Sunday, July 12, 2015

Where Do Nightmares Come From?

I have been in a good position to know about nightmares, having had them all of my childhood, and also because I have hundreds of patients who have had them, relived them and understood them.  Let me disclose what should not be a secret but is.

Nightmares are either first line memories (brainstem or lower limbic system) or terrible memory/imprints from childhood that have the punch of first line. That is, basically life endangering.  The latter would be the loss of both parents during an auto crash at a young age.
I had a patient like that and it was devastating.  In brief, his life became a literal nightmare.  He lived it every day: depressions every day, agony, loss of drive, no ambition, giving up, feeling he could not go on.  He felt his life was over.

Ordinarily it is the lowest level of brain function, the brainstem with its memories of pain; a mother smoking or drinking, poor nutrition, chronically anxious and fearful, unable to relax,  constantly worried and totally confused.  Taking drugs at the beginning of the pregnancy.  All of this and more,  leave an imprint of severe damage.  That imprint impacts almost everything.  This far we understand, but how do these imprints become nightmares?  Because they were!  I will use me as an example since I know me best.  My mother was always hyper-anxious, a refugee from the Cossacks in Russia,  had no parents and was actually a four year old.  Illiterate all of her life.    She had me by accident but was nowhere near strong enough for such a task, so she handed me over to my grandmother.  From the start there was no one and from the very start there was a frantic mother who could not be a mother.    I was born afraid.  And as life went on with two empty parents I had no support and no care.  That exacerbated the problem and it was compounded by terror and pain.

Where did it all go?  The pain evolved like the rest of me:  terror got partially suppressed but I was a fitful sleeper and never could concentrate.  All my marks in school read “nervous”.
As I grew it got worse in school and I did badly.  As I became an adolescent I could not learn nor focus, and above all, became plagued by nightmares; not only because of my gestation but because of the total lack of love and support for my terrors.  Every night I was terrified by having to go to sleep, knowing that I would wake up terrified in the middle of the night.  When I said to my parents I was afraid, they said if it got bad to go sleep with my sister, which I did.  That became a nightly affair and lasted years.  So how did it happen that my pain from way back and down deep rose to the occasion,  so to speak, and pump out nightmares?  Aah, here is where it gets complicated.

My pain was compounded daily by a psychotic mother and tyrannical, loveless father.  No one to turn to and so the pain just built and built.  It reached a critical point where my gating system could no longer hold back the force of the early imprints.  The terror seeped through and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  No one had any idea what they were, including my doctors.  So I suffered due to a mystery that I now understand.  Oh. Wait a minute.  It is clear to me know that my symptoms evolved with me.  I was terrified during gestation with colic and many other symptoms, then I had bad dreams all of the time as my childhood pain broke through, and then finally, when all my defenses crumbled the nightmares began.    First line was evident because in my therapy they were the avant garde or forerunner of nightmares to follow.  I would come in anxious and could not relax.  I also could not concentrate.  I was already far along in my therapy, and soon my nightmares rose.  And what did they turn into?  First-line birth trauma, beginning with severe anxiety and then terror and then suffocating and feeling stuck and unable to move.  Wow, that was the content of my nightmares and my early life.  They were one.  Interchangeable.  And the nightmares led me directly to my gestation and birth traumas, which I began to relive.  As I did, my concentration improved and my anxiety lessened.  I could sink into my skin.  The feelings were finally fully experienced, as they were meant to be at the start, only it was too overwhelming to integrate.

So we must always keep evolution in mind when trying to understand all this.  All my nightmares were terror filled, and since terror is organized very deep in the brain, that it should be obvious that nightmares derived from there and not later.  Just as very fearful dreams may be limbic/feeling brain, but a bit of brainstem to give them power.  The content of my nightmares (which have been gone for years) was of being in a dark hole with someone coming to kill me.  I could not breathe. Someone coming to kill me was the inchoate realization that death was approaching.  I made that terror into a phantom, which is why so many kids love horror films. They can feel that terror for a moment.  They think it is the masked guy on the screen but we know better.

