Sunday, February 26, 2017

Can Feelings Hurt?

I know that feeling certain  feelings causes pain but can feelings hurt?  Are there special feelings that make us hurt.  Oh yes, and there are levels in the brain that engender more and more pain the deeper we go in the brain. And how do you go deeper and deeper in the brain? Can we go deeper voluntarily, by an act of will? Never. Because an act of will is inimical to feeling deep feelings. The more we want and try to do it, the less deep we can travel. We are then using the last bit of brain evolution to reach the first bit of brain in evolution. Between those levels are gating systems, chemicals that block pain, that block one level from another. If we did not have that mechanism, we would all have a hard time keeping pain down. And when the deep brainstem levels has been dredged up, it means we need heavier pain killers to keep us somewhat comfortable. It is on that level that heavy addiction takes place because it is on that level that heavy pain resides. And that is the pain stirred up in the earliest period of our lives. It lies on the level of pure agony equal to the pain/terror experienced by the shark brain. That deep brain system has the great capacity to feel and also repress pain. Above all, the brain system must try to equal the pain output. When various pains are compounded and accumulate, they become an overload, a challenge to the faltering defense system, and suffering sets in, as does the urgent call for taking exceptionally powerful  pain killers. There is just so much hurt we can take before the system falters and cannot do its job. I call that first-line pain. It is often life-endangering pain; an attack by another great predator who sees the shark as a proper meal.  Or human hunters who chase and hunt for bragging rights; to be the most macho of men. Diabolically,  as he is able to kill without another thought, he is already well repressed and cannot begin to feel what he is doing. 

Let us look at the experiment that set this off. It was done at the Michigan University Medical School, in 2013.  They studied students who expressed an attraction to certain other students. The subjects then entered an MRI machine and were told that the person they were describing was not interested in them. It is a bit more detailed but in principle, it is the essence of the study. The investigators (led by Dr. David Hsu) were after…… Rejection. They focused on the mu(μ) opioid receptors (think heroin).  When someone feels hurt he uses the same biologic system and nerve pathways as with physical hurt. There is the release of chemicals that damp down and cap pain.  They are twins, pain and its antagonist.  It seems that the same pathways for physical pain are the ones that are also for emotional pain such as rejection. But there is much more to the story, which highlights the problem with laboratory research.

In our clinical research we found pain on levels unimaginable, emanating from deeper levels than the limbic/feeling system. And what happens as patients begin to relive these horrors from deep in the brain the pain builds as does the gating function, as well. And this is the kind of emotional level that is not often reached in researching pain. It is the terror from the threat of impending death, pain that equals the birth trauma that we have seen for fifty years in our work in Primal Therapy.  Still, we see that emotional pain does have serious emotional components. And this can mean that as emotional pain gets embedded in the neurologic system it can ramify throughout the system, creating physical havoc. This level of pain is truly ineffable and has no verbally descriptive equivalent.  From this, we may see serious physical afflictions such as cancer. Again, the pain from pre-verbal life is catastrophic and can lead to equally catastrophic disease. Let me repeat: the reason for serious catastrophic disease later in life is because there is a pileup of compounded pain pushing it. The agony I have seen in reliving early rejection, as in not being held or touched soon after birth is, I can think of no other word;  ineffable. Being rejected by some attractive woman or man is literally of little consequence compared to real rejection by a parent when parental love can be life saving;  and a matter of survival. It is the kind of pain we can only see clinically, not concocted in a laboratory.   Then and only then can we see why we have back-up systems to control and gate pain.  
So feelings can hurt and not just emotionally. They can affect the circulatory and heart system, as well. We must keep in mind that the system we use, the nerve pathways we employ, for both physical and emotional pain are often identical. And when we  say, it hurt so much; it really does.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Origins of Anxiety, Panic, and Rage Attacks

Read full article published in Activitas Nervosa Superior here:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Mindfulness and Other Nonsense, the Twin Sister of Psychoanalysis

