Saturday, May 5, 2012

Addiction: It’s Not About the Brain, by Bruce Wilson (Science and Medical Writer)

Art and I were expressing our exasperation about two items that crossed our attention this week, both of them related to addiction.

The first was a WSJ article about a study looking at the adolescent brain: “Are Some Teenagers Wired for Addiction?” Using fMRI, the researchers identified a particular pattern of neural activity in teens who had a tendency to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Specifically, these teens had lower activity in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), a region that mediates impulse control. The implication is that faulty brain activity causes poor impulse control which in turn causes kids to become easily addicted. A different pattern of faulty networks was found in kids with ADHD, also related to impulse control. In other words, the brain is the problem.

The second item was a segment on CBS’s 60 Minutes about the work of addiction researcher, Nora Volkow. In addition to being the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, Volkow has the dubious distinction of being Leon Trotsky’s great granddaughter and actually grew up in the house where he was murdered. She describes addiction as a physical disease: “we know that drug addiction is a chronic disease; the drugs physically change the brain…those changes are very long lasting and persist for a long period of time after the person stops taking the drug.” The culprit? Dopamine! In Volkow’s view, addicts are conditioned by triggers that cause a dopamine rush, making them feel, “I want that!” And because of drug tolerance, “I want that!” becomes “I want more and more!” Hardened addicts are merely conditioned, like Pavlov’s dog, perhaps by a genetic disposition, the theory goes. But instead of salivating; they crave. Show them a photo of someone hitting up their favourite substance of abuse and the dopamine surges through their midbrain, reinforcing more brain dysfunction. Once again, the brain is the problem.

The problem with both of these reports is that the brain is not the problem; it’s what’s deep within the brain that’s the problem – the pain of unmet need. But why don’t these researchers see this?

The answer is that you have to feel it to see it, and they don’t feel it.

Over my twenty-year history working in the medical community, I’ve met precious few scientists who are able to see the full implications of what they are studying. Medical scientists are trained to analyze and to seek explanations for living processes in terms of the bits and pieces of life: molecules, biochemistry, pathways, and genes. This works well for genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis or Huntington disease, but is utterly inadequate for mental conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, and…addiction.

As Iain McGilchrist points out in his brilliant work, The Master and His Emissary, analysis is a function of the left hemisphere whereas synthesis and intuition are functions of the right hemisphere. Whereas the left sees only the bits and pieces, the right sees the “big picture.” The best scientists use both processes when trying to explain phenomena but modern behavioral scientists seem to have forgotten that. The very term, “behavioral science” implies that people are stimulus-response units—turn on the stimulus switch and the response follows as behavior. The left brain scientist tries to explain that behavior in terms of brain mechanisms. As one cognitive scientist put it, the brain is nothing more than a “computer made of meat.”

Apparently, Volkow gets $1 billion a year to study the biological mechanisms of addiction, delving ever deeper into the neurons, synapses, receptors and cellular biochemisty, searching for the cure for this “brain disease.” The same is true at addiction research centres everywhere.

Meanwhile, the real cause of addiction is ignored, except for those who can see it because they feel it. Art Janov was writing about the primal causes of addiction as early as The Primal Scream. Gabor Maté, no stranger to addiction himself, works with hopelessly addicted patients in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, which he tells in his heart-wrenching book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. Every one of Maté’s patients suffers from the pain of terrible childhood abuse, which is clearly the cause of their addictions. Neuroscientist, Jaak Panksepp, who has spent his  career studying the neurology of animal feelings, sees addiction as an attempt to resolve the pain of unresolved separation distress, or in primal terms, a futile effort to get the love one didn’t get as a child. Addictive substances not only stimulate brain dopamine, they stimulate endogenous opioids as well – the body’s own pain killers.

No doubt, brain function is deeply altered by addiction; levels of neurotransmitters are altered; receptors are changed. But to conclude that these aberrations constitute a disease process that appears out of nowhere or is influenced by brain biology or genes is scientific reductionism at its worst. What about the personal history? The family history? What about the social determinants of addiction? What about poverty, stress, and the hopelessness of your life situation?

None of this counts in mainstream addiction research – the biological cause must be identified and a chemical cure must be found! So an army of left brain analytical scientists continues to spend more effort and more money to find what will never be found, the medical “cure” for addiction. Volkow—who goes for a seven-mile run each morning to get her own addictive hit of dopamine—envisions a vaccine that will banish addiction once and for all, as though it were a virus. But the real virus seems to be the one preventing scientists from recognizing addiction’s true cause and we already have a treatment for that – feeling.


