Sunday, March 31, 2013

On Killing Pain

Am I missing something?  Here is today’s headline in the L.A. Times (March 30-13):

  They are discussing prescription painkillers.  Drug fatalities are on the rise, seriously.  These are deaths from overdose.   So how do the authorities want to handle it?  Limit the strength of the dosage and the quantity of drugs each day.  The USDA (Drug Administration) is proposing a bill to do just that.  They agree that there is great pain from cancer but they do not recognize much else.

  You know how I write about the scientific notion of antecedent-consequent relations?  That means that for every result there must some kind of cause.  It is the cause that is left out of the equation by the FDA.    They focus on the end result.  So here is what they say: “The data supporting long-term use of opiates for pain, other than cancer is scant to non-existent.”  I am not sure where they reside but it does not appear to be on this planet.

   There seems to be no recognition of emotional pain.  Since they cannot see and observe it, it must not exist.  I am especially angry at this attitude because when I had back surgery years ago, the hospital, St Vincents, had no serious painkillers on board.  Why?   The state medical board was afraid they might addict their patients.  So we suffered terribly.  This is because they had no idea what addiction was or its provenance.

  So what does the medical establishment suggest? Better computer control, tracking doctors who prescribe.  They have found widespread abuse by a handful of corrupt doctors.  And yes, they must be found and punished. But that doesn’t answer the question, why so much pain?  Maybe it is pain on the rise, not just painkillers.  Maybe drug use rises as pain does?   And just maybe there is a reason beyond cancer (as they assume) for pain.

 Clearly they have no notion of imprinted memory nor the kinds of great pain occasioned while we are in the womb and at birth.  Indeed they do not recognize emotional pain at all. So if you hurt because your father was  a drunk and raped you, it is not counted.  Yet the pain I see every day makes a broken leg seem like a simple inconvenience.   The screams I hear, the emotional torture, is never acknowledged in a culture where deep emotion is suspect.  It is the General George Patton syndrome, get on with it, buck up and move on.   I cannot believe this attitude in this day and age.

These officials are well defended and cannot empathize with those who are not.  Those in power have to defend well to climb the corporate ladder.  As I  say, those who drink alcohol pass laws prohibiting the use of drugs for others.  They would never consider alcohol a drug like Vicodin so they can vote to outlaw it.  But if we voted “no alcohol” we would hear them scream.

   So someone goes for back surgery and the hospital does offer painkillers, why does he get addicted? Because there is still more pain inside: emotional pain. That has to be quieted too.   So he finally gets something to ease suffering he was never aware of before, pain from childhood.   And for the first time, since emotional pain is not recognized, he gets something that makes him feel much better.  Why shouldn’t he take that drug?  I know, because the powers that be do not acknowledge emotions.

     If we could once understand that early pain persists, is powerful and drives us, then we could comprehend what addiction is.   It is the antecedent piece that is missing.  But once we do understand then we can do something about it, something effective and long lasting; we could remove the pain from the system at last.

    We cannot treat something we don’t recognize so we repress it.  It will eventually kill the person prematurely. Those in power steal our lives; and they have no right to.


  1. latest technology provides advanced monitoring...
    children, women and (why not?) men should wear little cameras to make sure their rights are respected. untill we develop technology that doesn't make us so sensible being. some hardware manipulation would be great!
    latest progress in evolution of the species...
    long live law, science and technology. and it is good for economy...
    there is a hope!

    what is real?????
    as individuals and as a society we will die without ever to know what is real???
    is that possible??? simple questions:
    what is going on???
    what is happening??
    what and why we do when not sleeping
    and when sleeping???
    do we react? why we react as we react??
    can we put it in numbers? bits? video frames?
    arts? paragraphs? calories, kilograms and dates?

    i woke up in the middle of the night
    because the blanket was too thick and i sweat. ok...
    but why confused and anxious??
    i overeat probably.
    i will change the blanket and not overeat tonight.
    already feel better.

    if you read this Art it is because
    i have succesfully proved that i'm not a robot.

