Sunday, October 20, 2013

Attention to the Placenta!

Attention to the Placenta!

The powerhouse of Art Janov and the Primal Principles.

For me, Primal Therapy is synonymous with Art Janov. WHY? Because of  trust and confidence he has communicated to me about the Primal Principle.  This was done first by his books and was confirmed subsequently through hands-on treatments and guidance on a number of retreats under unique circumstances (in Denmark, France, Switzerland and Norway) and has later been followed up for many years through his Reflections about the human conditions. With his charisma, Art Janov radiates a total conviction about how our lives and personalities are shaped from the moment of conception, through our life in the placenta, through the birth process and through the unconditional love, touch and attention we need during our first years of sensitive development. 

Over the decades when I, figuratively and literally, have followed Art Janov, I have both emotionally and intellectually developed my ability to understand, re-live and integrate my pain from my birth trauma. The radical learning process to re-live repressed pain occurred during three periods of intensive therapy when I relieved pain that my horrific birth trauma had engraved in my brain, mind, senses and body. The intensive periods of therapy were the starting point for many neurotic (non-real) behaviors to dissolve and / or change. 

Between my three peak periods (with about 15-year intervals) Art Janov’s books and articles stimulated me and my memories. Such a process can start by, for example, a Reflection of Art Janov that captures my interest and evokes memories. My reactions take place both immediately and / or within a few days. My triune brain then stimulates emotional and physiological processes, which always, in some way, are connected either directly to my birth trauma or to the neurosis I developed, over many years, to kill my pain. The combination of total trust in the powerhouse of Art Janov’s expertise and to my own confirmatory life experiences concerning the Primal Principle is the basis for the trust in my own ability that I have developed concerning feelings and emotions.

Reading Art Janov has always meant that my memory processes have triggered parts of my birth trauma / pain that I “forgot” / repressed. After every such process, a new piece of the compressed pain, which has been engraved in my mind and body, has been erased. These experiences have for every time and over the years become more spontaneous and is now part of a natural self-healing process.

The powerhouse of memories

Art Jano’vs recent Reflection The Role of the Placenta, “the powerhouse of chemistry”, which is our home during our first nine months, began an extensive process of memories, which I had not completely repressed, but kept at bay for almost 40 years and which culminated this morning by triggering a “forgotten” birth primal of very profound character.

1975, the year after I read The Primal Scream, I moved hastily together with a very young woman (“Q”). I had just gotten divorced, moved to Denmark and taken up a post as COE in a consumer goods company. I carried a Janus face, one that looked into the future and showed a well-trained, resourceful workaholic and another face that looked back into the past hiding a chemically lobotomized epileptic with constant anxiety of losing control and being exposed. “Q”, who fell for my forward-looking face, was very beautiful and attractive. However, it quickly turned out, behind the beautiful façade there was a bottomless anxiety of a woman who early lost her mother. Because the father was a bohemian and addict, she had grown up, with conditional love, with an aunt. Stimulated by “The Primal Scream” I dug quickly up her life story and made her fast dependent on my well-intentioned, but limited “insights”. We established fast, especially socially, a, seemingly, good life together. The visible problem was “Q’s” jealousy of my former wife, which was manifested every other weekend when I had custody of my two children from the previous marriage.

After only a few months together, “Q” became pregnant even though she used the barrier method (IUD) for contraception. I was anguished but pushed  those feelings aside, and we established a situation that had several elements of seemingly happiness. This, however, rested on a foundation which in both cases was under varying influence of anxiety. The first seven months of pregnancy went well and without incident. During the last two months “Q” started to feel bad which showed in dizziness and high blood pressure. Regular visits to one, as it later proved careless female doctor assured us that the pregnancy proceeded normally. In early summer 1976, the birth would take place and everything looked OK except “Q”, who normally was physically strong and fit, was very tired.

