Monday, May 1, 2017

On Why We Can't Express Our Feelings

Having feelings and expressing them are two different animals; and I choose those words carefully because having feelings means having access to the feeling structures of the limbic system in the brain. Expressing feelings means access to the thinking neocortex. The only time expressing feelings is important is if the state of having feelings precedes the expression of them. Then the comprehension is an evolutionary outgrowth of those feelings.

Unfortunately, when I was doing insight/psychoanalytic therapy I thought that expressing feelings in a session was tantamount to having them. Not the case. In fact, too often expressing feelings can act as a defense against experiencing them; smothering feelings in a flurry of abstract ideas. When I say “it is two different animals,” it literally is: the primate (monkey) feeling brain versus the human thinking one. Animals feel even when they have no means to expressing them.

I have been writing about this for the last forty years, and just now, new research is coming to the fore to verify this. Early on I posited the notion that one aspect of expressing feelings was the proper connection between the right and left brain hemispheres. Now it turns out that this is basically true; (see Science Daily, May 27, 2008. “Why Are Some People Unable to Express Their Emotions.”) Italian investigators have found that there is a deficit in interhemispheric transfer with those who cannot express their feelings. What that means is that the feelings lying on the right lower brain do not make the trip across the corpus callosum (where emotional information is transferred from one side to the other) to the left understanding, comprehending verbal side. Since eighty percent of all emotional information cross the corpus callosum from one side to the other, it seems logical that there is one key locus for the problem of alexithymia, or the inability to express emotions. It seems obvious now that for help in expressing true feelings one needs access to right side lower brain sites. It does not help to engage oneself in a therapy that is primarily intellectual; an interaction through the realm of ideas. Expressing feelings in words is not feeling those feelings. One can express feelings precisely but cannot necessarily feel them. What is required is a therapist who has access to her feelings and who can know when someone has access or not. So we need a therapy of feeling; one that takes feelings into account, and just as important, a psychological theory based on need.

What seems to be the problem is a dysfunctional cortical frontal-limbic circuits. In particular, the orbitofrontal area. As I have written elsewhere the right orbitofrontal area (behind the orbits of the eye) contains a map of our emotional life and emotional history. It is internally oriented. The left, on the other hand, is externally focused. It is interesting that panic attacks often accompany this condition (alexithymia). These attacks usually emanate from deep in the brain (the brain stem) and are associated with trauma in the first few months of gestation.

A new study (Brain’s Gray Cells Appear to be Changed by Trauma of Major Events. Science Daily June 4, 2008) indicates something I have maintained for decades: “ This suggests that really bad experiences may have lasting effects on the brain.” I believe that the earlier the trauma, (especially during gestation) the more widespread and long-lasting the effects. It seems that the set-points for many physiologic functions are established in gestational life. These dislocations of function remain fixed and unalterable; whereas trauma after birth can often be compensated for. In short, there is a permanent deficit in gray matter when traumas occur while we are being carried in the womb.

We can’t get well just expressing our feelings; we can only get well by experiencing them.


  1. The bottom line is what I still had not grasped. This is taking off pressure that my intellect was generating to express my feelings and to make contact with people I would be more able to tell my feelings to. While that is a good longer term goal, I see now I have been doing fine. Still a journey into that first three months could take forever. My panic attacks and ADHD are much reduced at the moment as a result of adapting to the climate and culture of Atenas, Costa Rica. Many people don't make that transition. Thanks for the blog.

  2. For us who lives in symptoms!

    First of all feelings are too scary to be expressed if we suddenly start in the limbick system... that would be the result without neocortex's task of repressing. So feelings are beyond our ability to be expressed for what they are. But if we still live with it... it will be what neocortex in its state of repressing result in... a blend of thoughts that seek repressing for what leaks from the limbic system of hell's torment... if so. How do we succeed with it... to get what we do with it? It's the result of neocortex-repressing task!?!?!?

    So what we express it is a consequence of not feeling what's scary... it applies to us with symptoms. Feelings are beyond our ability to live with. What we express is a result of repression... it for better and worse... it's our hostage. Scary feelings that are repressed "Can't Express Our Feelings"… they do it anyway... but the result.

    Not to forget... we also do our scientific analyzes through repression... why the results often is devastating. What we express about feelings only has perverse undertones and in fact... everything is about emotions.


    1. Frank, people have to KNOW that Art is right. I'm guessing most people are either too unfeeling or their feelings are too distorted. The people who can see the realism in primal theory are probably somewhere in between; not too repressed (disconnected) and not too feeling (distorted). This precarious balance is hard to find - most students don't even want to study primal theory.

      My aunt is very feeling, freaks out and cries all the time, but she believes lions will eat grass and so on. She just doesn't have the ability to push her feelings away, and yet her feelings never attach to reality. If she could push her feelings away to some extent, she might "see" (know) that her beliefs are bullshit. But if she pushes her feelings too far away, she could lose her ability to know anything at all.

    2. Hi Richard,

      Feelings are not the same as passions, I think your aunt is overwhelmed by passions. I think passions are like act outs and abreaction is an extension of it, our personality is a reflection of this.

      Paul G.

    3. Hi Paul, I agree with you - we are just using different words.

      I think she is overwhelmed by feelings but she doesn't know what she is feeling. That's why she doesn't know that her explanations are wrong.
      If her feelings could connect to the right places in her frontal lobes, she would know what those feelings are and those feelings would be ten times more powerful, and reality would be ten times more powerful.

      Life is sad.

    4. Hi Richard,

      for better or for worse I spent much time and energy attending workshops, reading, studying and examining myself in a system of personality typing. Apparently, by all accounts and mine, a very accurate one based on much statistical correlation from panel workshops conducted around the world over several decades. Individual attendees make life testimonies, including their feelings - not merely 'cognitive expressions' and this provides a learning environment for groups of people at these 'seminars'. I suppose it's a bit like Gestalt but actually NOT, because it relies on peoples own personal feelings and experiences in a safe environment.
      Sometimes in things like this, which are so subjective (how DO you measure personality?) - there becomes such a strong correlation, the system begins to merit deeper worthiness as it continues to support and explain yours and others viewpoints. I still use the system (like so many 'systems' it's hard to unlearn anyway) and it seems to 'fit' Primal Theory very well. I can see it could also be, and perhaps once was a diagnostic tool (that is another story).
      In this system "Passions" are viewed as the signature of personality. These passions are not 'feelings' but what is expressed by the individual when driven unconsciously. Thus passions are what is 'expressed' INSTEAD of true feelings. Passions are the light seen after it has passed the GATES of REPRESSION. Our personality is like a lampshade - it casts shadows and distorts the colour balance of our true feelings. What happened to us in the womb, at birth and during infancy gets scrawled all over that lampshade.

      In this sense, it's helpful to perceive true feelings as white light.

      Not many of us have a clean lampshade and generate a pure bright white light. We add colour and shadows according to our personal history, our repression and experiences stunt our potential.

