Monday, February 28, 2011

Imprints and Repression And Reduced Access to Ourselves


When the energy of an imprint is blocked, we have little access to ourselves. This also suggests why depression often involves being sexless, as the system is in the energy conservation mode – parasympathetic. All energy is suppressed. The underlying pain has demanded that so much energy be expended in repression that there is little left over for other things. And the memory endures, keeping the system off balance where the parasympathetic system is dominant.
Tranquilizers that repress pain often suppress sex drive, as well. We produce those same inhibitory substances internally, and can shut ourselves down just as readily as with drugs. If anything that should tell us that we react holistically which is the example of tranquilizers. They suppress pain in a global way and along with it the sex drive. It is not that they target sex specifically, but that when targeting a whole system it must necessarily include sex. That is why the imprint is set down systemically. It is why non-sexual and pre-sexual traumas directly affect sex.
We see it so clearly when patients on Prozac, which is a serotonin enhancer, have diminished sex drive but find it difficult to believe that the very same chemical we produce internally can also shut off sex drive. Now we can begin to see the origin of some sex problems; problems that will not respond to any conventional treatments. A reliving of a brainstem imprint necessarily involves a brainstem reaction. Without the reliving there is a still a brainstem reaction going on which affects sex, yet the memory is out of awareness.
Fortunately, resolving sex problems such as diminished libido by lifting depression can occur without one word addressed about them, per se. The more we feel what caused the closure of our system, the more it becomes safe for the system to be open. This occurs not all at once, but over time. (I discount age here. Clearly, an eighty-year-old is going to have diminished sex drive, as is someone who is very sick. They have less energy available, hence less energy for sex.)
We are captives of our biology and our imprints, not its masters. Once there is an imprint, once memory has become neuro-physiological, we react to our history first and external reality second. Inner life is pre-potent because it has to do with survival. We then see the world through the filter of history. It is why under completely calm conditions we have palpitations. The imprint sculpts new circuits in the nervous system so that certain networks get grooved and are more likely to be used again and again. Later on, that groove may be sexual and compulsive so that each time pain comes up the excitation by pain is transformed into sexual compulsion. It is in the limbic system that the compulsion takes on a sexual focus.


43 comments:

  1. Hi Art,
    In a much earlier blog you described how due to the sexual hijack sex can suddenly stop. I wonder if this is similar to what you are saying here.

    The combination of a sexual hijack with stressful (limbic?) associations with the formerly beloved other result in a rapid loss of attraction and an inevitable decision to quit the relationship. All this automatically without any comprehension of the cause.

    I have come across the work of Dr David Schnarch, a sex therapist who has writen extensively on the subject of emotionally committed relationships and sex. He runs workshops.

    He says that where there is this emotional commitment sex plays a reconciling role in the development of both individuals in the relationship; his role as therapist is not to focus on the sex per se but to explore the attachment in combination with sex, sensations and intimacy. This often results in feeling pain deeply, much crying followed by insight, renewed commitment and reduction of stress in the relationship.
    What he is saying seems to resonate with a middle eastern esoteric idea that sex can be the reconciling force between the "Instinctive Centre" and the "Moving Centre". I think that could correspond with sympathetic and parasympathetic, I'm not sure.

    Most interesting to me is that he categorises four stages of sexual style which appears to correlate with the four stages of our development. His description of the interdependent style, sustained eye contact, complete trust, full body experience,merged and separate, perceiving the other simultaneously as child, teenager, adult and old person is something I am lucky enough to have experienced a few times so I know there is something in what Dr Schnark is saying; sex is special, when combined with emotional commitment.

    We have to be so careful when our children grow through the counter-dependent stage (which loosely corresponds with the development of the limbic). Everything is so deeply felt, the child so sensitive and re-actional. The wrong word or ironic look can humilliate and confuse their loyalty and integrity. Furthermore the Imprint running throught the limbic development can all get wrapped up in fantasy, symbols and phobias; bogey men and nightmares.

    Other writers have pointed out that the counterdependent stage of a relationship can result in separation without the ex-lovers understanding there is something to work through.

    I'm not sure I've got all this right but what you have been saying about the difference between romantic love, emotional bonding and biological drive seem to resonate with certain other systems of understanding and therapy but you have uncovered the original cause behind the symbols.

    Paul G.

    (PS I wrote a better version of this but the blog technology deleted it! has that happened to any one else)?

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  2. I have been better able to see this and your writing really nails this like never before or maybe I just did not see it as clearly. I have a 4 part wonderment about a few things concerning the intellect and who or what really controls it. It does relate to the sympath/parasympath struggle as well.

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  3. Friday, February 25, 2011

    It finally dawned on me this morning what I have been building toward, without knowing exactly where I was headed. This battle about the intellect and its role now has some resolution, maybe.

    PT says we got 3 levels of the brain function. Cortex, Limbic, and lets call it Reptile. It has been said the intellect can fool or derail the feelings. I am going to disagree here for reasons I will get to, though maybe not in this post. 1st the disagreement.

