Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What Does Primal Therapy Offer that is Different From Other Therapies?


Oh no,  I don’t give you love; I give you the capacity for it.  If I give you love, all would be lost, and that is one error in touchy-feely therapy.  Our apotheosis, our goal and ultimate aim is to allow patients to feel loved so as to enable them to give love.  But there is a caveat:  first they have to feel unloved, painfully unloved.  As they do that they open up the repressive gates and allow feelings to flourish.  We liberate buried feelings.  Feelings that we have no idea exist until we meet them.   The doctor asks, “Did you have a loving childhood?  And we answer  “Yes of course.”   Because “unloved” remains hidden beneath layers of chemical barriers of repression.  They are hidden so we do not suffer inordinately.  Unfortunately, these are also the agents of serious disease later on as they do their damage surreptitiously.  It is a stealth invader that moves into key organs and warps their destiny.

No other therapies, that I know of emphasize love as its goal.  I have seen patients come from new age therapies where they yelled out “I feel unwanted and unloved,” and the therapist rushes in to do the opposite of what is needed.   He becomes the good guy who loves.  (He too wants to feel loved).  That blocks the pain that has to come out and be experienced.    If that does not happen, he will go on screaming for a lifetime. Only they will be silent screams that only his system will feel and be ravaged by.

We cannot love neurosis away.

It was set in because love was missing, something important for development and survival was missing and he must find it. His system will be drawn to it if given enough freedom and help.   And  what will he find?  Better put, what will find him?  The missing link in his development; love.   And when he finds it, it will hurt.  He will agonize because it was the key ingredient for proper maturation.  In its place, a void.   Love is the great ineluctable force, a force that when missing drives so much of our behavior.  And by love I mean, inter alia,  fulfilling basic needs from the start: enough nutrients, oxygen,  no strange drugs allowed into the system.  No massive anesthesia.    We do not want the baby meeting his world drugged out of his mind.  Because I have found that we replicate how we first meet the world in our sleep; how we wake up and get active. Those drugged early on have to spend a good deal of time in bed trying to get fully conscious to meet the day.
They are just not ready.

Therapy has been dominated by intellectuals and those who prefer ideas, insights and cognition.   How could it not be, since doctors study and study ad nauseam to learn about human cognition.

But therapy should mean unlocking the gates. Of repression.  No pain, closed gates. They are there to protect us against deep pain; once we begin to feel that suffering there is no longer the need to sequester it. Other therapies are looking at cognitive dominance.  Getting our thoughts and head straight.  Neurosis to them is just bad thinking; negativity. And that is why addiction therapy must fail; they left out the body and its history. They have group lectures and and infinite discussions that remain up high, never touching the body.

What is the point of life if we cannot feel and love others?  Without feeling, life becomes empty and sterile.  It, above all, loses its meaning. Those who live in their heads miss this crucial point….feeling.  Remember, feeling is meaning; meaning is feeling.  Extract feeling and meaning disappears.  Our early life effectively suppressed feeling.    We need to get our life back.

No more classes about how to rear children.  Feeling parents sense when what they do is right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy.  No more counseling to learn how to get along; because you have so much of yourself, you will know the difference between an act-out and normal behavior.  Having uplifted the unconscious there will be far less of being driven by deeply submerged forces beyond our control; no more drinking to excess. Gambling and out of control behavior.

Life gets a lot simpler when feelings take over, not in the old Freudian where they surge forth, escaping repression and doing harm. These are not the usual feelings; they are a great and often damaging force because they were hurtful from their origin. And we equate feeling with being dominated by “feelings.” “he is so emotional” when we do not know what lies deep inside we have to guess and assume they are harmful and dangerous; and the great part of psychotherapy today is learning how to control or “manage” feelings.  That is what addiction therapy is all about……holding back needs and feelings.

In the courts today there is an endless number of managing solutions: managing anger, addiction, fear, etc.  It is never about feeling them because soto voce, those feelings are deleterious to our well being and are not to be approached.  So we learn feeling management, like a business, and what we really learn is how not to feel.  How to keep self control, all because buried feelings springing forth can be dangerous.  “Oh, he has such temper tantrums!  When he gets like that I stay away.”

No one knows the origin of those feelings and why they often contain such fury and jealousy. They cannot imagine that they come from our deep, archaic brain, yes, they are part of us too.  Not foreign entities or mysterious beings.  They are our deep brain selves we have never met, nor felt and experienced.  And the courts have no clue either. So someone who is well-behaved and controls himself for 6 months is considered no longer a danger, especially no longer a danger to himself.   He is thought to be no longer a danger to others now that he is off drugs for x months.   What they do not know is that imprinted pain never leaves, and maintains the drive for a lifetime.  How can it not be this way when there is a whole world of agony agitating us.  And we wonder why some of us cannot sit still?  There is a primal engine down there grinding away and moving us. This fount of suffering is a permanent source of being out of conscious control.  We have to keep busy and keep moving because of that primal force.  We try to cap it to no avail.   We are captivated by it through the exigencies of biologic logic. To save us hurting so we can go on functioning.

