utterly different from thoughts and the daily round, though a thought (a resonant thought about an old feeling) might catalyse the process. That much I can say, utterly different from thoughts. This is why these harvard professors and other cerebral types will never, ever get it. That is condemning to say but the reality is that the 3rd line is utterly different from the 2nd and those cerebral types just would not get it.
    I really need the Clinic to help me with the 1st. A different order again.

    Paul G.

    1. Paul: My blog is open to whatever anyone wants to do, only I cannot organize anything. art

    2. I think a format for post Primal patients as Andrew suggests above would be very strong.. Jacquie

  21. Hi Art & planespotter & Andrew and all others,

    -"Paul: My blog is open to whatever anyone wants to do, only I cannot organize anything. art"-.

    When I got onto this blog I did by reference from Alice Millers' books. Prior to this I can say with conviction that I was "naive". Richard said that he hadn't realised how mad the world is till he got onto Primal and Art said the consequences of this understanding "beat the shit outa him too".

    The whole situation is terrifying. This could never be a picnic.

    I have been training as a facilitator on & off for about 12yrs, also working as a specialist carpenter (until I'm too old to hold the tools and cut the joints). I am a craftsman / trainer at the sharp end of local existence. Like Jack I have very little influence.

    If I could use this blog it would be to help bring together a group of idealists to help each other in three ways:

    1: From the 'self preservation' point of view, ie: funding/ money for therapy, careers counselling, training for skills for money, housing advice/ advice on how to handle / violent / destructive / self defeating impulses behaviours, recognition of sources. Commitment to your self, how to recognise, how not to fall into falsity. IE: how to end up at the clinic because you need to and can find all the ways to get there.

    2: From the 'one to one point of view, ie: personal support; co-counselling, phone calls, e-mails, letters, birthday cards etc.

    3: From the 'social' arena. . . Not for me to categorise. . . suggestions?

    My overall suggestion is that "Art does not go on for ever" and I sense his response to this suggestion of Andrews' is serious.

    Where could we go from here?


  22. Coming to the realisation about what the world is like also beat the shit out of me. It's a profound shock to think one is concious of the world and then realise that one was almost living in a dream.

    I would love to get to the clinic if you mean The Primal Center and it's taken me a year to get up the courage to apply. I have had to get hold a letter from some UK shrinks written 22 years ago and who I would not trust to organise a piss up in a brewery and am becoming increasingly worried that yet again that bloody letter is going to screw up my life. I was obviously very upset at the time and in the throws of just starting to remember what happened to me not that those two very well meaning 'experts' had any idea. Cognative therapy was their way of dealing with my problems.

    For one thing I would like to be able to see a platform where the lies and manipulation by the vast majority of the mental health community (in the UK at least) can be exposed by people brave enough to have really faced their often very painful truth. Paul G it is heartening that you also gained so much from Alice Miller. Am I right in thinking that you live in the UK?

    Anyhow back to my idea. I suppose it is whether a number of people could start a blog that would allow others to tell their story and also be able to offer some time to monitor that blog and stop any abuse or anything like that.

    I am new to this blog and am in awe of some of the people on here. I get a bit nervous about what I am saying. I have hopefully started my own healing by being incredibly honest with my feelings. Sometimes far more honest than most people I know can handle. I think my 2 years Diary I sent to the Primal Centre might have been interesting reading. So long as no-one thinks I am some kind of Physcopath!

    I would have thought that any such venture ought to be stories people tell as that can be so helpful to someone starting recovery.


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.