I was thinking about some of the new fads such as Mindfulness and wondering what would be the most succinct way to describe what is wrong with it.  Oh, I know, it leaves out  a little thing called evolution.  If we understand evolution we know that the awareness brain came along last, millions of years after the earlier brains. That brain can disconnect from those early brains and take on a life of its own.  It is never the curative brain.  Why? Because we now know that traumas very early in our lives are embedded deep down in the brain and leave a trace.   They are located far from the brain that is aware, so does mindfulness help you get well?  Of course not; it is a shallow shell.  It rides above the lower brains and usually does not know anything is down there; certainly not aware of feelings churning away below.  So if it is not aware of deep roiling how can awareness improve consciousness, which is the sine qua non of cure.  Awareness is a non-depth event and is meant to be the enemy of consciousness.  It is the essence of blocking full consciousness of suppressing those forces sequestered below which must be relived; not just understood.  Reliving is no longer just my notion but now has a widespread scientific base, acknowledged as the  essence of cure.  There is no fooling with that, no jiggering or tweaking it; it is unchangeable and unrelenting and uncompromising.   To make any real change there must be reliving, and it has to be exactly as the trauma was set down; so who knows that?  The patient and only him because when the time is right that imprint will arise in its full glory with all of its feelings to be absorbed and integrated at last.    It is those forces that make us very sick and also mentally ill.

It has waited a very long time to breathe the air, to become conscious where all three brains coalesce to make us conscious.  Its unceasing roiling below has exhausted it and us and worn down the biologic system.  The system is designed not to permanently hide feelings but to bring them up when the system can take it and integrate it.   To see the faces of those who have reversed the imprint is to see a face of great relief, openness and joy.  Some call it , “getting that monkey off the back” which means unloading Pain.  No awareness can accomplish that because it cannot lift the Primal load, cannot unburden us and liberate us from our Primal Chains.  Awareness was never meant to plunge to the depths; that is only the role of consciousness.  Consciousness means reaching the deepest levels of the brain where the greatest terror and pain reside.  We cannot get well with only half a brain at work.   We cannot get well when half of our evolution is neglected and not considered part of us.  But until we are fully ready, awareness can help mask our pain as we go through the motions of getting better which will forever be an elusive  target.  We cannot get there from here.  Cannot get well looking at the brain from on top and believing we are treating the whole person, whereas we are treating the person’s later life, the slim slice of life that came along after many of the imprints were laid down.

Don’t think psychotherapy, insight therapy and psychoanalysis can escape; they suffer from the same rationales and beliefs and the same superficial defects in their therapy.  When someone bestows our private truths on us through the prism of their apperceptive mass, failure must follow.  They are essentially treating themselves.  To think that we can even guess what lies deeply buried in us is a delusion.

Consciousness means connection; it means fluid attachment to lower brain levels; it means access to our feeling base so we have feelings as part of our armamentarium, so we are guided by our feelings and not just our top level neocortical awareness.  It means seeing in depth the pain and feelings of others; our children, spouses and friends. It means we are passionate and empathic.   We can live the feeling life.

If we are not connected to what is driving us and making us act the way we do, we only access to ideas and beliefs and not what truly makes us human.  Awareness keeps us disconnected, yet is the darling of intellectual therapists.  Because it rides above and beyond feelings.  Therapy then becomes some kind of game or exercise lauded by those who live in that upper zone, those instantly attracted each new phase of enhanced awareness.  Hey, there is a large world down there that exists even when we cannot easily see it.   Fortunately and unfortunately we can never see it till we feel it and we cannot do that until we can access our feelings.  And we can never do that until we realize finally, that there is a world deep down that is the source of so much of us, our behavior and afflictions.

How to convince unfeeling people that there are feelings?  It seems to be true that when they suffer and are close to feelings they rush to us for answers; and we have them:  feelings.   Evolution of our prefrontal cortex was preceded long before we had reason by a non verbal brain.  Now that we have it, let’s steer it in the right direction and liberate ourselves.

Awareness is a late-comer to this enterprise; let us not evade the feelings that can free us.  We cannot be anxious and conscious.  Consciousness is the end of anxiety because we are finally in touch with its source. No one can do better than that.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

My Life: Practicing Primal Therapy

Because of my divorce dictum (I was going to call it an agreement), I could no longer practice in an English speaking country. My French wife, France, and I moved to Paris and opened a French clinic which was packed from the first day. We began our research program in London and flew blood samples back and forth from Paris. We studied the immune system and natural killer (NK) cells to see what happened in therapy. After one year the NK cells grew very fast. These were the cells to survey the system. As soon as a cancer cell began its life, the NK cells searched them out and killed them. Maybe that was why we saw so little cancer in our advanced patients. We studied other aspects as well. We found that body temperature dropped after one year of Primal Therapy, as well as heart rate and blood pressure. Clearly, as we took out internal pain the system was no longer lumbering under heavy pressure. Most importantly, there was the one degree drop in body temperature, which told us that maybe longevity is increased as the system’s workload lessened. There is a theory that for every one degree enduring drop in body temperature, there is a corresponding increase in longevity.  

