Thursday, November 21, 2013

What is Primal Therapy?

I decided to write this because recently there has been an influx of patients from so-called primal therapists, and without exception they have been damaged. Patients have gone to professionals with all the credentials who have advertised primal and claim to know how to do it. Since it takes years to learn, they just borrow the term Primal and use it to deceive prospective patients. Sometimes it is former patients who think they know enough. Most often it is strangers who read the Primal Scream and decided to go into practice. In any case, we have spent some 47 years refining the theory and therapy, joining it with biochemistry and neurology to make it as scientific and efficient as possible. It is at least a complex matter that embodies science as its base.

There is a case this week that set my hair on fire. There are several primal centers in Europe who claim to be doing Primal Therapy. One Center took a woman who was feeling somewhat hopeless, plunged her into first line abruptly and drove her straight into parasympathetic overload and then deep depression. She left their place in pieces and no one there had any idea what was going on and or what to do about it. Then they say, “there is nothing more we can do for you.”

 It happens a lot that they open up the person to far too much pain, flood them and inundate them and then do not know what to do. There all manner of deviations possible and there all manner of unscrupulous individuals who use our term, Primal, to deceive others who are suffering. The proof lies before us every day in the wrecks who come to us from so-called primal therapists.

I know that is often more convenient to go to someone nearby especially if they are in a foreign country but it is your life you are compromising. I have never known any one of these mock therapists to do research, to follow up on their work or to do vital sign research on patients. So here is what to watch out for.

  1. The whole reason for Primal Therapy was to counter the 50 minute hour and let patients stay as long as the need to. So the first thing the mock therapists is to do one hour sessions. That defeats the whole idea of feelings guiding the therapy. There must be no timetable for it.

  2. The mock therapists eliminate doing group therapy, which are essential to getting patients together, to learn about feelings and interact with others and see what feelings look like. Patients help each other in groups and then learn to buddy and carry on the therapy with each other.

  3.  Because they do not follow evolution they often plunge the patient into deep feelings for which they are not ready. The result is overload and flooding of the brain with too many and too heavy feelings. Or, the patient is ready to go deeper but they are not taken there because the therapist has no idea how to do it.

  4. Mock therapists always guide and control the patient. Telling him or her what to say, how to say it and even force them to speak words when the feelings have no words attached to them. Thus they produce a mélange which confuses the patient all the more.

  5. They tell the patient when to come, how often and how long to stay, which should be the province of the patient not the doctor; oh yes, don’t be fooled many of these therapists can be licensed, are doctors, with all the accouterments of professionals. All they lack is knowledge and a bit of humility. They never know their limits and they figure since we do it why can’t they? The “we” in this case is me and my team who work relentlessly refining what we do.

  6. The mock therapists do not have medical controls so they may treat something neurologic as something psychological; the patient suffers. They need a wide ranging background to sort out what is wrong with the patient before embarking on therapy. I wonder how many of them actually have the knowledge. We had a case recently of brain impairment which was previously treated as something psychological, and left a damaged individual in its wake. The human mind is not for dilettantes. Once derailed the patients may take years to make up for what was done to them.

  7. The ways of detours and derailment is infinite. Often done by well meaning therapists, and just as often done by those who see commercial value in it. It has become the “flavor of the month.” I would very much to be democratic and leave the way open for other therapists but our experience up to now has been disappointing. There may be some who sit for patients and give them a good environment in which to feel but I have not seen it.

  8. The danger lies in those who had a bit of training, left too early and hang out shingles saying, “Janov trained.” True, they had some training but Primal Therapy can be dangerous in those with insufficient training. This is especially true when there is no knowledge for how the brain works or should work. I often say that we cannot love neurosis away. No matter and good intentioned there is a precise science to learn.

  9. To my knowledge, not one of those so-called Primal people write and publish in order to further the science of the therapy. Their interest is not the patient; it is commercial. It has become a business not a mental health approach. We have had several peer reviewed articles recently. One in the World Congress of Psychiatry, and another accepted by them for publication. And there are others. I do write books explaining the therapy (in 26 languages) and the science underlying it. Dr. France Janov is now about to finish legacy program detailing what we do, on disc. It is not a secret. We have no desire to keep it for ourselves but we do know that a high level of training is needed, and we do not want therapists to take short cuts that endangers patients’ lives. They would be taking short cuts on the patients’ health.

