Saturday, December 12, 2015

More on Depression

Depression seems to be rampant today throughout the world so I thought I would discuss it a bit more.  What I have found after treating many people who claim that they are depressed is they have a typical imprint that drives it.  I should say depression is underlined by many imprints that all tell the same story……. I am about to die.

Before I do go further I want to note something that I found in many depressives that led me to my conclusions.  I did measurements during their Primals and found one key reaction:  the deeper they got into the kernel of their depression the lower their body temperature. Sometimes lower by 3 degrees. It would seem dangerous but it was not.  But why that drop?   And more important why did they usually soon come back to the so-called normal range after the session?

It would seem that these patients were headed toward body fail as though they were dying; and the vital signs followed suit.  But why that?  Were they near death lying in my padded therapy room?  Yes and no.   In their memory imprint, they were certainly dying. And when into the feeling they were again dying.   But this time with a different ending; they were coming alive and out of their depression as they were immersed into the feeling:  “I am dying, suffocating, can’t breathe and can’t move“. Yet so many do die or kill themselves as that feeling has a stranglehold on their systems and wreaks damage when they are not in a therapy that can resolve it.

This is a strange dialectic: dying to come alive.  But if you do not feel dying you cannot be liberated and come alive.  Why?   The imprint/memory dominates.  It actually happened and it is an embedded memory.  Until you eliminate what is dragging you down, you cannot overcome it.  This is an iron primal/biologic law. The imprinted memory has to be totally relived even if it takes months to feel it.  It cannot be done in a day or a week.  It is so powerful that it makes a person depressed.  And what is depression?   Hopelessness and helplessness.    So, it is not strictly depression: it is hopelessness called depression.   So we cannot say you are depressed therefore you feel hopeless. No. Hopeless is another name for depression.  I have seen patients descend deep in the brain and their “depression” becomes hopelessness as they touch the real imprint: “ I am dying and there is nothing I can do.”

That is what the memory is suppressing and that suppression makes it such a mystery.  Our system is suppressing the memory of approaching death and its terror. When my patients start to feel deep depression; what I call first-line brainstem depression, because its origins are so deep and remote, the body accommodates to this approaching disaster and slows down to conserve oxygen and energy. It says: “Hold back, do nothing vigorous or your life will be endangered. Don’t breathe deeply.”  These are the elements of depression that trail us throughout life.  We don’t want to do anything,  go anywhere and begin any chore even though it is urgent.  They feel energy-less, without motivation.  It can never be as urgent as the imprint of near death.  It is so importuning that the depressive considers suicide without fully knowing what the true feeling is.  It just feels terrible and unbearable. And he does not know how to stop it. He thinks that only death will stop it: strange, to kill oneself over the possibility of feeling death approaching.   I know how to get out it: feel it, get into it, but first you need to know what to feel and that takes a while in therapy because it is so recondite as to be unbelievable.  And at first it is a distant and foggy element.  Not recognized for what it is.   And there is no one to tell you what it is or when to feel it.  It is a memory waiting its biologic turn to be experienced.  It is above all, not just some idea concocted by a therapist where he admonishes the patient to change his ideas to get out of the depression.  It is not just a mental affair; it is neuro-biologic.   The person feels “down”  and wonders why?  I know.  He was seriously drugged very early on and he feels it all the time as an imprinted memory.   He drugs himself or runs from it because he does not know what “it” is.  How could he know that he has to feel it again, only this time alongside a professional who will help and who will not allow anything untoward to happen to the patient.

Remember, that what happens to us outside, even during life in the womb, changes the DNA methylation and makes it internal.  The memory is now inside and stays there.   There is a kind of merger, if you will, so that experience and heredity become one.  Suffocation is now a fixed memory.  I see it in patients on the verge of early feelings who cannot stand the doors or windows closed without becoming anxious and terror filled, the same feeling imprinted deep in the brain.

Otherwise he gets into a feeling and experiences low body temperature and it mystifies him.  And the doctor, perplexed, offers drugs to help him out.  He should be helping him “in”.  Hold on:  I assume that it is a trained primal therapist who knows the danger signs.