And what we also know is that as we evolve and have ideas and words we can be driven crazy by these forces and imagine that the guy in the ice cream booth “wants to kill me”.  Our poor victim too sees death approaching and for the very same reason: death is approaching from way down deep.  He too, gives it a content: the guy in the booth.  I mean he cannot say, “Oh yes, my mother is taking speed or many cups of coffee and that is speeding me up.  And also she is drinking whiskey all throughout her pregnancy. “  He has no idea where the danger comes from and that is the real danger because it can be acted out randomly.  He will act on anyone in his presence.

One thing I have left out is the evolution epileptic symptoms.  They often begin in childhood as petit mal and grow to grand mal major seizures.  We have had good luck with seizures, often changing them from grand mal to petit mal, or from grand mal to no seizures  as they relive convulsive pain from early on.  We change the seizure from a major symptom to a major Primal.  Not always but often.  We lower the pain/terror threshold.  We lower terror/pain to below the level where symptoms begin.  They then are not cured but can be symptom free.  I make no claims for cure; only that we have had some success with this problem.  In the more severe cases what we see is a lessening of the symptoms.  It the case of convulsions we see how the imprint impacts the whole system and causes seizures.  In the case of nightmares, the terror is still contained within the limbic/feeling system and does not escape out to massively produce serious psychosis.

What stops psychotic symptoms is the same thing the blocks nightmares and panic attacks:  first line blockers; heavy duty tranquilizers that put a cap on the brainstem imprint for a short time.  Could it be that all three are related?  No doubt at all.  Do they come from the same area and same epoch of our lives?  From my clinical experience, the answer is a “YES.” How so?  Because the symptoms either diminish or go away as the terror is relived and brought to the surface.  So then we can treat ADD, panic attacks,  nightmares and many other symptoms with the same thing?  You think I mean drugs?  I mean Primal Therapy, which permits patients to travel down deep to reach those terrors that underlie so many divergent afflictions and relive them to be done with them.  Oh yes,  they also can be dulled for a moment with drugs which help repression.  These drugs are called “anti-psychotics.”  Why is that?  Because they reach deep in the brain where psychosis emanates.
And that is the way with nearly every current therapy, alas.    Psychiatry has become synonymous with drugs.  Only because they have not observed the imprint which would give them the key answer to all their unasked questions. So they drug what they can’t see and then write theories about the mystery of it all.

A person doesn’t just suddenly become psychotic.  He was already disturbed; only we did not call it psychosis.  He has gastric problems or asthma or incipient cancer.  He was highly disturbed but neither he nor us had any words for it.  His system was going awry.  Epigenetics was kicking in and methylation of cells was beginning.  The whole system was becoming deranged.  And compounding of no love and pain was taking its toll.  And now we have to rewind the biologic clock and revisit our lives in a real way.


  1. Dear Art

    Current psychiatry and psychotherapy is so far, far away from what you say. It is sad.

    1. Yet Truth has never been so close to general disclosure. Let's be positive, no realistic: There has never been so many people on earth pointing the arrow of mental disturbance towards life's traumatic experience. Even birth traumas are finally being considered as factual origin to each and every human being's adjustment problems. Very slowly, yes, but consistently we're heading towards a new perspective on this experience called Life on Earth. And delusional delegation of responsibility on some gods (and goddesses) is more than ever being critically revisited. It's clear we have to take on the task of unloading whatever traditional memories inherited from womb to womb in order to see Life without protection, without defense overdose. These are sad times, I agree, but not because of shadows ahead but because the final effort we as a species will have to endure to break the chains we have been carrying for much too long, longer than anyone can think of. We're not an evolutionary mistake. We're perfect as we are, loving and lovable and bearing a potentiallity few have even grasped.

  2. Art,

    How on earth did you survive your childhood? And then the war. . ?

    Paul G.

  3. It's always much more interesting to read a case study from someone you are (somewhat) familiar with.

    Thanks for sharing this, Art.

