Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Twice More on Addiction

So the New York Times is again running pieces about addiction with the same old tired results;  conclusion  “We do need to rein this in“. Thus spoke not Zarathustra but  Dr. Lynn Mcpherson of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. (see She would be right if we are addicted to drugs.  But what if we are addicted to needs which requires drugs to calm  them.  Would we say that about any other procedure? With no idea what her need is?  Need changes the problem immediately and alters our therapeutic approach.  No one takes pain killers over and over if there is no need for calming and soothing.  Let’s see: pain equals need for pain killers. But what if we see no pain?  Then of course we think pain killers are the problem.  And why don’t they see pain?  Because all they know is that in order to help rein in drugs they recommend going to a safer way; cognitive therapy (yes, it is recommended); it is all in our head, they believe, and therefore a therapy where we can turn our mind away from that need should do the job nicely.  The implication is that it is a bad habit, an attitude that needs changing. There is no understanding of deep pain or that it is imprinted in the brain and body.  We just need to “get over it.”  Said by those whose defenses work marvelously.  And if we become addicted we need better defenses; against what?  It is not said or acknowledged.  But pain from lack of early love seems to be off limits.

What does lack of love mean? Above all, early hugging, kissing, cuddling, protecting, teaching and other signs of carrying about the baby.  It is hard to visualize the amount of pain in the lack of their fulfillment but it is enormous; we have only to observe the reliving in our therapy of needs gone unfulfilled to understand it.  This is true of childhood life, of being ignored, never talked to, explained feelings and emotions, to be perceptive for the child’s moods and needs.  To be empathic and not denigrative when the child cries; to be encouraging without driving the child to fulfill parents’ needs.  To be understanding.

On a deep, earlier level, to make sure the child is not bustled about, fed correctly,  no drugs for the mother, or alcohol and tranquilizers.  This is essential as those drugs enter the fetus and create havoc; the need to escape from an input that is terrible and consistent—a chronic smoking mother.  When the child is not loved he is in pain and that pain is constant and unrelenting.  And, hidden.  The earlier the trauma the more deeply hidden it is.  When child is made anxious by an anxious carrying mother and then gives birth with heavy anesthetics, inescapable by the baby, he may be born terrified—no escape, cannot get out. Then at age two, left alone in the dark with no one there to hold and soothe him, his terror grows unceasingly; and sometimes, crib death is the result.  The result of the latent imprint fear and terror.  Sometimes the gating system kicks in and the deadening of feelings works.  Other times the pain is overwhelming.  The gates become leaky and the child is hyperactive and later becomes ADD. He cannot focus or concentrate and cannot sit still.  Mind you, we still cannot see the terror inside the baby; we can only infer it and still might never know where it comes from.  At age 20 she becomes addicted.  To drugs?  Yes but because her needs drive it. That is why I say that the addict is addicted to needs first. They drive it all.

Because, I submit, deeply sequestered anguish is off limits for those who treat.  It is not within the limit of their conscious/awareness; it lies off their mental boundary.  Feelings are not considered because addiction is “bad,” they are misbehaving.  And to make it true, the addict is often forced to go to street dealers and mingle with criminals.  Or to shooting-up galleries where other addicts hang out.  Some do steal to support their habit because they have been reined in from getting drugs legally.  Yet their bodies seem to know what they need.  Yes they do overdose because they are not medically supervised and are left to their own devices, and above all, they use street drugs with no idea what is in them.

The pain we are dealing with is so remote and so deep that it is far beyond the usual psychologic boundary.  For our adult patients, they are no longer infants in desperate need which eases a bit of the catastrophy of lack of love. To be held and cuddled right after birth is absolutely essential, not just something correct we must do.  And if it has gone missing, then a reliving is in order. Why? because the need remains and is unresolved until lived fully.  It needs crying out for fulfillment even though there is no fulfillment possible.

I have treated patients all of the time who tell me, “What’s the use they cannot love.”  And I say, “Your needs and feelings are what is at stake here.  So try… beg them to cherish you, to hold you and want you, even if they have never done it.”  That is what is liberating--feeling.  The unfulfilled need is blocked and held in storage deep within the brain.  That is why we don’t see it and deny it. And then we are off on a cognitive voyage trying to find what’s wrong; and we never ever do.  So if we don’t see it, it does not exist and we go on finding this solution or that, never dealing with the primordial cause.

