Thursday, July 23, 2015

On the Difference Between Abreaction and Feeling (Part 1/9)

 The ability to distinguish between abreaction and a genuine feeling is an essential skill of good Primal Therapy. The difference between the two is stark, but in practice it still can be deceiving. Feeling is the key to cure, while with abreaction there is no chance of getting well. Yet, despite this crucial difference, the therapist is often unaware of what is going on, and certainly the patient is equally unaware. The insidious part is that abreaction feels like a primal, looks like a primal and smells like a primal, but is far from a genuine Primal. In clinical terms, abreaction is "the devil" because it doesn't allow patients to get better. They remain forever "prisoners of their pain" in an abominable, endless loop of hurt and hopelessness. Once abreaction sets in, it becomes a neurosis on top of another neurosis. And it is unshakeable. It takes months to even try to undo it. The danger cannot be overstated. We have now seen many patients who have gone to mock primal therapy and are stuck so badly in abreaction that it is almost impossible to extricate them from it. If left unchecked, abreaction can even lead to pre-psychosis and psychosis.

 It is the job of the therapist to distinguish between abreaction and real feeling. To some extent, that is a skill based on the instincts of a trained clinician and acquired by experience. For some patients who are mired in abreaction, that skill can mean the difference between successful therapy and staying stuck in mock primals that lead nowhere. The good news is that there are also scientific ways to know the difference. We can often tell how if a real feeling has been resolved by changes in cortisol levels, vital signs and other biochemical indicators.
 First, to avoid confusion, a definition is in order. Within Primal Therapy, the term “abreaction” means something quite different from its original meaning within Freudian psychoanalysis. In this psychoanalytic sense, abreaction is simply defined as the process of releasing repressed emotions by reliving an old traumatic experience.[1] On the face of it, that classic definition is close to what we would call a Primal, although true “reliving” in our therapy is far beyond what Freud had imagined. In Primal terms, abreaction has nothing to do with any genuine reliving experience. On the contrary, for us abreaction is destructive to any feeling therapy because it becomes a defense against real feeling, as I shall explain in detail shortly.
 I must emphasize that abreaction is a non-feeling event. It looks like feeling, often to both the patient and therapist, but there is a qualitative difference. It produces awareness without consciousness, a difference I shall explore in detail in a moment. To a well-trained therapist there is a hollow ring to abreaction. It doesn’t “smell” right. A patient may unconsciously use abreaction as a defense against feeling, slipping into crying the minute she lies down, or simulating a birth primal. The key difference between abreaction and a true Primal, of course, is connection, which takes place in a Primal but never in abreaction.
 Before we delve into this, however, let me briefly review some of the basic principles of Primal Therapy. These theoretical cornerstones provide the framework needed to understand abreaction as a deviation from a successful coarse of treatment.

 The basis of Primal theory and practice is the concept of the three levels of consciousness, corresponding to an individual’s stages of development from gestation to adulthood. The first line is pre-verbal consciousness from the womb through birth and early infancy. The second line is laid down in childhood as the brain is still evolving. And the third line is current-day awareness, the top-level consciousness of adulthood. Those three levels of consciousness correspond to the structure of our triune brain – the primitive brainstem (first line), the limbic system (second line), and the neocortex, our thinking brain (third line). Pain is experienced and repressed at each stage, stamped into the brain as an imprint on the level where it occurs.

 The essence of Primal Therapy is unveiling the old events so we can live in the present. Those embedded memories contain painful and frightful feelings that needed to be repressed and kept from consciousness due to their overwhelming valence. But they are never forgotten. They leave biochemical traces serving as markers that say there was damage here and a hurtful event there. Through therapy, we can retrace our lives and our embedded memories and revisit them in orderly fashion, undoing the traces and (hopefully) reversing history by obeying evolutionary dictates. So we go back into those evolutionary stages methodically, feeling a bit at a time; beginning with the lightest pain in the recent past moving down to the deepest brain levels. In proper Primal Therapy, pain must be relived and resolved in the same evolutionary way it was created on all three levels, but in reverse. If we neglect evolution and do not deal with lesser pains first, we will again make a serious biologic error and force a feeling on a patient that he is not ready for.

