Friday, January 29, 2016
The truth needs no defense…except…not feeling it causes a myriad of defenses. Feeling is the opposite of defenses.
There is a certain paradigm in Primal which one blogger, Frank, alluded to. Truth needs no defense except when that truth is more than the system can integrate; then it requires defenses. That is why in booga booga land they live inside their defenses and imagine all kinds of things like freedom, liberation, being one with the cosmos, etc. They no longer feel the truth of their pain. No longer know they live inside a defense. They grab onto a strange unreal idea and ride with it; just so long as it keeps the truth away: I hurt.
That is why after patients have deep feelings they come up with many truths about their lives. It is buried and defended along with the pain. Thus no one has to give anyone insights; they are already there just waiting for the exit. And how do they get out”? They hijack and ride along with the pain.
Let me give you an example from my own life. Early on, I had to go out to coffee all of the time first thing in the morning. I just did it without thinking twice about it. Then the Primal: stuck in the womb, could not get out and I acted it thereafter for decades. The hidden feeling drove me and I had no idea I was driven. And if I drank or smoked to keep the pain down, I would still have no idea why I did those thing, which I never did. But…I had to get out, and if I had been smart or primal enough I would have traced my obsessive ritual back to its source by asking: what am I trying to do…Why silly, I am trying to get out! Pre-primal I would say I need freedom and I want to feel free, but that would not have made any sense.
I had a patient who had a different obsession: she had to fuck all of the time. (not a dirty word, just an accurate one). It turns out….. What are you trying to do? She said she needed to relieve her tension. And why? Because if she did not fuck, her body temperature and blood pressure went through the roof: she was in danger of dying. So why fucking? It was the most basic and deeply rooted instinct. Its buildup put the body into tremendous stress. She had to find release through the act-out because she never knew she had an imprint embedded deep down and she never knew that it engendered all that tension.
Hi, I am your doctor. Any stress lately? Not that I know of but I think there was a stress event 50 years ago not sure what it was but it raised my body temp and blood pressure a lot: to this day. “How would you know that”? An instinct I guess. I mean why else would I have those chronic symptoms? Dunno,
Oh, what is this act-out? Our symbolic way to deal with an unconscious concretized memory. It is like a blind person with no knowledge of his unconscious, trying to shake off a terrible trauma. He does the best he can, and he comes close, symbolically, just like my having to go out for coffee every morning. Surely that obsession meant there is something buried down below. Even knowing exactly what it is would not change one thing because the insight lives on top of the brain, while the feeling resides at the bottom. They are far apart. Isn’t it amazing that the deep-lying feeling sends messages from below to approximate the trauma without ever saying what it is? And why is that? Because if it sent up the whole package; the whole truth, we would be in agony all over again. And so our merciful brain has found back-up ways to protect us. It keeps the truth from us even when we go on searching for the truth. The longer the search the less we discover. Aah, that dialectic again. Those poor philosophers; in a constant search that will never be finished because……oh no, wait, the search is really for pain and it is only the pain that can liberate. Us. Does that mean they are looking for pain and don’t know it? Yep.
Jesus, Janov, you are so arrogant and sure of yourself. Is that wrong? It is better to not be sure when I have lived it? And when I relive it and my act-outs disappear? The truth lies in that deep pain, not in the higher level cortex where the search seems to be concentrated. That is why it cannot be found. We are looking for results, not causes, and like so much work in psychology, focusing on results cannot reveal arcane causes. Oh my. It seems so hopeless. Nope, because real hope lies in reliving that very hopelessness that drives so many depressions. And what do we do instead of feeling hopeless and finding causes; we run from it, keeping busy, keep working and run and run……away from ourselves. You cannot find your salvation nor yourself that way.
