Thursday, January 29, 2015

Overdosing the Fetus and What that Means

Imagine you are taking your four year old child to a doctor. The doctor prescribes opiates for you for your anxiety and you give some to your child.  You are 130 pounds and your baby is thirty.   My oh my, you think how irresponsible, how terrible.  It is criminal!  But if I told you that one in four mothers might be doing that would you be shocked?  Yes.

Well, a new study finds exactly what I am writing about.  A report from the CDC (disease control) states that one-third of women of reproductive age have filled a prescription for opiate drugs in the last year, and every year for before that.  So what does that mean? It means that drugged mothers in large numbers are giving birth. They describe these numbers as "astonishing".    They believe it presents a great risk for birth defects, which I think is true.  But there is a more subtle effect; that of down regulating the who biology.  We need to know what percentage of these babies may not have obvious birth defects but are also much more vulnerable to depression.   Think now:  a 130 pound mother is stuffing herself with heavy drugs which reach a one pound fetus.  Clearly there is a massive down regulation of so much of his physical system, from heart and liver to hormones and stress and energy levels.  Then to make matters worse, there is a birth with again massive drugs given to the mother which affects the newborn;  more down regulation.  He has no chance.   He is passive and lethargic,  never has enough energy, has low blood pressure, perhaps a few allergies and cannot concentrate in school.

Ayayay; it is constant mystery to us all because no one realizes what those medications to the mother have done. The baby is heavily drugged before he is out on the world.  We understand if the mother hands her baby drugs but few understand if she directly transmits them into her baby's system while he is living in the womb.  She herself does not mean to but she doesn’t understand what she is doing.  After all, no one can see it happening. And so the baby is sluggish and is a future depressive but it is a sub rosa event.  Later, he cannot get out of bed to go to work; takes uppers and “speed” to get going, and we all run around trying to cure him of his depression.  Oh and what do we do? Well now we give him uppers and find it helps. Or we give him LSD, as the new wonder drug because  it temporarily lifts the depression; what it does is ease the depression by blasting open the cerebral gates.  Of course, anything that eases the repressive gates, lashed into action with the aid of our own opiates during womb-life, is going to help.

It is not rocket science; we are fighting heavy repression, the base of depression.  (see my article in the World Congress of Psychiatry 2013-14 on Depression   I still believe that given a healthy birth and gestation there is little reason to suffer terrible afflictions.  Of course, heredity plays a role but not as great as we might think.  Epigenetics plays the predominant role, in my opinion.  We are dealing here with invisible forces that are not obvious to the eye so we ignore them.  Anything that a carrying mother takes will affect the biology of the baby.  It is a tiny little baby, helpless, trying desperately the escape the constant onslaught of  a mother’s constant smoking and drinking with not great success.  We need to teach that in schools so that students will not be so insouciant about it. While pregnant,the mother and child is as close as they ever will be again. Their biologies are very close so that the predominant state of the mother, anxious or depressed, will be reflected later on in the baby.  Take care, friends, and be a good friend to your baby.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On the Beliefs that Kill

 Yes, beliefs do kill. They create a zeitgeist for murder.  If there were no zeitgeist for murder in the Middle East it may well be that the murder rate would be far less.  How else to explain how 150 militants decide together to penetrate a children’s school and slaughter over 100 innocent children?  What was in their minds but pure unadulterated murder.  What were they thinking?  They weren’t.  What were they feeling?  Killing, mayhem, massacre.  Why?  Because those children were offspring of military people.  And, as the killers said, “They grow up to be adults who kill us.” This is exactly what the Nazis said when they killed children.  They kill now for possible crimes twenty years hence.

 First the zeitgeist that it is OK to kill women who do not wear veils, cartoonists who do not defer to Allah, those who do not dress according to their standards, and on and on.  The point is to kill; to release all that hate.  And where does that hate come from?  Now the facile answer; lack of love.  No loved child could possibly travel miles to slaughter young children.  Why?  Because when you are loved you feel with and for others.  When you are shut down and your feelings are revenge, it permeates all thinking as deeper brain levels overtake higher levels and replace any semblance of humanity.    What is the revenge about?  Ostensibly for blasphemy against Allah.  In reality for a total lack of love and an atmosphere of death for the infidels.  That is why civilized societies all over the world are eschewing the death penalty.  They do not want to lose their humanity.

