Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Music in Us

Shakespeare said of a man who seemed all repressed and unfeeling, “that man hath no music in him.” How true it is because music lies down in the limbic system; and if you cut off the top level cortex you can still respond to music….and feeling. You wonder why we remember songs from our youth and still know the words? Because we still did not have a fully functioning, repressive neocortex; because we still responded to the music out there and in us. There was music in us until it got crushed out. It was feelings that sealed in our memories of the music and words, and they meant a lot to us, expressing our lives at the time. It all lies down below our later development which covered over the essentials, the guts of our lives. Then was when our emotions were strong, everything was new, including love. Our reactions were strong, often exaggerated but they engulfed us and gave big meaning to our experiences. Some keep that music alive, keep the access to feelings, while others let the music die and lose access. Having to struggle in life, with children, with job or school all help dampen our music and as time goes on we listen less and less to it, outside and in,particular, inside. Music helps keep our feelings alive, and vice versa. They are companions in life.

We can tell who has that music still; there are those with no warmth, no kindness, no concern nor empathy who understand so much and feel nothing. And it shows in their demeanor; in their dry unemotional relationships, in their lack of perception of the feelings in others. It is a solipsistic world for them. In the absence of music they relate to themselves bereft of song and harmony. They have no sense of emotional harmony in the way they relate, dress, furnish and make choices. Their friends are also bereft and are chosen for that manqué. Their philosophies of child rearing; their "Weltanschaaung" are similar because they hear the words but not the music. They can’t dance but they move to the unseen and unheard music of their lives. Beware a president who can’t dance. We need a human president just as we need a human parent. Someone may move too fast to that unheard music and therefore does not take the time with his thoughts and decisions; nor do we want someone who dances too slow and who cannot make up his mind. We need something between a waltz and rock and roll.


  1. To me, people are like music; and like music I either want to turn the radio off, or up. That's what I say to people when I tell them if I do or don't like a particular someone. They ask me "why" and I often simply give that explanation. i.e. "do/don't like the music".

    I also think that 'music' keeps things tempered and in perspective, as a perceptual base. I think people who don't feel the music of other peoples personalities over-react to the charm of a psychopath and over-react to the momentary lapse of political correctness coming from an otherwise decent person.

    But then people who can only listen to the words, and not feel the music, will never really know who anyone is.

  2. Art, does a patient's capacity to feel love (in between primal sessions) dramatically increase after say a few months of primalling....or does his capacity to feel gradually increase in a linear fashion, directly proportional to the number of relivings and the new non-neurotic connections formed through those relivings?
    in other words, is it stupid for me to hope for a feelingful life in the near future (albeit unstable due to the constant discharge of pain)?
    your answer makes no difference to me - money is the only thing holding me back. if i have to primal for ten years before feeling any significant reward, then so be it. i've got nothing to lose.
    i know that patients show biological improvement after a year of therapy, but some of them quit too soon because they don't feel that the rewards are worth the pain. perhaps they just don't feel much in between the primals? or maybe they do but it's not a high quality of life because all they can do is feel unstable until the next primal.
    i'm only asking out of curiosity. i want my feelings back. all of them. as soon as possible. i want to get primal therapy. i don't need convincing.

  3. Off topic thought: I think one of the reasons--and maybe even the biggest reason--as to why you seem to have a communication problem with explaining your therapy, Art, is that to understand it you have to look at yourself, and the people around you, from an angle that most people are just not comfortable with.

    I think your situation is kind of like asking a hard-core Catholic to step outside their "bubble" and take a look at their society (and beliefs) from a somewhat anthropological outlook. There is no doubt going to be a powerful subconscious resistance to doing this, I believe. Or, they won't do it in a real way so as to allow effective comprehension to be established.

  4. Andrew: All I can say is that the average patient says after the first 3 weeks of therapy, "I got more out of these weeks than the 4 years I spent in analysis. art

  5. I know this is a subjective comment, but you are talking about something incredibly dear to my heart-- music... No words to say, just feeling. If it wasn't for music my life would be dry. I would probably go back to performing if I didn't want to become a PTherapist.
    Perth, W. Australia

  6. I enclose the directions to two different masterpieces regarding music worth reading and listening to and be impressed by:

    The first one is from Science NOW (Please don’t miss the test at the end of the article!)
    The second is from You Tube and was one of Steve Jobs’ favorites.

