Friday, March 4, 2016

Still More on the Act Out

What I offer here is surmise, not proven fact but I have seen enough cancers to give me some idea about it.   My belief is that the very same trauma that caused the cancer may be the cure for it, as well. That is, there is an embedded memory deep in the brain; it is strong enough to devastate the brain because it is of first line origin, and it is there in the brainstem that powerhouse feelings are lodged.  And some cancer causes, as well.   If we can extirpate that trauma, and new research on methylation seems to indicate that we can, then we can do something about cancer. The rarity of cancer in our long-term patients is added confirmation of my point. Those incredible feelings which cannot be believed until seen, can alter the biologic and genetic trajectory of the system to change minute cells. I have long ago postulated that possibility of breast cancer in those women who are flat chested, not because of that but because possibly, their genetic destiny for larger breasts was blocked and diverted.  There is then constant pressure toward one’s proper destiny which cannot fulfill its biologic purpose.  It is the surge toward normalcy, an intact system.  The biologic impulse toward being normal is always there.

Biology is destiny, as the saying goes.  I prefer epigenetics is destiny; much more accurate.   It largely sweeps away that genetic destiny and replaces it with a new biologic system, and perhaps an heritable one.  That system, by definition, is faulty because it evolved out of damage.

Here is what patients say about their act out:

“I think there may be something to this...
 I am certainly a shallow breather - always have been - and I feel a need to conserve emotion, I would say.
 All I know is my mother had "gas and air" (NOX with air) when she was giving birth to me. I doubt that would have led to any extreme trauma for me as a foetus trying to get out but would be interested to learn anything to the contrary.
 That said, I think breathing is central to how we experience life and will undoubtedly reflect our earliest experiences.”

 “I have had Primal Therapy back then to get rid of all that tension.
I recall a dance class I went to straight after a Primal Session , where the teacher didn't recognise me because my movement was suddenly and unexplainably, free of tension and full of presence! Also I wasn't dancing to get her love anymore, but for the joy of feeling.
 Primal is the most truthful and healing form of dance and movement therapy .
 A lot of dance and movement classes are teachers acting out their need on their students. How can they not? Especially sad when it happens to children.”

“The way we breathe depends on physical and mental memories.
 My breathing, I have often touched on in my blogs over the years. It was dramatically disturbed / affected in the neurotic / conscious, protracted birth trauma caused by my mother. I was locked in the birth canal for 48 hours. Therefore, many of my act outs and subsequent therapeutic treatment experiences have come to focus on my breathing.
 For several years, existed a repeated pattern, during my birth primals, that I fell into a deep anesthesia. This was aggravated gradually that I hyperventilated fiercely and suddenly not breathing at all. This condition lasted a good while and I struggled desperately to get air but without success. Suddenly, I gave up and felt myself drowning / dying. Consciousness returned weakly and slowly. I had been through a primal instead of an epileptic seizure. The feeling of anesthetic pressure released slowly. I experienced a total relief and liberation, first physically and shortly afterwards emotionally. My breathing was relaxed and parasympathetic.
 During more than 20 years, I made early each morning push-ups (2 x 125) at my fingertips with my feet on a table (my way of freediving). During each of the two pushup series I held my breath. Besides Carbamazepine (Tegrotol), these act outs were my way of keeping up my ego and reduce my anxiety of my problems and then especially the epileptic threat. I used my abdominal muscles in combination with my pushups to displace anxiety and tension associated with a stressful and demanding work career. This defense tied to my breathing, which I have developed over many years with great willpower and discipline, was certainly the heaviest reason that my two years at the Primal Center in LA did not lead to faster visible results.”