  1. Obsessive Science suffers from the tendency to want to root out THE cause and THE effect and link them together in a tidy little chain. One may add, then apply for a grant. Things are much more complicated than that, most of the time, on the "purely rational" level of cause and effect, where what we are looking for determines a great deal of what we see. The great unifying (or disintegrating) force of emotions are not allowed to enter into the picture at this level of study at least, they are too distracting from the neat linear relationship Science secretly prefers. (Nice article, Bruce, I remember you from Denver)

    1. The cause IS childhood deprivation, the effect is a lot of pain & suffering.

  2. This was a very well written piece.

    I think the author highlights the critical problem. We're asking physicians to clinically deduction the function of the brain (and its disorders) even though they can't see an absolutely fundamental component of it - Information.

    Say you see your spouse die in an accident. That's information. That information, obviously, leads to a strong biological reaction within the brain. My point is the physician can see the biology but he can't see the information (well not yet, at least), so our understanding of the relationship between information (and imprinted information) and biology is terribly limited from the position of the mechanistically objective observer. So we still need the Subjective to help bridge this gap.

    Good scientists would do well to respect the limits of their profession and not claim to be conclusive, or even possibly be conclusive, in an area where they simply don't have the tools to see. The idea that the brains disorders are *all* about chemicals is a big leap of faith and so obviously an erroneous one.

    No-one can argue that the [objectively invisible] information component is not a fundamental player in the total mechanics of the brain. This appreciation is where our deductions must begin. And it's a relatively small 'Janovian' leap of faith to suggest that it's the information that's at the core of the problem. Indeed, sensory input (information) is where the activities of the brain begin; it's first the information that drives the biological reactions, or much of them at least.

    1. Adding via Replying:

      Maybe these neurologists are funded by the pharmaceutical industry, directly or indirectly. Drug companies will only want to understand mental sickness on the chemical level; i.e make it a chemical problem so you can sell your chemical solution. If that's the case then how perverted the situation is, because it would be a case of money defining what mental sickness even is and before any human being or principle of humanity.

      If it really is all about selling drugs then it will be as simple as that.

  3. Art: I agree with your point but sadly, I feel you complicate the issue. The reason, as I see it, is that approach is from and objective perspective; even though you are talking about feelings and pain. I would like to counter present it from a subjective perspective, which I feel simplifies the problem.

    One can ONLY become addicted to painkillers. If I or anyone is in pain, the natural impulse, for any living creature, is to alleviate that pain, come 'hell or high water'. If that pain is an emotional one and in particular a subliminal one; there is still the same drive to alleviate/kill that pain. If the pain (subliminal or otherwise) goes away, the need for a painkiller evaporates. Primal Therapy has the capacity to take the pain to where it belongs ... feel it .... and express it; and voila the pain evaporates ... and the addiction vanishes into thin air.

    All this figuring out what part to the brain objectively, misses the subjective nature of addiction. One other factor as I see it. Someone suffering 'Primal' pain and not having access to Primal therapy would be served well IMO if they were allowed an effective painkiller for the rest of their lives. Heroine and the opiates seem, as far as I know, to be the best painkillers and could be relatively cheap and easy to produce. But governments indoctrinated, as you point out, by the neuro-scientist only see it biologically without taking history into consideration. They have made these simple and effective painkillers illegal. Sadly, there seems little evidence that the mental health profession/als will get beyond their booga booga statistical analysis of this problem. They are on the wrong track ... but sadly, they are not going to see it. Too much money in it IMO.


  4. Hi Art & All,

    -"And my answer: I am sure you are right, but I don't care much".

    Although I still definitely need the clinic to help me with 1st line stuff I have been "2nd line primalling" as a consequence of various factors (including bodywork psychotherapy)in my life for about 3 yrs now. Before that from 40 years ago I would occasionally go into 2nd line primals spontaneously after certain traumatic events, ones that 'mimicked' / 'resonated' with previous childhood traumas. I didn't know these events were primals until recently. So, strangely over 40yrs my emotional life has been running parallel with the unfolding of Primal Therapy.

    There have been some surprising things said on this blog including the problem of parents who offer love and then hate. . . mixed messages. Issues of whether 'care' is the same as 'love' and so on. Us little ones are confused and one way to beat the confusion is to idealise the object of ones' desire (mummy, daddy, lover, brother, sister, uncle etc).

    Idealisation has in a way saved my life, but on the other hand it has also helped me get into relationships which don't (and could never) work.

    As little ones we are compelled to see the best in our mentors because we could not bear the real pain of disillusionment with them. The truth hurts too much and so we believe in the lies. We Idealise.

    I for one now have cried so much as a consequence of integrating the truth about so called 'loved ones' that I no longer need to idealise these people in my life. I have noticed as a direct consequence of having felt a certain amount of pain right through to the begging Mum & Dad crushing neglect feeling that now I no longer idealise them or my ex partner nor any one or any thing else (maybe my landrover and Ted are exceptions, but that's a different story). Nor do I believe a jot they say, nor do I have any expectation of them or much frustration with their predictable unreliability.