Europe became a heavy load with a five story building running night and day. Patients came from Europe, by and large, and stayed much longer back then because there were far less Visa restrictions to force patients out. Now in the USA, they are limited, which slows their therapy considerably. We treated a wide range of patients from ambassadors to a sort of terrorists, who were not that at all. They claimed to be revolutionists  but they were the kindest and smartest people I met. We did therapy in several languages and it was really a polyglot group. We did research with several universities and it was all exciting stuff.

We had the clinic in a giant building in Paris, with an old fashion bathtub in the basement. France was treating a 65 year old doctor who never left her village. Why? Because she was a bed better and was so ashamed of it. France had a hunch, and took her down below into the bathtub. She gave the doctor orders to totally relax and let herself go in the tub. She did, and what happened? She urinated. Only now she felt what it was all about: it was the only warmth she ever felt. Soon after, we received postcards from her from all over the world. She was free. No more neurosis.

Here is an example to emphasize how we are a therapy of experience and not of ideas. We had a male patient obsessed with women’s feet and shoes. Our male therapist painted his nails, wore shorts and had the patient sit looking at his feet as he dangled them. Every time the patient tried to touch his feet, the therapist abruptly drew his feet away. Soon the patient was crying and screaming, “Mommy, Mommy, let me touch you.” His mother was a seamstress who did her work in front of her child. She never touched him but he watched her, transfixed, aching to touch her. She kicked him away as a pest, over and over again. His need continued to grow until it was acted out in the street or peering through windows, risking arrest. He finally resolved this act-out after much therapy. The need to be hugged and caressed, that was the simple answer. The force of his original need became the force behind his importuning obsession. The failed effort is usually an attempt to stop the symbolic acting-out. It is an effort to change and block a symbol of the need, not the basic biologic need itself. In every act-out, we must go much deeper to find that need and deal with it. That is what is biologic and real.

In a way our therapy is simple: find the basic biologic need and relive how it was not fulfilled.  But Oh My!  It is so much more than that. Those needs are sequestered by a labyrinth of defenses and are difficult to find. First we need to deal with how the need is ramified as to be unrecognizable. We have to find ways to dig out the essence of the feeling. The complexities became, duh……complex. Neurosis dies hard.

In group, I sometimes had die-hard atheists pray to God for fulfillment: “hold me, cherish me, love me.”  Why God? Because I was after the need, and God became the channel for need. I had to find a neutral channel for patients to express need. Once they get to need, even the atheists crumble in tears because that is where the tears lie hidden. Otherwise they would see the faces of the parents whom they were importuning, and grow cold and feelingless. Anent the act out, some patients refuse to do what is necessary to get well: stop medication, start medication, whatever. If we stay hung up on their bad behavior, we will never get to what is real: “I am hopeless and cannot be helped. What’s the use? I am a failure. No one can help me.”

My education began in France with my new French family. We lived high above Aix en Provence, overlooking a beautiful city. They only spoke French to each other, and I decided I would never let it happen again, that I would never be left out of esoteric and fascinating discussions. I learned French and took part in conversations, and it was erudite and informational as I ever knew. I never had a family and this was certainly an example of what was missing. I learned French fast because now I had someone to talk to but it was not in my natal (Maternal) language. A small impediment.

I soon led the French life, reading French magazines and watching French TV, which I do to this day. Nearly all of our friends were French and among them some creative and intelligent people. I do not plan to name drop but our pals were in many of the arts and I was so proud of them, including an actress whom I saw mostly nude in a film when I was in high school. Years later she lived with us and as happens in France there was much nude swimming. Sometimes I thought I was dreaming. But no. I was just living in a sane and non-prudish country, France. Many of the public beaches were nudist. All healthy and non pejorative. Non moralistic. There were many examples of this throughout France.

After years in France, I got permission to practice in the USA so we returned to America.  France’s health was breaking from the load of patients in Paris and she needed a long rest, which she got. We opened a small training center in Santa Monica which blossomed again into a major worldwide clinic, the majority of patients from Europe. I am in my nineties now and am cutting back but I still write books and the blog every day.

