August 21, 1924|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
October 1, 2017 (aged 93)|
Malibu, California, U.S.
|Other names||Art Janov|
University of California, Los Angeles|
Claremont Graduate School
|Occupation||Psychologist, psychotherapist, writer|
|Known for||Creator of Primal therapy|
|Notable work||The Primal Scream|
(m. 1949; div. 1980)
(m. 1980; his death 2017)
Arthur Janov (; August 21, 1924 – October 1, 2017), also known as Art Janov, was an American psychologist, psychotherapist, and writer. He gained notability as the creator of primal therapy, a treatment for mental illness that involves repeatedly descending into, feeling, and experiencing long-repressed childhood pain. Janov directed a psychotherapy institute called the Primal Center in Santa Monica, California.
Arthur Janov was born in Los Angeles, California. He received his B.A. and M.S.W. in psychiatric social work from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his Ph.D. in psychology from Claremont Graduate School in 1960.
Janov originally practiced conventional psychotherapy in his native California. He did an internship at the Hacker Psychiatric Clinic in Beverly Hills, worked for the Veterans' Administration at Brentwood Neuropsychiatric Hospital and was in private practice from 1952 until his death in 2017. He was also on the staff of the Psychiatric Department at Los Angeles Children's Hospital where he was involved in developing their psychosomatic unit.
In Janov's view, the repressed pain of traumatic childhood experiences eventually produces an emotionally damaged adult. These experiences include not only obvious physical and psychological injuries, but also subtle slights like parents' failure to comfort a child.
Janov wrote that his professional life changed in a single day in 1967 with the discovery of what he called "Primal Pain". During a therapy session, Janov heard what he describes as, "an eerie scream welling up from the depths of a young man lying on the floor". He developed primal therapy, in which clients are encouraged to re-live and express what Janov considered repressed memories and feelings.
Janov's primal therapy became a cultural phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s along with his work The Primal Scream (1971). In response to criticism claiming that primal therapy is discredited and harmful, Janov said in 2016: "We have 50 years of published material to the contrary. We have several scientific articles in the journal Activitas Nervosa Superior, plus other journals. We do serious science and leave the nonsense to others".
The idea of The Primal Scream came when one of his patients told of a theatrical performance in which someone dressed in diapers shouted "Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!" throughout the act, then vomited, distributing plastic bags to the spectators and later asking them to vomit as well. Janov was fascinated by this and asked his patient to cry for his own "mommy" and "daddy".
However, Janov's primal therapy was the source of controversy, with allegations that Janov used the treatment as a "cash-grab scheme". In response, Janov stated that "We take no salaries and no profits and have not in years. We have paid several hundred thousand dollars for research to maintain our scientific integrity. We fund therapy for those who cannot afford it".
Janov claimed that primal therapy could "cure" homosexuality.
Janov was first married to Vivian Glickstein in 1949, but they separated in 1975 and divorced in 1980 so that Art could remarry. He married France Daunic four months later in 1980 and was still married to her at the time of his death. Janov had two children from his first marriage – Rick Janov, a primal therapist, and Ellen Janov, a child singer and actress who died in 1976 – and an adopted son, Xavier, from his second marriage.
On October 1, 2017, Janov died in his sleep at the age of 93 of respiratory arrest complicated by a stroke. For several years, Janov suffered from a throat disease which limited his ability to speak,. At the time of his death, he was living in Malibu, California.