Saturday, January 10, 2015

So What is the Meaning of Life?

 Stop asking the question and you will be better for it. I have written before, there is no meaning to life, only to the meaning we give it; to experience.  Someone in a coma is alive but there is no meaning to it.    We don’t have to ask what’s it all about; it’s about nothing. Imagine two chimps asking each other what’s it all about?  That represents our feeling selves and down inside we react but don’t ask intellectual questions.  Down deep we are chimps.  Now that we are humans we ask the question when the answer lies on the feeling level where there are no intellectual questions.  If we deny our chimp selves we will be loaded with questions about meaning.  And when we are disconnected from our chimp selves we manufacture questions that never need to be asked, in the first place.  What am I saying?  That we make our own meaning and no one else can. Oh wait, Janov can.  What?  What does Janov do? He puts us in touch with the chimp inside, that once and for all eliminates those questions about meaning.  Because now we are in touch with our chimps running around inside and they have no questions like that.  Once they are into deep feelings I have never seen a patient in a Primal ask about meaning; they are too busy feeling, not thinking.

 And what could a meaning be?  What do I want to get out of life?  To be famous, successful, appreciated?  Or it can be any left over need from childhood?  What it is not and can never be is the answer to meaning of your life.  There is only meaning to experience; it gives me joy, it gives me pain, it makes me happy, successful, etc.

 We abdicate our personal meaning the minute we think that someone can supply us with it.   The trouble is many of the questions and search for answers become an endless affair since there are no answers.  The minute we think we found one it seems to pale until we go onto the next one;  a certain vitamin or therapy or guru become interchangeable as what we search for does not exist—the meaning of our lives.  But if we are needy, a strong guru will have us genuflect before him,  lose all critical faculties and believe in him devoutly.  The guru needs devotees and we supply the unquestioned devotion.  Once anyone else locks into our unfulfilled need we are hooked, literally.  Our need is the hook; once a psychopath figures that out, he has got us.  He can make us believe in the most outrageous ideas because we are hooked, addicted to his message of promised fulfillment.  We are hooked by need and that is pre-potent over everything else.  It is unfulfilled need that is addicting.  The addiction (propensity for) is already there inside of us.  We need to go deep inside of us, not dancing around the surface finding safer, less addicting pain killers; or blaming how easy it is to get drugs at pharmacies. If he have to blame we should blame the Janovian Gap; the gap between our deep imprints and our conscious/awareness.

 And that is what differentiates us in Primal from all other modes of treatment!  It is not the pills or the needles;  it is us!  We are the addicts, not the oxycodone or heroin.  Let’s not address what lies in the corner pharmacy; let’s address what is sequestered in the deep antipodes of the brain.  There is where the addict hangs out needing an endless supply of painkillers.

 Of course, many of us never ask the question about meaning.  There are two sorts; those who feel fully and do not need to ask the question about meaning; and then those who never fully feel and have unlimited questions to pose about meaning.  And then, alas, there is the third route; those who do not feel and never ask any questions of life.  These are the ones who exist but are not living, the problem of too many of us. Or whole culture militates against reflection.  “Get going.  Get it done.  Success is all,” etc.

 So here we have a dilemma; those who fully feel are propelled to search for meaning;  and whose do not ask themselves about meaning,, and those who do not feel and also never ask them selves what is it all about; they feel something is missing but what?.  They just live and never reflect about their lives.  They find a groove and stay in it and never put their lives in question.  Is that good?  It seems good for them to live the unreflective and unexamined life.  They do not wonder where their lives could be or what else they can do with it.  They are low in imagination and vision and do not seem to care; just as so many individuals in their seventies and eighties seem to give up on life and ascribe no further meaning to it.  They have lost their ambition, their drive, their desires and the notion of what could be—what could they do--with their lives.  They gave up on meaning because doing and thinking and feeling comprise the life of meaning.  Especially feeling; for that seems to be the essence.  I do not plan to join those who give up on life; my writing saves me and I hope, many others.  By the way,  I have a book, Beyond Belief, coming out at the end of the year, which discusses all this in detail.

