Thursday, May 10, 2012

On More Therapeutic Nonsense

I don’t like writing about all the nonsense out there; I prefer to be positive and to concentrate on what can help people, but I have to make exceptions. Today in the NY Times (April 21, 2012, Sunday Review) is that exception. I cannot for the life of me figure out why I cannot get an article in the Times while those who write what I consider pure rubbish get a prominent place there.

I read the little rubric at the start of the piece, which said: “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already” and I thought, “My oh my, finally a bit of reality.” Disappointment soon set in. The piece is by a Mr. Alpert, a New York therapist. He is in dispute against long-term therapy, especially psychoanalysis. He begins with a bit of statistics: the longer you stay in therapy, the less you get out of it. Ergo: cut down on the time in therapy. The usual statistical logic. There is no “why” in all of this. Why is it that the longer you spend in therapy the worse it gets? Is it an addiction? Yes. The reason it goes on and on, says Alpert, is that therapists won’t admit defeat. Here is his key finding: “On the first visit to a therapist 88% felt they improved; after 12 sessions it was down to 62% improved. Yes but, say the long-term analysts, complicated cases require much longer time in therapy.

Alpert believes that the reason most people seek treatment is for something in the present that requires precise help; being stuck in bad relationships or a stultifying job. “It doesn’t take years of therapy to get to the bottom of those kinds of problems. For some of my patients, it doesn’t even take a whole session.” I think he is referring to counseling patients, not serious psychiatric problems such as deep depression and anxiety. And for YMCA counseling, he may be right. But it has been years since I have seen anyone who did not have deep, hidden emotional problems.

So let’s follow his logic: “Therapy can—and should—focus on goals and outcomes, and people should be able to graduate from it.” Whose goals are those? The doctor’s? The patient’s? It smacks of present attitudes about so many things: just get it done and be done with it, don’t whine and complain. He goes on: “In my practice, people who spent years in therapy before coming to me were able to face their fears, calm their anxieties, and reach life goals quickly—often within weeks.” Aside from its smug-self-satisfaction, the logic baffles me. He truly believes, “I’ve got the answer and you don’t.”

In case we missed something, this is pure cognitive/behavior therapy. We teach the patient to set a goal, work toward it and voila, in almost no time she is fine. I have been in practice for 60 years and I have never seen deep problems clear up in a matter of weeks; something that took decades to build up isn’t going away in 60 days. But you might think it will if you stay on the surface and think that what the patient thinks is the sole criterion for wellness; how about stress-hormone levels, immune functions, and all the rest? Do we just ignore the body and keep it cognitive? He has the answer for that: he believes “it’s a matter of approach. Many patients need an aggressive therapist who prods them to face what they find uncomfortable….They don’t need to talk endlessly about how they feel or their childhood memories.” There it is. Don’t delve into deep-lying causes, just get on with life. It is the anti-primal approach. Feelings, emotional pain, and childhood events—causes—don’t matter. Will power, strength, and determination do. It is his own modus operandi, his key neurosis elevated to the level of a principle. And he prefers his patients to listen to his advice, because they “need it.”

If you are willing to leave aside all causes and emotional anguish, and just focus on your future, maybe it can work for you—but surely there is no science there at all. Why is it that long-term stays in therapy do not work? The same reason short-terms stays don’t work. It just does not work. It is based on faulty science and a therapist’s own ways of dealing with things apotheosized into the realm of theory. Do we hear anything about what the person’s childhood was about? Not interested. Her emotional pain and anxiety? Not interested. So what are you interested in? Progress…progress according to my manufactured criteria. And what are those criteria? “Whatever I say it is.” And when the patient fulfills my criteria (when she says, I feel better), I pronounce her well. Unbeatable logic. Is she well when she has extremely high blood pressure, or high cortisol levels? Is it really all in your mind?

