Wednesday, May 8, 2013

On the Integrated Brain: The Left-Right Connection

Many of you know that there are two brain hemispheres, the left and right; each has its own functions which differ seriously in the psychic economy.   But what is well less known is that these two hemispheres are connected mainly by a group of 200 million neurons called the corpus callosum.  Eighty five percent of our emotions traverse this structure.   There are lesser connections, as well, but none as important as the corpus callosum.

Sometimes there are those who are born without it, and others due to serious epilepsy have it severed so that information no longer travels along this route.  The surgery stops the epilepsy but also cause brain impairment.

The corpus callosum begins its life just about the time the two hemispheres are differentiating—11 weeks of gestation.   When there is trauma in the womb this structure thins out and it is not as strong.  Also early in life adverse circumstances can weaken it.   Thus trauma can interrupt the connection among feelings from right to left and back.    When pain is inordinate early on, the feelings can be blocked by repression along this structure.  So no proper connection can be made. Connection, remember, can be vertical, from deep in the brain to higher areas, and also from right to left brains, horizontal connection.

The corpus callosum, about the length/width of my four fingers goes on developing even through  adolescence.  These cells seem to be guided toward each other by key cells known  as pioneer axons. They lead the way and then hundreds of millions of nerve cells follow, and the connection is complete.  But repression can be enhanced against pain and block this connection.  Those who live in their head have a failure of this horizontal connection.    They cannot feel. This is not the case with most of our patients who feel too much. That is, too much pain information is getting through and flooding the other (left) side.  The right left barricade does not function well and the brain cannot hold back information.

The corpus callosum is most malleable; those who learned a musical instrument very early have larger corpus callosums.   And I believe that those babies who were deal with in a feeling way also may have a more efficient structure.   So they can think and know what they feel and feel what they know.  They are integrated.  They have themselves.

 Neglected children on average have a smaller corpus callosum.  There is not a broad capacity for feeling.  When feelings methodically reach the other side there is the beginning of a whole human being.  I believe that one way repression exerts its force is through disconnecting left and right  brains.  The left is saying, “there is more information coming in than I can accept.”  It then pushes more information away.  It is then that other structures take over and deliver feelings—the anterior commissure.   But these other structures are not as good as delivery of feelings as the corpus callosum.   Now we see how those intellectual beings can figure out so much yet not know about feelings.  Those who are very intellectual never learn how to do our therapy.  They cannot sense or feel what is the right move to make, and when making a move is not appropriate.

What I think we do in our therapy is produce over time,  bit by bit, a connection in both directions top/bottom  and right/left.  It, to me, is normalizing the individual, making her and him integrated souls.  They can care because that emotion is not blocked.  With an intact limbic system they know instinctively how to rear a child; not having to read how-to books.    The goal of therapy has to be feeling because it was feeling that either went astray early on or was blocked from proper access.  We can sense when someone is feeling and when he is not.  Feeling beings exude feeling and it is palpable.


  1. Dear Art,

    is there anything that people who don`t have the possibility to do primal therapy in the near future or professionals who have no training in primal can do for themselves or for their patients to help connection and get better?

    Warm regards,

    1. Yes. France is preparing the legacy which explains everything about primal with videos. Ready in fall or winter. It is the result of years of work. Art

    2. That's great, Art.

      And by democratising the information you also provide some tools for people receiving mock PT (especially) to determine the credibility of their therapists. And in turn protects the reputation of respectable PT.

    3. i would like every single word spoken in the documentary to be available on english subtitles. Just in case the sound is poor or the word or phrase not understood.
      i suggest to include in Legacy program a paper on proper and least damaging way to affect birth process in hospitals. like a manual for a labour written by a baby. it shouldn't be 'take it or leave it' offer for the mothers and hospitals. but something open for negotiations, for expansion and continuous research. you could provide up to date scientific reports to support the idea for those that are interested. who get triggered.
      i wrote something few days ago when i read Anttis' comment on not cutting the umbillical cord before it stops pulsating. it sounded easy to apply by ANY medical staff in the world... soo simple. the working version is called THE BIRTH PROTOCOL.

    4. Vuko: Can you send your comment again? art

  2. That's very interesting. I have a lot of first line pain but learnt the violin from very early - from age 4 and studied it almost every day through my childhood. I also live in my head. Do you think learning the violin helped with my repression?