 Those who don’t feel spend their lives seeking what life means. They travel to see the priest, the swami or guru; someone to help them find the meaning of life.  And if someone has to give it to you, it means you have already lost it.  Why would you look for something that you never had and therefore never lost?  Why spend thousands dreaming about someone who has all the answers when no one but you has it; and you don’t have to go to India to find it; just drop a few millimeters down in the brain and there lies meaning; the pool of feeling/meaning ready to add to your experience.  There lies joy, enthusiasm, dreams, exuberance.  Oh oh. There lies that chimp playing down below. He will help us enjoy life; we have been asking the wrong person.

  What more could we ask for?  And no one can give us that; only our own personal feelings can do it.  And it is free and not far away. The trouble is that when we look for it we feel we have to find that special someone who has the right pulpit for us to believe in.  And he promises so much; if we can only divest ourselves of critical thinking and go along.  And when he preaches and touches us we fill in the blanks and believe we have found it.  What?  Salvation, help, guidance, warmth, leadership and all of the things we missed as children.  We join with other believers and voila, we are saved and have a direction.  Oh yes,  that direction, with its patina of white robes, does not come free;  we need to pay a lot for it but we think it is a small price to pay to resurrect our hope in and for life.  That is what we are buying,  hope, born of early desperate hopelessness, someone to show us the way and to take an interest in us and our health and direction ... a parent.  We buy that in our all knowing, omniscient therapists; while all we in Primal have to offer is hopelessness; that dreaded feeling that will finally pull us out of the search for a greater life.  Yet that painful feeling is what liberates us; hope born from hopelessness.  It stops the act-out in its tracks, avoids the unrelenting search for an all-knowing “God” who will not let anything bad happen to us.

 Why is addiction so hard to treat? Because painful need is what addiction is about; it lasts and lasts until it is finally felt in its entirety.  So addiction is just about all the same, whether food, drugs, work, drink, etc.  It is the same pained need.  What is it they have in common?  They all ease pain; the pain of unfulfilled need, starting from the beginning of life.  There are many studies about this; one demonstrates that nutritional deficiency very early in gestation is the basis for later overeating.  The over-eater usually has no idea about this lack so early on.  So we automatically chose our poison; and what we choose is often related to that deprived need.  It is one way we know what was missing.  Also, the addict usually chooses something available all of the time, like her mother’s love was not.  So booze, cigarettes, whores, drugs, and so on.  Why continuously go after what is not available when drugs are?  That is what the addict learns early on; until the doctors enter the scene and try to take it all alway.

 Addiction depends on the early need and what you find early on to quell its pain.  One patient found his mother’s wine when he was eight years old.  Later on, he drank; a lot.  Robin Williams used to joke how well he felt and how sure he is well off drugs and booze, until during shooting a film he stopped into a bar in Alaska and saw a bottle of whisky.  He was hooked again.  He was still needing to quell his pain and find surcease.  But the truly only way anyone can do that without excess residual tension and a shorter life is to feel the need ... fully at its source!  Robin saw hope and help again.

 And what does the depressive feel most of the time; “I have no meaning to my life.” And why?  Because he has no energy or “life force’ to get out of bed and produce a meaning to his life.  His repression has sucked the life out of him so he cannot feel any of the elements of meaning. His feelings seem to be buried deep down under the ceiling of repression.  And why?  Because his pain has evoked the chemicals of repression into action; a pain he does not feel, only its after-affects.  He feels down and cannot get up to do anything.  His gates seem to be closed against him.  They have shut-away his meaning.  He is now susceptible to a guru, therapist, a life coach, and advisor, etc.  He needs to be drawn out, he needs someone to literally "breathe life into him".  So many of them, by the way, do have serious oxygen deficit during the birth process which is imprinted and channels us.  The cultist needs to be told what to do and how to act because he has lost his bearings, his feelings.

