Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Does the Unconscious Make Us Do?

  I often note that we are driven by our unconscious;  so what does that mean?  What drives us and how?  Memories; not often verbal but memories, nevertheless.  Let’s recap a bit.  We have traumas very early in life that become imprinted  and remain locked-into the system.  Imprints usually mean that key needs were not met; as for example, in the womb, a lack of proper nutrients or a mother who  smokes and drinks.  Oh by the way, there is a “scientific” report this week  that states that  it is OK for the carrying mother  to have one drink.  NOT SO, EVER.  It affects the fetus developing brain and we can  only imagine what alcohol does, but whatever it is, it is not good  and should never be allowed, even by the sages among us.  And when one drink leads to another with one puff leading to another we have  the makings of later serious mental illness.

    So key needs are left unfulfilled and the system remembers it for a lifetime, and it drives us for a lifetime.  And the act-out is  direct  reflection of the early imprinted memory.  The imprint means pain, a pain of such magnitude that it must be repressed.  And act out is in some way a means of obtaining  fulfillment.  Maybe later it can mean overeating to make up for starvation in the womb.  Or it can be a sexual act out as the person needs touch and caress which went missing just after birth.  The earlier the imprint the more powerful it is and the stronger the force attached to it.  That translates into obsessive compulsive behavior as the drive is so strong as to be unrelenting.  And so when someone finds religion as an act out, it is often because she needs someone  to care  and protect her.  Someone to watch over her and be there the minute she needs him .  So long as there are unconscious imprints, there will be act-outs.  Smoking is a great act-out; the minute there is pain, often not aware,  she reaches for a smoke.  It is always there and ready to ease the pain.  It is the  nature of the pain that it is repressed so that we are seldom aware of it or our act-outs.  But breathing deep and feeling the warmth from the cigarette go deep inside is relaxing and addictive.  And so what do the Behaviorists do?  They try to stop  the act-out, stopping the only possible release there  is and the only possible means of seeking out fulfillment.  I have seen too many actors and directors  who get depressed when they are not working.  They need that outlet all of the time.  When it is not there they slip into depression.  Why?  Their act-out is removed for a time and  they are left with their pain and unmet need.  They are literally bereft.  They are getting close to, “Love me momma,  hold me, be with me!”  They smoke and drink more and do what they can to keep pain sequestered; again, a pain never or rarely acknowledged.  I was once consultant on a film where the director, so insecure, kept sending the star notes of how much he admired and loved her.  It eased her and him.

  When we examine the nature of the act-out we can often pinpoint when the imprint was set down and how.  One patient could not stand enclosed restaurants.  She needed a constant supply of air.  She became claustrophobic, and it got worse  and worse.  Until she felt it; and, as we suspected, her mother’s cord was wrapped around her neck and she could not breathe.  Another patient had to keep moving, could not sit still, was ADD,  and needed to travel  all of the time.  She was blocked in the canal and had a terrible time getting out.  Her anxiety was having to sit still;  and  when she was blocked in a line she became anxiety ridden, the very same anxiety she had originally that had no name.  Now it does, but that name does nothing toward a cure.  It is what that name signifies  that matters.  Here it means being blocked when its result meant life and death.  It is the meaning that matters and not  the  resulting act-out alone.

  We see the importance of the act-out, because  removing it opens us up to  pain.  So someone deprived of enough food in the womb is forced to overeat, that is, eating for now and  then.  The act-out seems neurotic only because it is behavior out of  context.  The minute we put it into context, it becomes real and adaptive.  To relive being born and not immediately being held and caressed makes it clear to the patient what his act-out of having to be connected at all times means.  He was detached from his mother with nothing to hang onto. His mother was quite sick and had to be isolated from several weeks.  He had to feel  this over and over again as it was set down, not as an adult crying about it.  The pain of it went on for weeks and had to be relived methodically and slowly over time.  It could not be rushed. But the more consciously aware it became the less force there was left and  therefore the less he was being driven to act  out.  He did not have to get on the phone whenever he was alone in order to feel connected.  He experienced the ultimate primal disconnection.

  What is in the unconscious?  A lot of pain and a lot of memories……..engraved.  These are not just verbal memories; they are systemic, infused into every cell in our bodies.  If we want to get rid of frigidity and other sexual problems, we need to experience a therapy that is global and physiologic; not simply intellectual.  We need to free the body of its pain.  The whole body must be involved again in the memory; otherwise it is a mental event.  Too much of today’s therapies deal with act-outs because it is only a matter of behavior to change.  We are not just changing minds; we are changing all of us because that is where the pain is.