    Idealisation is Belief Systems is it not? We believe stuff with a feeling tone as a symbolic substitute for what we should have had from Mum & Dad.

    These emotionless cold fish scientists and cognitive therapists have themselves idealised their theories and as such they will be unable to feel anything beyond the scope of those theories. IE: not much feeling at all.

    As long as this "enshrinement" of substitutes for true feelings carries on in the minds of people their true selves will remain buried. Most of all in those so arrogant as to impose their theories with the force of their need to idealise. It is sad but also true that as I feel more and more myself I also "No Longer Care" to challenge or argue with that status quo who themselves are stuck in their own self manufactured ideals.

    Lastly my addictions (though not done with by far yet) have markedly waned. Alcohol is definitely an aid to idealisation and idealisation often 'needs' alcohol to keep it going.

    Think of the infamous 'porters speech' in Macbeth. I can't remember it all but "It sets you up, and then puts you down. . ." Such a truism of both idealisation and alcohol.

    Paul G.

    1. "I didn't know these events were primals until recently."

      Are you in therapy, Paul? If not then you still don't know. They could be close BUT still symbolic experiences.


      "As little ones we are compelled to see the best in our mentors because we could not bear the real pain of disillusionment with them. The truth hurts too much and so we believe in the lies. We Idealise."

      I think we build entire cultures on that need to believe. We don't see the black reality of an institutional world that couldn't care less if you were dead or alive, and instead we buy all the "we care" propaganda. And we buy it from others when those others are only manipulating us or just begging for some kind of love. I think there is a simple general way of telling the difference: they have no natural interest in who you are as a person - they instantly "love" you like a pet.

    2. Andrew: Of course you are right. art

  5. Dr. Janov and all,

    Bruce Wilson describes the dilemma.
    The question of WHY scientists are searching for logic-answers should be addressed.
    But exactly this cannot be done unless we lay them down for a primal. Are scientists conscious of their own pain?
    Isn’t it always the one with underling pain who seeks a “cure”?, looking for a pill, a drug or alcohol that takes away the indescribable pain without being conscious of the source of the pain?

    It is a mother who complains that her newborn baby is screaming day and night, saying I have no idea why my child is screaming. If she would be conscious, she wouldn’t ask this question.
    It is the drug and alcohol addicted who need to numb the upcoming pain without understanding how the pain was implanted and who did it.
    The need to explain (logic) what is wrong, helps suppress the reason why the pain is there in the first place. It is good to know if we understand the brain but “understanding” (scientific logic) alone, has never helped healing the damage or changes methylation.

    What would happen if a mother and/or father becomes conscious, acknowledges that she/he was the originator of the pain, that caused the imprint and brain dysfunction? What if a mother says to her child – I’m sorry for what I have done to you? Wouldn’t these words be the doorway to a first primal feeling, the first step toward changing the imprint?

  6. ‘What would happen if a mother and/or father becomes conscious, acknowledges that she/he was the originator of the pain, that caused the imprint and brain dysfunction?’

    Dear Sieglinde

    I live with this pain daily. It’s truly excruciating. My daughter was born with serious health problems and the knowledge of my part in that and that she’ll have to live with it for the rest of her life is unbearable. I cannot imagine any other pain from my past being as intense as this.

    I’d like to point out:

    Decent diet – check; folic acid – check; rest – check; no caffine – check; no alcohol – check; no smoking – check; was she a wanted baby? – you bet!

    For me it seems primal pain truly plays havoc with the system.


    1. JL,
      you love your child, that is important.
      Some parents do everything right... still the child suffers.

      I'm living with the same pain. My child was healthy until the age of 27, the day of a car accident. Now he is mentally retarded.

      Not all parents did something wrong, but my parents did and never said I'm sorry.

    2. That’s painful Sieglinde, regarding your son. How delicate life can be.

      Sometimes I think adversities, urgent needs in the present resonating with our basic unmet early, first and second line trauma, can force us to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of heightening our ability to know what helps; the need dictates that. I’ve found myself hurtling in the direction of the Primal Center faster than I would otherwise. Life feels a bit like a trigger obstacle-course. But instead of trying to navigate triggers I want to learn to embrace and integrate them. I was listening to Dr France Janov on her Random Evening video on the Primal Center website and she says to ‘cherish the trigger……it is the way in’ which I love the sound of and recognise that that is exactly what I need to learn to do. There simply isn’t the time to waste on bullshit; life is far too precious. Yours, mine…. everybody’s.

