Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Silent Scream

I was looking around at some people I know and at least 1/3rd of them had the malady of needing to move constantly;  organizing trips, making reasons to go here and there, and, in general keeping on the move. Does all that constant going and coming lead to strokes and heart attacks?  I do think so. Why?  Because below all that movement is a giant silent scream.  So, if they scream it out will they stop moving? Nope.    We have so many assumptions here, so let’s take it slowly.

I have seen thousands of patients relive all kinds of traumas: one key one that is widespread is being trapped in the womb, suffocating and unable to get out.  Trapped. Suffocating, Unable to move; those are the key feelings involved.  They could scream then and they cannot scream now but once they as adults are in the feeling they can first grunt and try to move and feel then, later, At birth…..    scream.  It is not the screaming that is liberating.  It is the reliving.  And then the scream to express the agony of all that.  Reliving changes the imprint, reduces it, and begins the resolution process - demethylation which I have written about extensively.  Screaming alone is not what we are after; it is the total agony of the reliving, and then the reaction—screaming.  Reactions alone cannot do it.  And that is what is wrong with all those early Scream Clubs in universities that began with the publication of the Primal Scream.  Yes, screaming relieves the pressure involved in the reaction but does nothing to the imprint.

So now we see the tremendous pressure in the build up after the traumatic event early on; not only the birth trauma but many other traumas where the mother is taking drugs or smoking and drinking and the fetus/baby cannot escape.  He can turn his head away as if to escape but, alas, he is trapped.  And that feeling impressed into a vulnerable body remains there as a engraved memory and will drive her behavior thereafter.  “I have to move.  I have to get out of here.”  That is the leitmotif of his or her life.  And it never ever leaves!  The person is literally trapped in the memory, a trap that has chemicals stronger than steel to bind them forever.  One of those chemicals is methyl.  Another is serotonin, and there are many others. But is is a chemical conspiracy to make sure we never ever feel free or liberated.  Now do they feel bound?  Of course not. They are too busy trying to get unbound, yet never knowing the feeling and where it comes from.  Can you imagine someone saying to himself, “Wow.  I am bound by a feeling in the womb!”  In that womb there are obviously no words or concepts or scenes. Only a physical feeling.  So how can there be a memory?  There is no memory as wee think of remembering, but the body remembers exactly.  It remembers trapped and suffocating because in the Primal that is what comes up and what we see.  And in everyday life we lug those feelings around as a weight as if carrying a ten pound steel bar around constantly.  We are carrying around those devilish chemicals that trap us, however.  And what changes those chemicals?  Primals.

Can you guess?  Less methylation, decreased serotonin (which we have measured) and on and on.  We change the chemical composition and diminish the memory so that we can really change our behavior and our proclivity toward disease.  So screaming won’t do it. What will?  How about dampening drugs, SSRI’s?  They shush the scream but never never change the memory, the imprint.  And how about slowing us down so we don’t move so much?  That just helps the build-up of pressure.  It exacerbates the problem and aggravates the need to move.  What helps? Nada!

So when we see the constant motion we understand, but we never see the agony. Why no agony?  Because it is busy being acted-out to relieve the agony before it is fully felt.  So we cannot possibly see it and the person in motion cannot feel it; that is the idea, that it disappear before it is evident.  Now we know why psychotherapy is at such a loss.  And now we know what could be behind high blood pressure and migraines. I had one patient who was sexually never satisfied.  When she could not have sex her blood pressure rose to dangerous heights.  Drugs could not help her. What could?  Feeling the need to discharge pressure,, a Primal; that helped.  That cured.    Why cure? Because it dealt with the origin of it all.  The original methylation and imprint.  What caused all that need for sex; to say nothing of her first-line imprint which was so strong.  An imprint on the physical level that had no words, nor screams.  A constant smoking mother who was literally killing her baby.  Or a chronically anxious mother who could not shut off her anxiety.  The brainstem, almost fully developed at the time absorbed all that trauma and is therefore heavily methylated. We never will see that until we bring patients down to that level; yet that could take months and then we need to know what to look for.  That is why it took me decades to figure it out.  It is not evident.