One last note on my act-out. Why did I choose the trumpet for my instrument? I was playing in a band, the psychopathic syncopators and I was hitting a high note and it felt like I was screaming……and it was, screaming in the only way I could. Every week I went to the local mental hospital and played in LA. With the best musicians around. We went out for gigs in different venues and all the sax section who had lobotomies had to hold hands so we wouldn’t lose them. And all the girls from the area came and danced with the patients on Thursday nights. One night from the dance floor I heard “Art. Art. Arturo.” A patient came up and hugged me and we talked. “What happened to you?”(Hector Acosta) ! pleaded. He told me the story. First of all he was a Mexican so that during battle he had to go down below and secure all the hatches with him inside so if we torpedoed, the water could not flow into the rest of the battleship and sink us. Hector was locked inside. Why? Cause he was a Mexican. After months of this he cracked up and spent a long time in mental hospitals. But it was no different while the blacks on our ship were fighting for their freedom, they were not allowed to touch a gun, and most of what they could do was cook and clean and wear white uniforms to serve the officers. No one thought that was strange.
To this day I think the girls who came and danced with some psychotics were heroic. They wanted to help the war effort and us sailors. And it was wonderful. I learned more about mental illness playing with my pals then I ever did in classes in school.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
I don’t mean that neurology should drive psychology but that brain science has so much to offer therapy. We ignore new neurologic findings at our peril. For what we are learning is that early trauma leaves a trace on the gene. That trace is a marker that tells us there is a big hurt buried inside that is redirecing our behavior and is behind so many serious diseases. The traces can be observed. And far more important, they and much of their effects can be reversed. Imagine that! We can undo the imprint and reverse history and eliminate the hurt. We don’t have to guess anymore so when psychologists ignore brain science they no longer know that history is barricaded deep in the brain, nor do they know on what level of the brain, nor are they aware of how serious the imprint is. How can we go on ignoring early trauma and its effects on our sicknesses when all new science says it is there?
So what happens? Therapists remain on the top cerebral level and never ever reach into the messy imprint that changes the brain through methylation and distributes the pain, impacting so much of us. They try to figure out blood pressure and many other afflictions when the causes elude them. Worse, they try to undo psychosis, serious neurosis and addiction without acknowledging the causes lying literally just under their noses.
Now here is where we shrinks come in. The new research paper by the Institute of Molecular Biology in Germany finds a way to possibly unto methylation. That is, they have discovered the proteins neils 1 and neils 2 play a major role in demethylizing cells and revert them to normal, a great discovery. But this is a neurologic answer and cannot be fixed through neurology alone; they suggest that the two proteins are instrumental in reversing methylation; ergo, it could be the answer we are looking for. But whoa, why are the genes methylated, in the first place? What kind of pain and where does it come from? Here is where primal enters the fray. Now after 50 years of our daily work on hundreds of patients we have a very good idea what the pain is and how it has settled into the system. We believe we are demethylizing through immersing ourselves into the trauma and reliving it exactly as it was laid down. That means becoming a 6 year old again or a fetus reliving the mother’s smoking or drinking. We see it and we see the effects of reliving: major changes throughout the system. We believe we alter the neurotic trajectory that would have led to serious disease later in life.
The authors state that may include cancer: when there is a failure in resetting of the methyl marks on the DNA, it can result in development abnormalities and possibly cancer. In this way the cells lose their identity and start to divide without control, the profile of cancer. This research is advancing by the day and will help us measure and treat serious imprints. And here is where we shrinks will leave neurology. Because in psychotherapy the patient will talk about his life and ultimately descend down the chain of pain to the deepest imprint. When that happens the distortions that methylation engenders will normalize. The patient is on his way to being normal. We want our theories of the human being to be unassailable: why? Because correct and accurate theory leads to proper therapy , and the means ultimate health and longevity. That is our mission.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
The same reasons that their gestation and birth epochs are so damaging.
Oh kind sir, please explain. And cut out all that pretentious language.
I will try to explain even while recent neuroscience is making headway on the problem. But their headway is too often an explanation of how to treat it and less about what causes it. If people could see what I have seen over 50 years, I think that might agree with me about causes. Why are so many dying of cancer? Why are so many undergoing harmful birth practices? There is a relationship. And apart from doctors’ birth practices there is also their advice: “a couple of drinks should not hurt any baby.” Oh yes it does; it makes them dizzy and disoriented. They sense these effects during and after a Primal, in the same way they feel suffocated when the mother smokes. These are most harmful events. And due to their load of pain they are not integrated. Instead the brain uses some of its supply of methyl and leaves a trace on the gene, called methylation. Here the pain is stored, remains active and continues to spread onto the system. It raises the cortisol level and adds methyl markers to the experience. It also increases adrenaline levels so that the system is forced into hyperactivity to deal with the suffering. The person is often not aware of any of this since it happened early on before language was available.
