Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What Is a Feeling?

I hope I am not drowning the fish; I want to explore the nature of feeling so we can judge whether we are feeling individuals or not. What does it matter? Having access to feeling means access to a good part of yourself and that access means health; it means less repression and less unconscious forces nudging at you from inside.

Let us go back to some basic points: When the very first traumas occur in the womb (if they do), they are set down in many ways and in many brain structures. They also seem to be set in a certain wave length or frequency, (This is my hypothesis, not proven science. The science is not against it; it is just not “for” it). The traumas I discuss are nearly always deprivation of need. And those needs appear according to a genetic plan. They do not change; they do transform. Those needs are first biologic, next emotional and finally intellectual. They correspond in my scheme to the evolution of the brain from primitive brainstem to limbic to prefrontal cortex. The heaviest pain is the instinctual/biologic, those very early needs that mean life and death. Proper nutrition for the carrying mother, no smoking, no drinking or drugs and no anxiety (that is often hard to avoid), and subtly, really wanting the baby. As the brain grows new traumas build and evolve (elaborated) out of the first memory of pain (or noxious stimuli, if you wish). They enlarge the frequency base. The original imprint is compounded.

Deprivation of emotional need, to be held, caressed, looked at, talked to, won’t necessarily be a life and death matter but emotional deprivation can rob us of our humanity. Then we add more and more similar kinds of pain, say, constant parental rejection or indifference and we get a deeper pain, that I believe joins the frequency parade and intensifies it. That is, the new pains are compounding the original pains laid down near the start of life in the womb. These similar pains join together add to the imprinted frequency set down at the start of life. I believe that is one way they can recognize each other; old friends who band together. It seems that pain is pain, and the system doesn’t much distinguish among them; it spurs itself into action to hold it down, to repress. Just as the brain doesn’t seem to care what we believe so long as we have beliefs to suppress feeling. As deprivation of need continues and compounds it reaches more and more areas of the brain, including the cognitive, understanding the pain. More of the brain is committed to repression. The brain becomes a pain-dealing engine (see Morpugo and Spinelli’s work).

What happens then? The feeling centers may send up all types of pain to the thalamus, the switchboard of the brain, for forwarding to the frontal brain to helps us understand our feelings, but if there is too much pain it is rerouted into the lower brain centers, the unconscious, if you will, where it creates havoc and physiologic symptoms. But the pain is always knocking at the door of the frontal cortex, trying to connect and resolve because that is the only thing that can let us relax—connection. But the gates against pain won’t let it happen. Unless the gates weaken (constant deprivation and neglect) and then a flood enters and overwhelms the thinking cortex, scattering cohesion and interrupting concentration, producing strange ideas and uncalled for suspicions. What makes the gates weaken? Too much additional load of pain. Don’t forget, the gates are always trying to keep pain away from conscious-awareness. That is what they do. We can talk about synapses and transmitters, but those are the details for what is an overarching reality; we block pain so as to function. And when we cannot, we stop functioning.

We may spend a lifetime trying to fulfill needs; to be touched, sexual act-outs is one example. Or we may overeat based on starvation of proper nutrients while in the womb. Or drinking to kill the pain. Those basic drives to overeat, drink and drug often mean an attempt to quell first-line physiologic trauma, deprivation of life-sustaining input by first-line means. The most basic of all drives. First-line trauma (in the womb and at birth and just after), provokes first-line symptoms, and first-line attempts to repress---that is, feeding the body any sort of pain-killer. How many alcoholics have told me that drinking relaxes them and gives them that feeling of warmth they never had? No one takes drugs continually who is not in pain. Why would they? Drink and drugs would not “stick” because they are serving no great biologic purpose. We need to understand that in neurosis (heavy load of pain)they do serve a purpose and that is obvious; to help them get through life, even to function. Normals do not function well on drugs but neurotics (where pain dislocates the biologic system) can. They are attempting to fulfill a need, so basic that it makes any therapy or treatment feeble in response. Of course, for some it is considered a disease. It is so refractory, so difficult to treat, so early to start that if we are not armed with a theory of womb-life and infancy-life we can never understand it.