So why aren’t they all walking down the street screaming?  It is not done and not polite, but what they can do is scream out the agony of the migraine or heart constriction (angina).  And we rush in to treat the heart condition or migraine or high blood pressure.  That is where it is obvious but that is NOT where the problem lies.  It lies hidden in the lungs and surroundings.  In the arching back and the constant movement.  We see what we see, the obvious, and miss what we cannot see.  That makes sense.  Maybe we should be searching for what cannot see: a lens that magnifies primal pain.  dHey,I have it and I am giving it away.  Oh you mean no one wants it. Why? They are too busy treating what they see.


  1. Hi,

    If it's possible to make a snap-shot of reverse evolution: "3-2-1" then is it also possible to make a snap-shot of brainstem / brain organ development ?

    How does the brainstem develop from conception and which parts of the brain develop from those (non-specific) stem cells at which stages ? The various organs 'unfold' don't they ?

    I realise that is a lot of questions in one sentence but having hinted that certain 'types' are imprinted in the early stages of gestation it kind of follows that what we call personality could develop out of variations in 'emphasis' of different brain organs during the early brainstem development. Imprinting being perhaps the deciding factor.

    I mean different organs are responsible for different 'functions' and out of these arise sensations / feelings & thoughts so it follows that variations in combinations would result in personality variations also ?

    I got this sneaking suspicion you'll tell me to research this myself. . . But you might shed some light on it. . .

    Paul G.

    1. Paul, I hope that we can look into it one day. art

  2. people move constantly for many reasons...the young seek to escape the family nest to define themselves in the wider adult social hierarchy and find a mate. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors were highly mobile too, for two main reasons: there was a lack of food abundance and there was open space for them to move into. These days we are sedentary, but the call of the wild remains in us.
    You seem to be saying that people are restless, even though there is no clear environmental reason to cause this behaviour and therefore they are being propelled by disturbed internal feelings. But how can we know that the constant desire to move about does not make evolutionary sense? HGs moved in bands of around 25 people. Evidence shows there was a high propensity for groups to fragment and split off once they rose above this number. This is because the bigger a group grows the greater need there is for leaders to emerge and co-ordinate social activities. In other words, politics and class structures emerge. People would split off to escape a leader or boss they did not like or because the return rate on their labour was diminishing if the group got bigger but access to resources stayed the same. So, maybe there is a remnant of this in our modern psychology too. People move about constantly as a way of escaping the stresses of domestic or work hierarchies; searching (perhaps unconsciously) for more fertile territory to live in. In other words, they fall back upon ancient human solutions to the problems of modern sedentary living. The mismatch between behaviour and environment may be revealed in a misdireced strategy of mobility but one which is comprehensible given our brain structures derived from our evolutionary past.

    1. Hi Will,

      there is also a theory that suggests Manic Depression (Bi-Polar disorder) is a throwback to ancient HG food scarcity / glut conditions. During periods of scarcity the organism goes into deep parasympathetic mode and then suddenly out of the corner of one members eye a herd of gazelle is seen waltzing past the cave entrance and every-one suddenly is alerted to the hunt BOING !

      So, if a tiny baby is malnourished in the womb or in infancy or both this ancient 'rhythmic behaviour' can be set off; so the theory goes. But it's important to remember that it's methylation / acetylation in the patient NOW and Primal could cure that.

      Paul G.

  3. Hi Art

    Not sure whether this is for publication or not. Probably not. I have a very dear friend who had a stroke aged 53 a few months ago. Since the stroke she has started crying a great deal and so has ended up being prescribed some tablets and CBT. She is as you describe above. Not dissimilar to how I used to be. Always on the go. She is scared she is going to have another stroke and the Dr has told she is far more likely to again.

    I feel so powerless to help. I remember a few years ago she went through a period of crying but sort of bottled it up and Bingo had a stroke. If you were to recommend one of your books which would gently point things out to her (She is dyslexic) which would it be? You could always let Morey or Frank know and they could tell me. I so want to help her. Or is it too late now that she has had a stroke?

    1. I would say Primal Healing or Life Before Birth. art. Also Why You Get Sick (abridged) exists as an audio book, it may be easier.

