Monday, April 29, 2013

The Mind and the Brain

So where is the mind? Is it identical with the brain?  There are some writers in neuroscience who inadvertently believe they are identical……the brain secretes the mind.  Others think the mind is separate and acts on the brain. This debate has gone on for the millennia.    It is rather important since there is new research that claims that the reason there is depression or anxiety is because of changes in dopamine or serotonin.  In short, it is all in the brain.  And these afflictions result from alterations in chemical production in the brain.  That is why they will never find the answer because it is not in the brain; it is in the mind.  It is how the mind affects the brain where the answer lies.

There is a book on the subject that seems to go off into mysticism but is worth reading. (Brain Wars, by M.  Beauregard. Harper One Press). He believes that the mind affects the brain and that they are not identical, yet, unless I missed something, there is not a good definition of what the mind is.  I think he equates it with the neo-cortical mind.  So for him the mind is thoughts and beliefs. For me it is much more than that; there are several minds, each interacting with the others.  And consciousness means that all levels work fluidly with each other.   You need the contribution of each level to make consciousness.

The distinctions about brain and mind are important; when neglected they lead to some strange conclusions in psychology.  If we think there is no mind then all we have to do is study neurology to find answers to many neuroses.  No unconscious running things.  All we see is behavior and if we change how we act and think (our attitudes) then we can get well.  Neurosis here is all a  matter of “unhealthy attitudes.”  Change the attitude and, voila, we get better.

This problem lies under the rubric of reductionism. Everything is reduced to the basic brain function.  There are no different levels of reality; only one, the apparent, observable one.  So they keep it simple, too simple.  Yet it is often equated with true science—putting the facts together.  No leap beyond the facts, no imagination, no thoughts of what could be.  Science for them is confined of what is observed.  Since there is no mind in their scheme there can be no interaction between mind and brain.  And when I use the term “mind” I mean all levels of consciousness.

So either we are strictly neurologic machines or there is something else going on that helps us understand who we are and why we act the way we do.  I opt for something else going on.  You see when science is so strictly confined to facts we can only produce correlations—things goes up when that goes up therefore……….There is not a lot of room for a deeper analysis, a flight of imagination, soaring into what could be.  It becomes statistics-bound.   It can be counted while feelings often cannot.  This close adherence to facts has in some ways bound psychology and constricted what it could discover. It could not find the truth beyond facts.  Scientific reductionism is the bĂȘte noir of psychology.

So we have mind which is produced by the brain but seems to have its own existence that can affect that brain; the interaction between the two.

Is the appreciation of beauty, the smell of the rose identical with the brain? Is the judgment of someone who is interesting identical with the brain?  Or does the ensemble of brain function give rise to all this?  And once it gives rise can it affect the brain that gave life to it?  If you take hypnosis it is clear that thoughts introduced to lower brain levels can affect the brain so that a hand put in cold water seems hot.  Or that a coin put on the hand and told it is very hot can leave burn marks.

Another bit of evidence: the placebo effect, giving neutral, benign pills to those who are told in their minds that it will kill pain and it does.  And the thoughts use the same pathways in the brain that the pills would use.  Thoughts affect brain function.  If we think something might help, even God, then it can help.  The mind can be deceived. Can the brain be deceived?   What happens is that what is in the mind can activate the brain to produce natural painkillers.   It can think it is in pain and change brain function to deal with that imagination.  And there may not be any pain at all except what the mind has been convinced exists.    Also,  a dentist may drill teeth because the person has been suggested that she will feel no pain…..and she does not.  So where is the reality?  In the drill?  In the mind?  Does it hurt if the person cannot feel it?  No.  The mind takes precedence as it does in so many situations where people believe what they are told rather than what they see before them.   At a burial one can see the body float to heaven even after watching it go into the ground.  Does reality take precedence?  I think not.    Is the mind deceived or is it the brain?

It is the mind that believes something so strongly that the brain registers the belief rather than the reality.  PET scans show that infusing a belief into someone that their pain is being reduced will show increased activity in regions known to block pain.    The mind here controls the brain. Can the brain control the mind?  Yes.  Those with sham knee surgery could walk more easily later on even though they had incisions but no surgery.  Their minds controlled it all.   The evidence is overwhelming.  It is also true that the brain controls the mind.  If we are low in dopamine we will have certain personality traits controlled by brain function.   But the mind can cause an increase in dopamine output if it is convinced to do it.  Thus, they are mutually interacting entities.
The brain can interact with the mind, just as the mind can interact with the brain.  Expectations of the mind can activate nerve networks to enhance dopamine production.
How could we ignore the mind and explain the human condition?