    I see the intellect much as I think it was Richard who said it, a problem solver.

    It can be strengthened but it is not a separate and often antagonistic force. It is a tool used and employed by the forces beneath it, Limbic and Reptile. But I find within these forces or voices, 2 opposing sides, both struggling to control the cortex. Consider that in the Limbic system are 2 sides, what we might generalize and positive and negative emotions, or at least, 2 different sets of emotions, perhaps as a balance of each other. As well in the brain stem (Reptile) we have 2 sides, a balance of forces, sympathetic and parasympathetic.

    So there are, you might say, 2 opposing forces inside us, at any given time. Even the cortex has a division of forces but maybe not exactly in the same way. I had been giving thought early this morning in bed to my fall out experience with the religion (not to be confused with God) I had once been a part of in the early 80s. While engaged in it and believing it (Jehovah’s Witnesses – JWs from here on in), I had this residual feeling in me that something was out of place or not quite right. But another part of me would silence it. Little things would be allowed to slip by that normally would not have been allowed by me.

    I had felt wanted and accepted and had a place to belong and yet there was doubt. But yet, I did not feel like the people in the group were really anything like Christ. He as a rebel, a maverick, a trouble maker and big mouth who loved to buck and challenge authority, establishment, status quo. In fact, in doing so, he got himself killed. But JWs seemed like total suck-ups who did not think for themselves and often looked down on others. But I sort of let this all slide because, as I better recognize now, I was needy. I wanted the friendship, acceptance, belonging, community, etc.

    But I had this strong trait as well. I was a very independent person and thinker. I could not turn off my brain (intellect) and just let others lead or tell me what to think. So the need to belong was conflicting with the need to assert my own thoughts and understanding. But acceptance came with a price. Do what you’re told or else. It finally came to a head almost 4 years into it. But it was such a shock. The head honcho was really angry because I saw through him and his phony family. I did not say too much but still got this fiery blast of intense anger. He went up one side or me and down the other. The other guy did not want to go along with it. It bothered him but he did not dare speak up. The head had all the backing of HQ in Brooklyn NY. No one dared to stand up to him and with good reason.

    It was after this total shock, where I went numb, that all those little things I let slip by were no longer going to slip by. I knew something was seriously wrong though I did not know exactly what it all was. But I was going to find out, quietly.

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  4. Part 2 of 4

    I had always had reservations of some things. They showed, so it seemed, that abortion was wrong. But in my heart or gut, I did not agree with this. But I could not refute it by the Bible, or at least not at that time. Many things I began to question. I kept a list. It got up to about 50 before I was shunned and banished (gladly by that point).

    There was always this struggle and discomfort from within about this group. The doctrine seemed fairly sound, but there was this feeling inside me that not all was right in doctrine or other things too. My feelings were disagreeing with my intellect. But my intellect was controlled by my needs and emotions. So what was this other voice that wanted to take on my needs? It was NOT the intellect for that had joined the needs by not being critical enough and careful enough in thought and thought process.

    There were 2 different opposing voices or forces within me, both trying to gain control of my intellect, the tool used to figure things out. But after my disillusion, I cut the intellect loose and let it rip. What was the problem(s)? I had to figure it all out. But I took my time and was careful. I knew that rash emotions had made many former members do crazy things. I was going to wait till I had enough figured out to be sure of what I was doing. I was not going to act before I thought. That never seemed to work well at all.

    So I kind of started over again in trying to read the Bible only for what it said and not what some tried to imply. I did not hesitate to hear sources that were forbidden. One of those forbidden sources was able to destroy a very important doctrine and once that was done, I was ready to bring the place down, if possible. I was now their secret enemy. I was no longer one of them in spirit. After getting booted, I continued to seek out varying opinions on many aspects of the bible, philosophy, politics, science, anything at all.

    Here is the weird thing. When I found the doctrine that blew the JWs to hell, the feeling that gave discomfort was no longer uncomfortable or unhappy. I had resolved my conflict inside and out. I think our minds (all 3 of them) always seek harmony, unity, consistency, integration. When something is out of whack, one part or the other will let you know.

    The intellect is or can be an impartial tool, ready to serve either part of your more inner self. Whether it works or does its job depends upon if our more inner person lets it do it unhindered or not. The intellect seems to be a neutral sort of tool. It can be good or bad, depending on who is or what is controlling it. My needs had a good grip on it for a while. But then other needs asserted themselves. They wanted truth, logic, reason, not to mention some consistency and not hypocrisy. And they were not satisfied with what I had with the JWs in the early days. But those feelings were non-verbal messages. They could not tell me where or how I was wrong but they let me feel that there was something out of place and lacking.

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    Replies
    1. Apollo
      I would greatly appreciate discussing this with you. I grew up as a JW and fully understand the conflicts you described. I am curious about which doctrine you were referring to. I tried to stay active. However, dealing with the people was far too difficult. I left many years ago. Maybe you could offer some words that will bring me clarity.

