Saturday, June 2, 2012

Treating the Patient With Respect

Why can’t any therapy help patients with their feelings? One good reason is that they are talking to the wrong brain—the brain that thinks rather than the one that feels. Unfortunately the correct brain, the right brain and lower brain, doesn’t talk much, doesn’t understand English and, as a matter of fact, doesn’t understand words. It doesn’t understand in the way we think of understanding. The correct brain is one that contains our history, our pain and our feelings; the brain that processes our deep feelings that can finally liberate us. It does understand feelings; we need to speak that language—one without words. We have to convince the brain that spouts words and ideas that it is necessary to go back to early life and a world devoid of intellectuality (kids are not intellectual as yet), and relive feelings—that lack of love—that were too much to feel at the time. We have to convince that thinking brain to let go, let the lower brain systems emerge and breathe the air of freedom. It can be done; cure can be accomplished. But only by stealth, not by deliberation. Feelings have to creep up on us, not be sought out. It has to be a therapy of nuance, of subtleties, of flexibilities and lack of domination; that is, it cannot be a therapy of experts because the only expert is the patient. The doctor has to let go of any notion of superiority. Even keeping the patient waiting for a session is a sign of superiority, which I do not tolerate in our therapy: it says “I am more important than you and my time is more valuable”. And while you are trying to get back some self-esteem, the doctor lowers it by keeping you waiting. It is subtle but there. And above all, we need to get rid of any time constraints that force a crying patient in the midst of her feelings to leave and wait until the next session.

We do not touch the patient when she needs to feel unloved; we touch her when the pain is so excruciating that we need to lower its force so it can be experienced and integrated. It is one means of keeping the patient in the primal/feeling zone. If the therapist cannot feel he cannot distinguish the difference and will touch at the wrong time or in the wrong way. Patients can sense when they are being touched out of the needs of the therapist and not their own needs.

When a therapist cannot tolerate the patient's suffering she may touch to ease the pain, and thereby ruin the session because it kept the patient from feeling all of his pain. The therapist may be acting out her own need for touch and caress in her own early life. Watching the patient writhing may bring up great pain in herself, setting off her own feelings, forcing her to stop the patient from feeling.

So the therapy can go wrong when the therapist has not resolved a good piece of her own pain. And none of that can be taught: when trainees take notes all of the time it usually means that they cannot feel what is right and need intellectual signs of what to do. This is a therapy that cannot be done by the numbers. It is a matter of sensing, intuition, and instinct…plus a soupcon of training…a lot of training.


The more painkillers a woman takes during labor the more likely her child will be to abuse drugs or alcohol later on. Karin Nyberg of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, looked at medication given to the mothers of 69 adult drug users and 33 of their siblings who did not take drugs (Nyberg, et al., 2000). Twenty-three percent of the drug abusers were exposed to multiple doses of barbiturates or opiates in the hours just before birth. Only three percent of their siblings were exposed to the same levels of drugs in utero. If the mother received three or more doses of drugs, her child was five times more likely to abuse drugs later on in life. Enough animal studies have been done to confirm the finding—exposure to drugs in the womb changes the individual's propensity for drugs later on.

There is some evidence that a mother taking downers during pregnancy will have an offspring who later will be addicted to amphetamines, known as “uppers” (speed) (Jacobson, et al., 1988); while a mother taking uppers during pregnancy—coffee, cocaine, caffeinated colas, may produce an offspring later addicted to downers—Quaaludes, for example. And the reason that the person can take inordinate doses, such as drinking two cups of coffee before bedtime and still be able to sleep easily, is that there exists a major deficiency of stimulating hormones—the catecholamines. In short, the original set points for activation or repression have been altered during womb-life and persist for a lifetime.

I have treated patients who have taken enormous doses of speed and yet have shown very little mania as a result. While other patients of mine have taken lethal doses of painkillers in previous suicide attempts, enough to kill anyone else, and yet still lie awake hours later, only feeling slightly drugged. The severe brain activation by imprinted pain resists any attempts to quell the system.

Jacobson, B., Nyberg, K., Eklund, G., Bygdeman, M., Rydberg, U. (1988) Obstetric pain medication and eventual adult amphetamine addiction in offspring. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 67:677-682.

Nyberg, K., Buka, S.L., and Lipsitt, L. (2000). Perinatal Medication as a Potential Risk Factor for Adult Drug Abuse in a North American Cohort. Epidemiology 11(6):715-716.


  1. Dr. Janov,

    Soo true: “Patients can sense when they are being touched out of the needs of the therapist and not their own needs.”

    Some therapists patronize the patient to ease their own uprising feelings. They need to keep their superiority.
    Further, they rely also on the patient's need for love which they use (unconsciously) to keep the authoritarian gab. Feeling now empowered, the Therapist knows if he/she hugs the patient (pretending to provide empathy) she/he is coming back for more. The cycle of codependency is complete. The insecure (needy) therapist has a reward and the patient believes she/he is loved.
    Ohhh, how often have I heard a victim telling me “I love my therapist”. What they didn’t realize is, that there is no healing progress - they are snared.

