Thursday, January 3, 2013

Can I Hurt Your Feelings?

I have long maintained that this was impossible since feelings can hurt but cannot be hurt.   It is like an oxymoron: how can we hurt something that is already hurt?  What we usually mean is that something we said sets off something in someone else that pains them.  Then they hurt, usually only when what we said resonates with some hidden pain. If we say, “You are wrong.  You made a mistake,” it can set off years of criticism by one’s mother who demonstrated in this way that she hated us.  Therefore any criticism hurts our feelings when it sets off already hurt feeling buried inside of us.    So it is not, “I hurt her feelings;”  it is “ I said something that triggered hurt feelings inside”.

    Let’s look at this from another perspective.  We have a brain structure called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC).  It is central to our limbic system/feeling center.  When we begin to feel isolated or neglected this structure takes part and adds the “hurt” to our reaction. It becomes part of our pain network.  (see: New Scientist, 1, Dec. 2012, page 37). This structure adds the force, valence or oomph to our reactions.  But when we hurt emotionally there is another group of structures, the sensory group, (the anterior insula and others) that enter the fray and helps the emotions become physical hurt.  They become intertwined and are “one.”  Feeling neglected hurts both emotionally and physically.  Emotional hurts, in short, have bodily accouterments; which is obvious.  So when our feelings are hurt we hurt physically:  it is not simply “in our head.” And therefore “head” therapy or cognitive approaches cannot touch it.  Remember, we are in pain.

   When we say that “breaks my heart,” it is literally true, and  it can kill as readily as a gunshot.  I have on film a woman I treated who was feeling deeply and who cried out, “my heart, my heart.”  When she came out of it she felt her childhood heartbreak (sent to a foster home)  and how much it affected her heart. Normally, repression keeps that from happening, except that repression  does not erase it; it only drives it underground.  It is repressed feelings that can kill us; for they do affect our organs, especially our heart.  There is no escape; either we feel or we suffer.  Pills can sometimes take care of parts of our hurt but they only suppress the conscious/awareness of the hurt, not the hurt itself nor its provenance.

  Very early trauma can affect (mutate) a gene that helps construct opiate receptors that should dampen pain.  And that can therefore exacerbate our reactions to hurt early on.  (receptors are very dense in the dACC).  We become more “sensitive” as human beings.  It becomes part of our personality.  These people need more opiates later on to make up for what was and is missing.  They may be  the “over-reactors.”  And then we can add the epigenetic factors, traumas that occur while we live in the womb and just after, which compounds the problem. We then suffer, compounded, chronic pain; it may not show itself as such, but it can manifest itself in chronic allergies, which was my case.  I had a runny nose that lasted years after I was sent away to a foster home when I was five.  I knew nothing about pain. We see patients all of the time who claim never to have been in pain or feeling unloved; at least at first.

  So we have genetic mutations coupled with epigenetic factors that compound the problem and produce highly sensitive beings.  They were known by Freud as “hysterics.”   The memories are imprinted and stay for a lifetime because we are then structurally different.  So lack of love in the womb (a carrying mother who diets, smokes and drinks and who is chronically anxious), remains as a new part of us with a different brain and biochemistry.  Not only is the anterior cingulate active in the anxious, carrying mother but no doubt the fetus is in the same physiologic state.  I have written about this in my Life Before Birth, where the fetus’s biochemistry reflects the mother’s.  And this is why we think it is due to heredity, and in a sense it is, and in a another sense, it is not.   But this can produce chronic inflammation and associated diseases.  The inflammation response is getting the body ready to combat intrusion, except that here the intrusion is from the pain trespassing into our system and our brains.  It is a lethal trespasser that alters our neuro-physical being for a lifetime.  It is not just our ideas that changes; it is our physical being that long predates the development of ideas.  And we carry that hurt around all of the time.  It first changes our bodies and then we when we have the capacity for  ideas it changes them too.  Here the lower level imprints send their messages upward and forward diverting ideas.

  We begin to see how complicated all this is because when we want to find out what causes severe addiction we need to be able to look way back and far earlier than we imagined.  There is a controversy as to how much of homosexuality could be genetic or epigenetic.   Many homosexuals I know and have treated insist that it is genetic; but after seeing all this new research we see how early deviations begin both in the brain and physical system. So it is hard to know how much is genetic and how much isn’t.  I still opt for epigenetics as  a major influence.  This may be added to genetic mutations very early on.  Then there is more trauma and  environmental influences are dominant.  This is very true in the addictions I have seen.  The earlier the trauma the more enduring and heavier the addiction, in my opinion, and in my experience.  So when we use Behavioral therapy to treat all this we are far from the target.  And years away from it and many millions of years distant in phylogenetic time.

    There can be all kinds of mutations of genes early on, we are discovering that form the matrix  for personality.  For example, there is the cholinergic gene that when affected can alter how we learn later on. It again affects reactivity and how sensitive we become.  This is the “mother” of the production of acetylcholine.  It affects our ability to pay attention.  The more the release the less ability to modulate and restrain our behavior.   The greater the release the lower the threshold for nerve firing; in brief, the greater our reactivity and lower restraint and control.  All this is heavily compounded by trauma during our life in the womb. So we have these very early settings for later personality; whether we are impulsive  or over-restrained.   Whether we speak our mind or hold everything in.  Whether we are normally sexual or we are frigid; do we suffer premature ejaculation or have delayed orgasm.

   There is something I left out: not only does the mother’s cells affect the baby, her emotional state and her moods but the contrary is true; the fetal cells affect the mother.  A piece in Scientific American (December 2012) found that fetal cells in animals migrate into the mother and can act very much like stem cells; they can migrate in the mother to where there is injury and help the healing process. So it is a two-way street.  The baby is a great help to the mother.  Let’s watch the developing research on this.

   So we note that very early experience changes brain structure and affects the developing neurons that already almost complete in the womb. When we want to understand the causes of allergies, migraines, asthma and high blood pressure we need to look in the right place and in the right epoch.  We must not forget that epigenetic factors, life in the womb, can turn on and off key genes; this causes further transformation of our biology.   So yes we are products of our genes and what happens to those genes along the way.  The question is:  are we only products of genes and epigenes?  Is there free will?   Not much.


  1. Fascinating! That whole issue of fetal cells migrating into the Mother appeared last year. I wondered whether the Mother may get hooked on being repaired (loved by the baby) and her body expected it after the baby was born? Suppossedly cells from previous generations can still be inside us.