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    2. What is a JW? The clarity you want can be found in Life Before Birth, Primal Healing and Biology of Love. AJ

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  5. Part 3 of 4

    Primal forces are constant enemies to us. Yet, all they are doing is trying to get to consciousness and get out of storage. But I do not believe their ultimate goal is to be felt. The way they act on us is to fulfill them symbolically, rather than feel them. They subvert our every thought, word, and action. They demand some fulfillment yet never are satisfied.

    It takes a good intellect with a force below wanting to help, to get to the truth. Rather than run from feelings, those feeling need to be allowed to come up and into the open. That is not an easy place to get to. But if one is looking for truth and wants to find it, it will get found. Nothing can hold back what you really want. But likewise, if you do not want it, you can be damn sure you will not find it. The battle below must be resolved before the battle above (in the intellect) can be solved.

    Many followers of PT have come to blame the intellect for many things when I believe it is contradictory and battling sides below in the 1st and 2nd levels, the limbic and reptile that must settle things for us before the intellect can do its job. And what that job is that depends on which side wins. If the “bad” side winds, the intellect begins to run, hide and deceive. But if the other “good” side wins, the intellect will search more objectively and honestly so that the real object desired is obtained. We might call this a battle between courage and fear.

    Many do not want to find the truth. They want to run and hide and just feel better. And any pain killer or addiction can do that, sort of, for a while. They are the ones who want a therapist to lie to them and make them feel better rather than exorcise the pain.

    But consider this. Take that word “conscience.” Let break it up. Con and science. Science is Latin for knowing or to know. Con can mean two or two associated things. It can also competing. But what is indicated in such a word is that there is more than one way of knowing or that maybe there is more than one voice seeking to know something. We have opposing sets of muscles for back and forth movement of limbs. In the brain stem, we have excite and calm/relax – stimulate and depress. Likewise, I suspect we have the want or desire to know and the opposite, to not know and to run and avoid.

    Those 2 forces have to decide who is going to get control of the intellect. But once the struggle is settled, it will go the way of the victor and not the vanquished. Once you say to yourself, I want to know, then look out, for you will know and find out.

    That Christ guy I mentioned? He put it this way. “Seek and you will find. Ask and it will be answered. Knock and it will be opened to you.” Once you make the decision, the cortex goes to work to solve the problem.

    The intellect is pretty much an automatic processing unit that will solve whatever you ask it to. If you want to run and hide, it will show you how and do it for you. If you want to solve, find and know, it can do that for you, too. Just point it where you want it and you’re off to the races.

    Consider that we do not take language lessons when we are very young and yet we learn a language, without any instruction at all. The brain just deduces the patterns and makes sense of it all for us. That is how the mind works. Its automatic. A problem solver for sure. Thanks Richard!

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  6. Part 4 of 4

    So we don’t need to badger or fault the intellect. It always does as it is told. Further, we have 2 forces in us that oppose or complement us. If we are integrated, then the forces work together. But if they fight and stay at war, we are going to be messed up people. But I question whether we have no access to pain or both forces, or whether there might be some partial access to those forces, some conscious awareness of those feelings and voices.

    I have always believed that I was guided by my inner feelings. Up to now, I have the understanding from Arthur that this is not possible. The Pain is totally inaccessible. I do not believe this for a second for I know what I have felt and what drove me. My pain was almost non-existent up to my JW crisis. But after, it was much worse for me. Many more residual side effects.

    And though I was not aware of Pain, after reading some in the Primal Scream in 87, I knew it must be there even if I could not feel it or be aware of it. I was aware of it at one time as a child. But there has always been some ability to sort of ask my deep inner self questions and I would not get verbal answers but I did get feelings either confirming or denying what I had asked. They were always there to help point me in the right direction.

    I can see how some could be so removed from themselves and their feelings that they were completely walled off and blocked so that nothing went in or out. A complete split! There are partial splits and complete splits and various shades of gray amongst all those. Some are totally damaged and broken. Some are salvageable with some work, some salvageable with very little work. Some do not need primal therapy, not because they have no pain, but because they can manage it and either do not want to bother or do not have the circumstances that would allow it at that time.

    The ones most in need are those who are being disrupted and tormented by the pain. Not all of us are having a breakdown. Thank God because there are not enough therapists and opportunities to access PT if we all wanted it.

    Correct me if I am wrong, Arthur but for a number of years, when patients told you they had experienced birth, you did not believe them. No crime there. Eventually you came around. But you did not believe your patients at times and this could be another one of those times. I could be wrong but so could you. You have sort of indicted the intellect at times and I don’t see it quite that way. You have not recognized dueling forces within and I think that needs addressed. Further, we can have some access to those feelings. It is careful limited access, but access just the same. We are not all totally blind.

    We all learn together as we all struggle with this together. As someone here said, this PT stuff belongs to all humanity. We are all problem and mystery solvers. All of us working together can solve anything together. This blog is a great way to do it.