    1. Hi Sieglinde,

      That's what happened to me with my bodywork therapist. Unfortunately his methodology also helped me to my true feelings and I had to leave knowing (instinctively) that there was something seriously wrong with the 'Transference'.
      Briefly, my therapist would not share his own agenda, believed it was not appropriate, showed signs of his own negative emotions in the face of my behaviour (ie: could not separate himself from me) and thus confirmed his 'organisational belief' in the 'transference' and the 'counter-transference' as the main vehicle of the therapeutic alliance. In short he exposed his own (and his organisations') ignorance and the 'self fulfilling' inevitability of the 'one sided' alliance.

      Paul G.

    2. Paul: It is exactly why I teach my patients everything I do and why. I want to arm them so they can finally and later do it on their own without me. It should never be a mystery about what we do. art

    3. Hi Paul,
      “…leave knowing (instinctively) that there was something seriously wrong with the 'Transference'.”
      You knew there was something not right, you were aware –your defenses worked.

      I just had a feeling I could not explain – I had no words for it – I could not connect feelings with words. I just felt manipulated and resented. When I had this feeling of being snared, I did what I did as a child – I walked away from the “danger”.
      The last time I saw the female therapist I broke up the session because she wanted me “to leave the past behind” and blamed me saying: “you are defiant and refuse to cooperate”.
      I just reached the parking lot when a nauseating feeling connected me with the past and I became conscious that she uses the same method as my mother did: manipulation – shifting the blame toward me.
      Sitting in the car crying, pounding the dashboard out of hate, I was unable to drive for an hour.
      Both, my mother and the therapist disregarded my feelings, my pain - and therefore me as an individual.
      I just don’t fit into the common cognitive therapy frame.

    4. Sieglinde, how long ago did that happen? At least you were able to get angry and to cry.
      I have come to understand that experiences like that are inevitable for some of us who really need to make contact with our true feelings. In psychotherapy or counselling where the therapist has not had a lot (several years at least) of their own 're-living' experiences then it is inevitable that the best the therapist can do is 'bolster up' a crumbling ego and provide a handkerchief, how could they 'know how' to do any different?

      The more I read of Arts' books and listen to peoples' words on this blog the more I realise how profound Primal is and how grossly misguided the vast majority of us all are / were / will continue to be.

      This perception is a burden, not to be born alone.

      People who are 'getting results' in any of the multitudinous therapies out there are merely building a newly modified false self. I never realised how facile the human personality is, even though I have studied and trained in personality typing for years.

      It's dire really. From the extensive personality training I have done and from the many people I have met and know who have been through psychotherapy I can categorically say I have not yet met one who has 'broken through' to their true feelings. Not one ( and I live in therapy centre of the universe by the way). On the contrary and in horror I am confronted by people who present their personality even more 'mechanically' than before they started therapy, they speak the script of their therapists.

      It's awful.

      Paul G.

    5. Hi Paul G.
      Thanks for the well wishes – I’m almost “normal” again.
      You say: “Nor do I want to come over the 'know all' about my symptoms,”.
      I know what you are saying, still – it is you who know what you feel – you know what you need.
      This, so I believe, makes you the “expert”.
      It would be interesting to hear what the doctor is saying about Serotonin testing. Nearly every doctor (except ONE) offered pills it, before I'd even finished explaining my symptoms. Using your words, because they fit so perfectly.

      Hi planespotter,
      Very interesting that you think it was the 8 years on Zeroxat that made you more confident and when the artifical support went away so did the "chemical confidence" .
      So we can say the pills have not helped healing the core pain.
      I was the opposite: as long as I was on Welbutrin or Effexor, I felt defenseless. This was the time I never told the doctors how I really felt - defenseless, but always on the edge. Maybe because I’m a parasympath!? This would be a good study point – if a sympath or parasympath reacts different to the same SSRI. My hunch is, we react (hormone imbalance) according to our set-points (imprint). For this reason nobody should have antidepressants before a serotonin/dopamine and cortisol tests.

    6. Hi Paul G.
      This happened in 2001, the last time I saw a cognitive therapist.
      You say: “At least you were able to get angry and to cry.”
      The reason I was able to cry was I was off Effexor for one year. Yes I did cry and acted out, but not until I was away from the “stone face”. This is what I called the therapist.

      Paul, this is what I felt too: I am horrified when I am confronted by people who present their personality even more 'mechanically'.

      Many years ago I wrote a short story, how people in deep psychological pain were treated by robots.
      In the story I described a child, who was pulled by two people (one a therapist the other a psychiatrist) into the side door of a van. The child stamped her hands and feet against the van’s frame, while these two yelled and pulled from the inside of the van - you must come with us to get better.
      This is how I felt in 2001.

