Thursday, June 11, 2015

Does Being Poor Make You Neurotic?

The title is "What Poverty Does to the Young Brain" by M. Ostranger.(see  And it does seem to prove the point: poverty hurts us.
I am really not sure. I grew up in a ghetto but never knew it.  I always thought that living in overcrowded, noisy conditions, sharing beds and closets, was the way everyone lived.  That the same old cheap food was the way everyone ate.  If there is no other frame of reference how can we judge and how can it have an impact?  We lived apart from mainstream culture,  never went to a restaurant to see how others ate, etc.  In other words I had nothing in my life to compare anything to.
That was also true of my parents.  When I was sixteen, one of my dad’s friends turned to me and said,  “Your dad is so cheap he squeaks.”  I never knew that. Then I started to put the pieces together:  when we bought anything we traveled to the East side to where everything was cheap.  It slowly began to sink in.  It was not his poverty that was the problem; it was that in his mind he still lived in the ghetto, and never ever got out of it.

When I asked for music lessons they sent me downtown where the lesson was fifty cents.  I never thought it should be any different.  When the kids on the block took tennis lessons I was the only one who couldn’t because I believed my father could not afford it.  In my teens it was no longer true but I was impregnated with this belief and I believed that lessons were too expensive.    He had me living in the ghetto most of my early life, afraid to spend (no longer true today). It was only later, by accident, that I learned that he never spent a cent and had money when we were teen-agers. Meanwhile when I could begin to make comparisons it affected me because I felt that I was not as good or as important as other kids.  This was compounded by never being hugged or talked to. It was not just poverty; it was a state of mind inculcated into us.  That state of mind was made clear to me when I was seventeen, when in an interview a interviewer ask a woman why she wore such outlandish hats?  She said, and I remember every word decades later,  “for the best reason on earth; I like them.”  Her feelings choose them, and for the first time in my life I learned about the important of feelings.  I always believed we had to explain and justify everything we did.  It carried over into how I did psychotherapy early in my career.  The patient had to explain his behavior and justify it.  It was never enough to simply feel; it needed to be justified at every minute.  So insights/explaining feelings was the sine qua non of my therapy:  it was Jewish through and through. It began with that other Jewish guy,  what was his name? And spread its intellectual tentacles everywhere in life.  

Feelings never counted; ideas about feelings is what counted.  And the more brilliant the insights the more we believed the patient was getting better. And he was: only in his head.  This was the apotheosis of it all; producing a brilliant mind  who could spin out insights on and on and sound like the  best therapist on earth.  And it goes on with Cognitive/Behavior therapy, to this day; still a Jewish disease which we mistakenly call therapy.  Ayayay  (BTW: AYAYAY is also a Jewish howl).  I guess my point is,  Do you have to be aware of lack to be hurt?  No.  I was hurt by lack of touch even though I never knew kids should be held and hugged.  I felt the pain.  I was not hiding it from others.  I was never aware of it.  Being aware is not and never will be the same as feeling it because feeling is where the need/pain lies; where our humanity is sequestered.  I felt the pain in Primal Therapy.  And to achieve that I had to literally go back in time.  So to live in the Now, we must return to the scene of the crime.  This was hidden from me my whole life.  Worse, I hid it from me.  And I dare say, that this is the case with most of us today. And we go to a therapist for help and we get more sickness in its hallowed name.  We avoid the one thing that could cure … feelings.  And the smarter we get about ourselves the dumber we become.  Not because of secret pride; because it lies in the cultural zeitgeist that militates against feeling in almost every therapy extant.

I learned something from this:  that feelings will direct you to the pain and make you consciously aware; all by themselves.  No instructions needed.

What this disease does, (does this sound anti-Semitic?), no; I describe it is a cultural trait not a jeremiad.  The effect is to drive people in their head. “Head” is the reference point; is it logical and fit in with our theory?  Then we know it is right.  You guessed it.  I am anti-head because therein lies so much of the “bad” in treatment. Feelings have become an afterthought.  And without feelings we live in the "anti-chambre de la mort".  What do I mean, “we will live in  this anti-chamber of death?” Because without feelings, the most natural of expressions, we block life.
We block the essence of our humanness. They are meant to be felt and fully experienced.  Otherwise they are suppressed and begin their life of damage; they find no way out of their emotional prison,  Eventually, the blocking of life leads to early disease and early death; not always and not with everyone but I have seen it so much.  Staying alienated from feelings is a DISEASE, not a cure! Psychotherapy as we know it is fatal. It is the ultimate affliction.  It reinforces the cleavage between ideas and feelings.  Being aware is not life saving; it is the opposite.  Being conscious is life saving; it means a cohesion of all parts of us. It means that we are not engaged in the unconscious effort of repressing feelings.

