Beyond Belief: What we do instead of getting well

Continuing Dr. Arthur Janov’s May 2016 book Beyond Belief:

“p. 61 Heavy pains with no place to go just pressures the cortex into concocting an idea commensurate with the feeling..The feeling itself makes no sense since the original feeling has no scene with it nor verbal capacity; it was laid down in a preverbal time without context, sa[v]e for the feeling itself.

..we cling to those ideas as strongly as the feelings driving us are..Sometimes we argue with someone not realizing that we are battling a defense which is implacable. They don’t want to hear what we have to say. They want to protect their psyche.”

“p. 63 ..suffocation at birth is registered not as an idea, but as a physiologic fact. It becomes an idea when the brain evolves enough to produce ideas. Then it can produce, ‘There is no air in here.’

..A slightly stifling atmosphere in the present can set off this great pain and with it an exaggerated response. ‘I have to leave this woman because she stifles me.'”

“p. 64 It doesn’t matter about the facts we know if we cannot stop drinking or if we cannot maintain a relationship with someone else.”

“p. 68 My task is to examine why individuals adopt belief systems, whatever they are, and how certain feelings provoke specific kinds of belief systems..to demonstrate how feeling feelings can alter those beliefs without once addressing the beliefs at all. Deprogramming is not necessary. Probing need is. Resolving feelings seem to render belief systems inoperative.”

“p. 71 ..we are a nation and a world of seekers, a people who seek refuge in all manner of beliefs.”

“p. 75-76 Later in life, equipped with the cortical ability to substitute ideation for feeling, the traumatized baby can call upon a god to save him from his inner pain, even when he doesn’t know where the pain originated, or even that there is pain. He just calls upon a god to watch over him, to see that he gets justice, who won’t let him down, and above all, who will help him make it into life..”

“p. 106 Neurosis is the only malady on the face of this earth that feels good..numbs the feeling. Numb feels good – not ‘good’ in the absolute sense, just not ‘bad.’

So we settle..we get numbed out and feel no pain and in return, life is blah blah. The person then feels she is not getting anything out of life and seeks out salvation or a guru in one form or another.”


“..we are a nation and a world of seekers, a people who seek refuge in all manner of beliefs.” Variations of the patient’s story in pages 89-105 could be written by tens of millions of people in the U.S. alone!

Why isn’t the internet flooded with stories of people facing their reality and doing something to effectively address the real causes of what’s wrong in their lives? Said another way, why is the internet instead flooded with stories of people NOT facing their realities, and doing things to prolong their conditions and avoid getting well?

The many reasons why people do things that don’t truly get them well are covered in Beyond Belief and Dr. Janov’s other publications. One obstacle for people who want enduring therapeutic help is the intentional misrepresentation of Primal Therapy.

Every day I look at the results of an automated search that uses “primal therapy” as the search term. Along with the scams and irrelevancies are the “scream” results.

This misrepresentation is addressed in places such as here:

“Primal Therapy is not Primal ‘Scream’ Therapy. Primal Therapy is not just making people scream; it was never ‘screaming’ therapy. The Primal Scream was the name of the 1st book by Dr. Janov about Primal Therapy.”

People who perpetuate the “scream” meme are only a few seconds away from search results that would inform them and their readers of accurate representations of Primal Therapy. What purpose does it serve to misdirect their readers away from doing something to effectively address the real causes of what’s wrong in their lives?

Beyond Belief: The impact of merciless beatings on beliefs

Continuing with Dr. Arthur Janov’s May 2016 book Beyond Belief:

“p. 17 When someone insults us, we immediately create reasons and rationales for it. We cover the pain. Now imagine a whole early childhood of insults and assaults and how that leaves a legacy that must be dealt with.

..The mind of ideas and philosophies doesn’t know it is being used; doesn’t know it serves as a barricade against the danger of feeling..It is why no one can convince the person out of her ideas. They serve a key purpose and should not be tampered with..We are tampering with a survival function.”

“p. 19 It seems like a miracle that something as intangible and invisible as an idea has the power to transform our biologic system. It makes us see what doesn’t exist and sometimes not see what does. What greater power exists than that? To be fooled is not only to convince someone to believe the false, but also to convince others to not believe the truth.

