Saturday, December 1, 2012

On Loving Yourself


 The  New Agers, or what I call the booga booga followers make a big deal of self love. So what is wrong with it?  I have said before that it is an oxymoron.   Oxytocin is what I call the hormone of love.  If you rub an animal’s belly, levels rise.  If you lick her, oxytocin also rises, but if you rub yourself it won’t. You cannot love yourself.   There is more.

What does it mean to “love yourself”?  What it doesn’t mean is to be able to feel love in the present, no matter what.  Because once you are unloved throughout your childhood it is imprinted—you are unloved and feel unloved even when you don’t know it.  It drives all later behavior; either to try to get it (depending on the birth, whether parasympathetic/giving up, or sympathetic/keep struggling).   You give up when the birth is basically struggle and fail; and you keep on trying when the birth was struggle and success.  (I have written about this in my books and blog.  It pretty determines personality, but for now, it is another matter).

     While I am discussing oxytocin I should mention  a recent study where they sprayed the chemical into the noses of human subjects. They had a control  group.  They were all alcohol addicted. Those who were sprayed had fewer cravings for alcohol, afterwards.  They had milder withdrawal symptoms.  The control group   got placebos.    The “sprayed” were less addicted later.  So what does this mean?
Since oxytocin is the hormone  of love, inter alia,  it means  that love stops the craving.  Of course.  And when you are loved at the start of life  there will not be any craving  or addiction later on--permenantly.  All else being equal.   (I have written in the blog about the nature of love and how you can love a fetus; you  fulfill its needs  when you understand them).

    OK now you feel deeply unloved because you were.  How do you go from there to loving yourself?   I mean, it is good to take care of yourself, stop  acting out  that you deserve nothing, stop  being  self destructive; all that helps.  But hug and  kiss yourself?  A little pat on the head when  you were five?  But with the imprint the unconscious will still drive  all that bad behavior no matter what.   Of course there  are stop-gaps and we should all do what we do to feel better, but none of that, NONE OF THAT,  will help us feel loved.  Why?  Because we were indeed  unloved and it is registered  and re-registered throughout our childhood.   We feel unloved and nothing will cover that over because it is now engraved into the system.  We are unloved in the brain, the blood and the muscles; we are unloved in the cells.  All of those register trauma  (lack of love is trauma) in their own way.  It helps a lot to know that you are attracted to those cold fish who cannot love so that you can struggle to get love out of them but need wins out.   Yes,  conscious/awareness helps, but it fights a losing battle.

   Cognitive therapy, focused in the present, which is what the left brain  does, can help us  understand the kind of situations  or  people to avoid  but they cannot begin  to touch the drive that makes it happen.   They, and therefore the patient, never understands the unconscious.  And never gets well.   That includes the therapist  who helps the  patient skim along the top, never  asking “why?” A little word with a big meaning  that is avoided  in that  therapy.   They claim that they don’t need to know why.  Yes they  do.

     It is the difference between help and cure.  If you want help you don’t  need to know why.  But the unconscious will never  cease to  drive you even when you are not aware  of being driven.  It is the function  of the  unconscious  that you  remain unconscious.   So you shouldn’t know, otherwise, you would be in  pain all day long and your face would  show it.  We would all walk  down the  street grimacing and frowning and hunched.  What a world.  That is truly the world of our unconscious; thank God (If I may call on it for a moment) for the disconnect.   Repression saves  and  repression kills; it creates and destroys.   It is optimistic because it doesn’t  understand  the true situation; and that optimism kills us because it denies the pain and keeps  it alive and active, gnawing  away within the system.  It is unrelenting which makes our behavior unrelenting and unforgiving.   We become obsessive because of it.   We are forced into wrong choices  by the unconscious and it is unwavering  in its neurosis.   Why?  It seeks out the early situation again for us to try to  master it; so we seek out the critical ones when we had critical mothers, and  we  seek  out cold men  when we had  a cold father.  We need to start again  to try to make them approving and loving.   We need the struggle.  Why can’t we go straight for  love?  Because the imprint is supreme.  And it  stays unconscious.  We go for the unlove first.  It is all we know.  If we feel unloved and that we don’t deserve love, we DO NOT  GO FOR IT.   And believe me. When we were  not  loved we  nearly always feel that it is our fault  and  that we do not deserve  it.


50 comments:

  1. Art!

    This means that we can emulate the limbic system to be as full that more will not fit... fit against all the suffering that must first be integrated into the neo cortex and that in a slow pace to not be overcharged and impossible an conscious awareness process... an electrochemical process compatibilizing otherwise incompatible substances... depending on its amount... an amount of substances not possible to handle for our brain... to "understand" what was then happening... happened then at the time when we developed the consciousness as where so painful… painful that we shut down its memory…memory so painful still in the limbic system.

    What a “cool” process... that we have the opportunity to become consciously aware of something that completely ruined our lives!

    Frank

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  2. If you really love a woman she will turn you down because "she doesn't feel worthy" or "good enough" for you...and then if you are only physically attracted and like having sex with her she will try to make you love her and she will break up as soon as you are "caught".
    Sad stories anyway...