And above all, being consciousness means treating people and our children humanely so that they grow up enhancing the culture, not destroying it.

And now in therapy we get more of the same: Behavior Therapy where feelings take a back seat, if any seat at all, and everything lies in the narrow reaches of the thinking mind.  In  French there are two words that are close to each other. One is “évènement":  an event.  The other is ‘Avènement,”  an event resting on the highest reaches of achievement.  The beginning that heralds a new king or new period  or the arrival of a grand new therapy ... a new reign.  Behavior/Cognitive therapy seems to be that reign but it is still the old Freudian psychotherapy dressed up on the king’s new robes.  All of it, all of it, means saying goodbye to our humanness.  Is that what we want?

But aback to my point: day when I was fifteen  I was next door at the neighbor’s house, the Winters, their real name.  We were talking and joking, when all of a sudden the mother, Mrs Winter came into the kitchen, her back against the chopping block and she rapped and joked and had the best time.  She stayed for an hour.  I was so shocked that I ran home and said, “Guess what?  Mrs Winters stayed with us and talked to us for an hour. It was so wonderful; I wish I had mother like that”  Where up My Dad got angry and told me never to talk like that again.  In his mind I had committed a crime. In my mind I was expressing a feeling, an innocent one.  But I learned something: that mothers are supposed to spend time with you and joke and talk to you.  Now, I never know that was a basic need but my body suffered from it without my knowing it.  I needed some emotional companionship and I hurt because I never had it.  The hurt occurred even though I could not name it nor even know that something like love was missing.  I never forgot that day.  Being aware of it is a first step and yet a far cry from feeling the pain that is gnawing away at our systems without stop. “Aware” means detached, looking at feeling from far  away. Feeling means being in it and being done with it.  Awareness means a burden and a sentence for a lifetime.  Intellectuals usually prefer intellectual therapy and it is what they get.  They have been comfortable with their style of life, their neurosis.  Too often we choose a therapy that allows a bit of tweaking and not basic change. It is not either or; we can be consciously aware, and that is the summun bonum.

It is our choice.


  1. Hi Art,

    I completely get your 'relationship' with your parents. There are some startling parallels with mine. Your words above dragged me back into some similar memories of my own.

    My parents were 'nouveau riche', but only in a small way. Nevertheless they managed to impart into me & my brother a sense of guilt about money. It was actually my wealthy grandfather (poor man made good in marketing in the 30's) who paid for 12 grandchildren's private education as well as his three children. Anyway. . . big guilt trip about money & privilege and power and entitlement. Also a long and sorry story of wartime grief and middle class survivors guilt too, my Dad never fought, he just watched others dying horribly in the skies over London and in the bomb craters below.

    Because I was a child of the 70s I found myself in the 'counter culture' and 'downwardly mobile' and to this day I still feel guilty about money & belonging. And yes, I remember both me & my brother FEELING better about some of our neighbours and friends parents than our own parents.

    But I still think it can only be our 'Choice' IF we find the right knowledge about our human condition. You personally and real Primal are like a jewel in a large pile of shit. Like a needle in a haystack. . .
    How many more metaphors do I need to conjour up in order to generate a sense of actual freedom & innocence to 'choose' rather than the compulsion to blame myself (or for others to blame themselves) for the lack of KNOWLEDGE? ? ?

    If people don't know or never find out, then they can't be held responsible for their ignorance; can they? Aaaand surely, it is those who are close to a breakdown or having a breakdown (or those trying to support) who are the most susceptible to the Primal Truth?

    To be honest it seems like there is a startling irony to Primal being located in USA where the compulsion to believe in free will seems a lot stronger than any where else on the planet. I think there's even a whole branch of sociology devoted to this particular 'bent'.

    Paul G.

  2. that was bloody quick. . . I spent three hours this afternoon inarticulate very deep breathing mode followed by an ascent with baby crying and then 3rd line thoughts (about my dying son) and 3rd line deep crying with remorse.

