Saturday, April 25, 2009

Reliving Womb-Life

We do know that each level of brain function can incorporate the previous lower level and represent its sense or meaning to higher levels which then code it in terms of the specific function/structure of that level. As the imprint is registered, it will take on a new coloring as it moves upward. Hypoxia as a choking, suffocating sensation on the brainstem level becomes being suffocated by one’s husband on the emotional level; and then there is the last level rationalization for the lack of freedom in a given situation. The patient starts with the latter (She suffocates me), and then over time moves downward until she arrives at the Primal event that started it all.

So early memories become elaborated on higher levels of brain function and are incorporated into those levels and interpreted differently depending on the level of brain tissue. But they are not separate entities. It is all an ensemble of levels that produces a complete memory. When we relive a non-verbal pain or trauma in infancy we are at the same time reliving the residue from earlier in womb-life. The events are united under a resonance factor that makes a higher level of brain function trigger off a deeper and more remote feeling. To put it differently, each early preverbal imprint is ramified on higher levels so that feeling fully on the higher level automatically has us feeling the earlier aspects of the feeling. Because of this we can over-react (or under-react) to events in adult life. As we see in our therapy, it may be one cause of erectile dysfunction—the feeling of being overwhelmed because of even slight pressure to function in the present. Or the inability to get going at work.

To summarize: There seems to be a time in gestation when pain or noxious stimuli impinge, but we are not yet able to produce our own gating chemicals, such as serotonin and endorphin, resulting in un-gated pain. When I refer to gating, I refer to electrochemical process that blocks the transmission of the pain message across the synapse.This residue will continue and may lead to bouts of anxiety later on in life. It becomes free-floating, unbound fear or terror. It can then be focused on elevators and a phobia is born. This is not due to heredity but rather to experience in the womb. Part of our in-uterolife, therefore, takes on hurt at a time when the system can do nothing about it; nevertheless, it affects all later development. At 30, we may suffer from panic attacks that began its life in the very early months of our mother’s pregnancy. It is pristine, ready to spring forth whenever we are vulnerable. No talk therapy can affect it because it involves a vegetative, primitive nervous system which was only adequate to register pain and terror during womb-life. This is a nervous system impervious to words; so insights leave it absolutely indifferent. That is why new experience does not change the neurotic. She goes on having the same experience, the imprint, over and again. It is a sealed-off feeling that remains as part of a survival function.

The womb experience leaves us fragile for a lifetime so that any insult or lack of love in infancy and childhood weakens us all the more. And the imprint can dictate chronically low levels of serotonin. That is why we need drugs that work on lower brain centers below the intellectual in order to suppress these imprints for a time.


  1. As I mentioned in another post, I was isolated from my mother for a few days immediately after I was born....given to her only a few brief times for breastfeeding, which was unsuccessful due to her lack of milk.

    My mother told me that I was an absolute maniac whenever it was feeding time, for the first few years as a baby. I would wrestle against my restraints, trying desperately to get closer to the spoon. She said she could never feed me fast enough. The food was in my stomach and I would be begging for more before she could manage the next spoonful.

    I blew up like a balloon. By the time I was one year old I was bigger than my three-year-old sister (photos to prove it).

    I was put on a lower calorie diet until I was about two years old. All through my childhood I never felt satisfied after eating. I ate at least twice as much as most kids my age would eat. I would go for third servings. I could never feel full. Somehow, I have never been fat except when I was a baby (amazing).

    My appetite has decreased now, mostly due to anxiety I think.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that I was probably reacting to an imprint. This example is not specifically about prenatal life, but it is all the same to me. It does not seem rediculous at all that powerful imprints can form as soon as a human is able to form them.

  2. About 20 years ago my mother had a spontaneous primal where she re-experienced being in hospital (isolated from her family) at age 5, with polio [for the record, she fully recovered]. Interestingly, just before her primal she was having some serious anxiety attacks and was recieving, for a very short time, anti-psychotic drugs as prescibed by her doctor. I would imagine that those drugs were functioning as a first-line blocker which in turn allowed her to experience that second-line trauma associated with her polio condition? Is this what you mean by needing drugs for a time - to stop too much intrusion so as to let later pains get out first?

