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.


  1. So, those who cannot relive this will die sooner.


  2. I have heard your comments that almost have to be relegated to a kind of naivety... it of the question for what Janovs advanced age appears to be a preliminary arguments in response to what he proves to be of science!?

    To all of you who do not dare to stand up for your opinion... perhaps because of ignorance... but worse... if you more want to keep your possition than acknowledge what science tells us about!

    If you ever hear that old age would be a cause of a weakened mentality you must immediately reconsider these prejudices! If you can already keep up with what Art tells about then I am prepared to reconsider what I said... but first then!

    So please answer us on all the issues that primal therapy sets its questions in sense of developing the health care to become the best care?

    Obviously there are questions... but first we must be able to set them... and not escape them as now with foolish questions in meaning to defend what we believe in more than what science tells us about!

    Your Frank

  3. All about it is need of love!

    If science is not allowed to be what it is... it to protect own interests... it in need of love... it more than understanding of science... to allow science prevail. It can not be other than the symtom to be termed imbecilic... a need of love that has taken diabolical roads in its attempt to survive. So... can we understand what now is going on in this world!

    If science is not allowed to be what it is... it to protect own interests... it in need of love... it more than understanding of science... to allow science prevail. It can not be other than to be imbecilic... a need of love that has taken others roads in its attempt to survive. So... we can understand what is going on in this world... if so!

    All that could help is to feel our need of love... not the imaginable love... but who needs it... it in the ton of a child... a child that we are as imbecilic to be needing love.


  4. Emotion is not only about love... but the ability to deny it!

    We all live in the symptom of being an imbecile... it's just like all the other symptoms that we express... it because we do not understand or feel the cause of it. Feelings in need of love... a need that hides to be threatening... why hard to understand when we have a different concept of what love is in our denial of it. Who can get off a running train without hurting badly?

    Emotion is not love... but the ability to feel it!


  5. Whenever someone touches me in the side, just below the ribs, I feel like I am being electrocuted by a million volts. It is a stabbing, shocking pain that bursts through my whole body. My automatic reaction is to push the person away with such force that they become upset. Then I calm then down by explaining that they must NEVER touch me there.

    Anyway... last night I was dreaming some poor guy was being grabbed and poked in that region, and he was suffering terribly. I woke up and rolled over onto my left side. As soon as I opened my eyes, wide awake, I felt something slam into my side, just below my ribs. I couldn't move at all as the feeling began... it was horrific. I can only describe it as three or four hands karate-chopping me in the side, very rapidly and continuously. Think of the way a masseur uses two hands to karate-chop his patient, but with extremely powerful blows sending shock waves deep inside my body. It was agony.

    This constant blasting lasted only about eight or ten seconds until I couldn't take it anymore and I snapped out of the feeling... heart beat through the roof.

    There was no emotion, no context and no scene. I saw nothing but my bedroom wall, but it was torture. I have no idea what it was.

    If I poke myself in that region, there is never any reaction... it feels perfectly normal like touching any other part of my body. It is triggered only by someone else's hand. Obviously there is a psychological thing going on there.

    1. Wow Richard, that's intense. Sounds like you're so close to something big there. Are you doing Primal Therapy currently? You need a session ;-)

    2. Hi Raindog. No, I am doing everything I can to make Primal Therapy a reality. Not there yet. And I am only too aware of Art's age and mine. I won't do skype with all my deathly first line interference. I have found a way to radically reduce my living costs in the US, living in Bullhead City, AZ. It's a town with a depressed economy but it has zoning codes and laws that are very reasonable for low-income people. Southern California is a higher-income area with strictly enforced rules and regulations that prevent people from living ultra-efficiently in pleasant areas. It would mean driving for 5 hours to get to Santa Monica (I am used to driving 10 hours per day in my job), doing extended periods of Primal Therapy and staying at campsites, and returning to Arizona in between those extended periods of therapy. For the initial intensive therapy I would be just staying in a hotel in Santa Monica. Over the longer term I do not want to be flying back and forth from New Zealand... it's just not feasible. There are good things going on in my life but I don't want to mention those things here. Feeling very positive overall.
      Thanks for asking.

    3. Good luck to you Richard.

      Paul G.


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.