To my bloggers:
My article on Epigenetics and Primal Therapy will appear in the Activitas Nervosa Superior (ANS), a journal for neurocognitive research of the World Psychiatric Association (http://www.activitas.org/index.php/nervosa). I will also publish it on my blog as a series over a month or two, as it is 80 pages long. It is the most important article I have ever written and I hope it will change the science of psychotherapy; this is, begin to turn it into a real science.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
When we do not feel, we have no choice, either we act in or we act out; either the force remains inside and gnaws away at our system, or the force is acted out in the form of neurotic behavior. In the latter, we are driven by the feeling to act-out and in the former we keep that force well-hidden and repressed.
If we want to know what are our hidden feelings look for the act-out. One actress I treated was constantly acting out on the set, “I will be anything you want. Just love me.” She would play any role the director wanted and played it well because love was at stake. She tried in every way to be loved by her mother, also an actress, but alas, it was not to be because her mother was also acting-out, running from audition to audition looking for approval/love. She had no time or interest in being a mother.
Or if we look at the act-in we note how deep is the symptom, how mid-line it is in order to see if it is first-line, very deeply driven, trauma. Colitis and ulcers generally inform us of remote pain. Is it migraine? Generally a matter of oxygen deprivation during gestation or birth where the blood system was the first line of defense against the trauma. Lack of oxygen meant conserving energy and oxygen supplies, constricting oxygen circulation until the constriction gave way to massive dilation and the propensity for a headache later on.
In events of stress, the prototypic reaction sets in immediately. It can be any stress where we feel under threat. This is due to resonance; the original prototype was coded and registered on higher levels as they came on line. When there is a current threat, the system retreats to origins which informs us how to react. It relies on the prototype to guide us and it relies on the original defense to protect itself. Even when that defense is no longer appropriate. It was appropriate back then. That is in essence, neurosis, acting in the present for something that was appropriate in the past. The aforementioned actress was trying to feel loved by her mother decades earlier, and did everything she could, with no reward. She still acts in the present that way; only now it is symbolic.
That is the key to understanding proper therapy now; we do not try to rid the symbolic from the system but rather use the symbolic behavior to see what feelings are being acted-out. And it is those feelings we must deal with.
To remain focused on the symbolic and trying to change it is a useless exercise because the person will only change symbolically, not organically. So we take the obsessive and try to treat her symptoms; helping her over her need to clean everything including the cans holding food in an obsessive manner. We no doubt could get her to stop by slapping her head over and over but is that therapy? But she is feeling, something is wrong and “I do not know what it is,” and so I will focus on making things right in the present. “That is why I have to hang all my shirts carefully in a row. I want things to be right; for there to be order.” This person may have lived in chaos in her early household. Something was terribly wrong but she never knew what it was. She will understand what is driving her if she can feel what she is really saying through her act-out.
Or we treat the phobia in elevators by walking hand in hand with the patient, step by step into an elevator. We are treating symbolism with symbolism and the patient will never get well. Yes, you might say the patient feels better, and you might be right, but he did not get rid of the terror inside that drove the phobia. Unless you think it is rational to fall into panic at the sight of an elevator. The elevator may well be the channel or focus for a panic during birth when being trapped and enclosed might have been fatal. Again, it is acting the present as was necessary in the past.
Let me state again that treating a symptom after the critical period is over, achieves nothing. The only help is actually to return to that critical period with the brain most developed at the time and enter into the critical period again where change can happen. After the critical period where love and nurturing was primary the only therapy is, as I have said, symbolic.
If we understand that there is a timetable of needs and a timetable for their fulfillment. Right after birth touch and caress are essential. No fulfillment right away and the person may be left with a lifetime fear of being alone (only one of many examples). The amount of pain felt now is commensurate with the need during the critical period. That is what makes terrible pain; need. After the critical period need is not nearly as important. Yes fulfillment is necessary but deprivation may not leave a residue of hurt for a lifetime; or it may not change organ or brain development.