  1. Dr. Janov.
    There is not much I can add to the list except SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and suicide. In both cases low serotonin was discovered. What was not looked for is oxytocin. The question is, is oxytocin missing when a person acts out?
    Dose oxytocin plays a greater role that we just don’t yet know?
    My theory: since all imprints are fear based (fear of life/death and pain) is it possible that the love hormone oxytocin, which has a calming effect, could be used as a transporting vehicle for serotonin, in to the lower brain, hindering or stopping the pituitary to put out too much adrenalin (created by fear), or even prevent methylation disarming the switch-off in the genes?
    We need to find out exactly what methylation is made of (maybe created by too much adrenalin output) – how and when it becomes active, to determine how we can repair the damaged genes, besides with primals.

    1. Sieglinde: You are way ahead of me about oxytocin being a transporting vehicle for serotonin. I will accept a page or two of your ideas if you want to send me them. They are valuable. art

    2. Hi Sieglinde,
      When I first saw the 3D computer model of the epigenetic process (from a Janov blog reference to a University site) I realised that repression was a biochemical buffer for trauma. This protects our essential genes from catastrophic distortion during traumatic events, whilst they happen. Later cancer, dementia, etc develops from the pressure of maintaining the repression. . . Somehow nature has developed a way to protect evolution from it's own worst "Experiential" excesses. Somewhere else there is research that shows plants developed this too; billions of years ago.

      But is it possible to correct the trauma without reliving it? That seems to be your question.

      You are speculating that re-living may not be necessary, de-methilation/acylitation could be a chemical methodology in it's own right?

      That is a very interesting proposition.

      I have been considering this but my gut sensations feel like re-living. I need to go back there. Other feelings and thoughts don't necessarily allow me. My thoughts and my 2nd line feelings keep on finding ways to protect me from that re-living experience. The court is out. . .

      Who knows?

      Paul G.

    3. Paul, I am writing on this, which should be done next week. art

    4. Hi Paul

      I tend to agree with you. After all the chemical processes are caused by external events and therefore other external events ie re-living would reset the chemical process. I suppose it is a bit like suffering a series of failed business attempts. One loses confidence and then after a great deal of striving brings some success. Another and another success helps boost confidence. Is that confidence a change in chemicals? Probably? I have found that experiencing feelings from the past and being able to link them to events has changed me. It describes Art's theory of starting in the present and working back. Fiddling around at a chemical level may well be the same as giving someone a labotomy and also gives abusers a "Get out of jail free card" as society always has done.

    5. Hi Paul,
      There is talk about chemical de-methylation in vitro aiming the “Interleukin 36 RN Gene” (inflammation). I’m very skeptical if it works on living people without side effects. Let’s wait and see.
      Still I’m very astounded about the progress science has made in the last 10 years.

  2. The whole body must be involved.

    My mother did not smoke or drink alcohol. She was “taken care of and protected” by religion. In the holy bible, Genesis 3:16, my mother had read: “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children”. Having an exceptional will power my mother decided, when the amniotic fluid had passed, to expose me (her first child) to all the severe pain she was mighty to please the bible / her god. Her willpower (read imprinted pain) almost killed both of us during the 48 hours she blocked her body and me. When the staff of the birth clinic took over the command they pulled me out as a breech with the umbilical cord around my neck in a stranglehold.

    Until her death at high age, my mother and I had a peculiar / subconscious relationship. I never felt there was a limit to what I could tell her. After 2 years in LA and PT, I introduced her to the principles of PT and what it might mean to me and my epilepsy. Suddenly I experienced the Eureka effect of my life, when my mother started to cry and after 40 years of denial began to tell me about why my birth became as it became. Her “primal” gave us both a belated compensation for our long and agonizing sufferings.

    WHY am I “drowning” Art’s famous fish by, over and again, talking about my birth, my epilepsy and the life pattern they caused? These experiences translate the principles of PT in practical, functioning curative reality.

    After years of experience with evolution in reverse, I have carefully introduced techniques that have taken me several steps forward in my development. I have spoken before of how my fingers and feet have grown over the last few decades. This week I have again been made aware of how my whole body during a long life has been stunted / restrained / undeveloped after I, during the birth process, had been trapped / compressed on the border between life and death. It is a powerful feeling physically / emotionally to feel the communication (both ways) between the feet, hands, and the anxiety / pain when I can experience sensations that surely have been normal for most people during a lifetime.