    3. IL,
      What a true sentence, “force us to separate the wheat from the chaff”… and “instead of trying to navigate triggers”, I’m with you on this one.
      I welcome triggers now instead of being afraid, or act neurotic. I learned upcoming feelings have a reason and need to be heard. You can suppress them just for a while, then they return in full force, because they are an imprint. This is the reason why the month, for going to the primal center, is set for me.

  7. Hi Sieglinde,

    Part 1.

    -"What would happen if a mother and/or father becomes conscious, acknowledges that she/he was the originator of the pain, that caused the imprint and brain dysfunction? What if a mother says to her child – I’m sorry for what I have done to you? Wouldn’t these words be the doorway to a first primal feeling, the first step toward changing the imprint"-

    My sons' mother died 7yrs ago from serious drug and alcohol addiction. Our son (then aged 14) was holding her hand when she died, some of her last words were "what have I done to my children". She was using these drugs while pregnant with my son 15yrs earlier. The doctors were also 'pumping' her with them too, vallium etc. My son is consequently a text book case of the intermediary to long term effects. I won't list them, although some of the things you have said about your problems seem similar.

    I feel guilty about my part in all this because I was of course a contributing factor. I have on several occasions been able to 'apologise' to him but what has really helped more than anything else is being able to impart Janovian theory to him. He now does his own research. He self medicates and also self de-toxifies. He seems to still have a direct link to his true feelings. When he came off Zoloft (with my undivided coaching and emotional support) he was regularly screaming into the pillow for his mum.

    During this entire time he was also looking after my (then 1yr old) grandson as a single parent. The psychotic mother (who literally walked out leaving him 'holding the baby') had him robbed and mugged in his own flat by her two psychotic boyfriends and attempted to abduct the baby. The police aided the psycho and believed her lies and handed the baby over to her. Should we be surprised?

    Then she tried it again and got off with a warning! That time we were waiting for her and her co-horts and the police were really bloody quick to keep their own sorry arses clean.

    It gets worse. . . When I became a single parent with my son 19years ago his psychotic mother did exactly the same behaviour. When my son was 9yrs old she got the police on her side to help abduct him from my care. I had a court order at the time and they accused me of stealing it from the mother! Even though it had my name on it. When I complained to the police at the central police station the duty officer told me to f**k off or they'd throw me in the cells for false accusation. It's almost unbelievable isn't it?

    to be continued.

  8. Hi Sieglinde,

    Part 2.

    When I look back at my growing alcohol use over this 15 or so year period I no longer blame myself and I see that it has been 'a coping strategy'.

    My so called friends say to me that all this is my Karma and therefore my responsibility. Despite having been part of this 'New Age Community' for 20 years. None of the adults I thought were my friends now have anything to do with me or my son any-more. Ironically one of the so called 'core therapised' friends has consistently offered much support to the psychotic, violent and abusive mother who herself is off her face on extasy every weekend and can't get out of bed till two in the afternoon. These 'charitable types' accuse me and my son of denying her access to her son. We attend fortnightly contacts with the psychotic mother at the same christian contact centre that I took my son to see his psychotic mother to 14 years ago. It is a tragedy. Some of these ex-friends of mine are practising 'therapists', teachers and so on. Some of them take class A drugs at the weekend and point the finger at my use of alcohol and hash as a coping strategy saying I'm immoral and abusive and 'am playing the victim' (I loose my temper sometimes. . . wouldn't you)?

    Yet worse still my ex partner (who has had extensive psychosynthesis- a form of quasi religious CBT) is now chums with all these people and only because of our 9yr old daughters' relationship with her step son (the one mentioned) does she have anything to do with me either. . . She now has my council house and lives on benefits, well, she makes a little bit here and there. Yet her parents are millionaires having made their money in the arms industry. . . We set up the not for profit business I mentioned earlier "Swords to Ploughshares". . .

    Recently I have cried so much and to such an extent of begging my parents to bring me back home that my idealisation of these so called 'New Age Friends' has completely vanished and I can see the hypocrisy for what it really is: Inverted and projected trauma. All these people have heard of Primal and Janov but they are totally immune to the possibility of entering into their own true feelings because of all this 'New Age' bollocks that they have allowed themselves to be indoctrinated with.

    There really has been a change in my alcohol use. I have finally got back to where is was 15 or so years ago, namely not drinking during the week because I can't handle the hangovers and not really wanting to drink at the weekend either because I cant handle the hangovers. I have a different attitude to alcohol now. I really don't want that solvent in me. It's bizarre because the change was quite sudden and subtle and directly connected to two particularly intense Primals I had about a fortnight ago in my car. Basically I got to the need. Things have been very different, albeit in subtle ways ever since.

