Janov, Dr. Arthur and Dr. France — Remembering the Debunked “Primal Scream” Founder

Posted on October 11th, 2017 in American History,Psychology/Psychiatry by LeGov

In this edition of Radio Curious we re-visit our December 2006 interview with Dr. Arthur Janov, author of “The Primal Scream”  who died on October 1, 2017, at his home in Malibu, California.  A detailed obituary may be found in the October 4, 2017, on line edition of the New York Times.

Together with his wife, Dr. France Janov, they asserted that the best emotional healing is obtained by reaching back to the point of injury that formed an initial imprint of the pain, claiming that pain often originates in the womb or in early childhood. Their work centered on a belief that repeated piercing screams focused on early trauma would free a person of physical and psychological pain. 

Their therapeutic method has been repeatedly debunked and discredited by colleagues and the psychiatric establishment, as described in the journal “Professional Psychology: Research and Practice,” and the American Psychiatric Association. The criticism focused on the lack of any independent, controlled studies demonstrating the Janov therapy’s effectiveness.  Janov also listed homosexuality among the ailments that primal therapy could “cure,” and continued to list it long after the American Psychiatric Association declassified it as a psychiatric disorder in 1973.Nonetheless, his patients included John Lennon, Yoko Ono, James Earl Jones and the pianist Roger Williams.

I spoke with Dr. Arthur Janov and Dr. France Janov, in December 2006, from their home in Santa Monica, California, and began when I asked them to explain how initial imprints in a person’s life can be the cause of lifelong pain.

The books Dr. Arthur Janov recommended are:  “Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government–And How We Take It Back,” by Davod Sirota, and “Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq,” by Steven Kinzer. 

The books Dr. France Janov recommended are: “Matisse,”  by Volkmar Essers, and “Puccini: A Biography” by Mary Jane Phillips-Matz and William Weaver.

This program was recorded on December 16, 2006.  

Click here or on the media player below to listen.

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