The earlier in life the imprint, the more devastating it is; it emanates from the deepest level brain, the brainstem. This is the structure of great reactions: where pain becomes agony; sad and a bit hopeless into, suicidal hopelessness, anger into rage; all of archaic responses we might expect from sharks or dinosaurs. When a hurt is registered high up in the brain it translates it through resonance to lower and exaggerated reactions residing deeper in the brain where later emotional pains are registered. It is a neuronal train of neurons of similar valence and content join up to connect on deeper levels. Let’s be clear: one can be disappointed with the loss of a lover in adult life. It can create anguish and misery; but if there lurks deeper down and very early in life a great loss of a mother, the current misery through the process of resonance descends to another emotional level where deeper pain is organized, and the emotional consequences may be serious and even suicidal depression. Any major hurt during gestation where deep brain levels are involved and where parasympathetic nervous system is engaged can produce heavy depression. When the mother smokes without stop or takes drugs or when she is chronically depressed, can find its way into the developing system of the fetus. In short, any event which blocks normal responses can produce a general suppression in the baby. This is especially true during birth where egress is blocked and baby struggles and cannot get out by his own efforts. His body gives up and defeat becomes imprinted. The result may well be a parasympathetic personality; passive, defeated, unable to be aggressive or fight for himself. Why all that? Because we are involved with deep level trauma and deep, often violent, reactions. When disease occurs we have the beginnings of later cancer or other catastrophic disease. Catastrophic events lead often to catastrophic disease. Brain stem responses often engender brainstem responses; deep-lying reactions and serious bodily disease. That is, we reaction on the same level as the trauma. The disease often pinpoints for us the origin of the disease. It says look here for answers; alas, too often we look elsewhere.
We often are not aware of all this as its origins are so deeply embedded but they are there. The current pain higher up, has now resonated with deep—lying traumas, roiling the whole system, detouring natural functions and preparing us for serious afflictions later in life. The brainstem does not mess around; its reactions are major and life-endangering. As major as a dinosaur response when danger lurks. In the human when the mother drinks continuously, the baby cannot escape the system splashes into overdrive, as all reactions are exaggerated. Yet full deep reactions, escape, is not possible so the suffering begins. Worse, we do not know it, but at the age of forty there lies a tumor, and no one knows where it comes from or how it got its start. So we embark on decades-long research to see how we can fight it, when we do not know what “IT” really is. We fight it and wrestle with it but never get to its historic source, so we remain bereft. “It” is so far removed, so deep in the brain we cannot imagine what went wrong, but one thing is likely: the trauma reached down and resonated very deep down where catastrophic reactions live in the brain. It touched off dinosaur reactions and upset so much of us and changed our genetic destiny. We are often on a secret trip to cancer or Alzheimers disease, plunging forth with our load of first-line, brainstem pain until a doctor during his exam says, “Have you had any trauma recently? “Why do you ask, doctor?” “Because I see something suspicious on your liver which we must look into.” Oh my, I had no idea.
You know why you had no idea? Because ideas lie far above the origins, so of course you have no idea. You body knows and carries its memories forward to finally make you know. And when you relive all this, then you really know because you are in touch with your body, at last. And you feel the trauma for what it is because the pain is excruciating. So Janov’s rule #1. You are not suppose to know about deeply buried pain because it is so very painful. And so you body is all conflicted. Should I tell him or should I keep it secret so he does not suffer? OK. I won’t tell him and save his life; wait a minute; if you don’t tell him you may be killing him. Ayayay; the Faustian bargain. He goes along blithely unaware but his body is dying.
But he feels it, finally, in our feeling therapy, which opens up the neural gates and lays it all out for him; it is the real fortune teller. It spills out everything. And it literally screams out its pain; there is no mistaking it. Only a feeling therapy that engages the full brain can use it and react to it. Finally, we can resolve it.