    With regard to blood pressure it is very frustrating. Up until 7 years ago I had low blood pressure. i would stand up and feel feint. Now I have high (though not too bad. After one session in California where my vitals plummeted I walked out and my rather pudgy fingers had shrunk. I had had to have my wedding ring stretched because my fingers had grown a bit fat over the last few years. Now I can tell when I am feeling and getting in touch with something because my fingers reduce in diameter.

    With regard to free will I suppose if someone is seriously repressing they don't have much free will which is sad to think. The more we lose our repression the more we have free will.

    1. Planespotter: I think it is clear that the more repressed feelings there are to drive us the less free will we have but where does that difference in right size come from? art

    2. Well it is quite dramatic. My feet have grown a whole size over the last two years (though that might be high blood pressure I suddenly think). I would have thought that the more I get in touch with little me and have a connection (hopefully more permenant) the more my fingers will shrink due to my blood pressure dropping to a more normal level on a longer term basis. They are shrinking more often than they did which is good I would say. This corralates with me crying more and my Brain feeling less cloudy than it did.

      In one session late on during my LA visit I did feel my heart. There was a huge pain and my hands were sitting over it as though wanting to pull my ribs apart to almost to let the pain out. My father and his father had angina and it would be good to avoid that.

    3. Planespotter: Oh yes it would be good to avoid angina, a forerunner of serious heart disease. art

    4. Planespotter: I would like to know more about the feet growth. What do you think it is due to? art

    5. Oh Crumbs you flatter me Art! I have learned so much from you. From a layman's point of view is'nt foot growth or breast growth or whatever simply the body doing a bit of physical growing to reflect the emotional, feeling and physcological growth that we go through as we get in touch with our early selves and start to intigrate. I read in National Geographic that Redwood Trees still grow even when over a 1000 years old. They don't gain any more height but they still gain mass by increasing the girth of the trunk. In the same way that some animals can regrow a limb perhaps we can do a bit of growth later in life. If as you have stated that tears are full of stress hormones and also release growth hormones then why should'nt these cause our body to do a little spurt of growing into a more adult form. My Sister's feet grew almost 2 sizes when she was pregnat and I would have thought that might be to do with her body being full of stem cells perhaps. A woman can gain hugely from suddenly being a growth factory for 9 months. The Baby needs Mum to be in tip top condition after the birth so maybe those stems cells flooding into the Mother are a symbiotic period of nurturing?

    6. Just a thought : feet growing is not so unusual especially among runners who gave up wearing classical running shoes (toe box not wide enough for the natural way feet should spread on the ground when running). As long as it can happened in a pure bio mechanical way, it might as well be related to the reliving of something traumatic...

    7. Yann: We have found growth occasionally. I think what happens is that the system is released to continue its genetic destination and so we do see feet growth and other things such as breast growth and hand growth. We see late evolving wisdom teeth. When we undo repression the whole system goes on developing as it should have originally. art

  2. I read about fetus cells making it into the mother. Free will is also an interesting subject. A fascinating book on brain development and function, as well as attempts to mimic it with computer programs was written by MIT professor and researcher Marvin Minsky. He calls it “Society of Mind.” It is definitely well worth the reading. He does not believe much in free will. He thinks the way the mind works leaves open random possibilities that we seem to have little control over. He does bring up interesting propositions. If for no other reason, he might stimulate some thinking on many things to do with psychology. I get most books used on Amazon or eBay.

    Our mind functions, it would appear, almost like a number of different people inside us, each with its own sphere of influence. Also, we form layers of development in our brain. The further we go down into those layers, we find the previous layers of development at different ages. I’d love to hear anyone’s views on it, if you dare to buy and read it. Always lots to learn.

    1. Hi Apollo

      But who is Marvin Minsky studying? After all Jung spoke of "The collective unconcious" to try and describe why so many people seemed to have the same issues. Instead of seeing that the many of the same people came to him with the same kinds of pain (birth trauma, lack of love, sexual, emotional or physical abuse) he ignored all that and suggested an almost Hive like mentality. If Society is blind to many truths then many people will take on untruthes and be Hive like.

      Why would we have so many different people inside us unless those people have almost been forced upon us. From an early age we learn that who we are is not good enough so we take on Daddy's character and Mummy's character or who they think we should be and present false selves to each so we will be loved. Poor old Freud saw this and saw the Super Ego (parents and other dictatorial authority figures) continually fighting the ID (the real self) and creating the Ego which I gather that he saw as the real self when in fact that is the Neurosis.

      Is'nt Mr Minsky also seeing the very same layers that Primal Therapy suggests. I just wonder whether he is seeing so far but not far enough as do so many other shrinks etc. They only go as far as their fear allows them.

      When I first started my recovery I seemed to pick up on "The Minotaur" which seems to be an alligory of a man exploring his subconcious with the help of an enlightened witness (as Alice Miller describes it) in the form of Ariadne. Her ball of string allowed him to go into the depths of the labrynth and slay the Minotaur which could be seen as a metaphor for pain that distorts us. We need an Ariadne to explore our unconcious.

      I always think that MIT seems like a great place and full of radical enquiring minds with the best of intentions so would not wish to dismiss Mr Minsky but is'nt he simply ignoring the pain which causes the lack of free will.

    2. Hi planespotter,

      Your posts have become filled with meaning and significance for me since you got back from the clinic.

      -"Why would we have so many different people inside us unless those people have almost been forced upon us"-?

      I feel the Pain produces the fragmentation, I think that is one way to describe how repression works. . . the trauma must be deposited in fragments and around each fragment a little bubble of belief builds up to help support this 'safe deposit system'. Then the boxes become guarded with little beliefs; perhaps they just start as 'resistances', like little walls. . .but we build them higher and higher until we can no longer see inside; then we must decorate them, 'personalise' them. Perhaps the pressure of the pain inside the wall forces the shape of the wall into 'interesting' symbols. . . .

      One way 'organised religion' seems to take hold is by offering a 'system' by which we can symbolically bring together all of the fragmented parts and assemble them back into the family we never had.

      As Above, So below.

      Look at the way we build our infrastructure; lots of separate nuclear families in little boxes, little boxes, all in a row. . .

      Organised religion offers us an act out of re-assembling those 'split off members' in the 'church' of our soul.

