Friday, December 9, 2016
Here is the response I sometimes get from so-called well wishers: “Hey, time has passed. Get over it and get on with your life. Blah blah blah…” This is not a well wisher; it is the ultimate denier. And the more you try to get over it the shorter your life will be. You cannot leave a trail of emotional debris scattered around while you “get over it.” Biology will not permit this wait because you cannot get over what is now part of you. Now here is the problem: if you are enmeshed in mental activity and insights and explanations you are in fact stating that memories are mainly in your thinking, remembering mind. Yet our work and recent research says the opposite, that key embedded memories that contain the mountain of pain are located much deeper than that. And you cannot just get over something engraved in your neurology and biology. And get on with your life. Your life is driven by those memories, ad nauseam. It is like telling someone to cut off his hand and get on with his life. Well with imprinted Primal Pain he has cut off something far more important for survival: his feelings. They should guide and direct him but alas, they fail because they have been left in the wilderness. I was going to say, “left in the wilderness without trace,” but unhappily there is always a trace. A trickle of methyl that marks the spot and tells us where the memory lies and how forceful it is.
It damages us and then screams its message, “I am suffering and I cannot stop. The pain originates right here.” It demands that we return to the scene of the crime and address it again. You mean to “suffer all over again.” We can rationalize, forget and deny but the memory does not; it stays in its pristine form, unchanging, clamoring for surcease. Yes you have to suffer again but this time there is an ending. The first time we could cry but repression rushed in to stop the overload. This time in therapy the therapist will help stop any hint of overload which can often lead to the deadly abreaction and the blockage of feeling. That is what overload means; no more feeling. It is already too much.
So what are we getting over, at last. We are not; we are forgetting, denying, changing the subject. We are changing our mind in the guise of ”getting over” something. And yes, we can force the top level mind to change the direction of memory and pretend mentally that it does not exist. We can play tricks with our minds but never can we play tricks with deep-lying trauma whose memories have penetrated the deepest levels of the brain and, like the methyl trace, are part of us biologically. And those are the memories that wreak havoc with the system creating afflictions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and numerous others. And those are the same maladies that require addressing on the level where they were imprinted: diseases that become systemic because the deep-lying pain has also become systemic.
Here lies the crossing of the road where conventional psychotherapy plays games with the brain, making it mindful, or unleashing volcanoes of pain. When taking hallucinogens, for example. But not making the slow, painful, journey into the zone of the interior to meet with the devil also known as birth with drugs, lack of touch, lack of nursing, or a nursing mother taking pain killers, and you can fill in the blanks. And it remains a “blank” until we can give it a name---pain. We use any kind of painkiller, no matter the name, because it erases for a moment the real problem, imprinted agony. Why? Because we cannot see it, and above all, we cannot feel it because the system in its wisdom has shut down the pain just so we cannot feel it. Imagine what a miracle it is that when deep pain becomes overwhelming we have a mechanism to shut it down for decades, and oft- times, for all or our lives. How about that for efficacy? We survived because we could build and create despite our pain. And we could die prematurely because of that same pain. We pay a price for repression; that is, for cutting away part of us so we can go on creating and inventing.
When we go deep in the brain we can feel it in all its agonies. And patients tell me that is a pain that does not hurt. I would say that it is a pain that has an ending, where each session is limited to what the patient can feel and integrate. That is the need for an expert therapist. To make sure that patients do not suffer too much and are not pushed to go on feeling beyond his limit. For that reason we need feeling therapists not someone who delights in watching someone writhe to prove what a good therapist he is.
Believe me, it I could have gotten over it and got on with my life I would have but memories endure; they are a life force we must deal with. No way out and no short cuts. I always knew the danger of abreaction but it was only recently that we know how to reverse it. In long-time abreactors who wanted the easy way they often become untreatable. So caution and care; do not treat your body as a toy or plaything. There are serious consequences for not doing it right. I can tell who is an abreactor, but treating it is a whole other matter.
An example: my cats were yelling for their food this morning. And I got anxious and wanted to feed them right away. It is also the reason I am known as some one who gets things done. Why? I felt about that need to feed the cats. It took me back to my asking my father for something I wanted to buy. His answer was either "Later”. Or no response. He was incapable of acting spontaneously. This helped make him a loser. He could not get going on anything. Kept it all inside, and died early of a massive heart attack.
It was all of a piece; he could not say anything spontaneously, could not show love or affection, could not reach out to touch or hug. Everything was “later” for a later that never came. He just could not make a decision. He was happy to drive a truck and have no one bother him, which he did day after day, never putting his life in question or what his life was about. He never read a book, listened to music, never escaped that tight circle he called life. He had to have it that way because he wanted no surprises not even a son who asked for something. To put it off for him was never having to make a decision or do anything new or different. He was comfortable doing nothing and never changing his routine.
I became the opposite; wanting to find out more and more; reading religiously, becoming a musician, traveling to various countries; you get the idea—to become the opposite from him. That was my way to survive. I learned from him; how not to be. Money was his only interest which was something that never ever interested me. He never laughed or joked. Never saw the humor of life and above all, never saw any beauty in the world. I learned to travel to art galleries in many countries. I learned foreign languages. He dined at the 5:30 at inexpensive restaurants, not because he liked the food but because it was cheap. Money dominated everything. I never knew there was a place to buy clothes apart from the little Mexican shops on the East side. He never gave gifts because he could not give. A man with a short fuse, angry all of the time, something I never am. I heard his screams constantly and vowed not to be like that. He was my inverse role model. A man with no interests and no knowledge and no idea how to interact socially. A man without friends whose wife was mentally ill. She was also my mother….. A five year old who called my father, "daddy". "Daddy can I go to the store now?"
She was always a thing, a nonentity to me. I needed love and believed I could get it from my father until I learned better and saw a man who could not love. As Shakespeare described him: a man with no music in him. I made my own.
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.