Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Feel Good: A Letter From a Patient

Last night, sitting at my desk like I always do, a surprising and unfamiliar sense of relief suddenly washed over me. It wasn’t like a thunderbolt, but like the slow lifting of a veil. This pall of pain that hangs over me like a cloud all the time was vanishing into thin air. I felt an exhilarating sense of release, of relaxation. A calm invaded my body and I wasn’t quite sure why. It was so different from the chronic aches and pains I live with much of the time. In contrast to the routine, relentless misery, this welcome calm felt like euphoria.
The moment reminded me of that night 40 years ago when I was just as suddenly plunged into a crater of panic and anxiety, without knowing why. One moment, I’m sitting in my Berkeley apartment calmly reading a book, a sophomore without a care in the world. The next, a pit opens in my stomach and I’m being engulfed by a fear and dread that came out of nowhere. I got up, went to the bathroom, splashed water on my face. I went to the kitchen and manically did the dishes. But it wouldn’t stop. I thought if I went to sleep it would finally go away, so I clutched the pillow and shut my eyes tight, praying for this inner monster to disappear, but when I woke up it was still there. I’ve been trying to find the cause and the cure ever since. Only Primal Therapy ever gave me any answers and any respite.
But Primal Therapy only works if you stay with it. I’ve had big breakthroughs over the years. Clouds part, angels sing and you really feel reborn. But the pain comes back and you have to keep muddling through. My problem is that I’m a big avoider. If my terror is kept under wraps and my pain at an endurable, dull constant, that’s good enough. I focused on my work, my family, my whatever. So literally years would go by without therapy, without feeling. Eventually, it caught up with me, slowly dragged me into a mental and physical morass. I could no longer brush it off saying I’m fine for now. I was feeling horrible.
There were times when my whole being felt anguished. I’d be just sitting in my house and feel this pain in every pore. Like a wretch, I wanted to be put out of my misery. How could I be feeling so miserable when my life was going relatively well?
My body carries all my pain. The tension grabs my stomach like a vice, penetrates to my bones. There are times when I’m just one big aching organism. I even feel at times like there's acid in my veins. Maybe that’s why I was so transfixed by the images of Christ on the cross as a kid. I was not aware then that I was hurting, but I was mesmerized by the symbols of suffering, of pure agony, of despair in the face of so much pain. I now see that was me.
For a year, I’ve been getting regular sessions again at the Primal Center in Santa Monica. It’s the fourth time I’ve been back for therapy since I started in 1974. Every two weeks, chipping away at the things that hurt me, in the present and the past. Luckily, I cry easily. And almost from the first deep Primal, I started feeling that little bit of relief, enough to keep me going.
But then came last night. This was a feeling of total well-being that swelled up in me. Oh my God, there was no aching muscles, no throbbing forehead, no clenched abdomen. I didn’t feel any of those symptoms of suffering I’ve learned to live with.
Instead, I felt…I felt… good!
There was almost a pleasant buzz in the pit of my stomach where that old panic used to be. That acid in my veins turned into a rush of warmth flowing through me. I didn’t just feel relieved. I felt free. Hallelujah. There is an end to this misery at last.
The sliding door to my office was open. Outside, a warm Santa Ana wind was rustling the tall palm tree overhead. It felt like a caress from nature, like a good wind blowing down the canyon. I was at the computer and I had to stop what I was doing, the chore of paying monthly bills. As it happens, I was on the phone with my bank, trying to resolve a problem with their website. The agent had put me on hold and I had put down the phone with the loudspeaker on, and they had classical music playing during the wait. That piano sounded so soothing, so completely attuned to my mood at the moment. It reminded me of the music my Mom played at night as she fell asleep, the radio always on her nightstand. And I just closed my eyes and listened and floated away on that reverie. The breeze, the piano, the inner peace. I felt serene, liberated. For that moment, I was just there.
What is strange is that the payoff came today. I had gone for a session earlier that morning, but nothing big had happened. The feelings were not so strong, not so deep. It was more like wrapping up lose ends from two weeks ago, when I had plunged into big feelings about being molested by a relative at age 10, the age my son is now. The uncle who did this had been very nice to me, showing all the interest, praise and affection that I had never received from my dad. He let me put shaving cream on his face and I still remember his stubble bristling on my hand because I had never touched a man’s beard before. He let me sit at the head of the table and asked me all about myself and what I wanted for dinner and made me feel special, like no other man ever had. He held me in his arms as we fell asleep, and I was in heaven because I had never been held by a man like that before. So when he twisted our closeness into something bad, something so selfish, I felt crushed. Not back then, mind you. Back then, it was never discussed. It was a secret that I buried down deep. I always knew it was there. What I didn’t know was how deeply it hurt. That pain was buried too. But now, in reliving it, I understood the meaning of that abuse for me. It meant the little love I had found was a fraud. It meant I would never find pure love. I would never be loved just for me.
So in that follow-up session, I cried more about that. About how sad it was to come to the end of my emotionally empty and lonesome childhood to have my hopes raised, then betrayed. I cried thinking about my dad, seeing him at his usual place at the kitchen table, wanting to go to him with my secret but not actually having to tell him. I just wanted him to understand, to see my need and my hurt. I wanted to ask him to hold me, like a son. Just put his arm around me and protect me. If I didn’t need him so much, maybe this would not have happened.
I left feeling almost as sad as I came in. So eight hours later, when that veil of pain lifted, it was like a delayed pay-off. I see it as the cumulative benefit of consistently dipping into my personal “hurt locker.” I was just so backed up and overloaded, I needed to drain it down.
The next morning I had to get up early to take my son to chorus practice at 7:30. I didn’t sleep much, but I didn’t feel as lousy as I usually do in the morning, especially when I’m sleep-deprived. In fact, I was cheerful, laughing with my son over some jokes on the TV and moving more quickly without coffee. After dropping him off, I went for a walk, salsa music playing on my earphones. I felt so different, physically, than I usually do. Before, every step was a burden. My muscles hurt by just stepping up on a curb. I felt like I was loaded down, heavy, always pushing against some force. But this day, my step was light. I walked briskly for three miles and didn't feel all that inner sludge weighing me down. I actually skipped up onto curbs.
When I mentioned this milestone of progress in an email to Art Janov, he suggested I write something for the blog. Patients get discouraged, he said, and this could help them stay motivated. That’s the key. Primal Therapy requires stick-to-it-iveness, but it’s easy to get bogged down and give up. That was even part of my feeling: “This won't stop. Nothing works to make it better. Art is wrong. His critics are right. Primal is dangerous. I need a doctor to give me painkillers and get it over with. It’s all too much, too scary.”
When the relief finally came, Dr. Janov looked like a genius.
Coincidentally, when I got home and checked Facebook, the following quote from the philosopher Rainer Maria Rilke came across my newsfeed. Wow, I hadn’t thought of him for a long, long while. But when I was in college, at the depths of my breakdown and the peak of my insanity, I somehow found comfort reading him. Back then, it was just his lyrical prose, his uplifting spirituality that lulled my freaked-out nerves, plus a kindness and wisdom I perceived in him.
Now that Primal has released my potential for enjoying life, his words have a real meaning.

