Thursday, January 30, 2014
Let’s go over this again so we can make sure that reliving is important in the therapy for all kinds of neuroses. Neurosis means that there is an early traumatic input that alters function and behavior; not one or the other but both. That is, there is pain and denial of need that overwhelms normal functioning and causes a diversion. We are no longer normal; things go wrong neurologically, biochemically and behaviorally. And of course to cure we need to normalize the whole system, not just behavior or biochemistry.
That in a tiny nutshell is the story of neurosis. We are no longer ourselves; we are re-routed in function. To get back to ourselves we have to re-establish function in every aspect. Not just behavior.
And when we are diverted and rerouted, there are marks that leave their traces; epigenetic marks. For example, if we are loved and hugged and touched a lot there are changes in the brain where methylation patterns are changed. The function of the gene is changed and how we then behave is diverted. The brain has “borrowed” part of the methyl group and produced alterations in how genes are expressed or repressed; shut down or opened up. And this changes us in profound ways. Our personality becomes different; we can be more open or closed off; more depressed or anxious depending on what genes do what. But it is not genetic; it is epigenetic, how life impacts us. How experienced changes us. It is not just in the genes; it is in experience. Don’t go looking at the genes alone; it is not there. They are the result of experience.
Now those marks or traces are embedded and can follow us throughout life. They form the substrate on how further experience impacts us. So with lots of love we have a different system than a deficit amount of love. And a different brain. And a different focus and attention span. All this right after birth. And it can spell a chronically aggressive or passive baby and child. The difference between a heavily allergic child who spends her life in emergency rooms, and a normal child. Above all, it sets the stage for a child who does well in school and another who fails. You mean all this from events in life before birth? Exactly. Love means altering those immune cells and making them stronger. No love means the opposite.
OK so now we have those marks, methylation which foretells of a life to come and how it will be lived. How do we change all that? We need to revisit those early experiences, those without words, go back and redo them. Change history and their traces. We need to undo the damage and that means slowly demethylizing. One experience at a time; or one experience over many times. We need to find how the system was detoured and put it back on track, literally. This happened because pain installed itself and forced change. A mother who was on coffee or who was constantly on tranquilizers changes the baby’s system. He cannot slow down because the anxious carrying mother has caused a more speedy system in her offspring. And this can be measured; the amount of methylation can be observed and changed. That is meaningful progress. It informs us about altering neuroses. And when allergies disappear we have supporting data. And when sexual deviation goes away we have even more key data. And above all, when the telomeres lengthen and we live longer that is critical information. Neurosis, in short, is a global affair, not just one behavior or one symptom.
But isn’t this what medicine today is about? Lowering blood pressure, giving allergy medication. Restructuring behavior. It is called “whack-a-mole.” Every time a symptom shows up just whack it back.
And don’t ask where it all came from? It is obviously a “brain disease.” Experience takes a back seat as we slither down into the depths and minutia of the brain seeking answers that do not exist there and never will.
But we are the dealers in experience because we have seen what experience does to us, especially very early pre-verbal experience. If one sees one Primal one knows for all time how crucial experience is in the scheme of things. It is rarely a brain disease; that is concocted by those who fiddle around in neurons and synapses and do not see the brain reacting to experience. If we leave out experience we are bereft of what can give us answers. We see only the end result and miss half of the puzzle. It is like looking at diabetics and never know what they eat. If we leave out the first three years in an orphanage can you wonder that we can never know what the matter is. Thinking it is a brain disease is the result of another more serious disease: solipsism.
Friday, January 24, 2014
You harm anyone, no matter the age, by depriving them of their biologic needs. So you abuse a fetus by not recognizing her needs. And what are they? We can tell because we have seen those needs in action in therapy sessions, and the screaming and agony when they go unfulfilled. We do not have to theorize about them. If we do not know them then there will be deprivation and harm. We see the terrible impact when the baby is left alone after birth, and is not held, caressed or touched. We see the pain and the result. Further, in later reliving, we see its lifelong effects: the inability to be alone, the nagging emptiness of not being with someone, the need to constantly connect either personally or on the phone. All to keep that basic aloneness away.
