Sunday, October 10, 2010

More on Intrauterine Life

I am convinced that whatever a carrying mother puts into her body the results on the fetus/baby will be deleterious. There is a study reported in Ethical Human Psychology (Vol 10, Number 1, 2008) that when a pregnant mother takes ordinary tranquilizers such as Prozac so Paxil she could be harming her baby. The investigators looked at mothers who took the serotonin-enhancing tranquilizers and found that the offspring had serious brain and body changes. It was linked to several afflictions, not the least of which were changes in the structure of the brain. When depressed mothers took those pills the offspring suffered from pulmonary hypertension, meaning that the baby had a hard time catching her breath. She could not get enough oxygen in her lungs. (The critical period was in the first trimester).

Serotonin is very important in brain development, and what these pills do is interfere with that development, culminating in possible withdrawal symptoms in the new-born:. Pure muscle tone, poor sleep patterns, respiratory distress and other factors. This is to say nothing of later effects on depression and suicidal ideation. So it is not benign to take a seemingly banal drug while carrying. What is important here is that it sets the stage for later addiction to drugs. The gap between uterine life and later behavioral effects can be decades, which is why it is so hard to detect. So a mother taking drugs to alleviate depression could be setting up depression and the need for uppers in the offspring. The baby can be born depressed; that is, she is low on alerting chemicals such as dopamine. Her whole system has been in suppress mode since entering planet earth.

Science Writer, Bruce Wilson, adds a quote from an article on the subject by Peter Breggin:

“Not only is the unborn baby trying to deal with a flood of maternal stress hormones transmitted to it through the placenta, but it also must deal with a drug that is affecting the very development of its stress response system and its brain.”

SSRIs (the tranquilizer acts to keep serotonin at the ready in the synapse), “actually work on the whole stress response system, which includes a host of neurochemicals and hormones. So on top of the onslaught of maternal stress, the fetus has its defense system knocked out before it has a fighting chance. A fetus whose mother took antidepressants is more likely to be born with ADHD.”

The baby can’t win. It is depleted of what it needs to respond properly to stress and then goes to school and is blamed because he is hyperactive and cannot concentrate—ADD. And here is what is worse. Later to he goes to a shrink to find out what is wrong with him and they give him drugs again. Ay ay ay. And he needs drugs because nowhere in the shrink’s armamentarium is there room for a theory of gestational life, which would allow for a treatment without drugs. With the knowledge that is out there about this it is almost criminal to not acknowledge this crucial time in our lives. It deprives patients at any shot at health and stability; any chance of good relationships, any chance that their heart will go on working into his nineties. There is too much evidence now that drugs given to the pregnant mother produce later heart disease (See. Robert Whitaker. The Anatomy of an Epidemic. Robert


  1. Well, what we now know is that a foetus is highly responsive to epigenetic programming, which means highly responsive to chemical switches that have a major effect on the foetus's development.

    That insight alone should tell us that we are playing with fire when we expose a baby to "rouge" chemicals that don't need to be there (and shouldn't be there).

    How could those chemicals not have a profound effect? Again, the foetus is *specifically designed* to be developmentally responsive to them.

  2. Art,

    We are overwhelmed about what you tell us it's just that we are being suffocated by the silence that is around us on this issue.
    We know that it is essential to feel safe and secure in the process of primal therapy. It is a very important issue here in Sweden where there is no primal center.
    When you are talking about a clinical trial… what do you mean? In my family anyone can attend and participate... if all needed we will be more than happy. A clinical trial… for what it ever means… which we believe to be important for spreading awareness of primal therapy ... with media involved which would distribute information to an extent of reaching out to the needy ... needy as probably are silenced by there own problem… and not least to those who are not aware of primal therapy's existence… witch on my questions… to those I meet don’t know about it. Established in the psychological field might also find interest. We need something that arouses the media's interest and it would certainly a clinical trial of primal therapy do here in Sweden.
    If you give me a hint that this may be possible I'll start looking for a reporter suitable for its task?