      I get passionate on this blog, but it's not my true feelings. Art sometimes gets passionate too, particularly about all those f*****g stupid rational cognitivists who fail to recognise true feelings or even what the words mean. Passions DO serve a purpose though, sometimes in outer life others need to be told or have demonstrated to them something to catch their attention, something to 'arrest' their focus and change it to us, or divert it away from us.

      The key to Primal is asking what lies underneath those passions?

      Paul G.

    5. Most of what you said sounds good to me as long as you don't believe that this workshop is going deeper than passions. When passionate customers think that they're going deeper, they give the workshop entrepreneur his biggest passion; tons of money.

      And why would anyone try to measure their own personality? Those statistics are a cognitive waste of time. We can't know our feelings until we feel them.

    6. Richard,

      -It's why they are so often called the seven deadly sins (there are more than 7 but Dante was onto something).
      These workshops aimed to expose their 'false pretenses'. That's what we do, we pretend.

      Take gluttony & greed for example. Gary would perhaps agree with this and it's an obvious primal example: So often a substitute for unmet need, lack of feeding etc. Lust - Art just published an article about this Romantic / sexual love. Then Envy. . . It's useful to see these 'sins' as projections of unmet need.

      Once you're 'passion' becomes exposed to you as a fraud it becomes increasingly more difficult hiding behind it.

      What actually happened in many of the workshop panels I attended is that people lost their grip on their passion (their chief feature) as a consequence of exposing their act out and so got to the need underneath it.

      So actually many of us did indeed get beneath our passions and uncovered a lot of pain. I saw one retired ex military man collapse into tears as he realised his entire career had primarily been motivated by his desire to succeed and be a famous person in society, you might say his passion was 'fame' but he realised how impoverished he was for doing only what his high ranking father has insisted he do, he realised he had deceived himself and that his passion was deceit - Art has written extensively about actors and actresses. This very nice man confessed in tears streaming, shoulders shaking, snot pouring out, and looked totally broken. He recovered with our support and was a different person afterwards.
      Most of us in this (safe) space provided, were very close to our own feelings whilst witnessing this.

      Although The Primal Center in Santa Monica is obviously the right place to go to take this descent into unmet need deeper it often gets it's start in workshops like this.

      If I had more influence I would try to see where the common ground is between the organisation that holds these workshops (Global now of course) and Primal. But one thing I have noticed is that these organisations gradually get taken over by the cognitivists (the intellectuals)who in my opinion suffer from the passion of avarice. They are greedy for information and hoarding, be it money, property, particularly information. They are reductionists and turn all Knowledge (with a capital K - such as Primal) into information. They reduce. They asset strip. Thus it becomes hard to maintain the really 'narrative tradition' (and surely Primal is a narrative tradition)? - Where genuine people meet to be real.

      I remember when I was on the panel for my 'type' the facilitator was leading me into some very acute places. There was a lot of support when I collapsed, after I realised despite how infuriated I can be with people, how much I love people.
      There are virtues too - in the pits of despair about your condition you may discover some virtues.

      Paul G.

    7. Sorry Paul, it's all bullshit. If you like going to these workshops because you feel better afterwards for a while and you make new friends, then it's not all bad, but there is nothing more frustrating to me than a person who pretends to be real. I have seen a workshop on TV.....a group of attention-seeking cry-babies pretending to care about each other. They were all acting out being real with each other but they didn't really care about each other, and never will.

      The primal center is nothing like that. People don't go there to cry about their wasted lives. They go there to feel the stuff that nearly killed them. And they CHANGE. They start to care about people. How many of your workshop buddies really care about you? How much time do they want to spend with you outside of the workshop? It's all bullshit, Paul. Everybody wants love but nobody can love and nobody has the GUTS to realise this and be honest about this. Instead everyone is living in a fantasy world full of fake love. The only thing more horrific than the lack of love in this universe is the desire to settle for fake love. That desire is truly horrific.

    8. Well Richard,

      you speak very angrily, and very much as if you have personal experience of 'these workshops'. I was not born yesterday and nor do I try to occupy any moral high ground. I know I often sound as if I do, but that would be my style, after all, I am such a 'know all'.

      Your style is perhaps not so different. Or are you one of those people with no style at all?

      It was not bullshit for me. Nor was it bullshit for the others there either.
      I did not make new friends, nor did I 'like' going to these workshops. I went seeking something I did not know. I found something else, maybe not as useless as you are telling me. I am not mistaking anything for anything else.

      You make cheap comparisons, and most of all, you weren't there. Are you a Primal Patient yet?

      I'm not allowed into USA for reasons too petty to mention, maybe you have better luck.

      Paul G.

    9. And something else Richard,

      hardly a day goes by that I don't regret my previous actions, my act outs. Luckily for you, or maybe you have been very conscious, you have not bred. You don't have the remorse of seeing your disabled son suffering, because you have been smart.

      Maybe I really am not so smart.

      But now I am coming over the raw prawn and god forbid I start whinging and making out I'm the victim.

      FFS Richard, we are on the same team.

      Paul G.

    10. Paul I have never been angry with anyone on this website. I shout sometimes because people don't listen but it's not anger..... I have no style or tact because I feel no empathy. Jacquie thought she and I were on the same team but I knew she didn't get it, and she proved that she is not on my team when she decided to start up her own mock therapy. I informed Art on her intentions because it was my duty to do so, and she terminated all communications with me after that, just like my sister did, and many others. You see? It's called fake love and it vanishes as soon as the fake person feels disrespected.... and it IS disrespect. But everyone disrespects each other. Who wants to be honest about it? You have been disrespectful on this website.... used subtle mockery as a way of accusing my brother of being a white supremacist and so on. He didn't care. He is quite real....not under much of a delusion of love and teamwork. But there's no hate either. I don't hate Jacquie or you. I think you are both beautiful human beings who need to get real. I say beautiful not in a loving way....I mean it in a simple knowing way..... because I know people are amazing and beautiful. I know when their whole consciousness is lost inside a tiny little routine in their head. And you go to a workshop led by a tiny little consciousness living in clever-tricks land. You are amazed and gratified just like my aunt was amazed by the clever-tricks clairvoyant who gave her false hope that her dead son was alive and talking to her from heaven. How's that for a passion? Neurotic feelings can feel very powerful and gratifying for a while.
      Anyway I won't keep kicking a dead horse with this conversation but I think we are nearly on the same team and that's good enough.

    11. Richard, If you feel 'no empathy' as you state, how can you be so clear and sure that Paul is 'fake'. He was recounting a time in a workshop that was getting to feelings. Just because it is not 'The Primal Center' does not mean someone did not have real feelings. People all over are trying to get to more meaningful ways to live and feel. Wouldn't that be nice if primalling and feeling could be done with support and be pristine as it is practiced at the Center. It's not all that realistic that those who want and need it can get there. And I see that it is your duty to report on what you feel is mock therapy but you must acknowledge also that it is probably the little boy who wants to let 'Daddy' know what is going on. I don't fault you for that, I am the same to some degree, and I own up to it.

    12. Richard & Sheri & All,

      Thank goodness for a little friction eh? After all, the chill of political correctness could freeze the balls off a flying monkey.