It can be extirpated from the system and let the body relax and normalize. One way we know is that in our therapy there is a radical increase in Natural Killer cells after one year of therapy. Their job, recently suppressed, was to be on the lookout for newly developing cancer cells and destroy them. We don’t “know” about them but the immune system does and whips into action unbeknownst to us. That system is the cancer marauder sniffing out danger and attacking. It does what we would do if we were at all aware and conscious. Yet we remain unconscious for self protection. We remain unconscious to keep consciousness from being perturbed. What a dilemma. It is not us who made the Faustian bargain; it was our system trying to survive as best it could. We live on, seemingly healthy, while our life is being cut short. A feeling therapy must be called upon to help out. The sine qua non, is to react to the trauma; we cannot do that when we do not know it is there. Full conscious permits that life-saving response. It hurts and I can scream it out. Screaming itself in absentia, solves little but it is the way we acknowledge the pain.
We now understand that the imprint is aided and abetted by the process of methylation, in which the chemical methyl group is added to the genome to restrict its expression. In other words, the imprint is laid down, in part, by a change in the cell, as certain chemical reactions are taking place — hydrogen removal, methyl infusion, and so on. Methylation leaves an heritable imprint, one that can be passed down even from grandparents to their grandchildren, as research by Kerry Resslar has shown. So what we always thought was genetic may well be the result of very early experiences diverting the genetic legacy (Meaney, Aitken, Bodnoff, Iny, & Sapolsky, 1985; Janov, 2013). In short, the experiences of our forbearers can endure and be passed down the epigenetic chain – the inheritance of acquired characteristics. This is something science thought impossible not long ago.
Epigenetics had affected the function of the stress apparatus, what is called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), a complex part of the neuroendocrine system that controls reactions to stress and influences many body processes, including digestion, the immune system, mood and emotions, energy storage and expenditure. A possible implication of these findings is that the changes are more or less permanent; they alter the gene’s activity, leading to later illness and suicidal tendencies. When the NR3C1 gene is less effective, it cannot produce the kind of alerting, galvanizing chemicals that help one fight through things. (Clearly, such trauma also diminishes an individual’s adaptive capacity). As a result, the body behaves as though it were constantly under stress. And there is ample evidence now that chronic stress can lead to serious disease. Methylation marks enlighten us that disease is hidden below. That trauma has occurred, and forced the system into hyper-vigilance. It is vigilant for a danger that has already occurred. Too late.
Make yourself at home.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Lest you think that only our brain remembers, it turns out that almost every part of us, every cell also remembers. And that memory stays alive for most or our lives. That is exactly why we need a therapy not just for current symptoms of migraines or high blood pressure, but of something that affects every part of us. That means those key imprinted memories that have detoured our lives, changed our destiny and our evolutionary trajectory. We need a therapy that has a reach as long as the duration of some of those memories. They have to be reached to impact and change them; that means a therapy that has a reach over most our lives, particularly our very early lives.
In comes Primal Therapy which attacks the central nervous system, the system that radiates its traumas everywhere in the brain/body. That means we do not have to chase down every a small impact; simply go the center from where it all emanates. That means that if the immune system is damaged while we are young or living in the womb, there may be a cancer lurking years ahead. If we find ways to boost the immune system, a number of cancers seem to be reversed. And the most recent work on serious diseases involves the immune system. For many afflictions even later on, the primal, primary imprints are channeled to do harm where the system is weakest. And they become weak and ineffectual when early trauma lowers the effectiveness of part of the immune system called natural killer cells. Once affected they cannot do their job of attacking newly developed cancer cells.
Our therapy, as I have reported have doubled those cells in patients after one year of therapy. And our primary focus is to attack the central mechanisms that spread its primal tentacles throughout the neurophysiology. It is simpler and more efficient.
Speaking of how all cells remember, a study put out by John Hopkins School of
Public Health, states that “blood taken from children up to the age of five, showed molecular evidence about whether their mothers smoked or not during pregnancy”. (Nov 23, 2015 ). That means that early traumas stay around and affect us. It is not a benign memory; there are changes in the blood of the offspring. They also suggest that many environmental factors are ‘remembered” and change us in the same way. That means serious toxins stay alive when the mother is herself affected while carrying. The baby is constantly impacted by it. And there is evidence that those babies impact by things like smoking in the mother have behavior problems later on. And so when a doctor says “anything troubling you that would affect your behavior”? You are forced to say “no” because there is no way you can know until you visit the zone of the underground.