Meanwhile the depressives often get into serious drugs to keep the imprint at bay.   It is always there and raging down below.  Of course the depressive is a downer because not exerting himself was life saving.  It is not that the depressive feels hopeless:  it is that depression is hopelessness.   That is why he deals with all of the time.

You mean to get rid of something you have to go into it again?   That makes no sense; except it makes all the sense because the feeling was far too much to be accepted and integrated when it happened. It could have led to death.   And what is that memory?  A mother drinking or smoking; unavoidable and inescapable for the baby.  Or anesthetics at birth, which almost completely shut down the baby’s whole system and his breathing included.  A hundred thirty pound mother allowing drugs into a 5-pound infant.  What may be perfect for her is almost lethal for a young body.  That is why as an adult patient the pain can only be felt a small bit at a time until it is totally integrated.  The defense system is now mature enough to titrate the input and keep it manageable.
A mother taking even mild tranquilizers can produce the same effect.  I guess it all boils down to recognizing the imprint and its enduring and painful content.  It is life endangering for two reasons; the pain will eventually lead to serious afflictions such as heart attacks.  Or, it will lead to suicide attempts in an effort to stop the agony.  Choose your weapons: feel it or ??


  1. i agree with this article, so very true. i was wondering arthur about your views on electromagnetism and its pervasiveness in todays world and its affects on in utero and young babies and children. damage to DNA etc.

    1. Anonymous, another thing I know nothing about. Art

    2. Anon: I do. The effects of what is now almost saturation coverage from MICROWAVES from masts, WiFi, DECT phones, mobiles, wireless burglar alarms and baby monitors etc etc etc are simply staggering. 30,000+ research papers show a long list of serious adverse health effects which also include serious brain damage, dysfunction and depression in people in their twenties who have grown up exposed to daily, often near constant exposure. The number of cot deaths has risen sharply snce the advent of wireless (microwave) baby monitors. I have na EMF monitor ad both my home and normal haunts are microwave free. Check out The Freiburger Appeal for starters. And Barrie Trower. Gary

  2. Hello Art!

    I know that what you write is more than enough to know what the primal therapy is all about! I write for what I my self can see the effects... a part of my own understanding transmitted in text and and I learn!

    Thoughts...the neocortex is in a process... a process of survival and nothing else... and feelings... the limbick system is of an experience! So experience can easily be left aside for what the experience is / was life threatening! What a simple sentence... but so difficult to understand!

    Now... how can we ever bring order to our thoughts about feelings in neocortex when the order for it is disorder and has its meaning in not to remember? How can we then remember processes? Well because that is what we live... processes... it as long neocortex can keep the limbic system of experience at distance!

    How do you tell that a stone means more than just being a stone? It does one do when one sees that it can be used for anything else. Why is this so difficult to understand in terms of the human brain and not about building houses... because the "stone" in neocortex continues to be in a process to keep us alive!

    A "professional" in psychiatry and psychology holding it will never release it as long as it is in a process to keep him alive... and we have no one... for what ever an emotional experience would mean to rely on in our questions of anxiety and depression!


  3. What if you had three near death experiences due to surgery....just relive it over and over....?...can u primal those away?....

    1. Mark, You can certainly primal a lot away. I have seen it many times. Even in serious suicide attempts for ex. art

    2. How ironic...i was in primal.therapy when my last surgery was horrible. I had tubes in me keeping me alive. How can u primal that seems impossible. I always feel dead and on the verge of life and death

    3. Mark, We take the imprinted pain away by the process of primal therapy and demethylation; see my recent articles on Epigenetics. It explains why. art

  4. When someone tries to commit suicide (literally, not in a feeling), his main objective - without knowing - is to become (more) alive (literally, as well).

    If he succeeds in the former, unfortunately, he will lose his chance of discovering the latter.
    But if he stands back, he will immerse into such an enormous feeling, that even the most terrifying horror movie would seem like a mickey mouse cartoon, compared to that feeling.

  5. Hi Art. I remain sceptical about traumatic birth and pre / peri natal experiences as being the primary cause of such depression and hopelessness. Do you think pernicious early psycho-social milieu post-birth due to the child's 'wrongness' - gender,appearance, unwantedness, 'illegitimacy'- can play a determing role? Thanks.

