Life as a House

When I write about, or try to explain the three levels of consciousness, it seems to be hard for people to envisage what it really means in terms of human functioning. To overcome this I use the analogy of a three story house.

The first level of this house is the basement, which represents the first level of consciousness, and is most probably our brainstem (science does not appear to understand this level and so research is sketchy).This level deals in sensation only – it is the area of the brain where we sense our lives.

The next level contains the feeling rooms, which is our second level of consciousness. Within the brain this area is known as the limbic system. The association between the limbic system and feelings has been reasonably well researched. What is not so well known is that the state of our feelings, for example whether we are happy or sad, positive or negative, comes from the way we sense our lives, and then our feelings let us know what we have sensed.

Level three is what I refer to as the penthouse of the human mind and brain. This area is known as the prefrontal cortex, the cognitive area where we think about our lives.

The house analogy is useful in many ways.

The upper structure of any house, or any building for that matter, depends on the size and strength of the foundations at the basement level. Weak and small foundations will lead to severe restrictions on what is possible in the feelings rooms above, and then the problem is compounded higher up in the penthouse. This is what we are experiencing with the increasing incidence of mental disorders in the human species. A traumatised (unloved) brainstem will lead to problems higher up in the feelings and cognitive part of the brain. These problems start down below and show up at higher levels as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and other mental disorders.

Using the house analogy is also useful in informing us as to  what treatment methods will be successful. It becomes obvious the commonly used talk therapies that keep a person in the penthouse of their mind will not fix the problems in the basement. So we need a therapy that takes a person down into the feeling rooms, and then continue on into the basement where the real problem lies. The main concept to understand about the need for a person to visit the basement of their mind is that it is  most definitely not a cure by talking. The basement of the mind is the place of sensations, and when in this place almost all thought stops – apart from what may be called ‘The Conscious Observer’.  Lack of understanding of this concept is why psychologists and psychiatrists are at a loss to explain the causes of mental disorders and why treatment plans are mostly superficial at best. Psychologists and psychiatrists remain in the penthouse of their own minds trying to figure out in an intellectual way what is going wrong. It is my understanding that their training through a Bachelor’s degree, then a Masters to a Doctorate level and beyond is based on ever-increasing levels of intellectual power. Their training does not involve any requirement to experience the power of brainstem sensations.

A house is built from the ground up and so is our brain. In evolutionary terms the brainstem developed first, so at same stage we survived solely on our senses. The limbic system evolved next and this was followed much later by the prefrontal cortex. This process in evolution should inform us that the brainstem with its sensations forms the foundations of a sound structure. If the ‘structure’ becomes unsound and develops depression and anxiety, then the obvious place to look is at the foundations. Unfortunately the psychological industry with its current methods of treatment is still in the penthouse trying to shore up the walls or shift the ‘furniture’ for a different look. They still seem to believe that the intellect is the over-riding power in the human brain, but the brain works from bottom to top, with the sensations being the ruling power.

An unloved brainstem (from poor parenting) was the cause of all my personal mental problems, and visiting the basement of my mind was the only way I could cure myself. Journeying into the basement of my own mind was a costly and time-consuming exercise, as well as being an extremely emotional and painful process. However the benefits of doing so have been better than I could ever have imagined.

How three levels of mind explains many human experiences

The understanding that the human brain has three distinct levels of consciousness can explain many of the unusual spiritual experiences that humans are capable of having.

For example the following is a newspaper report on a near death experience.

Headline is “STONES ‘BEAUTIFUL’ DEATH”

Sharon Stone claims she is no longer afraid of dying after her own ‘journey beyond.’ Stone,58, said she saw a ‘great vortex of white light’ during a near death experience following a brain haemorrhage. She was ‘met by some of my friends who had died – people who were very dear to me.’ She then returned to her body with a ‘whoosh.’

‘It affected my life so profoundly that it will never be the same.’ she told Closer Weekly magazine. I get not to be afraid of dying and to tell other people that it’s a fabulous thing.’ When death comes, it’s beautiful. I had an incredible sense of wellbeing…..