There are still hundreds of pretenders throughout the world using my name and my therapy to mislead patients, usually with bad results. They have my books on their desks and to all appearances they are associated with me… Without  a day’s training. That is why it is always best to check with us as to who is qualified and who is not.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why Primal Therapy Needs No Doctor

I write this is as an academic hall of fame in psychology and with years of psychology training and years of training in psychiatric social work. Plus an extra year of post-graduate internship in psychiatric social work. So I have an idea of what is involved. The whole training system needs to be junked and brought up to date with modern science. Right now, it is not a science that can make people well. It is a lot of tinkering, much of which I did in my earlier years on staff at hospitals and clinics.  
Now the powers that be are making it impossible to master any kind of science. They believe by adding more years of classes, and internships, and lectures, it will somehow build into a cure. I believe it will not, and just be busy work to make it look like a science, which it isn’t. The requirements for a license now are prohibitive and ineffective.  It makes students jump through hoops, which are simple impediments to learning. The most advanced of my trainees were the Ph.D candidates. All of whom failed training because they were so intellectual and had their feelings ground out of them. They could not sense when to make a move with a patient and how to do it. It became “mental”  illness for them with feelings left behind. They learned to treat patients with insights and rationales with no understanding of brain science. Worse, with no idea about the role of feelings in neocortex function, which in therapy is crucial. 
Making it difficult is not the same as making it understandable and treatable. And piling on more ethics courses will not help. Normal therapists are ethical, by definition. The failures were the ones who were unethical, trying sometimes to be the patient’s friend and pal, instead of his doctor. 
So what do we need? A feeling therapist, first and foremost. Then a minimum of brain science, then some biochemistry to see how neurosis works in the body.  But the tool is the therapist and he has to be sensitive to the patient’s feelings and needs and his deep-lying imprints. I have confirmed that over fifty years of training to see who can treat and who cannot. It is never the people in their head who can help and cure; it is those who are connected to their feeling centers. Just the opposite of today’s training in psychiatry and psychology. I am poster boy #1. What I learned almost never helped me do therapy and certain never helped me understand what a cure involved. It never help me get to my feelings; they were mostly afterthoughts. For 100 years now, it is still about insights and reasons and explanations.
So what is wrong with that? An outside doctor can never tell what is inside a patient because he learns from his system, above all.  As feelings come up, he is informed what forces he has been hiding and what has driven him all these years. No foreign expert can do that because the expert and the only expert is the patient. For the patient, it is a crime to rob him of his epiphanies, his sole discoveries and his new ability and power to change himself. He  knows what upcoming feelings can be approached, and what feelings must lie quiescent for the moment.  He knows what feelings can be overloading and produce the deadly abreaction. And if an outsider pushes him, what he gets too often is abreaction because an outsider cannot know when the patient is ready for the descent into the lower depths of the brain. And that is what we don’t need ,well trained intellectuals who cannot sense what the patient can take and cannot take. 
If we can off our narcissism for a minute and make psychotherapy patient centered and not doctor centered, where he is not the owner of the domain of the cognoscenti but also a learner of the human condition, then we see no need for the phalanx of specialists who know everything about this symptom or that, but nothing about the internal life of the patient. We then have a cabal of those who ignore deep history of the patient, deep history of his very early key life and the history, not of his intellectual development but that of his emotions. We need to study the whole human, not in the booga booga Holistic Therapy sense, but of the dynamic interactions of all of his systems, not the least of which is his brain. 
I think  that is what training and supervision in the Primal world is all about, and after many decades we do get neurochemical change. We do get cure, as I define it as in behavior and in medical normalization. That is a lot but I cannot deny the results we get, and today they are awesome.  Remember, a tough school does not necessarily mean a good school. It is just tough; a school for masochists where upon graduation they hand you your diploma wrapped  in a sculpture of your neo-cortex, with testicles hanging and with a note: good luck.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Changes and Alterations in Biochemical Functions During Primal Therapy Treatment

Here is a current patient retelling his overall changes and alterations in biochemical functions. It is not enough to relate numbers but also changes that accompany those changes. Changes can be exaggerated to please the doctor so we need corroboration, and external measures as well. 

We have studied vital signs changes, especially body temperature which is a measure of the continuing work of the body. Lower temperature that endures means far less work of the whole system. That can mean enhanced longevity according to some related studies.

When all signs drop together, we have a system change, very important. Vital signs are just that: signs of the vitality of the system.

When we pair his life changes with objective measures, we are confident of his improvement. He is enjoying his life. Isn't that the goal of what we do? No pain but joy. Unfortunately, we must go through pain to get to joy: the dialectic.

All those signs combined augur well for increased longevity.

Here is the patient's interpretation, in his own words.

