Sunday, April 7, 2013
On Anorexia Nervosa
There is a recent article titled, “Deep Brain Stimulation shows promise for patients with chronic treatment resistant Anorexia Nervosa.” Sounds great. But wait. You mean they are going to drill holes in the brain!? Well they say they have to because these people have suffered for years with no help. (Science News, 7-3-2013 (See http://esciencenews.com/articles/2013/03/07/deep.brain.stimulation.shows.promise.patients.with.chronic.treatment.resistant.anorexia.nervosa). This is a Canadian study. University of Toronto, A. Lozano, et al. Please see an article on this in Lancet).
What they are doing is stimulating deep in the brain of the subcallosal, cingulate area. Why are they doing that? Because they have found structural and functional differences between those afflicted and normals. Make no mistake; these are serious cases with multiple hospitalizations.
Is it any surprise when there are deep imprints that can alter the circuits of the brain that there would be brain deviations? Not sure if they mean that these are genetic differences. When you have pain registered deep in the brain there are bound to be alterations in neuronal circuits. These circuits are compensating for the input of trauma. Maybe they should be there? It would help to know if there were, indeed, early trauma, which is what we have found. I treated one severe case of a young girl who lived with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend forced her to perform oral sex every morning before school. This went on until the mother threw him out. But the child continued to vomit all of the time. She was diagnosed by another clinic as anorexia nervosa.
Her therapy went on for months before we learned the truth of her condition and that she was trying to get rid of his sperm by vomiting. Once she relived it the symptom went away. This is a reminder to get information, lots of it, before we go drilling into our precious brains. The problem is that we often cannot get the information we need verbally because the trauma may not be verbal, and only emerges after reliving other pains early on. We need to do a therapy that may possibly unearth the origin of the symptom, slowly over time. It may not come up deliberately but only after allowing access to deep brain imprints, those same brain structures that they want to probe and stimulate electrically. And by the way, these people were also deeply depressive. I had already written several times about the origins of depression, and am preparing a scientific paper on it. Again we are dealing with deep-lying imprints that are not obvious to observers.
What they are trying to do is re-regulate dysfunctional circuits. I am not sure those circuits are dysfunctional; maybe they are reacting normally to terrible input even while we are being carried in the womb; so clearly, it cannot be easily detected by those surgeons. Carrying mothers ingesting alcohol, drugs or bad diet can begin the affliction of being affected by things the baby cannot eliminate. We have seen this in a woman whose mother was a chain smoker during pregnancy. She felt she had to get something out of her system; she did not know what for a long time. Smokey rooms made her nauseous and needing to throw up. So do we want to do brain drilling on her?
And of course the electrodes were implanted in areas of the brain dealing with emotion/feelings. Not so surprising, they found that this also involved depression. After nine months following surgery three of the six subjects had weight gain, and four of them had mood changes with better control over urges to binge and purge.
And then the doctors say, “We are truly ushering in a new era of understanding of the brain and the role it can play in certain neurological disorders.” I am not sure. First of all, it seems they are labeling this a brain disease or a brain malfunction, and just maybe it is not; it is a psycho-neurologic disease not caused by the brain but reacted to by the brain. If you will, it is a Primal disease with key imprints that change the brain’s function. And it happens so early that it is largely undetectable.
What they claim to do is “by correcting the precise circuits in the brain associated with the symptoms in some of these conditions, we are finding additional options to treat illnesses.” It may be that they have it backwards. Yes, there are symptoms that are associated with these conditions but it all may stem from something epigenetic, and it is to there that we must look.
It is true that eating disorders must be treated because there is a high death rate involved if allowed to go on, but there is another way to treat it. The problem is that with the success they have had, the doctors want to go on treating some many other maladies with brain surgery. Therein lies the rub, as Shakespeare noted.
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.