Saturday, February 28, 2015
I am sometimes accused of too much emphasis on the trauma of birth and/or life experience in the womb. So let me explain why this is so. My conclusions are based on almost fifty years of clinical observation now added to by hundreds of scientific articles in major journals. It is not that these article “prove” my point, but that when joined with science helps add weight to it all. We should pay close attention if we want to understand ourselves and our families.
One of the key articles supporting my position is by at least twenty authors including the well-known scientist in Canada, Michael Meaney. (“Antenatal Maternal Anxiety Predicts Variations in Neural Structures Implicated in anxiety Disorders in Newborns.” Anne Rifkin-Graboi et al. J. of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Soon to be published).
Among other things the authors wanted to find out the effects of maternal anxiety in carrying mothers on the fetus/baby.
One thing they wanted to know was how this anxiety affected the white matter of the brain, consisting heavily on nerve fibers, their myelin sheaths and their connections. So what were some of the effects? “Children were classified with fearfulness and social withdrawal. This predicted risk factors for anxiety disorders.” And Anxious, carrying mothers resulted in stress reactivity in offspring and affected the changes in neurotransmitter functioning such as norepinephrine. That also dysregulated cortisol production (stress hormones). And this high cortisol level can cross the placenta and affect all kinds of processes including many of the neurotransmitters.
It altered uterine blood flow that directly affected brain development of the fetus. We begin to see how massive the effects are of maternal anxiety. There are many changes in the limbic system and the relationship of the neo-cortex and various feeling sites. And there is diminished control on feeling states. There is less corticol control, in general which predicts behavioral problems later on. And the crucible of all this begins early on in womb-life. There is really no free way out of all this. Giving a mother calming drugs produces all sorts of corollary problems. We need to extirpate some of the latent pain stored deep in the brain, before pregnancy. Otherwise, we get later distress when the child is temporarily removed from his mother; separation anxiety. This becomes a child who cannot sit still, cannot concentrate and fidgets, is restless and has to keep on the move as the imprint is compounded by later traumas. This is how it all starts and builds from there.
Without going more deeply into limbic structures, there are adverse effects on them (especially the insula and amgydala), which impairs integration of feeling with higher levels. Some of the current anti-anxiety medication works on these limbic areas to produce a calming effect.
What the study found, which is not my experience, is that is that produced inhibition of behaviors. I have found the opposite; early anxiety drives external behavior, not inhibits it. But it does adversely affect information processing; complex thinking is diminished. This may be due to decreased/slowed overall brain development.
What all this is about is something I wrote about 30 years ago: the prototype; the crucible that structures later abilities and malfunctions. These are the formative experiences that channel our thinking, emoting and behavior for the years to come. They determine how well be learn or don’t learn. We must pay attention here and that is why I go on about it. They are absolutely formative of who we later become.
There is a related study on white matter (Brain white-matter changes seen in children who experience (early) neglect.” Jan 26, 20015. The MAMA Network Journals).
It isn’t just anxiety that is the culprit here. Neglect and indifference also play a major role. Again, white matter is part of the crime. Children who grew up in a Romanian institution show “compromised brain development.” It is not just that this seemingly ephemera happening affected how the brain develops, but it has far-reaching effects throughout development. Just ignoring a baby for a protracted period can adversely affect his brain.
The point of most of these kind of studies is that brain development depends heavily on experience. Sometimes it can be seen as physical brain impairment; other times it shows up as brain dysfunction; a not-so obvious event. Things do get better if the child is placed in a loving home, but in my view there can be a residue of impairment,”Dyslexia, cross dominance, confused thinking, “etc. It is not obvious but what I see in some adopted children is often some subtle kind of brain affliction. This is not even to mention limbic dysfunction and difficulty in controlling and sorting out feelings. And what amazes me is that something like neglect, this vaporish behavior, without physical substance can do such physical damage. And why? Because love is like that. It is an energy field; feelings travel and have an effect. They change brains and alter our physical development. And interestingly, even the physical connection between the two hemispheres of the brain is affect by neglect.
