Friday, August 31, 2012

The Nuts and Bolts of Sobriety

I kid you not when I say that the august journal Scientific American Mind, publishes some strange articles. This one, the “Nuts and Bolts of Emotional Sobriety” by Herbert Wray (March 2012), is about being sober. Persons must attain “emotional sobriety” before they get too far along; and that means—hold on!—you must learn to regulate negative feelings that can lead to discomfort, craving and ultimate relapse. The maxim is “Don’t think and don’t drink.”

What the article goes on to say is that this is a lifelong effort and requires new ways of thinking. There are so many loose intervening variables involved, so many ill-defined notions that I hardly know where to start, except that this appears in an important scientific journal. But if we suss out the hidden text it is “thinking will make you well”. Oh yes, that is not exactly what they are saying but it really is. You need a new way of thinking and where does that come from? And by the way, where does thinking come from, in any case? Thinking is not so deep, not deep enough to change deeply embedded feelings that drive cravings. You can only agree with that notion if you do not understand where addiction comes from, and it is not, not, not from faulty logic, where you just need to change your attitudes, and voila. Ideas and attitudes are late arrivals in the brain and are never strong enough to combat feelings, instincts and sensations, which preceded them by millions of years in evolution. There was this life going on a long time before ideas came along. This is true in antiquity and in our personal development. And we hurt and imprint that hurt long before we have ideas to describe it.

They go on to say “take it one day at a time,” because there is nothing else you can do, and you are always susceptible to falling back into drinking and drugs again. There is this rock-hard belief in all these booga booga approaches that there is nothing you can do about addiction except beat it back every day—hence, one day at a time. But suppose we know what causes it and can eradicate that cause?

Then you don’t need one day at a time. You can get your whole life back. The answer lies within us, not with some self-styled guru who assures you he has the answers. No one has a single answer about your life; only you do. We want to lean on the all-knowing savant but, unfortunately, he does not exist and never will.

This is denial at its zenith; don’t pay attention to those negative ideas! What? Those ideas arise from early life trauma that makes them painful, not pesky. And addressing those feelings, integrating and resolving them, means liberation from addiction. Our bodies cannot ignore them; they are there for a good biologic reason—to warn us of trouble inside that must be dealt with. They have it backwards; it is not thinking about those feelings that produces discomfort; it is that we are not at all comfortable and the only way to get comfortable is to plunge into those feelings. Instead, they recommend distraction as a way of dealing with it all; my mother could teach them about distraction, every time I whimpered she would start raising her voice and saying look over here, look at that dog, etc. Forget your real feelings and look somewhere else. My god! That ploy is a hundred years old. Their idea is that distraction helps you not focus on alcohol and drugs. But the craving is real! It is telling us the truth; there is pain and suffering that we must address and experience. We must definitely focus on it and not look away. That is the way to health. Does anyone think that when we ignore pain it just goes away? No, no. It buries itself deeper and becomes unreachable. This for the scientists is called a “strategy.” I call it neurotic acting-out; not facing reality. Can anyone get well not facing reality? What happened to “you shall know the truth and it shall set you free”? The whole idea, they say, is not to ever let those negative feelings gain force over you. What they believe is that once we can identify our “processing” style we will do better. Pure cognitive therapy.

And so they go on to say that recovery programs teach this method of self-regulation. This is the old wives tales raised to the level of a scientific principle…but faulty as hell. Do I sound angry? Yes. It is a continuation of nonsense masquerading as some kind of psychological science. And whom does it hurt? Those who suffer.


  1. Hi Art,

    This bullshit pisses me off too.

    In your Primal Theory you use the word "resonance" quite a lot. This resonance seems to operate internally within each of us and also across relationships. For everything else relating to human emotion and sensation and thought you have proposed what seems like 'sound' correlations in thorough science and research to back up the theory. Also (not least of all) your clinic offers the living evidence and your patients the actual experience.

    So far so good.

    But what about "resonance"?