 As we see from Al-Qaeda and ISIS we can always find reasons to kill.  But to think about what we are doing and to reject murder because it is murder is the step toward humanness.

 I am not an expert on the Middle East, nor their politics or religions but I have treated killers, not mass killers, but those filled with rage and I know where it comes from and how it gets its start.  For mass killing we need the words of social psychologists who specialize in such matters. But I have experience with individual development into murder and can write on that.

 But in my practice I have seen patients rip up pillows and smash the walls until there are deep holes in them.  I have seen pure fury.  How could that be?  I let it happen under controlled circumstances.  And for almost 50 years of our therapy I have never seen an untoward incident.  On the contrary, expressing rage releases that urge and softens our patients.  But to let it happen means going against the whole background of psychiatry and psychology:  we were warned in our studies about letting feelings get out of control.  And so we suppressed them rather than do what is logical; which is to let feelings out.

 I see the progression of feelings daily in my work with patients.  First they come in mad at this and mad at that. Then get into deep feelings after weeks or months of therapy and are furious with their parents for their indifference and lack of feelings; and then the hard part—begging them for love.  It doesn’t matter that they cannot give it; it is their need for it that counts,  their need that removes the pain and becomes liberating, and above all, removes the fury. This is not a theory I concocted.  It is the progression of feelings in so many patients.  Lacking this primal context there can be pure rage;  a sensation that lives down in the brainstem that has no words and no feelings. As it comes up, and given the right context, those deep feelings can channel his rage against those who blaspheme Allah.  He now has a target far from the real source;  his lack of love.  And worse, that target is accepted by those around him.  They now have congealed feelings and a target.  They will kill, not for Allah, but for lack of love under the sobriquet of Allah.  Meanwhile, the killers in Paris shouted as they killed, “To avenge the Prophet Muhammad.”  Unless they had some word from Muhammad, who told them to do that?

 But in the case of a mass zeitgeist there is a contagion effect, as the feeling gains acceptance and solidifies.  It becomes shameful not to kill those who are not respectful of a specific higher being.  All that rage lives on the deepest and most level of the brain. It becomes socially institutionalized psychosis.  There is a delusionnary target; certainly no sane person can imagine that children are a menace and a danger.  And then the rage arises to prompt the killing.  I write “psychosis” advisedly, as it is a phantom enemy joined with murderous impulses with no higher level control.

 Where is the sane zeitgeist?  The same place it was during the Holocaust when Marlene Dietrich’s sister could live across from a death camp.  That zeitgeist rationalizes and makes acceptable the killing of another human being.  Jews, infidels, it is all the same as long as they can release their pent-up rage.  Or if someone can offer a rationale for killing, as we do when we recommend the death penalty.  The first step in the zeitgeist is to dehumanize the ”enemy.”  It is easier to kill a subhuman than a feeling human; that is why we can hunt and kill animals, not understanding that their feeling base is as large as ours.  We don’t believe that they can feel.

 This is all on the personal, individual level; how people can go crazy together and do horrendous things.  Are they thinking? No, they are feeling from deep down in the brain where the shark brain lies in wait. It doesn’t differentiate among targets so long as they look like food.  What are the sharks and the shark brain thinking?  They are not. They act on untrammeled instinct.

 So,  as to make my point real, I wrote this at the same time as a group of terrorists in France attacked the offices of a magazine that makes fun of all the great religions and ideologies and killed 12 writers/cartoonists.  Their shouts were “Praise Allah.”  Their pal who also was radicalized in prison with them, went on another killing spree nearby and killed another four people.
 How come he traveled to a Jewish delicatessen to kill?  Because in certain zeitgeists the Jews were already considered sub-human.  We need to be very careful about joining in on the maladaptive zeitgeist which overall makes it easier to discriminate and ultimately to kill.  That is the danger of even the most minuscule insult to any race or belief.  It adds to the background noise of hate.  And the hate accumulates till violence shows its ugly head.  The person; Jew, homosexual, Arab,  are the targets to discharge the hate.  And where should that hate go if anywhere?  Toward their early life, parents who never loved and a family life filled with chaos and violence.  That is what built the hate and need to release; rather, to find a target where they can release.  They killed those who answered back against idolatry; who refused to praise and serve a higher authority.  They killed those who would not share their beliefs.  Was it just beliefs?  No.  Beliefs without the urging of feelings never take on that violent aspect.

