Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why We Must Relive to Get Well (Part 1/2)

So again, why do we have to relive our early lives in order to get well? What is the magic about reliving that cures anything?" Or how does reliving rewire nerve circuits?"
It means that we go back in time to enter pains that were too much at the time to feel. Repression sealed them off. And deep down they were imprinted and kept doing their damage. Once we lift the repressive lid (done in orderly fashion) there is no longer unconscious forces driving behavior and symptoms.
How do we go back in time? Good question and the answer is simple. We don’t deliberately decide to go back and visit our early lives; that is a recipe for abreaction. We cannot engage the higher level cortex; we must disengage from it. Cede to feelings; and that is our scientific mission: to provide access to feelings and let the whole organism proceed in an ordered, slow descent into the deep unconscious. As odd as that seems, feelings are the vehicle that take us where we need to go. There is a biologic sensor that knows not only where we have to go in the past by how far.

It is the deeply disturbed that enter therapy, and because of severely damaged gating system, slide immediately down to some kind of birth trauma, way off a proper evolutionary voyage. They usually need help in gating, and we may recommend medication of some kind that temporarily enchances gating so that a proper descent is now possible. Without that there is no integration and therefore no getting well.

A well ordered therapy begins in the present, anchoring feelings in the present which eventually will lead to deeper levels along that same feeling path. Feelings, their chemistry and frequencies bind or bundle similar feelings together and lead the neuro-biologic system by the hand to go deeper; it cannot be forced or decided in advance. If it is decided by a therapist about where the patient has to go there is danger and no integration. We must trust the feelings totally; but first we must recognize them and be able to differentiate them from abreaction—the discharge of the energy of feeling without connection. Our job is providing access and to follow evolution every step of the way. Reliving birth in the first weeks of therapy is defying evolution and leads to disaster. It is arriving at deep levels of consciousness prematurely, skipping evolutionary steps and going through the motions of feelings without feeling. I have seen people who have gone to rebirthing centers and come to us prepsychotic.

Whenever a therapist tells the patient what to feel we know he is already on the wrong path. We must sense feelings and follow the patient, not lead him. We take him by the hand and follow where he leads, not vice versa. We doctors must avoid the temptation to act smart. We spent years in college learning to be smart, and now we must elude it. How ironic; yet the history of psychotherapy was intellectual and provided a therapy of the intellect, exactly what we don’t need. We don’t let the patient act “smart” we allow her to act intelligent, to recognize her feelings and how they drive her and cause her to act out. When she tries to act smart we help her get to the feeling; of how to please momma or father. Finally it is a great relief just to be yourself and not have to act this way or that to get love.


  1. Art,

    "Repression sealed them off. And deep down they were imprinted and kept doing their damage". A damage of good in the sentence for survival. This is probably a sentence that are obvious for you… but for me to go through the suffering… it feels important to know ... suffering was not only suffering for suffering's sake but also for survival ... I began to suffer as a defense against awareness of what it was I were exposed to… that was me. To me it feels like there was nothing els... that was me. At the time repression was something that helped me to survive. To be “friend” with the “sense” of survival feels as more of accepting the pain… pain that is part of me… my life… me Frank. I know they did their damage but damage as was of a sense for survival. And now I have met you with the knowledge of how I can meet with myself ... myself… the little boy Frank ... what an incredible "luck" and the suffering does not hurt when I feel the pain of it.


  2. Dr. Janov,
    May I extend the importance of primal therapy.
    Having consumed huge volume of DNA- data, on protein/DNA methylation and genome, the effect and how Gene promoter methylation is the most common epigenetic mechanism silencing tumor suppressor genes during oncogenesis, I’m convinced that we need to reset the set-points (Biomarkers) prenatal established.
    The Biomarkers include, not only cancer, there is a reach over to Immune Disorders, and is the pathways for Neurological disorder (in simple terms). The physical illness deriving from faulty genome (CpG island methylation status with biological phenotypes or disease outcome) are in simple words endless, and if these Biomarkers are not corrected, the next generation will inherit them.

    May I ask if anybody has access to: “Methyl-Analyzer – Whole Genome DNA Methylation Profiling Bioinformatics” first published online June 17, 2011 - http://bioinformatics.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/06/17/bioinformatics.btr356.full.pdf

    1. Sieglinde,

      It's fantastic that we academic is heading into a dead end for what is now present is the subject of psychiatry and psychology ... I mean that science is becoming so accessible that it can not be avoided and denied ... then we got "the rough key to turn on" that no one can deny.


    2. Frank,
      For the ones who are still in doubt, (who need proof) we need the layout (description) proof for what could or what has happened.
      It is us, the “intelligent species” (cognition) who depend on language as a demonstration that there is something wrong with us. The more primitive mammals, who still rely on their instinct, know (feel, sense) if something is out of natural/biological sequence.
      Pictures have even more impact on us. If only I could find a moviemaker who graphically demonstrates what happens in the womb if a mother is under stress, smokes, drinks, and how the developing fetus brain and his gene-pool / methylation is impacted by a mother's feelings and behavior… and the devastation that may result in cancer, Angelman syndrome and the rest of the illnesses that prematurely kill us.

