Sunday, July 17, 2011

A sad dad.

A sad dad!
In Sweden, we have a saying like; “What is hidden in snow arrives in thaw”! So with a metaphor I could say that my bad bet as a father for my first two children, which was repressed by pain and neurotic behavior, is now being reality for me when my élan vital, my capability to feel has improved and taken me out of my snowbound state. Since my first divorce in 1974, when my wife got the custody, I have tried to imagine, that I had a good relationship with them even if there were plenty of signals telling me that I was cheating both myself and them. The signals have escalated over the years, and lately the children have sharpened their criticism of what they consider my very selfish and egocentric behavior.
The reasons for the escalation are plenty and include me not being there for them when they needed me, my blog / memoirs (in English) published on the Internet, the fact that I during 1994 became father to a girl, who I decided to give my full attention and finally, the fact that I prefer to live in Spain, 2500 kms away from them. There could be other reasons, but I think I have covered the most important.
Being a primal patient for decades I’m used to the fact that nobody wants, dares or is capable of discussing feelings and therapeutic matters. That was the main reason that I wrote my story about my life in order to demystify my epilepsy and its consequences. That way I thought of creating a lot of valuable information of what had caused my, often, subtle neurotic behavior. However, my family did not interpret things the way I had expected. Especially my two grown kids saw it as an extension of Dad’s egocentric behavior and another way to suppress their need to feel important. This is hard to debate. It is a Catch-22 according to Josph Heller, a non win situation.
The bulk of the criticism is about me being selfish, egocentric in general. They cannot stand my life story. My son says that he heard thousands of times about my smartness and important contacts although we only talked to each other 30-40 times over the last 20 years. However, he has at least spoken up and a few weeks ago he decided to avoid having something direct with me to do. He is fortunately seeing my youngest daughter, who adores him.
My oldest daughter has been easier for me to relate to, but she has apparently told me one thing and her family a different version when she commented upon our conversations, my decisions and thinking. It was a letter from her husband, which confirmed my suspicions that my daughter was not as straight as I had expected. However, she preceded by quickly and followed up by a letter in which she makes it clear that her earlier attitude has been propelled by a feeling of must for family purposes and not as a personal choice and desire.
As a consequence I sent the following letter to my grown-up children, with a copy to their mother. My ambition and desire are to give them a regret that I was not there when they needed me, and hence I was not able to avoid creating the same pain in them that has plagued me for a large part of my life:
A letter “To my oldest  two children
It is a fact that my life has changed over the past 40 years. Through various therapies and interventions, I have gradually felt and relived the pain from a horrendous birth, which led to epilepsy. Feelings of inferiority with subtle neurotic behavior gave me alternating success and failure. A general anxiety, however, was my constant companion. During these 40 years, I have lived in a complex relationship with you. At first I felt a lot for both of you and you meant very much to me, without me being able to show those feelings for you because of my permanent changes of relationships, changes in my career and because of my involvement in Primal Therapy, including two years in L.A.
Your mom, took on your upbringing in a very responsible way, and you were marked gradually, naturally, of her, reinforced by my inability and negligence. This I repressed and only slowly it dawned on me that I certainly was your genetic father, but hardly a safe dad. The signals of frustration and hatred, they were many from both of you. Especially, I remember your mother's anxiety and fear, when she and I took up a temporary contact 1984. She was afraid for our daughter's negative reactions, if you were to know that we met, and that I spent the night in your apartment. Your mother's fear created permanent scars and sat for several years as a thorn in me. Our contact in recent years has mostly been about your career, in which I have recognized myself and felt involved. My daughter, you have apparently interpreted my interests as egocentricity on my part and there is obviously an element of this.
As a grandfather, I have fallen short. Isabel's birth, living abroad and my illness called me weak excuses. The underlying real reason, however, is the left-over feeling from the above sprained relationship to you my daughter, who has done that I have not been able to get deeply involved with your sons. A serious effort and an attempt to involve myself in order to get help and knowledge of issues related to the boys' respective handicaps were cut good of you, which gave me the impression that you neither believed in my proposals, or nor were  interested in them. They probably reinforced your impression of my desire to make myself interesting.
You, my son, have for more than 15 years, above all, stressed your ruinous gambling addiction and your alcoholism. Your various addictions have fueled my bad conscience. The few times we met and ate together in recent years, so have a few large glasses of beer removed all prerequisites for the development of a meaningful conversation. The meetings have for the sake not been unpleasant because I feel deep sympathy for you. Sadness and disappointment have bubbled up. Gradually, as my own mental recovery slowly progressed, and I felt your hate and your disappointment that I left you when you most needed me, so have my bad conscience dissolved.
It is apparently one of life's contradictions that when more and more of my retarded life begins to straighten out, and I feel relief and confidence in myself, so it is part of the development, that I become aware of the fact, that I lost my two oldest children. However, this happened already back in 1974 when your mom and I divorced so I have had the considerable period of 37 years to feel through the pain. The importance of that pain has probably, like Archimedes' principle, a density ratio which is related to my resolution of the neurosis and epilepsy and pain that became the aftermath of my own childhood.
The pain, which  I am sure you can feel, and that drives your actions in many respects, I suppose has much in common with what I felt. My inability to help you both before and now does not mean that I am indifferent towards the emotions that control you, and it does occasionally hurt me that it should be that way, since I got relative peace with myself.
Even if you both emphasize that our relations (at least since 1974) have not been of a "close nature",  I'm still your biological father. For better or worse! Should you need me, you know where to find me and I will do whatever I can. In the case of Isabel, so I hope that she will not suffer for my sins! You, her brother, revealed this week a shining example of it, which pleased Issa a lot! She is fond of you all! You are a part of her family!
Love Dad”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Élan vital = A will to live! (Comments to Janov's Reflections of "Still Talking to the Wrong Brain")

