Sunday, May 22, 2016

Where and What is Neurosis?

 I will imagine that most of you will think of strange ideas and beliefs.  But neurosis, a high level of unresolved pain, is everywhere.  And above all it is found in those who are not very athletic.  Not dexterous, cannot easily put the finger to the nose or hit a tennis ball.   There is a lack of agility and coordination.  Does that mean that all great athletes are not neurotic?  Not at all. From early on that were approved of that proclivity and learned to overcome whatever handicaps they had.  Many do not.  In an average tennis game one can see it among players.  What they do not see is where it comes from. It turns out that harm during gestation and birth sways physical abilities later in life.  In other words, lack of coordination begins before we try to really coordinate. Who’d have thunk it?  And what helps this?   What would you imagine? Lots of close and warm touch. A rare oddity in neurotic families.  It seems as though we can ameliorate some imprinted damage with love.  Not a lot of undoing, no total reversal. But some change. There is a lesson here for those who underwent a blocked or deviated birth:  lots of love right away and for a long time.  Sleep with parents who hug and kiss often.

Neurosis has uneven effects depending on when and where it happened and where it landed. This reminds me that wherever we look at early trauma we see neurosis in all its forms. It lies in breathing problems, in chronic tiredness, in dizzy spells and some seizures; we find it in hyperactivity and in a myriad of other afflictions.   The symptoms settle in and become chronic.

Ah now! What keeps them going on and what is it that we ignore in treatment?  The cause is always there; it can be observed. And it can be extirpated.  Think of that, as we go on trying to find solutions, yet we do something instead. Give pill after pill without any thought to causes and to ending them.

We can do it now!  We know what to do and have known for decades.


  1. You are describing me to a tee, I have always had poor motor skills, as a child I was constantly falling down in school, with ripped tights a regular occurrence, this culminated in me falling face first in gravel, with other children falling on top of me when I was possibly 7 or 8. Though funnily enough the emotional component of this memory is non existent.

  2. Feeling Pain; Growing Fingers and Dissolving a Neurotic Life Pattern

    The principles of Primal Therapy / Evolution in Reverse, as I have interpreted them, have worked excellent for my specific needs. They have helped demystify my epilepsy / birth trauma, dissolved my neurotic life pattern and helped me understand / internalize why evolution saves our lives by eliminating / repressing unbearable pain. My cure, overall, has been a holistic process where body and mind, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes separately, have been involved. My three union brain has become significantly better coordinated and my feelings have been given a more natural influence on my intellect and vice versa.

    My physical coordination has to a surprisingly high extent improved. I have experienced how allergies have dissolved and how fingers and toes, after the 40s, have grown out to their original potential (before being inhibited in a traumatic birth trauma). I had and, at a lesser degree, still have, since many years, a feeling, below my fit body, of not being fully physically grown. A feeling of being weaker and minor than I really am. Examples: I have had too insensitive fingers when I would hug and caress someone. “My emotional feeling did not reach all the way to my fingertips”, which I unconsciously compensated for by putting more pressure.

    For decades, I looked for and dressed in clothes that were just on the verge of being too small. Just right size or slightly too large clothes brought my feeling / pain of not being fully grown. My neurotic disability made me a perfect employee in the corset industry, which those days , before modern day slimming madness took off, was about lacing too large bodies in tight-fitting underwear. In this industry, I spent, successfully, my first 10 years before my career took off. I am nowadays enjoying baggy trousers and large shirts…

    I found no direct coverage for my undeveloped physics and my feelings of being too small in the Primal Scream and I did not become wiser in these matters during my first few months at the Primal Institute. Coincidences /moonlighting in the biotech industry, brought me, however, to Boulder, Col., and I attended Ida Rolf's institute with deep tissue massage even though I knew that PI was not for it.

    “Physical individuality is shaped by the forces of life - how we were born, when we learned to move, experiences, accidents, mental and emotional sets. All of these leave a record in our mental and our physical memories.The more you watch people in front of your eyes, the surer you are about how people can get stuck in childish incidents, or birth incidents, or for all I know pre-birth incidents. You see it right in front of your eyes. Through Rolfing, it begins to be possible for a body to take on what we consider appropriate adult form. Then the person continues on psychologically, and develops.”

    These, by me often quoted, statements, together with the Primal Principles / Evolution in Reverse, have been my lead stars when I made my journey from being a physically hampered, repressed person with leaky gates / epilepsy, who had developed a neurotic tool bag with a large arsenal of short-term survival techniques into a reasonably well-cured person with good vital signs.

    For me, the combination of primal therapy and Ida Rolf's method of deep tissue massage was a big step on the road to understanding my repression / epilepsy and my equally inhibited and uncoordinated body. Janov and Rolf approached the problem from two opposite directions. In both their written communications, it appears, unfortunately, that they do not accept each other's methods. To cooperate was, therefore, probably never an option. Fortunately, neither of these therapies prevented me from combining the two and achieve a result which, for me, was better than the sum of both.

