Thursday, January 30, 2014
Another Look at Reliving
Let’s go over this again so we can make sure that reliving is important in the therapy for all kinds of neuroses. Neurosis means that there is an early traumatic input that alters function and behavior; not one or the other but both. That is, there is pain and denial of need that overwhelms normal functioning and causes a diversion. We are no longer normal; things go wrong neurologically, biochemically and behaviorally. And of course to cure we need to normalize the whole system, not just behavior or biochemistry.
That in a tiny nutshell is the story of neurosis. We are no longer ourselves; we are re-routed in function. To get back to ourselves we have to re-establish function in every aspect. Not just behavior.
And when we are diverted and rerouted, there are marks that leave their traces; epigenetic marks. For example, if we are loved and hugged and touched a lot there are changes in the brain where methylation patterns are changed. The function of the gene is changed and how we then behave is diverted. The brain has “borrowed” part of the methyl group and produced alterations in how genes are expressed or repressed; shut down or opened up. And this changes us in profound ways. Our personality becomes different; we can be more open or closed off; more depressed or anxious depending on what genes do what. But it is not genetic; it is epigenetic, how life impacts us. How experienced changes us. It is not just in the genes; it is in experience. Don’t go looking at the genes alone; it is not there. They are the result of experience.
Now those marks or traces are embedded and can follow us throughout life. They form the substrate on how further experience impacts us. So with lots of love we have a different system than a deficit amount of love. And a different brain. And a different focus and attention span. All this right after birth. And it can spell a chronically aggressive or passive baby and child. The difference between a heavily allergic child who spends her life in emergency rooms, and a normal child. Above all, it sets the stage for a child who does well in school and another who fails. You mean all this from events in life before birth? Exactly. Love means altering those immune cells and making them stronger. No love means the opposite.
OK so now we have those marks, methylation which foretells of a life to come and how it will be lived. How do we change all that? We need to revisit those early experiences, those without words, go back and redo them. Change history and their traces. We need to undo the damage and that means slowly demethylizing. One experience at a time; or one experience over many times. We need to find how the system was detoured and put it back on track, literally. This happened because pain installed itself and forced change. A mother who was on coffee or who was constantly on tranquilizers changes the baby’s system. He cannot slow down because the anxious carrying mother has caused a more speedy system in her offspring. And this can be measured; the amount of methylation can be observed and changed. That is meaningful progress. It informs us about altering neuroses. And when allergies disappear we have supporting data. And when sexual deviation goes away we have even more key data. And above all, when the telomeres lengthen and we live longer that is critical information. Neurosis, in short, is a global affair, not just one behavior or one symptom.
But isn’t this what medicine today is about? Lowering blood pressure, giving allergy medication. Restructuring behavior. It is called “whack-a-mole.” Every time a symptom shows up just whack it back.
And don’t ask where it all came from? It is obviously a “brain disease.” Experience takes a back seat as we slither down into the depths and minutia of the brain seeking answers that do not exist there and never will.
But we are the dealers in experience because we have seen what experience does to us, especially very early pre-verbal experience. If one sees one Primal one knows for all time how crucial experience is in the scheme of things. It is rarely a brain disease; that is concocted by those who fiddle around in neurons and synapses and do not see the brain reacting to experience. If we leave out experience we are bereft of what can give us answers. We see only the end result and miss half of the puzzle. It is like looking at diabetics and never know what they eat. If we leave out the first three years in an orphanage can you wonder that we can never know what the matter is. Thinking it is a brain disease is the result of another more serious disease: solipsism.
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.