Sunday, October 18, 2015

Looking Back on Five Decades of Primal Therapy

I have been thinking about my discovery almost 50 years ago of primal therapy.  And now I am 91,  Sooooo?  Well, I realize that it has taken me up to ninety years to really understand it and help lead to a cure.  I have stayed on course not because of science which came along decades later, but because of clinical work that kept me on track, as I watched who got well and who didn’t and why?  So I refined and honed and did research, and the results kept me on tract; so long as i did not deviate and listen to dozens of experts tell me what to do.  Such as add hypnosis, rebirthing, body therapy and on and on.  Worse, to rely on drugs to help the brain produce feelings.  I have tried to keep it as biologic and natural as possible.  And now, along comes science and seems to support just about every move and belief we have had.  It did not prove our therapy but confirmed our work.  We did nothing artificial to produce feelings, knowing that it could cause overload, as we then  could not control the upsurge of feelings done with drugs; worse with rebirthing and its ilk.  And even worse those who went to mock primal therapists who claimed to be associated with me, showing my books, sometimes autographed, resulting even with someone like with Steve Job’s brilliance getting taken in, with disastrous results.

We have also done a good deal of research over the years, in England, France and America, with impressive results.  I noticed over the years that we had shrinking cases of cancer among our patients.  We then did a double blind study in  England and France on natural kill cells (part of the immune system that surveys the body for newly developing cancer cells and sets out to kill them).  Newly entering patients were very low in NK cells.  After one year we did a follow-up study and the number of NK cells almost doubled.

The only people impressed were us, since  the cognitive shrinks managed to ignore all of it. The Analysts too and Behaviorists, as well.  They formed an impenetrable  phalanx of indifference; but we soldiered on until today where I have written a definitely crucial article on the cure for neurosis in a scientific peer reviewed journal (coming up soon in "Activitas Nervosa Superior" journal of the World Psychiatric Association).  This has meant that there is a way to do scientific therapy based on scientific principles and achieve astounding results.  That means less  suffering, less addiction, the end of depression and anxiety; the end of suffering for so many.  We have measured this in many labs including the Pulmonary Laboratory at UCLA. None of this is off-the cuff.  We have always insisted on doing the research.  We had a neurologist with us where we studied the brains,  not only of our patients, but also those who took LSD—Acid in the sixties.  There were specific brain changes; and yes there were marked changes in their brains. We knew why they could not sleep nor concentrate.  We have done long-term body temp and blood pressure studies with dramatic changes….leading to my belief that we extend longevity.  For example, we lower body temperature over years by one degree, which means to me a body working less hard and living longer.

And now we know how the pain which I always called The Imprint, gets embedded, endures and leads to serious symptoms.  We have found a way to take patients to their imprints in their brainstems and limbic areas.  The deep pain can be measured and extirpated, not a small thing. So future diseases can be avoided and so a healthy and longer life can be achieved.

We know now that there are traces on the genes called epigenes that tell us of early trauma and how much.  It is measurable.  Above all, we have found a way to undo the damage and reverse history.  We know the route to be traveled.  Not a simple one, but it is do-able.      


  1. onto my road to freedom (which is still ongoing) I faced many people who claimed that they have cure for me. I used to read Yalom's books, later I realized that it is not the way. Looking for my life I know that in my current enviroment it is almost impossible to get to my trauma. My wife doesn't belive me - she says that I am going insane, but I know. NOONE shouldn't push me out of my truth. Wish you healt Arthur. Thanks for your work. Maybe my son will get a grant, for me it is too late.

  2. Replies
    1. It is always my pleasure; I want a better, healthier world. art

    2. Art. Nice to read this overview, and nice too that you always write with a completely free mind, unencumbered by planning what you will say in advance.
      If primal therapy has found that average body temperature drops over time to finally rest at 96.1 degrees, I read years ago that the average amongst vegan raw fooders is between 93 and 95 degrees. I would also say from LT personal experience on the Natural Hygienist variant of raw veganism and the reading I have done about it and its effects on thousands of people, that the average body temp on this diet may be even lower, which would tend to confirm the NH hypothesis - fully supported by paleolontological and anthropological findings, that our natural home is the tropics (where most of us lived till 10,000 years ago) where such a low body temperature would be completely apprpriate.
      The reason given for lower body temperature in LT primal patients is that the job of continuously overworking to keep primal pain repressed generates a lot of excess heat. Similarly, the work involved in dealing with all the toxins, overload and nutritional inadequacies of animal produce, cooked and additive-laden modern food place great heat-generating stress on the human body - apparently even more so than primal pain. Gary

    3. Gary, I would disagree but to each his own. art

  3. Art,

    Do you still want those "The Journal of Primal Therapy" issues? I have the complete set, although silverfish ate a bit off the cover of one copy when I was living in a dive.

    I can send them if you want, I have offered this before but you didn't get back to me. The only Quid Pro Quo I would ask is that I have first dibs on republishing them one day, as the final act in my life I would like to feel would be to republish all the primal stuff in a format that does it justice.

    Not doing too well these days – lots of health issues – but I intend getting to LA next year by hook or by crook.

    Just to be able to say that I lived the last part of my life in reversal of the first 60 years. When I die, I want to go down swinging, and feeling :-)


    1. Erron, I did get back to you and I do really want them. Can you send them to the Center as I will be out of town for 5 weeks. art
      I also hope to see you.

  4. Well I´m sure you won´t disagree wth this Art:

    "Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life´s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    for they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit,
    not even in your dreams.

    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you,
    for life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
    Let your bending in the archer´s hand be for gladness"


    1. Hey Gary,

      there's a caveat there: - "for life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday".

      Well, um, if you're not neurotic I suppose. . .

      Paul G.