    As a man fiercely against 'booga booga' (I'm one of your converts) the word "resonance" has too much of a generic and mystical sound to it.
    I mean we all know that paranoia spreads, depression in me can get others 'down' and hilarity is catching too. . . Everybody knows this. It is possible for some of us to notice "atmospheres" as soon as we walk into a room.

    How does that work?

    -"Oh, resonance"! Yes, but what is resonance? How does that operate?

    Please may I offer an explanation? Well, we are behavioural as well as feeling creatures and most of the senses we do have operate quite sensitively below the threshold of ordinary awareness and as a consequence we pick up 'queues and signals' subliminally, pretty much like tape recorders and security cams. So there are behavioural queues, I notice my ex slitting her eyes and I feel anxious. . . just like that.

    Then there are these 'atmospheres'. Pheromones?

    But most of all (arriving back parabolically at Primal Theory), there are the repressed and unconscious expectations of each of us; like parts of a DNA molecule waiting for the right amino acid proteins to lock into it and thus 'move' the life process forward.

    In most of us there are un met needs psychologically 'waiting' for fulfilment. There may be traumas 'waiting' to surface. . .

    And so each of us is prepared at all times to start "resonating" with someone elses' stuff whether we accept it or deny it.

    It seems to me that what these Cognitive Types have manufactured for themselves is the ultimate belief system. Like Baron Von Munchousen (head disconnected from body) they have found a way to structure a belief in absolute Individualised Determinism.

    These cerebral types can persuade others (who may not be cerebral types) that all they have to do is believe in the power of thought to re-arrange their 'loyalties' so that anything unpleasant can be completely externalised as an 'Outside Pressure' on their already perfectly formed Individual Self.

    So, when the entire population of the planet has bought into this belief system each individual person can have an absolutely separate existence with utterly NO relationship with any one else except on a purely "UTILITARIAN" basis.

    -"I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine". Better still let's invent a back scratching machine and patent it and sell it to everyone so that no one need ever need to rely on any one else to scratch backs eh?

    (F*****g Hell on Earth)!

    Paul G.

    1. Paul: I spent years writing Life Before Birth. In it is a discussion of resonance. why not look it up? art

    2. Hi, yes I've read it again.

      I was inspired to rant the above because the stress I feel sometimes rubs off on others and then a blame game can start. Feeling and expressing stress, our symptoms, is so often an affront to others who may never have really let go or comprehended their own stuff. To them an emoting person is a threat. When perhaps their own stuff starts resonating because of others and they can't comprehend that their bad feelings originate in themselves. . . It took me a while to get the hang of that too. Your Primal Theory has all the answers in this respect. I mean it really pays to observe what & who gets us triggered when & how and ask ourselves why, doesn't it? Thanks for your excellent book, which I can hardly read more than a few pages of without dissolving.

      Happy birthday Mr. Scrutiniser.

      Paul G.

  2. When Aida tells of pleasure by experiencing her life-threatening circumstances surrounding her giving birth… it is not difficult to understand how it has plagued her not to be aware of what was then happening.
    That the period for when the evolution… when the survival brain was the only possibility to "understand"... feel what happened… which has such elemental importance... importace to explain the circumstances of life… for what psychological diagnoses otherwise cannot explain... is not hard to understand based on the above stated order.
    This is the scourge of the human issues surrounding the psychological symptoms who claims to explain a physiological process. How impossible does that not sound?


  3. Addiction can be tricky, especially if one is trying to help a loved one who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. As much as I have tried to help, sometimes they just get worse. I saw my alcoholic Aunt for the first time after maybe 30 years, and she was "supposed to be" clean and sober for over those thirty years. I saw her last summer, and that summer she started drinking heavily again, and had to be put in the hospital. So, now, I don't see her. I told my Dad that maybe it isn't such a good idea that I try to get in touch with her for now. I never bothered her or asked about her alcoholism. I tried to be her friend, and be optimistic with her about life. You try to help someone, and they just get worse, sometimes. Don't know whether it is for show, or they just don't want to get well. The oldest trick "distraction", well, that really works with children. As teenagers, and adults, Art is right, the problem should be addressed. Maybe even as children it should also be addressed. A mother may use distraction to ease the responsiblility on her role of being a mother. She could confront the father, if she was really concerned , and if there is a father, and have the father or someone else try to help her son/daughter. Life can be hard at times, as everyone knows. A mother may love so much, that the only thing she thinks will satisfy everyone all around is through distraction. Sometimes it is like the parents don't know or they just don't want to know. Can only hope that people who are addicted to something try to get help, because there are so many people in the world and in the U.S., that addictions might run rampant. It would be great if the population that has become so abundant now, would focus on staying or getting better and maybe the world would have less crime, less hate, and better mental health. To do this, at times, one needs the help of professionals.