It is the modern day Charlie Chaplin brought into the machine age; results are all that matters. Jonathan Alpert has, forgive me, the Jewish disease (it takes one to know one)—explain everything, stay in the head, figure it out and then be rid of it. “How do you feel” becomes an anathema. It doesn’t matter in his approach, and yet in what we do it is all that matters. But you won’t know that when you live in your head. Neurosis is a disease of feeling, of repression and the inability to feel. That is why anyone should come to us. If they want something different—advice—they should see a counselor who gives it. I have seen or supervised thousands of patients from 26 countries and I have yet to see anyone who just needs a bit of advice. If that is what you need see a relative, a maven (a maven, the smart, all-knowing one in Jewish life, is usually the one with the most money). But wait, Alpert is not giving advice; he is telling people how to live, what to do, and how to do it. He is a cheerleader. No science there. He doesn’t ask how patients feel because “I already know.” Why bother inquiring.

I could go on, but what is the point. The real question is: How does that nonsense get such prominent placement in a world-renowned newspaper?


  1. They can't acknowledge you as credible because to do as such is to acknowledge a threat to their paradigm as credible.

    Not gonna happen. You have to wait for them to die - like, apparently, in any other scientific revolution.

  2. I think corporate media are about "all the news that fits" between the ads. If change is what they're proposing, its only just enough to get you back out there and consuming again and enabling the collective neurosis to lurch along until the next quarterly report.

  3. When I was a psychology student, I studied cognitive behavioral therapy in my classes. I found CBT to be utterly trivial and vacuous. It was just a restatement of absolutely basic common sense. There had been NO discovery. Instead of discovering anything, Psychologists just took common sense and dressed in up in Latinate, scientific-sounding terms.

    I don't understand why Psychologists are so eager to dismiss alternatives. It would be one thing if they had an established body of non-trivial knowledge which explained mental illness, and no further knowledge was required. But they have nothing, and they dismiss novel hypotheses anyway.

    -Tom W

  4. Your points are well taken, but I think what many look for and why they stay in therapy so long is that they really want a friend and confidant that they maybe believe they can trust, or maybe, just one who knows them enough but not too much, like a real friend might who visits and deals with you in other contexts.

    Many people are isolated today. Many are not those who attract lots of friends. So rent a “friend” for a couple sessions a week, right? I do maintain that most who go to therapy are actually trying to avoid any real insight or meaningful change. They want to be told they are OK and its not their fault. But they keep needing that reassurance. It may be a waste of time but if that’s how they want to spend their money, I guess it’s a free country. I would not do it.

    Look at those insane pageant moms. They spent thousands of their poor husbands’ money to dress and train their girls, and there is a direct correlation between the money spent and who wins. It is its own industry, with dress and fashion makers, trainers, mark-up artists, etc. And most are big fat moms who want redemption by having their little girl be crowned queen. They will pay thousands for just one good trophy. Guess who really needs therapy?

    People will pay any amount to feel better. That is why drugs cost so much, isn’t it? Therapists are drugs, just like trophies and real drugs. Or maybe its food or conquering the next cute thing that starts work in the office. We all got our addictions ;-) Me, I’m hooked on learning. Hey, don’t knock it. Its not as bad as it sounds. It does help if you got a bump or 2 on your head before you try it, though. It worked for me. Oh, and I do have to shave my palm sometimes. Nothing is perfect, right?

    Personally, I do not think much of any mainstream newspaper. Full of lies or focusing on all the wrong things and ignoring the real weighty issues. I find history books are often more enlightening of present things.

  5. the kind of clinic that focuses on immediate problems and finding their solution in order to 'fix the patient' suggests to me a certain impatience and boredom towards patients. If that approach is all that psychoanalysis comes down to then Art is right in saying that it constitutes a form of advice shop, not a scientfic endeavour. But then again, psychoanalysis was always only part science and the rest theatre it seems to me i.e. theory, ritual and solicitude.
    But it bothers me a bit that Art is focused on the issue of why a 'world-renowned newspaper' should give space to such a story. Isn't the idea of the 'enlightened media' (even the NY times) an oxymoron anyway? We all know the press side with mainstream notions incl. mainstream psychotherapeutic concepts. To do otherwise is to take a risk by standing out from the crowd or the 'they'. No doubt the editor and sub-editor were relieved to have an 'expert' to fill their column space without having to take personal responsibility for the message content itself. If I had written a book that sold a million plus (primal scream) I would not be too worried about lack of exposure.

  6. Therapy forever?

    Having read Jonathan Alperts article in the NY Times and your Reflections on the same, I have as an observer and longtime patient a few opinions. First, I’m not surprised at all of Alperts populist opinions. They are born of pure survival needs of a cocky psychologist who live on those lying on his costly couch.