    "We need to free the body of its pain. The whole body must be involved again in the memory; otherwise it is a mental event." I could not agree more!!!

    Jan Johnsson

    1. More on our remembering selves.

      When the WHOLE body, everything included, is involved in the memory, we feel complete / together. With other words, we are our remembering selves. Often our experiencing selves are like strangers. I got this from Daniel Kahneman, and, he also described that, for most people, the value of a vacation trip is not the experience but the anticipation beforehand and the memory afterward. From a Primal point, he says something interesting; many people would be willing to experience a tremendous amount of pain if they were guaranteed that their brains were wiped clean of any trace of memory. (He didn’t go that far that he included the whole body. His wife, Anne Treisman is a cognitive psychologist at Princeton...)

      During my whole life I have a few memories which stand out; each of which were complete (with as much of my body included as I was capable of). For example, they include how I was dethroned as a kid by my 3 year younger sister, how I refused - was unable - to accept my mothers religious drivel, when I got my first kiss at 15 and when I smoked my first Pall Mall cigarette. Later comes my memory when I was recommended The Primal Scream in the beginning of the 1970is, my first Rolfing session in Boulder, Colorado, my first experience of how a grand mal seizure turned into a primal feeling / birth experience, my mother giving me her version of my birth 1980 and how Art put me into a sensational primal experience in Bergen, Norway 1984.

      All these are important examples of memories I trust because my whole body was / is involved, contrary to many of my countless memories which are merely mental events.

      Jan Johnsson

    2. Jan: I remember how you turned an epileptic fit into a primal. art

    3. To be dethroned (Example no. 1 of outstanding memories)

      “The Dethroned Prince” (“El Principe Detronizado”), is a book of the Spanish author Miguel Delibes. He gets into the skin of a four year old boy and tries his world with ingenuity, simplicity and fantasy. The family, which Delibes masterfully paints, consists of a professional, working father and a home-reaching mother who together had a traditional / unequal and correct relationship. The boy Quico, seeks and is continuously receiving everyone’s attention. As a natural consequence, he gets used to dominate and be noticed until the family was extended with a baby girl. The sister, constantly cheerful and happy, took quickly, and seemingly undramatic, the lead role and Quico saw himself dethroned.

      Delibes’s narrative, with few deviations, could have been my own story. I was 3 years old when my sister was born. I was first born and eagerly awaited according to the, slightly formal, suitor letter, which my father wrote to my mother a few years before my birth. My parents were young, had lots of friends and family, whom they socialized with. Even if World War II was going on, the situation in the neutral Sweden seemed relatively “safe”.

      For someone, who is inexperience in the emotional processes, it may sound contradictory that the advent of a sister July, 1943, would show up as a larger threat for my future, emotional, security than the threatening war around the borders of our country. A circumstance that was not changed by the fact that a B-17 Flying Fortress crashed quite near our home.

      During decades, my agonizing jealousy and my obsession with curly people were propelled by anxiety neuroses. They had their roots in my being dethroned and in my nasty birth process. Anxiety provoking stabs from my inhibited environment, which was poor on emotions and touch, easily started these painful reactions.

      Many years later I was seduced by the cover picture of a book by a curly shrink in Santa Monica. The “Primal Scream”, had in addition to its cover art, also a revolutionary content, and I intuitively knew it would bring me closer to a demystification of my stigma. So in April 1978, I went through three weeks of Primal Therapy in LA and I had my first primal experiences. I had a feeling / flashback and saw, how my sister (with blond curly hair) sat on my father's lap and I found myself standing heartbroken, pushed to the floor. In my sister’s early teens, her hair color turned very dark from being blonde and curly, which I had forgotten / repressed. Eventually I could feel / understand why I, for decades, had been obsessed with people / girls with blond curly hair, and why I had been neurotically jealous when my position with someone was threatened. Over the years, I intended, often with success, to impress my father with blond, curly fiancees to get his attention and avoid my feelings of inferiority / jealousy.

      I needed many occasions, when I have “laid back and felt the stab of anxiety”, to realize that my picture of my life prior to Primal Therapy was not true. The picture of my happy childhood was, in fact, a fake in order not to feel the pain. A dramatic birth, lack of physical contact and conditional love were the factors which created my neurotic life pattern. By going against the current and apply the Primal Principles, I have painstakingly regained much of my original self. It has been a kind of modern, short term “archeology”. Archeology is defined as the study of human activity in the past!