  6. An email comment:
    "Interesting, you seem to call hopeless what I call helpless. I had an experience of being knocked out and kicked again and again in the head while I was unconscious. My forehead has felt odd ever since, but as I have dropped into that feeling, it coming up on it's own, I felt small parts of the nausea I had felt and the sensation in my forehead. That feeling seems to be getting less.

    Beneath this feeling though their lies something else, where I seem to want to make a cry but without sound. Actually there were three incidents is my guess. First the beating, then the beating from my mother where I went semi-conscious and then something more first line. Sometimes in the first feeling I drop down and start to cry "mama". Then there is the silent cry. My life feels devastated. I am close to tears now and I am remembering a dream in which I was in a house and could not escape and everything was dark. There was a woman in the dream and a little girl was crying I asked a question of the mom and she told me something important but now I have forgotten what it was. When I escaped the house the car I went to to leave was buried in mud and I couldn't leave. I had waned to run away from home a lot as a kid but didn't dare.

    There is a feeling of helplessness that seems to hold me, I remember now that my mother had lost her first girl child after she lived for only a day. She would tease me and ask if I wanted her to put a "bow" in my hair. This made me angry. I had a dream as a child that I had hid under a couch and a lady was crazily running around calling out "horse" "horse", I suppose I had heard that my mom had been kicked in the head by a horse while a child on her parent's farm.

    My dad was cold, when I hugged him if felt like hugging a totally disinterested person. I had an imaginary big brother who had a loving family and I was always dreaming he was looking for me to bring me to them but I would be running from them but so lonely I imagined a boy my age to run with me.

    Now my feelings start easily with tears when I watch shows about being a hero because I wanted to be a hero for my dad so he would love me. It seems as one feels things they begin to straighten out in a line with things slowly falling into place and deeper feelings felt. Now when I think of the picture of France and think of how she wrote to me, I cry. It seems I had a need for a dad, and under that an even more intense need for a mom. My "mock" primal therapist lady told me other young people she treated called her "mom" but that I couldn't. I wasn't ready yet. The therapy was expensive and short.

    Now sometimes I wait for tears to come and then I find where they lead. I remember crying when my wife divorced me, when it was final, announced in a court. I wish everyone understood the liberation you bring, the increase in the sensitivity of your heart, the ability to see others and truly love them, to weep not just for the times you weren't loved, but for the times when you missed a chance to love your children and others.

    Feeling is a trip not into the bizarre except to be released from it, a journey of heart where the mind but listens and slowly clears.

    Thank you for starting your wonderful therapy. i don't know who reads these things your readers write but to you Art and France you have been life to me, the one light that showed me I wasn't just some pathetic inferior damaged soul, but a heart and mind that was hurt and that by feeling could be one more light in the world to help bring humanity to love.

  7. In my therapies (4 of them during 10 years) I came to realize that this fear of death was really a fear of LONELINESS. I have rarely been depressed. (in my case it was mostly high anxiety.) I think because all sorts of feelings were allowed in my childhood home. (my ma was very well read on psychology. Although not being a psychologist herself. She had read both your books and the books by Alice Miller. And heaps of other books.) As you may know the word "depression" comes for the Latin "depressere"=press down. You have been forced to press down a lot of feelings during your child-hood. (not ME though. Never knowing how unusual that was.) MY trauma was A WHOLE YEAR IN HOSPITAL as a 2 y o. But what could my parents DO?? Not keep me home! I was ILL. (it was 1952-53. And I gather you have seen the films by René Spitz or Robertson. And read the books by John Bowlby. Wards for children back then was almost like Auschwitz.) When you feel loved the wish for death suddenly disappears. AMD the fear of it too. Amazing isn´t it? :o))

    1. I have to add a little something. I talked to a priest the other day. She said that suicidal thoughts occur when the person can see no way out. And of course this is true. To die may seem as a way TO ESCAPE PAIN. (which feels intolerable.) "If I die all this pain will be over". How STUPID then to put such a person on psychiatric medication. What does THAT help?? (mostly only represses the pain. Which is what most so called "psychiatry" does.) (my guess is these psychiatrists haven´t dealt with their OWN pain. So they shove patients away not to be reminded of it.)

  8. "The most important discovery mankind has done in any area"!

    I must die in order to come to life... the signature of what it contains to come to life! Who wants to sign it? No one who still have not felt the cause and consequence for it!