  2. Killing the pain is the first order of business when the gating system is weak and the first line is constantly pushing through. Benzodiazepines and alcohol are great at killling the pain. (Unfortunately they're also great at giving rebound-anxiety and getting you addicted.) Having been a heavy daily benzo user for seven years, and also being a heavy drinker... let's just say I have more sympathy now for people who turn to drugs like heroin.

    What troubles me though, is if I ever get to the Primal Center for therapy, first line intrusions are unavoidable. And I've developed quite a bit of tolerance to benzos. Are there other first line blockers used to fend off first line intrusions besides benzos? Seroquel probably won't do the job as I'm used to that also.

    1. AnttiJ: yes there are but they are specific to each person. Our staff knows well what to use and when. art

  3. The neurotic dilemma!

    We do not know love's effects without experience what suffering without causing.


  4. Hi Art,
    In various 'holistic systems' including Japanese Shiatsu, back pain is recognised as a correlator with a form of emotional pain known as 'lack of support'.

    Also 'anxiety / terror' is know to affect the kidneys and repressed anger and rage affect the liver and spleen.

    We humans are the only animals that walk upright on two feet with a frame evolved to stand on all four. All the compression goes to the lowest lumber vertebrae where inflamed kidneys can push close to and up against.

    Blood flow becomes restricted, poisoning occurs followed by inflammation and mechanical damage of the cartilages. One bad load lifting experience and before you know it you're in surgery for a mechanical problem that certainly has it's origins in emotional pain.

    The 'complimentary medicine' brigade in UK have become more influential in the NHS. Emotional pain is acknowledged here as a significant factor in disease but few comprehend the originating causes in early trauma. I wonder if eventually through this complementary route Primal may be better heard.
    Unfortunately the 'alternatives' have also gained a charlatan's reputation due to too many false claims of cure when they can only ever be palliatives.

    The court's out therefore, as to whether or not the complimentary brigade could help increase people's understanding of emotional pain or merely cloud it.

    Paul G.

  5. Cat on the rat, rat on the rope...

    According to an article in the NYT, the PhRMA (The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing of America) states that there are 60 million citizens in the US being more or less dependent on drugs to alleviate mental disorders and they remain strongly committed to the development of new drugs. This is fully in line with another article, also in the NYT, “Talk Doesn’t Pay, So Psychiatry Turns Instead to Drug Therapy” informing that many of the nation’s 48.000 psychiatrists no longer provide talk therapy; instead they prescribe medication after a brief consultation and send the patients away to less costly therapists with unexplored and unresolved personal crisis/pain.

    Robert Whitaker is in his book “Anatomy Of An Epidemic” giving a picture of how mental health care has developed over the last 50-60 years and turned into an established epidemic. From 1954, when Thorazine was introduced, it kicked off a psychopharmacological revolution and antidepressants, and antianxiety agents were discovered and represented another leap forward in the treatment of mental disorders. In 2007, the US spent 25.000 million USD on antidepressants and antipsychotics.

    So when you in your Reflections are saying that there is no recognition of mental pain there are apparently 60 million patients more or less depending on mental painkillers, and a pharmaceutical industry which is laughing all the way to the bank - as long as their patens are in force. With a documented decline in the number of talk therapies and considering that painkilling drugs are just short term symptom blockers, the Primal Therapy ought to be in an exceptionally good position if managed with professional responsibility.

    Because of that I was successful in following the primal principal, I have, sadly enough, through my blog over a period had some letters of concern. In a summary, they say: “Our years in Primal Therapy have been lost, those in charge have stolen our lives and money, which they have no right to. It was not what they promised.” These letters are an eco of your last sentence in your latest Reflection.

    Even if I sense that heavy feelings are involved, there is a practical reality to take into account. Who is responsible for that assessment / evaluation?

    Truth and democracy must constantly be conquered.

    Jan Johnsson

    1. Jan, This is what I hope other bloggers do......expand on my blogs and round them out. I cannot do it all. art


    2. Jan You posted an interesting piece on cognitive therapy which I accidentally erased. Please send again. art

  6. Thank you for this post, Art! You are absolutely right in what you have written.

  7. I think neurotic socialites develop a culture of denial. All the people I work with, from day to day, collectively enforce a bullshit happy-mode that boils down to the denial (repression) of sadness. When exposed to a stimulant that should make them sad they will say "that's sad" but without an iota of feeling...they are in a mode that makes sure sadness can't be felt. You can just tell.

