Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hierarchy of Needs

Why do I insist that there is a hierarchy of needs? It is an important distinction.   As I have written that the most powerful needs and pain lie deep down into the brainstem. Howling screams emanating from this area are chilling, something I hear every day. But it can also be a quiet terror of near death with choking and coughing. Rage also lives there, and in a Primal we see it as well. It is how we know what level of brain function the patient is on. And patients confirm it when they come out of it. It is the source of severe migraines and addictions because here is where the pain is great and so are the drugs needed to quell them. We do not have to guess about when pain occurred; the patient in his feelings informs us. If there are no words during the session, just grunts and screams, we know it is preverbal and we would never encourage the patient to speak or say any words. If there are migraines, then we know the pain is deeply embedded; the flow of oxygen impeded in its ability to nourish various parts of the brain with oxygen. The vessels, in order to conserve energy, constrict and diminish oxygen delivery: hence migraine. One good therapy for it? Oxygen.  Any stress can set it off as it is now part of the stress response. The brain thinks it is under attack and shuts down.

One of the reason it has taken fifty years to understand it all is that it took many patients reliving different kinds of pain on different brain levels to begin to compare and distinguish. It took years to find the different reasons and different levels of consciousness for distinguishing muscle headaches from migraines. Now we know that muscle headaches are less involved with oxygen supply and have more to do with wrenching the head and neck at birth, either by the cramped canal or by a rough doctor who was not gentle, thinking, as so many did, that the baby is a blob with no capacity for feeling.

As for addiction, there are different levels. But those who relive birth trauma (never re-birthing) often show signs of oxygen deprivation. Terrible addiction to drugs like heroin can signal the brainstem at work. They are the less prolix of patients. It is a triune, three part brain at work and different traumas and experience reside on different levels.

Those who easily get into fights or shoving matches are often riddled by first-line (brainstem imprints). Road rage is a perfect example. Recently two women on a freeway got into a shouting match because the other one cut her off and blocked her movement. Not being able to move set off first line rage, and when they both stopped to argue the one blocked pulled out a gun and shot the other woman. She was out of control, under the control of deep imprints that the neocortex was helpless against. I taught my wife and kids that there is so much hate out there, they should never argue with any stranger.  I have not done formal research on this except clinical research, which informs me that deep pain can be the source of serious deep disease in the body.  It is so hard to treat because rarely do doctors find the source and address it. The pain is so well hidden as to remain recalcitrant and a mystery. 

We see in therapy that some patients lose clear articulation as they descend down the chain of pain to low levels of brain function.  When they get into pre-verbal life, they lose all articulation. And the pain level rises exponentially. Patients need warmth and kindness when they get into deep pain. When appropriate I will hold their hand to make it a softer ride. Not early in the feeling but when it rises sharply. We need to bring down the level of suffering into feelable levels. That is always the goal; not suffering but feeling which spells the end of suffering. 


  1. Heard this beautiful song by "Cage the Elephant" band and can also be heard on U tube.

    Doctor look into my eyes
    I've been breathing air but there's no sign of life

    Doctor the problem is in my chest
    My heart feels cold as ice but
    it's anybody's guess

    Doctor can you help me 'cause I
    don't feel right
    Better make it fast before I change my mind

    Doctor can you help me cause I don't feel right
    Better make it fast before I change my mind

    Well it's cold cold cold cold inside
    Darker in the day than the dead of night....

    Sweet nurse don't look at me that way
    I've seen those eyes before
    I can tell you want to play

    Counselor give me some advice
    Tell me how hard will I fall if I live a double life

    Doctor can you help me 'cause I don't feel right
    Better make it fast before I change my mind....

    And as the darkness falls it fills up both my eyes
    My life before me like a flash in the night with my arms
    open wide

    Well it's cold cold cold
    cold inside....

    Doctor can you help me 'cause
    something just ain't right

  2. Damn, I just lost all my writing, and I think it was another one of those brilliant moments I have from time to time. However, I was thinking about your teachings on feeling the fear of death, and how it gently brought us to a feeling of an old ancient infant terror, however I have run out of patience and now I lay me down to weep and in that brave and gentle act my soul to keep !

    Hope I have something good to write later.

  3. Amazing insights!

    Human beings in general, sure have a lot to learn yet.

    The biggest problem man has to solve yet, are the problems of the mind and spirit.

    Art, you are certainly on the leading edge.

    I hope it can be done before civilization self destructs (by armageddon and the apocalypse).

    It is confusion,fear, madness and boiling rage,finding an outlet.

    The armegeddon and the apocalypse are happening now in slow motion and steadily increasing.

    Once you understand the problems (the cause) of the human condition, you will see that the terrorism problem, the drug epidemic and all mental disorders are more than closely related.

  4. Today I stumbled across this newly published research on memory. I hope you find it useful: New system for forming memories: Entorhinal cortex acts independently of the hippocampus in remembering movement -- ScienceDaily

  5. My sister told me that when I was born I always screamed. Scream, scream, scream…. She told me that she was so afraid that I will die, she remembers that they often took me to hospital by ambulance. I bent into something like bow on my head and my heels. It was terrible. My father instead of help me took some kind of chatterbox and run this around my head. Until now I can’t stand noisy places. I am always afraid. My whole life is a pile of dogshit. Few times I mentioned that I also had hard times during my early years, surgeries and abuses from my mother. I am wreck with deformed chest, spine and hearing loss. I am asking myself why? She should just abort me as she planned many times.

    1. Jesus Piotr, what people can do to each other is horrible. My best to you, Art Janov

  6. An email comment:
    "Art thanks for writing...

    I had to stop and think a bit, about being allergic to yourself... It made my laugh.... But, its really true, that its impossible to reject yourself, and people spend their life trying to reject themselves.. Insanity is a lot of work. "


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.