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  3. There is something lacking in human nature and my feeling is that you Art have encapsulated exactly what it is.

    Where, as a species, do we go from there?

    Jack

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    1. Jack: I welcome all my pals out there to write about where we go from here. art

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  4. Hi Art,

    People in the 'New Age' movement often say: "If you can't love yourself then you can't love (or be loved) by anyone else. It sorta sounds logical doesn't it? But actually it doesn't mean anything at all though, does it? It's just generic bullshit really, the words are a defence against feeling because they are 'prescriptive', it's what you say if you're a 'pleased with your self' New Age therapist, it's a put down even, looking down on all those 'non-cognensi' who havn't yet qualified as New Age therapists, who havn't yet seen the light.

    The New Age is a phenomenon of an older Victorian idea called "Progress"; this basically is the idea that we can 'invent' our way out of trouble. and then become, as planespotter said: "So Moved On". . . Not!

    I've been having these insights into the utter futility of our power to 'reason' our way out of an emotional problem. . . I mean in my neo-cortex I keep belief systems that help bolster up my gates, they're still there even though I don't believe in my belief systems any more! Like the Lord's Prayer or my TM mantra, it just pops out under extreme stress to remind me how dependent I really am on beliefs to bolster my gates. But for this contrary situation to exist the beliefs must take a strange shape, particularly in relationship to beliefs that have gone before, superseding beliefs just like next year's upgraded cell phones, the new fashion . . .

    What seems to be most common amongst all the beliefs is the total assumption that as individuals we have the capacity to 'heal' emotional wounds with circuitous 'activities'. . . with 'remedies'. . . with 'new' and 'progressive' attitudes. . . All are ultimately located in our neo-cortex and therefore utterly futile.

    If you say this stuff to New Age therapists they usually point out that most people are so fucked up they 'need' to believe that they are able to care for and 'protect' the scars left over from the wounding. . . It has become an identification with the scars, with the symptoms. Thus it's all a 'sticking plaster' solution.

    As you say: "When you're unconscious, you can't be aware (let alone conscious) of your unconsciousness. The New Agers have fallen into the same old same old trap of believing you can invent a new remedy, a new 'add on'; I suppose in a 'commercial' sort of way you can. . . people buy it and believe. . .

    Paul G

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    1. Paul: It is believing you can invent a new self....a self with no history. Wait a minute!! Isn't it that what cognitivists and Behavior therapists do? art

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  5. The fact that if we never got it from our parents then we in turn feel we don't deserve it, shows how deeply linked early love is to self-esteem.

    It appears a young childs 'self' is inescapably defined by their parents. And once that definition is imprinted, all the enlightenment in the future will never change the central way we feel (as we know!).

    But these are the truths you will never hear from people like Dr Phil. Coz he's, like, "got all the answers".

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    1. Andrew: Being loved means self esteem. As you get imprinted with the esteem from the two people who count in your life. You feel loved, important, wanted, cherished and that gets engraved for a lifetime. How can you beat that? Because of the critical period that cannot happen at age twelve if you are not loved very early on. There is a critical window for esteem, don't forget. art

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    2. Absolutely. Can I say that what a freedom and gift to give to a child, to allow them to have their self-esteem *by default*. Leaving them free to live without the constant struggle to feel ok about themselves and measure up, etc. Free to do what they really want to do.

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    3. Dr. Janov,

      It sounds like your saying there is no hope for
      improvement, but that is untrue. I am living
      proof. If one fights for it, you can experience
      self love and self esteem.

      I believe we have a relationship with ourselves
      that is imprinted and carried with us until we
      realize that the relationship is righted.

      You can reparent the wounded part of yourself. It
      is possible. I've done it and I feel loved by
      myself... though I may never feel normally loved,
      there is a level of healing that is profound and
      quite rewarding.

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    4. dotJenna: yes awareness is great but there is so much more. normal people never never respect themselves. they just live. art

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  6. Hi,

    -"So you shouldn’t know, otherwise, you would be in pain all day long and your face would show it. We would all walk down the street grimacing and frowning and hunched"-.

    Actually, the sad fact is that due to the face, eyes, nose and mouth being so close to the brainstem that many of us do in deed 'show' the pain in our faces. Also posture. . . The good thing about many of the 'bodywork' alternative therapies is that they develop the ability to 'read' symptoms like this. Unfortunately though, as you keep telling us (and I agree), no amount of palliative or 'remedy' can change the imprint that is driving those chronic 'expressions' and most of the alternatives ascribe the wrong causes, as they would if the therapy is not founded on the knowledge and understanding of the imprints.

    Most of the entire bulk of 'alternative therapy' (often referred to as 'complementary') more or less acknowledges the palliative limits but in so doing fudges the boundary between 'relief and cure'. Or as has been discussed on this blog before, the difference between 'care and love'.
    It seems to me that the further back we go in development the more important care is. When we're in the womb Mum may really love us but if she is still drinking or smoking then that simply negates the love doesn't it? Because the little babies we were then have specific biochemical and sensational needs which if distorted produce pain and even then that can't be 'loved away'.
    Neither can a difficult birth or chronic anxiety in the carrying mother be washed away by love. Obviously loving attention helps, possibly making the difference between further serious compounding of neurosis and repression but the imprinted 'carelessness' will endure.

