Saturday, March 31, 2012
On Being Non-Functional
We can easily understand when all kinds of things are happening around us and we get confused and don’t know what to do first. But suppose all kinds of thing are happening not around us but inside us, things we cannot see or even imagine? And we get all confused, cannot concentrate or focus and stop functioning. Too much input, but from where!? Let’s see, hummm, maybe from inside? From all those imprints down low in the neuraxis that are constantly sending messages to the top cortical level, trying to inform us about danger down below. So many strong messages from preverbal imprints, messages with no special content but simply high-level electrical charges to try to enter our conscious-awareness, only to be rebuffed by the gating system.
So now imagine when there is all this current tumult going on that sets off the internal tumult and begins to overwhelm us; we can no longer focus and get immediately overwhelmed by the simplest of tasks to be done. It is all too much. We imagine it is because we are being pressured by domineering bosses but in reality we are being pressured first and foremost from inside, by importuning painful memories hidden away seeking exit and surcease. They are groping for priority, for access to top level processes that will allow for some peace. But they are competing with other external priorities that must be done…..now! Who wins? No one; nothing gets done as we break down and become non-functional.
Primal memories don’t just go away; they are as yet not connected, held back by the gates and so are unresolved and non-integrated. And the biologic system “knows” that connection means liberation. So they continually send their message higher up for connection. Alas, it is not to be. But those inchoate messages enter the cortical arena and create chaos because of their inability to connect. They have no specific content to allow them to be relived and be done with. They are preverbal, by and large, and can only be relived and resolved after many higher level imprints are integrated. And then, as we relive lower level, earlier imprints there is a resonance effect, a kind of dredge which raises up the earlier imprints. They now merge with imprints from infancy and earlier childhood providing the energy component to the feeling and making the reaction all the more powerful. Making a rather banal feeling incredibly strong. We may not understand what is going on because we have neglected the resonance factor that makes similar feelings connection or bind with each other, remained stored in memory and tend to rise together when the time is appropriate. So we feel disappointed at age seven but that triggers off the preverbal sensation of deeper aspect of the feeling, which can be many things but often is simple hopelessness. They now rise together and, as the reliving goes on there is a simultaneous reliving of the preverbal, energy part of the feeling, as well.
That same resonance goes on all of the time, higher level deception can trigger off deeper feelings but those feelings do not get resolved and simply create burgeoning chaos and tumult. They do not get resolved because not enough of the less powerful feelings have been integrated as yet. The system is simply not ready yet. And that sometimes can mean pockets of insanity as the system struggles to hold back feelings or perhaps tries to make sense of them, but to no avail. Enough premature breakthroughs and we have frank psychosis, which is when painkillers are necessary. And those same painkillers can, paradoxically, make us functional, as the painful imprints are held down below, out of harm’s way. It is when the pain is so strong, so many imprints that tranquilizers can no longer do their job. So we have to titrate the dose to make sure the patient gets enough to hold back the input from inside. After more pain is felt the person will need less and less painkillers.
Those early pains broke open the gating system initially because serotonin supplies could not keep up with the demand. So what is in those tranqs? Serotonin. All the pills are doing is doing what the system could not do at the beginning because it ran out of supplies. And it ran out because those early life endangering events demanded too much of the gating system. Don’t be afraid of offering chemical help because the system is demanding—non verbal therapy for non verbal pains. We just need to understand and comply, and above all, to tell our patients what is going on inside them. We are only boosting repression for a time until their system can take over.
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.