Friday, November 25, 2016

On How the Needs Change in Life

I have often described the timetable of needs; that a baby must be touched immediately after birth;  to be touched for the first time at age six is to late to stop the damage of unfulfilled need… To be talk to and listened to and explained to.  An example of my life might help. I wonder why there has always been a terror of death in me.   I remember that at age six there was an accident with my dog who was hit by a car.  I did not know about soothing and easing the blow with my dog.  I walked away at the very moment when his whimpering and cries begged me to stay with him.  Now I am primalling about how sorry I am that I left him.   I never knew there was such a thing as compassion and kindness.  I never had it and never knew how important it was. Now I beg him for forgiveness.  And I am in agony over it.  How could I have been so unfeeling?

But what also was imprinted was the fear of death and the desperate need to have it explained to me and mollified.  But my parents never talked to me, and I sensed that they never would. If someone had talked to me about fears that I had I know it would soften the blow.  But it went missing and the terror was deeply imprinted.  And in my primals, I learned not only is there a specific time to be held and hugged to ease the pain and fear, but there is a time to talk to children which would ease their terrors. And because it never happened, my terrors went on into the night and became exacerbated into devastating nightmares. Plagued night and day by terrors and night-terrors … and ADD, another phrase for night terrors, the same ones that plagued me all of the time.  In the daytime I could not sit still or pay attention as I had terrors that fed into my system all of the time.  How could I pay attention when internal input was nagging me all of the time?  Those terrors were night terrors, imprinted from birth on when the deprivation of oxygen was so great. Above all, I could not move towards anesthetics, couldn’t move toward air and breath. I was trapped and I needed to move to respond to be put into so much hurt. Trapped is a lifelong feeling I carried with me.  My primal: I have to get out of here or I will die.   I never articulated the notion of death but it was there; the approach of death and more terror.  That was the holdover from the past that dogged me constantly.

So now a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and to me too! I am making it better every day.


  1. Hi Arthur,

    Good to hear that it's going better and better with you!
    You are a big inspiration for me.
    Your book "beyond belief" is the most incredible book I've ever read. But I think that you can only appreciate it fully, if you have felt already a lot of your childhood pain. Almost everyone suffers in their youth, because of the unknowing of parents/society, and the effect is that we need an infinite amount of beliefs to handle the horror deep in our system.
    I really hope that someday a big enough amount of people have felt enough to know how incredible important it is that children have parents who love them, give them all the attention, support and touch they biologically need.

    A lot of greetings and a Happy Thanksgiving, Ingrid

  2. Hi Art,

    -"How could I have been so unfeeling"-?

    I have several of those memories I return to over and over. It is as if I am remembering myself as a half being and ever time it hurts to feel that absence from my true feelings.

    Paul G.

  3. I struggle with same...
    Ive died physically three times..
    I have sheer terror all the time.
    Now as michael holden once said...
    The cure for neurosis is god. Not primal therapy with due respect.i went thru pt. It is not the answer. Helpful yes, brilliant yes.
    Cant cure death and terror.
    From the new testament..romans 8:38.

    1. Only primal education can cure death. Don’t get me wrong. God from the bible could be brilliant and helpful. I don’t know. I like to link them together if I can. in hope to cure death and terror.

      Primal teaches us about death. And in the bible jesus dies so to resurrect. A miracule, impossible, unbelievable. But what if it is real? We die uneducated about death. And this is the main tragedy. We die prematurely no matter how long we live. In a way, our death is fake. But for those more educated, they die really. Every time when there is no salvation for them, no cure. No way out, it is all lost, won’t make it, can’t do it, when there is no god anywhere… that is when they are as close to death as possible. It is real. And what happens next? They survive. And possibly more alive than ever.
      So, maybe the romans 8/38 is right. God is with us and love is with us all the time. maybe Bible is right. Especially when we lose all salvation in it. when we really die. When we see not through a class darkly* (as in a mirror**) and suffer… but when we see it directly for the first (or second?) time. Really!

      * 1 Corinthians 13:12 king james version
      **modern translation (allusion to the still active outside brain?)

    2. Mark Nicholson,

      "(Primal Therapy) can't cure death and terror."