  4. What makes it worse, is that people don't understand a person who has gone through trauma in the womb, at birth, etc....that is why the "primal therapy" word must get out; it must be made known. Perhaps this world would be better if people realized this does happen with people; it is not just an act, and they do feel (probably more so than the normal person...in that they get "choked up" to the point where they feel as though they just can't let their feelings out all the time; if they did, they would be in almost constant "state of upset (and possibly the domino effect would come down on them with their feelings). People don't understand; nor do some of them even make an attempt to understand this type of person. Some just make it harder for the person who has gone through birth trauma; thinking it is their fault (everything they do). That is why , except for family, I find it so difficult to trust. Oh, and believe me....it's not like I ever go around telling people how I was born, but some in my life outside my family , know. I believe it is important for me to know, as a human being, if someone has gone through a difficult birth, what primal therapy does for someone, and how going through a difficult birth doesn't necessarily "stereotype" this person into one bad category at all. There are good traits; especially if one does things to help themselves; such as through diet and exercise. I would want to know, one cannot see what this does to someone, (going through birth trauma). Someone may look perfectly normal, but they don't have the stamina, power, and strength to be social many times, to converse at times...at times, because one may be forced to socialize (overload on it). one will feel mental confusion; which isn't good. The person having gone through birth trauma, might feel great pressure a lot of his/her life. They actually feel better skipping social events to work on hobbies,or work and earn money); one cannot see what one goes through....
    They have "no clue". A little kindness goes a long way; especially now. People should really take time to realize that their are people in this world that went through birth trauma (even though it wasn't their child), and take into account that situations exist for people like that; situations where maybe they need a little more kindness, patience, a little more direction. I should be openly known as some well- known medical problems (but it's not). Some people just cannot go one the way they have been, they need primal therapy. To go on the way, constantly if it is really bad (the way their birth trauma left them and no one has ever worked with them; such as parents, siblings, other family, friends,, then that is not seeing the problem. Many people just want to think everyone is the same (mentally). People should be allowed to be the way they are, and birth trauma , if treated, sure helps a person in life.

    1. Hi coastbeach7,

      I got your previous post confused with planespotter by the way. Sorry to you both for that.

      Hey look, you keep on 'comparing' neurotics with normals and I can't help myself but carry on questioning whether the normals you refer to are actually normal.

      Not only are the worst mental/emotional sufferers hidden in hospital institutions but those for whom there is "no room" in those institutions suffer alone stuck in bedsits or homeless on the streets, then there are those in prison and lastly those recently admitted to the morgue. . .

      Then there are those dubious individuals in politics, the military, the police and the vast institutions of government and the media. ALL of these people taken together are in my humble opinion NOT NORMAL.

      What percentage of adults are left who do not fall into the above categories and are they normal ?

      coastbeach7, the way I see it is that this failure to understand neurosis is mostly not coming from normal people but from quite seriously repressed people who SO FAR have effective gating and repression. The terrifying thing for me is the realisation that these apparently normal people are the moral majority and they control the culture and how LAW and MORALITY works to control us.

      Seiglinde said it felt like a conspiracy but I say it is more terrifying than that because what we are seeing is the mass effect of mass repression. . . If it were a conspiracy we could operate a 'counter-conspiracy'. The problem with repression en masse is that it's like the multi headed hydra: you cut one head off and two more grow from the stump.

      Normal people struggle to make even a dent in the problems of our world comprising so many repressed people who more or less UNCONSCIOUSLY divert attention away from themselves onto those who suffer more. . . The media, politicians, etc etc these people are far from normal and they control how our cultures define normal.

      Kindness will not come from them and the actual normals (in the minority) with real empathy and compassion and conscience struggle to get their kindness out to those who need it most. I am ranting, sorry.

      So I agree with you fundamentally that we must get the word out there about Primal but the problem is a bit like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". Us tiny minority of people influenced by Art and Primal Theory find ourselves with our heads down trying not to be noticed because these other people (who you refer to as 'normal') will not take too kindly to the TRUTH.

      It's an old hackneyed cliche but "The Truth Hurts" and that has never been so true as in the case of Primal Theory. Getting the truth out there is going to be a Crusade. . . Don't anybody tell me I'm wrong because Art did not write umpteen books on the subject if 'Crusade' were not an appropriate expletive. Arts books are our bibles and we must collectivise to tell the truth. Alone we'll just get sneered at or worse. . .

