Saturday, April 23, 2011

On EMDR (Part 4/4)

Let us now turn to the other authors: Of course, Dr. Shapiro is key since she is the inventor of this method. One of her techniques is to have the patient hold a memory of a painful event and then watch the hands of the therapist move in front of her, and then to think of a different solution to the event, something more desirable. Therein lies the rub: first, for real traumas it is rare that a patient can easily remember them. In fact the more painful the more repressed and the less likely it can be retrieved. My patients may take many months of reliving before they can even approach incest, for example. The pain is ineffable, and no one begins to resolve and integrate it before many, many months of reliving. But assuming they can remember it. Part of the solution for Shapiro and her cohorts is to help the patient imagine other solutions; in short, to produce imaginary resolutions. We must keep that in mind because it will remain imaginary. It hearkens back to the technique of directed imagination therapy or directed daydreaming.

I cite Ellen Curran’s work: (Guided Imagery. Beyond Words Publishing. Hillsboro, Ore. 2001) “Healing imagery is a way to use one’s imagination in a focused way to help the mind and body to self-heal.” (introduction) She claims it makes one more open to the unconscious mind, “making it possible for the inner self to be heard and therefore to be healed.” These are wonderful, liberal thoughts, but lack a bit in the science department. We have treated many imaginative artists who have no real access to their feelings other than what they paint. Using their imagination doesn’t given them access to deep inner feelings because no act of will, a cortical function, can offer access to feelings. Access works from the bottom up, not the reverse; it operates in terms of evolution. It means to descend down below the cortical control mechanism to enter into a different brain; that is the meaning of access. We have developed the techniques over thirty years to accomplish that.

If we imagine a solution we get symbolic resolution, not a real one; and we do not get radical changes in vital signs that we do with real resolution. We see this in our therapy when patients in mock primal therapy (the practice by untrained individuals) come to us from past lives therapy (an oxymoron, if there ever were one) and trip off into wildly imaginative ideas. Here they come close to a real event, the birth trauma, which we have researched and measured, and then skip over it and fall into fantasyland. The cortex rushes to the rescue as the person is inundated with heavy imprints. In every case, the valence of pain is so high as to make the real experience impossible. It does not offer access to feelings; quite the opposite. It is a sign to us of lack of access and of a disturbed personality. That is why we proceed slowly in small pieces of the feeling at a time. We begin in the present with feelings that can be integrated and then ride the key feeling down to the past in ordered fashion until months later we arrive at the key underlying sensation/feelings. Take hopelessness. The person has lost her job and feels hopeless, but more than that, deeply depressed. We allow that present context with its load of feeling to occur and then take the patient back slowly to the next level down where a deeper part of the same feeling resides.

Curran states that imagery is thought. Thought is thought, a cortical function. Imagery is subcortical, often limbic. Dreams are full of imagination but they happen when thoughts have been put to bed for a while. Now this whole idea of changing images and/or thoughts runs through a wide gamut of therapies, including Behavior Therapy, Ego Psychology, Rational-Emotive Therapy, and many others. They believe that you must change your ideas to change your behavior; or, vice versa, change your behavior to change your ideas. Thus, you go into an elevator where you are phobic and imagine very relaxing images—you are floating on a cloud, for example. It is as true in hypnosis and in EMDR. You can imagine being relaxed but the imprinted memory is anything but, so that the frontal cortex, is playing mind games on the rest of the brain and body. It is fooling itself, thus cannot be a real, permanent solution. The cortex, with its unlimited ability at self-deception, deceiving itself away from real feelings lying below, is an expert at this game. But is that cure or healing? It is repression and anti-healing. If you are tense due to a lifetime of neglect, does imagining that you are floating on a cloud change that? It is another quick fix, and like all quick fixes, it must be temporary, at best.
You can imagine telling off someone at work who is bothering you. Or you can imagine floating in a pool while thinking of a troubling event. When you stop imagining who are you? The same old fearful human being, the person who is terrified of women because he lived with a mother who was a monster. No hand wave is going to erase that.


  1. Art, I like it when you make things look so obvious. professionals believe the cause will always be a mystery. they have never been to their own deeper brains. instead they try to change the visible symptoms, and HOPE that the mysterious cause will change too. and when the patient shows "recurrence" the next step is to try again, perhaps from a slightly different angle. on and on and on. that is NOT science.
    are there any professionals showing some interest in this blog? that would be awesome.

  2. As I read no. 4, I do note that the main purpose of EMDR seems to be, to present a therapy that does not work. One that does not use techniques that have any basis on what results, lacking hard science, as Art puts it. And it keeps people away from real feeling and real changes. It is an imposter disseminated to muddy up the waters and pollute the filed with impotent substitutes. Its been going on for years and it goes on in every field where truth represents some sort of threat to the status quo orthodoxy establishment. No mystery here.