The unloved child who cannot bear the terrible feelings of hopelessness shuts down his own feeling centers and grows insensitive, not only to his pain, but to that of others..So he commits the same error on his child that was visited upon him, and he does so because of the way he was unloved early on. He cannot see his own hopelessness or that of his child.”

“p. 56 ..all defensive beliefs must have a kernel of hope inside of them..it is the embedded hopelessness that gives rise to its opposite – hope – and its accompanying biochemistry of inhibition or gating. To be even more precise, it is the advent of pain surrounding hopelessness that produces the belief entwined with hope..

All defensive belief serves the same function – repression, absorbing the energy of pain.”

“p. 57 An unloved child is a potential future believer.”

“p. 58 ..no one has the answer to life’s questions but you. How you should lead your life depends on you, not outside counsel.

..we do not direct patients, nor dispense wisdom upon them. We have only to put them in touch with themselves; the rest is up to them.

Everything the patient has to learn already resides inside. The patient can make herself conscious. No one else can.”


“p. 29 The personal experience stories throughout the book are written by my patients and, with the exception of a few grammatical corrections, they are presented here exactly as they were given to me.”

All of the Primal Therapy patients’ stories thus far started with horrendous childhoods that resulted in correspondingly strong beliefs.

I came across a public figure example today in 10 Defining Moments In The Childhood Of Martin Luther King Jr. The author included two items germane to an understanding of how beliefs may develop from adverse childhood experiences:

  • 8. King Sr. “..would beat Martin and his brother, Alfred, senseless for any infraction, usually with a belt.”
  • 6. “By the time King was 13, he’d tried to kill himself twice.”

Every reference I found tied King Jr.’s suicide attempts to his grandmother’s death, and not to King Sr.’s beatings or other preteen experiences.

Granted that it’s only the patient who can put together what happened in their lives so that it’s therapeutic. Beyond Belief and Dr. Janov’s other publications outline the framework.

Beyond Belief: Why do we accept being propagandized?

Continuing to read Dr. Arthur Janov’s May 2016 book Beyond Belief:

“p.13 Beliefs are medicine for the hopeless. They attenuate despair, vitiate loneliness, and dissipate helplessness.”

“p. 14 We need hope more than we need truth..Beliefs divert us from past traumas and current pains because inside the belief lies hope.”

“p.15 Hope is..’the meaning of life.’ It shimmers and sparkles and blinds us from seeing the bars of our prisons of belief.

..we are all, in one way or another, victims of early unfulfilled need. Never think that intelligence prohibits this kind of behavior.

We search for hope here and there based on early hopelessness of which we are unaware. Nothing in one’s current life points to the problem, and nothing even in one’s childhood clarifies it.

..one’s expectations may exceed reality when feelings are thrust into the arena of ideas..one no longer sees reality, but rather a projection of need.”


“We need hope more than we need truth.” Is this part of why we accept headlines as facts, and don’t pay attention to the stories’ subsequent corrections? Why we accept as facts news articles that don’t link to the cited sources?

I had dinner earlier this week with an intelligent woman. She mentioned that she constantly listened to National Public Radio. I asked her what value she got from it, and she replied that it kept her current with events.

I asked what other news sources she sought out. She said that she didn’t usually have the time, and that NPR was a reliable source.

I didn’t further challenge her beliefs. It’s up to each individual to realize that their beliefs are symptoms of what’s ruining their one precious life.

Last weekend I engaged in essentially the same conversation over lunch with another intelligent woman who relied on conservative news sources. She also became defensive, and ended that part of our conversation as a matter of “agreeing to disagree.”

Why does intelligence seem to have little to do with accepting being propagandized?

Beyond Belief: Symptoms of hopelessness

I’ve started to read Dr. Arthur Janov’s May 2016 book Beyond Belief. Here are a few thoughts I’ve expressed to friends that were prompted by the first dozen pages of the paperback version.

“p. 5 We need a painless liberation from our insidious emotional wounds..a leader who will take the place of an emotionally distant parent for whom we will sacrifice anything just for the promise of love, protection, and caring.”