    Jan Johnsson

  7. An email comment:
    " But do remember this Starship song,

    "Live and Let Live":

    You been holding back
    And I know you're afraid to feel
    Some one hurt you long ago
    And the wounds just did not heal

    You never shed a tear
    You had to keep control
    So the wounds kept spreading
    Until they got down in your soul

    Don't you think it's time
    Time to forgive
    Leave the past behind
    Live and let live

    Been holding onto anger
    Now it's got a hold on you
    And bitterness keeps growing
    Affecting everything you do.

    Time to break the chains
    You could slip them off today
    It's time to make some changes
    Before your whole life slips away

    Don't you think it's time
    Time to forgive
    Leave the past behind
    Live and let live


  8. And my answer:
    Sorry - No and No. Art.

  9. No question, music is incredibly powerful . I have not been able to listen to much music over the last 15 years because of a serious hearing disorder I have called hyperacusis. But sometimes I can. If the music is sad, I burst out in tears within seconds so I tend to avoid it these days, because who wants to cry alone? I have never been able to fathom how a composer composes because music can be so intricate and so subtle in its evocation of feeling, how can they create all that in their imaginations? But they do. My only personal echo is in dreams I have been having over the last few years: I hear all sorts of beautiful music in my dreams once in a while, and that must be due to either my perfectly recalling what I once heard, or, what is more likely, my composing it in the dream. Wow!
    Here is some music that spontaneously comes to mind as beautiful to me:

    Tears for Fears, music for the film "Forrest Gump", PAT METHENY (music of joy!!), Alice Coltrane, celtic music, Moody Blues, Court and Spark by Joanie Mitchell, Crosby Stills Nash and Young (Carry on...), music to the film "Glory", and I could go on...


  10. Or "..Makes you give in and cry
    Say live and let die
    Live and let die"

    (Guns n' Roses)

  11. "Don't you think it's time
    Time to forgive"

    How is forgiving possible when pain dictates your life?

    "Leave the past behind
    Live and let live"

    It is the past that follows me!

  12. Forgiveness is the same as to forget... forget to lift the lid on all that life is.


  13. Hi Dr. Janov,
    All blues from the bottom of my heart sound like this:"How did I lost my family,everyone is interested only for him self?..Just at once..Everything was a lie,how?..Why?..Why?.."But,on the other side,there is a something fresh like mountain morning,with this words "comes" to me:"Born to be wild!!.."Then I am ready for action again,show must go on.Vukašin

  14. Andrew: you may be right. I still think it is a miracle that 200,000 shrinks in American manage to avoid any mention of primal and never citeany of my works including refereed journals. art

  15. Sieglinde: I will write a piece on this. art

  16. An email comment:"Interesting article, My own Dad hated music, hated dancing, we couldn’t play the radio or any music on TV when he was around. This continues to explain his ways."

  17. Marco: I know Tears for Fears. They started their band to get enough money for Primal Therapy. art

  18. Yes , Dr Janov, I heard about the "Tears for Fears" connection to Primal on the grapevine.If you helped them out, I am so happy to hear it.
    Well,I say unequivocally that I have nothing but the greatest respect for these two incredibly talented musicians and lyricists, and all the others who backed them up, especially for one of their female background singers who is Black.Just thinking of some of their songs , as I write this, is giving me chills, and bringing back memories of good loving times with an ex-girlfriend (a pretty neurotic dancer), who dug them also. As I was going through their song list before writing this , what do I see but a song entitled "Ideas as Opiates"...well we know where that came from! Much appreciation goes out especially to the following songs: "Woman in Chains" (which utterly blew me away when I first saw the video), "Advice to the young at Heart", "Everyone wants to rule the world" (the first song I heard by them in the early 80's in an exercise class; this one's for Marco my teacher would always say), and especially especially "Standing on the corner of the Third world", a song I used to belt out along with them. I can't remember which of the duo sang it but his voice is so beautiful, so heartfelt, so subtle...and the What can I say...Utterly beautiful, deply moving.I just cannot fathom from what mysterious space these geniuses compose from, but I appreciate it so much. I wonder if it's from the same space from which you created Primal Therapy and all your books and writings, Dr Janov. To end , here are the lyrics to "Standing on the Corner of the Third World" (of course you would need the music and voices to really do these lyrics justice, check Youtube ):