Sharon had a brain haemorrhage (the article doesn’t say where in the brain) but I assume it made her go unconscious. If the haemorrhage was in the right place in the brain, her top level ‘thinking’ brain could go offline, but leave the lower levels, especially the brainstem sensations, intact and functioning.

We don’t bond to people through our top level ‘thinking’ brain, we bond at the two lower levels that deal in feelings and sensations. Love is a sensing/feeling experience, and not a ‘thinking.’ When Sharon’s thinking brain went offline it left her to experience her sensations and feelings, where memories of those close to her are stored. The feeling was so ‘fabulous’ that Sharon thought she must have met them in Heaven.

I propose that she was experiencing the memories and the love that is a function of the brainstem. This is an important point because the brains state of pure love is one that we could be living with in our present lives. IMAGINE (from John Lennon) how different the world could be if we all operated from this loving state of mind.

(To more fully understand the principles involved in this article you may need to read my early posts that explain the three levels of consciousness and how PRIMAL PAIN keeps us from our loving state of mind).

Domestic Violence

In recent years in Australia the issue of domestic violence has been in the news on a regular basis. Rosie Batty was made Australian of the Year in 2015 for her strong advocacy for victims of domestic violence. Rosie suffered violence from her partner, and in a horrible scene on a sports field, this same man bashed their 11 year old son to death.

This horrendous act was the catalyst for members of the community, lead by Rosie, to try and rectify the scourge of domestic violence. Apart from children being victims of domestic violence, it has been highlighted that in Australia approximately two women a week are being murdered by a partner.

Rosie Batty has advocated for changes in police response, the delivery of support services and government engagement.

These ideals are all good, and I don’t deny they are needed, but they all deal with the symptoms of a disease and not the disease itself. In all the media coverage I have not heard of anyone trying to explain how a man could bash the woman he is supposed to love and kill his own son.

Surely if we as a society want to do something about domestic violence then we need to understand why it occurs. What is going on in a man’s brain when he bashes his partner and  murders his own son? What is wrong with our culture that raises so many people that want to harm others?

The professionals in the field of mental health have done research that almost conclusively proves that  a traumatic childhood can lead to mental disorders later in life. The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) research is the most current and talked about example.

So if a traumatised brain is responsible for mental disorders, then how do we stop these disorders from occurring, and if they do occur then how can they best be treated? These problems are best answered from the understanding of the three levels of consciousness. The mental health industry’s main focus is on the conscious mind, and therefore most treatment plans are cognitively based. Cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and the psychoanalytical approach are common examples of treatment.

But these methods only attempt to treat the cognitive mind, which is only one level. As I have explained in previous posts, it is the brainstem sensations that are really the controlling force within the human brain. Early trauma is registered in the brainstem, and these early imprints at the first level of consciousness drive what we feel at the second level, the feelings then driving how we think at the third level.

When the partner of Rosie Batty was bashing their son to death, it is my opinion that he was most likely reflecting the horrible trauma that was imprinted in his own brainstem.

I had a good insight into this process during my own primal therapy. During therapy I got so angry at my father and the way he treated me that I ‘killed’ him. I imagined that I had a knife in my hands and I was stabbing him in his big fat belly. It surprised me I had so much anger and rage buried deep inside. I remember thinking I didn’t want him to die too quickly, but to bleed slowly to death in agony. I was a bit surprised and horrified that I was capable of feeling and acting in that manner. However I later found this to be a common theme among people undergoing primal therapy. We are taught during therapy that if we act it out in the therapy room we are less likely to do it in real life. Acting it out in therapy somehow disarms the ‘psychic energy’ stored at the first level that had the capacity to override the rational mind at the third level. Overriding of the third level by the first level basically forces people to do unloving actions on others.

Unfortunately, in my view, Rosie Battys’ partner did not get the opportunity to address his anger in a therapy room and acted it out on his son.

Until our culture understands the human brain, from a psychological viewpoint, as having three separate levels of functioning, domestic violence, and many other mental disorders, will continue to ruin many lives.

SUICIDE

Many people who commit suicide appeared to have everything to live for. They had an apparently loving family, good friends and a steady job. And yet they still decided to opt out from this life.

