Sunday, November 30, 2014
Our lower brain and brainstem were designed originally for immediate, rapid reaction. It is survival and supreme defense. As the brain developed and added on higher levels of function, all the way to the top neo-cortex, we got help in sussing out danger and responding to it. Our mechanisms became more elaborate and arcane. On the way, what happened down deep in the brain became more indecipherable so we no longer knew what was bothering us. Thus, deep imprinted terror on the level of the brainstem sent its message up high and suddenly it became transformed into anxiety. Then we began treating anxiety as some mysterious affliction, never understanding what it is and where it came from. We did not know because we had never taken patients down to the brainstem level, and therefore had no idea what lies down there. So we guessed and developed fancy theories about it, which had to be wrong because it remained a mystery. But there were and are clues. So let’s see, what is one clue?
First line dangers which awaken primitive terror mean that menace is close, danger is approaching and we must react. The closer that danger the more our primitive terror reactions. But, but…..as our brain evolved we became alienated from the real danger, our deep imprints, and sent the message on high to the neocortex. And what does the cortex do? It gets all wound up ready for action. But what kind of action? No one knows. But it remains on the qui vive; the cortex churns away in a constant frenzy. And how do we treat it? We give medication that works where? On those lower levels where terror is organized; and what does that do? It stops the frenzy. And we just thought it was a cerebral frantic state that we had to deal with. We offer, " Don’t pay attention. Put your mind elsewhere. Try Mediation, etc. etc", ad nauseam. What do we do? We follow orders. We “learn” how to relax, as if that were possible when the lower brain is in a flurry of activity. We do anything to deny and divert attention from the real problem….traumatic memory that required frenzy and being battle-ready. The system helps out because our biochemistry works on the gating system and tries to keep it closed so that we never find out what the source is. And the devilish part is that now we must wend our way down to that source through the various levels of the brain, slowly, methodically so as not to overwhelm things. There is no way to get down there immediately. Those who did so, using LSD paid the price too often of psychosis, as the brainstem threw up its hidden cave of primal demons and overwhelmed the neo-cortex, preventing it from functioning properly. It manufactures bizarre ideas, delusions, to cope with the upsurge of imprints. We treated the delusions, some therapists, tried to meet those delusions and tried to change the patient’s ideas by that method. Always ignoring origins, the key to cure. And those origins were and are behind so much of sleep problems and nightmares. We cannot fall asleep cause our brains are ruminating on this or that, and we cannot get off it; we cannot stop the input from below from our primevil beginnings. And we have nightmares because in our brains the danger is immediate and life threatening, which it is, and we need be alert to protect ourselves. We need to be aware to watch out for the danger. We become hyper aware in order to block unconscious imprints. Aware to defeat the unconscious. That is why those who become intellectuals have fled to their heads and never feel the danger that activates them.
Can we treat psychosis? Sometimes, but the damage is done and the patient too often needs to remain in a controlled environment. We don’t have that. The same is true of marijuana, although I am told the new marijuana is safe. I do not know enough about it to agree or disagree, but the long time pot-smokers I have seen over the years behave like those who took LSD. Both drugs chip away at the gating system, weaken it and thus prematurely allow deep imprints to mount and disrupt everything. And what is the last line of defense against the mounting danger? Delusions; we call upon the last developing part of the brain to whip into action to manufacture a defense. Let’s be clear: as the terror from down deep nudges the higher levels into action the whole system responds to danger; and what is the danger? Feelings. You mean feelings, our own feelings are a danger? Let me explain. The imprints from the first weeks of gestation are monumental. They are psychosis-producing. Now as they mount to the thinking, ideational cortex, but back then when they militated into childhood psychosis (a mother taking drugs, smoking and drinking from the start). The more of these gating-weakening drugs we take the more the deep levels bump into the higher ones. The danger becomes immediate; hence an “anxiety attack.” We cannot relax in the face of danger, and we should not, as then we will be in terrible danger. The weaker the gates the closer the danger and the higher the terror/anxiety level. So we have two choices. We can strengthen the gates by offering SSRI’s (Prozac), the same brain chemical that was depleted in the original combat during gestation and birth. In short, boosting the gates again to block feelings and pain. Or we can do what makes more sense—help open the gates in a safe way so that the primal forces finally have egress, and finally we can heal and relax.
