Monday, June 23, 2014

My Epilepsy A Blessing In Disguise.

Evolution makes us suffer in order not to feel the pain when for example mother misbehaves or disappears more than we can stand. “The pure pain areas are overlapped with the emotional suffering part.” The message of the pain is repressed and remains unconscious. The pain caused is held down by the gating system and, within certain limits, it is hidden. But it leaks its agony all over us, and we develop high blood pressure, ulcers, strokes and epilepsy. These “laws of nature” are mysteries to everyone and no one can understand where and when it all began.

could be a brilliant and telling summary of how my friend Eva and I have experienced pain and suffering for almost 74 years. My friend was during years emotionally mutilated and threatened by a bipolar mother, and she turned off the connections between the limbic lower level and the cortex. The lower level suffering was never made consciously/aware. An efficient gating system supported by workaholism, intellectualism and cigarettes kept the pain at bay, and my friend got her reward in a lustrous academic career. The deep and remote suffering took its toll and towards the end of her career, high blood pressure, diabetes were facts before a burn out / stroke put an end to her career after a lifetime of suffering.

My religiously confused, however loving; mother subjected me to a horrific birth trauma. Epilepsy became the symptom that represented my pain, and it was kept in check by chemical lobotomy / Tegretol (Carbamazepine). The hidden pain, though, continued to “spray its agony” and propelled a neurotic overactivity, which drove me out on a long, intense and restless career as a change consultant. Fortunately, 36 years ago, I met Art Janov and could slowly and determined embark on a new journey to resolve my pain and watch my suppressed suffering disappear.

For decades, I considered myself to have been unlucky in that I developed epilepsy as a consequence of my birth trauma. In retrospect, after a successful guidance, over 4 decades, by Art Janov, through the Primal Principle, I realize my blessing in disguise. The pain, which triggered my epilepsy, constantly leaked and it became the gateway to my suffering. The job of Primal Therapy is to make suffering into pain! When my seizures, eventually, turned into pain, which I could feel and re-live, I finally got the key to being cured and free. Meanwhile, I got a general understanding of the difference between pain and suffering.

No matter how intelligent, sympathetic and intellectually well-lit my friend is, it is impossible for her to understand the following statements in Art’s Reflections: “Pain is resolvable and suffering not.” “Suffering is diffuse, amorphous, without shape, time or place. It is an imprint often without words, but it endures for a lifetime.”

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that my friend, for years, has been a significant personality (pedagogical award winner) in the world of academic research and education that provide Big Pharma scientists.

Jan Johnsson 

Cambio del Rey

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reflections on Leadership In The Psychotherapies.

The Idea / the embryo of The Primal Therapy was born in the 1960-is in New York by, the then young, avant-garde and “destruction” artist, Raphael Ortiz. He drew the audience’s attention to the links between art, history, human development / evolution / rituals and connections between mind, body and spirit. At one performance attended the young man, who later at a therapy session with Art Janov, re-lived the first documented primal. On Janov’s request, the young man / patient repeated that which occurred during Ortiz’s seance. The young man’s re-lived feelings became the source of Art Janov’s innovation; The Primal Therapy, which spread like wildfire across the world through the bestseller “The Primal Scream.”

Ph.D. Arthur Janov, with a classic psychologist / therapist background, took care, skilfully, of Ortiz’s intuitive leadership vision of our potential to develop the mind, body and spirit. A curiosity, bordering on a demand, to get answers to WHY the psychosomatic symptoms occur, with which doctors and psychologists diagnose their patients, was one of Janov’s strongest, stated, incentives. The Primal Therapy became all too hastily a fashion trend that promised “quick fixes” and the therapy was quickly adopted by, more or less serious, therapists and psychologists. Many dilettantes / mock therapists caused, for lack of leadership and management, more harm than good in the healthcare sector where short-term solutions, in the initial phase, are valued too highly, not least by the patients themselves.

