Tuesday, September 13, 2016

On the Difference Between Abreaction and Feeling... The End (Part 15/15)

  We Are Specialists of Joy, Not Pain

 Primal Therapy is no quick fix. We are attempting to redo someone’s entire life. It will be done in a slow methodical manner so as to never overwhelm the patient and make him suffer all over again, as happens with abreaction. If he can experience just enough to have a full experience that is enough for a session. We do not want him to suffer any more than necessary. He will suffer when the pain comes up arbitrarily, prematurely so that he cannot integrate it; the pain hangs there in an ego-dystonic fashion (Freud again), meaning alien and apart with pure pain that cannot be made ego-syntonic or integrated.

 So why do we have to trace back our evolution again? One reason is that we never sever anything permanently in our evolution; we suppress the old and add on the new. Sometimes the primal pain vestige is so powerful that it exerts a constant force that disrupts our functioning. In my patois, the first line erupts and surges higher. Then it has to be dealt with and relived. I call it “intrusion,” an imprint so strong that it interferes with our personal evolution and our current functioning. We see it in physical symptoms and deformation of organs and growth; we see it in diseases such as hypertension, cancer and heart failure that are actually offshoots of the central damaging memory, locked in as an imprint, out of reach and out of touch. This is also the case with Attention Deficit Disorder where forceful imprints constantly surge toward the top level to disrupt concentration and attention processes. Remember, earlier, I explained that evolution always moves the imprint higher so that first- line damage may be expressed on the upper levels of brain function, where attention and concentration are mustered. Training a person how to concentrate is not the answer; feeling the force that scatters thoughts is the answer.

 Once we lift the repressive lid (done in orderly fashion) there is no longer unconscious forces driving behavior and symptoms. And as repression lifts, the patient’s truth becomes self-revealing. Bit by bit his unconscious tells him what he needs to know, but not too much, just enough to integrate the pain and its information. His orderly descent into feelings eventually informs him of what it all means. Everything he needs to learn is already lying inside of him, waiting for discovery. It must come from inside, never outside, just as the feelings were laid down by the system and not by executive order.

 The aim is not insights; it is change in all aspects of the person: his behavior, biochemistry, neurology and feelings. We are after total change because there was total change at the time of the imprints. We want normalization of the whole person. We are not there to give love; we are there, paradoxically, to help patients feel unloved so that they recapture the ability to feel and then can feel love when it is there.

 If a therapist needs to be loved he will act out on the patient and give him what he, the therapist, never got. He has become a “pal” not his doctor. The patient feels loved, it feels good...and he loses! Or there are great discussions about music and art and politics, and the patient becomes an intellectual pal, and again he loses. He has been transformed from a patient who needs treatment into a good friend. Nice idea but very wrong. We are not there to give love; we offer kindness and caring but also science. We don’t replace science with pseudo caring. We adhere to key principles. The patient begins to suffer; we do not rush in to stop it and make him feel better. We don’t do him any favors suffocating the pain with “love.” His feelings are about real suffering. It must not be tampered with. That is the part he has kept hidden for years; it must come out and be experienced. Then we will be free; free of that pain which has made him depressed or anxious for so long. The patient is himself at last.

 It is dialectic; he has to feel unloved so as to unlock the feeling gates. He will never do that with therapeutic approval and warmth and understanding. He will get that after the feeling, not before. When he has made a breakthrough, we rejoice with him. It is not just about pain; it is about contentment, ease and relaxation. It is about joy. It is what we want too for them; why else do the therapy? I received over fifty letters on my birthday thanking me and my staff for saving their lives or improving them greatly. That is the reward and the meaning of our lives. We are not pain specialists; we are joy specialists who need pain to help joy along.

 There is a reason the patient has to feel unloved. He needs to go back to the open sensory window when “unloved” dominated. That is the essence of our therapy; travelling back in time and undoing the original damage. We cannot do any better than that.


  1. Thank you Art for all your efforts.

    This is all much clearer the second time around.

    I hope your injury get's better. Arnica?

    Paul G.

  2. Dear Dr. Janov,
    Thanks for your valuable insights! They are life-changing. You deserve the Nobel prize...many times over.

  3. Aside from family and "good" friends, lately, in this world...many times, one doesn't feel any love anyway, so going into therapy without love ...oh well. It's the distraction, the distractions and interruptions that take over....whether they are apparent to the "normal" person or not. Love is important and that is what helps with what is now ADD. Love is important to have, but in therapy....Primal Therapy, one knows there can be no connections (love, feeling) at that time, .... cannot be at that time. Possibly it is also the organization in the therapy which helps a great deal. To feel somewhat some kind of organization, and then after the therapy...comes connections and love, these are important in living today. But as Bruce Springsteen's song "Human Touch" ...."the world just strips away". If one cannot get Primal Therapy, ....it is a struggle many times.


