Sunday, January 29, 2017

Primal Therapy: Some Points Of View

Primal Therapy: Some Points Of View

Experienced after his “childhood madhouse” and after psychology studies that included first-class universities and a doctorate, Art Janov treated patients in the psychotherapy world with a critical eye. "It was a painstaking work, observing patients and then trying to figure out, being careful not to contradict neurologic science”.

Incidentally, Raphael Ortiz, famous for demolishing Steinway Grand pianos, 1967, had provoked startling psychological reactions at his activities as a director and destruction artist. The consequences of these provocations would prove to have revolutionary consequences, when one of the spectators to Ortiz's N.Y.-Performance, met Art Janov in Palm Springs. During group therapy, AJ succeeded in stimulating / encouraging "Denny" to put himself in / spark a condition that meant he re-lived a repressed pain. Primal Therapy was born. AJ had discovered / revealed one of the evolutionary survival techniques; repressing pain at the price of inhibited feelings.

AJ succeeded, in 1970, with his book "The Primal Scream", brilliantly in more than one aspect. He became overnight the psychology superstar and he became financially independent. The main reason was that he promised a quick fix for most mental problems at a time, which, in any case, within the westernized world screamed for liberation and desire for happiness. Among those days abundant flora of gurus who marketed auspicious physical and mental liberations, AJ snatched him up a leadership position for 10 years. Patients / we flocked to LA / Santa Monica with high expectations. Exciting, financially well-off, well-known neurotics searched the charismatic AJ whose evolutionary narratives gave hopes which surpassed all the poetry Hollywood's and others film studies were mighty. Even Ingmar Bergman was impressed and was inspired.

The need for psychotherapy treatment for the past 50 years has grown dramatically but the curative results have failed to materialize. Repeated treatments of symptoms are unfortunately the most common. To cure, which initially looked possible, through The Primal Therapy appearance, has proved to be an extremely complicated process, which constantly is influenced by economic, social, physiological, psychological and cultural factors. This process limits the ability, in each case, for the common man, to create sustainable conditions for the lengthy treatment process, which is necessary. Society, both its capitalist part, like its counterparts, is impatient and requires instant results. This fact has gradually pushed the world's prescription writing shrinks in the hands of the pharmaceutical industry. It dominates, eg through the DSM-5, all treatment and continues to build on the evolution pain repression.

After many years of hard work, successes and disappointments in private life which include difficulty in getting the attention for the Primal Therapy in academia, then AJ magically retains his basic attitude to appear as a humble guide in a therapy where he considers patients, ultimately, have all the knowledge and answers in themselves. No smart intellectual couch conversations can release emotions. The Primal Principle explains nature's method primarily protecting fetuses and newborns from the unbearable pain caused by physiological, emotional and chemical damage / abuse. To remove this, over millions of years, developed protection requires more resources, time and cross-fertilizing treatments than a pure, isolated development in Primal Therapy is able to grasp. AJ has wisely recognized this and promises no quick results, on the contrary, he speaks now of decades. The more he writes about his discovery, since 50 years, the more persuasive he is about its validity. By far the best solution is love, touch, and attention from the moment of conception!

AJ came from a modest background, "Russian peasants," and did thanks to the US Navy an academic class trip, which in 1970 additionally meant financial independence. This gave access to the good life / la douceur de Vivre with access to luxury and prestige in both Californian and French establishments. In other words light years away from the socialism that AJ refers to when he emotionally describes the society where primal therapy would be better able to function and become every man's cure. During most of his life, AJ has lived an intelligent and hardworking / neurotic life that consisted of treatments of mental illnesses and to write readable books about them. His focus on developing and explaining primal therapy for 50 years has been going on in a privileged bubble and it has fascinated many of us. The reason is that we are all part of a psychological and physiological process with continuous, more or less, extensive crises where our childhood, maturity, and old age are playing us different tricks depending on finances, family situation, health, sociology and culture.

