Saturday, December 20, 2014
I am going to take several leaps: the first is to equate the imprint with methylation of the gene cell. That is, as very early trauma (gestation and its surroundings)enhance methylation, adding part of the methyl group to the cell. This is a sort of trace or memory marker that alters the gene and imprints the memory; for life. Well, “for life” is a big statement since if someone finds a way to rid us of those traces it will not be for life. Which I believe we have; we are now on our way to confirm this hypothesis.
The point being that the trace of methylation is an analog to my notion of the imprint; an embedded memory that endures and affects so much of us, our minds and body organs. That is the second leap. Of course it is complicated matter and I do not touch on that, but by and large, it is a good index of what methylation means.
Why do I make that leap? Because we are dealing with early trauma and it may well have to with the later development of cancer. Let me put it differently. We see very few cancers over the years of our therapy. I believe in part it may be due to addressing directly the memory trace; over months of Primal Therapy, wending the way down to lower brain levels, finally arriving at the deepest and most remote memories and reliving them bit by bit. What seems to happen to my patients is that full reliving without words and often without tears, the mark of primeval imprints, undoes the agony of the memory without disturbing the memory itself. The memory no longer drives us and impels neurosis. That means no longer a deregulation of so many organ systems and thought processes. There is then a systemic normalization of so much of brain and physical processes.
It is my assumption, then, that this normalization reverses methylation, at least in part. We note in late research on depression and suicide (measured by autopsy), that the heavier methylation is associated with greater tendencies toward suicide. That so-called “psychologic behavior” is ultimately a matter of neurophysiologic processes. Not the reverse, mind you, where everything is a brain dysfunction with no reference to or understanding of key early experience. The brain gets impaired through early experience. It is not a matter of investigating or changing thoughts and behavior in therapy that matters. It means looking into the deep neurologic imprints altering the behavior of the genes. In that way, we will stop imagining that it is all a matter of genetics, rather than epigenetics. Yes, of course, there are genetic effects, but in my experience they are not so effective and dominating as epigenetics. This is being supported by late work in addiction. (see, E. Heller, et al, “Locus-specific epigenetic remodeling controls addiction-and depression-related behaviors.” Nature Neuroscience, 27 October, 2014)(see the abstract: http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v17/n12/abs/nn.3871.html). One thing they found was that histone methylation …….the locus in the nucleus accumbens (the reward area) was enough to control drug behavior. Again, it is no brain impairment; but brain reaction to trauma that may cause all this. What researchers are doing is finding the neurologic concomitants of it all. Still with no mention of what goes on early in our lives that may produce these changes.
The research I am citing is from “Disorder in gene-control system is a defining characteristic of cancer.” Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Science Daily, 8 December, 2014) (see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141208145512.htm).
So what are they saying? Basically, that derangement of the methylation process "has a direct bearing on the effectiveness of cancer therapy". And what does that mean? That changes and trauma very early in life impact the methylation process and deregulate it. This makes cancer therapy more opaque. There are times when this disorganization may help tumors adapt to its altered nature because of trauma. In short, disordered methylation may lead to cancer progression. This is far too complicated, but there is a strong relationship between imprints and the development of serious disease. And one way to measure this is through methylation which gives us a quantitative index of how much damage there is and where it occurs. In brief, when we think of the Primal imprint we need to think methylation.
Let’s stop calling all the disorders of the brain and behavior a “brain disease”. We have had some success in treating epilepsy. Is it a brain disease or one of bad early experience? Or is addiction a brain disease? We have treated many addicts and have found that when we take away the embedded pain we stop the need for pain-killers. If we neglect experience, specifically very early experience, we can never know how experience alters the brain. We cannot understand how methylation becomes “disordered” with adverse experience and what role that plays in the development of cancer and other serious diseases.
What I have done is point the way to the imprint and shown how to get there to change the whole system. Now science is helping to pinpoint so much that is helpful. But let us not deify pure science is the sine qua non. Clinical work here preceded pure neurologic science by years. Our nerve cells store knowledge and store memory, and in those memories lies trauma and its enduring effects on all of us. We must address those traumas, not with words but with experience. Psychotherapy must ultimately involve experience.