I seriously doubt that all these impairing effects can be fully reversed when I child is placed in a loving home. There seems to be a lingering residue. Better to grow up in a loving home than to play catch-up. Then our brains can find equilibrium, balance and normality.
There is a related study from the University of Cologne, Germany (Novel form of experience-dependent plasticity in the adult brain revealed. Feb. 6, 20015). Essentially, what they are finding is that experience can reorganize connectivity in the brain, in particular, the limbic structures such as the hippocampus. Thus, I assume that life in the womb can give us a leg up on how well our emotional brain functions, how well we remember and how good is our thinking processes. Neural stem cells in this area can regenerate over a lifetime so that the hippocampus goes on and on intact. And I believe this depends on not too much trauma.
And when we have a good gestation, birth and infancy there is a stronger liaison between the top level thinking and lower level feeling. We are connected. In short what takes place in the brain early on depends on our experience. Deprivation of our basic need is not good for our connectivity later on, and that means our fluid interaction to our feelings many be impaired. The brain is quite fluid, it seems, and when we treat it well it comes back to guide and help us.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Stop asking the question and you will be better for it. I have written before, there is no meaning to life, only to the meaning we give it; to experience. Someone in a coma is alive but there is no meaning to it. We don’t have to ask what’s it all about; it’s about nothing. Imagine two chimps asking each other what’s it all about? That represents our feeling selves and down inside we react but don’t ask intellectual questions. Down deep we are chimps. Now that we are humans we ask the question when the answer lies on the feeling level where there are not intellectual questions. If we deny our chimp selves we will be loaded with questions. And when we are disconnected from our chimp selves we manufacture questions that never need to be asked, in the first place. What am I saying? That we make our own meaning and no one else can. Oh wait, Janov can. Whaat? What does Janov do? He puts us in touch with the chimp inside, that once and for all eliminates those questions about meaning. Because now we are in touch with our chimps running around inside and they have no questions like that. Once they are into deep feelings I have never seen a patient in a Primal ask about meaning; they are too busy feeling, not thinking.
And what could a meaning be? What do you want to get out of life? To be famous, successful, appreciated? Or any left over need from childhood. It can be, I am good, smart, capable, helpful, powerful and on and on. What it is not iand can never be is the meaning of your life. There is meaning to experience; it gives me joy, it gives me pain, it makes me happy, successful, etc. We abdicate our personal meaning the minute we think that someone can supply us with it. The trouble is many of the questions and search for answers become an endless affair since there are no answers. The minute we think we found one it seems to pale until we go onto the next one; a certain vitamin or therapy or guru become interchangeable as what we search for does not exist—the meaning of our lives. But if we are needy, a strong guru will have us genuflect before him, lose all critical faculties and believe in him devoutly. The guru needs devotees and we supply the unquestioned devotion. Once anyone else locks into our unfulfilled need we are hooked, literally. Our need is the hook; once a psychopath figures that out he has got us. He can make us believe in the most outrageous ideas because we are hooked, addicted to his message of promised fulfillment. We are hooked by need and that is prepotent over everything else. It is unfulfilled need that is addicting. The addiction (propensity for) is already there inside of us.
And that is what differentiates us in Primal from all other modes of treatment! It is not the pills or the needles; it is us! We are the addicts, not the oxycodone or heroin. We need to go deep inside of us, not dancing around the surface finding safer, less addicting pain killers. And blaming how easy it is to get drugs at pharmacies. Blame the Janovian Gap; the gap between our deep imprints and our conscious/awareness.
Of course, many of us never ask the question about meaning. There are two sorts; those who feel fully and do not need to ask the question about meaning; and then those who never fully feel and have unlimited questions to pose about meaning. And then, alas, there is the third route; those who do not feel and never ask any questions of life. These are the ones who exist but are not living, the problem of so many of us.