 I have not mentioned religion that provides so many answers for those are lost, and they tell us what the meaning of life is, ad nauseam.  The more we believe the less we follow our own feelings.  We obey and imagine we find salvation in that.

 Here is one of my bloggers and friends just wrote to me:  “To select Evolution in Reverse as a treatment method is deeply linked to a conviction “that we are the evolutionary result of all history, personal and ancient.” I would never trust a religious believer, who lives by the Bible’s creation story / Genesis and the commandments, at the same time, to be a reliable Primal Therapist. Possibly, he / she can be an interesting PT patient seeking a cure for his / her pain propelled religiosity. My heart rate flew up into the 70’s when Art expressed his surprise that the Catholic Church has priests / specialists who recognize / root out the devil. It takes One (a pain propelled Catholic priest) to know One (the devil). Their roles /specialties are both pain propelled products of the same evolution. (The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, was appointed Person of the Year 2013 by the US news magazine Time. Without making other comparisons, the same magazine appointed Adolf Hitler, Person of the Year, in 1938.)

 More than 100 years ago one of Sweden’s most talented personalities, the skilled biologist, scientist and Darwinist Bengt Lindforss got his career seriously disturbed by the bishop, acting university chancellor and devil worshiper Gottfrid Billing. In his book, “Why Evolution is True”, Jerry A. Coyne tells us that anti-evolutionism, still today is very strong in the US and on the rise in England and Germany!

 In 2006 only 40% of Americans (down 5% from 1985!!) believed that humans developed from earlier species of animals. We descend from a primate lineage that split off from our common ancestor with the chimpanzees roughly seven million years ago. (In France and Scandinavia 80% of people see evolution as true). According to Jerry A. Coyne, evolution gets bumped down even further in the US when it comes to deciding whether it should be taught in the public schools. Two-thirds of Americans feel that if evolution is taught in the science classroom, creationism should be as well. In the US only 12 percent - one in eight people - think that evolution should be taught without mentioning a creationist alternative…

Seen from the bright side, 12% of the US population means 38 million people…

I think that says a lot.  I hope this provides another perspective on meaning.  Addicts do what they can to live a meaningful life but pain always gets in the way and blunts it.  This is my message.


  1. Hi Art,

    perhaps "Why is Meaning perceived as Life"? IS the more pertinent question. . .

    Aaand Primal theory gives the answer. . . 'Meaning' is a trick of the mind (3rd line); it is a poor substitute for integrated feelings. Meaning (like care) can be sought after and bought (or brainwashed into you). Unlike love on which there is no price nor conditions other than the desire to feel and to be really who you are (cliche I know but it's true though isn't it)?

    Because I am 'not yet there' myself I will slightly twist this 'observation' round to suit my pet gripe:

    On BBC radio 4 the other day an article came up about the responsibility that leaders have for the ideas and 'advice' they hand out to their followers. I got talking to my body-work therapist about this and he said that a therapist cannot take responsibility for actions or assumptions that the patient takes away from their therapy sessions. . . Mmmmmm. . .

    I kind of let that one go because he particularly never offers advice to me and rarely gets into 'discussions' in which he could 'lead opinion' and therefore 'shape my attitudes'. So, I kind of accept his view based on his naivety about the degree of 'draping' other therapists do with their patients. I also respect his tendency not to talk about that much either. . . Discretion being the better part of valor. . . How English is that?

    Anyway, it seems to me ETHICALLY APPROPRIATE that any system of 'leadership' that steps into the realm of command MUST accept some responsibility for the actions that people subsequently perform. In other words, you can delegate a task but you cannot delegate the entire responsibility for the consequences. . . Can you?

    Hang on, at what point does offering advice become 'delegation'? At what point does suggesting the follower perform 'X-Y-Z' become a command, a delegation? Well in the world of advertising we have banned cigarette advertising because we know it's bad for health. . . and also many other things through legislation have become illegal to promote. . . So there IS certainly widespread acknowledgement that with leadership comes responsibility for what you advise.