 There is an adage in science: ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. The history of the species is run again in our personal evolution. We can see our ancient history in how we evolve from the embryo on (fish fins, wings, tails, etc.). Each evolving individual re-runs the archaic life of the species. We get rid of our tail and are left with a vestige, a “tail-bone.” Similarly, we have vestiges of our old "ancient" personal life, which I call the first line. That is, we have traces of our lives from a time when only the brainstem was our predominant brain structure. And we can visit that ineffable life we lived before birth, and then eschew those traces though Primal Therapy, which can also be called undoing the imprints (or on a molecular level, de-methylation). Imprints mean precisely an event that was so powerful and so painful that it could not be experienced and integrated at the time. However, we are older now and can more safely experience them. But it takes years to be able to relive the past fully and make it part of us instead of a constant alien force.
 A well-ordered therapy begins in the present, anchoring feelings in the present-day life. Over time this will lead to deeper levels along that same feeling path through a process I call resonance. Once locked into the feeling, the neuro-biologic system will take charge enabling the patient to go deeper, traveling to more remote and archaic areas of the brain. Over months, as the patient follows that evolutionary path, different aspects of the feeling are gathered up at each level until reaching origins where very deep pain lies. This process cannot be forced or decided in advance by a therapist who dictates where the patient has to go. If feelings are forced out of sequence, no integration will take place.

 I stress this methodical step-by-step voyage as a warning, because in no other therapy that I know of can interference into the primal sequence by untrained people cause such lasting damage. They are meddling with the deep unconscious. It took us many decades to understand what to avoid, which is as important as what to pursue. We take great care to make sure that the patient descends the feeling chain in proper sequence so as to avoid abreaction, sliding off into pseudo feelings as a defense against the real pain.

 In essence, abreaction is the discharge of a feeling disconnected from its source, making it in fact a defense, or at least reinforcing an existing defense. It can be the release of a feeling from one level of consciousness into another level. For example, first line into third line. Or it can be first line disconnected from any other level, taking on a life of its own to the exclusion of any other levels. The defense system, in its crafty and brilliant way, can promote many forms of abreaction that may lead to strange ideations, crazy delusions and paranoia. Instead of leading to the undoing of neurosis, abreaction guarantees that neurosis will persist. This happens when the therapist allows the patient to skip evolutionary steps, going through the motions of feelings without feeling them.

 We must trust the feelings totally. But first we must recognize them and be able to differentiate them from abreaction, which is the discharge of the energy of a feeling without connection. Our job is to provide access to feelings, following evolution every step of the way, from the most recent aspect traveling down to the very origin of the pain in the most distant past. In this way, we go from an awareness of the feeling to its emotional content and then onto its preverbal base. We also go from the lowest valence of pain to the most devastating. It increases as we descend down the chain of pain in our ontology.

 When we touch on our beginnings – gestation, birth and infancy – we see the deepest pain and the most danger to the system, which I call the first line. If we do not know brain evolution we can be easily fooled and will rush in to prod a patient’s nervous system to perform in ways it cannot; hence, abreaction. We will make the patient scream or pound the walls when the real feeling is elsewhere. Once a patient is channeled into abreaction it is almost impossible to pull him back. It forms a groove defense that becomes encased, allowing no other feeling in. It becomes a neurosis inside another neurosis. It is the patient who loses, though he may convince himself he is really feeling; or worse, he may be convinced by a therapist that he is feeling when he really isn’t. Sometimes, this may all seem like some kind of plot, but it is simply unconscious reactions to avoid deep pain. Remember, it takes great skill to produce a connected feeling and no skill to permit abreaction.

 [1] Gordon Marshall. "abreaction." A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998. (July 2, 2015).


  1. Some people say that Kurt Cobain have been murdered, if they new his childhood...
    He simply never connected his feelings.

