Friday, July 20, 2012

Dislocation of the Mind

Once feelings are blocked from conscious-awareness, any belief system can fill the bill. No matter how outlandish the belief, it will be adopted if it serves to symbolically fulfill old needs. The trajectory of the belief system begins deep in the brainstem and in ancient parts of the limbic system where devastating imprints are stored. The pressure/energy moves upward to cortical centers and forward to the orbitofrontal cortex (“OBFC”).

The right OBFC is doing its best to contain the pressure, but some of it escapes and travels to its ultimate destiny—the left prefrontal area. But because the need/feeling is partially blocked, the actual context of the pain cannot be connected. The result is a vague pressure from the feelings on the left side. It then concocts ideas about those needs/pains—God will watch over and protect me. These ideas are the wrappings for the pain that provide symbolic fulfillment. That is why the exact nature of the need/pain is not known. But if we strip away the covering, the pain mounts to the surface immediately. The symbolism slips in before the pain can become conscious. Its function is defense, and that is why it can be “far out”. It is dealing with a mysterious internal reality without even knowing what that internal reality is. The deeper and more powerful the pain/need, the more abstract and abstruse the ideation and belief. The ideas may be crazy, but the feelings are not. If the ideas are challenged, the person will continue to defend them with one rationale after another—all to keep reality at bay.

A study by a team of researchers from a number of universities, including Princeton and Harvard, found that faith in a placebo changed the brain’s neural activity, specifically altering the activity of those circuits that process pain and diminish its intensity (Wager, et al., 2004). Another team found that just thinking you are receiving treatment is enough to make you feel better (Zubieta et al., 2005). When subjects were given pills that were neutral but told they were painkillers, there were changes in the brain exactly as though they had received real painkillers, and a significant increase in the secretion of endorphins—the morphine-like pain-killing chemical in our brains. That is why patients in conventional insight therapy feel better and imagine they have made improvement. The fact is they do feel better. The effect is neurobiological. And that is why almost any therapy is addicting. It is identical to going to a doctor for a shot of morphine (endorphin is an analogue of morphine). The wonderful thing about this is that the injection is painless and done without benefit of a needle. A kind, attentive look by a therapist and there are squirts of morphine secreted in the brain. Implicit is that the doctor is going to make you feel better, and of course you do. We think the therapy did it but, in fact, the thought of what the therapy can do is what accomplished it. In contrast, what we offer in our therapy is pain, not as end in itself, but as a necessity for getting well.

Placebos work on the same areas of the brain that process pain. Many of the same areas of the brain that respond to pain also respond to mere expectations of pain, and expectations of less pain (how the therapy is going to help you) yield as much relief as less pain—the effect is neurobiological and real (Meissner, et al., 2011). In other words, how we respond to pain depends in great part on what we believe about it. So in a cognitive therapy that alters how one perceives pain there is bound to be a lessened response to it. Thus one can quell the pain of childhood by adopting a different perspective.

Placebo reactions are a good example of denial. Through someone else’s ideas, we can be so removed from ourselves that we completely deny an agonizing experience. That is not only the case with cognitive therapy; it mirrors how some of us grew up, in a kind of cognitive milieu. We were denying pain and getting on with life. Denying agony is not the same as being out of it. There is believing…believing in healing…and then there is real healing.

What we see again and again is how beliefs can diminish the experience of pain. When someone gives up drugs or alcohol and adopts new beliefs, his brain accommodates just as if he were still on drugs.

According to a 1990 Gallup survey of 1,200 American adults, one in four believed in ghosts. One in six had communicated with someone deceased, and one in four said they could communicate telepathically (through their mind). One in ten claimed to have seen a ghost or been in the presence of one. One in seven said they had seen a UFO. One in four believed in astrology, and fifty percent believed in extrasensory perception. In a 2005 Harris poll only twenty two percent of Americans believed that we evolved from earlier species. Fifty four percent thought that we did not evolve from earlier species. Forty eight percent believed that Darwin’s theory of evolution was not correct. Two thirds of the population polled believed that human beings were created by God.