 “I confess that I consider life to be a thing of the most untouchable deliciousness, and that even the confluence of so many disasters and deprivations, the exposure of countless fates, everything that insurmountably increased for us over the past few years to become a still rising terror, cannot distract me from the fullness and goodness of existence that is inclined toward us.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life: New Prose Translations


  1. Dear patient, thanks very much for the letter. I have some questions for you:

    How long did the nice feeling last and, how fulfilled have you been over the long term compared to when you first went to the primal center all those years ago?

  2. It's interesting how the payoff came later -- not immediately after a primal. This correlates with my theory:

    Feeling does not lead to healing. Proper brain function / communication / full consciousness leads to healing.

    The patient was still experiencing a neurotic reaction to the unconscious memory until that wonderful morning when all parts of his brain starting communicating with each other, properly. The primal had partially normalized the reaction by combining the past (the uncle) with the present (the real opportunity for love). During the primal the patient felt hopeless but was aware that the feeling was not real in the present.
    But -- the neurotic reaction continued after the primal. It continued until there was proper communication. And I propose that the hormones don't change until there is proper communication, regardless of how much the memory has been felt. Feeling is the necessary consequence of accessing the memory.....but the update/healing can be completed after the memory has been felt/consciously experienced. The update can be completed when the patient has conscious access to all parts of the BRAIN that are involved in processing the memory -- at that stage the patient does not need conscious access to the MEMORY.

