Friday, January 24, 2014
How Do You Harm a Fetus?
You harm anyone, no matter the age, by depriving them of their biologic needs. So you abuse a fetus by not recognizing her needs. And what are they? We can tell because we have seen those needs in action in therapy sessions, and the screaming and agony when they go unfulfilled. We do not have to theorize about them. If we do not know them then there will be deprivation and harm. We see the terrible impact when the baby is left alone after birth, and is not held, caressed or touched. We see the pain and the result. Further, in later reliving, we see its lifelong effects: the inability to be alone, the nagging emptiness of not being with someone, the need to constantly connect either personally or on the phone. All to keep that basic aloneness away.
We can see how the pains pile up and accumulate reaching inordinate heights, and the symptoms that issue from that; aching stomach, migraines and high blood pressure. Further, we see in the reliving that once that terrible aloneness and isolation has been felt, so much changes both psychologically and biologically. And we also know that we don't get to those imprints until months into the therapy. The earlier the pain the more time it takes to reach, as it should be since the more remote the event the more painful it will be. And from what I have seen, the imprints from just after conception cannot be seen or often even imagine but they set down their seeds in the earliest formation of cells. And those are the most difficult to find and the most difficult to conceptualize and treat, but they may be behind schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and some cancers. These may be the deepest imbeds, the most remote and ineffable memories engraved in the primitive developing cells. We look at them after decades of agitation and try to decipher their causes and how to deal with them. But we are long after the fact, and that is the problem. The fetus is deprived, first of all, through irresponsible diet by the mother, and then most importantly, the mother is chronically anxious and revs up the baby unrelentingly. It is this chronic input, un-contained and un-circumscribed that does its damage. It never lets up, and the baby's resources can no longer cope. This is the harbinger of later disease. It is not one fixed event in time that does the damage; it is the unrelenting adversity that does it.
But when we get the perfect trifecta: fetal damage, birth damage and infancy harm, there is little doubt that we have a child whose life will be cut short. Depriving parents tend to be that way all along the child's development. One way we can predict how long that child's life will be is by the length of her telomeres, the longer the better for longevity. The mother's stress level shortens her telomeres and, I assume, that of the fetus as well. Your projected lifespan is already set inside the womb. That is where the great early harm takes place; a fetus who has not way to escape the harm but sets there and takes it, day after day. Children who grow up in orphanages have very short telomeres. And that tendency goes on into adult life. It does not have to be in institution; a divorcing mother can suffer continuously and over stimulate the baby. And we know that the higher the stress hormone level, cortisol, the shorter the telomeres. Worse, those who had shorter telomeres in childhood could often count on diseases such as cancer in adulthood. Three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. And this, I believe, begins during womb life and sets the stage of arcane and recondite illness later on. So telomere length is a good index of disease later on. Those with chronic shorter telomeres were far more likely to end up Alzheimer’s. The point is that those mothers who were heavily stressed during pregnancy had shorter telomeres, which finally affected the offspring.
Thus the remote life endangering events are the very imprints that become life endangering in adult life. It is a memory of near death that again can put you near-death later on, so long as that memory is not relived and extirpate from the system. Stress, or deprivation of need, which is the same thing, imprints a molecular mark that trails us for life. That is the culprit we must deal with.
And that is the culprit that is so evasive because it is of such early provenance. Few of us can imagine that time-span. Few of us can investigate and see the fetal imprint, yet it is there before our eyes if we know how to look at it.
So we ask patients about their childhood, and usually go not further. We leave out real basic causes and content ourselves with what may be obvious. It is the non-obvious that is the killer.
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.