Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to Relive Trauma That Happened During Life in the Womb

I want to talk about the long-term effects of our experience while in the womb and how we resolve intrauterine traumas by reliving in Primal Therapy. One question arises immediately: how on earth can anyone relive those events—a mother’s depression or anxiety, her drug and alcohol use, poor diet and lack of proper physical care by the mother?

We need to go back to our evolutionary roots and note that as the brain develops a different animal appears in the brain; first the snake, then the chimp, then the human. Each new structure/area incorporates and re-represents events imprinted on lower brain levels. Thus, there are spokes radiating out of our primitive nervous system that travel all the way to the neocortex (new cortex) via limbic structures to inform the higher levels of what happened on the lower brain levels. So when we feel helpless in the present—no one can process our application until we fulfill impossible requirements—we can begin to experience that feeling now in a session as “I can’t get through,” which will then take us back via the vehicle of feeling to the origins of that feeling. The feeling could be “there is nothing I can do to get through”. The basic feeling is hopelessness. And the prototypic event could be trying to be born amidst numerous obstacles. That is the heavy valence aspect of it. Before we get there, we first travel to childhood and feel that very same feeling on the second line, “I can never get through to my parents.” So the first thing we feel is in the present; we are at the DMV and the registrar is happily putting one obstacle in front of us after another. Next we feel the hopelessness of trying to get through to our parents in childhood. The feeling seeps in: it is all hopeless and I am helpless. We can stop therapy or go on to deeper levels over time; feeling the prototype is the final stop on our journey. There is no cure until all parts of our consciousness and unconsciousness are involved. The deeper we go the more powerful the feelings and sensations. That is why it should it should take some time to get deep down. We must avoid overload at all costs.

Once we are locked into a feeling the brain takes charge, it listens to its prototypic message and we must make no deliberate effort to go back into our past. We go back not deliberately but the opposite—by letting go of deliberation and giving into feeling. In therapy, the human first needs to have a long conversation with the chimp, who months later will deliver the message to the snake. Down deep, the conversation is neurologic and physiologic. It adds punch to our reactions and we are not sure why.

We feel helpless in the present but it is not a “normal” feeling; it carries with it the force of the beginnings of the feeling when it might have been a matter of life and death. We seemingly overreact, but we are reacting as well to our history, which has embedded itself into the feeling. When we relive that feeling completely we have automatically relived earlier origins of the feeling; and we can be liberated from its deleterious effects without once understanding what the primordial aspect of the feeling was all about.

Let me be clear about this because it is a significant point: each earlier event or trauma is registered (and methylated) so that how our genes behave or express themselves changes; our experience is imprinted epigenetically. And then as we evolve, the information of the early imprint is re-represented on each higher level. The snake speaks to the chimp about it, the chimp to the adult human, each in his own way. The problem occurs when the snake tries to communicate with the human neo-cortex. We don’t know what it is trying to say; all we know is that we feel antsy and anxious. That is the language of the snake. It forces us to slither and move but we are stuck. If it remains inside that force can produce an epileptic attack, a migraine, high blood pressure or what have you. It is powerful because it is the survival brain at work. Usually, repression sets in, blocks the sensation or feeling and creates maladies, including depression. It is the repression of those first line gestational events that lead to catastrophic diseases later on.

Each level, as it comes online, becomes mature. We now can be fully informed about our earlier life. The information is neurophysiologically coded by the kind of feeling so that similar feelings are combined in similar neural circuits.

At age thirty we might relive a feeling of hopelessness that seems to come out of nowhere, and the body temperature drops 3 degrees, as it easily can. When we check the scan we know the patient has dropped into a deep-brainstem-limbic trauma, touching preverbal events. That is why the big drop in temperature, with a commensurate drop in blood pressure. This is basically a parasympathetic nervous system response; we go into a “freeze” state, conserving energy. We become hesitant and unsure. We hold back, and that becomes our personal leitmotif, the matrix of our personality. And it started long before we could speak.