    Ultimately, our goal is to update the memory so that it will no longer generate alarm signals. Then it can be forgotten, or remembered from time to time, but never felt as a trauma.

    1. it is a process... before the primal, primal...biochemical...neurological... metabolical...sensory...blabla...behavioral, cognitive... changes... it is all the healing process. there is no pause and then the payoff... i think. maybe it looks like that from reading the letter. learning processes are not ever linear... but they ARE happening every second.
      when we sense that we learned something than we say it is the payoff. untill the next primal... the next "payoff"....preparation.... primal...payoff... never stops, and always starts.
      it should be all in the same direction so we don't get damaged. not too much suffering, not too much repression. efficiency! i think that the primal IS A PART of that process the most energy efficient, no harm-maximum life healing event. it is the real and most important life supporting lesson for a patient. new lesson of love that is at the same time a preparation for the next one. hopefully. and there is more and more trust in the process and less expectations... for payoffs.

    2. Hi vuko & Richard,

      empirical logic and sequential process are bedfellows for deceit if there is no 'scientific observation' carried out by a third party or 'independent witness' (Quality Control).

      There's a basic counselling exercise variously 'staged' involving two 'co-counselors' and an observing witness; you get to swap around. Several learning opportunities present themselves. The one that strikes me more than anything else is how 'squashy' our memory of time / sequence is; IE: what happened in what order, what was cause and what was effect?

      I feel imprinted trauma has a 'sequence' and plays (acts) out like a gramophone record when offered approximate situations (in the present) which 'resonate' with the past. But about sequence in particular I notice we all 'suspend' or 'hesitate' in order to await what we are expecting (unconsciously) to play out in a sequence peculiar to our own agenda. So, regardless of the facts in actual time and sequence we can mix up cause and effect and observe personal history playing out in the present when actually it may not really be happening quite that way. It just triggers us off our personal 'expectations' anyway.

      I think in mainstream psychobabble this is touched on by the subject of "globalization" but Primal theory sharpens the perspective on that somewhat. . . . . Alice Miller had a lot to say about this in her analysis of various tyrannical dictators.

      Paul G.

    3. During a primal, one is aware of both the present and the past, but the past is the dominant experience. From this it is easy to concoct the following theory:
      By accessing the past and present simultaneously, the patient can use the present to update his reaction to the past.

      I have decided to trash that theory because it does not work when we apply it to the following scenario:
      The patient has lost a loved one -- there will never be a happy ending - there will never be any reason for the pain to go away.

      But the pain does go away, or at least weakens eventually doesn't it? Why?

      This brings me to a more simplistic theory:
      Pain forces it's owner to take a defensive action.

      Pain has no other purpose. One does not need pain in order to become aware of the damage -- to this end a pleasant signal would suffice.

      Pain motivates. Pain is very much a part of love. A loving mother hurts when she sees her child dangling from a very high tree branch.

      The more danger, the greater her pain, and the more motivation to take a defensive (protective) action. From a logical point of view, the mother should feel no pain when her child dies because no defensive action is required. She should feel joy for the wonderful life her child had, and she should simply remember to educate her other children on the hazards of tree-climbing.
      Or from an equally logical point of view, she should feel huge pain for eternity because there is no defensive action that can resolve the traumatic event.

      I guess the brain does not adhere to a perfectly logical premise. We are blessed with a grey ball of meat that gives us the motivation to do the right things, but, being a product of random evolution (perhaps not so random when we consider the effects of epigenesis) it is not perfectly suited to our desires. Sometimes we have no choice but to feel pain and allow nature to run it's course. As Paul says, let it play out like a gramophone.

      I need to stop concocting useless theories and start making better use of my intellect.

    4. Richard, you are doing just fine. Just don't stop. Keep on pondering, searching, and seeing what others have to say. In time, if the desire to know and explain is there, you will come to an answer and a better knowledge and continually gets better. You sound more rational in this post than ever before. You are making progress. That is all any of us can do.
      The subject you bring up has an interesting proposition by MIT author Marvin Minsky, from his book, "the Emotion Machine." In just the 1st 48 pages, he has a very good explanation for why pain and emotion. Ideas can be very fleeting and fickle. So to establish or even overcome an idea, it might help to be slow to do either. Emotions and pain tend to make us slow to throw out what we are given by parents, for our protection, since whether good or bad, it is our parents who are most likely to have out best interests.

      the challenge, of course, is to eventually, evaluate all we "inherited," and decide what stays and what goes. Marvin can be a little dry but he is worth it. If you can not find the book near you, and don't want to buy it (just yet) I can scan the few pages that are really good. He is a fancy MIT big thinker. He is not a PT guy but he touches on it related stuff more than just about anyone else who is not. Just a suggestion. I'll have to remember to get my camera from the house I am fixing.