Monday, December 15, 2014
I have often remarked that the most important memories that drive neurosis, our behavior and our symptoms are those that cannot be remembered; at least not in the way we think of memory. Therein lies the rub. Because what can you say when the body "remembers" something that affects our eating habits for a lifetime? And yet we do not "remember" it? That is because we are too used to thinking of memory as recall; something we can figure out, that has content and words. So we therapists ask the patient, "Do you remember your childhood?" Or, "What can you tell me about your childhood?". The truth is, "Practically nothing". Because the important stuff, the experiences that change us radically have no words; they long predate the use of words. Why? because we have found that gestational life and birth traumas change us significantly, and until we can wend our way down the chain of pain we are never aware of these experiences and how they motivate and steer us. It is when the neuronal circuits of the brain are getting organized which will direct our lives thereafter.
So what does a "body memory" mean? When a carrying mother is under-nourished, her baby will have a much greater chance of obesity later in life. He (his body) remembers it all. We can only put a name on it after months of our therapy where the baby is again a baby crying out for food. And he feels the deprivation and pain of it all. Or, in a study of mice, they found that the "memory" of nutritional deprivation can be passed onto the sperm of the offspring. ("Inherited memory of poor nutrition during pregnancy passed through the sperm of male offspring." Science Daily, July 10, 2014)(see:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710141547.htm).
We might say that neurosis means we are walking around in the constant grip of unremembered memories that the body remembers. We can be "aware" of its harmful effects but unconscious of it. We never experienced the pain of it. Awareness lives on high in the brain, devoid of the direct feeling of agony. It can explain, rationalize or deny but never experience it. How about the feeling of helplessness when unable to move out of the womb into life on the planet? I have seen how some male patients who have relived that hopeless, helpless feeling see why they could not be aggressive in sex; why they give up so easily and feel defeated so quickly, losing their erection. They cannot "go all the way". I know this sounds so psychoanalytic but it is observational science at work.
It is not a concocted hypothesis drawn out of my derriere. These are epigenetics in process creating havoc in our system, and we never know why because we cannot "remember" it. When we get down to preverbal experience we can finally "remember" it all. Now we know why Cialis is such a big seller. Until we remember we have no control of the memory. We only see its later effects, and because it is still a mystery, we find a doctor who will help us suppress those effects until we no longer experience even the results of the memory. Enter the erection booster, a doctor who has the secret answer to our sex problem. And since nothing but the real memory is liberating these "experts" can devise all sorts of treatments suppressing the symptom, and any of them might be "effective" for a short time. It has to be short time because the driving source/force is still alive in the subterranean caves of the unconscious. Can't concentrate? Might be imprint of chaos lying deep in the brain. These memories are so powerful because they are often catastrophic in content, and also life-threatening. Lack of nutritional when we are ten is not nearly as life-threatening as lack of it at six months in the womb. This includes a mother's chronic depression who has a "down" effect on the fetus. Most of it, including biologic processes are "down regulated". There is poor appetite later on, lack of energy, and so on. He is no longer a self-started; he needs to be encouraged or led as he cannot get himself to anything spontaneously. Suffocating from the mother's constant smoking or taking "downers" he learns a passive style of life from the very start. He will need the same uppers his mother needed in order to get going. All because he cannot remember. And worse, he cannot try to remember as it will produce the opposite effect. He will use the top of the brain to try to get to what is deep down. It is like trying to sleep when there is constant noise from outside. It keeps the neo-cortex active when it should lie quiet. The same brain at different stages of maturity. When there are many deleterious imprints, the top level is constantly activated and cannot relax or shut down. And if we have to get up out of bed, and shout out of the window at the bikers making a racket, all is lost, and that includes sleep. Suppose now we never knew about the bikers: it is the brain making all the noise that keeps us from sleeping. We are complete victims. Of whom? Ourselves.
