Monday, January 28, 2013
How to Make a Cure (Part 1/2)
So you think affecting a cure is complicated? Not that much. But it does take a little thought. Not much; just add a heavy mixture of feeling and you’ve got it. So let’s see how we do it. And while we are at it, let’s define it . Not so difficult: cure must be tied to causes, to generating sources so that we can eliminate those events that caused it all in the first place. If we leave causes aside, we can only palliate, and that cannot be cure. If there is no “why” in the equation, there is no cure.
First, we know that the brain has two sides; one more feeling and the other left side more thinking, grosso modo. And that the right side develops earlier than the left and absorbs so much early trauma long before we can understand it and give it a name. We are driven by those right side imprints so that by he time we are born we are allergic, colicky, (and choleric—bad tempered), nervous and have to constantly move, epileptics, and so on. So we are taken to the doctor who is mystified. But it can be understood and treated….if…….if we follow science and brain development.
The first thing to know is about the imprint and how and when it is set down. Then to know how imprints affect the whole neurophysical system. Then how the imprints endure and run our lives forever. Then, how to reverse the imprint. It can be undone biochemically or, more sure and effective, through primal therapy.
We do know that it is the right brain that is active when we retrieve old memories and when we relive those memories, and it is only through that brain that we can get to those memories, very early ones, that were registered on the right. Otherwise no matter how much we dig down, when we leave those memories intact that still affect and drive us. (see all of Wilder Penield. Also, Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. 9 420-8). When we are in an intellectual therapy we will never dig out those early memories. In our therapy we dig them out in nonverbal ways, nearly always through physiological means that have resonated from above. That is, when something higher up elicits the same kind of feeling only deeper and nonverbal down below. The point is that when we use talk as the key mode of therapy we still remain driven and unresolved. We still leave a cache of feelings lying in wait. Interestingly, when we electrically stimulate the right side those early memories and early past experiences come up.
When a baby or fetus is traumatized he is more sensitive to later stress. His immune system is affected and he is more vulnerable to such things as Epstein-Barr disease or the herpes virus. In other words, when there is a virus around he will be more liable to fall ill, especially if he were unloved even in the womb (did not have his basic needs fulfilled). (Health Psych. 2012. July 2. Fagundes CP et al.). These afflictions are not considered mental illness but they are often the same imprints involved in serious mental ailments. Here there is dysregulation of immune function but it can other effects, as well. Do we want to alleviate that immune problem or cure it? To cure it, we must find the imprints. They are there and when the patient is given access he will get there. Memories will come to greet him. Yes we must treat the allergies, etc., but that only deals with manifestations not cure.
So what sets cure in motion? The necessity for connection. Connection of what and to what? And what is that connection? It means feelings moving from the right to left brain (connection), and sensations and feelings moving vertically from bottom to top (from brainstem to neo-cortex). All roads must lead to the cortex; from the unconscious to conscious/awareness. They must move both horizontally and vertically. The deepest sensations generally move from low in the brain upward and forward to the new cortex; they must move, in short, following the dictates of evolution, from history to the present, from preverbal to verbal, from feelings to ideas and comprehension. It is evolution that dictates how the therapy shall proceed, and we can abrogate that at our peril. When everything converges at the top we have consolidation and integration; we become whole and one. We are no longer driven by the unconscious and finally can achieve a bit of objectivity, even in doing psychotherapy. This is only a guess; it may be that we dredge up first line deeply placed first-line pain vertically, while the more feeling aspects are brought in horizontally. Not at all sure of this. It seems like first-line has a longer way to go to reach the frontal area. But logic may not be logical.
Contrarily, we can perform therapy by evolution in reverse; using the neo-cortex to travel back down to suppress feelings. Through the hope of getting well the patient is more repressed and sicker. He uses the last tool in evolution, language, in the service of repression instead of expression. That is why insights/language must always follow feelings and not vice versa. You cannot fool with mother nature and her timetable. If words came after feelings in our lives and in our history they must do so in our therapy. There is a reason to follow evolution because that is how our adaptation was built. The problem is that those who are repressed claim they feel better after cognitive help…..because feeling and pain are further away. The mindfulness people think this distanciation is good. I cannot figure out why. They teach us to be more mindful instead of more feelingful. They trounce evolution in a flight to their head.
So how do we know that feelings are so important? And that early imprints count for so much? There are literally hundreds of research studies underlining this point. There was a review of this work in the economist (July 2011). The major point they made was that a carrying mother’s stress can have long-lasting effects on how the genes unravel in the offspring, (a process known as epigenetics). Those brought up in abusive and unloving homes (famine, violence, war, divorce, etc) had life-long changes in their development, including chronically high levels of the s tress hormone, cortisol. Women who were abused by their husbands had children with excessive methylation of their genes; an alteration in how the genes evolved. And this alteration was passed on to the baby just as if it were inherited. In this way, and in many others, the anxiety and depression of the carrying mother get translated into the baby. And the baby is born with an enhanced tendency to anxiety or depression in addition to chronically high cortisol levels. In short, he is born stressed. Later on, he will over-react to tense events with higher stress levels. (See the study done at Welcome Laboratory in the neuroscience department of the University of Bristol, England. August, 2011).