    5. Thanks for the offer apollo but I am not interested anymore because I can see that there is no tidy explanation. Why does it take a long time to heal from the loss of a loved one? If you try to think of all the possible answers you soon realise that you are disappearing into intellectual land; the place where answers are imagined and inconclusive. There comes a point where we just have to step back and allow the most important information to dominate. OK?

    6. Hey Richard,

      I also need to stop concocting useless theories and make better use of my intellect.

      As Mt Scrutinizer says - "There's no end of bullshit when you leave feelings behind"-. I just love that line; such a good reminder.

      Since I stopped 'believing' in concocted bullshit (my own or others)I am just left with 'ruminating negative thoughts'instead.

      Paul G.

  3. "Instead, I felt…I felt… good!"

    You felt. You became fully conscious in the areas of your brain that were previously unconscious. Those areas were unconscious because they were not communicating properly. Consciousness cannot occur until there is proper communication. Neurosis cannot exist within the conscious realm. Neurosis is unconscious.

    The neurological location of an epileptic seizure could be described as an area of extreme 'neurosis'. That area will not contribute to the overall conscious experience. While the seizure is happening, the victim will be conscious in only the properly functioning parts of the brain.

    A small area of improper communication can create a chain reaction of widespread neurosis (the surrounding areas become confused because they don't integrate with the explosion of 'lies'). When the brain suffers an area of damage, removal of the faulty part can help the surrounding areas to communicate with less interference, but often those surrounding areas will be missing some needed information. In this case, full consciousness is possible only during the times when the missing part is not needed.

    Neurotic people achieve full consciousness during those rare times (if any) when access to the parts of the brain that process traumatic memories is not needed to complete the task at hand. As soon as any access is denied (distorted) neurosis will pollute the conscious realm, and the result will be a reduction in consciousness.

    Primal patients can feel for a while after they have primalled, but they return to unconsciousness as they fight for access to new neurological destinations. The therapist has to keep clearing the path....keep providing better access....and consequently, keep maintaining fuller consciousness.

  4. This experience that your patient is sharing reminds me of very little I read about how acid trip can be but in this case without any help from any outside substance. He felt good and free, calm and euphoric without a reason that he can describe, except primal therapy. How real is it?

    The feelings that he reached in therapy sound authentic and real to me. Also the way the feeling builds over some time is fascinating and seems natural. It is hard to find out why it all happened in this perfect way during last months. Like the access has it’s own intelligence that is trying to balance the outside and inside imputs to facilitate the connection.

    The euphoric… feel good experience is maybe a kind of pleasant drill before the next feeling… a preparation… for a necessary maneuver that follows the connection… a stabilizing exercise that clears and wakes up a bit more the endorphine ways that are important in life.
    Are endorphins important in the making the right choices in life?
    This event could be the genuine way that his body wants to encourage him for what he does and for what will come!

    Few months ago I felt calmness and I pictured myself moving by the icebergs on dead calm water. I could choose to dive inside or move away… of some feeling. Clear choice… very unusual. Generally i think that there are periods in life when we are more perceptive to feelings.

    In the beginning the structure of therapy is the same for everybody. Three weeks of intensive… and it is probably the method that is proved the best and the only feasible… but feelings generally can’t simply be scheduled. This is interesting witnessing story about period of learning how to feel outside of that schedule when every day modern living is affecting the process. It is a mastery… maybe the most important of all?

    I think we all are learning this mastery of getting the most out of our lives. The primal therapy could be the tool that helps us in that direction.

    Good luck with this letter. Again, i'm not sure...

  5. Hi Art,

    This is really encouraging. I would like more letters from patients on your blog. I am sure I am not the only one.


    p.s.Please inform us when Dr.France will lecture in Serbia and when

  6. Thank you for writing & posting this, as a patient sometimes lacking in stick-to-it-iveness it's inspiring.

  7. I'm not discouraged by the process - it's obviously incredibly healing. I'm discouraged by how I can go through the feelings and function at the same time. I got to a point where I was sleeping 2 hours a night and not able to work. Without work I cannot live. It's not so simple. There are many things that enable people to succeed in primal and I think these need to be addressed more to really help the patient.