AJ's discovery of the Primal Principle and his skilled description of how repressed pain works, in combination with that we have internalized this through own experiences, made it possible to interpret the world in a new, more transparent way. In my own case, the journey there was long. A process, which for 40 years has meant repeated readings of and studies of Ida Rolf, Alice Miller, and Simone de Beauvoir. These three giants having filled gaps in Primal Therapy by going outside the psychological framework without for that reason having lost focus on the whole. Ida Rolf's physiotherapy, which was directly linked to my success with Primal therapy, have been continuously improved and is now internationally established. Alice Miller's revealing about how religion and family cause and conserves mental defects and conditions, that is vital truths to consider whether a primal therapy treatment may be successful.

Regarding Simone de Beauvoir, she gives in her book "On Old Age / Vieillesse" a historical, social, cultural and political picture of society's injustices from birth to death. She mixes her own reflections on the thoughts and experiences of great thinkers and writers. A brilliant compilation, the same age as "The Primal Scream", which despairs of durable solutions for most, except for the few privileged who like AJ can retain their business, health, finance / independence and appreciation unto death. And this despite / because of? that AJ has told us about his lifelong suffering due to a degrading treatment by his parents.

Jan Johnsson


Primal Center

Dear Jan,

Thank you for your letter.
How astute and insightful!  It is a great description of our work, so thank you for your effort. 

My best,

Dr. Arthur Janov

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Autumn Leaves in my Twilight Years

I read with understanding / satisfaction Dr. Janovs summaries and analyses. I am one of the proofs, for his idea, that Primal Therapy / Evolution in Reverse is potentially leading to a delayed freedom for us, who by survival reasons, due to traumas before, during and after birth, were forced to repress unbearable pain for decades. My understanding / satisfaction was slow in coming (≻30 years) because it took many visits back in time to sequentially re-live my 48 hr birth trauma.

Putting words on my journey back into my world of emotions and repressions has been difficult. 300 blogs in recent years have only marginally managed to penetrate the complexity evolution had billions of years to organize randomly. However, this does not prevent me from seeing and understanding the patterns and repetitions that my eventful neurotic life has been full of. Changing environment / culture / language, family, work and leisure activities, when I had just managed to establish something seemingly satisfactory, was only marginally motivated by talent. My caprice has very much been an effect of early imprints. My birth lasted about 48 hours, during which I was obstructed, stuck, squeezed, choked, anesthetized and turned and pulled out "ass first." But I came out and I have never lacked inconvenient alternative challenges to deal with to reverse the trend...

My birth complexity complicated even my suicidal thoughts until Tegretol (Carbamazepine) anesthetized them. I never could figure out a way to end my life. All the suicidal ideas I came up with felt wrong and it ended, every time, that I gave myself another chance. Even in my dreams I have, for the most part, found a new resort when the agony was the greatest. Fate had ironically, that my mother's exaggerated interpretation of  a biblical advice to "give birth with pain," that my management career was dominated by assignments as change expert.

As a retiree, I have the satisfaction of historical experiences of my pain and my life pattern, then I, now, am slowly taking me into the world of music and try to adapt myself to my tenor saxophone and interpreting blues scales. If I could turn grand mal seizures into negligible anxiety attacks, I will hopefully one day get Autumn Leaves to sound right. My life pattern speaks for me .... although I am late.

Jan Johnsson

Arthur Janov 22 okt.

it is all so life-affirming. great art

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Happy Summary.

A Happy Summary. Of a life of depression, sadness and pain propelled active mania.

In a blog, a couple of years ago, I wrote that I had a deep positive imprint, as an ingredient of my methylated painful experience during my birth trauma. This lasting ingredient meant that I despite the pain got through and survived. A "neurotic" / manic optimistic methylation that has carried me through 75 years; next to the current date, and it has contributed to my desire / ability to re-live my birth trauma.

Looking at my life in a longer perspective, I can break it down into the following phases:

From my birth trauma to when I developed epilepsy. 0-20 years. A frenetic mano-depressiv / hyperactive period before ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) had been coined. My teenage years elapsed, in the absence of ability to concentrate and without internal barriers, with ad hoc studies at “The Street University” that fortunately gave me endless experiences for the future often bordering on the legal / possible.