      Then the psychopaths direct the Collective Pain and Collective Unmet Need into religious / political wars. . . One thing I have finally realised is that the psychopaths / sociopaths are very good at hijacking collective 'beliefs' and twisting them to their own benefit.

      Changing the subject a bit; I am beginning to plan for the clinic. I wonder if you could write a piece about how you planned your 'escape' from Blighty, how the visa thing works, what the motels are like; y'know; the nuts and bolts of your visit.

      I would find that very helpful as I'm a terrible 'stay at home' these days. I don't want to 'get out', I'm almost giving up. . . a little 'cheer-leading' from you might help me overcome my extreme OCD and ADD that is building in me at the moment. I feel others might benefit from that too.

      Paul G.

    3. Hi Paul

      Thank you for your compliments about my posts. I do think that many of my posts prior to my visit to LA have meaning and significance.

      With regard to my escape from Blighty here goes.

      I did'nt find the visa a problem. I had never been diagnosed with any kind of dangerous mental problems. I have not had any. Oh yes I got very angry with my Parents and my Sister and told them what I thought which rather threw them and upset their lies to themselves.

      I saved up and but it did still hurt financially. I booked a motel 6 months before I got there and got a reservation number. When I arrived at the motel they did'nt know anything about it. Luckily I they had some rooms and I was put into one with a door straight out onto the street. i did'nt like that and managed to move into the more secure area. I was in Venice just off Washington Boulevard. I did find some other rooms just off venice beach which I might book next time. I very quickly discovered Abbot Kinney Boulevard where Art had an office a while ago as it was in the walk to the centre. it's a nice street with some good bars and restaurants. I did'nt drink (OK I had a 2 beers in 1 month) and I did stay in my motel room a great deal of my time. From what I experienced of that bit of LA I would happily live there. I loved the crazy atmosphere of Venice beach and it really openned up my feelings. Sometimes I found myself feeling far more alone and in touch with my feelings while sitting on a bench watching the world go by and feeling very alone. I did hire a cruiser bike and cycled nearly the full length of the board walk one Saturday. Slim fit girls (lots of Japanese for some reason or maybe the same woman!) in lycra bikini's on rollablades added to the Saturdays off! :-).

      Eating proved difficult in some ways because a month in the fast food nation could play havoc with your gut. I have never been a great fan of Mexican food and I never discovered anywhere that disproved my view. I discovered a great place called Lemonade on Abbot Kinney which did great salads. I also got hooked on lemonade when I was there. The Californians do great lemonade. There is a "Wholefoods" not too far away which I discovered quite late on. Once a month Abbot Kinney has an open evening for the shops and the whole street gets filled with food vans selling stuff from Lobster Rolls to Pizza or Chinese. It's a brilliant spectacle.

      I loved the place and that is from walks to and from my motel and my weekends off. I ran (a suggestion of the clinic) around the suburbs and all these memory's of growing up reading stories about kids with Radio trolleys etc came back. Doctor Zeus etc etc. Boy that hit some early bruises. I loved all the cowboy series like the Virginian when I was little and spending so much time in the USA got me in touch with little me in a big way. I am tearful writing this.

      All I would say is give them a hard time. Don't be nice. Speak your mind from the start. Challange them and use them. You are paying for it. The therapists I met are great people. Not perfect but great. If you think they are wrong tell them. The 3 weeks (I went for a month) goes very quickly.

      It has taken me until now to get over my Fathers death. When I came back from LA I found the Skype a bit difficult for a while but at last am getting better with that. I felt a bit dead in my head.

      With regard to OCD I know how you feel. It goes. ADD I get that too. I still get it. It's not bloody ADD or OCD. It's fear and panic and all that shit from childhood overwhelming your mind. My heads feels clearer than it did 6 months ago. I hate those bloody acronyms. They are lazy little boxes we are forced into. Stop bloody using them. :-)

    4. Planespotter: From the horse's mouth. art

    5. Oh Crikey what do you mean by that Art?

    6. Hi Paul

      My experience continued. I was pretty scared deep down (last chance saloon and all that) and everyone welcomed me at the centre. The first afternoon (before I went into isolation) I walked along the beach to Santa Monica. It was the longest period I had been away on my own and on my own if you see what I mean, in my life. Even being that far away from home is isolation without the hours spent with oneself in a room.

      The first week seemed to go by very quickly. I had some strange experiences and got in touch with a few things that happened to me. I was allowed all day Saturday and Sunday morning off so did some exploring. Found actual Venice with the canals. I saw two different therapists over my time at the Centre.

      I think I had one primal while I was there in my last week. Obviously I had a long way to go and still do.

      It is a powerful experience I by the end I felt far better and was for example walking far more upright than when I arrived. I was also sleeping much better. I also was able to deal with some of the abuse I had experienced.

      Good luck Paul. :-)

    7. Thanks planespotter that helps,
      sure, your posts were meaningful before; probably I am 'trying to live through your experience a bit' but your posts seem different to me now. . . .
      Sometimes I'm so 'lost' in the face of new challenges. It's because my parents didn't play with me enough; that's one reason I got good at making things. . . ON MY OWN.

      Sometimes I only have to 'voice a need' and I find myself propelled toward it, mostly under my own steam. I have acquired a fear of forms, formality, and 'leaving home' it's all old boarding school stuff resonating back to earlier abandonment.

      If I could go for two or three months I will. Did you consider that?
      Does one need a special visa?

      Thanks again

      Paul G.

    8. Hi Paul

      Glad I helped. :-) I know what you mean about facing new challenges. I think my Parents made so many decisions for me that I did'nt know how to face stuff myself. But then I can be incredibly stubborn (fighting an umbilical cord perhaps!) and really fight for something. Yes you may be right that my posts are a bit different. I feel a bit different.

      I would'nt worry too much about the visa. I think you can get a three month one but don't quote me. Just check on line. The most embarressing thing was when I was standing at the immigration desk at US customs and the guy asked the purpose of my visit so I said I was coming for therapy and he said "Oh right, hope you get a lot out of it". That's California for you. I had only experienced New York customs and they are scary!

      I did'nt consider 3 months. Just couldn't afford the time or money. I am going to go back for say two weeks this year. I had an exchange of e-mails with France and we discussed that. I met France and she was great. Didn't meet Art but then again he has his writing, throat etc to deal with etc. How is your throat Art?