      Like you, I have learned much from Dr. Janov's books – but not only LEARNED – I’m conscious now and understand that my feelings 15 years ago were the same as today. I’m a wounded child who needs healing – not training.

    7. Sieglinde: How soon we grow old, how late we grow schmart. art

  2. Art: I find this blog to be one of your better ones but I feel you have blogged this before. I do get the feeling that many in the feeling comminity believe that talking about their feelings or writng about it is (sort of) having their feeling. I am aware that talking about it can often be the 'Royal road to the feelings;' but it needs an experinced therapist to guide that to the feeling.

    My experince is that the nature of feelings is so far away from the rational/intellectual/logical brain that unless one has experience what you initially called "a reliving event" then there is the tendency to try and figure it all out through the intellectual modality.

    It is for this reason that I feel searching for answers through science will never allow for an insight as to what constitutes a "full feeling event".

    I have no idea how one might trancend this left brain "figuring" and perhaps it explains simply why the health care proffession is totally unable to listen to you;' much less follow you. If you have an idea how this might be a achieved I would love to read about it.

    Meantime, I am left with my own feelings whenever I can ... and to keep to a minimum my left brain fuctions.


    1. Jack: I explain a bit of this in my new blog....coming up soon.....on the new diagnostic manual. art janov

  3. I’d like to ask, Dr. Janov, since the stem does not talk as you say, at least not directly, who is that silent observer that Erickson speaks of, that can at least write and is not detected by the hypnotized individual? That Silent or hidden observer seems to be in control and out of reach of the cortex or conscious part that is hypnotized.

    Further, I can’t imagine anyone suggesting the stem can be healed by the intellect, but the intellect can produce or negotiate more constructive and useful behavior if one really wants that. It has been done many times for many centuries and millennia. Producing better behavior can have many rewards, including pain killing of not even narcotic high effects on the mind, accomplishing a sort of peace, even is the cauldron continues to boil in the stem. I do not see this as such a bad thing at all. The intellect and long-term, broad vision that escape the notice and resonance with the stem, are critical to detecting dangers not set off by resonance.

    So I am not arguing that you have the solution to relieving the stem directly, accomplishing a great peace than the intellect might do, but it does not negate that an acceptable separate peace can be had by other means, when yours is so hard to reach, for many reasons.

    You insist its either your way or none at all. That is dogmatic and authoritarian, which Peter Prontzos did not speak well of in regards to conservatives. Your position would seem more credible if you were more reasonable in accepting that some other possibilities and choices exist and have some merit. Your dogmatic denial of any other option or benefit is most unbecoming of anyone claiming to be a broad minded professional and scientist.

    It even seems to suggest a fear of admitting anything else. Fear is never a good manifestation. Something to consider. I hate to inflame, but it is said in the bible that fears causes a restraint but perfect love castes fear outside into the darkness. Fear is not productive and is inhibitive. My 2 cents for what it is worth.

    1. Hi Appollo,

      -"So I am not arguing that you have the solution to relieving the stem directly, accomplishing a great peace than the intellect might do, but it does not negate that an acceptable separate peace can be had by other means, when yours is so hard to reach, for many reasons"-.

      Sorry, too many double and triple negatives, I don't get it.

      Or maybe I do. . . Fear of not knowing the unknown as a substitute for plain old fear of the unknown. Apollo, you cannot think your way out of paranoia. Just like you can't really have a peace riot or make savings on a "low interest bank loan". You seem to be constantly re-framing Primal into a cognitive laborynth; you're making Primal a possession of your 3rd line. You can't 'own' feelings, you can only take responsibility for them by allowing yourself to have them. I should imagine Jack must be turning purple by now. Nevertheless apollo I do love your input, keeps me on my toes.

      Paul G.

    2. apollo, feelings are OBVIOUS.

      listen, your BRAIN is like an ELBOW; it can be forced to bend in a thousand different directions, but only one of those directions is correct. if your elbow has been bent in the wrong direction for too long, your entire arm can go numb. you will not be able to feel the problem.

      how do you know when your elbow is bending in the right direction? does it FEEL right? does it FEEL obvious? of course it does.

      a cognitive therapist tried to twist my arm. he said, "how can ONE therapist be right while all the others are wrong? that's ridiculous!"

      he wanted to bend my 'elbow' in the kindest possible way, but he was saying, "how can one direction be right while all the others are wrong? that's ridiculous!"

      he was very intelligent and very dumb/numb

  4. "Thank god for religion"

    About religion as psychotropic drugs! "We can thank God for religion"... BUT if people had understood what the function of religion was then the primal therapy would have been discovered long ago... I mean if you could have understood the reason why religion has such a dominant role then primal therapy is the only thing who could "explain" it.

    If we look at what religion causes today without getting its explanation... it's the same thing as give it all right for what it also causes... to keep people in a social inconsistent.

    We can explain this today and we must by all means also try to help these people out of their fettered existence.

