Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Pollyanna Effect of Looking for the Positive

Inner tranquilizers have a Pollyanna effect. They permit us to "look on the bright side" of belief rather than the "dark side" of ourselves. The Reagan years were characterized by someone who always did look on the bright side. That optimism was infectious even though it may have been unreal. It was adopted by those who did not want to explore the past and feelings. He was perfect for that— a man with little access to feelings who constructed a weltanschauung of denial and joy. If we ask people whether they would vote for pain and liberation or joy, the answer is a foregone conclusion. The man who took a bullet in the head for him during the assassination attempt was almost never visited by him in the hospital. Could he feel for this crippled human being? Reagan continued to vote against gun control. Ideas took precedence over feelings. After all, he was shot, as well, by a maniac who should have never have had a gun. Logic cannot dictate when buried feelings, transformed into an ironclad political belief system, trump reason. When your insides are turned inside out you can easily view the world from a warped perspective. Sometimes you get so “positive” that you slip into Pollyanna and that is where you stay: banal, cliché, unreal.

A belief system or other symptoms is often where the pain goes. Let us not treat the symptom — let us treat the cause. A simple example: A patient could not be alone without a terrible feeling welling up in her. She was left alone for weeks after birth and then again at six months of age when her mother had to return to the hospital for cancer treatment. Aloneness and bad feelings were imprinted. Any approach that ignores the profound feeling lodged in her brain was bound to fail. She had gone to psychoanalysis previously and learned that she was left alone with babysitters throughout her childhood. This was true, but was only the top level of a nerve network that spun down to the brainstem.
Beliefs, in this sense, are like ulcers or migraines. There are levels of causes on the various levels of consciousness.
As I said, it is not the content of a belief system that matters, but what draws us toward ideas and beliefs, and what makes beliefs so important to us, so enduring and how the nerve cells in the brain relate to each other. In short, why do we believe?

All belief systems have something in common. They are maps, something to help us navigate through life more effectively. And belief systems all respond to an almost universal, hard-wired need. It is not that we need to believe; we believe because we need. And the pollyannas do not think; they rely on slogans. Those run her life. That is why slogans are so important in an election. It is what hang onto instead of thinking through matters.

All of us are programmed to some extent to reject and deny the voice of our feelings. That is the function of belief systems: to quiet the feeling that there is no one to care for us, to protect us, to love us, that the "meaning of life" is endless pain. The drug of belief anesthetizes. It is why one can give up drugs and alcohol and fall into a belief system. They both inject painkillers into the system.

Just as someone lacking sugar or iron automatically seeks out what he needs in foods, a person carrying around imprinted pain may automatically lock into belief systems. Instead of trying to feel the void that lurks inside the hidden crevices of the unconscious, the believer rises above hopelessness and helplessness into "salvation." Sometimes he goes so far as to adopt a new name, a new identity. Susan becomes Saraswati, Robert becomes Rama, as if to say, "I
am not even me anymore" (the pained me) "I am someone else." What is he saved from? Himself. One patient came to us from a cult, which she entered because of chronic anorexia. She relived a feeling in our therapy: "What’s the use of eating if no one loves me or wants me alive?" The leader reassured her that he did. All she had to do was give him her car and the money she had in the bank. She did. Because he said he wanted her to get well. He told her that he wanted her. It was irresistible. And women will give up their bodies easily when someone combats their feeling of being unwanted by telling her how badly she is wanted.


Sometimes people only respond to feelings and vote for political candidates who reflect them. But often they vote for an idea that reflects their underlying needs and feelings: e.g., "This man will make our country safe." We can ignore the reality of what he does because his rhetoric soothes apprehensions and salves fear. But of course, the leader has to first install fear — the enemy is planning secret attacks. Then, I will protect you by arming heavily.
"Yes, yes I will vote for more and more arms so I can feel safe." Too often individuals vote their feelings in the guise of an idea. The more neurotic (heavily repressed) a person is, the greater the distance between his ideas and feelings — what I call the Janovian gap — the more symbolic her ideas. By neurotic I mean someone with a high degree of imprinted, blocked pain that distorts the whole system physically and psychologically. It is not just that someone has far- out ideas. They are linked into a major system. They have anchors into a personality. There are certain traumas imprinted in the system that require repression, and the interplay between them is the hub of neurosis. The outcome of that interaction, the resulting symptoms, is what we generally call neurosis.