      Actually writing this I am smiling with tears in my eyes. It's a very difficult thing to put one's finger on. There is such a kind atmosphere in the centre. Plus I loved the craziness of Venice etc. I even started to walk to Culver city on one of my Saturdays off so I could get the metro into central LA. After 5 miles I gave up and got the bus back. Saw a few film stars. I could imagine living there. The beach is incredible. Muscle beach is very funny. So many of us are exposed to hollywood. The boardwalk appears in so many films.

      Also so many of the houses over there are built of wood and ply. Perfect for a carpenter if you stayed longer and managed a work visa.

      I look forward to hearing how you get on.

    9. Hi Paul

      I hope this helped. Did'nt know how the last bit sounded. Meant to be positive. I hope you get some good out of your trip and it would be good to hear your experiences.

    10. If paul is coming to therapy and he wants to publish a diary on the blog he is welcome. art

  3. My life begins where it ends... where I can't stand it anymore!

    About what you write Art!

    It can be likened to as hell comes flying through the air... and for protection... an interpretation begins... for what there is in my brain that MAY can interpret it. Interpreted... recorded and to be read. But without a protection... shield against what harm it can do... I am in trouble.

    If hell… it will do so much harm that I have to flee the field and protect myself with what can protect me. My little brain seeks protection in every corner and hiding places... but to no avail.

    Somehow somewhere I have to look for a possible way out... what so ever... out to interpret what is happening and I feel already what is there (what I am seeking now) but no interpretation in the world can help me to another place than there already is. And there... is where I must begin... with the hell now as then in my life. There in between... I can begin breathing.


  4. Dr Janov
    This IS really wonderful work that you are doing!! I must say I am very sorry you have had such a difficult childhood yourself from what you said. That's why you understand other peoples feelings so readily.

    1. Anonymous: I believe that it was my bad childhood to my discovery of was never an intellectual concoction, whichis why I feel it is right. It worked on me and my wife and hundreds of other people. So there is an upside to all this and all that suffering led to something important. art

  5. An email comment:
    "Wonderful article Dr. Janov!!

    These last words of yours... “Is there free will? Not much”…are to me the most significant in the whole paper. We have no free will…God has. I know you do not believe in a God, and that’s ok too. The conclusions in life are always the most important part, no matter what they are. Conclusions are the components that determines our forever evolving beliefs. Your posts are to me extremely important, insightful and of incredible value. It doesn’t matter to me what your belief system is; what matters to me is your mind…and your heart. You write from your heart and the wisdom that comes from your pen is just mind-boggling. I learn EVERY time I read any of your articles.

    Just one question…where the heck do you think your extraordinary intellect and insights are coming from? Aren’t you maybe in the greatest denial Art?

    Thanks for this marvelous post!"

    1. And my answer:
      I have written about your question about my intellect on this blog (why I am right brain). My whole life had been governed by my right brain due to horrific childhood so I never had a rock solid left brain. I cannot fix your washing machine but I can develop theory on emotions. Yes I do write from the heart and you can quite imagine that in high school I did terribly. It was only as I developed a bit of left brain that I began to become balanced. And our patients do become more equalized in brain function after our therapy according to our brain studies. thanks for asking. art

  6. Very well said. Great post, thank you.

  7. If you are established in psychology or psychiatry or of any other reason feel resistant to Arthu Janov... are here on the blog and you of one reason or another perceive him like a besserwisser... know-it or for any other reason are experiencing to be stepped on your toes... with the consequence that you ignore what he writes about. To you I say... "I do not give a crap about who Arthur Janov is"... MY LIFE IS WORTH MORE THAN IN PRESTIGE LOSE IT.

    Primal therapy is an issue for me if I want to know... feel or not. The issue is an so fundamental order and just for myself to answer!? Read the contents... measure and weigh it in comparison to what you perceive. And one very inportant issue be honest to your self you got nothing to lose!


    1. Frank: Will you please get help with your English. It is really hard to understand what you write. art

    2. Prestige a symptom of missing love!

      If you are professionals in psychology or psychiatry… perceive Arthur Janov to be a “besserwisser”... or of any other reason to be someone that you can't tolerate. To you I will say... my life is worth more than to deny myself... depending on Janovs person... "I would not give a crap about who Arthur Janov is" if that would be the case... MY LIFE IS WORTH MORE THAN TO DENY MY SELF DEPENDING ON JANOVS PERSON.

      Am I ready to lose my life because of "prestige"? In any event... prestige is a symptom of a feeling to cherish in the context of Primal Therapy!

      Primal therapy is of an issue for all in the field of psychology and psychiatry… and needy… to answer what is it all about. It’s a question about... do I want to live or not?

      The issue of primal therapy is scientific and thereby so fundamental that it is criminal of professional to not be part of it.

      Read the contents of Janovs writings... measure and weigh it in comparison to what yours education has given you. You got nothing to lose… give up your prestige and give Janovs primal therapy a chance.


    3. Hi Frank,
      Art just suggested you to find a way to get yourself understood. We all read between the lines and understand you want to show to the world (your father/mother?) you can express yourself in a foreign (most difficult) mode. Nobody will flatten your because of the way you write in english, which by the way is not my mother tongue either. Your efforts, despite Art's suggestion, may reveal your Life lasting struggle to make yourself understood (noticed, taken care of). That's what your are crying out. That is what it all is about. I suggest you to write down what you just wrote in your own language (german?) and feel the message in its most profound meaning. It will astonish you. For the rest there are some good translating sites out there. Love.

  8. Art: If everything that we are is ultimately just biochemistry, like you believe, then there can be no such thing as free will. Everything would then boil down to absolute cause-to-effect physics - total automation with consciousness being only a bizarre reaction to the auto-abacus that is the mind. you should just say there is no such thing as free will.

    1. Andrew,

      I so, so have the same thoughts, in my case driven by feelings of loss and sensations of agony.

      Re-living some of the agony releases me from the 'Terror of the Situation'. In my case brought on by an excessive pressure to perform correctly.

      Paul G.

    2. Hello Andrew,

      I know you wrote it as a question and I answer you as if you meant something... but your question seems more like a statement?

      Why is it not the possibilities to life that is crucial? Free will... free from what... desire to what... to stand between two haystacks? Are you sure that the question of free will will help us... leads us to feel happy or is it an escape from being?