The number and kind of belief systems is limitless. So long as beliefs are not anchored in oneself and in one's feelings, they can take off and encompass all sorts of delusional notions. The prefrontal cortex when separated from other aspects of memory (the disconnection) can soar into the delusional stratosphere without boundary. This applies to the most intelligent of us, including scientists who, disciplined in their own fields, once disconnected from their feelings, can believe in the most irrational of philosophies and psychotherapies, approaches that have not one ounce of proof about them. Once unhinged from feelings, anything is possible, and intelligence has nothing to do with it. Normally, the left brain harbors the critical faculties that can evaluate beliefs and test their reality. But now it is overwhelmed in dealing with right brain forces and cannot put its critical faculties to work.

Dr. Martin Teicher, a brain specialist at Harvard University, confirms a strong connection between trauma and brain impairment: “Severe early stress and maltreatment produces a cascade of events (that) alter brain development” (Teicher, et al., 2002), one result of which is “attenuated development of the left neocortex, hippocampus and amygdala” and their interconnections. A major consequence of the deprivation of love early in life is weakened communication between lower centers of the brain and higher control areas, and thus a disconnection between deep feelings on the one hand, and one’s “conscious” reality of thoughts and beliefs and behavior on the other, which may be shaped by the former without the person ever knowing what “drives” her.

It is easy to become entangled in a mesh of thoughts that bind us, the more labyrinthine the better—hence the attraction of insight therapy. One is now a captive of those beliefs, and he enters into his slavery willingly, because this slavery is also an important defense. If fascism were ever to come to America, it would no doubt come by popular vote, not by autocratic edict. We would slip into unquestioning obedience to the leader gladly for it would relieve us of having to think for ourselves. He would protect us from the evil “out there”. I am reminded of those who dive for sharks in steel cages. They have no freedom of movement but it is a fact that the sharks cannot get to them. Their steel cage is their defense and their prison. Chemical prisons are just as strong as those steel ones. They allow for few alternatives in behavior. Beliefs are the psychic equivalent of repression. We can rechannel the flow but we will not change the volcanic activity. We can cap the explosion with ideas, but there is always a danger of another eruption; sometimes it is in the form of a seizure, other times it is found in being seized by a sudden realization—finding God and being born again.

One patient during a session began to get into an incest sequence. Halfway through horrific pain, he sat up and screamed, “I am saved!” He saw the hand of God reaching down to protect him. From what? Himself. His experience and feelings. He was saved by the idea of God, unless we really believe that someone up there was listening and really did reach down. The idea intruded itself into his awareness in order to stop the agony. He became aware to avoid full consciousness. The idea took the place of the pain. He could go no further into his archives of suffering. He came out of the feeling with a jolt. He came out of his past and into his present; that present defended him against his history. There was a sudden, abrupt shift from his right brain to his left, from internal focus to the external. And the pain did it all by itself; no willpower was involved. Instead of saying, “There is an automatic governor in my system that won’t let me feel too much pain,” he believed that there was divine intervention that stopped him from suffering. God became interchangeable with serotonin.

Meissner, K., Bingel, U., Colloca, L., Wager, T.D., Watson, A. and Flaten, M.A. (2011) The Placebo Effect: Advances from Different Methodological Approaches. Journal of Neuroscience 31(45):16117-16124

Teicher, M.H., Andersen, S.L., Polcari, A., Anderson, C.M., Navalta, C.P. (2002) Developmental neurobiology of childhood stress and trauma. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 25(2):397-426, vii-viii.

Wager, T.D., Rilling, J.K., Smith, E.E., Sokolik, A., Casey, K.L., Davidson, R.J., Kosslyn, S.M., Rose, R.M. and Cohen, J.D. (2004) Placebo-Induced Changes in fMRI in the Anticipation and Experience of Pain. Science 303(5661):1162-1167

Zubieta, J., Bueller, J.A., Jackson, L.R., Scott, D.J., Xu, Y., Koeppe, R.A., Nichols, T.E. and Stohler, C.S. (2005) Placebo Effects Mediated by Endogenous Opioid Activity on Opioid Receptors. Journal of Neuroscience, 25(34):7754 –7762


  1. Dr. Janov,

    Excellent and so true.
    Thank you for this clear explanation.