    Now look, I know I'm not supposed to be doing this un aided (but I'm not entirely alone because I have Ted and my Son who occasionally really helps. Also the guy I do subcontract carpentry for and his wife and daughter are unique people who obviously understand as my tears splash on the oak beams I work on), nor am I supposed to be using this blog as talking therapy but the reality of my situation is too pertinent not to mention now. Thanks to you and others on this blog for your honesty and for your courage to speak the unspeakable.

    Paul G.

    1. Part 1
      Hi Paul,
      You, I, and many others have something in common. Our own imprint, the imprint we left our children with, a toxic environment and other neurotically damaged people with very little empathy.
      May I tell you my dilemma?

      I was always aware but not fully conscious of the damage I had to live with and that I could not give my child what he really needed.
      For years I felt guilty because my son asked me may times why I divorced and why he had to grow up without a father. In reality he wanted to know why I had to work instead of being at home when he came home from school. I know he needed me more, but I had to work for living.

      In 1994, two years before his car accident, he was 27 year old, I told my child that I was at home caring for him until he was 3 years old then a divorce was no longer avoidable. Later, I explained to him, I had to drastically reduce the contact to his grandparents, my ex-husbands parents, because of alcohol and gambling problems.
      Then, at age of 24, he decided to contact his father a second time. He wanted to know his side of the divorce story. After 14 days intensive contact with his father, my son asked me, very upset: “Mama, why in the hell did you marry this highly intelligent, useless sociopath?”.
      For the first time I had a chance to be honest and I answered, " my childhood was plain horror, then I was in an institution… I married a replica of my father."
      My child insisted: “Mama I need to know the whole truth”. So, I sent him the manuscript (in German) I wrote two years earlier.
      Two weeks later he called and we talked for 4 hours. I did not defend or explain myself. I was silent and let him talk and ask questions and I answered truthfully. Then, my child said: “Mama, with marrying my father you went right back in the ditch where you came from”.
      One more question he asked, with blame in his voice: “why did you not allow me to see my grandparents”? The last open question was unavoidable and I answered; "after the divorce, your grandparents tried everything to get you. They wanted custody to raise you. They called child-protection and had them harass me for 4 years. It was easy for child-protection to control my life, our life, I said, because they know I was carrying the label of an institutionalized “bad girl” and as a divorced woman in the early 70's, I was an easy target. "Mama," my child asked, "why didn’t you tell me all this before?" I answered, I was ashamed of my past and blamed myself.
      more in part II

    2. Part II
      In 1996, he had a car accident and lost a cup full brain matter from the left frontal lobe. After many brain surgeries, I know he will never be the child I know – he had no short term memory and his body function was impaired. After fighting for my child for many years when he was little, the German government succeeded finally in taking my child into a religious institution. The German court system does not allow me to bring my child to the USA. Now, I relive again the oppression of my youth – remembering the rigid religious institutional rhythm to which I too was subjected.
      However, something amazing has happened some years later. My child began remembering his childhood. Much more important, he has complete access to his emotional side of the brain. He remembered many details I long ago forgot and shows feelings I had no idea were in him. He tells me with unaltered emotion, how much he enjoyed having big Sunday breakfast in my bed, how we drove in late summer in the night out into the country to watch the stars and counting falling stars. Many more memories he recounts which were long forgotten by me.

      We talk every Sunday on the phone and every Sunday a new memory appears. Just recently my child, now 43, asked me “Mama why did you fight for me, why did you keep me while your life was so difficult?”, and I told him that I loved him from the moment I knew that I was pregnant.

      The result of me telling my child the truth, being still and listening to his blame and explanation of needs missed, has brought partial healing for both of us. Even now in his condition, my child can cry, something I cannot yet do...

      Since about one year his short them brain function (left side) is getting better. His brain (neurons) seem to have found a way to reroute the damaged part of his brain.

  9. An email comment:
    "Bruce that is some of the best writing I have ever seen, I understood most of it and I thank you. Excellent! You're right, in my opinion, it doesn't take great amounts of intellect, it just takes feeling. My route was to study and challenge my religious beliefs and those of others. My intuition was that there was something in religious symbolism that could be reduced by elimination of beliefs that were either extraneous or that seemed to contradict. I looked for the overlaps I looked for motivations, and I sought to have the "feelings" symbolic or real of various religions. I looked for insights. I found tears. Had I not taken a feeling approach to religion it would have taught me nothing I would have found myself hopelessly confused. But understanding that all religions were seeking an "escape route" I had to ask "from what?". When I used objectivity, creative views, and empathetic communication, the ability to believe in religion collapsed and the roots of the symbolism became clear. Religion blocks feeling by playing with symbols that aren't questioned and by using techniques that overload a person with feelings from a time when we had no words or understandings. Crying though, and not mechanical techniques or counseling, or great intellect, gave the insights, but only when the crying went on long enough and the pain within was allowed to surface, bit by bit. People need to find their tears and keep finding them and concentrate on this for quite a while, in my opinion, and it really helps if someone is slowly urging them to seek the feelings behind their symbols. This to me is all I understand of primal therapy. I am sure there is much more. I am sure you will elucidate this for us as you continue your writings here. Thanks."

