Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Silent Scream

I was looking around at some people I know and at least 1/3rd of them had the malady of needing to move constantly;  organizing trips, making reasons to go here and there, and, in general keeping on the move. Does all that constant going and coming lead to strokes and heart attacks?  I do think so. Why?  Because below all that movement is a giant silent scream.  So, if they scream it out will they stop moving? Nope.    We have so many assumptions here, so let’s take it slowly.

I have seen thousands of patients relive all kinds of traumas: one key one that is widespread is being trapped in the womb, suffocating and unable to get out.  Trapped. Suffocating, Unable to move; those are the key feelings involved.  They could scream then and they cannot scream now but once they as adults are in the feeling they can first grunt and try to move and feel then, later, At birth…..    scream.  It is not the screaming that is liberating.  It is the reliving.  And then the scream to express the agony of all that.  Reliving changes the imprint, reduces it, and begins the resolution process - demethylation which I have written about extensively.  Screaming alone is not what we are after; it is the total agony of the reliving, and then the reaction—screaming.  Reactions alone cannot do it.  And that is what is wrong with all those early Scream Clubs in universities that began with the publication of the Primal Scream.  Yes, screaming relieves the pressure involved in the reaction but does nothing to the imprint.

So now we see the tremendous pressure in the build up after the traumatic event early on; not only the birth trauma but many other traumas where the mother is taking drugs or smoking and drinking and the fetus/baby cannot escape.  He can turn his head away as if to escape but, alas, he is trapped.  And that feeling impressed into a vulnerable body remains there as a engraved memory and will drive her behavior thereafter.  “I have to move.  I have to get out of here.”  That is the leitmotif of his or her life.  And it never ever leaves!  The person is literally trapped in the memory, a trap that has chemicals stronger than steel to bind them forever.  One of those chemicals is methyl.  Another is serotonin, and there are many others. But is is a chemical conspiracy to make sure we never ever feel free or liberated.  Now do they feel bound?  Of course not. They are too busy trying to get unbound, yet never knowing the feeling and where it comes from.  Can you imagine someone saying to himself, “Wow.  I am bound by a feeling in the womb!”  In that womb there are obviously no words or concepts or scenes. Only a physical feeling.  So how can there be a memory?  There is no memory as wee think of remembering, but the body remembers exactly.  It remembers trapped and suffocating because in the Primal that is what comes up and what we see.  And in everyday life we lug those feelings around as a weight as if carrying a ten pound steel bar around constantly.  We are carrying around those devilish chemicals that trap us, however.  And what changes those chemicals?  Primals.

Can you guess?  Less methylation, decreased serotonin (which we have measured) and on and on.  We change the chemical composition and diminish the memory so that we can really change our behavior and our proclivity toward disease.  So screaming won’t do it. What will?  How about dampening drugs, SSRI’s?  They shush the scream but never never change the memory, the imprint.  And how about slowing us down so we don’t move so much?  That just helps the build-up of pressure.  It exacerbates the problem and aggravates the need to move.  What helps? Nada!

So when we see the constant motion we understand, but we never see the agony. Why no agony?  Because it is busy being acted-out to relieve the agony before it is fully felt.  So we cannot possibly see it and the person in motion cannot feel it; that is the idea, that it disappear before it is evident.  Now we know why psychotherapy is at such a loss.  And now we know what could be behind high blood pressure and migraines. I had one patient who was sexually never satisfied.  When she could not have sex her blood pressure rose to dangerous heights.  Drugs could not help her. What could?  Feeling the need to discharge pressure,, a Primal; that helped.  That cured.    Why cure? Because it dealt with the origin of it all.  The original methylation and imprint.  What caused all that need for sex; to say nothing of her first-line imprint which was so strong.  An imprint on the physical level that had no words, nor screams.  A constant smoking mother who was literally killing her baby.  Or a chronically anxious mother who could not shut off her anxiety.  The brainstem, almost fully developed at the time absorbed all that trauma and is therefore heavily methylated. We never will see that until we bring patients down to that level; yet that could take months and then we need to know what to look for.  That is why it took me decades to figure it out.  It is not evident.