Lack of visionary leadership in the staff of The Primal Center has curbed Art Janov’s ambitions firmly to establish a coordinated Primal Therapy as an accepted psychotherapy and, despite innovative methods and, seemingly, well-documented patient experiences, become a serious alternative to the prevailing psychotherapeutic paradigm; CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). Cognitive therapy is bureaucratically micromanaged and lacks, like PT, visionary leadership. By tradition and routine, CBT dominates research, education and health care and has a strong economic interdependence with Big Pharma. Janov’s skill as a psychologist, guide and an interdisciplinary author had, early on, had to be influenced by visionary leadership to develop, in partnership with other innovative partners, the potential inherent in the Primal Principle.

There are no visible leaders to take over from Art Janov, which is especially sad because research in different areas of the multifaceted Neuroscience is now beginning to prove a number of answers WHY? different symptoms, such as Alzheimer, cancer, depression, distorted vital signs etc., etc., are connected to repressed birth and childhood traumas. Simultaneously, other sectors of society, outside the health-care and psychotherapy, acquire knowledge, like Janov from Neuroscience. The authors behind “Primal Leadership” and “Conversational Intelligence” have applied this type of emerging modern science.

I believe that America’s 200.000 shrinks would be several levels better, relatively quickly if they dared to introduce / test Daniel Goleman’s “Primal Leadership” and Ruth Glaser’s “Conversation Intelligence”. Questioning diagnosed symptoms and seeking an answer to WHY? would change and modernize / democratize their working methods. Thinning out the high doses of medications and bureaucratic management, with its official manuals, would meet the latent need of 60 million consumers (in the U.S. alone) of psychotropic drugs.
If 200.000 shrinks embraced the above vision of the future, millions of leaders in business and administration could hopefulle simultaneously be stimulated to ask to be introduced to the Primal Principle / Evolution in Reverse in order to gain a deeper understanding of emotions, depressions, neurosis (and their causes) of their fellow employees.

According to a Daniel Goleman article in HBR; “what most influences our operations bottom-line performance: it’s leaders mood and state-of-mind or emotions.
The statement could be applied everywhere where people have influence over others; in homes, schools, associations, politics etc., ect..

Jan Johnsson

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Primal Leadership.

No, the title “Primal Leadership” is not directly retrieved from Art Janov’s Primal Therapy, but from an article (“Primal Leadership - The Hidden Driver Of  Great Performance”) by David Goleman, R. Boyatzis, and A. McKee. The article is included in the book “HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself.” It was the same Daniel Goleman who with his bestseller “Emotional Intelligence - Why it can matter more than IQ,” made the term Emotional Intelligence widely-known.

The reasons for my reflections on leadership and management, in two areas, seemingly, as diverse as psychotherapy and change-consulting, are because I, virtually simultaneously, was active in niches of the two. After having re-read parts of Daniel Goleman, Peter Drucker and and others, and opened my eyes to Judith Glaser’s “Conversational Intelligence” and her sympathetic approaches, I realize how the experiences and conclusions of the mentioned specialists have significant similarities with the psychotherapeutic innovation; the Primal Principle / Evolution in Reverse. Art Janov guided me through his revolutionary psychotherapy while I took care of my career, which involved both leadership, management and change-consulting.

My years in the business world taught me to distinguish between the basic characteristics, attitudes and responsibilities of leaders and managers. Leadership is based on, with a credible style of leadership, establish visions and communicate them to (and together with) the company’s employees in an engaging long-term way. Thus, it is the leader’s responsibility to keep the vision and business concept alive, and continually to train and educate new employees who can take over his / her leadership-role. A gifted leader should have ambitions to make him / herself redundant and move on to new tasks. It becomes management’s task to develop products, employees, technologies, markets and financal resources if the leader sets up and communicates stimulating visions. When leadership, for various reasons, stops working, the company becomes quickly over-managed and competitors and / or new paradigms outpaces it. 

According to Robert S. Kaplan’s HBR-article “What To Ask The Person In The Mirror,” a good leader has most certainly early in his / her career, received guidance and support. He / she were closely monitored, coached and mentored. Gradually, as his / her career took off, valuable and honest feedback became rarer, and finally he / she acted largely on their own. The daily behavior is then no longer given much consideration. Therefore, he / she must regularly ask themselves: “What is my vision and my priorities?”, “How do I communicate?”, “How do I use my time in relation to my priorities?”, “Do I give my employees meaningful feedback?” and “How do I behave under pressure?”.