  2. What great timing. Recently finished a book by Dr. Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score. I noticed that many in the field speak of abreaction differently from you. Perhaps the difference is in the details as you seem to indicate. I am looking forward to the next 8 parts of this series to see how they match or differ from some others. Dan Ryder seems to describe the essence of Primal Therapy in His 1992 book, Breaking the Circle of Satanic Ritual Abuse, which deals with hidden trauma. It ought to make for an interesting comparison at the least.

  3. Hello Dr. Janov,
    It is a big difference between reading about abreaction and feeling a “genuine feeling”.
    Since I was at the Center, I can tell the difference – before I had only an idea.
    Very good writing. Looking forward reading all 9.

  4. I like it that Art has a "real way with words". He is a very good writer, and his descriptive wording makes me think of how much he knows, and of his experience. To me, possibly the way of thinking, abreaction is somewhat acting out to the point where one actually thinks he/she is feeling.
    I go through life, many times, saying to myself, if people only knew how much I feel, but they couldn't possibly relate. There are times when my emotions are deep, but then there is always that connection there that I cannot make. I want to, but just can't. Possibly because I think connection will harm me in some way. I know I have feelings, but many times, throughout life, it gets interfered with life's reality; sometimes, just too much interference. I can only concentrate on one thing at a time, and know that I am not a "multi-task" person, especially if I want to be myself somewhat on the job, and keep some feelings. I used to feel too much , had too much emotions, then I got an operation, and then all those emotions became very limited and I became
    like somewhat "other human beings are - not so much emotional feeling". I know though that I do feel, just hard to express, hard to get to , and then there is the connectedness feeling. So really the only thing is to get Primal Therapy. I have tried different things, but nothing stays and I have to "keep at it" just to be like someone who never went through a birth trauma. I said in private to a relative just the other day...."no one would possibly understand or could possibly comprehend the "stuff" I go through just to exist at times; just to attend a social event, just to progress and succeed in this world. I want to be real, and feel as though I am .....but only to a certain extent due to the lack of connectedness. As Rollo May said, and as I try to do is "be true to one's self".
    I remember the feelings I used to have before this operation when I was 40, and I used to say to myself, "if these people only knew how much I feel, but they don't, and they can't relate...because they don't feel as much as I do"....always thinking to myself, "looks are deceiving" and "can't judge a book by it's cover" which is how I felt before the operation as to how people judged me. They were totally misreading me thinking I was a strong, tough person "The Breakfast-Club type" (the movie), but at that time, I wasn't like that at all. And now, no not tough but I am a lot stronger mentally and physically which is important. I would like to think...."it can only get better", as long as life doesnt get too stifling for me, or for anyone for that matter. Someday, for me, I will get that permanent cure; primal therapy.

    1. Well I do hope so. We are here. art

    2. i think the point that Art is making is that much is possible when you don't go too fast or too slow. the system will find the way. how much time and what therapist/clinic is an open question. when we are messed up it seems like untiable knot. an endless maze. a hopeless case.
      but there could be a right pace and place for (almost) everyone. there is hope for (almost) everyone. and the patient should learn how to appreciate it. to live it.

  5. Art fantastic "as usual"!

    I think that this message is the most important message you have brought forward on your blog!
    The "immediate" child in us must be the answer to what you say! The child that shines through in every sentence and act we do only we pay attention to it ... here and now. We have nothing else to refer to than the child in us... to it stands the limbic system as underwriter.

    Your Frank

  6. one could guess when a patient reaches your Primal Center, he/she is ready to help the therapist lead him down the pit of pain. One would say abreaction is such an easily forseen fearful attitude towards deeply wounded feelings. Yet, it shows it is not. An abreacting patient becomes the most brilliant of actors. Instead of figuring out strange intellectual ideations around present events, which he knows would too easily be unveiled by the therapist, then takes the opposite way, trying so hard to escape the real crime scene by replacing it with another one, similar in expression by disconnected from reality. I understand a patient too easily switches to dissociated mode the minute he's asked for the help he needs, struggling to release thoughts headed to fade seriousness away, wasting time. But why should someone, in the presence of the one who is supposed to help him through integration, betray himself so badly that he puts his own life at the risk of going fully Psycho, thus leaving no reverse engineering available. Should that attitude be considered as straight suicidal will? Luckily there's those cortisol level readings at disposal of your team.