  10. Primal Therapy should not be practiced alone. There are feelings in all of us that when they come up can derail judgment. We need others around to make sure we do not commit systematic errors on patients. Therapists control one another. There are constant staff meetings to make sure every patient is attended to. And training sessions where we advance the therapy and the theory. The whole focus is on bettering what we do for the benefit of the patient.


  1. I had some experience of a Primal Therapist a few years ago. I had read the Primal Scream and a number of Art's other books and so rather nievely went to see this woman. I suppose i saw her for the alloted 50 minutes over about 9 weeks. She told me I was not ready for Primal Therapy so I just talked which felt odd but perhaps saved me from any damage. To be frank I was slightly wary of them because they professed to have added to Art's theories and I don't know where I would be now without those theories and books. After the 9 weeks I started to get the distinct feeling I was being manipulated. I had not got into any kind of deep feelings so was'nt damaged and left.

  2. Excellent. A short, sharp statement that needs to be made.

    Can I suggest you get France Janov to read through this carefully to get rid a few typo' needs to be as 'authoritative' as possible, in my view. (And I know how hard it is to see your own typo mistakes).

    1. Andrew: You are right. typos get in the way. Alas I have no present editor. art

  3. Hi Art,I
    I highly agree to Your warnings against mock P:T. ; some decades ago a German lady -once in training in L:A. scoffed about my remarks about the dangers...

    But when You (as a layman/woman) for example on the "Primal Therapy St.Gallen" site one is
    to believe all that scientific sound therapy stuff!

    The alternative would be to go to the "ordinary" therapists (as I did ...(me rinresce moltissimo!!!
    to have spent somuch time and money for "them" or to self-primalling? -yes or to suffer till doomsday!??

    Yours emanuel

  4. Hi Dr Janov

    I read your blogs with interest, but one conclusion always comes to me, and this blog has emphasized it:

    It seems as if only you and your closest colleagues can provide safe and correct primal therapy.

    This being the case, what is the point of all your books, etc? Everything you say makes them pretty dangerous. You have outlined the dangers in this post.

    I know you have to get the word out, but at the same time you are frustrating many people who need your solution but just cannot afford to go live where you are while you help them.

    1. Very soon Dr. France Janov will release the Legacy Program where she shows through film how to do safe therapy. Secondly, we start on world-shaking research very soon and what we will try to do is lower the fee for the research subjects. I wish to hell it were safe to see others for therapy but I have yet to see it down properly by anyone else. As you know, it is very dangerous in untrained hands. Art

    2. Dear Art,
      I am concerned that you have been unable to teach someone on how to do Primal Therapy safely and properly without your supervision. Actually decades ago you did certify some therapists who proceeded to water it down to conventional therapy, making it de facto mock therapy.
      I wonder what do you need to be able to train therapists? perhaps you could get the help of a training specialist?
      After I received therapy from your excellent therapist, Jim, I started to learn sailing, and became a seasoned teacher in my sailing club in the Bay area. I also became responsible of teaching programs for my club. One thing is that we have a rating committee where we give our students credentials and rating levels, and the levels are awarded when the teachers verify that the candidate can skipper the class of boat (a dinghy, a keelboat) in a growing area of San Francisco Bay.
      I was wondering if you would be able to find an accredited training specialist, one with a specialty in a very complicated task that becomes dangerous if the person performing it did not achieve the skills and credentials to perform it safely. Perhaps he could help you develop a training and testing system that would enable you to train and certify good primal therapists.
      I think it would be sad that no one pursues your legacy after you retire.
      Thank you for inventing Primal Therapy. It has marked me significantly and has marked our culture as well, while being heavily co-opted by many.
      - Yves, patient from 2005 to 2010 (anonymous now as I may register later to one of the options offered in this blog)

    3. Yves: We will discuss in staff. thanks. Art

  5. Dr. Art,

    Perhaps Dr.France should put in legacy program something like lecture how to avoid manipulation, or what to beware of. All this to the future patients. It does not have to be lecture, it might be put in written words in legacy program, like caution or something like that.


  6. I did my therapy at Art Janov's the now closed New York Institute in the late 70's. Undergoing this therapy and practicing is not easy. I once heard Art at lecture say that doing no therapy was better then "trying" to do primal therapy. This kind of therapy requires a tremendous amount of respect for the boundaries of people, a respect and concern for who they are and their history. I very rarely try to 'get' into other people's feelings now even in general conversation. One of things I've learned about the integrity of the self is that you don't play around with it at all.