    I kind of don't really care if this is abreaction or the real thing (whatever that means). . . I just wish I could whisk my son to the center and look after him in California for 12 months. . .

    This is to you personally old chap.

    You're a star.


    1. Paul: it doesn't sound like abreacting to me-- Art?
      I'm glad you can feel Paul. I wish you could go to the Center also. Jacquie

  3. Hi Art,

    ok, this thing about different personalities responses to the KNOWLEDGE. . . We bang on about the intellectuals 'choosing' intellectual therapies (and religions / philosophies) and it's true, at least everything I have ever encountered has proven this and there are plenty others who say the same thing. . . so, this is a universal attitude toward the 'intellectuals'.

    Problem is, the nazis persecuted the intellectuals and burned their books too. . .

    Sorting the wheat from the chaff is the job of the next generations to come. One old girlfriend of mine (into art therapy) said to me that we make UNCONSCIOUS choices; at the time this used to infuriate me because (to me) at that time, I couldn't see how an action could be as the result of a choice if it was motivated unconsciously. . . To my mind, then, it seemed an act out.

    But now I am coming around to her point of view. I can see that as adults REGARDLESS of knowledge and information a 'choice' is a choice and we MUST take responsibility for the consequences. In Law, ignorance of the LAW is no excuse; so, I think after 50 odd years of Primal and all your efforts to promote the truth no adult in the western world can for much longer defend themselves with ignorance of the facts. But this won't protect children from abuse nor equip them with the tools needed to unravel the past and build a better future either.

    What a f*****g mess.

    Where do we go from here?

    Paul G.

  4. So, if I understood correctly and to make a long story short; regardless of the financial situation, Love (which is free) creates the best feeling-base for someone (which is priceless). Hugging, caressing, caring out of pure heart, will strenghten the baby and transform it to an adult that can be Him/Herself!!

    In one of your books (primal revolution?), you said that when kids are loved, with the general meaning of the word, they just FEEL good inside them. They don’t declare it in their mind, nor do they seek for material confirmations of love. The word “love” was neurotically invented by humans, just to define what is missing inside them.

    Art, if I hadn’t done primal therapy and that book had simply come to my attention, the above paragraph would have been more than enough, to make me take the first airplane to LA. A person that writes like that and perceives Life in this way, just coordinates with me.

    - Yannis -

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Yannis , they are important to me. Love , art

    2. Yannis, Art: "They don’t declare it in their mind..The word “love” was neurotically invented by humans, just to define what is missing inside them." Yes, it's a tremendous insight. Jacquie

    3. Hello Jacqie,

      "The word" love "was neurotically invented by humans, precisely to define what is missing inside them"
      A very intresant question. What did the word love represented? A need or a small clue that something was missing... perhaps the same... but? Why the word love as everyone just has their own idea about it? It satisfies a need we are personally attached to whatever it is we associate with the word love. The word love has acquired a status to represent royalty... the incredible excesses of expensive accoutrements for others to long for... so it is! All as love is merely a close relationship between people of no importance to non involved. I forgot to tell you about jealousy... you may know... jealousy that drives sentence of love on... and the word of love fills on its role on to the question of the scientific context...

      Your Frank

  5. Hi,

    I would like to ask bloggers to look at three pages on Wikepedia, it doesn't matter which order, though the order I have listed below seems relevant:

    Confirmation Bias.
    Straw Man.
    Self Fulfilling Prophesy.

    The order I have listed them in seems relevant to the way our intellects are universally wired to mediate internal traumatic responses with external stimuli. I sense there is a cyclic nature to the three, so, they could be plotted around a circle. Depending where/when WE personally are (psychically / physically) at any given moment, the cycle, my cycle, your cycle may start on any one of these three but I think their order is correct (and so the last one feeds back into the first).

    These 'concepts' have emerged and become distinct parlance in modern life for a good reason.

    Life IS evolving. Yet these three 'behaviours' (in words) are seen as (and often are) 'negatives'. Separated from each other they kind of HAVE to be. Separately they describe processes that tend to reduce events / history to a lower value. But it is possible to see all three together and how each is an outgrowth. . . There 'should be' this awareness of their interconnectedness in a cyclic process. However, as far as I can see, certain TYPES gain the moral high ground and keep the three apart. . . They use the three separately to maintain their status.
    Unfortunately only the conscientious observer would CHOOSE to try to see ALL three together as a process and gain insight into the machinations of our neo cortex; how it INVOLVES to protect and survive and therefore ultimately to aid evolution on a grander scale.