    "Man, I never slept so hard
    I never dreamt so well
    Dreaming, I was safe in life
    Like mussels in a shell
    Rolling and controlling all the basements and the backroads of our lives
    Fill their dreams with big fast cars
    Fill their heads with sand
    Holy white we'll paint the town
    The colour of our flag
    Hey there little lady has your baby got the look of some old man ?
    Standing on the corner of the third world
    Hungry men will close their minds
    Ideas are not their food
    Notions fall on stony ground
    Where passions are subdued
    Colour all the madness for the madness is the thorn that's in our side
    Standing on the corner of the third world
    When we gonna learn ?
    Who we gonna turn to ?
    The promises they make
    The call for attention
    Compassion is the fashion
    Free to earn, our pockets burn
    We buy for love
    Die for love
    Hold me I'm crying
    Hold me I'm dying..."

    Marco (with a lump in his throath tonight)

  19. An email comment:
    "I really like to write you,and I will be very happy if I'm not boring.Thank you very much for thous my texts you been publish and for thous you didn't. Word "feeling" is very close to word "field" and electrostatic science learn us that electrostatic field is"always older" then some charge we put in that field and which is target of electrostatic force.Analogy is that we have emotional charges with them own history,fields and frequencies,in our brains;I'm not educated to say on what level precisely, and reaction start when we meet some person in our life with same "electromagnetic characteristic" like very important "charges" in our life history:father,mother,sister,brother..This little interpretation is a tool of my left brain and it helps me to survive with bad,bad feelings such as birth trauma,or event when my father totally drunken try to come in our house and mother stops him on the doors,they have and my sis cry and we freezing..she is 3-4 years old and I am maybe 2-3,we are so little and scared..

    Yesterday,I was at music school,here in Belgrade,to talk with instructors about singing class,to make my voice better,I like to sing so much,Music is great Sun,my favorites are Bryan Adams,Cris Rea,Bruce Springsten,The Cult,Guns and Rouses,Billy Idol..and instructors was pretty cold and judge that "we have to work,so,so much",plus,I am 36(so what?best life time for anything) and it's not cheep,too(400$ per month..).Any "Work what I say,I make decisions and have program and roles here!(my father and mother)"moves bad feelings and resist in me,make resonance with"WTF you are ?!" in me and break my will. I was thinking."What school- Technic of Singing can change what my birth and sad life made to my voice?...This is just:"Fight for glory-it's worth,to not feel your truth.." Some voice technics works with stomach and breathing but technic can't crush what neurosa build to protect me from hell.After therapy there will be not "n"of nasal voice,I feel it,I will talk and sing with all my body.Here,in Belgrade,was one of the most famous rock groups ever on this space-EKV-Ekatarina Velika,and most beautiful their song for me is:"You Are all My Pain "-Baaaaaaam!!!!,Dr. Janov if you didn't already,please hear that song on YouTube(Ti Si Sav Moj Bol),it rock's,phenomenal.

  20. Part 2: "
    I was talk here about programs,roles,force and my parents made distastefulness in my heart against discipline, authorities, algorithms, schemes and on the other side I am in branch of Mechanical Engineering,I am interesting for that from my childhood"How this works,how to made brilliant product ,what is the point of this stuff?,I want power( maybe possibility to attract and control..)to solve,to got fight,like best solders,brave army?"I don't know,like "Old Lady-Neurosa"always wants, it's all mixed and ambivalence,antagonistic.I talk about job with one firm here,they make special tools for car mechanical servings,but all that story have inside smell of "master-slave" postulation,pseudo-macho mans employers and that send me to fear from my mother(I was wanted to write here father?..) ,then to birth trauma,shadow of latent ,masochistic passive homosexuality,then to "I must die,I am all helpless,oooooooooo..."Freeze foots,astringently middle of face, signs of acting-out.However,I must work,I need money,I must think about living,what is alternative-to wait my mother to give me existent?,poor.I just want to be someone who feels good and secure with Morisson heart and engineering mind,Engineering do not belong to abusers,technology have song inside.Troth is,I don't know what and how to do,I'm not "selffinished-no problem man",I never said that..