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  7. Apollo: The neocortex has many functions. One is problem solving; another which researcher has supported, is to put down feelings. In my forthcoming book I quote many studies about this.

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  8. Apollo: I like what you write. AJ

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  9. Paul: You know whenever anyone writes and you have to start to memorize this step or that, I blank out. it is metaphor or aphorism but not science, even though aphorism sometimes refers to science. It is booga booga. art janov

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  10. To all you peoples who write titanic posts.

    Please condense! I can't get through half of them.

    Tip: Try not to write anything that leaves your reader none the wiser. Just go straight to it (smile!).

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  11. Comments to Reflections on Imprints and Repression and Reduced Access to Ourselves.

    A deranged mind and body, for example, due to mental or physical pain, is consuming more energy than its fair counterpart . My energy consumption has changed considerably after three months of Rolfing. I can feel and evaluate it in different ways. With a well balanced body, which does not have to make continuous efforts to keep itself upright, I need/consume less food and calories, to keep my body weight, and I walk faster with more comfort and pleasure . Doing more realistic exercises, more stretching, I need less energy and muscles and feel stronger.

    Even during my most abundant Tegretol intake during more than 20 years, my strong sex drive and my ”hormon storms” could/did take me in unexpected directions proven by my large number of relationships in spite of my situation as an epileptic. When my need for sex carried me away, I put, with increasing frequency, a lid on my sexual release , because, over the years, I became more aware of the relationship between seizures and sexual releases. By fear of going into feelings and/or having a fit , I choose to avoid sex when I had enjoyed the arousal and so to speak prepared the ground. I did not see this as a problem, but most of my women did.

    We often hear that women prefer caresses and tenderness, while men are just looking for a quick release. I’m not quite convinced of the truth of that statement. There was often a greater need of my women (in the "long term" relationships over two-three decades) to experience the satisfaction that I ejaculated than that they got a sexual release themselves. They were more annoyed if I denied them sexually to release me than if i failed to satisfy them. There may of course be a whole lot of interpretations of the value for a woman to satisfy her partner but, in my case, I can only guess.

    Leonard Cohen just turned 70, when I listened to an interview with him. When the journalist asked him, which of all the developments, he had been through in his life, had the biggest influence on his present life, he answered: ”It is no doubt that my hormone storms have subsided, and I can look at a pretty woman without to be driven mad with desire”. I could not agree more.

    Jan Johnsson

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki9xcDs9jRk

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  12. Art,

    forgive this metaphore but sometimes my life seems like a spilled jig saw puzzle and I can't find all the pieces to put back together. So many different pictures and instructions. So many author (ities). It's difficult to know what to look out for and who to ask for help.

    Apollo, my intellect seduces my feelings and they both run away together on adventures with old maps looking for treasure. I get stuck on islands and washed up on shores but I keep building rafts to get along. Some of them float but I also learned to swim.

    Keep telling us how it is Art.

    Paul G.

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  13. Thank you Arthur. What would you say about what I was feeling? Was the discomfort from below, or was it part of the cortex, the right side I assume? I did not have the full logical understanding and felt something was not right. But could not identify it with facts and reason, that is, doctrine. in time, those would be discovered. And when discovered, I felt far better. It didn't get rid of any of the acquired trauma or old traumas but it did solve a lot of discomfort as if something was not finished or correct yet.

    I'll wait for the book but would you say this was one side of the cortex vs the other or was there a war below as well or only?

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  14. Paul G, I sort of relate to much of what I think you are trying to convey. We are trying to make sense of what is right or wrong while ourselves existing in a state of partial blindness or feeling. We can sense there is more there but the connections are not always clear.

    Relationships surely deserve to be pondered. Anything not fully understood deserves attention and pondering. It is hard to know if we are making all our connections or if we are still missing some things. But I feel like your on the right track, trying to grasp and make sense of it all, even as I am.

    I see PP in this way. As we grow, we develop a better understanding of world and what is going on, a construct if you will. but the construct comes after the feelings and pain. It would be better if the construct existed in its whole before we even started but it is experience that gives us the construct to begin with. So pain is stored while we do not have enough info and constructed understanding.

    We acquire pain and hope to get rid of it. We have the construct waiting to make sense of the pain once it is brought up and out. but if there is little constructed, then the pain will be blended in with less understanding and sense and more will need to be developed.

    so you and I appear to be trying to make sense of it even before the pain has arrived and connection has been made, which I think is good. As well, a good understanding of the world can help avoid some minor traumas, even as bullets bounce off Superman ;-)

    I have had problems with this blog system. At times it won't accept and you have to wait or try later. I have lost things, too. I have problems with facebook, and forums. Nothing seems to be failproof. I usually try to write in a word processor and then paste. YouTube for some reason, will not even acknowledge my first registration, even though it shows. Had to make another one. Nothing makes sense in the computer world.