      Well, that's my experience and therefore my opinion, for what it's worth.

      Paul G.

  5. ”The Medium Is The Massage / Message.”

    Marshall McLuhan published his master peace ”The Medium is the Massage / (Message) - An Inventory of Effects” 1967, a few years before ”The Primal Scream”. To summarize, the content is about how societies, always, have been shaped more by the nature of the media, by which men communicate than by the content of the communication. The older training of observation has become quite irrelevant in this new time because it is based on psychological responses and concepts conditioned by the former technology - mechanization. Innumerable confusions and a profound feeling of despair invariably emerge in periods of great technological and cultural transitions. Our ”Age of Anxiety” is, in great part, the result of trying to do today’s job with yesterday’s tools - with yesterday’s concepts. Fortunately, youth instinctively understands the present environment - the electric drama which is the reason for the great alienation between generations.

    From 1978 and two decades ahead I was skeptical and confused by most of my fellow patients in the Primal Therapy. They talked all the time about the importance of ”The Screams” they performed in their sessions at the Institute or in their home built, soundproofed, boxes.The content of the communication in ”The Primal Scream” had shaped them. I was never able to come close to their screams. However; I must admit I too built a box in 1982. My primal box was the scene of some minor re-lived pain, the creation of allergic reactions but 0 / zero screams. The box cost me a fortune and a lot of headaches to get rid of when my giant, underlying, ”silent scream” provoked my constant need to keep me on the move…

    During decades in active therapy, I was a poor screamer, but I have had countless, silent, wordless experiences being trapped, squeezed and unable to get out. During a few intensive years in the 90is (and now and then later) my re-lived birth struggle, regularly, ended in something like a newborn baby’s first cry. Historically, that cry, which welled up through my throat from the depths of my stomach after being trapped since 1940, would, without re-living the imprinted pain, have developed into a grand mal seizure. These experiences became a tremendous relief that gradually led to the improvement of my vital signs into excellence and to end my obsessive, constant activities of moving around.

    My confusion as to the meaning of screaming disappeared undramatically. It was as an early eye-catcher ”The Primal Scream” had been most important in my therapy journey. Without the sensational, promising attention, which the publishing of ”The Primal Scream created, I would not have been made aware of and benefitted from the innovative principles that Art Janov eventually developed. Selectively to reverse the evolution, has worked as an enigma machine (alluding to Dr. Janov’s background as a marine telegraph operator) during the process to restore / cure my mind and body. The Primal Principle / Evolution in Reverse has caused me to enjoy life in a way that I, previously, would have condemned as boring and free of varieties.

    McLuhan’s and Janov’s insights and observations are still clear and accurate.

    Jan Johnsson

  6. Art!

    If anything could be for the right to a legal process... it is your own words... that against what "professional" care causes needy. There is no sentences of defense for what you are telling us here. The now treatment causes as much suffering as any other arrangement whatsoever constituting themselves to do right in what they do wrong! We would by all means have stopped the extermination of the Jews at the concentration camps... if it should been possible. We are now decades later... now we claims to understand it. Harsh words might... but for the victims in the care... they are in camps by the knowledge we have today. If it is so that accusation could be a basis for a change so a lot is gained.



  7. Art,
    ”I was looking around at some people I know and at least 1/3rd of them had the malady of needing to move constantly; organizing trips, making reasons to go here and there, and, in general keeping on the move.”
    For what Kirkegard once wrote! "I can together with my children take a trip to the jungles of Africa, children's imagination is endless" and perhaps it remains in view of alleviating life!
    I have complied with what you describe here... but I have also done numerous tours in my dreams... I suppose with the same results.
    Having struggled at the university during years for a profession seen as an outstanding achievement is perhaps more serious for what you mention when power by profession often is of a life-long entertainment in the sense escaping one self by treating others.

  8. Art,
    I do comprehend Your point: the n e u r o sis induced "need" to move constantly...
    BUT .IF I could show...You or anyone else what a pleasure ,relief and -yes redemption!-for
    me to move..free(like a bird -to quote John Lennon-with my new! BODY and with with my
    Real Self!!

    It is like a child after having learned to walk exploring a new world (without this constant tension
    and feeling of ugliness with this "Not-Body" of decades!!
    Yours emanuel


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.