Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Here is the Ultimate Logic of Primal Therapy

So why I am banging on about epigenetics?  There must be some other new science somewhere in psychology.  Not to my knowledge.  But look here:  this could be a quote from my book but instead and far better it is a quote from a scientific group that is confirming primal theory with every sentence.  “Children who have been abused or rejected early in life are at risk for developing both emotional and physical health problems.  In the new study, researchers were able to measure the degree  to which genes were turned on or off through a biochemical process called methylation.”  ( “Maltreatment affects the way children’s genes are activated.” Society for Research in Child Development.    Science Daily, 24 July 2014. see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140724094207.htm)

Is that right?  You mean traumas during early childhood determine how our genetic legacy turns out.  Did I say that?  Are they saying it too? Then we agree and we have the clinical experience and research results to confirm it.

The researchers  found that children who had been badly treated had more of the “Marks” or “Traces” of methylation on the genes, meaning trauma, that dictates health and sociability later in life.  This methylation, as I have written many times, is one key biochemical mechanism that cells use to control how genes are expressed or not expressed.
And that means how we evolve, how we behave, how and when we get sick.  How our lives turn out, in short.  I have seen it clinically for over fifty years and now independent sources are supporting what we know clinically, not only do we not grow out of childhood trauma, nor do we forget it and leave it behind, but that traces are embedded for a lifetime in our brain system and physiology.  To get well we must deal with the methylated imprint.  There is no more discussion of this point. We have treated thousands of patients over the decades and observe it constantly.  Nurture does change nature, and seems very important in our evolution.

The difference we have now is that scientists can measure the degree or severity of the imprint.  And we are beginning to account for how much pain drives us and how much does experience account for all this; that is, how much experience changes the biology of our genes.  We know this from many studies, not the least of which is found in recent autopsies of depressives whose feeling brains were heavily methylated.  (M.S. Korgaonkar, et al.  “Early exposure to traumatic stressors impairs emotional brain circuitry. “  Plos One    Sept 13, 2013, see http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0075524)  With trauma they have found a less developed feeling brain, including the  amygdala.  It turns out that a great deal of the feeling brain is affected.  And science is beginning to see the origins of Alzheimers disease associated with increased methylation.

So when kids are having trouble in school or have constant anxiety or attention problems we need to look deep in the brain and deeper into their early experience.  When there are constant allergies, are they correlated with methylation and how much?  In other words, we need to stop  intellectualizing and search into our history and early history.  What I have been reiterating for decades is that the seeds of later heart disease, breathing function, blood pressure, epilepsy and migraines can have origins even while we live in the womb.  And soon we will be able to measure the lessening of methylation and the undoing of repression.  Imagine that; a means to measure neurosis and its eradication.  Wonderful.  believe it is no longer possible to ignore all this and pretend to do proper psychotherapy.    It means that end of doling out pills to suppress the pain, but on the contrary, to allow its expression and stop hiding it.  It means final liberation: pointing to a number and saying, “ you are this much less neurotic now.  You are this much less likely to be addicted again or have high blood pressure again.  Wow.


  1. maybe it would help if other therapeutic approaches would examine their effectiveness the way you will... is it beginning to happen?

    http://www.nature.com/tp/journal/v4/n9/full/tp201483a.html (i don't understand much of it)

    from comparisons you could learn a lot, i guess. for example your results maybe could be in many ways unique (different) because of unique approach that primal therapy has. maybe those comparisons could even show if the idea behind the research is well thought of.

    i wonder does the decades of post trauma bad breathing, eating, digesting, exercising, relationships, stress, anxiety... has the effect on the research results and if it does, is there a way to "see through" it and focus on primal pain?

  2. Vuko!

    No... there are no eyes to see through with. Our eyes are too busy looking at what does not make it possible! We have to look at what it is to feel and then think right about it as it will be visible.
    We must ensure what it is to feel and not to think about other things when we look. It seems impossible from the value we are looking today. Nothing sooner than we looking with our "right" eyes can we see our defense...that is where our anxiety and depression makes itself known and it will becomes possible!



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.