One of the interesting findings reported in the book is that attention deficit children have a high amount of theta waves in the frontal lobe. Why is that? My guess is that there is first line intrusion, long slow theta waves from the brainstem are suddenly found in the frontal area.   And that it is this intrusion that distracts and keeps the child from concentrating.  There is an input from imprints going back very far into the remote reaches of the brain that surge into present-day life.  The problem here is that it can lead to, change the mind you can change the brain, philosophy which then slops over into cognitive therapy.   So what mind are we dealing with?  It is clear to me that it is the lower levels of consciousness that directly affect the brain.  We see this in therapy when patients get down into first line their ideas change radically; they are trying to strangle me.  Deep hypnosis that allows a body to go rigid and not feel the pain of surgery must affect the brainstem.  I have seen hypnosis where the body is so rigid it can be placed like a pipe between two chairs and kept there with no fatigue.

What Beauregard points out is that in a quantum universe there is no mind-body split.   It is one.  The mental and physical world merge but that, how and where we observe, can change the object we are observing.  He points out that in neurofeedback one can control seizures by mimicking certain brainwave patterns.

We have to believe that mental activity is not identical to brain activity.  There is a mind that seems to rise above brain function to interact with it.  I do not think that we can equate mind with awareness because mind is so all encompassing and in all its complexity  affects the brain.  That is why deep childhood and womb-life pain can, in my opinion, affect brain function decades later producing Alzheimers disease.  We will never see that in studying the brain alone, but we will see it when we study the humans that carry that brain.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Critical, Critical Period

  I have written many times about critical period; the time when key needs must be met, and at no other time. In other words you cannot make up for that loss no matter how much you may want to. This was brought home to me in a study about food deprivation, (March 12, J. of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. J. Galler and P. Costa) (see  What they found was that malnutrition in the first year of life, even when followed by an adequate diet, predisposes those to troubled personality even at the age of forty. Compared with those who had a normal diet they showed chronic stress, mistrust, anger and depression. Notice, the food deprivation was not limited later on to food problems; it created a complete problem in personality development. In short, key deprivation of need even during our life in the womb, has global consequences. So if you ask someone why are they so nervous?, they will unlikely answer, “because of my food deprivation at six months of womb-life.” This all occurred long before the person had a comprehending neo-cortex and its effect may last for a lifetime.

  This early food deprivation also resulted in lack of curiosity and risk taking, as well as diminished emotional warmth. All that because the baby could not eat properly?

  Let’s transfer this now to lack of love and touch right after birth. It has to be then and at no time later on. The critical period is measured in brief spurts, not long continuous time periods.  When the baby comes onto earth all alone, in a strange environment and is left alone even for several minutes there can be deprivation. And it will last.

 The point about the research on food is that it underlines the critical period. One has to ask why a very good eating regime soon after does not change things? It is because fulfillment has a timeframe, usually a short one. So when daddy leaves home for a few months to go on tour and comes home and loves and hugs his child, it is helpful but not reversing of the damage already done.  That is why when a mother’s love is missing early on, if she is seriously ill, for example, there is a need gap. And what does this do? It can remain hidden for years and suddenly in adolescence there are homosexual tendencies. No knows where it came from. But there was deprivation very early in life that could not have been seen. This is a form of act out; we always try to fulfill those deprivations, even years later, depending on the circumstances. If food in the home was prized perhaps eating will take the form of an obsession.  But the need for love is still waiting its turn. All of us who were deprived seek out one kind of fulfillment or another. Fulfillment is primordial and not to be denied no matter what the criticism or exhortations by others. It is so subtle because the parent can be a good person seriously concerned about the welfare the child but never touched her.  That need will force fulfillment elsewhere. It will force the act-out. And it will be called “neurotic” because it is symbolic of what was missing. Getting approval from someone can never fulfill the person as the mother’s kindness and approval would have done. It is symbolic, never really fulfilling and becomes obsessional just because it is symbolic and only skin deep.

  And diabolically, if we bring back the mother and ask her to be kind and approving to the young lady now adult, it would change nothing. It is still symbolic because the critical period is over. The pain can be softened through current love but the gap remains. We cannot be fully fulfilled now no matter how hard we try and no matter how others may want to make up for a bad childhood. That is the sad truth.