    1. Emma: Not sure but it is very possible. It certainly kept the focus higher up in the brain. art

  3. Hi,

    Such an important question Philipp.

    I imagine Art's answer was not easy to arrive at. On the one hand keeping his cards close to his chest for fear of aggravating already wrong (and damaging) interpretations of Primal and on the other hand inundated with requests for help that the centre could never accommodate even if every one who applies for therapy had the money.

    If we did all have the money I imagine the waiting list for the three week intensive would be 10 years? 20yrs? More maybe?

    So I imagine the legacy program was put together with much debate, under considerable duress and the controversy that results when eventually published and available will make the centre even more in the spotlight. . .

    Paul G.

  4. Art
    I got wiped out before I could sign my comment.The legacy sounds a great idea but it will only be a possibility for people with the kind of housing where neighbours are either not close or in a rural area. The right space to do the primal work is as important as the need to do it. So it may only be an option for people with enough money to grant them some seclusion or excellent sound proofing in their detached houses. in blocks of flats this is an impossibility. Primalling is often noisy and one has to be free and have a safe environment for the expression of the deep emotion involved.

    1. Anonymous, I recorded my experimental singing (tortured screaming) for a couple of hours...I was trying to make it work with a track I was listening to in my headphones. The neighbours couldn't hear the music....only my non-musical screaming. The sweet Indian woman who lived downstairs knocked on my door after about an hour of screaming (I didn't realise she was at home). She was upset and said she was afraid to knock on my door.....she thought something awful was happening to me, but she didn't think it was an intruder. I apologised, she felt much better and left me to carry on. None of the other neighbours reacted at all. No one called the police or anything. Of course a real primal would be different, but the experiment showed me how 'tolerant' my neighbours were. If I can't find a good place to primal (assuming I am capable of primalling) I will let all of my neighbours know that I am recording a film. I'm serious!

    2. By the way, Anonymous, the legacy DVDs will never be a substitute for a properly trained primal therapist. Primal is not like one of those "Spiritual Healing In Just Eight Weeks" scams. I hope the legacy will not be a "How To Primal"...but more like a "This is how we do it...but you will need to learn properly at the Primal Center" type of DVD. Art?

    3. Hi Anonymous,

      I just spent all my savings and earnings on exactly that out in the sticks but close enough to the city where my family live, to visit.

      My son invited me to move back to the city in to his social housing on the 11th floor. That will save me £12,000 in the next year.

      He said: "We'll be able to get on because we understand the truth about our pain".

      Paul G.

    4. The thing is though, 'need' will predominate. It's a question of whether (curious and needy) patients will get direct advice from it first, before 'opportunistic' (and no doubt 'well meaning') agents, oops, I mean therapists decide to 'incorporate' the principles into their existing practice in order to 'enhance' their repertoire. . .

      Well it is blatantly obvious this is already happening.

      What humans forget (because of the delusional power of the 3rd line) is the difference between a real 'solution' and merely a 'mechanical mix' These are scientific terms which relate to chemistry going on in our arteries and veins but also serve as a map for our intentions. So, "Buyer beware"!

      This product deserves some kind of serious warning printed on the package about that scientific difference: That the brain / mind can become damaged permanently through tinkering. A 'mechanical mix'. Merely a re-arrangement of one's neurosis and metabolism; not a return to normal set points in chemistry. Nor behavior either.
      Such a warning has to stress the enduring and re-occurring nature of the 1st line, so tampering can lead to a new kind of defense against the original imprint in later 'evolutionary' layers of the brain, or worse.

      Basically the Legacy hinges on better Scientific Standards (which are unclear at present).

      By publishing the Legacy Program the Primal Center is 'precipitating' "Better Standards", partly through the need to and the process of labeling. I wonder if the Center will be able to receive feedback? Seems like a scientific obligation. . . What are purchasers reactions and responses?

      There will be some ripples when this pebble touches the pond.

      Paul G.

  5. Throughout my life I have done things or been told to do what I never managed to do. I have never been at my senses to cope with anything. Everything has felt unpleasant... impossible... or painful... so painful that it in one way or another got me ashamed for what I was asked to do or could not do myself. Through all this I have been struggling... in every sentence of my life I have been suffering.

    How could I know anything but suffering as I was the suffering... empty of love and joy? Everything happend to me during suffering! The Impossible can not investigate itself only through fortunate circumstances... lucky to find the Primal Center "

    When sentences of need for love only perceive suffering... we start to crossing the river to catch water!