When the critical period is ignored, many current symptoms are symbolic of that period. The treatment is, in short, neither organic nor systemic; and that is why there are no profound changes occurring. And that is why the therapy has to go on and on as in psychoanalysis. It only skims the surface. The patient thinks she is getting well because she has rented a caring parent. She becomes addicted to him or her. She is being “fed” symbolically; the doctor comes to need the patient as much as she needs him; a mutual symbiosis. They both feel better because they are symbolically filling their needs; he for approval, idolatry, and she for a caring not indifferent father. The therapy goes on, ad nauseum.
The truth is many patients want it this way; it is more human than Prozac and more in the flesh. They do not want to change; they want their neurosis to work. And now it does. The same may be said for the doctor. He is being adored, something his parents never managed to do with him. I treated one psychiatrist he cried, “My parents never cherished me. Never thought I was important.” His patients do. He too is being fulfilled symbolically.
Freud thought, as do many analysts, that one could analyze the transference and counter-transference(by the doctor)and get rid of those pesky needs. But it was just more cognitive nonsense, keeping it intellectual so no one has to really change. If we do not focus on need there will be no change; just as in any society that neglects need there will be no democracy. We are creatures of need. When society neglects need it must build compensations—hospitals and prisons; for bad things happen when we are deprived; and more medication for everyone. When a society or a parent fulfills need there is no longer a requirement for compensations such as pain-killing drugs. What dictatorships do is suppress need and then punish those who ask for fulfillment. The victims can never win.
So now we see that with pain we must act-in or act-out. There is never a choice; we may think we are free but we are aren’t. We are prisoners of history, chained to our past and can never undo the bonds until we visit that past again.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Integration means that the reliving of a key memory will affect nearly every system in our lives. So we measure natural killer cells, serotonin and brainwave function to test whether there has been integration; and we have found profound changes (normalization) in all of those over time in our therapy. So we might ask, “Does it matter if we don’t relive events during womb life? Yes, because that reliving can produce a change in many physiologic parameters and in behavior? So the answer is clear. Yes, it matters because we have seen engraved patterns (migraine, high blood pressure, impulsive acting-out) from early childhood and fetal life get resolved and integrated decades later in therapy. If patients needed to do more than relive, then they would feel worse, not better, months and years after therapy. And their physiologic changes would not hold up. (The stress hormone, cortisol, would again diminish to pre-therapy times). As I have reiterated, the only time we can rewire deviated set-points is when the brain retreats to an earlier prenatal time and deals directly with the original causes of deviation. This means getting below repression and into history with every fiber of our being, and that history contains life before birth.
Late research seems to confirm this assumption. Scientists from Mass. Inst. Technology have found that the brain becomes much easier to rewire the younger we are. In the journal Current Biology (Oct 14, 2010), lead author, Marina Bedny suggests that as we get older it is much more difficult to rewire the brain. Most circuits are pretty well fixed. I wonder if it is not easier to rewire the brain when we go back and relive those very early brain states. It may be why we see such progress in those patients who do successfully relive early imprints. This may defy current research which indicates how difficult it is to rewire circuits later in life.
Let me be clear about all this: any intervention by a therapist after the critical period can only be palliative. The warm, attentive doctor can only provide a cushion against the impact of the internal pain. That warmth cannot penetrate deep enough to attack the original imprint. Of course, the patient will feel better; she has been palliated, and that feels good, as I have reiterated. The analysis of transference, understanding one’s pattern of behavior toward the doctor cannot make fundamental change, nor can any insight therapy; the shuttered sensory window won’t permit it. Repression is locked into place. It stops any deep penetration. It keeps us on a superficial level.
Monday, January 17, 2011
I have written a lot about the imprint. On the deepest level of our existence, womblife, the imprints are urgent because so much of what goes on is a matter of life and death. A mother smoking, drinking, taking drugs. A mother deeply depressed or manic. All this impacts the fetus and is coded and registered for eternity; it is imprinted everywhere in the system. That is why when patients relive the imprint there are changes everywhere in us.
