Saturday, March 12, 2016
Epigenetics and Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis (Part 20/20)... the End
When is that point?
We cannot change personality so long as the imprint remains to drive us; and the little love we get later on may not be enough to allow us to change direction. And more, the shutoff that occurs with gestation and birth trauma may be so great that we are helpless before it. We no longer can let love in; we first have to feel agonizingly unloved by our parents. We cannot purposefully open up because we are then open to great pain. The pain has to be out of the way first.
Why do we have to feel unloved first? Because it is a memory sealed in and engraved thanks to the process of methylation. That chemical helps to make sure the memory lives on in our memory bank. Once we address the imprinted memory and help to undo the methylation process, the system opens up all on its own. We need to undo repression so that we can feel again. When we "feel" unloved we begin to feel once again. If we open up first to any feeling we will be overwhelmed with pain. If we gain access slowly over time to lesser hurts we will not. We will be on the road to fully feeling.
An article in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health sheds light on this problem by analyzing the quality of interactions between mothers and their children. Researchers from Duke, Brown and Harvard universities conducted a long-term study of 482 adults, using data from the National Collaborative Perinatal Project (NCPP), a Rhode Island, New Jersey-based observational cohort of pregnant women and their children (Maselko, 2010). The researchers observed the interactions between mother and child at the age of eight months. Those mother-child exchanges were then classified as high- or low-loving interactions. Decades later, the children were studied again as adults. The mothers who were judged most loving produced offspring who were low on anxiety, hostility and general distress. There was more than a seven-point difference in anxiety scores between loved and unloved children, and a three- point differential in hostility scores. Unloved offspring are more hostile. In brief, the higher the mother’s warmth, the lower the score in distress.
Doesn't that tell us a great deal? And it means that very early love is so, so important. Without it we have a damaged soul, someone more likely to fall ill and who has poor social skills. That lack of love makes us unable to interact lovingly with other adults, decades later. Affection is all, even if we had first line pain. You cannot as a parent say, “My children know I love them. I just can’t show it.” Sorry, that is not good enough. It is like saying I know my child is hungry but I cannot feed him. There is that need for warmth that cannot be abrogated. Love is love and there is no compromise. Either you love or you don’t and it will show up decades later in the feelings and behavior of the person. We can “smell” a loved person; they exude it in every pore, in every word and every movement.
I have for decades stressed the importance of early love in preventing the suffering we see in so many patients who didn’t get it. Now, science has found the means to prove the point. As the authors of the maternal love study concluded, “It is striking that a brief observation of level of maternal warmth in infancy is associated with distress in adult offspring 30 years later,” stated lead study author Joanna Maselko, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University. “These provocative findings add to the growing evidence that early childhood helps sets the stage for later life experiences and provide support for the notion that biological 'memories' laid down early may alter psychological and physiological systems and produce latent vulnerabilities or resilience to problems emerging later in adulthood."21
Epigenetics is all about experience, about nurture over nature. And in a dialectical process, nurture can become nature; that is, the system treats the intruder of experience as genetic and heritable. And we then confuse the two in trying to understand it. In Primal Therapy, we are the dealers in experience because we have seen what experience does to us, especially very early pre- verbal experience. If one sees one primal one knows for all time how crucial experience is in the scheme of things. The cause is rarely a brain disease. That is an answer concocted by those who fiddle around in neurons and synapses and do not see the brain reacting to experience. If we leave out experience we are bereft of what can give us answers. We see only the end result and miss half of the puzzle. It is like looking at diabetics and never knowing what they eat. If we leave out the first three years in an orphanage can you wonder that we can never know what the matter is? Thinking it is a brain disease is the result of another more serious disease: solipsism.
And neither is the problem “all in your head,” as mindfulness and other cognitive therapies suggest. A true cure can never happen with a cognitive therapy that never touches deep-lying imprints that deviated and deviate the system. Intellectual therapies never operate on the levels that set off deviations. They operate on the derivatives, the effluvia of the early imprints such as deviations in perception or thought patterns or learning. Treating all that never makes a profound change. And who suffers? The patient.
But isn’t this what medicine today is about – treating symptoms? Lowering blood pressure, giving allergy medication, restructuring behavior. It is called “whack-a-mole.” Every time a symptom shows up, just whack it back. And don’t ask where it all came from? Experience takes a back seat as we slither down into the depths and minutia of the brain seeking answers that do not exist there, and never will.
I offer a rather immodest proposal. In our coming brain research we hope to measure the process of demethylation so that we have a quantitative measure of progress and the diminution of repression. In brief, we shall measure pain and how it is stored and where. It may then be possible in this way to undo the driving force of aberrant behavior and the manifestation symptoms. This is to say, that we hope to reduce the primal traces on the genes that have driven behavior for most of our lives. To add to the immodesty, this will mean reversing history and undoing imprints that have held our lives in such constrained fashion, reducing our options for behavior, and reducing physical afflictions.
If our hypotheses confirm our expectations, I believe it will change the face of psychotherapy as we know it. We will let science answer. But, I must add that in addition to science, we have been doing exactly that, reversing the imprint for thousands of patients over almost fifty years with highly significant results. That too, is science at work. We apply our theory to the treatment of patients so that eventually we leave the realm of theory and see the results in the flesh and blood of our people. Theory becomes palpable, in the literal sense of the term. We see it in our addicts who leave drugs far behind, and we measure this “cure” by the reduced traces of trauma on the genes. And, of course, we see their whole lives change after therapy. They no longer think of drugs but make choices in life that are not directed by pain, but by freedom of choice. Then and only then, can we use the word “cure.”
21: Brauser, D. (2010, July 28). High Levels of Early Maternal Affection May Lower Emotional Distress in Adult Offspring. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/725920
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.