Monday, August 18, 2014

The Merger of Nature and Nurture: How the Outside Becomes Inside

 Over the years the question is always raised,  is it nature or nurture? What causes so much behavior and so many symptoms: the genes or experience?  I vote for both, and if I had to give an edge it would be to experience. But I am getting ahead of myself.  Because what seems like genetics may now be experience, and vice versa.  That is due to the new field of epigenetics where experience modifies the genes, how they express themselves, if they are blocked and how they are modified and when.  We need to look at them as an organic unit, each influencing the other.   Perhaps for a lifetime.   Certainly there are pure genetics; color of hair and eyes, but when it comes to plasticity, malleability and flexibility of symptoms and behavior we need to consider both.

 Such a thing as heart attacks in our fifties.  If we don’t consider experience and only genetics we will never solve the puzzle; for it turns out that stress changes the lymphocytes, the white blood cells to increase, and when that happens the extra cells stick to artery walls slowing blood flow, forms clots and produces a block in blood vessels: and, voila; a heart attack.  The problem is that we tend to look at current or childhood stress when the real origin may be in our womb-life.  (see: “New Study May Explain Why Stress Can Cause Heart Attacks.”  Nolan Feeney, Health Research, June 22, 2014 (see for ex:  As I have noted, stress is life endangering when it is at its most potent and stressful.   We need to take off our blinders and look further into the past, where experience, deleterious experience, is not so obvious.   We cannot see the fetus suffering from a mother’s smoking but it is there.  Here is the first inkling of how the outside (stress) becomes inside (heart attack).  What happens with stress is that it de-normalizes the system; either too much or too little.  One lady I saw felt “toxic,”  no one knew what she meant but she decided to move to the desert to feel “non-toxic.”  Until she had the feeling;  her mother was a chain smoker and she was toxic to the daughter she was carrying.  She produced heavy toxicity in her; it became an imprint and remained in her system. Once relived, many times over, she was over it and finally knew why so felt toxic.

But there is much much more.

 I also want to introduce you to an important scientific paper by M. Meloni (The social brain meets the reactive genome; neuroscience, epigenetics and the new social biology   Hypothesis and Theory.  21, May, 2014 (see; the full text is available for free)).  He sums up so much of the new science of epigenetics,  malleable and less fixed than we might imagine.  And they are heavily influenced by genetic factors. And like us humans, genes need always to be considered in the context of their milieu.   It is the interaction of genes and environment that bring the phenotype into play……and too often we look at the phenotype (what we can see) and ignore origins as the cause of our problems with behavior and symptoms.  When someone grows up in an alcoholic, violent environment we understand the causes of his delinquency.  Why not growing up inside the womb of a heavy smoker?   Doesn’t that help us understand his later breathing problems?  Only if we know where to look.   And that environment is often womb-life.  The good part of this is that when we can tease out some environmental factors they can sometimes be reversed.   Not so with genes. Therapists need to pay attention to the latest research in birth practices and pediatric discoveries, that I often write about.  Just that simple fact, that we respond to our environment can lead us to discover proper origins.  I hasten to add:  we respond more forcefully as that environment becomes earlier.   And as we grow up and have children of our own, that environment can be passed down the hereditary chain.  In short, what happens to us in our lives can be visited upon our offspring.   Not always the bad stuff but also the good; mother rats who often licked their offspring had healthy offspring and so was the baby’s offspring, as well.   (This is Michael Meaney’s work, as well as Moshe Szyf’s).  What they noted is the Primal position, as well, that there are critical periods in life when the environment affects us the most.  And clearly that is in the first weeks of life; not life on the planet, but life inside the mother ship.  I am writing mostly about methylation and how the environment becomes embedded into the cells where nurture becomes nature.  I mean if our life experience affects our offspring it acts like genetics; yes?    I mean the outside has become the inside.

