Monday, May 3, 2010

Still More on Depression

Depression has been a mystery for a long time because we have ignored the connection between life in the womb and the trauma that comes with birth with later mental and physical health. If we were to overlay a transparency of the characteristics of depression on the effects of the birth trauma we would find that they match perfectly. Everything a person felt during the birth trauma back then is also a description of her current depression. "I can't try anymore. It is all too much. I am stuck and not getting anywhere, etc. And then the act-outs based on these feelings; A therapist who cannot make a move when it is needed in therapy. The depressive has simply lost touch with her history and has transmuted the old feeling to the present. It is not that the feeling is wrong; it is simply displaced into the wrong epoch. It is real to feel doom and gloom, not a neurotic aberration. It was very appropriate back then at its origins; not appropriate in the present. My definition of neurosis is acting in the present from feelings in the past. But the for moment we must know that the traumas set down in the womb, at birth and at infancy are coded, registered and stored in the nervous system. They become a template for what happens later.

If I were to tell you that depression and all of its symptoms stem from a single event it would be hard to believe, and yet it’s true in some respects, and not true in others; nevertheless, birth trauma is one of the roots of depression. This is not a theory I concocted but rather, a result of observing many depressed patients from many countries who relived the same kinds of trauma. After treating several hundred depressives successfully, doing brain and biochemical research on them, it seems like the birth trauma, which compounds life in the womb, is one causative factor Adding to the severity of the problem is that the effects of birth trauma then become compounded by later life circumstances. Late research has found that the carrying mother's depression often produces that in her offspring. Yet if there were no serious aberrations in the carrying mother and a traumatic birth there would likely be no severe depression later on. . In particular, what is known as endogenous depression, something that creeps up on us without an apparent warning, leaving us helplessly deep into its maw. This is no more than saying that we need to pay attention to the critical window where so many later difficulties are laid down.

Depression (neurotic depression) is not a feeling or some strange, untreatable disease; it is a state of pain and repression. Depression is a system-wide repression that blankets many feelings. It is the history of the body’s experience over time exerting its force. Expression of feeling marks the end of depression: but first we have to know what it is we are feeling and what we need to express. Therein lies the rub. For what there is to be expressed usually cannot be done so in words, because the event itself – birth trauma – is not an event that is experienced in words. The sensations that a baby experiences during birth are generated in an area of the brain that lies far below verbal ability. That part of the brain – the brainstem and limbic system - is cognitively illiterate, but brilliant in terms of its own language. Once we begin to understand this we will see that depression is not the mystery it has been made out to be, and that it can indeed be successfully treated. Once early trauma is imprinted down low in the brain it is literally shouting out its hurt but never in words. We will lose if we try to reach it with words, which is the current practice, it will be a dialogue of the deaf. It speaks in a language of the viscera, the blood system and neurons. We can learn the language and speak to it effectively once we have the techniques. That is what we offer our depressives.

Over the many millions of years human evolution has produced a kind of normalcy in various aspects of our physiology; a sort of narrow range of biologic processes that ensure the best functioning and longevity. So blood pressure has a normal range as does so many other functions. But soon after conception, and before the normal range is definitively established events occur during womb-life that permanently alter those normal readings. So our heart rate is now set at too high a “normal” level. The new level seems normal since it was established early on in gestation. But it is a “reset” level engraved into our systems before the other “normal” levels were established. This new normal may cause a change in the function of our neocortex. We may have a tendency to think too fast for proper reflection. Or we have impaired ability to control and integrate our impulses.
It is easy to think of all this as hereditary. After all, it is a gift from mother; but not in a way we imagined. It is who the mother is[NU1] that is shaping her baby. The child’s emotions may already be warped when he enters this planet: he may be lethargic and passive from the first day on. The download is either loving or non-loving, down-regulation or up-regulation. It forms the matrix for the child’s physiology and brain development and of course his later psychologic state. Hopelessness is most often down-regulation and is the forerunner for later depression.


