Saturday, May 16, 2015

On Incipient Dementia

I am going to depart from science on this one and tell you about my intuition and instincts.  As I grow older, and I cannot get a whole lot older,  I see memory loss among my friends.  It is often considered a sign simply of old age but maybe there is something else.

We have to go back a long way in our lives to see the brainstem imprints but are often there but are surmounted by defenses and busy work and ignorance and denial.  But there is no denying an imprint; it is locked-in and deeply embedded exerting its influence deep in the subconscious without our knowing it ("à notre insu").  But what seems to me is that it rises as a resonant wave, not as a specific memory (unless there is full access), and floods the cortex imperceptibly.  It goes on with the flooding, pervading memory cells which barely register the influence but register it does.  As the decades roll by and we are also flooded with other traumas, divorce, deaths, loss of job, etc., so that the input is compounded until some neural cells give way and memory falters.  Then we scramble to find solutions: vitamins,  exercises, special learning and memory classes, and so on.  But the causes need to reach back to the dinosaur brain which does not offer up its secrets carelessly.

Now, the second aspect of this compounding is any long-term anesthesia (over 3 hours) where the brain is shut down for protracted periods. I have seen enough of this to see memory problems lasting months and years. If there is any way to avoid this please do. There is a spinal or other options that avoid cortical brain cell suppression.  Perhaps there is no alternative in special cases, but this is a warning sign.  We are shutting off the function of a key organ, the brain, and we need to do that with caution.

Oh yes!  Did I leave out something critical?  Yes I did?  A lifetime of drinking, smoking and drugging all of which suppress aspects of cortical function.  Now we add  this to the mix and we can’t miss; memory deficit and incipient dementia.  But let’s call it what it is: a lifetime of fooling around with the brain, especially alcohol, and expecting the brain system to go on working just right.  Nope.  It won’t and it can’t. It suffers but it cannot scream. The person will do that when we comes to our therapy.

OH my!  Did I leave out something else? Yes I did.  Any suicide attempt compromises limbic/feeling function and cortical efficiency. Shutting down the brain again. And what does a lifetime of taking tranquilizers do? Shut down oxygen supplies and eventually damage nerve cells; I mean, how much can they take?  And don’t forget, the pain that is wafting up is from archaic traumas often involves oxygen deprivation.  A mother smoking, for example.  Ayayay.  How can we win? We can’t.

So we now have a mélange of factors; a constant input of activation from stored pain deep in the brain, plus a repressive input from anesthesia, together with compounding from various adult adversities.  Put them all together they don’t spell MOTHER, they spell brain dysfunction.  Let us not always look for immediate causes (proximal) to long-terms aggravations but consider history, first, last and always.


  1. Hi,

    denial is the bedfellow of belief. For every 'belief' we hold out infront of us in the 'light', there is a shadowy counterpart lurking behind a wall of denial.

    Just try 'suspending disbelief' for a moment and you will begin to feel the terror lurking behind your own denial.

    The simplicity of Arts 'conviction' surely is not just a 'belief' held strongly only by him to protect his self image? Where is the denial in Arts statements?

    There is none. I don't think Art has ever 'denied' the worth of a healthy lifestyle. Just because he 'believes' in the imprint it doesn't mean he denies the value of appropriate life efforts.

    But these 'efforts' won't make the imprints go away. . . It's that simple.

    One of the problems of this blog and Primal Theory in general is the sense of hopelessness one can experience when beginning to realise the futility of ones beliefs and therefore ones act outs.

    The sad reality for many of us and certainly for me is that to gain this mysterious 'healthy lifestyle' I am going to have to give up some cherished beliefs (and behaviours). . . For as long as I have been 'on the run' I have also deceived myself that the peripatetic lifestyle has something sustainable to offer. But in reality it was always merely driving my sympathetic tendencies. These cover up my underlying (& denied) depression.

    I can no longer carry on decieving myself that I can have my act outs and somehow work toward a healthier lifestyle, eat my cake and still have a slim body etc. I have no doubt now that my obsession with carpentry is part of that act out; and so for a while I need to stop being a chippy. I need to stop and take a break.

