Monday, March 30, 2015

On Drugs Again

Drugs do not cause addiction;  addiction causes drugs.  If only we could keep this straight. If we only deal with the drug problem we miss the boat.  Pain produces the need to quell it, which produces the need for drugs that will do it and suppress pain through the gating system.  And generally, the earlier and more remote the pain imprint the deeper the pain and the heavier the addiction.  There are levels of pain depending on the time it is embedded; the closer to how shattering the pain, the most remote, becomes the index for the severity of the pain and addiction.

All the addict is trying to do is normalize, which, when he takes key drugs allows him to feel normal.  Who wouldn’t search out something that allows him to feel relaxed and OK in his/her skin?  People pay a price for all this: addiction……but the addict doesn’t care; he wants surcease, an end to the suffering, even when he has not a clue as to where it all comes from.  All we are trying to do is take away his drugs and put him back in pain. Who is going to win?

Neurosis is the way we go about trying to be normal.  It is normal to feel relaxed, and not normal to feel tense all of the time.   So we find ways to drain the tension; we run, masturbate, do gymnastics, etc.  We are trying a gimmick that will settle us down.

I have written about addiction many times, particularly the piece by Bower (in Science News (March 22, 2014)  He writes about two major articles on addiction, is it a bad habit or is it a temporary failure to cope.  Guess which wins out?  The temporary failure to cope.  And scientists can only can only come to a conclusion like that when they have no idea what lies deep in the brain.  In brief, being bereft of any evidence.  So one group guesses this way and yet another guesses differently. Anybody’s guess goes since it is really a mystery where the key clues are missing.  Oh by the way, what makes people MAKE THAT CHOICE?  Oh you forgot about that? Maybe that is what is missing.   This is what happens when you strip the human of his deep motivation and stay on top of his head.

Let me digress:  I hesitate to use myself as an example, but my wife says she prefers to read my stories.   So, we watch mostly French TV, mostly because there are no commercials and the content is fantastic.  Last night there was a show on the financial crisis in France where the small business people are failing at a rapid rate. They followed a baker and his wife who were soon to go to a tribunal  to see if they were forced to go out of business.  They could not pay their small business partners and it looked bleak. So they filmed the court procedures and sure enough they were forced into bankruptcy.  When you rely on statistics you get statistical answers. They are rarely human answers.  But to think that a major addiction is simply a bad choice is as simplistic as it gets.

These were two simple people, who supplied bread for the whole community for twenty years.  They had no sophistication in finance.   Sadly. As they got up before the judges, she smiled, kissed her husband and tried to make it outside amid her tears.  Asked what they planned to do now, since they were being forced out of their home which sat on top of the bakery, she raised her hands in hopelessness, trying to look optimistic. And then I broke down.  My wife asked what was wrong, and I said they are so bewildered and lost and defeated.   And as I went on I cried first for them and then said, “it’s me!”  And the feeling got deeper, and took me back to the same feeling; a kid lost, defeated, helpless and hopeless and no one to help or even acknowledge the tragedy.  Suffering alone, no help or empathy. I went down deep to feel that agony.  So what?  “OK you had empathy, now what?”  The “now what” is that I didn’t turn to drugs or even think about them. I felt the pain so I did not have to hide it. That is what I get out of the therapy; no long time lingering pain but something I can deal with.  My feelings came up instantaneously because the gates were open. I knew the feeling and what to do about it. Thus was not a manufactured insight.  It arose, signaled, “I’m ready,” and tears followed. If you had 1000 tears to feel from your life of suffering then each bit helps to unload the burden.  You cannot cheat your physiology. It demands a response; you can put it off but it never leaves and never stops its demands. That is why addiction. And that is why a therapy without feeling solves nothing because the biologic exigencies never leave. You can drug them or shock them or intellectualize them to death but if you do not respond to them, it is you who will die prematurely. That is one thing that cannot happen to me; a premature death.


  1. Even a little kindness, acts of trying to bond, bonding emotionally/mentally, and acts of humanity can help someone who is suffering. To me, it should be constant for the one suffering. The majority of the people now, just don't know how to respond to a person suffering. I hate to say it, but the child born with parents who are totally "cold and unloving" would be better off in an orphanage. Some people do know how a child can be scarred for life ; they do know right from wrong. This doesn't mean that the child grows up to be unsuccessful ; that child was habitually "dealt" with a huge handicap. This child in his/her own way finds somehow, some way to "deal" with the great lack of love ; which possibly a lot of people just cannot really comprehend , especially in the U.S.

  2. Art
    You said yourself that the deft touch of a primal therapist is better than prescripion meds. You bet! A recurring leifmotif for me - age 53 - is that I can get completely paranoid, or driven by what i´m sure are birth feelings into a frantic rush to get things done as quickly as possible, or, or, or.........I get into such a state as feelings press on me, and people here I Portugal I´m sure dismiss me as "Louco". I massively overreact, cause scenes, and yet...every time, without exception, if someone just looks into my eyes with what feels ike genuine compassion, or strokes my arm, or utters just a few kind words, the act out stops. Stone dead. And I´m awash in tears. Due to the prevalence of neurosis, it happens rarely. On the Denver Primal Journal (primal psychotherapy page), in the patients discussion, a woman called Cathy said "All those years, all those things pushing on me so hard (referring to previous "primal" centres she´d attended) when all I needed was just a gentle touch". One of Aesop´s fables tells of a contest between the sun & the wind to see who could get a traveller to remove his coat. The wind blew and blew and the traveller just pulled his cloak tighter. The sun shone gently and in no time at all the traveller took off his cloak. You understand what I´m saying? If those parents who are continally nagging, pressurising, bullying, threatening their children only knew that they are running headlong in the wrong direction. Just a little love will work miracles. All the pressure in the world will just damage a child. And I wonder if current primal practice sees things this way? Gary, Portugal

  3. Dr Janov writes: " I hesitate to use myself as an example, but my wife says she prefers to read my stories.

    " No need to hesitate or apologise to write about yourself, Dr Janov. For me personally, it's always even more interesting to read about what someone has personally experienced in their life (as an indispensable complement to theory), especially someone with an exceptional intuition and insight like yourself who has made such a great contribution to the healing of emotional diseases. I hope we will even know more about you, after such a long creative life.