I emphasize the early months here seeming to neglect the later years. Those later years are critical in shaping our lives out of the crucible of the gene/epigene foundation. But the early months are also heaviest in methylation, indicating to me that this is where the central damage gets done; where the imprints that sculpt our later lives are laid down. It is where the needs that make us human are predominant. Neglect here has terrible consequences.
Which selves? The methylated ones, of course. Why are they methylated? Because they are signs of our wounds from very early on; the stripes/traces foretell of disasters yet to be experienced. Those they foretell, as well, of the wounds/imprints we cannot remember in any cerebral way; the ones doing so much damage. So you think we can do Gestalt exercises and feel free? Think again; in order to feel free we must free ourselves from an overload of methylation, and in no other way. We need to experience what has never been fully experienced before. How come? Because the pain content was so great that it provoked the gates into action so that we would not experience it. Back then, we travelled a few millimeters into our private pharmacy and grabbed up as much serotonin as we could to stop the suffering. The problem now is we need to find a way to plunge into the suffering and finally be free of it forever. Too often we do the opposite. We take serotonin again to bolster the gates against memory (Zoloft, etc.). We deliberately make ourselves unconscious. And this is the way we try to get well?!
Arthur Janov Suggests that Stress During Pregnancy Leaves a Distinct Cellular Imprint that Predicts Mental Illness and Serious Disease
In his new book, 'Life Before Birth' (NTI Upstream, Nov. 2011), Arthur Janov makes the case that events during pregnancy and the first years of life leave a distinct cellular imprint that predicts mental illness and serious disease.
Read the full story from prweb.com:
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.
Our therapy is constantly evolving. If a therapist has not had additional training in the past 3-5 years she is not up to date. The basic principles are the same but the actual therapy has taken a radical turn. It is much more precise, predictable and mathematical in practice. We have tried to tighten up what we do in keeping with current neurology and physiology. It is a constant learning experience. It is finally for the well-being of the patient who now has a much better chance of doing well. Yes, it was good before, but there is less time wasted now because the techniques are honed and the theory takes on more and more precision. We see patients from some thirty countries in the world, each with different cultures. It is up to us to continue the refining process so that the patient has the best chance of improving.
The clear understanding and application of the theoretical and clinical aspects of Primal Therapy are essential in order to provide effective therapy. Citing the most current findings from the field of neurology, trainees will learn the role that the physiology of the brain plays in the shaping of mental illness. The training will thoroughly examine the scientific basis for Primal Therapy and discuss the unique clinical approaches employed in the treatment of various emotional and personality disorders.
For our first year students, the training will entail extensive work in the understanding of the basis for Primal Therapy. On the theoretical level, there will be an examination of issues that range from the nature of the unconscious to the nature of traumatic imprints and their lifelong effects on physical and mental health. On the clinical level, trainees will have the opportunity to learn proper diagnostic and therapeutic procedures as they relate to Primal Therapy.
Furthermore, first year students will be mentored by our third year students in order to ensure that the key concepts in Primal Therapy are clearly understood. There will be an extensive library of training notes and taped lectures from the past two years available as well.
For our second year students, the training will provide a unique and varied opportunity to gain more clinical experience. Through closely supervised clinical sessions, trainees will gain a deeper understanding of the various applied therapeutic methods and hone their skills as future therapists. In addition, second year trainees will have the opportunity to work with first year students thru discussion groups, tape reviews, and clinical sessions.
Our third year students will continue to hone their clinical skills through a rigorous series of didactic clinical sessions. These sessions will be video taped and will be reviewed by Dr. France Janov and our senior therapists.
Dr. Janov’s books have been translated in some 26 languages, have been bestsellers in many countries, and his theory is taught at many universities. He has combined decades of clinical practice with the latest in research. It is the therapy of the future.
To apply, please visit our website at http://www.primaltherapy.com/primal-center-application.php and select the ‘trainee’ option when filling out the questionnaire. For further information, please feel free to call us us at (310) 392-2003 or email us at
We look forward to another exiting year of training. We hope you will join us.
Dr. Arthur Janov
Founder & Director