Early in my career I was fortunate to work with a modern, natural leader, B.J..
He promoted me from a management position of predominantly routine nature to help build and develop a new sales and marketing organization on a national level. Within the vision B.J. outlined, I got progessively greater freedom in accordance with my personality to develop a modern organization without ever being exposed to micromanagement. A tansparent discussion during the project developed both me and the organization. This “Primal Management”, advanced for its time (the late 1960-is), which was mediated by B.J., I could benefit from during 30 years in three Swedish groups with international operations. B.J. got me, both practically and theoretically, to understand the importance of having leaders who inspire instead of managers who control.

Controlling management was too dominant in those groups in which I later collaborated. That managementstyle resulted in that many business ideas were worn simultaneously with employees. The subsequent crisis opened opportunities for me to develop a career as a change / crisis consultant, which often meant to establish a short term leadership, contribute to taking the company out of its crisis, hiring and mentoring a new long-term successor  / leader and move on to the next mission. The role as a change-consultant, with relatively short engagements, fit my life-pattern and my personality profile and gave me the opportunity, simultaneously, to be engaged in Art Janov’s psychotherapy / The Primal Principle and to free me from the epileptic stigma being created by birthtrauma.

“Depressed, ruthless bosses create toxic organizations filled with negative underachievers. So the answer, what most influences the success of an enterprise, will both surprice you and make perfect sense: The leaders own mood. New research shows that a leader’s emotional style also drives everyone else’s moods and behaviors - through a neurological process called mood contagion.”  - Daniel Goleman

Jan Johnsson

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


In a wonderful little book, “I would love to seduce you, but I’m too weak,” a writer, Margareta Strömstedt develops, ingeniously, memories from a long life in the center of attention. She does it through memories of her dead friend and fellow author Astrid Lindgren (“Pippi Longstocking,” “Karlsson-on-the-Roof”, “The Brothers Lionheart” and “The Children of Noisy Village” etc..). Astrid Lindgren’s books are all, invariably, about being ready to defend the weak and vulnerable in our harsh adult society. “The establishment, in each moment, should be prepared to make a revolution on the mental level, when the mind is about to freeze, let us be called back by the child within us - back to the imagination and creativity, to the vivid sensations and to the bold changes of thoughts and experiments.”

Margareta Strömstedt shows, through examples from her long life, how the universes of the child and an adult have affected her in different stages as a child, woman, wife, writer and human being, etc. and with warmth, love, tragedy, rage and pain taken from her personal experiences, she stimulates skillfully endless memory clusters in my life. She makes me feel lucky to have experienced the Evolution in Reverse and had the opportunity to re-live my earliest trauma / pain and to have obtained improved access to my memories.

The memories of the many people and situations I have encountered, the hundreds of books I have read, and the successes and failures I have experienced do not always remain in their original memory version. However, when pain, neuroses and traumas no longer inhibits my memory, I retain the feelings from my accumulated experiences as an accessible wisdom that enriches my daily life.

Music and especial jazz music is one of the memory connections from which I now have much pleasure. Many memories in my life, including in my dreams, have musical ties. Often when I write about or to someone, a classic jazz tune runs out in my memory. This ability has been specifically developed over the last 10-15 years since I freed myself from my epileptic stigma and my chemical lobotomy and become freer. For me, this was a surprising “bottom-up” communication of memories that I thought reserved for “musically gifted people.” With jazz-musical-poetry life becomes complete when words are not enough. 

My experiences with the Primal Principle (in combination with natural support of physiotherapy / Rolfing) has in recent years received an unexpected setting. It is due to the contact I established with the woman, who when she was a girl made a deep impression on my memory during adolescence. The memory explosion that occurred during the first hours of our contact after 53 years can best be compared to a simultaneous series of intense thunderstorms when the whole sky is full of lightning. We are still, after 3 years, daily engaged in interpreting and seeing life from three perspectives; 1. Our first 18 years of life. 2. 53 years of our very different careers. 3. From 2011 onward. To interpret ourselves, the environment, books and articles under safe conditions are developing. We destroy prejudices and inhibitions and in matters concerning interpretations of symptoms; The Primal Principle is often the watershed.