      I really wish even Art knew more about these 'workshops' I attended. It's very controversial because the 'knowledge' that's used in them has been around for quite a while and has now gone global and entered in to the lexicon of corporate coaching, corporate planning and worst still into the assessment process for health insurance psychometric testing. It might be worthwhile considering how these powerful franchises are 'judging us' therefore. It's quite possible Arts research meets stonewalling precisely because these corporate powers already know and want ALL the advantage themselves.

      I spent quite a bit of time & effort attempting to discuss Primal with many different people from various walks of life. Including the assessors for my illness and state benefits. The overall impression I got of their impression of Art & Primal is that Art 'might' have a fixation on the only ONE right way; if that's actually true it might be because Art is a bit of a 'perfectionist', I dunno, maybe he's more of a 'boss type'. Now hang on a sec before you all think I'm about to 'turn coat', but really. . .

      We have already ascertained that Primal may have discovered the single cause of many symptoms. So already you can see a split between people's idea of cause and 'way'.
      Primal Theory and Primal Therapy are really two almost totally different things but you could rely on an intellectual to mistake the map for the territory and believe reading a few books and attending a few workshops and even attending Primal Therapy 'qualifies' a person to be a therapist. Now that's a long sentence, isn't it?
      Art has written about Personality / Essence. He must have heard those words before; but actually there I go again hazarding presumptions I cannot verify.

      But this is all evading the issue which is that people get passionate and that is a defense against feelings. The Passions are ANTI Primal. These workshops I attended were all about how we project and defend through these passions. I don't see any conflict here at all.

      We can't carry on behaving as if WE believe Primal IS "the only one right way". Art has said he has met few people who would not benefit from Primal but he has NEVER said everyone MUST have Primal. IF we keep on like this people might begin to believe we are brainwashed and fixated perfectionists who see only ERROR in everything else and have a terrifying problem with blame. . . That's been leveled at me before, so, on averages, it's probably true.

      This is important shit; there is a genuine dialectic at stake here and without many of these other previous language/narrative traditions I doubt we would be where we are. We aught not deny or discard history and certainly NOT the narrative and language traditions from which we all emanate our words. We weren't born with a dictionary already installed but epigenetics brings even that assumption into question.

      Paul G.

    13. Hi,

      there are now people using this personality typing system to psychometrically test us for our type merely on the words we use alone. This system is about 80% accurate, but evidence shows accuracy is improving all the time. Connected to your type is your disease probability.

      I should imagine that by now Cambridge Analytica use it too.

      Someone very pertinently pointed out that epigenetics will become some kind of new cultural & marketable thing or something else nefarious, rather than the signpost to health that Art & Primal have discovered. That is certainly true for this personality system as well.

      Every time a coconut eh? - What begins as an excellent aid to and possibly even a diagnostic tool for the facts of disease, of it's cause and how even how to cure, gets hijacked by the rationalists and reduced to a new marketable product or palliative system.

      Lets hope that doesn't happen to Primal at the Center in Santa Monica.

      Mistaking the Map for the Territory and cashing in on it.

      Scary eh?

      Paul G.

    14. Sheri, first you must understand how neurosis works, then you will understand that a neurotic system cannot allow real feelings..... the feelings always pass through the neurotic pathways and end up in the wrong place. That's why I am sure that these workshops can never be curative but if they provide some relief without adding to the neurosis, who am I to say that Paul should stop going? I never said he should. But going by the statements made from a personal assistant who works for a "primal workshop" here in New Zealand, I would stay away.

      I am a very open person - I don't keep secrets, especially when innocent people are in danger of being maltreated in therapy -- nothing to do with letting daddy know.

      I don't fault you either Sheri. I fault the misunderstandings because the science is so important to me.

    15. Richard, sorry I was so blunt with you. I figured we all here have seen Art as a daddy figure. I know I've worked my way through it here each time posting hoping not to be rejected and somehow living through it. I should not suppose it is the same for others.
      I'm thinking there are a lot of programs who help people in need, especially returning soldiers having PTSD.
      I myself have been helped by caring friends human enough to help me at my most vulnerable. We all can be kind to each other and that helps.
      Good luck with getting therapy, hope it becomes a reality for you.

    16. Richard,

      no one on this forum believes other systems are any more than they profess to be. Most of them do NOT profess to be Primal either. Look, it's a straw man to keep standing on Art's territory and point the finger at error you perceive in others. You haven't even been through the therapy yet, or have you? You say you don't keep secrets, so I can only assume you are not already therapised and on your way to becoming a genuine therapist. You speak with even more certainty than I on things you cannot really know. Don't be an idiot like me and keep arguing when you're not right !
      Please (even if others don't) don't mistake what I'm saying. I have tried to see where there could be 'windows of opportunity' due to those therapies which do accept feelings and encourage people to open up. I am trying to promote Primal. To dismiss outright absolutely every one of those therapies when you couldn't possibly have even researched more than a handful of them yourself is just purely stubborn.
      Just because most haven't even heard of Primal it doesn't mean that ALL roads don't eventually lead to Primal.

      I can see I am possibly making you defensive. Look Richard, I am sorry for offending you with my satirical remarks. I do know I am a bit of a twat. You can keep telling me, you are not alone. But please don't assume any attempt I make to see similarities and promote Primal by discussing stuff is a total waste of time and a complete delusion on my part. Maybe you haven't said exactly that but I haven't exactly tried to enter into a conflict with you either.
      You can't carry on dismissing absolutely every other type of therapy AND promote Primal at the same time. You won't get any audience.

      Paul G.

    17. Another thing Richard that you set up as a straw man, is that I haven't been to any of these workshops for 10 years.
      Somewhere I said that already. I trained in the system, I said that already. I use the system to help me understand myself & others. I said that already. I also trained as a counselor. I said that already.

      Honestly Richard you speak to others about me as if I were not here. I studied and applied N V C. I wrote about that on this forum. Are you now going to dismiss NVC as well?

      I am starting to wonder if you read / listen properly.

      I am shit at reading and listening; I am a man, apparently we men are far inferior to women at listening. I sense now that you are really just skimming over what I'm saying in order to gather information for your bias. Maybe you are not. But my words are based on a sequence of what I said before; and you seem to me to be taking sound bites from that and trashing them randomly according to your bias. But that's only the impression I get. I may be totally wrong.

      If you were as curious to find out what I discovered you might check out the system I trained in. I have been careful not to 'mention it's name' because I don't want to advertise a completely different system to Primal on Art's forum.

      Maybe you're not interested in puzzles, or patterns, or riddles, or anything other than 'the one right way' but by now I would have used a psychological version of Pythagoras Theorem and Google to pin the tail onto the donkey.

      So far you seem to be sticking it onto an elephant in the room which doesn't exist, imho.

      Paul G.

    18. Sheri:

      Thank you, Sheri. Kindness definitely helps. Good food, a job that is not too stressful, a little bit of exercise, and yes, kindness. And a green card.