    Ok, it sounds like a semantic argument but there is a world of difference between care and love. In England (and other cultures) there has been a utilitarian approach to pregnancy and childrearing; the assumption being that good care IS love. But as Art points out even with a good pregnancy and birth, with 'care' it is still quite possible to feel unloved and develop serious problems later because of it. Perhaps if the father is absent. . . perhaps if siblings are jealous (during the pregnancy) and the parents fail to resolve that. A thousand issues can make us feel unloved inspite of 'good care'.
    So I feel it is safe to say that Love is much more important. Out of love comes the desire to care. If you love what you do, you'll get good at it. If you love someone you will become careful with them if at first you weren't. Love produces the desire to be careful and to study what's right for ourselves and others.

    You can buy care but you can't buy love.

    Paul G.

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  7. To love one self!

    To love oneself when only neo cortex is present... neo cortex that unconsciously defends itself against suffering for what caused the lack of love in the limbic system... and further as long as the suffering is of the magnitude unmanageable for neo cortex… which must be integrated with the greatest caution… and when we discover that attempts to love oneself is nothing but a symptom because of lack of what caused the attempts... a well-kept secret in the limbic system to the day we recognize that "normal" neurotic behavior in attempt to love oneself is nothing but desperate attempts... from then… long time ago… when we tried to be loved… when at the time we were aware in the limbic system... aware of what love would have meant... or we... unconsciously suffer so much that we are praying for help and have the incredible lucky fortune to get to the primal center for help ... something very few vouchsafed.

    Frank

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  8. Great insight. Sometimes it is also the mother or father or both that suffered being unloved by their own parents and might feel that it is the only way they know to raise their children. Some parents "let on" that they aren't as "cold" as they appear. Now, people aren't as nice to one another as they once were in the 50's or 60's and not only does one feel the cold from one's family, they, many times, feel it from their fellow man, for know reason whatsoever. Hard to have self-love, when one is many times confronted with "harsh, cold" people. How can one do well in the world, constantly feeling unloved? Also, the population is so great, many times it is all about "quantity" and unfortunately, not "quallity". Thanks Art; it is interesting and helpful.

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    1. Hi Coastbeach7. Why do people not treat each other as nicely as they did in the 50's and 60's? I sometimes wonder why the 1950's are seen as some kind of Nirvana compared to now. Far more people were hung for murder then, wives were beaten just as much if not more as a quick slap was seen as nothing. Children were beaten with the Birch for all kinds of crimes etc? Many many people smoked and drank thier way through life, self medicating their lack of early love with these first line blocking drugs? Breast feeding was seen as unneccessary and picking a child up at night if it cried was seen as spoiling it?

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    2. Hi Art. Off topic other than I am wishing to look after myself (rather than love myself) I wanted to ask you about dreams and get some kind of definition from you as I am getting rather confusing feedback during my therapy. Discovering from your books that the feeling in a dream is vital to understanding early life was a real turning point for me. I also gather that symbols are very important. In other words if there is a recurring theme in a dream it can be a sign post to something early on. Symbols in my dreams over the past years have helped me recognise the abuse I suffered and have this confirmed by conversations with relatives. The trouble is that one therapist said recently "Well symbols are important to you" which ofcourse simply meant he did'nt think they were so was indulging me which was not helpful. I have been very good at remembering my dreams and not interpreting them but letting them sit in my mind and during the day seeing what feeling pops up. Now the good little Boy who always listens to others so he can be loved has listened to his therapist and is no longer remembering his dreams. I am not writing my journal probably cos stuff is so near the surface. It's damn frustrating. It's holding me back. I would have thought that when a therapist says "What do you need to start feeling" that if the client says "To be believed" and then find that that is not included in any offer of help it does not exactly help the client remember because to be believed is the most important and basic principle. After all an advanced client is going to be open enough to his own feelings and body clues to sift out what might be red herrings. To be believed allows someone to feel a sense of trust towards the therapist which then means that the clients mind and body can offer up long repressed and hidden trauma. To not trust the therapist is to not heal?

      Is that not the case?

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    3. I have thought much about the 50's and 60s. I was born in 59 and was fairly conscious by 4. I remember quite a few scenes even when 2. But the world of say age 5, 1964, was a far different world than what was, just 15 years later.

      Talked to an old guy a week ago. He spoke of how you could leave our door open in the 40s, in Portland Maine, pop. 65,000 for over 100 years. Talk to anyone who lived in Portland in the 50s and 60s and you will hear of far more trust, safety, security. People knew each other and often their families went back for sometime. They grew together. Neighborhoods did not have people moving in and out all the time. There was some stability and change was much slower and less drastic.

      Many were the ways things were different, despite the crimes you mention. We are much worse now as a society and world. I could go on all day on this subject.