The nature of suicide confuses many people, including those in the psyche professions. The following is a statement written by such a professional on his blog.

and of course there are no answers , or at least none that will ever be big enough or complete enough to ever really understand each person’s unique grief and pain that led them to their final decision”.

The above statement is a view of the problem from the 3rd level (cognitive) part of the brain only. To get the ‘big enough or complete enough answer’ as to why people want to kill themselves, one needs to have experienced the three levels of mind. The force that generates suicide, and suicidal feelings, is a function of the 1st level of mind – the sensations.

At this level imprinted pain and grief from an unloved childhood produces sensations that have the power to over-ride any rational thinking that the 3rd line can produce. In the same way most people can’t fix depression and anxiety by positive thinking, suicidal thoughts can dominate a sufferer’s mind to the point where they succumb to the awfulness of there feelings. They cannot stop the old pain from surfacing, such is the balance of power between the 1st and 3rd levels of mind.

Suicide represents the final solution to the horror we as a culture too often inflict on our children. When someone suicides what they are saying is “This life or realm that I am living in is far too painful and I would rather be dead than suffer my inner torture”. I use the word ‘realm’ to explain the situation that myself and other people I know personally have found themselves in. We didn’t really want to die as such, we just wanted to go to another place where there was no pain.

Now I realise what I really wanted was to live in a realm this was filled with love.

Pure love is a feeling that gives a deeper meaning to life – a joy and happiness that comes from being in love with life itself. When we have primal pain, access to these painful feelings need to be blocked so that they don’t overwhelm the cognitive brain, and within the brain this blocking of pain also blocks access to our loving feelings. That is why depressed and suicidal people say they can’t feel much at all.

Looking at the human brain from it’s three levels of functioning, we can see that people can outwardly ‘have it all’ in a cognitive way (money prestige friends etc.) but can still be carrying extreme amounts of pain at the 1st level. Understanding this process will also give us the understanding of why people suicide.

That is one reason why undergoing Primal Therapy is so important. Only when a person experiences the power that the 1st level of consciousness holds over feeling and cognition will they receive the knowledge of how the brain actually works. My own battle with suicidal feelings and then undergoing Primal Therapy has given me that knowledge. I must stress that this knowledge can only be gained by experience and not through intellectual understanding and study.

When I hear professors’ talk about suicide in an intellectual way, I shake my head in disbelief, and think of this and future generations that are doomed to suffer because, as a species, we do not understand the  brain from its three distinct levels of functioning.

Anxiety

Like depression (see previous post) anxiety is better understood from the Three Levels of Mind. Also like depression, the current medical model does not understand what the causes of anxiety are and therefore the common treatments are also reasonably ineffective. They treat the symptoms and not the causes. Treating symptoms is dealing with the 3rd level of mind (cognition) when the cause is traumatic imprinting at the 1st level (sensations).

Anxiety has many different degrees of effect, such as low grade Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and ranging up to severe panic attacks.

From the perspective of three levels of mind, anxiety is a function of  the 3rd level. However when a primal patient presents with an anxiety issue, it is usually traced back, during therapy, to an experience of sheer terror at the 1st level. Reliving this terror in small increments gets it out of the system permanently.

Go down to your local book store and most books in the self-help section will try and teach you ways of overcoming your fear. Fear, it seems, is the number one obstacle in leading the life we all desire.

Fear of life is imprinted in a child’s brain early in life. For example my father was a violent unpredictable man, so I lived my whole childhood in fear – fear of upsetting my father, fear of expressing myself in voice, fear of him killing my mother and younger siblings – I even have a fear of deep water because I was not allowed to try and swim in water above my knees.

Even today there are many parents who parent in a way that instils a fear of life into their children. They may do so with the intent of keeping the child safe, but overstep the line between safety and letting the child be adventurous. The birth process is another common way that terror can be imprinted in a young brain.

Living a life of anxiety means that we repress our natural instincts, and therefore are not able to savour the beauty of a life fully lived. It means that we don’t embark on new experiences and are fearful of stretching ourselves into new and exciting places, both inwardly and outwardly. It really means we don’t give ourselves a chance.