So why aren’t they all walking down the street screaming?  It is not done and not polite, but what they can do is scream out the agony of the migraine or heart constriction (angina).  And we rush in to treat the heart condition or migraine or high blood pressure.  That is where it is obvious but that is NOT where the problem lies.  It lies hidden in the lungs and surroundings.  In the arching back and the constant movement.  We see what we see, the obvious, and miss what we cannot see.  That makes sense.  Maybe we should be searching for what cannot see: a lens that magnifies primal pain.  dHey,I have it and I am giving it away.  Oh you mean no one wants it. Why? They are too busy treating what they see.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

On the Science of Psychotherapy

Sometimes I realize I am getting science heavy but what is happening today is so exciting, especially since it supports what I have been writing about for almost 50 years.  (See the following:  T.J. Rebello, et al., “Postnatal day 2  to 11 constitutes a 5HT sensitive period.”    G. Perna: “Panic and the brainstem: clues from neuroimaging studies.”  2014 1996 Betham Science Publishers (see an abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24923341).    Justin Feinstein (my colleague) with E.G. Velez and D. Tranel  “Feeling without memory in Alzheimer Disease.” see http://journals.lww.com/cogbehavneurol/Fulltext/2014/09000/Feelings_Without_Memory_in_Alzheimer_Disease.1.aspx)

I will try to sum up the implications of their research without all the scientific lingo.  Let’s start out with the urgency of early love.  Eric Nestler, (Mt. Sinai Hospital, N.Y.)  writing on epigenetics states the following:
“There are epigenetics effects that last a lifetime.  Rat pups that are rarely licked are more susceptible to later stress.” (see the full article at: And of course rat pups licked and love do much better later in life.  They are more adventurous and curious.  What is important is that we can begin to zoom in on why, and the answer seems to be that damage means heavier methylation.  And what is that great damage?  Early lack of love.  It takes many forms in humans, but poor nutrition, a mother drinking, smoking and taking drugs and later abuse found in neglect and lack of touch (licking).

Methylation seems to be an important marker for lack of early love, both in animals and in humans.  What new research is finding is that so many diseases are methylation dependent, including MS, Diabetes and heart disease.  Again, these are stress related, and the great stressor seems to be a simple lack of love.  And lack of love means ignoring and denying the baby’s basic primal needs.  Not surprising in the rat study was the fact that heavy methylation occurred in the limbic/feeling structures such as the hippocampus which has to do with memory.  It doesn’t take an Einstein to see the possible later relationship with Alzheimer’s disease.    Above all, we need doctors to stop asking “Have you been in any unusual stress recently?”  They need to ask the right questions if they want the right answers.  And that includes research scientists who must delve into the marks of damage to key cells that will provide answers.  Since we cannot ask the fetus about his stress we need to do the next best thing and sniff out biologic damage.

Remember when there is very early stress (womb-life) the genes can be up or down regulated, and here starts the origins of depression and anxiety. It becomes the crucible for later disease.  When we add abuse in infancy in childhood, given away to foster parents, a  mother too sick to care for the child, etc., we can almost be sure that neurotic behavior and disease will follow.  That almost surely will involve ADD, lack of concentration and learning disorders.  The DNA has been chemically modified and it reroutes normal reactions for behavior and disease.  These changes are not neurotic; they are often normal to the noxious intrusion of things like a mother’s smoking or drinking.  The fetus is trying to adapt as best she can.  Neurosis is an adaptive reaction to threat.  It is in that sense, normal.  Behaviorists are trying to change a normal adaptation into something else that is not organic nor adaptive.  They are basically moralists, trying to get patients to adopt healthy behaviors when they are already in normal behaviors depending on their early experience.  Or they concoct exercises for relaxation when the only proper relaxation is to deal directly with the imprint.  Otherwise, they are still behaviorists trying to find ways to change our response to early damage without acknowledging that damage.  My patients do not need special relaxation ploys because when we take the pain out, they are very relaxed and that state endures.

Now the important part:  they are finding where all this begins, and like my mother used to say, “Columbus discovered America”, early damage, the primordial primal imprint involves the brainstem.  Phylogenetically this is an ancient brain system that we share with sharks.  It makes us hyperaware and hyper-reactive. It is the source of basic biological impulses, fight or flight.  And research points to this key structure as where anxiety emanates from.  Something I have seen and written about for many decades.  Somehow,  “objective” research has credibility.  What imprints here do is adversely affect the serotonin system which should help dampen panic but it cannot.  So what do we do years later for panic? We offer serotonin pills in the form of SSRI’s.  And what does that do? Make up for what was affected during brainstem dominance.

