Monday, March 26, 2012


About some laws of nature: On the Difference Between Help and Cure
by Art Janov


Last night, during a couple of hours, I had a conversation with two Swedish friends. This led to a long dream during the latter part of the night. The dream did not give me, during its initial part, the same freedom and pleasure that my calls via Skype had made me feel, they were sensationally relaxing. My relaxation was apparently greater than I was aware of when I went to bed.

The dreams basic theme was that I had gotten a new job which meant access to a yellow company bicycle. At a very early stage, I was stopped and arrested by the police, and I was told that I was not at liberty until I had paid a compulsory license plus a fine. My irritation and excitement were immediate and increased progressively, and I spoke ironically and freely from the heart to all those police officers and officials who were in excessive numbers at the large police station. I refused to pay and also pointed out that I had no money. The latter was a lie and I either swallowed, during feelings of being choked, my money or put them in my shoes. The currency (euro) was not in harmony with the time of my dream; they should have been Swedish crowns since I was young, maybe 20 years old in the dream. I had vague memories of feelings that were related to the job and the boss I had, when I was between 17 and 21 years of age.

After being circulated among officials in the overcrowded police house, I decided after a while to change my aggressive resistance to the unreasonable demands for payment of a license fee and fine. I calmed down and decided that, under the protection of the vast human throng at the station, sneak out and escape the field. Nobody had seen my identity documents and could not find me again if I came out of my locked position.

To my amazement, with simple maneuvers and tricks, I could just slip out and I immediately felt a great relief. Just as I experienced the feeling of relief I woke up and found hat my head felt like it had been stuck and had been squeezed from all sides, exactly like during my birth process. Shortly after I woke up, the memory of three events gradually came up in my mind. They were all about fines, forced payments, and that I seemed to experience authoritarian behavior by police officers. These events took place between 1956 and 1995. 

The most-recent event, I remembered first. My daughter, my wife and I were driving in a French-registered company car, from Metz in France to Spain, when the French gendarmerie stopped me for speeding (150 km/h) and required reasonable fines (500 FFR), which would be paid in cash on the spot. My reaction, however, was not reasonable. On the contrary, it was explosive and it’s a miracle that I was not arrested for the contempt I showed the officers and I lied when I said that I had no money to pay with. I was emotionally, at the sight of police officers, who stopped me and by their demands for immediate payment, moved back in time to my life-threatening birth. However, with police familiar with French temperament and a smooth conduct of my wife we could pay with credit card, and I came out of my dramatic 1st line feeling and could continue the journey.

The other police-related memory that ran up occurred when I and GL, my wife, in 1979 was en route from Fort Collins to Boulder, Colorado. We drove our little European Ford Fiesta, which our American friends thought looked and sounded like a sewing machine.Two big police cars with sirens and lights turned approached from behind and my wife, who fortunately was driving, slowed down the speed to let the police cars pass. Only one of the police cars passed by and drove narrowly, and recklessly in front of us while the other lay close behind us. It was apparently us that they were after. They claimed that we had run too fast, and we were forced out of the car with our legs spread apart, hands on the car roof and our backs against the police while they searched us. With the sheriffs’ drawn guns, there was no room for unpleasant reactions on my part. Then we had to run after a police car to the nearest post office and pay the modest fine of 25. $. The economical impact was easily digestible. But I have never really been able to get over the mental rape that my first and only meeting with the American justice system meant.

The first trauma of police officers in a traffic context occurred when I was 16 years. I biked recklessly on the wrong side of the road and distracted an elderly lady who rode over and hit herself so seriously that she must be transported to a hospital. The accident happened just opposite Åkarps police station and within a few minutes, the police officer came on the street. I was questioned and registered, which forced me to, a few weeks later, meeting up in the district court in Dalby, where I could present myself as a summer practicing metalworker, to receive my judgment of 15-day fines of SEK 5, which I saw as reasonable. My anxiety that the elderly lady would be seriously damaged, and demand compensation, had been great. Fortunately, the woman recovered, and I was left off with a relatively mild shock and with an unprocessed memory of the event.