So attempts at fulfillment are what I call symbolic. We are trying to fulfill a need so early that later attempts only pale. But of course, the person goes on trying to fulfill need, as he must. He never gives up, and if he does his body will give out from the effort to hold it all down. So the goodhearted in 12-step programs deprive him even more; deprive him of an attempt at fulfillment, even symbolic but at least it is an attempt. He is doing it because he is not feeling, not feeling the need and the pain that comes from deprivation. I know we have stop him drinking but how about feeling!? 

That is where we come in. We help him do that. As he becomes feeling he has less need for symbolic fulfillment. Doesn’t that make sense? Pain = pain-killing efforts. No pain, no pain-killing efforts. It isn’t done in a day but our direction is always right. Feeling means no more blockage from parts of ourselves. It means access in all directions including the deep physiological. I have seen patients who have had no interest in eating, nothing gives them pleasure. When they recapture feelings they recapture taste and joy.

The unconscious is constantly moving upward and forward at an attempt at connection and integration. It is trying to be whole. The deeper the pain and the earlier it occurred the stronger the force of the memory and the more it battles against the defense system; and the more it provokes the thinking brain into action. Sometimes the person needs more thinking brain to help out, hence cognitive/insight therapy. The joint thought combination of therapist and patient helps push down feelings. But it is a lifelong affair.

We have seen and measured patients whose brainwaves are extremely fast. For them to even get close to feeling they have to be able to slow down to get down into the feeling/primal zone. They do that either by feeling some of the compounded aspects of feelings and/or taking painkillers and tranquilizers to push back the force of the feeling. It seems like for these individuals the brain is racing away from feeling as fast as it can. Her thoughts are going and going and she cannot seem to stop them.

In each part of a traumatic memory lies a group of busy neurons working to join up with other likely neurons to coalesce into a feeling that is liberating. We smell mothers perfume, see the earrings she was wearing, the look on father’s face, the cloudy day, etc. I treated one young man who remembers that kind of scene; he could smell her perfume and saw her earrings so clearly. When he told his mother about this memory she was surprised at the accuracy of his memory as she lost the earrings when my patient was four years old. The more elements of the memory the deeper, more profound the feeling. “I remember when I was crying in my crib and daddy came in and had angry eyes and shouted at me to shut up. “ That whole memory came back to my patient only after he had felt many later less painful memories. It was a start of a lifelong fear of his father, and then of authoritarian men, in general. He was afraid to contradict his boss at work, a fear the worked against him, as he became anxious in his presence, and never knew why. So as all these pieces of a memory come together in a feeling, say, of hopeless and helplessness. The person is getting more and more of herself back, the self that was barricaded behind the repressive gates. What I have noticed is that those two feelings are behind so much early misery in my patients. We can theorize about what our basic feelings are but I have seen this over and over. Hopelessness/ helplessness is often the feeling when death or harm is in the offing and there is nothing the person can do about it. When we are strangling on the cord during birth, for example, or when mother smokes while carrying. They are the lifelong consequences of very early trauma. So when we say that depression over time can lead to cancer, we mean that the very repressed feelings involved in depression are also involved with the development of cancer. These are not two distinct maladies, in the primal sense, but different manifestations of the same cause. We can find this medicine for this disease, treating or finding many other avenues to treat a person, say for high blood pressure. but if we do not recognize the key fact of pain and repression we have a lifelong, unending task before us.

So when a patient is fully plugged in she has a complete feeling; when it starts in the present goes back to childhood, then to birth or before, there is full access. She will then generally come back through the same route; back to childhood and into the present. I call this the three two, one, event, and a trip back to a two and three, This is what I mean by access. Often patients are blocked on the route backwards, as they should be. Defenses were setup at the time to keep the memories from completely disrupting consciousness. They come up again to hold back deeper aspects of the feeling. That is when we know the patient has had enough. Often, if the therapist has a stake at producing deep feelings in the patient so he can look good, the patient will be pushed beyond her ability and suffer. You know, a primal is a very dramatic event. And to be able to produce that in a patient seems to make the therapist seem omniscient and omnipotent. Someone who has himself doesn’t need that. It is like making the baby talk before he is ready so that the parent will look good; having such a smart baby.

