Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why is Early Love So Important?

The first easy answer is that you can never get it back; it is gone forever. And one day when you feel empty and lonely, and “down”, and missing something, you may know where it came from.

Remember there is critical period for all of our key functions; once gone it is history, and then we play make-up, trying to compensate for it.  Starving in the womb?  A big eater later on. Not eating for today but for when you were starving because that starving is now an imprint, deeply embedded in the brain.

Not touched as an infant becomes insatiable sex later on; again, trying to make up for the past deprivation.  It becomes insatiable and uncontrollable because being held at the start of life, right after birth is life-giving, survival and the key to normalcy.  We need to make up for that lack so that saturyisis is an attempt at being normal.  
We are trying to get our past back, a past that should have been normal—fulfilling children’s needs.  Alas, it was not.  So we act out symbolically; we need to be touched now!  And often: we cannot get enough. Remember, we are trying to fill up deprivation.  Get our childhood back.

And if we all look at our neurotic behavior, our obsessive act-outs, we will find what was missing in history.  Do we eat too much?  Take painkillers?  Hey that means you have pain.  I have an idea: let’s try to find out where it comes from instead of just trying to get rid of it by pushing it down.  “Out of sight very much in the mind."

You get mad when your husband won’t help you? Your parents also did not.    You are frustrated because the wife does not listen?  Guess what was missing.

Worse, once married the husband’s wife becomes his mother; his property.  He can become dangerous and stalk her.  She must now obey and do all of his bidding.  He is living in his past; in his deprivation, and cannot get out of it.  And she is obliged to live out his past with him.  Otherwise, his fury knows little bounds.

That is the essence of neurosis; living in the present as if it were the past.  No longer able to distinguish the past from the present.  This is what I see all of the time; and this is the primordial cause of divorce.  Unfulfilled need acted out on a partner.  They can’t get along?  Look for the need instead counseling each of them to try harder.

It is that past that drives obsession and compulsion because the combination of past and present is often overwhelming.

Just an aside about not making up for the past:  many studies show the long-lasting effects of early deprivation.  Michael Meaney’s work in Canada, in particular.  One study by Eric Nestler, Friedman from the Brain Institute in New York, reported that when rat pups were deprived of licking early in their lives, they were later vulnerable to stress and were easily damaged.  They had less curiosity and were less adventurous.  Those rat pups who were given lots of love were quite different when they grew up.  They were much more nurturing, whereas those who were deprived were much less loving.  And that lasted.

We see confirmation of this need for love everywhere we look.  It gives us a foundation, and without it we are weaker, sicker, lead shorter lives.  We are more apt to become both depressed and/or anxious as adults.  Shouldn’t all this “proof” say something to therapists?  We need to examine that foundation and see how strong or weak it was. We need to ask the right questions and look in the right places and at the right time in history.  I should not have to bang on about it.


  1. Hi Art,

    -"I should not have to bang on about it"-.

    I could be cynical and say this is part of your act out from being ignored by your own 'cold stone' parents. . . But, even if there's a grain of truth in this, then from that grain has grown a movement which far out-values my petty observation.

    A more important thing to point out is that most of us have not been heard (as children) and so become 'retiring' having given up hope; or perhaps less common we 'make a scene' (having been ignored as children) thus giving in to the drive to be seen as an act out later.

    All this unmet need gets turned onto others. . . Just like my petty criticism above so we can 'observe' others act outs instead of explore our own. . .

    Paul G.

    1. Every act out holds a risk in itself. It is dangerous and safe. It keeps the access alive. Iti s form of art that keep the hope alive. And feeling near. So we can be hopeless. It is taking the peace from our big pain so we can digest it. We more often hear that there is no hope without hopelessness but the opposite is also very true, it seems to me.
      it keeps us from suicidal/destruction.

  2. Your words are wise as always.

    You just brought to the surface, something I noticed over 20 years, but never saw it written on. That is husbands who are control freaks and need their wives to be their mothers.
    These husbands see their wives as cows and they are there to husband them as in animal husbandry. This is is the collective also.
    Now so many of these violent controlling husbands, partners do say a lot about their mothers- if we listen.
    Its all there clear as day, but therapists, judges, experts etc never listen to the victims and blow off the actual truth re the perpetrators childhood. These perpetrators have told their wives/partners all about their mothers. They were/are obsessed with them......even Jimmy Saville is a case to observe.
    Every time I mentioned the perpetrators mother relationship, I got shut down- "oh what's that got to do with it?"
    Now I know for sure after reading this that it has everything to do with it.

    Like the cases where these men want to be adult babies,but no one asks why?

    Its only a matter of tuning in and knowing exactly why.

    Thank you so much for confirmation

    1. Hi Portia,

      I agree and I'm not free from the 'apron strings' that my narcissistic mother bound me up with either. Having split up with my partner 4 years ago and being accused of expecting her to be my mother I am still frightened to get involved with another lover. . .

      It's still quite common in the North of England for husbands to refer to their wives as "mother". . . Because the wives are the mothers of their children. . . "Her indoors" is another 'give away' that comes to mind.

      It's all true. . . We men are often trying so hard to conceal our 'mother-boundedness'. We buy yachts, cars, motorbikes and indulge in explorations of Mother Earth to try to get away from 'Her Indoors' but to no avail. . .

      Actually there's a huge amount written about men and their 'anima'. . . . and their addiction to uroboric bliss. The aural sucking stage. . .

      Feminist psychotherapists make a big point of 're-educating' their women clients to understand that most of us men are indeed obsessed with and bound to our Mums. . . It's the core message of feminism is it not ?