    Art says: “The cortex, with its unlimited ability at self-deception, deceiving itself away from real feelings lying below, is an expert at this game.”

    Really Arthur? You want me now to accept that the cortex is supreme ruler of the mind and bosses the primal lizard as it wishes to? So really then, the brainstem and limbic is pretty weak and impotent, huh? And here all along I thought it was t hose powerful primal feelings in the stem and limbic that were the problem. This idea of yours seems to be a contradiction to your theory as a whole.

    It seems far more reasonable and likely to me that the primal forces that do not want to allow feeling would harness the cortex to do their bidding, even as it takes place with a government dictating to academics what they will promote. Mao, when he took over China, killed off many academics and doctors, since they are often the supporters of the status quo and take directions from it.

    The cortex is a pussy, really. It does what it is told. If you want lies, it gives you lies. If you want the truth, it can give you that, too. Its just a matter of “who” is really in charge of the primal reptile self.

    I would say this is where I have a really big split with the official but contradictory party line of PT. The cortex comes after and yet becomes supreme master. I can’t believe my ears at this point. I thought all our behavior was a result of our primal feelings pushing us around. No! Now that is all wrong, eh? Feelings are not the problem at all! Why, it’s the cortex. OK, Jack, you win. Its not you. It is Art. It is clear. That’s all I was asking was for . . . a little clarity. I got it!

    Art, you appear to fear and despise the cortex as if it were some monster. No subversive ruler underneath it. It acts all by itself. It sits alone and isolated by its own will and desire. Who cares about the primal self below. I get it now.

  3. Dear Art,

    Of course you are right about suggesting to clients that they Imagine (Lennon) unreal endings, but I wonder how on earth do we grieve about anything if we don't have in our mind-body any clues about what we needed, about what our need was unsatisfied? This "something" unreal (because it never happened) makes it possible to feel the pain. Isn't it an interesting theoretical problem?


  4. Art it's time now,
    “One of her techniques is to have the patient hold a memory of a painful event and then watch the hands of the therapist move in front of her, and then to think of a different solution to the event”
    To manipulate a patient… concentrate on something… something that not belong to the source of suffering... which symptoms do... how does that sound? I mean... to manipulate a patient to think of something but what is the cause of a symptom… that is criminal and a target for a lawsuit.

  5. Richard: not one that I know of. sad but understandable. It is a left brain field. You get your degree and they tie your balls and right brain to it. art janov

  6. Okay folks, I shared this post my therapist. Here´s his response:

    "This seems to take place in Janov's
    Imagination since you never imagine a different solution to the old event,
    You only state what you would prefer to believe about yourself when thinking about the trauma now, as a counter to what you actually believe about yourself now. After dealing with the past trauma you check if your view of yourself has moved your self perseption to a more realistic viewpoint.
    You never imagine a different outcome of the past trauma!"

  7. Apollo: "Jack, you win. Its not you. It is Art. It is clear. That’s all I was asking was for . . . a little clarity. I got it!". Not sure what I won Apollo... winning isn't what I'm after. I'm about trying to explain (cognitively) that, that can only be grasped by feeling. Not sure that is a worthy exercise on my part, but it's the only method I have at my disposal. The only question then becomes what is my deeper motive for trying to explain what it's like to feel? All I can say in the end is that 'feeling-full-ness' is a whole other realm. The analogy would be trying to explain to a blind person form birth what 'seeing' was like. A forlorn task. Jack

  8. Marjan,

    If I may answer your question:

    If, say, you were once traumatically deprived of water then you will, in your primal, feel the tremendous need for water - thirst. In a primal the historic need could not be more obvious because you *are* feeling it. There is nothing cryptic about it.

    The thing is you don't get to know the need (as a direct experience) until your defence system truly gives way, so that you end up experiencing the old pain rooted in the old deprived need. That's the primal.

    And then, within the primal, your system cries out the pain from the historic deprivation, and this is how your system naturally makes peace with it. It's a kind of total-system biological grieving. Your system is basically making sense of itself, and in turn leaving the past where it belongs - in the past.

    But to cry out your pain you must feel it. Of course.

    ...and most of the psychology world can't see it because they've blinded themselves with a bizarre cocktail of in-group reinforced ideational nonsense. Alas!

  9. Hi,

    I have noticed that the chief feature of my thinking brain when it is being driven by pain & or terror is that it starts to think in dualisms. . . . . . Either / Or.
    When I observe the cold blooded (One brained) creatures they tend to move or not. They tend to eat or not. They seem to hide or show themselves. They tend to retreat or attack.

    Thus, I conclude that when I am putting situations into this Re-Actional framework that I am probably being driven by brain stem fear.

