Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Psychology of a Great Actor

  I  have often thought about what makes a great actor, not a good one, but a great one.  Marlon Brando is one, Gerard Depardieu (France)  is another.  I think what it involves is those with leaky gates and therefore great access to feelings.  They can portray emotions to their depths because they are already awash in them. It makes them great and already out of control.  They are impulsive, aggressive, narcissistic, having never enough love and attention, and above all, self referent: that is, everything they say or do is related to them. You say something and they immediately retort, “I remember when I..,……” blah blah.  They are always story tellers , and the story is usually about them.

    Their whole world is acting and that is where they are real. They can blend into any character and become that character.    Reality is not their thing except inside a fantasy character.  They have no self-consciousness because the self is in the character; they are not examining the character, they are living it.  They are it.  One of my actresses put it this way:  “I’ll be anything you want me to be, mommy,  if you will only love me.” Alas, that is not to be because because too often the parent is also self-centered and has no time or space for anyone else.  They cannot give anything to anyone.  The minute an actor steps back to look at the role he is playing he is no longer great; he is as they say in French, quelconque.  He  is everyman, a wanna-be.  Let’s be clear; when an actor thinks too much about what he is doing he is back in his head and apart from the role.  He has to be in it totally to be great.

      So why is their lives such a mess; and it nearly always is.  Because they cannot love anyone.  The unloved children go to a therapist who claims: you have to love yourself.  What nonsense. How can you when there is nothing inside to do that? That is a double mind-fuck. Now the children have to wonder, “What’s wrong  with me” Why can’t I love myself?  And if they imagine that they can love themselves then  all is lost because they have bought the fantasy without the essence.  If they knew anything about neurophysiology they would know that you cannot love yourself unless you totally distort the meaning of love, and neurologically there is a critical period when you can be  loved and only during  that period.  If you try to “love yourself” at age forty, good luck.  You need to be loved when the critical period for love is relevant and that is during gestation and infancy.  That sets your life.

    I am trying to figure out how you love yourself?  You tell yourself “I love you?”  You hug yourself?  Buy nice things for yourself?  What??  There is no good answer because it  is nonsense. This is doubly true if a great actor goes to therapy; he will incorporate the therapy and therapist into his narcissism and not change  one scintilla.  He can’t.  He  is  driven for love and manages to find a profession where  he can think he can get it:  Applause, “they just loved you tonight, “ blah  blah.  That is  what he gets for love but he keeps on perfecting his craft to get more and more.  I have treated some near-greats but the dynamic is the same.  Love me, love me.

  I have treated young actresses who run the minute there is an interview for  a role.  There is a desperation about it as there is so much at stake for them: a chance for love, approval, appreciation, attention; everything that was missing in their home-life.  They will settle at age twenty for hundreds “loving them” for what they missed early on.  And what they missed  early on is  gone  and will never be retrieved.  What they can retrieve is reality; feeling unloved.  And dialectically, that will finally enable  them to feel loved again.  The repressive barriers  have been penetrated and there is again access to real feelings and the ability to feel real love.  A major actor wrote a book about that after his therapy.  The point is that when you are loved you feel it and act it; you don’t go around saying, “I love myself.”  You don’t think about it because whatever you do is natural; the way things need to be.  You don’t run around thinking , I am tall.  That is simply the nature of things. So is feeling loved.  And if acting and getting love from thousands were satisfying then the actor would not be so driven to do it again and again.  But it is like a tranquilizer; it only lasts for a moment.  It is not truly fulfilling because the actor often cannot truly let love in.  Yes of course, there is the true artistry of acting and the actor wants to do it over and over, but I am discussing the inner drive, the ultimate motivation.

So why are actors and directors so depressed when not on stage?  Because they feel what  they really feel, profoundly unloved; they are bereft of their defense.  When they work they can struggle for love,  and there is hope again.  They see the applause, the approval and appreciation. It allows their defenses to work again.  And all is well in life.  They will undergo years of rejection, as they did in their early life, for that crumb of love.  They expect rejection; it was their mode of life early on; they know it well.


  1. Excellent article! You nailed it good. My father is often an actor, so I know “them” well.

    As for “loving yourself,” this is a broad and undefined term out there. I know what you are saying. But think when some say they love themselves, they simply mean they are not toing to let someone walk all over them like a doormat. Many with low opinions of themselves with “low esteem,” will often let people walk all over them. They usually will not stand up for themselves.