  4. Art, you mention psychiatric medication. One of the articles I´m typing up ontains a section on the various fluoride based anti-psychotic medications which I will email to anyone interested. Gary

  5. Art. Looking around me I see so many mad people, but they keep everything pushed down with alcohol, nicotine, unhealthy and overeating, and the Portuguese are loaded up to the eyeballs with medication for physical and psychiatric conditions. Obesity and unfitness are everywhere. I guess at the end of the day, they can´t muster even the energy for exercise and just crash in front of the goggle box with he painkiller of their choice.
    I could be describing anywhere nowadays. And because it´s all people see, they think it´s normal and don´t ask WHY? That´s just the way life is. Life is suffering, life is hard, life is cruel, they say. Informed people like me who are fit and healthy are seen as exceptional. If I didn´t eat a raw vegan diet and cycle 100k most days the pressure inside me would mount and something would give. I discharge. Most around me don´t. They repress. But that pain as to go somewhere and hence they get ill.Tragically people don´t recognise painkilling for what it is, like my new neighbour Ollie who has been hooked on dope for 10 years and now LSD from what I hear. He calls it "relaxing", "consciousness raising", "the answer to humanitys problems". Really? if you´re in pain and something stops you feeling that pain, then doesn´t it make sense to look for the pains origins? Do people ever ask themselves if life ought to be OK just as it is? Why do they need cigs, booze, drugs, etc when animals don´t? gary

  6. Though what I'm writing here is not directly related to this article, I wanted to express something related to Primal therapy. I’m wondering if anybody else who has been a “feeling person” for many years might experience what I call primal loneliness.

    I have told my siblings, each individually, why I never felt part of the family. I’ve never felt included and was made to feel that I was the problem. The identified patient, the one who carried the load of all the families’ pain and neurosis. Now I am pretty much officially banned because I told them the truth. I never felt loved by any of you.

    There was much more of a ”falling out” than what I’m describing here and it wasn’t pretty.
    As a result, I live as far away from them as it is geographically possible at least here in the U.S.

    I told my father the same thing before he died in the late 90’s and though we both struggled to attempt some kind of reconciliation, in the end the “old” pain, his and mine lashed out at each other and my last words while he was still alive and standing again were not pretty.

    There’s one person ( friend of my wife) who I told wasn’t welcome in my house after years of my trying to put up with her unpleasant ways of “acting out” towards me and my trying to be straight with her. Everyone’s pain gets acted out in a multitude of ways. Some are compatible with others and some not.
    The ones that I’ve learned aren’t compatible with mine I’ve stopped struggling with. Its not that I’ve felt all my pain but enough to know who I want in my life and who I don’t. Sometimes I feel I’m fighting a lonely battle with the world and that difficulty of trying to relate in a “real” way.

    Getting older now, I don’t even know anyone from those many years back when we were all in the fight together to “get real.” What I’m saying is that “getting real” in an unreal world can be a very lonely place. Ultimately though, I prefer being myself and am willing to live without the people who made me feel even more lonely and unwanted.

    1. Anonymous: You answered your own question. it is tough to be real in an unreal world. art

    2. Anonymous: Man do I identify with all this. Me and my elder sister that is. A lot of sadness: in me and in you. You´ve been heard brother; believe me. I know all this you talk about. So many of us feel alone with our lives and histories but here you´re heard more than you might know. You´re at home brother. Putting my arms round you and holding you tight. Gary

