Saturday, March 10, 2012

Addendum to "Skipping Steps"

This is an addendum to Frank's story.

Since writing Skipping Steps, the insights keep coming. The meds slow me down so I can be more conscious of what’s going on around me. Of course, by that I mean that I feel more as well as become more aware. My first insight was patience, I don’t have to get this over with as fast as I can. I’m more grounded in the present and I’m not quite so controlled by the panic and terror of the past. I can let other people be where they are at and join them there. And then the big (to me) insight of Don’t Skip Steps.
Since then I recently had another big insight: Softer. I admit that you’ve really got to be inside my skin to understand what that means to me, but I’ll try to explain. When I hold a pencil, or mouse, or almost anything, I grip it like someone is trying to take it away from me, or that my life depends on not letting it go, or that I’ll lose control if I relax my grip. When I type, I strike the keys hard to make sure they do their job, and harder after mistakes. When I write, I feel like I’m holding on to a plow being pulled by a wild horse, dragging me all over the place while I’ve got to keep the rows straight. This leaves my writing with a hard, coarse, jerky somewhat illegible appearance. When I talk, I’m desperate to make sure I’m heard, making my voice louder and sharper than it needs to be.
Oddly enough (to me) I’ve been somewhat aware of this for a long time, but this is the first time I’ve been able to feel how unpleasant it is to me in the doing, not just the result. And this leads me to another insight. I’m always careful. But it is a carefulness born of fear rather than love. It arises from wombs eye fear that something terrible is going to happen to me if I don’t watch out. I want to remain careful, but in a positive way born of love for myself, and for what I’m doing, along with love for those with whom my life transpires. It’s a carefulness that comes from within rather than from the outside.
I also have to add that this change doesn’t happen cleanly, and instantly. It is a slow process of being more conscious and noticing those things that sabotage my daily life, and applying conscious effort to change. Because the truth of the matter is that I’ve had over 72 years practice reinforcing these imprints, and my only advantage is that I feel what they do to me, and also feel what it’s like to relax and go slower, softer, and consciously careful.


  1. Love.. beautiful Art, enjoy being soft xx

  2. About “skipping steps” and where they begins!
    When I experience where the step begins... my everyday life is beset with suffering. Being rejected... left and ignored in a very subtle shape is the most mundane events as the first step... it rose by the greatest importance to be the first steps... they bear as much pain as what the cause of the suffering caused
    If we have our behavior as a defense against suffering... we must also change behavior in order to feel that we suffer. Something as I think… a professional has extremely difficult to do. A professional has usually a behavior where also power plays a significant role ... to be seen ... to feel successful… and with the political support is the illusion "perfect"... he/she is prepared to do anything to keep their support. That is the reason why it is so difficult for them to accept primal therapy... they must give up a near-perfect defense against suffering ... if so… by denying sciences and to exterminate their own people.


    1. Frank: This is a very simple truth that I must include: If our behavior is a defense against the suffering, why not go after the suffering, the base, and not the behavior? art

  3. Hi Frank, Art & all,

    -"If we have our behaviour as a defence against suffering... we must also change behaviour in order to feel that we suffer"-.

    -"Frank: This is a very simple truth that I must include: If our behavior is a defense against the suffering, why not go after the suffering, the base, and not the behaviour? art"-.

    That's called a 'paradigm shift'.

    basically I agree but also Art your reply is a bit of a discussion stopper because, well, I mean, in the interim period (in the absence of an appropriate therapeutic vessel) whilst we struggle with our 'façades' we will inevitably try to adapt (our behaviour) to better manage our neurosis in whatever way we possibly can. Living with the truth is not easy, particularly if you really want to be conscious of it (the truth) that is.

    Much easier to carry on as before, steaming on ahead regardless.

    We are faced with our recurring act outs and their inevitable consequences.

    We seem to be like the Titanic, too long, too fast and not enough rudder to change direction, nor foresight to see the icebergs ahead (and frankly without enough 'primal life rafts and boats some of us will inevitably drown or freeze to death when the crash comes).

    As Frank says though, or implies, it is only the captain of the ship that stays on board till the last soul is off. . . . These other 'technicians' and 'tycoons' are well away first. . . They don't 'need' a primal life raft.

    Paul G.

  4. Yes that sounds simpel and easy and is so relieving to be in when we are there… tears flowing in a never-ending stream.
    If you could give us the key to how we sink into suffering… a key to understanding what the child in us says… then would the world be "blessed" and healed from all sufferings.
    But if we do not know that we suffer and we defending ourselves by beeing religious and professional... professional in whatever it is that "professionalism" alleviates suffering from... then what?
    If we can’t get that key we will suffer untill the day we die… we will be mad as professionals… religious... mad with a pore little child in us who wants to se the light of the day.
    Thank “god” Art that you hav done what you has… I also know that you have a key… a key we need to hone to become so perfect that no resistance is when we turn it on… or so rough in a scientific way that no one can stop it.


  5. Dr. Janov,
    by going after the basis of suffering, the base of all “evil”, you hand out many pink slips - to all cognitive therapists, police, Judges and perhaps, close all jails.
    Exactly this will never happen.
    Behavior can be corrected with behavior management, bad behavior must be corrected by the law.

  6. frank, i hope you have many more years to live and continue to get better.


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.