    But some, upon realizing their weakness or vulnerability in those areas, determine not to let it happen again. They decide they are not doormats and will not let people treat them like dirt. If they meat bad people, they distance themselves and stay away. They refuse to be victims of abuse any longer.

    So, would you fault someone who decided they will no longer let other just walk all over them? I wouldn’t. I think the step they make is a good one. Is it the end of improvement? No, there is always room for more and of course, you advocate the elimination of all pain and trauma, which is great idea if one can make room for it.

    But I do not fault those who suddenly stop taking crap all the time. It is a step in the right direction, even if it is only one step. One is better than none.

  2. Art,

    About Marlon Brando and Gerard Depardieu.

    You mean... when they act the need of love... they were practically part of a sick need... sick because it was something they never could get... and they were acting it.
    They were part of symptoms constructed through their act from the sources of needs... needs so painful that the sentence for them would have killed them if they did not acted them out.
    It kept them alive for the evolutionary "meaning" for procreation at any price... but died anyway at the end of their suffering? A very very sad story!


  3. Hi,

    well then my boarding schools were acting schools and I have been trained to be some one different from who I really am. I am almost a split personality because I rebelled at 16 and started finding the real me; an ongoing search. Yes, there really is a real me. . . 'They' didn't kill that and there was something real in me before I was incarcerated. . .

    Paul G.

  4. For me to know and maybe for you!

    The primal therapeutic technical issue is the knowledge of how the underlying emotions affect and control behaviors... the underlying emotions in its power of symptoms... symptoms that leaks out in the "light of day" and become "sentence" for our lives.

    Based on my personal knowledge... and perhaps each one of us personal knowledge... to understand how primal therapy works. I think above similar accounting... explanation... statement who choose primal therapy... have the cognitive explanation... to "steer" emotional symptomatic sentences into their proper context... is very important.


  5. Hi Art ,
    Mr.Depardieu may be a great actor/artist but he surely is an asshole too...concerning his "immigration"
    to that other ASSHOLE in Russia!
    And Marlon well in his final years he forgot ...his manly BEAUTY and kept on eating voraciously till
    Mr.Death arrived..

    That totall selfreliance and power are possible by being totally loved I learned yesterday the hard way:
    I was complaining my frostbite! in my finger (result of an symathectomy decades ago) infront of the figure
    of MOTHER MARIA suddenly a beautiful little boy "appeared on the scene" and gracefully kindled a candle
    with his little hand .

    After his grandparents and He turned to the door I saw that his left arm was missing!
    And immediately I felt still more love towars Him!
    Yours emanuel P.S.. And now it is not that...important that I got Valentine "feedback"

  6. It Takes Two To Tango... do the dance of love!

    My first half of my life I used to suffer from and to further repress, my birth trauma. The other second half of my life I have been trying to relive my imprinted pain. Eventually, after repeatedly having made two steps forward and one backward (or vice versa), I have felt so much that my life has changed. My gates occasionally still may leak memories from my nasty entrance into this world. However, after 4 decades “lying back and feeling the stab of anxiety” I need to fill my life with what I have been missing during half a century. This need is especially urgent since my young daughter by one, for both of us, stimulating childhood, is growing into her own life, coordinating her own “tangos”.

    In Primal Therapy, I tangoed with Dr. Janov, who guided me into “Evolution in Reverse” to relive my pain. I assimilated the process that my organism, and time, required to correct / cure / heal all the neurotic reactions that ruled and dominated my life pattern. Eventually, my feeling brain now can tango with my intellectual brain and my lower imprints / feelings can join their other half in the nervous system to form an integrated unified circuit.

    Two very old memories / imprints have a determining influence on the life I now am building with sober enthusiasm. First, the fact that my brain (though not fully developed) received positive imprints and memories of vital importance from my dramatic and complicated birth process has been vital. I survived and had intuitively learned to survive. Second, I had memories from adolescence, of a contemporary girl, which affected me for life. So after 53 years I decided to re-establish a contact to the girl, I had admired respectfully as a restless teenager. A deterministic (= “the philosophical doctrine that every human event, act, decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs”) decision without precedent in either her or my life. During our first meeting over Skype, we were completely obsessed with trying to compress 53 years of history into a two hour call.