To see outside we must first be open to the inside of us.  That I think is an obdurate law. So long as our iron-clad defenses work we will not be open to inside feelings and needs.  That is the function of defenses; to close us off from inside.  And we will then be struck with a heart attack or other kinds of afflictions with no forewarning.  Now look at our parents who were so closed off; did they have all kinds of medical problems?  Those early imprints were still at work manufacturing symptoms to be dealt with which were reminders of unfelt feelings and needs.  The imprint won’t let us go. Those needs and their pain from lack of fulfillment are embedded into the brain and biologic system and never disappear on their own.  They own us.

The rulers of current day therapy and research reminds me of the painting of the kindly old lady staring at a rose when a gorgeous  nude girl hovers in the background.  For the professionals they continue to look outside for clues; and believe that taking drugs is a sign of weakness, giving in to impulses. Rarely do we see any attempt to measure the latent pain levels in the system to see whether heavy pain killers are necessary.  In no other field of medicine do we give medicines without  a full work-up of the level of deficit or oversupply.  Why in the case of painkillers do we pontificate, leaving science behind, about their evil.  It sounds like a religious cult in a tent survival meeting defining the evil that lurks.  Where? Why inside of, course.  And it remains an unknown, a danger.  Recommendation? Reining in the drugs.

Interesting that when describing a so-called enemy, they are usually from outside wanting to harm us.

There are ways to measure imprinted pain.  One way is through stress hormones.  More important is the new field of methylation. We can measure pain by the process of observing methylated traces on the gene; and we can also measure its lowered levels with our therapy. (Research in the future).

What needs reining-in is a therapy that urges reining in. The incredible level of pain is not seen because of the type of their therapy.  I mean another type in their armentarium is Behavior Therapy; the unreflective extrapolation of one’s childhood family life;  all deviant behavior is not driven by anything but bad intentions.  We see this deviant behavior and we dance around it with all sorts of theories as to why; except one: pain.

So what is left?  Unfulfilled need.  How do we rein that need?  In the simplest way possible; we feel it.  Due to its load of pain it could not be felt at the time.  It is an old, primitive need that must be approached carefully, and never with drugs or other aides  such as LSD which blow open the repressive gates.    A need so archaic that it can hardly be described or conceptualized.  We rein-in needs that have resided in the antipodes of the brain; wordless and tearless.  A silent killer that waits its turn a lifetime for its need to be felt and fully experienced.  experience.  Imprinted pain leaves its traces on the gene.  And those traces are methyl, the processs of marking the spot Is called Methylation.  And we believe we do indeed rein in that need through demethylizing the basic cells.  And when we do, we diminish or stop the addiction in its tracks.  We address and reduce the unfulfilled need and with it the pain engendered.   All this because we can go back, find the spot and its circumstances and live the pain for the first time.  We have observed it and measured it through many different avenues:  cortisol, natural killer cells, vital signs and other biochemical. We can tell when the Primal is not real and certainly not resolving.

We have had success in eliminating pain but we will not do it on an outpatient basis.  It needs careful control and supervision plus a process that addresses the imprint.  The latter is what is missing with the therapies done in addiction centers.  All that is lacking for them is science.  Do they do biochemical controls, natural killer cells?  Stress hormones?  No. It is booga booga medicine, joined at the hip with medical centers treating addiction who also seem to leave science behind.  All remain on the top level, ignoring even that deep levels even exist.

What we will look for in our therapy are changes in neurobiology to verify what we are doing. Our job is to stop the terrible suffering, not just to replace it with this false piste or another.  Addicts are hurting and need help, not in an addiction center masked with lovely surroundings and great food and exercise, but with a therapy that recognizes their pain and does something about it.  May I suggest Primal Therapy?


  1. Dear Dr. Janov

    Nice article reiterating why people should do your therapy instead of combating symptoms endlessly without a cure. The only problem is I don't think neoliberal societies such as the U.S. give a shit about unmet needs or childhood pain, rather the emphasis is soley on productivity. Cognitive therapy is meant to restore functioning only.
    Life is cheap in the new world order, and now even Western societies are plagued with millions of people they dont know what to do with.
    In the old days it was one man one gun, but even that is redundant now.
    The U.S. answer is to put people in cages, execute, deport, or just ignore "problematic" people until they are destitute. There is no discussion in society why so many people die before they reach old age, and except for a few private initiatives there is no movement to prolong or even enhance the quality of life. Instead it is everyone for himself as good as he can. In this regard the "socialist" societies of Europe are much more humane. The social net of i.e. Germany is much more comprehensive than the American. U.S. society is the least empathetic in the Western hemisphere.
    Costly ill-affordable American health insurance policies will surely not pay for Primal Therapy and will opt for a inexpensive quick-fix alternatives.
    The decades long obfuscation by the mental health and medical community regarding your therapy has successfully hindered its spread and popularity.