OK. I get it.  It helps.  And that is why so many of us are addicted to horror movies.  We go to a theater prepared to be terrified (as close to the terror of a first line primal) and then we watch in horror;  and then we escape safely.  But still we get to scream and yell, releasing some of the emotional part of the original imprint.  Again, we have reawakened the Primal demons with impunity.  For some, it becomes an obsession. Aah.  What a relief.  Terror is the attraction.  It pulls us in because we can go back to the (original) terror so to speak, without the terror.  We know we will be safe afterwards.  So we go through the birth trauma without the trauma, only the feeling part.  Because it lacks the original content there is not the terrible terror involved.   But symbolically it is close.  Listen! Feelings pull us in.    That means that so many obsessions and compulsions are sucked into us by the imprint.  It makes us compulsive gamblers and eaters, and drives so many neurotic behaviors.   If we are always in terror and don’t know it then we won’t try, won’t get out and do something new. Won’t approach a stranger and talk to him. Takes forever to make a decision;  so afraid to make a mistake.  Fear runs his life.  He becomes a “loser”  because he will not grab opportunities, hangs back, and in the presence of strangers he acts like he did as an infant,  holding mother’s skirts.   He needs emotional support at all times, and now we know why.

It does put a new perspective on dangerous sports, i.e. car racing. The crowd looks for crashes to add to the excitement of something gone wrong (near death re-experience?)  But often there is no death or serious injury, and we all relax.  It is the analogy over and over again.

I don’t want to leave out the act-in.   There are those since infancy who hold their breath when anxious or surprised.  Still others who cannot catch their breath when upset.   Others with asthma who often have breathing problems and also cannot catch their breath.  Especially those who lose their breath when anxious and have to lie down.  The permutations are endless but it is all about breathing and not breathing.    They are often the minimalists who hoard and never buy too much, and save and save. …in case.    With reliving over time we resolve the act-in and act-out against the very same imprint.
Again, one has to go back and relive the original trauma, exactly.  No way around this. It was never lived fully at the start; cut off by repression when the pain got to be enormous.  

Has anyone noticed that when shocked, people put their hands over their mouths? Not an accident; it is part of holding back breathing, a return to the prototype.  When scared originally we stopped breathing as death approached; that became the template for later reactions.

The act-in results from having so little chance to behave against the trauma of being pinned down, unable to escape the womb.  The reactions develop inside,  and become the act-ins.  They leave a prototype of physiologic responses and certain kinds of afflictions such as asthma.  A lot depends on the nature of the birth and specific weaknesses of the system.  Most certain, a  lack of oxygen at birth and even before leads to blood vessels constricting to conserve supplies.  The act-in may be migraines; and sometimes the treatment for it is..?  guess what?   Oxygen.

The leitmotif often can be, “Something is missing but I don’t know what it is.  I think I will eat more or make more money.”   I will try to fill a void I don’t even know is there. Something is surely missing, and when patients get down to the deep brain they finally know what is missing, and the obsession with food or money stops.

Here is one recent case of obsessions and shallow breathing.  A woman over sixty recently had a birth Primal, reliving birth.  The forerun was dangerously high blood pressure and fast pulse.  (190/101…..pulse 97).  She often had to take blood pressure medication to bring her vitals downward.    What she found through reliving was that her imprint of anoxia was breaking through and raising her vital signs.  It was telling her that her embedded memory was pushing.  Of course she was a shallow breather.   After her reliving her vitals were again taken:  149/125 and pulse of 64, a vast improvement but not yet normal.  It wasn’t pills that could normalize her; it was feeling and reliving.  Previously gate her pain but could never touch her imprint.   Sometimes during the end stages of her Primal she could return to heavy breathing and begin the process of normalization.  She tried again to get air.  Before, she gave up. She became a hiker early in life in order to breathe deeply and get air in.  It became an obsession; more and more hiking.  Until her knees gave out. She did have cancer earlier on. The doctor told her she had to careful for another 5 years to be considered out of the woods.  Now she knows why; the imprint is still there doing its damage.

Who could dream that a serious imprint deep down due to lack of early oxygen could help produce a cancer decades later?  Pills suppress the pain but never touch the cause.  It hides it well.  That lack of oxygen remains with us and agonizes all of the time.  It does its damage sotto voce.  And will never tell us the truth until we travel back in history to where the damage lies.  Only then do we learn that the simple truth is revolutionary.


