Monday, September 2, 2013
Adversity in the Womb and How It Affects All of Our Lives
Over the years I have quoted a great number of studies showing how womb-life experience can carry on for a lifetime. What seems to be evident is that the chronic moods of the carrying mother produce the same or similar effects in her offspring. One way we imprint these deleterious experiences is through the process of methylation. We recruit part of the methyl chemical group to enhance or seal-in the repression of the memory. And the importance of our proposed research is to show how remote/early experience changes the neurophysiology of us humans for a lifetime.
I have explained that traumatic imprints change our biology and our neurology; the process of repression of these pains may play into such serious afflictions as cancer and Alzheimers disease. But what we want to show is that we can reverse the imprint or alter it a bit with our therapy. What I have proposed is that in reliving the primal imprint we lessen its effects, and once that is done can we actually short-circuit or demythelize the imprint. Can demythelation abort the advance of a serious disease? I think so. We need to prove it.
But the theory should guide us here; deep repression, heavy methylation is the culprit in many afflictions, not the least of which is depression. Can we intervene in time to avoid the advance of both physical and mental disease? We do attack the key primordial imprints at their source. And since we lessen chronic cortisol (alarm reactions) levels, as well as lowering blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate, we already have evidence of the reversal of key indices of neurosis/imprinted pain. It seems to me that the system functions as a whole, and when we relive and relieve many of the concomitants of the imprinted pain we are affecting the imprint directly. Otherwise why would the stress hormones continue to decrease in many of our patients as the result of our therapy? What I am indicating also is that undoing repression may contribute to a longer lifespan for our patients, something we shall measure through telomere lengths.
Methylation is becoming critically important in current science. What has been found recently is that if a stretch of DNA has a lot of methyl surrounding it the activity of some of the genes is suppressed. And they found in a study of twins where one was healthy and the other had a split spine (New Scientist, 31, Aug. 2013), that the possible cause was a plethora of methyl in the area which down some of the activity of growth; growth was suppressed. Methyl and repression seem to be more and more blood sisters. It’s hard to get one without the other. We are finding that more and more of harm such as pesticides is agented by the methyl group; that is, methylation patterns are altered. And it may also be that prolonged smoking may have impacted methylation as to produce enduring harm.
I have wondered why it is that we see wisdom teeth dropping after the age of forty in some patients, or why there is marked foot growth in their thirties. Methylation may be one answer since, an assumption, what seems to happen is that we do in part is reverse methylation, allowing certain structures to continue their voyage to their proper destination. In other words, methylation blocks or aborts genetic evolution, puts it on hold until it is revisited and then allows it to continue along its genetic arc.
Regarding the twin study, the authors seem to think that even though the twins share the same womb, the methylation for each of them can be different. And this may ultimately affect how each person interacts with others later on; making for marked differences.
What brought this home to me was a recent article in Science News (Also Human Health, Brain and Behavior, Aug. 25, 2013) (see http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/352184/description/Caffeine_shakes_up_growing_mouse_brains). Mice given caffeine while pregnant changed the brains of the offspring. Also, a set of mice drank water treated with caffeine, (an amount a woman would drink while carrying--about 3 cups of coffee a day). There were direct effects on parts of the limbic system, particularly the hippocampus. There were fewer neurons in these structures that deal with memory in the mice. And more, these caffeinated mice did poorly on tests of memory. These mice did not explore new stimuli and had what I think was aspects of ADD. They were not as curious as normal mice. Their brains seemed rewired. And it is not a big step to see the implications for humans. A mother does not have to have drunk coffee to produce adverse effects; she simply needs to be in a chronic agitated, nervous state. It is exactly as if she drank many cups of coffee. The fetus picks up on this automatically and reacts accordingly. Neurons in the limbic system, then, became hyperactive, as well. And that chronic agitation keeps focus and concentration from happening.
During sessions with in-dwelling thermisters in our patients we can observe changes in blood pressure as the patient relives key imprints. It lowers when primal pains are relived and rise when repression is evident. We see this clearly also with body temperature; depressives come to sessions with low body temp and we see it normalize when they relive early traumas. In other words as key memories are relived the accouterments of the memory do change; from this we may find, as I believe, that these are the indices of changes in the imprint itself. In short, the imprint is an ensemble of reactions, not just the chemical.
Whatever external stimuli are affecting the carrying mother are also affecting her baby. He is not behaving on his genetic legacy so much as his epigenetic inheritance, his life experience. We must understand that we need to be careful about ingesting any foreign substance from alcohol to tranquilizers, while pregnant. And we therefore need to be aware that womb-life effects are impactful and enduring.
Because they endure and continuously stimulate the system there is hope; that we can attack the basic imprint and reverse it. It is not heredity that is irreversible, but epigenetics which is reversible, something we have been doing for almost 50 years. If it has been life experience that has caused changes in the biochemistry and neuronal circuitry it can be altered. It is not a fixed entity. The way this is done is searching out and reliving key imprints. The changes in vital signs are part of the imprint so that when we reverse the by-products (lower blood pressure) it tells us of its effect on the imprint.
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.