    1. Thanks Marco for the kind words. I will try to live up to them. Agustin Gurza, a really fine writer is writing my biography art

    2. That's really great to hear Art.. I too love to hear the personal (case studies etc), especially about you. Jacquie

    3. Well I will be looking forward to reading that biography of you !


  4. Part 1.
    Hi, totally off topic:
    Lulu became a star at just 15 thanks to a hit record called Shout. And now 50 years after the launch of her first album for Decca Records she is making another.. At 66, Lulu, a veteran of 22 albums and 72 singles, with a hit record in every one of the past five decades, reflects on what life was really like half a century ago. The 1960s, according to her, was as follows: sex ("I was a virgin until I was nearly 20"), drugs ("I avoided taking any") and rock 'n' roll ("my dad said I sang like a coalman").
    She became friends with John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
    "My mother said that I could sing before I could talk, my voice gave me access to a fabulous life but I felt like a fan among all the famous people. And despite everything, for me it really was an age of innocence."

    Lulu co-wrote her new album with her musician brother Billy.
    "I wanted to get back into the record industry again after doing so many other things. I have learned much over the years and want to put it to good use."

    She even delivered a Bond theme song, "The Man With The Golden Gun". There were personal dips too. She divorced Bee Gee, the late Maurice Gibb, after four years together in 1973 and second husband celebrity hairdresser John Frieda after 15 years in 1992.
    She revealed in her autobiography "I Don't Want To Fight", Frieda told her quite simply that he was unhappy, they did not communicate and they no longer had anything in common. "I want out," he said. They have a son Jordan, 37.

    Lulu - who was renamed by her manager reflects about the then and now of her success. "I was portrayed as this sexy young pop star who wore great clothes and dated handsome guys. I was supposed to be a swinging chick whereas in reality I felt like the last remaining virgin in London."
    She is realistic about what life was like for many of her fans in those days. "There were thousands of girls like me. Some felt pressured into having sex and doing things they didn't actually want to do. Others pretended to be 'liberated' and tried desperately not to be found out.
    "But sexual liberation had nothing to do with saying yes to every guy. It was about freedom of choice. Girls could choose whether to have sex early or late and be married or unmarried.
    "They could also say no. I know that now but in 1967 I thought I was the oddest kid on the block. There is a loneliness which comes with that."
    Lulu dated some of the most famous men of the 1960s including footballer George Best and singer Davy Jones of The Monkees.
    It was not until she became engaged to Gibb - they married when he was 19 and she was 20 - did she make a commitment. "I had remained a vigin despite all the obstacles, temptations and some marathon kissing sessions," she says. "The 1960s were nearly over. I was 19 going on 20. Talk about now or never!
    "I didn't have a liberated bone in my body. My mother had never undressed in front of me or walked about naked. The female body was something to be covered up and wrapped in layers. Underwear was like extra protection - from what, I don't know."
    She had the same reluctance towards drugs. "They were everywhere and so many seemed to be totally out of it. In truth I didn't need a chemical high. I was getting a big enough rush out of life.
    "Some of my friends swore that LSD was a brilliant, creative spark. Others took drugs to push back their boundaries. But I wanted to stay within mine. I could have found myself a long way from home, overworked, depressed or homesick. Someone might have said, 'Here, just take this pill and you'll feel much better.' And who knows maybe I would have said yes."

    part 2 follows. . .

  5. Hi,
    -"The “now what” is that I didn’t turn to drugs or even think about them. I felt the pain so I did not have to hide it. That is what I get out of the therapy; no long time lingering pain but something I can deal with".

    But Art, the therapy YOU had/have is dependent on YOUR (not for profit) clinic in Santa Monica. . . (and most of all: the three week intensive and ALL the necessary support for that descent and re-emergence into the unreal world 'above'). . .

    It took me 5 years to get re-housed in UK. It could take as long again to get to Santa Monica, EXCEPT this time around I will have the benefit of a 'home' (and everything I have learned from you and all the other bloggers on this blog).
    My new home is strangely not only in a swanky part of town well known to me from my extremely 'privileged' youth as a city bound private boarding school student but also, it's on a major bus route and rail connection. . . this will eventually enable me to give up one of the two vehicles I finance and use as a tradesman. I can return to foot, cycle and passenger seat at least some of the time. Maybe completely.

    My new inexpensive social housing home is also within walking/cycling distance of most of my future potential clients. . . The 'other' vehicle will soon become a billboard (and occasional local delivery truck) parked outside the flat.
    I was shortlisted by a very friendly guy from the council (he had seen all the supporting material for my claim for social housing), he said: "although there were others above you in priority by the criteria set down by the local authority, I decided that you of all the 5 on my list were the right person for this flat". He made that decision, called me back and I signed the lease, all inside 60hrs.

    He told me he decided all this only when when he actually met me and saw my behaviour in response to the studio flat he showed me around.

    I won't change my name to A. Maslow. Nor will I re-invent myself as some other kind of fraudulent impersonation of a BIG professor (or humble Doc). I will be able to 'move on' in small steps and get to where I'm supposed to be.

    Because I have a home at last. . .

    Thanks Be. . .

    Paul G.


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.