Friday, December 7, 2012
There is a story in the paper about the actress who was a publisher as well. She died of Leukemia at age 59. So the question is, why did she die so early? I cannot tell you about her except that she died young; and so it begs the question why some of us die early. For most of us it is almost impossible to comprehend the power that lies within all of us—the power of the first line. This is the power of traumas that occurred while we were being carried, at birth and sooner after. It is the power and the force for survival, because adversity when it happens very early after conception is nearly always a matter of life and death. At the very least that danger, imprinted, is a harbinger for later mental illness. A mother smoking and drinking in the first months of pregnancy puts her offspring in danger of either psychosis or serious drug addiction later on. It is incomprehensible to an outsider because they have not seen the explosive pain when it is unleashed. This reliving is not a one time affair but occurs many, many times (Primals) over months and years. It is only then that we can understand what lies within us and the pressure and damage it can produce. Then cancer is no longer a mystery because we observe this pressure in our therapy; it all becomes clear. It is a mystery to me to this day that those who carry terrible pain around do not show it! There is the impassive face engendered by repression that keeps it all deep in storage.
I have discussed epigenetics in my blog and my books, about how adversity early on changes the switches for key genes which then serve to compound repression or inhibition. These switches turn on or off the gene and so help set in what seems like genetic changes. Basically it is the mechanism of closing the gates or opening them. And there are different chemicals that accompany the epigenetic events (methyl and acetyal groups, for example, producing a process known either as methylation or acetylation). It seems that for each and every pain we endure during gestaton and at birth there is a change in the chemicals that enhance the repression of pain. When the pain or adversity is prolonged the system is overtaxed, and we now have the mechanism of leaky gates; that is, repression begins to falter due to an overload of chronic pain. It is the consistency of the pain that causes the overload. There is a limit that the brain can handle. The gates become vulnerable and do not do well afterwards. It takes very little trauma after that to produce a symptom such as ADD. Once you have seen the force of these traumas that are being relived, psychosis and addiction are no longer a mystery. We see what it takes to push that force back down. Heavy doses of heroin are no surprise. That is why we know that in most heavy addictions there is great first line trauma imprinted deep down. We see it in our studies of the brain and vital signs, as the patient approaches first line, there is a radical rise in all of these measurements. And with integration of these imprinted memories there is a radical drop in these figures that remains over time. A carrying mother chronically depressed or anxious is changing the neurophysiology of the offspring. It is, in short, a constant trauma that the baby must deal with. It is not just one drink or one cigarette, but unending stress. How do we know? We see it in the stress hormone levels in our beginning patients; always high at the start of therapy. And comes down permanently over the months.
Of course in my psychoanalytic days I never saw any of this and could not even imagine that this pain and its force existed. You need a theory for that which acknowledges the whole notion of deep pain which includes memories lodged in the brainstem and ancient limbic system. And lodged with the force of the original trauma. It is no wonder, then, that theories and therapies that avoid the notion of imprinted pain are bound to go astray.
Without a theory of pain how could we ever get to the bottom of cancer and heart disease? Or migraine and high blood pressure? Our theory is not just something “nice or interesting or amusing”, it is life saving; it means reversing serious mental illness. We see this all of the time. Many of us think that good diet will prolong life, and it is true, but not half as true as how soon repression makes us sick and kills us prematurely. Repression kills because it distorts basic physiology and detours brain development. And repression forces the kind of unhealthy eating habit that makes us sick early on. Repression kills because, unconsciously, it forces us to deal with imprinted pain every minute of our lives. It forces us to find ways to act out feelings or suppress them. There is another way—feel and experience them.
We can never get to the bottom of Leukemia or cancer without seriously looking into very early life to see what first line trauma there was. If we have no theory of brainstem trauma we will never understand it. And if we have no such theory that we are not keeping up with psychologic/brain science. The wonder is how we all manage to keep deep pain stored away, never once acknowledging it. The body does and gets sick. And it makes us sick on the deep cellular level, the level where the early imprints lie. All the pressure to keep pain stored puts the cellular development at risk; eventually we find serious illness, which should not be a mystery but a foregone conclusion.
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.