  4. Distraction is like "running interference." Not good if one wants to live a good life. It, to me, just makes a person weaker and not better. They say nowadays, "change is great!",
    Sure some people won't allow a person to stay the same. They feel the person will feel too much strength if they are allowed to stay the same (they know what is best for them; if staying the same is good for them...then why not?) Some changes are needed and good; but people use change a great deal as a distraction for another person, and this I feel is not good. To me, change happens a lot. Too bad, people depend on distraction/change to silence someone.

    1. Hi coastbeach7,

      That's a very important distinction you're making there I feel.

      Various ideas about 'being stuck in the past' have crept into popular sensibility and so has a smattering of evolution theory, ie: we must always adapts to change or perish. . . then: Hey Presto! Change is good, we have so moved on and "what's your problem eh, still stuck in the past"?

      How our defences hijack the truth to spin lies.

      Paul G.

    2. Paul: I love that last line. art

    3. It's for you Art, happy birthday from a grateful carpenter.

      Paul G.

  5. Art and all,

    There are lots of people who go shopping for a religion and buy the one that feels best for them - the "right fit". It's not about learning, understanding, and testing what you believe to be accurate or ever more so, it's about just believing what you want to believe. And behind it all they know this. There are many people who really don't care if what they believe is real or not - they're just playing along to get along, living in a kind of happy-thoughts dreamland. Probably many people in the psychology world are like this too. Maybe they secretly know, Art, that you could be right...but they will just shrug their shoulders, smile politely, and carry on playing their chosen (and well funded) game that feels nice and easy for them.

    Being realistic is a discipline and dedication - sometimes a punishing one. You have to be prepared to test your assumptions as opposed to making a religion out of them, and tolerate the uncertainties that come with that. Having a degree is Psychology doesn't elevate you to this commendable 'type'. Too many people, I believe, bring their "religious function" to the world of science. Really, they should just go away and join a new-age movement.

  6. Everyone has been wishing Art a happy birthday and hoping he will live another decade and so on. I don't mean to be insensitive, but let's not kid ourselves. At Art's age, people drop dead unexpectedly. It happens all the time. An unexpected bowel rupture or stroke or whatever. It happens. I want Art to live another hundred years, and I know his doctor has said that all his internal systems are ok, but we must have a sense of urgency and be prepared for the worst. He is 88 years old. When he dies, everyone will be heartbroken and devastated, especially France, and all the primal therapists will need time to cope with the loss. The Primal Center will not function normally for some time. It could happen tomorrow.
    Art, I want to meet you in person just to say a brief hello. I have huge respect for you. I have a sense of urgency and I hope everyone else does too.

    1. Art's age has factored into my waiting no longer to do Primal; potentially giving up a lot in the process (but gaining everything..) Jacquie

  7. Arthur Janov still have so much to give that I don't think he is ready to give up right now. Richard I believe the sense of urgency lies in your need to start the therapy, your deepest feelings waiting to come out.

    Sincerely yours.


    1. Yann: There is a point here: I am not going on forever. art

  8. I want to meet you, too, Art, but the atlantic ocean is in the way!! You have influenced my life and taught me more than anyone what matters, what is true, what is sane. I would lose my interest in life if you got ill again. You are such a great individual.I love you although I have never met you and you have my greatest respect.

