Sunday, May 29, 2016

Why Don't We Know We Are in Pain?

First of all, it is a pain that doesn’t hurt. At least you don’t KNOW it is there because it is a long way from feeling and knowing,  both in time and space.  How can we know we are in a pain from  a time that pain is installed years before KNOW came into being.  And that pain is lodged deep in the brain far away biologically from where KNOW lives its life.  We only know we hurt when KNOW meets feeling and embraces it.

Who makes the first step?  KNOW should but only if it is clear that imprinted feelings exist.  Otherwise, how can we KNOW it?    I mean how can we know that certain headaches (migraines) come from a birth with diminished oxygen?
There may be  a thirty year span between the event and our knowledge of it.  But there is no gap at all between the  gap and the experience of it.  Alas, the gap is covered over by chemicals that are designed to shut down the experience of pain.  They cannot block pain; only the experience of it so that we don’t know we are in pain. That is why we become addicted to pain killers while none of us knows that deep pain exists.  If we know it exists and try to feel it, repression rushes in to block the terrible hurt.  Blocking becomes life saving.    It keeps us from undue suffering and being overwhelmed by it.    It helps us go on solving problems in math and physics but never solving what is wrong inside of us.  Strange, we can go on looking into outer space but never delving deep into inner space.  And somehow that  fixation on the planets may be driven by something deep inside.  For now, this is surmise only but a surmise based on years of clinical practice.  It seems to me that the more far-out, and deeper the pain, the more far-out the interests.  That is why those who come to me after many LSD trips often have  a “One With The Cosmos” ideology.  It is a sign of flooding of the  brain circuits.  Once that happens, any idea seems to be accepted and adopted.

The more people experience their deep imprints the less the force of the strange ideas. That is called, “getting real”.  We can test ourselves; when we fervently believe in some Indian Guru or far-out beliefs it can be a measure of hidden pain.    It is systematic in those who have taken hallucinogens; those drugs lessen defenses and allow the brain to be overwhelmed.  The results are psychotic ideas.

Can you imagine being afraid of tight spaces at forty and the birth trauma?  Usually,  that seems too weird a notion. Yet it is accurate as by now hundreds of patients have relived being squeezed into immobility and act-out the need to keep moving.  Even being inside a tinted-glass, silent car can set off a panic attack.  And most certainly, an elevator ride can induce anxiety.  More; when patients truly relive an early even the vital signs move up and down in coordinated fashion. Not so, in abreaction or going through the motions of feeling without experiencing it.

The reason we cannot pinpoint it is because those who live in their head are often charged with finding the kernel of the problem; they search for concepts and theories for answers; exactly where it does not exist.  Those far from their feelings cannot imagine where the answer lies.  Why?  Because the pain drives people away from KNOWING about feeling.  Remember,  KNOWING means pain and that means repression and not knowing.  So what a dilemma.  Those most erudite who seem to know the most, actually know the least about the problem at hand.  That problem is first and foremost, feeling.


  1. Re LSD: I had a short term girlfriend who told me that she has had lifelong psychological consequences to a or some LSD trips that she had over 40 years ago! As for me I had enough bad trips just from the weak weed of 30-40 years ago so I was always afraid to try anything harder (the marijuana these days is MUCH more potent!). Not that LSD or mescaline was around in my circles, but even had it been, I would have refused. Once some jerk offerred me LSD and I said no. This made him mad, imagine! That in turm made me furious that anyone would try to pressure me!I have never been one to conform to peer pressure. And to think that this guy became a New Age type chiropractor with all sorts of New Age knicknacks and crystals, and living in the country in a round hippy house and all the rest of it.

    Incidentally, it was Janov`s remarks on marijuana in "The Primal Scream" that first turned me on to his works. It was the first I had read anything that made sense of my bad trips on marijuana.


  2. Hello Art. No wonder and how convenient then, for powers that be (were?) to keep posting news about far distant planets they say may host intelligent life (whatever this may be) as we experience it here. It is consistent with the dark agenda aimed to keep sheep in the fold. I still believe Life can be healed again on this planet. We as newcomers sure cannot be found guilty of the so called global warming of a 4500 billion year old planet. I wish both You and France all the good you deserve. Lars

  3. How Pain Can Be Translated / Intellectualized Into Beuty / Feelings / Emotions.

    Why Don't We Know We Are in Pain? That is today's question in Janov's Reflections. Yes, it is certainly interesting that the lack of awareness / consciousness is a fact. It demonstrates the rational intelligence in the process of evolution, which maneuvers the majority of us through life, with success, though, at the price of suffering. Most of the works in our daily life, like arts, politics, business, etc., are screaming out their statements about the pain that are inprinted in us, all the time without a break.

    Bach, Picasso, and Janov are outstanding people who are among those who are / were in pain, suffering something they didn’t know much about. However, they used their pain to “intellectualize their feelings” and in art, music and literature express the dilemma of the human tragedy. They do it with a beauty and sensibility which gives our lives a meaningful experience. It takes different beliefs, not only religious, to survive in a cold, negligent and often loveless world. The aforementioned, pain propelled, beautiful spirits are special through their ability to capture, to counterpoint / interlace the beauty and tragedy of our short lives. Their neuroses give us satisfying experiences, while evolution grinds on.