    We thought maybe it was a one-off, but it has remained so every day for more than a year. It is certainly a good background to have relived a lot of repressed pain, having tried many aspects of life, being old and careful with the limited time that remains of our lives. Then needs to act and pretend turn insignificantly. Surprise, all the need of love, attention and care that a newborn baby needs is still there. Although we have hold a PhD in being repressed, we have retained our original highly sensitive reactions. Maybe our nervous systems react with a delay of a few tenths of a second... This healthy life only has one major drawback. Time flies.

    May I suggest “Life before Birth” is followed by “Life after Primal Retirement”?

    Jan Johnsson

    1. Jan: That is a book You need to write; remember how old I am? art

  7. Hi Apollo,

    My Dad started giving me a lecture about carpentry the other day, well actually it was about wheelwrights. He said: "You need to know about these things". He knows bugger all about any of it of course.

    I think a lot of people are drawn to 'sales and marketing' for the same reason as actors are drawn to the stage. My dad was in marketing and advertising and all that lot are much the same. They are masters of identifying with the product and making us want to be better people for buying it. That's how retail therapy works isn't it? Without the window dressing, without feeling like you will get some attention and applause for buying that nice thing at that nice shop with the attentive sales person. . . well, it wouldn't be the same would it? It would be the internet !

    Paul G.

    1. Paul: I asked my cousin what do you do? She says: We are marketing company. She became They. art

  8. I remember Richard Harris joking about talking to actors....'that's enough about me...let's talk about what do YOU think of my latest film?

    1. I think it was Alice Miller who said that the most theatrical and demonstrative of people were often the most hurt. In the UK there is a long running joke about Actors being "Luvvies". Everyone is called "Darling" because no-one can remember anybody elses names. I have a cousin who is incredibly dramatic. He will talk for hours and hours about himself and if I should have the timerity to perhaps want to talk about something I have done, this will last a few minutes.

      It's interesting to talk about Rabble rousers like Richard Harris. Peter O'tool, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed amongst others all drank like Fishes when off stage. One can imagine that the alcohol helped them to keep that sense of feeling loved when not on stage. Anaesthetised on stage by an adoring audience and off stage by the drug of choice.

    2. I wonder who was a 'real' actor...maybe Chaplin
      The Great Dictator speech from 1940 - timeless.

    3. Hi DavidWood,

      Chaplin had a shed load of kids. . . I heard he modelled his humour on their antics. . . I mean, my Grandson has just got to that stage. . . climbing the walls, arguing the opposite, walking backwards into his own food, falling off chairs, locking me out of my own house, saying no for the sake of it, saying yes because I say no. Driving his Father nuts and feeling totally on top of the world for it all.

      You have to laugh. That 'age' (before television) used to make their own entertainment and the parents who did love their children didn't need telly or the internet. They had their children to entertain them.

      God, what have we done since then? How many families sit around the piano and sing songs together?
      Old hat of course. Now we've all got 'tablets' to zone into, or do I mean zone out with. Doctor Microsoft prescribing his 'tablets'.

      Paul G.

  9. Although I hold your work in the highest regard, as an actor, I find this column more than a bit offensive and frankly nothing I couldn’t read in any college psychology 101 book. “actors are desperate for love – which they get through applause.” Maybe, then so are primal therapists. I think, except for the “most enlightened, ascended beings,” we all crave attention, validation, and appreciation. We’re social beings.

    Acting is an art, a craft. As a pianist plays the piano, an actor plays his or her own emotions. There’s a craft to it – which most non-actors are not privy to.

    It’s an art form I hold in high regard. I act like a painter paints or a carpenter build a table. It’s what I feel soul-impelled to do. After a great performance, I feel satisfied and blissful not for any applause at all – but for a job well done. Is the drive to do a job well and express oneself creatively a neurotic primal flaw Mr. Janov?