Many of us see uncertainty as intimidating because we have been imprinted not to take a risk in expressing ourselves fully, because when we did so in the past our parents became angry, critical or showed their disapproval – or perhaps no interest at all!

A hidden factor in the increase of anxiety disorders comes from the fact our culture does not place much importance on the need to nurture children in a loving way. Instead most of the focus is put on academic achievement, or achieving certain developmental stages on time, or preferably before everyone else.

Love is a first level function within the human brain, and all a child needs is love from its parents. If they receive this love they grow into well-adjusted adults. The research under the umbrella of Attachment Theory and more recently Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) highlight the importance of love, especially in the first years of life. The missing link in this research is that the researchers obviously do not understand the three levels of mind in human functioning, plus they lack a testable definition of what love actually is, and the force (feeling) it carries.

Many parents push children to become academically successful, not realising academics is a function of the 3rd level of mind. Most children want to learn, but in all cases and all stages of development their greatest need is love, which is then imprinted on the first level. Unfortunately our society pushes its children to perform, and when they are unable to meet the parents and/or societies expectation, they become anxious about losing their parents love. In extreme cases students will suicide if they feel they are a failure.

Where there is pure love there is no fear and anxiety.

Depression

The current mental health paradigm does not know what causes depression, and the treatment protocols are not very effective.

The Australian website for ‘Beyond Blue’, which is government-backed, contains information about depression and anxiety. The following comments come from that site.

‘Three million Australians are living with depression or anxiety.’

‘Sometimes there is no obvious cause at all.’

‘While we don’t know what causes depression……’

‘Remember everyone is different and its a combination of factors that can contribute to developing depression.’

Similar statements can be found on the website for the National Institute of Mental Health (USA).

What the above institutions have in common is that they do not understand the brain from its three very different levels of functioning.

Imprinting of both good and bad experiences occurs in the first level of consciousness. These imprinted memories give rise to sensations that flow upward into the second level of consciousness (the limbic system) where they are experienced as feelings.

If the feelings are pleasant in nature then the person experiences these good feelings at the third level of consciousness in the prefrontal cortex. The best feeling of all is LOVE, and love gives rise to happiness, joy and the human spiritual element.

However if the imprinting was from traumatic experiences, especially at the baby and infant stage of life, then the sensations given off  will reflect the awfulness of those experiences. Our  feelings will also be experienced as overwhelmingly awful.

The following is a very important principle that can only be fully understood from the three levels of mind. If feelings become too awful they have to be kept from conscious awareness, otherwise they will destabilize the prefrontal cortex, or thinking part of the mind.

The subconscious mind has a way of shutting down bad feelings without the person being aware of what is happening, and so the ‘feeling’ body becomes detached from the ‘thinking’ body. When the brain shuts down feeling between these two levels, this is what the  medical profession refers to as depression.

Someone has described depression thus – One feels as if one where lying bound hand and foot at the bottom of a dark well, utterly helpless. This is a good description of how the brain has to restrain the rising feelings, in a forceful manner, from coming to conscious awareness. Basically our life force that should give us feelings of love and joy is seconded into diverting its energy into repressing painful feelings.

From the three levels of mind we can see that depression is the repression of painful memories, and the cure is to feel the pain in small manageable doses. This is what Primal Therapy does.

The current belief that everyone is different and that a combination of factors can contribute to developing depression is not supported from the three levels of mind and the process of Primal Therapy. In fact we humans are all very much the same, especially so at the first level which contains our imprinting and generates the powerful sensations.

The power of the brainstem

The current mental health paradigm is dominated by the believe that the prefrontal cortex, which contains our thinking or cognitive mind, is the strongest part of the human brain. Therefore most of the scientific, and also general community, believe some or all of the following.

A. Drugs are the key to balancing the chemicals in a dysfunctional brain.

B. Faulty genes are the cause of many diseases, and genetic engineering will solve a lot of humanities problems.

C. We can use self talk such as cognitive behavioural therapy and positive psychology to train a wayward brain, without giving any thought as to why the brain is wayward in the first place.