 In animal studies they find that methylation patterns during the critical period can be engraved in parts of the limbic/feeling centers; i.e., the hippocampus.  And those patterns become stable and enduring.  And that can mean being vulnerable to later disease. (They say, “modifications of methylation patterns (the imprint) are encoded and  form long-term outcomes”). Briefly, imprints can make you sick.   Abuse is what seems to change methylation patterns, and especially during the critical period.  What is important here is that heavy methylation in the feeling centers can ultimately lead to mental illness.  It becomes the crucial for bad mental reactions.  The imprint has altered the hippocampus in such a way to make one vulnerable to further trauma.  The imprint is a fixed an enduring form of cellular memory according to Meaney/Syzf/Meloni.

The researches and I, both have come to the conclusion that the imprint can endure for a lifetime. Once fused it is most difficult to pry nature away from nurture. They, in effect, become one. And when the fetus or infant is stressed the expression of the genes change.  They can be up-regulated toward expression, or down-regulated toward repression. ( a lot depends on what chemicals are “borrowed” to embed the event/memory, the acetyl group or the methyl group).  What investigators are finding is no surprise at all.  That licked/loved infant animal babies are far better at handling later stress. And vice versa; when babies are not loved they have a harder time handling stress and adversity.  Do I mean that love is that important? Yes.  It is no wonder that the rate of lost productivity in jobs (30%) is due to some form of mental illness.  Very early stress leaves offspring less adventurous, much more cautious and wary.  And above all, they are more susceptible to drug addiction.  They are in imprinted pain.   When booga booga addiction centers miss out on all these early causes there is no way they can cure addiction.  As I have said numerous times, “You cannot love addiction or neurosis away.”   The point is that adverse early events leave a mark, a trace, an imprint that endures and affects behavior and symptoms.   It is then too late for love.   Yes it helps a bit but once brushing up against the imprint it is useless.  Because of the pain the gates won’t yield to feelings; they won’t let them through.

 We human beings are social and so are our brains.   They take in outside life and transform it into lots of internal stuff.  And then we look at the phenotype and say, aha, it is genetic; or worse, we say, “It is your job that is causing so much stress.”  It is rarely both; either we are born with it or we got it last week.  Like high blood pressure, for example.  It is Primal Pain that kills us prematurely, not so much diet.  Although I would not neglect diet, but normal people generally choose healthy diets, according to any number of studies.   If your system is balanced so will be your food choices, and choices in life, for example, like a proper partner.

 So who we are is not in the vapors.  It is in concrete experience; and that experience usually predates our life before birth (to name my most recent book). There is where we need to look and there we will find causes; we will find key memories that have driven us and caused so many symptoms that have been a mystery.   There we will find cure.


  1. Hi,

    -"It is rarely both; either we are born with it or we got it last week. Like high blood pressure, for example. It is Primal Pain that kills us prematurely, not so much diet"-.

    There seems to be a way the neo-cortex 'enshrines' problems into a 'black or white' duality. An: "Either-Or". . . argument.

    Devils' Advocacy. . . These 'corporately identified' individuals seem to be charged with an "Either-Or" advocacy. Not merely: "Any-thing Can Mean Anything"-, but also: "Any-thing YOU say can mean it's opposite". The corporate "We" is the 'unknown' standard we all obey but 'we' are not knowing the rules. . .

    When these researchers are 'fixated' in their 'research' they are particularly drawn by the "Adversity". . .

    -"WHO GOES THERE"-? ? ?

    This 'seamless' defense will always suspect that people who 'advance' must always be on the attack. When the 3rd line kicks in, if 1st line early trauma is still 'driving child development' (ie: unresolved early trauma) then the control will 'proceed' uninhibited straight through to the 3rd line.

    These people are not 'psychos' but they are always one step removed from the reality of your situation. They are not present but need TIME to work out their 'assumptions'.

    They may well: "Shoot First". . . and answer questions later. Basically they are the paranoid intellectual types and they frequently 'militate'. . . IE: They take an adversarial view. . . They always argue the opposite when challenged. . .

    -"Who Goes There"- ?

    Am I repeating myself here ?

    Paul G.

