Wednesday, July 29, 2015
I feel that I have to bang on about the sensory window because it has only a brief lifespan. That is why Marilyn Monroe was always headed for disaster. All the adoration in the world was not enough; the expanse of her deprivation equaled her massive need for so-called love. And it could never be fulfilled because the sensory window had close years before. So without knowing it she settled for applause, adoration, interest in her by world leaders and publicity without end. And still she took painkillers by the truckload. You can never love neurosis away. And all those substitutes for what looks like love are just that: substitutes. They are symbolic and never fulfilling except for the moment, which is why there needs to be more and more. And it can never be enough because the exigencies of the need, its asymptote, have faded away, buried with gates shut.
What we can do is offer enough caring and support to keep the pain at bay and well hidden.
So what does this mean in human terms? That the open sensory window when need can be fulfilled has a brief short-life. That once it closes, the symptoms will go on and on. For example, high blood pressure or migraines. When they are of first-line brainstem origin, once the gates are locked we cannot cure the affliction; we can only ameliorate the expression of the symptoms. There is no cure because nothing can penetrate to make a difference. That is why addiction to heavy drugs is so unyielding and obdurate. Once the imprint is locked-in there can be be no change; the gating system makes no exceptions and has no mercy. It is indifferent to other than its key task: to keep pain subdued. Here biology dictates. It keeps pain down so we can go on living and producing. It makes life bearable. And this is why all of the so-called rehab centers fail. They dance around the expression of the pain without ever delving deep down into it. They make the patient feel safe and protected for the moment, but that is the problem. It is momentary.
Until we recognize and accept the powerful force of the gating system we go on trying to do the impossible. Marilyn had the adulation of tens of thousands but when she came off stage she swallowed dozens of painkillers. Clearly symbolic love was and is evanescent. There was the perfect example that we cannot touch emotional deprivation once the gates are closed. She could say a thousand times, “I want to get off painkillers” but ideas and desires are cerebral and are no match for deep imprints. This is assuming that she knew that she was in pain and that she knew where the pain came from. It is never so obvious. And even a therapy such as Primal is no match against the imprint unless the therapy takes place in-house where the patient can be watched and controlled.
That is why an addict needs a nonverbal approach, pills, and sadly, electroshock therapy. We somehow need to get below the top verbal level into the strictly biologic. I am not sure the exact length of the open sensory window but it matches the time when the need is at its height. A mother who falls ill during the birth process cannot come back six months later and love the child daily and expect everything to be fine. There will be a residue of pain. And to make clear, the deprivation of basic need produces unimaginable pain. Of course her love will make an important difference but it may not eliminate the residue of suffering left inside the baby while the mother was away at a hospital. And this is what is diabolic about the human condition. Parents can be loving but due to no fault of their own they have left a grain of pain that lingers.
The mother cannot nurse due to a whole host of reasons or she cannot be attentive because, alone, she has to go to work to help feed her baby. The reasons are infinite but they still spell pure pain. And that pain is a warning that there is unfinished business to be dealt with. And wonderfully, it gives us the means to undo aspects of the imprint and allows us to have the means toward normalcy. It says, “deal with this and maybe you can be normal again and get rid of your addictions and compulsions.” It is not a false promise; it is the promise kept alive by our biology.
It does not give us a potpourri of choices, however. It says we must return to the sender; the sender of pain by the imprint. It is a narrow promise but one of great hope for our stability in life. It says, pay attention, there is real hope. And one day as our research into deep imprints continues we may find that this is true of serious diseases such as cancer and diabetes, of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The reason these diseases have been so recalcitrant is that we have focused on the wrong thing; the symptoms the diseases gives out, and ignoring solidified imprint.
Why? Until now we could not see it. Now we can and as a therapist who has been there, I can deliver the key notes from the underground the accompanying maps, that may pave the way for cures.
There is someone who is doing heroic work in the shadows, who does not get paid but who works many hours a day. She supervises all clinical work, and teaches the basics of the therapy, runs the administrative side of the Center and deals with all outside inquiries. In short, the pivot around which the clinic revolves.
She is the engine, the motor for the advancement in the practice of Primal Therapy. She is there to help therapists work with patients. Who could do any more? She is our resident savant……Dr. France Janov.
It is hard to realize, even for me, how much work goes into directing even a small clinic, a clinic that has patients from 38 countries, and requires communications among people from many countries of the world. And oh yes, she is my wife of 42 years.
What does it mean to run a psychiatric clinic? It means knowing the latest science so as to help therapists know how our therapy fits in with science. It means knowing the various afflictions people suffer and why. It involves knowing about people from different countries and how they differ as a population; for ex., what is the most repressed country and what is the least? It is a wide-ranging job that requires clinical skills, financial ability, relevant science and how to help our therapists relate to foreign patients some who only have minimal skills in English. Needless to say, it is a job well done, too often done in the shadows by someone who manages to keep it all going well. She has done this for years without pay. It is a labor of love or her and also because Primal Therapy saved her life. She teaches not out of academic persuasion, but because she learned out of her own feelings for a very long time.
Our thanks to France.
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.