    1. Anonymous: How sweet. These are the kinds of letters that make me want to go on writing. art

  9. I remember seeing Art interviewed during a Book Fair somewhere and he seemed to be a very laid back and relaxed person and young for his age. With hindsight it was that interview which caused me to wish to try Primal Therapy. I wanted to be as laid back and relaxed, which is not something I have ever found very easy. I'm better than I was, but know I can do better.

    I think he has a while to go yet!

    1. Hi planespotter and all,

      Yeah I reckon he has a while to go yet and I'm as desperate as any one to get to the clinic. As for actually meeting the wild haired cool demeanoured old scrutiniser. . . I suspect I would just burst into tears because it will be like the end of the line for me. Some people are like that when they get to the clinic so I hear. I've always been like it really.

      I used to worry about being locked in and not being able to perform like a good patient. . . but my defences are all worn out, like my old T shirts, hanging off me.

      Paul G.

    2. Hi Paul

      It's an interesting experience I can tell you! I've given myself half an hour off my isolation to look on here.

      I did'nt know what to expect when I got here. Everyone is extremely friendly at the centre. I have always been able to cry (mainly on my own) and yet here it's a bit more difficult. A whole different ball game. I think the English thing plays it's part. Deeper I suppose and also you are up against it so to speak. Nowhere to run and hide so defences do come back on line.

      Also there are some really good surf shops about if you want to replace some of your old T shirts. It's a really nice part of town except I do miss being able to buy a normal sized sandwich!

  10. Wow, planespotter, you lucky man! Jacquie will also be there next month so you two can meet. The 3 week isolation, I must admit, is the ONE thing which makes me rather nervous but I am sure you will do all right and come back to England a changed man... for the better. About the crying thing with regard for being English. I can't understand it because I'm a woman and I think it could be a lot to do with boys so called 'training'at school but also elsewhere. I know no man who is comfortable crying in public or even in front of their wives or girl friends. Some women are like that too but not so many of them. There is this age old cultural maxim and not just in this country that men should not hold back their tears. After saying this I notice from old films made here during the war years that even after some terrible tragedy a woman 'put on a brave face' and kept the upper lip stiff. It's mad, isn't it. All the best!

    1. Hi Anonymous & planespotter,

      -"The 3 week isolation, I must admit, is the ONE thing which makes me rather nervous"-.

      Though I will probably clam up and find myself completely locked behind my defences when meeting other strangers during the three week isolation I cannot imagine what I am uncontrollably experiencing (now for nearly three years) is going to submerge for long. I relish the thought and the feeling of that isolation. I am already as lonely and isolated as a soul can get without actually tipping into a terminal dive. I realise of course that a week into the process in Santa Monica I might feel and think differently. Nevertheless, I have so much grief from being 'sent away' to boarding school and earlier abandonment issues before, I can imagine Santa Monica as some sort of ultimate nightmare in which my assumptions about 'coming home' and 'being away' simultaneously collide with who I really am. Great, bring it on. I'm not bragging, I'm utterly fed up with my dismal lot.

      I have made my life so complicated and so stressful from my ongoing neurosis that I really cant imagine any other goal now. 3 weeks for me. Just me. Where else on Earth can you go to get that (without the booga booga)?

      After that, well it's anyones' guess.

      Paul G.

    2. Hi Paul and Anonymous

      I am lucky and appreciate that. With regard to crying I found it rather difficult to cry on request ie "Oh you seem upset so stick with it". That shut me down somewhat. Being given space to cry and get upset in my own time seemed to work. I have got in touch with great hurt and that is something.

  11. when a little boy wants to attract a little girl, he will try to act like superman. little girls want to see superman. they don't want to see superman crying like an impotent little boy. little boys have to be strong at all times. little girls don't have to be strong. they have tits and ass - more than enough to attract a little boy.

    1. Hi Richard,

      My therapist told me women don't like seeing men cry- "it's not sexy"-.

      I was shocked and instantly reminded of the film "Les Valseuses" with Gerard Depardieu. There's a scene it where exactly the opposite is the case. But it is a French film; they are so good at high farce and turning situations around it's difficult to know whether that scene is a joke or a challenge to assumptions or a reflection of the truth for some women.

