Tuesday, November 29, 2016

About What Embeds Neurosis in the System

 I have been wondering why it is that battle in combat did not seem to make me neurotic while seemingly innocuous events during home life did.  I think I found one answer.  That old devil… need … raises its ugly head.  What happened early in life when need was at its asymptote, our system made sure that even banal events were embedded in our nervous system. When we needed holding and touch in the first months of life to mollify the appearance of agonizing pain, we found ways to encase the pain (defenses)and made the pain bearable when love went missing.

It seems that it is not like I need a piece of cake every afternoon; rather it is something essential to life and development; it is part of our biologic development that goes missing.  Need is basic to fulfillment; they form an equation and when that equation is unbalanced we become so, as well. It is not just what goes into the mouth; it is what enters the whole system. It is like touch. It is not what we feel on our cheeks.  It is what that does to the whole  system; the warmth, the caring and love. A ruffling of the child’s hair can carry with it a note: you are loved, appreciated and wanted.  A mussing up of hair carries a biologic message that says so much. You are wanted, I feel close to you and want to be near you. One touch contains pages of monologue without any verbal discussion.  Touch is the message without words. But words without touch dilutes and vitiates that message into a loss of meaning.  Words without feeling do not travel to the feeling centers.  The actual message is lost and we are left with vacuous meaning that has lost its power to move others.  It can no longer convey love.  It becomes an empty vessel with no place to land. One then lives on a barren island bereft of meaning and above all, bereft of love.

Combat is not based on biologic need; quite the opposite. it is what happens then there is no chance for it.

So a slap on my face at age five conveyed a new message: you are not loved there is need to afraid. Do not look to me for understanding and compassion.  Beware!  You must obey without question.  And you slip into obedience as a normal thing.  You no longer expect kindness, just the lack of rage.  There is a new “normal” in life: the lack of anger and the lack of danger. No needing love; needing just to avoid menace and threat.


  1. The last paragraph has an unbelievably profound meaning and projections!!
    A really good one, Art, a really good one indeed...

  2. Hi Art,

    I so well recognize what you're talking about. I believe this is what DSM 5 labels cPTSD, a chronic traumatic stress level. That, plus the ordinary PTSD surely ruins life, both emotionally and physically.

    Without insulin, and without you, I would have been dead decades ago. Thanks.


  3. Art
    In the bull's eye. Touching as usually.

  4. Love is an emotional experience which we suffer from without it and we become thinkers... in to "hell" if so!

    No thoughts in the world can solve the issue of their cause (there is a cause for them) without first having been there thoughts have their source for its importance... only then we see how thoughts have limited ourselves... why they never been able to answer the question of the significance of missing LOVE!

    Primal therapy is very... very... very much more serious than what we could ever imagine. Primal therapy gives life which is impossible to imagine that it do! What I mean is that there are no living thinker who can empathize with what primal therapy is all about... it is very... very... very much more serious. It gives us life from a totally different perspective... a physiological perspective... which we otherwise repress with all that we are in the sense of being thinkers.


    1. Frank, A pretty profound idea, there are no great thinkers who can understand what feelings are all about.   That is why most Ph.d s  cannot master the therapy.  You need the opposite of smarts.  For my therapy I would choose those who care for animals.    Requirements for doing our therapy includes a sense of empathy, above all.  If applicants cannot relate to animals they may not do well in our therapy.

    2. Or, as Jethro Tull sang: "and your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick..."


    3. Hi Art,
      -"Requirements for doing our therapy includes a sense of empathy, above all. If applicants cannot relate to animals they may not do well in our therapy"-.

      Of course all therapeutic methods (and medical/nursing training) make this requirement of trainees & practitioners but the interpretation of the words is very different depending. Let me elucidate: At a corporate coaching event I attended the facilitator asked us to define the difference between empathy and sympathy; I said empathy is an emotional response and sympathy an intellectual response. He argued that each was nothing of the sort. . . Then much later agreed with me. I feigned and changed the subject - which is exactly what some 'facilitators' want you, their 'client' to do when faced with the need for empathy from them.

      It's like the menu at that cheap diner: - Beans on toast is on the menu and you ask for beans on toast but it's not available today, nor is anything else on the menu except what you don't want.
      This is exactly what therapy is like in so many other methodologies, the blurb (menu) mentions 'empathy' but when it comes down to it words is all you get.

      I am reminded of a book by Eric Berne on Transactional Analysis, I think it's called: "I'm OK, you're OK", in this book the author discusses the cognitive understanding of small children and cites the situation where a Dad is explaining something to his 5 year old. The child says: "You tell me what words to say Dad and I'll agree" (or words to that effect). My point (and Eric Bernes) is that we can act out a feeling life and deceive ourselves that we understand and have empathy when in reality we are merely repeating words parrot fashion. Sadly that is exactly what is expected by some therapists and professional helpers.

      Of course the irony of this particular scenario is that the 5 year old probably has more empathy than his Dad. An irony that perhaps did not escape the author, and certainly not this reader.

      Paul G.

  5. To quote an excerpt from the above article:

    "... It is like touch. It is not what we feel on our cheeks. It is what that does to the whole system; the warmth, the caring and love. A ruffling of the child’s hair can carry with it a note: you are loved, appreciated and wanted. A mussing up of hair carries a biologic message that says so much. You are wanted, I feel close to you and want to be near you. One touch contains pages of monologue without any verbal discussion...."



  6. I do not go to bed in life, I go to bed and suffer for what life has been!



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.