    Art has been warning people about this therapy for a long time and has repeatedly put that warning clearly before the public. As far as my feelings about all of this, all I can say, is that it has been quite interesting and easy, at times, very difficult, to relate to people, with the exception of my good brother, because it is now so natural for me to bring my feelings into these relationships. I find that many people have so much charged issues lurking inside them that I need to always be careful with my words.

    Right now I'm trying to come to a better understanding of the relationship between "therapy" and "support". I've come to a preliminary view that support is the more fundamental need and that the positive results of therapy, including primal therapy, is because of the restoration of support in a person's life and this includes the restoring what I term "organic faith" in the world. This restoration is also incumbent upon restoring healthy lines of communication within a person and between persons. I know that, Art, might not agree with me here; he might counter that all the "support" in the world can't undo a past of unmet need or the neuro-physiological imprint of very early traumatic events that were not fully experienced and therefore not completely resolved or healed. I will concede that there is profound truth and merit in this view and leave it at that for now.

    Art's last point about therapists needing each other to do good therapy,illustrates, I believe, the nature of what I mean by support.


  7. Planespotter I don't want to make you feel interrogated, but why did you ignore the warnings in Art's books? This question is important to me because your answer might help me to understand why over 500 mock therapists are still in business.

    1. Hi Richard

      Don't worry you are'nt interrogating. I suppose like many other people I just wanted to get well. If you read the Primal Scream it is a big thick book and if you are in a bad place you may not always take on board everything the first time round. I had also read Primal Healing. I was partly aware of Art's warnings which is why I did'nt stay long. I was bruised and battered from a number of years dealing with a truely arrogant and ignorant local GP so was wary and untrusting of people including therapists. I trusted books more readily than people and having read Alice Miller first was aware of how a therapist can exploit a patient for their own ends. I was lucky to be wary.

    2. Hi planespotter and Richard,

      many people who actually present themselves for therapy / help / medicine / surgery etc are often desperate or heading toward desperation when they eventually make that first step.

      The decisions we make are mostly not rational but motivated by fear and if there were warnings about mock therapy in the Primal Scream I for one didn't notice them; (are there)?

      Also nobody really likes to hear one "supplier" dis the supplies of another supplier.

      In many circles such 'criticism' is taken as having a problem with blame and so the circle of ignorance goes round and round.

      Richard, if you had serious and debilitating symptoms PRIOR to getting onto this blog and some-one told you they could do Primal with you in your chosen area (and without all that 3 week intensive hassle) perhaps you also would have tried the charlatans having given them the benefit of the doubt driven by your suffering.

      I'm not convinced this blog is a particularly good advert for Primal because so many words and so many rants and so many references to fantastic science and research are not particularly attractive to most people.
      Not to mention the infrequent but regular warnings about duff therapy / therapists.

      I confess I have almost become dependent on this blog for my sanity. . . Almost but not quite. I imagine this hazard was probably always in mind when Art first thought of starting it. Nevertheless, on balance I think its a good thing for people in general. . . I think it's also good for Art and the Primal Center too because it offers a variety of opinion and expression he would not get through other sources.

      Blog On,

      Paul G.

  8. I'm curious, I wrote a lengthy commentary. I'm also a former primal patient going back to the old days in NYC. There is only one other comment made to this important post. I would like some response at some point. My email is Thanks, Nick

    1. Hello Nick,

      Trying to speak only for myself I must say that I am in a difficult situation due to experiencing extreme re-living experiences without being in proper therapy. So, I find most posts so challenging I don't really know what to say. Particularly anything that causes me to fall into some kind of despair about being stuck in permanent ab-reaction.

      I did not nor have not tried to Primal. I just totally broke down one night (during the split with my beloved) 4 years ago and those feelings have deepened ever since.

      It's not all abreaction. . . Anyway, I am in awe of those who made it into the 3 week intensive and out into buddying and group therapy. The prospect of not being able to get into this is too depressing for me to contemplate but the conditions for my entry are so strict I am baffled as to how to proceed.

      It's not just the cost. Some one else pointed out that there is such a demand for therapy and so few actual places available that one wonders what sort of torture Arts books are actually inflicting on those for whom there is little or no chance of ever getting proper therapy.

      It's almost another act out. . . struggle, struggle, struggle, FAIL !

      Paul G.

    2. Hi, I did respond to this post but Art published it as a response to the previous post. Either that or some-how I sent it to the previous post.