Incidentally, I have discussed the biologic critical window, the time when needs must be fulfilled. A small aside: when the child is allowed to go on fulfilling a need that has ended its timetable we may find a neurotic result; that is, the child goes on nursing for too long due to the mother’s need, and becomes imprinted with it. Becomes fixated on breasts and sucking. But this is just a slight interruption in what I want to say. A feeling means an experience, and that means all aspects from psychological to the physiological to the neuronal; they all join in to make it a feeling. And to cure someone of pain and repression we again need an experience, not just a mental exercise bereft of those emotions that are stored in the brain. Some of us have almost full access to feeling; those who were fully loved with few great traumas in early life. They never come to us.

The switchboard of the brain seems to be the thalamus, strategically positioned to inform the prefrontal area of what we are feeling. But imagine if you will that the operator is constantly plugging in aspects of the memory, the context of our feeling lonely and all alone. The brain is the operator doing what it can. It is unplugging emotional aspects of the memory because of their valance, and storing them for the future. It is plugging in certain aspects of the feeling while unplugging the emotional component. We need to plug emotions/feelings back in. Once we lock into a frequency where all three levels of brain function are joined, then a whole feeling means experiencing the pain on all three levels, the instinctual/physiologic, the emotional/feeling and the intellectual/comprehension; the feeling with its bodily dimensions meets feelings and and intellectual overview— putting it all together.

Some of us can remember the details of our early lives but they are not plugged into the emotions. Others are permanently plugged into emotions with little cerebral counterpart. They are awash in pain that remains unconnected. Normally, the overall feeling gathers up all the disparate aspects and binds them into a whole, into what I call a feeling. If there are still aspects of the memory that are not reachable, such as the first-line, brainstem base of it all, then there is more to feel. To get well we need to stay on that frequency/memory until all parts are experienced and integrated. In psychoanalysis someone can remember every little detail of her early life but be bereft of its emotional component. Once there is access to the feeling it will largely take care of itself. That is, no special techniques by the therapist are necessary. But if we try to force a feeling or decide we know where the patient needs to go, then failure looms. I teach my therapist never, never to claim to know what a patient means when she says, I feel lonely. I feel afraid, etc. Because there are specific feelings underlying the sentences and only the patient and her feelings knows. That sentence may be linked into right after birth when she was not touched or held. Or at age one my mother died. Or at age four I was sent to preschool, etc. If we think we know what the patient is feeling then it means we know all the details of her life and what exactly was meant by the phrase, “I feel lonely”. If we think we know exactly where the patient has to go in a session and try to lead her there, there will be no cure. We can make notes in our head but we need to follow the patient, not lead her.

So to help someone to feel we of course need the entrance to the feeling centers, the amygdala, hippocampus and finally the prefrontal cortex to bind all separate elements into an emotional whole. It is not enough to watch the patient cry and cry and think we have done some good; that crying must be in context and needs connection. All aspects must be linked together; linked by neuronal rhythms in the brain. Otherwise it is abreactive discharge which just releases the energy of feeling without its essence; the person is running off the energy portion of the feeling without knowing what it really is. Still, for the moment there is some relief so the patient thinks she is getting somewhere. She is going nowhere, literally. And we have measured the vital signs in feeling and in abreaction. In feeling the vitals move up and down in coordinated fashion, ending up near or below beginning baseline. In abreaction it is all sporadic, vitals moving in jigsaw fashion up and down but not going to baseline or below. When all elements are joined by specific oscillations of neurons we are on our way to health. The problem is that when the patient is repressed and suffers from this affliction or that, we go about treating the elements of the feeling, the manifestations, the grinding stomach or shortness of breath; we ignore the whole organizing principle which is feeling. We omit the repressed feelings that give rise to the symptoms. We omit the humanity of the person.