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    4. Planespotter: It is obvious that you already know the answers to what you want to know. What therapy is that ? you can only trust a therapist if they are indeed primal. Steve Jobs made the mistake of going to a phony, thinking he was going to one of my therapists. He may have paid for it with his life. when you go to mock therapists your life is at stake. Don't mess with it unless you are suicidal. art

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    5. Apollo: I remember those days and he was right. It is different world today, very very different. art

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  9. Dr. Janov and all,

    “Love yourself” is a new therapy-religion, gladly used by therapist who say: ”if you don’t love yourself, nobody will”.
    Do you love yourself was the question from a therapist in January, when I had a brake-down because of the constant stress with my husband, about his failing health/life.

    I answered him: how can I love my self when not even my mother loved me, neglected me, after I was born.
    He did not understand the connection, so I send him “Life before birth”. Even after he read the book, the therapist still did not understand the connection, what the early imprint of non-love means (maybe he was has the unloved imprint himself) and continued with his “self-love theory”. I know other clients who go to him.

    I wonder if the “self-love theory”, my therapist promoted, is a compensation for their own neglect in early childhood.
    “Stroking a dogs belly oxytocin is raising”. My theory goes in the direction: because the therapist believes (or even feels) if he/she is helping others (making them-self feel good), oxytocin is rising in themselves.
    What I don’t understand is, that especially the one who were neglected/not loved in childhood, are the one who are the eager (sometime obsessive) one, who NEED to help others. They pray for you, they go shopping for you and do everything to get attention (love). They like to give what they grave.
    Maybe there is after all, for the one with the helper-syndrome, a hint of oxytocin benefit, like stroking a dogs belly. I would like to do an oxytocin blood test on the cognitive therapist before and after a session.
    If we could just bring into psychology lectures: “if an infant is not loved he/she cannot give love, or love themselves - or love others”, we would eliminate the “love yourself therapy-religion”.
    Sieglinde

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  10. Art brings up good points. New Agers and other types of what I loosely term, fanatics, or dedicated people; those who have done well or succeeded in something, and try to tell everyone else that it, what ever it is, can be done by anyone. A guy was discussing working out with me at the fitness center back in 04 or 05, as he noticed I was super intense in my workout of the torso on a machine, and talking about how many do not seem really in to their workout and do not give it what it really needs.

    Some are born go-getters and some are very unmotivated and reserved. When I say born, of course, I refer to Art’s establishing why we all come out different in our drive and personality. Those who “love” themselves or have the inner sense of confidence and drive to push on, A “love” of sorts, a belief in themselves, where handed that drive from the circumstance of their gestation, birth, and nurturing. They do not understand where it came from. They imagine that they did it themselves. We might call it a subtle form of self-deceit. Only a very rare few recognize how they came to have what they do, good or bad. “There before the grace of God go I,” some say. We are just plain lucky. It is not our own doing. It is just the roll of the dice that starts us off.

    The difficult challenge before Art and anyone who subscribes to his theories, most of which I do, and many here, is to wonder how to “enlighten” the masses to this little secret and who to fix it for real, which Art fully promotes continually. Again, I say, we who recognized it were probably pre-disposed to recognizing it, or maybe my theory of an objective intellect, motivated by a 1st line that has grown “smart” enough in its sense of smart to realize it needs the objective functioning of the intellect to arrive at a “truth” that will truly be useful and beneficial to the long term interest of the whole self as well as the 1st level instinct/drive.

    An old Kung Fu TV episode had an old teacher showing Grasshopper the water flowers flowing over the man made falls and going down stream, some sticking to the sides and others going further down, each to a certain distance and destination. Grasshopper learned that people are much the same in that one does not know who or how many make it all the way to the end of the stream or river. It is basically a game of chance, and who gets to the end, is hard to say. Grasshopper got lucky and ended up at the temple to be taught and cared for (in theory, anyway, right?). So it is with all of us.

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  11. Feeling Love.

    It is fascinating how I am able to screen my long life, when reading and analyzing literature and exposing me to meaningful reflections.

    The past week I have been reading an excellent book on “The Power of Habits” + a Reflection of Art Janov: “On Loving Yourself + an article in The New York Times about oxytocins “The Lovehormone as Sports Enhancement”. It is of course no coincidence that I “accidentally” read this combination of material. There are several inputs to each of the three compositions. I am and have been interested in sports (especially European soccer) and its driving forces, The Primal Principles (about Love as one of our basic needs), and finally of the habit forming processes, which (through the Basal Ganglia in the brain) makes changes possible either occurring in my own, mya daughters or my friend’s world.

    Behind my stimulus is an inescapable factor and that is Love: to be unconditionally accepted, recognized, respected and part of a community and the opportunity to develop according to once’s own unique needs. I have spent considerable time of my life creating a neurotic compensation, keeping pain numbed and survive without daring / being able to feel the trauma that an unmet love had caused. Fortunately, my initial lack of love was not total and, despite an emotionally stunted mother and a nasty deforming birth process, I got some compensation. Eg I was privileged to be breast fed for more than 2 years, and I got my mothers specific attention for nearly 60 years.