  3. Thanks for the post.
    I think that using the term that it is 'almost criminal' that the huge importance of this crucial time in our lives is not being acknowledged is an is criminal....if a parent were to feed powdered glass to their child and that child for the rest of their lives had a damaged intestinal system the parent would be in jail.
    It is exactly the same when a fetus' brain is damaged by a mothers stress or drugs.
    Unless a mother is psychological and emotionally healthy, and well supported by a large support system, she cannot help but damage her unborn and that person will have to subsequently deal with the life damaging repercussions. Just like with the powdered glass.

  4. Pure science!
    For this article people should be, already,educated in some way - to know what is serotonin and add or adhd, simply: in this modern time we need to know about ourselves something specialistic!

  5. Kinda off topic, but I thought I'd copy-paste here a quote from one of the rare Christian authors I admire, a man who heads a network of therapeutic communes for intellectually-handicapped people, called L'Arche (The Ark, as in Noah).

    Another Way to Protect Herself by Jean Vanier

    " A child can also protect herself by escaping into dreams. She then enters into a completely imaginary world so as to avoid the pain of reality: the reality of her own body and anguish, the reality of broken communion, the reality of a sick and depressed mother or an angry father. All this pain and fear are too much for her. Dreams are an extraordinary protection against suffering and reality. So the child creates her own world sheltered from pain, sheltered particularly from inner pain."

    - Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p.56

    I always find it significant and exciting when different people discover the same healing insights about human beings independently of each other; in this case, Vanier and Janov.

    Also, in the case of Vanier who works with intellectually handicapped people, I wonder what the specific traumas are with them , since , in their case, they seem to be really brain damaged, unlike most neurotics who are not grossly brain damaged. Their physical coordination is really off also. If brain damaged, most have had their traumas compounded by uncaring parents and an uncaring society which houses them in institutions. Vanier's work is precisely to get them out of institutions and into his therapeutic communes, or alternative families, if you want to put it that way.

    Despite their Christian jargon, his books have a lot of great insights into people and the contemporary world. A true Christian, which is a rarity. He is often a comfort to me in a lonely world.


  6. Dear Art , I shuddered then when I heared of the the administering of antibiotics! to my pregnant nieces. and each and every time their sons /daughter had to endure this (same) procedure... year in and out.
    Sometimes I doubt completely the sanity and not only the rationality of the medical establishment!! Yours emanuel
    P:S. Now the ever-vigilant daught of my severely sweet niece sarah is compensating her
    mother`s mood!!

  7. Andrew: andrew please I have enough troubles now we all got to speak spanish? thanks but I doubt it. art

  8. Andrew Please I have enough troubles. Now we all got to speak Spanish? thanks, but I doubt it. art

  9. Dr. Janov,
    What is the solution?
    Should a pregnant depressed mother stop Prozac/Paxil?
    What is more harmful to the fetus, tranquilizers or depression?
    Would you suggest PT during pregnancy?

  10. Andrew
    My experience with the Hispanic culture tells me that PT will not be accepted.
    The traditional believe in religion and Curandera is too dominant.
    Elena Avila describes the why in her book: “Woman who glows in the dark”.

  11. We can "understand" crazy feelings as need for survival ... such as god ... ghosts ... spirits and other ideologies… not least due to the generally accepted psychological interpretations of the physiological content ... need to escape the insane physiological emotional content… experiences ... dissatisfaction that is interpreted to speak in its own madness and irrelevant content... against need of love and warmth. Whatever form it takes depends on the intensity and the moment legitimated to let go... why all these crazy symptomatic psychological explanations is the basis of the actual physiological content.