      Jan Johnsson

    4. Jan: Well done and well written. art

  3. If we suffer... we are in suffering throughout our lives no matter what the neocortex tell us about.

    When my father threatened me into silence... I was five years... threatened by raising his arm and show that he was going to beat me if I was not quiet. It caused a suffering throughout my life as from time to other made my head to explode... which was a reason for my headache... about what and why... something that never been the question... not even in my wildest "fantasy".
    I could not imagine that there were no other reason... more than being a terrible headache.

    Now it has received its explaination! Something happend with an "terrible" intensity... that from time to time... over and over again... about what happened in my life... which there is no doubt about anymore.

    A phenomenon... a tool... as to this day... not is known among "professional"... something that I also missed... the word that gives me an answer... that link me together with my " dad... dad then... DADDY... DADDY... DADDY... DADDY... DADDY.. DADDY... DADDY "and I'm suddenly there... in the middle of an event I never imagined was so real... with an intensity cemented in its cause... an emotional experience when I once again sitting there... now in consciousness of what the suffering was about... with the need on and off... without words to explain... more than DADDY... DADDY... again and again which helps me to break the "silence"... the silence as has protected me from life-threatening experiences... experiences that my dad was for me.

    I "disappeared"... in knowledge... involuntarily through a electrochemical blockages of my DADDY... into ignorant of my need for him. I "died" from suffering as nothing but experience can tell me about.


  4. An email comment:
    ola Art
    thanks for the clear description of how old unconscious memories cause many feelings, pain, defences & problem behaviors now. The damage from pregnant smoking & drinking reminds me of Michel Odent connecting many prenatal conditions, habits & problems to later sickness, birthing & bonding problems for mothers; documented in detail scientific reports at website the many research reports on cause-effects connections.

    i first read 'Primal Scream' & doing yoga in 1971 & began sobbing & occationally screaming alone was/is very healing getting deep old flashbacks & awareness of how pain & fears influenced me for years since birth. Thanx for your ctinuing primal healing work & reporting on discoveries in your experience & books.

    primally yours"

  5. I'm going through some very difficult feelings at the moment which have driven a lot of the pain in my life. When I was 17 months old, I nearly died and suspect it's from being left alone in the dark night after night with panic birth feelings on the rise. So I get a combination of the panic and terror from the birth which is waking me up in the night in fear and the baby that is trying not to die. The crying goes straight into baby wailing but is very hard to feel it without a therapist because the feeling is such a killer. I see how it drove my life and on the one hand very needy and the other a bit of a loner.
    I hope I can get through them, feels very overwhelming at the moment. It's hard without support in the present too. I too was told by my GP that PT was a cult and I had to excuse my father for hitting me because he was under a lot of stress at the time as my mother had schizophrenia. He also told me I had to be strong for my mother as not to make her anxious.
    I live in the middle east where support networks are a bit weak so if anyone wants to make a skype friend, I would love to talk to anyone.

    1. Emma, Sounds like you need to come back for some help. A buddy is good but it is not therapy. art

    2. Emma, Isn't it amazing that shrinks dismiss primal therapy as a cult without ever having read one word from it. I hope that you read what I wrote about forgiveness, as a purely religious exercise transmuted into a therapeutic philososphy. art

    3. Forgiveness is caustic. I had a close relative who is a lay preacher suggesting that I had to put myself to one side for the good of the family. I replied that it was the putting aside of myself which had been the problem all along. He survives because he is a lay preacher. The unconcious pressure to forgive is palpable. Alice Miller described that the cruelest thing a Parent can do to a child is withdraw love to force that child to do what the Parent wants. That is my family all over. Existing outside that still hurts a great deal. The loneliness is all pervading and crushing sometimes. I am suppossed to be the prodigal Son rushing back into the family fold with my Scapegoat tail tucked between my legs. My sister who has frankly been appallingly manipulative through this great rift can always play the "hurt Mum" card and everyone runs to her side. It's poisonous, really really poisonous. She is the responsible sibling in her Eyes and I am this gibbering dribbling waste of space. To step out this drama is to be seen as the villain. The ties are umbilical in their strength and strangling power. Sometimes it is all too much. Just because I want to be myself at so late a stage in my life.

      Forgiveness stinks.

    4. Hi,

      One way I get to comprehend denial in others is having experienced it in myself. . . after the event. Insight can be frightening. . . I have also 'dismissed' the truth in favour of lies. The power of repression can be very complete and all compelling. As Jack said: "Until you have had a 2nd or 1st line re-living experience you would not understand" (the depths of feeling that repression can hide).