  10. Hi Andrew, and Art,

    -""I didn't know these events were primals until recently."

    Are you in therapy, Paul? If not then you still don't know. They could be close BUT still symbolic experiences".

    Look, I was in a variety of therapies until I discovered Alice Millers' Books which lead me to this blog. . . You'd have to read back my contributions from 18months ago to get a picture of that. If I list them now it would either take too long and/ or be too boring and unfeeling.

    I was in 'body work' psychotherapy for 5 years last of all. These people have certainly borrowed techniques from Primal and their training and supervision is pretty good. Nevertheless they mix their own Jungian Buddhist and Vedic 'training' into it. There lies the problem. As Art says: "They do not understand the 1st line". So, my bodywork therapist got the process started but. . . .

    The psychosynthesists don't get it either. I first read that word in a book by A. R. Orage. I digress. Andrew, you are helping me discriminate some issues here because it is possible to end up in a series of 'ab-reactions' which also become endless recurrence. That I am sure of. Planespotter? Help me out there. However my feelings are not all that. Sometimes my feelings touch my core and I can tell the difference now between '1st line intrusion', 1st line and 2nd line and 3rd line grief. What is becoming problematic is that I have not the proper supervision or a home to live in. I am homeless awaiting re-housing. . . Perhaps now you can see why I still need to idealise my teddy and my Landrover. I am very lucky to have a tiny bit of savings (read financial cushion) and a bloody good and kind agent who gives me shit hot oak frame carpentry contracts, some of which I design as well as build/ deliver/ erect myself. That keeps me 'grounded' as Jacquie said. Integrated is the word I would choose.

    It is not irrelevant to end my response by saying Lloyds bank have offered me a loan sufficient to cover all costs in US for 6 months. It will take me another 6months to plan it (how do I find some-one to look after my business here in UK whilst I'm gone)? By then Lloyds will probably be offering me shares for real estate on Mars. I choose Venice, Cal, not Mars.

    Paul G.

  11. Sieglinde, I really think I understand about you being an unwanted child with your mother and then going into an institution. The same happened to me. And all I hear on this blog and know about religion is how harmful it is to children, especially in childrens homes run by the religious. (At least it was in England!)The Salvation army were as cruel as the Catholic church in this respect.After being violently raped, my dress torn off.I was just 15. The two men were in their late 40's. One was a boxer. My first experience of sex, I was forced to stand with my head facing a wall for hours, while the tears streamed down my face silently, trying not to let my back move with it, incase the two women who ran the home might see my pain and be glad,one was sitting indifferently knitting, talking salvation army 'shop' with the Major, a short, dumpy scottish, ugly old woman had cursed, shouted and spat on my face afterwards, blaming me. Punishment for being a victim. I hope you didn't have this kind of religious insanity to have to deal with when you went to an institution! I hope your son completely recovers from the effects of the car accident. He sounds wonderful. All the best to borh of you!

    1. Hi Anonymous, I know all about the abuse by the catholic church in England, Ireland, Australia and Canada. I’m in contact with Paddy Doyle, Ireland, who wrote “The God Squad”.
      I took on the German government in 2000 and only partially succeeded in 2010. Together with a few other brave childhood-institutionalized, we filed a petition on behalf of 800,000 children who in post war Germany were put randomly in state institutions and 80 % in religious institutions. We accused the government of human rights-violations and slave labor, by neglecting their duty to enforce, as the executor of the law, to protect the innocent. If you care to read: “A Never-ending Pain”
      My story is not unique because millions of children worldwide in institutions endured similar abuse, and still suffer today. I’m so sorry that you too went, like I, from the frying pan to hell.
      This is the reason I’m still fighting to get my child out of the religious indoctrination manure.

  12. Sieglinde,

    I completely understand what you went through with harassment from the child protection organisations and from being stigmatised. Trying to live with the grief of ones' own imperfect parenting is just more remorse on top of the grief of unsupportive family and so called friends.

    My sons' mother also bore twins by me. We were a family of 3 sons and 1 stepson and to my horror the authorities put the twins up for adoption against my will. It was like an American 'plea bargain'. They gave me the eldest and told me to be glad. It was a cost lead decision. My stepson eventually went to his father and my twins went into adoption. My eldest and I are continually overwrought by this event (15yrs ago) and it makes therapy very difficult because this 3rd line trauma subverts and caps all the earlier 1st & 2nd line stuff.