    Religion is not a divinely gifted phenomenon further in view of the primal therapeutic process... science is available... religion is more like a "devils" tool when people become entrenched in their socially schizophrenic state as the knowledge of primal therapy's existence is available.

    We must stand up for science… even if we get beheaded for it... it seems to be the lot of man in the question of getting further knowledge of humans existens... I am particularly thinking of Copernicus disciples they were burned at the stake for assisting him... for science that were later confirmed.

    If we have to be burned at the stake or not it remains to be seen… but we have much to be said in the name of science.

    We know what it is to be pronounced like an idiot in the sense of what science talks and we will continue to be idiots to the day we are successful in our bid.


  5. Art!

    "Why can’t any therapy help patients with their feelings? One good reason is that they are talking to the wrong brain—the brain that thinks rather than the one that feels. Unfortunately the correct brain, the right brain and lower brain, doesn’t talk much, doesn’t understand English and, as a matter of fact, doesn’t understand words. It doesn’t understand in the way we think of understanding"

    What you describe here above is also the reason why we lose our minds when we delicious feelings out of control... without any possibility to keep the suffering in place... place for a primal therapeutic process to take place.


  6. Part 1

    On the second part of the blog. I feel that yet again there is a Chicken and Egg situation here. Dr Brazelton's famous filming of 2 generations of young Mothers and how they held their new born and the fact that each holds the baby how they were held, suggests that Motherhood is learned and not inherited which tends to support the mantra "Mother knows best" ie that Mum is going to treat her child as she wishes so she does not have to feel her early pain.

    If this is the case and also the fact that some Mothers become physcotic during and after pregnancy then this would suggest that they are feeling early pain. Thus I would argue that a young Mother about to give birth is about to also give birth to her pain and therefore the baby is almost like a foreign body inside her not unlike deep seated pain. This sense of being unwanted is going to be all pervasive at a cellular level I am sure. If many people fight to keep the pain repressed then could not the Mothers body be conflicted during birth. The real self and body needs to physiologically give birth and yet the false self does not want the rise of the pain and the permanancy of the pain when confronted by the new born. Thus great tension arises and say preaclampsia develops.

    A Mother in Primal Pain as well as birth pain which may not be so great if she is happy and relaxed is going to need pain killers. Therefore yes the pain killers may cause the child to become addicted in later life but this is probably minor compared to the suffering of the baby pre-birth as it picks up the Mothers antipathy to it as well as experiencing the Mothers hatred and lack of love after birth. Yes the painkillers will be picked up as killers of that pain by the body of the baby. However the baby needs the pain to kill to, need to become addicted, so the pain killers are a symptom and not the cause and I thought PT was about treating the imprint/cause and not the symptoms? So a study shows that 23 percent of drug users are more likely to develop drug habits if the Mother took pain killers, which shows that 77 percent developed drug habits without being exposed to pain killers. It would seem to me that the result is more interesting in positing the question why the 77 percent developed a drug habit without the early exposure to pain killers which suggests good old Primal pain is perhaps the key. Thus are the scientists looking for another reason rather than looking directly at the real reason so how good is this bit of research. It seems rather dishonest and rather blind to the facts.

  7. Part 2

    What happened to these neurotic Mothers before there were powerful pain killers? Would they have have given birth to happy easy going babies. I don't think so. If one looks at a publication such as Lloyd de Mausses "The history of childhood" it is a catalogue of child abuse throughout history with the number of physcotics actually declining over the centuries. What about the findings that illustrate that a child is more likely to become physcotic later in life if that child is born within 18 months of it’s older sibling. The reason being is that the Mother is churning the kids out as quickly as possible and treats the younger child as the same age as the older one. We all see how much more aggressive and unpredictable puppy’s are when bred in puppy farms rather than in caring small scale breeders.

    My sister was almost on drugs before her first child. Happy and easy going is a poor description. She was as high as kite on happiness in that deep down she was going to have a baby and that baby would love her, not that she knew that is what she felt. As the birth approached and she perhaps started to remember subconsciously the horrors that happened to her, so developed preaclampsia and nearly died during the birth. She then developed dreadful postnatal depression which she kept to herself and turned into a really horrific person simply trying to hide from her early pain. Bossy, domineering and completely lacking in any empathy while looking for it from her daughters. It will be interesting though sad to see if my nieces develop drug addictions. Their Father drinks like a fish and I suspect that will be their drug of choice. I also think that Contempt and Superiority are often powerful drugs of the mind.

    I have a cousin who does not smoke who is having babies like other people shell Peas. Why is she doing that? So they can love her. They are only months apart and the little Boy loves lying in fluffy toys because of his lack of being touched. She left them to all cry out at night and screams and shouts at them. This a bomb waiting to happen and I am sure she was as anxious as hell when they were in her womb.

    I worry that all this searching for smoking related or pain killer related causes of drug addiction is a foil to so much parental caused pain. I am not dismissing it but am suggesting that everything seems very biased towards it which is perhaps issue avoiding.

