Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Who Took My "NO" Away?


  I am always amazed at how early our basic personalities begin their lives.  I have been primaling lately about how from the very start of infancy a basic tendency set in……..I could not say no to anything my father demanded.  This started before I could articulate why and how that happened.  I was strictly obedient before I could speak.  My father’s presence was enough to strike fear in me.  I remember when I was fourteen he told me to sit still and finish my milk and not to budge until I did.  I obeyed without question.   It never occurred to me to refuse.  Why?  I was terrified.  That terror began with an imprinted latent terror set down in gestation with a psychotic mother who feared everything and everyone.  Laid on that was my first sense of my father who exuded anger and intolerance.   When I say “exuded”  it is what I mean; it poured out of his skin, the way he breathed and the look on his face.   His actions were brusque and abrupt.   I learned as a baby to steer clear of him.  And then the inability to say “No” set in.  His demands were touched by anger and expectations of immediate obeying.    Before I could talk I could not refuse anything and go against any sharp demands.  Mrs. Wardrop at my high school was the twin of him and I obeyed her to the  letter.   I simply had to obey and could not say “No.”

Now for confirmation:  “What makes our brains so special?”.
Scientific American, Nov. 24, 2015, Diana Kwon (see http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-makes-our-brains-special/).   She discusses the remarkable ability for recognition and cognitive capacity in infants. After all, we are born with a large brain.  The study cites the work of the Allen Institute for Brain Science.  They compiled a huge spectrum of expression patterns in different species. They found abundant data to identify unique signatures within humans. We are very similar to other animals. Chimps and Bonobos. What is evident throughout is that wee infants pick up the signals from their environment before they speak, and they have no other reference but to follow the dictates of that milieu as a measure of survival. We learn very, very early before we can even imagine that learning has seriously begun. Because it is so early and because there is no other key countervailing influence, that behavior is sealed in, perhaps for lifetime. And without Primal Therapy it would have.  I had to scream NO over and over again and set up scenes where he demanded things of me with his sharp, impatient tone and I could finally refuse and answer him back. It was not done in a day.  It was deeply embedded behavior from the start of my life.  My therapist demanded of me, and at first my immediate tendency was to comply.  It took a long time until I separated my self from my father. That I was not him and vice versa. The terror  of him was merged into the general terror that my gestation and above all, my birth trauma, almost dying of lack of oxygen, had inculcated into me. I had to re-experience both kinds of terror to bring the level down so I could function. For years up to college I did not function and could not learn.  ADD up the whazoo. I had no way to focus and concentrate because terror was constantly sending its messages to my brain to agitate me; and get ready for a disaster that had already happened. Only I never knew it. I had embedded approaching death into my system and it would not leave.

I had panic attacks and unrelenting nightmares all through my early life. The terror was surging upward trying to escape but I never knew about it. I was just nervous all of the time.

I never considered college because I knew I could not concentrate and was too shaken to focus. I never even knew I was anxious because I grow up with it; it was my normal state. In the same way I never knew I was unloved until I got it later in life.  My neurosis was ego-syntonic, a total part of me. It was “natural.”  And being normal for a while felt a wee bit not natural.

 I had to get used to using “no.”   It was engraved into a brain that  was dominated by instant impulses, like the shark.  It was the reflex brain at work.   Its prominent mode of operation was instincts and impulses.  Those dominate our lives. It is what I call first-line.  As we ascend the nervous system and approach the present, each developing nervous system adds its weight. Brainstem strongest and dominant.  Then the feeling, limbic system and finally the neocortical level.  Never imagine that the strongest is the neo-cortex processes.  They have no chance against deep brain areas; and that is why anger management,  addiction therapy and mental counseling all take a back seat for control of our learning and behavior. The immediate attack and act before thought is how the brain develops. It is evolution at work and we can never abrogate that biologic law. Luckily, we have found a way to give way to the brainstem and allow it to flourish and find its way in our living. We do not beat it back and imagine it is dangerous. It is only dangerous when repressed.