So here we have a dilemma; those who fully feel are propelled to search for meaning; and whose do not ask themselves about meaning, and those who do not fully feel and also never ask themselves what is it all about; they feel something is missing but what?. They just live and never reflect about their lives. They find a groove and stay in it and never put their lives in question. Is that good? It seems good for them to live the unreflective and unexamined life. They do not wonder where their lives could be or what else they can do with it. They are low in imagination and vision and do not seem to care; just as so many individuals in their seventies and eighties seem to give up on life and ascribe no further meaning to it. They have lost their ambition, their drive, their desires and the notion of what could be—what could they do-- with their lives. They gave up on meaning because doing and thinking and feeling comprise the life of meaning. Especially feeling; for that seems to be the essence. I do not plan to join those who give up on life; my writing saves me and I hope, many others. By the way, I have a book, Beyond Belief, coming out at the end of the year.
Those who don’t feel spend their lives seeking what life means. They travel to see the priest, the swami or guru; someone to help them find the meaning of life. And if someone has to give it to you, it means you have already lost it. Why would you look for something that you never had? Why spend thousands dreaming about someone who has all the answers when no one but you has it; and you don’t have to go to India to find it; just drop a few millimeters down in the brain and there lies meaning; the pool of feeling/meaning ready to add to your experience. There lies joy, enthusiasm, dreams, exuberance. Oh oh. There lies that chimp playing down below. What more could we ask for? And no one can give us that; only our own personal feelings can do it. And it is free and not far away. The trouble is that when we look for it we feel we have to find that special someone who has the right pulpit for us to believe in. And he promises so much; if we can only divest ourselves of critical thinking and go along. And when he preaches and touches us we fill in the blanks and believe we have found it. What? Salvation, help, guidance, warmth, leadership and all of the things we missed as children. We join with other believers and voila, we are saved and have a direction. Oh yes, that direction, as with his white robe, does not come free; we need to pay a lot for it but we think it is a small price to pay to resurrect our hope in and for life. That is what we are buying, hope, born of early desperate hopelessness, someone to show us the way and to take an interest in us and our health and direction.……a parent. We buy that in our all knowing, omniscient therapists; while all we have to offer is hopelessness; that dreaded feeling that will finally pull us out of the search for a greater life. Yet that painful feeling is what liberates us; hope born from hopelessness. It stops the act-out in its tracks, avoids the unrelenting search for an all-knowing “God” who will not let anything bad happen to us.
And what does the depressive feel most of the time; “I have no meaning to my life.” And why? Because he has no energy or “life force’ to get out of bed and produce a meaning to his life. His repression has sucked the life out of him so he cannot feel any of the elements of meaning. His feelings seem to be buried deep down under the ceiling of repression. And why? Because his pain has evoked the chemicals of repression into action; a pain he does not feel, only its after-affects. He feels down and cannot get up to do anything. His gates seem to be closed against him. They have shut-away his meaning. He is now susceptible to a guru, therapist, a life coach, and advisor, etc. He needs to be drawn out, he needs someone to literally ‘breathe life into him.” So many of them, by the way, do have serious oxygen deficit during the birth process which is imprinted and channels us. He needs to be told what to do and how to act because he has lost his bearings, his feelings.
I have not mentioned religion that provides so many answers for those are lost, and they tell us what the meaning of life is, ad nauseam. The more we believe the less we follow our own feelings. We obey and find salvation in that.
Here is one of my bloggers and friends just wrote to me: To select Evolution in Reverse as a treatment method is deeply linked to a conviction “that we are the evolutionary result of all history, personal and ancient.” I would never trust a religious believer, who lives by the Bible’s creation story / Genesis and the commandments, at the same time, to be a reliable Primal Therapist. Possibly, he / she can be an interesting PT patient seeking a cure for his / her pain propelled religiosity. My heart rate flew up into the 70’s when Art expressed his surprise that the Catholic Church has priests / specialists who recognize / root out the devil. It takes One (a pain propelled Catholic priest) to know One (the devil). Their roles /specialties are both pain propelled products of the same evolution. (The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, was appointed Person of the Year 2013 by the US news magazine Time. Without making other comparisons, the same magazine appointed Adolf Hitler, Person of the Year, in 1938.)