    Certainly every time I have tried to enter into a discussion with any one else who reasoned "Either / Or" I ended up pretty quickly being dismissed, attacked (for things I didn't say, mean or do) or rejected.
    Thus my experience of both my brain and other peoples' is that they can become fixated into predictably predatory 'sets' which are fundamentally adversarial.

    I just can not go down there any more.

    Paul G.

  10. Hi,

    Having read Grand Delusions on line (and these current posts) I have noticed that Art is able to disseminate specific meaning about PT because of the way comparisons are drawn with these other therapies.

    PT can only really be "sold" to the converted. As Art keeps on saying (almost endlessly in different ways)his therapy is based on a full acceptance and understanding of 1st line trauma. Trying to get professionals (who are already "trained" in systems that more or less deny or fantasise about the 1st line trauma) to accept this new theory is going to be nearly impossible. The investment made in denial is hard to get past when social, economic and moral worth is challenged.

    When I put my Body work therapist onto this blog he said "oooh, a lot of words". . . He had to say that didn't he? How could my therapist say: "Oh yes Paul, I got it wrong, here's your money back and of-course, I'll pop over to California right away to retrain".

    Another mate of mine openly stated that his therapist really rates Janov and has been applying the same techniques. . . Many therapists Know about Primal Therapy and "approve of it" but how many suspect they may not be able to take people back through to the first line? It is a fudge in their minds. Nobody can be bothered with re training, nobody dare admit their practice is partial.

    It's depressing really.

    Paul G.

  11. I spoke with a cognitive therapist a couple of years ago about EMDR and she said that it's only useful for people who suffer from PTSD as adults; namely, war veterans, etc. For childhood trauma, she said it doesn't help. Of course cognitive therapy doesn't help either, but this thought I kept to myself.

  12. thinking about when psycology will shift to primal therapy I realise the dificulty of it looking the history of mankind. Because primal therapy no only will change the paradigm of psycology, it will changes also the education of chindren, the judiary system, the medical system and the most importan the way we see ourself.The shift of paradigm will be colossal so take it easy and start first with yorself

  13. An email comment:

    I have to laugh when I read some of your stuff. It's so plain and to the point. Sometimes you sound like the little boy who alone could see that the emperor had no clothes. Your arguments are so plain, I can see the boy saying and "how did I know the King had a birth mark on his tush?" Then making sure the momma and mid wife were there to confirm the claim. Yes, I have been where you have mentioned and it feels like what you said, "another deception of the mind." I think at best these things can help distance one from a feeling too awful to approach, but until at least some real feeling occurs there can be no healing. Just as I have said so many times now: "Real optimism is the buoyancy in a person that can deal with life efficiently, it is optimism that is intelligent because it was informed by honest feeling so that one can act in the best way to help themselves survive and enjoy life. It is optimistic intelligence, but in the sense that the mind finds this buoyancy by feeling the reality of the "heart" and the "body". It is not what is often called intelligent optimism by which people usually mean and education in how to smile more.

    The best way to true and helpful optimism, is not by pasting on a smile with the help of positive thinking, it is what is discovered in the dialectic principle where feeling the hopelessness and hurt opens one to reasonable hope and the ability to truly enjoy life.

    I have seen many times where people have kept their honest feelings at bay by being constantly negative or positive. Reality is where real feeling and real optimism can be found. The glass is neither half full, nor half empty, it is half full of water and half full of air (if under normal conditions on earth). Truly optimistic people are capable of even anger, where it properly applies, and the rest of the entire range of feelings. Such people aren't pasting on fake smiles or immersing themselves in constant negativity, they are real.

    Now I remember again my favorite line from you: "If it's bigger than life, it isn't real."

    Amen, Art, the angels, in my imagination, are dancing, laughing and singing. How I love those guys. ha"

  14. Another email comment:
    "Dr Shapiro's method described here reminds me of 1984 by Orwell - 'How many fingers am I holding up?'"

  15. Frank,

    Having coached my 19yr old son how to handle other peoples' projections and how to access his feelings regarding the death of his mother through the breakup with his psychotic ex partner he is now 4 weeks off zoloft (whilst also being a single parent to boot).

    He and I have interesting conversations about the people we meet and whether they are "repressors" or "expressors" (his words).

    He and I have sort of concluded that the "repressors" really can't get it. Certainly when I look back at the time when I was trying so hard & heroically to be a member of that club I almost became like that myself.

    It's a bit like "Invasion of the Bodysnatchers" isn't it?

    As long as the expressers keep their faces down the repressors can't get them. Just pretend to be emotionless. . . then come out with some inane script when spoken to. Repression and Pseudo community go together, have a nice chat, a cup of tea, a cucumber sandwich perhaps.

    What's the weather like today, must fly, got an appointment, bye. . .