Where does it all come from? The mother may be smoking and drinking, harming the baby in the womb. He cannot evade the input and he begins to sense hopelessness. It is the template that is now installed—hopelessness and helplessness first started out as a sensation of impending death, and remains a sensation for the rest of our lives; it is not cerebral. Look closely: below every event in the present lie those impending feelings. It is only the strength of the gating system that keeps them at bay. But the pressure builds and the defenses give way a bit. Depression looms, as the building blocks of hopelessness and helplessness get close.

The vehicle of feeling will not let us drop too deeply all at once. The system knows that is dangerous. But we will automatically go back past defenses to earlier times as the pain level allows. So now the current hopelessness dredges up (resonates with) lower levels of the same feeling. When there is a reliving, all of the levels combine and produce a very heavy feeling. The current feeling at the DMV has brought up the earlier pain and it is all relived at the same time. That is, the current feeling brings forth the same feeling but with a different early event that has a much greater force to it, until the gating system gives way to the earlier imprints; the primordial hopelessness, perhaps of not getting out of the womb due to a cord obstruction.

Now heavy pain is on its way. If you are an advanced patient, you can feel and integrate it; the therapy has been done correctly. But if the therapy is not done correctly or drugs have been used, the feeling rises abruptly and forces its way into the top level, where the thinking and believing cortex has to manufacture symbolic beliefs to accommodate the pain; it must be symbolic because there is an overload. If there is no overload the feeling can be felt, experienced fully, and finally integrated: the pain is resolved.  Thus, when the therapy proceeds in a logical, evolutionary way there is no danger and the person is getting well. When the process is hurried, there is great danger because overload always produces symptoms, often of mental derangement.

This brain circuitry is a two-way affair: the lower levels get re-represented on higher levels, while access to the feelings on higher levels allows us to descend lower down through our chain of pain. It is an integrated circuit, not haphazard and not by chance. We rely on the veracity of evolution to guide us. If we leave evolution behind we will lose our way for sure. The correct way is to follow how our brain evolved and what lies on the various brain levels.

The brainstem doesn’t speak; that is why in a reliving of very, very early events, if there are any words it is a false experience. So there may be a body temperature of 96 degrees that informs us that it is preverbal. If we try to get a patient to express her feelings verbally the session is ruined. You see why? Discussing a feeling and experiencing it are two different brain structures. We must not ask one area of brain tissue to do the work of another. We can only heal where we are wounded. If the wound happened during gestation we will eventually have to go there, and in the manner I have described—slowly, in increments, deeper and deeper. And we may never know that we are also reliving a time in the womb; the first line response is purely physiological. It makes our heart race while we are reliving something far removed in time from the womb and by comparison a bit innocuous. It is one aspect of the experience that is wordless. So we relive the criticism by one our teachers in high school, and the response is inordinate. We are plunged into an anxiety state and can’t imagine why. Resonance has taken place. Old sensations have been triggered off, and now we can see how something trivial in the present can set off rage or terror from the past. We see how someone loses control.

In these situations, we must eschew verbal explanations or cerebral understanding because the body is speaking an entirely different language. And when high blood pressure or a racing heart normalizes after a session, we can assume that we dipped into ancient origins of the feeling and have resolved aspects of the prototypic imprint itself. That I have observed this kind of reliving resulting in the resolution of serious symptoms is considered by some in the scientific community as not enough. It is believed to be anecdotal and unworthy of science. Lately, however, there is a plethora of research to bolster the point. K.J.S. Anand is one of the premier investigators of this research. (“Can Adverse Neonatal Experiences Alter Brain Development and Subsequent Behavior?” Biology of the Neonate, 2000(77):69-82).

He and his associates have produced a compendium of many research studies on the subject. He begins: It is “suggested that imprinting at birth may predispose individuals to certain patterns of behavior that remain masked throughout most of adult life but may be triggered during conditions of extreme stress.” (p. 70) This seems like a direct quote from some of my writings. The reason they are similar is because we are describing the same event, they from a scientific research point of view, I from my clinical observational post.