After the previous night’s dreams, and after the three police confrontations had spilled out of my memory, I went and worked out, and I felt strong and in good balance, almost euphoric. Then something happened in my brain and body. A deep sense of hallucinatory relief followed by a baby crying that pushed up from the depths where it had been trapped for more than seven decades.

Jan Johnsson

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Proust, Janov and Eva!

Again, we have had a tragic example of, the thousands of years of repeated persecution of the Jews, this time in France. France is said to be the country in Europe with the largest Jewish population and a president, Nicolas Sarkozy, whose father was a Greek Jew. This was one of two impacts that occupied my mind when I went to bed last night. The second impression was the final sentence in Art’s Reflection about 

The Chemistry of Depression (How Memory Is Inscribed) : “Jules distressed to intellectualize and beat around the subject endlessly never getting to any point. In our last group, I said to Jules one sentence: “The bottom line, Jules.” He hesitated a split second, fell into my arms and shouted: “Help me - I hurt!” “.

My dreams last night have been about Jews in my life and the literary world that I am interested in. Anne, the little girl from my early childhood, whose parents came from German death camps in Poland, Art Janov and The Primal Therapy that changed my life, Abbe Bonnier my employer who made my years with Janov in LA possible, Marcel Proust whose life and written production currently enrich me. Other Jewish representatives like Freud, Madhoff, etc. swept by. As it happens in my dreams, I tried to understand. Often it’s about my epilepsy, my neurotic behavior (actions that do not correspond to real needs) and to understand how pain propels the neurotic actions.
In the background it is always my personal life story. For decades I lived as a prisoner of my pain which produced neurotic deformations and painkillers, in order for me to survive. My life was not understandable until I was introduced and connected to Art’s principles of “Evolution in Reverse”. Through a combination of talented genius and favourable circumstances, Art turned his youth filled with pain and lack of love and recognition, into an opportunity for us to understand the consequences of unmet needs and loveless fetal toxicity in both the literal and the transmitted sense. He has led us to a new therapy paradigm.
Marcel Proust takes presently very large space in my world of thoughts and then I’ve only just started reading him, and analysis on him. His short, brilliant literary life was to the brim full of symbols that represented his bottomless pain and unmet needs. I can best summarize the insights I have so far received by a quotation from Proust: “In reality, every reader is, while he is reading, the reader of his own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable him to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have experienced in himself. And  the recognition by the reader in his own self of what the book says is the proof of its veracity.”
The value of Art’s books and Reflections cannot be better expressed than by using Proust words. It is by reading about  other people’s anxiety, pain and trauma that we can become aware of and feel our own anxiety and our unmet needs that goes back to our early childhood or even to our life before birth.
Intellect, thoughts and words are often a major obstacle to accessing our feelings and nonverbal traumatic memories. However, with more than 70 years of my own memories of physical and mental anxiety and pain, coupled with 40 years of application of Art’s principles and generous guidance on how emotions can be relived, Proust’s intellectual pain sublimations can be extremely rewarding. Add to that I’m having the opportunity to discuss my impressions with a woman, who for more than 50 years ago made an indelible impression upon my young mind. That makes at least part of life intelligible although last night’s dreams were partly initiated by a tragic event in France. The joy is represented by the fact that Jules took his first step toward health!
Jan Johnsson

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Truth: Where is it?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Art Janov's Reflection: The Truth: Where is it?

The simple truth is progressive, and that pertains to psychotherapy. The question is whose truth? Simple. The patient’s. Always. You won’t find it in the theories of the therapist nor in her techniques. As obvious as it seems, the truth always lies in the patient; that is why he comes to us, because the painful truth is there but he usually doesn’t know it and even when he does he does not know where it is or why. But if we never get to his truth there is no progress (progressive) in therapy. We are there to treat him and not our theories. We are not after cleverly designed statistical outcomes but biologic ones. Each treated patient is a kind of test and ultimate support of what we do. We learn from patients; not them from us. We are not the fountains of wisdom but students of the human mind, and we learn at the source. We don’t delve into books to find answers to our questions; we observe our patients. All we need to know they hold within. So long as they come to us for answers they force us to look into the wrong places; and the answer remains elusive. It is a mutual delusion. They trust us to have the answer, and we take it as a sacred trust that must be pursued. We are both wrong, deluded by the history of psychotherapy and by the zeitgeist.