      I know why people deny. I used to.

      Paul G.

    5. Hello Emma,

      I can't remember where I heard it from, but someone somewhere who investigated cot death said that it virtually only ever happens when the baby is separate from its parents. A point of interest, maybe.

    6. Emma

      I so understand what it's like being told to forgive and understand the perpetrators of violence because I had a violent father too. I was told it's because out of all my sisters (3 others at the time) I had a 'special relationship' with him. Crazy, isn't it? I am a loner, not just a bit of one. I see it as a form of self protection. Many people are exceedingly, thoughtlessly cruel. Best regards.

    7. Hello to all:

      I never understood the purpose of forgiveness.

      Does it mean to say that it is okay to be abused/molested?

      Does it mean there is no more resonance in my deeply inflicted pain?

      Does it mean the abuse-imprinted high blood pressure and raised cortisol, or even changed genes are “healed”?

      If the answer is no, who benefits from this 'deception' of forgiveness?
      is it posible the “forgiver” is surrendering to their pain and the pain-maker.

    8. ok Art, this is probably not the right moment or place for my comment
      not in tune with Emma or planetspotter... powerfull and important feelings.

      just wanted to say if somebody says "money gives me freedom"
      and he makes a philosophy or therapy of it (shopping therapy?)
      that doesn't mean that freedom is purely rich people's exercise
      transmuted into therapy or philosophy.

      maybe forgiveness or acceptance are not the best words
      to explain end of conflict with reality.
      Can you propose better term?

      can we conclude that any word can have distorted meaning.
      once the reality is unavailable everything can become "real".
      and words are best way to "prove" any kind of "reality".

    9. Vuko: I am not sure I understand what you mean. art

    10. Andrew: I wrote about this years ago on the blog. art.

    11. Hi Vuko

      If you mean that forgiveness is the beginning of acceptance and the beginning of the end of conflict then both sides need to be involved. Look at the truth and reconciliation comittee in Sout Africa where both sides had to face their own attrocities. Forgiveness tends to follow an appology and an appology is saying "I won't do that again". It is about the abuser respecting the right of the victim to be respected. If both sides can do that then maybe resolution can come about. However the abusive Parent child relationship is not like that. There the child has to forgive the beating because it is "For his own good" and is done in love (Bollocks). Such Parents continue to abuse the child and expect to be forgiven and then hurt the child again. Such a position is sheer hypocrasy as Paul points out.

      Real end to conflict can only come about with a development of mutual respect and a change of behaviour on both sides. The abuser stops abusing and the abused starts standing up for him or herself.

  6. everything i do is a ploy to gain love












  8. forgivness is acceptance of reality.
    feeling in primal is acceptance of reality.

    but we can DO forgiveness as an act of our
    (distorted) will. it is fake because it is adressing unknown reality.
    perfect recepy for endless conflicts.
    the person is forgiving the distorted representation of the feeling.
    everything stays on the surface and endless.
    we can't forgive what we don't know. but it can be calming.

    in this case the will is also superficial.
    hope also can get distorted... truth, doubt, judging, meaning, courage, love...
    can be and is distorted.

    every therapy, church, philosophy can use these terms.
    we use them every day. maybe we shouldn't

    but I refuse to erase them as meaningless.
    those words actualy become meaningfull in primal therapy.

    one more observation:
    Art, you say that we can't love neurosis away.
    One could conclude that in therapy you are all torturing the patient.
    The truth is you hopefuly help the patient "see" outside/inside reality.
    and Stop ignoring it. stop destorting it. stop unconsciousness living. in safety...
    If that is not love I don't know what it is.

    (same) words can have a (different) meaning.

  9. Hi planespotter,

    You know what forgiveness stinks of?


    Paul G.

    1. Hi planespotter,

      Y'know, I feel the cruellest thing anyone can do is to withdraw their support (having first established it); either as adults and/or children.

      We have a foreign aid policy like it.

      As sole trading 'individuals' we have become accustomed to reserving the 'right' to do this. The unaddressed assumption is that our 'individuality' is already complete and at risk of 'infringement' by other people's actions. Every one else is a potential threat to the assumed individuality that I so readily 'defend'.

      I am master of my castle and I will keep it to myself.

      Gun Law in US is the most obvious example of this travesty.

      Without a complete review of our family and social assumptions we will continue to 'manufacture' false selves under the influence of 'external stimulae'. Automatons devoid of the connection so needed to make us really HUMAN.