    Paul G.

  16. Hi,

    I personally still don’t have a convincing answer on what causes synergy.

    There are those who say that the universe is so big that there is a statistical likely-hood of at least one example of the consequences of a “RANDOM CAUSE” (namely planet earth). Therefore until someone ‘proves otherwise’ it really might be true that “We are Alone in a Cold and Dispassionate” universe.

    Also, following on, it would be true that (if by chance) there were a similar life form in other parts of the universe) that one also would be under the same stark conditions.

    Interestingly, statistically speaking, there really could be another similar life form in existence simultaneously somewhere else in the universe. This so because, if it were true that planet earth is merely a statistical anomaly then, it is also true that the universe is big enough for one more “Statistical Anomaly Similar to Planet Earth”.

    And so the debate can go on and on in my neo-cortex!

    I guess that Art would say that this debate is a symbolic distraction from my true feelings.

    I mean I am inclined to agree with Art if that’s what he is saying, certainly Alice Miller was implying this. In the end what difference does it make when we are neurotic or psychotic? It would be nice to know what normal people have to say, but who’s normal and what normal person would pass more than a cautious comment?

    Paul G.

  17. Hi,
    Science can (and should) debunk the mysterious but is there a place for the miraculous? Is not life miraculous? I mean does everything have to be an effect or a cause of something else? Is not the joy and awe of full conscious experience miraculous? When Science explains the miraculous it takes the human out of humanity, the humour out of fun and the sharp edge off consciousness.

    The old Northern Sufi tradition included a very penetrating belief that God is not present on planet earth (nor any other “heavenly body” in the universe) “He” is not a benevolent Parent and “We” his supposed children cannot even save ourselves let alone “Be Saved” by the idea that God exist for us. That belief is fundamentally delusional on planet earth. This timeless psycho/philosophical tradition indicates a system of personal development based on a series of four deaths or “fana”, the last is “total annihilation”, a complete loss of ego and defences, all identifications down.

    This sounds remarkably like the conditions needed to Primal.

    In the tradition it was considered dangerous to approach this intentional loss of identification and ego without a guide who has previously passed through such terrifying states themselves. These “Wise Men & Women” in the tradition did not teach from a hand-book but in what is known as “The Aural Tradition” which to us can be translated as “From My Own Experience in Relation to Yours”. I don’t think these people took drugs or prescribed them either, I think they understood the human condition as Art does and knew how to guide an intentional “breakdown”. The implications and ramifications of these ideas and old practices are reflected in Arts work: Repression takes hold through the evolutionary process and needs an ‘involutionary’ process to free us. Modern science is helping to explain the imprint. The epigenetics needs to be unlocked and that is a lot like dying.

    Paul G.

  18. hi,
    I’m sure my traumas have retarded my development. I feel that even normal people (I’ve met a few) without much, or any 1st or 2nd line trauma go through developmental stages all the way through adult life, it’s just their development is much less hampered by neurosis and recurrence.

    Has the Primal Clinic ever put normal people through the Primal Therapy system to see what happens? Now I know that (for example) though my son has gestational and childhood traumas and repressions he can still remember running around in nappies before he could speak properly and sometimes he says he has memory fragments to being a baby. I know that “normal” people do of-course, so, they could, would even be able to regress back into full reliving of non traumatic preverbal and gestational experiences, wouldn’t they?

    Can you get normal people to relive their birth? It makes little sense to believe that only traumatised neurotics can (and/or need to). If you could get normal people to relive under the strict conditions offered at the clinic then you would have a set of scientific controls based on normal. I mean, this beggars the question: “who were the individuals on which the science research for brain functioning were carried out on in the first place”? Were they “normal”?

    Also this beggars the question: “if normal people can regress to birthing experiences (as well as neurotics and psychotics), then what’s going on in their limbic and neo-cortical systems that relates to or dissociates from that regression in themselves? Their belief systems? Their distractions? Or do normal people not have dis-integrated beliefs or pastimes? What on earth are fully integrated beliefs and pastimes?

    So many questions, sorry.

    Paul G.

  19. Paul: Life, like Primal Therapy is miraculous but is not a miracle. art janov

  20. Ahhh, Gee, Art! Thanks!

    Paul G.

  21. Come on Art, Thank you for Primal Therapy, but all of time, space, and matter appearing out of literally nothing 13 billion years ago, is not a miracle?! As well as the complexity and specific complexity that is a result of this event? If every thing in this universe has a cause, what is the Cause for this Universe, and the impossibly complex life that is found at least on one small planet? If we see a human design, and know it was created, how do we see the existence of the universe, and design so complex that humans cannot even fathom how to create it, and deny a "greater designer?" It seems, even a "primaled" mind, can be a mind in denial!


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.