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  15. A facebook comment:
    "And other 'inert' depressive symptoms, anhedonia, apathy etc. As you say, sex is just form.
    At least with anxiety, feeling remain"

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  16. Apollo: I watched experts dissect Charlie Sheen on
    TV yesterday. I think long distance diagnosis is abhorrent. aj

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  17. Art, long distance diagnosis...is it OK by Skype, or do you really need the patient there with you to be able to 'feel' and experience them for an actual diagnosis?
    Karen

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  18. Hi Apollo,
    Only today I was helping my 19yr old son (single parent looking after his 8 month baby boy) fill in his benefits forms. He's on Zoloft for depression and PTSD, he was beaten unconscious by a gang of Somali thugs for his bike. Anyway he can hardly remember his own name from the side effects let alone fill out the ridiculous questionaire. I realised that by helping him to use the forms as a trauma history and making notes he would be building that construct you talk about, I'll help him find a good psychotherapist, there are a few outside USA. So yes,I feel the intellect is here to help us out of the mess other peoples' neo-cortexes got our brain stems into in the first place.

    I really can't resist those old maps and though they have often lead me astray into atavistic swamplands I have learned more about myself and travelling using the scenic route.

    There isn't (as yet) a freeway to the soul. Watch out for those christian toll roads, islamic highway patrols and zionist service stations; they are a cartel of unresolved sibling rivalry.

    Art, I really need to read your latest on the sexual hijack and belief systems, when are they out? Also (pun intended) how can I get Grand Delusions?
    I confess I have been exploring different therapies and philosophies for so long I had a view to writing them up but you've already done it.

    By trial and error I taught myself carpentry years ago only to find out much later (reassuringly) that trained carpenters are taught what I found out on my own. Now when trainees suggest "new methods" I smile, feign and look the other way so as not to hurt their feelings (or spoil their jouney). That has taken me a long time and much heart ache to achieve.

    On pain: Exactly as Art once described "Lead to the door sobbing and mumbling I'll be OK", my former therapy has left me just about making it back to my 2m sq cabin and into the arms of Ted as the next daily wave engulfs me, sometimes all day. If I had £5,000 I would be on the next flight to LA.

    Paul G.

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  19. Belief. Part 1.
    Hi, an afterthought: Is booga booga a technical term? I can’t find it in my diagnostic manual. I forgot to say I found this blog on the scenic route too.

    More seriously, this morning was not my school run so suffering a mild virus I went back to bed in the shed in the tiny yard outback with a view to re-connecting with my feelings. I have no contracts on.
    Dozing there snuggled up for an hr or so, pretty relaxed, mind mostly empty, feeling a bit randy I noticed I was like a lump of live meat, my feelings really not present and with the simple single thought (only just present) that the randy feeling could be misdirected 1st line sensations. Also knowing about how we wake from 1st to 2nd to 3rd I began wondering when my feelings would appear. Though I searched around a bit in my mind (from memory and by association) nothing came up. All this took little energy or occupied much of my then vacuous mind.
    I finally got up fully aware of the lump of meat carrying me around, the absence of feelings and the rather disconnected and free floating intellect inside my skull. My thoughts started turning to my precious belief systems. I did the usual things around the empty house, turned computer on, made coffee, ran bath etc. I lit the wood burner, sat down in front of the computer screen, drank some coffee and booted up this blog. Within minutes all my feelings of grief are fully present and certain sensations in my body changed and moved around. I was back in my “Womb with a View”. In this place (in my head) I am safe, cosy but also in touch with my feelings.

    In the absence of the real Primal Therapy in the UK there must be hundreds if not thousands of Europeans in my condition and it seems inevitable that this blog is for some of us an induction to Primal having already started a long and painful journey in therapy with some results, I hope the road I started on (again) is not too far from the right road so that I don’t have to back track through all the “wrong stops” along that old way.

    My main point is that even talking about Primal theory could (if one applies it consciously) help prepare us for an actual visit to the PT Clinic in Santa Monica as well as help us cope with the absence of real Primal Therapists where we live, right now. I have little choice than to believe this do I? Otherwise I aught not continue to read or contribute to this blog. So, as a lay scientist I am inside an experiment now based on a completely different belief system and paradigm than any of the other ones I had before. It’s natural I would try to incorporate this new one into the old and Art is (hopefully) helping me throw the bathwater out whilst leaving the baby intact (perhaps a little naked and shivery but intact).

    I’m right up against my frustrated love life and my belief systems, and oh how precious they both are. Currently I am hiding from a peer group of “friends” and associates, many of whom are qualifying or qualified therapists and specialists. Carpenters, Engineers, Architects, Reiki Masters, TM teachers, Ayawhasca facilitators, Maharaji groups, John, Sat sang, Bodywork Therapists, Dance Therapists, Chi Gung, Tai Chi, Shiatsu, Art Therapists, Past Life Therapists. . . Teaching Assistants. The list is endless and the city I live in is therapy centre of the universe. There’s even a free newspaper advertising it all which makes me feel ill when I even think about it.