    Shidoshi,you have done so much for human kind,thank you.But,that is maybe ..45% of your mission,55% left ;) ,we,your people,supports you so much.Live long and happy."

  21. My mother liked to sing melancholy songs. My father wasn't moved by music at all. Me? I have 10,000+ tunes on my iPod.

    I love all kinds of music, but not ALL music. I don't care what's popular or what "refined artistes" say I should "appreciate." I know when I hear it what I like. Country Western? Not so much. But Willie Nelson singing, "Stardust"? Yeah, baby!

    What I love about iTunes is being able to create playlists for various moods. Sometimes I'll play recorded rain sounds. Other times jazz. Still others classical.

    Every time I think the world has run out of new tunes I'll hear something unexpected that moves me. I find that comforting, creativity being endless (which I too often forget).

    I can't imagine life without music. Plus I love-love-love to dance.

    Art's words brought to mind Don McLean's "American Pie" and its "day the music died;" the New Radicals' "You've Got the Music in You;" and the Beach Boys' "Add Some Music To Your Day." Three different song styles, three similar odes to aural delight!

    Sometimes I'll listen to Barber's "Adagio for Strings" or the "Gayane Ballet Suite." When that mood gets sated, I might move to salsa music. And so on. Like feelings, my taste for vari ous genres is fluid.

    An odd thing happens sometimes, though. I'll question the "utility" of, say, dancing. I'll intellectually analyze it, perhaps to mute my need for it. I'll think it "silly," yet marvel at the way some folks move on dance floors.

    I'm a good dancer, too, but find myself postponing taking lessons where I'd have to really "own it"...investing more time, money, and energy. I think I have to be perfect or fear not being able to "get" certain steps.

    I suspect that's both self-protective and self-limiting. If I let myself really like it I risk being hurt if I can no longer do it. That is, why admit a need that might make me sad if I'm denied it?

    When I was younger, my father took little interest in my non-academic pursuits. He never watched me play sports, for example, or asked about my love life. My mother often used my interests and hobbies against me, controlling access to radios, stereos, etc. So I suspect I learned to put a governor on my self-esteem engine, fearing to let it run full-bore.

    It's similar to writing: the closer I get to writing "professionally," the more afraid and empty I feel. Like I have nothing new to say, or won't change the world, or will die one day so what's the use, etc.

    I fight the hopelessness/helplessness at those times, telling myself I'm just afraid to be hurt. And that I can handle any fallout. Still, monsters can feel very real in those pre-dawn, dark hours of the soul.

  22. Well, an unexpected satisfying thing just happenned: I get to my computer and I find out that Rolling Stone will probably publish a letter of mine on a political subject (Lybia) in their next issue (if my reply e-mail to the fact-checker got to her in time).That may not be an event to normal more healthy journalists or artists, but , to neurotic me , that was something. And all this just after I was grooving on the street to the "Tears for Fears" song "Everybody wants to rule the World" on the way to the library here, where I write this (all this in a train of emotional links from the Janov article "The Music in Us") .Hey, not bad for a sick 57 year-old bohemian. As Richard Pryor once wrote: " I ain't dead yet, motherfuckers!".


  23. Roland and Curt from TFF were very influenced by PT early on; their first two albums, "The Hurting" and "Songs from the Big Chair", are right up there with Lennon's Plastic Ono Band album; check 'em out.

  24. Dr. Janov,

    "I will write a piece on this."

    Thank you. Looking forward reading it.

    "Leave the past behind" is the most used phrase. The second is: “pray to god.”
    Useless to say, that neither one of them works.

  25. "I'm On Fire" by Bruce Springsteen. that's an incredible song. it makes me feel like there is another real person out there - a very precious person, able to feel reality, this reality that we all share, and able to express it in a song. i think bruce is a dork but the musical part of him is not a dork at all.


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.