    From a growing number of sources (friends, acquaintances, therapists), I have long heard a growing dissatisfaction with the impact most psychologist have on their patients. Why? They do very seldom see any curative effects on the therapy treatments, on the contrary, they are worried about the secondary and habit creating effects that the medications, the psychologists prescribe, have. Hence there is no reason to doubt Alperts comment: “Ineffective therapy is disturbingly common”. However, since many patients doubt the cognitive psychologist corps, that Alpert is a representative of, one of his marketing tactics is to change the treatments, “which goes on forever” by asking his future patients to “ask fearless: change your life in 28 days”...

    40 years ago, I believed in a “quick-fix-promise” which would take 4 months. Please note that this was the Primal Therapy in which we were allowed/asked to feel your pain, in contary to Alperts “28day promise”. However, together we learned that 4 months was hardly enough basically to understand, what had taken 40 years to repress, that might need years to cure.

    Does that sound as another therapy forever? Maybe, but there is a huge, radically positive difference. In Primal Therapy, you feel gradually, relived, you feel real and you understand why you feel the and you feel that there is a hope and eventually you don’t need prescriptions of painkillers. That to me is to be cured.

    The cognitive therapy, unlike Primal Therapy/Evolution In Reverse, is pushing your pain further down. You will never know, understand what originally caused your anxiety and neuroses.This fact / shortcoming will kill your ability to connect your feeling and intellectual brain. Propelled by pain and depression much of your life will be turned into perpetual neurotic games/life patterns to satisfy unreal needs.

    How can I be so sure of my claim? Because, over 40 years (during which I came and went with Art’s blessings, and so I could combine a successful career with Primal Therapy) I have felt, relived a horrific birth, which created epileptic seizures, neurotic behaviors. Thanks to this combination I have fysically and mentally slowly become normal. Evidence? I think that my vital signs at age 72 and my ability to communicate my experiences are adequate evidence for most.

    Jan Johnsson

  7. Andrew! "they " do not fear the loss of their credibility (they are n.o.t.
    insearch of the truth ) but loss of all those smoothly coming in Bucks!!
    Here in Germany one therapist takes 800 Euros fee for one day
    and promises you`ll be fine ...
    yours emanuel

  8. Art: You are so right on ... but I fear you played their game in one sense. You are still trying to prove your case through science. They, the scientists, don't want to know. Science, as I see it, is part and parcel of neurosis. No other creature on the planet indulges scientific pursuits. To what avail???

    To me, the emphasis should be on the TWO STATES OF BEING. The rational/logical one that most of us got battered into after age 7 or there abouts; and the FEELING-FULL one that all other creature live and die by. Until and unless we humans, with your help ... if you will pursue it through the lens of the TWO STATES OF BEING; is the only way to 'crack this nuttyness'. You way over done the scientific approach and written enough to fill several libraries ... BUT they ain't gonna read your stuff. Somehow, you seem, by my reckoning, to feel someday this will pay off. It won't ... least way not in your lifetime or mine for that matter ... which is more the pity ... for me, you and the human race.


  9. "The real question is: How does that nonsense get such prominent placement in a world-renowned newspaper?"

    Because that newspaper, and society in general, measures people's worth according to their capability to (1)produce and (2)consume. I think that's what retrun was alluding to as well. And I think you answered your own question: because "get over it" is the name of the game. Let's not go into "early trauma" because that's "blaming the parents". And we know that mothers especially are "holy".

    Primal theory and therapy are not about blaming anyone; they are about root causes. But many people, sadly, can't tell the difference.

    CBT has become almost like a religion in modern psychology/psychiatry. I've heard many people claim that it has the best, proven scientific record of all therapies. What is that based on? The word of the patients - nothing else, really. Physical ailments like high blood pressure or migraines or cancer are not considered as something that have roots in early trauma. I hadn't even considered entertaining such a connection before reading your books.

  10. Hi,

    It's depressing but the trivial is worth more to the 'moral majority' Art; it supports repression.

    Paul G.

  11. “On the first visit to a therapist 88% felt they improved; after 12 sessions it was down to 62% improved.”