    I dunno how much to give away here because I certainly have my own insights and they are helping me to unravel 'wrong connections'. It's not just a mental process. On the contrary I am having feelings then getting insights. . . I then study stuff along the way. The reason why I got onto these three is because I have been compelled by circumstances to confront and address some very pithy issues where and with whom I live. These three things have been 'thrown in my face' and bizarrely demonstrated to me the UNCONSCIOUSNESS of those doing the throwing. I hasten to add they ALL have much more power, money and influence than I. . .

    It seems to me that this cycle makes most sense when you feed base line truths into it, such as Environmental Facts, Social Facts and last but not least: Primal Facts.

    If you don't feed these truths into this cycle of YOUR life, then YOU personally can become a victim of their interdependently chaotic action apon you.

    On the other hand, IF you do feed these truths into YOUR cycle, then you WILL personally be able to reduce your own suffering (at least) and move toward CURE.

    It's not possible to make other people see this cycle. Free Will is the courage to attempt to enter into and address this cycle in our lives and to make it CONSCIOUS.

    Paul G.

  6. Hi,

    I dunno if I should spell it out but methylation / repression evolved to teach the organism about environmental shock / hazards / changes and this you could call 'confirmation bias. IE: A few serious impacts and then the organism is "Biased".

    Consequently & automatically the neo cortex (in particular in humans) then scans the environment for anything remotely like the original shock. Regardless of whether or not the organism can 'consciously remember' this original shock, it unconsciously searches for STRAW MEN (things / events & impacts similar to the original shock) . . . It sees things that are not there and shoots them down to CONFIRM the original (usually unconscious) premise. All this regardless of whether or not either the Straw Man OR the ACTUAL hazards in the present are real or not.

    This is therefore a PROJECTION. And anyone can become a Straw Man, which in a way is EXACTLY what a scapegoat is. . . Or maybe it's just a good idea. . . such as Primal Theory.

    Or maybe Primal Theory is 'shot down' using Pain as the Straw Man. . .

    Lastly, because the organism has committed to the projection (likely MORE than once, possibly MANY times) the particular trauma and its resultant PROJECTION (onto a straw man) become CONCRETISED. This then locks the organism into a self fulfilling prophesy.

    The Self Fulfilling Prophesy becomes the BASE BELIEF for the CONFIRMATION BIAS and the organism continues to seek out STRAW MEN to prove its position.

    Therein lies the cycle of Human Neo - cortical Deceit and only when feeding the three truths of Environment / Society & Primal Theory is it possible to break the vicious cycle. Not all three are necessarily needed at the same time but effective cure will have resulted because all three did enter at some point.

    How we believe in "Free Will" is deduced from where in your own cycle you seem to be most identified. With me it seems "self fulfilling prophesy". . . As an artist & dissident I am constantly exposing myself (and my avant-garde ideas / works) into the path of other peoples projections.

    I personally make a very good Straw Man for OTHER people. Thus I can continue to perpetuate my own neurosis. . . Basically I am defended by pointing out the craziness of the world and others and this prevents me personally from breaking my cycle. The resultant CLASH of ideals has perpetuated my original traumatic responses.

    How others perpetuate their cycle is not for me to say. . . Insights MUST come from the individual.

    Paul G.

  7. A professional does not need to know about feelings because his professionalism taught him otherwise... and that's what he teaches others!

    Something that does not exist does not exist! It's that simple. What we have to do is to discover that people do not feel... they know nothing other than to think... they do not know how an idea could litigate forward a feeling as feelings is what they deny by their thinking. If they learn to know something it is certainly not that they themselves are suffering... they can "learn" about suffering of others... but what they learn is that you should not suffer and not WHY... and suffering goes lost for what their thoughts is limited.

    If a professional would have to learn about suffering for what suffering contains so he needs to go through what suffering leads TO! This is for him a question of a vocabulary equation... an equation about learning for where feelings are... and most of to feel feelings that belongs to a pure hell and not for what he think it is and what he want it to be!

    We are all professionals for what we have to defend... we just do not know why and how!