Élan vital = A will to live!
During the last 12 months, my vital force has increased and taken over my thinking and doing. My consciousness has evolved in an almost magical way, and my organism is in all aspects serving me better than I, during decades, thought was possible. Suddenly, I understand what Bergson ment with “current of life”.
It is not an euphoric feeling. It is a feeling of being able to trust myself, my senses and of being driven by my real needs, “a feeling of relief and confidence” to quote Julian Huxley!
And I send my thanks to You Art Janov, to Rolfing, to my own curiosity and stubbornness and to my parents!!! And to Isabel, my daughter who gave me the motivation that was needed during the last 16 years to have the strength to feel the pain that filled every nook and cranny of my body and soul.
Love Jan

Janov's Reflection on the Human Condition STILL TALKING TO THE WRONG BRAIN!

Thursday, July 14, 2011
For decades now I have been emphasizing the fact that in psychotherapy we have been addressing the wrong brain. If we really want to produce feeling human beings and not mental giants in therapy we need to skirt the left brain and focus elsewhere. Science has pretty well concluded that it’s the right brain that allows for reliving, not the intellectual insightful left brain. Several studies have emphasized addressing the right brain in order to penetrate the deeper regions of feelings. (W. Penfield 1958 proc. Nat'l Academy of Science USA 44 51-66. Also, Banceaud et al., 19994 Brain, 117 71-90) So long as we focus on the left frontal, thinking, rationalizing brain we will only get progress limited to the thinking, comprehending brain and not the feeling one. We will be loaded with insights that cover over feelings rather than expanding them. Progress will be limited to the psyche and not the whole system. That is why neurology and psychology must meet and inform each other. For it has been fairly consistent now that the right brain is chiefly responsible for reliving our historical feelings. If we ignore how the brain and emotions work will certainly go astray. 
I suppose the philosophical dilemma is what is most important, feelings or intellect? They are both essential but feelings have been terribly neglected in psychotherapy. We have to right the ship and put feelings back to where they belong. 
We cannot insist on a sit-up, insight-driven therapeutic approach and hope to get to feelings. Unfortunately, too many therapists believe that the goal of psychotherapy should be awareness and self understanding of feelings rather than eliminating the painful ones. What happens too often is that the patient uses her insight and her intellect to suppress feelings and then imagine she is doing well in therapy. Insights become an agent of self-deception. “Oh. I understand my feelings so now I am better.” Not so fast. Understanding feelings is not the same as feeling them. Feeling them gives meaning to life, to experience, gives joy and empathy; gives the person a new élan vital. Feeling them activates the whole system not just the isolated mental apparatus. I think insight has had an exalted place in therapy since the time of Freud because he , emphasized them, and he did that because they had not and still do not have a way of penetrating the feeling zone of the brain. Being left with only the cortex there was no choice but to focus on it and its functioning. Comprehension and insight became the lingua franca of therapy, and we still suffer from that unwitting deception. 
And feeling them is not the same as painting or writing them. I see writers who can write about feelings yet cannot feel them, and so they live a life bereft. And they come to therapy in order to feel better but too often the therapy neglects feelings and so they cannot possibly feel better. They know more but still feel empty. Feelings fill that emptiness, and why? Because the patients can feel what that emptiness or loneliness is about and get to the root of it. 