    1. Hi,

      -thing is about cost, have you noticed how much the various health institutions are paying for all the drugs, technology and so called expertise they palm off on patients? I mean, that rather obfuscated relationship between palliative & cure available in the mainstream medical world, often with bad results, well that doesn't come cheap does it?

      Paul G.

    2. Mathew,

      'Profits before people' is inevitable in a capitalist system. It can be no other way. If you don't worship the bottom line you will rapidly lose market share and eventually not even exist.

      It can lead to some sick outcomes. Like the fact that you can never truly relax at work because you know if something happens and you don't make good economic sense - goodbye livelihood and goodbye all the people you called friends where you work. Again the bottom line is the only line.

      We don't even have democracy because the capitalists back all options. The best (latent) politicians are the ones you would not and realistically cannot even hear of. And our education systems are (and always were) created by capitalists too. You learn to be a highly productive taxpayer. That's it. Again your politicians who write public policy are extensions of capitalists.

      But be careful how your take your socialism. Often (usually?) it's just protectionism. And the result from the latter can too easily be a Venezuela.

    3. Paul, Cost of booga booga treatment for addiction is between 60 and 80 thousand dollars a month in california. art

    4. Well, that's a rip off and the whole cost argument is irrelevant. Which was my point. There are similar rip offs here in UK. It's a total straw man argument. Why buy into it?
      Reading Beyond Belief has collided with my own ideas about social justice. How ironic that Primal 'avoids' Social Science whilst generating new Social Care. . .
      Like so many idealists I had a silver spoon in my mouth and I know how the 'wielders of the spoons' tick.
      It's all the same old, same old, by restricting the satisfaction of human need (at any stage of development or in any sector of society) you gain more control of people. If you are the one in 'charge' pretty soon your aims to serve are replaced by the need to protect your position; which is predominantly involved in 'restricting or promoting supply'. It's like medieval warfare and the logic is feudal. It is the Lord's narcissistic supply too. . . That is a double entente by the way.

      To be clear, it's the 'blue collar / white collar' divide. This correlates with that boundary where we don't want to linger. It's where we learn though, an initiation through the effort and will to study and learn.
      For those that don't know manufacturing (or the military), the blue collar workers are the technicians. Generally they are the really skilled ones needed to meet the needs, they have usually committed to a long apprenticeship. They are indispensable, or should be. They generally try to get the white collars to support their efforts along the way. . . But we all know the actual truth is far different in most modern manufacturing, military and medical institutions. Thus the social science of the day has come to reflect only the sympath view that 'work sets you free' and 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'. . .

      To my mind feudal is actually nouveau riche. The king promotes a few and they get to 'Lord it Over' and try out 'new ideas' on their subjects. Without any real training and experience, carrying also their own imprinted messages of unmet need, they behave like pirates or very incompetent 'journeymen' whilst wearing a suit and tie. They use psychotic projection to masquerade as 'Leaders'. . . If there ever were latter day examples of that, their images and words certainly surround us on TV screens, posters and social networks. . .

      I'm rambling.

      Paul G.

  2. Hi,

    following on, bloody labels eh? But I remember Jack Wadington saying in a much earlier post that unless you've had a strong emotional experience like a primal you just would not 'understand'. . . Thus to explain to someone who has certain particular traits what feelings (& sensations) are all about, requires the juggling of mighty tricky symbols. I mean Art's posts are great but even if certain types read them what do they understand other than a 'reflection' in words of someone else's experiences?

    To my mind there seems to be a threshold of experience beneath which some get access to and above which many remain (blissfully?) unaware of. This 'line' is perhaps also the brink which Katherina pointed out we don't want to sit next to for too long. It's either 'in or out'. This then generates a 'no man's land', a grey area of territory in which no one want's to stumble.
    And that sounds so much like an act out going on in UK politics right now regarding membership of the EU. Can we 'get out' or should we stay in the embrace, the 'arms of Mater'. . .