Anand goes on to observe: “for suicides committed by violent means (firearms, jumping in front of a train, hanging, strangulation, etc.), the significant risk factors were those perinatal (around birth) events that were likely to cause pain in the newborn.” The harmful factors included forceps delivery and other neonatal complications that were significantly correlated with adult suicide attempts. Lack of care just after birth was also heavily correlated with later suicides, especially adolescent suicide attempts. Sedatives and/or other drugs given to the mother during delivery were noted to increase the incidence of drug addiction. Karen Nyberg also found that drugs the mother took during pregnancy or at birth led to a greater tendency to drug addiction as adults. More recently, Sonja Entringer and her associates found intrauterine stress led to shortened telomeres in young adulthood (“Stress exposure in intrauterine life is associated with shorter telomere length in young adulthood.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 108:33, E513-E518). Shortened telomeres are associated with premature aging and the development of cancer. In short, experience in the womb has, as we have noted for decades, enduring effects. If we want to know the whys of certain behaviors such as suicidal tendencies or drug abuse, we need to go way back into our remote history to find the answers. What Anand points out is that we need to study in humans the long-term changes in the brain from traumas in utero. We know, for example, that certain kinds of cells (NMDA receptors) are permanently altered as a result of lowered oxygen levels in the womb and during birth. The effects of low oxygen on the brain are particularly profound in the womb and during birth because the prenatal and neonatal periods are marked by very rapid brain growth.

I have written extensively about critical periods: those times in life when irreversible changes occur that we cannot change no matter how hard we try. I no longer think that the major critical period is in infancy. It seems irreversible changes are most apt to occur during our life in the womb, and secondarily around birth when we have peak brain growth. It is here that the neuronal circuitry and gene expression can be altered forevermore. In a number of experiments with animals, those who were delivered in pain or deprived of a mother’s care just after birth had a greater tendency to drink alcohol. In other words, very early pain persists as an imprint and leads to all manner of deviate behavior. Clearly, for any therapy to be successful we need to address those early imprints, the origins of the deviation.


26 comments:

  1. did you deliberately borrow my writing style, art, or is it just coincidental? i love this article - it flows with my understanding.

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  2. There is a picture of me when only a few days old with my Mother looking down at me and holding me rather gingerly and me looking very nervous and looking right over my shoulder as if looking for someone else. Firstly I wonder whether my fear of falling comes from my Mothers unconfident way of holding me as falling at that age could mean death or injury but also her tentativeness would probably cause great insecurity generally. She looks like she does not know what she is doing but also looks desperate for me to love her. Not a good start.

    It's taken a lot for me to understand this early stuff simply because I had such a shitty childhood and still have tons to deal with in my early life and years.

    By the way has anyone seen that new research which shows that stem cells etc cross the placenta. We can have our Mothers cells in our blood stream for decades. Also a babies stem cells can cross the placenta and repair damaged organs in the Mother including her heart. That makes sense. The baby needs the Mother so repairing her makes good evolutionary sense.

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    1. Was thinking about my comment a little more. If a Mother is damaged/anxious/physcotic and thus is downloading anxiety etc to the baby then maybe the babies body senses this and uploads stem cells to repair the Mother's body. Thus the baby is "loving" the Mother in a way that maybe she has never experienced before. Therefore an anxious Mother's body and subconcious can sense this "love" from the baby and continue to expect it once the baby is born. Her body has had a "Hit" of repair (like a drug) and likes it because it 'repaired' her and so keeps looking for the drug like any drug addict.

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    2. Planespotter: Interesting. art.

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    3. Hi Art

      Well if the Mother is damaged emotionally and physiologically due to her own womb and childhood experiences then she has spent most of her life until she was pregnant repressing a desperate need for love. She is probably bringing the child into the world to fulfil that need without knowing it and so maybe that is where the whole dysfunctional relationship starts. It's rather Chicken or Egg though isn't it? Where does it start?

      Quite mind blowing really!

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  3. If the thinking brain is a consequence for survival through the evolutionary process... enabling the life's continuance… we have a problem to overcome. Our vision of life will drastically change... also out of an intellectual perspective... we will get other tools to use... another than to put a lid on as the cognitive confusion does.

    Recognition of this phenomenon... phenomenon to not being known among the performers in the psychological field. Can we justify ourselves to avoid this issue when the vision of man and the changes that follow in the tracks gives life? Not only gives the answers to man's evolutionary process… but also how we would choose to live.