    Alpert’s quoted statistic actually provides solid evidence of Alpert’s failed method. That singular truth freaks him out, so he seeks an extreme rationalization to claim his real cure came “very early in the process.” Cognitive therapists are very good at reaching for such extreme rationalizations – as are all repressed intellectuals. After all, an intellectual’s frantic rationalizations come rapid fire - charged by compulsive energy – i.e., their own unfelt pain. In addition, these bizarre rationalizations are not fettered and bounded by reality, i.e., they are not connected to contextual feelings.

    The first few visits are where the symbolic dance with the devil therapist begins. This is when a patient is filled with hope for relief from pain, and this is when the cognitive therapists promises to deliver the rose garden. Of course the patients report their best moments early on.

    This first meeting is similar to the beginning of any other addiction. For example, when someone takes their first hit on a powerful opiate. And oh, the beautiful vision. The promise of a “pain free at last" nirvana. A few weeks later, the new addict begins to discover that this pain free medicine is no longer bringing the same peace, so they require a bigger hit. On and on into deeper addiction, and further and further from the real cure.

    Likewise for Alpert. Alpert discovers that the early set up of the symbiotic and highly symbolic relationship between the cognitive therapist and the new patient is the best time – the first dance is the best, because it is totally symbolic and, led by devil Alpert, who is totally devoid of real feeling.

    What Alpert has failed to discover is that – given a fair chance – the truth will out. The pain will rise again, and the next therapist’s dance must rise to the occasion and must be even better. Just as the opiate hit must get stronger and stronger to quell an addict’s pain.

    At some point, the opiate addict screams for more opium. At some point, the Alpert patient screams for more pain relief – and alas, does not feel a real cure happening. As time passes, and the dance with the devil therapist fails to cure, the patient is only being truthful to report less and less satisfaction with Alpert’s snake oil therapy. The patient is still responding to his/her inner truth - the message of his/her feelings.

    At this point, Alpert quickly throws some magical fairy dust upon the patient – a little “relationship” fairy dust and a little “problem solving” fairy dust. Alpert ordains the patient cured, and , then orders the patient to “graduate.” Alpert kindly shows the patient to the graduation door.

    Alpert’s therapy has failed yet another patient in pain. But, the New York Time published therapist has once again successfully avoided having to deal with the painful truth that he has failed his patient – and once again Alpert has failed his own inner most and massively repressed pain that somewhere deep inside probably still yearns to be heard.

    Alpert is a dangerous devil. As dangerous as any opiate. Both to himself as well as to an innocent patient.

  12. Hi Art,

    My body work therapist is a really nice guy. . . in his blurb on his web-site he credits the following people with the development of this therapy and makes a revealing statement:

    -"Many more discoveries followed and his work (Willy Reich) in this area was taken further by a number of later workers, including Alexander Lowen, David Boadella, Jack Rosenburg, Gerda Boyesen, Chuck Kelly and others too numerous to mention.

    Modern integrative Body Psychotherapy has moved on from the original strong emphasis on total catharsis and contains understandings of the delicate self-protective balance we all strike between containment and expression and the internal conflicts this involves. It also acknowledges the centrality of the client-therapist relationship to successful work in this area"-.

    Is what my therapist really saying here is that Willy Reich got people into 'ab-reaction' and so (after some disastrous results) his later followers found out how to experiment with the defence and gating system, eventually returning to the 'transference' as the main content of the psychotherapy session?

    If so, then I am a predictable body work failure because I left therapy with on-going ab-reaction and no defence system to handle the consequences. . . Only by discovering Alice Millers' books did I come to question my therapists 'authority' and then by finding her quote of your work did I find salvation from learning the actual facts of my neurobiology.

    Paul G.

  13. An email comment:
    " For what it's worth, this analysis is off the wall and makes too many grand
    generalizations about "science". Eventually - if our "civilization" doesn't
    destroy itself - the truth will emerge and the paradigm will shift, and honest
    science will be central to that progress."

    1. Bruce's reply: "Peter is right on. The idea of "science as neurosis" is ridiculous. There's nothing wrong with science. Nothing. It's merely a tool to get at the truth. The "honest science" that Peter mentions is a science that takes everything into context, and there are more people doing that now. Also, we were not "battered" into rationality; it's part of who we are.