    Oh, and her primal was very successful as it seems. She claims that she lost all her anxiety after that event.

  3. How early have people integrated pains in your therapy? Do/can you know? (it makes sense that womb sensations can't really be associated with specifics so as to validtate the actual times that they have would just be amorophous sensations?). To say, I wonder if there is a time when damage occurs to a fetus but without actual pain, or at least pain as we know it?

    I can see how this is a difficult territory to conceptualise. Even the position of subjective reports from patients -successfully "fetal primaling" or not- won't be able to provide clear-cut information. However it's very interesting stuff of course, and obviously an important area to focus on.

  4. From this week's essay:

    "That is why new experience does not change the neurotic."

    Let's be a bit more specific, to avoid confusion. What Dr. Janov means is that new experiences, with outcomes different in kind from the prototypic imprint experiences, do not rid the brain of the prototypic memory or its influence on the present. So no matter how much marriage counseling you get, the choking feeling will still be there when you feel trapped in your marriage.

    However, strictly speaking, new experience absolutely does change us, and that applies to all new experience. (In a context other than this one, there would be no need to point this out because it's obvious.) In your marriage, for example, you may try different communication strategies, one of which may succeed in keeping your relationship out of that "trapped" feeling. You may have to fight your neurotic urges (or passivity) to take on that learning, and it may not come as easily as it would have without your imprint, but the neuronal circuits will ramify and you will learn. Many people are able to make adequate adjustments like this, and never feel the need for regressive therapy. Others are not so lucky.

    In the context of regressive therapy, the adjustment experiences of life are given second rate citizenship, as if they are just part of a failed attempt to survive neurotically. This attitude deserves reconsideration. It is my hypothesis that a lifetime of positive adjustments is an important ingredient in the profound changes that can occur in regression work; it is the supporting cast, not the star of the show. But if you ignore it, your attempts to heal will stall or go off track. The show will not go on.

    The above is why it's important to live as well as you can before you start therapy. Living well and making the best choices by recognizing the influence of your imprint are things you can do on your own safely. Getting to the really old feelings is another matter. But the better you do the first part, the better the second part will go. So the lesson: don't wait for primal pain to give you permission to take care of yourself.

    How does this sound to you, Dr. Janov?


  5. Walden: Hello. sounds good to me, except I have seen hundreds of people who have tried everything to get out of a depression or anxiety all to no avail. But still this is a good argument, well thought out. The imprint dominates everything. Look at my discussion of the UCLA experiment and how no matter what the body cries out for oxygen while there is plenty in the room. The imprint takes precedence. dr. janov

  6. I think Walden does have a point. If you are not able to recognise the types of things that are likely to trigger you, your suffering (constantly getting close to feelings without resolving them) could make you unfocused and less able to develop structure in your life. A certain amount of structure (organisational and financial) might help to provide some relief, if only to strengthen the defenses.
    I think it is important however, to recognise the difference between feeling less suffering, and actual healing. One is pain avoidance (which is a full time job) and the other is true freedom.
    Feeling less is not the ultimate solution. Feeling more is what life is all about.

  7. Dr. Janov,

    Thanks for your positive comment. I just want to make it clear that I'm not proposing that depression or anxiety will go away by attending to your present life. That's what the cognitive/behavioral therapies try to do. As you point out, it's nowhere near enough. That message comes through loud and clear (too loud and too clear, if anything). What is more subtle among followers of primal theory is the idea that you still need to take responsibility in that space, and if you don't, don't expect the deep feeling experience to just automatically fix everything. It may, or it may not. I think that only when you are doing your very best for yourself in the present can regressive experience help at all. Otherwise, it plays into one of those wacky belief systems.

    Anyway, if the above still sounds reasonable, then I'd like to finish the puzzle simply by saying that that's the "corrective" experience most people need. It can be gotten in many different forms -- alone as raw "self-determination" if you're strong enough; through the encouragement and support of friends; from a therapist working the "transference" angle. It's all good.


  8. Basically my panic attacks make no sense except in the light of Primal Theory - the terror and suicidal impulses I experience are beyond any verbal description.

    For me it is not so much elevators (only because it's such a short ride), but cars, buses and trains (any vehicle from which I can't GTFO when I need to) that are the most serious triggers.