    I’m afraid the one in denial, the believer, the placebo taker will/cannot agree. Unfortunately exactly they are in the majority.


  2. It is impossible to answer the question of how to find consciousness when we seek consciousness without understanding the root cause that we seek... the answer lies in the personal tragedy resolution.

    Suffering the loss of love “consciousness”... will be asked to appear as human... human from a neurotic perspective since the pursuit of consciousness is a symptom that the majority of people suffering from and "medical science" corrects themselves into the joint.

    The democratic procedure… “the majority is always right” make science fade... relegated to the "happy hunting grounds" with the "professionals" companions as the ram… a terrible tragedy for humanity.


  3. “Any Belief System Can Fill The Bill”

    I have often wondered why I didn’t turn religious or became addicted to any other crazy idea. Deep in my brainstem and in the ancient parts of my limbic system, I had more than enough devastating imprints, which created a constant pressure to my cortical centers and forward to my orbitofrontal cortex. At a very early age, I decided not to believe my mother when she spoke in godly terms. I can still remember that specific moment in our kitchen, when my mom tried to indoctrinate / correct me with one of her religious quotes. I felt a stab of anxiety, which was close to the feelings, I later felt before an epileptic fit, and I thought; “I do not believe you, mom”. At this moment, a kind of anti belief was created.

    When I read the “Idiot” by Dostoevsky, I enjoyed his description of his “flashes / glimpses of pleasure and wonder, on the one hand, and the unbearable pain and violence on the other, which moments led to an extraordinary intensification of self-awareness”. His description gave me additional strength. Dostoevsky mentioned also in his unique wording how “the epileptic Muhammad’s faith, during the second before a fit, slipped in before the pain and helped him survey all the dwellings of Allah!”

    When I had developed epilepsy, I adopted within short a belief that one day I would find a remedy and discover the reason for my illness. This belief was part of my painkillers during many years until I in January 1980, for the first- time experience how a grand mal seizure turned into a birth primal. My belief / conviction / idea, that had been part of my wrapping for my pain, finally provided real fulfillment, when the exact nature of my needs / pain was revealed, and the cover was no longer needed. I was lucky to have had a belief system that both helped me to keep my pain at bay and to take me to my pain.

    I can understand if people in my surrounding consider that my ideas / beliefs / convictions about, for example, Primal Therapy and Rolfing have been “outlandish” / fanatic the way I spent my life in order to demystify my epilepsy and to relive my pain and experience how many of my neuroses dissolved when no longer needed. Now, I no more consider my original conviction to demystify my epilepsy as a belief. Today I feel satisfied and relaxed to understand that the reason for my fits was caused by my religious mother and her faith to give birth with pain.

    Knowing the physical and mental languages of pain which I have experienced over a long life, I have no hope in general to unwrap those with religious faith or other belief systems. Slowly, I understand that I have been “fortunate” patient with a pain / stigma which was as easy to identify as the epilepsy in my case. I have been favoured both to have had the talent and the resources to find someone with an ingenious idea how to reverse the evolution and capable and willing to communicate his findings.

    The hope I’m left with is that the next generations will learn and understand the biology of love and respect the right of their offsprings from the day of conception. I think that part of my successful demystification is due to that, I during 18 years have been the father of a girl who, by her mother, has been given an excellent life before birth and a subsequent smooth entrance into an interdependent world. Her life has been dominated by the fact that her needs have had a very high priority. With that basic attitude / habit it has been / is easy and natural to correct errors, and we have both learned and felt good.

    My daughter is an excellent example of the value of Art Janov’s liteature, which is a source that I have thus been able to enjoy both as a patient and as a guide for my daughter, so that she in the future may avoid a similar treatment.

    Jan Johnsson

    1. Hi Jan,

      Luckily, I seem to have developed that with my 9yr old daughter, though I struggle with her Mothers' beliefs and frequently wonder how better to handle them.