      Rather, the problem has been described by Agustin in his essay on primal as a new paradigm. Psychology is still locked in the left-brain cognitive paradigm so primal continues to be ignored or ridiculed. We're also still in a left-brain culture, as McGilchrist shows. But as psychology moves toward the affective paradigm, people will become more open to the validity of feelings. And if McGilchrist is right about our left-brain culture collapsing, then we have reason to hope.

      Half the work is done. The world knows about the effect of early life trauma on everything from epigenetics to mental illness. The other half -- that it can be healed with reliving -- awaits research. Primal's time will come but it will never come from the old guard, or from those who are repressed (which is everyone in power). It will come from those who are fed up with the old paradigm.

      So just as the Occupy movement will eventually prevail, so will primal. You were just a half-century too early, Art.


    2. Bruce: May be I should have waited? art

  14. Bruce, Art: no, Art started Primal and we will continue it.

    "a cheerleader", lol, I like it. Nothing more than a Life Coach, posing as a 'therapist'. You would have heard of the 'New York Minute', therapy in a minute- a combo of Freud/Jung, basically asking about your mother and father and giving an opinion based on that. It gets more ridiculous..

    Art, *I've said this before*, people are drawn I think to status quo therapies (CBT, EMDR, counselling etc) as for the most part I think they feel they understand them, they are light, simple, non-threatening; posing as an 'easy fix'; and yes, maintain repression as our friends here outline. People often *avoid* deeper psychodynamic therapies, altho not always; Rebirthing, some counselling, bodywork; incl Primal (which we know is the only therapy) as, perhaps apart from the inherent 'threat', I think they feel they don't understand them and, most importantly, I think therapists feel *they do not know how to deliver it*.
    I think we should work towards PT being more understood, more available, in short *more ACCESSIBLE*. Literature is only one means, and it is limited. On a practical level I think more therapists are needed and the therapy needs to be available outside of LA, internationally, with proper supervision still in place. All this without losing the therapy in any way. This is what I think we should work towards.
    Best, Jacquie

    1. Jacquie: I still cannot find a way to train competent therapists in less than many years. It is very complicated and therapists need many patients in order to learn about different people. We see people from some 26 countries and those cultures are very different. I prefer few therapists who know what they are doing than many charlatans art

    2. I will always agree w/you 100% on that; "All this without losing the therapy in any way". The therapy cannot be compromised, as soon as it is it's not PT, right? Even dangerous I'm sure.. However, if this could be constructed as a vision and worked towards I think you would find the therapy spreading and people engaging it more, including intellectually. Many professionals have asked me why it isn't more available, I can only give the same answer you've written here.
      The Head of School, Psychiatry, at a uni here knows about Primal and supports the idea of it being avail in clinical settings here. I'm sure other opportunities also exist. However, the trick is how to monitor/supervise this. If there were Ptherapists willing to work outside the Center, with supervision taking place from the Center? I don't know, I'm just posing ideas, but I feel this is a route for you. Jacquie

    3. Jacquie: We are willing to cooperate with any serious institution. art

    4. This is the University of Western Australia, the Head of School supports the possibility of Primal being written into the medical curriculum and the therapy adjunct at clinical settings here; ideas I had for a scholarship application I submitted but unfortunately didn't get. Now I will travel and get therapy on my own funds.
      I could either give you his email (privately), I know he would love to hear from you and/or I can speak w/him again after I return from LA this year.. Also, perhaps you need more staff in supervision?
      Best wishes, Jacquie

  15. Hi Jacquie and Art,

    After all I've heard about the history and development of primal I am dubious about the setting up of another clinic from the efforts of the existing clinic. There's hardly the resources to sustain the existing clinic.

    To my mind (feelings too) there would need to be a uniquely disillusioned group of therapists/ science professionals willing to fund themselves by travelling to California for 6 to 12 months in order to start their own primal therapy. That group would then need to rotate for training for 5 to 7 years in California and then eventually find all the money to set up clinic in another city somewhere else on the planet. That is a multi million dollar investment with 5 to 7yrs before the first patient at the new clinic even walks through the door.

    Even if a government institution decided to investigate primal they would still need to recruit a group as above to do same. I would not necessarily trust a government sponsored group of primal trainees from 'out of house'. Would you?

