Sunday, October 16, 2011
On Curing Steve Jobs (updated)
What I write now are simply musings. But I wonder if there were anything that could have cured Steve Jobs. I want to offer a possibility. I use him as an example without fully knowing his early life but only as a means to explain why people get seriously ill so early. Let’s start from my hypothesis that events during life in the womb imprint trauma in the cells and foretell of serious disease later on. (read Life Before Birth for a fuller explanation). These events, a smoking, anxious mother, a drug-taking depressed mother, distort and detour natural cellular processes in the baby. It doesn’t show up for perhaps decades but it often will happen. The carrying mother’ state is reflected in the neurophysiology of the baby. And in Steve’s case it was not an auspicious beginning. His mother was impregnated by a Syrian, heavily objected to by the family; so much so that she had to give her baby, Steve, up for adoption. Can you imagine her state? Rejected by her family, carrying a baby that is a pariah to the parents. She had to be full of anguish. The bad part of that it is not a temporary affair that blows over when she gives the baby up for adoption. That torment can leave a mark on the cells of the baby which may stay a lifetime. That mark or tag has to do with changes in the chemical methyl in a process called methylation. Methylation changes how our genetic unfolding plays out; to me it constitutes the primal imprint. It endures and changes how our genetic legacy plays out. It, in effect, changes heredity through what is known as epigenetics.
But methylation affects many biologic processes, dislocating and distorting function. It changes heredity by turning off some genes that should be on and turning on those that should be off. Our development is affected.
There is new research that points out how the imprint can result in cancer and heart conditions later in life; not to omit Alzheimers and severe allergies. The imprint takes place as the brain is rapidly changing and evolving. Very few of us can avoid these implications. This may have been so in Steve’s case. The earlier the trauma the more drastic the later effects. In Steve’s case it may have begun when his mother discovered she was pregnant; from then on she lived as an outcast. And he suffered from it, a silent agony that was never recognized and never acknowledged. It became overt as he matured. And it was a mysterious disease; no one knew how it happened or why. Oncologists tried to suss out more and more about the disease so as to guess how long he might live. As the cancer went on there was no more talk of cure, just sustaining. But they will never find out the hidden mysteries involved in this disease by only examining cells. We need to look at the generating source; at origins and how it became engraved; for a good deal of current research and my own clinical experience point to womb-life as a serious culprit. How could it not be? A rapidly developing brain disrupted and distorted? It is difficult to suss out because there can be forty years between the primal imprint and the outbreak of disease.
For it is my opinion that under ordinary circumstances people should not fall seriously ill with mysterious ailments at a young age, and 49 is a young age. In fact, I believe that when it does happen that an illness overtakes a person it is almost inevitable that premature afflictions will take place later in life. And here we have a situation where it seemed the father was also banned or at least left with no contact with his son—ever. What we do not know is whether he went to an orphanage or a short time before he was adopted or not. Whether in those crucial days and weeks after birth whether he had love, hugs and caring; or was bereft of all that? If so, the suffering was compounded and the imprint embedded. Thus his future could have been foredoomed, an ineluctable force that eventually killed him. I must add that I am using this example only to indicate the factors that play into later disease so that we can all be more aware of the impact of early life.
I know that there are genetic cancers that may have a purely hereditary source. But it is also likely that there are many epigenetic cancers that come from imprinted trauma during life in the womb—methylation. To refine the notion a bit more, there are hereditary sources in later cancer that may only become apparent when the genetic tendencies are compounded with traumas in the womb. We know now that methylation has an effect on some tumor-suppressing cells so that the possible outbreak of cancer is increased. We also know that in our therapy there is a great enhancement of natural killer cells after one year of treatment. These cells keep on the lookout for newly forming cancer cells and move in to destroy them. They are not strong at the beginning of therapy when imprinted pain is at its height. Tumor suppressor genes can cause cancer cells to die by blocking cell growth. Imprinted trauma can interfere with their functioning so they are but a weak army fighting the overwhelming force.
I have seen this in epilepsy where the attacks may be genetic but the level of imprinted stress puts the patient over the top, and frank disease erupts. And when we remove some of the pain/stress in these epileptics the seizures cease. We have normalized the stress level so that the system can tolerate the input without producing a symptom. Thus, symptoms are often a sign of overload; the body can tolerate just so much stimulation and then slops over into perhaps a migraine or high blood pressure.
We have seen this in some patients who were treated by untrained therapists who allowed too much pain to erupt, the patient becomes overloaded and she leaves with a headache. We know what the mistakes were and we move quickly to avoid that happening. In our therapy the patient can turn a seizure into what it really is, major very early trauma—or, the birth trauma, and we then find that the seizure was the primal turned inside out. That is, when early imprints are threatening they can become a seizure if there is that genetic tendency. That tendency may drive from many sources: genetics, epigenetics, a crash on a bike, serious high fever while being carried or in the first months of life.
