Friday, May 29, 2015
I don’t know why I read the NY Times articles which publishes grinders for me, (NY Times, May 17, 2015 see: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com//2015/05/16/no-longer-wanting-to-die/). They love Behavior Therapy and meanwhile I cannot get one of my articles in their paper. This blog is a follow-up to the one I just published called, ON BEING LONELY (see: http://cigognenews.blogspot.com/2015/05/on-feeling-lonely-again.html). I hope to show the bankruptcy of non-dynamic approaches that leave science far behind; where therapists become a cheering section for the oppressed. “You can do it; But, you have to accept yourself first”.
Whaaat? I sit here thinking, “How on earth can I do that?” Let’s say I tell myself I am good, smart and warm. But wait a minute I am completely unconvinced. I don’t feel that way. My whole history makes me feel bad, dumb and worthless, which is absolutely true of my early life. You mean I should deny who I am and take on another persona who is loveable? Gee, I’ll try. Darn, I just can’t do it. Now what do I do? I know… I will pretend and please my doctor.
This is about the patient who entered Behavior Therapy for suicidal depression. He had shock therapy plus years of psychotherapy plus drug after drug; nothing worked.
The opening gambit finds the therapist informing the patient that to get well the first step has to be to “accept yourself as you are.” These admonitions are throwbacks to early Gestalt therapy, which was “sold” by Fritz Perls. After he told everyone what to do and how to live, the patient had then to kiss him to end the session. This advice has no rationale whatsoever and has no basis in science; it is every man for himself. Caprice replaces science.
So let’s go on with his therapy, which has a major space in the NY Times. This therapy was finally accepted by the patient, and by inference, the NY Times, as well.
The patient’s problems had a history but was again set off by a failed business deal. He was known as “treatment resistant depression.” The therapy was not in question; it was his resistance to it. How neat.
Along comes a new therapy, or should I say a new label for an old treatment, known as Dialectic Behavior Therapy. I assume they mean some kind of improvement on Behavior Therapy. It is aimed at suicidal patients. Dr Linehan, the founder, claims that Behavior Therapy couldn’t work for her so she developed a new approach.
What it does is help patients “identify and change negative and erroneous thoughts". This sounds precisely like Behavior Therapy. Dr. Linehan says that the problem with staying on this approach is that it treats the patients’ pain being all in the head, and that “belittles the patient.” What has to happen according to her is that the patient, first and foremost, must accept himself and be accepted by others as he is. She realizes that sometimes the person is also overwhelmed by emotions. So she recommends some skills to stop the flooding of emotions.
“It lies in the pivotal moment between experiencing the feeling and acting on it.” So she finds a way: take ice from the fridge and hold it on your neck. Distract yourself. Snap a rubber band on your wrist. Etc, ad nauseam. In other words, never feel the feelings but treat them as intruders and enemies to avoid. The only thing that could help healing, feeling one’s feelings, becomes an anathema. It is anti-healing and anti-Primal. Which has been given a big boost from an august newspaper.
This so-called new therapy is a simple turn on the usual Behavior Therapy. No scientist need apply because science is not welcome here.
So the therapist believes there is improvement because the distraction (is that really therapy?) lowers anxiety. Is that measured or still part of the booga booga approach? After a lifetime of being criticized and belittled by parents she argues it can be undone by talking to yourself. Ayayay. It is still all in her head and now in the patient’s who thinks he is better.
So every time a feeling comes up, instead of feeling it and improving she asks patients to do the opposite and stop feeling. Stop getting well, for no matter what she says, it is still “in your head.”
Where are earth does she get her ideas about feelings? Where does she think they come from? Do they come from space or are they the results of our experience? What experience? Does the patient have no history, no previous neglect, or trauma? This is exactly and only Behavior Therapy. It is not new, does not make any improvement and treats the patient as ahistoric.
A slight postscript: what does Dr. Linehan think is the role of feelings? Does she know that they are guideposts, that they warn us of threat and danger? That they signal illness and problems internally. That they lead to love and caring and empathy? That they lead us to make good decisions that are salutary for ourselves?