    For several years, I have helped by, primarily, Primal Therapy, slowly been able to demystify my epilepsy and learned to understand, feel and relive the pain behind my neuroses and my struggle, which had its roots in the lack of love. Since then I have aimed much of my life at changing habits, which meant replacing the habits developed to produce anesthetics (neurotic, endocrine and pharmaceutical) to the pain that the lack of love creates.

    When I had lived enough pain, and the internal pressure (including the vital signs) normalized so grew the courage being myself and mainly satiesfy my real needs. Two noteworthy examples of this are my daughter and my friend Eva from adolescence. My daughter’s life was founded during my most intense primal-therapy period many years ago when she with my support could choose to define her existence after essentially her own needs and circumstances, and not after my and other’s neurotic needs, which would have meant to fulfill what I / we had failed.

    After the pressure in the “pain-chamber” eased during 30 years, I contacted last year a woman Eva. We had during our later teens created lasting impressions. These memories had for 53 years been repressed like “underground oxytocin sources” in my / her subconscious. The year which has passed since we resumed the relationship has been a confirmation of both the positive and the negative forces operating in our subconscious. The good thing is that time has not erased the original positive feelings. However, it was also a testament of the flipside of the coin / the biology of what happened during all the years when repressed pain replace love.

    When I contacted my friend Eva, I had no intention engaging in Primal Therapy. Now it happens, however, as a natural process in order to be free without limiting inhibitions.

    Love is feeling.

    Jan Johnsson

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  12. Art, do you think one's intelligence and skills are proportional to the amount of pain one has been through?

    You said John Lennon had more pain than you had ever seen. But from my perspective, he seemed to be more functional than the average joe. He was intelligent (by neurotic standards) and musically talented. He was "well-adjusted" (by neurotic standards) and he wasn't pre-psychotic.

    Perhaps he was able to show a lot of pain because he had LESS pain than the average joe; he didn't need to have bullet-proof defenses? He could 'leak' without becoming totally disfunctional?

    Or perhaps he was genetically superior -- biologically equipped to adapt to damage. Art, your early life was horrific, but you were highly functional even before you started healing. Perhaps you are genetically superior?

    Or perhaps a person's skills and intelligence are determined mainly by the amount of brain damage one receives during the first few months of life in the womb?

    There are different types of stupidity. Some people seem to have a twisted, unnatural intelligence -- they seem to be innately intelligent but they keep falling off the tracks in the most spectacularly stupid ways.
    Others have what seems to be a smooth-functioning intelligence, as if it were undamaged and functioning perfectly according to nature's plan -- a beautiful design but very simple, like a dog.

    I suspect my type of stupidity is the former; I am innately intelligent but twisted. And I suspect the innate component comes from superior genes, and the twisted component comes from damage. I am not particularly good-looking but, more importantly, I do not have a mutated appearance. People who have a very normal or good-looking appearance tend to be "higher achievers".....all other things being equal.

    At the other end of the spectrum are people who suffer chromosomal abnormalities. Their mutated appearance is a dead giveaway -- most people can instantly recognise a person who is genetically unintelligent. Of course there are exceptions, such as the big-headed dwarfs who have normal intelligence.

    But we cannot instantly recognise the stupidity in normal-looking people who are exceptionally stupid. It is not until they begin talking that we can see we are dealing with a simple person. Perhaps these people have good genetic code, but suffered extensive brain damage in the earliest stages of fetal development?

    This is not a pile of intellectual rubbish, Art. I am just pondering and asking insensitive questions. We still have so much to learn about the brain and it's development.

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  13. coastbeach7
    I am completely in agreement with what you say! I saw an old lady fall and I caught her almost, anyway, asked if I could call an ambulance. Last week an old dear left her handbag on the seat running to get a bus. I took it to the police station. It's in my nature to help and be nice BUT I can't help but remember when I smashed onto my knees on a kerb dropping all my shopping, people stepped over me and looked away and when a man hit me in the face out of the blue in a library I caught him by the waistband of his trousers at the back and yelled for help. People all around stared but nobody helped me and after hitting me again, the lout escaped.So yea, I am aware that people aren't anywhere near as kind as they were when I was younger I still am but I don't get it back... what I give. (Is it only in England where this happens, I wonder?
    Art, I love myself but I am certainly not involved in new age or in 'booga wooga', as you call it and I wouldn't allow myself to be insulted or rebuffed so flippantly. I have deeply primalled in the early 1970's, got floods of new insights, bodily, everything how I was COMPLETELY unloved. I was really experiencing it, nothing to do with cognitive shit!!! I love myself, not because I am crazy but because if I hadn't I would be dead by now. There was a man on an earlier blog who said he was hated by his family and managed to change his life after hating himself by loving himself and his children. He made a new life, primal or no primal, and I congratulated him. Perhaps you haven't understood, Art, exactly what I meant when I used the term 'self love.' ?? As you have never met me it may be easy to reach conlcusions although I fully agree with all the religious self love positive thinking rubbish that prevails unfortunately.