      Whereas so many of you women are symbiotically fused with yours. . .

      Ho hum. . .

      Paul G.

  3. The process of this therapy never ceases to amaze. The more in touch with my unconsciousness I become, the more glaringly apparent I am able to observe how twisted people are in trying to "make sense" of the world. I have friends that appear normal as far as society is concerned but when you scratch the surface they are filled with fears and conspiracy theories that are just plain bizarre.
    I include myself as someone who is recovering from feeling crazy but the more of my "real' self I get back, the more crazy the world looks to me which I used to accept as normal. We are not ie "normal" and I'm reminded again of the question we would propose in training many years ago: " What is normal ? " (whatever that is)

  4. An email comment:
    "Arthur,you know why you need "keep banging out"about it-therapists,the system doesn't want to know this,heal this-I'm 57 now,I first read your book when I was 17!-imagine being aware the truth ,becoming aware of it in one reading?! I hasn't been easy,to say the least...The state of therapy is terrible,I think it got a little better for a while,but now is even worse. oh well,we keep moving forward,and you-you've never stopped puttin' it out there!-Thank you Arthur,the world owes you a tremendous amount of gratitude,some of know that,and say"THANK YOU"!"

    1. I could have written that! I'm 56, and read *The Primal Scream* when I was 16 years old, so the person who wrote the e-mail was going through the book when I was.

      I wonder how many people have been interested in Primal therapy, but over the years, gave up, due to finances, distance -- or the erroneous perception that your work was unscientific.


    2. Hi DavidT,

      -"Or the erroneous perception that your work was unscientific"-.

      The science of feelings. . .

      So easy to muddle up with the misconception that there should be no feeling in science.

      Paul G.

  5. Another email comment:
    "Hi, France, Art, Marie, I wish you Marry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    I hope you received my information.

    Art I found your articles so articles so inspired and full of wisdom that they are hard to improve, and though I sometimes I try to express with my own word you write I need your permission and of course and mention the source and adding your link. I have known you Art since when the Institute was in almond Drive near Hollywood and though my therapy has gown slow it never ceased to improve and I thank you for being who you are and your discoveries and for being capable to go on with your discoveries, not the case of S. Freud that pulled back from his discoveries.

    Feliz Navidad, joyeux noël.

  6. Another email comment:
    "Thanks for writing this Art....

    Its really quite simple isn't it. But therapists almost all of them are ego maniacs... And there isn't any ego gratification in doing something easy is there?

    I got divorced because my ex wife was frigid, and after many years of trying to get her aroused, and being understanding, I couldn't take it anymore. She also had quite a temper. To everyone else she was deferential, and pretended to be very sweet and kind. But at home she was constantly seething about someone, or something. She came after me twice with a kitchen knife, at that point I decided to finally leave. I've always liked that statement in Prisoners of Pain...that you wrote.. The symptom or symbol is the contradiction between the feeling and the need to repress it... I guess thats just the long way of saying, that act outs really are about jerking off your feelings, rather than feeling them.. Happy holidays to you and everyone."

  7. Another email comment:
    "Does the knowing of the root of our unhappiness (problems) helps to overcome it? I would like to but as I know myself, this knowing, eventough quite revealing, doesn't make me stop wanting it or quit going about it. Would be a bit mysterious not to know why it is happening, but now it appears ridiculous and weak."

    1. Well it helps to know, but until you feel the basic feeling in context there is no permanent resolution. It is a matter of total experienced. art

  8. Hi,

    I hope this 'rap' isn't too dark for new years eve:

    Under the Gaslight,
    Wavering dim & bright,
    The rain drizzled through the night,
    As she searched for her lover.

    He reached for her too.

    But looking through his mother,
    In his memory,
    She was just a blur of his past,
    An extremity to this 'other'.

    She could only be
    In his memory. . .

    She could only find
    that she had passed. . .
    Like a shadow before him,
    Through dim light,
    On that drizzly night.

    Silently; except for the sound
    of hissing and the rain,
    Of Gaslight wavering,
    When they should be kissing. . .

    and embracing. . .
    The cold edge of fear
    was descending nearby. . .

    Alone were his calls,
    Beyond that night Arc,
    -"Are you there-, It's dark"?
    But only approaching footfalls. . .

    He began to shout,
    He began to scream,
    Then suddenly without warning,
    He awoke from his Dream. . .

    Mum! Mum?
    Where are you?
    Mum! Mum?
    It's me!

    But all that was there
    Was the sound of hissing,
    Gaslight wavering,
    Instead of kissing and embracing. . .

    He rolled over and cried, and cried,
    His blanket pulled over,
    Shivering, he thought he had died,
    But he was alive in bed.

    He was not dead.

    Through curtains flickered,
    Gaslight wavering,
    Wind on pane bickered,
    Blown raindrops trickling. . .

    Gaslight wavered,
    Dim & Bright,
    Whilst she searched through the night,
    For her lover. . .

    Paul G.

  9. Hi Art,

    What do you make of the still prevalent notion that one can "re-parent one's inner child"? When a need comes up, supposedly one has an "inner adult" who has life experience that the child did not have, and developmental capacities that the child did not have, and is capable of meeting the inner child's needs.

    When I have been told "you can give yourself what they didn't give you" I thought this was flippant and insulting. To me it felt like they were saying all the other human tribe members are worthy of care and belonging, and because their spontaneous response was to not take care of me, they have objectively assessed me as not worth caring for.....not as valuable as the rest.


    1. Will the bullshit wagon ever empty? In psychology there is no end of nonsense; in French n’ importe quoi. art


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.