Belief systems are just another form of symptoms. They do not spring full blown out of the air. There are historical causes. Once we understand this, we can see how one can give up drugs and booze in favor of being born-again; ideas smother the pains just as well as, if not better than, drugs. That is why those who are unwell will tend to fall ill prematurely, stricken by an internal reality of which they are not aware. The more warped the ideas, the more likely the person will have a warped physiology, and vice versa. It isn’t just ideas we are dealing with; it is a whole human being whose ideas reflect his buried needs and feelings.

Twisted ideas and beliefs, in my view, presage a shorter lifespan. The system is neurotic not just one’s beliefs. In psychoanalysis and cognitive therapy they tend to help change ideas without realizing that they part and parcel of a human, and a human with a history. And of course, there are the various tests for progress in therapy usually of the verbal variety so that if one says one is better, one is considered better. Or on certain questions, "Are you more comfortable with yourself now after therapy?" We see that the more one is defended and thereby feels more comfortable, the more progress we consider the patient has made. Trick is get people to focus on the positive, on the external while those little political devils are manipulating our insides with their slogans.


  1. Dr. Janov,

    How do you know that the end result of Primal Therapy is NOT just the most subtle repression possible, a repression so subtle and extensive it cannot be recognized. The perfect crime, as it were. How do you know?

    How do you know that you are not in the business of producing a crop of the most dangerous psychopaths ever to exist? How do you know you are not one yourself?

    One more question: Are you, Arthur Janov, more comfortable with yourself now after your (how many years of) Primal Therapy?

    I'm not trying to discredit you, Art. These are difficult questions that either are -- or immediately lead to -- paradox. They don't seem to get much attention, as they lie on the fringes of the material you usually dwell in. I thought it could be valuable to see if we can explore them in public, if you are game.


  2. Walden: I have news for you. they are already explored in the many accounts written about the therapy from patients and for the several double blind studies we did. Read Primal Healing. Much too intellectual. AJ

  3. Welcome back Walden. Many months ago you said you have your fears regarding primal therapy. Don't be afraid of the therapy. Nobody dies or goes crazy at the Primal Center. You had the guts to try it many years ago. There were definite reasons why it worked for some while it didn't work for you. You stopped but the research didn't! The therapy is very precise now. Most patients are benefiting. Do you see? This is a big deal Walden. If you try again, you might enrich the rest of your life more than you can imagine.
    I'm pretty sure I will have enough money in less than a year. Can't believe you don't want to go too!

  4. Dr. Janov,
    I see the Pollyanna effect not as an inner tranquilizer; it is an “I” conflict, thereof the “repressor” of reality, obvious symptoms, underlining trauma and the denial of it.

    Nowhere else have I seen so much fake positive inspiration, as in black churches.
    A mass hysteria, acting out in the name of the holy spirit, is formed by a pastor, who leads a congregation in an emotional outburst. People jumping up, screaming, dancing falling over and making complete fools of them selves, then they call it “being visited by the holy spirit”. If one does not participate in this embarrassing show, he/she is labeled as not having the holy spirit”.
    Then the pastor, the leader of fulfillment, repeats his most important call; do not worry about paying your electricity bill, give your money to God, he will take care of you. Two week later, when their electricity is cut off. The sinner with out money and no electricity, becomes self-explanatory; I have to pray harder, God is not listening to me yet.
    Millions engage in these “being goodly good”, being hopeful and positive every week.

    Their lack of identity and self-worth allows them not to criticize the true intention why they are being led into a weekly repeating brainwashing. The need of a religious high, a good weekly oxitoxin rush seems more important than a healthy self-preservation.

  5. And using the term "solipsistic babbitry", rather than, say, smug complacency, is not being intellectual? Solipsism is defined as an extreme preoccupation with your own feelings, which would qualify primal therapy as an almost ideal example, would it not?