Suddenly, one morning I woke up very early and found “Q” unconscious by my side. Her face was swollen and bluish, like after a seizure. I called the ambulance which arrived within 15-20 minutes. The local hospital reacted very fast and the doctor concluded immediately that the fetus was dead and that it most likely died of eclampsia (fetal poisoning). The local hospital had insufficient resources to save and cure “Q” and a special transport was arranged to Copenhagen. By fortuitous circumstances, Copenhagen’s largest hospital, “Rigshospitalet”, arranged an international gynecologist conference and an American gynecologist with the speciality in placenta got a unique opportunity to both save “Q’s” life, remove the dead fetus and to demonstrate his skills before his international colleagues.

Eclampsia - An imbalance in the powerhouse of the placenta

Pre-eclampsia is a medical condition characterized by high blood pressure and significant amounts of protein in the urine of a pregnant woman. If left untreated, it can develop into eclampsia, the life-threatening occurrence of seizures during pregnancy. There are many different causes for the condition. It appears likely that there are substances from the placenta that can cause dysfunction in the maternal blood vessels of susceptible women. Blood pressure elevation (severe pre-eclampsia involves BP over 160/110) is the most visible sign of  the disease. BP elevation involves generalised damage to the maternal endothelium (the thin layer of cells that lines the entire circulatory system), kidneys, and liver, with the release of vasoconstrictive (contraction of the muscular wall of the large arteries and small arterioles) factors being a consequence of the original damage.

Pre-eclampsia may develop at any time after 20 weeks of gestation. Pre-eclampsia before 32 weeks is considered early onset and is assosiated with increased morbidity and most cases are diagnosed before labor typically would begin. Apart from Caesarean section and induction of labor (and therefore delivery of the placenta), there is no known cure. Pre-eclampsia affects approximately 6-8% (!) of all pregnancies worldwide with the onset of symptoms in the late second or third trimester, most commonly after the 32nd week. It is much more common in women who are pregnant for the first time, and its frequency drops significantly in second pregnancies.

The pre-eclampsia syndrome is thought, in many cases, to be caused by a shallowly implanted placenta which becomes hypoxic (deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching body tissues), leading to an immune reaction. The shallow implantation results in an immune response against paternal antigens from the fetus and its placenta. In some cases of pre-eclampsia, it is thought that the mother lacks receptors for the proteins the placenta is using to downregulate the maternal immune system’s response to it. This view is consistent with evidence showing many miscarriages to be an immunologic disorder where the mother’s immune system “unleashes a destructive attack on the tissues of the developing child”. The current understanding of the syndrome is a two-stage process, with a highly variable first stage which predisposes the placenta to hypoxia, followed by the release of soluble factors, which result in many other events in the origination and development of  the disease.

Many studies have suggested the importance of a woman immunological tolerance to her baby’s father, whose genes are present in the young fetus and its placenta and which may pose a challenge to her immune system. As the theory is further investigated, researchers are increasingly studying the importance of a woman’s continued exposure to her partner’s semen as early as several years before conception. One study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology involved several hundreds of women and found “women with a short period of cohabitation (less than 4 months) who used barrier methods for contraception had a substantially elevated risk for the development of pre-eclampsia compared with women with more tan 12 months of cohabitation before conception”. Continued exposure to a partner’s semen has strong protective effect against pre-eclampsia, largely due to the absorption of several immune modulating factors present in seminal fluid. “Although pre-eclampsia is a disease of first pregnancies, the protective effect of multiparity is lost with change of partner”.

According to the theory, the fetus and placenta both contain “foreign” proteins from paternal genes, but regular, preceding and coincident exposure to the father’s semen may promote immune acceptance and subsequent implantation, a process which is significantly supported by as many as 93 currently identified immune regulating factors in seminal fluid. An Austrailian team has also investigated to see if men who have fathered pregnancies which have ended in miscarriage or pre-eclampsia had low seminal levels of critical modulating factors. The team has found that certain men are several times more likely to father pregnancies that would end in either pre-eclampsia or miscarriage. Among other tings, most of these males seemed to lack sufficient levels of seminal immune factors necessary to induce immunologic tolerance in their partners.

