Thursday, March 6, 2014
- Well my friends, it is not what you did but who you stood next to.
- You mean I could get neurotic just standing next to my father or mother?
- Yes, yes. But allow me to explain.
People exude who they are from every pore of their being. I mean that literally. An uptight, tense mother radiates her repression. An angry father radiates his anger. They don't have to “do” anything; just be. But it is worse than that. When their underlying feelings show themselves we sensed we were right to avoid them or be very careful around them. They distort our words, detour our natural movements and disapprove almost everything we do, not by words but by those looks. And worse, when they show no emotion, a child next door almost drowning, we know that feelings are what we keep to ourselves. The point is that even before we have words a child is undergoing a lifetime of experience. And the earlier the more impactful. It should be obvious; those early experiences that directly affect breathing, digestion and elimination are going to do a lot of damage and will last a lifetime.
Secondly, those experiences that lie on the feeling level will certainly inhibit later access to our feelings.
But now look at this: Our genes form the matrix of later life; that much we agree on. But there are epigenes, severe experiences that build a new “genetic” base called epigenetics and they get imprinted and compounded, change or distort the evolution of our genes. They then become “inherited.” We too often distort this with our genetic heritage, but those experiences are long duration and largely impervious to later events. They become a meld of genes and epigenes. Instead of saying, “she looks and acts just like her mother,” we need to say, “her mother was “infected” with neurosis, which got imprinted into the system of the offspring. And now…..she is just as hyperactive and ADD as her distracted and hyperactive mother.
In other words the infant who is being carried has caught what could be a fatal disease: neurosis, the same one lying inside the mother. The baby will reflect the internal life of the mother and that is what will be imprinted inside him and last a lifetime. Why? Because this is what had been learned in order to adapt and adjust. No words, no reprimands, no social neglect; just who she is, does it all. Look at the work of The Association for Psychological Science. (Feb 3 2014). (see http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/for-infants-stress-may-be-caught-not-taught.html) They discuss emotional synchrony. The baby is learning how to manage the incoming stress of the mother. They did studies of several different mothers who gave a talk with a different audience—one approving, one neutral and one not approving. Guess what?
The 14 month old babies reflected what happened. Differences in heart rate and a greater stress response in those children of mothers who had disapproval. The children “learned” through some kind of osmosis. The were inculcated by the mother’s emotional state. Now imagine that the baby and mother are one, where the baby lives inside the mother. The influences are far more impactful.
You see, you do not need to yell at the child; all you need to do as a mother, is be around the child and the damage can be done. Picked up early that my parents were emotionally removed. So I never even thought to tell them that a wave hit me and I almost drowned but someone saved me. Those vibes get picked up very early in our lives.
So what gets transmitted? Odor, facial expression. Lack of feeling, body movements and on and on. All of the parent is transmitted to the child. And the child never says to himself, “I guess that’s the way it is, “ cause that is the way it is. Too often we are completely unconscious of it all. We live as we always have in a state without acknowledgment of that is just the way it is.
All this to say that our early environment weighs heavily on this and can drive our behavior. In an article by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, they found that unique experiences in the womb may give a more profound effect on epigenetic factors that influence health later on. And though fraternal twins share a womb there is also the difference in the structures of the umbilical cord and placenta which play an important role. They found that even in identical twins there can be great differences in the methylation patterns between them. (see a preview of a Scientific American article on this topic: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-makes-each-brain-unique/)
So you say to yourself, “Did I inherit my mother’s craziness?” and the answer could be, “Yes.” But not in the usual sense of inheritance. Rather, who she was, hyperactive (or depressed and down) while carrying, left you with a neurotic inheritance which still shaped your life.
So is it life-long? I believe we can reverse some of it in our therapy and we shall test it soon, but I also believe that the earlier and stronger the imprint the less likely it can be reversed. The best we can do is love and hold the child right after birth and thereafter. The best way to reverse the imprint is through the slow, methodical process of therapy where the least pains can be integrated first. Finally descending to the great early traumas and the measuring the results. In other words, we need to trust nature and all its processes; chemical reversal is far too general and non-specific to each trauma. It is a shotgun when we need a scoped rifle. We need nature as a reference. It is when we leave nature behind that need the reference of statistics; never as good as nature itself.