    We intend to not know… which is obvious from a primal therapeutic perspective... where our thoughts defense confirmed our feelings... discovery of how we cruise our way to "free" us from them ... which further the scientific evolutionary process shows.

    How long do we have to wait for the insight... we gain nothing by the victory of the one hundred meter race... a spear throwing or long jump. We lose by each try... it cements us in memories... memories by "success" as a surrogate... surrogate of what was lost when the fight for missing love was life threatening.

    If we think we are for more than other species on our planet then we are also stuck there we are. But maybe we should start at the right end of the "reality"… reality... to not seeing the truth in its face. Primal Therapy shows us the way.

    Frank

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  4. Hi Frank,

    Yes exactly. . . "We intend to not know". . . tied up in the reactions of the last phase of the critical window. How much as toddlers we get into a denial mode. NO!

    "What the eye don't behold, the heart don't feel". . .

    Along with "If you cry, you cry alone. . . if you laugh, the world laughs with you". . .

    War Cries from the Common Sense Compendium of Repression, first published when?

    Paul G.

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    1. Hi Paul,

      I think there is much to say about that comment?
      "What the eye do not behold, the heart do not feel." . .

      Frank

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  5. We are where we are not!
    It's just our system of thought that "create" gods... devils and demons. It is our system of thought that binds us in suffering… but we are not there anymore with all the madness it meant to be there without someone who protected us.

    The feeling itself is the degree of clarity whatsoever... it tells us exactly everything that happened... but we only carry with us the physiological memory from the intensity it caused. The idea took over and interpreted the intensity that made us mad because there was no sense of harmony to lean on.

    Frank

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    1. Frank, memory of a memory, but not the feeling itself.

      Paul G.

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    2. Paul,

      "Memory of a memory"... a memory from a memory… “But not the feeling itself”. It says so much about the evolutionary process. I remember what was on my mind at the time of memory… but not what the cause of the memory was.

      The survival brain (reptil brain)... the feeling and the thinking brain. My thinking brain was already in control of unbearable pain. What a blessing in disguise. What would have become of me... unless evolution has made survival possible?

      Frank

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  6. WE NEED A CLINICAL TRIAL TO WHICH COST THE SCIENTIFIC PROOF REQUIRED.

    To all professionals in theme area of psychology and psychiatry. You just have to open your eyes and you will discover something.

    About the primal therapeutic process from an intellectual perception... must the declaration of the evolutionary process be of utmost important because it's impossible to deny the physiological evidence... they keeps all the evidence necessary to prove its science.

    We have a survival brain... a sentient and an thinking brain as really should work with each other... but after events that caused anxiety and depression etc... they do not. THAT IS "WRITTEN" IN TO THE SMALLEST DETAIL OF THE GENETIC PROCESS AND OUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE FOR YOU TO MEET.

    Frank

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  7. Art, I have Restless Legs Syndrome. It's an intense urge to move my legs when I am trying to fall asleep. If I don't move them, the uncomfortable feeling will come in regular waves - each wave builds up until my legs kick involuntarily. Have any of your patients been cured of RLS? I was hoping it would be something amazing...like maybe my brain is trying to go back to the time when I was kicking inside the womb...but all I have read is that it may be associated with low levels of dopamine. I know that low dopamine is associated with Parkinson's Disease.

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    1. Richard: I will consult and see what I can find out art

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  8. Art: I owe you a great deal. I knew from just reading the introduction to "The Primal Scream" that I had at long last found it. Wasn't totally sure what "It" was at the time, but I had this deep sense of knowing.

    However I digress I just wish to take this opportunity to offer you my best wishes on your 88th birthday. You precede me by eight years. Take care Art and I'll be commenting at some later point, maybe about my own womb life that is now beginning to surface ... but ever so slowly.

    I loved the line of yours:- "Discussing a feeling and experiencing it are two different brain structures."

    Jack

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    1. Thank you for your kind wishes Jack. Haven't heard from you in a long time! art.