We can see how the pains pile up and accumulate reaching inordinate heights, and the symptoms that issue from that; aching stomach, migraines and high blood pressure. Further, we see in the reliving that once that terrible aloneness and isolation has been felt, so much changes both psychologically and biologically. And we also know that we don't get to those imprints until months into the therapy. The earlier the pain the more time it takes to reach, as it should be since the more remote the event the more painful it will be. And from what I have seen, the imprints from just after conception cannot be seen or often even imagine but they set down their seeds in the earliest formation of cells. And those are the most difficult to find and the most difficult to conceptualize and treat, but they may be behind schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and some cancers. These may be the deepest imbeds, the most remote and ineffable memories engraved in the primitive developing cells. We look at them after decades of agitation and try to decipher their causes and how to deal with them. But we are long after the fact, and that is the problem. The fetus is deprived, first of all, through irresponsible diet by the mother, and then most importantly, the mother is chronically anxious and revs up the baby unrelentingly. It is this chronic input, un-contained and un-circumscribed that does its damage. It never lets up, and the baby's resources can no longer cope. This is the harbinger of later disease. It is not one fixed event in time that does the damage; it is the unrelenting adversity that does it.
But when we get the perfect trifecta: fetal damage, birth damage and infancy harm, there is little doubt that we have a child whose life will be cut short. Depriving parents tend to be that way all along the child's development. One way we can predict how long that child's life will be is by the length of her telomeres, the longer the better for longevity. The mother's stress level shortens her telomeres and, I assume, that of the fetus as well. Your projected lifespan is already set inside the womb. That is where the great early harm takes place; a fetus who has not way to escape the harm but sets there and takes it, day after day. Children who grow up in orphanages have very short telomeres. And that tendency goes on into adult life. It does not have to be in institution; a divorcing mother can suffer continuously and over stimulate the baby. And we know that the higher the stress hormone level, cortisol, the shorter the telomeres. Worse, those who had shorter telomeres in childhood could often count on diseases such as cancer in adulthood. Three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. And this, I believe, begins during womb life and sets the stage of arcane and recondite illness later on. So telomere length is a good index of disease later on. Those with chronic shorter telomeres were far more likely to end up Alzheimer’s. The point is that those mothers who were heavily stressed during pregnancy had shorter telomeres, which finally affected the offspring.
Thus the remote life endangering events are the very imprints that become life endangering in adult life. It is a memory of near death that again can put you near-death later on, so long as that memory is not relived and extirpate from the system. Stress, or deprivation of need, which is the same thing, imprints a molecular mark that trails us for life. That is the culprit we must deal with.
And that is the culprit that is so evasive because it is of such early provenance. Few of us can imagine that time-span. Few of us can investigate and see the fetal imprint, yet it is there before our eyes if we know how to look at it.
So we ask patients about their childhood, and usually go not further. We leave out real basic causes and content ourselves with what may be obvious. It is the non-obvious that is the killer.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
There is a piece in the New York Times Science section, (September 8, 2013, by the Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel)(See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/08/opinion/sunday/the-new-science-of-mind.html). He is discussing the advances being made in the science of the mind, and in particular, psychotherapy. What he means by advances or progress is a deeper understanding of brain function. Here he states, “Consider the biology of depression. (We can) discern the outlines of a complex neural circuit that becomes disordered in depressive illness.” So here we have it; it is all about brain structure and function. No discussion of the human being that carries around that brain or her experiences. The brain and the mind are identical for him. He seems to think that brain scans are the wave of the future so that we can ferret out the nerve circuits involved in mental illness. He cites the work of Helen Mayberg of Emory University who gave two types of treatment to subjects: cognitive therapy where they train people to develop a more positive attitude to life and its adversities, or anti- depressant medication. She could tell by examining the function of the insula who would respond and who would not. Those who started with a low baseline did well with cognitive therapy. Those who had above baseline insula activity did better with medication.
What’s wrong with this picture? Are those the two key approaches in the treatment of depression? Is there any room for feelings? Either we medicate or change the subjects’ minds about life? It is no small thing that he is friends with a leader in the cognitive approach—Aaron Beck. What he believes is that they have discovered biologic markers for depression. And once we do that, what?