Let me be clear. There is new research that indicates that the key repressive painkilling chemical mechanism in most SSRI’s is serotonin. This was recruited to help in the battle early on in the womb and now when we run out we get more from outside; those precious pills. The research states the defective serotonin interacts with stress during the fetal stages which increases basic long term risk.(see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141120082302.htm) They reported that a certain receptor for serotonin was examined to see what it did in the formation of brain circuits, and in particular, those cells that regulate excitement. It helps dampen too much input and neuronal action. In other words, it helps reduce potential cerebral hyperactivity. This keeps serotonin on track, helping to find its place in the developing cortex where it can function best. It seems to have a role in the correct assembly of neuron tracks. When serotonin receptors are impaired the whole gating system is affected. Trauma certainly damages the serotonin system. Pregnant women who take drugs can damage or modify serotonin neurons. All to say that very early on we begin to weaken that most crucial gating system. And there is no going back. The damage remains and later on we find those with ADD and severe anxiety states. We never know why.
Wait a minute!: Yes we do.
We need to get it right about evolution because visceral reactions, come from the viscera which are organized at the beginnings of our lives, down deep in the brain. So clearly, we are anxious long before we are aware of it or can give it a name; and when we do we give it the wrong name—anxiety—instead of deeply embedded terror. Worse, then we try to treat this anxiety without knowing where it comes from or what it really is. Still worse, the ideas about it, our name for it, came along millions of years after it started its life.
To reiterate: The same traumas that severely damage the fetus and his brain are the very same that mount with the use of pot and LSD to again produce severe reactions; most often psychosis and delusions. They are not different causes just because they are produced at different times; they are the same with disastrous reactions at different stages of our evolution. They are crazy making.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
I think we are outfitted with inbuilt mechanisms to handle adverse events—stress. But let’s be clear what stress is. It is not falling off your bicycle. Or even breaking your leg. Stress occurs when the event exceeds our coping mechanisms; when we no longer are able to integrate it and go on with life. It usually happens in two ways; either the trauma happens so early and so life endangering, as very early traumas can be, overwhelming our defenses; or, it becomes a permanent event that wears down the various systems of the body over time. It is usually the permanence of stress that is the culprit.
This has some scientific backing: a new study in Germany (Dr. Georg Juckel) documented how long-lasting stress produced mental illness (see http://rubin.rub.de/en/featured-topic-stress/mental-disorders or http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141121082907.htm). The measured prolonged stress as it effects the immune system. They concentrated on certain phagocytes (microglia). They help repair nerve cells; except, except, when they are overtaxed. Then they become destructive. That is when stress, having gone on too long, becomes its antagonist. In other words, our initial repair mechanisms turn into their opposite when stress goes on too long. As we know, there is just so much we can take. So those microglia cells now produce inflammation instead of reducing it. Our good protective friend becomes our enemy. It says, “You asked too much of me and I can’t do it any more.”
When the triggering even goes on and on the destructive forces remain and do their damage. They found that it wasn’t the trauma along that was the guilty party but how that trauma was embedded on deeper trauma: those who were under trauma were many times more likely to develop mental illness later on if there was a history of severe infections during early gestation; especially true during the embryonic period. We need to investigate the gestalt of entire panoply of illness; not just a single factor. When trauma is compounded, the mother has a series of ailments or drinks alcohol or smokes from the start of pregnancy, there can be serious effects later on, not the least of which are severe allergies. I have reported on a patient with such heavy afflictions. She explained to me that her parents fought all the time during the pregnancy, finally ending in divorce in her seventh month. My patient felt it all and seemed sure that all of the chronic battles affected her immune system. She made constant runs to the emergency services in her community.