    Of course, they could do it together. Why have they not done what have seemed obvious for decades?

    Well, after having read “Beyond Belief”, I think I am beginning to understand!

    Jan Johnsson

  3. People spend a lot of time growing up trying to "correct themselves"; one thing gets corrected and then another thing has to be "worked on". Others seem to "breeze by"; those who aren't neurotic or those who didn't go through birth trauma. The situation, if one has money, can be solved through Primal Therapy.

  4. Was feeling my long forgotten need for my farthers love again yesterday, and how painful it was to hold onto so little from him for so many years, in the hope that If he shows me a skerrick of love I might get more. So I waited 40years hoping for more and squashing down my need . ....just sharing my journey in case it helps anyone else with theirs.

  5. Janov writes that neurosis "above all is found in those who are not very athletic". That hit home. Well I definitely am one of those although I did play sports consistently and regularly with friends all through my childhood and early adolescence, and was not known to be very uncoordinated. No one ever marginalised me for that. It was all great fun.

    I am different from most men in being less muscular, more artistic and intellectual.The classic cleavage in our society.The majority males into sports on TV, babes, money, gadgets etc..bug me, and I bug them.I suppose some synthesis of these two types could be considered healthier, but rare that is. Perhaps in some artistic circles: guys like Bruce Springsteen or Marlon Brando,or persons like John and Robert Kennedy ( "If more politicians read poetry, and more poets got involved in politics, the world would be a better place" JFK . How often do you hear these Obama, Clinton, Trump alpha males recite poetry in their speeches?! yet... they go out there and do it,however superficial their visions, and I sit at home reading poetry..and doing nothing politically although I want to).

    Even though not massively uncoordinated, I have been a bit uncoordinated all my life a la Woody Allen , especially in stress situations .Sure we can laugh at the bumbling bespectacled type,especially if that type actually does it for a laugh, but, really , it is NOT funny! I bet you Woody Allen is not that happy a person, even though he can make light of despair, lack of success with women, and existentialism, etc...It would have been nice if less people had laughed or felt uncomfortable at my stuttering for example, but don't expect that from the majority of insensitive dopes who populate our society.

    Another mystery to me is why so many women are uncoordinated in sports, unless trained. Perhaps this is an unwarranted generalisation and sexist, but we have all seen women throwing a ball limply in a softball game. Is that part of their bodily nature , or is it due to their neurotic upbringing in our society?

    Let me say that I am much less uncoordinated and prone to stuttering in the last year due to various exercises I did devised by Alexander Lowen who created Bioenergetics, especially one called the Basic Grounding exercise (grounding of the legs as a measure of emotional health is a concept Lowen created, but it would be too involved to explain here ). I had not done these exercises for my lack of coordination, but for some foot problems (fasciar plantitis?). Much to me great surprise I walk with so much more ease and coordination, and can handle stress situations better with much less stutter (and my feet are almost totally cured). Lack of coordination must be seen , I suppose, as just one symptom amongst many others in some neurotics ,in a holistic way. My coordination and stuttering are better , yes, but I have not sensed any great improvement in all my being from these exercises, so maybe this is all symptomatic relief of specific symptoms, but it sure does not feel like it!

    I'd like to end with a powerful hopeful quote by Janov from the introduction to his "Biology of Love" which I am re-reading carefully with great great interest these days:

    "Lack of love leaves us with the constant feeling of not getting much out of life,not caring very much if we live or die,because we can't feel the life we are living. So many individuals seem indifferent to their own death because life holds so little for them.I think we know why that is."
    Arthur Janov



    1. Just wanted to add that this lack of coordination will affect someone's ability to feel and express themselves in the arts,I think, even more of a calamity than hitting a tennis ball competently.It takes a subtle coordination of soul and body to play an instrument with feeling ,from what I can observe (not that I have ever played an instrument so that statement may be wholly or partly worthless). Notice how accurately a good drummer hits his drums, or a pianist various chords one after another.Sure it takes practice, but if there are excessive tensions in the arms and hands as bodily contractions and defenses, how can you ever hit it just right? I've noticed a better response physically and emotionally to music on my part over the years as my body has opened up.


  6. An email comment:
    "I think of how this afflicts communication and how you can easily see it in facial behaviors. It seems that feeling your pain and knowing about it and seeing how people communicate well or fail to, leads to seeing the traces of neurotic pain others. This makes me feel sad and sometimes I wonder if our world's population might be shortening the life just of individuals but the longevity of our species."

  7. I did not belive I will ever die because I did not know about the existence of death and still I am there. I have long since repressed dead! Otherwise is dying a natural physical process far from thinking about other things not to catch up with it... death as I carry with me without perceiving it.

