Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So Why Are You Gay?

There are as many reasons to be gay as to be straight except one; and that is just a maybe.  Much recent research points out the fact that stress in the womb alters the stress hormone levels and that can change the testosterone levels and that can lead to homosexuality; if, certain conditions are there. First of all, we don’t always know if and how much sex hormones have been altered.  We don’t always know if changing hormones leads to being gay.  Except we know this”  if you give female animal male hormones they display “male” behavior including mounting males.
And they play more rough and tumble with their cohorts.

So why can’t it be that stress to a carrying mother can change her hormones and her baby’s?  Now for the second step—need.  A child needs parental care and loving.  If that is absent he will go elsewhere. Sometimes my patients, a number of them, will wear dresses and walk the streets that way.  That is the way he feels close to a mother who showed no love.  I have written about a mother who left early and came home late from work; a single mother.  The boy lacked a mother’s love, but he found a substitute, her clothes and her smell.  It became a lifelong ritual.  Something he was never aware of it.  He just thought it was a quirk, a neurotic act. But need drove and it and it should not be stopped because it is a signal of desperate need that was fulfilled in the only way possible.

Or the case of a stressed mother who, in the middle of pregnancy found herself bereft of her husband who found a young girlfriend.  That stress is transmitted to the fetus.  If the stress reaction goes on it gets stamped in, engraved as a memory that can change his hormones.  He may be feminine very early in life. Now add a missing father and a distraught mother who is devastated and unloving.  The boy can later gravitate to male love. Not always, but it is a factor in some of the gay men I have treated, over one hundred.  The boy, somewhat feminized, seeks out male love over female love partly due to his hormone shift.  No different from the young animals who seek out males to play with rather than someone of their own gender.  Their interest has been altered, and by hormones.  I am not setting down unalterable rules but rather elements to explain some behaviors.  In the cases of homosexuality I have treated there has nearly always been that first-line deep and early trauma.  Perhaps I am treating a selected group and my perspective is biased, but I could be right, as well. If we never posit these factors we will never know.

This change in testosterone is prevalent in all primate mothers; and it is largely due to the stress of the mother which becomes imprinted into the baby.  The patients come to me and say, “I don’t know why but I have been attracted to men nearly all of my life.  I knew at six years that something  was different.”  So one thing we need to do is a comparative study of stressed and unstressed mothers, and look at any differences.  Is it possible that being gay is epigenetic (due to experience) and not totally genetic?  We need to avoid political correctness and defensiveness and do what is correct scientifically.

Oddly, let’s look at one group of primates, the bonobos. They are gentle and loving and settle most problems with sex.  Not so with chimps, who organize groups to go on raids and kill other chimps.

Bonobos are high in testosterone, male and female, much higher than chimps, Chimps develop their levels later after puberty.  Up until them the bonobos are quite high.  And they play tough with their pals but rarely violent as chimps.  This is only to say that hormones matter, a lot.  And that hormones are radically affected by experience, especially very early experience when hormones are beginning their life and are vulnerable to trauma that can change levels.

Does that mean it is a neurosis? Could be but no more than a man who wears dresses every day. It means that early in life there were experiences that change things. Those experience for the mother can means she drinks, smokes, takes drugs, is anxious or depressed, and so on.

Now the important point: can we or should we treat the hormones?  Yes but only after we know if experience and early trauma changed them permanently. No different from those who have chronic hypothyroid.  Shouldn’t we see what may have caused it? I am of the view that most of us would be born normal if we were not made abnormal by early trauma and neglect.  Yes, we need to treat such afflictions as very low thyroid but let us never forget that for every symptom there can be an ultimate cause.  Why do we consistently neglect that fact?

So why am I not gay?  I had all the elements for it happening.  A psychotic/anxious mother and tyrannical unloving father.  But when I was sexually vulnerable at age thirteen, I was in the back of a car necking with a girl whose name I have preserved in memory. Those hugs and kisses sank in and changed everything.  It made me feel that I could get love from a female.  Having never been kissed she taught me how to kiss and hug. It was the first love I ever knew and it was critical.  So thank you, Liz.


  1. Oh dear, poor Arthur, you are very much out of kilter with the times... you can't talk about "treating" cases of homosexuality these days! LOL

    But I don't really dissent from your view. In my experience most homosexual men have markedly assymetric faces which I think probably does relate to fetal experience.

    However, it comes back to the "cuckoo clock conundrum" (The Third Man film with Orson Welles). If humanity was perfectly ordered and content in the Janovian manner we would miss out on a lot of incredible insights.

    Maybe messy means more.

    1. Anonymous: It is entirely possible that I am out of step with the times. I am old and therefore you may be more right than me. art

  2. Art!

    What you say and do is what all humans are looking for but in the dark of ourselves... the child with tears like rivers for what was... for what fear is just too overwhelming! Being paralyzed in need of expressing grief is what many has to fight against!

    One may ask whether anyone will ever be able to recognize themselves as unreal as long as unreal does to be "real"?

    "There are as many reasons to be gay as to be straight" you forget to say straight as neurotic... almost all of us!

    The only thing that will help spread the Primal Therapy globally will be science together with a legal process!