  8. To the Primal patient who related his story above:

    I am so happy you are feeling better! Yes, personally I know that it is nice to feel a bit of a bounce in one`s step once in a while, instead of dragging around a half-dead hurting body.I bop around riding my bike these days with some pleasure. I too have improved over the years, not from Primal but from Bioenergetics and..god- knows-what, muddling through and up somehow.From all the convincing case studies in Janov`s books, and such testimony as yours, I have no doubts Primal can be helpful. I certainly would try it out if it was available locally to me. I am re-reading Janov`s Primal Scream again these days, the sections on latent homosexuality particularly, and there again is my old reaction to this book particularly: this guy sounds like he knows what he is talking about!


  9. An email comment:
    "Good for You to get to the end of this healing journey. I do feel that your personal letter is a starting point for another One Individual to begin a new life by choosing Primal therapy."

  10. Another email comment:
    "A lovely sharing that ends with a poet's expression of the fullness of life as it is... thank-you for offering this glimpse into your fascinating journey. And I want to to give something back to you because you are a parent of a ten year old. I have two kids, now 14 and 15. The following book meant a whole lot to me in the early years of parenting. Perhaps you know it already but in case you do not:–-parenting-a-free-child/

    Again, my thanks and very best wishes..... "

  11. Another email comment:
    "Good. Thank you. Are you also a creative writer? Your prose is beautiful!"

  12. I am happy for the patient that payoffs are finally arriving, after only 39 years of on an off therapy. How encouraging, if you can sense my sarcasm. Nothing better illustrates how useless PT can be, when the scope of time encompasses an entire lifetime.

    As Emma put it, “I'm discouraged by how I can go through the feelings and function at the same time. I got to a point where I was sleeping 2 hours a night and not able to work. Without work I cannot live. It's not so simple. There are many things that enable people to succeed in primal and I think these need to be addressed more to really help the patient.”

    Its not really working, at least not enough to leave people able to function. But yet, discerning healthy rules and strategies for living, acting, etc.; these can make great differences and do so almost immediately. The POWER of good decisions and choices! Its amazing! The many dangers of bad decisions and choices. Prisons are loaded with those types.

    To be in such denial of all this, makes me seriously wonder about people and their motives and abilities.

    1. apollo: I used to think it was an amazing discovery to cure people. But there is something that is hard to explain: the amount of unconscious pain we all carry within ourselves. The pain we consciously feel may not feel like it requires 40 years of therapy, but that is because we don't feel the unconscious part that is much greater. And the more you feel in therapy, the deeper you go, the more you uncover the unconscious pain, the more you realize the intensity and amount of what you were carrying.
      Therapy can only follow each individual natural rhythm and what their body can take out, one piece at a time. So in fact, I don't want to sound pessimistic, but people with massive early trauma may not have enough of a life time to resolve it entirely, even with Primal Therapy. However it is still better to take it out, one piece at a time, and live a better life day after day. And I agree with you, healthy diet, exercise, all these other tools we can find can definitely help greatly too.
      As Primal therapists, we are charged with taking pain out. We never put it in, someone else did.

    2. i know how big my pain's more than my heart can withstand. i have come close to it many times. every day, when i have done basically nothing wrong, i still obsess about whether i have damaged my brain or i just feel like something is terribly wrong....or my body movements feel wrong...dangerous. why? i know's because my shitty life is ruled by my first line. i never feel awake. and to make it worse, i'm surrounded by people who are not interested in reality. and they all think that i am a normal, well-functioning person. and i thought i was normal until my brother showed me primal theory.

      if the primal center can help me to feel love (nothing is more important than that) and help me to feel my surroundings like i did when i was a kid, it will be the greatest gift i can ever receive. i don't need a guarantee or sugar-coated stories from every primal patient. there is no other place that is offering a real opportunity for a good life. apollo, don't you think it is worth trying? i'm nearly ready to get therapy. i've got money....just talking to friends in america....i want to stay longer than three months at a time. it would be cool to see you and the other readers at the primal center.

    3. Hi,

      it seems then that the motive to do Primal may be more than the immediate pressure of a breakdown, serious illness or long standing chronic and debilitating neurosis / depression / anxiety / drug dependency.