    1. Arthur: You may have a point since I am not an actor, but I have treated many of them. art

    2. Hello Arthur S.B,

      maybe you didn't understand what Dr Janov meant : the difference is in the desperate craving for something they had miss so much they are barely aware of. There is the same gap between a profesional musician and a rock are a rock star whatever you do.
      I'm not sure about Gérard Depardieu being a great actor but he is rich and famous. When he was younger he was good at playing rogues. He even bragged about taking part in a collective rape. One thing is sure, it's that he is the very embodiment of the man who has "never enought of everything"

    3. Arthur Brown, many years ago when I was working on my first music album in a recording studio, the session was brutally interrupted by a young female actor who walked into the room and asked the sound engineer, "When will you be available to record me?" to which he replied politely "You know you can't come in here, we are in the middle of a recording, I will speak to you later." The actor replied "You know me, I just need to get in front of that camera! haha!"
      She spoke louder then everyone else, and grinned at us as we stared at her, waiting for her to leave. I had never met such an attention-seeking person in all my life. She left without apologising. Chris, the sound engineer, apologised to me and explained that she was never happy until she was the centre of attention.

      I'm not suggesting that all actors are as extreme as her, but I can see why Art has chosen to focus on actors. They make a good case study. When they are not the centre of attention, they want their films to be the centre of attention, and when their films are not receiving much applause, those poor, desperate, needy actors go straight back to work...and they work harder than ever before. I know musicians (singers) who live like that. Always striving to produce quality work......they want everyone to see their quality....and they will make huge sacrifices in order to reach that quality. They KNOW they can do better....and they wish they could show the audience what they are really capable of. Yes, they do appreciate the actual craft -- the final product -- in the same way that a sculptor can stand back and admire the aesthetic quality of his sculpture......his reward is not entirely egotistical.....but as a psychologist, Janov's job is to focus on the feelings inside the artist, rather than the artwork.

      I think all neurotics are actors; we act out in an attempt to change our unloving environment or we act in to try and believe in a fake solution. Either way, it's not real. Arthur, don't take it too personal. Art has indirectly helped me to discover massive flaws in my personality, and I take some comfort in knowing that those flaws are not my fault. My flaws are automatic defenses -- they are not something to be used as a measure of my worth. Everybody is equal and important and beautiful and deserving of love, no matter how severe their neurosis may be.

    4. ArthurSBrown! you makes me feel... call for help!

      Being a "good pianist" and not expect applause for a "well" made number... it feels like you might as well can be sitting at home in the basement and play. The applause must surely be a hallmark about that the audience likes what you're playing... as further gives you an income!?

      What I can see in a profession such as the piano player is monotony when the same number is played over and over again. Just to do that... appear to be beyond what human performance can stand out to do... just to play for the playing's sake. Sitting at home in the basement and find new melodies feel more creative.

      For you... reading the nuances about why you play and assert your opinion is probably just for you to be with... if you do not suffering for what you do... what can you do?.

      That you react on the assertion about actors... speaks a different language!

      If you suspect that you perform for other reasons than you explain... and they evoke wonderings... you know where to turn.

      Do not go to someone quack who makes you "positive" about your "playing" for the playing's sake... it is worth much more than that... feel of it... is what we never even imagined.


    5. Richard: Why is everyone so articulate? art

    6. offendance (does this word exist?) is killing us...
      on strongest gates in universe ( those in our heads)
      is written "a bit offensive".

      Mr Brown, we must ask why? and go below it
      for a true answer. the only way to survival.
      the hurt!

      what is more creative than life everywhere?
      then loving?
      "art" should't be abbreviation of "artificial".
      true art is everywhere, resonating with us.
      the truth.

      but what if the resonance is two-way?
      are we calling the universe against us?
      or i just had a bad dream?
      ahh.. bla bla

    7. Hi, I'm new around here... Hello everyones, hello Art. Richard, I recognize myself in the neurosis side of art you describe. I am 25 and since I am 15 I used much of my time making video game on the computer... I was imagining myself becoming some kind of avangarde of the 8th art, making games real art. Thinking about it, I also used to create real life games ( a little bit like an actor ) with the other kids when I was a child. I was always the center of the attention in those game, and computer programming gave me the ability to create a world where I was in complete control. I was thinking of these games as an extansion of myself - scary! - and strangely they became much more artistic oriented as time goes on. ( Less about the actual ''fun'' of playing game than the emotional part that was linked to them. )

      Art can be a tortuous duplication of the self, and make you loose a lot of what's realy going on in the real life while you are searching for some kind of answer that would be better than what the world have to offer. I have a question though, how about real artists as Paul Mccartney by exemple? Isn't art some kind of communication that can be the ultimate sign that you are truly connected to the world ( receiving and transmit ) if it is made in an ''affirmative way'', or simply put, in a way that isn't emotionaly related to an inner pain?