 The article goes on to say that early bad nutrition leads to delinquency and suspiciousness in the child. How could that be? It means very early deprivation as overall systemic effects, not confined to food. To be loved we need fulfillment of all of our needs not just a few of them; to be hugged and touched, to be listened to and approved, to be adored and praised, etc. Our needs are biologic and are human, if we want to be complete human beings.  Take the overeater; he is eating for now and then. Eating for then is symbolic and therefore never-ending. It becomes the stuff of obsessions and compulsions. He is wary because literally, he never knows where his next meal is coming from.

 Above all, those who were deprived were most often in the anxious category.  Lack of fulfillment stamped in fear and insecurity, feelings that endure for a lifetime.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Is There a Science of Psychotherapy?

If we have to ask professionals, I guess not.  Here is what the president of the Society for Psychotherapy Research has to say:  “There is strong evidence for many…..approaches.”   Now what does that mean?  That many approaches are all valid?  That they are scientific?  How could that be?  You mean that there are many sciences in psychotherapy, all valid?  Are there many different sciences in physics, in biology?  There may be some difference of opinion but certainly not different sciences. I mean is there gravity or not?  Are there many ways to make electricity?

  Let me go back to my internship in a major Freudian clinic (Hacker Psychiatric Clinic).  There was no science in what we did. We all had different Freudian interpretations of patients….was he Id dominant?  Was his superego too strong?  Was there evidence of his childhood sexuality? And on and on.  No science, only guesswork and imagination.  And there was imagination at work as our staff spun incredible theories to explain the patient’s behavior.  There was certainly no science to guide us in how to proceed in psychotherapy.

   I think that there cannot be many valid approaches to psychotherapy; either there is a  scientific approach or there isn’t.    I now must offer our approach which I think is science at work.  We can predict what happens to patients  and what level of conscious  they are on.  We can predict the demarche of the therapy,  how it should proceed, and what steps we should take.  We understand immediately when a symptom such as high blood pressure or a migraine appears.    Above all, we know when a therapist makes a mistake.  Our staff can look at a tape, and we always tape patients, and know when something went wrong.  Why?  Because there is a precision to what we do that allows no margin to go off and do something else.

  Yes there is leeway in terms of the therapist and his perceptions but not in terms of what the patient needs.  It is never doing “what we feel comfortable with,” as I learned in my internship.   We have a clear understanding of anxiety and panic (see my piece in the World Congress of Psychiatry,  as well as what causes paranoia and what to do about it.   We don’t have to guess about what generates depression because we have a theory to guide us and decades of experience to tell us what works and why.

  So in those many approaches that they claim to be valid there may be ten different explanations of paranoia, not one, most of which do not concord with brain science.  Will it help to talk her out of her paranoia?  Not quite.  Since it is not an attitude; it is an imprint with a history and a biochemical foundation,  not just a cognitive misstep.  Without a comprehension of the levels of consciousness I cannot imagine how to construct a valid psychotherapy.  Because in the brain and its evolution there are distinct levels of consciousness with different identities and different symptoms.  For example, colitis has a specific origin and gets its start very early in evolution.  That symptom can tell us where in the brain it is located and originates, and what we can do to treat it.  When a patient needs drugs we know what to use (in conjunction with medical advice).   We know that serious mental symptoms require deep brain blockers because we understand that bizarre symptoms require deep access.   We also know that any scientific therapy must ultimately access deep brain engraved memories.

   We know that in gestation there are already imprints and repression that may be compounded into terrible depression later on.  We do not have to concoct hypotheses stemming from Freudian days about anger turned inward.  We learn from the unconscious of each patient, and from there, build a theory that helps explain it; we simply observe and listen.  It is all there, just waiting to be discovered.  It is not us that holds the truth; it is always the patient.

  So how can ten different therapies all be valid?  It can be affirmed precisely because there is no science that they follow.  Therefore anything can work.  If a neurosis is built on sequestered pain, how could we do anything else but access and address that pain?  We may disagree as to what to do about it but not of the pain itself, which we have seen thousands of times over forty seven years of Primal.
And of course we would not rely on medication as treatment when we do not want to push down the pain anymore, but rather to let it out; to express it at last.   Yes, if we do not admit to the stored pain and imprints then anything goes.