    The best I can think of in this ocean of impossibility is to canvass all the past primal patients. . . Has the clinic done this? Is there any point?
    Because any-one remotely inclined to train has already walked forward, havn't they?

    It seems to me that Primal Therapists must be ex-primal patients. That is the only way it works.

    Seems to me we are at that stage where we who have not yet made it to the clinic might begin to desire to come not only because we need help but because the situation is rather unique and important. I mean, if you feel something is so important to yourself personally, you'd sell your house to pay for it, then maybe you'd give up your existing profession to re-train as well. Hence most therapists from in-house.

    I totally get it. It's a bit of a mind fuck really. Well actually it is the mind fuck of the Human Condition isn't it? It motivates me to do the therapy for reasons beyond my own need. which in turn prepares me better to face my own demons. PT levels the playing field but most people would not understand what that means would they?

    Paul G.

    1. Paul: Well said. We do need help and yes we all come from being patients. art

    2. I have thought about this before now. There is not a single Primal Therapy group worthy of the name in the UK. Also any such new start up would have to face the strict rules facing therapists in this country. For example the sacrosanct 50 minute session. I think that any such group would have to join one of the physcology associations to be able to practice and that would set limits and ways of working as you can perhaps see from this website.

  16. An email comment:
    Dear Art,

    From your last blog..."The real question is: How does that nonsense get such prominent placement in a world-renowned newspaper?"

    Would you like the real answer or the neurotic one? If I owned a newspaper your blog would be printed weekly...and twice on Sunday.


    P.S. I was wondering if there's a maximum age cut off for (new) primal patients? I'm now 68.

    1. And my answer: I don't think there is an age limit. You better first ask, are you dr. janov, of the age is run the show? art

    2. I'm 69, and they just took me.

  17. Mr Alpert is being a Parent! Be who I think you should be. Do what I think you should do. Be a Robot. Being such a Parent gives the person a sense of power. Sadly not a power within themselves because they were respected and loved by relaxed and self respecting Parents but because they were tortured and hurt in the name of good Parenting. These therapists and the journalists who publish them are taking power over others in a vain attempt to feel powerful themselves. The lunatics have taken over the asylum. Thus the craziest people in society are those who don't think they are crazy and they can think they are Napoleon or become a politician or senior shrink. What is the difference between the two. How they repress their trauma.

    Lloyd de Mausse describes children as poison containers. They are the most convenient place for a Parent to dump their ignored anxieties and trauma and society colludes in the abuse. Thus the child who starts to get well by remembering the trauma even within the confusion of physcosis is treated as crazy because there are few if any who can help that child unravel the strange clues and feelings because few if any have an empathy for their own childhood let alone someone else's.

    People with mental distress are hurt children so must be told to snap out of it and get on with life.

    Society is a fuck up which is why Mr Alpert can get his articles into the New York Times.

  18. Well, er, um. Even you, Art, say you just can't throw a grenade at defenses and hope neurotics can handle third-line pains. You have to be gentle and supportive, encouraging and hopeful.

    Feeling a sense of mastery after reaching cognitively-set goals can be helpful. The point, I should think, would be to support those who still felt something was missing. Yet surely folks will be more willing to into deeper forests if they first return from short forays...and also find signposts further in.

    One doesn't live much of a life if limited solely to navel-contemplation. Nor does locomotively breathing like a komodo dragon for hours indicate much joie-de-vivre. Folks need encouragement to dig deeper. And a sense that the "gold" they seek will be worth the struggle. Continuing the mining meme, you'd want to make sure those delving deeper had the right equipment, motivation, safety supplies, and emergency exit

    Someone sent me this video recently. I love it. I personally call it "Courage." Even though the slope isn't the alpine ski jump it first seems, the girl experiences it as if it were:

    The man whose child it might be has a great website:

    What I find particularly interesting are the "lessons" he not frustrating beginners...and having committed, caring, skilled mentors...and loving what one does, and using the right brain to "imagine," and so on. He has videos of places that promote "excellence"...often via mundane, supported, small steps.

    He thinks it takes about 10,000 hours to master something. Yikes! Yet he says if you love something, you will WANT to practice.