  5. An email comment:
    "I appreciate that, even from the depths of my experience in my personal neurotic hell so well developed from my miserable birth and painful upbringing. I look as a man in a burning hell into my faults and the faults of this world. My attempts to improve any of it are as flawed as my neurosis. I have finally ditched religion, but am still subservient in my low status encumbered with ADD with its resultant memory problems and divergent creative "go no where" attempts. My circumstances are so poor that I can't climb out, and I find myself servile to the same harmful influences I experienced as a child from my parents. I have no delusions that I am well a part of the whole mess, and yet I can see above it all to a shining star of promise that is you and your clinic and work, and I wonder within myself "Why can't others see this?" Were I rich I would surely invest in your therapy one way or another, were I in government I would seek to invest tax dollars in your projects and therapy. I feel so frustrated. So all I do is support politically what might help in some small way knowing full well that the sea change we need will only come about with healthier minds and hearts, and my attempts to pull idiotic ideas of religion from others is like trying to take a teddy bear from a frightened overwhelmed child. It is the pain as you say, it's all about the pain, and the cure of it. Giving to politics as I do in small portions of time and money seems almost a waste as even the plea to have emotional intelligence classes in schools is turned down by those in politics, and the dance around the neurotic middle, now left now right is like an endless neurotic dance condemning ourselves and our world to early deaths and needless misery. So wrapped up in ourselves that we cannot look at things from social facts we jump up and down about shallowly thought out political proposals and kill the buoyancy of life that should keep us improving our world. .... So when I hear you complain, I hear you. I feel you, and I do try to help in my small ways. "

  6. I'm readings your blogs, and 2 of your books (in French), and I wonder how come it is only the responsability of the mother for the imprints. My English is not very good to traduce my thinkings. You never talk about the father, but I think there are as much heredity and feelings,on paternal side than maternal site. At the beginning of my readings, I felt very guilty about the imprints I left to my children. But I did what I can, with the tools I had at that time. Now if I would have to live those moments again, for sure I would act differently. I do not want to feel this culprit anymore, which means do you suggest ? My children are 41 and 42 years old.

    1. Michèle, tu as raison. Je dois plus écrire sur ca. désolé. art

    2. Michele,

      hardly a day passes without me feeling remorse for the effects I passed onto my children. . . .

      Paul G.

    3. Michele
      Women get blamed for much that is not their fault, including male violence towards them, so I know women themselves come to feel responsible for so much which is not their fault. I would like to see more on this blog about the responsibility men have for traumatising their children, because it takes two to create a baby and I don´t see why a man should have the right to abandon responsibity for a baby if he accidentally impregnates a woman. If a woman is forced to have the baby by the unavailability of abortion (still not available in most countries) and bring up the child on her own, she then gets all the blame when she is a "bad mother". Unfair. Gary

  7. Bonjour Michele: Il me semble que les meres sentent beaucoup plus de culpabilite pour sus enfants que les hommes parce que la societe les donne beaucoup plus de responsabilite pour eux. En realite, je pense que la ordre naturel des choses cést que les peres devraient prendre beaucoup plus de responsibilte pour sus enfants quíls font dans láctualite. Une femme qui nést pas mariee peut etre abandonee pour l´homme quand elle devient enceinte mais la societe nóblige pas a cet homme a etre pere a son enfant. Si la femme ne peut pas obtenir une abortion ou une adoption , elle doit elever lénfant toute seule. Ou est la pere? il est libre de toute responsibilite tandis que la femme a (1) toute la responsibilite, e pourtant toute les emotions de culpabilite et (2) la condemnation de la societe pour etre une mere non mariee. Ce que je veux dire cést que la societe patriarcal impose beaucoup de responsabilite et de jougement aux femmes, mais non aux peres. Gary

  8. Michele,

    Merci beaucoup. J'aime ce que vous avez écrit
    Woman is the nigger of the world / Yes she is, think about it / Woman is the nigger of the world / Think about it, do something about it
    John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Plastic Ono Ban
    Released: 1972
    As a woman and mother of two beautiful daughters I frequently reflect on how I have damaged them...and I have been in and out of therapy for a very long time. I feel responsible and I Am responsible because I should have known better.
    I gave birth au naturel. But, in the end you are who you are with all of your pain and fuck ups and your damage is passed on, inevitably. Having children I think is the hardest thing there is. In retrospect, I probably would not have taken this road and brought children into this world because it is too hard to raise healthy undamaged children. It is a long hard road to undo ones own damage and pain and then there is the world that we live in that keeps getting more and more inhuman and difficult to live in, especially if we seek health, sanity and humanity.
    But, what about the father... it is only recently that there is talk about the condition of the father's health and sperm in the importance of a healthy fetus. Previously the concentration seemed to be only the mother's responsibility.
    An example... It was found that rates of pregnancy were significantly lower when the father was obese because embryos generated with sperm from obese males weren’t very good and failed to implant into the mother’s uterus.
    A fathers poor diet prior to conception can be detrimental to the success of pregnancy. When fathers were obese and able to achieve a pregnancy, the resulting fetus and placenta were both smaller than normal and the fetus was developmentally delayed. As the theory of the developmental origins of health and disease suggests, these small-for-gestational-age fetuses are at a higher risk of disease in later life, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Sperm are particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress, which can damage DNA. Thus, a fathers health is just as important as the mothers prior to conception and pregnancy and has a serious impact on their child' s health.
    The father is equally responsible for the well being and future of their child prior to and after birth.
    As women and mothers we do and should feel our responsibility in creating healthy unneurotic children and fathers who are consciously aware do feel an equal responsibility in their children's health and future.
    Nous, les femmes et les mères ne sont pas les seuls à blâmer pour le tort qui a été fait.

    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.