    3. Dearest Anon: Goodness brother, your history could be divided in two and apportioned between myself and my elder sister.
      In 1992, age 31, I read Prisoners of Pain, followed by most of Arts other works up to that point, and realised that everything I thought was "self-development" - affirmations, Bach flower remedies etc - was nothing more than trying to hold back the sea. My defences collapsed and thank God they did cos I realise now how I was building up a dangerous pressure. I could no longer fool myself and became much more real. Apart from losing old "friends", I made others on the local "primal scene", and, recognising the destructive and/or timewasting nature of my old defences, accepted some suffering as the better option.
      This entailed allowing myself to see what my parents were doing to me, and as a result, to cut a long story short, I didn´t see them for 20 years. Last year they came to see me for the first time in 20 years. My understanding has changed, as has my treatment of people, but not theirs. Seeing them again was WEIRD.
      Like you I feel alienated - is that word OK with you? - from most people - hell, most everyone. I need this group like the air I breathe.
      Often I just avoid any contact -even eye contact - with anyone. It´s like some powerful internal sensor is there alongside my pain. It is real, whilst my pain distorts. Intuition? Instinct? Dunno, but it´s real. To give an example, the Portuguese (I live in Portugal) are big on formal manners, but I FEEL it as a defensive shield, devoid of real feeling, and my real self baulks at faking so I put myself on hold for a while. Then get the hell out.
      Sometimes I just need to be held, but by someone who UNDERSTANDS. But who does? No one I know has done primal, so won´t understand, and no one I know is even primally aware - so won´t understand.
      Or to cry, and for someone to UNDERSTAND, and let me be.
      Or to express joy, or love, to let myself go and be silly. But watch parents around children who need to be free, to be themselves, and you understand why those children will grow up locked up in a psychoemotional straightjacket, and remain bound by it when you need to be free and need them to dance with you.
      Two years ago, i ate smething toxic and convulsed and retched for 4 hours at a local expats house. He spent the whole time screaming and me "mind over matter!" and not doing anything to help me whilst I lay on solid concrete in the infernal Portuguese sun praying I would´t die. I asked for water. He brought me a bowl of water and when I tried to take a sip, screamed at me not to because a fox may have drunk from it earlier. He didn´t even give me a cushion for my head.When I CRAWLED on my hands and knees to him and asked him to drive me home, he SCREAMED at me that he coudn´t because...(Pathetic excuses).
      So Iater I related all this to my neighbours, who listened as if mine were just "One side of the story", and then told me I was being "childish" and "petulant".
      Neurosis is inadequate to describe neurosis, if you get my drift. It´s crazy. Bonkers. The further you go in your primal process, the more crazy the world must seem. The woman in my local café who day after day stares at you blankly when you talk, then rants animatedly about the same thing, going round and round in circles. And no one thinks it odd. It´s just her. They´re as blind as she is crazy. And why are people so blind? Neurosis makes us blind as well as crazy. And we fill in the blind spaces with bullshit, redesigning reality according to the refracting prism of our own childhood pain.
      Sanity.....ahhh, we could do with some of that. So, brother, when one day we meet, we´ll feel something for each other and connect in a real human way. Our hearts will touch each others. Until then, email will have to do. With love, Gary XX

  7. Hello everyone.

    When I came to Hellas, after my primal therapy, I had noticed that I had almost no nightmares. When they rarely appear, they tell me a lot about my 1st line history and I clearly see the resemblance to my everyday pattern and the incoming thoughts that trouble me from time to time.

    Thus, Art, I will not spend more time on agreeing with you on this topic.
    What is interesting for me, however, is the fact that sometimes I had some peculiar dreams. For example; once I dreamt that I was having a really severe argument with my mother and (same night, another dream) that a cockroach was walking across my hand. Both of those events occurred within 1-2 days. I remember having those premonition-dreams 2 or 3 times and eventually living the dreamed events.

    I am not the type of person that cares if telepathy, premonition or telekinesis exist. I will accept them if they do or decline them on the other hand. Nor do I attempt to disparage this blog. The topic here is psychology and in my opinion psychology is the quintessence of everything, concerning our personal path.
    But since, everything I have shared about my experience on primal therapy was true and not at all windy, not sharing those 3 or 4 events would be a lie.

    - Yannis -

  8. What amazes me is that something in you kept you alive and 'in one piece', surviving, not giving up. Do you think the Navy might have actually helped hold you together? You implied as much in an earlier post. It's interesting to me that you went into telegraphy, is that right?

    I trained as a radio operator in the cadets and I remember this kind of sharpened my interest in communicating. . . Then later I did a 'communications studies' A level. Then photography. . .

    All the time I seem to have been trying to communicate, to "show & tell". . .

    Just recently I went onto Fluoxetine, within six weeks I had become so completely UN motivated I stopped. I still have not regained any of the former interests I had and I seriously wonder if those blessed pills have linked up with an old LSD 'circuit' from 35 years ago because I feel totally poisoned by them; not so much in a 'chemical way' but in a psychological way (I'm sure theirs only a smidgen of difference in your book). Gary's comments on 'Pills' seem spot on.
    Anyway, one thing has remained intact and that is my desire to communicate. . . I just don't seem to want to give that up. . . though everything else seems bland to the point of nihilism.

