Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Mysteries of Some Behaviors

One of the great MYSTERIES escapes most of us:  why is this child so anxious and out of control, so incapable of doing school work, and mostly hangs out with the wrong people?  Gets in trouble all the time,  several auto accidents,  takes drugs and cannot be counted on.   Recognize him?  He is you neighbor, the guy down the street or the person who works next to you.   He is unstable  and cannot do anything , any project or task, for any length of time.  He is anxious and skittish and very unreliable.   He, and less often he, flits around and cannot be pinned down.  Often leaves a trail of destruction everywhere he goes.    He can be charming on the surface but when it gets deeper he is a mess.   Cannot keep a relationship for any length of time.  Never count on him; cause his word means nothing.

Yet he had stable loving parents who blame themselves.

So what is wrong?  He suffers from ineffable damage so early as to be unimaginable.   His mind is a cesspool of inputs that drive him hither and yon.  What inputs?  The damage inflicted by an unsuspecting mother who drinks many cups of coffee a day, or is highly anxious, keeps on an unhealthy diet, drinks alcohol, etc.   Each piece of damage is imprinted and sends its message through the system that there is impairment there.   It keeps the mind busy dealing with all that information, which is ultimately distracting and plays into ADD, attention deficit disorder.  It is like a phone operator sending the top level brain unending messages which overwhelm its  possibilities for integration.

He is often labeled a psychopath because on the way in the womb towards life on the planet, his limbic/feeling system has been damaged and he no long can feel for others nor empathize.  The imprint impairs the limbic/feeling system from keeping feelings alive and expressive because it too is flooded with damage information.   It keeps him from being stable and being able to maintain a long-term emotional relationship.   The damaged limbic system won’t allow long-term emotional commitment.   And the developing brain begins to lose its adaptability and plasticity in infancy so that the earlier damage cannot be changed.  Any intervention to be effective at all must occur during the brain’s most dynamic growth, just after a trauma occurs.  After that not much can change.

Even with his parents, who soon learn that they have little influence on him or his emotions .  We may blame his parents as they may blame themselves but the damage is done before he was born, and they could even touch him. He is behaving as though his parents made him suffer constantly, which they did, only inadvertently.  They certainly did not mean to but their own pain made them act in deleterious ways toward the baby; taking drugs, or drinking or smoking.  And it happened during the critical period when the damage from an anxious mother, or one who smokes and drinks or fights with her spouse, is deeply embedded, inaccessible and practically irreversible.…..the imprint.  Therein lies the mystery; an arcane memory lying in the antipodes of the mind out of reach and out of touch, so it is a mystery.

So we therapists have been taught to reassure our patient that it is not her fault. Relieving her of any blame but maybe it is; maybe it is by default; not in her control, at least not in her awareness.  It happened when the baby could not scream, or complain, just silent suffering which shows up in force later on when he can behave. And he does.   Do not try to control him because he is not in control, or rather, he is controlled by powerful forces sending out messages of constant pain.  It continues to drive him in every direction possible.  He cannot pay attention.  What do we do?  We drug him, not for what we think is wrong but to cool the imprint which has gone awry.   What is controlling him is far more powerful than any control by teachers or parents, who complain that he is out of control.  We drug his neuro-biologic reactions to calm him down. Sometimes it works for a short time, but not for long.

My God!  What is the solution?   To attack the origins of it all; I know of nothing else to do but to relive the trauma fully, as painful as it might be.  To relive in small feel-able bits over many months.  That, for me, is the only solution.  Otherwise,  we have to keep pushing it back, an endless affair.  And we cannot just approach the imprint quickly; we have to feel many other feel-able  memories first, and over months before we can approach the deep imprint.  There is where the deep pain lies, we have measured it in many ways, much higher blood pressure and heart rate and changes in brain frequency and amplitude.   That level of pain won’t let us attack it directly; we need to approach it with great caution.   If we don’t we will get the effects of rebirthing: greater damage and more irreversible pain.   This happens because we dredge up great pain which arises out of sequence and is overwhelming and can never be properly integrated.    The unconscious is no place for charlatans who decide they know to do and they don’t.    


  1. Hi Art. you say the brain can't be altered much after the original trauma? I thought recent discoveries showed the brain is much more plastic than we previously thought?


    1. Erron, the brain is pliable but the imprint is pretty implacable. That is why we stay pretty much who we are. art

  2. again last night... lying on side. falling asleep, but falling into sensation...
    could it be that deep down there there is no terror, no orgasm... just pure intensity that is hard do stand more than few seconds.. a power source that up there can make into many faces.


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.