    If what anyone knows... to keep his position... in any way falls outside the frame of protection... so will the threat be what is recorded and the defense puts all resources against it. "If the stress reaction goes on it gets stamped in" in which case all is already. Anything is possible to be a defense... not to forget!

    Art... you are to good!


  3. An email comment from Gerald: "Thank God for first girlfriends!"

    1. No, I cannot thank God for my first grlfriend, because I would have been a serial killer now.

      But, what really concerns me is something else.
      Dr. Janov, above you talk a lot about the quantity of testosterone, but you said nothing about estrogens. Aren't they influenced too?

      And if only testosterone is influenced, this puts me into deeper thoughts.

      I have read that men tend to commit suicide over love matters, more frequently than women.

      Men are sexually attracted to women and vice versa. But the lack of mother's love is 1st line (womb, breast-feeding, caressing etc).
      That's why women have maternal instinct, so that they will provide all of the above naturally.
      A father's love (or the lack of it) is 2nd line and of much more less importance, COMPARED to 1st line mother's love.

      Can you see my point?
      If a man doesn't get love by his girlfriend, he will have to deal with 1st line impacts on him, because the connection mother-girlfriend-female is automatic.
      If a girl is rejected by her boyfriend, 2nd line traumas will be triggered. Of course there will be 1st line lurking underneath, but the connection to mother feelings are more irrelevant.

      I cannot say if this also justifies the "gay" issue here.

    2. Yes Aelv, I see the point. art

    3. Hi Aelv,

      I think I can see the point you're making very well. People, please put me right if I'm barking up the wrong tree and drawing false analogies here.

      She's a bit out of date now (I know) but Nancy Friday wrote a book "My Mother My Self". . . Anyway in it she discusses at length the issues of female symbiosis. I feel that what you are bringing up here is important and what you've said seems connected to a point I was discussing with my Grandsons uncle only last night.

      Basically (forgive me if this is too obvious) women have a club which in the social sphere is exclusive of men. Men don't have wombs, do not gestate fetuses, do not breast feed newborns and therefore cannot enter this club. It's an unavoidable hazard that men have to leave the embrace of mater straight into the expectations of pater.

      I suppose that one (feminist) view is that this gives men an unfair advantage in 'outer society'. But what perhaps some women don't understand is the way the extent of their club offers distinct 'psychological defense advantages'. This is discussed very well by Nancy Friday in her book. Furthermore what you are saying seems to offer quite an exact Primal view which runs not only parallel to Nancy Friday but UNDERPINS the issues she raises.

      As with so many real insights this one will take a while for me to digest but many thanks, it's useful for me. It's particularly useful for me because over two decades I have regularly returned to issues of gender equality in the construction industry and often considered what this actually means for men and women working in unconventional roles.

      Working in unconventional roles.

      As the UK government considers a new 'Parenting License' and people like Linda Neilsen try to develop 'Shared Parenting Bill' in USA these issues become more and more significant. As is so often the case, Primal Theory offers seriously detailed insight into these matters.

      Paul G.

    4. Hi Aelv,

      Ok, I've had time to digest this observation of yours. From the evolutionary point of view there could be advantages to the species for women (mothers in particular) to be less affected by the emotional/sensational loss of a male mate.
      Gestation, birth and nursing takes time and also a degree of security and placement somewhere. . . Men come and go. . . Sperm is a 'common currency'; it will always 'be available from one man or another, (many men still think like this too- 'spreading it around, putting it about'. . . Some women see this as "normal").
      Thus the species benefits from women grouping together in one place and depending on a 'pool' of male 'comings and goings (pun intended).

      I propose that all 'settlements' (villages, towns and cities) are essentially cultured by women and the need to nurture. Men play the back seat role, "out there", hunting the bacon and printing the dollar bills.

      Psychologically men try to compensate by inventing power structures, systems and technologies that tend to marginalise this innate power of women, but men will never be able to 'break into' that club and the sooner men accept the innate power of women and their key position in the survival of the species the sooner strife between the sexes will end and things like Primal Theory will become more widely accepted too.

      In this respect I feel it's up to us men to take the initiative here because I see women having little or no incentive to take a Primal view. Women run most of the 'social services', hospitals and schools where I live and it's obvious there is a clandestine 'closed shop'. . . If you can't see this, it is likely that you are a woman. . .

      The only trouble I foresee is that this 'psychological defense advantage' women have my never get fully penetrated. It could well be that men (and their 1st line vulnerability in relationships with women which you unveil here) are the ones who will begin to feel the need to Primal where women can just point at the man and call him a "LOSER".

      Sadly this is my experience. . .

      Paul G.

    5. Paul: I will write about the role of sperm soon. art

  4. Art, do you think monogamy is a need? If you answer this question, I promise I will not post any more low quality comments.