  Further, when we do acknowledge the existence of pain, we need to understand that we cannot travel deep too soon.  We know now that there is a valence to each pain; only so much that can be experienced at any time.  To deny that and over-reach the boundaries endangers the patient and her mental stability.  Yes there are times when the pain is hurtful but we understand that each little bit experienced is so much less pain driving us.  And that is why we see so much less stress hormones in our patients; as if to underline that feeling pain  relieves our neurotic burden.

  So to me, there cannot be any number of therapies all valid;   there can be many therapies all invalid, but they can claim validity if they change the criteria for improvement.   If they rely only on psychologic criteria, “ I  feel much better;” but no matter what she says, the biologic measurements tell another story.   So yes we can claim validity when we leave biology out of the equation.  But it is a pseudo state, and we don’t want to get pseudo well, do we?  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Origins of Anxiety, Panic and Rage Attacks (Abstract)

This is an abstract of an article I wrote for the Journal for Neurocognitive Research ANS (Activitas Nervosa Superior) that published last month:

This is a report of clinical observations over forty five years. We describe the difference between limbic fear versus brainstem terror. The earlier a patient relives events from childhood, and infancy, the deeper into the brain he may reach. In the process, the affective responses become more exaggerated; for example, mild hopelessness becomes suicidal hopelessness, fear becomes terror, and anger becomes rage. The responses become more primitive as they emanate from a brain that is more primitive; older and pre-human. (Janov, 2011) That primitive brain inside of us provides all of the responses that existed hundreds of millions of years ago. In some respects we are still that alligator or shark with no pity or remorse, just instinct. Those primitive responses are pre-emotion, before mammalian caring and concern evolved, and they do allow us to murder when evoked. They also permit panic attacks which evolved to be life-saving in situations where rapid and vigorous responses meant survival. A person responding with rage or terror is overwhelmed by his brainstem activity and is reacting exactly like the alligator does. These deep and early processes have largely been ignored in clinical work and must be revisited.

You can read the full article here:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

On Anorexia Nervosa

There is a recent article titled, “Deep Brain Stimulation shows promise for patients with chronic treatment resistant Anorexia Nervosa.”   Sounds great. But wait. You mean they are going to drill holes in the brain!?  Well they say they have to because these people have suffered for years with no help.  (Science News, 7-3-2013 (See This is a Canadian study.  University of Toronto, A. Lozano, et al. Please see an article on this in Lancet).

   What they are doing is stimulating deep in the brain of the subcallosal, cingulate area.  Why are they doing that? Because they have found structural and functional differences between those afflicted and normals.   Make no mistake; these are serious cases with multiple hospitalizations.

  Is it any surprise when there are deep imprints that can alter the circuits of  the brain that there would be brain deviations?   Not sure if they mean that these are genetic differences.  When you have pain registered deep in the brain there are bound to be alterations in neuronal circuits. These circuits are compensating for the input of trauma.  Maybe they should be there?  It would help to know if there were, indeed, early trauma, which is what we have found.  I treated one severe case of a young girl who lived with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend  forced her to perform oral sex every morning before school.  This went on until the mother threw him out.  But the child continued to vomit all of the time.  She was diagnosed by another clinic as anorexia nervosa.

  Her therapy went on for months before we learned the truth of her condition and that she was trying to get rid of his sperm by vomiting.  Once she relived it the symptom went away.   This is a reminder to get information, lots of it, before we go drilling into our precious brains.  The problem is that we often cannot get the information we need verbally because the trauma may not be verbal, and only emerges after reliving other pains early on.  We need to do a therapy that may possibly unearth the origin of  the symptom, slowly over time.  It may not come up deliberately but only after allowing access to deep brain imprints, those same brain structures that they want to probe and stimulate electrically.  And by the way, these people were also deeply depressive.  I had already written several times about the origins of depression, and am preparing a scientific paper on it.   Again we are dealing with deep-lying imprints that are not obvious to observers.

  What they are trying to do is re-regulate dysfunctional circuits.  I am not sure those circuits are dysfunctional; maybe they are reacting normally to terrible input even while we are being carried in the womb; so clearly,  it cannot be easily detected by those surgeons.  Carrying mothers ingesting alcohol, drugs or bad diet can begin the affliction of being affected by things the baby cannot eliminate.   We have seen this in a woman whose mother was a chain smoker during pregnancy.  She felt she had to get something out of her system; she did not know what for a long time. Smokey rooms made her nauseous and needing to throw up.  So do we want to do brain drilling on her?

