Sunday, February 5, 2012
On Compounding: Cancer and Psychosis
There is a new study out about cancer and psychosis. It pretty much supports what I have been writing about for years. What they found is that a mother who smoked throughout her pregnancy has a greater chance of giving birth to someone who later develop cancer and/or psychosis at a relatively earlier age. If the mother was subject to pollutants or carcinogens while pregnant, she carried toxins in her system, those toxins found their way into the baby; and the amount was about 10% the levels the mother had. I believe that the earlier the mother smoked the greater the later chances of catastrophic disease. It is also a problem if the carrying mother does not get the proper nutrients. Because there are chemicals that help build gating very early on that contributes to the later ability to hold back pain and emotional turmoil. Think about this: the more catastrophic and earlier the imprinted trauma the more catastrophic the effects later on.
What they also found was that it was epigenetics, the effects of the baby’s life in the womb influenced directly by the mother but also later life stress that would produce cancer or psychosis. In other words, it is not only changes during womb-life that is the problem but the compounding of stress and of lack of love in childhood that made the symptoms overt and manifest. In short, if the child were completely loved, despite the changes in the effects on the changes during womb-life, he might not become schizophrenic or develop cancer. This makes total sense, and is what I called compounding. Early trauma plus the add-on of no love, neglect and indifference on the part of the parents. Of course, growing up in foster care or in an orphanage greatly exacerbates the problem. It may not show for years but chances are it will show. You can’t fool mother nature and her offspring mother nurture.
So yes, there is hope to avoid serious disease, even with a bad gestational period, but once it is manifest it is very very difficult to reverse. Once there is organ damage, and that includes the brain, it is a tough job. Once the gating system is affected all sorts of problems later occur; from impulsive acting out, to explosiveness and bad temper; from premature ejaculation to bed wetting. You fill in the blanks; but it usually involves compounding. Even growing up in poverty delivers its adverse affects on the genes—the epigenetics.
One of the clear effects in the epigenetic changes is found in later addiction. Why is there such an Aha! moment when someone takes a drug that soon makes them addicted to it? For this we are indebted to Dr. Eric Nestler whose research into cocaine addiction is crucial. But first let me say that during womb life and infancy there are chemical changes occurring that become imprinted and endure for a lifetime. When a drug comes along that makes up for the deficit it is sought after assiduously. There are changes in the chemical composition surrounding the genes that help either give permission for later expression of feelings (acetyl group) or deny permission (methyl group). In other words, the personality of repression, and laid-back, non-emotionality has its starting blocks during womb life. Then when coupled with repressive, unemotional parents there is a compounding of this kind of personality which endures. She is not being able to express herself which began with methylation during womb-life and exacerbated during childhood. For cocaine addiction it may be that the cellular permission—an opening up of the system, given by ingestion of the drug which helps expression of feelings, taking away the heavy burden of repression (engendered by a childhood of neglect and lack of touch) makes it very attractive biologically. So addiction may well begin in the womb; there is a lack of certain chemicals we needed but did not secrete enough, that made some drugs such as cocaine fill the bill. In depression we need to look seriously at how were over-methylated during womb-life. Again the starting block for later depression lies very early in life and makes for suicidal depression later on
when other adversities impact us—loss of wife or husband, loss of job and above all, loss of hope. Epigenetic mechanisms play into our childhood social life and can reinforce basic personality types. Rat pups raised by loving permissive mothers do better later on than those same pups raised in non-loving domineering mothers. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the great spreads of the methyl group finds its way into the emotional centers such as the amygdala. In any case, heavy addiction is found not only in an unloving childhood environment, but earlier when the epigenes are forming and causing biochemical deficits that have to be made-up for later on.
Here is what late research shows: mothers who smoke cause a radical increase of diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and obesity in the offspring. Then if the mother is anxious or depressed we have compounding and a greater chance for premature disease. This includes psoriasis. The point is that it is not only genes that are heritable but also the epigenes—what happened to the gene development while we lived in the womb. Genes are the notes to the music but the music depends on the epigenes. They conduct the symphony and decide who plays and who remains silent during the development of the piece.
If the mother does pot or takes serious pain-killers then there is a direct effect on the offspring’s gating system, producing serious dents and leaks in it and perhaps affecting later psychosis. What those drugs do is operate on the methylation and acetylation process affecting our ability to repress and inhibit. This results often in an out-of-control impulsive personality—womb-life has opened the gates prematurely…..acetylation. At least, it makes the gating system vulnerable to later trauma—compounding, again. Not all is lost. It has been found that later great parental loving can help reverse some of the damage. Epigenetics can be somewhat reversed, I think with our therapy where we relive and integrate very early damage or maybe later on there will be drugs that contain methionine that help reverse damage, as well.
One of the major effects of womb trauma is later pulmonary dysfunction and breathing problems, not the least of which is asthma. It looks like genetic but that isn’t the whole story. If the carrying mother is fat there is good chance that the offspring will have that tendency. How she eats while pregnant has a lot to do with the nutrients available or not to the baby. And worse, very bad nutrition affects the chemicals that go into producing good gating including methionine that we produce, along with folic acid. It is never one thing, but one childhood.
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.