The elections of the past two presidents were symptoms of the hopelessness that most Americans feel. Both elections promised hope.

“p. 6 Beliefs sell and sell well. People will pay dearly for even the promise of fulfillment, even if it is in the next life.”

Religion can have a much worse and lasting effect on people than any politician or political system can. Politicians can drag out and delay living up to their promises.

Religious leaders don’t have to deliver much at all during their followers’ lifetimes. In fact, it works in the leaders’ favor to minimally address their followers’ current sufferings, as that strengthens the appeal of the imaginary next life.


The past three weeks I’ve gone to 7-11 to get a morning coffee. More often than not, I see people buying lottery tickets during the 2-3 minutes when I’m there.

What accounts for this behavior? Not everyone who buys a lottery ticket is a math illiterate.

I’ll guess that the behavior is a symptom of hopelessness. People’s widespread feelings of hopelessness cause them to generate a faith that an exceedingly-improbable event can miraculously happen in their lives. The lottery-ticket behavior follows.

State governments are responsible for these lotteries. It’s one of the ways governments prey upon their citizens’ feelings of hopelessness.

I once worked as a contractor in a government office where everyone except me pooled money every week to buy lottery tickets. I was also the only nonreligious person there. Coincidence?

Genetic imprinting, sleep, and parent-offspring conflict

This 2016 Italian review subject was the interplay of genetic imprinting and sleep regulation:

“Sleep results from the synergism between at least two major processes: a homeostatic regulatory mechanism that depends on the accumulation of the sleep drive during wakefulness, and a circadian self-sustained mechanism that sets the time for sleeping and waking throughout the 24-hour daily cycle.

REM sleep apparently contravenes the restorative aspects of sleep; however, the function of this ‘paradoxical’ state remains unknown. Although REM sleep may serve important functions, a lack of REM sleep has no major consequences for survival in humans; however, severe detrimental effects have been observed in rats.

Opposite imprinting defects at chromosome 15q11–13 are responsible for opposite sleep phenotypes as well as opposite neurodevelopmental abnormalities, namely the Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and the Angelman syndrome (AS). Whilst the PWS is due to loss of paternal expression of alleles, the AS is due to loss of maternal expression.

Maternal additions or paternal deletions of alleles at chromosome 15q11–13 are characterized by temperature control abnormalities, excessive sleepiness, and specific sleep architecture changes, particularly REM sleep deficits. Conversely, paternal additions or maternal deletions at chromosome 15q11–13 are characterized by reductions in sleep and frequent and prolonged night wakings.

The ‘genomic imprinting hypothesis of sleep’ remains in its infancy, and several aspects require attention and further investigation.”

http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1006004 “Genomic Imprinting: A New Epigenetic Perspective of Sleep Regulation”


A commenter to the review referenced a 2014 study Troubled sleep: night waking, breastfeeding, and parent–offspring conflict that received several reactions, including one by the same commenter. Here are a few quotes from the study author’s consolidated response:

“‘Troubled sleep’ had two major purposes. The first was to draw attention to the oppositely perturbed sleep of infants with PWS and AS and explore its evolutionary implications. The involvement of imprinted genes suggests that infant sleep has been subject to antagonistic selection on genes of maternal and paternal origin with genes of maternal origin favoring less disrupted sleep.

My second major purpose was a critique of the idea that children would be happier, healthier and better-adjusted if we could only return to natural methods of child care. This way of thinking is often accompanied by a belief that modern practices put children at risk of irrevocable harm. The truth of such claims is ultimately an empirical question, but the claims are sometimes presented as if they had the imprimatur of evolutionary biology. This appeal to scientific authority often seems to misrepresent what evolutionary theory predicts: that which evolves is not necessarily that which is healthy.

Why should pregnancy not be more efficient and more robust than other physiological systems, rather than less? Crucial checks, balances and feedback controls are lacking in the shared physiology of the maternal–fetal unit.

Infant sleep may similarly lack the exquisite organization of systems without evolutionary conflict. Postnatal development, like prenatal development, is subject to difficulties of evolutionarily credible communication between mothers and offspring.”