Deluded by the pedestal we have been put on, deluded by the desperate need and pain of the patient, deluded by socially institutionalized consensus that we professionals are the holders of secret truths about the unconscious. When I see patients each day I feel like I am going to school, getting my maturity degree in humility, eager to learn what lies in her unconscious. She is the holder of sacred truths; we have only found the way to access them. If our delusions had not fooled us into a false role we all would have found ways for access. How about talking to the patient? Not pontificating which is so seductive. How about following the trail of feeling, probing because we are interested in her, not in our theory. We can’t teach interest. Neophytes often make mistakes because they are not truly interested, nor empathic. They want to get ahead—ambition is the enemy of feeling. Remember again, the simple truth is progressive, and it is the secret for progress in psychotherapy. It is a simple thing; the minute we try to get complex and brilliant we fail. The patient is not interested in our discourse; she wants to get well and so does he. And she holds the secret of her cure; and that is what patients have to understand. When they claim, “I am not getting anywhere,” and if we answer defensively--yes you are-- all is lost because that is also a feeling……not getting anywhere at birth could have been fatal. Patients need to know that we both go at the speed she can tolerate and no faster. We cannot hurry feelings; besides she dictates the pace, not us.

What a relief not to have to have the answers; what a relief not to be brilliant all of the time. I always ask my patients (not beginners) if I made a mistake because they now know themselves better than I. They sense the mistakes and we must leave the way open to be corrected; that is how we learn. No more the professorial pose, the measured speech and the implied brilliance in our insights. No more acting out being the protective father. Patients need to learn about their needs, not have them fulfilled in the office by the shrink. It is so tiring to be the all knowing, omniscient soul. We all can relax and the therapy will go swimmingly.

Jan Johnsson's comment:

The Truth: Where is it?

I saw the mail, read the above heading, and then I went for a long walk with my dog and saved the text until I returned home.

During the walk, I went through one of my usual mind games, mental exercises and debated what TRUTH meant to me, now and before and how it (I) had progressively changed it’s many interpretations. How my subjective truth had merged with the truth of other people (family members, friends, colleagues etc.) in neurotic games, which only lasted until my or my counterparts truth did not correspond to the needs that the passage of time brings with it by obvious reasons. 

From my personal life as well as from the literature which I have read, I prepared, during my walk, a number of devastating examples that questioned how the truth can be somewhere if there is no common universal truth. Over the years, I only knew one truth, my individual. I felt relaxed and well prepared when I came home to comment on Art’s Reflection...

After having read the text of the article a couple of times I was suddenly disarmed. As if Art had prepared the article, after having listened to my private debate during my walk. I could not find a single point where Art contradicted what he has described in his books and carried out in his role as a guide / therapist. The patients truth / needs, the secret of her cure, come first (of course within the framework of a number of practical rules that are obvious to both parties in a treatment relationship) anything else ends up in delusion.

The question that towers is if there are other therapists, besides Art Janov, who can achieve the same humble, unlimited self-confidence and can act with enough intuitive skills and authority?

Jan Johnsson

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Primal Symphony In The Major Key