    1. Lars: There are answers. Wait til the end of the series art

  7. What neocortex do is "live" on abreaction while do something with it! We not only know. If we did... the revolution would be here... the revolution of psychological and physiological problems.


  8. What neocortex do is "live" on abreaction while doing something with it! We not only know . If we did ... the revolution would be here ... the revolution of psychological and physiological problems.


  9. keeping busy my brain...
    few years ago i watched Dr. France trying to explain levels of consciousness and how she her often used the drawing of the sliced reversed triangle as a tool. for me the challenge was, when watching it, to discern "third line", "top level" and "the present". it was all up...

    as i understand now, the top line is where the patient is NOW. it can be any level or combination of them. for baby it is only first level but even for adult it can be only first for some time.
    top level is what is often represented as a thin strap within the top third line surface of the reversed triangle. it is probably just a top thin line - the present. this line is like the surface (the projection screen) for the lower level projection at any given moment in time. i then painted the levels in colors so for me, the first became - red, second - blue and third - green. RGB.
    this " picture" on projection screen (the top line) is patient's response on the ever changing environment that is also comprised of red, blue, green stimulation. so i drew the same "environment triangle" on top of the "patient triangle" but not reversed, so they both make a kind of diamond form, sharing one side - the present moment. then for the significance of birth trauma i drew a small circle that touches the bottom triangle's lowest point. that circle represented uterus and the touch point - the very narrow birth canal. i did the same up on top of upper triangle and it became the universe. again, the beginning.
    these triangles - upper (environment) and lower (patient) are communicating and do trigger each other, changing each other color response. in a session the upper one is the therapist that is largely behaving as a mirror that reflects the patient' triangle and at same time the catalyst that encourages the right focus, speed and the color of the patient. he knows where the patient is. the communication is good. but during the primal suddenly the upper triangle is gone. OR it becomes a perfect copy of the lower triangle - the patient is in the past, in the memory NOW. in a true environment. she is learning a lesson.
    she is learning to react fully and appropriately. she learns to be real and connected - a true copy of the environment. healthy. and potentially, in the future - a therapist.

    for the sake of esthetic and more real presentation of this phenomena and easier to draw, i transformed the triangles into asymetric double eights that only have one point in common - the dot. the present, where the two (should) meat.

    the idea of "projection screen" or this meeting point came from possibility that every trauma is affected by the earlier one. they make final sense only when connected into one feeling. "the feeling". and then all the feelings into more encompassing one etc... to a more healthier state. more connected and real state.

    repression and leaky gates can come both from compounding of trauma and from trigger that is not a traumatizing event per se. maybe the repression can be visualized as a mirror that doesn't allow the light from bellow to reach the meeting point (projection screen). it seems that the right balance between the repression and connection is a key to gaining more access in therapy. to keep the good pace.
    hmmm..... technically, the insights that can come after the primal are part of the primal. it is a higher level connection of the same feeling. if you disturb the patient during the formation of the insight it is as distracting him with questions while he is locked into second line. a criminal.

  10. The following are sorta related. I’ve commented before, but not in a long time. I’m a regular reader, however.

    Now...usually frontier defenses are first-line. The second line is next, as troops fall back. The final one, say defending a capital, is third-line. You seem to go the other way. Confusing.

    Why aren’t there other Primal clinics? I understand the length of time required to train counselors properly, but that’s also true of dentistry and other professions (some with long apprenticeships). Imagine if, after 50 years, only Tufts said it practiced “real” dentistry!