What the Perna group did was do a complete literature search of many databases for panic disorders.  Yes the brainstem was involved. The brainstem, which registers very early trauma and sets the tone for how we respond to it later in life.  So  mother’s drug taking and later birth anesthesia sets up a panic reaction to lack of oxygen.  Later in life, closed doors or windows become a threat and can set up a panic attack.  Their summary was as follows: “Panic patients tend to have abnormal brainstem activation to emotional stimuli when compared with healthy controls.”

Here is my question for them but it cannot be answered by research alone?  Where does that come from?  What causes that brainstem reaction?  Or does the brainstem just go off and do its own special thing?  What is the exact relationship between certain experiences and brainstem activation? Those are the answers that will lead to proper therapies.  Above all, why is the brainstem so involved?  Maybe the damage is registered there because it dominates during the first weeks or days of life in the womb.  And the brainstem becomes methylated early on.  And as I say, it is the earliest imprints that are the most damaging; there is where therapy needs to begin.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Letter

Dear Arthur,

A short message to wish you happy birthday and to tell you thank you for your work which has without any doubt pushed the understanding of human behavior forward. Everything is feeling and all you need is love to prevent you from trauma and neurosis later on.

I had the chance to come to the Primal Center from April to June 2013. To me primal therapy was the last chance, the end of the tunnel…my only hope. It changed my life forever and for the best and I wish to finish my therapy in the years to come (I’m 24 now and I’m saving money to come back in a bit)

Since I came to primal therapy I feel I have a much better understanding of where I come from and why I have been acting the way I did for years. I also know that parents do make mistakes and that you don’t owe anything to them. Before I was living with a feeling of guilt to my mother because she has been depressed for years and I couldn’t do anything. Now I understand that she is neurotic and there is not much I can do (except talk to her about your therapy, your books and blog which is easier to understand for outsiders but also about the work of Docteur Leboyer which I think is very complementary to your work).

Since primal therapy I met a girl and was able to have complete « sexual intercourse » which was impossible for me before (I had like a « blocage »). I have been with her for almost a year now and for the first time I am able to make plans about the future with a total stranger.

Of course, there are days when things don’t go so well and I’m still not sure about the professional path I have chosen (I might want to study psychology actually in the coming years). But it is reassuring in my day to day life to know that every feeling has to be felt for what it is which means that to get better all you have to do is stop your activity go to a room or a place where you can be alone and cry and feel.

So to make things short : thank you very much Arthur. You truly saved my life and I’m sure the one of many and I look forward to meeting you when I’ll come back to the Center.

All the best and hello to David !

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Happy Birthday Letter

Dr. Janov,

 I have been admiring your work for such short time. But, in this time I have learnt a lot. Things, I wouldn't have learnt anywhere else. Things that brought me to accept & be open to my feelings rather than label them, repress them, and ignoring them.
 It is because of a person like you I have come to be more human, more empathetic, and more understanding.
 Feelings are no longer the enemy.

 My only hope is that your wonderful work & wisdom be spread around the world as so to help other people who suffer.

 Rare are gems like you.

 Happy loving birthday! :)

Here is the Ultimate Logic of Primal Therapy

So why I am banging on about epigenetics?  There must be some other new science somewhere in psychology.  Not to my knowledge.  But look here:  this could be a quote from my book but instead and far better it is a quote from a scientific group that is confirming primal theory with every sentence.  “Children who have been abused or rejected early in life are at risk for developing both emotional and physical health problems.  In the new study, researchers were able to measure the degree  to which genes were turned on or off through a biochemical process called methylation.”  ( “Maltreatment affects the way children’s genes are activated.” Society for Research in Child Development.    Science Daily, 24 July 2014. see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140724094207.htm)

Is that right?  You mean traumas during early childhood determine how our genetic legacy turns out.  Did I say that?  Are they saying it too? Then we agree and we have the clinical experience and research results to confirm it.