What is crucial here is that the embryonic state helps shape the newly developing immune system. When there is severe influenza during this period the baby may well suffer later from all sorts of immune diseases, not the least of which may be the catastrophic diseases much later in life; and who could dream that those illnesses got their start during the embryonic period? Above all, it is the chronicity of the trauma, the unrelenting terrible input, that does us in. One sure thing, is the mother’s constant smoking; another is her chronic depression or anxiety. They exist during the embryonic period and have very long-lasting effects.
I had chronic allergies as a kid, went to doctor after doctor to try to figure it all out. But they were looking in the wrong place; they should have looked into my brain and the brain of my childhood. There was the answer. And when I got out of the house all allergies stopped. Today I have no allergies at all. I do believe that allergy specialists need to reduce their immune studies and talk to their patients about their early life. How was gestation? And birth? Many drugs given? I believe they will find many more answers there than in the allergy tests they study.
But isn’t all this self evident? Pipe smokers who pass hot smoke over their lips and jaws often suffer cancer of those areas. Remember Freud with his jaw cancer? It is the constant friction, the assault and insult that does it all. We are built to withstand just so much and then the body gives up. It did what it could and it was not enough.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Why does need hurt? Well, it does not until we feel it. Then it hurts a lot, which is why most of us act it out. We show our needs every day and every minute, which is how we know they’re there. When we engage our therapist and show him how smart we are, how terribly insightful, we get a nodding approval. Our act-out works and we don’t have to feel our need, even though that need is liberating when felt. When the narcissist cannot be the center of attention he starts to hurt until he can gain that center again. Indeed, all of us hurt when our needs are not fulfilled even though we have no awareness of that need. And in fact, neurosis is designed to keep us unaware. So we act out being helpless so we can get someone else to do it for us or to help us. When there is no help we hurt.
But why the act-out? Because it is a straight line from the need, except that the gates which diminish feeling access blunt the hurt and keep us unaware. When we are unaware we do not hurt as much. Unconsciousness is our savior. That straight line from need also works in reverse; when we go back to it over time in therapy we start to hurt—hold me, touch me, say I’m good, hear me, talk to me—all of the needs essential for normal survival; to survive as a normal human being become alive again. We hurt because those needs represent survival; we need to be normal and need to grow normally. When we can’t the system says something is missing and provides pain to signal it. Pain keeps the need alive. Pain is essential to our survival and our normality.
I have treated film directors whose pathology rivals that of actors. When they are not on scene they hurt. Yes they can even produce feeling scenes but it remains an act-out not a felt feeling. They don’t really hurt enough to feel their need, but they hurt enough to feel depressed, alone and neglected. Even when those needs are not articulated. In other words, needs become shrouded by the gating system whose function is to keep us unaware and unconscious. All this is particularly true of the earliest imprints where pain is at the maximum. It is the most powerful, the most driving, and the least accessible. Because it is least accessible, we usually ascribe our act-outs to arcane reasons or we most often deny them.
We see it in the deep trenches of the psyche; in sex which emanates from deep in the brain. We go to therapy to solve our “sex” problem and we use the top level that has no access to deep levels where the imprints lie. Because the therapist nor the patient knows about those deep levels that are obliged to roam in a different terrain from where the problem lies. So if the patient needs to be spanked to have orgasm, words won’t touch. I already wrote about a girl whose only touch from her father was when he lifted her skirt and spanked her bare bottom. That touch fulfilled an unacknowledged need; it felt good and become a sexual need. Or the need to see a partner’s face when she orgasmed. My patient never saw his mother smile or seem happy. Here he could see unalloyed joy. It fulfilled a basic need for a normal, happy mother. That is why I state that the act-out is often a straight line from the need. That need never dies. We have two choices; either we feel it or we act it out into infinity.
So when we believe we are normal and are bereft of any deep need, look at the act-outs. They are often subtle. And they are also compulsive; we do it over and over again. Leaving dirty dishes in the sink? The need, “Don’t make me do all the chores all of the time.” Forced not to ask for help? “I want to be good and not be a bother."
This to parents who really don’t want to be bothered. The child fulfilled their needs in order to be loved, which never happened. Or the compulsive gambler who cannot stop … he wants “lady luck” to help him and make him rich without him having to struggle for it.