    I sometimes question the expensiveness of your procedures, too. Then I read things like George Michael spending $290,000 a month at a rehab center:

    How cost-effective is that? So maybe yours is cheaper, especially if it really resolves issues. It’s just shame there aren’t more. Moving to LA for most jamokes is cost-prohibitive.

    Finally, per your current blog entry: I wonder if you could comment on Brando and his “Listen to Me” tapes, now a movie. He made some 300 self-confession pieces, beginning by saying, ““Listen to Me, Marlon. . . . This is one part of yourself speaking to another part of yourself. Listen to the sound of my voice and trust me. You know I have your interests at heart. . . .”

    Not sure if this LA Times piece will be behind a firewall... I’ll add this option, too”:

    Most people I know, especially guys, think they are “over” things when they’ve “thought” them out a lot. I disagree. I think you can mourn forever or simply cry. Mostly I feel the odd man out. I don’t think you’re free of the Past unless and until to feel what really happened. I’m stuck, though. II experienced faux Primaling years ago and it wounded me. Deeply. I saw how powerful feelings were. I wasn’t prepared for the manipulations that ensued. It made me distrustful. When I begin to thing someone has “the key,” I think of the scene in Rosemary’s Baby where she finally finds someone who believes her tale (tail?) about being impregnated by the Devil. It turns out that shrink is the head of the devil-worshippers!

    Anyway, Marlon shows (like Robin Williams and others: Chris Farley, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Belushi, John Candy, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, etc.), that fame is fleeting. That it can’t smother pain. Brando was brilliant, but unable to purge his pain. He tried burying it with food. Tragic.

    Citizen Kane seems all about how taking children from those who love them can cripple them fo life.

    Richard Cory money and notoriety could not salve his troubled soul.

    You are my father’s peer, Art, himself a WWII vet (age 92). Your words, your being in the world, comfort me.

  11. I understand what Aaron Swartz were subjected but he won! That he was in such bad shape that he took his own life is very sad. I could only have wished him primal therapy but sadly it is not every man's right. I want to say that we are part of the blame for his death ... we know better but avoiding the legal process for the people's right to primal therapy! A legal action he chose for his goal and won after his death. He has turned on many people's thoughts on human rights. If you have not seen the program ... so do it!

    We need the legislative process and with the hindsight of Aaron's case ... we must have much more opportunities to win than for what he processed.

    Please ... please ... please ... we need help!


  12. PART !:

    > "I stress this methodical step-by-step voyage as a warning, because in no other therapy that I know of can interference into the primal sequence by untrained people cause such lasting damage."

    I believe this to be true. Very true.

    I went to a "mock therapy" in the 1970s. Of course, I didn't know it was faux at the time. I was told it was the one True healing process. There were 4 therapists, all trained by Daniel Casriel.

    It was powerful, but very confrontational. People who got "stuck" were rat-packed, verbally accosted on "hot seats." It was a form of shock therapy. Any hesitation was not seen as self-protection. It was viewed as "not dealing with shit" or "living in one's head." Like EST, people who failed to submit to the "program" were deemed doomed...and so informed.

    I heard, and believed, that unlike New York, if I didn't make it in Primal, I'd make it nowhere. Imagine, then, how I felt when I reluctantly left: a complete failure, doomed like some Ancient Mariner to wander the world forever split from my true self and salvation.

    Male and female therapists had sex with each other and with clients. Their favorites (usually those who screamed the loudest) also led groups.

    One leader was a drunk who hit on attractive females. When he died, few went to his funeral.

    Another therapist was crippled in an accident during what I suspect was a sex trip to Thailand. He eventually killed himself.

    His wife, who slept with patients during their frequent "separations," is now obsessed with the Holocaust.

    Her brother left the quartet of original therapists, reverting to being a junkie.

    I know at least one patient who killed himself, another who was hospitalized in a mental institution, a third whose ulcerated intestines were removed (resulting in her using a colostomy bag).