    1. Richard: Having a human companion is a need. We are social beings. We all need love. art

  5. Hi Art, I am new to your blog and I am so glad I found it. I read Spiritual Midwifery, Fredrick Leboyer, Michele Odent and the Primal Scream in the 80's and 90's and had homebirths with 3 of my 4 children from 89-91, long before attachment parenting became a fashionable concept. You are not out of step with the times, the times aren't in step with anything that resembles the natural order of things. I have a book by John Money called the Adam Principle. It is full of case studies from his work of people with unusual and unique manifestations of sexuality. Some genetic and others not so attributable to the genes. He examnes a tribe in it that raised boys to 'drink' the sperm of men as a masculinizing thing that was good for them?! The boys then go on to be normal heterosexual partners and fathers apparently. I found it fascinating because this practice wasn't perceived as traumatic abuse as it was happening to everyone. It highlighted to me that sexuality and it's expression is as much a cultural phenomenon as a biological one. I also met a nurse doing his Phd on androgeny and in particular how single mother's were affected hormonally after a life of doing the traditionally male things, in the absence of a partner. So what I'm saying is that as well as foetal life, there are other things in our out of balance society that are changing the hormones of children and adults, that are also manifesting in sexuality that is more same sex orientated. I also wonder if this is not just part of the collective immunity making an attempt to reduce the number of people destroying the planet? Also the mass infertility that we are seeing too.

    1. Interesting post, Juliette. Neurotic or not, it makes sense that an organism as complex as the human being can gain a serious advantage from being able to respond hormonally to a changing environment. When we look at the mind-boggling complexity that lies inside a single gene, and the unfathomable existence of consciousness itself -- who are we to assume that our personal thoughts, emotions, experiences cannot create a very 'intelligent' orderly change in our gene switches, hormones, bones, muscles, sexuality etc.
      Scientists know that young girls who spend a lot of time with men enter puberty earlier. Fat girls begin puberty earlier too but for completely different reasons, apparently (the body is tricked into preparing for pregnancy when there is enough fat reserved for a baby -- but the young, overweight pregnancy often has complications). Female athletes stop menstruating. I read a story about a man who willed himself to produce milk for his starving baby... apparently his nipples expressed some milk after many weeks of attempted breastfeeding. I don't know how much of these statistics and stories is factual and unbiased, but I certainly don't underestimate the complexity of our inherited genetic coding -- it is something that has been evolving for trillions of years.
      It seems that our bodies and minds are the product of engraved imprints, and also, to a lesser extent, later adaptations to the environment. I wonder if those later changes can be epigenetic too.... or are our cells completely set in concrete after the initial first-line trauma? Do we ever stop changing? This mass infertility, for example, could be a natural part of our genetic coding -- maybe we are programmed to become less fertile when we are surrounded by many people... similar to pet fish that do not grow too large for their tank.
      Still, whatever changes are going on in our bodies, I think the biggest ones probably occur during first-line reliving because that is the point where all the abnormalities started.

  6. Well, some people are born with tendencies towards the same sex, and sometimes that person doesn't want to be that way. For some reason, I just happened, when I was growing up, to dress in my brothers clothes or wear my Dad's tie every now and then. Also when I was growing up, I was unable to look at women. Sure I had female teachers, but I always "shyed" more away from women; which now makes me think that I had homosexuality tendencies, because sometimes the presence of a women would just make me flustered and blush. Anyway, at that age, I never thought about being with a woman sexually. This lasted until I was about 10 or 12. Sometimes, I think that if my first love were a female, I would have stayed that way. But fortunately I now realize that the opposite sex is the best way to go for me, even though I used to dress in men's clothes sometimes when I was younger; that I think I really did to make me "feel strength" , to make me feel like I might have some type of strength and power so I would feel healthier and not so sickly and shy. To me, it just so happened my first love was a male, which I am thankful for. And it could have very easily had gone the other way. But I can honestly say, that even though it could have been a fluke who my first love was, it has continued to be just the opposite sex that I find myself seeking to be with. For some reason, to me, women with women , totally, just isn't a good idea for some....women (no one in my family) can be very unreasonable and totally nasty. I'm not sure even when I was growing up, feeling all flustered and blushing around women, if it was because I liked them or because I was totally afraid of them and just didn't know what to make of them. I do know when I felt flustered and blushing around women...I did have this feeling of being totally weak and powerless, and here I am of the same sex. I'm not imagining this, because my father mentioned this to me several times. He always wanted to know what was going through my head when women were present at times....why I would get so "nervous", feeling so overwhelmed, and frustrated. I always ended up saying "I really just don't know what it is". I just had a feeling like I couldn't be myself and relax. Fortunately, it didn't happen all the time. In my teens it got somewhat better, and it was all cleared up by the time I was 20. I guess it was just a "kid thing" and can't say that these feelings were because I was in "awe" of the female sex; no, I don't think I was in awe of them. Just seems like a waste sometimes....being somewhere, but not really being there. Fortunately I did get guidance from my father.

    1. I wonder if that fear of women as a child and when you were older, comes from intrinsic and preverbal memories of your relationship with your own Mother. I would bet my bottom dollar on it.

    2. I don't know, that is a possibility. My relationship with my mother was always good and still is. It was just so strange how whenever I would be around a female other than someone in my family.....I almost just had to "blot the woman out", I couldn't even think at the time or talk. I knew that situation for me was always bad, but it must have been very apparent in me for my Dad to pick up on it.


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.