      Good luck to you too, Sheri

  3. Can't express feelings....much harder now, than it has ever been. One might feel trapped into not expressing feelings because they just can't trust others who they are expressing their feelings to. What's out there... who knows? At times, people seem so interested in what one has to say that they will "turn on that very person speaking, expressing their feelings,use the information to detriment and "mentally hurt";almost cripple the other person speaking. Other times, people just seem so disinterested in what others have to say "expression-wise" that it's almost like "does it really matter what I say or about expressing my feelings"?. Either way, (totally interested to the point where one cannot trust, or totally just non-chalant (extremely passive) and disinterested when someone is expressing their feelings)that the feelings are possibly just plain locked or just plain distorted. One doesn't really feel comfortable anymore, many times, expressing their feelings. Used to be easier living; simpler lifestyles. But one should mentally feel....that is important; I think more important than being able to express to someone what they mentally feel. So dealing with people , the listening person, is another possible "trap" of not being able to express feelings, along with an improper connection between the left and right brain hemispheres. Probably the brain connection happens first and then when one goes to express to the listening person, they just cannot for various reasons. Used to feel somewhat more secure with people; used to feel I could be "easy-going" , but many times the listener now doesn't allow that. An "easy-going" person, at times, is good.

  4. I agree beachcoast7 that it isn't a very trusting atmosphere out there. Makes us want to be ten years old again when we were able to say and express whatever emotions we had without expecting judgment or payback, supposing that we were so fortunate then.

  5. Here is how I understand what Arts current article " On why we can't express our feelings" is saying so far:
    First of all he describes and draws a distinction between "having feelings" and " expressing feelings". Then he tells us that each of these two distinct actions are located in two different areas of the brain, each one having a very different function. One is the experience of feelings, while the other is a description of that experience after having had the feelings. Obviously then one cannot describe a feeling with words, if there has been no experience of feeling! That would be like trying to experience the taste of honey by reading the label on the jar.

    So if one area of the brain stores the memory of the feeling in the limbic region, and another area of the brain describes the memory of that feeling once it has been accessed and experienced.

    Does that mean that a stored feeling memory moves from right to left brain as it's being experienced and relived?


    1. Katherina,

      In a 2nd-line primal, the force comes from the deep brain structures while the right frontal cortex forms the 'big picture' and there is only just enough activity in the left frontal cortex to form the words "I want my mommy!" So the brain stem, the right cortex, and the left cortex all work together simultaneously, but in a childish way. The primal patient's neural activity is a replica of the neural activity that occurred when he was 3 years old and stuck in a foster home with no mother. Perhaps a few days after the primal, the 'big picture' in the right frontal cortex spreads across to the left frontal cortex where it becomes a logical understanding. The resulting spontaneous insights show the patient the ways in which he has been defending against the feeling all his life, and he can see the way to avoid these defenses so he can get closer to the feeling, even without a therapist. His insights are not the result of someone else's b.s. psychoanalysis; and they are not constructed from hours of analytical problem-solving. His insights simply slip into place as the entire neural framework between all parts of his brain lines up with reality. It all becomes spontaneously obvious.

      In a 1st-line primal, the force comes from the deep brain and there is no 'big picture' in the right cortex, nor is there any connection to the left cortex. The left and right cortex are both "offline" just like an undeveloped fetus's cortex. Later, after the primal, the deep brain 'picture' can spread directly up to the left frontal cortex where spontaneous insights occur.

      Many 2nd-line traumas are created as a result of an overreaction to a social event. A premature baby girl, kept in an incubator for a month, could, when she reaches 5 years of age, end up overreacting when her mother walks away on her first day at school. What should've been a small upset becomes a full-on trauma as the child feels not only her mother's departure, but the old feeling of impending death; the kind of feeling only a premature newborn would feel when she is so helpless in isolation. So now the girl has 2 traumas to resolve instead of one; the isolation in the incubator, and the isolation at school. Perhaps both levels can be resolved at the same time. For example, while the patient is feeling her mother walk away at school, she is also feeling the terror associated with the incubator, but she is not seeing the incubator; she is seeing her mother walking away at school. In this primal, the brain is not accurately replicating the neural activity that occurred in the incubator; the time when the eyes were open and the cortex was offline. But does it matter? Perhaps some of the incubator trauma will be resolved anyway.

      Now if we look at patients' descriptions of 1st-line primals, they say that they can see the therapist sitting next to them, and that they know who the therapist is even while they are turning blue and coughing up cupfuls of mucus. But they can't think about the therapist or any other part of their environment. They can't think and they have no 2nd-line emotion; just terror and suffocation, or whatever the sensation may be. But clearly there is SOME right frontal cortex activity going on even when they are deep in a 1st-line primal. If there were no right frontal cortex activity, they would see the therapist but they would not know who he is. In other words, if a patient were to become a pure lizard, they would know only that Art's face is familiar and recognisable, and that his body posture is or isn't threatening. Nothing else would be known about Art Janov. Lizards don't know much.

      So, I think it's fair to say that a primal patient never turns into a pure lizard (fetus). It's unlikely that any part of the brain ever goes completely offline. It's just a matter of predominance. And a primal is predominantly a replica of the original reaction to a trauma, but not always an EXACT replica.

    2. Richard,

      absolutely brilliant. Completely confirms my experience and yes, NO 'B S cortical analysis' needed to provoke it.

      We are on the same team.

      Can you add anything about 1st line intrusion to what you said about the possibility of resolving some 1st line stuff when 2nd line is active?

      Your analogy of Mum walking away is an enduring vision for me when I was at Primary school.

      Thanks for getting us back on track. . .

      I really was disappearing right up my own bum there for a while.

      Paul G.

    3. Richard,

      -"Many 2nd-line traumas are created as a result of an overreaction to a social event. A premature baby girl, kept in an incubator for a month, could, when she reaches 5 years of age, end up overreacting when her mother walks away on her first day at school. What should've been a small upset becomes a full-on trauma as the child feels not only her mother's departure, but the old feeling of impending death; the kind of feeling only a premature newborn would feel when she is so helpless in isolation. So now the girl has 2 traumas to resolve instead of one; the isolation in the incubator, and the isolation at school. Perhaps both levels can be resolved at the same time. For example, while the patient is feeling her mother walk away at school, she is also feeling the terror associated with the incubator, but she is not seeing the incubator; she is seeing her mother walking away at school. In this primal, the brain is not accurately replicating the neural activity that occurred in the incubator; the time when the eyes were open and the cortex was offline. But does it matter? Perhaps some of the incubator trauma will be resolved anyway"-.

      Can you say anything about 1st line intrusion regarding this paragraph? Also, how does 'melange' relate to this? Particularly 'childhood melange'?

      Paul G.

    4. Richard, if I might, would like to add something to your description. An infancy (or before)trauma (lack of oxygen, difficult birth, unsettling gestation)--the pain from that straining away at the defenses can make the child forever nervous with its power. Enough to disrupt calmness needed to concentrate or easily follow directions as she grows--no matter the loving home she may grow up in.

    5. Thanks Paul. You are looking for in-depth discussions -- for that, you should read Art's latest books. My explanation to Katherina is just a layman's overview and is probably not perfect but I think it's a reasonable soundbite.