Attention to life before conception

My dramatic experience, 38 years ago, has, thanks to Art Janov’s Reflections of the placenta, caused a shattering experience in my feelings (relieve of pain) and increased my knowledge and understanding of the human condition. Additionally, my views on how to achieve a healthy, robust new generation of people expanded. They now include facts, before conception, to provide the right, non-polluted, conditions, in the placenta, to the fetus. These conditions are, at least, on the same level as no smoking while pregnant, to live in a non-polluted milieu and to eat properly.

Jan Johnsson

Saturday, October 12, 2013


A lot of Catch-as-catch-can out there!

“Cognitive therapy is learned catch-as-catch-can,
while Primal Therapy is learned deeply and thoroughly through the daily rigors of Survival.”

It took 70 years of rigors to succeed in understanding that only “one thing works to reverse the imprint and to resolve the engraved feelings of a birth-trauma to resolve health and relieve suffering”. And then I had established enough of a clue, helped by favourable circumstances, to be able to guide my own life out of a myriad of risky treatments and categorizations (e.g. DSM) which with accelerating speed causes an ever growing general dependence of psychopharmaceutical (to name but the mental aspects of how our organs are being over-taxed by repressed early imprinted pain...) or worse.

Of course, I do not have all the answers to Dr. Janov’s question “WHY? it out there” is so much nonsense in the treatment of mental illness. (See: The Looking Glass is Inside Out). My own journey took more than 70 years and even if I credibly can boil down and explain my experiences in a compressed paper they will just be my own subjective interpretation, as unique as my own fingerprints. My no-nonsense paper will never be a formal scientific proof of repeatability. However the definition of the scientific law: “A phenomenon of nature that has proven  invariably to occur whenever certain conditions exist or are met”...

A recurring pattern in the search for my own truth / pain / cure was that I was repeatedly misled by neurotic (pain propelled) actions, both my own and others’. The strength of our neurotic, often subtly distorted reality, is extremely strong and hard to penetrate. The strength of neurotic, distorted reality is not surprising given that this process is the most important ally to evolution in the survival of the human species. In cooperation with evolution, the American DSM has eliminated the category of “neurosis”, reflecting a decision to provide descriptions of behaviors / symptoms as opposed to hidden psychological mechanisms as diagnostic criteria. So there seems to be  some consistency in the nonsense “out there”.

It was only with the conscious awareness of death as a travel companion that I realized that my neuroses kept me alive. When I was willing to risk making the company of death, the neuroses which eventually were produced and developed in my triune brain as a result of my birth trauma (on life and death), gave way after hours, months and years of re-living the engraved pain.

By discovering and understanding my treacherous but vital neurotic behaviors  (interacting with myself, my family and other social settings which I depended on) during my curative process, I have, in recent years, had the advantage of my invaluable insights when I, at times, act as a mentor to someone who ask for my help.

Jan Johnsson

Monday, October 7, 2013

Waiting for Godot

(click to access Dr. Janov's paper)

Waiting for Godot
  • Waiting for the final demystification of depression

I don’t know why, but after having read Dr. Art Janov’s unique and exquisite scientific paper The Mystery Known As Depression, I spontaneously got the Nobel, Samuel Becket’s Waiting for Godot” (after Beckets own original French version “En Attendant Godot”) on my mind. In Waiting for Godot, Becket tries, through two vagabonds, to show us life and what is not yet decided and settled. The play invites to all kinds of religious, philosophical, psychoanalytical and biographical suggestions. 