      After what Art has said about the sexual hijack and from my own experiences in sex I would say that good sex can naturally move any one to tears. . . of joy, of grief, of amazement. . . The idea that men should perform with stoic unemotional erections is as much to do with mens' fear of intimacy as it is womens'.

      Paul G.

    2. Hi Richard

      Little Boys want to attract Mummy and Little Girls want to attract Daddy. Thus little girls want Daddy to aswage thier tears and encourage them like Daddy never did.

  12. Hallo Richard!
    Yes, it's true what you say. I thought a boy friend was a weak twit when he burst into tears after I suggested we go different ways but at the same time I am sure a lot of women, at least I didn't, want a chap who is cold, unfeeling or cruel.

    1. remember the vocal group called Boyz II Men? (boys to men) the name comes from the male preoccupation with becoming a real man. we are preoccupied because deep inside we know we are not men. we are needy boys. we ARE weak. we are filled with unconscious pain. pain makes us weak....and we know it...unconsciously. that's why we say "If the pain doesn't kill will only make you stronger." we are always trying to believe the opposite to the truth. we are trying to prove our manliness.
      when a real man cries, his tears are usually for someone else...they are sympathetic tears. he doesn't beg for love, because deep inside he knows he is already loved...and his childhood pain has been resolved. he doesn't crumble every time he is rejected. he is no longer stunted with childhood pain. he has carried on where he left off...he has grown into a man, emotionally. that is the kind of strength that all people are attracted to, but of course, for females the attraction is sexual too.
      Art has become quite manly, but i bet he still has some unresolved boyish pain trapped inside. are there any pure 100% fully developed manly men walking around on this planet? i doubt it. The Hoff? no....he peed his pants. Buck Rogers? Steve Austin? no.
      sorry girls, you are all out of luck.

  13. Oh what a darling baby boy
    From sweetest smile to shrillest cry
    And in your frantic toddler stage
    You soon perfect the art of rage
    You scream and kick and stomp about
    Refining your delicious pout
    And all throughout your boyhood years
    You still produce those cleansing tears
    Your teenage phase it came and went
    You never lost the skill to vent
    And now a man, eyes soft and whole
    You see into my deepest soul

    Amen! To men who cry

    1. Right on, as they used to say in the 1970's, to that last verse! The law that states a man should never cry in public is like the one that says women should NOT be angry or express their anger no matter what caused it- in public. It is the madness of living in an artificial society with meaningless behaviour rules.

    2. I remember seeing a South American Tribal chief crying openly at a press conference because much of his tribes forest home was being cut down by illegal logging. Was he man or a wimp for showing great passion and feeling about the loss of his home. Real strength is being able to express hurt and pain in a relationship. I think it is actual weakness to be "tough". My wife and I have both learned how to cry in each other's company over the last 2 or 3 years and that has helped our relationship no end. We both know we will get support and warmth from the other when we need it.

  14. Hallo, planespotter

    You are very lucky to have had this open relationship with your wife. I agree with you whole heartedly that weakness is to be tough. On the other hand it is very difficult after a childhood of constant extreme abuse to be able to trust to be that open with especiially someone you have to live with. All the best to you!

    1. Anonymous: I am doing an article on this soon. art

  15. Art
    Where can I read your article, please? But, it's so true what I said above that particularly for family scapegoats it is especially difficult to trust to be open with someone of either sex. Actually, the more close the worse, the more intense the pain gets (the feeling of the need) that one feels you will die. Then rises the fear of rejection which subsequently often or usually happens. It's as if I would die from rejection or from the pain of needing the other (beloved) person. Sometimes the easiest but also the unhappiest thing is to always get away when the intense longing arises. I'm a woman by the way and still have this problem despite being in my early 60's. It's very sad but unsuprising considering my family. I also live in the u.k.And you're right Art you most obviously do NOT have a weight problem. I don't think Richard meant any offence by the way.All the best to you and thanks Art. I have such a problem with skyping on a computer that I just cant get by the interview stage. Hence my not being at your Centre yet despite my earnest wishes and my long ago application!


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.