I have an idea. Why don’t we try to figure out what psychological factors change brain function? Why don’t we bring the emotional and mental into the equation? Otherwise, we are forced into a reductionist approach to consider it all within the brain; a form of pure solipsism. Like there is a brain but no person with experience. Or if there is a person with experience what are the experiences? And how do they change the brain? That is the real domain of psychotherapy. The brain and mind are not identical; otherwise how can the mind change the activity of the brain? For example, when we say this drill won’t hurt your teeth and it doesn’t. Or how hypnosis can change brain function. There are levels of reality; the chemical, the neurological and the psychological. They are different and cannot be equated to one another. Otherwise we get into the bind of saying that anorexia is due to too much or too little dopamine or serotonin. And we will never find out what makes for more or less of these chemicals floating around in our brains. So instead of minutely examining neural circuits or biochemistry let’s be psychologists and psychiatrists and examine the mind. If I read Kandel properly there is really no mind to deal with.
Of course there are changes on all levels due to experience but they are not necessarily causes; rather, they are accompaniments. They are responses, by and large, to experience. So what are those experiences? Look at migraine headaches. We have looked into this affliction and discovered that very early experience, anoxia at birth, is a major cause; the vascular system shuts down in an attempt to conserve oxygen. It is experience that counts here, and a specific kind of experience. If we examine the brain for 100 years we will come no closer to understanding migraine. Of course neural circuits change as most neuro-biologic functions change in reaction to trauma. This anoxic condition will certainly change the cortisol levels and the output of serotonin. But they are not causes? Does the function of the insula respond to severe input along with other limbic structures? Certainly. They are the result, not the cause of the symptom. Scientists removed from their feelings do not consider feelings in either causes or treatments. It is all cerebral, they assume. It is very much like assuming that those low in dopamine will not have a exaggerated reaction to coffee while those already agitated will have a greater reaction to coffee.
Kandel maintains that psychotherapy is a “biological treatment. A brain therapy”. And therefore there is no real place for psychotherapy. And then he goes on, “Any discussion of the biologic basis of psychiatric disorders must include genetics.” Not epigenetics where all the late research points, but inheritance. Again no place for life experience. It is either inherited or the problem is in the brain. He says it: Individual biology and genetics” make up the contribution to such things as depression. That is why it is a small step to operating on the brain to try to change depression. Again, when we get on the wrong train every stop we make is wrong. Let’s get on the right one.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
A piece in the N.Y. Times , June 9, 2013 discusses Dr. Drew Pinsky, a television personality and doctor who treats addicts and helps in rehab. (See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/fashion/dr-drew-pinsky-physician-and-media-star.html) Here is what he says: addiction is not a curable condition. It is one of those endearing syllogisms that say, since I cannot cure it, it must be incurable. Therefore I don’t have to try. I just control it as best I can. And of course he has had some suicides among his rehab group. He says he wishes he could blame himself but alas it is not true. He is not to blame. He did his best. Sadly, that best is not good enough and derives from the notion that it is all in our heads, and if we can change our attitudes we can conquer it. Not cure it, mind you, just conquer it.
Of course he had suicides. His therapy was incomplete and ignored the crucial few months of life where deep depression gets its start. And therefore, yes, addiction can be cured…if we take away its generating sources. If we go deep into the brain and the unconscious. That is what cure means, tying symptoms to origins. Otherwise, we can never speak of cure. So long as we ignore the deep-lying causes there is no cure, and that is the inadvertent crime of Dr. Pinsky. No origins,6 never a cure. What are we curing? The causes. No more, no less. Otherwise, no matter what the therapeutic approach they are never curing.
It is strange to see in print that something cannot be cured; that means that they have the last word in theory and technique and it cannot be improved upon. He does not say, maybe there is someone around who knows how to cure but I don’t. For that he needs to survey the literature. We don’t keep our therapy hidden. It is published in books and scientific papers. He has to take the time and interest to search for answers. He does not say, maybe one day we can cure it. No. It cannot be cured.
The problem is that he and others who mean well have a slight arrogance about them to indicate that they know it cannot be cured. What a disservice to addicts in the country who need help and need to know there is a cure. Can he put himself and his therapy in question? Can he have a bit of self-doubt? Can he imagine anyone in the world doing something better than him? Evidently not. Is that arrogance? I think so. It is an arrogance that leaves those who suffer no way out. This is what rehab centers do, as well. No science, just a potpourri of unproved approaches with a hope for the best. But isn’t that arrogance on our part to think we know better? I don’t think so since I did put myself and my therapy in question years ago and decided to change. Also we do get down to origins and we do cure and we never make statements about not curing anyone.
