Thursday, April 4, 2013
Once More on Attention Deficit Disorder
Yes, there are diminishing numbers of us therapists dealing with patients; most of us are dealing drugs because we don’t know what else to do. We do not recognize patients’ inner lives; maybe because we do not acknowledge our own. This is my third piece on ADD, and I hope the last. A major article on ADD appears in today’s NY Times (April 1, 2013. Front page). It states that there are more and more cases of ADD among children…..one in five, to be exact. Two thirds of those with ADD diagnosis are given drugs to help out. They get stimulants such as Ritalin, or they get repressants such as Prozac and other serotonin enhancers (keeping more of it active in the synapse).
So what is going on? If I were to say to them that their brains (children) are too active because of birth trauma and life in the womb, I would be judged a bit bonkers. So I will say it: imprints due to early trauma activate the system to help in repression. And as the brain evolves the top level cortex is also activated to deal with the imprint. The brain is busy, busy, dealing with the pain and has a hard time dealing with or focusing on one thing. The input from inside is too much. And when there is stimulation from the outside, from school tasks and homework assignments, it meets up with a very active brain which says, “Whoa there. Stop the input. I have too much going on inside to listen to what you ask for. It is overwhelming.” But if there is no recognition of history, and by the way, recognition is also cognition, then ADD can never be understood.
If we do not understand that there is a history that remains in the brain and agitates us, then ADD is a mystery. It does not have to be. So why do the professionals offer downers and uppers? Because there are two ways to deal with brain activation. Either we soup up the top level neo-cortex to get stronger in its efforts to shut down pain, or we start at the bottom and use painkillers to hold down the pain from coming up. Both work at two ends to deal with the source of the agitation: imprinted pain. The kids are distracted because so much is already going on inside. They have to deal with that first because it is a primary source and cannot be ignored; and since there is no recognition of inner life, all that is left are drugs. The input is so strong and so diverse without any specific scenes that can be attached to it that it remains a vague entity that leaves some professionals feeling it is a mysterious force, that ADD. Why, by the way, do we offer stimulants to enhance the work of the top level cortex? Because it has been over-occupied by engraved pain and it needs help; more neurons to offer its shoulder. Enter stimulants. Those stimulants do activate the entire brain; only the upper part, the thalamus and neo-cortex. That is why they improve focus; the cortex is stronger now; it has had help. Not a word about why kids need stimulants when they are already over-stimulated. The drug companies are active here encouraging more and more drugs. What most drugs do is make up for deficits in our own ability to produce them. More tranquilizers because we can no longer manufacture serotonin (the key ingredient in tranquilizers), or in ADD the cortex is suffused by internal input, taxing it immensely, and so we need outside help to make it stronger and more active.
This attitude is exemplified by Dr. William Graf, pediatric neurologist At Yale University, who says he is floored by the numbers of cases. The American Psychological Association has decided to change the diagnosis, which they believe is a “brain disease.” This “disease” impairs impulse control and other factors so that the Association wants to widen the diagnosis to enable more people to be treated. And how will they be treated? By medication, of course. If we do not understand how pain is installed in the system and endures then all we can do is medicate, leaving an entire generation of ‘zombies.” Why on earth is it so difficult to understand that we are victims of our childhood? Are all of us professionals so estranged from it that it remains a mystery? You mean none of us can look back and realize that there was no love there? Maybe we cannot because our parents wanted smart kids and we filled the bill, (not at all my case) never realizing it was conditional love.
My mother was psychotic and so there was no expectation that I would be anything, so I could not develop a defense nor a profession that I could use as a defense. That came decades later, but I was ADD to the maximum and had the worse grades possible in school. I know what it is and was. So much tumult was going on inside from my immediate environment that focusing on one thing was impossible. I have relived that early life and the birth trauma, being given away right after birth to others that there is no doubt what was inside me. Every teacher wrote “nervous” on my report card. I remember, why can’t others? Maybe they fulfilled what the parents expected. I don’t know but it is a mystery why it early pain is ignored.
You know, ADD is also called the hyperactivity disorder. (ADD HD: Hyperactive Disorder) Of course, the kid is agitated out of his mind, driven by agony inside. We want her to focus on 18ths century art and she is drowning in misery. The drug director, T.R. Frieden, also sees medication as key, only we must not abuse it. And how do we do that? Stop so many prescriptions.
The drug officials will publish a new list of what constitutes ADD in the next month. Will it be behavior, in the thrall of the behaviorists, or will it be about feeling? I leave you to answer.
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.