  6. An email comment:
    It's always stuck with me something you wrote about how the oppressors in the world (the ones shut down) will always have the advantage of calling the shots. I'm sure George W Bush sleeps well and is oblivious of the absolute carnage and ruin he caused going into Iraq, all because he had to prove to his father that he was deserving of his respect ( love) Ay yi yi !
    The disadvantage of the "feeling" people is that we don't wish to hurt others. ( It's why I cracked up in Vietnam) We have a more difficult time succeeding in a world where you have to shut off your feelings to compete. We are empathic. And they are not. Power and control becomes a replacement for not having felt loved (where have I heard this before?) Telling you this is like trying to give swimming lessons to fish
    I'm sure I can locate your writings on "anger" but that John Hopkins article I sent you describes this emotion as totally invalid causing strokes, heart attacks etc. Just a gentle reminder to perhaps write in your blog the difference between a feeling person's expression of anger and those that dump anger as a defense. It's always intrigued me and I've always struggled with it. Be Well Art !"

    1. The unfeeling people have no qualms about playing dirty and hurting others because they cannot feel. The want to win no matter what and look out for anyone who gets in the way. art

  7. Another email comment:
    "Dear Arthur. I love Your shit dude.
    It is so simple to understand but hard to do, to face. Twofaced. A face with two brains. Thats what we are.
    I just read Your text and came up with, printed on a T-shirt:

    "Its obvious. Its a Twobrainer."

    obvious (adj.)
    1580s, "frequently met with," from Latin obvius "that is in the way, presenting itself readily, open, exposed, commonplace," from obviam (adv.) "in the way," from ob "against" (see ob-) + viam, accusative of via "way" (see via). Meaning "plain to see, evident" is first recorded 1630s. "Related: Obviously; obviousness.

  8. Dr. Janov,
    My longstanding interest in the corpus callosum inspired me to look at this extremely complex subject from all available angles such as micro-bio and gene methylation, that leads to congenital defect, and psychological disorders.

    Of special interest to me is: “Chiari 1 malformation associated with callosal dysgenesis and ectopic neurohypophysis”

    Sharing here random CC related new science about the corpus callosum: Symptoms of Corpus callosum agenesis – polysyndactyly:

    Also: new findings suggest healthy bacterial (immune system) and missing vital minerals are necessary for a brain development.
    Excerpt from:

    “Along with the antibiotics, Blaser blames our obsession with cleanliness and antibacterial soaps and lotions. In addition, about 30 percent of American children are now born by Caesarean section. They start life without the microbiome they would normally have picked up passing through the mother’s birth canal, and some research suggests that this puts them at a disadvantage. Studies show that a diverse microbial community is essential to jump-start a baby’s immune system, establish a healthy digestive tract and even help shape the growing brain. Blaser doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that children now face an epidemic of medical disorders in all these areas, and that the surge in incidence tracks with an increase in Caesarean births and the introduction of powerful new antibiotics in the 1970s and ’80s."
    “•A lack of normal gut microbes early in life disturbs the central nervous system in rodents, and may permanently alter serotonin levels in the adult brain. Scientists suspect that the same could hold for humans.”

    Antibiotics kill also “good” bacterial.
    In one of the micro­biome papers was mentioned (I can’t find this paper at the moment), how the “wrong” bacterial, called Firmicutes and Yeast, influence the intrauterine development of the corpus callosum and could be “one” of the many reasons for gen-methylation.

    Quite a while ago I was writing on this blog how my mother “cured” every illness with penicillin. I always was convinced that the overuse of penicillin effects the fetus. As an RN she had unlimited access to medication and used these extensively herself even during pregnancy and later on us children.

    Other views on CC
    “Partial agenesis of the corpus callosum is a birth defect (congenital defect) in which a person is missing part of the corpus callosum, which is the brain structure that connects the left half of the brain to the right half. The amount of problems in brain function depends on the severity of the birth defect.”

    “Agenesis of the corpus callosum may be associated with other brain abnormalities. How a child would be with agenesis of the corpus callosum depends on the extent of other associated findings. Optic nerve hypoplasia, pituitary abnormalities, developmental delays, and other neurological problems are associated with this”. Please see

    1. Sieglinde: This is a bit too complicated for our blog. art


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.