Their work emphasizes the long lasting effects of early trauma. Higher stress levels affects learning and, above all, creates serious Attention Deficit. This is the definition of post-traumatic-stress-disorder. And the point is that many of us carry around this latent high stress level for a lifetime. (We tested many of our entering patients for cortisol levels, and they were universally high). Then we add an unloving home and other stress so that the latent levels are inordinately elevated. So then a man enters combat and later suffers PTSD, we think that combat did it. Combat only exacerbated the reaction and made it manifest; it became an overt symptom. He was already PTSD, only latent. There is a recent study that shows that those who had combat fatigue generally had more trauma in growing up. To cure this affliction we need to deal with combat and also the adversity from childhood that set the stage for it. In other words, there were antecedents for this affliction. Cure occurs when all the current and antecedent factors are addressed and relived. (please see: “Embattled Childhood, The Real Trauma in PTSD. Scientific American Mind, Nov. 2012). So a soldier can be aware of his combat trauma and unconscious of the traumas underlying it. It is what we can’t see that does so much damage. Moreover, it is the traumas that occurred during the early critical period that are so deleterious; the critical period means when a trauma is set down while need is greatest and pain is at its asymptote. It means that imprint sealed in is almost irreversible in its effects (excluding Primal Therapy). War usually doesn’t happen during a critical period but it is such a powerful force that its effects can be engraved just as during a critical period. It turns out that PTSD is more predictable by childhood abuse rather than combat experience. The internal war zone seems to be of utmost importance in producing PTSD. There is, therefore a confluence of two traumas, one we cannot see and the other that is obvious. We must not only treat what is obvious if we want to make sure that the PTSD does linger on and on. To leave the basic prime-evil imprint intact and untouched means always that we must do something each day to handle the symptoms which never seem to go away.
Abused children do have a dysregulation of their response to stress. Cortisol is sustained, becomes toxic and does its damage over time. The person becomes hyper-reactive and over-responds. And in the mother it can be passed on to the offspring. He is born with a tendency to be anxious and hyperactive; born, maybe, with a propensity for Attention Deficit and learning disorders. It sure looks like pure heredity but it’s not. It is experience, laid on top of what has been inherited; an experience during the critical period. It seems like one abuse cannot be that bad; but it is one abuse among many, and an abuse that is imprinted and endures and becomes a lifelong abuse. That is why we must always include the concept of the imprint in any attempt to understand human behavior.
I have discussed methylation before; the way that part of the methyl group helps alter the expression of a gene and seals in the experience; thereafter, we have something that can drive our lives maybe forever. A mother who fights with her spouse over time is setting up future behavior on the part of the offspring. It just doesn’t upset the mother but it also upsets the baby for life by changing his genetic evolution. These are the experiences left out of the usual psychotherapy that are key motivations for how we behave, how we learn and how and if we make love. It also plays a part in if the offspring can have children or is sterile. It can also help determine if we become obese, to say nothing of mental illness. In this period when the body and brain are rapidly developing, it is not a surprise that adversity affects so much of us (body and brain). When a carrying mother is chronically stressed and anxious it affects the HPA axis (those of you who know about it, fine, and those who do not know the details can look it up if you are interested. Not important for the layman.), and therefore sets the stage for later anxiety in the offspring. It can set up changes in his stress regulation mechanisms, and some of this is accomplished by methylation. These are known as epigenetic events; beyond genes. Yet it happens so early it looks like genetics. There is little question now that stress and chronic anxiety of the mother affects the baby’s HPA–hypothalamic/pituitary/axis. It heightens cortisol levels, and chronically high stress hormones affects so many functions later in life, not the least of which is thinking and memory. (see: KM Ratke, et al, ‘Transgenerational impact of partner violence on methylation in the promoter of the glucocorticoid receptor.” Translational Psychiatry, 2001). Much further down the road it may affect the development of both Alzheimer and Parkinson disease.
What is important here is that in utero, events and trauma set the program for adult behavior. Especially afflictions such as heroin addiction. The person is trying to calm something inside that she has no idea it exists or what it is. Years later there maybe panic attacks that seem to come out of nowhere. But they come out of somewhere; it is our job to find out where. If we ignore early womb-life experience we will never discover origins, and we will keep looking into the current environment for answers. What is clear now is that some get addicted to heavy drugs to keep panic attacks from happening. That is, it may be the same imprint involved in both; only the drug user has found a way to block it. Not different when the panic-laden person who goes to a doctor and gets some of the same pain-killers included in heroin.
(To be continued...)
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.