      I might not face my struggles so well if it were not for Arts books, this blog and some of your contributions. Thanks.

      Paul G.

  4. Hi Art (Bonjour),

    I have a question that I want to ask you, I am curious.

    I have been a primal patient, first in Venice many years ago, you were there, then later at the Primal Institute with Terry Curtis, then just with her when she left the Institute.

    After 2 divorces I finally found true love at the ripe old age of 57, a beautiful extraordinary woman with whom I feel a complete connection that never ceases to amaze me...she is an endless source of awe to me, and it is so easy to be with her, to be myself and for her to be herself. She is so real and so straight about her feelings, and true. And I had given up on relationships...when she appeared in my life.

    So the therapy must have worked, although for so many years I felt like the pain was bottomless, the deeper I went, the deeper it seemed I had to go, and it was gut wrenching. I also had trouble dealing with a generally speaking unfeeling world (where so many people do anything not to feel) because my family was so unfeeling. Anyway, I feel that I have reached a place in me where I can finally be happy and be myself, and love and be loved, and it is beyond amazing, even though it should be the norm for everyone. Thank you!

    Here is my question:
    In this piece you mention people's beliefs...I really have no belief systems of any kind, I just experience life as it is, with as few preconceptions as I can.
    But I had a couple of strange experiences (not beliefs, just experiences):

    Once, a long time ago when I was in my early twenties and way before the therapy, I was in San Francisco and desperate to find a job. I had been looking for 6 months, I was running out of money fast. One morning as I was looking at ads in the paper, something in my head distinctly "said" (I did not hear a voice as would a psychotic individual or a schizophrenic, I just "sensed" the words, difficult to explain): "you will find a job this afternoon". I had no prospects for that day. Then in the afternoon a job came to me, literally (someone whom I had contacted a few days before called and said they knew of an art studio that was looking for an artist). Bingo! what was that, that "told" me about the job? My subconscious? The tooth fairy? A little green alien? (just kidding of course) was strange.

    Another time, long after the therapy, I was working late on a project, when around 3:30 in the morning I "sensed" a woman's voice very distinctly "communicating" the following words (sounds really crazy I know) in French (I am from France originally): "Il faut te reposer tu vas avoir une grande epreuve"..."you must rest you are going to go through a great ordeal"
    The very next day I had an accident (car, someone moved to my lane and hit me almost head on). I was not injured except for some bruises but I was shocked and the car was totaled. Again did I create this, was it my unconscious/subconscious?...How could my subconscious cause someone to veer into my lane and hit me? And how would the tooth fairy know (ha ha)? A smart tooth fairy would have told me not to drive that day, I would think :)

    I have never been interested in what people call esp, I am only interested in art, nature and love, and that's all I need. I just want to know your opinion, where do these experiences fit, what are they?

    Again I have no belief systems...meaning I am open to look at reality without any prejudices. Most people have either strictly scientific or religious worldviews these days...I am definitively not religious, I hate religions.

    I have had a couple of other experiences (and dreams too) that were also startling in their "accuracy", at least it would seem. Who knows? It's not that important, just curious...

    1. I've been actively participating in primal therapy for over 30 years and I can say that I've had one unique experience at age 19 similar to what you describe. I had just been assigned to my company and platoon as a medic in Vietnam. The 2nd night I was with them we got into a firefight with one killed and two wounded. I called in the med-e-vac. After it all settled down I found myself in a state of panic. I looked at my hand and it was shaking. I was thinking there was no way I was going to live through this next 12 months. The next morning as we put on our gear with helmets and rifles, I looked at the single file line of marines walking in front of me
      when a voice from outside myself but still within me told me I was not going to die here ( in Vietnam ) and that I had important things I still had to do with my life. It was my mother's voice. She had died when I was 14. No logical explanation. I still believe there are things that can't be explained in the natural world. I know you will have a very logical explanation Art (and have probably addressed this phenomena in your writings already) but I still believe in what happened to me. An immediate calm came over me after that and though I was ultimately traumatized psychologically ( PTSD ) I could function and did my job being a corpsman. I was still shit scared but I could now do my job. I finished my time there and came home. I'm still fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of my life. One of the important things I believe I did was videotaping your lectures for 4 years ! :)

    2. Hi Raphael,

      I stopped believing in stuff for a while now too; but weird synchronous stuff still keeps happening.

