Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Truth: Where is it?

The simple truth is progressive, and that pertains to psychotherapy. The question is whose truth? Simple. The patient’s. Always. You won’t find it in the theories of the therapist nor in her techniques. As obvious as it seems, the truth always lies in the patient; that is why he comes to us, because the painful truth is there but he usually doesn’t know it and even when he does he does not know where it is or why. But if we never get to his truth there is no progress (progressive) in therapy. We are there to treat him and not our theories. We are not after cleverly designed statistical outcomes but biologic ones. Each treated patient is a kind of test and ultimate support of what we do. We learn from patients; not them from us. We are not the fountains of wisdom but students of the human mind, and we learn at the source. We don’t delve into books to find answers to our questions; we observe our patients. All we need to know they hold within. So long as they come to us for answers they force us to look into the wrong places; and the answer remains elusive. It is a mutual delusion. They trust us to have the answer, and we take it as a sacred trust that must be pursued. We are both wrong, deluded by the history of psychotherapy and by the zeitgeist.

Deluded by the pedestal we have been put on, deluded by the desperate need and pain of the patient, deluded by socially institutionalized consensus that we professionals are the holders of secret truths about the unconscious. When I see patients each day I feel like I am going to school, getting my maturity degree in humility, eager to learn what lies in her unconscious. She is the holder of sacred truths; we have only found the way to access them. If our delusions had not fooled us into a false role we all would have found ways for access. How about talking to the patient? Not pontificating which is so seductive. How about following the trail of feeling, probing because we are interested in her, not in our theory. We can’t teach interest. Neophytes often make mistakes because they are not truly interested, nor empathic. They want to get ahead—ambition is the enemy of feeling. Remember again, the simple truth is progressive, and it is the secret for progress in psychotherapy. It is a simple thing; the minute we try to get complex and brilliant we fail. The patient is not interested in our discourse; she wants to get well and so does he. And she holds the secret of her cure; and that is what patients have to understand. When they claim, “I am not getting anywhere,” and if we answer defensively--yes you are-- all is lost because that is also a feeling……not getting anywhere at birth could have been fatal. Patients need to know that we both go at the speed she can tolerate and no faster. We cannot hurry feelings; besides she dictates the pace, not us.

What a relief not to have to have the answers; what a relief not to be brilliant all of the time. I always ask my patients (not beginners) if I made a mistake because they now know themselves better than I. They sense the mistakes and we must leave the way open to be corrected; that is how we learn. No more the professorial pose, the measured speech and the implied brilliance in our insights. No more acting out being the protective father. Patients need to learn about their needs, not have them fulfilled in the office by the shrink. It is so tiring to be the all knowing, omniscient soul. We all can relax and the therapy will go swimmingly.


  1. Hi Art,

    this is very helpful to me:
    -"What a relief not to have to have the answers; what a relief not to be brilliant all of the time. I always ask my patients (not beginners) if I made a mistake because they now know themselves better than I. They sense the mistakes and we must leave the way open to be corrected; that is how we learn"-.

    This is profoundly important to me. From an early age I can remember wondering why adults do the things we do. I still get very worked up that stuff gets left unfinished or terminated too early. I realise now how so many of us have an investment in 'closing off', in prematurely concluding. It's a 3rd line bookend trapping our feelings on the shelf. After all we wouldn't want all those feelings to fall off onto the floor, would we?

    This is a breath of fresh air, it's patient feedback isn't it? Totally unlike a call centre. It's quality control shared by and in the relationship, interdependently.

    Carl Rogers developed client centred counselling; So the Primal Clinic has found out how that works to access Primal Pain in the 3rd, 2nd and 1st line. The historic imprints in the evolutionary structure of the brain.

    I now realise why I have been so obsessed through my life by this critical relational aspect. Feedback. The interrelationship with all the different aspects of 'membership' in the group of my my life, my feelings and my skills.

    Thanks for confirming such an important message about learning.

    Paul G.

  2. Hi,

    I've just come across a provocative essay by Robert M Young:

    -"Benign & Virulent Projective Identification in Groups and Institutions"-.

    One key feature of this discussion paper is the idea that empathy has it's roots in how we project and how we receive projections (Melanie Klien developed this). The paper is a bit wordy but filled with startling insight.

    I feel if you inject or should I say 'introject' Primal Theory into the theory of Benign Projective Identification you get Primal Therapy and the techniques Art describes above (instead of long, interesting essays).