  1. About being on the inside or the outside of myself!
    On the way home after taking a cup of coffee at a cafe and shopped a bit I met a woman who smiled at me. I felt a rush through my body and I smiled back... something that would have been painful for some time ago. But now free as the wind to breathe!

    Back to the café where I met an older gentleman who I talked to... and we came in to questions about life where comments on how old on retirement homes are just sitting and rocking back and forth without any one to talk to. I mean absolutely no one to talk to. Suddenly the man become pale in his face and where already on his out by saying "that I do not want to talk about." Maybe I should have known better but it seemed not to be so.

    What a question to answer without a life. I wonder if that is not an issue for many younger then life comes too close to answering.

    So on... what is it to feel? It is to be so small as we can not imagine we been! Do we understand that? Being so far away from feelings... it by space and time that passed during many years impossible to perceive. What it is to be an adult? The distance is to be small in an adult's body without its history. Where to start?


  2. What is the point of any Therapy? Isn't it to FEEL GOOD ?
    Well how can we FEEL good if we can't feel? Obviously we need to understand what feeling is!


    1. Feeling: What it is and what it can tell us, based on Janov's research. Another great book title, subject.

      I would really like to understand the neurophysiological differences between abreaction and feeling/reliving. I understand the different basic concepts and their implications.

      Ever grateful to you and France,

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Oh my, tell me if I am wrong but I wrote 50- 80 pages on this in my piece on abreaction. What more is there to say? Can anyone else help out from some of my quotes? Art

    4. Katherinanina, I can't answer your question but maybe can point to where you may understand it better. On the right side of this page about 1/3 of the page down it says "search the blog" under the little box it says "google search". Type in 'abreaction.' It will take you to the fifteen part article starting July 26, 2016 that Dr. Janov wrote here.

      One of his quotes was "...abreaction is the discharge of feeling disconnected from its source, making it in fact a defense, or at least reinforcing an existing defense. It can be the release of a feeling from one level of consciousness into another level. For example, first line into third line. Or it can be first line disconnected from any other level, taking on a life of its own to the exclusion of any other levels. The defense system in its crafty and brilliant way, can promote many forms of abreaction that may lead to strange ideations, crazy delusions and paranoia." (part 2/15).

      Hope this helps.

    5. No worries Art,
      I'll go find all those pages you wrote. K

    6. Hi Art,

      Oh yes.

      Symbolic ideation. . . We need a guide to help us 'reflect' past the barriers set up in our limbic system to defend us from the reality of our earlier 1st line traumas. Particularly the 1st line traumas.

      Without a guide we can only 'ruminate' with partially conscious act outs; appearing in dreams, in shadows of our daily day dreams. . .

      That is the difference between 2nd line access and 1st line reliving. . .

      The real Primal is in accessing 1st line without the 2nd or 3rd interfering, without a 'melange' or act out.

      We cannot do this without correct support. I could write a book about that and if there were support for it here in UK which could actually result in UK giving UK citizens a fair presentation of their 'health issue facts', then I would write it. As we can see such 'scribblings' don't help deliver the facts to those who could really deliver good curative measures.

      I was told by the so called 'London Institute of Primal Therapy' that 'primal principles' had been integrated into all forms of therapy, thus the three week intensive was NO LONGER NECESSARY.

      The way I see it is that the Primal Center in Santa Monica California is the only 'clinic' which has accepted the inevitable fact that without adequate support during the the decent, without an entire 'procedure' based on the three brain primal process / evolution in reverse, well then access to our 1st line stuff will remain a destination on another line we are not on, having caught the wrong train in the first place.

      Abreaction leads to the need for continual identification with a 'saviour'.

      In a way, I am still 'caught' too. . . I identify with stuff all over the place, but I know it's happening. . .

      I have noticed when I take any kind of opiate for relief it enhances my particular form of ideation. Opiates make for a dreamy nirvana of parental rescue in one form or another.

      Did Churchill's 'Black Dog' rescue him or attack him?

