Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Epigenetics and Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis (Part 11/20)
And how is this possible? Luckily, each new harmful experience that remains un-integrated at lower levels is later re-represented in a higher level of the nervous system, where it is coded as the outsider or enemy. Lower level imprints send references higher up in the nervous system. These higher-level memories are wired together with their origins down below. They form a neural circuit, a pathway. And when circuits are wired together they tend to fire together; hence resonance. When a trauma exists later on, it may resonate with earlier imprints and set off the whole memory intact. It is here that there may be inordinate responses to the most banal of events. We are winding down again to the originating sources, the base of the feeling. That is how we relive purely physiologic brainstem responses without ever acknowledging them. It is how we get to preverbal events automatically. When the Primal imprint sends its message higher up, feelings are added to the impulse, and then later ideas and comprehension are included. Together these form a complete feeling. All are necessary, eventually, in reliving. That is how something in the present, a rejection, can set off such catastrophic feelings. It is an organic process and needs to happen in a precise order, with the original feelings preserved. It may be that specific brain frequencies tie these events together. Figuratively, what is going on is much like the stone thrown into the pond: a ripple effect in the way the neurons connect to each other in mirrored progression. When there are certain kinds of triggers, the brain conjures up its related history, intact, kindling like-minded feelings and their physiology together.
Recent research, both with Primal patients and in neuroscience labs, is showing that being unconscious of pain is a survival mechanism, a protection against overwhelming input. But the imprinted memory stays and continues to do its damage over a lifetime. In short, it is not inert. It has a force that threatens our ability to adapt, as I explain in detail shortly. The deeper we go down in the brain the more powerful the force of memory. Hence the more unconscious it has to be... for protection. When the trauma is too great or too prolonged, the ability to adapt becomes more feeble and less flexible. This is especially true of long-term neglect and abuse. Here the memories seem to dig in and solidify, impervious to change. And as conscious/awareness lessens, the harm begins, both mental and physical. We are then partially unconscious and are unaware of the damage. Fear-memories are joined by multiple pathways and then are engraved.
What the new research shows is what I’ve been saying all along: that one needs to go back to the mood when the memory was imprinted. But doing so artificially can make matters worse. Far better to arrive there slowly on an evolutionary time-scale. In their studies with mice, the Northwestern researchers made an important observation which applies to our human patients: It is difficult for therapists to access these memories because the patients themselves cannot remember the traumatic experiences that are the root cause of their symptoms. Which is exactly why we need to go slowly down the chain of pain, and let the patient decide how fast he can go. The team noted that the brain functions in different states like a radio, switching from AM to FM. “It’s as if the brain is normally tuned to FM stations to access memories, but needs to be tuned to AM stations to access subconscious memories,” stated the lead investigator, Dr. Jelena Radulovic, Dunbar Professor in Bipolar Disease at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.(17) In short, certain kinds of severe memories need to be tuned properly to receive painful messages. I would put it differently, but we agree that traumatic memories are stored in the brain, where they remain and cause damage.
What the research team and I agree on is that we need to turn on the exact frequency of the feeling. In other words, we need to go back in time to the imprinted pain, and no byways allowed. We cannot skirt around the feeling. The safeguard here is that we allow the patient to go back there in a precise manner so that any detours, the byways of feeling, are avoided. And in our own research we found that there were specific frequencies that align with feelings. They were never fast, which meant being over the Primal Zone. We watched as we slowed the frequency (with lights) when feelings began to intrude. They insist, as do I, that the brain needs to go back to the proper frequency and target a specific feeling. My observation now for almost fifty years is that the natural evolutionary way is the proper path to follow. Nature is the sine qua non.
(17) Paul, M. (2015, August 18). News. Retrieved from http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2015/08/traumatic-memories-hide-retrieve-them.html
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.