  6. Hi Art ,what kind of Weltanschauung or "Philosophy of life "or any other mental attitude to avoid your four letter word ...wold a primal man... adopt ?Are there any described in the literature (so for us non primal men would feel and think our way into the way Mr.Jidu Krishnamurti shared your of the matter ! Yours emanuel
    P.S Is there any chance for Your "Beyond belief"
    to be published ?
    PP s Are "mild" belief systems not better than drugs (legal or not)?

  7. Underlying ideas and beliefs are emotions - yes, totally agree with that Art. Though whether twisted ideas and beliefs presage a shorter life span probably depends on whether they happen (even accidentally) to serve an adaptive purpose or not.
    Also twisted ideas and beliefs that are a reflection of a person's genuine emotional state may be better to hold (closer to the patient's personal history) than cognitively corrected ideas and beliefs that distance the patient further from his true feelings.
    But these points are too intricate for insurance companies looking for short term quick fix treatments that meet hard targets that can be signed off on. Maybe that is why PT gets ignored by professional intellectuals -because it doesn't correspond to a fixed system of ideas such as a stage model, as say Freud's does (oral, anal, oedipal etc, etc). Stage models are total rubbish in my view (they never hold up cross culturally) but it is one way to get the prof's interested no doubt. (Though not all the psychology prof's should be tarred with the same brush, I would add.)

  8. In finland one quite unknown psychiatrist late Martti Siirala wrote about "delusional possession of reality" as normal madness of masses. This means in short locking up one's or groups world view, giving no room to new thoughts or feelings - and if reality still speaks different language, to shut it up with force. Of course real control of things to come is lost here for an illusion of it.

    Siirala though that this was a defensive reaction against fear or panic in the face of living reality that can't be all know and controlled, a feeling of basic security running from generation to genation.

  9. Emanuel Any good belief system will do: they all manage to inject more painkillers into the system from the pharmacy of the brain. I will write about my weltanschauung soon. please remind me. art janov. My agent has just submitted Beyond Belief recently.

  10. Ah Duncan tu coupes les cheveux en quatre. art janov what means complacency?

  11. Will: I agree except that when your ideas are deviated so is your body and that means a shorter life span. neurosis kills art janov

  12. Hi Duncan,

    Sorry for sounding like Art (as I will), but I think there's a big difference between being cognitively preoccupied with your feelings, and simply experiencing them.

    Children (for example) don't so much think about what they feel - they just feel. And clearly "just feeling" is the straight-forward end-goal of PT.

  13. Part 3 of 3


    On Solipsism, there is an old saying in economics that to be a statist you have to believe that people working in voluntarly transactions to constantly meet human needs and create value for our fellow human beings in rapidly shifting and advancing markets are greedy and uncaring, while people who take someone else's money involutarily by force at gunpoint while not only producing anything but taking a cut of the money as well is a "public servant".

    On Babbitry:

    "There is usually not the slightest sign of embarrassment at this self-serving celebration of the kinds of careers they have chosen -- over and above the careers of others who

    merely provide us with the food we eat, the homes we live in, the clothes we wear and the medical care that saves our health and our lives."
    -Thomas Sowell

    "Think about it: Why do employers pay people to do "menial" work? Because the work has to be done. What useful purpose is served by stigmatizing work that someone is going to have to do anyway? Is emptying bed pans in a hospital menial work? What would happen if bed pans didn't get emptied? Let people stop emptying bed pans for a month and there would be bigger problems than if sociologists stopped working for a year."
    -Thomas Sowell

    "Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest?"
    -Milton Friedman


    "The more warped the ideas, the more likely the person will have a warped physiology, and vice versa. It isn’t just ideas we are dealing with; it is a whole human being whose ideas reflect his buried needs and feelings."

    For open ended non specifics like this, the blanks my mind fills in are people along the lines of:

    -9/11 truthers

    -Noam Chomsky the holocaust denier: (skip to Antisemitism) "I see no antisemitic implications in denial of the existence of gas

    chambers, or even denial of the holocaust" -Noam Chomsky

    -these protesters in San Francisco:

    But often they vote for an idea that reflects their underlying needs and feelings: e.g., "This man will make our country safe."

    What about this man will use the strongarm of the state to steal from someone else and give me the loot?