    Thus the search by so many people for meaning (and answers from leaders) must carry a larger responsibility for the followers perception and actions, the consequences. But globalisation and the relentless technologisation of our supply chains results in our sources of nourishment becoming ever increasingly DISTANCED from the societies we actually live in. This has NOT made life more simple. On the contrary life is now so complicated nobody can really relate as we used to:
    Only one generation ago a young person could ask for advice from an elder BECAUSE the question was likely limited to a very small field of affect: "shall I date the girl up the lane"? or "do you think I should use Quink Ink in my fountain pen OR switch to Ball Points". . ?

    Nowadays you can date some one on Mars and email some one on the Moon; you probably get your avocados for the other side of the planet and live in a street where 30 other languages are spoken.
    Nowadays nobody dare ask any real questions BECAUSE there are way too many superficial answers. . .

    Paul G.

  2. Hi,

    On blame. . . (and 'shame'). . .

    Recently in UK the political system has gone hopelessly awry. Every one knows why too. Every one knows that the world influences on our tiny (but grossly over populated) country and the history of our (so called) Great Empire have compounded in a way to produce seriously 'Wicked Problems'. . . Every one knows that no one really has any of the answers (politicians least of all) and so people have become even more adept at 'sticking their heads in the sand' and carrying on regardless.
    Thus all that UK citizens have to navigate their way down the very straight and narrow pavement to the supermarket (and back again) is the social assumption that they personally cannot be to blame for the general powerlessness that people feel. The 'Antipathy' that exists in UK has only one barrier left. . . Shame. And to avoid that shame we must blame some one else for any extra problem that arises out of this global disarray impacting on our tiny overpopulated island.
    As a distraction people consequently go in droves to shopping malls to waste their hyper inflated sterling on products which will soon end up in charity shops and landfill. . . What brilliant distraction from the problems Humanity had thrown up in these last decades. . . I digress. . .

    But our politicians exhort us not to 'Blame & Shame' whilst our media tells us we have become the 'Blame & Shame' Culture. . . And so we can feel even more social and global shame for being so powerless having once identified with being the Great Mother Country. . .

    It seems to me that when humans form groups which are so large as to have so few leaders who RELATE in any (meaningful !) way with their electorate then you get POWERLESSNESS and that is shameful. The human condition of repression breeds a false sense of WILL. We are reduced to INDIVIDUAL digits in the (alleged) NUCLEAR family and we are supposed to have FREE WILL ?

    It's a con. Aaaand these 'hooks' that our un - met need gets fished with, well they 'drag us up' to the surface of our pool of pain where we feel naked and ashamed before our peers.

    Paul G.

  3. An email comment:
    "Art, can you imagine the kind of childhoods Hegel and Kierkegaard had? Oh my!"

  4. Another email comment:
    ""The meaning of life"?????. Well !! this chump here knows no meaning to life ... there is only the essence of life ... to laugh, to cry, to get pissed when something happens that I don't like, to scream when terrified, to walk, to run, to jump, to dance, to sing and to have another person wrap their arms around me whilst I wrap my arms around them ... such a warm feeling.

    Great post as usual Art.


    1. Thanks Jack, if you keep reading I will keep writing. art

    2. It is a good post. Something started at an early age to work along with all throughout one's life, something positive, that, to me, is just one facet of living, but an important one.

  5. Another email comment:

    "What is the purpose of life?