I spent a bit of time extracting my Skype history to create some charts of my vitals from June 2013 to the present time.

My main conclusions:

- My blood pressure has dropped relative the age average
- My pulse has dropped relative to the age average
- My temperature has been constant and below the age average

At least for BP and pulse, my case appears consistent with others that Art has mentioned where vital signs get 'healthier' over time with therapy.

I have also been intermittently taking Dr Ingeborg Bosch's Personal Defense Profile Test as an indicator of neurosis, albeit self-reported of course. I've plotted my scores on this vs my investment in therapy. My defenses have also trended downwards with increasing investment in therapy.

All in all, this concurs with how I feel these days: more centered, less compulsive, more mature, more masculine.

Thank you all once again for your contribution to my transformation. Long may it continue!

It's been an extraordinary transformation - beyond anything I could have imagined in my first interview  in December 2009.

My sexuality has changed fundamentally, my relationships with women have completely transformed. I have a very different personality.

The vital signs do tell a story, but it's really about the emergence of a different human being. It's as if a new version of me has  arisen and taken over the body of the "old XXXXX".

I've gone from being sick, confused and under-confident, to someone striding out through the world, loving who they're being. Well most of the time! What a ride Art. What a ride.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Birth, Anoxia, Shallow Breathing and Cancer

I am reporting here on a hypothesis regarding cancer.  I have been wondering about the mechanism that causes an imprint of damage at the start of life, such as from anoxia, to climb the neuronal chain and produce widespread damage over the body.  I believe I have found a link: lowered oxygen when the system needs it most. This critical shortage of oxygen comes at a time when the first-line brainstem reigns, because higher levels of the brain have not yet fully developed, which is why the damage at this early level carries such deleterious effects later in life. The question is: Why does it endure and create such harm years later?  Through 50 years of clinical observation, we have seen our patients trace their lifelong suffering back to this kind of early damage done at the start of life. That damage can effect the nervous system, hormonal system, blood and circulation and muscle problems.  And we seem powerless to understand what is going on.  Maybe because the place and time of the damage is so removed from our present-day experience that we fail to link the cause and effect, so it becomes a mystery.

We have observed and filmed apnea right after birth, and in some patients it seems like they are dying. They go easily 6o seconds without moving a muscle, nor breathing, or showing signs of life. They do not blink or show anything that means they are alive and present. They come out of it with a few coughs and throat clearings, with the subsequent newborn baby cry, which is unmistakable. But there is trauma here because there did not seem to be enough oxygen to aid the birth process. And there is the lasting imprint of a near-death experience.  This is the experience that lingers within the patient long after the event; and as they relive it in therapy, they know what it is and can describe what it’s all about. They uniformly describe approaching death, and that is precisely what is happening. This impending doom is the background that produces a lifelong fear of death, panic attacks, and anxiety fueled by a sense of approaching death. This often shows in their nightmares in childhood with someone or something trying to kill them.  This is the story the system coughs up to attach to near-death; to rationalize their experience even though they have no idea about how it starts or where it comes from.  They have childhood anxiety and are prone to ADD, as anxiety pervades the system not enabling them to focus or concentrate.  The imprint has left a massive amount of information that saturates the brain that the person must deal with all of the time.  That pain information blocks focus and concentration.  Remember, Pain is information.   It is systemic.  So as the pain rises higher in the brain, it registers the oncoming agony and concocts a story for a near death approaching.   It moves even higher up to fabricate a story of this death foretold.

As the child develops he begins a lifelong pattern of shallow breathing to conserve oxygen and energy,  a replica of the birth process where oxygen supplies diminished.  To accompany this is a passive life style, holding back and holding down. He does not project in his speech so he is often inaudible in communication.  Slower movements and equally slow reflexes.  Slow patterns of speech. The whole system remains in conservation mode to combat the imprinted damage which occurred originally.  This shallow breathing means that the system is not allowing in the oxygen it needs. And if we look at their brains and sleep behavior; chances are we would find more frequent apnea attacks.  Again, a reliving of the early trauma.  We are watching this closely in a patient who is currently undergoing sleep studies. My hypothesis is that there is an increase in sleep apnea event where a Primal patient is coming out of the oxygen-deficient birth and wakes up frequently and falls into a state where breathing comes in fits and starts, which I have observed. And it appears to be again a near-death experience where the person just does not seem reactive and aware. Patients report this as a near-death experience as they relive a traumatic birth. In the case of non-primal people, they just wake up, almost comatose as a replay of a birth on the cusp of death. The breathing seems not to be complete or at full capacity.  There is an oxygen deficiency that goes on and on where more sleep is needed to fill the tank, so to speak.  It is a repeat of history. It is here that we find those more susceptible to migraines as part of a lack of a full supply of oxygen, a memory arising from the early imprint.    Here we also see chronic low energy and tiredness.   I believe the apnea is one key sign of being close to that oxygen-deprived imprint that we see in so many patients.