And one day I went on a speedboat ride with a bunch of kids.  And they starting shouting with glee (I was the captain), Art, can I drive the boat, can I lift the anchor?  Can I steer?   I said listen kids.  No matter what you ask I will always say “YES”.  The parents looked at me and shook their heads.   But those kids never asked to do anything that was dangerous or stupid.  I trusted them completely.  And they learned a lot about boats and sailing.   Instead of a negative experience it was one of great joy.   How can anyone beat that?   YES!

21 comments:

  1. I just loved every minute of reading this ! Katherina

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    1. Katherina, thank you, this is why I write. art

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  2. Very good for us to know about you... it helps. Thank you Art!

    So now you know how my childhood looked like! I did not even think about to cope with any more advanced schooling... my thoughts was to far of from that analysis... I had to much of degrading feelings to even think about myself in such a case... I was completely of the road. So you can imagine how much I had to go through to come to where I am now. If you're talking about going on the knife's edge that is nothing to compare with what those feelings is all about
    Some of us (if not almost all of us) had/has a pure hell for what all emotions was/is of suffering. All has their work to do if a hell can be compared to any work... it with a "brilliant help at the center.

    Frank

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    1. how easy to prove on court that we all had a past and how difficult is to prove the difference it make for those who discovered how it really looked like.

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    2. Hello vuko... Art and all!

      It has been believed and continue to believe in cognitive methods! What if it had been the primal therapy they believed in? The cognitive methods have spread like wildfire around the earth for what it promises but absolutely can not keep. So what have we done wrong for what primal therapy could achieve? A man believes in everything he undertake him self.
      If he would put on blinders to what primal therapy scientifically achieve it is what we must overcome.
      As I said earlier "there are revolutionary scientific evidence for what primal therapy are presented of its brilliant discovery and there's Judges who happily want to prove them self to be proficient with it no matter how much he understands or not... if he just are a little dissatisfied with his current life... that is our chance. He would be proud to prove somthing to be otherwise... not to forget! What do you think we have infront of our eyes? Are we so "smart" that we believe in ourselves for what truth telling and with it lose it for what others are suffering? I konw Art "So now if you ask if I started out to change the world? I would say “No, I just never wanted the world to change me".
      All that man undertakes him self to work for is what he believe in... we have nothing else to go by. Now we have a brilliant science to present... so let's not drown in our own sense of what truth tells us... let the truth be flourishing in a flourishing process of what science presents... please!

      Your all Frank

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    3. To you all!

      Angry? No i am worry that we do not understand what we are dealing with!

      When the thinking part of our brain has taken over what then comes out of our mouths... so it's no surprise that everything has taken the shape it done... we suffer for what our pain decides. That it now has serious implications for what we have been forced to learn more than feel the impact of it... it is the human tragedy. We are now talking about the case for how we should just let ignorance prevail or whether we should try to do something about it !? I'm amazed at how science can be the foundation for the oppressed of ignorance... that it could be an obstacle in the effort to achieve a change! Can words out of our mouths be an equation itself to silence science? Words and words again without a goal for what content presents and we bows in the sense of excusing what science presents... all this while we clearly can see how children are left to their fate for suffering in hell! I know I can not do anything about the world... but when everyone around me suffer in hell mazes so must my eyes escape what they see... or do primal therapy finally make me blind?
      I believe the revolution speak a completely different language than allowing the resistance winning. The resistance we meet is all about the revolution and if we refuse to face it... we can forget about what revolution is all about. I'm not saying we should go out and fight to change what sick sentences binds to! What I am saying is that all roads must be examined... not least for what time Art dedicated to it for so long!

      Your Frank

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  3. Art
    You did it. I still can not say this. Briliant post.

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  4. Hi Art. I have been very busy and focused on things other than this blog. Interesting to read your description of your father who sounds identical to mine. Saying no triggered your fear of saying no. I can relate to that. I can also understand people who protest artificially -- they wait until they are in a safe, protective environment and then they try to cause as much harm as possible in a neurotic act of revenge. That is how they say no.