    I have a very big chip on my shoulder about all this because of the massive amount of money spent on the dysfunctional mother who in the end drank herself to death.

    It doesn't matter which sex you are but why do some of these authorities fail to see which horse to back?

    I have seen first hand the institutional professionals 'close ranks' to protect their interests. I remember being interviewed by the guardian ad litem who asked me if I saw myself as the victim. . . Why do the cognitivists always ask that question? She was driving a top of the range black VW Golf, wearing a designer track suit and carrying a designer sports bag on the way to a squash game. . . How the other half live eh?

    The authorities had spent many hundreds of thousands of pounds on supporting my childrens' mother to do the mothering. 6 Detoxifications and dozens of case conferences, and three high court judicial reviews. Family support workers and free everything. I was running around doing all the taxi driving and child care when she was 'out to lunch' on the vallium and methadone the doctors were pumping her with.

    I attended every meeting case conference and went mad with frustration. The social workers then kindly told me I was too crazy to cope with three children; during the three years this all went on I got £35-00 travel expenses and I couldn't really work either. The mother refused to support my claim for our twins because the authorities would not give them to her, so they went for adoption.

    Why did the authorities give the psychotic mother the choice as to whether or not her children should go to the father or into adoption? Because the law says the mother has to give consent. . . even though the children had been removed from her care. . . Madness?

    When the authorities discovered they couldn't find adoptive parents before the twins turned 3yrs (an old law now defunct; there's no such thing as compulsory adoption under three yrs any more). They had to involve me again and re-introduce the twins back to me! This after phasing out contact once already. On being re-introduced back to me one of my twins ran into my arms shouting Daddy! Daddy! with a smile on his face. The social worker present looked at me scornfully and reminded me that I had promised not to make a scene. I never saw them again after that.

    That night I dreamt the same scene and woke up screaming.

    Everything has been ruined in my families' life ever since. I have to say that I have grounds to sue the authorities for compensation but I don't have the stomach for it. My step son thinks I should but my eldest understands how that could just really open old wounds. Maybe we would lose the case too. . .

    Sieglinde, I really understand and I am amazed you have not collapsed. I have nearly completely gone off the rails twice now. You must have been so overwrought when your son became injured.

    Thanks for your responses.

    Paul G.

    1. Paul, I understand every word and I relate to your feelings.
      Suing the authorities is costly and the results very vague. I mentioned my fight in the answer to Anonymous. Many lives are destroyed, past and present, by people who lack feelings and consciousness. I had to learn that the individual child is just a “case”.
      But Paul, if we keep on hiding the pain, we nourish a psychological wound that becomes infected. What I’m saying is, I rather face the harm done in the past instead of being a silent sufferer. We need to visit the imprint to heal it.
      Two years after of my child’s accident I collapsed. For two years I was fighting then suddenly all strength was gone. At the time was studying psychology and failed some crucial tests.
      You said it; "lives are ruined". For this reason I seek primal therapy to repair some of the damage.

  13. Hi Andrew,

    An after thought:

    Many people commit suicide without really understanding why, such is the power of an act out. I was driving home from work recently and I noticed police cones and cars etc by a woodland. . . it turned out a middle aged man had hung himself there. . . I wonder. . . if he had known about Primal Theory would he have done this?

    How many suicides could be prevented by this knowledge alone?

    My opinion is that if I had not discovered Primal and this blog, well then, that could have been me (despite my previous therapists' best efforts). As far as I am concerned just a thorough knowledge of Primal is better than nothing at all. Suicide leaves a trail of victims to pick up the pieces and clear up the mess.

    I am of the opinion that this is the greatest value of good science. . . the facts of our existence alone offer salvation, offer direction, offer explanation, offer hope. Yes Andrew, hope. Not false hope in ideals or gurus or father substitutes but in ones' own ability to heal. With or without the right therapist it is the individual sufferer who gets better, who 'cognises' her condition, who makes the first steps toward recovery.

    Paul G.

  14. Hi Anonymous,

    -"Punishment for being a victim"-. I am mortified by your testimony, this is just horrifying. I hope you can recover.

    Why do gods' army of vengeful rapists know they deserve better. . ? Righteous storm troopers on a divine blitzkrieg. I know this is just their own denied trauma inverted and projected but we should never feel that is an excuse or grounds for forgiveness. People like that must repent or face the consequences. I really hope you can recover and live with those consequences.

    Paul G.