      I wish I could claim to have been already Primalised then I might not still feel fraudulent, nor a spy in the house of love.

      I dare to speculate it,s all my 1st line repressed imprint bending my mind.

      I wish I were an ex Primal patient. I suppose that's a measure of my 'Janovian gap'

      Paul G.

    3. Thanks Wally for sharing,
      I thought I was going to be slightly ridiculed for this comment. (Thank you Art for posting it). Perhaps there are things about the mind and our humanity that cannot be explained yet. It is a very fine line thought...between the "make believe" out there and the truly unexplainable stuff, like people having a sense that they should not get on a plane, and the plane crashes.

      Thank you Paul,
      I am not and never will be an ex Primal patient, I still go into feelings, but I can do it on my own. I always know when something is blocked and it feels unhealthy. It happens less and less often, but...never say never.

      I just want to say, life can be wonderful...happiness does happen. I never wanted to live past the age of 30 (sounds like a cliche but it is true) had no meaning except for being an endless struggle when I was younger, nothing but sadness, horrible loneliness (inside), anger, fear.

      Decades later, and many hours of agonizing feelings, I am living a miracle, sharing a love I never thought I could experience. It can happen to anyone, life can be so good!

      Thank you Art, you contributed a lot to the world and humanity, showing us the way back to ourselves.

  5. Hi Art,
    I often wonder what that mean `placebo`... why itis always used if "something" (medicinal intervention and psychic/mental ) cannot be explained (away..?).

    In my opinion it sounds resp.reeks of irational believe in magic!
    Why should nature allow...coproreal effects following mental ! causes outside the "normal"
    i.e. physiological tension and following dysfunctioning consequences?!

    For me it would follow the advice administer
    PLACEBOS and do not "poison" with chemicals!!
    Besides I n e ve r heard of the success of a
    placebo causing a growth of teeth!!!
    I always was flabbergasted to see the "false" teeth in the mouths of Christianscientist inter alia!!!!
    Yours truly(admiring) emanuel

  6. Hi,

    ever since I first heard the idea that we don't really have free will (about 30 years ago) I began to sense myself as a sort of fraud. I began noticing how most of the people I know including myself, rarely did what we said we would without some 'modification' to the original plan. With beliefs? We never pursued the same 'beliefs' for any longer than it took to 'try those beliefs on like a pair of shoes' until they wore out, or we just kept on looking for something meaningful.

    I've tried on many shoes. Not just whacky ideas but also randomly fixed rules of morality and arbitrary values of worth. class, race and gender are all in the pot of 'belief systems' I have tried on.

    The New Age has spawned too many interesting ideas. It's not even the first new age either. The Victorians believed in a New Age. Then before that there was the 'Age of Enlightenment'.

    It's like a fashion parade!

    Even my carpentry obsession (I mean 'career') is just another belief system. I got my own way of doing things as have all the rest of the worlds carpenters, etc.

    Although it's obviously healthy (though not essential) to have special interests (hobbies) and pass times there is a way our modern culture has almost made a new religion out of the belief in the individual right to exist mostly in pursuit of an 'interest' or 'hobby' (the thing that makes me supposedly "ME") OR you, supposedly "YOU".

    Thus a consensus of opinion about our combined or 'joint' membership of evolution some how goes by the by. . . "It's All About Me" has become the only aim and purpose of existence.

    JFK said "Think not of what your country can do for you but of what you can do for your country".

    What did he really mean? One could crassly assume he merely meant to remind a growing lumpen proletariat (later McDonalds victims) to pull their socks up and work harder.
    But he probably wanted to help Americans find a greater value to the immensely powerful and influential might it had become in the world. More than merely being better and healthier 'Citizens' of the State.

    JFK came from an age obsessed with the 'new' and science and I wonder if JFK had lived to tell the tale and read about the true science unfolding, if he might have been the one to get a formal revue of the drug companies' imbrocated and merged relationship with American health organisations?