    One couple, who became "co-therapists," adopted a child. Their endless abreactions caused him to act out, ending up in various prisons. The couple finally split, she moving to a college town to live with...and drink with...her alcoholic mother. She often had sex with younger men.

    Her divorced husband remarried, choosing a woman who looked like the "Holocaust" therapist whom he'd slept with. He got heavily into drugs, losing his house (and jailed adopted son).

    I've spoken to other attendees over the years. Many talk about feeling worse than when they tried "Primal." Some became petty thieves, drunks, etc. acting out their pain. One, who liked the therapy, endlessly brags about his successful son. I sense him abreacting a lot, publicly crying to show how sensitive and evolved he is.

    I tried various therapies over the years,from chanting to Sufi dancing to meditating. I found "cognitive" healers to be fairly useless.

    1. Trevor: Here is a perfect example of what I write about. Primal Therapy is intense and precise. A mistake in this therapy can have serious consequences. It is not for charlatans yet there hundreds of so called Primal Therapists out there doing daily damage. art

  13. Part II:

    I'm alienated from my family because no one wants to listen to my take on our family (badly-doctored bipolar mother-- now deceased-- and aloof, emotion-phobic father). My sister married two "needy" minority males, both ending in divorce. My brother is a life-long loner who loves "splatter/horror" films that avoid tender emotions.

    I struggle with writing, often distracted by trying to help doubt an attempt to "earn" the love I didn't get as a child. I showed my father some things I had published. He was unimpressed and said so.

    I write tons to myself, but feel if I publish and the world doesn't change, it's all wasted energy. It seems like an endless quest to fill the hole in my soul.

    I love reading Art, Alice Miller, Bowlby, and others (including Harlow) who know and show the importance of love and early childhood experiences. So I know, at least intellectually, that writing is not totally useless or a substitute for feeling. If they'd not written I'd never known about them or their theories.

    Feelings may be (are!) "primal," but cognition matters, too. We have various parts of our brains for a purpose. Art doesn't sit in a room alone, emoting 24/7. He writes, teaches, shares, travels, gets out in-the-world.

    He also didn't wait until he was "clear" to love someone. I struggle with that. Many therapies push that idea that if you don't have your act 1000% together, all attempts at love will fail. Such thinking "sounds" valid since most folks seeking therapy never got "enough" love to begin with. They believe they didn't get love because they were imperfect. They never experienced love without having to pass impossible tests.

    Such therapists never consider that people can heal BY loving, by dealing with blocks/pains that arise along the way.

    It's like the same idea per fake Primal: all has to happen in one fell swoop or it'll never happen. There is no sense of crawling leading to baby steps leading to running. There is no recognition of incremental mastery leading to more success and happiness. No sense that a kid feeling comfortable playing tee-ball might one day play major league baseball.

    Similarly, there is no sense that love can grow, that experiencing "good enough" living can lead to more. The usual emphasis is one of fear: "Sure, you improved a bit, but you've got a long way to go. Oh, and you'll never get there."

    How much of that would be called horseshit by kids who'd been comforted in Grandma's lap!

    But those kids wouldn't be the unloved neurotics trying to find trustworthy, effective healers.

    As I said, I struggle with love and creativity. It's like I'm waiting for someone (my father?) to give me permission to be all I can be. It's the legacy of having a sick mother whom I could never cure, not matter how hard I tried (and try I did, mightily!) and an aloof father who didn't fill in where she couldn't, being stuck himself.

    I feel like I was raised by a wire monkey mother AND father. I cling, knowing the warmth will never come, yet fearing to move off lest all feels hopeless, like death.

    Art would say that the fear should be faced and felt. However, it feels like I'm being asked to jump off a bridge again, trusting that some new bungee cord will attach mid-air to save me now. Having leapt before, I'm not convinced.

    There should be some way to test things without having to uproot and move to an LA therapeutic Mecca. It's too reminiscent of my prior experience with a "sole soul salvation" site.