    In particular, Art, I think you might like his insights per "myelin."

    1. We don't set goals "cognitively." It seems like you have come out of a pre-primal world and are trying to fit out therapy into some kind of old and ancient mold. You have to let go of that past and enter into there primal world. We are a round hole and you have a square peg. They don't fit. People don't decide to go deep or not. Their neurobiology leads them, as it should. Feeling is the vehicle that carries you back. If you could be a komodo dragon for one hour you would see how incredibly liberating it is. you are coming at a feeling therapy from cognitive point of view; it doesn't work that way. art

  19. Dr. Janov and all,
    Dr. Janov, can you explain to me what is the purpose of psychology?
    I understand that medicine is helping people to get well (within limits) after they were ill, or even try to prevent illnesses and deceases.
    Science has its rightful place in all fields, but what about psychology, therapy and psychiatry?
    What has “common” psychology accomplished since Freud? What is the mission? Was some of the mission in the last 100 years accomplished? Were people healed? Has psychology or psychiatry healed or prevented any mental illness?
    I want to find a legitimate reason for psychology to exist. After all, they do not allow you to feel – their purpose is control and diversion, numbing or managing pain.
    Isn’t it exactly this that people in pain do all their life:
    controlling and diverting, numbing and managing their pain somehow with something.
    Is psychology a white Elephant?

    1. Sieglinde: You may be right. I see very little use for psychology. All of those erudite studies and nothing comes of it. I see a raison d'etre for primal and not psychology. art

  20. Hi Sieglinde,
    -"What is the mission? Was some of the mission in the last 100 years accomplished? Were people healed? Has psychology or psychiatry healed or prevented any mental illness"?

    No. But it has produced a convincing symbol of 'quasi parental control' in the minds of the majority. The Moral Majority are satisfied that the other insane minority are effectively 'subdued' from their 'negative influence' they are having on the sane 'majority'.

    This is the problem with the cognitivists. . . they are in a self fulfilling prophesy at the expense of feeling people. No matter how hard one tries to 'reason' with them they hold the 'high ground' through their denial. As long as they believe in a passionless solution to every 'problem' then they will create a new multi headed monster from the amputated feeling. Like the crackern, every amputation another mutation.

    Paul G.

    1. Paul: "passionless solution" right on. art

    2. Hi Paul G..
      “they are in a self fulfilling prophesy at the expense of feeling people.”
      In 1999, 3 years before I heard about Primal Therapy or read “The Primal Scream” I was suicidal and in my second big depression. I was desperate for help and the only choice I had was a HMO cognitive therapist, a psychiatrist, and the second round of antidepressants.
      I told the psychiatrist I don’t like to take Wellbutrin because 4 years before, while on Wellbutrin, I gained 40 pounds. The smart, textbook-oriented psychiatrist insisted that my weight gain has nothing to do with Wellbutrin. I explained in simple words that I feel the antidepressants slow down not only my racing thoughts but also my metabolic function. With an arrogant grin in his face he belittled my feelings, saying his knowledge allows him to deny my observation.

      The cognitive therapist, read my manuscript (later book). Every session I felt how she became systematically affected with my abuse experience as she began to use words such as “your childhood experiences were horrible, but you are an adult now and have the ability to control the effect of your memory”. She provided me with controlling tools concerning how to react when a memory became overwhelming and gave me books to read on how other people keep their pain at bay.
      At the beginning of these sessions, anxiety and depression controlling my life, I played this game, believing they know what they are doing. Then one day she asked me if I benefit from our session… I answered - no - and asked her if she believed that I made any progress - she believed I had. Slightly annoyed, I asked her how. I told her that I try to control my memory for over 30 years and, obviously it didn’t work, otherwise I wouldn’t be there at therapy. Her answer sounded like a church-ceremony and I found my earlier feeling confirmed that she must have a childhood imprinted problem. I asked her a straight question – were you sexually abused as a child? Her NON-answer was good enough for me. I got up from the chair and told her to heal herself first before she meddles with other people’s problems.

      Both, therapist and psychiatrist were in the business of self-fulfilling prophesy, to keeping the HMO paycheck coming every month.
      There are too many non-swimmer who try to save other drowning.
      Thanks Paul G.. for pinpointing.


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.