    3. Yes Sieglinde alot of us are outside of our right brain.

      We must prove primal therapy in two editions... I mean for the intellectuals wish I think you are excellent to do. We have those who suffer hell... they need the “key” how to speak to the child in them… just be “talking to the right brain” as their symptoms talking the clear voice of a child. Primal therapy need only be available to those.


  3. This woman, Jeanice Barcelo, is preaching non-traumatic birthing practices.


    I almost felt like punching her in the face. Because she mixes such important truths with mantra like "connecting to the divine mind" and other new-age junk-thinking bullshit. Probably doing more harm than good for the purpose of her massage, by associating truth with in-credible booga-booga.

    But where does this booga-booga come from? She's a rebirthing case. No doubt she got close to her infantile pains but did not integrate them, and instead resymbolised those old feelings into new-age ideations (like what you've often described, Art).

    The movement for real therapy and proper childcare does not need this nonsense polluting the waters!

    1. Hi Andrew

      I agree that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. This woman does seem to have the good of the child at the heart of her theory though she is using the booga booga as a means of protecting herself from her own pain.

      It's interesting how she describes the ruination of intercourse with the removal of the foreskin on babies.

      She would probably find Primal Therapy really good. Maybe she has not discovered it.

      The whole issue of preaching is fascinating. Look at Moses. An abandoned child left in the critical window to float down a river and end up we know not where and how was he treated as a child. He must have had a pretty hard life as his discovery of the the two tablets of stone (tomb stones) suggest. I would contest that they represent his real Parents dead to him with a list of do's and don'ts. Be good, be perfect and we will love you from beyond the grave. His idea of what is good based upon his experience of perhaps not being treated well and written from the viewpoint of a child who had to follow his adoptive Parents ideals and dictate while desperately dreaming of two loving kind parents.

      If this woman has experienced kindness from other people who also follow the whole self awareness movement she is going to follow that until she finds something better. It's about feeling accepted as part of the group. Thus trying to be an individual and true to ourselves is difficult because it also means being alone. I wonder whether we would have this huge civilisation if we were not the Traumatised Ape.

    2. A reader's reply: "Every human struggles to make sense of their life and their pain. This possibly misinformed woman is no different"

    3. Yeah, but when you mix the promotion of good birthing practice with the idea of placenta's being stolen by blood-drinking cults (and she does say this) then that's like picking up a megaphone and crying out to the world: "Only nutters believe in home-birthing!".

      Hence my intolerance. Generally I show no mercy on those who misinform on important issues to a mass audience.

  4. Dr. Janov,
    What if a patient has a feeling and he/she can’t explain?
    For instance, sometimes I cannot tell when I’m about to be triggered. Suddenly I’m in a feeling of helplessness and struggle. My cognition is gone and I can’t find words to explain (or write) what I’m feeling. It is a very hard feeling, if suddenly you can’t make any more sense. Will the therapist be able to detect when someone is lost (I call it in space)?

    1. Sieglinde: We know we know fear not. that's our job art

  5. Planespotter,

    The included article claims that Asians might be genetically more prone feelings of anxiety; which, as is speculated, may make them more prone to "herding" into groups as a defense.


    I don't take this genetic speculation seriously, but it's true enough that common-level neurosis will significantly drive the structure of a society, as society forms to accommodate mass needs - neurotically infused needs or not. Needs are of course the core motivational power behind all behaviour.


    How would society look if we were not neurotic? Interesting question, eh?

    I think we would spread out a lot, grow a lot more gardens, politically and economically decentralise (mostly), trade more time for less money, and get rid of the incredible amounts of waste that revolve around direct and indirect corruption.
    Overall we would go for the good life directly - rather than chasing money, status and ego all for its own tedious sake. And science, innovation and art would be high on the agenda for a society of curious and creative minds.

    Maybe in one or two hundred years or so?

  6. Hi,

    -"How would society look if we were not neurotic? Interesting question, eh"?

    A rather eccentric ex US government systems analyst called Buckminster Fuller wrote a book called 'Critical Path Analysis'. His answer to the question of what a non neurotic society looks like is in that book.

    One of his many amazing ideas (truly profound this one) is that governments should agree to put everyone on a 'life trust fund' and only those who wish to work should apply for only those jobs that they were 'inclined' to and really wished to do.

    In Buckys' world view this would bring about radical positive change in the direction of sustainable development in the shortest period of time.

    He reasoned that through appropriate technology (which can now be measured and tailored to local need) applied by people who really wanted to explore that region of development but without any particular financial advantage to them personally, then you would have the garden of Eden. Because of the tailoring of social/economic NEED. He designed circular, crater shaped cities based on a modular, terraced system in which every household is an outward garden and an inward circular street with cycle-path, tram, shops. Each household has it's own gardens, workshops and equal access through the circular 'social/economic' access. The whole thing built by railway on a circle running off the main existing line routes.

    Over the top (!) of these 'new cities' the crater is capped with a geodesic, polycarbonate dome to keep the rain off (collected for city use) and temperature ambient through all climes.

    "Critical Path Analysis". Buckminster Fuller.

    Paul G.

  7. Hi Frank,

    -"and the suffering does not hurt when I feel the pain of it"-.

    No, it's a relief, like putting down a heavy rucksack after an arduous march across a desert. Then you notice the flowers coming up and the life around you.

    Paul G.


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.