As the brain evolves each new higher level of brain function represents the imprint in its own way; that is important. We add emotions and images on one level and then add ideas to represent the imprint on a higher level. Think now. Ideas are representing the imprint of the fetus on an ideational level. And those ideas make no sense because the imprint makes no ideational sense. Ideas here are trying to accommodate to the force of the imprint. And oh yes, the imprint down low is not just sending neutral, banal information upward; it is also sending the valence, the energy and the force of that imprint upwards. So the idea/thinking level now has an urgency to how it responds to current situations. And the response can be over the top because the current situation has resonated with the lower level imprint and its force to produce inordinate and off-the-wall reactions. And those reactions can be hyper-suspicious, paranoia because the imprint that has been triggered off is one of terror; the mother manic and superexcited terrifies the baby, and when he is old enough to form beliefs he will no doubt be paranoid. And anything that weakens the defense system such as LSD or marijuana can lead right away to paranoia. Now you see why?
Let’s go over this a bit more. The spokes radiating from the fetal and birth imprint are re-represented in their own way on higher levels. The dream level tries to cope with it but soon the dream cannot contain the pressure and the force and it leads to a nightmare. We wake up terrified, not because the Nazis or the tigers are chasing us, but because the feeling is!! The imprint is unrelenting. It contains the pain and the terror and forces us all of the time to deal with it. There is no respite. The second level manufactures the Nazis to justify the fear in the same way that when awake we manufacture enemies to justify our rage and our fear. And when we are in a weak state, it bursts through and produces a panic or anxiety attack. That anxiety is no more than the imprint forcing its way out. And we take painkillers and tranquilizers to deal with it; those pills work on lower levels and then calm or suppress our strange ideation for the moment. The bizarre ideation is not the problem; it is the imprint. That is why it seems like such a mystery in the real of psychiatry. No therapy has a method of getting down deep to deal with the imprint. And worse, no therapy has a theory that includes it. So how can they ever understand it?
Friday, January 14, 2011
Below is quote from a well known neuropsychiatrist on the Giffords shooting.
It is in Scientific American, Jan 12, 2011. (www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=anger-management-self-control
"What has neuroscience uncovered about the capacity of the person who shot Giffords, the person responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and many others (yet still a small percentage of people) to behave so violently?"
"What happens in these individuals is that their cognitive control mechanisms are deranged. Mind you, these individuals are not out-of-control, enraged people. They just use their cognitive control mechanisms in the service of a disturbed goal. There are probably a multitude of factors at play here. The subject is exposed to influences that lead him or her to violent acts—including, unfortunately, not only the violent political rhetoric but also the media coverage of similar acts, as we are doing here. A variety of issues, especially mental health problems that lead to social isolation, lead the subject to a mental state that alters his or her ability to exercise cognitive control in a healthy manner. The cognitive control capacities of the subject get somewhat redirected—we don't quite understand how—toward goals and activities that are violent in a very specific way. Not the violent outburst of somebody who has "lost it" in a bar, punching people right and left. The violence is channeled in a very specific plan, with a very specific target—generally fed by the media through some sort of rhetoric, political or otherwise—with very specific tools, in the Giffords case, a 9-millimeter Glock."
Let me get this straight. His “cognitive control apparatus was deranged?” You know when shrinks put your everyday language into psychologese and call it science, beware. What does that mean? “He is not out of control. He just has a warped goal? And that goal is?
He has no goals; he is awash in his past and it occupies all of his cognitive apparatus. And he is not out of control? I would like to know what is. The teaching and learning in psychiatry and psychology is faulty, to say the least. This is a man who has lost all control. And I might add to what I have already written that the prefrontal developing cortex can be seriously impaired during womb-life when oxygen levels are seriously depleted, or at birth when massive anesthesia to the mother shuts down so much of the baby and damages his frontal cortical area so that control is already weakened at birth. The child then has to be watched all of the time or he hits and hurts others or gets into constant trouble. Then the person gets older and takes drugs such as hash, pot and LSD and further damages the cortical control areas. Don’t minimize the role of pot in all this. Years of using it can lead to paranoid psychosis. It is not a matter that the shooter can not use cortical control. He has no choice because at long last there isn’t any.
"What are the signs that a person is disturbed enough to take action?"