  2. Some people are able to go through life "hapharzardly yet smooth sailing:" for them constantly. They don't have "an imprint" of some type constantly "there", hindering them in some way or giving them "hang ups" in some way. I have to almost constantly, which is good, since I cannot get primal therapy at this time, think about my reactions and how that affects my health. It's not like I am overly concerned with myself, but I now if I don't pay attention, I could very easily mess up, become very depressed, have more physical ailments that are associated with my imprint. Of course, I thank God, that I do o.k. in this world, that I am not labeled a "mentally challenged" person. Since I found out that what is wrong with me, this imprint, I pay more attention, I am more aware. There are so many times when I want "to go back", to go back to where I was, I know I'm no good many times socially; therefore, I do "go back" and people, my family, friends, like me this way, because I am accepting the fact that I cannot do better socially....that it is o.k. until I am able to get Primal Therapy, and until I can feel good about making connections other than with people in my family. Why waste important energy, such as trying to make it socially; when I know that I cannot; therefore, I don't. In school, I did give presentations, and at first, I told the teacher, that there was no way I could give a presentation, and she thought it was from "stage fright" , but that isn't it. I used to think that was it, but it definitely isn't. I did the presentations, and the last one I gave, a student commented, that I appeared so calm giving it. What is it....the formation of the words that just , at times, drains me of energy? Possibly. It got better as I got older, but now, since I am older, in a way, I do want to "go back"; concentrate on doing good, and the only way I can do that is if I have strength and energy. I know it's not just me, I know there are so many in the same predicament. If I could help, I would.

    1. Coastbeach, I know that I have calm adult abilities... I don't doubt myself on that level. Problem is, it takes energy to focus on being a flawless adult... that is, to put up a wall so that potential triggers have no affect on my impressive presentation. As soon as I relax, mentally, some bizarre behaviour will burst out of me. I can't explain the behaviour but I think it is the result of confused messages in my brain; the past and present getting mixed up and splattering the signals everywhere. I am neither a proper calm adult, nor a proper anxious child. Maybe you are similar... maybe not.

      Sometimes I get a tugging feeling in my stomach; I can't tell whether I am about to cry or laugh... I do neither. The feeling goes away and I am left confused. What on earth was that feeling? I have no idea. Remember when Art talked about an experiment in which a person laughed at a funny event but his left brain was not given enough time to process the event? When questioned, the subject invented a new explanation for his own laughter. His right brain saw something funny, but his left brain did not and was forced to make a false connection as quickly as possible (probably in less than a second). That is the awesome, impressive power of the adult left brain. This tragic battle between left and right is largely involuntary and can make one very tired at the end of the day. I am not ashamed to admit that I am nuts. It is like having a broken arm... no reason to feel ashamed but gotta fix it before Art dies.

      My very lovable wife-to-be was not being honest with herself. She promised to divorce her husband (separated for many years) but for some unknown reason, she cannot do it... she can't even give him a phone call. I knew in my heart (right brain) that she was not being totally honest with me but I have never been CONSCIOUS of that 'knowing'. My left brain was in denial. Now that her actions have made it obvious. at least in my intellect, I have to accept it. I think she 'knows' I am unconscious.

      She believes our destiny is controlled by God. Believe me there is no God... there are involuntary forces but they do not come from God.

    2. I know I need guidance many times, but only through the right people; meaning Dr. Janov. I wish I could get receive Primal Therapy soon. It's not easy Richard, I know what you are saying. Life, to me, is sad but I "carry on" of course. It would be better after I receive Primal Therapy. I try to do what I can, sometimes, one has to block out what they are thinking; mainly because it "just ain't right" in the majority of a normal person's thinking. Not bad or violent thoughts, but just misinterpretating people. I now realize, that it is me who is "not connected" but yet I am definitely not a "cold-hearted" person as I have seen in the person who has not gone through birth trauma. I do things so as not to get depressed with the world; I found that for me, exercising and diet does help; whereas before years ago, when I didn't do this....I was a confused person, and as my Dad said as one time: "Coastbeach" just eeks out of existence" which was definitely true at that time. Looking back on that comment; I find it amusing. Everyone needs someone to take them seriously, to help them. I used to "exhaust" myself also. Now either because I am older or doing things to help myself, I consider myself somewhat better; it's not a permanent fix though. Primal Therapy would help, It is frustrating right now for you since you can't get Primal Therapy right away, but you are intelligent. I do believe in God, but I don't believe our destiny is "so" controlled by God. After Primal Therapy, one must feel "normal"...or as their fellow man does. Perseverance is important for me order for me to be strong for people who have helped me in this world; people who are good to me, relatives. They want me to show strength.