      Death is not supposed to be cured. It is final and needs no cure. There's nothing left to cure. Death can be avoided, postponed until its due time, with proper Primal Therapy.

      Terror is unfelt Pain, and can also be dealt with in therapy, and likely prolong life expectancy.


  4. I suppose that is part of the price of becoming more feeling. You look back and realise what you have done, and are forced to feel the pain.

    Maybe that is not a primal as such, because you are not confronting what was repressed, but just some bad feelings from new realisations?

    1. Hi Andrew,

      I have also heard it described as 'remorse of conscience'. It's a 'factor for self remembering'; very painful. It's interesting that you make a distinction between this and an actual Primal. But I sense you cannot have one without the other, to an extent. I think it's our 3rd line incorporating the genuine changes resulting from real 2nd & 1st line Primals. Art mentioned it a while back when referring to 'realising the egregious harm we may have caused our own children' - or words to that effect. But it can also be about harm done to yourself. As a person who has 'acted in' many times I know exactly what I mean.

      Because our society is so neurotically fixated on what is socially acceptable (or not), the fear that we may have to suffer such 'remorse' also contributes to the general denial of repression. People secretly know that for life to be real they will have to suffer the realisation of their unreality. So people carry on with their unreality regardless, in fear of their own potential reality. We pay politicians and the media to help us in this charade too.

      But I'm being a tad negative again, much better to shed the pain and live a more real life eh?

      Paul G.

    2. Hi Andrew and Paul,

      I find this discussion interesting. I define Primal Pain as Original Pain, pain at its root.

      If the root is in the past, we go back to the past and feel it in a Primal, Primal Therapy. If the pain occurs in the Present, due to information we receive through Primalling, we may be able to feel it in the Present, i e, at its root. I can consequently call even that a Primal Pain.

      If we as adults are able to feel whatever Pain that is bestowed upon us, you could say you're Primalling about the Present in the Present.

      It's a blessing to have that option.


    3. Hi Erik, I agree;

      to be specific, I am going through a period of realising how I screwed up my relationship with my ex partner. Only after feeling some of my earlier pains can I now accept my part in our downfall. Bitter pills to swallow but necessary.

      Interestingly the more I feel of what belongs to me the less I care to apportion what belongs to others. . . There are always others involved and 'they' are always entangled until we disentangle ourselves from our pain. . . there's only one way to do that - feel it.

      Paul G.

  5. Many times, I have looked back, and regret. I regret the way I was growing up, but I didn't know any better. Many times ungrateful, unfeeling, not recognizing what I should be appreciative of, not even recognizing love and kindness. They tried their best to guide and love me, to show me how it is in life, how I should be....but it was almost like a mental block. I did get better. We, as kids, we can't be to blame; at least I had people guiding me with good direction and love. It's not your fault about the dog; although you were strong, you were just too young. I have to forgive myself for the way I was between the ages of 4-10; I had "no clue" about so much. Then when I reached 12 or 13, I think I became so sensitive to my past, and got an inkling as to what was going on, I stopped talking for a while (not even as long as a week or anything like that)but it was almost like "who was I to be that way in my youth"? At that time, I felt a sadness, I felt of how I was towards people who were just trying to help and guide me. I really just felt uneasy with myself. Even now, looking back, I just see a child I didn't even know; and I wasn't spoiled by family, but I just never really knew what was going on; if I had, as a child I would have shown appreciation. Now I have tried to make up to family as I am older... I feel bad too, it's not a good feeling to remember how one was in their youth (4-10 or so), I know, but it couldn't have been helped. Even now, there are times where I know not to think of it. To function better, one has to, at times, not think of how bad they were growing up. One needs guidance growing up, and if it's just not there, that is not good at all. If it's not there, it's almost as though one has to raise oneself and use outside information, books and movies, as role models; who knows? I do believe it was just plain fear that made me the way I was growing up; the fear clouded a lot...probably fear of society.

    1. I get it; somehow we make it through in one way or another. art

  6. Hi Art,

    I'm relieved to hear you're improving!