 After the terrorists were killed by the police, 3 million Frenchmen took to the streets to protest.  The terrorists seemed to know they were on a death march and did not care. They did their job; releasing rage and rationalizing under the authority of Allah.  And above all,  they felt they belonged.  They shared the hate with others.  Let us not minimize this since those followers of a leader in Waco, Texas  when faced with fleeing and escaping, went back into the building which was on fire.  They chose death instead of feeling there was nowhere for them.  If there is no close family, the need to belong is primordial.

 I have seen it in treating Mexican gang members. They come here not knowing the language, the fathers are struggling to make a living, neglecting the kids and they join a gang to be able to talk to others, to feel that they belong and are wanted.  The price of entry is sometimes killing someone else; often someone from the block down the street.  These kids are family to each other; they need a family and someone who cares about them.  And they fabricate enemies; across the tracks, a different neighborhood.  It doesn’t matter as they need a target, someone they can blame and pin their woes on.  And they do find them.  It is a common enemy that provides cohesion for the group.    That enemy makes the gang or group closer and more bonded.  When there is no enemy they provide them;  manufacture an enemy who is the danger, even those who live 2 blocks away.  What do they have in common?  The enemy.  Take away the enemy and there is less cohesion.  In these situations you are not safe if you are different.

 I have seen several articles on the French massacre and some claim they are not psychotic.  I am not sure what is psychotic if you go to kill a hundred children who have done nothing at all to harm anyone.  These are psychologists writing.  The claim of the terrorists is that they perceive they are victims of injustice.  Maybe true, but one does not slaughter someone who has nothing to do with that injustice.  OK, so they think that there has to be delusions for psychosis to exist.  Isn’t what those killers believed? Pure delusions?  That their God was insulted and that he is the last word for truth? That one has to kill if others disagree with their delusions?  That it is all done in the name of a God or deity.  And that the deity approves of this slaughter and actually insists on it:  the Fatwa.  So “God” does not ask them to love and honor others;  it wants them to be murdered.  Ayayay!  They do not celebrate life; they celebrate death and often ask to be killed.  They give up their life happily to be known as a “martyr.”  For that word they are willing to die.  Imagine, the most precious gift anyone of us have is life.  To throw that away for a word is indeed psychotic.

 So who gets killed? Those who deviate from the zeitgeist.  And who makes the zeitgeist?  All of us. But first those who profit from it.  Capitalists who can make money if we acquiesce. Or those in power who are willing to kill us to remain in power.
 In Cambodia they killed those who wore glasses because they thought it was that only the Vietnamese who wear glasses so they can read and have thoughts.  They were the danger.  In fascist societies, the college people are the danger because they might think.  Intellectuals often become the target, even those who read French; hence freedom fries, rather than French fries.

 The powers who reign do not want us to think; they want us to believe, to be engaged in endless studies of the official scripts so as to be further inculcated and more easily led.  It looks like thinking but it actually replaces thought. The spread of ideation has cast a large intellectual net over us so that the powers simply twist and turn the ideation and we follow.  We continue to follow until it envelopes us and we do its bidding without any further reflection.  Their control is now internal; we just follow its dictates.  That is the ticket; impregnate ideas until they become part of us, and then we follow them without question.  It is a true principle in advertising: “ Buy this truck and you will be strong.”  It is not said, it is implied.  We fill in the blanks with our deprived needs.

          Let me explain. When we hurt early on — and that means in utero, in infancy and most importantly in early childhood— we have a defense system that hurries to contain the pain. For every major trauma there seems to be an equal and opposite defensive force to contain the pain. I call this defense system the gating system. Those familiar with my writing understand that defenses are abetted by biochemical means through which neurotransmitters are secreted by the brain into the gap between cells so that the message of pain cannot travel to high centers, enabling us to remain unconscious. We humans usually manage to hold down our most painful feelings by a neurologic system that was built for it, to keep our mental system functioning. It is in the first weeks of life in the womb that life-threatening events occur. The mother is depressed or anxious, takes drugs or drinks alcohol and is not careful with her diet. As her life goes on, there may be a compounding of pain for the developing infant due to her own parental neglect and indifference. Her gates do not function well and she goes on taking drugs to quell her pain. The chemicals that accompany these states spill into the placenta and affect the fetus.
      Sometimes life deals such harsh blows that the gates crack or weaken; the result is that there aren’t enough repressive chemicals such as serotonin in the synapse to keep repression going, and we have a carrying mother in turmoil. Deep in that turmoil lies rage which is sucked up into various targets, rarely parents.  But it can be Socialists, Unitarians, Vegetarians and so on.  Or the unions which we rally against.  Or Wall Street, as another target; choose your poison but the real poison is the deep-lying pain that drives so much of us.  That does not negate the reality of the target but it helps to explain the violent reaction; as those who wear glasses.