  10. Why we are depressed and have anxiety!

    We are depressed and have anxiety because we do not know what is happening within us and we are not allowed to feel it because they do not understand nature of anguish. Very simple words for us to react and do something about it!


    1. Frank

      I suddenly had the thought the other day that I was scared to be angry. Too frightened of the consequences of standing up for myself as a small boy. I bit my lip to keep my protestations internalised and expressed the rebellion by not working at school I think.

  11. The basis of having had anxiety at every stage of life till I have gotten rid of a "lot" of suffering... so has everything changed. The difference is not radical it is total.

    Logic without its counterpart has grown up without underlying sentences. I "feel"... without words... consequences in terms of its process and it requires no calculations or after thoughts which makes life so much easier.

    The only thing that is "frightening" in itself is man himself... everything else can be seen with open eyes.


  12. Loving yourself can be as simple as being Kind to yourself ; Treating yourself with Kindness and less criticism of self can be the start of a new journey of Self.

  13. Hallo again, Apollo! And Art, it is truly brilliant what you have described on this blog. I tell you, I only wish I could come for your therapy, you're the only one who would truly understand life and pain, but iI havent enough money to buy a computer to skype an interview on if I want money for the therapy and my friends are too protective of their machines (as if they were their husbands!!)Also I have recently discovered a blogger saying one year wasn't long enough (He is an ex primal patient at your Centre)and in the light of this and not living in a detached house where primalling would be possible to continue the therapy, I am devastatingly sad tyo admit it will not be possible. However, APOLLO, I once again congratulate you on a brilliant piece of writing here, of which I entirely agree with everything you have stated! I dont know if you have done this, but I have certainly put into effect and also know precisely what you are talking about. I too have refused to be a worthless doormat (the view of every member of my family of me, even an unidentical twin)and have rejected friends who are at all wicked, controlling, or just uncaring, like my family. The cruel ones I can say, 'she's just like my dad' etc. 'What a strange coincidence!'.. I try to oust from my life! Not always easy though. I so understand your words. Thank you, Apollo, sincerely!And as ever Art thanks from my heart always to you. I feel I love you. Thanks!!!!

  14. Art
    Is one or three months long enough for your therapy, please? One ex patient has commented that ONE YEAR isnt long enough to have therapy at your Centre!

    1. Anonymous: In the old days everyone stayed for a year. Then 9/11 and the visas tightened up so foreginers could no longer stay, then the recession hit and more problems. If I had my way the person would stay one year but we settle for a few months and follow therapy on skype or however. art

    2. Thank you for your replies! I've cried so much in the last 24 hours. Like Paul has said I can't easily hold it in any more.But it started last night, it was unstoppable. It's the thought of NOT having your help that did it. It's like nothing else seems important. The world seems obsessed with so much trivia while pain is seething like an ocean inside everyone and we have to keep it all quiet in there, keep it down, as there's little understanding from most people of it. It's not just hard, it's real bloody AGONY but also the loneliness is quite just as bad really and knowing there is absolutely nobody to talk to about it for so many are unconscious of the reality and truth. The primal pain and that kids aren't getting the love they need. In ALL other species they DO get it! I am furious with the 9/11 b......'s who've created any restrictions for foreigners wanting to come over for therapy. Little do they know what they have done.But, you know, you're such a great men to realise that natural needs are not being met and that babies and children have a birthright to have these met. This is so desperately important. Everyone should know about it. More thanks, respect and admiration from me to you, Art!

    3. Anonymous: Thanks it is nice to be appreciated. art

  15. Art,

    How can you be so right... right without being a "messiah" for your "sermons"… without anyone hear what it is you talk about? Well... you emphasize you do not like being a messiah... and maybe it's a mistake not to appear as a messiah for what the content would be for science if you would emerge as one!?

    What is there to lose if white lies can save humanity?

    Maybe jesus and messiah acted to be jesus and messiah... just to reach goals of "love"... because they them self was not sufficient to be the one (mom and dad) humans searched and searching for in their need of love!?

    How can you be like jesus and messiah with the goal of reaching humanity in the name of science may sound too much but being a "preacher" for what they achieved is perhaps something to think about!?


  16. An email comment: "Very interesting. In a way, it's fair to say: "It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it". For the more famous of actors that equates to surrendering their privacy for the rest of their lives.