Basic need, then, becomes symbolic need. That is the essence of neurosis. We act on symbols. The “love” of an audience instead of the need for it from parents: “I will be anything you want me to be if you can love me.”
So here is the dilemma: we need to feel need to overcome neurosis, and we need to act it out because we cannot feel it. Solution? A slow trip to the depths, to the antipodes of the brain where all those needs await us. Take one more step and you are there; but alas, the last step is filled with primal demons which keeps diverting us. That is why we need help in therapy; to help us bypass the demons for the moment and to step gingerly into the primal pool of pain. Aah, the pool is a lot warmer than I expected and not nearly so dangerous. After all, it is only me who I will find. How dangerous could that be?
Monday, November 17, 2014
One way is to see if your brain gates are in good working order. Is your unconscious too close to top level neocortex? Are the gates too strong and unyielding so no feeling gets through? Is repression too strong or not strong enough? And what does that mean? Part of what it means is that, is the brainstem imprints impinging on the top level neocortex? Or is the ideational brain so powerful as to gate and suppress most feelings?
For example, someone who is severely claustrophobic means that deep terror imprints are trespassing onto the neo-cortex. The result is the exact terror/anxiety that is imprinted down deep in the brain is close to full experience again. So how is it usually treated? With pills that help the gates along; i.e., SSRI’s, the same chemicals that were used up when the early trauma occurred in an attempt to push it all back down. So all that is happening is that we are trying to load up on the same chemicals emptied out in the first battle against trauma. In short, gates can only hold so much pain; then they give way and we receive the full brunt of the terror/pain below. So instead of letting the pain up bit by bit, we suppress it and that keeps us from experiencing it. That means no chance of getting well. And why is that? Because we really don’t know what is down there, how it happened, how strong it is and what happens if it is unleashed. With the claustrophobic, his brainstem memories are close to the surface. Wonderful! Oh wait a minute. Very few shrinks know that and therefore, would not take a chance on meeting the wild beast. Freud warned against 100 years ago. His legacy is to help us be terrified of terror. What chance has the poor patient? So much of psychotherapy today is bottling it all up. Or when they try to release it, they have the patient do nutty stuff like screaming, pounding, running around, etc. Mostly because they do not know what is really down deep. Release in their therapies means expressing feelings randomly. That is not feeling; it is catharsis, and that gets no one well.
Yes catharsis feels good for the moment, but it has to be repeated ad nauseum because it is not resolving. Resolution means returning to the scene of the crime, recognizing that there was a crime…….against our humanity….and plunging down deep to feel it over time.
So what is another clue to neurosis? Aah, I forgot, we usually don’t know it because it is all repressed and place out of sight. So if I told you that you were neurotic, filled with unconscious pain that has deviated the system, you would not accept it. Your behavior since birth seems normal; and it was and is adaptive to the harm we received.
If I said that you were compulsively sexual you might answer, “So what, it feels good.” But the drive inside can wear down your system prematurely because there is a new need, tons of sex to release what? Pain. Or take having to keep busy, going and going all of the time. You are very productive. So what is wrong with that? Anything that is far out of the normal often means an unconscious drive. The system is under constant pressure, in the same way that one cannot stop working all of the time. We think it is only a choice; but a choice we are forced to make. Like drinking. “I love a cocktail or two,” one might say, but he drifts into several a night, then alcoholism. To kill a pain one almost never feels. “Alcohol calms me,” it is claimed, with no understanding about why you need calming, and from what?
We talk about addiction like it is only a bad habit and bad for your health. Never that is has deep roots that must be eradicated. So we find ways to control it, manage it and divert it. Those therapists who cannot go deep into their own pain are certainly not about to embrace a therapy that dips down deep in the brain. But imagine, if they could experience what is inside of them how it would change their approach to therapy. They would know what is inside the patient because it is also inside of them. It is no longer alien, or a stranger. If the therapist doesn't have an access to a feeling experience, he is forced to take control, push down, and manage the pain. He will be forced to treat his patient as he treats himself…..with unfeeling ploys.