  8. I had the privilege of talking-- Skyping, w/a Primal Therapist today, altho sadly the session quickly aborted, w/her morphing in fluorescent colour blocks w/a darth vader mask, lol. Despite that I felt her respect, evident as I searched for answers to her questions and a sense that the interview was the only thing on her mind at that time, her saying it would 'take as long as it needed, it may be an hour, it may be two hours'. Inviting me to settle in and get deep. Jacquie

  9. Hi Jack, I'm having a deja vu,

    -"My experience is that the nature of feelings is so far away from the rational/intellectual/logical brain that unless one has experience what you initially called "a reliving event" then there is the tendency to try and figure it all out through the intellectual modality"-.

    This is also my personal experience though I notice gradually my true feelings (and other peoples') are gaining a new 'folder' in my 3rd line, so to speak. But it is that way around. . . I mean, it is the constant pressure of my true feelings that is making a 'realistic' dent or foothold in the mountain of my mind. Never is it my cognition making allowances for true feelings. It seems to me the true changes that one makes in ones' 3rd line take a while to gestate, to 're-connect'. It is as if one is growing a new brain.

    -"I have no idea how one might transcend this left brain "figuring" and perhaps it explains simply why the health care profession is totally unable to listen to you;' much less follow you. If you have an idea how this might be a achieved I would love to read about it"-.

    The meditators say meditation transcends the ordinary mind and they're right except (and inevitably) it causes a by-pass from true feelings also. We know there are no easy answers. . . but I will say this: What we call culture in Europe also includes the development of psychoanalysis and that forms part of the symbolising we do to feel collectively involved in our societies. We are inexorably belonging to European Culture partly because of Freud, Young and all the rest. . . We are in Europe 'identified' with the symbolic representation of true feelings in our minds through the culturally acceptable 'mores' of our times and that includes psychoanalysis and the idea of an inner psychological content. The idea of it is mysterious is it not? That is exciting and stimulating to many is it not?

    So, one reason Janovian thinking and Primal Theory isn't catching on is because of the entrenched 'idea' of European symbolism.

    Furthermore WW1 & WW2 and the consequences of American intervention in the world had developed an anti American stance in Europe. "Over Sexed, Over Paid and Over Here". Remember that one? That is a big obstacle for Janovian Primal Theory to overcome I feel, In Europe every-one is fed up of America. . . Sad but true.

    Science is all we've got to test our hunches, so every-one relies on science and there's nothing any-one can do apart from educate and re-educate (ad nauseum if necessary) people to comprehend the real scientific technique of double blind controls from the 'random' use of pure statistics which is not the same. People need to be reminded therefore of the difference between good science and science that can be used to merely manipulate a passive audience.

    In the meantime I become increasingly wary of any-one exhibiting a 'cognitive' world view, that's nearly every-one. It surely can be lonely being true to yourself.

    Paul G.

  10. Hi not only therapists patronize their patients...but
    layman too,as I had to endure this weekend 1
    The mother of my deceased friend had no more to offer
    in regard to my complaints my feelings!! than with
    telling of the illnesses of some 6 or so of her
    Whereas my niece Sarah "only" listened and then asked
    the right question and -wow -my despair of the moment
    vanihed away (of course not for good)
    Thatis the difference betwenn two "therapists"!
    Yours emanuel

  11. Paul, 'In Europe everyone is fed up of America'? Well, I for one am NOT! I am also very certain there are others in the whole of Europe, who are not. I know there might be some who only wish they could emigrate from Europe to live in the big U.S. of A. What a gross generalisation! Have you MET everyone in Europe? If you have NOT, then why make such a comment?

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I was exaggerating with words to make a real point.

      American foreign policy has a reputation for 'extreme self interest'. European Intelligentsia are very aware of this.

      European Psychology is heavily influenced by the Symbolism of Freud and Jung. The Intelligentsia who could promote Janov never would because they are anti American and many are also symbolists of the old school. This lot influence the medical establishment to a high degree through the mix of ART, CULTURE, HISTORY and of PSYCHE. These 'well to do types' all attend the same art galleries, read the same newspapers and live in the same well to do suburbs. Their kids attend the same schools and go to the same piano/ dance lessons.

      You will not find working class people in these circles.

      That is the point I was making, I hope you understand, though it is a depressing point. It was in response to Jacks' question about how to get the health care professionals to take PT seriously. They won't take it seriously. They have not the neural networks to do so and their 'friends' prejudice would not go along with it at all.