 Of course, not every unloved child grows up to be a killer. Some lose love, go into despair and then find God. They have been saved, saved by the idea of God, unless we really think He comes down from out of wherever He is and literally lends a hand. But the reaching out for God represents the hope of being loved, albeit this time only in fantasy. Others may start to feel the pain and reach for the bottle. Still others may reach for the neck of the departing lover and strangle her. But what they all have in common, what makes the act-out obligatory, is the reawakening of early deprivation by a current situation. Amorous rejection is the trigger; parental rejection gives it power.

 Think about this.  The terrorist feels he is loved once he does his terrible deed; life in reverse.  He does it all in the name of God and since many of us have different Gods the permutations are enormous.

 When we follow evolution as I see in my patients there are deep feelings, sometimes overwhelming that force their way up in the idea/belief area of the brain (neo-cortex),  and the belief becomes as obdurate as the feeling itself.  We need to address not only the beliefs but the underlying force behind them.  And indeed, when we get patients to relive very deep feelings the beliefs seem to evaporate, especially the belief in the devil.  With ISIS or Al-Qaeda the force pushing ideas is inordinate; we must not underestimate it.  Those ideas do not make one kill; it is the rage that drive them.

 One thing I fail to understand is that after the killing, the remaining journalist put out another massive issue, stating in effect, on the cover, all is forgiven.  I don’t get it.  Are the religious precepts so strong as to override rational feeling?  What bothers me is the majesty of it all; “when I forgive I am above all that.  I have the power to forgive those lesser beings.”  “I am the great forgiver.”

 Have you noticed?  Terrorists always do their deeds for love.  Mohammad loves me…….and wants me to blow myself up for the cause. Still the need for love dominates.  The recipe is if I kill I will be loved. Still the same need, only taking a lethal turn.

 When hundreds all believe the same thing there is danger.  It becomes unassailable.  The contagion factor gives it more power.  What is the answer?  Love.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

So What is the Meaning of Life?

 Stop asking the question and you will be better for it. I have written before, there is no meaning to life, only to the meaning we give it; to experience.  Someone in a coma is alive but there is no meaning to it.    We don’t have to ask what’s it all about; it’s about nothing. Imagine two chimps asking each other what’s it all about?  That represents our feeling selves and down inside we react but don’t ask intellectual questions.  Down deep we are chimps.  Now that we are humans we ask the question when the answer lies on the feeling level where there are no intellectual questions.  If we deny our chimp selves we will be loaded with questions about meaning.  And when we are disconnected from our chimp selves we manufacture questions that never need to be asked, in the first place.  What am I saying?  That we make our own meaning and no one else can. Oh wait, Janov can.  What?  What does Janov do? He puts us in touch with the chimp inside, that once and for all eliminates those questions about meaning.  Because now we are in touch with our chimps running around inside and they have no questions like that.  Once they are into deep feelings I have never seen a patient in a Primal ask about meaning; they are too busy feeling, not thinking.

 And what could a meaning be?  What do I want to get out of life?  To be famous, successful, appreciated?  Or it can be any left over need from childhood?  What it is not and can never be is the answer to meaning of your life.  There is only meaning to experience; it gives me joy, it gives me pain, it makes me happy, successful, etc.