The author addressed comments related to attachment theory:

“Infants are classified as having insecure-resistant attachment if they maintain close proximity to their mother after a brief separation while expressing negative emotions and exhibiting contradictory behaviors that seem to both encourage and resist interaction. By contrast, infants are classified as having insecure-avoidant attachment if they do not express negative emotion and avoid contact with their mother after reunion.

Insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant behaviors might be considered antithetic accommodations of infants to less responsive mothers; the former associated with reduced demands on maternal attention, the latter with increased demands. A parallel pattern is seen in effects on maternal sleep. Insecure-avoidant infants wake their mothers less frequently, and insecure-resistant infants more frequently, than securely attached infants.

Parent–child interactions are transformed once children can speak. Infants with more fragmented sleep at 6 months had less language at 18 and 30 months. Infants with AS have unconsolidated sleep and never learn to speak. The absence of language in the absence of expression of one or more MEGs [maternally expressed imprinted genes] is compatible with a hypothesis in which earlier development of language reduces infant demands on mothers.”

Regarding cultural differences:

“China, Taiwan and Hong Kong have both high rates of bed-sharing and high rates of problematic sleep compared with western countries. Within this grouping, however, more children sleep in their own room but parents report fewer sleep problems in Hong Kong than in either China or Taiwan. Clearly, cultural differences are significant, and the causes of this variation should be investigated, but the differences cannot be summarized simply as ‘west is worst’.

The fitness [genetic rather than physical fitness] gain to mothers of an extra child and the benefits for infants of longer IBIs [interbirth intervals] are substantial. These selective forces are unlikely to be orders of magnitude weaker than the advantages of lactase persistence, yet the selective forces associated with dairying have been sufficient to result in adaptive genetic differentiation among populations. The possibility of gene–culture coevolution should not be discounted for behaviors associated with infant-care practices.”

Regarding a mismatch between modern and ancestral environments:

“I remain skeptical of a tendency to ascribe most modern woes to incongruence between our evolved nature and western cultural practices. We did not evolve to be happy or healthy but to leave genetic descendants, and an undue emphasis on mismatch risks conflating health and fitness.

McKenna [a commenter] writes ‘It isn’t really nice nor maybe even possible to fool mother nature.’ Here I disagree. Our genetic adaptations often try to fool us into doing things that enhance fitness at costs to our happiness.

Our genes do not care about us and we should have no compunction about fooling them to deliver benefits without serving their ends. Contraception, to take one obvious example, allows those who choose childlessness to enjoy the pleasures of sexual activity without the fitness-enhancing risk of conception.

Night waking evolved in environments in which there were strong fitness costs from short IBIs and in which parents lacked artificial means of birth-spacing. If night waking evolved because it prolonged IBIs, then it may no longer serve the ends for which it evolved.

Nevertheless, optimal infant development might continue to depend on frequent night feeds as part of our ingrained evolutionary heritage. It could also be argued that when night waking is not reinforced by feeding, and infants sleep through the night, then conflict within their genomes subsides. Infants would then gain the benefit of unfragmented sleep without the pleiotropic costs of intragenomic conflict. Plausible arguments could be presented for either hypothesis and a choice between them must await discriminating evidence.”


Commenters on the 2014 study also said:

[Crespi] The profound implications of Haig’s insights into the roles of evolutionary conflicts in fetal, infant and maternal health are matched only by the remarkable absence of understanding, appreciation or application of such evolutionary principles among the research and clinical medical communities, or the general public.

[Wilkins] A mutation may be selected for its effect on the trait that is the basis of the conflict, but that mutation also likely affects other traits. In general, we expect that these pleiotropic effects to be deleterious: conflict over one trait can actually drive other traits to be less adapted. Natural selection does not necessarily guarantee positive health outcomes.

[McNamara] Assuming that AS/REM is differentially influenced by genes of paternal origin then both REM properties and REM-associated awakenings can be better explained by mechanisms of genomic conflict than by traditional claims that REM functions as an anti-predator ‘sentinel’ for the sleeping organism.

[Hinde] Given this context of simultaneous coordination and conflict between mother and infant, distinguishing honest signals of infant need from self-interested, care-extracting signals poses a challenge.

