Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Epigenetics and Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis (Part 9/20)
Reversing Methylation through Reliving
Can we reverse or undo methylation? Can the imprint of trauma be removed at a cellular level? The good news seems to be that, unlike pure genetics, methylation can be reversed, at least through chemical means (Cheishvili, Boureau & Szyf, 2015). Thus, epigenetic-caused disease may be normalized at last. What we are planning to do soon is study the imprint and how to reverse it through Primal Therapy; that is the ultimate reduction of stress. We want to see if we can reverse history through reliving traumas. For if we can do that, we may well help patients to avoid serious disease later on. We will measure the methylation process by which traumas are stamped into the brain. We will reverse history. Think of that: stopping an imprint from going on to cause damage. Yes, it can be undone biochemically. Investigations into using methionine to reverse the effects of methylation are bearing fruit, and other drugs, including some tranquilizers, are helping to accomplish it. But I believe, the harmful effects of epigenetics can be reversed, more surely, effectively and thoroughly through therapy. Reliving early experience in a Primal may partially undo methylation and help to normalize the whole system.
The question is,“How do we do that?” How do we get to those early driving needs that preceded our first steps in a new world? They may seem so “far-out” as to be unbelievable, but many thousands of patients have gone through my therapy, reporting what they went through even when I was unprepared to believe them. At last, new research is confirming what they told me.
The research informs us that damaged rats that had been raised by unloving mothers did not show any signs of damage after being infused with trichostatin, as though the trauma never occurred. This drug removes methyl from the system. It did, in brief, undo history. This is what I think may be happening with our patients. In the reliving there must be a change in methylation so as to reverse history, which is the hypothesis we plan to test. I think we can reverse methylation; at least we can remove some of its embedded trauma. That, in my opinion, is what reliving key traumas does, and that is why we can prevent future diseases or at least modify their harm. We can unlock the trauma from its hiding place and liberate its energy so it does no more harm. Remember, in the imprint there is the memory and also the pain. We are able to remove the pain while leaving the memory intact. Our job is not to produce robots without memory. But we don’t want the memory to be awash in suffering.
As we saw earlier, Michael Meaney and his research team found that deprived animals, when later raised by a more loving mother, experience a partial recovery as higher-level brain processes override some of the effects of early imprints (Meaney et al., 1985). The neo-cortex can provide compensations for the pain, masking the imprint, but cannot eradicate it. Meaney’s rats, deprived and damaged early on by a disappearing mother, were later put into an enriched environment where they seemed happier and played well together. But their stress hormone level was still high; they still suffered, as do humans under similar conditions. Masking the pain is not the same as resolving it, and we may die prematurely from that masking. You might call it a devil’s bargain: if we mask the pain we may die early, but if we don’t we suffer. However there is a third possibility: relive and integrate the pain, and thus be done with it. There seems to be a window of opportunity before methylation sets in when the imprint can be partially reversed (16). But it is a narrow, short-lived window. After that the imprint remains for a very long time.
Our human imprint, I propose, is found in every fiber and cell of our being and retains a precise memory of its past. It cannot be pinpointed to any particular location in the system since it is everywhere, from our hormonal balance to our neurology. The imprint says, “this is what happened to me and this is who I am;” and because the imprint is everywhere, when we relive it there may be changes throughout the system. That is why we need to relive experiences: to reset the set points and, in so doing, exercise a profoundly new approach to medicine and psychiatry. We need to “remember” with our entire physiology and being, not just the neo-cortex. Above all, we need doctors to stop asking, “Have you been in any unusual stress recently?” They need to ask the right questions if they want the right answers. Since we cannot ask the fetus about his stress we need to do the next best thing and sniff out biologic damage, descend down the chain of pain, following resonance to reach the fetal level and see what we find. Most often we find anoxia in almost lethal states. Resonance ineluctably leads to the beginning of life. Each new key memory finds its partner on lower levels; all we need to do is access the first top level in slow, methodical steps until we arrive at the first station.
Let us take off our blinders and look at the whole brain. And above all, the whole person. Yes, one chemical therapy can affect memory and the imprint, but it is doubtful that all of the accouterments of that memory will be reversed, as well.
(16) In our forthcoming research on demethylation, with Dr. Justin Feinstein of the Laureate Institute for Brain Research, we hope to find more answers. Our hypothesis is that if we take a certain sample (lymphoblasts) from the bone marrow and see how it grows into white blood cells, we can measure demethylation. It is a preliminary theory, but there may be a way, in the near future, to see what effects our therapy or other chemicals may have on methylation.
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.