The two vagabonds, Vladimir and Estragon, are often played with Irish accents, which possibly is due to the fact that the involvement of another couple, Pozzo and Lucky,  seems like a metaphor for Irelands view of mainland Britain where society has ever been harmed by a greedy ruling elite keeping the working classes passive and ignorant by whatever means. Anyhow, over the years Becket realized that the greater part of Godot’s success came down to the fact that it was open to a variety of distinctive interpretations, as, for example, the theory that it was based on Sigmund Freud’s Trinitarian description of the psyche in “The Ego and the Id”... which tempted my thoughts that Becket could have had Maclean/Janov’s triune brain in his modernist mind...

Over four decades I have repeatedly read much of what Dr. Janov has written about his invention, the Primal Therapy, so when reading his latest masterpiece I can feel every paragraph, every sentence and every word on my own body and in my triune brain. The strong impact is of course due to the fact that I practiced Primal Therapy during 35 years guided by Dr. Janov. One could say that I have taken the exams several times in this principally extremely simple, yet so subtly difficult-executed theme. How do I measure and explain my success? Having re-lived my traumatic birth process, I have demystified my epilepsy, dissolved most of my neurotic behavior. With much reduced mental pain, I’m now free from depression and from thoughts of suicide. Add to that my vital signs (blood pressure, pulse and body temperature) are excellent!

So why is it so difficult in general to follow Art Janovs principles and “to lay back and feel the stab of anxiety”? I can of course only answer for myself. 
I was “helped” by my epilepsy, which with its erratic presence was a reminder that my repressed pain was alive. It was only hidden occasionally and would appear later in more painful ways.

First I spent almost 10 years to create a strategy to earn the necessary economic resources (including time) to go to L.A. Without counseling my two years in L.A. was a master example how a patient can be made to feel patronized, even if he has a good time in the sunshine on the Santa Monica Beach and does exciting excursions to Boulder, San Francisco, New Mexico, Las Vegas etc., etc.. If it had not been for my disobedience, to the rules at the Primal Institute, to go and see a Rolfer in Boulder 1979, my Primal Journey might have ended when I went back to Sweden.

Then followed 15 hit rich career year, gilded by a number of European Primal Retreats. Things went, at times, very well because I thought I had the hidden pain under control. However, logically, I worked myself into a burn out when the pain propelled my ambitions in a maximal risky way. 

25 years after I read the Primal Scream, I realized that I could not both enjoy and abuse my pain propelled neuroses and at the same time re-live and expect them to dissolve and disappear (historically a very common problem amongst Primal patients). I had come to a point where either I worked myself to death, or gave up my non-real ambitions to achieve conditional love/appreciation by working 60-80 hour weeks. The Primal Principles, Arts charisma, four experiences of grand mal seizures turning birth-primals (including retreats in Bern in Switzerland, Bergen in Norway and Chantilly in France) and the fact that I had seen through the career fury gave me courage, where the risk of death was a reality, to go all in into PT.

I was lucky to have a good team around me in Sweden. I had access to a neurologist, a psychiatrist, a homeopath and the long-distance e-mail access to my guide Art Janov. (Attempts to bring in a cognitive psychologist failed due to me being allergic to her attitude). I can still remember the moment in the office of my Danish psychiatrist when I - figuratively - made up my mind to “go through the eye of the needle” and change my life. The local members of my “team” supported me even if they for years shook their heads when I explained my experiences, which I, by the way, kept a diary over.

The Primal Therapy, / The Primal Principle, became a lifeguard and a philosophy of life, which has saved me from a too early death. Art Janov’s innovation gave me eventually a high quality of life, both physiologically and mentally. The fact that my epileptic trip took a whole life doing, however, made me understand how difficult the primal principle is to apply and implement when the distorting powers that the pain sets in motion has been developed for too long. The neuroses then create a personality, which involves too great a sacrifice to eliminate not only for the victim of the pain but also for people in his / her surrounding, which in turn are suffering from their own repressed pain.

The master plan of Evolution was, after all, on the survival of the species, which many of our neurotic posturing leads to. There are 7.1 billion of us at present. If enough people read Dr. Janov’s books and understand his message of our need for unconditional love, touch and acceptance, there is a hope for the future.

Jan Johnsson