      Given that our endorphin system is there to protect us and keep us feeling 'OK' then it follows there must also be a corresponding neural circuit to back up the defense with that neurotransmitter (or is it an inhibitor actually)? This is what Art has been banging on about in his book about belief. . . . . .

      Paul G.

      We must guard against identifying with Art (or anyone else) as some kind of 'saviour'. . . If your endorphin system hasn't yet failed then it will provide a certain 'psycho - idealisation'. . . Or in other words: "A Belief System"

    7. The London Primal Institute is illegally and unethically using our name. They integrate with other nonsense because they do not know what they are doing. Art

    8. Hi Art,

      regarding the LIPT - they particularly state on their website that the three week intensive is 'counterproductive' due to the alleged shock to patients when it ends.

      I cannot see how Real Primal can start without the intensive and yes, there must be a risk at the end of it that patients may feel 'lost or abandoned'. . . However, it seems absurd to address this issue by discarding the intensive altogether.

      There is a risk that when jacking up a car to change a wheel that the car may fall off it's jack. . . But to dispense with the jack altogether? To try to take the wheel off without the jack? I think anyone professing to change a wheel without the jack is selling snake oil; I think they're not taking the wheel off at all; I think they don't even know what a spanner is or how to use it.

      So, from everything I have learned from you on this blog and from your books I am deeply suspect of anyone offering Primal without the intensive. How could anyone get past their defenses whilst also developing a rapport with their own therapeutic process without an intensive period of at least three weeks?
      It seems indicative of what the Primal Center in Santa Monica has achieved and refined, that it still starts with the intensive. That is obviously one thing the Primal Center got right from word go.

      I can see that during that three week period all previous 'insight' falls away leaving the patient with who they really are and a real view of their actual needs. Without that it's just another succession of 50minute hourly sessions. Just another set of 'appointments'.

      I perceive the London Institute selling yet another therapy of 'convenience'. Real Primal is NOT convenient.

      Paul G.

    9. So so right. Who is the London Institute? Art

  3. Hello Katherinanina!

    Love is all we needed!

    Now you have shouldered a question that all scholars in the field of psychological phenomena are puzzled by... phenomena until we encountered primal therapy!

    I'm sorry... but I have to disappoint you! First we have to experience a lot... I mean a lot of emotions that are not of a satisfactory before a thought of satisfaction can come to the question... but still to be the only way to achieve satisfaction. Knowing is the first question we face... but if it is a question of feeling satisfaction... then we have probably started in the wrong therapy if we chose Primal Therapy. But here comes an equivocation for what we later will experience possitivt about to feeling negative emotions... it to be positive for its journey... but first later in our therapy. I mean... with the benefit of hindsight so is primal therapy fantastic all the way throught (if implemented right?)... but it is not going to be emphasize before we ourselves experience it. So... thoughts on positive feelings to bypass the process of primal therapy is to go too far.

    If we had received love needed during our childhood... so we would not need any therapy or not even a neocortex (think about it if you can:)... then we would been satisfied with what feeling exists in our limbic system and we certainly would not have been neurotic... but that is another issue for what evolution has made survival possible... or?

    Actually... we do not need to think so much... but still that's all we do... ALL WE DO! Something for your question is that we are thinking not to feel. So... your question is before its time about the question to feel. Not a small issue when we seek therapies to first achieve satisfaction.

    Love is what we never got!

    Your Frank

    1. Dear Frank, thank you ! Yes my question comes after already gaining a deeper understanding of what feeling is from reading some of Arts books, blog, the Legacy and years of experience of the feeling process. And it's taken years to see the obvious and ask the question " How can we feel good if we can't feel ?" . I didn't even know I had feelings before Primal Therapy.
      I would like to study neurophysiology to understand the physiological mechanics of the feeling process.


  4. I am very happy that you have set out so clearly an aspect that is essential for effective aid to drug addicts.
    More than twenty years ago, I made my first attempt to convince people working in rehabilitation centers that the problem is not in drugs but in pain hidden deep in the mind and drug addicts , try to flee.
    A "Johnnie Walker" is one of the most powerful sedatives in existence. Psychological addiction is not to the drug, addiction is to the relief of pain.
    My congratulations Dr. Janov. It is one of the clearest work that has been written about the nature of pain and the true defense mechanisms used by the body.