The shallow breathing in those with this condition, that will show up in sleep, is measurable.  And when patients relive the early lack of oxygen we should see changes in sleep patterns and apnea.  The reason I bring this up is I that I do see the shallow breathers struck by cancer.  And I wonder if the lack of sufficient oxygen is body-wide affecting so much of us.  It is a damaging imprint that leaves its traces and afflictions throughout the system.  The precursor for all this may be deprived oxygen at birth; too many pain killers taken by the mother or heavy anesthesia which is fine for a 130-pound mother but overwhelming for a 6 pound baby.  The distance between the time and place of the trauma and the symptom of cancer makes it incomprehensible.  Unless, we find a way to delve deep in the brain and observe for ourselves. Sleep studies, now so far advanced, can offer much information to us and eventually I hope to stop serious illness.

The change we need to make is total personality. The trauma drives that personality and its tendency to disease.  There can be no piecemeal alteration.  We are changing patterns from birth; not easily or quickly done.  But necessary. Otherwise, each and every breath taken produces a deficit in the system and furthers the trauma. We are slowly depriving the system of needed nutrients and oxygen, the stuff of life.  The thought behind this is to propose a way of diverting the arc toward serious disease by changing the imprint of anoxia which binds the system ineluctably to deprive itself of oxygen and exacerbate the possibility of cancer.


Why Does Primal Therapy Take Time?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Joy and Tragedy of a Wide Open Gate

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What Does Primal Therapy Offer that is Different From Other Therapies?


Oh no,  I don’t give you love; I give you the capacity for it.  If I give you love, all would be lost, and that is one error in touchy-feely therapy.  Our apotheosis, our goal and ultimate aim is to allow patients to feel loved so as to enable them to give love.  But there is a caveat:  first they have to feel unloved, painfully unloved.  As they do that they open up the repressive gates and allow feelings to flourish.  We liberate buried feelings.  Feelings that we have no idea exist until we meet them.   The doctor asks, “Did you have a loving childhood?  And we answer  “Yes of course.”   Because “unloved” remains hidden beneath layers of chemical barriers of repression.  They are hidden so we do not suffer inordinately.  Unfortunately, these are also the agents of serious disease later on as they do their damage surreptitiously.  It is a stealth invader that moves into key organs and warps their destiny.

No other therapies, that I know of emphasize love as its goal.  I have seen patients come from new age therapies where they yelled out “I feel unwanted and unloved,” and the therapist rushes in to do the opposite of what is needed.   He becomes the good guy who loves.  (He too wants to feel loved).  That blocks the pain that has to come out and be experienced.    If that does not happen, he will go on screaming for a lifetime. Only they will be silent screams that only his system will feel and be ravaged by.

We cannot love neurosis away.

It was set in because love was missing, something important for development and survival was missing and he must find it. His system will be drawn to it if given enough freedom and help.   And  what will he find?  Better put, what will find him?  The missing link in his development; love.   And when he finds it, it will hurt.  He will agonize because it was the key ingredient for proper maturation.  In its place, a void.   Love is the great ineluctable force, a force that when missing drives so much of our behavior.  And by love I mean, inter alia,  fulfilling basic needs from the start: enough nutrients, oxygen,  no strange drugs allowed into the system.  No massive anesthesia.    We do not want the baby meeting his world drugged out of his mind.  Because I have found that we replicate how we first meet the world in our sleep; how we wake up and get active. Those drugged early on have to spend a good deal of time in bed trying to get fully conscious to meet the day.
They are just not ready.

Therapy has been dominated by intellectuals and those who prefer ideas, insights and cognition.   How could it not be, since doctors study and study ad nauseam to learn about human cognition.

But therapy should mean unlocking the gates. Of repression.  No pain, closed gates. They are there to protect us against deep pain; once we begin to feel that suffering there is no longer the need to sequester it. Other therapies are looking at cognitive dominance.  Getting our thoughts and head straight.  Neurosis to them is just bad thinking; negativity. And that is why addiction therapy must fail; they left out the body and its history. They have group lectures and and infinite discussions that remain up high, never touching the body.