      Here it is again :
      PaulNovember 21, 2013 at 11:46 PM


      briefly, well, not so briefly, I must say that the 'Bodywork' therapist I went to see over 4 - 5 years was very careful not to plunge me into 1st line stuff and infact was probably one of the most patient and least dangerous of all those who do know something of your work and Primal Theory. Consequently I don't believe he can be blamed for the chronic ab-reaction I am experiencing.

      LSD back in the 70s / 80s and my own tendency to stick my neck out too far with the wrong people in life and get hurt is what actually got me into this emotional trouble.
      It's not all abreaction. On the way to work three days ago I had to stop in a layby and let go, big time this time. Quickly I went right down to early childhood and the pain in a hernia operation scar from age 4. This has happened before and is an evolving aspect of my descents.

      I know I have compounded trauma due to a separation from my mum 18months before that which she told me about; I know it's deeply repressed because she said to me : "You were never the same again afterwards". . . The memories of that are disconnected, though I 'feel' the loss and separation.

      My parents were so stupid to send me away to boarding school 5 years later because that further compounded my separation trauma at age 3. Thus I have a rather 'disjointed' chain of pain.

      'Higher up' its definitely separation trauma (loss, grief etc and this can be projected onto things, so for example I can start to feel anxious if I can't find the right spanner. . .), but as I descend it becomes more like the description of depression, being stuck. . . Maybe little fetus me didn't want to come out ! ? Maybe I wanted to stay in the security of the womb.

      Any way, I am in no position to get support to cry with another person and I cannot see myself going back to the 50 minute hour sat opposite a "professional" discussing my "stuff".

      I just thank the goodness in life that I have some activity that keeps me 'proud of myself'; my carpentry, something I can take pride in that totally focuses my attention and also challenges me to survive and keep going.

      I occasionally feel like ending it all. But not today and I have no plans for that tomorrow or next week. . . Or next month or next year even. I think I got stuck in the birth canal and had to struggle and then eventually got pulled out. I can see I will have to appeal to some people to help me 'get out' of the situation I am in.

      F**k knows who that will be. . . Well, I do have some connections in society and perhaps I will get that help to "Pull Me Out" of the tricky situation I am in.

      Paul G.

    3. We are gong to make à real effort to help Those In need thru our research program starting soon. Art

    4. Hi Paul

      I am so sorry you are feeling so down at the moment.

    5. Thanks planespotter,

      It's not that bad, It's just that the elitist boarding school system of repression I went through over 8 years of my life is unfolding in a daily reliving as I go to work/ come back from work in my car. It's absolutely, definitely boarding school. Exquisitely remembered. All the feelings and all the scenarios are playing out from this 3rd line compounding of my actual 2nd and 1st line traumas. Daily, weekly , monthly . . . even yearly. . . according to the original "Timetable".

      This is the controversial thing about that elitist conditioning. Because the earlier 2nd and 1st line abandonment and loss, my trauma is hijacked by the brutal elitist boarding school experience. The authorities have therefore found out how to control us; just as long as they can get the 'Officer Class' thoroughly fucked up (disconnected ) first. I feel this is what rankles for those who see how others (with power and influence and money) control us. It looks like a conspiracy. They use pain / abandonment / loss / grief / as a threat.

      It is so true that where there is great 3rd line trauma that must be dealt with first. Before descending to the 2nd line traumas. For those of us who are boarding school (child institution abuse victims) we absolutely have to keep on reliving that 3rd line stuff over and over again; 8 years, 24 terms, 48 half terms, 96 returns to Mummy and 172 losses , 72 weekend home visits. Hundreds of abandonment re-enforcement re-living experiences. . . it seems like AB-REACTION but actually it is the natural consequence of having been institutionalized over 8 years by people who benefit from the control and superiority of control over children (who's stupid parents believe in trauma as an education). . . .

      To other boarding school survivors who might read this. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , , ,.

      We will eventually get down to the 2nd and 1st line stuff and from my experience it's the classist / elitist 3rd line stuff that defines our later descents to what's really important in the 2nd and 1st line.

      Paul G.

    6. Hi Paul

      I can appreciate your situation. I think my experience was different because I had been on an SSRI for 8 years. They opened me up in some ways (only just discovered that via Art's recently published piece on depression) and then sent me crashing down so I ended up in 1st, 2nd and 3rd line all at the same time. It's damn difficult place to be.

  9. An email comment: "Art: I couldn't agree with you more. But the problem lies mainly, as I see it, in the nature of "making a living", "earning money", through ones work. Our capitalist system. The other factor that I find most important is that therapist take care and follow their fellow therapist ... making sure the patient is getting what is required and in the right manner.