    It is a perverse constellation because of feelings we could not satisfy... a hell and not for what our dreams constructing love to be... what we wish for it to be! It is from the time we got to experience hell for what our need for love was. We must begin where we are for what and how perverse reactions govern us! Can we imagine a perverss for what a professional can be? It with all that implies for what his words mean... for what must be adhered to others... and all is wrong? We know it happened... but not yet why!


  8. "Behavior/Cognitive therapy seems to be that reign but it is still the old Freudian psychotherapy dressed up on the king’s new robes." Ergo - the emperor has no clothes...

    1. Hi,

      the emperor has no feelings, more to the point. . .

      Paul G.

  9. Hi,

    -"Does Being Poor Make You Neurotic"?

    Not necessarily, but it does allow rich people to exploit your neurosis. . .

    Paul G.

    1. Hi
      One of my fondest memories is of living in the rainforest (tropical North Queensland) in an old ramshackle shack, sleeping on banana leaves, living on brown rice and lentils,and bathing with the turtles in the creek before walking 7km to school along the railway tracks , and passing spectacular waterfalls along the way.One of which was the Barren Falls, Kuranda no less. I wore the same clothes nearly everyday, thongs, shorts and T'Shirt to school and hung out with the Indigenous and hippy kids. When we went back to city life I was depressed at being looked down on because of my ' poor' clothes, and being expected to value appearance and status above nature, and feelings. However, It was the feeling of not being worthy that made me feel poor, and that all came from a lack of love and affection in infancy and early childhood, that gave me the feeling I didn't deserve or have a right to ask for all that I needed, because when I asked for what I needed I didn't get it. So I developed the belief that I was asking for too much!
      Feeling makes us rich!

      Love Kathy

    2. Hi Kathy,

      at boarding school we had this cruel joke: "If you ask you don't get; if you don't ask you don't want".

      I don't quite understand how this became a 'joke' amongst us pupils nor could I say that if formed any part of a 'school rule' but it certainly explained the zeitgiest; which is of course that you are not allowed to expose to the authorities that your needs in their eyes are irrelevant; a sign of weakness even, to dare to reveal a need.

      Paul G.

  10. Art: You wrote "And above all, being consciousness means treating people and our children humanely so that they grow up enhancing the culture, not destroying it".
    I work for a 72 year old Frenchman for a few days every two months when he spends time at his holiday home here in Portugal. He is a perfect example of the antithesis of life. In terms of his relationship with his children and with his dog, he understands nothing except absolute authority & obedience. The feelings and rights of children & animals do not exist in his mind as things even worth considering. He recently told me that if his son had disobeyed him as a child, he would have left him.
    I think it´s worth repeating that anyone who has a childhood in which their feelings are always treated seriously and with respect could not possibly think like this. More to the point, their feelings would be determined by their feelings.
    Of course I see the price in his behaviour: rigidly self controlled, arrogant, controlling, unable to discuss things freely and rationally, bigoted, prejudiced...
    That is what happens when a child is moulded into something his parents need rather than being allowed to be who he is at all times.
    A few days ago, he exploded at me for making a perfectly intelligent suggestion about how to start a non starting machine ( I was later proven right). He trusts noone except himself so won´t accept any other suggestions. For trying to work out a simple solution, he screamed at me that if I didn´t like working for him I could sod off ("Allez Vous en!")
    But the other really interesting thing in our relationship is that when I thought about it, everything that I find insufferable about him is also true of my father. He has zero understanding of peoples or animals feelings and needs. Doctors, vets and teachers know everything about what is best for people, animals & children; they know nothing. He feeds his dog exactly 780 grams of dog biscuiits a day - because the vet tells him to. He takes X number of pills for his heart because the doctor tells him to. He eats no fruit sugar because his doctor tells him not to (our cells are designed to thrive exclusively on fruit sugar). Anyone not part of the Status Quo is automatically suspect. He doesn´t listen. Ever. Isn´t this insane?
    Just like my father.
    I see all this so clearly, but I can´t do anything to stop reacting from my own trauma. I say this because there is a tendency on the primal scene to think we are usually right, everyone else is wrong. Neurosis doesn´t work like that. Unless we have relived & resolved our own traumata, we are doomed to act out. If someone dumps on me and I see it - in any of a million ways - I will inevitably dump back. The solution I adopted decades ago was to cicrumscribe my human contact very carefully, for my own and other peoples sake. I spend hours each day with my dogs & cats. Humans must be the only species to have so many hang ups about simple human functions & interactions: giving, taking, expressing love, fear, anger, nudity, sex,, defecation, etc. I feel that is why the hearts of so many people warm to animals. They resonate with our lost selves, the selves with no inhibitions.
    So does poverty traumatize us? Not necessarily, and only indirectly. It depends on the primal make up of the parents; if poverty triggers them so they take it out on the kids. My upbringing was unaffected by poverty but I would have swapped it anyday for truly loving parents living on the breadline. I see many poor parents here in Portugal and how they play, laugh with and talk to their kids. It hurts, cos I never got that. Gary