I related the story of a woman who had to move to the remote desert because she felt she was being poisoned in the city. She was poisoned: thirty years earlier when her carrying mother was chain smoking. That memory, totally unconscious, still drove her behavior. Her blood system remembered. And if she had blood and circulatory diseases we would still not know its provenance. “Do you smoke?” “No”. “We will have to do a lot of tests to figure this out.” Oh, thank you.
“Oh by the way, could you check out the imprint on the cells in my brainstem?” Wha?????
There are levels of conscious awareness, and the blood remembers as well as any mental memory; only it does not speak English; it speaks biology, a most valid and accurate language. Your body as yet has no language to distort its meaning. So listen closely; the symptoms are speaking.
What the researchers are stating now is that these traumas can go back to pregnancy days and affect us for years. You mean we are affected why back when? Yes. And those experiences have an enduring and explosive impact? Yes, don’t forget the toxins the mother produces on her own. The baby is a prisoner in a locked-in cell with no exit; and he suffers and suffers. He seems to be born depressed or anxious. Probably not. He was born neurotic (a life of imprinted pain) due to life experience. Neurotic meaning, a load of pain not integrated, that disfigures the body and alters behavior over time.
The good part of this is that we can take a blood sample and spot where you have a trauma from womb-life, and from mother’s smoking. There is now a way to measure it so we do not have to ask key questions: a pin-prick and we know. In the same way that exposure to lead can affect the body prenatally, we are beginning to see how early experience exposes us to different kinds of chemical imprints. The body gathers up all the chemicals it is exposed to, registers it and is diverted from normalcy. Yes we can be abnormal in the womb. And maternal smoking can do it all by itself. It is now a predictable event and should warn against the ingestion of any drugs during pregnancy. Remember, blood contains minute molecular memory. We can be fooled but not our blood.
So it isn’t that the blood remembers but it also stores the memory and affects us thereafter. When there are serious blood diseases later in life, we should not neglect womb-life events.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
I was feeling the other night and was left with a unfinished sense that I was not done. I felt the misery of my life but that was not it; it was the waste, and it was what could have been and what should have been. Yet all of us in the family were equally victims: my parents could not love because they were not given any, and they were somehow, unconsciously, also waiting to be loved. They never knew it, and for the great part of my life I never knew it either.
What it was, was the feeling of great loss, something missing that could never again be duplicated. It was a damage deeply embedded that remained encased for a lifetime. It was no love where it could have been the opposite if the parent’s gates could have been open. But it could not be because that would have meant terrible pain and suffering for them; and their whole neurologic system militated against any conscious-awareness. So my pain was not just what was never there, the love and the holding, but what could have been; and that only happens when we really experience the damage so fully that we finally understand what lack of feelings do and how greatly they damage; and how love would have changed everything. …. a touch, a word of approval, of encouragement: not so much, just a scintilla, a hint of it. That could have changed our lives. Alas, instead we were in the symbolic struggle to get it; and because what we got was only a symbol, it was never fulfilling.
So after we feel a lot of the pain, another feeling steps in: what a waste. What we missed, and what we should have had. Worse, that it is gone and never to return. It is over and done with. The damage was cemented into our systems and we are forced to carry it around for a lifetime. And we are struck with the fact that we will never know what it meant to be a loved child; that is the ultimate tragedy. All those years of waste; of what we could have had and could have been. And will never be. I was a good musician but I never became what I should have been because I never mastered transpositions. By the time I recaptured myself it was far too late to make up for lost time. I never prepared for college because I never believed I could make it; finally after years of catch-up, I did make it. But such a waste of all those years of being strangled by my ADD, unable to learn and believing that something was wrong with my mind.
I come out of a feeling, often now, with the sense of waste; how many years I lost and my struggle to make up for time gone. We can catch up a lot but not as if we had a normal, loving early life. We can take a lot of the pain away but not the memories, and not how early neurosis sculpted us into a different human being. We will not become that loved child but we will be open in our systems to be able to be loved as adults. That is a lot. Even if we are suddenly loved by contrite parents when we are forty it will be nice and even wonderful but it cannot change an unloved early life. Sadly, that possibility is gone.