The researchers  found that children who had been badly treated had more of the “Marks” or “Traces” of methylation on the genes, meaning trauma, that dictates health and sociability later in life.  This methylation, as I have written many times, is one key biochemical mechanism that cells use to control how genes are expressed or not expressed.
And that means how we evolve, how we behave, how and when we get sick.  How our lives turn out, in short.  I have seen it clinically for over fifty years and now independent sources are supporting what we know clinically, not only do we not grow out of childhood trauma, nor do we forget it and leave it behind, but that traces are embedded for a lifetime in our brain system and physiology.  To get well we must deal with the methylated imprint.  There is no more discussion of this point. We have treated thousands of patients over the decades and observe it constantly.  Nurture does change nature, and seems very important in our evolution.

The difference we have now is that scientists can measure the degree or severity of the imprint.  And we are beginning to account for how much pain drives us and how much does experience account for all this; that is, how much experience changes the biology of our genes.  We know this from many studies, not the least of which is found in recent autopsies of depressives whose feeling brains were heavily methylated.  (M.S. Korgaonkar, et al.  “Early exposure to traumatic stressors impairs emotional brain circuitry. “  Plos One    Sept 13, 2013, see http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0075524)  With trauma they have found a less developed feeling brain, including the  amygdala.  It turns out that a great deal of the feeling brain is affected.  And science is beginning to see the origins of Alzheimers disease associated with increased methylation.

So when kids are having trouble in school or have constant anxiety or attention problems we need to look deep in the brain and deeper into their early experience.  When there are constant allergies, are they correlated with methylation and how much?  In other words, we need to stop  intellectualizing and search into our history and early history.  What I have been reiterating for decades is that the seeds of later heart disease, breathing function, blood pressure, epilepsy and migraines can have origins even while we live in the womb.  And soon we will be able to measure the lessening of methylation and the undoing of repression.  Imagine that; a means to measure neurosis and its eradication.  Wonderful.  believe it is no longer possible to ignore all this and pretend to do proper psychotherapy.    It means that end of doling out pills to suppress the pain, but on the contrary, to allow its expression and stop hiding it.  It means final liberation: pointing to a number and saying, “ you are this much less neurotic now.  You are this much less likely to be addicted again or have high blood pressure again.  Wow.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Letter 9

Art, the world is a much better place for your life and MY world is immeasurably better. Bless you!  Keep the wisdom going.

Dear Art,

When I first started therapy ten years ago I sent you a silkscreen-type card. It showed a tiger crouching in a field of bamboo, half hiding from a bright orange sun. It said: tiger waiting. This card back then was a thank you card.
Well that tiger--my deepest self--has come out of hiding. He's no longer waiting. Years of feeling--I've never stopped--have brought him out. I often ask: what would I have done without you, Art. Without your therapy. You've given me a whole new life. Thank you a million times. And bless you for it.


Dear Dr Janov

Happy Birthday Art,
I know it is your birthday today,
I was born in 1974, which is a 4 number, just like You.
Since I've turned 40 this year,
I'm feeling so old, thinking of retirement already,
I can't imagine 90!
I hope you're doing well, and wish you a Happy Birthday,
But please, no birthday cake for M.!
Best Wishes,
If you can't put a face on my name, I'm the one who came to Halloween group 2006 with an inflatable doll

O. T., France

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Letter 8

This is a “Happy Birthday” letter from a series of letters sent to Art by patients, former patients, friends and readers from all over the world that show how Primal Therapy have impacted their lives.

To Dear Art,

HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY for the 21st of August.
I hope you had a lovely day.

You are a really wonderful man and you and your therapy have really helped me.
I thank you so much for that. Primal is one of a kind, in a league of it's own.

I really think you should be awarded the Nobel Peace prize for your services towards
humanity. I hope that one day you are. You deserve it.

Anyway, once again, all the best for your special day and this milestone in your life.

Kind Regards,

S. B. Australia

Art:   Wow! just reading your birthday article was so moving and I cried.   At first I thought I was crying for you, then quickly realized I was crying for me.    Crying, that I do on a regular basis about the many sad things in my life, both past and present ... but now I know I am in the feeling zone of life.    What a joy and comfort for the most part.    So I too am so, so, so grateful for what you discovered and gave to the rest of the world ... if only they could listen or, were able to read ... really read ... and know and feel so deeply.

It's all so simple ... unbelievably simple ... and yet so elusive to so many.   I was however disturbed by the pig squeals and I wish I had not had to read that, as I am now hearing pig squeals, though I never heard the amount you did.   