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    1. Anonymous: Please inform me exactly how you love yourself. Maybe I am missing something. art

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    2. Thank you, Art! I suppose I mean that after so much hate from every person in my family really every day and then after my mother died mainly from my violent father (who I adored despite his fury!) and still from my 3 sisters including my fraternal twin. I did a lot of work, had no choice after lsd 30 years ago, on the feelings which were flooding me and I went into my hut and cried for my mother who died in 1958. I felt her immense hate and disgust, her TOTAL rejection. I was crying for for a long while for her to care in terrible pain and I felt it would never happen and crying constantly I wrote everything down in a notebook 'I'm going to have to give you up, Mum, because there's nothing to get. It's all been for nothing, trying to get you to love me, to care.' It was unforgettable. I went into more of these feelings and it dawned on me gradually that maybe I am not such a bad person after all and I felt I wanted to really start caring for myself. I didnt want any more cruel boyfriends who wanted to hurt me. I didn't want any more cold intimidating women friends. I wanted everything different. I suppose it's self respect, Art. Something I NEVER got and still don't from my family. Thank you for asking! All the best.

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  14. Hi Art ,why is it ,that love in the first let`say ,in my case 3 years
    did not suffice to prevent me from my decades of feeling unworthy ,un
    You name it...

    After that time my parent`s relationship and the behaviour of my brothers ,uncles etc... stifled all my corage power... and the like.
    When 3 years are not enough how many would have done "the job"??


    And as a species ; well obviously we always lived in a jungle and there is
    not that room for that loving behaviour or else one will end in extinction!
    Yours emanuel

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    1. Emanuel: If you don't think there is love in the jungle you have not studied the Bonobos. art

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  15. what if loving yourself just means accepting yourself for what you are and taking care of yourself like THEY never did/could?

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    1. Raindog: OK fine but don't call it loving yourself since I have a strict definition of what love is art

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    2. Yeah and it's not the same as 'care'.

      I mean, there are so many different combinations of brain chemicals which our brains use to regulate our feelings and the feeling of love has it's own particular recipe.

      That's the message I get anyway and sometimes I can almost sense what's missing in my recipe. At first I found myself depressed by the concept that 'we' (the 'we' we think we are) are reduced to biochemical interactions on a molecular level. But that's not the whole story. . . I mean our parents and mentors have programmed the way the neuro-chemical menu has been written. It's not just that we are a menu but that we are the history of our own restaurant, of all the people involved, the patrons, the maître d, the waiters, the chef, the kitchen staff, we are all those people and also the ingredients of the meal to be served. More besides that even: When we are working in unison, when all of our internal 'staff' are working together to serve up that meal. With our neurosis operating we are keeping the patrons waiting, the maître d bluffing, the chef guessing and the kitchen staff overworked.

      How do you get the restaurant in order?

      Paul G.


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    3. i must pontificate...

      there is no such thing as self-acceptance, or self-love, or self-hate. those are meaningless intellectual concepts. we are what we are and we feel what we feel.

      if you think you have an ugly personality, it doesn't mean you hate yourself - it means you wish you had a better personality. you cannot direct a feeling of hatred towards yourself. if you have decided to avoid violent boyfriends, it doesn't mean you have learnt to respect yourself - it means your act out is becoming intolerable.

      you always did, and you always will try to take care of yourself, but you don't know how to do it properly. even suicide is just a failed attempt at "taking care" of oneself.

      neurotics "accept" themselves and they never accept a life of pain. they never stop struggling.

      what is love? love is a bond between two lovable people; it is a chemical reaction that gives each person the need to fulfill the needs of the other. it is not a solo affair.

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    4. Richard: I cannot say it better than that. art

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    5. Okay, well then love received creates a system, or a mode of behavior which one is conditioned to apply throughout life. The reprogramming of the system can lead to better behavior which causes improved hormonal functioning...Self-loving behavior...

      Remember? "Love is a verb." (haha, just joking)

      I'm not sure of the science, but I know in my own life, changing my behavior has led to self-respect. Yes, I respect myself as compared to before, when I didn't validate my own thoughts. Now I'm thankful to myself, and my behavior is increasingly being more loving toward myself and others...

      Sure, I am way behind the masses, but figuring it out none-the-less... and it's beautiful... I'm so lovely! :)

      There is a huge difference and it's more than chemicals.

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    6. dotJenna: As I say, I am fine with that. You may have found a way to feel better, and you may feel better. But to me, it is like an illusion, it isn't real because your underlying unconscious feelings remain the same. This is what cognitivists do. I wrote this article to show that unless you adress the source, the change is only on the surface. art

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  16. Richard

    Anybody who has been a family scapegoat can internalise their hatred and feel self hate. A man has already expressed on one of Art's blogs how he did that just that but luckily, primal or no primal, he managed to turn his life around in his CIRCUMSTANCES if not in his deepest feelings or I dont know if he had therapy or not. I also hated myself intensely but don't any more and it's not just a superficial act either. I think maybe the greatest love that exists is that of a child for his/her parents. I've written a good poem about that.Art. I think you would like it. Thank you for putting up my bit on this particular blog by the way!!! I didnt see it before.