Still we rarely see a cancer in our patients which may be due to the therapy and also because most of our patients suffer from “leaky gates.” They cannot repress effectively; hence, they suffer all of the time but there is no massive repression with no outlet, often the requisite for later serious disease. I believe cancer as a deep cellular affliction requires massive repression as we mature. What this means is that great early imprinted pain calls into being massive repression to deal with it. It is an automatic process.
So here we may have an anguished mother, no father which means the mother is all alone to face the birth, a birth that will force her to leave her child forever, and no warm, kind parent to make it alright. On top of that we have a child perhaps totally on his own for the first critical weeks of his life until he is adopted. Let me add that there are critical periods for the fulfillment of need as we develop. Once that timetable has passed nothing can make up for the lack of fulfillment. It can be ameliorated so as to keep the stress level low enough to avoid the symptom but nothing can erase the memory/imprint. That is the basic fact of pain; pain which remains and forever leaves a basic tendency: toward developing a symptom, drug taking or drinking.
There may be a way to deal with womb-life traumas. As our patient digs deeper and deeper into his unconscious he eventually comes to infancy in therapy. That reliving can trigger off still more profound and remote imprints, the first-line physiologic/cellular components of the imprint set down while we are being carried in the womb. The reliving of infancy trauma then incorporates the deep physiologic aspect which becomes resolved and integrated, as well. It may be how we can relive and eliminate those preverbal events. That is, we may undo the traumas that have lain inside us for decades; the traumas that may result in serious disease.
Steve’s having been given away may have been an harbinger of future disease; an ineluctable destiny. It is for this reason that if one has had a womb-life filled with sturm and drang the only way to avoid the unavoidable is to have a therapy that can ultimately dig down deep; a prevention, for once a symptom sets in with possible end-organ damage it may be too late.
Now let’s remind ourselves that these traumas are registered deep in the brain and create havoc, and they resonate higher up as we evolve and disturb our emotional and intellectual/learning capacities. All levels resonate with one another and form a single coherent entity, possibly through similar or identical frequencies. To trigger-off the top level can mean setting off the bottom rung of the memory, as well; and unless the person has deep access to himself, not a usual occurrence, the illness is being compounded; the pressure on the cells greater. The early force has been dredged up by some circumstance in the present but has no where to go so it remains to create serious damage and tendency to catastrophic illness. The more catastrophic the imprint the more catastrophic the affliction. The force is so great that until one relives the first line or observes it there is no way to explain how ineffably powerful it is. Once felt or seen no one wonders how it can create major illness.
I want to emphasize how we can relive something that happened while we were being carried in the womb. It has to do with resonance. There seems to be a specific frequency and/or chemical affinity between layers of the brain. When we relive traumas in our therapy we eventually trigger off the related first-line deeply imprinted early imprints that dislocated cellular functioning. So we relive something in our childhood, a rejection, which gathers up into the reliving process the prototypic early imprint and the whole thing is relived; more than relived, there is integration and resolution. That means that the damaging womb-life imprint is also integrated so that it no longer creates the tendency to disease. The question is whether that disease tendency is really gone and really integrated. Has the imprinted been reversed? We need to study methylation in our patients to see what kind of changes occur as a result of the therapy. We want to know if we truly can permanently remove aspects of our history, of our early traumas so that all critical imprints can be reversed. Can we remove all latent tendencies? That is the generating source, the origin that detoured cellular life can be removed. And I believe it is the only way to do it to conquer the disease; assuming it has not gone so far as to be fatal. Otherwise the cancer comes back time and again. Experts look to the properties of the cancer to figure out why when they should also look into one’s early life to figure out why. Maybe therein lies the answer.
Steve had an idea about all this; for in the Rolling Stone of October 27, 2011, he discusses all this. “In 1972 Jobs met a bohemian girl named Christann Brennan. They soon embarked on a big, messy teenage romance, taking LSD and talking about The Primal Scream, a book by Arthur Janov…… For Jobs it was away to live more fully……and a way to overcome the pain of being abandoned by his birth parents. Steve explained to me how both LSD and primal screaming opened up stored trauma in the medulla. He would repeatedly talk about Janov’s ideas in regard to how mothers and fathers would fail to love their children and walk out on them in so many ways, creating and perpetuating trauma.” He knew. But he could not know what was raging inside of him so profoundly buried into the antipodies of his mind. He was brilliant about so much in his outer world and so bereft of the knowledge of what was killing him.
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.