    A little late I came across one of the most beautiful and meaningful of Janov's blog articles (at least to me): "Just Three Little Words" (Aug 19, 2016), an article that should be published not only in books and magazines, but on the op-ed pages of every newspaper of the world to remind people of what really matters. But that will not happen because the world is pursuing false gods and is going to go off a cliff eventually....

    Well my parents never told me they loved me, and they never will (they are still alive and about Janov's age). I don't know if this turmoil I regularly feel inside is related to that, and I may never find out and be relieved of it. For instance, I had a nightmare last week in which someone was maybe going to kill me. Such nightmares happen once in a while, not regularly though. I wake up in fright but also with severe back muscle spasms, the first time in decades.(Spasms now gone thankfully).

    Other people who regularly remind the world of what really matters , from the margins of course, are most artists. Just last week I saw this beautiful little film made here in Quebec. Entitled "Felix and Meira", it is the story of Meira, an unhappy Hassidic Jewish wife, who meets a non-religious French Canadian man, whose rich father had recently died. Towards the end of the film, he gets a letter from his deceased father (written of course while alive) in which he apologises for having rejected his son Felix. This naturally touches the son, and justifies his rebellion against his father. That hit me hard, because I know I will NEVER get an apology from my mother especially, for having been so harsh towards me and driving me crazy with fear and rage. One other scene especially moving was the first time the couple touches. Felix brings her to the father's now deserted mansion and they walk around it. Unexpectedly, Felix's sister arrives , which, for some reason upsets Meira. She storms out, and Felix runs after her with great concern. He successfully calms her down, and then ,ever so gently ,their heads lean into each other and connect at the top. Love... That hit me really hard also. Exactly such moments have thankfully happened to me twice in my life with two different women, and I will never ever forget them. But there should have been more of those moments in my life, instead of this constant lonely struggle in the emotional desert.That makes me really bitter especially now that I am over 60.This world is so sick, and we must thank those like Art Janov who try mightily to make it less sick, so that people will know love, peace, and joy more often.


    1. Marco, I find that the most profound of ideas are always the simplest. We don’t need giant brains we need unneurotic ones. thanks for the kind words. I always try to match your expectations. art

    2. Speaking of artists, Marco, last night I started reading a book of essays by Marcel Proust (“Against Sainte-Beuve and Other Essays”). His first line of the preface was: “Daily, I attach less value to the intellect.” Thought one or two of you might appreciate that one. ;)


    3. Sorry, Kip, don't quite understand what you are talking about.

      To Art Janov:

      Thanks for your acknowledgement. Let me say that I never have any expectations as to what you should write, if that is what you meant by expectations.Everything you write is always of interest to me, and I take it as it comes as a springbooard to experience and understanding which might deepen my appreciation of your work, or conversely, might lead to total or partial refutation. But I find nothing to refute as yet.

      Let me add that I pondered all weekend those two wonderful phrases from that previous blog of yours that I refer to: "Just three little Words" and "that little touch" ("it was the only warmth she ever knew", referring to a masochistic patient of yours). Those phrases reflect an uncommon sensitivity and compassion, and I was really moved by them , especially while I was watching an excellent movie called "Up in the Air", another work of art about what really matters. Those two phrases would also make great movie titles, I beleive. Not that I would really know since I am nowhere near involved in any film industry.

      So thanks again for that beautiful piece of writing.


    4. Marco, in essence I was just agreeing with this line of yours: "Other people who regularly remind the world of what really matters , from the margins of course, are most artists."


  5. Hi Art,

    I noticed in Primal Healing you referred to forensics. I found this quote:

    -"Physical evidence cannot be wrong. It cannot perjur itself. It cannot be wholly absent. Only human failure to find it, study it and understand it can diminish it's value"-.

    From a book by Paul Kirk called "Crime Investigation".

    Seems to me you have been a forensic psychotherapist and too many people are ignoring the evidence.

    Not me.

    Paul G.

  6. There is much to learn to live with if we can talk about learning in the context of what death means. Knowing that I will die is nothing like the neocortex alone manage without me become mentally ill but in the process with the limbic system... it is possible! My life has been like a painting on the wall... where nothing changed in that part of my brain that carries my death... it in the limbic system.