    At the place where "our culture" finds itself today, there is still a need, for good or for ill, for movies to be made, played to be acted-in, so I would say that you brilliantly described the "inner mechanics" but these guys are "doomed" to act out figuratively and literally."

    And my answer: Having treated a lot of them, these are my conclusions. Despite great need they are great actors, or maybe of great need they are great actors. art

  17. Alfred Hitchcock, in an interview, described actors as "children" but said they need to be that way to do what they do.

    I think what he means was that they are kind of narcissistic, and not "mature" in the left-brained dominant stereotypical way.

  18. Dr. Janov,
    Self-love is deception.
    I believe there is the need for early missed (in infancy) oxytocin.
    Some need applause or drugs; others masturbate frequently or drink warm milk out of a baby bottle when they go to bed.
    Then there is the deception of a God who loves them. It is all a replacement for not having mother's love earlier. It’s all about feeling good, even it is only for a few minutes. They are like gamblers - constandly looking/waiting for the big win.
    I believe these people are not seeking therapy to heal, they expect more love from the therapist – every week a little oxytocin.
    I wonder what prototype they are if they actively seek this kind of “replacement love”; their act-out points to the prototype “sympathy”.

  19. Art
    You are NOT old!!!!
    Yours emanuel

    1. Emanuel: from our mouth to.......

    2. Dr. Janov, are you represented in Montreal, Canada?

  20. Veteran Avenue

    Much of the actual “Reflection debate” is about opinions, ie, values and interpretations of actions in Hollywood, whose existence is based on professional and great neurotic actors that interpret charismatic, often neurotic personalities. By the marketing of one of the world’s most neurotic industries, the Entertainment Industry, we are being seduced to watching and listening to their products against payment. What lessons do you think can be learnt by knowing that a young actor desperately is stealing a few minutes of attention in the “Universal Studios of Madness”? He seems to be in the right place with the appropriate characteristics to fulfil his neurotic need. On ideologic grounds, the American Society is opposed to paying for a treatment in Primal Therapy. So is The Pharmaceutical Industry his only choice???)

    For me being a veteran, the fantastic thing with The Primal Scream, and most of the books of Art is that they gave an “X-ray” of how imprinted / repressed mental /physical pain produced anxiety, depression, and in order for survival, a neurotic, false behavior. Art described his impressions of patients actions and expressions alternating with the patients’ own interpretations of the wordless agony they went through during their primals. My hope one day to demystify my epileptic stigma was born when I eventually realized Art’s ingenious understanding of Evolution. He discovered that evolution; short term saved our lives but left us with the, long term, humiliation it meant being prisoners of imprinted pain. Art’s route to “Evolution in Reverse” is the option to cure.

    My pain, anxiety and my neuroses developed my ability to please employers and women which took me on exciting trips to new cultures and languages. My adventures were pain propelled neuroses which gave a painkilling effect that normally lasted for up to 3 years at a time. By showing respect and sympathy to the world, I can still positively remember those years after I re-lived my dramatic birth-trauma and no longer need those intoxications to repress my stigma. For a considerable time, my neuroses-propelled actions were my option to survive, be productive and create jobs for others. These neuroses that once were my life-belts are now dissolved - without function. However they are part of my memory and past, and a rich experience I’m happy to have been part of.

    Now a veteran of Primal Therapy, I lived by coincidence, on Veterans Avenue in Beverly Hills, when I went to Primal Therapy 1978/79....

    Jan Johnsson

  21. My underlying hope still works as a relief... I find them often as protecting against life-threatening loneliness. That I have daydreams as a defense against life-threatening experiences... I have learned to accept.
    I'm more "grateful" that they exist than I am bothered by them in my therapeutic process.

    There is a recognition of the cause by accepting daydreams... a recognition that legitimizes them based on their purpose... purpose of not letting unbearable pain to overflow as they are life-threatening... keep life threatening experiences in place in purpose of letting my therapeutic process become possible.

    There is a loneliness that built a defense as saved my life... but now also could take my life if my therapeutic process was not in the order that makes it possible to integrate solitude.

    To discovering in my therapeutic process! Every meeting with others is done in "itself"... in loneliness... an loneliness that frees from their impact... except for what I want and I know is forced upon me... with a results... I myself "flourishes"... an loneliness belonging to here and now... life... lust and love.


    1. i like how you sound. you sound like you are on the real side of life.