    One last point you make that is extremely important, as I see it, as a 33 year (and ongoing, though not formally), patient, is the patient knows best. For many patients as I have observed, from groups and retreats, there is often the reluctance of patients to allow themselves to sink into their own pain. This has to be handled, again as I see it, (I am totally without any form of training) is in suggesting at the right time and in the right manner (that is different for each patient), again as I see it, to realize that they are still suffering to some extent and it is only at that time, that it might be suggested that they need to allow themselves more feelings and often (A factor I feel grossly misunderstood) to express ... appropriately unto themselves.

    I feel strongly that we each of us express our feelings differently and the great test for me (best as I can at that moment assess, is to think how as a child, or baby, I might have expressed it myself. That took, for me, quite some contemplation and often the need to even re-think at a later time.

    Where, you might ask, do I get all this for myself? Most of it is from my own feelings and the expressing thereof, and from buddying (which I prefer to call "sitting for") I have currently being doing this with one patient at the Primal Institute now for a period of 11 months on almost a daily basis. All I can do do is just listen. Something that took me many years of therapy to be able to do ... somewhat.

    This particular patient had the most horrendous womb-hood and child-hood that I have ever encountered. A mother (I figure from the patient) who wished that the baby would just die. Since I am not a therapist by any stretch of the imagination, I felt this patient had a sense of trust in me and was able when he felt it appropriate, to tell me so in no uncertain words. I also knew that at such a moment that I needed to refrain from bring any of my feelings of hurt, or lack of apparent appreciation, into the sitting session Done mainly over the phone.

    It is so complex and the fact that I in no way get paid or compensated for my time, that I feel gives me the only credence I possess.

    There was that something within me that felt the need to write you this, in response your your article.

  10. Oy! Is there any target you didn't hit, Art? :>)

    I experienced faux Primal in the early 1970s. The "group" sessions often involved "hot seats" wherein you got rat-packed by other patients. It was a form of torture that was supposed to help. Compassion was mocked, being for weaklings.

    Also, certain clients were deemed favorites. They became the more-than-equal peers who lorded it over underlings.

    The therapists (all Casriel-trained) slept with each other and some patients. One "leader" killed himself after a traffic accident while on a sex tour: the pain was too great. Another was an alcoholic who hit on females. Later he died after being in a coma, only one former patient visiting. Another went back to doing drugs. A fourth became an "artist" enamored with the Holocaust.

    As for patients, one killed himself. Two others married, adopted a child, and raised him so poorly he was imprisoned. On and on the damage went.

    It was a horror show, but who knew at the time? It promised quick cures by loud yellings. Besides, leaders said it was the one-true-way and, negating Sinatra, said if you couldn't make it there you wouldn't make it anywhere.

    It reminds me of those who say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. The truth is, too much pain can cripple you for life!

    I think what saved me was feeling like such a failure, I just left.

    The irony is that while Art stresses the pain of Primal, the faux folks actual caused MORE pain ...and with no healing. That's why I think Art should redo his sales pitch to tell folks that by GENTLY entering feelings (a sort of controlled descent), you get better. Faux therapists are like yoga adepts who teach flexibility by breaking legs. They eschew the gentle stretching that's needed.

    Anyway, glad you're still kicking, Art. And thanks for creating this blog.

  11. > Nick Marconi wrote: "One of things I've learned about the integrity of the self is that you don't play around with it at all."

    Tell it, bruthaman!

    Yet I find it hard to heed because my mother was a poorly-supervised (Thorazine and electro-shocks) manic-depressive married to a repressed husband. I spent decades trying to cure her. I never accepted that she had a medical condition. I thought she was faking a lot. I think that was because no shrink ever told us kids what was going on...that it wasn't our fault or job to cure her. My father also never got therapy for us kids...or himself. It would have helped. A lot.

    Anyway, now I'm helping someone who, at age 50, just discovered HE's bipolar. The changes since he's taken Lithium hint at what my mother could have been.

    At the same time, I see the side-effects of meds: weight-gain, other pills, depression, falling testosterone levels, kidney impairment, and so on.

    I struggle to keep my distance. It's hard because the guy stirs up feelings I had for my mother. That is, I feel I have to step in and do things he finds getting organized. It's frustrating because I often end up doing it all, then resent his counting on my continuing to do so.