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  20. Belief Part 2.
    The one common element that unites all these “pedagogies” is the ability of the said qualified or qualifying person to “Observe the Suffering of Others” with a degree of choice over the amount of empathy they can deliver. I’m sure most or none of these individuals are psychos, but this “choice” of how much they empathise is mediated by their acquired belief systems. Obnoxiously, some appear to have de-constructed all their belief systems for themselves and toward their “friends” but have an exceptionally well constructed one for their clients and “acquaintances”.
    When we try to help others, a degree of confidence (belief in ones’ intervention) is needed to do the intervening and there’s the rub. When I intervene I reach for my tools. There is a way the intellect can intervene as a tool in itself and it appears harmless and it’s called “Observing”. From years of experience of trying to understand and train myself and others (mostly in carpentry and woodcrafts) I know how important it is to have empathy, to be emotionally present when observing others. How many of us really like some bugger watching us struggle?

    To stand by and watch others suffer is verging on the voyeuristic and I have learned at last how my belief system will justify and allow it. If I do this to others (it is an act of omission) then I will be doing it to myself. Building Empathy for oneself and others particularly during the act of turning ones’ attention (becoming the observer) is probably the only tool I’ve got to limit the self fulfilling element of omission.

    I’ve noticed even more about my unconscious belief systems by what I don’t believe in. It seems to me that what you are saying Apollo is that the intellect is divided and yes, it shows up in the system of re-actional belief or disbelief. It is a crude defence, are you for or against?
    Again, the biggest problem with the observer (disconnected) is that there will never be a firm decision from that department. The court will always be out, sitting on the fence, looking first one way, then the other. This I see being the greatest hazard of the human condition. This isn’t an original idea either. Many have said it before and I feel Art is telling us how this tool (intellect/ observer) can hold down feelings through processes of omission and commission, through belief and disbelief.

    Bring on the two new books please.

    Paul G.

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  21. Long distance diagnosis is not for everyone, Arthur. I can accept that. But some of us like to ponder, anyway. We don't like mysteries or anything unresolved. Persistence has often proved valuable to me. And any experts who have anything to say about Sheen is questionable because of who picks the so called "experts." A lot of politics and business muddies up those waters.

    But I do marvel at how they look down on the 2 "helpers" Charlie has. Because at least one of them had been alleged to be in the sex entertainment history, she supposedly could not possibly care for a child like any other woman could. What?

    So allow me to recount Socrates' defense at his trial. having been accused of being a bad influence of the young men and death being the sentence if guilty, Socrates asks key men, "would you say that all men are good with horses or only a few?" They answered, "only a few!" well then, says Socrates, would you say that most men are not good with horses. They said, most are not good.

    Socrates: Well then, could it not be said that only a few people are a good influence on the boys and most people are a bad influence on them. therefore, is it really so condemning of me that I am a bad influence, since that charge could be leveled against most people.

    Despite the good argument, Socrates was convicted but by a surprisingly small margin that even surprised Socrates. He said that with a few more votes, those who charged him would have had to pay a fine and some other penalties.

    so this horrible terrible monster of a woman (I am only being sarcastic) is bound to be horrible with Charlie's poor boys. Oh, and I suppose his ex wife or girl friend in rehab is a good choice, or her family, who no doubt helped her be the mess she might be.

    Besides, is the sex entertainment industry not a legal one? What is it about having sex that makes her so bad or deficient? I only bring this up because I detest those who judge so easy and so harshly. You can even find it among some in PT circles. Certainly lots of it in politics, which is of very questionable motives anyway.

    I guess my point Arthur, is that I am not afraid to wade into controversial areas where angels might fear to tread and I love a good mystery. In fact, I may be a primal obsessive compulsive neurotic about mysteries. mysteries are exciting and intriguing. I would never want to avoid them. Curiosity is a good thing, though I know it often kills the cat.

    and I know Charlie has his own struggles and he has my best wishes. I loved his short role as a sort of psychologist in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

    And I will continue to be a crippled (mentally/primally) armchair psychologist who wonders and ponders at life's supposed mysteries. Its just a weakness of mine/mind. ;-)

    I appreciate your posts and info as always.

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  22. Karen: We need to see the patient and get a lot of information. art janov

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  23. Paul G: Grand Delusions is on our web site. You only have to go there. It is 600-700 pages of all other therapies. art janov

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  24. Apollo, think of the baby who represses his pain as he squirms around inside a poisonous womb. There isn't really anything to think about. That is not a "minor" trauma. It's the type of trauma that shapes your personality at the deepest levels.
    The intellect is a problem-solver, and it can also help with repression (think happy thoughts). But it can't solve a prenatal or birth trauma.
    There is a built-in defence system that is far more reliable than the intellect. When the baby is receiving too much damage, it's brain continues to register the damage and makes crucial changes to every cell in the body, but it also releases natural chemicals to anaesthetise the neural circuits that would otherwise deliver the pain to consciousness.
    Those neural connections will remain blocked forever with a little help from the neocortex and other defensive mechanisms.
    Sure, you can feel good for a while after you have found a real solution to a real problem, but it is impossible for the good feeling to be a full experience so long as those blockages remain. Your "good" feelings will always be shallow and gutless because they are blocked from the good force that should be coming from the brain stem.
    I hope this post wasn't too boring. It is SO IMPORTANT.