  3. Pedagogical Dilemmas.

    According to a famous evolutionary biologist, it is difficult to write popular science articles. Only a person who thoroughly masters his subject, who masters it completely, understands what it is in a scientific work that can captivate outsiders. Furthermore, it requires an artistic frame of mind, from the scientific workshops, to promote what is possible to verbalize, and do it in the right living shape. Not to speak about what hell it must be pedagogical to promote that, which one cannot verbalize. Most attempts in that direction are liable to fail.

    The foundation for security and lust for life grow out of a loving birth and childhood as well as through a stimulating pedagogical schooling. We know a lot of what happens if there are major shortcomings in our life before, during and just after birth. When I think about my schooldays, which I had hoped would be a stay in a pedagogic greenhouse, I wonder if I got a single impulse for the better, for anything good, intellectually, emotionally, aesthetically, or whatever they called it? No, possibly moral influence. Did I ever get a thrill out of what I call enthusiasm? Unfortunately, I have to answer NO. The same negative answer I got from almost everyone, I asked about their experience.

    Nonetheless, I have an indelible memory of a pedagogic teacher. One day, I was 14, we got on the train to the town where I went to school. I sat smoking, being strictly forbidden, when suddenly my new math teacher, to my horror, showed up and sat down by my side. Against my expectation, he looked friendly, and he wondered if I had the cigarette brand, printed on one end of a cigarette, closest to the mouth when I smoked. “Yes, I have, I said.” “Me too, he said.” We managed to take a few puffs and so we hurried on, separately, to the school. The next couple of years math was my favorite subject, the only thing I took seriously. Those times when I acted without moralizing later in life I owe to my concrete experience with MA. Lindholm.

    I have indeed, with delight, read Janov’s Reflection “The Merger of Nature and Nurture” in which he pours scientific information from his head and simultaneously bridges to external sources. However, without 40 years of experience of what happened to me in the womb in 1940, this Reflection had stopped at the verbal, where there are words. The non-verbal part, that which is about emotion, pain, experiences and sensations before I had words, I had not been able satisfactorily to interpret “The Merger of Nature and Nurture.”

    The ingenious form of pedagogy, that the avantgardist Raphael Ortiz practiced in NY in the 60’s and which Art Janov later developed and followed up in “The Primal Scream” with emotional, naked and revealing emotional traumas from patients driven to desperation, meant the way into the non-verbal for me. Then I got in touch with my feelings and realized that there were repressed reactions in my body and mind that at best could be re-lived and influenced / cured. This pedagogic successfully made the uncertainty less uncertain.

    Jan Johnsson

    1. Jan: Countless academics and thinkers don't learn to write for common part due to an "ivory towers" socialisation during later formative years. It's a shame, because many of them have a lot to say but don't know how to say it.

      Andrew Atkin

  4. Hi Art

    I have often thought that an unloved person is going to eat fatty foods because in some way they are still a baby and babies need a high fat diet to build a good Brain. Thus a poorly fed (and thus poorly loved) Brain can continually search for those fats it needed when it was forming just as a poorly loved person can continually look for love in all kinds of the wrong places. I often have cravings and think that I need to eat this or that food but now I often find myself frustratingly thinking "Oh that is my mind and body looking for a substitute for love".