So why are feelings there? To allow us to love and be loved, to help others, to sympathize with others’ plight and to help us establish good relationships. They are not our enemy; they help save our lives. Above all, even though we all have feeling centers, not all of us have access to feelings. Some of us are so shut off that we are basically unfeeling. What makes us really human are feelings; why on earth do we want to suppress them?
I think my departing point from Dr. Linehan is that when she sees emerging feelings, she rushes in to divert the patient away from them. When we see feelings we help the patient into them in slow methodic fashion, so that he becomes a feeling, sensate human being. This is the way he becomes human, learns to love and be loved and gets rid of his Primal Demons that have plagued him.
Since we are historic beings how can we get well in an anti-feeling way? We can’t.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
There is a news story today about a writer who says he has always felt lonely, and no one has been able to solve it: he is at wits end. I will try to help understand it.
I have to take him at his word and believe what he means to say by lonely is feeling all alone. But feeling all alone, lonely, is not just a temporary state. It is something that never seems to stop, no matter what he does. So, I say to myself, “what makes someone feel lonely all of their lives?” Since I have been down to the lowest level of brain function, I have a good idea, and I shall share it. Left alone a lot during infancy and childhood certainly more deeply embeds the feeling and compounds the pain. But it is not always what makes it linger. It makes the feeling worst and more unbearable but the provenance is earlier, often much earlier. I know this from experience, as well as from observation.
So what could it be? What could make us feel so alone? It could be just after birth. When we enter this world, we are all alone, terrified in such a strange place, and no one is there; no one comes to soothe us. We feel isolated and ALONE. When you need a loving hand, when it is basically life and death; when it is as urgent as life itself. The baby cannot see a kind, caring face because he is being weighed, and “handled” by white coats done too often with a slight indifference. All is cold, unfeeling. He needs his mother’s closeness NOW!
But mother is sick and cannot attend to him. Or hospital rules demand that the baby not be placed right away on momma. They have to perform all sorts of ablutions first. Or that baby is soon put in some sort of basket or “holding cell.” When he needs touch and kisses. So what do we have? A room full of crying babies. And why do they cry? Because they are lonely and/or in pain. Babies are humans. Do we cry for no reason? Neither to they.
It is like asking if a crying baby should be picked up? If a friend were in pain would you hug and hold him? Of course.
I mention life and death because if the baby is immediately taken away for a time after birth, and placed by himself, the terror he may feel from the birth experience can be overwhelming. Then at 6 months of life he is put to bed, left alone in the dark with no parents around and the “all alone” terror mounts again. It is the compounding: feeling alone and terrified at birth reawakens the terror, and the system can’t take it. Death sometimes follows; it is all far too much……. Crib Death. Crib death tells us the power of terror inside. Or if he is placed in an incubator, again all alone and terrified, he will carry the terror and aloneness for a lifetime. Why for a lifetime?
Won’t he get over it? No. The feeling went on for so long and unrelenting, is so great and devastating that it cannot be fully repressed. It lingers as a pure state, gaining heft later on due to missing parents who work or party all of the time. He runs from being alone and makes up reasons why he needs to be with people and to keep busy. He needs distraction. He phones all of the time. He needs connection to others, and this again, comes from the continual lack of connection early on to himself and to parents. I mention “to himself” because terror during gestation already lays down the basis for disconnection from aspects of oneself. That means alienation from the pain. Those defenses are already in place in gestation. He no longer has all of himself.
The critical period for fulfillment is the neuro-biologic time frame when needs must be fulfilled. It is biologically circumscribed and allows for no deviation. Fulfillment is urgent to calm and soothe the newborn child. If not, then the feeling is imprinted for life because the child is becoming overwhelmed with the need for and lack of, hugs and kisses: but no one comes.
All the mélange of feelings involved in the imprint remain thrusting toward the top level consciousness for connection. Why do they move forwards and upwards? Connection means ultimate surcease and resolution. The brain knows that. Why don’t we? Alas, it is not to be because the pain/terror is so great that it cannot be repressed. Nor can it be felt, integrated and be done with.