    About a month ago I had to take sixteen (16) milligrams of Klonopin in the morning to handle a 2½ hour train ride. Granted, it was after a three day drinking binge. Also, I hadn't had much sleep. So my GABA levels must have been particularly low. But still. I hate my shattered gating system.

    It may sound crazy to someone that the stress/anxiety experienced by the mother during pregnancy, and the difficulties during the birth process, might be the reason behind all this. But to me it is the only explanation that makes sense.

  9. Walden: Absolutely. dr. janov. Why do I write when I have all this brilliance around me?

  10. Richard,

    Personally, I think therapists should worry about whether defenses are being strengthened or not (because they work in that domain), while people living their lives generally should not. You are not likely to ever really understand a given defense until you no longer need it. So thinking about strengthening your defenses or not is always going to be faulty, and you are most likely, if you follow this path, to end up in a form of subtle masochism which goes against quality of life and ultimately against your therapy. That would be an "uncorrective" experience, to borrow a term from Dr. Janov.

    "Feeling more" might be what YOUR life is all about, if you're feeling dead, but it can't be a general rule. The target is feeling the right amount, so that your reactivity serves your survival and that of your loved ones. It's possible to feel too much and miss that target. (I'll bet that statement will arouse some resistance.)


  11. To resolve a feeling, you need to understand it. Understanding does not necessarily have to occur in the intellect. When you smell a strawberry, you instantly understand the smell, without the need for thinking. You can see the strawberry, and you can smell it, so the understanding is complete.

    To understand a feeling, you must recognise what event the feeling belongs to and how the event relates to current reality. If you can see that the event does not belong to current reality, then a correction will be made. Again, the correction does not necessarily need to occur in the intellect.

    Perhaps this is the fundamental reason why traumatic imprints/memories can be 'understood' gradually over time, one piece at a time, through numerous separate primals. The brunt of the feeling (any feeling - not just prenatal and birth feelings) revolves mostly around emotions and sensations, rather than logic. If logic was important, the trauma would need to be experienced all in one go for integration. Logic cannot become more and less lucid like the smell of a strawberry can. Logic fails outright until it works. I would expect emotions and sensations to become more lucid/pure with each successive primal. This would make sense, because it would give a reason for the need for multiple primals. We need time for the feeling to become pure. But how pure?

    Here's an example. During his first prenatal primal, a patient feels like he is suffocating but the feeling is all unintelligable for any part of the brain. During his tenth primal he is able to feel something (umbilical cord) wrapped around his neck, BUT at the same time he can feel fresh air going into his lungs (coming from the room he is primalling in.) The traumatic feeling has become lucid, while current reality (fresh air) contradicts the traumatic feeling, enabling the nervous system to recognise that the prenatal experience is no longer real. Thus, the trauma is being put in it's proper place - in the past. The body knows it is safe now, so the stress response is reduced. All of this happens without the need for intellect (in this example, no need for emotions either). It is pure sensation. Is this how it works?

    Primal patients seem to be less bothered by repressed pain, the more it has been resolved (the more lucidly it has been felt). This is despite the fact that the pain is not fully resolved. It is 'almost' resolved. This is weird to me. Why doesn't the pain want to jump into consciousness easily for final processing?

    Understanding the feeling might only be a part of it. The rate of occurrence might be a separate issue. Primals might need to occur less frequently as more and more pain is 'almost' resolved. This might be to allow for smooth biological adaption to altered hormones, blood pressure etc. Maybe it is unhealthy to heal too quickly?

    Or maybe the therapy needs more refinement to allow for greater lucidity of the feeling. Perhaps the persistent nature of a birth primal is due to the patient's inability to reach the highest level of lucidity....the level required for total understanding/resolving. Perhaps it is not possible to ever reach that goal, but maybe we can get closer. Do we need to start submerging patients in warm water, so there is no floor creating contradictory pressure points on the body? (that is not something I would recommend to all the fake primal therapists). Could we reduce the difference between reality and memory? Can we create pristine primals that can put an absolute end to the pain?

    I get the feeling you won't publish this Art, but it's worth a shot. I would be interested to hear what others have to say.