    6. Hi Richard,

      I have read them. There's quite a lot in the theory which isn't in the books, or it's understated. Discussion on this blog makes the theory 3 dimensional for me. Because other people's comprehension adds to the mix. Yours particularly.

      I think the reason for that is because here we can also add other aspects of Primal Theory which we have as individuals found attractive and embraced, aspects which as I said seem less evident in Arts books. Art has to speak to everyone in his books; here we get individuals own insights. Particularly the 3 - 2 - 1 model was a revolution for me. Modelling, visually, for me makes all the difference, I'm a very 'visual' kind of person, was trained as a photographer and artist. For example, for me discovering that our tripartite brain develops sequentially was a revelation. A lot fell into place for me at that point. I became convinced of the Theory as a whole. It very suddenly explained so much about how our thinking brain totally obfuscates what aught to be a clear difference between sensations, feelings and thoughts.

      Have you got the Legacy? Sounds like it.

      Your contributions help a lot. I think your modesty is misguided, even if you are only a layman.

      Paul G.

  6. Now we can have playstation VR in our homes, if someone could turn it into therapy, it could be useful.

  7. Right....that's exactly the feeling I get; not a very "trusting atmosphere out there", and yes, it does make me "want to be ten years old again..." Just too bad, people should look at what is happening in today's world and try to make an effort to make socializing better (mentally healthier). People actually think that it would be so wrong to make such an effort.

    1. "Past certain ages or certain wisdoms it is very difficult to look with wonder; it is best done when one is a child; after that and if you are lucky, you will find a bridge of childhood and walk across it." --Truman Capote

      Primal must be our bridge, yes?

    2. Sheri,

      sorry, so long to answer.

      Satelite delay. Yes.

      Primal must be our bridge.

      There aren't any others, which is what Richard was saying.

      Paul G.

    3. Well Sheri, and Richard too:

      actually, there's one caveat there. What follows depends on whether my last posts about 15 minutes ago are appropriate and get posted by Art. But I'll say it again anyway:

      As I said before we cannot keep on with the 'only one right way' mantra.

      This mantra implies that even children, infants and newborns MUST be abreacting and acting out because they didn't get into the 'one right way'.

      This mantra implies EVERYONE has faux feelings until they get to the Primal Center in Santa Monica.

      Even if it's true, which I sense it can't be, my need for some autonomy and a sense of destiny will keep alive the possibility that I have some access to true feelings as do many others. For anyone to suggest here that Primal is the ONLY ONE RIGHT WAY TO GET ACCESS I feel is a travesty even if it's true, but I don't believe it and I don't see that expels me from Art's team either.
      I'm not buying into this 'only one right way' mantra. I sense it is wholly misguided and very manipulative to boot. Also, that once made through whatever deep crying episodes, 1st line, 2nd line reliving in whatever context, be it a bereavement, a relationship breakdown, a bankruptcy, an illness, even at a workshop - you name it , once someone has had some deep feelings, then there is the possibility that they may be more open to Primal and gain better access later.
      My experience of the most resistant people (to Primal Theory that is) is that they have little access at all, can hardly remember the last time they had a good cry (if they ever did) or felt anything at all weird. They are just 'Comfortably Numb'. The Pink Floyd wrote a piece with that title.

      I'm really far from convinced that when people break down and sob on the 3rd or even 2nd line, that they are somehow 'damaging themselves' and should just 'get on down to the Primal Center - sharpish' or forever be damned.

      Paul G.

    4. Hi Paul, we used to call primals in our house 2-day nervous breakdowns. Oh, she is having a nervous breakdown today. Be gentle with her. In one of mom's nervous breakdowns she ended by saying, 'I feel just like a baby.' So for sure primals can be spontaneous in life.
      I struggled myself, with unbearable loneliness of what must have been rooted in very early feelings before even knowing there was a primal explanation for it.

      I think the 'beware of other therapies' is about those which push people into feelings by unfeeling psychologists who are unknowing of the power and intensity feelings hold. None of us want to be driven crazy, get physically sick or get overloaded to where we cannot function by someone's tactics who doesn't know what they are doing.

      As you say, feelings just come up on their own and if we can comfortably let them happen, then there they are. My defenses were poor and the feelings would emerge during stress, comfortable or not; but at least I know with the knowledge about primal what they are about and where they came from.

    5. Paul, my cousin (I will call her Jane to maintain her privacy) very recently had an episode of abreaction. She was alone in her home, lying on the floor, chanting over and over "Stop it! I don't like it! Stop it! I don't like!" After about half an hour of chanting she came over to my house, terrified, and said she had no idea why she kept saying it but it was the only way she could push away the feeling. I asked her, what feeling? She said she felt the presence of an intruder standing in the room, and it was the only way she could push the feeling away.

      She lost her hymen when she was about six years old. Her mother has always insisted it was due to an accident at gym classes. Now Jane has serious doubts about that story. At around that age, Jane's neighbour went to jail after Jane told her mother that he made her rub his penis. Of the actual molestation, all Jane can remember is that it was "boring" because she had to rub it for so long. She can't remember anything else. And she can't remember her accident at gym.

      That night as Jane tried to sleep on a mattress on the floor in my bedroom, still terrified that the 'presence' would return, she said "OK, Richard... obviously there is something there.... my thoughts on primal theory have changed."

      The next day, she lost her thoughts on primal theory, and went straight back into her old belief: "Primal theory is a cult and a religion just like Jahova's Witness".

      So you see Paul, even an experience like that - one so close to feelings - even that could not persuade her to read Primal Healing.

      I can assure you, there is only one way to avoid abreaction because there is only one way that the brain works. Any other way is neurotic. Art Janov does not dictate the one and only way -- the brain does. It's called neurology. The therapist must start at the neurotic end and skillfully follow the path back to it's ORIGIN (Primal means original). From there you can experience the REAL trauma and it will cut the REAL path all the way up to the frontal cortex. Eventually the feeling will be RESOLVED - not just aggravated unconsciously. The patient will have REAL insights; a spontaneous understanding of how the feeling affected her whole life; her passions, her act-outs, and her refusal to accept that there is only one way to primal, or her refusal to accept primal theory at all. She will see exactly why she hated Art every time he talked about mothers. She won't have to think about it at a workshop.

      Art can't say what I am saying without making himself look like a dictator. But science dictates!

      Mock therapists offer a menu of various healing methods - patients can choose one or several in a single session. Mock therapists always blame the patient when he/she becomes psychotic. There's your travesty, Paul.

    6. i forgot to mention, and this is very important:
      my cousin said that while she was chanting "Stop it! I don't like it! Stop it! I don't like it!" she felt like she was a little girl - five or six years old.

      close but no cigar.

    7. Richard, if I may intrude for a moment in your conversation with Paul: It sounds like to me that your cousin was having a real feeling and it was too much becoming a hallucination. She would warrant a cigar, I would think.