    Obama Is Going To Pay For My Gas And Mortgage:

    "while those little political devils are manipulating our insides with their slogans."

    Hope and Change baby! speaking of which the goldenboy isn't doing too well:

    "Simple honesty is progressive. Honesty with oneself is primal. It is the whiskey drinkers who pass laws against the pot smokers." AJ.

    You know who was a tireless crusader for drug legalization? Milton Friedman. This was his second crusade after he ended the military draft. This video does a good job of summarizing his main points:


    "Twisted ideas and beliefs, in my view, presage a shorter lifespan."

    President Reagan lived to be 93, Milton Friedman to 94

    and lastly on President Reagan, there is a movie coming up that feature a lot of his quotes. The trailer on youtube is already very popular:

  14. Dr. Janov :

    Hello again, how are you? I meant to ask you earlier, is there perchance a Primal Network comprised of Primal Patients who enjoy chatting and meeting others who have been involved in Primal? It's a teensie bit tough here in Oklahoma to locate others who have done the therapy. Hope you understand. Sometimes I feel like the only living boy in Oklahoma who's even done Primal

  15. Dr Janov: Are there any belief systems extent that reflect groups of relatively healthy people? or would a healthy person not have a belief system, just smile,feel, sing,and dance a lot?


  16. Belief systems is a fascinating topic. There needs to be an article that looks at the other side, too, not just the Pollyanna form.

    And then there is the reflective angle that says "what belief system knits this very community of blog people together?". Are we also killing our pain in the continual knitting of those beliefs, or are we different?

    Of course, when I say "we" I'm being a little poetic, because I've drifted away from many of these beliefs, at least in their more literal or classic form.

    I really wish this space were being used to show what Primal Therapy is in principle and on a small scale. Art touches that ever so slightly at the top in the quote about honesty with one's self. Why not a more experiental form of that right here, instead of the more usual stone throwing? (Woops, was that critical? Sorry.)

    Just some random thoughts.


  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Jerry: i don't really know. I will ask around. art janov

  19. Marco: John Lennon said it: (after our discussion about what counts) he only believes in love.....yoko and me. There is very little else. art janov

  20. Walden: Hang on. My book Beyond Belief has been submitted to a publisher. art janov

  21. Thanks Dr Janov for your comments about John Lennon and Yoko. What you and John say makes sense. I remember about a year ago, walking down a street here in my city,and seeing a poster for a major artistic exhibition about John and Yoko that was in town.It was a huge picture of them, both sitting up in a bed when they were here 40 years ago on a tour for peace and understanding (while the hippie sentiments of the time are now a bit too sentimental and Ghandian for my tastes, I think the core of their intentions were honest). I stood gazing at this photo for a few minutes and felt a connection to them, some good vibes amidst the bad vibes of the Big City. A smile came to my face...
    Too bad he and George are not around anymore. Well, at least Ringo and Paul are, and that comforts me. Ringo just turned 70, and , I must say, he looked in fine shape in the video of his birthday party. And Paul was recently in town for a concert, still rockin away in his late 60's.


  22. To Kaz, our favorite in-house reactionary and Randian: If you don't like Janov, why don't you check out Nathaniel Branden's books on psychology, he the former lover and disciple of Ayn Rand (I say "former" because he sufferred the lash of Rand's bitter personality).That's probably more your speed. You might also check out the people at The College of Orgonomy, disciples of Wilhelm Reich,whom I admire. My difference with the C. of Orgonomy is that they are pretty right-wing (see their political writings), but the are also environmentalists, and compassionnate, and would not abandon homeles neurotics to the fates.See the book "Man in the Trap" ( a Reichian book)by Ellsworth Baker, founder of this college.Especially the chapter "The Socio-political Character Types", which explains the apparent neurotic deviations of BOTH Right and Left (I can't confirm his conclusions, because I lack the personal and professionnal experience,but they are still intriguing to me).

    On Babbitry: Yes, these persons provide useful services, but they also pollute the cultural atmosphere with money obsessions,their shallow bourgeois morality, their indifference to the environment, their lack of compassion towards those who cannot make it in our economic system (let them starve!!).And I can go on... See "Babbitt" and "Elmer Gantry" by Sinclair Lewis.