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  17. Well, Richard, I see your points but to me, they are a sort of word game in themselves. Thoughts and the intellect are often the results of those deep feelings. But as well, we are capable of thoughts, without those feelings, or in contradiction to those feelings. Feelings are one way of knowing, and thoughts are another. Both are important. You can love yourself or hate yourself. One can become conceit and delusion, the other can become a self-loathing. Are they not feelings, too?

    We have 2 extremes to work with some mid feeling (2nd level) mixed in. Deep feelings on one end and deep thoughts on the other. Thoughts are often sabotaged by the 1st level. But if the 1st level is brave enough to allow the intellect to process without interference, it might be surprised by the often good results of the thinking 3rd level.

    Lets look at it another way. When we are injured on the 1st level, it sticks and causes huge feelings and creates strong interference within us. Its impact can literally affect our lives and health. But here is the irony.

    The intellect can also have a huge impact on our lives and outcomes. Choices we make can be a matter of life and death. But thinking will not have the same kind of impact that the 1st level does, internally. But each of those, the 1st and 3rd levels, can result in matters of life and death.

    You and some others seem to completely negate any usefulness or power to the 3rd level. It was as if nature, evolution, or God, made a mistake in ever making an intellect. And so your run other feelings, labeled by some as self-love or self-hatred, as invalid. Whether truly real or not, and by whose definition or not, those feelings can be real, even if they are a result of an errant process of pain.

    Too many words going on here on this subject and not enough thought on feelings. How’s that, huh? Word games produce little, if they start to belittle the feelings of some. Every feeling if valid in some way or another. Any arguments there?

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    1. apollo, i drive a van at an airport. there is a nice girl who works there. when she gets into the van, and we start chatting, i want to reach out and touch her face and say "i really like you. you're adorable". in reality i can't do that. she would think that i am socially retarded - totally abnormal. she already knows that i like her, she can see it all over my face and i can see the understanding on hers. and she likes the fact that i like her, but she doesn't like me and she doesn't dislike me. she doesn't know me and she doesn't want to know me. but she enjoys chatting with me because i often say interesting things and i never make her feel uncomfortable.

      if only i could reach out and say "i don't want to chat anymore. i just want us to hug and be real with each other, and just understand each other. will you abandon all of the fakeness around us, and just be real with me? wouldn't that be so much better? isn't that what life is all about? can't you see that? this is life! let's be real!"

      i will never say that to her because i know she is somewhere else in her head. she will never understand. but i just can't do the small-talk conversations either. it hurts my head...it is just so boring and meaningless. i have a reputation as the "silent driver". i don't know how to talk to people.

      and yet, i am guilty of producing some of the most outrageously boring intellectual comments in this website. wtf am i doing here? what am i trying to prove? why do i have to be a know-it-all? why do i have to tidy up every loose end?

      the truth is, apollo, you and i want reality, but we don't have it. we are lost in a video game. the video game is torture -- it requires us to be flawlessly logical at all times. we are not strong enough to just let go and wake up. we can't. the cold shock of reality -- of never being loved -- would feel very very real and obvious and it would blow our minds. instead, we remain locked in a trance. in this intellectual video game, everything makes sense but nothing is real. we use intellectual guidelines to navigate through a world that we cannot feel.

      i want to blame the girl who will never let me reach out. but i know i am to blame as well. and you are to blame, apollo. and anonymous. our disconnected intellects, in need of constant maintenance, constant logical reassurance, are to blame for this never-ending torture -- this never-ending neurotic need to believe we are always RIGHT. always safe and secure in the knowledge that everything is just right. the work never ends. what a load of boring BULLSHIT!

      we need a primal therapist to help us feel the cold shock of reality, to feel what we have been missing.

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  18. Im not english, so I do not understand all words of Art. I have read several books of him, since now, also "Life before birth". All of what he says, I can say, is true. Many people said to me: You have to think positive, you should love yourself, you should change your attitude, stop being shy. I tried hard to do so but my experiences say that I cannot change or feel better by an act of will. Im now 28 and my entire life I have been struggling for being happy, but I havent found anything that helped. So maybe Art is right in saying, that feeling unloved is imprinted in your muscles, brain and cells and willpower is not enough..

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  19. A brilliant comment, Apollo. Brilliant!

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  20. Hallo, Richard!
    In your 'intellectual video game' please don't be a know all about a blogger you know nothing about. Thank you! (And why, Dr Janov, have you supported his presumption when you also know nothing about me?)I am NOT an ignoramus. I'm a woman. One of the very few on these blogs,I have noticed, but this doesn't, I would hope, make me inferior or stupid in the mens eyes here. If it does I will say a pleasant goodbye, but I think I have given a lot of sympathy on several blogs, also praised you a lot, Art, also listened and treated others with respect at all times. The least I would expect back is the same measure of respect and sincerity in return. I have an old female friend who has to have the last word on everything I ever say. In the end she was putting me down so much she became unbearable.As an aside, good luck with the lady friend you like, Richard. Don't tell her about what you want at bus stops (your previous comment!) or it may put her off. Tee hee.