    There is a lot for me to feel about death and about life before it is possible for me to live with it. Be feeling about life that carries the death. I did not know I was a child in everything I've done and continue doing. It's here my life begins the journey... the journey home to feel who I am now!

    Yes... it sounds crazy to the uninitiated in Primal therapy... but it is real to them in the process of it... it is in its infancy of what death I carried with me as a kid.

    How can I carry death with me and be alive? It must be the most obvious question! Yes it is... but we learn to feel it through our symptoms from death if we can get the help we need in our therapy!

    The fear within the experience of cause is a fear of terror that must be cared for how vulnerable we were as babies. There is nothing anyone uninitiated can deal with... but many are guilty to have done.


  7. Hello Art!

    You may want to know what the research shows at the Karolinska Hospital?
    So I send you this below on what results they have received through lithium.
    I can imagine that it would be far better if the telomeres become longer by therapy tied to its cause that they became short.

    Your Frank

    Transl Psychiatry. 2013 May 21;3:e261. doi: 10.1038/tp.2013.37.
    Long-term lithium treatment in bipolar disorder is associated with longer leukocyte telomeres.
    Martinsson L1, Wei Y, Xu D, Melas PA, Mathé AA, Schalling M, Lavebratt C, Backlund L.
    Author information
    Telomere shortening is a hallmark of aging and has been associated with oxidative stress, inflammation and chronic somatic, as well as psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and depression. Additionally, antidepressants have been found to protect against telomere shortening. However, pharmacological telomere studies are lacking in bipolar disorder (BD). Therefore, the objective of this study was to explore telomere length (TL) in patients with BD in the context of lithium treatment. We determined TL by quantitative real-time PCR using peripheral blood leukocytes. Participants were outpatients diagnosed with BD type 1 or 2 (n=256) and healthy controls (n=139). Retrospective case-control and case-case study designs were applied. Lithium response (LiR) was scored using the Alda-Scale. Lithium-treated BD patients overall, as well as those on lithium monotherapy, had 35% longer telomeres compared with controls (P<0.0005, partial η(2)=0.13). TL correlated positively with lithium treatment duration of >30 months (P=0.031, R(2)=0.13) and was negatively associated with increasing number of depressive episodes (P<0.007). BD patients responding well to lithium treatment had longer telomeres than those not responding well. This is the first study to report a positive effect of long-term lithium treatment on TL. Importantly, longer TL was also associated with a better LiR in BD patients. These data suggest that lithium exerts a protective effect against telomere shortening especially when therapeutically efficacious. We hypothesize that induction of telomerase activity may be involved in LiR in BD.

  8. I do not feel what I say and can therefor not say what I feel... but I know that it is near!

    I do not feel what I'm saying... because if I did so I would be back in my needs where I knew what I needed but did not get... which is why it hurts so much that I dare not feel it. How can I tell my mom that I'm about to die when it's because I'm so afraid of her? My brain is in such a state of shock that nothing comes out of my mouth... I'm stunned for everything what my life is all about. It is a state I live why I do not feel it. I am talking but that is all... my lot has become to talk... it to not feel!

    I will now rest my self into memories where a time of bland state hopefully open the doors to what was before I emotionally died. I have a time of suffering to get through... for how long I do not know... but I know it's my life so I have to start there! I have begun to understand to keep my "eyes" open and say, "I do not dare to come home"


  9. First of all... we must in a process dare to let out what we call anxiety to awareness as we otherwise do everything to escape. The feeling... which is the cause of anxiety... to get it to land where it belongs... that's what it's all about in the primal therapeutic process. To me it seems like it will never end... my childhood was all about pain... pain as now are explained to be anxiety and I would lose the cause if I would be listening to it. It's all about pain as source... as impossible suffering is a cause to anxiety and the biological evolutionary construction of neocortex!

    Death Anxiety is about memories with the same intensity as the pain of it... then a long time ago a cause of pain... it for what we project could happen now... so as to die now. I will not die now... but later today or tomorrow which I know nothing about... so if anxiety for death would have a connection with the upcoming death then would no person with anxiety of death survive the day.

    We only see what can happen not what happened and that's what primal therapy is all about... what happened! Ours neocortex is just meant to look foreward not back why our memories are of a suspicious order... we lack the emotional experience of it... as a supressed limbic system should be a part of... but can't be because of all the pain as are there.

    What must be done... only we listen to what the evolutionary process caused. We wanted to live... but could not... and we want to live and we can.



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.