  6. Another email comment:
    "Good. I'm glad you see merit in a "Primal Therapy" book for young folk. As to what your focus would be?; especially in writing an informative book for a youthful technology-obsessed generation. I hope your writer is a "Millennial" (here I thought you did it all yourself!) cause it seems unlikely Your generation, or mine (one behind yours) could even begin to know how to communicate with these young people. Thirteen to sixteen year olds are the youngest Millennials...and I would think --your primary audience.
    One thing many entreprenuer's of startup companies attempt to do is Disrupt large established industry --as Napster did with the music industry. I'd say you're certainly a major disrupter, Art(quietly?) taking on the whole medical-therapeudic industry as you have. So Challenging the youths to question entrenched "beliefs" in these fields would seem a valid approach. Then backing it up with your own "tech"-based measurements/results; something, as you say, no other therapy can or does. One thing this young audience would say --Prove It!!
    Obviously there needs to be a convincing argument as to Why they should read your book...and the (potential) benefit they could get from doing so. After all, it doesn't contain any "dragons or wizards" --ahem. Aah...except for the wizardry/wisdom of one's own body! Also, this being a parent-centric generation, so any hint of "blaming" parents may not go down well. I'd think a lot of initial talking with your target audience would be a necessity. As for distribution, I'd suggest "word of mouth" and social networking; more than traditional Publishing.
    I'm toying with my own idea of writing a book for youths. I'm that handwriting analyst who corresponded with your Dr. Holden way back when. The handwriting analysis system I've developed (in part based on the childhood development literature) really was possible because of the "Primal Reality". That is, the Reality of Feelings...and how they're "evident" in the hw. It all begins with the "Blankness" of the paper, which the (line as) intellect is superimposed over, and encircles --as with a loop. As well, handwriting is the historical record of the individual, thus your emphasis on "evolution" in the development of the brain. The "3 Zones" of handwriting...upper and lower loop letters...and those with no upper or lower part, correspond to the biological (brainstem), physiological (Limbic System) and psychological (neo-cortex). My problem is --Handwriting?? What young person does that these days!! I understand that in some --maybe most/all-- schools, they're not even Teaching writing anymore! A massive power outage and these kids will be --illiterate!!"

  7. I suppose it is justing "Be'ing". To simply "Be" and accept that is quite something. Then again one would'nt even know one had to accept it because one was just "Be'ing".

  8. If you look at how many "professional" there is in psychiatry and psychology so can the number of primal therapists be compared with a drop in the ocean. So to get a hearing for Janovs primal therapy around already "professional" in psychiatry and psychology may seem more impossible than possible. In that statement it seems more reasonable for a legally process for what science tells us about primaltherapy than to butting with a wall impossible.
    They has even introduced a concept of meta-analyzes for their heads to think right about the psychological phenomena. Meta-analysis a concept to analyze what previous analysis shows... still in their "heads".


  9. A not uncommon phenomenon of psychiatry is to taunt their victims "patients" when they themselves can not handle what the symptom really is about... when they face issues impossible for their goal of treatment!

    One can ask a serious question about what a psychiatrist thinks will be the result when he mocks his patient? A patient in their suffering how they shall explain himself... all for what the psychiatrist set rules in the sense of what medication he should insert... it ruthlessly against what the patient needs. A requirement where he binds his patient at symptom for what explanation he requires.

    Aida and I was and visited her psychiatrist for help with a time on sick leave... something he could not handle for not perceived be knowledgeable of what Aida needing from primal therapy... primal therapy which he previously commented degrading.

    Aida told of people who are helplessly left out ... about people who are "down there" ... "down there" commented the psychiatrist and looked down at the floor in the sense to illustrate what was down there. Whereupon Aida gave him a proper scolding to ridicule what she illustrated. Something he securely regret as I calmly defended Aida for what she explained.

    This is what we in the legal sentences need to vent... it is everyday life for many sufferers... when faced with impossible questions... questions impossible to answer but still gets assigned in the sense of what a psychiatrist requires answer. Their goal... with the results of suffering for their victims "patients".

    It is clear that there are moments when a provocation may be in meaning to bring up feelings but it needed a whole different knowledge than a psychiatrist possesses.


    1. Well Frank, I completely agree.

      There's a kind of "vindication" involved with leadership / command. It is in that old adage:
      -"Power Corrupts; absolute power Absolutely Corrupts". . . and where better for this to operate than in the 'office of a therapist'. Where the patient 'bares all' and 'confidentiality becomes a 'confidence trick'. . . Such an old chestnut too, one which the cognoscenti keep on re-inventing. . .