"The signs are quite visible, although difficult to interpret without a context—and unfortunately they unfold very quickly, and people can rarely witness them before the action is taken. The action itself is a sign, a desperate form of communication from a disturbed individual. Unfortunately, nobody was chatting with the guy when he left his final messages on Internet before getting into action. But I bet that if somebody was communicating with him before the act and saw those signs and read those messages on MySpace or whichever social network he was using, that person could have done something, could have engaged him in a sort of conversation that might have redirected his deranged plans. Indeed, by connecting with the subject, that person might have redirected some of the activity of mirror neurons toward a truly empathic behavior, rather than in the service of the deranged imitative violence leading to action."
You know that to think a good conversation can change a madman is ridiculous. I treated psychotics with the Veteran’s Administration and at the Brentwood mental hospital and in my own practice. We can see it developing and can pretty well predict what will happen. The problem is that here many people saw it coming, but the laws stop us from doing anything. You cannot jail someone on “maybe he will act out in the future.” I have been told many times, “Wait until he acts and then we will move in.” I don’t know the way out of this dilemma. I would like to hear from others. I do know that what happens early on is that trauma during womblife has a devastating impact that damages the gating system and depletes the important inhibitory hormones and neurotransmitters. The person no longer has all the marbles he needs to function. Because he is ill, he is more and more isolated and more in pain with no outlets and no one to talk to. Oh yes, they say, “he was always quiet and stayed to himself.” But, they add, he was always sweet. Sweet until the early rage breaks through.
And it breaks through because he was so sweet for so long; could not let out even a bit here and there. It stacked up and exploded. He needs all the chemicals that he should manufacture but no longer can; those medications that the brain produces but stopped when its inner pharmacy was damaged so very early on.
I think that schools can help. When they see signs of out of control behavior in children bring it out to the authorities. And use feelings for discussion and for talking about out-of-control and what it means inside to all of us. Children will get it. We should not just punish kids but use the lessons of out of control feelings to really educate. So that kids can get a handle on themselves.
We cannot rely on parents for this because too often they are responsible for the problem; the punishment, indifference, lack of love, etc. They do not see and cannot afford to see.
Teachers and other students can. And we need to train psychologists and specialists in the primal orientation so that kids learn about themselves; that is the most important lesson anyone can get out of school. A good handle of ourselves. We need to learn about the inner world, not just the geography of the outer one.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
It happened again recently and it will happen again in the future. Someone goes crazy and fires into a crowd, killing many. And now the media begins their handwringing frenzy. We need to reflect on what makes this happen. I have already reflected so let me add to what kinds of things make it happen.
First of all, these individuals don’t just “go crazy.” They have been going crazy since birth and before. So what does that mean? It means there was tremendous pain during womb-life, perhaps a smoking/drinking manic mother that loosened the gates. Then a terrible birth and no love from anyone afterward. The gates are flooded with pain and cannot hold it back. What is worse, the first-line deeply embedded pain is surging through at all times so that eventually the first line becomes the third line. There is now no cortical ability to discern reality; only internal reality is at the fore-front; all the hurts, neglect, insults, beatings and indifference are in the fore. The person has a far-away look about them as they are living totally in the past, not the here-and-now. They therefore seem dazed and unresponsive.
Here they are vulnerable to the zeitgeist, the latent ambiance, that will channel their rage and their pain. It is like a giant cloud that overhangs their world and forces them to think and act in certain ways. Decades ago it was to kill the communists where conspiring against them. So my psychotics would nail up the doors and put foil on their heads to block the communist conspiracy. Trouble was, they were already inside and there was no defense against them, “them” meaning the menace and the danger. It was imprinted and inescapable.
Today we make the danger physical, the liberals; they have to be “stopped.” So when congresswoman Giffords appears, and is known in the press as a liberal, hence, danger, she must be stopped, and everyone else around her. Enter the gunman who is trying to do everything he can to get rid of the dangers that plague him. If only he knew it was all inside.