  12. Hi Walden.
    It seems I twisted your meaning when you talked about "doing the best you can for yourself" before and while getting regressive therapy. I imagined that to mean "strengthening your defenses" because I have no idea how you can "recognise the influence of your imprint" if you are not talking about defenses. I thought you must be talking about avoiding the effects of your imprint. If you are talking about 'harnessing' the effects of your imprint and putting that energy to good use, then ultimately we are talking about defenses, because any action that makes you feel better or more functional, WITHOUT RESOLVING THE IMPRINT, must be a defense (not yelling at you). I don't need Art to tell me the imprint is dominant. I know too well. I am currently too close to my pain.
    I recognise a lot of my defenses and allow them to happen (mostly automatically) because I need to function while I am getting myself better prepared for the trip to LA. During therapy, I expect I will continue to defend against my pain in between primal sessions, as it will be a much needed break for my system. I also expect it will become easier and easier to defend as I have less and less pain to defend against. Currently, even when I am well defended, and feeling OK, my heart beat is often well over 80.
    If you are able to relax and enjoy life better than I can, then you are carrying less pain, or you are better defended, or both. But we all need to deal with our repressed pain. I am convinced of that.

    As for feeling too is possible to feel too much pain too quickly, but it is not possible to feel too much relaxation, love and well-being, if it is felt naturally.

  13. T think I understand you now Walden. You are talking about the job of staying close to your feelings so that you are able to self-primal or do it at the Primal Center. Is that what you are talking about? Maybe I will need to try to stay close to my 2nd line feelings. Maybe I will need to take drugs to keep out the 1st line, while I work on the 2nd line. I will still require some understanding of my defenses if I am to remove them. I wouldn't trust anyone's help to do that, other than the people at the Primal Center. They have the best experience.

  14. Walden, you say: "I think that only when you are doing your very best for yourself in the present can regressive experience help at all. Otherwise, it plays into one of those wacky belief systems."

    I thought I was starting to see what you are talking about, but now I am confused again. I think you are very interesting, but I am struggling to understand. Would you mind elaborating? Sorry if I am being a pain in the ass.


  15. Richard: My new book, Life Before Birth explains all this very well. hang on til it comes out. Maybe one year.

  16. It's been my experience that when people suffer from anxiety, taking medication, having CBT therapy, or other forms of interventions, only increase the anxiety.

    When a feeling wants out, pushing back on it, only gives it more energy and makes it harder to deal with, more disconnected.

    Anxiety can make you feel very vulnerable, because at times you don't know when it's going to happen, so there's some unpredictability involved.

    I found that, at those times when I'm the most anxious, my imagination starts working over time, and this doesn't help either.

    Instead if I'm in a safe place, I'll let myself experience what I'm feeling, I will usually be ok in a few minutes.

    Sometimes, I experience a lot of weird perceptual distortions, as part of the feeling, though in a relaxed state they are much less scary.

  17. AnttiJ: That's what we are after.......making sense. dr. janov

  18. Richard: You can smell it but you think "strawberry." dr.janov

  19. Richard,

    I just checked back here and I notice that you've posted quite a lot of material to my attention. It can be hard to reconstruct the context in which various arguments and questions were formulated because of the way this particular "forum" works. Posts tend to become disordered in time, for example. A better medium is needed.

    Anyway, a couple of thoughts...

    I think you may be struggle with what some folks have termed the "hydraulic" model of feelings, i.e., the idea that they live under pressure in a "tank" within us and that we release them like a fluid. That's metaphor, of course, and it brings our understanding of human nature and affect only so far...

    It has taken me very long to understand that when Janov says "integration" he is referring to the completion of a uniquely human process of learning from experience, one which is probably better visualized as the completion of a growth of a network structure -- connections fanning out and re-doubling onto themselves in a way which most efficiently models the aggregate of our sensory experience. In the case of correcting neurosis, this network has both to grow new subnets and also to prune obsoleted ones. There is a deep underlying concept of "truth" which is totally subjective, and its personal allure comes deeply from a sense of resource conservation. This is the force that guides the building of the right network, if allowed to.