      I always wondered why I wanted other people to read and care about Primal to the extent I cared about it. This has gradually changed with me. I questioned myself how different is it than wanting someone to follow a good diet that I know would help them. All I know is that it involves some sort of control; I must have to bring them to my way of thinking or I will have to be alone without support with my own thoughts again. Is it some need we have to get people to believe what we believe; is it a neurotic need--I'm beginning to think that it is as the need to convince others of my beliefs lessens. The other day I had a chance to explain primal theory to someone over the phone who asked what it was about. He in turn told me about a book called the 'Alchemist' that he was interested in. (He was helping me with a primal book on my Kindle.) I felt I could be objective and not push the topic beyond his simple inquiry--a big step for me.

    8. Sheri, you're not intruding. I will take your advice. It's time for me to stop kicking a dead horse. My cousin will die too soon. There's nothing more I can do for her.

    9. Thanks Richard,

      You're still divvying up into mock/real. But I agree with you essentially. I will stop talking about other therapies, I can see it's a diversion. But I cannot go about 'out there' dissing them as you do here.

      I am still finding 'parallels'. Sure Primal is revolutionary. But many paths lead to it imho.

      Where is YOUR therapy in all this? Your feelings and your experiences?

      I don't mean to interrogate you. But like me you speak with such authority I just can't help wanting to know more.

      I have had some half waking dreams/nightmares which convince me I was seriously assaulted and that is a blockage around which I am stuck. Your words really help; furthermore they make me want to ask you more. I'm repeating myself.

      I can't help but like the people who challenge me, your not the first. Tell us more about what things ARE, rather than what things are not and then maybe I can tell something more articulate too.

      I do struggle with my symptoms and how to tell about them here because they are remarkably similar to what you so succinctly described in your other post just now. Brilliant Richard, & thanks again.

      Paul G.

  8. Now I'm there... here now on my patio... I am five years old... I walk around the plot and searched for something to do... something to do not to be aware of my loneliness and my fear I feel from my daddy. I have managed to pull up memories as I process here and now. I am alone... alone as I was lonely then but now I can join in there. There is no such a threats anymore like then that frighten me into silence... I've got in there safe and sure.

    The awareness of my loneliness would have killed me then when I was five years old... the madness that loneliness was without anyone to turn to... no mother to crawl up to... no daddy to feel safe around... only me... the trees... branches and grass as five years old. I am in pain as five years old.

    Where have all my years gone... the minutes... the hours... the weeks... the months and so all the years?


    1. What happens to children growing up can be very traumatic .to say the least. One has to think, "I have to carry on", "I have to "press on". How did I get this far....look at yourself, how you are now, is probably totally amazed that they made it. Very sad what happens in childhood; but what else can one do. The years go by , but you have succeeded if not in anything else than in the fact that you are able now to speak well; have feelings and emotions and know that you aren't as fearful anymore. Events in childhood, unfortunately , stay with people many times; some come out stronger for it (even though we know that it (trauma) stays with them in many ways). Very sad situation for many.

    2. What one does when they are a child....almost right up until 14 or 15 years of age, one cannot be held accountable for. That is why they say once a child reaches the age of 18, they are then on their own; until then they are under their parent's guidance. When one is a child, that's it...they just don't know , a lot of them just cannot comprehend what is dealt to them from people or life situations. They are not mentally or physically capable; they are innocent , even though they may have done something wrong (nothing as bad as killing another human). A child does not have the capabilities to cope or to think rationally at times when things go wrong. What runs through a child's mind when something goes wrong....needs to be addressed by a "sane intelligent adult".

    3. It takes a great effort for me to post comments here when at my best but it is the most comfortable place to be myself online. Art's posts and the comments especially when all the followers are on a cooperative constructive "frequency" make me feel like I belong here and many comments seem to speak right to me.

      I might try to blog my life story somewhere. The devil is in the details. It is probably enough that I know myself! That map behind my right eye is still evolving.

      Best to all,

  9. Understanding built up under the influence of blocked circumstances has only one value for its sake... it is to continue to block... it as long as it is necessary for survival! When it does not work anymore... then the value of blocked circumstances will show how beneficial it also can be through its braking effect against leaky emotions where we begin to feel during our primal therapy process.

    How should we ever be able to measure science when it just satisfying thinking researchers?

    My need for sex is the only thing that remains of my physical needs... it ever since I was blocked from my need of love and I lost every sence of what could have been intresting for how science should have showed its content... it with my physical need of love in retain! Now you got something to think about!


    1. You feel that since you block circumstances out that you feel better? What is that? Some kind of block so that it distracts you and takes you away to a better place. I don't know...I try not to block too much; if I did, I wouldn't feel free,the block would be an interference (which is what some want). To block out some circumstances can make one feel very strong, but it can also make someone feel weaker (which isn't what I would want).

    2. There are other physical needs in life, that can be much more rewarding than having sex with someone. I'm not a prude, and whatever makes you happy, but what about a physical need to laugh or to cry...some people need that in order to feel better to "carry-on"and this can be done without sex. But there is love in other ways other than sex...this I know.

    3. Hello beachcoast7!

      Words without their meaning for more than they obscure!

      Either we feel or we do not feel! Feeling a little is to confusing to have any value for its task. "I Must" nothing because I do not feel what I must. That you must as you express is a knowledge that does not benefit its content. To be pressing out answers is nothing but trying to relieve suffering. What it is to let go of meaningfulness is a question that must be given its place for what thoughts are an obstacle. We are like children but do not know it and so we think we are adults and want to be clever... "clever" as in its natur relieves suffering. We are not "like" children... we are children in every sense of ours mind for what we are not feeling from long time ago. We have not and could not leave it.

      You can not feel it as a thinker of it. By thinking "do not block too much" it's already blocked!

      My need for sex was not rewarding! But it was a physical phenomenon to be just physical... and close to my physical need of love... which "nothing" else is... but?. Even though you laugh in a physical sense it's not a physical need... it's a physical reaction to what you think of something... but need of sex is a physical reaction of a motional disaster... something that are missing without knowing why. Being shy is also a physical reaction of a physical need for love but was humiliated so it got lost in ours mind of thoughts... but was/is a physical need of love.

      The summary for this is that we try to live instead of be living... and how do we know that? We do not know ... and when we do so... then it has out served its task to be struggeling with.

      To carry on we will do what ever there is to do in its sence to carry on.

      Your Frank

  10. I just want to mention something about feelings. although I understand that people experience rage and fury when IN PRIMALS, in people who are constantly angry or quick to anger, it is a defence against pain. At the Primal Center, anger gets blocked at a certain point before the energy of the feeling underneath it is totally discharged, and to allow that liberated energy to become what it really is: hurt. A friend of mine recently pretty much ordered me to "release my anger" by some unproven, unscientific means, and I explained to her that my anger is what holds me together. It is a defence without which I would fall apart. Predictably she has stopped communicating with me. Gary

    1. Once we've entered into the Primal Dimension it gets very lonely in comparison with the ordinary 'social' life I had. That's just as well, the small talk was always the same anyway, no matter the social setting. NOW at least with the few left, I can say how I feel, what I think. That's enough. To be alone is not the same as being lonely.