We carry it along for a lifetime; even in a crowd one feels lonely and all alone. We find ways to handle it, and what does it involve? Pushing it back and down. The person often feels alienated, and distant. He looks and acts as if he lives in another world. He does, only he doesn’t know it. He lives in a world of aloneness and loneliness. He is dogged by those unrelenting feelings. The feeling, so devastating is unyielding. It is imprinted and embedded and has a life all of its own. It has hegemony even over what is going on in current life. So even in a happy feast he feels down. He cannot feel happy until he really feels. What? What is dragging him down: the imprint.
Why hegemony? (Hey if I never use good, big words, I will be dumbing down everyone, including me). Because it is so purely gated due to its load of pain that it is ever-present, even when no one knows what “IT” is.
We need to know about one of my primary concepts; that once the brief critical period is over, no fulfillment can fill the gap. No jollying him. Every single fulfillment becomes symbolic and unfulfilling. And hence requires more and more attempts. And then the person goes to therapy and gets hugs from groups members and feels soooo goood. Alas, sadly, it cannot last. The system allows no substitutes. It is either the real thing, a warm hug at the critical time, or nothing.
Yet, wow, hugs to stop the aloneness feels so good; it is addicting. Oh yes, so are drugs that ease the pain. I reported on one of my patients who needed constant sex; nymphomania. Only it was not that all. She was not sex-crazed. She was “being held” crazed. She was obsessed as she should have been because she desperately needed touch. Not a cause for opprobrium. (Oh my, those big words). It was all compounded and made urgent because in her childhood she was never held or touched.
So years in therapy this woman was trying to feel loved. Holy Sh…., is that the job of therapy? The warm and fuzzy doctor is to no avail because he deals in ideas not emotions. Besides, no one can love neurosis away. Why? Because we can never abrogate the critical period. (Jesus, Janov. stop with the big words!! OK, aj).
You see, biology knows little of compassion. It says, “I know you need hugs but it is far too late. Sorry.” The critical period is attached to and depends on, the duration of the critical need. It is often a short time. A newborn does not have a great margin of error. He needs love right away. When he is hungry he needs to eat, and when he is lonely he needs love. It cannot be given on our timetable; only on his.
We have found that any lingering feeling may have the same origin, or often, deeper. Some patients feel empty or unfulfilled as a chronic state. Look again at early life. Because unlike most other feelings, those occurring so, so early stay with us for life. That is to say, the memories are there to remind us what lies deeper, and needs to be resolved. They are poorly gated, and therefore haunt us.
You know about my concept of resonance; how there is a linkage among all strata of levels of consciousness that ties similar memories together and ties the ensemble to higher levels of brain function. That is why feeling down and lonely in therapy, over time, can drag the person back to the times when it was traumatic. Then begins the process of Primal Therapy; the voyage to the deep interior….where freedom and surcease lie.
What seems to rise for connection in therapy is the raw unadulterated feeling, bereft of its context and origin, That is why it is such a constant mystery. It has no adorned accouterments loaded with key information as to what it really is. “I feel so alone all of the time.” This is what I mean; no idea of where it all comes from. And that is why with connection the whole panoply of the feeling arises and helps us know what the feeling is all about and how it got started. So what does connection mean? As the patient descends to deep levels of consciousness over months in therapy he will arrive (add “she” if you want), at a weird sensation of being all alone, especially if he came in depressed and feeling all alone. That feeling, when he has deeper access, will carry him back to origins and will be resolving. That takes time. But the feeling is finally felt and is integrated; no longer hanging out there like some alien force cause damage. Remember, feelings carry us back, not admonishments from a therapist. If we obey the doctor we are done for. He can never know what is our unconscious. He is not a fount of wisdom despite the warm and fuzzy demeanor, drenched with a security of his knowledge which too often is absolute.
Why resolving? Because it is the raw feeling that climbs the chain of pain to bug us incessantly for life. Feeling it fully over time, months, finally lays it bare, and puts an end to and depression. Remember, it lingered because it could never be successfully repressed due to its load of pain. Its time has come. Aah!