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  25. Dr Janov: You write that part of the cortex's function is to put down feelings when necessary.But isn't muscular armoring, as Reich first discovered, also part of the repression process?

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  26. Appolo and Paul ! I do like what You say too...and Art by the way in rereading "Primal
    Scream" in anticipation of Your MAGNUM Opus... what was tghe the outcome of "Danny Wilson" as
    named him...
    Is he still alive etc..pp.?
    Yours emanuel

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  27. Hi,
    Apollo, I also love to ‘involve’ myself in mysteries; they’re probably good for me. Nevertheless, in the light of Arts’ description of the 1st line trauma addict who makes a good detective policeman on surveillance, I have come to question my involvement in the search for answers to the truth. There seems to be so many versions, once one starts looking. Art turns to science, so do I, more and more. What premises and paradigms etc. What king of Science?

    Choosing Arts’ interpretation (based on research evidence for the evolution of our brains and psyche) has challenged me about my motives, to the core. Arts’ interpretation starts with the core! I still need to use my head for broadening and organising my thoughts, for re-creation and legitimate distraction from the stress of living (with or without neurosis). Being in touch with my true feelings gives me the sensitivity to discriminate through my observations.
    How do scientific hunches work? Where do they come from? I reckon the more valuable discoveries are the ones that start with a hunch, there have been quite a few.

    Trying to keep these short!

    Paul G.

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  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  29. Hi Richard! I never suggested that the intellect or cortex was the end all. It does not resolve early trauma as you accurately point out. I would say my big point is that the problem solving intellect does not have to be completely hampered and compromised by our primal forces. It can still function if we want it to. It certainly will be more difficult a challenge with a reservoir of pain deep below, but obtainable, nonetheless.

    My other contention would be whether the intellect misleads primal pain or is primal pain directing the intellect. Or can the intellect even ignore pain while trying to deduce a problem or pattern? Somehow, in some way, I have some suspicions that the intellect is blamed for too much and not made enough use of by most.

    It won't solve the underlying pain, but it can still improve our lives or help us make better decisions. this is done by having a curiosity and desire for knowledge and useful direction and pursuing answers in perpetuity, never stopping till answers have been found. Most people do not want to bother because it does take persistence and effort, 2 things humans often find displeasing.

    What enabled Arthur to discover PT in the 1st place? Was it not wanting answers and not being satisfied with the solutions that were around at that time? I believe it was. I see pain as used as a "good" excuse for coping out and not trying. I am not a fan of that. Pain or not pain, I will continue till I find what I am looking for. PT is not obtainable for me right now OR I would be there. So then what?

    I will proceed with searching and answers. Has it worked? Well, one would have to know answers to determine that. We can declare that it can not work, but that is unproven till one can say what is true or not. Too many subjective opened ended mysteries for me to believe I have found the ultimate nirvana of knowledge. So I will keep on seeking more knowledge. But I see a great trust in science, and if one has studied a broad realm of science, one will find as much lies and error there as anywhere else.

    There is science in theory and then there is science as in practice. Beware of its practice. PT is a good example for most science ignores it. I rest my case and continue to pursue all manner of knowledge. I sometimes sense an air of superiority in that unless I have primaled for a few years I can know nothing. I don’t buy this BS for even a microsecond. Finding truth may be harder with a reservoir of pain, but not impossible. I’ll do it one way or the other.

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  30. Marco: I am not sure what you mean exactly? AJ

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  31. Emanuel: Danny is no longer alive. He had a heart attack many years after therapy. I talked to his mother and we both decided that he was one of our favorite people. AJ

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  32. hi apollo.

    "My other contention would be whether the intellect misleads primal pain or is primal pain directing the intellect."

    here's my answer:
    yes to both.



    there is no winner. your higher brain and lower brain are at a stalemate. the stalemate provides some numbness so that you can think without being constantly overwhelmed by the dark force rising from within.

    your intellect wastes a lot of time solving fake problems like the one i've quoted above. you invented that problem, and then you wanted to solve it. you were trying to solve your unsatisfied sensation. you wanted the answer to be interesting, not as simple as my one. do you feel satisfied with my answer? of course not. now you will either search for a better one, or you will invent an interesting new problem.

    this is what Jack means when he talks about the neurotic intellect. it is logical, but it is steered by neurotic desires (defences). if you stop defending, you will primal.

    your intellectual discovery of primal theory will be useless if you don't ever solve the REAL problems that are stopping you from getting therapy. i am in the same boat. i waste too much time.

