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[Neuroscience] New book by Janov

Entertained by my own EIMC via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by write_eimc At ozemail.com.au)
Thu Dec 7 23:49:47 EST 2006

>From primaltherapy.com:

Primal Healing is Dr. Janov's magnum opus, the culmination of decades of 
clinical observation and research. Here he melds current research in biology 
and neurology with his clinical work to produce a definitive thesis 
regarding how any psychotherapy that uses words as the predominant mode of 
therapy cannot make profound change. Dr. Janov traces the route of feeling 
from the brainstem to the prefrontal cortex, indicating how repression sets 
in to block our feelings to create a whole host of neurotic behaviors and 
physical symptoms. He illustrates how effective therapy or "cure" involves 
unblocking the repressive barrier and allowing lower level imprinted 
feelings to rise to the frontal neocortex.

More on Primal Healing:

What he is attempting here is for the first time a true science of 
psychotherapy, indicating what changes in the physiology and brain must take 
place in order for effective treatment to occur. It is the first therapy to 
take vital sign readings before and after each session, and relate those 
readings to what the patient has been or is undergoing in therapy. His 4 
different brain research studies have shed light on brain function and 
psychological states. He believes that it is important to know how 
repression works in the system, and to the end has measured a serotonin 
equivalent in a double blind study. The results indicate that inhibitory 
chemicals normalize after one year of primal therapy.

His concepts of overload and shutdown are essential for an understanding of 
the human condition. Dr. Janov discusses Cognitive, Behavior and Insight 
therapies at length indicating how and where they fail, and why they cannot 
cure any psychologic diseases. He shows that correcting attitudes, beliefs 
and ideas in cognitive-insight approaches is a vain exercise due to the 
imprint of early trauma which has been engraved into the neurophysiologic 
system, affecting all of our later behavior. To neglect the imprint means to 
neglect the possibility of cure. He points out that any ahistoric therapy 
that ignores the past is bound to fail, whether acupuncture, guided imagery, 
decision therapy, conditioning therapy or the cognitive approach. All 
approaches can help but that is a far cry from cure. Cure must be tied to 
generating sources. If we neglect those sources we cannot be effective.

Dr. Janov describes what brain must be involved in psychotherapy, pointing 
out that all the helpful, ego-here-and-now approaches neglect those deep 
lying brain systems in favor of dealing with the neocortex. This makes their 
therapy "skin deep." He indicates how early love sculpts the brain and that 
very early trauma can alter the structure of the brain. As adults we are 
therefore not dealing with a full deck, literally, in the sense that 
pre-birth and birth trauma diminish nerve cells in the controlling, 
integrating prefrontal cortex. He therefore offers a new concept of the 
impulse neuroses and how to treat them.

Dr. Janov diagrams the brain and shows how and why reliving old traumas is 
essential for therapeutic improvement. He notes that because heavy valence 
pain is sealed into the system by the stress hormones (catecholamines), any 
therapy must arrive at an equally emotional level in order to unhinge the 
traumas from their hidden lair. He states that any proper psychotherapy must 
test the patient's brain and physiology for changes. Cognitive groups lead a 
self-fulfilling prophecy: patients have psychological problems, we treat 
only the psychological neocortex, and then test the patient afterward in 
terms of ideas and attitudes to see if they have made progress. What the 
patient "thinks," therefore becomes paramount. He can think he has made 
progress but his brain and body may betray him. If people are happy enough 
in this kind of therapy so be it; but people should know that there are 
deeper more efficient ways that deal with deep causes, that this kind of 
therapy is more than "help," it is long lasting; the only long lasting 
therapy extant.

Throughout the book are simple cartoon drawings of how words cannot do it, 
and how feelings can.

He discusses recovered memory syndrome and where those early traumas are 
lodged in the brain, how this must connect to the prefrontal cortex for 
final resolution. Connection is the sine qua non of any proper therapy; that 
means lower level imprints must rise in hierarchal order to the neocortex, 
lowering the pain level and allowing the body and brain to normalize. Brain 
research indicates that this is happening. What Dr. Janov emphasizes is that 
neurosis is an organic state not a mental aberration.

He insists that we can only heal where we are wounded. Wounds from childhood 
and before are kept low in the brain and dictate behavior later on. He shows 
how neurosis affects the brain and how "cure" normalizes it; for example, a 
better balance between right and left hemispheres. The brain is less speedy 
and has a lower amplitude, meaning less nerve cells (neurons) are recruited 
in the service of repression. It is, in short, a different more efficient 
brain. This is by no means a text in neurology; rather it is a book about 
psychology and neurosis and how our history dictates our present. All proper 
therapies, medical and psychological must be historic in focus.

>From his book (content in final version of book may vary):

I want to show here how profound personality change is not possible on the 
level of words, or even on the level of emotions - such as crying and 
screaming - as long as deep levels of the brain are not involved and as long 
as the connections are not made between deep brain memories and the higher 

Conventional psychotherapy has been imbued with the belief that you get well 
in your mind - in your thinking, logical, rational, prefrontal cortex - in 
brief, that you can think your way to health.

The logical corollary is that you get sick in your mind. You can think your 
way to sickness, therefore, it is all in your mind. So if you change your 
mind you change your state of health. Thus what we think about our health is 
what counts. We may think we are getting well, but that is not the same as 
being well. We can think we are well but if we have a cancer it doesn't 
matter what we think. If we can get well by what we think, are we sick if we 
think we are sick? Or are we just sick in the mind? If we are only sick in 
the mind can we only then get well in the mind?

      Advance praise for Primal Healing from Dr. David A. Goodman, Director 
of the Newport Neuroscience Center, San Marcos, California, USA:

      When I am in New York City, I take a taxicab. The driver pushes down 
the flag and off we go. When we arrive at the destination, I pay him for the 
journey in which I came along for the ride. Now switch to a psychotherapist. 
You enter her office. She flips down the flag on the meter and you talk. You 
talk and you talk. Her bill arrives later in the month.

      Arthur Janov takes taxi rides and he offers an effective therapy where 
feelings often overwhelm talk. You know what is your destination: 
connection with your limbic brain, getting in touch with childhood emotional 
pain. I watched a 43-year old man writhe on the floor for 45 minutes because 
his father did not buy him the shiny two-wheeler he wanted at age eight.

      I advise you turn the meter off, open the pages of Primal Healing, and 
catch the ride of your lifetime. Forty years of neuroscience research, 
including one with Michael Holden working with Dr. Janov, convince me that 
he has discovered a way to rewire neurons in your brain. Stay with the talk 
psychologist for long enough and she will wire your bank account into her 
bank account.

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