But no, Sarah Palin has drawn crosshairs on gifford’s face in the press, an open invitation to shoot her where she stands. She can claim they were not gun crosshairs but the damage is done. The zeitgeist did not make the killer crazy and did not force him to take up the gun, but the ambiance channeled it all for him. The right wing denies it because they too are creatures of the zeitgeist and help make it real and widespread. They really believe that liberals are the enemy; not fellow-Americans who simply disagree or have a different view. They are the enemy. Why? Because any differing idea or ideology threatens their defense system, fragile as it is.
These people need an enemy to justify their fear, terror and rage. Otherwise, where would it go? Would they implode? They would be bereft, bereft of any defense or outlet. Now they have a socially institutionalized belief system that they can slip into that justifies everything they believe. But please don’t challenge it; don’t question their notion or perception of reality, cause it ain’t reality. It is a socially institutionalize belief system. An artificially constructed reality that keeps their feelings in place and justified.
Why are they right-wing? Because of all their pain that drove them away from feelings and made feelings and kind-hearts an anathema. Because they cannot see reality and don’t want anyone else to. All delusions love company; that is why cults work and why it is so dangerous to leave the cult—to have a new idea about the world. I have seen it and treated those who were in cults. They do not tolerate dissent.
I never remember growing up with this kind of mass phenomenon. A guy killed someone for personal reasons. Now he has a social rationale for it all. He can feel guilty with a clear conscience. It becomes really dangerous when many join in on the delusion; they reinforce each other and reify the beliefs and make them impenetrable.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The question so often posed in philosophy class is, “Are you loved if you think you are? Are you happy if you think you are?" I mean, what’s the difference so long as you think you are happy? Well, we might ask, “Are self-delusions useful? Do they take the place of reality? Not if you believe reality is in your “head,” in your perceptions; not if you're thinking that thinking is what counts. But alas, it doesn’t because, no matter what you think, the body “thinks” too, and it sends out messages of pain and unhappy and unloved. That is why patients come to us saying they were loved as children, and six months later they learn from themselves that they weren’t. When they get to their pain they suddenly realize what happened to them in their lives.
What does that mean, they learn from themselves? Are ourselves the best teacher? Yes. We learn from our real history, not the self-deluded one that could not see what was going on. We learn about love from what we didn’t get, and we learn that happiness for us, was a poor façade to cover what we dare not faced. We learn, above all, how we fool ourselves unconsciously, how we cannot see what is right in front of us. How do we do that? We learn that when our early pain got too much there was an automatic shutoff, repression set in and blinded us to reality; first the inner one and then the outer one.
So there are several levels of consciousness; one is our top level perceptual one, and the more important is what our heart, brain and blood system say about our lives. It is often not a pretty picture even though we are taught to pretty it up, not complain and look on the bright side. Isn’t that what cognitive therapy does? Look on the bright side, think happy thoughts and have wholesome ideas. It is how we grew up writ in psychologese. So who is the real you? The happy one or the unhappy one? Well, there are two you’s, the unreal self that you present to the world, and the other one that you present to yourself. And that one you cannot really face even though it talks to you all of the time. It speaks to us in a language we barely understand; in high blood pressure, in migraines and muscle aches. We need to speak that language and we need to learn it if we hope to get rid of the complaints our bodies are making.
Does it matter so long as I think I am loved and happy? No if you don’t mind falling sick and dying early. Otherwise, yes. Because all that repression kills. I think the real disease so widespread today is repression.
When researchers put animals in pain they developed symptoms, but when they gave them chemicals that stopped repression the symptoms went away. In short, it is blocking pain that creates symptoms, and unblocking it that eradicates them. Those with leaky gates, inadequate repression, do not have the symptoms others have, specifically cancer, because they cannot repress as others do. Leaky gates are the anxious ones, the ADDers, the hysterics, all over the place, unable to focus or listen to instructions but they cannot cap it all to develop serious symptoms, at least in the beginning. Over long term anxiety, there are consequences. They will die of heart attacks and strokes, but it is the repressives who will die of the diseases of repression.