No one suffers chronic nightmares without up-surging pain that forces entry into the thinking cortex. It makes the cortex work overtime in an effort to control imprinted pain. It produces encasing rumination in ways that cannot be controlled or stopped. Yes there may be other reasons; but I have treated many, many cases of nightmares and I nearly always find the terror inside them. We have found a way to get inside of them and have them experienced slowly over time. It is not an aberration; it is adaptation, a way to manage the imprint of terror, the very same terror found in the nightmare. It is a base, an origin and an imprint. It is not a mystery. Take away the imprint and the nightmare goes away too. Otherwise, we are constantly dealing with a memory and a feeling that will not go away.
The average claustrophobic sees it as a bother so they avoid closed rooms, tightly shut doors, etc. Unhappily, some therapists see it in the same way and teach them how to avoid the very thing that could free them…terror. Once felt, it is gone not to intrude again into life and their nightmares.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
I will recount another one of my Primals which occurred last night. You mean you are still Primaling? At ninety? A bit unseemly? Ah no. Primals, i.e., feelings are a way of life, not just a therapy. Do you stop feeling? No. So you don’t stop Primals. They occur far less as the years go on but we should welcome them because they are liberating and insightful. They help us lead the examined life; not just examined, but experienced with all of our being. Oh pardon, but that is exactly what is wrong with behavior therapy. It is a life examined but never experienced. It is wonderful for a purely cerebral life but not for a feeling one. So intellectuals are drawn to an intellectual therapy where they can purify their neuroses.
So many people lead the unexamined life, going on and on without changing or knowing they are acting out or even why. They never ask themselves what is it all for? Am I leading the life I want? If not, what is the life I want to lead? What does it all mean, anyway? At least having a bit of reflection; of questioning. Why? So we don’t turn into robots. So we don’t treat people inhumanely; so we can lead a consciously/aware life.
My primal last night was about being sent away when my mother went psychotic. She was sent to an asylum and my dad went to live with her. They split up my sister and I, and without a word sent us to strange houses to be cared for, for several years. My first “love” was from a dog; my first bonding was with him. And today most of my money goes to animal shelters. Whenever an animal is sent even into the wild I have feelings. I wrote about this recently when a family raised a rhino in their home. He was part of the family but when got too big he had to be sent to a shelter. Where he soon died of a broken heart. He was sent away from his family and it was too much. I know exactly how he felt and I hurt for him, knowing his suffering. Why does it matter to understand that animals feel deeply? It matters because we will begin to treat them differently and not as unfeeling robots. Oh yes, it is to avoid parents treating children as unfeeling beings, as well.
So why can’t I get over it? Because there Is no biologic way to leave our past behind until we feel it; otherwise the traces of trauma are deeply embedded in our systems. They just don’t walk away when they have had enough; they linger and compound, deepening the imprint. The earlier it all happens the more embedded and obdurate it is. That is why I cannot “get over it.” It has got me in its physiologic grasp. How early? My mother had me and then facing the prospect of taking care of a child, she just collapsed into psychosis. I was given to a grandmother who had no idea how to take care of children; whereupon when I was five or six she gassed herself because she had a lesbian affair with a niece. The point being that there was no parent after that. Since my mother was then interned in a hospital. It began so early that the imprint was compounded. I have taken off layers and layers of it but the residue remains. And it drives me even today, not in a bad way but it is a motivating factor.
So when someone tells you, “Just get over it,” explain that it is a matter of the brain cells changing first. And they and we cannot change without going back directly to the trauma and reliving how and where it happened. The chain of pain will do it for us; it is not a deliberate thought out affair; resonance will lead us back there unerringly. It is one reason that the trace is there. It is a reminder of unfinished business. No therapist has to tell us all that. Our biology is the best reminder. It says, “Go here but not too deep.” “Feel a little bit now and more later. Go Slow.” All we have to do is listen … to ourselves. We are the world’s best therapist. No one is smarter than that. We are the repository of all the knowledge we will need to make it through life.
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.