      I think the neocortex has developed... through the evolutionary process... as defense against life-threatening awareness from the limbic system.
      Consciousness then... then that WAS life threatening... with the consequence that we evolved cognitively. Cognitively a defense against the brain stem and the limbick system why we seek to free us from leaking memory.

      Everything that makes us suffer puts us in the quest for freedom. Otherwise... why should we be in this mess as human?


    3. Andrew is'nt Art saying that there is no such thing as free will if we are not concious of our real feelings. There is no such thing as free will if we repress. Frankly if we are brought up to be little Robots by our insecure parents so they can look good to other people because of their obedient children then is it any wonder so many exist as slaves to unaknowledged needs. I think part of the therapy is almost trusting one's unconcious and subconcious to throw up insights following feelings so as to become more concious. If we are left to cry out at night and fed to our Parents timetable rather than our own is it any wonder we are not really concious. I think that many of us grew up in a black and white world where we were good or bad. The world is not like that. It is all kinds of shades in between and therefore to say we are either chemical automatons or totally free thinking and feeling creatures is perhaps not seeing the subtlty of an individuals experience.

    4. We neurotics have free will but it's not very effective.

    5. Andrew: Dr. France who teaches at the center believes that only when you bereft of pain can there be any semblance of free will. Otherwise, you are driven by your unconscious.
      So she thinks that there can be free will in those areas where pain does not intercede. Art
      You misquote me completely. I am a psychologist who is not a reductionist and does not believe we are just neurochemistry. You misread all of my work. Art

    6. France, we neurotics have free will but it's not very effective. We are free, but we are blind. Primal therapy takes off the blindfold so that we can use our freedom wisely.

      Our unconscious forces cannot take away our freedom -- our defensive reactions are not all generated automatically. To some extent, we will them into existence. Conversely it is the lack of will, in part, that allows a feeling to connect.

      I know what you mean but I don't think it is good to suggest that we neurotics have no free will as it suggests that our fate lies in the lap of the godly therapists. We need to suggest that the therapy is a partnership between patient and therapist -- not a therapist reprogramming a robot's auto-pilot.

    7. Art,

      I have been under the impression you are a materialist, in that everything that we are is ultimately just atoms and molecules (and I don't have a problem with your belief...if that is your belief?). All I was saying is that if that is the case (that is, we are ultimately only atoms) then free will can only be an illusion. The latter is *my* assertion. If you think we are more than atoms, then what do you think we are? I am sincerely interested in your view.

      Free will: Even if someone is free of unconscious forces, they are not free of conscious forces. Everything we do (behaviour) is ultimately dictated by a "master" feeling, made up of a collection of drives and feelings. Maybe there is some kind of additional input that we can call 'free will' - I myself am not sure. Personally I don't think anyone can know.

      My assertion: No computational device (eg, brain) has "free will" - it is a structure whose operation can only be dictated by the fate of its previous pattern + environmental reactions on that pattern. Whatever will be, will be.

      Also Art, I don't think I misread your work at all, at least not usually. Maybe I'm not clear with my own commentary?

    8. Hi, this may sound off topic at first:

      My 9yr old daughter has been having 'episodes' at night when going off to sleep. She was born unconscious and blue, she was rushed into another room with the midwife screaming "Flat Baby, Flat Baby"!

      One aspect of the 'episodes' she is apparently re-living is being roughly rubbed all over to get the blood circulating. Now my daughter is stripping off her pyjamas and "running out of her bedroom". . . telling us (her parents) that her skin feels all horrible and like it's being roughly rubbed and with hands grabbing her all over.

      Is this ab-reaction, is it acting out or is it genuine re-living?

      This is what I have been asking her mother to consider. . . I have persuaded her to sign up to this blog and read Art's books though I am in trepidation of having let a "Spy Into The House of Love".

      I have pointed out that as parents we are out of our depth (which she at least agreed with me, in words) and I for one am concerned that without the intervention of a genuinely trained Primal Therapist my daughter could be stuck in nasty ab-reaction / act out without resolution. Seems to me she has yet to re-live death sensations from passing out and going blue and these 'skin episodes' are a precursor to more deep traumatic re-living.

      One thing I am sure of: this is 1st line stuff but it is pushing her into tears and feelings of loss. To my limited Primal comprehension the risk to her is of developing inappropriate 1st line intrusion; if the 1st line re-living she is experiencing goes no-where. . . It's going to burst into something else.

      Why are her gates opening?

      I was a bit shocked when calling her mother this morning to see how our daughter was last night. I thought I'd made progress by getting her to sign up to this blog (at last). I discovered that she has called a doctor and now they are going off to the doctor to see if she has a urinary infection. . . apparently this may all be caused / triggered off by a urinary infection? Even if there's a smidgen of truth in that it's really just a red herring from the main issue? I don't f*****g believe it anyway!

      There was a tone of defiance in her voice on the phone when I questioned the logic in that. Actually it reminded me of everything that 'triggered off' my fury with her when I was in a relationship with her. I don't become furious any more, but my ex hasn't stopped reasoning the same way, which is basically that "ANYTHING CAN MEAN ANYTHING" as long as she thought it up and particularly if she can find another person to agree with a few of the words she has used.

      There you have the perfect definition of Free Will from the intellectual point of view. Think of an idea, find some-one to agree and demand the right to "Believe in IT".

      Any one can keep this up indefinitely by "Re Writing" history as you go along. This is how the 'a-historic' keep ahead of the competition. . . This is the winning streak of CBT.

      Now my fear is that my daughter's mother has been brainwashed by her feminist Buddhist Psychosynthesist therapist and will try to use Primal Theory as a way to Cognitise our daughter.

      She has started doing it already, she mistakes 'coaching' for genuine empathy. How can you empathise with some one who is re-living first line stuff if you havn't re-lived some of your own?

      F*****g "Free Will"!

      I've written a rancorous poem about it, it follows.

      Paul G.

    9. Hi,

      A poem I wrote 20years ago when I began to realise what a sham the words "Free Will" are; it's called:


      Justice, Freedom & Equality,
      The most dangerous words in the book,
      Lulls our senses into false security,
      The mind not bothering to look.

      Justice begets more crime,
      A reason to carry on with blame,
      A 'punch and judy' pantomime,
      Really, they're just the same.