  1. Act out is probably the one thing that I still feel I don't get it ! We do or do not things in our life to avoid feelings that we can't see. We do or do not things in our life to avoid the fear that we can't see. We can only see the act out when we get over it. What is the direction ?

    1. Hello french!

      You just said it... "what is the definition? How do we define experiences about discomfort? Changing behavior is an elementary order when we do not suffer from anxiety and depression that we are seeking care for but then it's more like we are the pain... it without the understanding. "We can only see the act out when we get over it" no we live it... we "just" have to open your eyes to it! Yes. .. I agree with you it is not easy to see the forest for the trees ... we have a very good word for it "struggle"
      I wish you all well!

      Your Frank

    2. french, you answered it. it is a mystery. the point is to find ourselves in environment that will allow the adventure.
      life is not about knowing in advance. sticking to a plan. no fun in it. it is not adaptive too. so it is not expected from a patient to know it. nothing is expected from the patient. this could be one of things that helps find the direction.

    3. To be defined as a patient distinguishes us too much from ourselves! So let os leave the patient outside and make room for what we are... we will come much closer to how we look at ourselves if we exclude detours!

      Let me say... we are living a shade from perceiving ourselves... in the way we distinguish elation from suffering. To think differently about our behavior can be enough to discover ourselves. We just need to break with what we do in the faith of what we experience satisfactory or to be professional and we begin to suffer! How do we find it? We do it when the changes our behavior... it is not mysterious or far away. Or so we wait until our defenses of how we are experiencing satisfactory does not work anymore!
      Stop drinking alcohol... stop using depressants and drugs... etc... etc... etc and you are right in your suffering a shade from yourself. That's how a shade separates us from the reality of suffering... pain. It is the beginning to feel who we are... what we do in the faith of satisfaction in "need" of satisfaction into pure hell!


  2. Every step we take every move we make is an act of defence!

    "Also I wasn't dancing to get her love anymore, but for the joy of feeling". What a relief it must have been for you Art!?
    This sentence is our every day life! I dare say our because it almost belongs to all people. There is nothing for anyone to argue if you were allowed to prove it! That we live by our attempts to get love is proved by the many behaviors... but difficult to be proven and difficult to be recognized... because it is what most people's everyday is and from there part of a given system's fundamental task... fundamentally in the sense of avoiding suffering. Ask me... I know!

    Yesterday I read a book for my little daughter and suddenly I experienced the content of the text... which become a completely different world to step in to. I felt how my reading more become part of the history and the performance which I used to read with... how it was lifeless. I saw how my daughter reacted... how she she immediately wants to sit more comfortably to be listening.
    The feeling I got was a warmth and closeness not like any other.


  3. Hi Art.

    Re: vital signs.

    I have a rest heart rate in the high 80s, or around 90. Conventional medical sources say that a normal rest heart rate can be anything between 40-100, or 60-100. What is your experience and opinion on a normal heart rate? I gather it's not as high as 80 for example... kind of like 98.6 F probably isn't a normal body temperature.

    1. I have no hard and fast rule but nearly all patients find that their vitals drop; most certainly blood pressure and body temp. Usually the temperature stays below 98.0. heart rate drops about 10 beats per minute and blood pressure descends below 150/100 in those previously hypertensive. art Often the drop is greater.

  4. Hi Art,

    the heart rate thing reminded me of another thing. In one of your blog posts a few years ago you mentioned that you never knew you were anxious until you started taking beta-blockers. I was like "huh?". Well, I was recently prescribed beta-blockers to help with the physical symptoms of my panic disorder. So, I always knew I was anxious, that was no surprise... but I started getting uncomfortable dreams/nightmares after I started taking beta-blockers. Then I read the side effects list. The most common side effect? Nightmares. Doesn't that sound weird? Nightmares from beta-blockers? It doesn't make any sense - unless you start thinking about it from a Primal perspective.


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.