We need to dredge up the original trauma and all of its original reactions within the early time frame and within the critical period, and then we find resolution. There is no other solution except to go back in time; back to our early history where feelings will come up raw again, but now we know what it is and can make the final connection. It needs conscious awareness, at last.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
I am going to depart from science on this one and tell you about my intuition and instincts. As I grow older, and I cannot get a whole lot older, I see memory loss among my friends. It is often considered a sign simply of old age but maybe there is something else.
We have to go back a long way in our lives to see the brainstem imprints but are often there but are surmounted by defenses and busy work and ignorance and denial. But there is no denying an imprint; it is locked-in and deeply embedded exerting its influence deep in the subconscious without our knowing it ("à notre insu"). But what seems to me is that it rises as a resonant wave, not as a specific memory (unless there is full access), and floods the cortex imperceptibly. It goes on with the flooding, pervading memory cells which barely register the influence but register it does. As the decades roll by and we are also flooded with other traumas, divorce, deaths, loss of job, etc., so that the input is compounded until some neural cells give way and memory falters. Then we scramble to find solutions: vitamins, exercises, special learning and memory classes, and so on. But the causes need to reach back to the dinosaur brain which does not offer up its secrets carelessly.
Now, the second aspect of this compounding is any long-term anesthesia (over 3 hours) where the brain is shut down for protracted periods. I have seen enough of this to see memory problems lasting months and years. If there is any way to avoid this please do. There is a spinal or other options that avoid cortical brain cell suppression. Perhaps there is no alternative in special cases, but this is a warning sign. We are shutting off the function of a key organ, the brain, and we need to do that with caution.
Oh yes! Did I leave out something critical? Yes I did? A lifetime of drinking, smoking and drugging all of which suppress aspects of cortical function. Now we add this to the mix and we can’t miss; memory deficit and incipient dementia. But let’s call it what it is: a lifetime of fooling around with the brain, especially alcohol, and expecting the brain system to go on working just right. Nope. It won’t and it can’t. It suffers but it cannot scream. The person will do that when we comes to our therapy.
OH my! Did I leave out something else? Yes I did. Any suicide attempt compromises limbic/feeling function and cortical efficiency. Shutting down the brain again. And what does a lifetime of taking tranquilizers do? Shut down oxygen supplies and eventually damage nerve cells; I mean, how much can they take? And don’t forget, the pain that is wafting up is from archaic traumas often involves oxygen deprivation. A mother smoking, for example. Ayayay. How can we win? We can’t.
So we now have a mélange of factors; a constant input of activation from stored pain deep in the brain, plus a repressive input from anesthesia, together with compounding from various adult adversities. Put them all together they don’t spell MOTHER, they spell brain dysfunction. Let us not always look for immediate causes (proximal) to long-terms aggravations but consider history, first, last and always.
Saturday, May 9, 2015
I know I seem to rant against what I call “Half-therapy,” or “almost therapy,” that is, a therapy that encompasses only a piece of us and neglects the feeling-human part. But there is a reason for my rant, I read yesterday in science journal about a complex study of sleep problems. And they plunged and plunged into neuronal circuits and came to bizarre conclusions, which seem quite rational to them. “It was because of overactive cortical function, activated limbic circuits,” and on and on. And that may be entirely true. It is too technical to go into except that it is almost impossible for a non neurologist to understand. Ok so what they say might be true, so what is wrong with that? It is a half-truth. You can’t get well half-way.
Therein lies the rub, as I often say. All that is missing are causes; ultimate causes. What made those circuits detour and over-react? Why does various chemicals seem too high? Is that the cause? Well, we could go on guessing and batting down associated symptoms, until we actually see causes at work. How do we know they are causes? For many reasons; one important one being that the problems seem to disappear after reliving the key factors and imprints that drive the neo-cortex later on, into a frenzy that cannot seem to be turned off enough to let us sleep. And not surprisingly, he was a hyperactive child who, according to his teachers, could not sit still. Always in motion; the same drive to produce a hyperactive mind that cannot relax and fall asleep. Still driven, but now also mentally.