    Johann Sebastian Bach came from a musical family, was orphaned early, but got through his sibling's help, first-class musical education. Throughout his life, he used, in the fight against tradition / zeitgeist and religious control his ingenious musical talents to express his own inner beliefs despite the fact that the church and the established powers were his superiors. He developed his creativity, musical talent and knowledge of music to the point where it grew out of the protestant church's religious possession and became everybody’s emotional musical heritage of today. Although - thanks to - being discouraged and criticized, he used the church / contemporary official worldview to show the tragedy of all our pain propelled / bloated complacency.

    Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born into an established family of artists and devoted almost 90 years to drawing and painting and fascinated his surroundings with a never-ending ability to express his naïve capacity. A severe trauma, a violent earthquake, combined with the sister's complicated birth in Malaga when he was 2-3 years old characterized left imprints, in the work of art, which his artistic talent expressed. Picasso's success became prolonged due to the constant renewal of his pain propelled symbolism and thanks to the exponential / absurd growing economic valuation of art in the last century. Picasso, who was registered communists into his death, is probably the artist, all categories whose works brought in the most money. Again, a reflection of the beauty and tragedy of the neurotic human trauma.

    Arthur Janov was an unloved son of immigrated Russian peasants. He was an “asphalt-flower” from a metropolitan ghetto, who with the Navy’s / WW2’s help became prepared for a work / life, in various mental institutions with people with repressed pain. We needed him to understand / access information about the difference between a good or bad life before, during or after birth. It has required an extraordinary amount of repressed pain / empathic intellect to create an economic wealth / independence that was invested in the explanation of the lifesaving ability of evolution to repress what threatened our lives. He took us on a tour beyond our and his own belief.

    No pain, no gain!

    Jan Johnsson

  4. Why Don't We Know We Are in Pain? I would add as an answer because we've been told very early by our parents or grandparents that we were not, when we were crying or begging. Making us lose our ability to feel hurt, to express our pain, to feel.

  5. Reading Beyond Belief at the moment. About political leaders : do they act out their needs of everything by giving false hopes to people to make them vote for them or are they doing it on purpose because they want power to act out their needs ? There is a need for more equality in societies around the world and among people. The différence lies in the intensity of the claim for a better society, isn't it?

  6. And I would like to add that the trouble with your work is that it's revolutionary on every aspects of our life in society...that's why you try So hard to keep it on the scientific/psychological side 😊

  7. About what you wrote in BB about people raising when hope doesn't work anymore Maya Angelou's poetry Still I rise. Sorry no link to share it but easy to find.

  8. Feel before you know to much!

    This is the first time I register that I do not feel good in my body. I can not say that it is anxiety... it is just a sadness... it's as if my whole body crying... a grief without limits of its "announcement". There is a big difference between anxiety and what I am experiencing... a sadness that is my self... my body... it seems as if that is what I am... sorry of all what I am.


    1. I have heard this lately. From people who are older than 25 and I do believe a lot of it also is from the way life is now. The future, to look at it now, and do see what people are doing to America it gives one a sad feeling. Now along with birth trauma, one has to deal with people who are just plain not willing to try, not willing to resolve their problems, not willing to be kind, not willing to believe that we as a nation can turn this mess around somewhat soon. We must go "against the grain" in a way, because many of the youth of today are not growing up well; and it is a sickening feeling. Of course, one cannot "take on" the atmosphere of today's generation and today's world; just one more fight.

  9. in·ef·fa·ble
    adjective: ineffable
    too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.
    Art, in your writings this word comes to mind. I know you've used it in the context of description or explanation of your therapy.
    It is what Primal pain is. An ineffable sadness unexpressed. Having the insights gained from knowing and experiencing this pain, I can see in others what is so obvious now to me.
    I want to whisper in their ears and say you are in a pain you are not conscious of or to. The world goes on obliviously to it all looking into the stars.

  10. Hi,

    -"Those most erudite who seem to know the most, actually know the least about the problem at hand"-.

    That's harsh, but I know my erudition helps me let off the pressure from my ADD. That can take all morning. How many people use social media and 'blogging' for that eh?

    Paul G.

  11. To all of you who know so much... but do not understand a thing!

    If I can not bring myself on my trip in my therapy how will I then ever be able to succeed with it? What is then myself? That's all I can not be at the psychiatric and psychological institutions for what they fail in their own therapy!

    I am doomed to remain sick for what they failed to understand primlaterapin!


  12. An email comment:
    " Art: Another great article. I watched Stephen Hawking on PBS about "Genius" and his attempt through some experiments with three ordinary people attempting, as I saw it, to prove there was the genius in all of us ... if only we could get our 'heads' around it.

    Sad to see him with all his motor skills absent, from Lou Gerrick's disease.
    Some couple of years ago I wrote to him with a view to turning onto feelings but was unable to get beyond his gate keeper. I sent him my book "Feeling Therapy: Real Health: Yourself" but to no avail.

    My mind boggles at the Neuro Physiological departments of the medical profession. Where are they at; not seeing the absolute simplicity and logical progression, that you put forward with Primal Theory? It's almost criminal.
    Human kind, I fear, is on the brink, and now with Donald (duck :) ) Trump if he makes it to the White House; I'm outta here. It saddens me no-end."


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.