    No wonder it takes 7yrs to train to be a Primal Therapist.

    Paul G.

    1. Paul: There is a lot of big words there: Benign Projective Identification. Can't they talk like humans? art

    2. Hi Paul

      Melanie Klein took blaming the victim to the extreme with her theories about "The Baby and the Evil Breast etc". Alice Miller rips her to shreds in "Thou shalt not be aware". Big words hide a great deal of projected blame.

      I would suggest that the biggest projection of blame etc is Original Sin. The legitimised projection of a Parents unaknowledged pain and insecurities onto an innocent child.

      I read "Insanity, madness and the family" by R D Laing a couple of years ago. He spends a great deal of time jumping through hoops trying to study the interactions of each family. One so called insane Daughter talks about "People lying on top of her" which is a patent example of someone cut off from themselves saying that the Father abused her. If Laing had spent a little more time listening to the patient and less time skirting around issues he might have helped her more. That book is full of big words.

      I don't think Liang really did feelings. One has to access all the dreadful awful feelings of hate, anger and rage to work one's way down further. It's quite a jolt to be confronted with such hate, rage and loathing for one's Parents but it sure as hell is liberating.

      Hurt people hurt people.

  3. Well you’ve done it again Dr Janov and I am in tears. You are so right; of course I and only I know my truth. But from what I can see you and only you can see that and have developed the only therapy that I feel I can trust. I’m leaving my family for three weeks, crossing the Atlantic to begin the search for my truth with your therapy’s help. I haven’t got time to waste on pompous professionals with audacious notions that they might know anything about me. They don’t and nor do you. The difference is you know that: a rare, illusive quality. But why? Have we all been so trumped at birth that we are forever driven to trample, overtake and use our false powers over others. Is trumping a kind of universal duvet imprint that that drives the masses?

    I hope that you don’t get bored of thank you Dr Janov – again from the bottom of my heart – JL

    1. JL: I never get tired of nice words, ever. art

  4. SOOO wonderful, just an exploding heart reading this &so very grateful &marvelling Primal exists in this otherwise demented profession. Cannot wait to get there.
    I had a thought, the rune symbol/stone for 'truth' is..a blank. (I used to say I had it tattooed all over my body :)). And that is like the attitude/approach it takes a PT w/his patient. To remain 'blank' to allow the patient's own truth to come up, to make itself known &to heal.
    Jacquie xxx

  5. And the problem is your typical shrink (and this applies to so many other professionals, too) is they just can't accept adopting the neophyte position. They can't drop the 'wise old man' identity, and so their wisdom goes nowhere.

  6. Dr. Janov,
    You said it many times before, and I’m never tired of it hearing that it is the patient who know its feelings best. For many centuries I had to hear that my feelings are fabricated. Thank you.

    JL you expressed so eloquently what I feel.
    Thanks, Sieglinde

  7. The Truth: Where is it?

    I saw the mail, read the above heading, and then I went for a long walk with my dog and saved the text until I returned home.

    During the walk, I went through one om my usual mind games, mental exercises and debated what TRUTH meant to me, now and before and how it had progressively changed it’s many interpretations. How my subjective truth had merged with the truth of other people (family members, friends, colleagues etc.) in neurotic games, which only lasted until my or my counterparts truth did not correspond to the needs that the passage of time brings with it by obvious reasons.

    From my personal life as well as from the literature which I have read, I prepared, during my walk, a number of devastating examples that questioned how the truth can be somewhere if there is no common universal truth. Over the years, I only knew one truth, my individual. I felt relaxed and well prepared when I came home to comment on Art’s Reflection...

    After having read the text of the article a couple of times I was suddenly disarmed. As if Art had prepared the article, after having listened to my private debate during my walk. I could not find a single point where Art contradicted what he has described in his books and carried out in his role as a guide / therapist. The patients truth / needs, the secret of her cure, come first (of course within the framework of a number of practical rules that are obvious to both parties in a treatment relationship) anything else ends up in delusion.

    The question that towers is if there are other therapists, besides Art Janov, who can achieve the same humble, unlimited self-confidence and can act with enough intuitive skills and authority?

    Jan Johnsson

  8. According to Bloomberg, a gigantic stride in the quest to uncover truth has just been made:

    "Shock Therapy’s Effect on Depression Discovered, Researchers Say"

    Read and weep…

    1. Raindog: I leave for texas soon so when I get back I will do a piece on this. thanks. art

    2. That is really really shocking. Have any of those idiot shrinks thought that the extra Brain activity might be the system in overload?