    Having written umpteen books and essays you seem also to have retained the desire to communicate. . . The trouble with 'communication' is that it has become cheapened. . . So many people blog, so many write books, so many publish art and it's ALL available at the click of a button.
    "Brevity" is the new asceticism (Like Buddhism) and hardly anyone seems to have the concentration span to handle a jolly good read or rant. Just to think that in Shakespear's day ordinary people, mostly illiterate could easily attend to a production of several hours, these filled with complex language and symbols which today would leave most people bored out of their tiny minds. . .

    I'm really anticipating your book "Beyond Belief". . . I'm sure it will be the one that unifies all the others. . .

    write on write on you old communicator you. . .

    Paul G.

    1. Paul, in regards to your topic of communication. To me communication has been vital. Two years ago I was quite ill and not sleeping well. I had a nightmare where I was stuck between the box springs and mattress with my mother sitting atop unaware I was suffocating. My hand was all that was out of the mattress and I was frantically waving to get attention to my being crushed and not breathing. Alas, no one noticed. No one heard me or saw my hand. I awoke and not able to breath for nearly a minute. It was the worst physical feeling I had ever endured. Afterwards I just chalked it up as part of my being sick. It was not a connected experience. About six months later I began to think of that experience differently. And maybe it was a resemblance to a birth trauma. The fact that I'm always over explaining things to people on the notion that they just won't get it is probably connected to my early experience where my mom failed to see or feel me struggling inside to live.

    2. Sheri: I know it well. I over explained because my parents were totally uninterested in me and did not want to anything I had to say. art

    3. Art yes, and that's why I talk too much too. Always trying to 'explain'. My parents never talked or played with me much either. That is so familiar to me. Sheri, I have had persistent repeating dreams of 'descending down spiral staircases, traveling on trains, on buses, on motorbikes, in cars, always trying to get somewhere, always worried I'm not trying hard enough, always anxious to get started and never feeling ready. I often wake up panicking there's something I havn't done. . . I've started to realise this is all a reflection of being stuck and not ready to come out, but loaded with adrenalin for the 'journey'. I think there's a bit of the 'struggle / fail' syndrome in me.

      I don't know how this insight has been growing in me but I think one of the roles of the father is to get to know his child whilst still in the womb and at the birth to BE THERE (at the exit) as some sort of 'coach' or 'cheerleader. I mean Dads do this for their wives but I think men should be doing this for their unborn. I think it helps the baby make more effort to swim out.
      How could I know that? How could it be proven? It's just how I feel and lets face it if Dads really wanted their children they would do that wouldn't they? They would know how hard the baby has to try to get out. I wish I'd understood more when my kids were born. . . But the hospital was a sausage factory. . .

      I also think all that ridiculous cheerleading and coaching men do for boys (and girls) on the sportsfield is an act out, a misplaced 'rebirth'. . . I dunno, but this comes out of the way I feel, not the way I 'think about' what Art writes.

      Paul G.

  9. Some sense of security, might work,might help from not getting nightmeres. Way too much struggle and responsibility placed upon someone who needs to go back. Does anyone feel what another goes through anymore; parents who have children and why, if they aren't mentally and physically going to help them; help them to build strong foundation and good mental health. Even if a child is conceived "by accident", that is absolutely no excuse to give them no love and to ignore many of the child's needs. But I do believe that a smart child knows so much of what is going on, more so than the parent, that possibly he can raise himself in some sort of way, unlike the child with loving parents. It is sad.

  10. Art I have spent so long thinking that you thought nightmares only came from 1st line. I could'nt understand how I might have nightmares that seemed to involve experiences later in my life. I suppose sexual abuse is so damaging and terrifying that it can cause nightmares that are so powerful that they break through into conciousness just as I awoke. Or am I wrong?

    1. Planespotter, you are dead right. art

    2. You don't know what that means to hear that. Thanks Art

  11. An email comment: "Generous with your past. Thank you for sharing. And crystal clear! With no apologies for having the unpopular truth! I like that. Take the ball and run. Mainstream psychologists are not in your league. History will eat their lunch! "

  12. Art,
    can You imagine that it is comforting... to me after a nightmare concerning the dying of my mother and father that "they" are still dead (35 and 11 years for that matter)

    The "event" the worst that I could "then" imagine lies bhind me!!!..