  15. Hallo, Sieglinde, thank you so much for your reply on this blog! I am utterly impressed if not struck with a sense of awe that you took on the government in the way that you did. Bravo, lady!!!! I have to tell you I too did my own bit. I went to an organisation in London called POPAN and a man from the social services in the salvation army came to a meeting with me. I remained utterly calm and composed throughout and he went to see the vile major who terrorised me after being raped in hospital where she, thankfully, lay ill and dying. He mentioned my name and she denied knowing me. But then she finally admitted, 'yes, her name does ring a bell.' Nothing more happened, but the creepy thing is I have recently moved and somehow the salvation army discovers my address and have written asking for a donation. They don't get it and I doubt they will like what they got in my reply. These christian devils need to be held fully to account, but don't you just HATE the social services and the harm that they do to innocent young people. I do with great intensity! I hope you do well in your therapy and I hope you have your son back. I wish I knew other folk into feelings and primal consciousness as I cant afford to go to the Centre at present. I wanted to go in the Autumn. Wonderful that you joined forces with other people who suffered institutional abuse and soul murder from the religious insane to challenge the government. I want to shout Hurrah to you and all of us for speaking out about it.
    Dear Paul
    All the best of luck with your therapy. Hope it helps and heals your life. Thankyou very much for your kind words. And I hope we will be reunited with your children. How I understand how you feel with your housing and not having a place to cry in. Im in the same position.I built a soundproof chamber I called 'the elephant' in my flat. The neighbours circulated strange rumours. The council later used the lies to try to secretly put me into a nut house. Another government scandal. After involving countless officials it was decided when I personally challenged this form of madness in a meeting that it was inappropriate to apply this sort of action to myself and they stopped their nonsense. This said to warn you to be careful where and when you express your natural human emotions, Paul. A great majority of people have not a clue about this kind of work. It is best to have a lot of space between you and your neighbours unless they have true understanding. This blog is vital, thanks to Art, the man who makes things possible and whose efforts are dedicated to change. Some of you people on his blog I consider to be my friends. Thankyou, (to use an outdated 1960's expression): all you beautiful people!

  16. Hallo, Paul and Sieglinde. Thank you to both of you for your kind words to me! When I was sexually assaulted (which involved considerable physical violence which I won't go into here) the men who did it were not religious or from the childrens home, they were criminals and paedophiles, I should think, but the abuse I had afterwards came from the salvation army woman who ran the home and the male (not the woman) policemen whose remark, 'She could pass for 16 so it isnt against the law' and the police doctor who screamed angrily at me during the intimate physical examination which was painful and frightening, for 'not coperating.' I am fully aware that much abuse comes from religious people who run childresn homes across the world. People who are completely deadened to theirs and anybody else's feelings. Without any sensitivity, humanity. There are a great many folk like this in the world- sadly. All the best of luck, both os you, in your therapy and I hope it all works well for you! I hope we keep in touch. Life is lonely without like minds at times. Good luck Sieglinde with your efforts to have your son back and you, Paul, I hope you one day have your other sons with you. All the best now!

  17. Paul,
    Sorry, I meant, I hope you get your children back, not 'we' get. Got in a muddle! I wish you all the best sincerely.

  18. Hallo, Sieglind
    I don't know if you will read this as it is a past blog! I have tried to get hold of 'A never ending pain' on the website you mentioned (see above) in your reply to me but Google said no such thing. Can you enlighten me about how to obtain it, please. Maybe I need to send an email to the address you gave on this blog? Thankyou for any help! All the best with your therapy in The Autumn. I quite envy your opportunity. All the best of luck, anyway.

  19. Hello Anonymous,

    If you like, try this link:
    Thanks for the good wishes,

  20. Sieglinde
    I have now read it. It grips me-what you have suffered. How DARE they have done this to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!Amazing what you have survived. I was thinking, amazing too you escaped to the USA. How many people who have endured institutional abuse when young have emigrated. I can't help but notice. I always yearned to go to Australia and now it is too late. You are really so terribly brave and also exceptional, I think. I have been trying to raise money for therapy but so far no luck. I wanted to do it in the autumn -so badly. You have worked to save, I expect. Not I! I wanted only my freedom. I, too, was used as slave by sadistic spinsters, working really hard awful work for very little food. We were watched at every bite we ate.No pleasure, no thoughts about boys or mention of The Beatles or music. I went to several homes, all religious, except that one. All run by twisted, sick old people. I admire you, Sieglinde. Your story was very upsetting to read but your courage so great. I also like the fact that you were a rebel and stayed different from the witches all around you. All the best from me to you!

    1. Dear Anonymous

      I appreciate your empathy - don’t forget what you have endured.
      You are brave too, you have preserved a sense of reality instead of falling for religion and you do not fall in line with “commercial” therapies, you seek PT.
      You desire healing while others prefer catharsis. Kudos for you!

      I don’t know how many formally institutionalized ended up in other countries. In whichever country they landed, I know they brought with them, like all the immigrants 100 years ago besides their skill, their trauma and neurosis, just like me.



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.