  1. Art, for me, this is your best blog yet, mainly because I believe it is the best retort to the medical profession and states clearly what depression is while they go on doing MRI's and brain probes and all the other disconnected experiments trying to discover what depression is all about. The medical and psychological professions are caught up in their own pre-conceived notions, blinding them from really understanding the real NATURE (as opposed to BEHAVIOR) of us humans.

    Why, I feel this is difficult for these professionals to grasp it, is because they are looking at the problem 'OBJECTIVELY'. This, in effect, is gross stupidity. Until and unless we begin to see this problem (neurosis) from conception onwards, 'SUBJECTIVELY'. If you've 'been there' then there is absolutely no need to prove it, objectify it, figure it out or any other cognitive mumbo-jumbo (or even as I am trying to do here, 'explain it'). It's so, so plain and it so, so ,so SIMPLE.

    In terms of wishful thinking (and I know it's a crazy thought), I wish there was a pill that would put all these medical, psychological scientist ( and yeah, scientist in general) into a re-living of womb life and/or birth experience. This would, to use that old catch phrase, literally "blow their minds." Meantime, while you are still alive, we have you Art.

  2. There is not much for me to say ... you said it all this week ... but I have to give you all my appreciation ... it's just surprising that this not sets in a juggernaut and make clear to others that this is what applies and there is just to hang on without feeling any loss of prestige ... that only takes effect and is meaningless in the matter ... not useless for what it take up of feelings ... that is just to keep on with and let history repeat itself. Fantastic Art.

  3. Dear I wonder whether my m a n y bouts of depression throughout my life ! stem from my depressive mother or my birth .Each and every time I see a woman I feel sad ,guilty and want to help ( as my dear niece Sarah) .Today I had a sad looking woman say a quiet "hello" and at once I had this strange "feeling" .By the the possibilty of both reasons for my depressive moods seem to be realistic -each time as tooday in television-when I see sommething "narrow" and people within I horrow to be stuck. Yours emanuel

  4. Jack.

    I get you point; but to say, that's why the *science* and clear and communicable understanding is so important.

    Until the world can see the regressive/integrative process first hand (not going to happen for 99% of us), we must do our best to speak the language that it broadly understood. Again, that's why the science (that I know you're not a fan of) is so important.

  5. Why I am NOT a fan of science is that science has not improved the quality of life for us; not even some of us, though most will argue differently. Science is based on one single word:- "WHY", but why never really gets answered but only promotes several other "whys". We are chasing our own tails, never quite getting there. We need a re-think. Actually we need to feel instead of think. Thinking IMO is a perversion of feeling and we are the only creature on the planet with this perversion (and we THINK it makes us superior, WHAT AN EGO TRIP!).

    Andrew; if you think 'word play' (which is all thinking is) will sort matters out, that goes against the implications of Primal Theory. We are only able to re-think when disaster/trauma occurs, otherwise it's as a stated above; "just chasing our tails".

  6. Jack,
    My name is Patrick. I find myself agreeing with your viewpoints in general. Having done PT for the last thirty years, (btw Art WAS in LA from 1980 to 1982 - I also remember the comedy act by David) I have become more and more convinced that the intellect has been more of a hindrance than a help to humankind, or perhaps not our intellects per se, but the way it has been used for the past five to ten thousand years or so. As I understand it, that is when we started losing touch with our real selves, albeit not every human on this planet. Jean Liedloff describes in her book, The Continuum Concept, a tribe deep in the Amazon jungles with whom she lived for two years, as a totally un-neurotic people.
    My guess is that they have the left-brain right-brain balance that we should all be striving for.

    Am I that balanced? I guess much more so now than I was thirty years ago, but the damage was
    deep. However, I continue to feel and my pain diminishes continually, although I wish for a a 'buddy' here in the southern end of Africa.

    Art, perhaps the Primal Centre could let me know if there have been any persons from South Africa
    in recent years who have done PT there. I'll be
    most grateful.