      Freedom begets more slavery,
      "Freedom"! is a war cry,
      Promoting acts of fatal bravery,
      A reason to fight and die.

      Equality is the worst of the three,
      It begets the other two,
      For if we are equal we must be free,
      To claim justice from me and you.

      Paul G.

    10. Andrew: There are many good books on the Sam Harris. art

    11. In order to have any kind of will there is one condition:to survive!

      So we have will: with/withouth repression/altered genes expression.
      We want life "without" those things. We want (to much stress) free will.
      No free will means we don't know why/what we do. And that often
      means doing harm to us and everything around that lives and/or support life. How often?
      Maybe the best way to know the amount our/others free will is to be a child (again). The feeling person, I (sort of) believe, can detect clearly
      the whole violence and cruelty of his/her own environement,
      the blindness and the lack of compassion and finaly - that the absence of freedom comes from people that are not free - don't have free will. It is a devastating feeling/insight but also liberating and forgiving. Letting feelings judge in safety of primal room we can finaly forgive and more and more react aproprietely with present reality.

      And BTW,
      This is a place for sharing what seem real for us so does this concept of "free will forgiveness" as something different to "forgiveness as a defence" real to you? I am curious because I
      hope I learned something.

    12. Hi Art,

      Thanks for the Sam Harris reference. His basic reasoning appears identical to my own.

      An example of my outlook: If I was the boss at my work I would not feel as though I have any power ("free will") because I would only make strictly professional decisions (because I have no right to do otherwise because it's not my money I'm spending, etc) - so, my role would be nothing more than a junction-point for the facts of which would ultimately dictate my decisions (or "will") for me.
      As I see it, the role of consciousness is the same. It seems to function as a junction-point for emotions and appreciated truths, and it is the sum of those components that "dictate" the final decision within the conscious mind. Again, our conscious mind is only the junction-point, assembling the "data" to its *inevitable* conclusion.

      ...but, if the consciousness has some level of "mind over matter" function, because the consciousness is not ultimately material like we know it, then that could leave room for the possibility of *some* functional free will, maybe. (But that's another long and unsubstantiated story).

      -Oh, and Sam is dead right on criminal accountability. We need to get over this "primitive" revenge mentality (no-one ultimately chooses to be a psychopath) and realise that prisons are or should only be a function of deterrence and detainment. It's about pragmatic protection - not revenge. (...though I'm getting off topic, sorry).

    13. vuko: Please get help with your English, it takes me too much time to figure out what you mean, and I still don't know. art

    14. "our life is predetermened." "we don't have free will."

      These sentencies, it seem to me, can provoke deep but different emotional reactions in people:

      1. i must do something about it,
      2. it is hopeless as it is, or
      3. it is true from my (primal) experience

      is anybody wrong?
      I'm mostly the No.2.

      Richard your energy and inovative thinking (and not only yours), bravery to challenge authorities gives me a drive to try to organize and write my thoughts and sometimes even publish few words.
      this blog deserves to stay alive!

    15. vuko it takes no bravery to challenge france. she is no threat to me.....she is my friend though we don't really know each other yet. and she is an authority on primal therapy but she is not my authority. art, france, and the other therapists are our equals. this is normal.

  9. Dr. Janov,
    If we are triggered by words, someone saying something that hurts us will resonate the same way as we can relate to a good feeling. If someone describes a good feeling or a hurt we react. In both cases we related to a feeling, but only if there is a hurtful imprint or pleasant memory.
    Words alone mean nothing or have very little impact if we cannot connect emotionally or vividly to them.
    If repression is too strong, hurtful words do not connect (left to right brain) to the lower consciousness and we are unable to describe the feeling that tries to leak from the neo-cortex upwards (right to left-brain). Nevertheless, the Hypothalamus is active – cortisol will rise, if there is not enough serotonin. It’s all about imprint and resonance.

    1. Hello Sieglinde!

      If we're talking about feelings... this can only be done based on what the limbic system presents!

      A positive "feeling" based on what neo cortex gives answers... is just a thought for what cognitively are perceived... an experience of stress relief. So the experience of relief from tension as experienced as a good "feeling" is still on a scale of suffering.

      Everything we experience from neo cortex itself... alone... is for the task more or less... alleviation of intensity from sufferings in the limbic system… leaking intensity and not because of reason.

      It needed a complete integration between the limbic system and neo cortex... to be registered as a feeling... to become an experience from cause and effect... everything else is confused interpretations and thus interpretations of wrong reason.

      A perception of satisfaction of a feeling is only on the lower scale of suffering in neo cortex... if not connected to the limbic system where feelings are home!


  10. What an interesting question "free will"!

    Free will... something that does not belong to us... something we want but can never have because of reasons... need is of an other nature!

    The medical process... explanation for the below text requires its scientific process... explanation as the most important discovery mankind has made in any area!

    Free will... to want something we never got! There's nothing like free will... we are or not. When we were not... we tried to be in vain... so we developed a desire... a hope... sometime maybe... perhaps with a bit of "luck".

    Free will... will never reach its "satisfaction"... before that... will our attempts eradicate ourselves!

    Read Art:s books!


  11. Despite genes and epigenes I think the human beings are naturally induced to reach free will.
    Unconscious guides us reproducing those situations wich swich on repressed traumas. The key of comprehension is located in the deepest part of our feelings, after fear, pain, terror, wich are supposed to protect our conscius against life threatening situations. There's no other way to reach "freedom from our phantoms" but living and feeling wholly what's supposed to be repressed and hidden. By reliving we can reach comprehension and by comprehension we can get free.
    In my mothertoung to imagine is said immaginare, it comes from latin "in me mago agere" wich could be translated " within me a sorcerer acts", in other words someone changes reality thought act of will. There is free will, and best way to acheive it is stopping fearing pain.

    1. ddd: and what is your native language? art.

    2. ddd: I'd say we'd better start feeling the pain instead of stopping fearing it. That's the challenge. Otherwise you're dancing with death. And only a proper Cicerone (a Primal therapists) can guide the child hidden within us out of his/her imprisonment. Free will remains locked within our hidden Self in wait for a loving soul (I must say) to step forward and take our hand, someone able to see our pain through what we like to think of ourselves (the veil of our act-outs) and consider it seriously, not escaping from it. I'm sure Art, nor France, does not fear playing the role of a caring father/mother if that means helping demolish our defenses. That's the art (!) of the sorcerer.