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    1. No disrespect intended, Anonymous. Can you please post your poem on "the greatest love"?

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    2. Hi Anonymous!
      The reason you do not get respect is that your ideas conflict with theirs and they do not take it too well. Also, you dare to think as well as feel. We are supposed to gouge our cortex out and have nothing more to do with that nasty gray jello up there in our noggins. It was just a big mistake. We should have remained dumb animals.

      Listen, no one gets more attacked than I do. Problem is, I sort of enjoy it. Call it a primal kink, right ;-) You know you do not deserve it and that will have to suffice.

      Some here may be trying to "crack" you, bringing out your pain. They may not even be aware of it. But remember, they are all wounded souls and you have to give them a little bit of slack. They and all of us are wounded creatures, some more than others. I, for one, am glad to have you on board. and if you get your dander up and want to to looking for a fight (another one of my guilty pleasures), focus on and praise the intellect, and you will surely cause some pain ;-)

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    3. Apollo,

      It's actually very simple. The primal position, as effectively expressed by Janov, is in no way (and never has been) an expression of contempt for the intellect. The intellect is a powerful tool and should be respected to that end - of! course!

      When Art uses the term "intellectuals" what he's talking about is not people who use the intellect as a tool for discovery and problem solving etc, but a kind of person who basically uses the intellect to escape from reality rather than find it. That is, the individual who runs away into "criptology" to avoid seeing what should be plain to the eye...and often so they can see what they want to see, rather than what's really there. And also, of course, the individual who "lives in their head" specifically to avoid feeling. Neurologically speaking - the hyper-activated neocortex that drives back the pain.

      The intellect: A defense or a tool? Again it's as simple as that. There has never been a philosophical argument over the inherent value of a well used neocortex.

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    4. Andrew
      I do not dispute the intellect used for escape or whatever. MY dispute lies with whether the intellect made that decision on its own, or did so due to the urging of the 1st & 2nd levels. Art does seem to suggest that the cortex overpowers the stem and takes over instead of failing to recognize it was directed by the stem/core. We can not blame the cortex if it was not the one who initiated. You can run but you can not hide! Your running, Andrew.

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  21. Apollo,

    The neocortex helps to block the real feeling and needs. But the lower brain centers create symbolic needs, which are a derivative of the real needs. The symbolic needs are acted-out with the help of the neocortex.

    The neocortex said to the lower brain centres: "I will drive back what is real, but be your bitch for what is symbolic".

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    1. Well, Andrew, let me say this.

      The cortex can not feel. Did you know that? It is a completely different sort of brain function. It is analytical in nature, void of emotion, for obvious reasons, keeping the pain out while processing objectively to ponder the long term advantages as compared to instinct reactions, so fast and severe.

      Those feelings that make us want to run, or give us dread, or whatever; those are what cause us to act or not, in regard to thinking. All 3 levels sort of act as 3 different functions. They have to learn to work together beneficially. That is the challenge before each human being, because natural reactions of 1st and 2nd are primitive and sort of dumb in regards to long term things. They have to learn, if possible, to let the 3rd also have time to weigh and analyze before acting in some cases.

      Along the way in life, we have times when we realize it might be better to pause in our feelings and reactions and give some brief thought and analyzing to the situation. Maybe we think about it after we blew a previous situation and wonder what the better course might have been. We realize that maybe pausing to think first, next time, might be better.

      After a while, the 1st/2nd begins to wonder about a lot of things that seem to contradict or interfere with better choices and advantages and begin to wonder if maybe they should make better use of that 3rd level and figure out what is going on inside. It’s a hard lesson, but know this!

      When we ignore the cortex-intellect, then we are vulnerable to hypnotizing and trance states. In order to get into a trance state, we have to ditch the intellect. That intellect can serve as a great protector, if we will only give it half a chance. But you are terrified that the all knowing grand poobah might not have everything right and you won’t know what to do, then, because you hate thinking for yourself and like to lean on and trust authority and celebrity. Many find it terrifying to think for themselves. They do not believe they are capable. Suit yourself.

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  22. Thankyou, Apollo! I like you being on board here, too, and all you other hm... unusual individuals on board also. Thanks, Richard, about the poem. I'll post the poem IF you can, with your modern day computer-brilliance, which I do NOT possess. (I still cant skype to get me to the Centre yet. Friends machines all have their names on their skypes. I dont have a ruddy p.c. Ugh.Cant afford it!!) inform me HOW to post a poem, please, onto this blog to you and I will. I'd love to! I think you'll dig it. I hate Xmas, by the way, Art, but thanks for wisahing us all a good time. The only way I can afford a pain free one is to stay alone in my flat. That'll be Christmas without the sting (of family reunions) Although sometimes it is sort of nice to see all the old roses at the feast if it's only once a year. I'll be celebrating when it's all over. Happy new year, everyone!

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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