    Apparently JFK was dosed with regular amphetamine injections by his doctors, is that true?

    Paul G.

  7. Hi Paul

    It's interesting that JFK was riddled with illness, back problems etc. I think that is what all the drugs were for. The fact that one of his sisters was given a lobotomy on the orders of his Father who did not consult her Mother says a great deal about the family. I think those Sons all sacrificed themselves for their Parents. The Mother was very strongly Catholic and the Father was quite obviously a slave driver. Thus the usual giving up the Self for the greater good as pushed by the Catholic church came to play in his appeal to the US electorate to follow his lead. The US can be a great force for good in the world when it puts it's mind to it. We have to thank the Japanese for waking a sleeping Giant and so sending Art and all his compatriots to fight for us in Europe.

    JFK's body was simply reflecting the repression he was suffering from.

  8. Wow! Finally I got a web site from where I be able to truly take useful
    data concerning my study and knowledge.
    Also see my web site :: how to find a doctor in eugene or

  9. An email comment: "Hi Art, This is, IMO, your very best of many, many great posts. The problem, as I see it, is that once a person is handed that diploma, whether it be for completing 12 grades( when they get "The full Monty") of formal schooling, or 4-8 more years, they are nearly completely impervious to learning! I have seen this countless times in trying to get others to read your books and blogs! I hope you will make your wonderful knowledge available in audio/mp3 /CDs etc. None the less, I will still recommend your books and blogs. Thank you.
    I may be the only person who read nearly everything you published! I DO NOT like this distinction, for if I had the power, nutters assign to their gods, I would require that everyone(with few exceptions) read your books and blogs. BTW, I dropped out of the system after 6-7 weeks in grade 11, I have come to see this as a blessing!

  10. Hi Art , I would like to know whether My blog entry about the placebo
    is in Your view " nonsense" or what ..
    I do not "believe" that any PLACEBO will be able to mimic all the physio
    logical consequences of an chemo...therapeutical including the !!side-effects
    Thus it is my logical assumption :only "normal" physiological without sided induced.. consequences can be restorded to "pre-tension" sane state in the organism by placebo and not any!! caused by medicine.
    yours emanuel

  11. Wally
    That was an amazing thing that happened to you because it helped you to survive! (I am so glad I was born a woman so I didn't have to be a soldier when I was young). I was about 21 in the vietnam war era and used to go on marches in the U.K. with a boyfriend against the vietnam war. You were a very very brave man and actually sound quite remarkable. I hope your success in your life continues.

    1. Anonymous: Trust me, he is terrific and a good good heart. art

  12. Hallo, Raphael!
    Liked your comments. Very interesting! I too, not being AT ALL religious esp. after a hell-fire damnation father upbringing, had a strange dream which came true. Before I moved in 2002 from a room in a house in another part of the borough in which I live, I had a very vivid dream. I was living in a flat at the rear of a block with grounds. In dream I walked along a road beside a railway track, thinking, 'I hate living here. I feel so trapped. I don't know how I will ever get awy!' Misery. I moved about a year after the dream to precisely the same flat in the surroundings of the dream and my route to a bus stop every day was beside a railway track. The 8 years I lived or rather suffered violent addict neighbours (and every other horror of living in charity housing organisations in the U.K.) there was literally a HELL on earth from which I never thought I would escape. I forgot the dream when I was offered the place which I hadn't seen when I had the dream.I think maybe there are things which are inexplicable and no, I have no beliefs in religion, magic, or wishful materialisations but it happened. Am glad you found love. I doubt I will. Money matters more to me now because it buys freedom and choices and therapy! I expect you live in France which is a big country with lots of detached dwellings, like the USA. Free to make a primal noise unlike tiny little England! All the best to you and your amour.

    1. Hi Anonymous and Raphael,

      There are quite a few similarities in your analysis of English culture with Japan. "Hammer the Nail that stands out Flat".

      I saw a really good documentary on I player about the British landscape. How it has been shaped by millennia of land control.

