Thursday, March 26, 2015
The Barren, Sterile Life
I am going to wax egocentric and use me as an example of what can go wrong in life. I have pondered how is it that a child can live 20 years with his parents and never once be touched, hugged or kissed. Even by accident. How could it happen that a parent does not ever put her arm around her child? I know. It was my life, never a good approving word from them. It drove me to seek approval everywhere and to do the things that might elicit a wee bit. In my case, my father could not express anything, good or bad. His greatest curse word was “What the sam hill”? It happens to children with parents whose neo-cortex is not driven by the feeling brain. No thought is underlain by feelings and therefore there is no feeling underlying what is happening. It is totally driven by the neo-cortex; and then we go to the cognitive/behavioral therapist to understand why; and there is no solution there. Because no one is dealing with passion and with feeling. They are dealing with disembodied brain that cannot get down to the feeling level because of deep repression/gating that blocks the passage. The result: passels of professionals concocting theories and therapies that are intellectually enforced: “I have my own hammer and I will use it willy-nilly on all patients irrespective of what is wrong with them.” Theories that are produced from on top, not intruding from below, riding feeling saves to inform the theory about and with passion and feeling. The theory and therapy remains uninformed. So in this barren, sterile word we have a parent who tucked my favorite dog, left him alone in the street and drove away.
So why on earth does a shrink, have to recognize the deep brain? Aah I know why. Because the firepower behind most of our behavior lies the brainstem and lower limbic system. We cannot understand human psychology without reference to them. And because patients usually choose a therapist they feel in touch with, the bright person will choose an erudite intellectual for help; a help that can never arrive. A “loosey goosey” type will choose an anything goes, way-out-there therapist or someone who calls herself a therapist. So in the first case they get case studies, statistics and ideas devoid of science; while in the second case, they get unscientific voodoo where anything goes. What they don’t get is cure.
Patients go to get their neuroses reinforced.
The patients can get help, and it has been called “help” for decades, as if there were no hope for cure. You need feelings to be sensitive, to care and be concerned, to be insightful and perceptive. And you only get them in therapy when their importance is understood. You cannot teach anyone to be a good therapist, sensitive and insightful. We all learn that as a result of a feeling therapy or better yet, growing up loved.
It seems as though I am saying that shrinks need to know paleontology well or have a degree in anthropology. Nope. Just an awareness of the importance of the levels of brain function. Never be fooled by that narrow band of cortex into thinking that thinking is the sine qua non.
We can imagine animals life millions of years ago without being experts in their history. A therapist needs to understand the brain that is lodged deep, deep, down in the brain and must see what influence it can have on our thinking, impulses, feelings and behavior. He needs to be an absolute aficionado of science to see how evolution has carried us along. And above all, to understand the notion of resonance: how there is a neuronal/chemical trail that leaves its traces behind on our genes. We need to retrace its steps to see how those traces evolved; to see how we always have had an alarm system, only over time that system diminished and so we lost touch with the actual danger. Even though the danger remained hidden and sequestered. Our bodies will not shut off the alarm, leaving us anxious without knowing why. An anxiety state is a terror state. But over the millennia the top level became so alienated from deep down in the brainstem where terror is organized, that it had its name changed and we call it by some bastard word; terror had a rebirth and is now anxiety; but a rose by any other name...
It is such a waste: they ruin your life and then you carry on ruining it on your own without their help. Suppose you, by some chance, choose Primal Therapy. You go on suffering for years for what they did to you. More often what they did to you is repressed and you go on with your life, such as it is. But if you choose a feeling therapy; beware because many unfeeling people call themselves a feeling therapy; those who do booga booga. The point is that reliving history undoes history. To confirm this we shall soon embark on research with our therapy that goes back and undoes our history and allows us, in a way, to be born again. It is worth the price of admission to be able to shed our pain. It is miraculous, but not a miracle. We are going to look at the traces of methyl on our genes and see how dense they are and how vulnerable they are to change. We will quantify the amount of pain and the amount of resolution with our therapy. I have written about our peer reviewed studies in the World Congress of Psychiatry.
To me it is miraculous that we still have elements in us that belong to ancient creatures millions of years ago. Even more, how powerful those forces remain in us human beings and drive us, make us compulsive and obsessive, behave beyond our control and commit crimes that reflect those rage-full terrorizing epochs.
Let me give you a tragic example. My colleague today sent me an article and photos of babes whose mothers smoked while carrying. They had no idea of the harm they do, and we must educate all young people who plan on having babies; do not take anything in that can harm your baby: not one drink, not one cigarette, not one painkiller and no tranquilizers. All if this will change his brain system and biology for life. He will not get over it.
These are ultra sound photos of unborn babies. (From Durham and Lancaster Universities in the U.K.)(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/24/smoking-while-pregnant-_n_6930678.html)
They are self explanatory. And it points out for all time how what the mother ingests, harms the baby, almost without exception. Those scans, collected at 24 and 36 weeks of womb-life, show a rate of mouth movements much higher than normal. Worse they raise their arms to look for protection it seems, but there isn’t any for them. They are suffering! The nicotine in the mother’s cigarettes can change the central nervous system of the baby and with it certain brain functions. Again, they are suffering and they start life in pain. It becomes imprinted and changes them for a lifetime. Their whole system is defective from the start. How can any feeling mother do that to her child? And above all, how can any therapist ignore these key critical windows and hope to do an effective psychotherapy? Shame!
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.