      Paul G

  12. Apollo
    An interesting piece you have written on this blog! I'm not sure about your last sentence which I thought was somewhat attacking Art but I very much agree with your thoughts about finding a peace including the intellect when, for whatever reason a person cannot have primal therapy. It is possible to help oneself as best we can without undergoing the therapy and, I know, it is possible to have a successful primal occasionally alone. I have had a few, not many, over the years. If there is no alternative. If, for instance, funds are lacking, I think it is better to find a safe place to do some of this work alone. It works. There are fast - flowing insights afterwards. Often no choice than to do it alone, as few understand it! It is not impossible. It does NOT drive one crazy!! Ok, better to do it at the primal Centre with a therapist but if there is no choice due to circumstances,then it is better to do it than not to, in my experience and opinion. There are other ways but I also believe that Art's trained therapists are the only ones who really understand anbd know the process. I know this from person experience. All the best to you. Don't be too sceptical about primal therapy. It works!

  13. To all.
    I am very frustrated by so much ignorance.
    About a month ago I had a breakdown after being a full time (24/7) caregiver to my ill husband for almost 3 years with no help.
    My vital signs were out of control, (temp 93.5, blood pressure over 168/99) even my blood sugar over 200. I went to my Physician for help. He recognized my condition and offered Effexor. I told him no, all I need is solitude and lots of sleep. He did a blood test and I assumed he would check my cortisol and serotonin.
    The hospice nurse (she is coming once a week for 2 months now) arranged that my husband was taken to an assisted -living house for 5 days, so I could rest. And I did. For 5 days I slept, eat and went to the bathroom – that’s all.
    After five days, my vitals were normal again and the doctor called me saying blood test results(from five days earlier)are all “normal” .
    Having, now, my brain back I asked what did you test? He answered: liver, kidneys and thyroid. Confused, I asked him, why didn't you test my cortisol level and serotonin, he answered he didn’t know he should. Then he said he can do a cortisol test, but he doesn’t know what to do with the results – and – he doesn’t know if there is such a thing as a serotonin test.
    I called the local SED Lab (related to Nichols Institute in CA) and delivered the test codes with instructions to him.
    Now the doctor agreed to do the test. I told him there is no more need for it, since my vitals are normal. He did not understand what I was saying and I responded very calmly - you need to do these tests when a person has a breakdown, not after. He again did not understand and I explained that he cannot just prescribe SSRI without knowing the serotonin level. I explained, if a patient has already low serotonin you cannot prescribe antidepressant, because some lower serotonin even more – the person will become suicidal. I know my explanation was out of his range of understanding, and he is known for handing out antidepressants like candies.
    My question to all is: did anybody on this blog ever try to ask a physician for a serotonin test? If yes, did the doctor know how to read them accurately and respond by taking proper actions?

    1. Hi Sieglinde, I wondered why you had gone quiet for a while.

      I am going for a psychiatric assessment next week. I appreciate your question because I know I need to ask the interviewer the same question. Amongst other questions.

      I don't really want pills. I will entertain their suggestion (which I anticipate is inevitable - that they will offer pills, probably before I've even finished explaining my symptoms).

      I will entertain the suggestion of taking pills because I don't want to alienate my interviewer. Nor do I want to come over the 'know all' about my symptoms, or the causes. After all, they're the experts. I hope you get better and I hope your husband has benefited from hospice care.

      Paul G.

      Paul G.

    2. Hi Sieglinde

      Glad to hear you are on the mend and got some rest and your husband got some help from someone else.

      A fascinating piece. I find that if I am starting to "break" I find somewhere to sleep. It does help. It is interesting to hear someone describe how they recognise they are heading for a breakdown. I like to call them my break throughs because they bring useful stuff to the surface.

      I have not asked my Doctor for a seratonin test. I was however given an ssri in 1997 (Zeroxat) and was on it for 8 years. I did not feel suicidal though it prompted me to drink more alcohol. Eventually my Doctor persuaded me to come off it and it was then I had a huge breakdown I think as Art predicted in The Primal Scream or Primal Healing I think. The Dam burst because the artificial girders went away. WHAT I do find interesting is how over the 8 years I had become more confident in my dealings with people so when the artifical support went away so did the "chemical confidence". I was back to the scared little Boy never allowed to stand up for himself and it is far tougher to try and get on with life from that position even if more honest.

    3. I like the bit about a therapist making someone wait outside the office so the therapist can feel more important. I had a client like that. He was the MD and both the Marketing Director and myself had to wait outside his office for a meeting. I said that it was like waiting outside the headmasters office at school. The guy used to also walk out of a meeting to make a phone call. I was lucky to be able to recognise it and just find it funny and rather pathetic.