  12. Of the topic:
    Dr. Janov, what is your understanding on Autism and oxytocin.
    If autism is truly related to lack of oxytocin, one can assume autism is birth trauma (anoxia)?
    “Preliminary results from an ongoing, large-scale study by Yale School of Medicine researchers shows that oxytocin -- a naturally occurring substance produced in the brain and throughout the body -- increased brain function in regions that are known to process social information in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).”

    1. Sieglinde: as ususal you know more than me about this. I wrote about oxytocin in three books, Life Before Birth, Primal Healing and The Biology of Love. art

    2. Hi Sieglinde

      That's fascinating. I have a God Son with Asbergers and he had a very traumatic birth. He then spent a month in an incubator. His Mother is a bit self absorbed and pretty well as soon as he came home was put in the charge of a child minder. I wonder how many kids who spent time in an incubator have Autism or Asbergers.

    3. planespotter
      I spent weeks in an incubator after a two month premature birth and I most certainly have NO autism or Asbergers disease. In fact am considered extremely intelligent, am in touch with my feelings and have also achieved a very high level of university education.

    4. Hi Plainspotter,
      I’m not sure yet but I’m on the subject, talking to bio-chemist and taking online classes to find out if Methylation (stuff between DNA) is hindering protein to connect (synopsis) to neurotransmitters/receiver. There is a possibility of a DNA split (double helix) - but no clarity/evidence how and when this is produced. There are too many off-shuts.

    5. Anonymous: Pain can channel our conscious mind into intellectualism, making us very bright on *some* levels. Many intellectuals have massive 1st-line pain (infantile pain), which I understand to be Art's clinical observation as well.

      Also we cannot know how in touch we really are with our feelings until we know the difference. All of us have "rooms" in our brains that have long been shut away from us via repression, and we don't and can't know about them without feeling the pain inside them. I.e. you don't know if you're colour blind until you see those shades that you had never previously known were even there.

      Note I am not trying to "cut you down to size" - no doubt you're bright. I'm just trying to show you that things are not always as they seem, from either the objective or subjective outlook.

    6. Hallo, Andrew
      Thanks for your comments!You may not know that I have already actually primalled, on my own with many deep 'insights'and another time with help. For three and a half years in my early twenties I did this work, after having opened myself up too totally to my inner pain via lsd which was pushed on me unawares by a stupid college friend in 1972.I had really no choice for I went through total hell as a child from both parents, a mother who openly hated me and died when I was just 10, a very violent on almost a daily basis from a fundamentally religious father who would hit me just for asking why innocently and a family of 3 sisters who scapegoated me to an extreme degree and being put in childrens homes by his where I was violently raped by two much older paedophiles when I was 14 and a half. So I am not what I would call 'an intellectual' because of the pain mass. Is Richard your brother. You two are SO LUCKY to have each other interested in the same thing, if so. Give my love to New Zealand. I spent a wonderful six weeks there on a world journey in 1990. Just love the place. (Also its so nice to be the other end of the world from England! All the best from me to you.

    7. Thanks anonymous,

      Yes Richard is my brother. I explained PT to him over a decade ago and he saw and understood the truth in it immediately. The rest of my family think it's all bullshit, but that is so obviously because they desperately want to believe that because they are scared of what it has to say, and they don't have Richard's intelligence and realism. Honestly when someone doesn't want to believe something badly enough there is NOTHING you can say to change their minds. You just have to write them off and focus on the next generation. Breaking the inter-generational cycle of pain is the most important thing to do.

      Have you been to Arthur's clinic? If not I think you should. With a childhood like yours you would surely want an expert review. I don't believe you can know how much pain you have really integrated, ahead of what could ultimately be abreaction. You know that Art's experience with LSD is that it basically stuffs everything up.

      Best regards,

  13. I often hueted by others..... and I know that this is because Iam already heart inside.. Exspecially when I am whit my family I feel hurt and triggered by them. I feel like an open wound.

  14. (Late reply to Andrew Atkin from the previous blog post, if that's alright?)

    Hi Andrew,

    Please understand that I do not subscribe to Eckhart Tolle's teachings/philosophy, although I totally did back in 2009. That was before reading Primal Scream and Primal Healing.

    What I find interesting is that he is just about the only other person apart from Arthur Janov who has identified the Primal Pool, albeit by another name. Who else in the entire field of psychology is talking about this? For me, the following is remarkably compatible with what Dr Janov has been saying for the last 40 years:

    "There is such a thing as old emotional pain living inside you. It is an accumulation of painful life experience that was not fully faced and accepted in the moment it arose. It leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain."

    Also, by entitling the article 'Managing The Pain-body' there is the tacit recognition and acknowledgement that this isn't something that can be cured by just meditating long enough or some other magic wand remedy.


    1. Ok, but Eckhart does not offer real solution, and does not encourage robust understanding. Often misrepresentation of a reality is worse than no representation at all.

      ...but Eckhart is fit for the Oprah show because he doesn't break things down to the hard truths. He ultimately tells people to go back to sleep into a kind of wishful-thinking fantasy world. He ultimately sells people their escapism - not their pain. And as we all know the only way out is through our pain - we have to confront -and process- our unfinished business.

    2. This is very interesting, Ben. Also there is, I mean...WAS Alice Miller who also knew about this but she didn't become a therapist in this particular field herself.

    3. Eckhart Tolle quote:

      "...I didn't say much else, allowing her to be with the experience. Later she came to understand that the moment she stopped identifying with the feeling, the old painful emotion that lived in her, the moment she put her attention on it directly without trying to resist it, it could no longer control her thinking and so become mixed up with a mentally constructed story called “The Unhappy Me.” Another dimension had come into her life that transcended her personal past – the dimension of Presence. Since you cannot be unhappy without an unhappy story, this was the end of her unhappiness. It was also the beginning of the end of her pain-body. Emotion in itself is not unhappiness. Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness..."

      the whole story is here:

      Art, maybe this is close to your work but 45 years ago?

      His "awakening" is interesting human phenomena.

      could it be that his right brain is constantly
      bugging the left so the left finaly finds a way
      to satisfy the right but without knowing why the
      the flow is free although somehow encrypted.
      and subjective feeling is free and "present".

      would EEG show it?
      or cortisol, serotonine, dopamine, oxytocine
      measurement is more accurate?