From 20 to 40 years of age. That is from that I started to consume anti-epileptic medicine until I, January 1980, experienced that a grand mal seizure developed into a birth primal. During these 20 years, I managed to combine studies, family formation, and a successful career, even though I below the surface was constantly depressed / worried. A depression that I kept in check with work, studies, diets and physical exercises. Occasionally, I suffered from leaky gates and primals (without knowing what it was) and petit mal tics broke through the defense and disturbed me temporarily. These 20 years were stained by a nagging depression that I am now consciously aware of had the same root as my epilepsy. My birth trauma was my epilepsy and my depression. In this depressive darkness, there was always an innate analgesic to think that I would find a solution, an explanation. The intellectual model I used to keep my balance, I had from Abraham Maslow's triangle.

From my first extensive primal, 1980, I knew the root of my epilepsy and my depressive haze lifted and I got more confidence and after a hesitation between engaging in primal therapy, or seek greater challenges in the business world, I chose the latter and got 15 years of exciting and varied international experiences, but at the price that I had to consume anticonvulsants with the risk of liver damage. In addition, I was fortunate a number of times, in the ‘80s, to meet Arthur Janov, at Primal retreats, around Europe. That contributed to my epilepsy was sanded down. My career was successful but being aware of the risks and moodiness that my birth trauma involved, I refrained from the offer for large positions. This often meant a feeling of sadness. However, it was a bearable pain by that I knew its cause.

In the mid 90's I started getting worn. Without healthy normal mental blocks, I worked too much, had to use many languages, moved often and caused  broken family situations that drove me into a crisis. Then I realized  that it was time to focus 100% on my own health. I was very motivated because I had got a daughter to live for and information from the doctors that my liver had been damaged by Tegretol / Carbamazepine. It was an administrative / bureaucratic complicated decision. Mentally, it felt right, despite the lack of not being requested / needed in the professional context (which had been my life). In front of me a few therapeutically painful and difficult years that gradually become better and finally a good cure. 

My experiences eventually led to a conclusion that I certainly never wish anyone to go through my birth trauma. However, I can enjoy the memory of all the absurdities that my pain pushed me through. A sour sweet sadness that I never had a “normal” life can sometimes hover past.

Jan Johnsson

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Memories From Here To Eternity…..

Memories From Here To Eternity…..

There are different types of memories and different versions of these memories. Operating / short term working memory, long term / life span memory, sensory memories, documented memories from notes to USB mass storage devices etc., etc. All of them can be dependent on / influenced by memories which early on were repressed by survival reasons. They were made unconscious due to an early trauma / unbearable pain. Therefore to re-live an early trauma and remember / re-experience the original pain makes many memory clusters change / able to interconnect and create access to a new depth and become conscious awareness. 

Blockages between different memory types and memory clusters can be resolved gradually and links between emotional and intellectual memories can be faster, straighter and less affected by neurotic act outs and influences. As a result of improved conscious awareness, which has happened to me, memories of previous unreal / neurotic "successes / achievements" become uncomfortable, make you feel ill at ease when they are no longer pain propelled. My experience is that this personal audit is like a mini Primal, which is accompanied by dissolution of a suffering that was the price for the neurotic success / performance.

In recent decades, I have with growing awareness / consciousness activated / exploited my short-term and long-time memories by re-living traumatic pain and practicing new skills. I have through Rolfing and The Primal Principle been aware of my sensory memory and I see the past years deep tissue massage as a crucial factor in my re-living of traumatic pain. During the past year, my awareness regarding sensory memories multiplied. This has been done by that I decided to learn to understand music and play the saxophone. 

There are three types of sensory memories. Iconic memory is a fast fading store of visual information. It is a type of sensory memory that briefly stores an image which has been perceived for a short duration. Echoic memory is a fast fading store of auditory information, a type of sensory memory that been perceived for small durations. Haptic memory  is a sensory memory that represents a database for touch stimuli. Daily, when I am practicing musical scales on my saxophone, it's my iconic and echoic memories I constantly put to the test when I build up the long term memory I need if I, eventually, want to be able to handle the saxophone to my own satisfaction.

