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.


  1. I saw youtube video called: 'psychosis and cognitive therapy.' The therapist tried to convince a fellow that people could not read his thoughts. Also that fellow tried convincing a fellow-sufferer that the voices his friend was hearing were not audible to others and perhaps a result of stress. In neither one did it show having an improvement of delusions or hallucinations to the reasoning-talk therapy.

    To top things off, there was the video of 'CBT for psychosis: the science and politics', where the medication proponents of improvement through drugs, were steamed at the cognitivists saying that talk therapy can even make the psychotic worse and was no better than 'befriending' the patient. Of course you get side-effects with drugs but have improved symptoms.

    Of course neither treatment addresses the root trauma.

  2. Art,

    There are so many therapies...

    Psychotherapy, chemotherapy, neurotherapy, physiotherapy, music therapy, play therapy, radiotherapy, colour therapy, Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT), Transcutane Nerve Stimulation (TNS), pharmacotherapy.

    Primal Therapy is the established name since 50 years. I always state stubbornly that it is different, so different it's not even a psychotherapy. How could it be, since it affects the entire biology and very well can substitute most of the bunch of therapies above?

    It's too late now to introduce 'primaltherapy' as a specific kind and a specific name for a different dimension of treatment, but I will continue to maintain in any communication that Primal Therapy is a special Product with a special name and really should be accompanied by (C) or (P) or (T). Is that too late? It also comes at a cost, I believe.


  3. How do we give love to someone who hates to get it... because it was associated with so much pain in attempts to get it... because our senses for it has been repressed and perverted wills has taken over?

    When we face our needs and are embarrassed to challenge them then we could be able to understand if we only knew why we are ashamed. But to be ashamed has only been called to be a "human condition... all of us is affected by it... it's just the circumstances of what we are exposed as determine" this is what is told around professional of the matter... what an understanding is not that?

    So... when we do not know then we "know" anyway... that's how we accomplish it cognitively without access to what it is about to know the cause... it as long as no resistance exists... knowledge about its cause.

    We are lost in ourselves with no way out... not even for what the knowledge of the evidence is sufficient. How shall we be able to ask our self something when something is what we think... say and do not to be able to ask the right question because it's loaded with life-threatening pain!?

    How do we imagined that this life will end? Yes... I know we have illusions to help to alleviate our suffering for the needs we do not know about.


  4. Dear Dr. Janov

    Mindfulness should not necessarily be seen as therapy, rather it is a tool to get a handle on the chaos of thoughts and feelings.
    Just imagine If our thoughts and feelings were available for scrutiny on a screen for others to view, we would all be condemned and locked up !
    Primal Therapy is the only way to access the lower levels and cure trauma, but not many people world wide are aware of this.
    The second problem is the availability of your Therapy only in Santa Monica. Years ago you wrote in one of your books that knowledge has no power.
    That is the situation today everywhere !
    If good ideas do not win, then bad ideas prevail !
    Psychoanalysis, insight therapy, all the third line therapies have the upper hand, and your therapy is not acknowledged enough to become mainstream.
    Primal Therapy needs a boost of acceptance and funding to defeat the status-quo.

    1. Please do not misquote me. Knowledge is the greatest power. Is it not great that somewhere on this planet an effective treatment exists and can be had? It just take a bit of an effort to get there. Read me carefully: mindfulness is no tool. After my 20 books, how can you say that? Dr. J.

  5. Yesterday I had a dream, it was my granfather exactly the same as I remember him, he took me to his knees. I told him "help me", later I phoned primal center and you've told me that you will help me, just come to Los Angeles. Some deep feelings still without connection. My mind is still fooling me.

  6. Art,

    Yes, generally speaking you are correct.

    But re: Quoting you: Awareness is a non-depth event and is meant to be the enemy of consciousness. End of quote.

    To be honest and objective, I would not say that awareness is meant to be an enemy of consciousness. I would say that it is a mental construct which is a substitute for the consciousness that was sequestered, blocked, buried, hidden out of mind.

    And if used correctly it can be used as a precursor to consciousness. A person needs some mental function (a vehicle or a tool) to get them to retrieve consciousness.

    Again like I always say, there is a right way and a wrong way to do almost everything.

    I would also add, that it may be part of an evolution of consciousness.

    There is an anti psychiatry movement going on now.

    Just google "anti psychiatry".

    If and when the anti psychiatry movement hits critical mass, there might be or should be, a mass influx or migration of seekers for help in to therapies like your primal scream.


    1. David,

      it's not 'Primal Scream' therapy.

      Surely as an ex patient you know it's more often verbal sensations and non visual 'memories' that are at the core ?

      Situations from our very early history where we are all sensation and feeling. No concepts.

      Also, I don't see how there can be a PTSD type of therapy separate from Primal either. Unless it's counseling, which, as many friends and associates of mine know, is merely dissipating the energy of the imprint through support and acknowledgement and talking.

      Not that good counseling is a mere trifle, indeed getting support and acknowledgement is the first step to Primal.

      Paul G.

  7. Hi Art,

    -"The system is designed not to permanently hide feelings but to bring them up when the system can take it and integrate it"-.

    Evolved not designed but your point remains the same. That is the singularly most important thread in Primal Theory and Therapy. One that hopefully is matched by the right therapist with the right patient in the right therapeutic conditions.

    The rest of us make do by devouring ever word and nuance and carry on as best we can.

    Paul G.

  8. Hi Art,

    just the word 'Mindfulness' makes me feel sick. Partly because my ex partner has begun brainwashing our daughter with it, having herself been brainwashed with it by her Buddhist therapist.

    Unfortunately (or not - the court's still out) for me, I am an experienced and skilled craftsman. That as a consequence of intentionally practicing 'mindfulness' over nearly 40 years. Not that anyone ever taught me 'mindfulness' per se, or that word existed outside of a Buddhist framework which I happenchanced apon one day.

    It kind of pisses me off royally that over the years several 'apprentices' have made remarks of the 'mindfulness' kind when formerly 'in training' with me whilst fucking up the work in hand and somehow casting the blame on me for it. . .

    Mindfulness is a craft that would not have turned into a religion had the world continued to give children and young people access to the means of knowledge & understanding and therefore the means of production. All that is mindfulness.

    How is it that a form of commonsense has reached the pinnacle of academic rhetoric? Meanwhile, real science and effective therapy remains steadfastly ignored and immature adults continue to need 'mindfulness' when it exists everywhere except inside their own psyche?

    Mindful shmindful. . .

    Paul G.

  9. David,

    it's not consciousness that we retrieve, but feelings and sensations.

    When these 'lost parts', formerly split off and repressed, are reconnected to awareness, then 'consciousness' is achieved.

    I don't think I am splitting hairs here either.

    Art has provided this formula:

    Feelings + awareness = consciousness. . .

    It's an incredibly simple concept but much more complex for any one individual to achieve in their own life. When we are ready for it it is not so hard.

    Painful, time consuming and exhausting yes.

    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.