 We abdicate our personal meaning the minute we think that someone can supply us with it.   The trouble is many of the questions and search for answers become an endless affair since there are no answers.  The minute we think we found one it seems to pale until we go onto the next one;  a certain vitamin or therapy or guru become interchangeable as what we search for does not exist—the meaning of our lives.  But if we are needy, a strong guru will have us genuflect before him,  lose all critical faculties and believe in him devoutly.  The guru needs devotees and we supply the unquestioned devotion.  Once anyone else locks into our unfulfilled need we are hooked, literally.  Our need is the hook; once a psychopath figures that out, he has got us.  He can make us believe in the most outrageous ideas because we are hooked, addicted to his message of promised fulfillment.  We are hooked by need and that is pre-potent over everything else.  It is unfulfilled need that is addicting.  The addiction (propensity for) is already there inside of us.  We need to go deep inside of us, not dancing around the surface finding safer, less addicting pain killers; or blaming how easy it is to get drugs at pharmacies. If he have to blame we should blame the Janovian Gap; the gap between our deep imprints and our conscious/awareness.

 And that is what differentiates us in Primal from all other modes of treatment!  It is not the pills or the needles;  it is us!  We are the addicts, not the oxycodone or heroin.  Let’s not address what lies in the corner pharmacy; let’s address what is sequestered in the deep antipodes of the brain.  There is where the addict hangs out needing an endless supply of painkillers.

 Of course, many of us never ask the question about meaning.  There are two sorts; those who feel fully and do not need to ask the question about meaning; and then those who never fully feel and have unlimited questions to pose about meaning.  And then, alas, there is the third route; those who do not feel and never ask any questions of life.  These are the ones who exist but are not living, the problem of too many of us. Or whole culture militates against reflection.  “Get going.  Get it done.  Success is all,” etc.

 So here we have a dilemma; those who fully feel are propelled to search for meaning;  and whose do not ask themselves about meaning,, and those who do not feel and also never ask them selves what is it all about; they feel something is missing but what?.  They just live and never reflect about their lives.  They find a groove and stay in it and never put their lives in question.  Is that good?  It seems good for them to live the unreflective and unexamined life.  They do not wonder where their lives could be or what else they can do with it.  They are low in imagination and vision and do not seem to care; just as so many individuals in their seventies and eighties seem to give up on life and ascribe no further meaning to it.  They have lost their ambition, their drive, their desires and the notion of what could be—what could they do--with their lives.  They gave up on meaning because doing and thinking and feeling comprise the life of meaning.  Especially feeling; for that seems to be the essence.  I do not plan to join those who give up on life; my writing saves me and I hope, many others.  By the way,  I have a book, Beyond Belief, coming out at the end of the year, which discusses all this in detail.

 Those who don’t feel spend their lives seeking what life means. They travel to see the priest, the swami or guru; someone to help them find the meaning of life.  And if someone has to give it to you, it means you have already lost it.  Why would you look for something that you never had and therefore never lost?  Why spend thousands dreaming about someone who has all the answers when no one but you has it; and you don’t have to go to India to find it; just drop a few millimeters down in the brain and there lies meaning; the pool of feeling/meaning ready to add to your experience.  There lies joy, enthusiasm, dreams, exuberance.  Oh oh. There lies that chimp playing down below. He will help us enjoy life; we have been asking the wrong person.

  What more could we ask for?  And no one can give us that; only our own personal feelings can do it.  And it is free and not far away. The trouble is that when we look for it we feel we have to find that special someone who has the right pulpit for us to believe in.  And he promises so much; if we can only divest ourselves of critical thinking and go along.  And when he preaches and touches us we fill in the blanks and believe we have found it.  What?  Salvation, help, guidance, warmth, leadership and all of the things we missed as children.  We join with other believers and voila, we are saved and have a direction.  Oh yes,  that direction, with its patina of white robes, does not come free;  we need to pay a lot for it but we think it is a small price to pay to resurrect our hope in and for life.  That is what we are buying,  hope, born of early desperate hopelessness, someone to show us the way and to take an interest in us and our health and direction ... a parent.  We buy that in our all knowing, omniscient therapists; while all we in Primal have to offer is hopelessness; that dreaded feeling that will finally pull us out of the search for a greater life.  Yet that painful feeling is what liberates us; hope born from hopelessness.  It stops the act-out in its tracks, avoids the unrelenting search for an all-knowing “God” who will not let anything bad happen to us.