    Just as Newtonian physics had to yield to the quantum mechanics for more sophisticated problems, so will the metaphorical Janovian hydraulic psychology eventually yield to cognitive science. Not in the sense of abolishing feeling, mind you, but just in the sense of understanding how it is that feelings are not discrete entities waiting to race out of you like the horses in the starting gates at the Kentucky Derby.

    My other comment to you is that if you insist on seeing everything in your life through "therapist glasses", i.e., evaluating all inputs and behaviors in terms of strengthening or weakening defenses, you will simply miss out on life, because life is not about those things. So no, you don't understand me yet because you are still obsessed with a theory.

    Dr. Janov will not publish this message because it does not fit with his very limited and restrictive thinking on the subject, so I'm afraid, Richard, that our conversation has ended before you read this. So sorry. Next time use email.


  20. Walden: See, you are not always right. arthur janov

  21. Walden
    I asked my Cognitive/Behavioural therapist these questions: "Does your therapy cure mental illness?" "Why does the illness reccur in so many patients?" His words were to this effect: "Some people are more susceptible to mental illness than others. People who are mentally ill can be brought back to health but they will always be susceptible to mental illness. This is why there is so much reccurrence". So ofcourse I asked him "What causes a person to continue to be susceptible to mental illness, even after they have been apparently 'cured'?" His answer: "We don't know". He suggested it was more important to get on with the therapy, than to understand the ultimate cause of mental illness. He finished by saying "A huge amount of research and time has been put into the science of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy."

    When I wasn't asking him questions, I was answering a phenomenal number of his questions, filling out forms and listening to his advice and information that was supposed to correct my view of the world. We sat in a new room for each new session. He would write stuff down constantly. The quantity of information and discussions was mind-boggling. He thought I was a fascinating case because I was so good with my reasoning ability, and yet I showed schizoid characteristics. He said I had a weird defense system (he was reluctant at first to give me those opinions).

    I get a feeling like I could easily hurt myself accidently, and I over-react to hidden threats like electromagnetic radiation. I will give you one example of the advice he gave me. He said "What is something you enjoy?" I said "Hot showers". He said "Next time you are feeling bad, try to imagine being in a hot shower".
    When I am feeling bad, I feel compelled to understand why. The last thing I want to do is start imagining something that is not real. But I tried it. The more I imagined the hot shower, the worse my heart pounded. It was ridiculous. I felt like I was completely ignoring a hazard, like I was dangerously blind. The shower defense wasn't working. He said to keep trying - the anxiety won't last forever. The anxiety lasted and lasted.

    He told me most of my obsessions were based on sound logic, so it was a challenge for him to help me by giving me logical insight. He had to focus on the severity of my reaction more than the situation I was reacting to (for example, research on electromagnetic radiation; reported results from three separate experiments around the world were 'edited' by the US government to avoid mass panic). He would try to explain to me how I needed to accept a certain amount of damage to my body and I needed to accept that I can't know all the information. I told him I was already aware of that, but the feeling of threat made it impossible for me to accept what he was saying. In a way, I am too real. If there is any REAL threat, I will see it. He said there is some truth in the saying "ignorance is bliss".

    After a while I learned that the main purpose of the Cognitive Therapy was to show me how the anxiety was irrational, and how to use mental techniques to escape it. The purpose of the Behavioural Therapy (which I politely refused to do) was to numb my over-reaction to percieved threats by constantly exposing me to them. I told my therapist it is a technique that apparently doesn't work because the patient begins to fear new things, because the anxiety will always find a new outlet. He said that would be a whole new discussion and he'd already done for me all he could within the limits of Cognitive Therapy. His work was done. I thanked him and we went our separate ways.

    I must add that I did pick up a couple of defenses that do make life easier. My sessions with him were not a total waste of time. The defenses that worked were the ones that required no imagination or happy thoughts. The best ones are: sitting in the sun periodically throughout the day, and: forcing myself to sleep at more regular times. These defenses are useless when the bad feelings are dominating my consciousness, but generally speaking, they give me more physical and mental energy to keep away from my anxiety/obsessions. They are 'preventative' defenses. Perhaps "defense aids" would be a better definition.

    I am looking for a real solution. Cognitive and Behavioural science doesn't give me that. Janov's science does.

    I apologise for being so bloody boring.


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.