    Re: the stong arm of the State that supposedly steals from you to give to the "unworthy". Well, you right-wingers don't mind excessive spending on the military, poilce, and prisons (with little attempt at rehabilition of prisoners). As far as welfare,what happens to homeless and malnourished people that private charities may not all be able to help? Just let them freeze and starve? I say: use the power of the State to FORCE people to pay taxes to provide a minimal safety net for all, whether they like it or not.I don't have a problem with that at all! I'd be glad to assist the IRS in raiding your bank account, if necessary!

    Regarding the longevity of neurotics: I think Dr Janov probably means that ,on the average,statistically speaking,neurotics live shorter lives. That means that some , like Reagen and my fascist mother (85), may survive longer. All this would , of course, have to be researched with a cross-section of the population over a long period of time, to confirm or deny Dr Janov's assertions.

    Regarding the Truthers and Chomsyites: I would definitely classify their worlviews as neurotic in their excessive fundamentalist anti-Americanism. I just broke a 15 year acquaintanceship with an US ex-patriate because I was sick and tired with his rigid progressive views and corresponding irritating personality.In the case of the Truthers they are plain paranoid, and I made that point in a letter- to - the editor recently. One guy wrote me back saying that it was the first time he had been backed so clearly in his personal war against the Truthers, who discredit the Left.Not all of us on the Left are Chomskyites; Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Robert Kennedy, and Franklin Roosevelt were much saner, in my opinion. Saner and more decent also than Reagen and Friedman and Bush, that's for sure!.


  23. Richard: Now who said that Primal Therapy works for everyone?! Not even aspirin works for everyone. Listen, just before you pontificate, which I accept, try reading my work, and then realize that it takes many years to train a therapist, no less than six years. And we are learning about this process every day. I did a session yesterday and still learned something new; after 43 years of this. About high quality triggers, come try it and then we will see what you think. Ah, the intellect, tantot bien et tantot horrible. art janov

  24. Dr Janov: Why do you think Primal works somewhat or a lot for some, and not for others?

  25. Hi Art and all:

    Nothing directly to do with Primal, but this is an important documentary for all Americans to look at I believe. It's very real. (And they explain your property bubble/collapse almost completely).

    To be honest, I'm looking forward to the American economy caving in severely because it will make PT much cheaper relative to the NZ currency. Sorry for being a bit selfish(?).

  26. Hi Art,

    I read the ‘ABOUT OUR THERAPY’ part with interest. Does this mean the therapy is shortened now, compared with in the past (I think you have quoted around 12-18 months minimum)? Also, you state that it takes about 6 years to train a therapist, yet the site’s details on therapist training only mention years 1-3. Are the later years ‘residency’ years, without further formal training?


  27. Marco: Hi kid. (I called my mother kid), the reasons for your inquiry would form a book. It is very complicated and I may write a piece about it soon. Generally, if the patient cooperates chances are very good that she will do well in therapy. It seems immodest to say but we don't fail that much. We also take those whom we feel will gain from the therapy. But we have seen people from about thirty countries with every kind of affliction you can think of and we have a good success rate. Why? Because it all makes sense, and we are digging into nature, not some theoretical concoction someone dreamed up. We are after the laws in the human condition. We follow feelings and take the route that neurology dictates. We try never to contravene evolution and its laws. We try always to avoid preconceived notions. That is the best way to go wrong. art janov

  28. Erron: It is a residency after formal training. But we need to learn a minimum about physiology and neurology and something about psychology. I consider the field of psychology and psychotherapy bankrupt. AJ

  29. Dr Janov: Hmmm...why did you call your mother `kid`? Why did you call me `kid`? Sounds psychologically suspect...

    In that vein, check out these lyrics from the song 'Gee, Officer Krupke`, from the incomparable movie musical `West Side Story':

    Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke,
    You gotta understand,
    It's just our bringin' up-ke
    That gets us out of hand.
    Our mothers all are junkies,
    Our fathers all are drunks.
    Golly Moses, natcherly we're punks!