    It's hard to accept that he's doing the best he can. It's even harder to say it's not my job to help him do more. A friend says, "Don't fake a limp in front of the lame thinking you're helping." Yet I find myself ignoring my own needs, trying to "fix" him. And feel selfish if I don't do all I can.

    I suppose my real problem is finding it hard to say, "It ain't my problem!" and choosing myself first.

    Intellectually I "know" I learned the behavior as a coping technique per my mother. I had to first make sure she was okay in order to get a little back in turn. It's hard riding the "bucking bronco of feelings" that stirs when I choose to meet my own needs instead of others'...and witness their pouts.

    I often overestimate my abilities and energy, getting enmeshed with others' issues. Then I run out of steam for getting/doing for ME.

    I read a book once about a Vietnam War helicopter pilot. He talked about the "Jesus Nut"... the gizmo atop the main rotor that held everything together. He said you should never mess with a person's Jesus nut because even if you think your advice is sound, you never know what is holding THEM together. The "small" thing you suggest they do might be too much too soon, sending them into a tailspin.

    Anyway, I hate the "self-abnegation" pushed by religions, especially Catholicism. Why should others be more important than ourselves? We should have the right to say No! We should feel free to tell charities to send donation requests to Jesus...or at least Bill Gates, not us.

    1. Hi Trevor

      Boy did you experience some difficult stuff. The whole issue with putting the self second to others is so common. Having had a really bad time with my family I had a cousin who is a lay preacher telling me that it was time to put myself to one side for a while. I retorted that I had spent my whole life putting myself second and I was'nt about to carry on now.

  12. Fire Watch

    The other day Art Janov, in an article (What is Primal Therapy?), used an interesting metaphor when he told us that his hair “caught fire”. This had happened due to the fact that a number of unnamed psycho-therapists in an unauthorized manner borrows the term “Primal” to deceive patients to their version of therapy.

    The fire in Art’s hair sparked memories in my bald (which ought to make it fireproof) head. When I, 1971, for the first time read The Primal Scream in Danish, a, then, unconscious, pain-propelled neurosis guided me. The pain behind my neurosis proved one day to be my mothers pride over my siblings curly hair and her sorrow over my straggling hair growth. I became neurotically obsessed with Art’s hair (on the book cover), which now, 42 years later, “caught fire”.

    In the Primal Scream, Art Janov explains how the invention of the Primal Principle was born. One of his patients had been to a different show during the 1960ies in NY with the renowned avant-garde artist Raphael Ortiz (incidentally a colleague of Yoko Ono) who experimented, with the audience, to find out more about the unconscious mind. The patient’s experience led to that Art Janov guided him to undergo the first emotional experience with the label “Primal”. The rest is history and the line of “prisoners of pain” from all over the world, which, more or less successfully have made a pilgrimage to LA to get free from their pain, is long.

    The development has not stood still during the 47 years that The Primal Therapy has existed, but it has, on the other hand, neither meant that a secure universal psycho-therapeutic Primal method has been developed outside the domains of Art Janov if even there! Why? Why are there so many who want to help their patients with the miracle sign Primal?

    Many therapists are apparently somewhat aware, however, not consciously, of the curative potential to re-live imprinted / traumatic pain. The Primal Therapy places enormous demands on both those who want to be therapists and those who want to be patients. It takes a long time to learn to become a patient. For those who want to become a skilled guide / therapist, they must themselves have made the journey as a patient; otherwise they will never understand that the patient is the one who is in charge and determining and that the therapist can only be a guide.

    Personally, I made my journey in three stages of development - 10-15 year intervals - which has covered most of a lifetime. Ar Janov’s guidance, his narrated patient experiences and my unconventional therapy experiments with my physique and my diet has been my indispensable guiding principles. Not to forget, I have been fortunate and selfish enough to acquire and allocate the material resources, of substantial size, which has been required.

    Regardless of my own positive experiences, when I de-mystified my epilepsy by re-living my birth trauma and saw degrading neurotic behavior being dissolved, it is an experience that, during the past 2 years, has meant most to my understanding of the Primal Principle / Evolution in Reverse. Using my experience over 40 years, I have been able to guide a friend from childhood to get out of a deep depression caused by a stroke and burn out after a long academic career. Her joy and enthusiasm can be compared to the experience I had during the years when I, when necessary, have been patiently guided by Art Janovs ingenious intuition. A practical, non-scientific, confirmation of the Primal Principle.

    Together and separately we have made an emotional, interdisciplinary therapeutic journey, that has taken us from cognitive awareness to a truer consciousness.

    Jan Johnsson


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.