Friday, April 1, 2011
What a World it Could Be
Today my children I am going to tell you about a world we could have, not for our children or grandchildren, but for us. And we can do it easily. But first in order to explore the subject I want to tell you about an article in the paper today. A man had a quarrel with his girlfriend. He left home and came back with a knife and stabbed her 50 times; this with their children in another room. No thoughts about those kids and certainly no thoughts that he was taking a life, savagely.
I thought to myself could I go out and get a knife and stab anyone 50 times? Of course not. Then I said, “Is he really from a different species than I?” And the answer is “yes!” What? Do I mean that? Absolutely. Now we have to go back to my three levels of brain development and revisit the first line. Remember we start out in the womb with a brainstem and little else. That brain structure is primitive, equal to the whole brain of the crocodile. It allows quick and immediate responses to get out of the way and save our lives. It allows impulsive reactions and is the base for the deepest aspect of feeling—hopelessness and helplessness. It organizes terror and above all, rage! When we need to fight to save our lives. When adverse events occur while we are being carried, it impacts the brainstem and first line.
When something happens as adults it can resonate with those first line reactions, unless of course there is adequate gating to hold down those primitive responses. But when a child is neglected, abandoned and unloved and untouched growing up, the pain grows and is compounded, weakening the gates between levels of consciousness. Gating is defective so that when there is resonance it reaches all the way down to first line. And rage ensues or other great pain hidden in the antipodes of the brain. Normally that reach does not trigger off first line reactions unless our lives are in danger and we have to react to save ourselves. Those with faulty gates are immersed nearly all of the time in first line. And that is what we often call the hysteric, who overreacts to almost anything.
So mister killer got jealous, she looked at another guy and that’s all, and the rage bubbled up and he killed. He for the moment was a complete crocodile with no cortex or limbic system to help out. When he was enveloped in the crocodile brain there was no longer the adult human brain to control and think things out. He was no longer human; no longer part of us. He was a different species. A primitive species with no human thought or compassion. When he was no longer triggered he will be overcome with what he did and want to kill himself but that comes later when he can think and feel without being overwhelmed by first line.
I remember when my father got mad we knew to stay away because his eyes began to water and turn red; we knew something deep and terrible was lurking down below. We did not know what to call it but now we do. His first line, Lizard brain was on the march. Watch out! Because that brain has no control. The reason is that when adverse things happen while we are in the womb it literally diminishes the development of the neocortex, controlling, thinking/reasoning brain. There is damage to these developing cells, particularly during birth where there may be a serious lack of oxygen.
So now we grow up without all our cortical marbles and with serious imprints on the brainstem/limbic/feeling areas. And we begin to eat like there is no tomorrow; and literally for the first liner there is no more tomorrow. Eating becomes life and death; urgent! Because the drive behind it is so urgent. There may have been starvation during womblife. Or some other serious trauma. The same with violent act-outs. Here the idea of anger management is ridiculous, unless we expect the person to grow new cortical cells. What they do offer is a cortical/third line buffer against upcoming pain. It will hold only for a short while; better to let it all out in a safe environment with slow emotional steps in a methodical way.
Any extreme behavior is usually first line derived; suicide, overeating, oversexed, addiction, and so on. Certainly, we can include psychosis in all this. And we know now what it takes to treat all these symptoms and behavior.
Now suppose there comes along a therapy that deals with first line? Modestly, I say it is mine. What will that do? It will make a world without uncontrolled rage. A world without serious alcoholics and drug addicts, a world without suicides. Don’t forget that all of what I am describing is at base emanating from first line. I have seen it and my staff have treated it successfully. It ain’t easy but it can be done; slowly, methodically and carefully. But we can make a decent world we can safely live in. And we can do it now! It is no longer a mystery except to those who have no access, which is most of us. So now children, before you fall off to sleep let me assure you, we have it in our power to make a much better world right away.
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.