D. Doctors treat patients as purely physical entities using physical solutions, mostly with drugs and operations.

E. We have education systems that cater to the intellect only.

F. The psych profession infer that we have hundreds of different mental disorders. The DSM V (the book of symptom analysis) is thicker than a lot of phone books.

G. G is for God. Most religious people agree that there is only one God, but have developed hundreds of ways of interpreting that God.

H. Disagreements between conflicting political and religious belief systems can be solved by bombing and shooting the opposition into submission and/or oblivion.

I. We spend billions of dollars annually in trying to find cures for the vast array of physical and mental disorders that the human race suffers from.

This blog is written from the understanding that the brainstem, which produces sensations of love, is by far the most powerful area in the human brain, and it dominates the reasons why we humans behave and think the way we do.

Love is a function of the brainstem sensations, and when it flows freely upward through the limbic system and prefrontal cortex, it creates and maintains a healthy human, both physically and mentally. Love itself is an energy or vibration that can be felt as a resonance throughout the whole body.

Of course, when we suffer from primal pain, the need for pain repression also represses the flow of love – hence the body and mind becomes sick in some way.

What is not so well known about the brain stem sensations (and love) is that it has its own type of intelligence that is designed to keep the human body and mind as healthy as possible. It is not the same intelligence we experience from the prefrontal cortex, as sensations need to be a felt experience to gain the knowledge they possess.

When the power of love and its generating processes at the level of the brainstem are scientifically proven a new paradigm will emerge which will look something like this.

A. Drugs may have some useful purpose in the future, but they will always play an almost insignificant role in the human brain and body when compared to the power of love to keep a body healthy.

B. Ditto with genetic engineering.

C. Ditto with talk therapies.

D. Doctors will still need to treat physical complaints, but with the understanding that the underlying cause is a lack of love (or a sick soul).

E. Education systems will evolve that have a balance between teaching academic and feeling subjects, and how feeling is the most important aspect of being human.

F. The psych profession will realise that we have only one cause of disease, (lack of love) but it creates a phone-book size list of symptoms.

G. Religions will have to give their power over to True Love, because love contains within it a deep spirituality. There cannot ever be hundreds of versions of love, because we all evolved with the ability to love. At the level of the brainstem humans are all the same. So we will not be religious, agnostic or atheist – we will all be classed as humans capable of love.

H. Differing beliefs and ideas can be discussed within an energy of love. No-one will start a fight or war because no belief or idea is worth dying for. Love is very much worth living for.

I. Research dollars will not be needed because when we become a loving species  we will all be a lot healthier naturally.

Understanding Janovian Primal Therapy

Arthur Janov was the discoverer of Primal Therapy around 1970. His first book, The Primal Scream, sold over a million copies and started to transform the way we looked at mental health. He has since written many more books on the subject.

This transformation in the way we see and treat mental health has stalled over the years, and from my observations there are several main reasons for this phenomenon.

The current psych industry is very much intellectually based, in that the pre-frontal cortex is seen as the only mode of intelligence and reasoning. However Primal therapy involves opening up to the feelings and sensations, which combine to form a very powerful intelligence of their own. This intelligence is not expressed as language, but through bodily sensations and feelings. This knowledge can only be experienced personally – it cannot be disseminated through lectures or writings in books.

The overuse of pre-frontal cortex intelligence at the expense of sensations and feelings is the sole reason the human species is in such a mess.

Janovian Primal Therapy has opened me up to my own previously repressed sensations and feelings, and this has transformed my life. Arthur Janov and others who undergo the therapy have very few avenues to make the intellectual community understand that sensations and feelings are more important then the intellect in the way we live as humans. Even the scientific research that could point the way is being interpreted and acted upon from the intellectual view only.

Another factor that is stalling the emergence of Primal Theory and Therapy and the three levels of mind is that in the early days of the therapy results were not all that good or consistent. Also people who were never trained in the therapy practised it on others, sometimes with disastrous results. Even today there are many therapists around the world trying to practise Primal Therapy from what they read in books. This approach is not very successful because the therapist has not uncovered their own primal pain, and so cannot take others on that journey.