So my friends, the goal of psychotherapy is to restore our humanity; nothing more and nothing less; that is already a tall order.


  1. Art!

    One of your best posts!

    Of what a legal process could achieve! You may have forgotten something... a Judge would also like to be skillful (to be loved) when it comes to what SCIENCE IS PRESENTED even then it might be something he does not understand... not to forget. What else we can think of that anyone should understand of what it is primal therapy presents? Here we are out in the wild woods... an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. There is nothing else in addition to being "good" that can be the basis for a Judge to understand the primal therapy... because he is a Judge to just do not discover his weak points. He is and has been a Judge for whatever need he has... need of love! Is the weak points of any good so let it also be for something good enough to try. I also believe that you to some extent can choose Judge in the US.

    Your faithful Frank.

  2. "Love.

    Oh no, I don’t give you love; I give you the capacity for it". If that is not to give love of how misguided we are in our need! How could we possibly understand anything like it to be the beginning of a need?

    Your Frank

    1. Your grammar is wrong here,I believe. Could you clarify?c

  3. Well...love and kindness help in situations, but of course not always. Humanity is important but wondering if one can withstand "the hard knocks in life". I don't know. What to do if one always feels some pain, some unloving to the point where they can't function too good, and people don't realize it (can't judge a book by it's cover)...many times the families do realize it though. Sad situation. Should only be corrected by experts who know about Primal Therapy and practice it.

  4. Hi,

    I just watched: "Janis Joplin, Little Girl Blue" on BBC iplayer. Really well researched and well made piece.

    Text book Primal case, the documentary almost speaks for itself; maybe Art could write a piece FOR her and her many many fans. . .

    Here's to Janis, a very underestimated woman who nearly made it. . .

    Paul G.

  5. Art
    Now I am during reading feeling child and there is a chapter about silent fuck up. Outside everyone says that you have so briliant childhood but inside it is pure shit. It was the same in my house. Art I cant even stand up from knees.

  6. Dear Art,

    I don't know that I ever could have survived and be here today without Primal therapy. Thank you Art for your lifelong work, your tenacity and love of mankind. Thank you to all the staff there at the Center, your beautiful wife France and to my therapist, David. A thousand thank you's.

    It is 1 year now since my husband died and without this therapy I truly cannot imagine what living would be like.

    March 26, 2016

    You are gone
    I can’t believe
    You are dead

    I miss you
    Your arms
    Your love
    Your warmth

    Your eyes crinkled
    When you smiled
    So loving

    I remember
    The best of you
    With me

    I can’t believe
    In heaven
    Or after life

    You are here
    In my heart
    My soul

    Without you
    I can’t go on
    It’s too hard

    My love
    I must go on
    Without you



    1. Jean, If I never get another letter, yours is enough to keep me going on. And your beautiful poem. Love, Art

  7. Love is on the other side of the coin!

    When we find... if we find any channels to alleviate suffering through performance... it's a track hard to break. It requires its toll to be so far-sighted that it allows to be disclosed... disclosed to perform as ease the suffering.

    Hell is loose in this world because of this phenomenon... phenomenon not to be the cause of ours suffering. We have made our world into an arena of struggle... but to discover it and when we discovered it... we do far too little to achieve a change.

    The need of love in its diseased state is in itself an obstacle to be detected. It alleviates the effect of need in its reality... which is why we are not to be... so is the belief of god helping us to suffer.

    But whatever you do... it's an opportunity... just stop doing it!


  8. Love is hidden within us... along with us when we needed it at most. To get there we need help by primal therapy!

    The one and the only one who can save our life is the child in us... nobody else comes close to being able to do it. We need advice and help with our symptoms for what we do not perceive them to be... what and how to do with them... and above all to feel confident in what we are about to do.


  9. Of just thoughts around need of love can give rise to an infinity of perverse acts... all depending on what and how we are driven to get it... but in the end it's just a matter of our needs of love when we needed it at most... when we were hopelessly left without it.


  10. All is about the need of love... the consequences for it!

    Primal therapy is nothing we can only know something about and then think that we can be what is necessary in living up to its skill. Primal Therapy is about the other side of the coin... the side we do not see as only one is visible to us. The question is how it shall become visible to us.

    If we can understand that there is another "side" of ourselves that are currently unknown to us... it is the big question. A question that can be proved only we let the brain get to be what it is doing to protect our lives... how it protected our lives and continue to do it as the danger of how serious it is for our system to be surprised by it... a life-threatening experiences in protection of our neocortex.

    We walk in the fog of ourselves that fits intellectual constructions! But our neocortex can only keep the bar as long as "constructive" schemes is in his element of just being constructive... for what ever. We just need to wait and in the meantime think otherwise than that... it to come to the inevitable result of the consequences for a disaster.


  11. Really excellent post. I,too, can proclaim life altering beneficial changes in my life because of primal therapy. 25 years ago! It seems an eternity. I acquired many valuable tools I use whenever I get caught up in head trippin'. Art, you and France are reliably sane and straight people in a really crazy world. I have taken solace in this fact many times.Thanks for the journaling over the years. I never miss an email. I have so much respect for your work, both of your works, that is.


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.