    Silence around it might be able to sign the content by the scientific evidence of what the physiological circumstances proves... it as long as the suffering going around and suffers without any help from professionals in the field!?

    A boulder that rolls with a tremendous force without perceiving its energy is what we are faced with at the question. To stop it... it's been proven how! But who can understand when the question is addressed to the wrong part of the brain... a brain that protect themselves from the issue?


  9. Art, all you say is so true, so true. I see this in my mother, my father, my wife, myself and my son. I think people with not relived trauma shouldn't have children.

  10. What proves that we should die? Well... we need proof because we do not feel... that is way we can not perceive that we are going to die... unless we are mentally ill... which in turn will not be seen as some evidence that we should die... more that we are crazy. We have a wealth of "soothing" cognitive perceptions about gods and hell for not ask the real question of death (not to talk about all medications defense against panic of death). It is what it is all about panic! Why do we not use the word panic in the sense of reporting symptoms? It's panic... we can not even think clearly about issues that handles the scientific content of the case.

    That the mentally ill are more closely the experience of dying could perhaps be an intervention that alters the perception of the symptom? Who knows? It's already so crazy it can be for how to treat and perceive the problem around feelings close to death... as symptoms now is an explanation about mental suffering.

    Yesterday... in the news told of the failure of psychiatry here in Sweden! So maybe it is time to act to change what suffering is suffering from... and now even worse... as now told in the news no psychiatrist understands what it is all about!

    How would it be if we introduced other issues of what symptoms reported? Accelerate what is already going on around the dissatisfaction for what psychiatry is far from living up to.

    If we dont do it... who would we then believe would do it as we are seen as the enemy to defend against... defend against that death does not exist?

    Being nice and diplomatic to more questions than pointing with the whole hand for how things really are around the psychiatric expertise... it is an loss we already lost... we do not need that loss anymore!

    We will die before we even come close to the issue of dying and thereby we have set ceilings to cover the entire world of being mad by our silence... it against what the roof on the psychiatric wards could actually answer... it to help the world out of its scourge.


  11. OFF topic.

    Dear Primal friends:

    During this Christmas season, which is full of the usual commercial superficiality, there is still much that is wonderful provided to us from all the great artists of the world (carols, movies, paintings, etc...), starting with those who wrote the original Christmas story in the Bible.All this has partly led me to a renewed interest in getting into music in a deeper way.

    So,lately, apart from listening to more music, I have been looking into various writings about music, the supreme art IMO. And as usual I have been disappointed by most writings and their the detached hyper-analytic discourses about this powerful medium. There are many mysteries here: why should sounds affect us emotionally, can music be used as an adjunct to therapy, etc?... But then most of these "explanations" seem to water down the basic root of music, feelings ; they don't seem to be "equal" to their topic.Interestingly some of the more ancient writings seem to have more to say that is meaningful than modern philosophical and scientific writings. I would not go all the way and say to the scientists: don't try to explain music and the effects on our souls, just enjoy! But close...Before leaving, I would like to thank Art Janov for being "equal" to his subject, feelings; that's why he gets through to us, I believe, and we consider his discoveries seriously.That's why he can apparently point the way to a deeper life than what is offered by an ignorant superficial society that twists and distorts us, starting with our parents, and whose goal seems to want to become as robot-like and unfeeling as possible (and proud of it!).

    As a Christmas present, I leave you all with an amazing very moving song,rich in feeling, "Never Explain Love" by Al Jarreau (performed originally at the end of Spike Lee's movie "Do the right Thing"). Enjoy..


    1. Marco, Thank you for the lovely words. art

    2. I completely agree, Marco. I recently attended the new episode in the star wars saga. Though notably dissappointed by its chore wrongness, its bold emptyness, the mere listening of John Williams' soundtrack was the key reason my eyes were filled with tears. Those imperishable majestic strains took me straight back to some still misty stages of my childhood and I felt immediately in the urge to crying out weird memories left behind, even those of feeling connected to our species homo sapiens ups and downs along the path of evolution. That of course happened because I am used to letting the feeling mode be turned on. So music is absolutely the ultimate thread to our feelings. Besides, crying makes me feel soo good now that I've learnt it does not last "for ever."


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.