  12. Sieglinde I wish I knew the answer. My guess is that a natural body is always preferred over a drugged one, but I must admit I do not know. art janov

  13. Hi Art,and Sieglinde ,there are so many natural
    sedatives and serotonin enhancers that it would be foolish to n o t administer them to a suffering
    By the way I hope You will mind that remind You
    of Your " Weltanschauungs" article as you asked me to do so some months ago..
    When we are at it :I wondered yesterday whether the o n l y sane! people were the several 2-4 years old kids ,running around with their juvenile enthusiam during a polish-catholic service!! yours emanuel

  14. Thanks Sieglinde. It's depressing that the age of reason has left so many people behind.

  15. Sieglinde - People in general don't want to revisit a past where they almost didn't survive. It doesn't matter what country they're from. PT may be a threat to most people, but not more so in Spanish speaking countries. I'm sure Art has worked with his share of Latins/Hispanics. Though they would have had to be able to speak English or French to do the therapy.

    I just happen to be white from the USA, and I'm the only one in my family who did, and would ever do PT. My wife, a white Latin wants to do PT, where here family sees no use in it. When I say no use, what I'm really saying is, that they don't want to hear anything that would suggest that their parents were anything less than perfect.

    (Gee, why did this guy Larry bring white people into this?)

    To separate a Spanish speaking, multiracial people (just like we have here in the US, i.e., from the purest White, Black, Asian, Native Americans... and then some, to any mix under the sun) from other countries and cultures, would simply be wrong. My parents hate my wife, because they can't believe that anyone from a Spanish speaking country, could possible have European roots (didn't the Europeans discover the new world?).

    I should be more clear as far as my parent's hate goes for my wife. They really hate her because she is more intelligent than they are... funnier, and far better looking too. If they did PT, then they would realize this. But because they didn't, they can conveniently/ignorantly hate their only son's wife.

    ... on a side note, if my wife was any race or mix of races (and the same goes for me too), I would protect her and stick up for her rights, simply because it's the right thing to do... and because I'm crazy nuts about her. :)

    Larry Jankowski

  16. Frank I will no longer post your blog until you get someone to help you with your english. It cannot be understood the way it is. art janov

  17. Emmanuel: I forgot. What about Weltanschauung? art

  18. I've just got back from a huge family reunion. I spent the second half of the night in the kids room and joined in with the toy throwing. The kids enjoyed talking with me. They asked me why I was sitting with them instead of talking with the adults. I told them everybody out there was too hard to talk to...too much awkward tension. I said I would rather sit with the sane people. The kids smiled and they asked me a bunch of 'taboo' questions as the toys continued to fly over my head. They wanted to know why I didn't care about a small hole in my pants, why I didn't have a girlfriend...all sorts of personal questions, and I was happy to answer all of them because I knew they were only curious...not judgemental at all. My nephew leaned against me while we watched a movie and later I got some cake for my niece because she was too shy to ask for some. I deliberately gave her too much and her eyes widened!
    Emanuel you are so right. Kids are more sane. I don't want to "grow up" until I can do it properly.

  19. Hi Art,

    Thanks for considering my post on October 6 2010 with respect to suffocation and panic.

    Why is it far from usual that a child can suffocate a small child while being sexually abused and why would this not serve as a first line trauma? This probably is very common (sexual abuse) and if the child is very small then he or she can be cruhsed and suffocated.

    Are you saying that what I have described is far from usual and therefore it can't be a first line trauma because of its low frequency? Or are you saying that because it far from usual it can't serve as a first line trauma because first line trauma only relates to frequent incidents of suffocation that many people can experience? Or are you saying that this kind of abuse, even when experience by many people does not qualify as first line trauma? Or are you saying that sex abuse of very small infants if far from usual??

    Sorry about all the questions but I didn't understand the nature of your answer.


    I am from the US and I am a psychologist

  20. John: I do not understand this sentence. Why is it far from usual that a child can suffocate a small child while being sexually abused and why would this not serve as a first line trauma? This probably is very common (sexual abuse) and if the child is very small then he or she can be crushed and suffocated. 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.