"Practice makes perfect" and after half a year I start to get a first feeling for pitch, fingering, and rhythm. An insignificant step for a talented musician but a giant step for me. In addition, my saxophone trip reminds me constantly about the struggle / battles I fought during my epileptic journey. Many exciting memory clusters are formed that often leads to resolutions of subtle blockages. 

Today, in the morning, when I walked on the Mediterranean beach in Gandia and sang scales - "do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si-si-la-sol-fa-mi-re-do" - and, imagined the associated fingering of notes I was suddenly interrupted by a strong, long term / sensory memory. I was suddenly on a beach in Hawaii in a film, “From here to eternity”, with Frank Sinatra, Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift which I saw in the mid-50s. It was Clifts sensible trumpet tap for his killed friend (played by Sinatra) that “brought me to Hawaii”. 

I stopped singing and could hear the mournful tones of Clift’s trumpet and I became 15 years old and felt my own sadness.

Jan Johnsson

Art’s Reflections have for years served as a provocative reflection om my collective memory, both the conscious and the unconscious. It is not my memories / understanding of the Primal Principle / Evolution in Reverse that matters but the successive changes in my feelings, memories, and needs that Arts message has meant.

Jan, interesting letter. I remember Clift too, a terribly tragic figure. As you know, I disagree with your general idea that Rolfing helps a lot. I had it done by Ida Rolfe’s associate and was not impressed. art keep up the sax. Are you listening to jazz?

My answer:


I'm sorry for your bad experience with Rolfing, which, like the PT is a natural treatment method against defects / repressions incurred in connection with traumas during, before and after the birth process. I was lucky, when I took a risk, to get good, though rough, treatment in Boulder, Col., 1979, and excellent, soft, treatment in Valencia 2009-10. I have since experienced how my friend Eva and my daughter Isabel, has felt great after being treated by my Rolfer in Valencia, Jordi (who combines being a professional musician with giving treatments in Rolfing).
Anyway thanks for your tolerance and for publishing my articles even though my hints of Rolfing. As you often point out; To live and let live.

In this context, I can reveal the following: In my inner emotional world, you represent my father and Ida Rolf represents my mother. Since both of my parents had time to realize their shortcomings associated with my birth and my upbringing and asked for forgiveness the "merger" between them, you and Ida Rolf is a natural evolution that has made it easier to re-live repressed pain. Add to that the outstanding luck I had throughout my process of change when I during four decades had access to you and your guidance and the Primal Principle / Evolution in Reverse. Four decades and one therapist /guide. Extremely unique. A remarkable experience that made my life meaningful.

I listen since several decades constantly to jazz, particularly with saxophone elements. Stan Getz was married to a girl from my home region and you might remember your Danish patient and "my" jazz singer Grethe, she lived for several years with Ben Webster in Copenhagen. These two and other classical saxophonists have long been represented among my old LP records. However, I have not until now, when I am trying to get the sound of my saxophone, begun to understand how big virtuous Charlie Parker was. He will get more time. His magical charisma, when he was at his best, reminded of another, now dead, black virtuous, Muhammad Ali. Both were pretty and could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, each one in his specialty. They changed the world. Like You!!!!!


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Chromatic Scale vs. Electroshock Therapy.

Chromatic Scale vs. Electroshock Therapy.

Due to my two-day birthing process, back in 1940, I have re-lived / experienced how I was subjected to physical pressure, choking, strangulation and anesthetics during hours and how I finally was turned around and pulled out with the tail first as a breech. These experiences I have re-lived, on and off, for 20 years until the source of repressed pain apparently was close to empty. My last two decades have been pretty normal and I have experienced how emotions and intellect have been able to interact / cooperate freely without medication. Occasionally, some unexpected experience has provoked a stab of anxiety and blues which I have been able to solve by laying back and feeling the reason. A process that eventually has become rare.

An important part of my life pattern has been to develop addictive challenges / struggles. These imprints / tendencies are still there, deep down, but I have reached a point where I am now aware of the addictive process and can, with some efforts, cancel a neurotic process that does not correspond to real needs. Since I have filled my life with a lot of challenges and struggling of sometimes doubtful character I have of course also missed out to fulfill real needs. One of the needs I have missed for a lifetime has been to be able to sing and play an instrument. A lot of my time has been spent, in adulthood, struggling with the Danish, English, German and Spanish languages.