Meantime I do have someone that really loves me ... not the same way I love him ... but then that's always how it is.   BUT it is enough ... and like you say ... if only, just only,  my father had known how to love ... my mother for the most part did; since she loved my father dearly and on becoming pregnant with me, her first born ... she loved the baby inside her (me) that was her husband's baby.   I got something.

So why did I, reading "The Primal Scream" want this therapy?   I knew I wanted to live in the feeling zone of life ... that I got, to a some extent, from my mother.   So! thanks also for the article and learning more about you and your life, than I'd ever known before.    Your integrity has always astounded me.

Good luck Art.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Letter

Dear Art,

Happy Birthday!  I wanted to tell you that your therapy saved my life.  I found the book Prisoners of Pain eight years ago by accident and, by the time I read the first 20 pages, I knew this was the therapy for me.  I think you are more brilliant than Freud and every other psychologist out there.  Years ago, when I was broke, the foundation covered a second trip out for me and that was the most generous gift I have ever received, where no one asked anything in return.  I know that you and your therapy have saved so many lives and will save so many more.  You have spent a life so well-lived and have made an immeasurable impact on this world.  Your name will live on forever and I think, someday, everyone will come to know the importance of expressing feelings in order to move toward a happy life.  Thank you for giving me a place to cry, for my past pains, for the first time, at 36 years of age.  I am now 43 and my life has improved in so many ways because of your therapy.  I tell everyone about it and always will -- how you saved my life.

Wishing you many more wonderful and prolific years to come!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Letter

This is a “Happy Birthday” letter from a series of letters sent to Art by patients, former patients, friends and readers from all over the world that show how Primal Therapy have impacted their lives.

Hi Art,

I am sure that you don't remember meeting me, but I will never forget meeting
you!  It was the mid-1980's and, I believe, you had fairly recently returned from
France.  I was in my mid-20's at the time and a patient at the Primal Institute.
You gave a talk up at, I believe, a church in Westwood.  It was a total thrill to hear
you speak.  And after I had the honor to shake your hand.  It was a great night!

After a couple of years at the institute, I moved back to Minnesota and began a
"new" life.  I worked a job.  Got married and had two beautiful daughters.  There
is no doubt in my mind that my experiences in primal therapy helped make me
a better father.

Through the years I knew that I hadn't completed the job that I needed to do.  I
began looking into getting back into primal therapy but my life was here.  I
investigated your website and learned that I could carry on therapy with Skype.
So, after a couple of weeks in LA I returned home and have, very successfully
carried on my therapy.

I do want to share one anecdote of the one group that I attended in Santa Monica
as part of my two weeks.  A patient was saying something like, "I haven't been to
a group in a long time.  It's been 9 months.".  When it was my turn, I said, "My last group was... 25 years ago."  I am not sure that they believed me.

I'd like to say something about the differences in therapy between my experiences at the Primal Institute in the mid-80's  and the past two years at the Primal Center.  It's much better now.  It's rare for me not to feel deeply.  I don't think the suffering builds up as much.  And I think that my therapist knows what he's doing.  Looking back I can only think that my therapists at the institute missed a lot of opportunities to send people into feelings.  Thank you for these major improvements!!!

I don't have enough words to express my gratitude for the extremely positive differences you have made to my life.  The only way that I know how to express the depth of my gratitude is by sharing this thought.  To know that I've done something right with my life, all I have to do is to look at how happy and healthy my daughters are.  I know that I couldn't have done as good of a job as a father without primal therapy!  To fully convey how important this is to me I would need about a million exclamation marks but that would make this letter too long.

I would be remiss if I did not say Happy 90th birthday!!!!  And I wish you a hundred thousand more birthdays!  I suspect that you have some awareness of this, but you are a man who will live forever.  Your life's work is unparalleled.  All the people that you have already helped and all the people that your work will help, will increase exponentially.  My personal examples are my daughters.  They don't know about primal therapy.   They don't have a need for primal therapy!
Art, I don't know a greater success story than that!

Sincerely -- with my deepest gratitude.

M. T., USA

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Letter

This is a “Happy Birthday” letter from a series of letters sent to Art by patients, former patients, friends and readers from all over the world that show how Primal Therapy have impacted their lives.