  14. A facebook comment:"Art, a reminder psychiatrists practice medicine-- they use diagnosis to prescribe medication, incl dose. I think this counts, in part, for the plethora of diagnosis in the manual and why they are based on days etc. They want to be accurate (in their treatment). I talked about Primal in some depth w/the Clin' Dir of the MH ward where I did my (hospital) prac, he (an MD) sees psychiatric/MH issues just like any other medical problem, a faulty heart for eg, and believes that particularly w/badly afflicted (psych) patients, they are born that way. Here you & he may agree, altho I think he would say it's genetic whereas w/Primal we see it may develop in the womb, as well as then cause genetic changes. I suggest you look for the points of similarity and address the med profession that way? I hope you know me well enough by now to know I'm not defending psychiatrists. "

    1. And my answer: You know I have tried for years to put myself in positive relations with the other parts of the field. It never worked and they are simply not interested. If y ou can show me where we have something in common I will happily take it on. art

  15. An email comment:"Hi, Art thanks for writing this. I really liked what you said, about respecting the patient. What is clear to me is that in many ways primal therapy, is a "happening", not a doing. Those that try to make feelings happen, only create frustration. Their so called techniques become obstacles, hindering, rather than helping. Feelings happen, often spontaneously, if the right atmosphere and presence are there, in my own experience I only need to be available to them. Trying to make them happen is a good indicator that something is wrong."

  16. "When a therapist cannot tolerate the patient's suffering she may touch to ease the pain, and thereby ruin the session because it kept the patient from feeling all of his pain. The therapist may be acting out her own need for touch and caress in her own early life."

    I wonder if it may be a similar situation for the therapist when dealing with a patient's anger? If the therapist has unresolved anger of his/her own they will find it difficult to allow the patient full expression of theirs. They would then exclude from their practice, patients who are in the throes of "letting out" the full uninhibited anguish and rage against those who perpetrated the deprivations that require this healing. Allowing it's necessary full expression. The therapist more than anything needs to be intuitive and resolved of their own anger to do so. I also wonder if a predominantly right brained therapist who has never integrated well into our left brain culture (academically with formal education) might in fact be the more effective "feeling" therapist? ie, using the axioms or interventions learned in applying technique as more of a general guide while relying mainly on going with their innate intuitiveness in working successfully with the patient? Feelings being right brain as you say.

    1. Wally: So why aren't you a therapist? art

    2. Hi Wally and Art, I agree,

      It is becoming obvious to me that the conventional "therapeutic alliance" using the transference and counter-transference as the mainstay of the relationship between patient and therapist, is a notion that could only continue to make sense to a 'therapist' who has become 'fixated' (stuck) in their own partial healing. It is a symptom, an act out, not a healing relationship.

      I'm far from healed but what little healing I am experiencing is proving to me that I am becoming less fixated and therefore less "INTERESTED", less "INVESTED" in other peoples' pain and story. Oddly, very oddly I feel, FEEL much more in tune with others. I seem to have more empathy. I could even become a therapist and share this 'great discovery' with others. . . How interesting and nice but I know I've a very long way to go before I could help some-one else.

      So, I am concluding that unless a therapist has got a long way into their true feelings what you are doing by getting to know them in their therapy room is effectively colluding with their own partial insight. It is actually all about them! You, their patient, are actually inducing a lie in which you have to believe you are getting better because you are paying them willingly for their 'friendship'. This 'friendship', this 'alliance' is more like a seduction. No matter how much insight is 'shared' in this so called 'supportive alliance'; neither of the two of you are really approaching your true feelings; you both are 'skirting around'; both of you are playing a seduction game. 5 years and £10,000 later you have to believe you've made progress because to admit the seduction would be to admit your own deceit and defeat.

      Who likes to admit they paid way too much for sex with a prostitute? (when they thought the other was a lover) and in the end it wasn't even consummated, there was no penetration, no access to true feelings?
      Am I being too strong here? No, because as Jack says "When you've had a few re-living experiences" (his words) -you just don't 'need' that type of seduction relationship any-more (my words). If you havn't been able to really break down and let go in the therapy room with your therapist it is not your fault, it is because the therapist has not gone to the same hell in themselves. It IS that simple, that is how deep empathy works, that is what I am experiencing, more true feelings = more empathy, real empathy.

      I'm now completely convinced. There is utterly no point in studying why 200,000 therapists in America (and another 100,000 in Europe) are playing a seduction game for money. Spend any spare money on Primal research and training instead.

      Sincerely Paul G.

    3. Wally
      I agree to: “Allowing it's necessary full expression.”

      We would not have the problems we have if the therapist would have felt their own pain, - but they didn’t.

      Any person in pain cannot endure another person's pain.
      When the therapist has an emotional overload, he/she is nearly forced to control the client – that is what he/she has learned.
      Besides, all settings (therapist's offices) I have attended were not set up for emotional expressions - meaning, be quiet, another client is on the other side of the wall.

      Psychology has not yet understood that dealing with trauma requires more than 20 small cubicals and a small couch on one floor with a person who gives control-instruction.
      I compared it once with doing a heart surgery in the middle of an airport.

    4. Hi,

      I will add that my therapist is a very nice man who was supportive. But I wish he were just a friend or colleague. I have to forgive him for the constraints the governing body puts onto him; 50 mins etc.

      But really Arts padded, sound proofed low lit rooms and my therapists' elegant drawing room are worlds apart. There was no way I could have "let go" in that drawing room, even on the futon under a nice rug. . . I could hear other people coming and going outside and a family screaming at each other in the house next door!