    Jack my e-mail address is and I would love to have your book. Many thanks and keep up the good work

  7. Jack,

    I think science has done a tremendous amount for us. Take a look at our life expectancy, for example. We're not dying at 35 anymore.

    But yes, thinking in itself does not solve trauma - though it can and does help us to learn from it. No doubt it's part of the 'integrative' phase.

    -Oh, we don't think in words as such. Words are only an expression of thought. Words are only 'markers' of thought.

  8. Science is in every soul that is undergoing primal therapy ... the physiological reason for their suffering ... an amazing science that indefinitely can be comment of newcomers to the part of the brain where the science exist ... before that science is unanswered . The application of science by a process is nothing more than how far we can see the truth of it ... otherwise is the science of the atoms placement only of a physiological question without psychological significance ... except when the atomic bomb blows over our heads.

  9. Jack,

    I am wondering if you are not a fan of only a CERTAIN TYPE of science. I can understand your disdain for the type of science that passes for most psychology these days .But Dr Janov is also scientific in his own way, is he not? Of course, this then all begs the important question as to what the distinction is methodologically between Janov's scientific approach, and the average neurologist's (for instance)? It is an important question for the philosophy of science,and especially, of course, for the treatment of emotional illness; and I cannot answer it at this time. I know that Reich also pondered these questions. He made a distiction between what he called "mechanistic" thinking (that of your average detached scientist), which he thought neurotic: and his scientific approach ,which he called orgonomic functionalism, which I do not yet understand .He goes thoroughly into these questions of scientific methodology for the realm of psychology in many of his books, but especially in his "Ether, God, and Devil".Check it out.


  10. Jack, let's say your friend has a problem. Let's say you can feel what your friend is feeling. Your feelings guide your intellect so you can think of a practical solution. When you solve the problem, your intellect tells your feelings there is no longer anything to worry about. Your feelings listen to your intellect. You helped your friend because you love your friend. You feel good because your friend feels good. And you feel good because you know the problem has been solved. That is the life of healthy people. All parts of the brain working in harmony.

    Trauma causes those brain-parts to split up. But later in life, if we experience MORE trauma, the brain will suddenly wake up, the intellect and the feelings will be forced to connect, and we will have a moment of inspiration - a bizarre reversed reaction to trauma. I don't think so.

    Jack, you say a profound event in your life led you to Primal Therapy. Well, the event altered your thoughts, but ultimately you must have had enough connection remaining between your thoughts and feelings; a connection which enabled you to make a good decision.

    If a person has very little connection, then no event will make him/her think clearly. The circular thinking will continue. The arguments will continue. Small things become important - important things become small. Messed up, tangled thoughts which don't make sense. And that's when we put our foot down firmly and say "Fuck you....I am smart. I understand this, and I understand that. So, obviously I am smart. Obviously I should have full confidence in my own ideas." And that's when we stop listening to anything that doesn't fit with our ideas. And that is a very powerful defense. It stops us from feeling wrong.

  11. Jack,

    Sorry to disagree, but science is not just about why, it is also about what. It has a practical purpose of winnowing out the false conclusions and removing personal bias, although never perfectly. This is not a feeling enterprise, it is an intellectual one. But it still has the emotional benefit of winnowing out snake oil therapies by providing some objectivity of experiences and results. Skepticism lives at the heart of it, as does respectful disagreement through the challenging of ideas, not people.


  12. So Jack, I guess you've never been the recipient of medical help derived from 'Science'?

    "Science Definition

    The word science comes from the Latin "scientia," meaning knowledge.

    How do we define science? According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is "knowledge attained through study or practice," or "knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world."

    What does that really mean? Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. Less formally, the word science often describes any systematic field of study or the knowledge gained from it.

    What is the purpose of science? Perhaps the most general description is that the purpose of science is to produce useful models of reality.

    Most scientific investigations use some form of the scientific method. You can find out more about the scientific method here.