      The motive may be a growing awareness of the unconscious and a growing awareness of the consequences of trauma any one might 'know' happened to them but realises they don't feel.

      Not feeling is a worry. Or should be. . . I mean, we are mostly all harping on about how we notice a durth of feeling in our societies. An absence of something is hard to notice at first.

      Not 'having' feelings is also very 'convenient'; at first. Then, being overwhelmed by them is extremely 'inconvenient'.

      Somehow our 'modern' societies need to acknowledge the idea that something is not right. . . absence of feelings. . . That's not right. What IS wrong? Getting people to ask that question and perceive the need to feel is a big step.

      Paul G.

    4. Richard: good idea to stay longer. This therapy was designed for at least a one year stay and most early patients did stay a year. art

    5. Apollo: "The many dangers of bad decisions and choices. Prisons are loaded with those types." Ahem. "Those types" are mostly people of color who chose to use a substance that is deemed illegal. The war on drugs, the systemic racism that is an integral part of it, and the Big Business that is the prison-industrial complex is what keeps American prisons full. Just saying...

    6. Hi All,

      I feel it's worth mentioning that the Primal Centre has finally (after much deliberation) accepted my second application for therapy but there are very strict conditions which I have to meet.

      I have to move to LA for a minimum of 12 months; 18 months maybe.

      Ever the brave 'can do' carpenter I responded with aplomb. But kissing goodbye to family and work here will be traumatic to say the least. At my age and with my traumas I have little choice; I have to go.

      I'm thinking of shipping out my entire toolkit and setting up shop on the West Coast somewhere. . . . How about a shared, not for profit safe house for crazy patients?

      Any one interested?

      Paul G.

    7. Congratulations Paul!
      I like your spirit. to learn about ourselves and to learn carpentry
      with somebody competent like you sounds like a well spent time.
      i wish you good company, joy in work... and feelings!

    8. Paul

      Good luck. All the best. (I wish I could join you but I havent mastered the skyping yet for the interview!)I couldnt afford one yr out there either but I hope you can. I will say what you said to Sieglinde, which is this: Do it! Paul, do it! Take the (friendly) bull by the horns.xx Sandie.

  13. This is a lovely story from a patient yet I wonder, as he has been doing the therapy since 1974,(which is almost 40 years) just why it takes so long and also so many returns to the primal centre before the wonderful healing might take place? This is only an option for those with a continual income (a good one) and for people who live in the United States. For the rest of us the time is greatly limited to the extension of the visa. Three weeks or three months in therapy plus Skype would be just a tiny bite of the apple but this would probably be the only option we have!

    1. Anonymous,

      I think... if primal therapy was conducted in a social perspective then there would be opportunities beyond what today can be offered... a very different meaning.

      The responsibility primal therapy assumes... does not meet the needs for alot. To do that... it required resources. Primal Therapy responsibility can not be compromised on the quality... and for what is necessary in the matter of resources... that would be of devastating consequences if not so. In some cases a slow process is necessary... that is a cost some has to take as a result of resources in some cases... I am one!

      To perceive all "sentences" of suffering as patients conveys is probably Janovs big challenge. It would make a difference if it were carried out in society r... which is a problem for all of us!


  14. Art, i didn't send it before... only wrote it to work on it some more time.
    but since i can't possibly write the final version i am sending this one:

    there is always a big interest in peace agreement. two side decide to stop the war and they sit at the table to sign some kind of contract, the cease-fire agreement for example. it contains conditions, that makes both parts relatively satisfied. Like the beginning of every conflict so the end of it is not easily explainable but it certainly enables basic conditions for life to develop.
    I believe that these conflicts are not a natural but a consequence of the lack of consciousness that makes us forget what is really important in life, so we start killing each other. That process has it’s roots from our conception, from our life in the womb and can get most dramatic during the labor. It is the critical time that lasts only few hours but often represents the model of conflict from the example above. We have the enormous power to interfere the natural birth process that may not be always for life preservation but can be life endangering. There are scientific proofs that can support this claim but I hope the scientists, doctors, midwifes and not the least important mothers and fathers… apart from measured and available and not yet aveilable data will use common sense, and feelings to decide what is the best way for our future generation to make a transition from intrauterine to out of uterine life and to recognize what is standing as interference in this natural process.
    The question is: How can we all contribute so this act gets closer to an act of love.