    1. Gary: We all belong to the same club. art

    2. Art: Right. Yet to listen to the racists, sexists, homophobes, child-haters, and I MUST say this, animal abusers - including those working (if by choice) in abattoirs etc - you would think we´re all divided into different human categories and the often "scientifically proven" differences dictate different types of lives and treament.
      It´s all bullshit. I feel more of a connection with my dogs than with many people. Dogs FEEL. You´re far from the first to say this Art. You know that? Check out the animal rights internet stuff. Pigs are way more intelligent than dogs and devoted, caring mothers. You have any idea how they are treated in factory farms?
      When it comes down to it, there´s really only one thing which unites us; our empathy, not just for ourselves but all sentient creatures. You either have it or you don´t.That is the root of all the problems in the world today and why nonfeeling=insanity. Those that don´t feel can sit discusing theory after theory about humans and our history and the cosmos and so on, or they can meet in ultra secret cabals deciding to create a war in Iraq to kill one hundred thousand people in a stroke then 10 million more over the years through the LT effects of the radioactive weapons used.
      So yes weré all part of the same club but only a few thousand people now have - thanks to PT - the instrinsic empathy which truly unites us all and cherishes life. THe rest don´t. Many think they do, and end up dumping if they are (still) damaged. I´d inlude those in behavioural therapies. They´ve become "aware" which is in fact guesswork, but not conscious, which is real. Gary

  11. Hi
    What is poverty? A lack of what? What is it that I feel a need for? As I start to explore my feelings around poverty, I recall a time just prior to and after becoming cognisant of the concept of money at around the age of three......Will write more when I get more clarity .

  12. "somatic experiencing" with the help of dr. Peter Levine. trauma specialist.

    again there is this letting the body speak...
    and it is not far away from mindfulness. they all deal with overwhelmed patients.
    to help them define , isolate, sense, be aware of... something more concrete than
    just suffering mess, anxiety, depression... to face the enemy. identify
    SOMETHING. there are probably differences from method to method on how far
    they go in this identification. i am not expert, but maybe even primal is not excluded
    to happen. what is much more probable to happen is very efficient defensive reaction
    to growing first line sensation that helps the system focus the most powerful first line defense to "empower" the patient and help her realize that there is a choice. there is here and now. there is something. and i can deal with it. slowly. to be less overwhelmed and more under control. and probably much healthier by many measurable criteria.

    1. Vuko: Not clear at all, I don't understand. art

  13. More than brilliant, Art. Your are living proof words have, when simply downloaded from the heart, spinning effects on our mental self complacency. Virginia Woolf once said: "If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people." You have just done that, again. Therefore your everyday words sound so eternally true to me. Most scholars link the feeling mode to an everlasting state of unpleasant dizzyness, afraid there is no way out of it. Pope Francis recently said there is no such thing as hell. If they ever dared connecting the dots they'd find feeling is the anti-chambre of peace, the way to heaven itself. I'd add the only hell there is, is the Life script , the Life sentence I'm attached to, my intellectual arrogance each time I try to untie a hurting knot by figuring out an idea, by building a fence around my feelings, by avoiding expressing what I truly feel, afraid of who knows what treasured security.
    With my deepest respects. Lars