So to answer my question, yes, it counts a lot not to be deluded, not to think we are fine when we aren’t. There is a price to pay for not facing reality, and yet so many do not get physical exams because they “don’t want to know.” Denial is so convenient, and so deadly. Then we wake up and want to know when it is far too late; when our disease is so advanced that nothing can be done such as in emphysema. People know that smoking is harmful but the need to suppress pain is a lot more powerful than that knowing. Understanding is helpful but a weak sister to need. And eventually our pain-killing habits are what will kill us, and we don’t want to know because we know that we can’t stop. The only way to stop is to get rid of the early imprinted pain. Not easy to do and painful. Who wants that? Those with leaky gates who suffer all of the time and cannot delude themselves. So those in pain can be helped; those who do not know it cannot. Such a dilemma.
Monday, January 3, 2011
We have found that circuits from feeling centers to the top level cortex are stronger and more numerous than the circuits leading down from the neocortex. The implications are that language and thoughts do not change feelings so much, but that feelings do change ideas a lot. Thus the premise for so many insight therapies contradicts how the brain actually works. And explains why those who have undergone insight therapy (in all of its ramifications) have been self-deluded into thinking they are much better. The whole point is that the brain figures out a way to be self-deluded. Too much imprinted pain sets this in motion. And so thoughts go off in the direction of the feelings. If we feel like a loser then we give up trying to go to college or to study, in general. Or don’t try to get the girl or guy of our dreams. After all, “Who would be interested in me?”
We have to think, “Why would the brain grow itself in a certain direction; a direction that evolves to repress feelings? How is that a survival mechanism? Think: suppressing feelings helps survival. It has to do with blocking menace, the danger from terribly painful feelings, and
then we have to wonder where do those powerful feelings come from and what are they like? They are mostly imprinted from our womb-life and birth and are memories of what we had to do to survive. Those behaviors become fixed and drive our lives. When a fetus, for example, is probed (in amniocentesis) he withdraws and he shows signs of withdrawal. He grimaces as if in great pain, which he is. And his pain chemicals, stress hormones, rise radically. He is learning what to do in times of danger; withdrawal, removing himself from the scene, is one approach. Because the experience is life-threatening the system remembers it as a heuristic experience (setting guidelines for future behavior). In short, there is a flight to the head, to the intellect; a flight away from feelings and toward something that will reduce the danger. And what is that? Ideas and beliefs. It is the last in evolution and is our most precious defense. We can rationalize and theorize; we can project blame and mentally escape from the danger of terror that lies below so much intellectuality.
So in a strange paradox we flee to our heads to escape feelings and that flight is what becomes dangerous. We live in our heads or take drugs for further suppression, or we drink to help sequester our feelings, but no matter what the feelings never go away, grinding away inside, wearing down the system. They are treated as alien forces by the system; the enemy who must not be allowed to attack us from inside; hence we take blocking-medication to keep the attack from inside from happening. The drugs slow down or block the message from rising to the level of conscious/awareness. So we can think we are fine because we have blocked out of awareness of the painful feelings.
Language is the last evolutionary weapon we have against ourselves! Isn’t that strange? We develop something that can combat our own experience. And shunt it aside. And which allows us to pretend it never existed; and instead of feeling bad because of it we have the tools to make ourselves feel good; a self-deluded state that we all can share. That is what is universal, repression and denial. Wonderful.
Now how is that we evolved a thinking brain that anesthetizes pain? When we think about that too much we get into theology. I prefer science. We first impress pain into the system; we register code and store it for the future and then we develop a system to block it from conscious/awareness. We smother it with thoughts; and you thought they were a wonderful new addition to the human being. They are, and they are also this pharmacy of painkillers which is also wonderful. The system knew it could not go on under a terrible load of pain and find love and avoid danger. So it pushed it aside in order to remain stable and functional. Those who could not set pain aside are the ones who are dysfunctional. And what are those terrible pains? Lack of love, by my definition, of lack of fulfillment of basic need. So it must follow that we need love more than anything. We need it for life, for survival, for sanity. We need it to maintain the basic physical and physiologic structure. Otherwise, we don’t grow properly and our organs do not evolve correctly. Think of it: we manufacture chemicals that block the experience of pain. They do not block pain; that is another matter, although scientists are now close to removing the biochemical elements that build into pain. But most of us will settle for not knowing about it. Repression is the original denial. It denies reality, a reality that lives on a different level of brain function; on a different level of consciousness.