All those childhood studies that think it is early childhood that is to blame, which it is, in a sense, need to convert their work to earlier times if they want to be accurate.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
So let’s get it straight. When we show a symptom such as depression there are two aspects to it:
1. The cause; 2. The reaction.
We need to keep this bifurcation clear because they are two different animals and must be treated differently. Nearly all approaches today are just that; approaches, the therapy of reaction. So the cognitivists try changing your reactions—attitudes and thoughts, aiming at more wholesome ideas. Neurologists try changing how the brain reacts, i.e., interfering with brain function. And there are others who put wires in the brain to block deep brain reactions. Remember these are responses, not causes. Causes seem to be forgotten in all this, and why? Because the fields have despaired of finding causes and so focus on reactions. Why the despair? Because without a therapy of deep brain processes they will never find causes. It will all remain a mystery; they will turn away from origins and just focus on blocking or changing reactions. And that can be endless because we need to change the biochemistry, the neurochemistry, neuron signals, overall brain function, psychological responses and on and on. All because causes are avoided.
In the NY Times are two articles; one in the Sunday June 30, magazine section, and the other in the Tuesday Science section, July 2.
The Science section deals with brain function, namely transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) (See http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/new-approach-to-depression/). There are magnetic pulses to the brain from outside that stimulate those parts of the brain that are involved with depression. Powerful magnets are placed on the frontal area of the head. Those pulses seem to help many people and are often more effective than medication. But….it is attacking the responses while the generating sources are left intact, only to rear their ugly head again. How could it not be? It is a therapy of reactions not causes so we cannot expect to be rid of the originating sources. It is a good amelioration and that is OK. We do not help, but there is a way of getting to those generating sources, why is it paid no heed? They have no theory for it, no therapy for it, and no psychological readiness for it. Easier to tinker; and tinker they do, tweak this and then tweak that. Ayayay.
Now the Magazine section has a different twist. It is called, “Uncovering the self-destructive impulses that many people hide from themselves.” (See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/magazine/the-suicide-detective.html) Hmmmm. Self destructive? What self might that be? I guess it is the hurt one, the one containing all those painful imprints from years ago. Are we trying to destroy it? Wouldn’t that be terrible?
They point out that more die of suicide than murder: world-wide there are one million suicides each year. It is an epidemic. They want to figure out how to figure out who might kill himself? What are the signs? And they add, “We have never gone out and observed, as an ecologist or biologist would go out and observe the thing you’re interested in.” (page 24). But wait! That’s what we do, and we find the answers when patients get to feelings, deep pain that makes them want to kill themselves. And they say, “My god. That’s why I wanted to kill myself; all to avoid that feeling.”
So what did the researchers do? They called up soldiers and asked them to explain why they wanted to kill themselves. They hoped to shift through the transcripts to find answers. The problem is that they never knew really. How could they when the imprints lie so deep in the brain. This is basically the cognitive. Ideational approach. It stays on the level of ideas. They say that they have had theories of suicide but they want to work on the other end…data. OK but data from victims? Most of ten they never know. I have seen many depressives over the years and they almost never know where it comes from. Some of them resist counseling because somewhere they understand that it cannot work. Then they are labeled “resistant”. “They don’t really want to get well.”
Finally further in the piece they say, “brain cells that regulate the stress hormone cortisol, leave the brain in a chemical state of increased alertness that causes a person to overreact to stress.” I am not sure that tells us what to do about it but the direction is right. There is acknowledgment that depressives often suffer abuse as children. But what from there? Do we attack and/or address the abuse? They go back to faulty thinking. And they tout the Association test which is again mental operations. They are looking for biases against being alive by the victims. It all came to naught as these tests were not so hot at predicting future suicide attempts. How could they be if they avoid the key low brain-level imprints that are at the origin of it all? So what do they do? They are tweaking it so they combine several cognitive tests together to refine what they do. It is over and over again intellectuals focusing on thoughts and attitudes ignoring a big part of the brain and its function. They are after changing patterns of thinking. The cognitivists are ruling the roost; yet they are the very ones who can never never never find answers.
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:
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