Another stimulating world of memories is growing strong. Memories of my 40 years in the PT and just as many years in a parallel career as a change expert and manager, matures suddenly. Both careers have had the same incentives; to help, more or less, traumatized, deranged organizations and individuals to function again. I developed, eventually, a good understanding of both of these worlds, and I acted successfully in niches of them. Combining the two, fully, did not, for various reasons enter my mind. Now, however, with a better perspective on life and through the ongoing development in modern change-consulting, I see apparent “interdisciplinary” combinations. It cannot reasonably be easier than that each organization and its services consists of individuals. With memories. So I will be back with comments while I still have the strength to seduce....


Jan Johnsson

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Intelligence Of Falling In Love.

I fall in love easily; the oxytocin then flows, life is easy, and my imagination picks up feelings and ideas, “bottom up” from my subconscious. The arrogance is lurking and exposes the equilibrium, in the everyday trivialities, to the test. However, the evolutionary intelligence, as always, has provided me with an excellent moderator. It is my young daughter, who often takes me out of my escapes from reality and shows how crazy my opinion, from another era, is when applied to the situation her generation is experiencing. My, as I rate them, democratic values, become quickly, in her eyes, dictatorial. She has exchanged three emails with different continents before I have formulated a sentence in a blog text. Our view, today, of the retiring and incoming king of Spain, showed very clearly how the different generations may manifest their sympathies.

A small minority of my relations have been long standing since they have been sufficiently answered / trusting. My mother, my childhood friend Eva, my boss  / mentor / pal Bert, my shrink and guide Art Janov and my daughter Isabel, fall into this category. Many other relationships, including my two first children, have been intense and relatively short-lived, often because mine and the other parties’s neuroses and / or valuations have been more Me-oriented than We-oriented. Most of these short-term love affairs have mostly  left great memories that sometimes pop up when the oxytocin production requires an injection.

A few days ago I wrote about a new “love”; “Conversational Intelligence”! In this case, it was the leitmotif of the book - a three-step unconditional development / collaboration model - and not the author, Judith E. Glaser, with who I fell in love. The model met a latent need I had for two - roughly parallel - 40-year careers as a manager (with changes / crisis as a speciality) and as a psychotherapeutic patient. The need, which Glaser intend to meet, can best be expressed in the potential of verbalizing / visualizing a new form of transparent cooperation / trust. What we can understand and verbalize, that can then be communicated into conversational intelligence.

Will Judith E. Glaser’s change- and collaboration-model survive in the long term? If I draw parallels with the therapy based on The Primal Principle, which Art Janov innovated, I believe that both the model and my delight are permanent. This belief I base in the fact that the model is built on Judith’s insights from a personally experienced need for change in a neurotic imprinted upbringing. It has many similarities with my primal therapeutic experiences. Furthermore, Judith’s model arrives in a generational transition between the new transparent and the old non-transparent democracy that permeates all sectors of all societies on every continent. Digital technology has taken democracy a step further, and an impatient growing proportion of the world is tired of the power struggle, corruption, lack of trust and fairness.

The risk with the Glaser-innovation, as I see it, is that many are quickly becoming carried away and see opportunities for a quick fix with something that by nature is very complex. That happened to Art Janov’s Primal Therapy, which, over time, proved to be a therapy / change / cure in the long run; from several years to a life-long treatment, all proportionate to the nature of the trauma / problem / crisis and how long they had lasted.

To show how important I think the “Conversational Intelligence” is, I have inspired my almost 20 year old daughter to read it and in her future career in business encourage its use. That will, in conjunction with Art Janovs information of the need to raise children with unconditional love, care and attention, give us hope for the future and less difficult traumas to cure, privately and in our jobs.

Jan Johnsson