  5. An email comment:
    Art, as always, very interesting and well done. I want to share something with you that I think perhaps doesn't get enough attention in the Primal community...that is, the life that becomes possible, even probable, after we have relived a lot of feelings and essentially know how to do it and integrate the process into our lives. I'm sure I still have very early imprints yet to experience. However, I have felt enough to be enjoying a life, at the age of 67, that I could not have imagined forty-one years ago when I first walked into the Institute on Almont--deeply wounded and unable to stand up in the world as a man. My life has been and is full of creativity in my relationships, career and art. It is a deeply satisfying life. I have a relationship with my wife that would not have been possible without Primal and which is still enriched by my continuing process of feeling when something presents itself. The Primal experience has informed me on a cellular level so that I have become a beloved mentor to many people, most of whom will never do such deep work but whom I can meet wherever they are and help grow. Since a major breakthrough I had at the Institute right around the time of my twenty-eighth birthday, I have never been depressed. I may feel sad, hurt, in pain but I know how to go there, live through it and emerge wiser, stronger and more complete. I do not get "stuck" in a "bad place" for more than a few moments because I know how to drop below that into the real feelings. I do not take refuge in grandiose fantasies and schemes as I once did.

    In the early part of the 2000's, I lost my father, my oldest brother and my mother within two years. I wept my way through those losses, continued to work and continued to create. The same occurred when I lost my one remaining sibling, my brother, Lew, just over a year ago. In all these cases, I not only grieved for the real loss in the present but was triggered back into some very early pain. And in all these cases, I was able to write about my experience to share it with others and to teach from it. Learning how to feel the existential realities of aging as well as the old early pain--this process has become the hand-maiden of a beautiful life. I can only continue to write you from time to time and say, "Thank you!" again and again. Warmly, Bob

    1. well Bob you are welcome.This kind of letter helps me know of the value of what we do at the Primal Center. And we will go on doing it as long as possible. What could be more important? my best art

  6. Hi,

    -"Once fused it is most difficult to pry nature away from nurture. They, in effect, become one"-.

    This sentence is essential. A while back Art suggested that the further back in gestation the traumas happen the more likely the 'affect' is to be so 'irascible' (fused).

    A seamless adaption can occur whereby the poor (?) individual continues through life to be influenced unconsciously (from within) without ever questioning their 'act out'. Only when some great shock occurs (if it ever does) can these individuals be 'shaken' from their absolute certainty.

    Some-how I learned to mimic this absolute certainty (probably from the 'academic' institutions I was incarcerated in as a child) and became 'conceited' as a learned response to challenging situations. But my conceit was only an 'act' (learned from other pedagogs). In this way I became 'empowered' temporarily with skills which later turned out to be false.

    So I gave them up.

    I had to re-learn myself (not to be confused with re-inventing myself which I could never do).

    It was then and still is now the medium of woodwork and carpentry in which I am always re-learning who I am.

    By stooping so low (as a tradesman) away from that 'role' I assumed could be mine (academic conceit), I kept to who I always was and stick to who I really am.

    It is so unfortunate that so many 'professional' people are carrying an imprint so devastating from so early in their development that they can never depart from their neurotic fusion. . . These are the ones who are SO SURE OF THEMSELVES. They have no self doubt. They 'move' toward security and certainty in ways which nature never invented nor could possibly sustain, yet we who MUST OBEY are subject to their conceit. These are the ones whom Primal People should not tangle with if at all possible.

    Unfortunately for me and my son we are now (almost) totally controlled by these types. The ONE in particular who has my son and I by the "Short & Curleys" is thankfully soon 'away on maternity leave'. . .

    I care not to imagine who her child is or what will become of 'IT'. . . None of my business. . . but I can't help wondering what will become of us all, what does the future hold for us all ?

    Paul G.

  7. Well done Art. Ninety is very impressive. Happy birthday.

    With regard to your rate of aging, I wonder if your parasympathetic response to trauma gave you an advantage over a sympath but a disadvantage when compared to a normal person. Parasympaths have a slower metabolism, right? Less cell divisions, slower rate of telomere shortening? Or do you think the decreased consumption of oxygen leads to poor cell health which offsets any benefits gained from a slower metabolism?

    You described a specific period in your life which seemed to whiz by, as if it went by unnoticed by you, and now you have poor recollection of that period. I wonder if your brain activity slowed down during that period.... sort of a mental hybernation in which time seemed to speed up but in fact your body and brain slowed down and waited for a better environment.