      Paul G.

  10. Hi,

    off topic but I finally found what appears to be another good psych website / blog; try: Articles by Andrea Schnider (Silent Abuse) and 'Surviving Therapist Abuse'. There's a good article by Sandra Lee Dennis Phd called: "Just Forgive"!

    This is the best I have found yet in my researches. . .

    Paul G.

  11. Hi,

    An extract from: In "Remembering Boethius":
    Writing Writing Aristocratic Identity in Late Medieval French Literature. . .

    -"Hugh also emphasises the mnemonic value of incorporating the particular context of memorisation, recollecting the details of the temporal, physical and personal situation in which it occurs. His advice, like other medieval writing on memory, reflects a profound awareness of the extent to which the associative connections that facilitate memory are particular, formed over time through habitual experience and ultimately unique to the individual. Memory training draws on local attachments and engages the subjective sense of embodied experience to turn the public materials of literary tradition into private property"-.

    Sounds like Primal Theory. . . but waiting to be discovered in an enclosed, secure laboratory of empathy, 500 years later. . .

    Paul G.

  12. Hi,

    Um, there's been a lot of talk and reference to 'narcissism' recently. I kind of know some of my 'wounding' and end up ranting about it on this blog (too much maybe). Many would say I have an excessive amount to rant about. It's almost embarrassing. But, hey, it's not as embarrassing as being ignored, then stabbed in the back and made the butt end of your peers repression. . .
    Ok, as labels go, drawn from that infamous Greek myth about the lad who fell in love with his own reflection, it might be useful. When you are all alone, hiding from 'them out there' it's a survival instinct to refer to yourself. Yes indeed: "Look In The Mirror".
    People say narcissism is a 'spectrum' but the WORD has become a SPELL to CAST OUT any one who does not actually conform to very narrow parameters of 'social inclusion'.

    I mean, at what point does Free Will become Narcissistic abuse? Particularly when it's SO HARD to get personal needs met in ordinary life. I mentioned before how easy it is to label a toddler narcissistic because she challenges authority. Is the same true for us adults?
    So, could it be true that there are "Healthy Forms of Narcissism"? They would be multifarious; it's so subjective; I just don't know. Art might say that they're a defense. . . and when society is so keen to point the finger at those who stray from the straight and narrow it beggars the question "What IS Healthy Narcissism"? (I'm going round and round here aren't I)?

    Cutting to the chase: narcissistic wounding occurs when 1st line pressure (up) meets 2nd line social (family) pressure DOWN, to conform to IDEALS; to OBEY RULES. . . morality. It's like a 'compression'. . . We get squashed from below and above simultaneously. . .

    There we are as little tykes (carrying the burden of imprinted trauma most likely) trying to master the world and show Daddy/Mummy how clever we are but smashing the vase and pulling the curtains off their rails is what we actually achieve. Like kittens, at that age we are 'climbing the walls'. . . We appear to be 'crazy'. . .

    So if we DON'T GET RECOGNITION for our (vain?) attempts at showing Daddy how well 'endowed' we are we get WOUNDED. Daddy (or Mummy) has to BE THERE to congratulate us on our efforts. . . otherwise narcissistic wounding occurs. . . Then perhaps we have to play the silent treatment later, pouting when presented with pithy decisions. . . Or some such symptomatic nonsense which surely doesn't fit into the expected SOCIAL NORMS; nor the 'accepted psychotherapeutic norms'.

    In much earlier posts Art said that the main difference between (real) Primal and other conventional forms of therapy IS the 1st line. It seems to me that without this acknowledgement those of us with entrenched wounding could appear to be 'un responsive' or worse: 'borderline', when in reality we just need to be acknowledged for what happened 'below the threshold of conscious awareness' when we were still imprinting. . . during the critical window; and that would take a Primal Center, not a comfortable 'living room' with nice paintings on the wall. . .

    Paul G.


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.