   And of course the electrodes were implanted in areas of the brain dealing with emotion/feelings.   Not so surprising, they found that this also involved depression.  After nine months following surgery three of the six subjects had weight gain, and four of them had mood changes with better control over urges to binge and purge.
And then the doctors say, “We are truly ushering in a new era of understanding of the brain and the role it can play in certain neurological disorders.”  I am not sure.  First of all, it seems they are labeling this a brain disease or a brain malfunction, and just maybe it is not; it is a psycho-neurologic disease not caused by the brain but reacted to by the brain.  If you will, it is a Primal disease with key imprints that change the brain’s function.  And it happens so early that it is largely undetectable.

   What they claim to do is “by correcting the precise circuits in the brain associated with the symptoms in some of these conditions, we are finding additional options to treat illnesses.”   It may be that they have it backwards.  Yes, there are symptoms that are associated with these conditions but it all may stem from something epigenetic, and it is to there that we must look.

  It is true that eating disorders must be treated because there is a high death rate involved if allowed to go on, but there is another way to treat it.   The problem is that with the success they have had, the doctors want to go on treating some many other maladies with brain surgery.  Therein lies the rub, as Shakespeare noted.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Once More on Attention Deficit Disorder

   Yes, there are diminishing numbers of us therapists dealing with patients; most of us are dealing drugs because we don’t know what else to do.  We do not recognize patients’ inner lives; maybe because we do not acknowledge our own.  This is my third piece on ADD, and I hope the last.  A major article on ADD appears in today’s NY Times (April 1, 2013. Front page).  It states that there are more and more cases of ADD among children… in five, to be exact. Two thirds of those with ADD diagnosis are given drugs to help out.  They get stimulants such as Ritalin, or they get repressants such as Prozac and other serotonin enhancers (keeping more of it active in the synapse).

  So what is going on?  If I were to say to them that their brains (children) are too active because of birth trauma and life in the womb, I would be judged a bit bonkers.  So I will say it: imprints due to early trauma activate the system to help in repression.  And as the brain evolves the top level cortex is also activated to deal with the imprint.  The brain is busy, busy, dealing with the pain and has a hard time dealing with or focusing on one thing.  The input from inside is too much.  And when there is stimulation from the outside, from school tasks and homework assignments, it meets up with a very active brain which says, “Whoa there. Stop the input.  I have too much going on inside to listen to what you ask for.  It is overwhelming.”  But if there is no recognition of history, and by the way, recognition is also cognition, then ADD can never be understood.

  If we do not understand that there is a history that remains in the brain and agitates us, then ADD is a mystery.  It does not have to be.  So why do the professionals offer downers and uppers? Because there are two ways to deal with brain activation.  Either we soup up the top level neo-cortex to get stronger in its efforts to shut down pain, or we start at the bottom and use painkillers to hold down the pain from coming up.  Both work at two ends to deal with the source of the agitation: imprinted pain.  The kids are distracted because so much is already going on inside.  They have to deal with that first because it is a primary source and cannot be ignored; and since there is no recognition of inner life, all that is left are drugs. The input is so strong and so diverse without any specific scenes that can be attached to it that it remains a vague entity that leaves some professionals feeling it is a mysterious force, that ADD.   Why, by the way, do we offer stimulants to enhance the work of the top level cortex?  Because it has been over-occupied by engraved pain and it needs help; more neurons to offer its shoulder.   Enter stimulants.  Those stimulants do activate the entire brain; only the upper part, the thalamus and neo-cortex.  That is why they improve focus; the cortex is stronger now; it has had help.   Not a word about why kids need stimulants when they are already over-stimulated.   The drug companies are active here encouraging more and more drugs.   What most drugs do is make up for deficits in our own ability to produce them.  More tranquilizers because we can no longer manufacture serotonin (the key ingredient in tranquilizers), or in ADD the cortex is suffused by internal input, taxing it immensely, and so we need outside help to make it stronger and more active.

    This attitude is exemplified by Dr. William Graf, pediatric neurologist At Yale University, who says he is floored by the numbers of cases.  The American Psychological Association has decided to change the diagnosis, which they believe is a “brain disease.”   This “disease” impairs impulse control and other factors so that the Association wants to widen the diagnosis to enable more people to be treated. And how will they be treated? By medication, of course.   If we do not understand how pain is installed in the system and endures then all we can do is medicate, leaving an entire generation of ‘zombies.”  Why on earth is it so difficult to understand that we are victims of our childhood?  Are all of us professionals so estranged from it that it remains a mystery?  You mean none of us can look back and realize that there was no love there?   Maybe we cannot because our parents wanted smart kids and we filled the bill, (not at all my case) never realizing it was conditional love.