    The problem is their lives are as empty as their repressed souls because all they care about--or maybe even can care about--is avoiding the next anxiety attack. Alas!

    1. Hi,
      Well, to reveal (or revel in) sadness means to become vulnerable. Culture of denial is pseudo community. . . Nice. Nice in "quotation marks". . .

      I mean it's inevitable that we have to be like that in large groups, to get by in the company of strangers. But what about the smaller support networks humans need to be real with each other? They used to call them extended family didn't they?

      People might remember those if somehow the entire globe's TV sets and broadband connections were turned off for 36hrs.
      Oh bloody hell ! ! We'd all have to face each other and remember who on earth we really are, warts and all.

      Paul G.

  8. And my answer: Good piece.Thanks. Well written. art

  9. Another email comment:
    "Hey Art,

    I don't know if you'll ever read this but you're only touching the tip of the iceberg here!

    You talk about cancer and diabetes as if they are diseases. They are not. They are the pain itself. If you want to see how deep the rabbit hole really is, you have to look beyond the construct we have created. You have to look beyond time, a construct we have invented to help us get through the pain. What is time if not projection of thoughts, feelings and actions into a future that does not exist?

    Go deeper and you will discover your own pain along the way."

  10. A facebook comment:
    "Pain-killers, prescription-drugs, street-drugs, cigarettes, alcohol all of which are poisonous, injurous, life-shortening and potentially lethal, not to mention a whole host of self-harm activies - self-starving, self-glutting, sharps-injury not to mention poor Amie Winehouse or poor Whitney Houston are all being reached for, en masse by virtually the entire population in order to repress one way or another emotional-experience and emotional-expression. Its emotionality itself that is being repressed, that is to say the emotinal process itself - in fine detail; sorrow, joy, love, hate, fear, anger, surprise, yearning - not just this or that emotional experience. The only time a person could be 'convinced' that 'emotional-repression' is the only way forward in life could only occur during childhood - once childhood is over an adult simply cannot be indoctrinated in this way. For an adult to 'convince' a child that the only way forward in life is to repress emotion is in fact a sophisticated and complicated social phenomena and require 'skill', determination and persistence on behalf of the adults. The child must be convinced that 'from now on I absolutely must repress my emotions' It cannot happen in the womb, it cannot happen by 'natural disaster' or 'natural trauma', it cannot happen by simple neglect or even abuse. It must come about by the child 'understanding' that that is what they must do. By these means 50,000 US 17 year olds were conscripted to their deaths in Vietnam. 'Self-repression of emtions is in fact what is giving rise to a whole host of social problems and horrors. In order to regain access once more to my experince of joy, sorrow, anger, fear, love, hate, surprise and yearning, in order to refrain from my own self repression of emotion I must make a concerted effort to return to those childhood days when I put in place the repressive control (with great encouragement from adults) and reactivate my own internal compass through life. Self-repression itself causes an enormous strain on the system and is of itself potentially lethal."

  11. Words in itself want do it!

    When I see people make an effort to intellectuals areas it is not difficult to see how impossible it is for them to explore other perspectives of life. Intellectuality in itself is a process that works in itself and prevents what intellectuals phenomena contain. It contains inteligence if used to the border where the pain begins. Primal therapy has to become official professional to achieve the status of being discovered.

    "An inteligent man may be intellectual... but an intellectual is absolutely not not inleligent". This phenomenon... phenomenon for not being recognized among the intellectuals is a crucial problem since it requires emotional insight to explain itself.


  12. Hi Art ,it is true: pains of the "body type" are easier to tolerate than the emotional ones.(of course only in the "natural degree" inflicted by normal..
    maladies,injuries etc.) not those of for example the man induced ones-torture and the like!)

    Some weeks ago I prefered an intestines investigation without drugs; the comforting of a (beautiful...) young lady was more than worth it!!
    Each "morning terror" -(and throughout the day over years ) is worse than
    these pain.

    By the way I never had any relief by drugs!!
    yours emanuel


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.