      Total utter morons.

    3. Art - you should take the entire Primal Center with you (human cargo included). Houston is the place to be.

      Unlike LA they have not (and do not) artificially restrict land supply, so housing (and business premises) are far more affordable. I understand Houston is growing rapidly because of its affordability.

      And you don't have to learn Latin, either.

      (Ok, I know the answer is "not going to happen" but I still think PT should move somewhere more accommodating, one day in the future at least).

    4. Planespotter: Thanks to all of you who have written to me. I have begun the infusions 200.000.000 stem cells, followed up next with another 200 million and then another week for another 200 million. Then I wait for 4-5 months before I may see a change. I believe this group, part of a research protocol, is the real thing. They are doing it right, whether or not I get well. art

  9. Yeah but Virulent Projective Identification is even bigger, and badder.

    Paul G.

  10. Jacquie you are very sweet and delusional. You don't know Art.
    I don't love Art but I think his achievements are heroic.

  11. Art, all the best for your visit to Texas, my thoughts are with you…

    1. Raindog: thanks for the wishes from all you lovely friends. art

  12. Hi Art,

    Don't forget your laptop.

    Paul G.

  13. Hey planespotter & Art,

    I had brought up the subject of 'projective identification' because I was on route for one of those insights that really does come right out of feeling my own pain, deeply. Two days ago I was in a mess. Not good, only Ted for support and my carpentry workshop to distract me.

    I was despairing that all these feelings coming up in me were just ab-reaction and I felt the worse ever, so far, because of that. I was wondering if the pain would ever stop. I was beginning to believe I was truly doomed. I was beginning to plan the end.

    Such a crescendo I reached I had to stop the car (on the way to work yet again) but this time the feeling of utter defeat totally dominated me. My tears flowed like a fountain. In the layby my car was the only safe place to be.

    Playing on my mind was my responsibility for the feelings of other adults and the guilt I felt that some-how I was solely to blame for other peoples' problems and most of all my own. I was indeed some sort of social pariah who had ruined his own life and quite rightly found himself in total, terminal exile from friends and family and most of all from my wicked evil self.

    All along in this vast hall of mirrors in my mind was this doubt that I couldn't really be entirely responsible for the lack of full employment, a normal family and social life, so, looking on Wikepedia with Primal Theory in mind I came across the articles on projection and identification.

    The insights following this most recent bout of utter despair are that all these big words are referring to what Art calls "resonance".

    Small beer you might say. No. Not small insight either. For me or any of us really. In relationships it's only a matter of degree as to who is hiding more of their pain behind the others' pain. History can repeat itself through relationships. Each person being triggered by the other and through the resonance of the situation brought closer to their repressed pain and fear. This looks and feels like projection but it is resonance that causes the identification with it. Therefore it is possible to feel like some-one "made you feel like that" but actually it all comes from repressed imprinted trauma. In you too, not just the other person.

    I feel it's important to make ones' own inquiries into psychology and compare that to Primal Theory. Art has done this with Grand Delusions. But Art wrote that from the 'Professional Practitioners' point of view and therefore in any one persons' actual situation that book will only be a generic reference. I feel we can benefit from reviewing what others have said about mental and emotional problems in the light of Primal Theory. That includes what 'other lay people' say and believe about this.

    Once you accept 'Resonance' as a real phenomena you can also begin to comprehend defences as well as projections. Ok this is big words again but in a world of "Cognition" we need to acknowledge the denial that hides behind others (as well as our own) cognition. Otherwise you might really be trapped in endless ab-reaction (stuck in the feeling) precisely because you do believe in other peoples' denial. When you're the one breaking down and every-one else seems so sorted. . . Particularly people who you love. Family and so on.

    Paul G.

    1. Hi Paul

      I agree that there are such things as projection. After all that is as you say the reason by Scapegoating. I think many parents project their own denied issues and neuroses onto their children or poison containers as Lloyd de Mausse calls them.

      I also agree that one has to look at other areas of physcology and work out what is right or wrong. Miller I think got a lot right simply because she helped me so much. Liang helped me understand the whole issue of the double bind which I had to break before I could start my healing.

      Many view Miller as a Primal Therapist in all but name. I think her problem was that she never had someone to help her heal properly. She admitted that herself.

