Sunday, February 6, 2011
More on the Imprint
I think where conventional therapy and I part company is on the notion of the imprint, although there is ample evidence for it. I am reminded about the imprint today in the press where there is an article on stem cells. Scientists had found a way to avoid using embryonic stem cells by using current skin cells, and through a complicated procedure managed to wind back the clock and make those cells the equivalent of embryonic again. Except! It cannot happen in some cases. That is, the adult cells, no matter what they do to them, cannot be rewound to their naked, primal selves. They still retain the memory of their experienced selves and therefore cannot be used for stem–cell therapy. They retain their identity, their real selves no matter what. In short, they cannot shake off their imprint. Memory is so strong and unchangeable that even after a drastic procedure it remains the same.
In general, embryonic usually means within 12 weeks of conception. Embryonic, primitive cells can be used because they are as not yet “dedicated.” (called pluripotential). They have not become what they are destined to; bones, blood, kidneys, etc. So they are uncommitted and have no special identity. Researchers can then make them into anything they want. They are malleable because they lack experience and they have not as yet evolved. In a way, it is what happens to infants who are short on experience; they can be made into what the parents need and want.
Once cells become what they were destined to be and have an identity that is imprinted, they often cannot be changed; their identity (George, the skin cell) remains unshakeable. So in these skin cells, that were rewound back to their primitive selves, some of them could not be used to rebuild a different organ--bone, for example. They retained the memory of who they were. And the danger of all this is that you start using these cells for therapy and suddenly (and I exaggerate) you grow teeth in the throat. More likely you get what is called a teratoma, growing tumors instead of the desired organ.
The point being that the imprint is rock solid and is engraved even into microscopic cells. And they do not shed their identity easily. Our human imprint, I propose, is found in every fiber and cell of our being and retains a precise memory of its past. So of course it rules our lives. And of course, it cannot be pinpointed anywhere in the system since it is everywhere. The imprint says, “this is what happened to me and this is who I am.” Our memory and our identity become one. Because the imprint is everywhere, when we relive it there are changes throughout the system. And that is why we need to relive to produce profound change in medicine and psychiatry.
There is more to this story for early, gestational stress leaves a mark on the genes. It then hard-codes that mark which becomes part of us; an epigenetic memory. The way this happens is through a process of methylation, adding or sub-tracting aspects of the methyl group to the cells. Stress or primal pain is encoded into the most basic aspects of our cells and endures. It can mark the hippocampal cells and so affect later memory. The way this evolves helps to define the critical window—the time in which the needs must be fulfilled or there is pain imprinted; and it defines where the patient must go for resolution.
The assumption by some researchers is that the process of methylation may be altered. And that possibly can be done when the patient goes back to the neurophysiologic state when the imprint occurred. It can mean changing the imprint and perhaps normalization of the cell. In other words, once that mark is made on the cell we are stressed for life until, and only until, that mark/event is revisit and relived. And it can be relived unconsciously; it can be re-experienced without a specific awareness of it once we are locked into the memory circuit. But wait a minute; the process of methylation can be temporarily reversed with medications such as Prozac. So tranquilizers can helps us momentarily find surcease. Now we see how we can confuse genetics with epigenetics because it all seems to be involved with heredity. After all, if both parents and grandparents have blue eyes it is not a mystery if the children have blue eyes, But when it comes to behavior and feelings it is another matter. Because they can be changed through experience those genes undergo. And those experiences then “decide” when those genes are expressed or repressed.
And it is here that some of the mystery of cancer can be uncovered because it may be that the cells would evolve normally except that stress has provoked repression where it should not be. And the cells are now “crushed” or deviated as they surge forward only to be blocked. The cells can no longer be themselves; they lose their identity. They are changed. We are changed.
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.