    I also very much appreciate that you more and more exemplify your essays with examples also from your own life. That is a great consolation, to realize that even The Founding Father has lived through hell, survived, and is still struggling with upcoming memories, like the rest of us mere mortals. Thanks!
    Wishing you continuing recovery!

  7. It's not right, I do know this, and I know how sad it is for a child to just "go along" through the first decade of life without any love, guidance, or the proper attention. Many children don't make it as adults because of the neglect from their parents; it must be like the child is in a "maze" and is suffering throughout his childhood without the correct attention from their parent or parents. A parent has to really, really watch their child during those early years from about 4-10, they have to be a disciplinarian, and they have to be a very "giving" person. Giving what they know is right for their child mentally; giving them knowledge, which could give them great strength. A lot of children don't have the "know how" , "don't have the strength" to deal with the "uncaring" parent; consequently many,many don't do well throughout school and even later in adult life they have a lot of problems. The parent is to blame. One has to be really, to me, "unique", intelligent, sensitive, and strong to pull out from under what their parents have "dealt" them during those early years or not "dealt" them (neglect).Even if it is not "dealing" with their child, neglecting their child is a form of abuse that is equal to the damage that can be done with physical abuse; neglect by the parent is abuse and very sad.) People don't think when they have a child; many don't think and ask "do I know what I am doing bringing another person into this world"? "can I handle it?", "How will I be as a parent"? "Am I ready to be a parent"?. They don't take any responsibility for raising a child ...many just don't. And I think it has gotten a lot worse. In today's world, one can't really find too much of a good quality child that "just makes it through in one way or another". It shouldn't be that way...even if one is not rich, and can't give the child "things", it should not be that a child grows up just making "it through in one way or another." It is not supposed to be all totally put upon the child for them to raise themselves; there should always be parental responsibility. It should not be that a child maybe better off looking at books and movies for role models; but for a child to do that, he knows what is wrong in his life, and he desires a "normal" life, he wants a "normal" parent; one who is loving and caring. When the child is neglected, maybe he doesn't know what else to do; he could even be ashamed to bring up the fact how neglected he is. It's not right...a child needs constant love, guidance, and attention. It is not good to be raised by oneself...getting "through in one way or another". Must be like the child is almost "robbed mentally" of so many things.
    Parents should be there for their child during all the phases that the child goes through. Many people just don't know, but yet they keep on having children. A lot of people should get mental help for their parenting skills; maybe if the parent was told by a counselor/therapist that if they interact with their child a lot more, they (the parent) will also benefit. Many people think physical abuse is such a tragedy, but the mental abuse is just as bad and, to me, just as damaging. A parent should always, always be there for their child.

  8. I don't know a shit about what happens when we die, but I bet we carry those regrets with us wherever we might go after death. That's why it is so important to face the truth and feel the feelings once involved, and do it here and now, for here and now is the only valid place and time to heal the bleeding wounds. Thank You. Lars

    1. isn't it enough to carry them before death? because before death is the only valid place and time to heal the bleeding wounds.

    2. that's what I said. So we agree.

  9. Life seems meaningless especially these shocking times, until we realize awakening sleeping feelings is the only purpose. This world seems to me like a car repair shop. Thing is we are at times both the wasted and the mechanics. I only envision a future of glory after all this mess is over. Lars

  10. I did not know that I could never come home again! I have never dared or been able to imagine it. The solitude was and still is far too overwhelming so I can not really perceive what solitude means to me!

    When I am thinking about that loneliness is all the life I have left... then I recall of how I could wish for me to be dead so that my mother would miss me.

    I know it's a feeling I have to cherish tenderly so that it comes into my mind so I can feel it.

    Instead... money became my illusion to satisfy for what my needs found their meaning. Money became my all.

    I remember when my mother asked me, "Please do not go" when I demanded to get some money to something I wanted to have... but she could not... so I left anyway. Fucking... fucking shit how something can be so fucking crazy for the sake of needs.

    Think if primal therapy had been available then... then when my mom asked me, "Please do not go" but she never knew about hugging and it became our life's tragedy.