    2. Hi Gary,

      So true. In many new age therapies it is suggested that anger is indeed a defense but to be 'constrained' or 'transmuted' somehow - (never specified exactly how though). Basically it is still seen as a 'socially unacceptable' 'emotion' which is the cause of cancer, stress etc etc. But they put the cart before the horse don't they? They don't know that the bloody terror and rage is driving the whole outfit from the earliest imprinted traumas. This 'new age' (same old same old age actually) narrative goes on to say that anger is above pain, and once the anger is dealt with the pain can be healed, again, exactly how is not specified, it sort of somehow just 'happens'. But the facts are that anger is also an instinctual enabling force which can propel the organism in the right direction, not only for survival but also for creative outcomes. It can help precipitate decisions; it can alert to danger, it can mobilise. According to Primal Theory anger is the 'energy' that gets us born; that is, without obstructions our births are propelled by the sheer energy of life and when obstructed it can turn to anger. Thus anger may be the LAST thing to feel in Primal Therapy, NOT the first.

      So, in & of itself we can see other mammals and reptiles get angry. It's not merely a neurotic / psychotic over reaction. It might be though, depending on where your set points are and how worn out your trigger is, this again is according to Primal Theory as I understand it, distorted by early trauma. . .
      Yes, I too am another soul who's anger helps hold me together. I am a carpenter and much of that 'energy' goes into making stuff in large pieces of recalcitrant timber which requires a certain 'force', a certain 'attitude' to manipulate it. Again, if constrained too much I can erupt with rage to get the job done. Curse words seem to be an escape valve and God save us all from the politically correct police who will eventually outlaw cursing (FFS)! Many tradesmen ( & women) who struggle with the physical world experience this. I am sure so also do sports people and athletes learn to harness and control this energy.

      Perhaps also one reason why so many tradesmen, sports people & athletes die early. . .

      I need to change my lifestyle to make sure I'm not one of them.

      Paul G.

    3. Hi Erik,

      -"To be alone is not the same as being lonely"-.

      But fully experiencing the first does not necessarily prevent or protect us from the second. On the contrary, what your post is intimating and my experience proves is that only those who have had serious contact with their repressed stuff are likely to be the sort of friends who can accept, tolerate, endure and 'mirror' your loneliness.

      Everyone else is mere 'acquaintance'. A very bitter pill to swallow for some of us.

      Paul G.

  11. So don't let the world bring you down
    Not everyone here is that fucked up and cold
    Remember why you came here and while you're alive
    Experience the warmth before you grow old
    Incubus, The warmth

  12. For those who live in anxiety it is!

    Hello Erik!

    For those who live in anxiety it is!

    "To be alone is not the same as being lonely". For those who do not see it is... but for those who see it is to be or not to be... if we see is the case.

    Your Frank

  13. What is the difference between thinking and feeling? You want know before you feel!

    To believe is a madness if you hide your self in it... as well as thinking is a madness if you hide your self in it... and you want know befor you feel!


  14. One can be alone , totally, in a room filled with people. That person can be very sociable , outgoing, funny, popular in that room and still that very person can feel totally alone and lonely. It happens. I agree with Yann...but it's the ones that are messed up that can make one's life a living hell (if one lets them).

    1. beachcoast7,

      that's me in that room.

      Paul G.

  15. No matter what time goes by, experience the warmth; like Yann wrote. Take time to "smell the roses". I know we all try our best to "deal", "to cope", admidst what life tosses ones way...which can be at times, some really "curved hard balls".

  16. Do you think you are feeling?

    Feelings are an absolute condition for life to be possible. It's not a question to turn and twist the sentences in a sense of a dialogue about what applies. We are in a disastrous state if we do not feel! So to let in thinking people to get any meaning on the issue of primary therapy is the same as allowing an novice to perform a cancers operation. So to be struggling with us thinking people can not be the easiest.

    Whatever we say... how right it is... it will never do when the question of to feeling stands on the agenda to be accounted for its significance of life... never ever.
    And how can I be so sure about that? Because I know how I am suffering in my feelings!


    1. Frank,

      I agree. . . Can we turn down the Primal Truth /Police Megaphone a bit please?

      And Richard too.

      I have been trying to discuss the dissemination of Primal whilst also trying to disseminate it. I have not used satire 'out there', but I have used it here.

      I am so sorry I am so misunderstood sometimes. I also apologise profusely for being so positively provocative.

      But seriously, I am on a mission and this blog is my base, you bloggers are my mates.

      I cannot get Primal for the daftest of reasons, yet. I am promoting Primal instead. Please don't call me a charlatan yet, and no, that's not because it's bad for my business. . . I am a carpenter anyway. . . by the way.
      Even I get nihilistic about this sometimes, but please don't believe in nihilism. Mine or anyone else's.

      Paul G.

    2. Frank,

      we need to be clear about what we mean when we say the word 'feelings'. Art has come up with a very clear synthesis.

      Consciousness = Awareness + Feelings.

      We cannot have any one alone without distortions in the other.

      Getting the three to work together is a synthesis.

      What's revolutionary about Art's particular discovery is that there is a sequence and a style to achieve this based on evolutionary development which belongs only to the patient.
      S he alone owns h ir feelings as s he seeks them. With the guidance (read braking system - to prevent a fall or collapse) of a Primal Therapist this descent down can be achieved in small increments. Like rock climbing, in stages, with three points of contact. Primal Therapists absolutely must have completed most of their own rockface several times in their own descent under supervision (with belayers) before they're allowed to belay a patient. . .

      It's a long way down for some of us.

      Paul G.

  17. It is hard to know where to begin. I don't think posting here is like speaking to a therapist or like speaking as a therapist. I believe there are literally hundreds of reasons why it is hard to feel and as Art has demonstrated in this post these reasons when they apply will make it hard to express the feelings because the experience of the feeling needs to come first.

    A few hours ago as I was carefully repacking my backpack outside the supermarket, a woman came over to me and said, "Excuse me, aren't you my next door neighb?" I did a double take and smiled and greeted her. She offered me a ride home if I didn't mind waiting while she got gas for her 4x4 vehicle. I was delighted and had no problem showing it. We had exchanged words briefly on a couple of other occasions and I had a few words with her mother on one occasion. They are French Canadian and speak perfect English. On the way home we talked about light subjects. When she learned I was Australian she told me of her first trip outside Canada when she visited a pen-pal in Sydney and travelled up to Towoomba in Queensland. I told her very little really, wanting to keep it light as my previous encounters suggested she would like it. The whole experience left me feeling relaxed and optimistic.