  14. An email comment:
    "Art: One thing you wrote which caught my eye: " Do you have to be aware of lack to be hurt? No. I was hurt by lack of touch even though I never knew kids should be held and hugged."
    Within the local expat community here in Portugal are a young couple with two boys, one a 6 month old baby (Oscar), the other just turned six (Thomas). I first met the family last December, in a social context, and immediately noticed that Oscar was left in his carry cot nearly all the time, and Thomas almost completely ignored by his mother, too busy doing her own thing, talking to other adults, occasionally stopping to wipe T´s mouth and humiliate him for his dirtiness.
    I spent most of my time with this group - 3 days - playing with Oscar and talking to Thomas.
    I´ve seen Thomas several times since, always with his father, who whilst not angry or abusive, is a little "bewildered", and as I see it looks after Thomas cos the mother is too busy doing her own damn thing.
    Yes i´m angry, and upset. The last but one time I saw Thomas with his Dad (in the local supermart - the expat meeting point), I asked him how he was and he told me he had a new bike and so he could "run away to Pam and Marks", a middle aged and easy going couple whom everyone knows. What could I say? Apart from the fact they live miles away.....
    Then just two days ago, I saw Thomas again with his Dad. Again: "I wish I wasn´t here". FIRST thing Thomas said to me. "Where would you rather be love?" "In England. It´s too hot here"
    What do I do? Each time I see him he tells he he doesn´t want to be at home. Clearly. But encoded cos he can´t just come out with it straight. So right there in a busy supermarket, I pick him up and hold him whilst talking to his dad. As i write this tears fill my eyes - a little boy who is so neglected at home he wants to leave. It resonates with me too. Thomas doesn´t see my sadness at the time. I just wanted him to feel wanted & loved, so I smiled and chatted to him.
    The expat community here is typical of communities everywhere in our civilised world. Everyone here is "nice", yet no one sees the desperate need of two little boys to just be loved by their Mommy and Daddy and to be wanted, talked to, played with, cherished. listened to...
    "Nice"? No, that´s just a much overused and meaningless word applied because people don´t want to delve further. We´re all conned by surface impressions, mere acts, masks, adopted as children because it´s the only way they can get by. And all the masks and acts relate to each other in the grand sham of life, and smiling insincerity is the order of the day. Try to penetrate thru the sham to something real and you´ll find yourself avoided, ostracised, maligned.
    I see Thomas at a point where he could still be "saved". He´s still very real. But he will bury his real self, his real needs, if they continue to go unmet. gary"

  15. "Does Being Poor Make You Neurotic?" No! But being neurotic makes us very "poor"!


  16. "..“for the best reason on earth; I like them.” Her feelings choose them, and for the first time in my life I learned about the important of feelings." I *love this. It reminds me of children, wearing what they want, when they want-- a superhero costume to bed, dance tutu out etc. Well, if they are lucky enough to be free to be themselves. Jacquie

  17. Hi Art,
    my poverty prevents my getting to "heaven on earth" i.e. to become sane in all aspects of what it means to m e !!
    The "plan" for it stands in perfect clarity before my (inner?) eyes .
    All I need is the summum bonum of that german philosopher ... mi mancano i soldi ... as the Italian would express it

    So in this way poverty keeps m e far from real sanity.
    P:S. Apart from this I feel better than e v e r in my life (no exaggeration ,what must my life had
    been like ?(You might guess..) Yours emanuel

  18. Art: Did I miss the point of your very astute reply to my message? ie Did you (correctly) perceive that I cut myself off from people or are you saying animals are part of the same club - that is we all feel?
    I think you were referring to animals, but your comment hit home anyway, probably unintentionally, because as soon as I thought about it, I realised that my parents had very divisive petit bourgeois attitudes which I internalised. I was raised to look down on working class people, the jobless, and the uneducated and to aspire to a comfortable middle class existence quaffing expensive wines and playing bridge - the card game of the Englsh middle classes. So I separated myself from the village council estate residents who comprised the majority population, and lived in a lonely ivory tower. Left to my own devices i would have left school at 15 to work in an animal sanctuary or something feeling, but due to subtle but powerful expectations, ended up doing A levels at school and an honours degree in History and Politics. You know what? Every cell in my body needed desperately to ESCAPE the massive burden of conventional imposed education at 15, so what do I do, just to please my parents? I sacrífice 5 more years of my life; my "best" years. Even now, age 53, I have very regular dreams of not having even looked at the two years work of revision I still have to do before it´s exam time the following morning.
    Yet my parents just had to have two sons who got degrees as proof of their own social worth. Apart from a poorly functioning brain, and virtual academic-phobia, the legacy ths has left me with also includes a lifetime of looking down on working class people, something I´ve only recently become aware of. As you say, weré all in the same club. Gary

    1. Gary: We the deprived all belong to the same club. art


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.