Friday, January 8, 2016
In Primal Therapy our patients go back and experience damage from decades before. That implies that the hurt is a long-term, almost never-ending hurt. I have written about this earlier; it is part of a survival mechanism. We retain the memory of menace and pain which stays "alive" until we can experience it fully. Enter the imprint: a neuro-chemical event that "marks the spot and the time" of the damage, and when Primal Therapy is done correctly will lead us to the center of the imprint in order to bring it back into conscious/aware where we can start to feel it; often in small bits at a time in order avoid overload and abreaction. That means feeling just enough so it can be absorbed and integrated. It then becomes part of us, and is no longer ego dystonic (a bow to Dr. Freud).
When we begin a past feeling we reawaken both the genes and epigenes. They begin to change in order to accomodate the noxious input the baby suffers. The trauma rides piggyback on the gene and causes even a slight detour; that means we detour in our development, not just the cells. And the experience either weakens or strengthens the genes and their connection to other brain cells. What happens is that the imprint changes the on/off switches in the brain, and again we are affected. What all this means that the trauma, a mother seriously depressed during pregnancy affects the epigenetic methylation process where the cells are marked with a trace. That trace is a reminder, a very serious reminder of psychologic work to be done to address the memory. It is just a small tag with an enormous punch. It changes so much about us: how we breathe, move, our energy level, interests, how we learn and how much we can feel. Above all, when the imprint is overwhelming it will help determine how deeply we can feel and how introspective we can be. In short, we are changed as human beings; and to change all that there is a way: to go back and feel what the key imprinted memory is, fully. It means undoing damaging experience and reversing history. Think of that: reversing history to stop our personal trajectory toward serious afflictions later in life. If early trauma is ever-present, even though well sequestered, and we can stop its damaging effects and help normalize an individual.
Methylation is basically a marker and an aide to long term memory, and so long as there are changes on the genes the memory and its damage will persist. Basically, it means we are no longer what our genes meant us to be. That is why we see bone growth in our patients as the genetic destiny is finally unleashed. Not being ourselves has multiple meaning which includes the neurons and the biochemistry. It means recapturing our growth potential, not in every case but often enough to make believers out of skeptics. In the reliving it has to be all-encompassing just as it was when the trauma was set down. The whole memory and all of its aspects are waiting for their chance to be liberated. We cannot leave any part of the experience unfelt because that will mean only a partial improvement. All of us suffered initially, and all of us must suffer again: that very same pain that we never fully experience at the beginning.
Originally, the pain was far too much to integrate so now we can go back as adults and experience it over time. It can be done. We have done it over decades now and have verified the results. We see it in the disappearance of life-long discomfort and of enduring symptoms. In the Primal world getting yourself back is a literal notion, not a New Age mantra. The problem is that biology will not tolerate any cheating nor any short-cuts. The reliving takes time and it takes feeling. There is nothing I can do about that; embrace it and realize it is the path to wellness.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
To some it seems that Primal Therapy is simple and all you need to do is help people scream; about as far away from the truth as possible. It is quite complex because there are elements, not only of neurology and biochemistry, but of the dynamics of psychology. We need to know how those elements are interwoven and how they evolve in the human system.
The therapy’s complexity matches that of the human species, in general. We need to know about how evolution developed over the millennia and how that affects how we understand the unraveling of the various levels of consciousness. We need to know about this evolutionary process so that when certain psychologic or physical signs show themselves we know what it means. We know at what level of consciousness the imprint lies. We must know the steps in the brain’s evolution so that we don’t force patients to trespass too deep in the brain during the first stages of therapy. We cannot do therapy apart from evolution; rather, we need to follow its dictates precisely. It is when that does not happen that we can harm the patient who may be face with imprinted pain that he cannot integrate. We grew up following evolution; we did not have a thinking brain until some time after birth. Nor could we walk at 6 months. Evolution leads the way and we remain its obedient servants. This is no less true of our emotional development.