Wait a minute. Is there a correlation? It is what we have found because we look at history. If you don’t you will always get only half the information you need. Cannot continue to investigate de novo each new case of sleep problems and still think it is a matter of displaced neurons. You may think that it is all in your mind but where? Could it be way down deep, reflecting trauma to the brainstem? Yes, but who looks there? Who sees the connection between gestational life and sleep problems at age thirty? You cannot until you go there ; that is, until patients go there, a “there” the few recognize even exists. Most doctors seem to work as if there is no there, there. So why even think about going there? For patients, too, it seems dangerous and mysterious, reinforced by the doctor who also has no idea what is down there; except something to be avoided. And when the therapist has no idea about the brainstem all is lost, including the patient and the doctor. Therapy becomes a muddle, each feeling rumbles around in the dark for some way out. Alas, the way out is the way in, and that is where we part from other therapies. One reason is that the way in, takes months, who has the patience to go there and take one’s time? Anxiety waits for no man.
Isn’t it strange that we give pills for deep anxiety and sleep deprivation that work on the lower depths where origins lie, yet we miss the fact that maybe there are origins of this mess way back there and way down there? All we have to do is go there! But how? I have written many blogs on the subject, 16 books, and now there is a precise video description coming out by Dr, France Janov, called the Primal Legacy. It is detailed and gives readers a thorough description of the Primal Process. Who can ask for any more? I doubt it has been done before, mostly because the series is based in science and not haphazard musings.
We will not find answers to many perplexing psychologic problems until we stop the almost-therapy and turn to the real meaning of holistic therapy; which includes all of us, absolutely all of us. We are not just a thinking brain; we are above all, a feeling brain that helps us treat patients, relate to others, have empathy and compassion. There is not a lot of that in a disembodied neo-cortex.
Sunday, May 3, 2015
There is a picture in a new science magazine of a doctor holding a human brain declaring that she was going delve deep in the brain to find answers to so many maladies. (This is the year of the brain, after all). Wait a minute: what if the answers lie not in the brain but in the parents' brains who affected and infected that brain? Don’t we want to know what environment that brain grew up in? Was it an orphan? Then almost for sure there will be brain impairment later in life. And looking the brain cells will tell us nothing of this. If that brain had no loving and warmth in the first weeks and months of life the brain will suffer but it won’t declare it. All I am saying is that life in any form lives in an environment and is shaped by it, so how could we leave it out of the equation?
Could we ever understand ADD by looking at the brain in isolation? Leaving out the events that were at the origin of the cause. Could a kidney specialist know that his sick patient drank for thirty years? Just by examining the kidneys? Sometimes. But not always. That is precisely what is wrong with the Behaviorists; taking behavior as the sine qua non. And worse, trying to change behavior without reference to what those behaviors were, and how they shaped us.. So we confine our field of inquiry to a vary narrow space that lets no new related information in. They take an isolated brain without parents and try to figure out why patients have those compulsions or obsessions, and then try to change behavior into some “wholesome” idea of how it should be. They force a behavior detour even against the biology of the patient. His whole system moves to the left when it should move to the right. It militates to the thinking cortex instead of the feeling one. And he tries to obey; thinking before he feels so he is not impulsive. Looking at full ashtrays to get over the urge to smoke and many other ploys that never look at causes. Above all, not understanding the imprinted memories lodged in the lower reaches of the brain that are deeply embedded, which force and drive behaviors. There are roots to attitudes and behaviors. We are not decorticates rummaging around the world. But some therapies act as though we were; extracting the lonely brain for study without regard to its history. Psychotherapy cannot be a-historic unless we are doing brief YMCA Counseling: “You know you need to exercise more.”
Would we treat heart disease without knowing how tense the patient is or how he never exercises? We would be roaming in the dark. When we say we are social animals it means we are affected by social events; we do not live in a vacuum. We must study the total interplay of our physical self with outside events. How can anyone get over his depression without knowing the originating events? Yet that is exactly what we do. Give pills for depression and if that does not work we give more powerful pills and then surgery for the brain and maybe electroshock, all without digging deep enough to observe those forces “alive.” Going on blindly without seeing the brain at work deep down. Yes we can do that. We see the brain live, meaning alive and living. We see the pain memory and what it does and how strong it is; finally we see how it drives behavior. Did I say “behavior”? Yes I did. We see origins; no more guesswork. Aah.
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.