I have for decades enjoyed listening to the best jazz saxophone players. I have internalized this sound to a degree that I often have dreams with saxophone music in the background. I decided 2015 that I would learn to play the saxophone. Easy to say, easy to acquire (the tenor sax). At 75, I had, suddenly, given myself a Sisyphus task, to roll a stone / a tenor saxophone up the hill, over and over again, without any basic knowledge of music, fingering, rhythm, sound, etc. To learn English at 30 and Spanish at 50 was a breeze. It suits, however, my historical neurotic life pattern and new parts of my brain are getting activated, its neurons forming new clusters. To feel like a child who starts from the beginning can be a nice compensation for fear and anxiety to fail.

I have written about my dream about the chromatic jazz scale (A Different Way Of Using A Chromatic Scale). It was not a one-off. My primal, often begin when I enter rem sleep. During the last two months, at two occasions I have re-lived how my head during a primal suddenly is hit by electric impulses, an utmost painful feeling with certain similarities to my first petit mal fits in my late teens. My primals nowadays are far less painful than before, so the first re-living of electroshock treatment was just that, a shock and surprise, when I finally after 3/4 of a century had the strength to experience it. 

“Electroconvulsive therapy (ETC) was introduced in Switzerland 1937 och was already 1940 widespread and Nobel Prize nominated. Electroshock is a psychiatric treatment that involves electrocution of the patient and putting the patient into a seizure. Mainstream psychiatry argues that electroshock is therapeutic and alleviates mental illness. Many electroshock patients receive the treatment against their will. Psychiatrists also claim that electroshock is safe during pregnancy and give the treatment to pregnant women. A study in 2007 (!) found that electroshock during pregnancy can cause brain damage to the fetus!” Surprise!

Thanks to my new addiction (learning to play the saxophone) I have found out that I / my brain are strong enough to re-live the effects of a treatment which, fortunately, never got the Nobel Prize. With less luck and with a more old-fashioned neurologist than David Ingvar, I could have been treated with an even worse method, lobotomy, which, outrageously, won the Nobel Prize, 1949, when 20.000 lobotomies had been performed in the US alone. This treatment was applied to a daughter of friends of our family. She died within 2 years.

Jan Johnsson

Monday, May 30, 2016

How Pain Can Be Translated / Intellectualized Into Beuty / Feelings / Emotions.

Why Don't We Know We Are in Pain? That is today's question in Janov's Reflections. Yes, it is certainly interesting that the lack of awareness / consciousness is a fact. It demonstrates the rational intelligence in the process of evolution, which maneuvers the majority of us through life, with success, though, at the price of suffering. Most of the works in our daily life, like arts, politics, business, etc., are screaming out their statements about the pain that are inprinted in us, all the time without a break.

Bach, Picasso, and Janov are outstanding people who are among those who are / were in pain, suffering something they didn’t know much about. However, they used their pain to “intellectualize their feelings” and in art, music and literature express the dilemma of the human tragedy. They do it with a beauty and sensibility which gives our lives a meaningful experience. It takes different beliefs, not only religious, to survive in a cold, negligent and often loveless world. The aforementioned, pain propelled, beautiful spirits are special through their ability to capture, to counterpoint / interlace the beauty and tragedy of our short lives. Their neuroses give us satisfying experiences, while evolution grinds on. 

Johann Sebastian Bach came from a musical family, was orphaned early, but got through his sibling's help, first-class musical education. Throughout his life, he used, in the fight against tradition / zeitgeist and religious control his ingenious musical talents to express his own inner beliefs despite the fact that the church and the established powers were his superiors. He developed his creativity, musical talent and knowledge of music to the point where it grew out of the protestant church's religious possession and became everybody’s emotional musical heritage of today. Although - thanks to - being discouraged and criticized, he used the church / contemporary official worldview to show the tragedy of all our pain propelled / bloated complacency.

Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born into an established family of artists and devoted almost 90 years to drawing and painting and fascinated his surroundings with a never-ending ability to express his naïve capacity. A severe trauma, a violent earthquake, combined with the sister's complicated birth in Malaga when he was 2-3 years old characterized left imprints, in the work of art, which his artistic talent expressed. Picasso's success became prolonged due to the constant renewal of his pain propelled symbolism and thanks to the exponential / absurd growing economic valuation of art in the last century. Picasso, who was registered communists into his death, is probably the artist, all categories whose works brought in the most money. Again, a reflection of the beauty and tragedy of the neurotic human trauma.

Arthur Janov was an unloved son of immigrated Russian peasants. He was an “asphalt-flower” from a metropolitan ghetto, who with the Navy’s / WW2’s help became prepared for a work / life, in various mental institutions with people with repressed pain. We needed him to understand / access information about the difference between a good or bad life before, during or after birth. It has required an extraordinary amount of repressed pain / empathic intellect to create an economic wealth / independence that was invested in the explanation of the lifesaving ability of evolution to repress what threatened our lives. He took us on a tour beyond our and his own belief.

No pain, no gain!

Jan Johnsson

Monday, May 23, 2016

Feeling Pain; Growing Fingers and Dissolving a Neurotic Life Pattern

Feeling Pain; 
Growing Fingers and Dissolving a Neurotic Life Pattern.

The principles of Primal Therapy / Evolution in Reverse, as I have interpreted them, have worked excellent for my specific needs. They have helped demystify my epilepsy / birth trauma, dissolved my neurotic life pattern and helped me understand / internalize why evolution saves our lives by eliminating / repressing unbearable pain. My cure, overall, has been a holistic process where body and mind, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes separately, have been involved. My three union brain has become significantly better coordinated and my feelings have been given a more natural influence on my intellect and vice versa. 

My physical coordination has to a surprisingly high extent improved. I have experienced how allergies have dissolved and how fingers and toes, after the 40s, have grown out to their original potential (before being inhibited in a traumatic birth trauma). I had and, at a lesser degree, still have, since many years, a feeling, below my fit body, of not being fully physically grown. A feeling of being weaker and minor than I really am. Examples: I have had too insensitive fingers when I would hug and caress someone. “My emotional feeling did not reach all the way to my fingertips”, which I unconsciously compensated for by putting more pressure. 

For decades, I looked for and dressed in clothes that were just on the verge of being too small. Just right size or slightly too large clothes brought my feeling / pain of not being fully grown. My neurotic disability made me a perfect employee in the corset industry, which those days , before modern day slimming madness took off, was about lacing too large bodies in tight-fitting underwear. In this industry, I spent, successfully, my first 10 years before my career took off. I am nowadays enjoying baggy trousers and large shirts…

I found no direct coverage for my undeveloped physics and my feelings of being too small in the Primal Scream and I did not become wiser in these matters during my first few months at the Primal Institute. Coincidences /moonlighting in the biotech industry, brought me, however, to Boulder, Col., and I attended Ida Rolf's institute with deep tissue massage even though I knew that PI was not for it. 

“Physical individuality is shaped by the forces of life - how we were born, when we learned to move, experiences, accidents, mental and emotional sets. All of these leave a record in our mental and our physical memories.The more you watch people in front of your eyes, the surer 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. Through Rolfing, 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.”

These, by me often quoted, statements, together with the Primal Principles / Evolution in Reverse, have been my lead stars when I made my journey from being a physically hampered, repressed person with leaky gates / epilepsy, who had developed a neurotic tool bag with a large arsenal of short-term survival techniques into a reasonably well-cured person with good vital signs.

For me, the combination of primal therapy and Ida Rolf's method of deep tissue massage was a big step on the road to understanding my repression / epilepsy and my equally inhibited and uncoordinated body. Janov and Rolf approached the problem from two opposite directions. In both their written communications, it appears, unfortunately, that they do not accept each other's methods. To cooperate was, therefore, probably never an option. Fortunately, neither of these therapies prevented me from combining the two and achieve a result which, for me, was better than the sum of both.

Of course, they could do it together. Why have they not done what have seemed obvious for decades?

Well, after having read “Beyond Belief”, I think I am beginning to understand!

Jan Johnsson