Saturday, December 1, 2012
On Loving Yourself
The New Agers, or what I call the booga booga followers make a big deal of self love. So what is wrong with it? I have said before that it is an oxymoron. Oxytocin is what I call the hormone of love. If you rub an animal’s belly, levels rise. If you lick her, oxytocin also rises, but if you rub yourself it won’t. You cannot love yourself. There is more.
What does it mean to “love yourself”? What it doesn’t mean is to be able to feel love in the present, no matter what. Because once you are unloved throughout your childhood it is imprinted—you are unloved and feel unloved even when you don’t know it. It drives all later behavior; either to try to get it (depending on the birth, whether parasympathetic/giving up, or sympathetic/keep struggling). You give up when the birth is basically struggle and fail; and you keep on trying when the birth was struggle and success. (I have written about this in my books and blog. It pretty determines personality, but for now, it is another matter).
While I am discussing oxytocin I should mention a recent study where they sprayed the chemical into the noses of human subjects. They had a control group. They were all alcohol addicted. Those who were sprayed had fewer cravings for alcohol, afterwards. They had milder withdrawal symptoms. The control group got placebos. The “sprayed” were less addicted later. So what does this mean?
Since oxytocin is the hormone of love, inter alia, it means that love stops the craving. Of course. And when you are loved at the start of life there will not be any craving or addiction later on--permenantly. All else being equal. (I have written in the blog about the nature of love and how you can love a fetus; you fulfill its needs when you understand them).
OK now you feel deeply unloved because you were. How do you go from there to loving yourself? I mean, it is good to take care of yourself, stop acting out that you deserve nothing, stop being self destructive; all that helps. But hug and kiss yourself? A little pat on the head when you were five? But with the imprint the unconscious will still drive all that bad behavior no matter what. Of course there are stop-gaps and we should all do what we do to feel better, but none of that, NONE OF THAT, will help us feel loved. Why? Because we were indeed unloved and it is registered and re-registered throughout our childhood. We feel unloved and nothing will cover that over because it is now engraved into the system. We are unloved in the brain, the blood and the muscles; we are unloved in the cells. All of those register trauma (lack of love is trauma) in their own way. It helps a lot to know that you are attracted to those cold fish who cannot love so that you can struggle to get love out of them but need wins out. Yes, conscious/awareness helps, but it fights a losing battle.
Cognitive therapy, focused in the present, which is what the left brain does, can help us understand the kind of situations or people to avoid but they cannot begin to touch the drive that makes it happen. They, and therefore the patient, never understands the unconscious. And never gets well. That includes the therapist who helps the patient skim along the top, never asking “why?” A little word with a big meaning that is avoided in that therapy. They claim that they don’t need to know why. Yes they do.
It is the difference between help and cure. If you want help you don’t need to know why. But the unconscious will never cease to drive you even when you are not aware of being driven. It is the function of the unconscious that you remain unconscious. So you shouldn’t know, otherwise, you would be in pain all day long and your face would show it. We would all walk down the street grimacing and frowning and hunched. What a world. That is truly the world of our unconscious; thank God (If I may call on it for a moment) for the disconnect. Repression saves and repression kills; it creates and destroys. It is optimistic because it doesn’t understand the true situation; and that optimism kills us because it denies the pain and keeps it alive and active, gnawing away within the system. It is unrelenting which makes our behavior unrelenting and unforgiving. We become obsessive because of it. We are forced into wrong choices by the unconscious and it is unwavering in its neurosis. Why? It seeks out the early situation again for us to try to master it; so we seek out the critical ones when we had critical mothers, and we seek out cold men when we had a cold father. We need to start again to try to make them approving and loving. We need the struggle. Why can’t we go straight for love? Because the imprint is supreme. And it stays unconscious. We go for the unlove first. It is all we know. If we feel unloved and that we don’t deserve love, we DO NOT GO FOR IT. And believe me. When we were not loved we nearly always feel that it is our fault and that we do not deserve it.
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.