Clearly, we don’t cure everyone but I believe that our therapy provides the platform for cure, something we have been honing for many decades with thousands of patients. Dr. Pinsky says he hopes he could take responsibility for the suicide of his rehab patients. I can help you doctor. You are responsible. Your lack of searching, even by inadvertence makes you able to claim responsibility. And you should because that is the first step toward cure-----toward finding a cure for yourself and your patients.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Here is what I think is proper medicine in psychotherapy: it must be always a collaboration between patient and doctor. It is not something done to the patient as if she were only a research subject. It means that her input has to be considered as a leg of the diagnostic procedure; and that is what seems to be missing in so much psychotherapy today. The patient is “done to.” There is a certain set of procedures, which is fixedly applied to the patient without her input whatsoever. Therefore, a critical leg of the diagnostic procedure is missing and the diagnosis is faulty. It has to be since a critical input is not there.
The problem is that there is a certain set of assumptions that are decided before the patient ever enters the room, which are then a priori draped over him, and the therapy begins. I use the word, “draped,” because these assumptions then sequester the real patient before them, and she can no longer be seen. All they see is the image decided on helter-skelter. And the patient must fit into this image, rather than vice versa…getting all the facts and seeing how they lead to a diagnosis. How the theory fits the patient; how the diagnosis emanates from those facts and data. There is rarely a diagnosis that can be changed to fit the new information. So she is squeezed into a diagnostic category to make it all fit.
So here we have, “got the tools to be applied and don’t let the facts interfere with their use.“ Well don’t we do that, as well? We try to change our hypothesis when necessary but our hypotheses and theory derived from decades of research and observation. It wasn’t a decided on procedure irrespective of the facts. In brief, the facts led to an ever-changing diagnostic approach. Not so loose as to be a sieve but rather something with a key structure that leaves room for change. It is a fine line.
How does that work in practice? One simple point: I originally never believed in birth primals at the start and told patients it was ridiculous. I took my lead from a university neurology department who advised me how impossible it was. So I eliminated the idea and took it out of my diagnostic armamentarium. But the facts kept piling up; patients who came from many different countries did in fact relive birth, and then we did research on it, testing brainwaves and biochemistry. Reliving birth was filmed and measured, and the results were inescapable. It not only was possible but major biologic change resulted from the reliving. We never shut down the idea totally; we waited and studied it to see what it was and what it did. And it did exactly what the patients insisted what it did. It changed them; lowered their blood pressure and body temperature. It was a collaborative process, which included the patient’s input. I cannot imagine it being done without that input.
Reliving stopped anxiety attacks. Then we needed to know why. And we were off and yet another study of panic and anxiety attacks. What were they and where did they come from? The result of our work is found in the World Congress of Psychiatry (Spring 2013). Our work evolves exactly because we leave room for the new.
Now let us turn back, (and I do mean “back”), to the “rebirthers”. They saw something dramatic in it and decided world-wide to practice it randomly. They saw a cure-all, done in an afternoon, some done in swimming pools, other done without the water. And what did that “I have the tools and will find patients to fit in,” idea accomplish? Many patients completely broken down and coming to us for help to re-establish their sanity. It is now a predictable result because these patients were victims of the “tool box.” No studies or research, no seeing if patients can go deep with impunity. And they cannot.
In fact, I have yet to see, among all those mock practitioners any serious research to accompany their work. They found a name, Primal, and a technique, Rebirthing, and off they went, using well-researched ideas as their own. Who suffered? Patients. Even Steve Jobs was fooled into thinking he was going to a legitimate primal center. There are those who see the title “doctor,” and cannot imagine that a “doctor” would engage in chicanery. Alas, they can and do. Few want to put in the years of study again to learn a new approach, so they make off with the name and voila! They are primal therapists.
The hypocrisy goes on: there is a man in Sweden who has spend decades denigrating primal therapy, all the while practicing it in secret, Tomas Videgard. Here is a letter in part from one of his “patients“: “It is difficult to know what he did to me. Pressed me down to a painful trauma and refused to take me out of it. He told me that he was chosen by you to become a primal therapist. But he skipped the whole thing (the training). It was a nightmare.”