    You are so right concerning psychiatry:my questions concerning the origins of my frostbites..etc
    (the aftermath of my sympathetomy the (first!!! giggling!!! psychiatre of my life!!..resp
    my becoming furious and nervous (in his eyes..) he proposed what !!? ; those
    medicine( in latin medicament.(curing through the MIND)

    Oh Lord how far are those people from the mind.
    Yours emanuel

  13. Dr Janov:

    It's always extra interesting to read your blogs when you tell us about your own experiences in life and with emotional rehabilitation. May I ask who helped you out, if anyone? If no one, I suppose you just helped yourself somehow. Did your own self-help then serve as the basis for your creation of the various techniques of Primal Therapy (in addition to the impulsive intuition with your first Primal patient as related at the beginning of "The Primal Scream" )?

    Although I never suffered much from nightmares as a child,and did not have trouble concentrating, I was quite afraid of the dark before falling asleep for part of my childhood. This started the night John Kennedy was assassinated . I was nearly 9 years old, and I remember my mother telling me about the event, and then feeling very sad as I watched the TV coverage (I still wonder how I even knew about Kennedy at that age and why it should have affected me). I then went to bed and felt a great fear overcome me. After that, it took 5 years for that nighttime fear to fade away . I had to sleep with a light on every night, and often had to go sleep with my parents. What was behind that I still do not know, although Primal theory certainly seems to provide some indications.I suppose true liberating insights into that might come from dipping into those fears , if I ever do...

    My parents were also from a peasant background ; in my case, my grandparents were Italian immigrants to Canada, two generations off the Papal Estates...My mother was an utter fascist, a total arrogant authoritarian who drove me crazy and who turned me into a bitter angry rebellious person, with a pinched tormented bewildered face, and hunched back from repressed rage , not to mention myopic...I had my first girlfriend at 42 years of age, an epileptic welfare recipient addicted to tranquilisers (I am nevertheless very very very grateful for this wonderful experience of love despite our neuroses)...You get the picture...Thanks, mom!!


    1. Marco: I do get the picture and it is very very well written. art

    2. I went to my own clinic as a patient and did the therapy with the staff. art

  14. Alcoholics and drug addicts "know" that they are suffering ... the rest of us do not know that! They have a float between the limbic system and neocortex but not about what... and we do not know nothing. We have a constructed consciousness that keeps us away from awareness and all the help we can get to it.


  15. Art: Your childhood sounds worse than most, and it raises interesting q´s for me. You´ve always stressed that a Primal therapist must be real and not have any "significant pain remaining" ( the Primal Scream), yet you clearly practiced successfully for years with very significant pain. I´ve always wondered how. If you could do it, why not others?
    Were you overloaded and if so, how did you reduce it?
    In The New Primal Scream, you talk of "the unchained furies". You mentiion how your office walls were all full of holes and every stick of your antique furniture smashed in the first few weeks of practicing primal therapy. And how a (mock) primal therapist was murdered by a patient in a primal fury. One of your patients wrote how a patient in a primal rage could take out one, two, or more people. My God. At what point did you realise you were in danger? And how did you protect yourself?

    1. Gary, those are many questions. The danger was always there and I hope my biographer will write about them. It was sometimes rather “hairy.” I did better therapy as I and science progressed to make the therapy more scientific which is why I call it, The First Science of Psychotherapy. The rage I saw in therapy came from down deep in patients as did terror and hopelessness. If I could do it, why not others, you ask? Well I have never seen anyone who tried it do it correctly to help patients. I wish it were not so but it is. art

    2. Hi Gary & Art,
      These are very important issues and that's probably why Art has posted this thread. If I may offer a 'correlation' with learning a craft. In UK we have been systematically de skilled since about 1948. This is not specifically about politics but it is about LEARNING and the politics of learning:

      As a consequence of the desire to learn a skill where there is a vacuum of training and trainers (as in UK progressively since the war) we people become "Have A Go Joes", don't we? Now that's a derogatory remark but I have trained many people in various woodwork mediums and to a considerable extent I have had to 'self train' for the lack of trainers and training. So I am familiar with 'stabbing in the dark' and worse: 'offering advise' from my own ignorance. . . I am positively expert in this field of politics (!).

