Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Are Primals Real?

Other than the testimonies of many patients about the reality of the Primal experience, there is also our research.  We filmed those reliving early pain at the UCLA Pulmonary lab.  While in the primal, reliving a lack of oxygen at birth,  patients had what I call locomotive breathing.  It sounded like a freight train and went on for over twenty minutes.  The patients neither got dizzy nor faint.  But in an experiment later with no reliving I had them breathe deeply for as long as they could.  Within a very few minutes they started to get dizzy and were about to faint. So what was the difference?  Why did heavy breathing make them faint in one case,  deliberately trying, and not in the other where feelings were coming up to be fully experienced.    That is, not trying for  a feeling.

The difference was a deeply embedded real need for oxygen. The patients were back in their baby selves trying to keep from dying from anoxia. It was not an exercise directed by a doctor but a need from inside.  And that was the difference. It told us why there was incipient fainting among all the research subjects, and it informed us about basic need.  Those were not faked actions but something organic and historic.  It demonstrates the difference between Primal and following directions from the doctor; such as “Tell your mother”, or ”Scream at your father for his punishing you”.  Those are useless because they originate higher in the brain in non primal situations, and do not reflect the brain and time when the punishment  occurred.  Following orders and feeling one’s past are two entirely different things. They reflect two different brain systems at work;  one is healing and the other is alleviating but not resolving.  We must talk to the right brain; the one that does not talk but can feel.  The mature adult brain cannot do it; the harder it tries the worse it gets because it remains alienated from the patient’s own history.

It is no different from patients who cry and cry over long periods in our therapy. Once opened up they cry for the thousands of tears they could not express at the time.  And the tears are real as is the sound of the crying.  Fake cries have a hollow sound with no affect behind them.

That separates Primal Therapy from other approaches.  If we want to reach the patient’s early history and what happened to him we must engage the brain active at the time of the original trauma.  This is precisely why cognitive approaches cannot resolve and cure.  We are dialing in the wrong  brain and trying to get it to do what it cannot do.  Feel.


  1. Dear Art ,
    Have started my studies for a BA Psychology. My first topic is 'Can ' talk therapy' cure severe depression ? Boy am I glad I found your peer reviewed journal article ' The Mystery Known As Depression' in the Activitas Nervosa Superior 2013. What a breath of fresh air to read your writing.

    I'm still scared to take an open stand and say I'm standing with Janov on this because he knows and I know he knows.

    Why am I so scared to take a stand and be open with my class mates and lecturer that I agree with Dr. Arthur Janovs work.
    Well I've already quoted you in my research and it feels so good!
    And I will be keeping you close in your writings and comparing all other authors to your work as I go to keep me from those who have given up on a cure for depression and anxiety.

    I know how to access my feelings, now I need to excercise my brain and sharpen my intellect. And bring them togerher.

    I'm doing this to get the qualification necessary to help share the feeling healing process.
    I havn't given up on coming over to do the training but can't afford to stay in the US longer than one month . But as a Psychologist It would be possible. Anyway I'll keep working on it.

    Thank you for all your encouragement and help.
    And all your writings and research.


    1. Katherina, I am really proud of what you are doing. I wish you all the best. love art

  2. Ps. It was a huge step for me to go to uni.
    I was and am so scared. But I won't back down. I want to stand up and say ' your wrong' and your not going to make me wrong anymore. It's a big feeling ....I feel so small. I know you would understand. Thanks for listening

    1. Katherina, I really do hear you. It is a big unfeeling world out there so, as they say in French, Courage.

  3. I don't have to prove something that's already been proven.
    Thank god you already did the research.

  4. Love is something else than what you ever just can think of! Love is beautiful and free from suffering... it is in its relationship as close to someone you can get... free as the wind can pass by!


  5. Hi Katherina,

    I think the 'talking therapy' should be for the talking therapists in training to understand why they talk. Then, maybe then, they would understand why talking is limited to their thinking and cannot help them feel. Unless it's in the Primal Theory framework.

    The whole thing is a circular 'discussion' until the Primal reality is applied.

    Paul G.

  6. Hi Paul,
    Great to hear from you.Today I'll be viewing my first lectures in psychology and right now I'm thinking,how can Psychology call itself a Health Science when it ignores science? No one talks about Primal Therapy research in Psychology. Am I supposed to pretend the emporer has new clothes? That would be akin to having a delusion. It's looking like the science of psychology is having some delusions.
    Anyway my lecturer is posing the question, Can ' talk therapy' cure severe depression? I feel like saying, Why do you even need to ask this question? And if you don't know, why not?

    Thanks for pointing out the circuitous aspects of the discussion.

    Grateful for your blog


    1. Katherina, You will love my next book, the Psychology of Everyday Life, coming out in the next few months. art


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.