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  9. 88? Wow, happy birthday indeed Old Man ;-)

    [The first meeting between the young Caine and Master Po contains the following:]

    "Of all things, to live in darkness must be the worst." -young Caine
    "Fear is the only darkness." -Master Po
    "Never assume that because a man has no eyes, he cannot see." -Po
    "'Close your eyes. What do you hear?' -Po
    'I hear the water. I hear the birds.' -young Caine
    'Do you hear your own heartbeat?'
    'No.'
    'Do you hear the grasshopper which at your feet?'
    Caine opens his eyes and looks down at his feet to see a grasshopper there. 'Old Man, how is it that you hear these things?'
    'Young Man, how is it that you do not?'"

    much love and gratitude for the years, even if it's been hell at times...

    E.

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  10. Hi Art

    Happy Birthday. One of many more I hope.

    I'm sitting in a motel room waiting for my first session at the Primal Centre on Monday. Filled with a certain amount of trepidation, but also hope.

    Looking forward to meeting you sometime over the next month.

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  11. planespotter,

    Can I make a suggestion? Keep a diary on your therapy over the course of the year - or more. Maybe in the future you can publish it as a progressive case study...if you find you want to, or can tolerate doing it. It could even be linked to videos if you wish - you could sell it even.

    This kind of material, for general public viewing, is something that PT sadly seems lack. Hence I would just like to suggest it to you.

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    1. Hi Andrew

      Good suggestion. I have been writing a diary for the last couple of years or so having read about Art suggesting his patients write a journal. I have been contemplating writing a book about the truly dreadful way I was treated by the NHS etc and my journey on. I was never very serious about it but you never know. However it might be worth asking me again in a year or two. Got to get my head round PT for real now.

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  12. An email comment (Aug 24): If Wikipedia is to be trusted, today is your 88th Birthday. Happy Birthday! I wish you many more years to come and also wish that in time you will get proper stem cell treatment for your throat. What you write about and have been writing about for 40+ years is of critical importance if one seeks to understand the human condition and treat it. I tend to have a pessimistic outlook on just about everything, including the future of Primal Therapy, but that should not stop you from trying to get your message across. It may seem like preaching, and repeating yourself over and over again, to a small choir. You should keep doing it, though. Among the repetitiveness there is also always new research that supports Primal Theory, new things to learn. I wish nothing more than to become a patient at the Primal Center, but I doubt I will ever get the necessary dough, i.e. money for it. Nevertheless... I wish you all the best.

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  13. To email comment (Aug 24):

    Here is my suggestion: Open up an account that says "primal therapy" and put what you can in it, over time, and let it build up. You will get there in the end - maybe later than sooner, but you will. (well, unless you're in the 3rd world, maybe?).

    Like Art has basically said, we are not completely dictated to by our Imprints. Of course they make things tough at times but we do have force of will. (Let's not use our neurosis as an excuse for defeatist procrastination!).

    ...And when your money reaches a certain substation point, lock it real assets* that are not over-inflated and therefore relatively secure (ie, stay out of bubbles - match share values to real yields); and try to stay out of USA dollars in particular because the value of those things can *really* collapse anytime soon, because your Federal Reserve is massively inflating the currency with reckless money printing. (There is only one thing money printing can do to the money value in the end - depress it.)

    *I recommend agricultural investments. In a worldwide recession food will be the last thing off people's shopping lists.

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  14. I think everyone might find this article interesting. It seems to be very close to what Art has been saying.

    http://www.craniosacral-therapy-information.org.uk/Articles/Birth%20trauma%20-%20a%20baby's%20view.pdf

    It's obviously some strange therapy but the writer seems to be heading in the same direction in the piece. Again it's about how far people are prepared to go.

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  15. Mr Janov, what do you think of the Tomatis approach to birth trauma? is it something that you have investigated in the past? If yes, could you share your feelings about it? if not, would you be interested in learning more about it?

    Alfred Tomatis did show that we learn how to listen and how to communicate in the womb, and that the voice of the mother, as well as the mother's state of mind, and external environment have such a critical impact on how we develop later in life.

    By using filtered music or the voice of the mother filtered (through air and bone conduction), He has shown that significant rebalancing and leveling out of deep anxiety happens.


    Olivier
    info@neurasonic.com
    NeuraSonic

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    1. Olivier: I will look into it. Know nothing about it. art

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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.
Editor