    Science as defined above is sometimes called pure science to differentiate it from applied science, which is the application of research to human needs. Fields of science are commonly classified along two major lines:
    - Natural sciences, the study of the natural world, and
    - Social sciences, the systematic study of human behavior and society."

    - hmm, you're right, that's evil stuff ;-)

    Even Art describes Feelings in terms of the tri-partite brain. Woulda thought that was Science...


  13. Patrick: Hey all you experts on my life. I opened the Paris Institute at the beginning of 1980 and remained in Paris til late 1985. art janov

  14. Frank: I think the first sentence is worth printing this letter. art janov

  15. Erron: Hey in the next week or two I will be weighing in on science. art janov

  16. Wow ... Can't believe I instigated that much of a response. I will start by suggesting that Art first experienced some guy screaming like he was being murdered on his office floor. Art, stated he, was totally unable to explain it. Other than recording that session and playing it over and over again, then tried out the same thing later on on another patient.

    I could well be wrong but it is my feeling that that incident freaked the *^$# outta him and he couldn't resist playing it over and over again till slowly some sense (I would like to suggest some insight) dawned on him. It was the feeling that drove him to later explain it, formulate a theory around it, and then write a book. Art, correct me if I'm wrong, but it started with a huge huge feeling not some scientific notion. If Art chose to promote his therapy by wrapping it in scientific terms for verifications and validations that was/is his choice. I feel, for all his intellect and deep thinking about this matter he's gained little respect from the vast majority of the scientific world. Shame on them.

    Patrick: I will email you and attach an e-copy of my book. If you have access to skype you can skype me Jack Waddington Santa Monica and when we contact we can buddy. It's free for both audio ad video contact.

    Andrew: I know you THINK science has done a lot for us. That's how it's presented to us in our formative years. Thinking IMO is the problem and I make this more clear in my book.

    Frank: We neurotics have been fed a lot of pre-conceived ideas, science being one of them, but it takes a very deep deep early feeling to realize we were born with feelings, pure unadulterated feelings, not THINKING; that came later and certainly, as did a sense of scientific notions.

    Marco: I sure ain't a fan of any sort of science even though science and mathematics were my subjects at school. Then, I loved them. It was a total re-living of very early childhood event (primal) that blew all that right out the water. I've not been the same since.

    Richard: I have had friends, and lovers, with great problems and all I was able to do was to re-act to them with my feelings. I was at best 'empathetic' to their feelings (pain). I just know that doctors coming to my problems with their (so called) expertise didn't really do a great deal for me. I don't want doctors elongating my life span unless the quality of my life will improve, which is not how I, so far, have experienced doctors. I want to die as painless as possible and to die as feeling-full as I can be.

    Walden: It's ok to disagree. I'm not looking for agreement, I'm looking to shed light. If you are disagreeing with me then you are not letting the light in. I suspect it sounds like conceit on my part, but what I find very disconcerting about most of us (yeah me too from time to time) is we don't listen ... and get into the feeling the other person is trying to convey.

    Erron: You too Erron have bought into this notion of science. It's a prop, not a cure. It's one I would like to be without. Why are we all so scared of dying? It is my contention that we are scarred of it, cos it almost happened to (most of) us in early childhood. It's an old feeling.

  17. Art, what do you mean by weighing in on science? Are you going to show stuff that you've learnt from your work with the German clinic?

  18. Thanks Jack, got your e-mail and book. Am on page 64. Am impressed so far. I am sure we will discuss it in the near future.

    Art, It is no big deal, but I saw you personally with my own eyes at the Institute in 1981. You chased a patient out of the building because she had gone and done re-birthing. I remember clearly the effect it had on me.My therapist, Nick Barton, told me that she would be allowed back in if she asks for it.

    Also, my brother Robert requested to have a meeting with you in 1981. You told him,(tongue-in-cheek) that you wished you could find a neurotic to run the Institue for you, meaning a neurotic would have all the necessary "crazy energy and drive" to do so.