Dear Art

The email inbox entry merely read and the accompanying thought said ‘oh my God, Janov’s dead – but he can’t be dead, he still has so much to give….;

Thus, the relief to read that your 90th birthday is just around the corner was quite palpable, and I am glad you are still alive and able to receive emails.

As you know, my father died on 5 July. He was 93 years old and was diagnosed with dementia last summer. He lived out the rest of his days in a dementia resident nursing home where the care given is magnificent. But I think my dad knew that he had lost control of his mind and he didn’t much like it.

One of my reasons for undertaking primal therapy last February was a response to your remarks about dementia in your book Life Before Birth and subsequent comments in a recent email. At 68 years old, I like to think I now know myself well enough to have no surprises waiting for me. It seems I had quite a good birth.

I have attached a snapshot from a video I took in the summer of 2012 when my son JJ was just 6 months old and my father was 91. I included the following in my eulogy to him at his funeral.

That summer, we visited dad at his house the Sunday before the Olympic Games. Even at the tender age of 6 months, little JJ was quite particular about who he would let hold him. Aside of his mother and me, there was no one really. But when he lay in his grandfather’s arms, something magical happened. They both gazed into each other’s eyes, JJ every now and then sitting up and looking around and then back to his granddad; totally relaxed was JJ, as if he was being let into a secret denied everyone else, and had found the ideal resting place from which to ponder the Universe and bathe in the warmth and security of his granddad’s arms. That was me 68 years ago, and I know just how JJ felt.

So, happy birthday dear Dr Janov, you have been one of the guiding influences in my life, alongside people like PD Ouspensky, Mahler and Dr David Yurth.

For some reason I’ve set myself a goal to cast this mortal coil at 102 years old. Assisted dying will probably be law by then. If I was going to plan when I die, I would first ask the doctor, how long it will take for the pills to set in before I lose consciousness? Assuming it was minutes, I would then play the final 12 minutes of Mahler’s 2nd symphony – the Resurrection. If you don’t know it already, I heartily recommend you listen to it and his 8th symphony. I would want to lose consciousness at the moment of the final crashing chord, and thereby go out in a blaze of glory with my family around me.

R. C., UK

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Letter 4

Dear Art,

 I write to wish you a happy 90th birthday and as many healthy and happy years ahead as you wish yourself.

 Your 90th birthday should be a day of joy and glorification for a life that has brought true meaning to the lives of thousands of others and laid the groundwork for those of millions of others yet to benefit from it. You have made an indelible imprint in the sands of time.

 Your discovery and practice of Primal Therapy are no doubt a silent revolution in the knowledge of Man. Man has over the years conquered the science of everything but of Man himself. You have successfully re-discovered Man. Your discovery and development of Primal Therapy have laid the path for the understanding of the link between Man and himself, between the human mind and the human body, the understanding of causes and origin of major illnesses and afflictions, the causes and origin of poverty, of the wealth or poverty of persons or nations, of success and failure, of sanity and insanity, and of sadness and joy, of longevity and short lives, and many others. You have laid the path for the resolution of the ever-aching conflict between Man and himself, between his mind and his body.

 Sometimes great men like you are not discovered in their lifetime. What is, however, certain, is that you will be discovered or re-discovered in the course of time. And the world will be happier for it.

 I use this opportunity to say how lucky I am to have met you through some of your works and in person. I am lucky, too, to be associated with your discovery of Primal Therapy. Indeed, the whole world is lucky that there has been an Arthur Janov,except that most of them are not aware of it.

 Congratulations on your 90th birthday.

C.  Nigeria

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Letter 3

Hi Art.

We've only really met once and you couldn't understand my Nottingham accent. I got the chance to thank you though and I will tell you there was a lot more behind those two words. Primal therapy saved my life, I believe. Also in making my wife and I more real it enabled us to give the kids a much better childhood than they might have had which is priceless. I find it hard to put into words how grateful I am and how privileged I feel to have been able to do primal therapy and especially to have come to the primal center.

Thank you again, all my best wishes and have a great birthday.

C. C., UK

Hi Dr Janov:

In case I forget, happy upcoming 90th birthday.

I would like to again thank you for all your inspiring and important work in psychotherapy. These days, I am re-reading one of the major works of the counter-culture "The Greening of America" by Charles Reich (now about your age), which came out about the same time as "The Primal Scream". I am thankful and in awe that you both were able to create such important works, some clarity and insight within all pervasive neurotic culture which stifles us. It means a lot to me, especially now that I too am getting older.