    I think I am a sympath. People say I look at least ten years younger than my age, and my body APPEARS to be in great condition... no obvious physical problems other than some rosacea on my cheeks (face), a slight astigmatism, occasional restless leg syndrome, the occasional twinge of pain in my right shoulder from an old injury, and the occasional aching sensation around my heart (I know that's bad). But my splendid outward appearance could be a sign of rapid cell division. Maybe I am a beautiful ticking time bomb.... about to explode and collapse when I reach a critical age.

    Obviously your lack of stress has contributed to your telomere length, along with good nutrition. But I can't help thinking you may have cheated the system a little with your parasympathetic ways.

    1. Richard: Maybe I cheated a little but maybe I didn’t. Other than my throat, botched by throat surgeons I have rarely been ill. art

  8. Hi Art,

    many happy returns; and thanks for keeping me in your party.

    Only a handful of mortals on this planet understand how grateful I am for your great work and your kind words. Kin d words.

    Kin is important. . .

    Paul G.

  9. Happy birthday Dr Janov. Lisa

  10. Hi,
    off topic a bit. . . Recently I have been under a lot of stress from repeating past history. . . Actually I really began to doubt my existence. . .

    Anyway, more arthritic growths appeared around the joints in my fingers and I thought (and felt): "well that's it. . . I'm f****d" !

    Some-how, I also managed to reduce one of several of my addictions (to nearly zero), but I can't say that was the 'cause' of these arthritic growths reducing down to nearly nothing. . .

    I don't quite understand 'what was the cause of what' but now I don't feel the need to indulge in that particular addiction at all, even when certain stressful circumstances offer the opportunity. Perhaps it's just a temporary state but I have actually done this before and I'm noticing the same mental and emotional improvements. . . resilience under fire.

    The difference this time is that I don't appear to be using belief,'will-power' or TM as my main 'technique'.

    Crying, yes. . . Also bearing a constant anxiety ALL my working day. Yep, that's what I'm bearing. . . constant anxiety All day. I think that was driving the tears before. . . a kind of melange. I dunno because I don't have a Primal Therapist to supervise me.

    I tried one 15mg tab of Mirtazapine prescribed by my doc three weeks ago and that totally knocked me out. I felt like I'd been spiked with a mixture of heroine and MDMA (I just stared at the wall for two hours before going to bed). I did sleep; the next morning I couldn't walk for wobbly legs and seriously wondered if I could work or drive. On the way to work (in the car) I had SERIOUS rage and suicidal feelings and decided I wasn't going to take this shit any more. So I didn't. Work that day was a big struggle.

    I suspect this event triggered something in me. So I decided: "Stick to Nurse for Fear of Something Worse".

    Except I didn't want one of the nurses I usually rely on. . . I've been trying to give her up for years. Can't remember her name, Mary something . . Maybe she's just history. Hope I don't run into her again. . . I've got her number, somewhere, if I need her. . . I think she's just history now.

    Such a lovely girl though. . . Very seductive.

    Paul G.

  11. So why would non normal people choose a poor diet? Perhaps they are acting out too? Art as you say often people are driven by lack of early love to look for it in all kinds of places. Why not fatty foods for example. My reasoning would be this.

    The human gut contains hundreds of thousands of Brain cells. Why are they there? Probably because the Brain is the most energy hungry organ in the body. Probably because very early animals developed these cells to enable them to better compete for food and find food. The stomach says "I need more such and such nutrient" so the few clever cells in the simple worms body came on line to help catch it. The bowel and gut and Brain communicate about the kinds of nutrients needed by the body including the Brain. My wife and I are doing the 5/2 diet which entales fasting for two days a week (only eating 600 calories) and have lost quite a lot of weight. Many people describe feeling more alert and focussed following a fast day on this diet. Why would this be? Perhaps because the Brain has become more attunned to finding food. After all we probably evolved to be able to go for a day or two without food.

    The diet needed by a baby is a high fat one because the Brain is made up of rather specialist fat. If that Brain did not get the correct nutrients in the womb or in very early life why would'nt the person keep looking for the same kinds of foods later in life. Ofcourse it is also about price etc. However is this not an act out just as much as standing on stage telling jokes in front of an adoring audience is?

    Is'nt this also about the inside and outside. The Brain of a hurt person is different and this is often down to lack of touch etc. But I would also suggest lack of nutrients. After all how can a loved Brain grow properly if say the child grows up without a source of Omega Oils for example.