Unfortunately a lot of the early bad press, some of it warranted at the time, still lives on in the bowels of the internet. People still have access to this (mostly false) information, and it is having some influence on holding back JPT in taking its rightful place as the cornerstone in understanding the human condition.

The therapy in 2015 is much more refined and precise, and much of the brain research occurring today would support Primal Theory if it was possible for the intellectuals to interpret their research in a different way. How can a brain scientist interpret any findings in terms of sensations and feelings as being the powerful driver of brain processes, when all their knowledge and teachings are centred on the intellect.

Over the years Janov’s work has been much maligned  because of his own personal character, and also the way he has been perceived to guard his knowledge. Janov’s character has very little to do with his concepts of Primal Theory and Therapy, and the two should be separated when anyone is trying to understand the theory and therapy.

The concept of the three levels of mind, with the sensations being the strongest and most influential in the way humans function, will eventually have to come to the fore – it is how the brain works.

Future blogs will discuss the implications of how important it is to understand the human brain from the three different levels of functioning.

Three levels of mind – how they operate independently and as a whole

The triune brain concept  has been around for more than fifty years. Paul McLean (1950’s) proposed that the human brain has three different areas that correspond with the evolution of man.

The brainstem is equivalent to the reptilian brain, the limbic system developed in the mammals, and the cortex developed to make up the three levels of the human brain. This concept has been accepted into the mainstream understanding of the physical make-up of the brain.

What is not understood is that each of these brain areas produce their own states of mind, and each area communicates with the other, mostly in an upward manner, from brainstem to feelings to cognition. The free flow between areas produces a healthily functioning and integrated brain on a psychological level.

The human brain develops in a baby in the same order that it developed during evolution.

For example the baby brain has an almost fully functioning brainstem at birth because the baby needs to be able to breathe, digest its food and have a heartbeat which are physical necessities. What is not fully understood is that the brain is sensing its environment, whether it is safe and joyful, or whether it is unsafe and unloving.

The limbic area develops at around six months and at this stage the baby is mostly a sensing/feeling being. The cortex, or thinking brain does not develop much until eighteen months of age.

The main imprinting that drives the child for the rest of its life occurs during the sensation/feeling part of its development. Obviously this area can be affected throughout a lifetime, but it is generally accepted by neuroscience that the earliest months of life provide for the deepest and most powerful imprinting.

A badly imprinted brainstem from unloving or unaware parents, is the cause of so many mental health problems and dysfunctional emotions later in life.

Much of the present day understanding of mental health disorders is that they can be controlled by using the cognitive mind to treat symptoms. For example Positive Thinking, Mindfulness and Meditation are widely practised within the mental health system to control symptoms.

But this goes against evolution. The brainstem with its imprinting, either good or bad, drives upward into feeling, and then feelings determine the way we react and think about the world.

The brainstem senses, the limbic system feels and the cortex thinks. A fact of brain functioning is that thinking cannot effect what we sense. They are two different languages, so thinking positive and meditation can alter a symptom, but it cannot change the imprinted cause.

I know this because Primal Therapy uses evolution by going back in time. In therapy I started in my cortex where I talked about my problems. Then I felt the underling feelings – gradually at first then in their full force. My dominant underlying feelings were sadness and grief, anger and very extreme loneliness. As the therapy progressed I started to experience sensations and the original imprints.

Experiencing the imprints was an amazing journey for me, because it opened my mind into a space that I never knew existed.

The reason  so many people suffer mental health and relationship problems is that their original imprinting is faulty, and this causes dysfunction in the cortex. Things like depression, anxiety, suicide, domestic and international violence and addictions all have their root cause in faulty brainstem imprinting.

Implicit in all this brain functioning is that it is very easy to traumatise a baby’s brain, and our present culture does not support the rearing of healthy children. It is too focused on  material wealth and consumerism ( the thinking mind) at the expense of the very powerful social brain (sensations and feelings).

That is why the concept of the triune brain is so important. The sensations and feelings give a human all the real pleasures of life, supplying us with love and meaningful relationships. These areas need careful nurturing, especially  in the earliest months of life. The cortex is the thinking part of the brain that can put a man on the moon, but cannot supply a human with love and happiness.