I will offer one small example to embellish my point. I saw a patient recently who had been in therapy for quite a while. She was feeling how her parents ruined all their children due to their unyielding ideas about they should grow and learn. It was tempting to sympathize with her and to say “Yes, I understand your feelings.” That was it, and there we see a major mistake. We can empathize with a patient but not when we sense that she is descending down the levels of consciousness to deeper and more arcane pains. She may be traveling down the neuronal paths to the antipodes of the brain and we must not put her into the present, talking to the therapist when she needs to go deeply into herself to retrieve part of her history. And why is that a mistake? Because even a word of understanding and empathy ,“I get it,” takes her out of her descent and blocks the therapy. She cannot go where she needs to go because there is an outside input she must deal with, when she needs to lose most of her conscious-awareness of the outside world and let herself be engulfed by her early pains, roiling the deepest level of brain function. So when a neophyte therapist wants to show kindness to the patient, he is hurting her; and this comes from an incomplete understanding of evolution and neurology. And of course, a lack of key feelings about where the patient is at any time in the session. We need to master the patient’s history, a first prerequisite of Primal therapy. And in some cognitive behavior therapies it is the last to be considered, as a-historic approaches seem to be the mode. As if behavior had no historic anchoring points and simply sprung out of the ether. And the very nature of current focus-therapy militates against searching or finding deep-lying forces. And the serious imprints are found on deep brain levels; by ignoring them the patient is being robbed of key transmuting experiences.
For example, there are key pathognomonic (sure) signs when the patient approaches first –line brainstem levels. We need to know what they are and whether the patient is ready to feel such deep-lying imprints. If she is not and we encourage her to descend we will get overload and a lack of integration. It sometimes is flattering for the therapist to see the patient reacting so vociferously but it may well be premature.
On the contrary, there are times when a patient gets lost and wavers from his evolutionary trajectory, and needs help to keep him on track. The body is pulling the patient toward the pain while the defenses step in to block the experience. The therapist must know when that happens and what to do. Here help is critical, but…but. The therapist must suss out, and sense, when to make a move and when not to. The therapist must know the key signs of readiness for a feeling and then help guide him. So two different ploys depending on the biologic system of the patient and what level he may be ready for. Janov Law means we do not talk to the patient who just had a feeling until she talks to you. Because Primals begin to engender a host of notions, insights and elucidations that go on for some time. They must not be interrupted because the therapist needs to act smart and offer insights. Insights follow evolution: feelings first and later ideas and insights; not the reverse. The insights help explain the feelings which were experienced; and because of how the brain evolved, cannot precede them.
So many mock Primal Therapists urge the patient into anger. It seems like primal but it is not. Do we know whether anger precedes tears? Does crying come naturally after anger? We need to know that before we do helter-skelter therapy on unsuspecting patients. There is an order to feelings; some come later than others; each feeling in its time. In therapy when we guide the patient into feelings that should come later there will be no integration nor resolution. Fully experiencing means resolution, allowing the imprint to become organic-an integral part of us. To borrow from Freud; it needs to become ego-syntonic. That is what being oneself means.
When to touch the patient? Of course she needs love and holding but first she must feel the old, deep unloved. “I am not loved and never will be.” Only that will open the channels of feeling and maintain an openness in the patient so that later she can feel loved. In short feeling unloved is a feeling too. We were unloved long before we were loved; we must take the feelings in sequence. If we “love” our patients they will never get there. After a feeling when the Primal imprint has been experienced we can hold and hug the patient but never when we replace the needed “unloved” with being cuddled. Again, patients do not need love; they need unloved first. Evolution first.
When to touch, when to hug, when to talk to a patient, when to show empathy, all have a specific place in therapy and there has to be the neurologic sequence that the therapist understands to guide the therapist. I am often tempted to provide an insight for the patient; it is so obvious but not to her. When we help out with insights we rob the patient of her insights and critical discoveries that are often so liberating. But it must come on the evolutionary timetable: feelings always come before the higher understanding/insight of the neo-cortex at work. The insight now tells us what the Primal feelings meant and how they affected behavior.
Let us not rob the patient of his sadness, his need to cry and scream, his need to show fury; let us not rob him of his key discoveries about himself. We therapists, purveyors of wise insights, too often are not smart enough to stop acting smart. Professionals are used to knowing so much; yet acting stupid sometimes is a very smart thing to do.
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.