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  33. Dr Janov: In your last post to me, in response to my previous post, you ask what I mean exactly? I'm not sure I can really clarify. I was just saying, to repeat, that one of the key mechanisms of repression (in addition to, or in complement to what the cortex does), is chronic contractions of the musculature which stop the natural flow and expression of emotions,as discovered by Reich, and which you allude to sometimes in your books (I beleive) , especially in The Primal Scream. Restrictions in breathing are also part of the overall repression mechanism. For example, here's what Lowen has to say in his book "Pleasure": " Inhibitions in crying, screaming and yelling are structured in muscular tensions, which also restrict respiration. The child who has been taught that 'children are to be seen and not heard' does not breathe freely. The natural tendency to speak up, cry out, and scream is chocked off by spasms in the musculature of the neck (for example). These tensions affect the quality of the voice, producing a speaking voice that is too thin, too low, too flat, or too sibilant. The voice must be restored to its full range and the specific neck tensions released if the breathing is to recover its full depth "

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  34. Art: I have often wondered just who Danny Wilson was and also perhaps Gary Hillard. It's sort of sad that Danny died of a heart attack. I often wondered if he became a therapist. I do feel however, that both these guys and perhaps other of the patients who followed you to Almont Drive, are deserving to be recognized in the history of Primal Pain, Theory and Therapy. I hope, when expedient, their real names might be revealed. They were/are a part of the whole in formulating the Theory and creating the Therapy. Jack

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  35. Apollo & Richard: Primal Therapy is the domain of The Primal Center and the Primal Institute; they are therapeutic practices. However, "feelings" are the domain of all living things and creatures. Even as a hardened neurotic, you do have some access to some feelings. If you are able to express some of these feelings, however limited, you are being more natural and more beneficial to your being. I make a simple suggestion:- best you can, if you feel sad allow yourself to talk about your sadness to someone who might listen or even cry. If you are angry, talk about what is making you angry and again, best you can, beat up on a pillow or cushion. Fear is a little more complex but even there, best you can, talk about it or express it, by what ever seems right for you. Doing this on an ongoing basis can improve matters for your well being. You will not be doing Primal Therapy but it is IMO somewhat therapeutic. Jack

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  36. Jack, the Primal Institute is a bad choice. They have not refined their therapy in response to Dr. Janov's research and development. It seems bizarre to me that a bunch of so-called primal therapists would choose to ignore important information, but I guess that's the nature of neurosis...so consider that before offering the Primal Institute to the uninformed public.

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  37. Marco: Don't forget that much of this is brain originated. Art janov. the brain sends the message to slow down respiration, etc.

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  38. Richard: Mmmmm You say '"The Primal Institute is a bad choice" I made that choice way back in 1980 when Art was there. When Art went off to start the French Primal Institute I was a resident in the US and not having a good grasp of French, I stayed here with the Los Angeles Institute, attending their retreats and going for group and sessions when I needed them. My favorite therapist was/is Vivian (I never was able to see Art work; he left before I got that chance). I have been to three of Arts seminars and Art Janov is one of two of my hero's. The other is William Shakespeare. I don't go anywhere now for either a group, session or retreats. I have buddies and can have my feeling totally alone. I got what Art promised in "The Primal Scream" to become the "real me." That was a great choice for me then, as far as I am concerned.

    I might ask you Richard; what do you know about The Primal Institute ... first hand? Jack

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  39. Richard: one further comment from me:- Art's research and developments are in neurophysiology in order; presumably; to measure the effectiveness of a therapy session, NOT how to elicit old feelings in a patients by a therapist ... IMO. If the patient is 'KING' as Art always promoted; the patient is the final arbiter of it's effectiveness ... yeah? Jack

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  40. Jack, if you're suggesting the Primal Center's research and development has had no effect on the quality of their therapy, then you are mistaken...or Art is a very busy liar.

    If the Primal Institute is able to make the same claims, such as normalised hormones and vital signs after a year of therapy...if they can say that almost all of their patients improve...if they can say that their therapy has become almost mathematically precise...then they should come forward and speak up. Why don't they share their skills and findings with the Primal Center? Why do they seem to be so quiet? Maybe that's just their style.

    They are not doing any new research. Their website refers to old studies instigated by Art and published in his old books. They seem to be stuck in the year 1980. What's going on? Are they making any improvements to their therapy?

    From my subjective point of view, it's obvious that Art has been the driving force behind the development of primal therapy, and he is obviously a very open person with nothing to hide. He even talks about the high insurance costs to cover the cost of being sued. My frontal right brain is not working to full capacity, but it still tells me something important: Art knows he is doing the right thing.

    He communicates easily with everyone in this blog. If there is something hindering the communication between him and the Primal Institute, I'm willing to bet the blame lies with the Institute.

    This is only my subjective opinion. Jack, if you wish to promote the Institute as an equal to the Primal Center, based on your personal experience, and if you feel that you are doing the right thing, then I respect your decision.

    I will always advise people to choose the Primal Center because it is more open.

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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.
Editor