  5. Another illuminating article, Art.

    That is really getting down to the deep, core, nitty gritty.

    I would like you to write an article on what you think the various causes of such problems as autism and Down's syndrome, deformities, monsters, con-joined twins, and others, are.

    The reason I say various causes, is because I suspect that there are more than one. I think there could be many causes.


    1. David, you flatter me. I do not know enough to answer your suggestions. Art

    2. Art,

      I think you are more qualified to figure it out, than any one else, and can figure it out, given some time to think it over and through.

      That is your assignment.



  6. Emotional feeling is a "good thing". Just too bad now, one has to combat just what's out there in people. A lot of people , including women, like macho man with no feeling, and some insist that others should not feel also (to the point where they are never nice to the nice person); to me, those people are ignorant. If one is seeking Primal Therapy, just don't get "sucked in" by the crowd that is out there nowadays, and one should be o.k.. I really hate to say it, but many men and women just feel that it is good to be brute strong with no feelings, and it seems their kids are picking up on it. These people should also be treated along with the ones who went through birth trauma. I'm not saying everyone out there in today's world is like this (showing brute strength mentally, with no feelings), but many are that way. I don't know if the kids bring it home, or if the parents start this "mode"; just not good.

  7. We are soldiers in the attempt to overcome ourselves!

    The moment of experience are impossible for its process... the obstacles are immense! We are not in war against soldiers we are at war with our own brain who suffer in its attempts to survive which we projects on others... it because we do not know better about ourselves! This is also linked with many other behaviors.


  8. Responding to David's post I have known a child-man aged 70 for 26 years.. He is mentally retarded, like a child in a mans body but truly such a sincere, lovely friend. Especially for me from a childhood of incessant violence from my father and a very violent rape my first sexual experience his sincerity and open hearted reaction has been like a balm. The government want to abort such people in the womb but I consider it would be a loss if this happens. He hasn't got Downs.The cause, his mother told me, was meningitis at birth. Sandie.

  9. Sandie,

    RE: Meningitis:

    I got the following from:


    Meningitis most commonly affects children under five years of age, particularly babies under the age of one. Brain damage associated with meningitis is unlikely caused by a brain edema (wrongly assumed to be a swelling of the meninges) but rather by vaccines containing neurotoxins such as formaldehyde, aluminium phosphate, or thimerosol that bypass the blood-brain barrier resulting in potentially serious neurological disorders

    You can read up more on the link.


  10. Gary,

    My heart goes out to you.

    My upbringing was similar, especially in regards to never being loved, or emotionally nourished, or praised, it was also pretty much totally destructive.

    I have a multitude of functional disorders including mental retardation, and schitzotypal personality disorder.

    Beatings are one cause of retardation and learning disabilities.

    Maybe you have read my posts.

    Dad believed that children were born stupid and bad, and had to be beaten and criticized and scolded to be made smart and good .

    At 63, I am still not really much good for anything. Can't do much of anything right. I have a multitude of functional disorders. Very accident and screw up prone.

    Spent most of my life in therapy and self improvement of one kind or another.

    And doing research to try and figure out what is really wrong with me.

    To get to the root of every problem I have.

    I still learn but at my own pace and my own way.

    Dad and mom had six boys and one girl. Girl youngest.

    Only two boys have children of their own.

    Myself (oldest) and youngest boy, have no partners.

    (I am very worried about the youngest, that he might commit suicide soon. He is having a very difficult time. I have not seen him for 20 yrs, but I talk to him on the phone. )

    Girl has a man,(17 yrs older) no children.

    It is a dying lineage.

    Overall family is very estranged.

    I did not even go parent's funerals in 07.

    I am about 1600 miles away.

    I was so sick, (mentally and physically) at the time, (as a result of the abuse) it was all I could manage, to hang on to my own life.



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.