      Jesus Christ!

      Paul G.

    5. Hi Paul,
      May I comment to: “I will add that my therapist is a very nice man who was supportive.”

      At first glance, all the therapists I know were very “nice” people. No problem there, I would have had lunch with all of them.
      However, their empathy was limited to what they have “learned” (cognitive guidance and control and analytical (often false) labeling) without having a true insight, which is at the end not helpful.
      What the traumatized person needs is healing of the wounds (imprint). Exactly this they could not provide, - ergo, a waste of time and money in addition to another load of feeling not understood and remaining helpless.

      Why do we see a therapist? Certainly not because they are nice people.

  17. Wally, you are so right about a therapist needing to be resolved of their own anger to help a person express their anger. In 1973, I saw a so-called Reichian therapist doing private practice in his own home. He never REALLY helped me but I felt very involved with him. However it was a wasted 3 years of my life because when I REALLY felt my anger towards my father and his violence the man pushed me to the floor on my knees and repeatedly punched my head face first into the floor. From what he told me he had huge anger towards his mother (and women generally)and found it intolerable that I, a woman could feel anger towards my father (a man). It was very strange. I was invited on Kilroy's programme and was one of the key speakers on the subject of Bad Therapy in 1994. There were a lot of people there. It was televised. A lot of people have suffered at the hands of untrained conventional AND alternative therapists. What came out was exactly what you have said on this blog, that unless a therapist, male or female,has resolved his/her own anger he will not allow any of his patients to feel or express theirs. I am actually very wary of any so - called -'reichian' therapist for I have met some in this country (England) who have been quite almost psychopathically mad or "driven." In truth, dangerous is a word I would use!

  18. Paul,
    Are you lucky enough to be having therapy at The Primal Centre yet? It sounds as if you may already be there. Some of the people on this blog are going in the Autumn, such as Jacquie and Sieglinde, and if you are not already there, I hope you will be soon. All the best to you! What you said about the therapy environment is really true and it is one of the worries I might have if I (eventually) make it to the Centre, which is how hard it could be to have your feelings and 'let go' if you're surrounded by people. Surely the feeling of safety in place is a factor which bodes unwell for people living in flats. I hope you got your housing problem sorted out.

    1. Anonymous: We are going to try to help those who really need the therapy and don't have all the money. We hope to figure out a way to contribute one third or half for those who cannot make it. art

    2. Art!

      The cost of primal therapy would probably be overcome by loans and grants ... but the cost for us who come from countries outside the U.S... livelihood for residential... food and with the guarantees that the U.S. rules require are enormous.

      When will you make a new attempt to start up an institute in europe? It may is time now.


    3. Today I do not care about how people look... do or what would otherwise make me like them. Today I know what they do... that is what they do... because they not "want" to feel why they do what they do.

      What is more interesting… is what conditions people have to be “present” in the primal therapeutic process. The beauty in us people are in the conditions we have to get to the "voice" with ourselves... ourselves in the primal therapeutic process... it is where love of life can make itself known. I need that!

      No I'm not a therapist but I do everything I can for them to come to Sweden.


    4. Frank: Well I am never going to try again. We are very busy in Santa Monica right now so I think that is the end of my attempts. We are right now developing a plan to help patients pay for the therapy. You will have to meet us halfway but we will help. art

    5. It sounds a good plan, Art, which you have just mentioned! I am wondering also about what Frank from Sweden mentioned about the cost for accommodation. (Frankly, buying and cooking your own food can't be more expensive than it is in the U.K.) I was just imagining that for people who will find the cost of a motel or apartment expensive, what about the idea of...has anyone considered sharing with another new patient -an apartment? Also there is a 'homestay'scheme in some countries for visitors from abroad.Or maybe a 'house sit' situation? These are just ideas for alternate possibilities but I don't know how they might fit in or not with the therapeutic process.

    6. Anonymous: We do have people who often share apts. art There is a bulletin board at the Center.

  19. It sounds a good idea, Art! Thank you for your help about this. It certainly makes the possibility of my coming to your Centre more possible and not just a dream. I have already sent my application to the office some time ago.

  20. Art, what is the latest plan on your idea of helping patients to come who don't have enough money, please? As greatly as I believe the primal Centre needs and should have full payment for therapy from all intending patients I just wonder if there is any help for people who really need the therapy and what this should amount to, please. I hope, by the way, that you have good news on the health front. I had a friend who had a similar treatment in Holland with stem cells and she made a dramatic and permanent recovery.

    1. Anonymous: Yes, we are going to help those who cannot afford the whole amount. So apply or write to france at the center. I will go back to texas for shots into the throat in the few months. art

    2. Hallo, Art!
      Good luck with your treatment in texas. It sounds unpleasant but I hope it will be successful. By the way, I DID apply quite a long time ago but I never hear back and so presume it's the money or LACK of it that is the reason for this.
      Thanks for the suggestion anyway.


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.