    4. Vuko: What he writes is a turn on cognitive therapy and is nonsense. art

    5. Vuko + Art,

      I agree that it's cognitive therapy - going by the quote. When you "put your attention on the feeling" what you are really doing is thinking about the feeling, rather than feeling the feeling. It's a round-about distraction. You think you're "getting in touch" with your feelings, but in truth you're just putting your feelings on an intellectual/cryptic leash.

      The focus, for pain integration, is not the feeling in itself but the context (reality) that created the feeling. And it's the openness that we (hopefully) have that allows our reality, and its accompanying feeling, to be felt.

      Primal therapy is about feeling your repressed reality - feeling the truth, and the pain of it. When feelings are the isolated end-focus in themselves we have completely missed the plot.

  15. Dr. Janov,
    here we go again: "Study Shows Many Teens at Risk for Suicidal Behavior Despite Mental Health Help"
    They keep on treating symptoms and keep on talking to the wrong brain.

  16. It is like a "chain reaction" . People so caught up in "what comes around , goes around." Free will...maybe years and years ago. Now, it just seems people love to hurt others as much as possible, and don't ever let up; only because they have been habitually hurt. What Arthur has to say here, to me, I feel, is important. People don't even bother to realize the hurt they cause, and if they don't realize that; then how can free will ever exist again? Too many people hurting one another , mentally, for anyone to feel some kind of "free will" anywhere.

  17. Hi coastbeach7, this is part 1.

    I know this guy, worked with him for 22 years on & off. I thought he was a good mate but began to notice it was all one way. He's finally driven me nuts in my own workshop; he likes winding people up and he's very nice about it, funny guy. NOT, any more. He knows all my history, my children etc, his kids were mates with mine, he knows how fucked up I am, how fucked up my son is and a lot more besides.

    He said to me on the job: "God, my girlfriend keeps on breaking down and crying all the time about her father, it's driving me mad and I really don't know if I can handle much more of it"-. . .

    He's a trained masseur and also been in psychotherapy for 4yrs. His ex wife hates him and now I realise why.

    He said to me: "Oh yeah, my therapist's wife is 're-birthing' her" (the girlfriend). . . That's the therapist who approves of Janov by the way. Oh yes, this so called therapist recommended she (the girlfriend) drink a bottle of milk stout every day during pregnancy and breast feeding. . . I kid you not. Amazingly they had a Leboyer birth of their daughter, in a pool, bottle of beer in hand no doubt. I digress, sorry.

    After about 4 weeks in my workshop this so called 'mate' blamed me for having a problem with blame when I lost my rag with him for refusing to take notes in order to remember the tasks I asked him to do. I began to feel like I was working for him; he said: "Well Paul, you'll just have to tell me what you want me to do". Jesus, that gives me the red mist. He didn't understand me when I told him he'd been brainwashed by his therapist, actually he was offended. I have broken off all contact with him now and it's taking a long time for this particular wound to heal. But I have seen the light. I finally realised how Mr. 'Nice Guy' was just taking the piss and the money. He has offered zero support to me and mine. Basically behind the 'Nice Façade' with a 'Good Sense of Humour' lurks a closet passive aggressive bully and I'm not taking that sanctimonious shit any more. I realised he's like my father and brother, Tyrannical Buffoons the lot of them. That's what unconsciously attracted me to him in the first place. Oh Brother, what an act out! C**t!

    If I had not cried so much for my Mum and Dad as a little child I would not have gained this insight, nor the next one.

    Paul G.

    part 2 follows.

    1. Those are a lot of projections. Possibly this man has his own story of why he is as he is. Some of us are suffering avoidant attachment disorder, incapable of relationships. Some of us survived through dissociation. Yes, sometimes high functioning, very nice on the outside, so that everyone wants to tank on that energy or dump their negative emotions in it or are themselves incapable of taking responsibility for feeling their own emotions, in turn leak them to others (read Pieter Langendijk), which seriously dysregulate an extreme empath/sensitive person, who is like that because of deep inuterine trauma (Peter Levine. personal) For some of us it is not a facade, but a desperare way to cope. to stay alive, and not leave descendants with the heritage of selfchosen death/euthanasia on the grounds of unbearable suffering/ or ugly suicide.

  18. Paul, Part 1 was very interesting....

  19. Hi coastbeach7, this is a re-edit of part 2:

    The year before last year, before I left my family home, I was washing up at the sink one day and my ex was having a go at me about when I would be leaving and I was in tears, she said: "God Paul, you're just crying to make me feel guilty, you're being so manipulative; do you really think you're going to get your own way by trying to make me feel guilty"? I just looked at her with the tears rolling down my cheeks and she said: "Stop crying, it's not good for our daughter". . . She then threatened to call the police and throw my stuff on the pavement, this she did infront of our daughter who was also extremely upset and on the verge. . .

    Both of these adults (my 'mate' and my ex) have had 3 or 4 years of cognitive insight therapy which also induces small and partial regression into painful feelings; nevertheless these minor emotive experiences have been layered with much 'coaching'; thus they believe they have dealt with their past and are moving on. They can now look down on other sufferers with sanctimonious disdain.
    Life sure can be really lonely when you're surrounded by that sort of denial. The worst thing about my ex is that it was my idea that she get into therapy. . . . of course at the time 6 yrs ago I never imagined such an outcome, particularly because my bodywork therapist seemed to be getting me into my true feelings. Though now I know he was far too influenced by Willy Reich and didn't know Primal Theory (or if he did he didn't tell me). Consequently I'm in a worse situation than if I hadn't had any therapy at all.
    It's amazing what conventional therapists can 'coach' their 'clients' into doing. My ex said that she had found her therapist's advice really useful. Her therapist is a feminist Budhist. I guess she is a spinster with no children of her own, that's what my ex reckoned too, though she never found out for sure because like so many therapists she reserved the right to keep the "Therapeutic Alliance" going only one way. To me it feels like I am on the receiving end of revenge for a crime my ex partners mother committed. Furthermore she refuses to read Janov or Nancy Friday. My ex explained it would be a conflict of interests to do that. . . She didn't use those words but that's what she meant, ie: it would be better for her to only read what her therapist advises.

    I have concluded that 'conventional therapy' can at times be no more than 'authority sanctioned vengeance'. That allows 'clients' a new 'project'. No wonder therapy like that is so popular.

    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.