      Where there is human need some-one will eventually fill that gap. Some one will 'have a go'. Usually it is some one who is already skilled in one area and they see the possibility of 'transferring' what they already comprehend into this newly recognised need. But with it comes all the risks of wrong assumptions. Nevertheless, if the person in question has encountered something of the 'scientific technique' (which like quality control never assumes anything is correct), well then it is possible to develop a sharing / learning paradigm. Given that Art had much 'training' and conviction to try to help people; that he had probably read MOST if not all of what others had written, it kind of follows that once ONE patient started Primalling then his desire to 'help' would also have been mediated by his desire NOT to harm. This is like a form of 'Triangulation', which in itself is a good example of the scientific method; it is a dialectic which will (if rigorously pursued) arrive at EXACTLY the truth; (in this case, the truth of the patients condition experientially FOR the patient).

      The mistake people make is in assuming they too can have a go without taking on board everything that has ALREADY been learned. . . People love to "Re-Invent The Wheel". People regularly want the end game without the hard work that leads to it; both "would be" crafts persons and actual patients.
      Recently I got into one of those silly conversations with a (failed?) artist who angrily wanted me to believe in the distinct difference between ART & CRAFT. His view was that the former is superior to the latter. I disagreed (of course).
      It seems to me that Primal Therapists are trained as crafts-people of the psyche and IN the relationship with their patients, real ART is born. It is a collaboration.

      Paul G.

    3. Art and Gary,
      Unchained fury is obvioulsy a demolishing expression of repressed energy. I experienced that as a patient. The four walls of my therapist's room were covered with soundproof coating material with padding qualities so we could not hurt ourselves in the process. However she was somehow "trapped in" that cage she had built for our sake. I recall I once brought a framed painting of mine, so she could witness my improvements and a profound anger rose up, so I kicked the painting so unluckily that I wounded her with the edge of the glass on one of her feet (we used to go barefooted). She started bleeding, but I swear I won't forget her reaction: nothing. She asserted calmly just keeping her Mona Lisa smile. Then I understood what a Real therapist's job is about. She helped me recognize the light side of life. We all need a witness to help us release the gates of our deepest fearful memories. That's all we need. Once the loead is discharged, we don't need to make Life up. It becomes the adventure it was supposed to be from the beggining.

    4. Lars: That was a real primal therapist? it does not sound like it. art

  16. There is nothing that is idiotic! Everything is just a consequence for eyes that can see!

    We can be in touch with what our minds lurks us to see... for what we experience... but it is just a consequence. What I mean... we can hate someone for something he/she has not done but well provokes... it for what we can experience around our tormented feelings. This requires a safe environment to unleash... otherwise it's "war"... war that we see around the world!

    We should have known better now by the knowledge of primal therapy! But until then... we are watching! I saw on TV how a four year old girl was shaking terribly... she had stopped talking... her eyes that could not focus told of a trauma nobody can imagine... no one are willing to imagine... it as we live the human terrible disease!


  17. From thought to action is a highway in the cognitive state for what life then is all about! When the cognitive activity slows diminishes or ceases so are we suddenly in an issue that demands its toll. We get an involuntary flow of emotions without knowing what they are. We end up in a degrading condition where no help is available... if we are not enrolled at The Primal Center. But it is very late as a pensioner!

    All this is not so difficult to discover if we look into what eldercare is all about. All cognitive activity ceases and we are forced by our unawareness in to memories as were not always of satisfactory... if ever? It with consequences... an electrochemical process starts around our memories which we were unaware of... throughout our lives. Terrible feelings... unaware of and can do nothing about ... just following into hell mazes... to the child within us without any social relationship of love. What a hell!