After quite some time having been worrying about the future of the Primal Therapy and its universal establishment (- just as I spent time and energy on understanding, demystifying and curing my epilepsy or to select a different metaphor; just as I was neurotically acting out my childhood grief over my mother's helplessness, solving other people’s - often women’s - problems -) I've slid into a period when I read more than usual. This is partly because I can better imagine / understand and know the meaning of what repressed needs, such as lack of love and care, at an early critical stage of life can lead to.
It has been an as well exciting and dramatic as romantic and tragic reading that in temporal terms spanned 150 years. Besides that I regularly skimmed the everyday harsh realities in the world press, I have for the past two months read "The Old Man and The Sea" by Hemingway, "Lord Jim" by Joseph Conrad, "Skipping Steps" by Frank (Via Janov's Reflections), "To read Proust" by O. Lagercrantz and "Life Before Birth" by A. Janov.
To stop at perhaps the most difficult to melt, Marcel Proust, he was of French-Jewish ancestry and lived a short (51 years) life marked by illness. With unusual talent in an economically and culturally rich environment and with unique intellectual training during a dynamic period (1871-1922), he managed to convert his neuroses to the sublime art. His mothers refused “kiss and love" engraved de facto forever the asthmatic Proust. He turned this painful loss into sophisticated music, art, poetry, (homo) sexuality and religion in his writing in which he guides his readers through a pursuit of unattainable happiness. ("The refused kiss aroused an unreasonable demand in the boy's chest. He did not know why he was crying, but he could not do without the nutrients that the mother's kiss meant for his soul. Behind it, there was a reality that his mother could not give him.")
A prerequisite for my understanding and my enjoyment of the said literary work and not the least of its mediators and writers have been my own experience of Primal Therapy and my reading and the growing understanding of Art Janov’s books over 40 years. To understand the driving force of a pain-relieving neurosis, as a surrogate/painkiller for the initial lack of satisfaction of needs in terms of love and care. How our pain creates and manages our ways of living that we will never be masters of. On the contrary, these patterns of life are our masters and adds a (protective) filter over our world view. In any case, until we have sensed the underlying pain.
It is a deeply satisfying adventure to have been part of the experience, to understand what was hidden behind my fear and pain. Without this experience, I had never been able fully to understand what I've read. Evolution has provided us with a means of expression, which, among other things have the advantage that they make our suffering bearable, well, almost enjoyable, during long moments. A Primal Symphony in the Major key.
Jan Johnsson

Arthur JanovMar 11, 2012 10:18 AM

Jan; Wonderful! art

Friday, March 2, 2012

Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures (PNES)

In Arthur Janov's  blog he makes the following reflection:

"Hello everyone,
Someone just sent me a book called "Healing Fits" by Robert Reese which explains how primal solved his epilepsy. I forgot reading it years ago and worse, I forgot writing its preface. It is a good read about how primal works. This is way back. Of those epileptics who come to us we have been very successful but I never tout our therapy as a cure for epilepsy. I think we lower the stress level to below where symptoms appear. This is borne out by our research on the stress hormone cortisol which is lowered in our therapy.  Art Janov."

As a party concerned, I made the following comments (1) and referred to an official information (2) from a university in the United States.


Hi Art,
In your comments re. “Healing Fits” you mention that epileptics who have come to you have been very successful due to a lowering of the stress level to below where symptoms appear. However,  I think that many of those, who have been diagnosed epileptics, have been misdiagnosed. Many of them were actually not epileptics. They had PNES (Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures). See enclosed definition from a university hospital in Texas. (Why not establish a contact with them. Their diagnosis seems utterly interesting.)


Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures
Epileptic seizures are defined as a sudden change in perception or behavior associated with an electrical discharge that synchronizes the nerve cells in the surface of the brain. Patients with epileptic seizures frequently have abnormal electrical markers for a risk of seizures on electroencephalograms (EEG). But not all behaviors that resemble seizures are actually epileptic. Some people may demonstrate brief convulsive movements when they faint, raising the suspicion of seizure activity. The most common causes are seizures that are not epileptic are emotional stress, conflicts and traumatic psychological experiences. Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) are frequently associated with unresponsiveness or even convulsive activity, symptoms which are typically exhibited by epileptic seizures. 

PNES are very commonly misdiagnosed as epilepsy. PNES are common, 10-40 percent of patients referred to epilepsy centers have PNES. The most reliable test to make the diagnosis is video-EEG monitoring. Patients are commonly admitted to an epilepsy monitoring unit, where they are taken off seizure medications, and monitored with simultaneous video and EEG recording. PNES are diagnosed when seizures are recorded without any change of the EEG activity. PNES can be diagnosed with nearly 100 percent reliability by video-EEG monitoring.

It is important to emphasize that PNES are disabling, and that people with PNES are not pretending or faking the symptoms. Frequently patients with PNES have others psychiatric co-morbidities, most commonly mood and anxiety disorders. The most important intervention is a psychiatric evaluation in order to assess the need for psychotherapy or medical treatment. Early diagnosis of PNES is critical to avoid delays in treatment and exposure to unnecessary medications with serious negative side effects. With the appropriate treatment, the PNES can resolve.

Jan Johnsson