More than 100 years ago one of Sweden’s most talented personalities, the skilled biologist, scientist and Darwinist Bengt Lidforss got his career seriously disturbed by the bishop, acting university chancellor and devil worshiper Gottfrid Billing. In his book, “Why Evolution is True”, Jerry A Coyne tells us that anti-evolutionism, still today is very strong in the US and on the rise in England and Germany!
In 2006 only 40% of Americans (down 5% from 1985!!) believed that humans developed from earlier species of animals. We descend from a primate lineage that split off from our common ancestor with the chimpanzees roughly seven million years ago. (In France and Scandinavia 80% of people see evolution as true). According to Jerry A Coyne, evolution gets bumped down even further in the US when it comes to deciding whether it should be taught in the public schools. Two-thirds of Americans feel that if evolution is taught in the science classroom, creationism should be as well. In the US only 12 percent - one in eight people - think that evolution should be taught without mentioning a creationist alternative…
Seen from the bright side, 12% of the US population means 38 million people…
I think that says a lot.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
I have often wondered why there is so much nonsense out there in mental illness. One psychiatrist says most of it is a brain disease and the answer will be found in analyzing the molecules of the brain. This is also the view of the former head of National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Volkow. She spends her days in the depths of brain neurons trying to find answers to so many problems. Still others come up with nutty ideas about depression and anxiety that I have cited in numerous articles. Some want to drill in the brain, others shock it, and most others want to medicate it. Few if any know what it is they are shocking or medicating. The reason: they all need to guess what “it” is. And “it” is not a neuron or a molecule or a hormone. “It” is a memory, an imprinted one that sways genes in one direction or another and alters our trajectory of life.
In other words, they all have to guess because no one has seen “it”; they all have to look at it from outside, imagining what lies inside; yet it can be seen; it is palpable, one can hear the screams and tears from it. One can observe the wrenching body arcs from the pain and hear the gasping for breath. One can observe the relief from the reliving, as the body and face relax, not only from observation but in the indices of vital signs that descend radically after a primal reliving. And descend in ordered fashion.
Why hasn’t anyone thought about it? Because Behaviorists rule the roost. Looking at it all from the outside is de rigueur, while feelings are an anathema; a simple negative influence to be eschewed, set aside and abandoned. Feelings become pests in the overall scheme of science where precise measurement is the apotheosis. Yet it is feelings that govern and drive us; feelings when repressed make us sick. We will never notice this so long as we remain outside its realm and choose to observe from afar. How can know that anoxia at birth may play a part in migraines until we see someone relive the beginning of anoxia and develop a headache? How can we know what is behind depression until we see deep pain at work with repression rushing to save our sanity and create depression as a consequence? How can we know what is behind anxiety until patients travel down the chain of pain, descending through levels of consciousness to the most primordial reactions of panic? How can we ever know what the trauma at birth does to us until we see the reliving and discover the lifelong allergies and attendant breathing problems? Or what it does to blood pressure and heart rate as it rises radically during the reliving? Moreover, it drops to normal levels after the primal experience.