There are other aspects of the confluence between feelings and knowledge. There use to be scream clubs where groups of college students would get together and scream; implying that they were doing a sort of psychotherapy. But now we know that without cortical connection a scream is just a scream, unconnected and therefore not integrated into the system. In short, a release or abreaction with nothing curative. Here again we need to understand the relationship between lower and higher brain centers and how they interact. We know that emoting in and of itself is just a discharge of the energy of the feeling without integration. Thus we need to understand the triune brain to see that a feeling is made up of different levels of brain organization, none of which can be ignored. There needs to be the energy portion, the emotional and the intellectual or psychological. And we need to know how pain comes into existence and how it becomes eradicated. We need to know that there is a gating system and a defense system and how they interact. There needs to be science involved with carefully constructed hypotheses that can be tested and measured. We need to know what we mean by cure and/or progress in psychotherapy. 
Posted by Arthur Janov at 5:31 AM pastedGraphic.pdf
Jan Johnssons comments:  (Not published by Art Janov!)
Genovés 2011-07-14
Still talking to the wrong brain!
You say we need to focus elsewhere! “Science has pretty well concluded that it’s the right brain that allows for reliving, not the intellectual insightful left brain. So long as we focus on the left frontal, thinking rationalizing brain, we will only get progress limited to the thinking, comprehending brain, and not the feeling one. We ill be loaded with insights that cover over feelings rather than expanding them. Progress will be limited to the psyche and not the whole system. That is why neurology and psychology must meet and inform each other.”
And why should not the body be part of this briefing???
I have no disapproval whatsoever to your reasoning. It fits like a glove in my own situation and development over 40 years. However, it does not tell the whole truth seen from my perspective - and I think that goes for many, many more of all those who are looking for a full and healthy life with a good balance between a feeling and thinking, comprehending brain..
You are almost fanatically avoiding the physiological and physiotherapy aspects of a successful approach to relive feelings in bodies and brains, which are distorted, disfigured by repressed pain. There are rich opportunities to interpret parts of your Reflections as a living example of the intellectual excesses of the left-brain dominance that you criticize in the psychology profession. During 40 years, you have been my feeling, intellectual, left-brain guide in my journey through reliving unbearable pain caused by a horrendous birth process. Your books, advice and guidance have helped me understand and interpret all the neurotic, pain driven behavior, which the early imprint invited me to in order to survive.
However, the igniting spark, that got your model together for me, was due to the “forbidden” treatment, Rolfing, established by your old friend DR Ida Rolf. She said more than 40 years ago: ”The more you watch people change in front of your eyes, the more sure you are about how people can get stuck in childish incidents, or birth incidents or for all I know pre birth incidents. You see it right in front of your eyes. And then changes happen, through Rolfing, and it begins to be possible for a body to take on what we consider appropriate adult form. Then the person continues on psychologically and develops.” 
My personal physiological and mental progress has continued after my “2nd generation” Rolfing treatments over the last 12 months and my quality of life is still improving. All the knowledge you and PT have given me over decades also continue to mature and together they, PT and Rolfing, are one integrated unit.
Jan Johnsson