      I have been involved in Permaculture, Bill Mollison. An evolutionists' evolutionary if there ever was.

      There is certainly a very harsh difference between a continental and an island culture.

      I feel class/elitist groups emerge more pronounced from an island culture because of the need to 'cohabit' more closely. Thus more 'in groups' become more sharply defined and secretively powerful.

      I feel cultures that have evolved on continents (where transience and settled existence can 'co-emerge') there is less of tension in this way. People can spread out. land prices to build not so high. Continental politics is more democratic (the constant fact of migration). The smaller and more densely packed the sardines the greater the neurotic act out. Look at the behaviour of lions in cages. . .

      How dare we put lions in cages!

      Paul G.


Review of "Beyond Belief"

This thought-provoking and important book shows how people are drawn toward dangerous beliefs.
“Belief can manifest itself in world-changing ways—and did, in some of history’s ugliest moments, from the rise of Adolf Hitler to the Jonestown mass suicide in 1979. Arthur Janov, a renowned psychologist who penned The Primal Scream, fearlessly tackles the subject of why and how strong believers willingly embrace even the most deranged leaders.
Beyond Belief begins with a lucid explanation of belief systems that, writes Janov, “are maps, something to help us navigate through life more effectively.” While belief systems are not presented as inherently bad, the author concentrates not just on why people adopt belief systems, but why “alienated individuals” in particular seek out “belief systems on the fringes.” The result is a book that is both illuminating and sobering. It explores, for example, how a strongly-held belief can lead radical Islamist jihadists to murder others in suicide acts. Janov writes, “I believe if people had more love in this life, they would not be so anxious to end it in favor of some imaginary existence.”
One of the most compelling aspects of Beyond Belief is the author’s liberal use of case studies, most of which are related in the first person by individuals whose lives were dramatically affected by their involvement in cults. These stories offer an exceptional perspective on the manner in which belief systems can take hold and shape one’s experiences. Joan’s tale, for instance, both engaging and disturbing, describes what it was like to join the Hare Krishnas. Even though she left the sect, observing that participants “are stunted in spiritual awareness,” Joan considers returning someday because “there’s a certain protection there.”
Janov’s great insight into cultish leaders is particularly interesting; he believes such people have had childhoods in which they were “rejected and unloved,” because “only unloved people want to become the wise man or woman (although it is usually male) imparting words of wisdom to others.” This is just one reason why Beyond Belief is such a thought-provoking, important book.”
Barry Silverstein, Freelance Writer

Quotes for "Life Before Birth"

“Life Before Birth is a thrilling journey of discovery, a real joy to read. Janov writes like no one else on the human mind—engaging, brilliant, passionate, and honest.
He is the best writer today on what makes us human—he shows us how the mind works, how it goes wrong, and how to put it right . . . He presents a brand-new approach to dealing with depression, emotional pain, anxiety, and addiction.”
Paul Thompson, PhD, Professor of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine

Art Janov, one of the pioneers of fetal and early infant experiences and future mental health issues, offers a robust vision of how the earliest traumas of life can percolate through the brains, minds and lives of individuals. He focuses on both the shifting tides of brain emotional systems and the life-long consequences that can result, as well as the novel interventions, and clinical understanding, that need to be implemented in order to bring about the brain-mind changes that can restore affective equanimity. The transitions from feelings of persistent affective turmoil to psychological wholeness, requires both an understanding of the brain changes and a therapist that can work with the affective mind at primary-process levels. Life Before Birth, is a manifesto that provides a robust argument for increasing attention to the neuro-mental lives of fetuses and infants, and the widespread ramifications on mental health if we do not. Without an accurate developmental history of troubled minds, coordinated with a recognition of the primal emotional powers of the lowest ancestral regions of the human brain, therapists will be lost in their attempt to restore psychological balance.
Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D.
Bailey Endowed Chair of Animal Well Being Science
Washington State University