So of course some can say it is a brain disease since we can always find accompaniments to, for example, for anorexia. None of this exists in a vacuum. Of course there are changes in serotonin levels accompanying the affliction but they are not necessarily causes. We will never know that so long as we are “objective observers.” Once we delve into deep memory and feelings we will find a whole new world, the primal world, if you will. It will open up a plethora of directions that pain has taken us, but it is not in the chemistry of pain where answers will be found, but in the causes of that pain. Of course when there is a lack of serotonin in certain anxiety states it helps to add serotonin/Prozac to the mix. But that is what I call tinkering or tweaking. It has little to do with ultimate causes. We can tweak dopamine or serotonin in depression, and currently they do this by adding “chemical uppers,” activating chemicals to it. Or they tinker with the glutamate level allowing more activation with less repression. And when they tinker it has to be a daily job because the causes are untouched and create the same old mess over and over again; witness drug addiction. The addict’s pain is very deep, we have seen it, and it causes heavy-duty drugs to calm it—over and over again. How do we know? We have treated addicts and see the pain underlying the addiction. We know it is refractory because the level of pain, down deep in the brain is never touched in all those rehab centers. Worse, they do not know it exists. So what do they do? They calm it chemically and are satisfied with that. Why satisfied? Because they have never seen the Pain! Never seen the agony, which allows them to think that it is just a bad habit. Or to believe that a few words of praise can help it. Or to think that a good diet will change it. Or to think that a few lectures or group therapy will change it. And the pain, hidden and recalcitrant, shouts back at the curers; try to find me! “I am far below where you are looking, encrusted into the deepest chemistry of the brain, conjoined into the act of repression so no one can see how it works.”
Friday, February 13, 2015
Well, Brian Williams the NBC anchor man is really in the news today, not as the anchor but as someone anchored to a strange story. This story helps explain the value of Primal Therapy, not that he would ever consider it. He would not consider it because he is too busy acting-out his need.
Here is a man, the leading news reader in America, watched by over nine million viewers every night and it just wasn’t enough. Why not? Aah, therein lies the sad tale of a man gone wrong through a need unfelt.
He was famous and could not feel it. He needed more, so he fabricated heroics—his life was in danger, he was shot down and so on ad nauseam. He wanted to be something other than a news reader (which is what they are called in England, and not journalists). Since he could not be a field journalist reporting from dangerous war zones, he did the next best thing; he invented his life. Although he already had, approbation, worship, and admiration it was never enough. He wanted admiration for what he was not, and had not done; someone who lived a more dangerous and more glorious life. He wanted to be more famous and more glorious than just reading the news. He needed to be famous for putting his life in danger. By the way, he did that in his football career. It was dangerous, and he was proud on air to say that his injury during the game was something rarely seen.
He needed—admiration, love, importance; something he must have lacked in his early home life. Those needs never go away. And whatever anyone’s reality those deprived needs dominate, always. Why? Because at the time those needs were at their apex, it was a matter of survival to have them fulfilled. Nice to have them filled when we are ten or twelve but will not change the brain and its biology as it does when we live in the womb.
You can be important and yet feel unimportant to those who mattered—your parents. That is what was imprinted deep in the brain and biologic system; it endured and rarely changes..
He felt unimportant in the face of his very important job at the News. Deep down that is what drove him. First to get a great job, and then to trash it because it just was not enough. He invented fulfillment. Why on earth did he have to do that? Because the feeling of unimportance gnawed away inside for a lifetime and made him act out, as it does to all of us, despite the reality of our lives. When we are not loved for ourselves, we feel unimportant. If only he could have felt it and stopped the act-out in its tracks. But short of Primal he could never feel it; it was buried deep inside and not accessible. His unconscious thought, "if I am very important they will see it and I will feel loved." Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. They never saw it and never will and sadly, never will you. That is why your apology fell short. It was another compromise with the truth because you did not know what the truth is and was. He could not say, I reinvented myself to feel important; because that notion was beyond him.
So instead of feeling his deep need, he acted-out and when caught he invented again; "I was confused and conflated the plane in front of me from my plane," or some other nonsense and unbelievable tale. He lied again. Can you imagine? He lied about his life and when caught he lied again about his life. Remember the comic who used to say, "the devil made me do it"? His excuse is not too far from that. For all intents and purposes, his feelings are really the devil inside.
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.