I cannot vouch for the letter’s accuracy but it sounds a lot like other reports I have received. And it highlights the danger of those using the term Primal to practice a so-called primal therapy. I am often asked, “Why don’t they use some other name?” The answer is that with the name goes years of research and practice, which they take as their own, giving them a cachet they have not earned. And worse, it allows them to damage patients in our name. Since there are literally hundreds of so-called primal therapists advertising the therapy, it is not surprising that those who are hurting and need help can be fooled.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Oh dear, that used to be such a dirty word. The idea of it was roundly rejected for a hundred years, and then, lo and behold it is now pure science. What happened? For one thing, the scientific method, slow as it is. For another, consciousness has developed, stripping us of old canards.
Anent this point, made in several journals and written about in New Scientist (7 Dec. 2013) (See http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22029462.700-fear-of-a-smell-can-be-passed-down-several-generations.html#.UsVZg2RdVWI), there is mounting evidence that parental effects dip down into the newborn impregnating her with parental history. So when we ask, “Why is she that way?” We have a better idea. She is that way due to genetics and above all, what life experience has done to those genes. For example, “Why does she eat so much?” We know that it is not current culture that is the sole cause; it could also be because the mother was indulgent and ate compulsively. It turns out that babies learn some food preferences while living in the womb. And some of it is pretty well set before the age of two. While in the womb the baby is learning about his world and what to expect from it; hence lots of food is to be expected from a mother who indulges.
There is evidence now that diet can alter gene expression. If you love sweets and cannot resist, it could be due to womb-life. In other words, the mother’s compulsion becomes your destiny. This can explain a good percentage of obesity in children. Bad eating habits begin in the womb as do so many other compulsions. More evidence is piling up to show how this early start can predict the early onset of disease and a shortened lifespan. (See the work of Keith Godfrey, Univ. Of Southampton (See http://www.southampton.ac.uk/medicine/research/themes/epigenetics.page). And also New Scientist, 7 December, 2013). The fetus is not only aware of certain tastes and smells in the mother while she is carrying, but those memories can last a lifetime, and can affect so much of our interests later on. Mothers ingesting carrot juice during pregnancy had children who preferred it.
It is not just diet, that is the obvious one, but think about fear; it can be passed down, as well. So are we born fearful? Could be. We can be jumpy, nervous and erratic, all due to epigenetics. Mice who associated a certain smell with an electric jolt became fearful in the presence of that smell. It seems so early as to be genetic, but it is more likely to be epigenetic, the condition of the mother (and father) while carrying. This should teach us something about memory; for memories while being carried can last decades and drive and/or channel behavior. We do not simply “grow out of it.”
In fact, premature babies who were hugged and caressed a lot went home earlier than those babies not touched as much. Those early kisses count a lot and help shape personality, a loving and warm person versus a stand-offish one. A nervous mother leaves a predisposition to fear in the offspring, just as a depressed mother leaves a base of depression in her baby. Whether it becomes overt depends on later events and traumas. I personally believe that lots of love and healthy living in the very young child can abate these deleterious effects. This is especially true for those babies who were taken from institutions. They are greatly in need of love and reassurance early on. If they don’t get it, it can be somewhat irreversible; that is, there may be a point where love can no longer make a great difference. The damage is done and it is pretty well fixed. This is the research we will embark on in the near future. Is there a point in time when love cannot reverse previous damage? When is that point?
The evidence is becoming clear, ever since I posited early life trauma, even in the womb, almost fifty years ago. At that time, I had to be convinced of it through the experience of my patients. It became irrefutable. But I understood how hard it was to convince others of its importance, especially those in psychology and psychiatry.
I know that I had a tendency to be fearful since gestation and birth so that a harsh tone from my father just withered me and forced me to obey without question. I became obedient to demands, gave in so that the anger will stop. I had a “couche” of terror below due to a psychotic mother. It was all compounded into an unaggressive child. Add that to almost never having any needs filled and you get the picture of a child who knows nothing of his needs or his feelings, just drifting along in life, complaisant and undemanding. That is no way to be, believe me.
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.