Dr. Janov’s essential insight—that our earliest experiences strongly influence later well being—is no longer in doubt. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, immunology, and epigenetics, we can now see some of the mechanisms of action at the heart of these developmental processes. His long-held belief that the brain, human development, and psychological well being need to studied in the context of evolution—from the brainstem up—now lies at the heart of the integration of neuroscience and psychotherapy.
Grounded in these two principles, Dr. Janov continues to explore the lifelong impact of prenatal, birth, and early experiences on our brains and minds. Simultaneously “old school” and revolutionary, he synthesizes traditional psychodynamic theories with cutting-edge science while consistently highlighting the limitations of a strict, “top-down” talking cure. Whether or not you agree with his philosophical assumptions, therapeutic practices, or theoretical conclusions, I promise you an interesting and thought-provoking journey.
Lou Cozolino, PsyD, Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University

In Life Before Birth Dr. Arthur Janov illuminates the sources of much that happens during life after birth. Lucidly, the pioneer of primal therapy provides the scientific rationale for treatments that take us through our original, non-verbal memories—to essential depths of experience that the superficial cognitive-behavioral modalities currently in fashion cannot possibly touch, let alone transform.
Gabor Maté MD, author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

An expansive analysis! This book attempts to explain the impact of critical developmental windows in the past, implores us to improve the lives of pregnant women in the present, and has implications for understanding our children, ourselves, and our collective future. I’m not sure whether primal therapy works or not, but it certainly deserves systematic testing in well-designed, assessor-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trials.
K.J.S. Anand, MBBS, D. Phil, FAACP, FCCM, FRCPCH, Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, Senior Scholar, Center for Excellence in Faith and Health, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System

A baby's brain grows more while in the womb than at any time in a child's life. Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script That Rules Our Lives is a valuable guide to creating healthier babies and offers insight into healing our early primal wounds. Dr. Janov integrates the most recent scientific research about prenatal development with the psychobiological reality that these early experiences do cast a long shadow over our entire lifespan. With a wealth of experience and a history of successful psychotherapeutic treatment, Dr. Janov is well positioned to speak with clarity and precision on a topic that remains critically important.
Paula Thomson, PsyD, Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge & Professor Emeritus, York University

"I am enthralled.
Dr. Janov has crafted a compelling and prophetic opus that could rightly dictate
PhD thesis topics for decades to come. Devoid of any "New Age" pseudoscience,
this work never strays from scientific orthodoxy and yet is perfectly accessible and
downright fascinating to any lay person interested in the mysteries of the human psyche."
Dr. Bernard Park, MD, MPH

His new book “Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” shows that primal therapy, the lower-brain therapeutic method popularized in the 1970’s international bestseller “Primal Scream” and his early work with John Lennon, may help alleviate depression and anxiety disorders, normalize blood pressure and serotonin levels, and improve the functioning of the immune system.
One of the book’s most intriguing theories is that fetal imprinting, an evolutionary strategy to prepare children to cope with life, establishes a permanent set-point in a child's physiology. Baby's born to mothers highly anxious during pregnancy, whether from war, natural disasters, failed marriages, or other stressful life conditions, may thus be prone to mental illness and brain dysfunction later in life. Early traumatic events such as low oxygen at birth, painkillers and antidepressants administered to the mother during pregnancy, poor maternal nutrition, and a lack of parental affection in the first years of life may compound the effect.
In making the case for a brand-new, unified field theory of psychotherapy, Dr. Janov weaves together the evolutionary theories of Jean Baptiste Larmarck, the fetal development studies of Vivette Glover and K.J.S. Anand, and fascinating new research by the psychiatrist Elissa Epel suggesting that telomeres—a region of repetitive DNA critical in predicting life expectancy—may be significantly altered during pregnancy.
After explaining how hormonal and neurologic processes in the womb provide a blueprint for later mental illness and disease, Dr. Janov charts a revolutionary new course for psychotherapy. He provides a sharp critique of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and other popular “talk therapy” models for treating addiction and mental illness, which he argues do not reach the limbic system and brainstem, where the effects of early trauma are registered in the nervous system.
“Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” is scheduled to be published by NTI Upstream in October 2011, and has tremendous implications for the future of modern psychology, pediatrics, pregnancy, and women’s health.