What is the point of life if we cannot feel and love others?  Without feeling, life becomes empty and sterile.  It, above all, loses its meaning. Those who live in their heads miss this crucial point….feeling.  Remember, feeling is meaning; meaning is feeling.  Extract feeling and meaning disappears.  Our early life effectively suppressed feeling.    We need to get our life back.

No more classes about how to rear children.  Feeling parents sense when what they do is right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy.  No more counseling to learn how to get along; because you have so much of yourself, you will know the difference between an act-out and normal behavior.  Having uplifted the unconscious there will be far less of being driven by deeply submerged forces beyond our control; no more drinking to excess. Gambling and out of control behavior.

Life gets a lot simpler when feelings take over, not in the old Freudian where they surge forth, escaping repression and doing harm. These are not the usual feelings; they are a great and often damaging force because they were hurtful from their origin. And we equate feeling with being dominated by “feelings.” “he is so emotional” when we do not know what lies deep inside we have to guess and assume they are harmful and dangerous; and the great part of psychotherapy today is learning how to control or “manage” feelings.  That is what addiction therapy is all about……holding back needs and feelings.

In the courts today there is an endless number of managing solutions: managing anger, addiction, fear, etc.  It is never about feeling them because soto voce, those feelings are deleterious to our well being and are not to be approached.  So we learn feeling management, like a business, and what we really learn is how not to feel.  How to keep self control, all because buried feelings springing forth can be dangerous.  “Oh, he has such temper tantrums!  When he gets like that I stay away.”

No one knows the origin of those feelings and why they often contain such fury and jealousy. They cannot imagine that they come from our deep, archaic brain, yes, they are part of us too.  Not foreign entities or mysterious beings.  They are our deep brain selves we have never met, nor felt and experienced.  And the courts have no clue either. So someone who is well-behaved and controls himself for 6 months is considered no longer a danger, especially no longer a danger to himself.   He is thought to be no longer a danger to others now that he is off drugs for x months.   What they do not know is that imprinted pain never leaves, and maintains the drive for a lifetime.  How can it not be this way when there is a whole world of agony agitating us.  And we wonder why some of us cannot sit still?  There is a primal engine down there grinding away and moving us. This fount of suffering is a permanent source of being out of conscious control.  We have to keep busy and keep moving because of that primal force.  We try to cap it to no avail.   We are captivated by it through the exigencies of biologic logic. To save us hurting so we can go on functioning.

So my friends, the goal of psychotherapy is to restore our humanity; nothing more and nothing less; that is already a tall order.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

On Talking Fast

In childhood I talked so fast that is was hard to understand me, and I never knew why.  Then I had the key feeling. My father was so anxious that he could not sit still and pay attention. When I did have to ask him something, I sensed his impatience and hurried through it. I talked fast. He also never wanted to hear anything I said so he would find reasons to delay listening. "Can't you see I am busy?" I got punished for asking because it was never at the right time. He had no time for me.    

In fact, he didn't want me around. He never addressed me unless it was a criticism: stand up straight, stop talking through  your nose (I had a constant running nose). Mostly, it was “stop bothering me.” He had no time for me. The fates got him at age 63 with a giant heart attack. I began crying at home on the way to the cemetery and my mother ran out screaming, “He's crying!  He's crying!” The opposite of a compassionate mother. She had no interest in acting maternal because she was a five year old and talked baby talk.    

Crying became an anathema. It was nowhere in the family lexicon. I never saw either parent show any feeling in my lifetime. It was a robotic existence. But my metabolism was set to churn at the pace of their indifference. Their whims became my destiny. When they decided to move, there was no warning or explanation;  just pack and get going. Talking to me was a reminder that there was a job to do: take care of me. They wanted no reminder of that.   

I slowed way down later on as I slipped into my feelings about how they had children but wanted nothing to do with them. I was an orphan with a mommy and daddy.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Awareness Versus Consciousness

There are steps leading to full consciousness. The penultimate one is awareness;  awareness sets the stage for consciousness, which is why we must not confuse the two. In psychoanalysis we are made aware of something but we cannot be made conscious of anything.  I am aware that my father hardly ever talked to me, but I was not conscious of what it did to me, a consciousness that would ineluctably lead to insights and change. Let’s say thereafter I needed men to talk to me and be aware of my existence; whether by a teacher or coach. And therefore my act-out was getting teachers to pay attention to me by my excelling in studies. It made me driven to excel. I never knew about the drive until I became conscious, conscious of my motives, to be loved.  (This is not my case,  this is only an example) 

Animals are very aware of a menace, of a sex object, or a reward. Their cerebrum does not expand beyond that into consciousness.  They can sense and be aware, can be aware but not conscious. Consciousness means an harmonious confluence of all brain levels working to protect the individual from danger, both internal and external. Internal comprises pain imprinted into the nervous system that accumulates into, at times, a massive input that threatens to damage or impair the defense system.  What is too often neglected in therapy is the emotional level which is denigrated in the service of the intellectual level. 