    To move on to something about deep suffering, I only have to go back to about 18 years of age, when I was enjoying the freedom of University life but was in constant anxiety because of all the repression coming from relentless compounding by my father of the early pain he inflicted on me around 2-3 weeks of age. I had read a book on self-hypnosis and then in desperation I had started practicing yoga. No one had warned me of any danger and I nearly broke my neck when I lost balance doing a shoulder stand. Then I was really desperate because of the pain from the torn ligaments and pinched nerves in my neck. Talk about the Freudian unconscious - my father all through my early years used to call me "a pain in the neck". A physiotherapist friend of the family tried everything he new to give me relief but it only helped while he was working on me - especially putting me in traction. Eventually I was lucky to find a chiropractor who was excellent. He wouldn't do anything until he had gotten x-rays and done testing and then he did a number of "adjustments" on my spine. I went home from that first treatment and slept for 12 hours straight with no pain-killers. That injury remained because for healing to occur all the pent-up rage in my right shoulder would have to dissolve. My father sat to my right at the head of the dinner table and from an early age he would say things like "shut up and eat your peas or I'll give you a thick ear". Then at some point for some other reason he would without warning wack me over the right ear. He prided himself on being ambidextrous. He sure was.

    The rage is still there but to a much lesser degree and I can only guess where it might be coming from. A key point of the story is that the injury to my neck at around 18 years combined with the pent-up rage from earlier psychological injury meant I would always have difficulty expressing feelings and nobody could prescribe what would make it easier for me.

    1. Grahame,

      I have minor spinabifida. Bottom vertebrae fused to pelvis. Early gestational folic acid deficit I found out somewhere through research online.

      Yeah right: -"A key point of the story is that the injury to my neck at around 18 years combined with the pent-up rage from earlier psychological injury meant I would always have difficulty expressing feelings and nobody could prescribe what would make it easier for me". . .

      At 15 I began getting strange back problems, partly due to Rugby injuries. I had several X rays from then till 30 odd years later. All reputedly showing nothing particularly wrong with my spine. I just agreed with the 'specialist'.

      Until I discovered a chiropractor. A good one, a radiologist as well (can you believe that)? He invited me down to his basement and proceeded to get the facts up on the slide projector. Within 1/2 hr and a cup of tea. -"There you are, see the fused vertebra"?

      The point of this is that most people have no clue to what is driving them but some people end up finding 'early traumas' through their bone structure. It's at a certain stage of gestation isn't it?

      It makes for weaknesses and biases later.

      Paul G.

    2. Thanks Paul,

      I don't know enough about fusion of vertebrae to answer your question. I just had torn ligaments and pinched nerves. I have no good reason to believe the rage locked in my right shoulder goes back earlier than birth trauma.

      I lived in a shared house in Australia where there was a highly respected auto mechanic who had fused lumbar vertebrae and was missing important stabilizing pieces at the back. He had in a strange way found an occupation that provided exercise and rest (lying on his back on one of those trolleys) and excitement even (he worked at some big racing events on cars making pit stops!). One radiologist he was referred to, without knowing his lifestyle, was so shocked by what he saw that he urged him to go home and be very careful what he did in future.

      It is amazing how humans can adapt to malformations of bones. Perhaps by growing extra strong ligaments. I don't know when the bones of the spine are finished forming - i.e how late fusion can occur. As for "finding 'early traumas' through... bone structure", it may be a clue but I think you should take the bottom line of Art's post seriously. Experience when ready is the ticket, I believe.


    3. Paul,

      Thanks for the feedback. I may have misspoken somewhat. Partly I was trying to say that to a large extent we each have to manage our own therapy, getting what help we can with diet, exercise etcetera.

      You did well to get out of Rugby and find a good specialist. Rugby players have a very poor life expectancy.

      Your comments about bone structure just got me thinking. There is a spot on the top of my skull that feels to my fingers like the cranial bones didn't grow together properly. This most likely would have been due to birth trauma. I have just begun experimenting with rubbing a solution of magnesium sulfate into the right side of my neck and shoulder muscles at bedtime to relax any excess tension - it works. I don't aim to feel primal pains. I aim for comfort and satisfaction in the present and that helps me to feel in a connected resolving way sometimes. Maybe it will all come together when the time is right.


  18. The other night the radio started to play Leonard Cohen singing SISTERS OF MERCY. This song, along with SUSANNE and HEY, THAT'S NO WAY TO SAY GOODBYE, and also THE POWER OF LOVE byeJennifer Rush, they are all songs I've listened to thousands of times when going to sleep.

    Suddenly it struck me - I have met them!!! I have met my Sisters of Mercy. They were all the female therapists that sat patiently listening, occasionally putting in a word to keep me on track, and allowing and encouraging to let out and express what was so hard for me to utter. I was allowed to tell, ask, express feelings that I was ashamed of, afraid of, feared, for the obvious usual risk of rejection.

    These young beautiful sensitive women taught me that I could show my shameful worthless self and still be accepted and respected as a man, as a human being. My sisters of mercy.

    1. ErikLundholm1,

      Faith, Hope & Charity.

      Paul G.

  19. Dear Paul,

    There is only one right way.

    In our western culture there are:
    People beyond help,
    People who rather die than heal,
    People who would like to heal but too scared,
    People who want to heal in order not to die...

    ...they are suffering from Primal Pain. Art Janov did not put it there. He discovered its existence, realized it was an hitherto unknown phenomenon in the brain. As this accumulation of blocked and buried and stored information is original, id est, has its roots in the earliest, formative, months and years, Janov gave it the name Primal Pain. This was 100 years after Darwin published his theories on the origine of species, now 150 years later still not accepted in all American schools.

    Primal Pain can only be resolved with Primal Therapy. It is not of any interest where, and by whom, the treatment takes place. Art's 15 books, a blog going on for 10 years with many hundreds of essays, and The Primal Legacy with 200 educational sessions, carefully selected by France Janov - all this forms a foundation on which good people can continue the work. And it will be known as Primal Therapy.

    The only right way.


    1. Thanks Erik,

      I completely agree.

      Out there if you say that, many people respond with what I am saying. That is what I have discovered through a lot of effort put in by me to find out the 'score'. It's also what dozens of professionals have told me since I got onto this blog. Thanks to Art & this blog I'm still alive. I was homeless for 5 years + screwed up; it got really scary.

      Ao, I personally am in favour of Primal and would get it myself along with (quite possibly) many millions of others in different boats of equally stinking proportions.

      It is not possible for everyone who wants Primal to get it. Even those who have the means to get to Santa Monica seem not to take it, even commentators on this blog.
      Then the Primal Center has not the capacity to meet the demand anyway. Even if those who hadn't previously had the means suddenly did have the means (as well as the will) they would not get the therapy due to lack of capacity. Demand far exceeds supply.

      Is this blog merely a way to bait those who can't or bait those who can speak as if they could, or did, or might, or what the fuck?

      Thus, what for those who are in Limbo?

      What about those, like the prisoners who applied for it?

      What about those who need a center nearer?

      Or is Santa Monica going to remain the ONLY DESTINATION?


      Paul G.

    2. Erik,

      -"It is not of any interest where, and by whom, the treatment takes place"-.

      Thanks for the spreadsheet, I'll take the bottom line.

      Thanks for the reminder.

      If only I lived in USA.

      I won't shut up.

      I don't quite fit into 4 lines or ranks and if I did it would be the scary one, please don't make me a special visa to USA tailored to scare the shit out or me when I get to USA customs.


      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.