Look a the cult leaders; they hypnotize us with their promises of fulfillment, if not in this world then in another of their choosing. And it is indeed hypnosis; grabbing our need and twisting it so that we no longer are conscious. We follow blindly. We obey without question. And we do so in psychotherapy. They lull our critical capacities so that they are rendered useless, and then they move in to control and manipulate us.
One of the crimes of the century, not including the holocaust and other disasters, is the psychotherapy of denial; for that is what nearly every therapy extant practices. It makes patients more repressed, hence sicker. It helps bury reality, through medications which are designed for that, and through insights and beliefs that shut out the truth of our existence. I mean just a bit of neurology will tell us that the prefrontal area has a major role in blocking feelings. How on earth can we enlist it for change? We are putting the mask of anesthesia over the brains of our patients and we are calling it therapy. Let’s stop the crime!
Saturday, January 1, 2011
In our evolution we had the brain stem and limbic structures to handle outside danger. But our neuro-physiology in all of its wonder also “decided” how to handle internal danger: our stored feelings. There seemed to be a migration of cells upward and forward to develop a neocortex that could not only deal with outside menace but from inside, as well. “Deal with” is perhaps an exaggeration because what that new (neo) cortex does is suppress feelings. It also connects them to where they should finally go for full consciousness. But for the moment let’s concentrate on the menace. Thoughts evolved in part to anesthetize feelings. Ay ay ay. Could that be true? Do we have an internal anesthetic that the brain produces? Of course, it is the basis of nearly all pain-killers and tranquilizers that mimic the chemicals we produce inside of us.
So what happened? Well we went from the primtive nervous system to an higher order affair; from instincts to thoughts and beliefs, and those beliefs also are wonderful anesthetics. Witness all of the religions and cults. I was thinking about this when I watched TV the other day and saw the ads; almost all were for painkillers, Aleve, aspirin, Tylenol ad nauseum. Everyone seems to be hurting and almost everyone believes. Is that an accident? A strange coincidence? Don’t think so. Some of us take our painkillers straight; others go to India to find some belief system. So many actually think that some guy in India knows all the secrets of the universe. Nobody does. You know that an expert is a guy from out of town. The further we go, the more we expect from the “expert.” So allow me to repeat: no one in the world knows more about life than you do. All of those secrets of your life lies just below the top anesthetizing level. All you need is access, and you will become the expert you wanted from that guy in India. We actually need that “guy” or “girl” because we are so driven by our unconscious that it is all a mystery; for that we need an expert. Actually, I am that guy and I am not in India; I am in Santa Monica, as mundane and prosaic as that seems. The reason I am that guy is I can help you with access to your unconscious. I can help you find yourself and your own answers. I can never find your secrets out of my own brain. That would be ridiculous; and oh yes, you think a shrink knows those answers? Guess again, and I underline “guess.” You are buying that guy in India again only now he is in Beverly Hills in a nice suit. If he doesn’t help you with access, he is of no use.
I know I went to those shrinks for battle fatigue or whatever they called it in those days. And we did dream analysis. Ridiculous. I know how ridiculous it is, because I practiced it for years. When I discovered Primal I called many of those patients back and told them I was wrong and I think I have it right now. Some came back and some didn’t. They thought they were fine.
So here we have a feeling system, the amygdala, hippocampus and other structures, and over time some of those wily little cells began to migrate and they formed its antithesis; a pure dialectic. They formed the anti-feeling; not to be confused with the anti------. And the circuits leading upward were much more robust and numerous than the circuits from the cortex to the limbic system. Now we go to a cognitive/insight therapist who insists that the new insights and changed ideas they help you with can change those feelings; when everything in neurology militates against it. It is far easier for feelings to mount up there than for ideas to go downward and put down feelings. Still we try, and when we cannot, we use painkillers that simply add to what the brain already produces to shut down pain. Don’t forget that past feelings and needs are engraved into our nerve circuits; we are not going to eradicate them so easily. And they are not meant to be eradicated, in any case.
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.