   My mother was psychotic and so there was no expectation that I would be anything, so I could not develop a defense nor a profession that I could use as a defense. That came decades later, but I was ADD to the maximum and had the worse grades possible in school.  I know what it is and was.  So much tumult was going on inside from my immediate environment that focusing on one thing was impossible.  I have relived that early life and the birth trauma, being given away right after birth to others that there is no doubt what was inside me.  Every teacher wrote “nervous” on my report card.   I remember, why can’t others?   Maybe they fulfilled what the parents expected.  I don’t know but it is a mystery why it early pain is ignored.

   You know, ADD is also called the hyperactivity disorder.  (ADD  HD: Hyperactive Disorder)  Of course, the kid is agitated out of his mind, driven by agony inside.  We want her to focus on 18ths century art and she is drowning in misery.  The drug director, T.R. Frieden, also sees medication as key, only we must not abuse it.  And how do we do that?  Stop so many prescriptions.

   The drug officials will  publish a new list of what constitutes ADD in the next month.  Will it be behavior, in the thrall of the behaviorists, or will it be about feeling?  I leave you to answer.

Review of "Beyond Belief"

This thought-provoking and important book shows how people are drawn toward dangerous beliefs.
“Belief can manifest itself in world-changing ways—and did, in some of history’s ugliest moments, from the rise of Adolf Hitler to the Jonestown mass suicide in 1979. Arthur Janov, a renowned psychologist who penned The Primal Scream, fearlessly tackles the subject of why and how strong believers willingly embrace even the most deranged leaders.
Beyond Belief begins with a lucid explanation of belief systems that, writes Janov, “are maps, something to help us navigate through life more effectively.” While belief systems are not presented as inherently bad, the author concentrates not just on why people adopt belief systems, but why “alienated individuals” in particular seek out “belief systems on the fringes.” The result is a book that is both illuminating and sobering. It explores, for example, how a strongly-held belief can lead radical Islamist jihadists to murder others in suicide acts. Janov writes, “I believe if people had more love in this life, they would not be so anxious to end it in favor of some imaginary existence.”
One of the most compelling aspects of Beyond Belief is the author’s liberal use of case studies, most of which are related in the first person by individuals whose lives were dramatically affected by their involvement in cults. These stories offer an exceptional perspective on the manner in which belief systems can take hold and shape one’s experiences. Joan’s tale, for instance, both engaging and disturbing, describes what it was like to join the Hare Krishnas. Even though she left the sect, observing that participants “are stunted in spiritual awareness,” Joan considers returning someday because “there’s a certain protection there.”
Janov’s great insight into cultish leaders is particularly interesting; he believes such people have had childhoods in which they were “rejected and unloved,” because “only unloved people want to become the wise man or woman (although it is usually male) imparting words of wisdom to others.” This is just one reason why Beyond Belief is such a thought-provoking, important book.”
Barry Silverstein, Freelance Writer

Quotes for "Life Before Birth"

“Life Before Birth is a thrilling journey of discovery, a real joy to read. Janov writes like no one else on the human mind—engaging, brilliant, passionate, and honest.
He is the best writer today on what makes us human—he shows us how the mind works, how it goes wrong, and how to put it right . . . He presents a brand-new approach to dealing with depression, emotional pain, anxiety, and addiction.”
Paul Thompson, PhD, Professor of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine

Art Janov, one of the pioneers of fetal and early infant experiences and future mental health issues, offers a robust vision of how the earliest traumas of life can percolate through the brains, minds and lives of individuals. He focuses on both the shifting tides of brain emotional systems and the life-long consequences that can result, as well as the novel interventions, and clinical understanding, that need to be implemented in order to bring about the brain-mind changes that can restore affective equanimity. The transitions from feelings of persistent affective turmoil to psychological wholeness, requires both an understanding of the brain changes and a therapist that can work with the affective mind at primary-process levels. Life Before Birth, is a manifesto that provides a robust argument for increasing attention to the neuro-mental lives of fetuses and infants, and the widespread ramifications on mental health if we do not. Without an accurate developmental history of troubled minds, coordinated with a recognition of the primal emotional powers of the lowest ancestral regions of the human brain, therapists will be lost in their attempt to restore psychological balance.
Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D.
Bailey Endowed Chair of Animal Well Being Science
Washington State University