It is the lingering aspect of our history that become an over-weaning burden that results in depression, low blood pressure and other related symptoms. It is the importuning insurgence of that force that can produce ADD, impulsiveness and other signs of an internal overload that cannot be integrated. When we see that conglomerate of afflictions, we must assume an imprinted force that needs integration.  That is our job: to suss out those internal forces, to learn what and where they are, and how to integrate them into the neuro-biologic system.  Integration is the key word here because in psychotherapy the patient is given his insights, which means large room for error as there are built-in errors due to the fact that information is provided by someone else’s perceptions and not the patient’s.   Errors cannot be integrated because they are not organic to the system. They are aliens, strangers that have no business in the biologic system of the patient. That is why we need a therapy that emanates solely from the patient and no one else.  Insights from a therapist are organic to him alone and can be loaded with errors.  Worse, when we genuflect psychologically to the psyche of the patient, we reduce the litany of errors which can be committed. No one is smarter than the patient, nor more perceptive. More important, no one is smarter than the patient’s personal internal time-table in therapy, which dictates when powerful feelings are ready to be experienced. If we neglect this one fact, we are liable to push a patient into massive pain, which can overload him and lead to serious symptoms. No whine before its time. (Oh my, excuse the pun.  I am trying to make a serious subject fun). Alas, too often it is anything but fun. I need my sanity too. But my pun is deadly serious, for we have seen over fifty years what happens when too much pain accumulates without being felt; an overload of pain on a lower level which then wends its way to the top level neocortex where it provides, inter alia, insights to explain what is going on, or delusions to make rational those internal terrors that have been unleashed. They importune us to provide some reason for being so terrified. The person is unaware of deep brain forces at work.  He imagines it comes from outside of him. So the man “hiding” in the phone booth is whispering secrets about him.

So what is an insight? It is the understanding of one’s life, motives, impulses, fears, and obsessions, all proffered by a biologic system that has held this information away because biting the apple of information can be highly painful. Once bitten there is no going back. We cannot erase or undo the insight; if it is correct it is now part of us. And when it comes to the surface to be experienced the system knows it is the right time; if not, it will remain sequestered. And if the person is pushed to experience the pain prematurely, it is, by definition, the wrong time. The warning signs emerge to tell us ”danger ahead.”

So here we have a paradox; a doctor is inculcating information/insights onto the patient who is in no position to hear them. He is “filled-up”  already.  The imprint is a giant load of information that is too much at the moment. In the case of serious mental problems, it may be correct to aid him for a short time with a painkiller to strip the pain of some of its load so part of it can be accepted and be integrated.  One needs a very experienced doctor for this, as when it is mishandled it can lead to serious exacerbation. Feelings in therapy will lead to proper insights when the pain is at an integrable level that can be accepted and is not part of an overload; thus the insights that will come up will be correct and useful. They will make sense. When they are part of an overload and spill unabated into the neocortex, they will be pseudo-insights that help no one. They are just the spillways of too much input.  The new (neocortex) brain must rush in to help deal with it and absorb some of the overload with strange, stretched idealization. These delusions are a very thin blanket for feeble efforts to be rational. 

As we see, there is a universal effort to normalize, to make sense and explain one’s emotions. Alas, when the pain is terrible, this effort fails and we can get gibberish.  In the early days of my practice, I did see some gibberish in very disturbed patients who were down into the brainstem, with no coherent language ability. A very primitive response. So insights are rational and coherent when we are coherent; when the feelings we undergo are now feelable and can rise to the thinking brain untrammeled. 

If we continue on with awareness we will see none of that rationality.  We will see an intellectual who thinks he has made progress; and he has, but it is confined to his rational brain and not his whole system. Therefore he is smart, yet dumb. His panoply of perceptions is warped and sees only parts of reality. He is good at self deception but bad at true perception. He fails in the emotional department. It is that department that means life and its meaning. 

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.