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.
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.