M. E., Canada

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Letter 2

How come Dr. Janov is not the most famous man on our planet?
It was a difficult decision to come to Santa Monica. So many disappointments concerning therapies before. Regressive therapy, family constellations, art therapy, coaching, One brain therapy... before trying Primal therapy I tried at least 20 different therapies.
Why is Primal therapy so powerful?
Because one man was lucky, focused and did not accept his inabilty to help those who need therapy. The result? A miracle: Primal therapy.
4 months into the therapy I do not see any dramatic improvements in my life, yet. What I see however is my gradual return to life. And what I am sure of is that it is the only effective therapy compared to other therapies which are only wasting time and money.
If Dr. Janov is not the most famous man on our planet, then we are living in a completely insane world, with psychotherapists so brainwashed they are unable to distinguish between effective therapy vs. ineffective therapy, with people celebrating their captors as their liberators and with evil being portrayed as good.  And with frustration and suffering being considered normal.
Dr. Janov cannot thus be recognized as a genius by official authorities.
Primal therapy gives life, strength and freedom and makes things what they really are: with Primal therapy good is good, suffering is suffering and life is life. Thanks to Dr. Janov. My infinite gratitude.
P. K., CZ Republic

Dear Art,

Congratulations on reaching your 90th year.
I’d like to thank you for your lifetime of dedication to helping others. Your influence on my life has been immense. Had you never written The Primal Scream, I’m sure my suffering would be far greater than it is today.
Today I can say that I have healed much of the pain from my childhood and complicated birth. I have a greater sense of freedom. I’m more present to my feelings and to life. My mother put it best: “it's as if you’ve had a lobotomy”! I genuinely feel like a changed man.
Of course there’s more pain in the bathtub and my spoon hasn’t gotten any bigger, but today I have a means to empty the bath, unlike the vast majority of the population. For that I will always be grateful to you and the many who have been influenced by you.
I hope you remain active as a writer for many years to come.  I think your writings have more influence than perhaps you imagine. Even the watered-down manifestations of the Primal vision that spring from your thinking are helping to slowly move the therapy movement in a more curative direction.

Much love

R. A., UK

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Happy Birthday Letter 1

We are beginning a “Happy Birthday” series of letter sent to Art by patients, former patients, friends and readers from all over the world that show how Primal Therapy have impacted their lives.

When cancer or heart patients thank their doctors for saving their lives, we all know that they mean. The patient survived and the doctor gets the credit, as well as honors and recognition from his profession. Often, we have heard Primal patients say the same thing: “Thanks, Dr. Janov, for saving my life.” But what we mean is not as obvious to everyone. After all, we weren’t dying of cancer or heart disease, at least not imminently. So why do we all feel rescued?

I cannot bear to think what would have become of me if I had not read “The Primal Scream” back in 1973. I was 24 years old and my life had come completely off the rails. As I once told you personally, I had a sudden, inexplicable breakdown five years earlier when I was a sophomore in college. Sitting at home reading a book without a care in the world, then suddenly engulfed in panic and terror that seemed to well up from deep inside, but out of nowhere. I felt like I was in a strange science fiction movie in which a comfortable existence turns into a waking nightmare and the victim is forced to spend all his energy to figure out why his life has gone haywire.

Nobody could understand what I was going through. The craziness was so excruciatingly isolating. It felt like an electrical storm of madness in my head that only I could see. How can you explain the fear of losing your mind when everything around you seems sunny and normal?

When I read your transformative book, I felt like I had finally found a person who understood my suffering and its causes. Like so many other readers, my reaction was immediate and instinctual. You offered a way out. And I was desperate to take it.

The first step in saving a life is understanding what threatens it. The next step is knowing what must be done to remove the threat and restore health. By this measure, Art, you are a true healer.

So when we say you saved our lives, we really mean that you restored a life worth living. You unlocked the mystery of neurosis by understanding that emotional pain is at the root, that repression is required to keep the pain at bay and that, in that devil’s bargain, we wind up living in a suspended state of perpetual suffering, or numbness.

So what kind of life is that?