 Why is addiction so hard to treat? Because painful need is what addiction is about; it lasts and lasts until it is finally felt in its entirety.  So addiction is just about all the same, whether food, drugs, work, drink, etc.  It is the same pained need.  What is it they have in common?  They all ease pain; the pain of unfulfilled need, starting from the beginning of life.  There are many studies about this; one demonstrates that nutritional deficiency very early in gestation is the basis for later overeating.  The over-eater usually has no idea about this lack so early on.  So we automatically chose our poison; and what we choose is often related to that deprived need.  It is one way we know what was missing.  Also, the addict usually chooses something available all of the time, like her mother’s love was not.  So booze, cigarettes, whores, drugs, and so on.  Why continuously go after what is not available when drugs are?  That is what the addict learns early on; until the doctors enter the scene and try to take it all alway.

 Addiction depends on the early need and what you find early on to quell its pain.  One patient found his mother’s wine when he was eight years old.  Later on, he drank; a lot.  Robin Williams used to joke how well he felt and how sure he is well off drugs and booze, until during shooting a film he stopped into a bar in Alaska and saw a bottle of whisky.  He was hooked again.  He was still needing to quell his pain and find surcease.  But the truly only way anyone can do that without excess residual tension and a shorter life is to feel the need ... fully at its source!  Robin saw hope and help again.

 And what does the depressive feel most of the time; “I have no meaning to my life.” And why?  Because he has no energy or “life force’ to get out of bed and produce a meaning to his life.  His repression has sucked the life out of him so he cannot feel any of the elements of meaning. His feelings seem to be buried deep down under the ceiling of repression.  And why?  Because his pain has evoked the chemicals of repression into action; a pain he does not feel, only its after-affects.  He feels down and cannot get up to do anything.  His gates seem to be closed against him.  They have shut-away his meaning.  He is now susceptible to a guru, therapist, a life coach, and advisor, etc.  He needs to be drawn out, he needs someone to literally "breathe life into him".  So many of them, by the way, do have serious oxygen deficit during the birth process which is imprinted and channels us.  The cultist needs to be told what to do and how to act because he has lost his bearings, his feelings.

 I have not mentioned religion that provides so many answers for those are lost, and they tell us what the meaning of life is, ad nauseam.  The more we believe the less we follow our own feelings.  We obey and imagine we find salvation in that.

 Here is one of my bloggers and friends just wrote to me:  “To select Evolution in Reverse as a treatment method is deeply linked to a conviction “that we are the evolutionary result of all history, personal and ancient.” I would never trust a religious believer, who lives by the Bible’s creation story / Genesis and the commandments, at the same time, to be a reliable Primal Therapist. Possibly, he / she can be an interesting PT patient seeking a cure for his / her pain propelled religiosity. My heart rate flew up into the 70’s when Art expressed his surprise that the Catholic Church has priests / specialists who recognize / root out the devil. It takes One (a pain propelled Catholic priest) to know One (the devil). Their roles /specialties are both pain propelled products of the same evolution. (The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, was appointed Person of the Year 2013 by the US news magazine Time. Without making other comparisons, the same magazine appointed Adolf Hitler, Person of the Year, in 1938.)

 More than 100 years ago one of Sweden’s most talented personalities, the skilled biologist, scientist and Darwinist Bengt Lindforss got his career seriously disturbed by the bishop, acting university chancellor and devil worshiper Gottfrid Billing. In his book, “Why Evolution is True”, Jerry A. Coyne tells us that anti-evolutionism, still today is very strong in the US and on the rise in England and Germany!

 In 2006 only 40% of Americans (down 5% from 1985!!) believed that humans developed from earlier species of animals. We descend from a primate lineage that split off from our common ancestor with the chimpanzees roughly seven million years ago. (In France and Scandinavia 80% of people see evolution as true). According to Jerry A. Coyne, evolution gets bumped down even further in the US when it comes to deciding whether it should be taught in the public schools. Two-thirds of Americans feel that if evolution is taught in the science classroom, creationism should be as well. In the US only 12 percent - one in eight people - think that evolution should be taught without mentioning a creationist alternative…

Seen from the bright side, 12% of the US population means 38 million people…

I think that says a lot.  I hope this provides another perspective on meaning.  Addicts do what they can to live a meaningful life but pain always gets in the way and blunts it.  This is my message.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

So What is "Crazy"?