  18. Would the Primal Center ever accept a patient who is close to psychosis...someone who is triggered by virtually everything to the point where they can't really take care of themselves, or won't, because the overriding feeling being acted out is to be taken care of?
    There can be such fear overlaid on a weak personality that the person is always a step away from suicide, and alienates everyone with the insatiable need to be taken care of.
    Even with medications thee is no motivation to move forward in life.
    Even believing what you have written for decades doesn't help, since the need and the desperation grow as life becomes harder and harder by lost opportunities, and by not taking care of responsibilities.
    You don't have an inpatient facility.
    What are your thoughts on this, Dr. Janov?

    1. Hello Anonymous!

      Without the right to speak for the Center... just a thought about what you write!

      Imagine if we could just connect everything what you talk about... for where it belongs along with the child in us... Primal therapy is a brilliant opportunity!

      What is it to "take care of themselves"? With the "awareness" you present someone to have so I presume that there are opportunities through some medication that suppresses... but for those with difficulties to communicate about their suffering so chances would be very slim.

      We need a revolution in the psychological field... so that the financial allocation was fair... then there would be great opportunities... even for those with difficulties to be communicable about their suffering.

      Your Frank

  19. Frustrating... no answer yet from Dr. Janov.

    1. Anonymous: What was the question? art

    2. Dr. Janov,
      I will try to be clear. Would the Primal Center be willing and able to treat a patient who can barely take care of themselves, and, as well, is scared of all their anger and rage?
      I am writing about myself.
      I have gotten worse in my life, but always felt alienated from people. I felt that I was not good enough, and isolated myself from people more and more as I grew up.
      This turned into rage and anger and hatred for other people, because I never felt like I could belong.
      I am scared of this anger and rage because of being afraid it makes me a psychopath.
      I know you have said you have had no success with psychopaths in therapy, but I am crying out so much for help. You said psychopaths don't seek help. So I think then I am reachable.
      My ability to function is almost gone. That's why I wrote about how you don't have an inpatient facility, because I don't know if I can pull myself together anymore.
      So,....leaky gates......almost unable to take care of self.......anger and you think it is possible to get help at the Primal Center? Any other therapy would not address the root causes of these symptoms.
      Thank You. And Thank You, Frank, as well.

    3. You sound like you need daily help for the time being, and yes, you are right we don't have an inpatient facility. Sorry we are not a charity as much as I am against paid medicine. I can't say much because I know nothing about you. Financially, every patient needs to find a way to help their own therapy by paying part of it. art

    4. If a person is becoming psychotic from a first line trauma that is breaking through their leaky gates, are you able to treat them? Or is that too late. Psychosis to the point of not functioning?
      That is what I was also asking you, Dr. Janov.
      Thank You.

    5. Hi Anonymous,
      nightmares, rage, obsessions...severe gates leaking all come from first line. it disturbs our relationships and our thinking processes, concentration from early on...
      and it can get worse!
      given your situation i would advice you to at least not lose hope. to start again from the way you eat. i don't know about you and your situation.. but for me, i discovered that for my leaky system i have to provide mostly plant based unprocessed food at least 50 percent raw, juicy and lately i experiment with low allergenic/sensitive food that i try to eat slowly. you should always be hydrated and exercise moderately. if sometimes you don't feel like eating you should skip a meal or two. as you hopefully go over 50 percent you could really feel the difference! it seems that we have a big friend in our gut. give them a chance. lymphatic system circulation is dependent on our moving. so don't be static. and remember, this is not a race. it is about you and your pace. you should feel the difference in just a few weeks. i hope so. summer is a good season to start.

    6. Anonymous: Often yes if we had in-house facilities and could offer treatment early. It all depends on the situation and you understand that I can't make prescriptions online.

    7. Anonymous
      Before we get into Primal therapy a lot of us feel hopeless, alienated from people, unable to take care of oneself and afraid of our anger, rage, and completely fearful of almost everything. Sometimes our life needs to get worse and fall apart and that gives us the impetus to obtain the help that we need.

      Before I came to therapy I was having a nervous breakdown, extremely paranoid and I didn't know how I could uproot myself and move to another country. My life had completely fallen apart. But I knew that Primal therapy was the only thing that was going to help me.

      Keep reaching out for help. Take little difficult steps but try, try to get yourself to the therapy.

      Jean H


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.