Why drugs aren’t ultimately therapeutic

This 2016 Oregon review’s concept was the inadequacy of drug-based therapies, explored with the specific subject of epilepsy:

“Currently used antiepileptic drugs:

  • [aren’t] effective in over 30% of patients
  • [don’t] affect the comorbidities of epilepsy
  • [don’t] prevent the development and progression of epilepsy (epileptogenesis).

Prevention of epilepsy and its progression [requires] novel conceptual advances.”

The overall concept that current drug-based therapies poorly address evolutionary biological realities was illustrated by a pyramid, with the comment that:

“If the basis of the pyramid depicted in Figure 1 is overlooked, it becomes obvious that a traditional pharmacological top-down treatment approach has limitations.”

Why drug ultimately aren't therapeutic


I would have liked the reviewer to further address the “therapeutic reconstruction of the epigenome” point he made in the Abstract:

“New findings based on biochemical manipulation of the DNA methylome suggest that:

  1. Epigenetic mechanisms play a functional role in epileptogenesis; and
  2. Therapeutic reconstruction of the epigenome is an effective antiepileptogenic therapy.”

As it was, the reviewer lapsed into the prevalent belief that the causes of and cures for human diseases will always be found on the molecular level – for example, the base of the above pyramid – and never in human experiences. This preconception leads to discounting human elements – notably absent in the above pyramid – that generate epigenetic changes.

A consequence of ignoring experiential causes of diseases is that the potential of experiential therapies to effect “therapeutic reconstruction of the epigenome” isn’t investigated.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnmol.2016.00026/full “The Biochemistry and Epigenetics of Epilepsy: Focus on Adenosine and Glycine”

A human study of pain avoidance

This 2016 UK human study found:

“People differ in how they learn to avoid pain, with some individuals refraining from actions that resulted in painful outcomes, whereas others favor actions that helped prevent pain.

Learning in our task was best explained as driven by an outcome prediction error that reflects the difference between expected and actual outcomes. Consistent with the expression of such a teaching signal, blood-oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) responses to outcomes in the striatum were modulated by expectation.

Positive learners showed significant functional connectivity between the insula and striatal regions, whereas negative learners showed significant functional connectivity between the insula and amygdala regions.

The degree to which a participant tended to learn from success in avoiding than experiencing shocks was predicted by the structure of a participants’ striatum, specifically by higher gray matter density where the response to shocks was consistent with a prediction error signal. Higher gray matter density in the putamen (and lower gray matter density in the caudate) predicted better learning from shocks and poorer learning from success in avoiding shocks.”

The researchers termed the subjects’ pain responses “learning” instead of conditioning. The experiments presented no 100%-certain choices to avoid pain. The experiments were also rigged to force choices at similar rates among subjects because:

“Participants who learned more from painful outcomes developed a propensity to avoid gambling, whereas participants who learned more from success in preventing pain developed a propensity to gamble.”


Human responses to pain don’t arise out of nowhere. The subjects’ pain histories were clearly relevant, but weren’t investigated. The closest the study came to considering the subjects’ histories was:

“Before the experiment, participants completed an 80-item questionnaire composed of several measures of different mood and anxiety traits. Age, sex and mood and anxiety traits did not differ between participants later classified as positive and negative learners.”

Emotional content was neither included nor solicited. Emotions were inferred:

“Participants biased in favor of passive avoidance learning (i.e., learning what gambles should be avoided), striatal response to painful outcomes was consistent with an aversive prediction error, as seen in fear conditioning.”

As a result, there weren’t causal explanations for the subjects’ differing pain responses. How, when, and why did the behavioral, functional, and structural differences develop?


I didn’t see the level of detail needed to characterize striatal regions into the Empathy, value, pain, control: Psychological functions of the human striatum segments. I’d guess that the findings of “higher gray matter density in the putamen (and lower gray matter density in the caudate)” applied to the posterior putamen and the anterior caudate nucleus.

Two of the coauthors were also coauthors of If a study didn’t measure feelings, then its findings may not pertain to genuine empathy. The technique of Why do we cut short our decision-making process? was referenced.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/04/06/1519829113.full “Striatal structure and function predict individual biases in learning to avoid pain”