There is so much misunderstanding about what psychosis or “crazy” is. I think that once we take an evolutionary frame of reference it becomes much clearer. Once we know that there are deep brain imprints that resonate with higher brain levels to produce ideas and delusions, we are well on our way. We are the evolutionary result of all of history, personal and ancient. So “crazy” is to encompass all that history, as well. So when we equate bizarre ideas with psychosis we will need to delve deeper; deeper in our personal history and that of the species. Because psychosis must include all of that as the end-point of a process.

What if the pain does not get elevated to the neo-cortex and remains fixed lower down? What if the pain is gated somewhat so that the pain remains on the limbic level and below? What if upcoming pain is partially blocked so that there is no obvious neo-cortical affects that makes us delusional; having false or crazy ideas? In other words, depending on how early and how severe the input we can go "crazy" on different levels of evolution and brain maturation.  And infancy “crazy” has a different configuration from that of an adult who has the capacity for words as part of her psychosis. Autism has a different shape from adult psychosis.

So we see that hallucinations, false perceptions, hearing and seeing what is not there, impacted by feelings of danger are lower and earlier in time from delusions of persecution. We see worms crawling on the wall or see images of the devil as does one of the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court. No one says he is psychotic because there are no obvious delusions; they are obvious to me, however.  And yes, that is "crazy". Actually seeing the devil is seeing an image that you manufacture, unless you believe there is a devil and that devil can be seen. If you believe that you need to close ranks with the crazies.  When we take terror and pain, very deep and remote pain, out of the system those "devils" take a hike, not to be seen anymore.  They do not go away until after months of primal therapy where the patient reaches catastrophic suffering and terror, the imprint, that gave birth to the images, in the first place. Again, why is that? Because pure terror is mostly a brain-stem affair and when the fear is strong enough it propels that delusion. Then we say, "the devil made me do it". And this is reinforced by the Catholic Church which does recognize the devil and has certain priests who specialize in Exorcism.  To say that the man in the booth over there is sending me messages, is slightly different from conjuring up a devil to explain what is happening.  Did you get that about the Catholic
Church? They have specialists who root out the devil!

That is one way we know where the culprit, I was going to say, "devil" lies, but I will leave the pun alone. When patients in Primal Therapy go deeper and further back in their evolution the "devil" diminishes, which is one way we know what is behind the illusion.  Illusion is a false sense; delusion is a false idea. Generally, false sense is more remote in origin, as it was in our personal maturation.  We smell odors before we can think about what to call it.  And, as I reported in past blogs, there is evidence that the specific sense of some smells occurs during womb-life. The mother’s odor is recognized right after birth by the baby.  If we smell odors as an adult we can almost be sure there were real early memories behind them. And those memories will lay way back in our lives, so strong that it stayed untouched for decades.

But, on the other hand, as the patient relives first-line deep brain imprints (terrible suffocation at birth) some of the delusions begin to disappear.  We can actually observe the shaping of a delusion. In a lesser fashion, when a spouse wants to leave her husband because he is "suffocating her", we may find the origins deep in the brain. Of course, there may be real external reasons; but still there is a crucible for all this.

So what is crazy? It is a deviation of the whole system and a rerouting of the neuronal, brain-path circuits. The great level of early pain, we saw two brothers both pre-psychotic whose mother took heavy drugs throughout all of her pregnancy, who were "crazy" from the start; very delayed talking and walking slow mental development and great difficulty in focus and concentration.  They ended up being diagnosed as psychotic because they showed evidence of delusions; crazy ideas. That is the contribution of the cognitivists who believe that we need evidence of false ideas, delusions, before we name anything as psychotic.  We can "see" that kind of psychosis before our eyes. We rarely can see the deep anguish that lies deeper. In that sense, organs can go crazy when the cells overspill their banks and become cancer or later Alzheimers disease.

It would be strange, indeed, to think that only the top level cortex can go crazy. That is a narrow view of our complexity. We go crazy in different ways depending on our genetics, epigenetics and later life experiences; fighting a war, for example. Although I fought many battles in the war, I believe that my family life did me in, far more than battles. That is, I fought a much more serious battle as a fetus and infant, with no one to help me; all alone with no one to turn to, and no one to lean on.  Those early battles change everything and for life. They are embedded deep in the brain and we fight that battle for the rest of our lives.

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.