    Re the subject of science. IMO it does not take any science at all to cure someone, especially a child. It takes, however, compassion, some knowledge, and the experience of having primalled for some time (i.e. having been allowed to cry deeply). Nothing wrong with doing the science afterwards, in order to improve the whole "package deal". There was no theory (science or thinking) before PT came about and Art had treated a number of people before formulating his theory (the science). However, Art's thinking processes refined and honed the therapy to eliminate 'blind spots'.

    Incidentally, I cured the 4-year old child of a (non-primal) girlfriend in the USA of constant and eternal whining, just by allowing her to throw 3 or 4 "temper tantrums". Each lasted about an hour, whilst she was screaming blue murder. I could hear how she "changed gear" in her crying, as it became more softer as time went on. She was completely cured. I had had only about one year's therapy by then. I did it with love and compassion, sitting quietly next to her whilst her little being was primalling. Her mother was blown away when she saw the little girl go through motions she performed when she was only six months old.

    Just briefly, the mother was trying to pacify her child by indulging her. I simply did not allow the child to act-out her pain and she promptly sat down on the floor and "threw her tantrum"

  19. This is getting interesting.
    Our psychological interpretation of our physiological suffering is perhaps the source of science... a need for survival... science is in equal with the purpose. Science is what Art do to help us with life threatening feelings and how to get us out of there.

  20. Jack, I haven't bought into anything. I simply know what Science is, good and bad. And yes I'm afraid of death, partly because of early trauma, no doubt. That does not invalidate the value in thinking analytically, the basis of science and no doubt the central process involved in you writing your book.



  21. Richard:
    I am writing a bit on the ways and means of science. hang on! AJ

  22. Patrick, if you encountered another little girl in a similar situation, would you do it again or would you take more caution this time? In other words, would you recommend the Primal Center instead of trying to be a therapist?
    It is obvious that there are many therapists out there who think primalling is a very simple, natural thing which doesn't require much knowledge or precision from the therapist. I can see their attitude in the way they write. "Just tap into a feeling and go for it."
    I don't understand why so many people think it is safe to tamper with life-and-death feelings. It's a pretty big deal don't you think? What if it goes wrong? And would you know if it went wrong?

  23. Off topic perhaps, but thought you'd be interested:

    the text:

    Premature babies face lifetime of pain sensitivity
    Hannah Devlin

    Premature babies become oversensitive to pain owing to the intensive-care treatments they receive after birth, a study suggests.

    The impact of repeated injections, heel lances and tube feeding could endure into adulthood, according to scientists. They said that more effective pain management during the first weeks of life could help pre-term infants to develop normally.

    Premature babies often show little physical reaction to such procedures, which has led to disagreements over how acutely they feel pain. However, work by scientists at University College London revealed that while pre-term infants often appeared oblivious, their brain activity revealed that they were experiencing discomfort.

    The latest study, led by Rebeccah Slater, indicates that after 40 days in hospital, premature babies feel pain more acutely than healthy newborn babies at the same stage in development. Dr Slater and colleagues studied the reaction of seven premature babies and eight full-term babies in hospital while having a heel prick test, a technique used to take blood from infants’ feet. Using an electroencephalogram (EEG), which show the brain’s electrical activity or brain waves, Dr Slater found stronger EEG traces for premature infants who had been in hospital for at least 40 days than for healthy non-hospitalised babies of the same age.
    Related Links

    The increased sensitivity could persist in the long term, making the infants more sensitive to pain throughout life, according to the study, published today in the journal NeuroImage.Previous research has suggested that premature infants are three times more likely to develop psychiatric conditions in later life, including hyperactivity and emotional disorders.

    Babies requiring intensive care have an average of 14 procedures per day, many of which are considered by clinical staff to be painful. Dr Slater said that pain management techniques could involve the use of anaesthetics, and measures such as feeding babies during procedures to soothe them. “The aim is to make their brain develop as normally as possible,” she said.