Dr. Janov’s essential insight—that our earliest experiences strongly influence later well being—is no longer in doubt. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, immunology, and epigenetics, we can now see some of the mechanisms of action at the heart of these developmental processes. His long-held belief that the brain, human development, and psychological well being need to studied in the context of evolution—from the brainstem up—now lies at the heart of the integration of neuroscience and psychotherapy.
Grounded in these two principles, Dr. Janov continues to explore the lifelong impact of prenatal, birth, and early experiences on our brains and minds. Simultaneously “old school” and revolutionary, he synthesizes traditional psychodynamic theories with cutting-edge science while consistently highlighting the limitations of a strict, “top-down” talking cure. Whether or not you agree with his philosophical assumptions, therapeutic practices, or theoretical conclusions, I promise you an interesting and thought-provoking journey.
Lou Cozolino, PsyD, Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University

In Life Before Birth Dr. Arthur Janov illuminates the sources of much that happens during life after birth. Lucidly, the pioneer of primal therapy provides the scientific rationale for treatments that take us through our original, non-verbal memories—to essential depths of experience that the superficial cognitive-behavioral modalities currently in fashion cannot possibly touch, let alone transform.
Gabor Maté MD, author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

An expansive analysis! This book attempts to explain the impact of critical developmental windows in the past, implores us to improve the lives of pregnant women in the present, and has implications for understanding our children, ourselves, and our collective future. I’m not sure whether primal therapy works or not, but it certainly deserves systematic testing in well-designed, assessor-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trials.
K.J.S. Anand, MBBS, D. Phil, FAACP, FCCM, FRCPCH, Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, Senior Scholar, Center for Excellence in Faith and Health, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System

A baby's brain grows more while in the womb than at any time in a child's life. Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script That Rules Our Lives is a valuable guide to creating healthier babies and offers insight into healing our early primal wounds. Dr. Janov integrates the most recent scientific research about prenatal development with the psychobiological reality that these early experiences do cast a long shadow over our entire lifespan. With a wealth of experience and a history of successful psychotherapeutic treatment, Dr. Janov is well positioned to speak with clarity and precision on a topic that remains critically important.
Paula Thomson, PsyD, Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge & Professor Emeritus, York University

"I am enthralled.
Dr. Janov has crafted a compelling and prophetic opus that could rightly dictate
PhD thesis topics for decades to come. Devoid of any "New Age" pseudoscience,
this work never strays from scientific orthodoxy and yet is perfectly accessible and
downright fascinating to any lay person interested in the mysteries of the human psyche."
Dr. Bernard Park, MD, MPH

His new book “Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” shows that primal therapy, the lower-brain therapeutic method popularized in the 1970’s international bestseller “Primal Scream” and his early work with John Lennon, may help alleviate depression and anxiety disorders, normalize blood pressure and serotonin levels, and improve the functioning of the immune system.
One of the book’s most intriguing theories is that fetal imprinting, an evolutionary strategy to prepare children to cope with life, establishes a permanent set-point in a child's physiology. Baby's born to mothers highly anxious during pregnancy, whether from war, natural disasters, failed marriages, or other stressful life conditions, may thus be prone to mental illness and brain dysfunction later in life. Early traumatic events such as low oxygen at birth, painkillers and antidepressants administered to the mother during pregnancy, poor maternal nutrition, and a lack of parental affection in the first years of life may compound the effect.
In making the case for a brand-new, unified field theory of psychotherapy, Dr. Janov weaves together the evolutionary theories of Jean Baptiste Larmarck, the fetal development studies of Vivette Glover and K.J.S. Anand, and fascinating new research by the psychiatrist Elissa Epel suggesting that telomeres—a region of repetitive DNA critical in predicting life expectancy—may be significantly altered during pregnancy.
After explaining how hormonal and neurologic processes in the womb provide a blueprint for later mental illness and disease, Dr. Janov charts a revolutionary new course for psychotherapy. He provides a sharp critique of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and other popular “talk therapy” models for treating addiction and mental illness, which he argues do not reach the limbic system and brainstem, where the effects of early trauma are registered in the nervous system.
“Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” is scheduled to be published by NTI Upstream in October 2011, and has tremendous implications for the future of modern psychology, pediatrics, pregnancy, and women’s health.