  30. For Dr. Janov: Your comment or reply to Erron here....
    You consider the field of psychology and psychotherapy "Bankrupt"....
    That's an interesting observation Dr. Janov. I was involved in Psychotherapy for quite a number of's a one on one in a quiet office. Yes the therapist can point out probs that I have about myself in a session...but What to DO to resolve them and change them didn't seem to work too whippy. I did benefit from the therapy in certain ways tho.
    Here's the part Dr. Janov where I can't get with it in this type of "Therapy"....It's the administering of TriCyclic Anitdepresants...q.i.d. if you will. These lil' puppies candy coat the problem nicely....but nothing really changes in deep or real and lasting just becomes totaly addicted to TriCyclic Meds. Oh...and for "Anixiety" ....there are tons of psychotheraputic drugs for that prob too. Diazipam or Valum or Stelezine, Benedryl...many of these drugs are Antihisimine Based.... doesn't "Remove" anxiety...simply soothes it for awhile until your next hit (pill)
    Sleeping Probs..?? Well now that ya mention it...Gosh they have "Hypnotics" that'll get that Prob nipped in the bud... in no time...and of course you end up either psyhologically addicted to em or physically addicted...i.e. 500 mgs -q.s....Quailudes....Dalmane...Sominex? if ya get ma drift here Dr. Janov.
    Primal Therapy in my own personal experience...eventually allowed ME with the opportunity to work on and with the underlying potientials that cause these numerous probs. It helped me....alot most sincerely.
    ( Once I got off of all those Mind Candies Completely.)
    I got more and more dysfunctional the longer I took those Meds. Sincerely. I became more and more fearful in time....not knowing what to do to change all of this dysfunction going on inside of me.
    I think they used to call it: The Primal Alternative years ago....I'm thankful I got to experience this approach to therapy.

  31. Marco: I called my mother kid because she was a five year old and never progressed beyond it. She called my father daddy and she obeyed orders like the rest of us. art

  32. Jerry, psychotherapy is the handmaiden, the arm of the psychotherapeutic/bigpharm industry. AJ

  33. >>>
    She called my father daddy and she obeyed orders like the rest of us. art

    wow Art, is that why you went into the Army? Thanks for sharing...


  34. Erron: It was the navy. It changed my life and let me see what the world was about. The service is a great equalizer. Nobody, except officers, was better than anyone else. art janov

  35. Jerry: Yep. new studies show that the crib death babies are very low in serotonin. My guess is that womb trauma and birth trauma cause a radical lowering of serotonin in the baby so that when now in the dark all alone and terrified there is not enough suppressants in his system to combat the terror. He succombs. art janov

  36. Art: Looking forward to that biography. Your life sure seems to have been an adventure!

  37. Andrew: It was it was. I have no idea when it will be out as it is a biography not an autobiography. art janov

  38. One more for Dr. Janov: After leaving a comment here regarding the "Bodies" Exhibit I went to see, I got to thinking:
    When we were inside the Womb and let's say using a "Time Window" of aprox. 8 months into developement, is it possible that our minds made notes of daily goings on and thus made imprints in our minds of certain feelings and movements and so forth during this period? Realizing how at that stage in life we had No Verbal skills or Vocabulary to work with to let's "Jot Down" an experience or two, but in our minds wouldn't it be plausible to establish the possiblity of these feelings and experiences would later in life say as children and even as adults manifest themselves in some way or another? Even perhaps distorting current realities and or perceptions about people and things and feelings... because of very early imprints and feelings established inside the Womb? So Ummm...Whaddayathink Doc?

  39. My friend Miguel just posted this to Fbook, for some reason I'm not notified the blogs even tho I'm signed up.
    @Walden &Art, mostly Art: doesn't the feeling you'r going crazy in PT signify major feelings on the rise? Wouldn't it be a good idea patients are informed this prior therapy (forgive me if they already are).
    @Marco: I have no belief system (other than Primal), and (mostly) smile, feel, sing, dance a lot, but I have yet to receive PT. I can't wait to.
    @Art: interesting, you take patients you believe will benefit from the therapy, I didn't know that there was a selective process. I love this theory/therapy and after 21yrs learn something new about it all the time.


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.