  24. Hi folks,
    Regarding "science", Dr Janov always has some references to the topic in his books, however short they might be . But I have found his most extensive astute comments on the subject in "The Anatomy of Mental Illness" and in "Primal Man"; and , not surprisingly, both, I beleive, were books that were aimed primarily to the scientific community in addition to the lay public like us.


  25. Marco: Yes but there has never been another single doctor or scientist who has been interested in Primal. Talk about defenses and denial. Isn't that amazing? art janov

  26. Erron: Bien sur. Of course. Por supuesto. Claro que si. art janov

  27. Dr Janov,

    You write in response to my last post that "not another single doctor or scientist (has ) been interested in Primal" despite all your amazing books, and especially these two ,"Primal Man" and "The Anatomy of Mental Illness" ,aimed at the scientific community.It is utterly amazing (as you say), and incomprehensible to me. I mean ,what more could these people want in terms of scientific data and case histories convincing them to at least check out your work? As you say, it must be powerful defenses and denial, because "reason " ain't getting through. Wow...This world is even more sick than I thought. Well, if it's any consolation, Reich thought that maybe his work would be a few hundred years from now.


  28. Richard,

    You can't send a toddler to the Primal Center for therapy; they don't accept little children as patients, not even teenagers.

    As far as "tampering" with someone else's strong feelings, how do you define that? I think it is just human to let others express as their needs dictate, and that includes children. As I read Patrick's description and the word "cure", I was a little skeptical. If he means that the whining episodes ceased, then I can see using the word like that, although it tells us nothing about the rest of that child's life. Still, whether he "cured" the little girl or not, was there a different response that he, as a sensitive person, should have considered? What would you have done?

    I think that as long as you are not pushing or leading someone craftily toward some feeling experience of your own design, there is no real danger from "life and death" feelings. Our systems regulate quite well for safety. I'm sure Dr. Janov has made this point many times in his writing, too.


  29. Walden: When my niece was seven years old, we were on the beach with her family. The child was a chronic whiner. The mother complained to me. In the midst of one of her whining sessions I called her over put her in the fetal position and allowed her to relive her birth. She never whined again. art janov

  30. Walden, as an insensitive person, I certainly wouldn't put a four-year-old child in the fetal position and watch over her without knowing whether she is drifting towards psychosis or whether she is abreacting or whether she is just acting out with more energy. I would let the child do whatever she normally does, but I would try to show the mother that her child is hurting. My sister thinks her children are always being naughty.
    I know this is not a solution, but there is no way to safely help my sister's children YET. I have tried to educate her kids. That's the best I can do for now.
    Stopping a child from acting out could be tantamount to putting a kid in the fetal position. Let the child be defensive.
    Some years ago I had a horrific experience. I think I was abreacting for about six hours. I was on the brink of something terrible, and it took every last bit of my mental focus to stop myself from losing my mind (that's what it seemed like). If that had happened to me when I was four - knowing what my parents are like - it could have had disastrous consequences. I am lucky to know about primal theory now. I don't have to explain it to myself now. How could a young child deal with an experience like that while trying to deal with the abuse and neglect of unloving parents?
    If a child is going to primal, it should be done properly with experts. And the parents must understand what's going on, and IMO, they should be getting therapy too.
    It is RISKY in the wrong hands. We have no right to take that risk with someone else's mind. A sensitive person should be able to see what I am saying.

  31. Hi Richard,

    I think I agree with you mostly, although it's confusing to have you assert that you are both an insensitive person and a sensitive person.

    I don't like the word "abreact" in this context. I think it's fine in some contexts, where people are attempting to force a primal experience. That would not be the case in the context you used it in. You were struggling and feeling, both. Is that fair? I'm not going to sit and judge whether you "connected", for god's sake.

    Your point, though, is that good intentions can play out in dangerous ways. I agree. What is an expert in this case? That's the hard question. Is it someone who can do no wrong?


  32. Walden: An expert is a guy from out of town. AJ


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.