  15. Keeping this goal in mind I decided to write
    THE BIRTH PROTOCOL – for a more human way of getting to this dry, often cold and unfamiliar world.

    make conditions in hospital appropriate to having a welcome to someone who is trying to leave the worm, calm and cosy environment that was the only he-she new for the last nine months. That includes the pleasant temperature, air quality, lights,no noise…. and alow the presence of of husband or anybody the mother feels necessary for her.
    make conditions for alternative position for mother that are giving birth i.e. sitting, on elbows, standing, crouching…
    the labour shouldn’t be routinely by any chemical or other way slowed down or speed up and don’t let the mother wait for medical assistance so she must herself interfeer with the labour process by slowing it down.
    during the labour do not use exessive physical force on babys' body, espetially head and spine.
    after the birth put the baby onto worm mothers chest and in her arms so the baby doesn't feel alienated but protected and to enable the emotional bondage between mother and her child to happen.
    do not rush with cutting the umbilical cord untill it stops pulsating because the baby won’t wish to go anywhere (and can’t do it) and the lenght of the cord is hopefully sufiscient to reach the mothers chest. bath and measuring can wait for an hour?
    encourage in every known way the production of milk and the plans for the mother to brestfeed her child. boost her confidence in her insincts both during pregnancy and just after the labour.
    do not ever phisycally separate the baby and the mother if not totally necessary and even then try to provide the conditions so the baby is not totally without the so comforting gentle physical contact.
    if the mother feels more confident giving labor at her home the hospital should provide the necessary staff to help her do it home.

    What is in there for the mother and for the hospitals?
    For the mother this could be beautiful experience that they will like to recommend to their friends and for private hospitals this could mean more prestige and number of labours-more money. If it is good for the baby it is by definition good for everybody. Every hospital is of course free to accept this protocol integraly or just a part of it. Anyway, every part of it I believe has the potential to support life.
    This is not the final version but I think it shouldn’t be much more complicated than this. It is the simplicity that motivated me to write it and the simplicity could make somebody get interested… I hope.
    We all survived our birth but there are the ones who remember it. Their contribution could be of the most value. And I think it shouldn’t cost too much to apply the most of it. It could reduce some expencies actually.

  16. Hi vuko, well asked,

    There's two things, the trauma, at the time it happened, in the history of the individual: "imprinted". Then there are the consequences (history unfolding). Each require two distinctly different balancing forces as they spread out into society from that nuclear, procreational family.

    Could it be that two parents of each gender can evolve to help the newborn recover from the shocks? A balancing relationship? An act of evolution, a pair of contributors to the recovery of an individual or the growth of a group? a Group bigger than the nuclear family it evolved from. . .

    A pair of loving parents.

    Paul G.

    1. Hi Paul,
      i am not sure i understand what you are saying...
      are you asking advice about parenting?

      parents can help the balance... the key is probably in
      mutual trust. between the parents and the child.
      the child wants to feel good. to make the best
      he/she can.
      parents can ...
      i don't know Paul. a saying from parents comes to my mind:
      "God is taking care of children"

      could it be that trying to answer you i am stopped by a wall of repression? sorry Paul. it is too much for me right now.
      i can't intelectualise and can't feel. not tonight.

      first balance the first line. the rest is easier. calm and not too threatening environment i guess. to keep rage/desperation under control. the child will help..

  17. Sadly Vuko, some of these things probably didn't happen for a lot of us.

    Len Gibbs.

  18. To Richard,
    I think you might do well in PT. I think you would be motivated and would be eager to get rid of pain by feeling. For me, I got things to do and money is not there. I have certain "enemies" (other than myself, of course)in high places that also like to make trouble, which I do sort of ask for. I function well and enjoy what I do. Unless a pile of money drops out of heaven, I am likely out of luck and I won't miss it, anyway. But I will want to hear about your progress if you start! At least one of us will get there.

    To AnttiJ,
    Yes, prisons criminalize drugs, which I detest, and that does skew the mix some. but there are still many, even if you reduce it by 80%, who make very bad choices, no doubt due to pain. But to me, it is quite obvious that some have on real reasoning going on in their heads and seem to function completely in 1st and 2nd lines. that is the problem. They will never be attracted to PT. Odd, that it is usually the thinking brain that leads people to PT.


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.