    This isn't about 'giving up' (or letting go) but of accepting the inevitable. What Arts post above tells me is the inevitable. Take it or leave it. . . but don't deny or believe it. . .

    Paul G.

    1. Just reflecting and remembering how easy it is to forget, that Its only "terrifying" when I tell myself it can't be felt, and known. It's the neo cortex that tells me its too terrible to know, because it's speaking from the side of my defended self. Its only in defence/terror when it hasn't yet received knowledge from the feeling centre of my brain. As soon as I start to express the feeling knowledge of the terror, I'm no longer on the run, but rather, engaged in a gentle and compassionate unfolding, and recovery from the pain and suffering of that terror which told me and taught me, that I was unknowable. The truth is that I am not my fears when I can feel them, and know who I am without them. Looking forward to feeling more freedom to feel, more freedom !

    2. Katherina: Nice letter, I wish you the best. art

    3. Hi Katherina,

      This morning, yet again, I was experiencing how much worse 'suffering' is than pain.

      It is almost as if the fear of feeling the pain is MORE painful than the pain itself.

      Trying to find a community of people to share my life with who understand this is becoming an ever increasingly critical issue for me. My children seem to understand. . . . .

      I imagine one motivating factor (for some) in deciding to become a Primal Therapist is precisely this conundrum.

      Paul G.

    4. Art : I just want you to know that your validation means the world to me.This is a milestone in my life. Thank you🌺

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This writing is very good, explains a lot of what goes on. It is unfortunate, but it seems as though things do work (or go) the way Dr. Janov has stated here. We definitely could be better, could do better; but the distractions from others, the games people play, and then all that humans do to try to get better (such as vitamins, memory classes along with many other classes out there also for help, drugs , alcohol, hypnotism, etc...all of which for some just aren't a permanent "fix" or "remedy" at all to their problems. There is so much out there to help one's self, but yet we have become sidetracked, distracted and confused. Seems like if we listen to all that is going on out there for help, yes the brain becomes dysfunctional; possibly confused. There is a better way by going through Primal Therapy. A lot of people need help, many just don't know what to do to get proper help.

  3. Art,
    You are YEARS away from getting too old I read only yesterday Dr.Chron (Chron`s disease
    passed away with 99 (without dementia ) Yours emanuel

    1. Emanuel: Thanks, let us hope someone is listening. art

  4. I enjoyed reading this Art. Despite having read most of your books (still to read Primal Man) you've still got what it takes to make me sit up and take note. Here in the UK, alcohol is a national pastime. It's a way of life for many and you can only imagine the looks I receive when I tell people I do not drink.

    Last year the World Health Organization published a report after examining the alcohol intakes of 196 countries and placed the UK as the 13th highest for heavy drinking and the 25th highest for overall alcohol consumption. Seems we are all drinking ourselves to an early grave here.

    You give me the impression Art that alcohol, even in 'moderation', may be damaging to the brain, especially in the long term. Would I be right in saying that in this respect you would advise not drinking at all as the safest course of action?

    Do write more posts like this. I would love to read more about your intuitive feelings on these and other matters.


    1. Just wanted to mention that in red wine, and also available in pill and capsule forms is a product of red grapes called resveratrol which is a powerful antioxidant and one of the few anti-aging products that have been studied.

  5. Case in point: I know someone who has booze and tranquilizers for breakfast, lunch and tea, and her memory is now going (dysfunctionally). She is losing friends. Soon she will probably lose her job and her house - she doesn't know that, but I do.

    Nothing can or will stop her. When people are in that much pain they care for nothing but whatever might give them immediate relief.

    Isn't it tragic how the psychology world functionally blocks the development of (mass) Primal Therapy by denying it's potential, and likewise suggesting to the world it is worthless - and without even understanding it. So many unnecessary human tragedies! Though I do get the feeling things might be changing on that front, at last?

  6. this term "moderation" should maybe mean "the right amount of .... to keep me on the course towards healing". moderation ranges from total abstinence to large amount of ....
    since we can't heal over night, we probably can't totally give up ... or some replacement.

    primal zone is maybe the safest zone and moderation is the tool to have enough access to it. hard to answer what to do, except to try to get moderate help from people who know what that means. to never get lost in the process. who can help you find your on pace...


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.