My nerves were so frayed from the constant tension that soon after getting my first big job at the San Francisco Chronicle I trembled and shook for the entire night, curled up in a ball until dawn. What kind of a life can there be without the ability to sustain a livelihood?

When my dad pumped me full of Prolixin and Haldol to calm my nerves, I became a zombie. I was no longer trembling but I was trapped in a cold, eerie stillness that truly turned me into the walking dead.  What kind of a life can there be when you are at war with your own body?

My relationships were such a mess because as soon as I would find somebody I really valued, I became so insanely jealous that I made her life miserable and ultimately would drive her away. What kind of a life can there be without love?

We also often say that Primal Therapy gave us our lives back. But what does that mean, exactly? Sure, with less anxiety, anger, fear and insecurity, we are liberated to pursue the things that can really make us happy in life. A good job, a solid relationship, the ability to feel joy. But for me, getting my life back also meant understanding what really happened to me. For example, knowing that my jealousy began before I was two years old, when I felt rage for having been rejected by my mother and replaced by the next baby in a line of eight. How could I have grown up without realizing I was so hurt and angry at the time, and ever since. All I saw was the devastating aftermath in my wrecked relationships. Primal Therapy helped me connect the crippling effect with the unconscious cause.

That’s a huge gift, knowing the real self. That is reality restored. And your mind won’t let you rest until you put it all together, the behavior with the reason why.

In an unexpected way, you also gave me the chance to have a genuine moment of affection and reconciliation between me and my father. You know what kind of father he was. Emotionally distant, angry, critical, verbally abusive and a mean disciplinarian. Mostly, I was afraid of him. Still, he read your book and it touched something inside that hard heart of his. So much so that he decided to take out a loan to pay for my therapy, a shocking move from an inveterate penny-pincher. As a doctor, he saw my suffering too and must have realized there was no other good option.

Then one day during a visit home in the year after starting therapy, the buried emotions of our lives bubbled over. At the kitchen table, he started telling me of the nightmare he was living at home with my mother, who was having a full-blown psychotic breakdown. I was newly open to my feelings and couldn’t take it. I got up and rushed to the back bedroom where I used to sleep as a child. I collapsed on the bed and stated crying.

My father came back shortly to see what was wrong. When I saw him silhouetted in the doorway, that familiar figure I used to fear, I quickly sat up and dried my eyes. Crying was not allowed in front of him, even after he’d beat us with a belt. So I tried to recover and asked him to wait for me in the kitchen. When I went out to rejoin him, I explained I just couldn’t stand to hear anymore about the family problems. Then, he did something that totally caught me off guard. He asked for forgiveness. “If I hurt you in some way, son, I’m sorry.”

For what seems like the first time in my life, we hugged like father and son, with feeling.

So not only did I discover that I was in pain, my father did too. For all of my childhood, he had overlooked it. He had hurt me overtly, deliberately, brutally sometimes, but somehow he didn’t see the damage he was doing until it was too late. Then he tried to make up for it by getting me into the only therapy that could have saved me. So I forgave him.

Now, I pass on the benefits of my insights to the next generation. I have raised two sons based on what I learned from Primal Therapy. Respect their feelings. Listen carefully. Respond to their needs and be there for them.

Andres and I are so attuned to each other because I have always allowed him to express his feelings openly. If he needs to cry, I lie down with him and just hold him or sit with him. Sometimes just the look on his face reveals his feeling – hurt, disappointment, sadness or whatever. When I spot it, I stop what I’m doing. Maybe I was scolding him too harshly and didn’t realize. So I stop talking and turn to him. All I have to say is “You look sad” or “I see you’re angry.” Once I verbalize his feeling, or rather acknowledge it, he looks at me with his whole face brimming with emotion, and he nods yes. As soon as he knows that I know, the flood gates open. His lip starts trembling, his eyes well with tears. And he cries.

So there it is, the secret to a happy life. Try not to hurt your kids. But if they get hurt, let them have their feelings. Let them see you understand, that you can see inside their little hearts. That you care.

In this way, Art, the life you saved is paying it forward. And that will be your legacy. One by one, we can save the world, one child at a time. That is worth a Nobel Prize many times over. You may not see that in your lifetime, but we can honor you individually, by making sure that we are living life as fully as it was meant to be, and helping our children do the same.

Thanks for saving mine.


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.