    Worth a thought is'nt it?

    1. Planespotter: yes really worth a thought or two. art

    2. OK, I must rant.

      Yes planespotter it is fair to say the entire body is one big brain - a symphony of communication - all parts of the body are included in the conversation - all parts talking to each other. And all parts are multi-functional; sharing each others duties - or helping each other to perform each other's tasks. The neurons inside the skull help the neurons around the stomach to analyze the chemicals in food and generate emotions. Sometimes a feeling of hopelessness can cause a clenched stomach and vomiting. Is it any wonder?

      Mother nature is not stupid enough to design a part that could cause a total systemic failure should it fail at one specific task. Modern animals are extremely complex and efficient, with thousands of backup systems, and this is why they are robust despite being made of such fragile structures. All of the latest aircraft and robots are designed this way; every part is designed to contribute toward many functions. I recently finished designing a sailboat this way -- quite a challenge, but the end result is a boat that can provide more fun than a big boat without all of the maintenance and running costs. It is complex, efficient, strong, and very cheap and easy to build quickly using non-specialized tools. I have designed an ANIMAL.

      It is nature's intelligent use of complexity that makes primal theory so believable to me. Why would a baby just die in the womb when it has enough genetic information to adapt to everything the environment can throw at it? Nature is vastly more sophisticated than the world's leading scientists -- yet they dismiss the notion that the mind and body could store and react to unconscious memories. Why the f... not? The entire system is designed to learn and adapt, so why wouldn't it keep a record of the past for future reference? If it could, it would be massively advantageous to our survival. We all know that commercial aircraft contain a black box which is designed to record trauma unconsciously while the pilots do the best they can. We build those black boxes because they provide incredibly valuable information which has resulted in very reliable air transport.

      Why would nature be so stupid as to ignore this type of strategy? Scientists say: "If it is in the unconscious, it is not worth a thought." But nature considers all possibilities, because it can. If it can be done, and it provides a significant advantage, it will be done. That is the law of the universe. Am I stating the obvious?

    3. My point is, the unconscious is an integral part of the entire system and should not be overlooked. It constantly influences our conscious perception, and when the entire system is ready, the unconscious can become a direct part of consciousness. No part of the system can be termed "irrelevant". That is my point, aimed at scientists.

    4. we often use the same word for our reactions to food and reactions to people or events that happen to us...
      this is what i read from robert e. svoboda book "your ayourvedic constitution". sorry if translation is not perfect.

      "Alcohol is super-sweet. No regular food can compete with the huge amount of sweetness that comes to the brain through alcohol. In order to at least in partial substitute it, we have to flood all senses with sweetness. Provide the patient nose with sweet smels, like the smell of rose, and let his skin feels the sweetness, like the oil, he/she should hear sweet words, and eyes to be satisfied by sweet surroundings, like those in nature or countryside. A mighty sweet delight of all kinds must be supplied until the brain becomes able and willing to proportionally reduce its sweet intake. Otherwise, the patient can return to his vice - alcohol, because he knows that it will always supplie him with sweetness".

      where is the line between sugar and touch?

  12. An email question: Dr Janov,
    I saw a recent story on ABC's NightLine on the pros and cons of surrogant births. I'm curious about your view on Surrogancy from a Primal perspective.
    Have you had patients in Primal Therapy born through surrogancy?

  13. And my answer: Sorry I have no experience with it. art

  14. An email comment:
    I so enjoy your posts. So many family members, including myself, have depression issues stemming from early experiences. My 16 year old nephew visited me, he "vapes" obsessively and told me he uses "unicorn milk" 6 mg! Could anything be more descriptive of the disconnect between mother and son?

  15. Goes to show that also "the sign of the times....possibly" for your nephew's behavior. At 16 , years ago, many many males were considered, yes, teenagers, but teenagers with a heart and brain; even acting like mature adults at times. Their mothers could rely upon their 16 year-old sons many times. Now.........Too bad about your nephew, possibly someone could work with him? So young, yet shows no strength whatsoever.


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.