    1. Trevor: If there were on surgeon who could have helped me with my throat botched surgery I would have sold my house and gone to India. Alas, there wasn’t and there isn’t that I know of, except stem cells. So I did what I could. 50 years of constant study. Art

  14. Our neocortex is an amazing part of the brain for abreaction... it is its task... with incredibly interesting data about its existence! It handles fatal information at all hours to the advantage of the technological developments that are slowly but surely leads to human destruction!
    Can we imagine that? No... of course not... given what the neocortex has the task... according to what evolution litigated up for human survival!
    Which vocabulary equation around the physiological human foundation!


  15. Art. I´ve always asked the "primal therapists" I´ve used what abreaction is. They either tell me not to worry, get flustered, or give some response which is inadequate or completely different to your explanations.
    One "therapist´s" response was to bang the floor for a few seconds and shout to demonstate "abreaction" - behaviour which would only questionnably even turn heads in the street.
    On another "primal" website, crying too much is described as "abreaction".
    When you question "mock" therapists about the distinction, they act as if you´ve given them a hot potato to hold and they can´t wait to drop it. Mmmm...
    The term abreaction has come to be applied to virtually anything that discharges tension, whereas it is a very specific psychophysiological event. The fact that it takes an EXPERIENCED trained primal therapist to know the difference should make this obvious, and you have written this yourself in Prisoners of Pain and The New Primal Scream. It seems those who would claim that, for example, masturbation or intense exercise or beating a punchbag in anger are forms of"abreaction" have not read this!
    Such redefining of "abreaction" can make people interested in Primal Therapy worried about whether what are either harmless or even healthy practices are actually doing them harm For example, I have known people who have cried regularly for years after reading some of your work, then worried that they are in fact "abreacting" and harming themselves. I would just say to them now; "Your body is supremely intelligent. If you are hurting yourself, it will let you know in no uncertain terms. Until then, just don´t worry; have faith in your body"
    The body lets us know when we´re doing something wrong in many ways. Tiredness, aches and pains, arthritis, breathing difficulties, etc etc etc.So why don´t we all we all recognise the message and know what to do to rectify the situaton?
    In nature, the diseases that affect 99% of humanity - blood sugar disorders, obesity, cancer, arthritis, heart disease, respiratory problems etc - are virtually non existent. That is because animals live according to instinct, which requires very little CEREBRAL intelligence.
    Human beings are brought up to eat grains, which in their natural state would not entice or palates at all, and have only been part of the human diet for 10,000 years. If nature had designed us for cooked food, it would have designed other creatures with the ability to cook it too.
    We evolved without eating either grains or cooked food. We wouldn´t have had the intelligence.
    Similarly, of other animal drinks the milk of another species as we do, and never past the weaning stage.
    The relevance of all this is that because most humans have never known a truly natural diet, they don´t question what they are eating, so when they get ill - UNLIKE WILD ANIMALS - they don´t know the cause. Their bodies scream it out, but still they don´t make the connection. With abreaction, the body will tell you as sure as hell that something is wrong, but rather than stop abreacting, you continue to believe the "therapist" just as when unnatural diet makes you ill, you ask "an expert", who is just as misguided as everyone else.
    So the moral? Question everything. Think outside the box. Gary

    1. Gary: Watch out that you don’t get too far out of the box. But what you write is perfect examples of what mock therapy can do; ruin your life. art

  16. Hello Art,

    I am very interested in your work & plan to read further. I have also been following another line of questioning has lead me to "Healing the Heart of Trauma & Dissociation" which I am currently reading. I have been intrigued by the phased approach used by the contributing therapists which can ultimately lead to the the complete integration of multiples/alters in DID. On reaching such a goal could it be argued that all the defences in the psyche are no longer required thus enabling full integration. The phased approach starts with ego-strengthening & affect management before moving into trauma uncovering also using affect titration/attenuation methods in hypnosis & EMDR to avoid overwhelm & dissociation. An outcome of full integration seems to be a very persuasive outcome - I would be interested in your thoughts. regards - John Blake

    1. John, I am not sure I understand your point. 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.