Sunday, June 5, 2016

Why Primal Pain Endures

New information again seems to document that pain memory lasts a long time.  (see Kings College London.  "Cells Carry Memory of Injury". See,-which-could-reveal-why-chronic-pain-persists.aspx).  We have known that for fifty years but new research shows us where and how. The fact remains that early injury and its suffering carries on perhaps for a lifetime. They don’t just carry on; that continuously do damage.  And the cells send information of the damage and its agony to higher levels. This was a study on persistent pain in mice. They found that damage changes epigenetic marks on some genes of immune cells to mark the spot; they carry on the memory of trauma. The investigators wanted to know why pain becomes chronic; and they are searching out the nerve pathway that carry pain along. The point is that there are neural mechanisms that make pain endure.  We don’t just get over it; it is now part of us. Certain nerve cells become much more activated. The problem is that with pain they remain in an hyperactive state.  It is not only in our minds but everywhere inside of us. And the adaptive damaged cells keep in replicating themselves.

Notice, I did not say, maladaptive cells. Because maladaptive is the way damaged cells adapt. To carry the idea forward,  we need to get to those pained cells and experience them fully so that we can now adapt normally. They point out that neurons acquire epigenetic footprints that affect key proteins.    Those pains seem to  insist that we must face the pain and react fully.  Otherwise, after a fully reliving why do cells return to their normal state?  It is a matter of unfinished business; we cannot neglect our biology and hope to be normal.

The problem is with most enduring pain we do not know where to look or how deep to go.  So instead of doing what we should, feel it fully, we push it back and hide it until it comes out in a different form: cancer?  Same pain, different expression.  Same epigene, different phenotype.  It is not always helpful to look for different causes for different afflictions; they may be the same.

I have noted that Primal memories are not inert.  They do not lie here waiting to be discovered.  They agitate and gnaw away.  Recently in a Ted Talk there is a report on nanoparticles “trained” to enter the body, search out developing cancer cells  and kill them, all in microscopic space (see  These particles know what their job is and they don’t forget.  Our own immune cells clearly have the same kind of memory; they try to do their job but imprinted pain overwhelms them and prevents them from discharging their “daily rounds.”  How do I know?  When we reduce the pain in the system through one year of Primal Therapy the natural killer cells increase; the same kind of cell as those nanoparticles I wrote about.  Deep pain prevents us from being normal and acting normal and having our biology behave normally.


  1. Hello Paul!

    A reply to your comment on the blog "Why Primal Pain Endures"

    To be aware of what I do in my efforts not to suffer means everything to succeed in my therapy!

    If I can not connect all of my deviant behavior here and now in my process of therapy I will always fail! You can not skip a part of the road and think that you will arrive. I think this is where the mistakes are made because they are so subtle in the process of survival! This is where we need help to keep from falling into the disastrous experiences... as the lost part of the road has such consequence.

    At this writing... so this applies to me too.

    Your Frank

  2. Chromatic Scale vs. Electroshock Therapy.

    I have written about my dream about the chromatic jazz scale (A Different Way Of Using A Chromatic Scale). It was not a one-off. My primal, often begin when I enter rem sleep. During the last two months, at two occasions I have re-lived how my head during a primal suddenly is hit by electric impulses, an utmost painful feeling with certain similarities to my first petit mal fits in my late teens. My primals nowadays are far less painful than before, so the first re-living of electroshock treatment was just that, a shock and surprise, when I finally after 3/4 of a century had the strength to experience it.

    “Electroconvulsive therapy (ETC) was introduced in Switzerland 1937 och was already 1940 widespread and Nobel Prize nominated. Electroshock is a psychiatric treatment that involves electrocution of the patient and putting the patient into a seizure. Mainstream psychiatry argues that electroshock is therapeutic and alleviates mental illness. Many electroshock patients receive the treatment against their will. Psychiatrists also claim that electroshock is safe during pregnancy and give the treatment to pregnant women. A study in 2007 (!) found that electroshock during pregnancy can cause brain damage to the fetus!” Surprise!

    Thanks to my new addiction (learning to play the saxophone) I have found out that I / my brain are strong enough to re-live the effects of a treatment which, fortunately, never got the Nobel Prize. With less luck and with a more old-fashioned neurologist than David Ingvar, I could have been treated with an even worse method, lobotomy, which, outrageously, won the Nobel Prize, 1949, when 20.000 lobotomies had been performed in the US alone. This treatment was applied to a daughter of friends of our family. She died within 2 years.

    Jan Johnsson

  3. An email comment:
    "Bravo! Great article. I have shared this as usual on Google and FB and Twitter. They can't keep ignoring you work...

  4. My damned brain binds me from feeling! I hate the bastard... even if it once saved my life because now it is on its way to take it away from me. Fucking thoughts of crap without any sense. I'm so fucking tired of it!



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.