    What more can there be to say about it then to feel the fucking pain from no life. My guilt has followed me through out life as is a suffering without reaching its cause of why I demanded money ... my life was completely loveless and I found money an attempt as an supplement to what was missing... LOVE


  11. Most of our lives seem the same to me. Many ways to hurt; only one way out. art

    1. Hi Art,

      -"Many ways to hurt; only one way out"-. So true but so often completely misinterpreted and deliberately so.

      In Europe amongst many (so called) therapists and healers, you have a reputation for being both sincere but also 'fixated' on : "The Only One Right Way".

      -Because it has become popular to believe there to be a thousand different cures for a thousand variations of neurosis-.

      As if there were also 7 billion varieties of H2O for 7 billion humans. It's Individualism gone mad (and an infinite cash cow for the 'industry'). . .

      Paul G.

  12. An email comment:
    "Art: the story you told us in this last article about your dog that you left, after being hit by the car disturbed me also, very badly, and I can't get it out of my mind that you left the poor dog there whimpering and begging for you to take care of him.

    I am not sure exactly why this is affecting me so powerfully. However, I do remember a girl friend of my sister had a dog and they gave it away to some other family that I knew, and the dog seemingly got out out of the house and got ran over by a car. It disturbed me greatly as a kid and I remember being in the school yard and looking up the road where the dog got killed and crying about it in the school yard and worried that other kids would see me crying. I guess that's what your story reminded me of.

    It doesn't surprise me you are having Primals about that now. I so love your blog articles when you talk of your own feelings. I seems to put me into mine. "

  13. I felt so relieved when I read that you had finally got to the feelings triggered by the MRI, however I never expected the story about your dog. I too found the story about your dog most gripping. I wondered if being 92 is asking you to look at feelings about death as well. Must be wonderful to be freeing yourself from the fear of death. I hope it gives you a longer life and more time with France.


    1. Katherina, Thanks, I would not say I am finally totally free. art

  14. The phases, the events,(good and bad) in a child's life...just even a little parental attention, love, support goes a long way with a child, could make a huge difference in their life, could make a big impression. The loving parent does this also because they want him to know how to react and handle situations as they get older. A father would talk to a son about something the son felt bad about; a father might reassuringly and lovingly tell him several times, that "it's not your were too young". Then the child will remember what his Dad said every time he felt this guilt coming to him of something he did or didn't do as a child...the father knew the son has to "carry on"; he wants his son to be happy (of course not insensitive). He wants his son to handle things better, tragic events (not talking about killing another human, or stealing; nothing real bad the son has done) in his life so that he can get a better perspective. The father or mother , even a few times throughout the child's life, talks to their child lovingly and reassuringly , giving them the best advice to their child...this could make a big impact on the child in the way he lives his adult life, and in his professional career. There, the parent is there...when talking to his child lovingly and reassuringly, even if it is just a few times each year to have some talks, until the child gets older; that is a sign of good parenting. The good parent would want their child to know or sense how to handle certain situations in life. The parent (as everyone knows) has way more life experience than the child in handling situations that may arise.

  15. I walked away at the very moment, and why could i have so unfeeling? And now you feel agony.
    I only see a little boy and his only loving friend, his dog, is in pain. It's an incredible shock for this little boy and the only thing he can do to survive is walk away.
    I think that you are now projecting your childhood pain "nobody was there for you to help you with this incredible pain" on the dog...You can feel sorry and agony for the dog...I think your brains are creating one of the infinite amount of beliefs to protect you against the truth: the little boy who lost his only friend (dog) and nobody was there to help this boy.

  16. An email comment:
    "Dear Art,
    I have only recently started to receive your Reflections and am
    finding them very moving - and helpful as to my own feelings.
    I'm having a cry right now over your dog and it has taken me back
    to being left at school at age eight - longing for a hug.
    I was in Primal Therapy in LA 1982-1985. Got my feelings back.
    Changed my life and put me on the road to self-healing.
    I am most grateful that you are able to - and wish to - continue
    to write about your own experiences and the scientific progress
    of Primal Therapy."

  17. Another email comment:
    "Again, you are so credible and convincing by talking about your own life experience as well, providing the best possible proof about your theory"

  18. This is a really fine blog. I have experienced primal and wish I could find someone in my area (Texas) to go to. I can mention that I can see you can't give to your children what you cannot feel.


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.