  22. part 1.
    Hi Art,
    -"When they work they can struggle for love, and there is hope again. They see the applause, the approval and appreciation. It allows their defenses to work again. And all is well in life. They will undergo years of rejection, as they did in their early life, for that crumb of love. They expect rejection; it was their mode of life early on; they know it well".

    Have you found yourself feeling shut out and resonating down to early neglect because your discoveries have been systematically rejected by fellow doctors and psychiatrists? Perhaps accusing you of the same attention seeking?

    Perhaps you are best positioned to just let us all speculate and arrive back at our own perceptions. . .

    Nevertheless, the reason I ask is because as far as I can see once some-one, any-one comes up with something that could make positive changes there are nearly always several more parties involved who resist the evidence. I am saying this because from my observations about those whom I have had to confront regarding their resistance to change I have noticed there are a small but powerful minority who will exploit your own weaknesses. In particular, your own inability to survive further rejection / neglect. I mean birds push 'weak' or unusual chicks out the nest don't they? From the 'belief' point of view it therefore follows that if you're feeling weak and want to 'survive' you may choose to 'join them, rather than change them or get pushed out'.

    You know, when you describe a psycho as a damaged brainstem with neocortical advantages you can see that with (so called) humans there is the ability to camouflage or to mimic their 'prey' or to 'perceive their weaknesses' and work on undermining and attacking in those areas. A think a true psycho will have even found a way to get some-one else to do this dirty work for them, thus maintaining 'stain free hands'.

    So what I am saying here is that I have had a personal experience of this whilst attempting to implement environmental/social change in my community. I feel there has always been a 'well established' minority in any community who have this ability to use 1st line defence / attack tactics to maintain and establish socio/psychological prestige. Perhaps these are the Cognoscenti that we are all 'frightened of' because they do not live in the same boat as those with feelings. Not even the same world, and it's all your bad karma too!

    part 2 follows.

  23. part 2.
    In my community it is the New Age, Spiritual Development, Gender Political movement that my region is notorious for. I would (before I get to the centre) 'love' to challenge these 'idiots' assumptions but after I get back from the centre I wonder if I will be so willing to "Stick my Neck Out "?

    Basically what I am learning is that most people are damaged and most are easily driven unconsciously to manipulative strategies to avoid their trauma. IE: they'll go on the attack or freeze you out or use a third party to make you take the shit. It's a 'natural reaction' for people driven by their own 1st & 2nd line traumas. Push the unwanted feeling out of the nest or kill it. Asset strip it and sell off the carcass, feed it to the 'strongest one'. . . Or discard it as too poisonous.

    Nearly every-one who has tried to make positive changes based on good scientific reasoning has come up against this 1st line 'human trait' but only you have come up with a sound psychological reason to explain why that is so and of course you are experiencing the same old same old. . . Catastrophic 1st line damage in the Cognosenti explains it all. . It's ironic that many courts acknowledge the general idea that serious crimes may originate in childhood trauma but how many of us want to consider that many of the people we 'respect for their powers of reason' are actually seriously damaged (and therefore potentially if not actually dangerous) people themselves?

    I havn't read your Primal Revolution book yet but I wonder if again I am 'proving' the integrity of your ideas through having had the audacity to jump into the deep end of my own 'pool'? This before reading your books on the subject, ie: my insights before yours. I discovered of course how totally unprepared I was through the act (out) of nearly drowning. Also discovering to my horror that many just love to watch you fail. . . Some will even jump on your fingers if you reach the side of the pool.

    There's got to be some tenacity in people to jump into their Primal Pool. Without it they may well become the victim of other damaged victims, all standing around by the poolside bickering or jostling for position, all frightened of getting wet and drowning. Me too!

    Paul G.

  24. An email comment:
    "So often we may ask ourselves, "What feeling is under my depression?" There are certainly many.
    I have discovered that depression is a feeling "unto itself." I can sink into it and drain it off. Recently, I
    was depressed and said five times, "I feel so depressed" and drained off the depression, broke through it.
    The same is true with inferiority. I have many factors under my feeling of inferiority, like being unloved
    and being verbally beaten down by my father.
    I've discovered that inferiority is a feeling "unto itself" that can be felt. I can sink into the feeling of
    "I feel so inferior."
    When I saw Princess Diana's funeral on TV I felt very inferior. She had a million people lining the
    streets of London to watch her funeral. I will Probably have ten people come to mine. Princess
    Diana was winning over me by a score of one million to ten.
    By feeling the feeling of, "I feel so inferior" I drained off my feeling of inferiority and felt a beautiful
    feeling of "ok-ness" in myself. It was separate from the number of people who will come to my funeral or
    my rank in the world.
    I tried to share this with my mother and she said, "you won't know how many people come to your funeral (when you
    are dead.") She didn't understand.