    I can only be so afraid of death as when I was exposed to it and I am still alive for what ever that means. Anxiety of death... I have before me are memories that leaks from my past. Otherwise... is death that I have before me a sad story of what life I have been missing!

    I think the intensity in experience of anxiety for death is the ultimate part of primal therapy that is the end station for not having to return to a neurotic life!


  8. As a three year old I developed Petit Mal. I have a sense that it had something to do with trying to be ahead of myself ; neurologically more advanced than I was. It was a feeling of over excitement that couldn't be integrated throughout my whole body, as if my head was saying I need to go faster and my body was saying I need to go slower. So I would be running and trip over because my head wanted my body to go faster than it could co-ordinate.I would suddenly loose control of my movement and topple off my chair in the middle of eating breakfast. I had to take Dylantin for three years. I did recover and never had another Petit Mal episode. However some of those neurological patterns are still with today on a very subtle level. For example I try to go faster when learning the piano. When I'm running through my scales I get excited and want to go faster. I have to remind myself to slow down in order to co-ordinate fingers and brain .
    Lately in my primal process my bodies been shaking and shuddering a lot. It feels good to let it do so and not control it any more. It'll be interesting to see where all this shaking stems from as I believe it has something to do with the roots of my Petit Mal, and how feeling it changes my co-ordination at the piano. As a matter of fact , measuring people's co-ordination before and after therapy would, I believe provide strong evidence for the efficacy of Primal Therapy.

  9. Stephen Hawking said something that should be spread over the world. He said ... "How will people be able to understand democracy if they does not understand science?" In other words... if they deny science they also oppress the democracy!

    I can not see a better expression of what political system in the "spirit" of democracy must stand in ranks!

    Perhaps is the political argument the right and only argument to achieve success around the primal therapy's scientific content?

    So a contact with Stephen Hawking might help us along the way? I wonder what he would say about getting "Epigenetics and Primal Therapy" sent to him?


    1. Hi Frank,

      I'm not convinced the 'banner' of science has sorted out the snake oil (which so often claims 'scientific validation') from the genuine medicine. There have been some damn good (usually botanically derived) palliative medicine / drugs. Some of these are so good that 'science' has not been able to distinguish between real cure and (damn good) palliation. There are deeper reasons for this that Primal Theory answers, but you have to be bothered to really investigate it, to almost be your own guinea pig.

      Democracy proves only that 51% can rule over the other 49% and I think the problem for Primal and Science is that 90% of people just cannot fathom either science or primal.

      In Art's earlier posts he made the point that the real difference between his 'theory' and other peoples is the 1st line; the imprint & critical window.

      It's at this very boundary that people effectively fall into denial (I am no exception). Quite simply put: The 1st line doesn't have words or theories so, if and when we speak about it we are always talking in riddles. People only like riddles as a game and pastime. If people need their own insight into the riddle to solve it most simply cannot be bothered. . . If you spell it out to them, then you have also robbed them of their own potential insight. . .

      I am writing about Epigenetics on farce book and to be honest it's a lot like talking to a brick wall ! People just don't want to go there; it totally messes with their sense of personal free will and autonomy. . . It's disturbing to many. That's not to say I have given up talking about it; nor has my style remained the same.

      Being American and in California Art has been able to address the issues head on by continually referring to 'feelings'. But in UK and other parts of the world that word is anaethma.

      We have to become sophisticated orators to get the message across; we have Art and others such as Alice Miller to mentor how we express the issues. . . To learn the 'dialectic'. . .

      Ho hum, still trying. . .

      Paul G.

    2. Hello again Paul!

      "Democracy proves only that 51% can rule over the other 49% and I think the problem for Primal and Science is that 90% of people just cannot fathom either science or primal".

      I think you're talking about the majority and not democracy? Democratic thoughts arise in connection with feeling for others... we share with others if we can... and be helpful to others in situations they can not handle. Being democratic also means sacrifices for what we ourselves may need help one day and being democratic does not need to be in the majority to apply... it can occur in small groups.

      Talking about democracy in the context of science means that scientific context for democracy has a scientific explanation of well-being... which I think our bodies clearly show if we were to look at the different subsatnserna of wellbeing. The question to be democratic is to question for not being it.

      Your Frank

  10. I hated myself as bespectacled, skinny, gawky, uncoordinated teenager. I "tried" to play sports and basically got my ass kicked repeatedly. This just added to my own sense of failure as a human being reinforced by good ole dad. Is poor vision related to Primal pain? I always had friends though because I could be funny. Being funny was my defense against pain and it always got me through my darkest hours. Now, as an older adult, I can be the creative self I always aspired to but never got any encouragement for. I was "good for nothing" most of my life but have now tapped into my real self and talents.


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.