      And yet the rules of our psyche are so simple: 1-2-3, 3-2-1.

      I was thinking the other day (the usual delayed insights) about that question: "can I hurt another person's feelings"?

      -"Sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me"-.

      So many nursery rhymes have a double meaning. I just want to say I really know how you feel because my family are also like this to me. Though I surely have given them the 'excuse they need' to scapegoat me, ie: I just don't FEEL the same way as they do and I can't hide it or pretend. They have not access to their feelings, so what can I expect? I know, it doesn't help rationalising it like that either. . . It's just another 'cognitive' slogan.
      The bottom line in human affairs is 'conscience' and it is becoming obvious that repression diminishes conscience to the point of 'psychopathic behaviour' and one can end up asking the question: "Why me? Why do I have to endure this vacuum"?

      If there is an answer that fits this question it is because we are persuing our evolutionary destiny. Something in us is way too curious and demanding of satisfaction for those still trapped in their 'sole traders' mentality; their castle of suppressed despair.

      Never forget that your drive to be normal is precious. Try to recognise your courage planespotter. And lastly, you are not the only one; others, on this blog for example are experiencing similar abuse/ neglect from so called 'family'. F*****s, imposters, interlopers and tergivistators the lot of them!

      If some-how, some of us got to meet up one day, dare I speculate, perhaps we could form a supportive new circle in which we could live out our days with pride and respect gained from what really matters.

      In the meantime we are going to have to feel the full force of our despair, typically for me I am totally in that now and I haven't even got to the clinic yet.

      Sorting out all the details and documents now. Like doing my 'prep' at boarding school, must hand it in on time.

      Paul G.

    2. Hi Paul

      I totally get the whole issue of others on here going through all kinds of crap too. I post things because maybe someone will read it and think "Oh so it's not only me then". I don't have the technical knowledge like Art or Seinglinde for example. I can only go from my own observations and my own experience. I always think I am a bit like the cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. Doing courageous things while scared silly inside. I am courageous. Reading all I have read, learning all I have learned, facing up to great hurt as others on here have too. My courage has alienated me from my family. They are frightened abused and terrified people who cannot face that hurt. If my Mother recognised all the damage she has done over her adult life in revenge for the hurt visited upon her it would probably kill her.

      I think you are very lucky to have a child. I never got to that stage. I just did'nt have the emotional where with all to be a Father or to earn a good living. I think I would be a damn good Father now but's a bit late sadly.

      I still find getting in touch with my feelings difficult sometimes. From what you have said on here you seem to be further ahead than me. The fact that your ex wife even went to see a cognative therapist is way more courageous than any of my family have been. Mine are so scared that they think they are ok if you see what I mean. They are also furious with me for walking off though they cut off contact with me. Somehow I am being blamed for them cutting off contact.

      When Gorbachov was negociating with Reagan in the early 80's he said to Reagan "I am your worst nightmare. I am going to take your enemy away" as he dissolved the Soviet Union. I have become the enemy. I was the enemy all my life though now it is fact and physical and caustic.

      When I first started to try and work out what was going on in my head I discovered the Karpman Drama Triangle. At the time I was so repressed and stressed I found the thought of stepping out of that Triangle difficult. I have now. To do so is unleash the hounds of hell from others in that triangle. My family could win Oscars for their unknowing performances.

      I agree that my drive to be normal is precious. That drive saved me. I got enough love from a few people early in my life for me to keep above the darkness.

      It still does'nt mean that it does'nt hurt like hell to be so alone in being more normal than many I know. It's like the little Mermaid putting up with excruciating pain for every step she took in exchange for legs and feet so she could be with her Prince. For many to try and be normal we have to face great pain. Not only the pain that Art deals in but the pain of seperation from one's previous life.

      I just say it how I feel. Maybe someone a lot further back down the road than me will read it and maybe it will help them in some small way.

    3. planespotter,

      to tell the truth I got to be a parent with an extremely dysfunctional woman who is now dead. I am left feeling shit that the 'choices' I made have resulted in my son being seriously disturbed from the drugs his mum was taking. . . He has problems that only he and I understand. I'm pretty sure he is still alive because I discovered this blog at his darkest moment. He is one of those rare men with anorexia (his diagnosis). At one point when his psychotic ex partner (my grandson's mother) broke into his flat with armed gangsters to abduct the baby and beat him up his weight went down to 6 stone.

      He has done a lot of work on self prescription. He uses tramadol, itasopam and various other things.

      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.