Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy Birthday to Dr. Arthur Janov!

In recent years, my dreams have been my constant companions. My brain has, in a dream, established connections between perceived / actual experiences, desires and needs in my subconscious. These dreams interpret my abilities and inabilities, and they go to, in reverse fashion, as far as  painful traumas, which allow me to experience the liberating, euphoric happiness once I have re-lived a life-threatening pain.

During many years I was confused by the many theoretical interpretations and definitions, from different starting points and circumstances, developed by psychologists and neurologists. Nowadays, I have no other ambitions than to let the dreams be a part of my life. The definition that matters is the emotional improvement and the relief I feel, not least because I quit / are unable to act out non-real / neurotic needs. I let others, with scientific aspirations, take care of the technical definitions.

Arthur Janovs forthcoming 90th birthday and his and his wife’s presentation of the musical “The Primal Scream” has been rolling around in my head for some time. I have not succeeded in arranging something to show my appreciation or participation. However, suddenly, the night before I left on a trip to Sweden, my ambition resulted in a fascinating dream.

In the dream, I find myself in a huge floor, which appears to be a compilation of the unreasonably many apartments, I lived in during my life. In the center of the floor there is a large living room, in which Art Janov appears, along with  guest ensemble from LA. playing The Primal Scream. I want to enter into the living room, but I’m not allowed in and I cannot get to the stage where Janov is sitting while actors dressed in white presenting their soft, low-tuned musical.

The conductor / director asks me to arrange coffee for everyone. I go to the kitchen while I, in the distance, follow the show. I’m unable to organize coffee preparation and serving. Everything turns into chaos, and I panic and feel cramping. I would ask Janov for help, but a mixture of shame and failure prevents me. Meanwhile, patients to Janov filling a large part of the complex floor conglomerate. It amounts to some 40 patients who all want coffee urgently. I’m considering, in my paralysis, to ask a nearby restaurant to organize the serving of coffee. My oversized kitchen is a myriad of utensils, coffee varieties and water flowing together in a frustrating chaos with myself, and I realize that I can no longer keep my inability at bay. 

I move to my bedroom and lie down and give up my intentions to organize coffee. A numbing feeling of isolation, immobility and cramping dominate me. This condition is changing partly from dream to reality. Suddenly, my cramp and pain is released, and my breathing becomes normal. I am full of desire to write a poem to Janov as a tribute to his 90th birthday. During a few hours between dream and awake my brain is exposed to a poetic cross draft of memories, emotions, and verbal constructions. Finally, after some editing and modification, the following birthday poem became the result:

Happy Birthday  Dear Arthur, Happy 90 To You!

Epileptic Journey

From my early childhood
I was activity addicted
sentenced to a pattern of life
mimicking my birth process

In business I acted out
and even had successes
I over-taxed mind and body
whilst drugs and defenses
kept me disconnected
My defenses leaked
fits and hallucinations;
I was a prisoner of pain.

An avant-garde Scream
became a Janovian stab
at life’s Gordian knot,
and at the CBT model

Referring to your own
and others’ suffering
you avoided categorically
to give cunning advice,
your modest guidance
brought me to a point, 
beyond my symptoms,
to the Journey of my life

You made me slowly free,  
to at front row seat;
watch neurotic dramas
which save and distort our lives

Jan Johnsson

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pedagogical Dilemmas.

According to a famous evolutionary biologist, it is difficult to write popular science articles. Only a person who thoroughly masters his subject, who masters it completely, understands  what it is in a scientific work that can captivate outsiders. Furthermore, it requires an artistic frame of mind, from the scientific workshops, to promote what is possible to verbalize, and do it in the right living shape. Not to speak about what hell it must be pedagogical to promote that, which one cannot verbalize. Most attempts in that direction are liable to fail.

The foundation for security and lust for life grow out of a loving birth and childhood as well as through a stimulating pedagogical schooling. We know a lot of what happens if there are major shortcomings in our life before, during and just after birth. When I think about my schooldays, which I had hoped would be a stay in a pedagogic greenhouse, I wonder if I got a single impulse for the better, for anything good, intellectually, emotionally, aesthetically, or whatever they called it? No, possibly moral influence. Did I ever get a thrill out of what I call enthusiasm? Unfortunately, I have to answer NO. The same negative answer I got from almost everyone, I asked about their experience.

Nonetheless, I have an indelible memory of a pedagogic teacher. One day, I was 14, we got on the train to the town where I went to school. I sat smoking, being strictly forbidden, when suddenly my new math teacher, to my horror, showed up and sat down by my side. Against my expectation, he looked friendly, and he wondered if I had the cigarette brand, printed on one end of a cigarette, closest to the mouth when I smoked. “Yes, I have, I said.” “Me too, he said.” We managed to take a few puffs and so we hurried on, separately, to the school. The next couple of years math was my favorite subject, the only thing I took seriously. Those times when I acted without moralizing later in life I owe to my concrete experience with MA. Lindholm.

I have indeed, with delight, read Janov’s Reflection “The Merger of Nature and Nurture” in which he pours scientific information from his head and simultaneously bridges to external sources. However, without 40 years of experience of what happened to me in the womb in 1940, this Reflection had stopped at the verbal, where there are words. The non-verbal part, that which is about emotion, pain, experiences and sensations before I had words, I had not been able satisfactorily to interpret “The Merger of Nature and Nurture.”

The ingenious form of pedagogy, that the avantgardist Raphael Ortiz practiced in NY in the 60’s and which Art Janov later developed and followed up in “The Primal Scream” with naked and revealing emotional and physical traumas from patients driven to desperation, meant the way into the non-verbal for me. Then I got in touch with my feelings and realized that there were repressed reactions in my body and mind that at best could be re-lived and influenced / cured. This pedagogic successfully made the uncertainty less uncertain.

Jan Johnsson