  25. Off topic:

    Dr. Janov,

    In an interview “Why Oliver Sacks is One of the Great Modern Adventurers” Dr. Sacks was asked: “….what, after all his years investigating the mysteries of the mind, he still most wanted to know.”
    He answered: “More about how consciousness works and its basis, how it evolved phylogenetically and how it evolves in the individual.”

    Sacks experiments with hallucinogens and Dopamine trying to find consciousness. It looks like that many people, even psychiatrists, looking for insight and consciousness, fail however to find the way down to the neo-cortex, where consciousness is waiting to be discovered and back up to the prefrontal cortex.

    I do believe we have to become conscious first before we understand what consciousness is.

    Article about Sacks:

    1. Sieglinde: Did you write to him? 3 years ago E.O.Wilson the great biologist said on TV the new frontier is psychology and we need to know more about the unconscious. So I wrote to him outlining what I do. Never an answer. I still tend to believe people, even when I know better. art

  26. Dr. Janov
    Not yet. I’m still trying to find the right tenor. Reading his website, Sacks seems to be a complex and short-circuit man. To get its attention takes more than a short introduction to consciousness – to Primal Healing.

    1. Sieglinde: what means short circuited man? art

    2. Dr. Janov,
      "short circuited man," he is always on the move, little patients, can never sit still, always on the lookout for something new to discover.
      In other words - driven by brain stem pain.

    3. Dr. Janov,
      I wrote to Oliver Sacks, - No answer yet.

    4. Sieglinde, Over the years I have written to dozens of scientists with almost never a reply. art

  27. I think Brando knew there was something wrong with him and he supposedly went to a psychoanalyst around the time he was filming On the Waterfront. He seems like eventually he just gave up on trying to truly figure out his pain.

    Great article and I would love to get your insight on writers since that's where I try to channel all of my neurosis. I would also like to read about the artist that isn't torment and just creates without neurotic fuel.

    1. rjkingman: I will try to dig up some case files to write on but right now I am swamped writing for science. art

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hi planespotter,

      I seem to be discovering that society as a whole has settled for an 'individualistic' celebration of metaphor.

      We worship the 'achievement' of the victim to escape her/his pain. Thus the successful business woman (worth millions) stands equal to the successful artist (worth millions) and each of their achievements are recognised as symbols of success. . .

      Primal diverts the attention from the symbol itself to the motive of the artist. . . Herein lies the rub. . . In a symbolic society the private life of the individual is sacrosanct, ie: "we are entitled to our private lives" and therefore our motives are considered secondary/ private; (thus the lack of interest in 'original causes').

      Unless of course one is cultivating a protege, then the audience can celebrate the 'drive and ambition' of the great artist / businessman and perhaps even refer to her/his rise to stardom from the 'victim laden' gutter of her/his past. The strive becomes the model for learning and achieving.

      It's ok to be a victim as long as one has successfully striven to rise above the past and make popular and saleable representations. It's all a heroic model. We worship the symbols and revere their generators without ever considering the motive or cause.

      Until you get into Primal.

      Paul G.

    2. Hi planespotter,

      -"If you are right and traditional therapy causes someone to go crazier as the OCD etc etc is underminded, the only thing keeping him sane is his art"-.

      Where did Art say that? I mean I agree. The so called 'body work therapy' I had did exactly that. As time goes by I have come to thoroughly dislike the Reich influenced therapist I had. I used to say he was a really nice man; used to.
      He had the audacity to undermine my carpentry skills. He once said (to the child in me): "Well Paul, you just like making things don't you". . ? He said this in the context of my failing business. His implication was that my motive was symbolic and therefore the cause of the failure of the business.

      F**k! Another one of those half truths.

      Paul G.

  29. God i loved Brando; "One Eyed Jacks", the one film he directed, a western, is my favorite of all time...a few years before he passed, he also did an extended tv interview with Larry King, filmed at his house on Mulholland, that was priceless.


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.