      That projection can create the sense of Evil in us. I was the devil incarnate as far as my father was concerned. A man born in 1922 but Victorian in all but name. His projection and scapegoating of me took me until I was nearly 50 to work out. Until that time I had put him on a pedestal and who criticises someone on a pedastal. It's the Stockholm syndrome or traumatisation.

      I hate all those acronims like ADD or PTSD which are simply lazy creations of shrinks so they can put people in boxes. Frankly PT is about feelings so why not talk about panic. or anxiety, or fear, terror or confusion. What is ADD other than sheer anxiety with the Brain on overload while it tries to work out what was wrong. I did'nt have ADD until I was 48. I could concentrate for ages and ages on something and my spelling was great. Now It's getting better again.

      How about everyone talking about feelings rather acronims whether long words or short. Is'nt that PT?

  14. Hi,

    Alice Miller talked about blockades in the mind. Young mentions the idea of 'institutions' in the mind (and the resultant self fulfilling prophesy). It's the same thing. Primal Theory offers an alternative approach. When one group ruled by institutions in the mind take control others in pain believe and become new members. Primal Therapy offers hope to level the playing field.

    Paul G.

  15. Paul: This therapy must be part of a national health plan. art

    only things that don't work/cure need the state to keep competition out and its monopoly going. It's hard to sustain an all you can buffet system going if people are cured after the first bite.

    Next time some politician is says free healthcare, ask if they mean free chiropractic care, free naturopathic care, free veterinary care, free Traditional Chinese Medicine, etc. etc. or if they mean free masking of symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs and free electroshock for everyone

  16. An email comment:
    "Debaters in Art Janov’s blog all know why everyone falls bad, why cognitive therapy flops, why neurotic politicians are hampering the development they believe in, etc. Scientists doing research in old age problems do know that those who reach optimal age are not becoming bitter, and they do not regret their decisions during life, while those who go through life bitter and regret-filled they die earlier, in both cases without that scientists are concerned about why, and without finding out where the mother cyst is! In other words, it looks in psycho therapy and research on aging just like everywhere else in life. I will give some general examples what I mean.

    If a soccer club, such as FC Barcelona, has 170 000 members, there are 170 000 views on how the club should be run, which players will be bought, what power and authority coaches and leaders should have, and what role the club has to play in different social contexts, it's just the club's board and president who do not understand... In the city of Stockholm, where a little exaggerated, there are 860 000 views on how traffic and transportation should be organized and financed, it's only urban management and the operational managers that do not understand...

    We all need to understand quickly, to be right and to feel part. To do this based on objective facts rarely happens. A frequent type of consumers regularly visits their local supermarket and buy a pack of 6 big Coca Cola, a 6-pack of Fanta and a 6-pack of huge cans of beer without being able feel concerned about him / herself and family members carrying 20-40 pounds overweight and to high vital signs ... The same citizens are carrying, May 1st, placards in protest against the politicians' ill-conceived decisions regarding their children's education, school meals and lack of jobs.

    When Greece, the cradle of our culture and democracy, after decades of mismanagement, corruption and violated (EU) democratic procedures, then occurred, following the laws of nature (spending dramatically greater than revenue = inability to correct mouth according to cloth), that the country goes into bankruptcy and must be forcibly administered. Moral neurotics rise afterwards, with a warm heart, their voices, and suspect international conspiracies.

    I have over 40 years seen how patients, therapists, researchers; educators have suppressed Art Janov's principle of "Evolution In Reverse," which is the cornerstone of the Primal Therapy. Why? Probably, to a large extent because Art's idea cannot be exploited at a profit neither for the general psychologist / medical profession nor for the pharmaceutical industry. This gives, in turn, not the financial means for government leaders / decision makers, which fact formally determines what official research / training will be focused on.

    I managed myself, despite my neurotic life pattern to prove the validity of Art’s innovation/paradigm-change, because I was “lucky” to have an imprint/stigma that, nothing apart from lobotomy was supposed to “cure”. My last remaining chance was to go into my epilepsy and feel the stab of my pain to be free and to survive.

    Unfortunately, many sufferers were/are not forced enough to feel their pain. In the short term (without knowing that death is a neurotic time factor) more than 99% choose to live with numb pain, whether the anesthetic is created by drugs, medicines or neuroses. The result is a part of our life lie. To 100%. It is part of evolution.

    The only way out is “Evolution In Reverse”. However, you need, both, to get over your numbing fear and let go of your intellectual life buoy.

    Jan Johnsson


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.