    I often find myself wondering if it's the sympaths who are always trying to escape? Art says they're the ones who did actually 'make it out' but what have they imprinted in them that seems to make them so utterly unreflective (if & when they are, and they do seem to me to be so quite often)- about getting out, about having achieved this monumental act of self determination, of 'independence'?

    Apparently my Grandfather was an agent for Rolex before the war. He had a crass metaphor: "Some people are 'self winders' & some need winding up"-. . . It's kind of true but what happens when the watch breaks, do the self winders have the solution? I don't think so, the self winders break or go wrong too don't they. . ? Except maybe they don't 'go wrong' until something really bio molecular finally 'lets go'. . . I don't know, I'm no expert.

    I wonder where this 'threshold' is? It would seem really important to try to understand this. Most of all because perhaps one cannot wait until after several months or years of attending the Primal Center to find out. . . I am suggesting there are palliative insights along the way to the Picket Gate regarding these issues. Maybe to get to that gate one needs some better developed 'sign posts' regarding the issues of 'sympath / parasympath. Does the Corpus Callosum have anything to do with this?

    Paul G.

  3. Hello Art!

    A suffering person is akin to all who suffer... so you help not only one through your blog... what you must understand is that many... if not almost all can't hear you for the obstacles they face through all the professionals who ASSERT their right!

    You're not just talking about a need for drugs! How would it be if we started talking about something truly troublesome as professionalism is a drug that prevents the primal therapy to be justified... it is a problem without equal.
    If those who see themselves as professionals do not have to stand up to their addiction that not only expose themselves to danger... but also all those that they claim to help... what do we do!?

    Art... do you think your report of addicts will get professionals to change their minds when they are so much further from their suffering than the patients who believe they can get help from them? A professional has his pride in his dependence and it's not something you touch in attempt to tell them how wrong they are. Everything you type tells us how wrong they are... they have no way out... except when they themselves begin to suffer so much that their pride is no longer sufficient. For how long shall they have that right?
    It seems to me that we have to start where the barriers represent the obstacles we have to face in order to achieve what a revolutionary process will bring!

    I know you say you are satisfied with helping a few... it's great... fantastic... but all those who can not share your help as others put a spoke in the wheel is it ok?

    We will die together with "professionals" for what addicted to drugs presents professionalism!

    Forgive me if I sound accusatory but it's just hell out here that must see its day for what suffering it causes.

    Your Frank

    1. Frank: Good line: how can professionals help when they are further from their pain than the addict? art

  4. An email comment:
    " Thanks for writing…

    I get crazy when i read things like that… There is no way in hell Doctors or pharmacists can rein in addiction…

    They have already lost, and eventually they will have to legalize all drugs. Because society can no longer afford the cost of keeping them illegal..

    Their approach to treating addiction, is just to put addicts on more drugs, and when the drugs they put them on like Suboxone, become a drug of abuse, they don’t even recognize it. They don’t understand putting addicts on drugs to treat addiction does not work. They like to pretend, their patients have some mysterious illness, that they are sick. That they are the healer who will treat them by writing them a prescription for a medication, that will cure their sickness… Invariably, their patients go out and overdose and die… Or they stay on drugs for the rest of their life. Drug treatment has about a 1% success rate. People who quit on their own without any treatment have a 5% success rate. NIDA, knows this but it won’t publish the statistics, probably because they think it would discourage people from getting help, but its also bad for business. 12 step groups claim a 20% success rate, I think this is because they are against the use of drugs in treatment and this allows endorphin levels to rise naturally. Meanwhile the United States of America consumes more drugs than all the rest of the world combined. Psychiatrists typically know next to nothing about addiction and street drugs.. Since they run the treatment centers, and the hospitals, and decide who gets treatment paid for by insurance companies, its practically impossible for drug involved people to get real help, only more drugs. Maybe thats why prescription medications now kills more people each year in this country than street drugs. "

    1. And the facts on what produces drug addiction is clear. Child abuse.

      And that's not just Primal Theory saying that, but empirical findings. There is no debate...

      Yet the topic of child care still gets nothing of the attention that it deserves.

    2. Hi Andrew,

      -because of the 'litigation'. . ? Primal Theory offers some solutions there, but not because anyone could go to court about it. It's fear of vindication that drives denial.

      Paul G.

  5. Hello Art and France
    It's good that you are still there.


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.