    My brother recently lost his job because a young woman (work colleague) wrote a report, riddled with lies and gross exaggerations, stating that he had frightened her with his conversation on Islamic extremism. My brother was shocked by her report because she did not seem frightened at all - just curious - and he had even asked her if she was okay with discussing the topic before they began chatting. In her report she wrote that she had said "okay" to the discussion and she even admitted that she said things like "wow!" and "really!" but only because she was too terrified to say something like "NO, let's change the topic." By showing no sign of discomfort she hoped to appease my brother so that he would not show any aggression toward her. (and of course he did not because he meant no harm at all but she was too neurotic to see that).
    After her report was assessed by a high-ranking female manager, my well-intentioned brother lost his job, and was ordered to stay a certain distance from the young woman because of her fears that he might attack her (good grief!)

    I think this young woman should say "no" the real way; at the primal center, instead of acting out and hurting innocent people.

    And I think Michelle Fields and Corey Lewandowski (reporter "assaulted" by Donald Trump's campaign manager) should both read this article written by Art.

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    1. Hi Richard,

      this sounds shockingly similar to the misandry going on in my family. It seems neurosis (when remaining entirely unconscious) just totally confuses boundaries and the sufferer MUST project an artificial boundary so FAR 'out there' it ensnares and traps others into it's paranoid territory.

      I have begun saying absolutely nothing to anyone in case this phenomena gets me even more than it has. It's bloody lonely.

      Paul G.

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  5. Dr. Janov,
    “My father’s presence was enough to strike fear in me.”
    I know exactly what you mean.
    As soon as my father entered the house the temperature sank 30 degrees and the room he was in was singed with hatred.
    Until one day, I was about 13. I no longer could endure the pain of fear and said to him, “is that all you can do instill fear and beat children?” My brother’s eyes fixed on me and their faces froze with fear.
    A minute later the stern Nazi beat me senseless.
    Somehow, this short sentence saved my sanity.
    Many years later I realized that he recognized right then that I discovered his weakness and insecurity.
    Sieglinde

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    1. Sieglinde,

      exactly the same thing happened to me when I was 16. We had been reading 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' at school and I had become empowered by the theme of how everything has to be kept 'behind closed doors'. I 'called out' my Dad's aggression and to prove how much he was 'in charge AND righteous' he chased me out into the front garden and started beating me with a piece of 4 x 2. . . Just to make sure the neighbours knew. . . I defiantly dodged or 'took' his blows and taunted him till he broke down and cried. . . Things were a bit different after that. . . Only a bit.

      Christ the world is a shitty place sopmetimes!

      Paul G.

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  6. It's very interesting and inspiring ,to me at least, to find out what the healer went through to heal himself.To get from not being able to focus and concentrate in early life to writing all these amazingly insightful and practically-oriented books on the human animal's psychology...well, I am impressed.That's quite an inner journey, and we certainly hope that that journey will be described biographically or autobiographically in great detail before Dr Janov exits this earthly passage.

    Marco

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    1. Thanks Marco, I have another one coming. art

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  7. To you all!

    Almost every one here on the blog knows about primal therapy... how it works and what all is about... but how many of us realy feels anything that will help us? I dont know... but I hope you all is considering the question for where it belongs... where the question belongs in our brain... to put the question to the right part of our brains so we at least can begin our hiking among the other parts of our brain that otherwise leads us no where.
    We deserve all that life has the opportunity to give us... not for what illusions makes possible in the case of escaping our self but all that as is ourselves in our pain of hell... the pain as we suffer which is our selfs instead of what love would have meant and we so desperately need and so well deserve... We need it!

    Your Frank

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  8. In my last therapy session I was feeling about my inability to say no. It has always been an issue for me. And now it is an issue to say no to my adult children…I just can’t say no even when it is not in my best interest and ends up hurting me.

    I was terrified of my father and his anger. I would study the creases, lines, and wrinkles on his face like a road map. I knew every little twitch of his face and feared that his anger would lash out on me…I never wanted to get him angry and did what ever he wanted and never asked anything of him.

    I remember as a small child wanting to dance. Every ounce of my body wanted to dance. I especially wanted to tap dance. I would pretend to tap dance but I didn’t know the intricate steps that my feet should move, so I would feel frustrated. I begged my father to let me take tap dancing lessons. His reply was no, over and over. I begged and begged to no avail. Finally he said , “why don’t you take ballet?. “ My reply was, “no, I don’t want to take ballet, I want to take tap.” I remember this going on for quite awhile. Finally, I knew that I wouldn’t get to dance unless I did ballet, what my father wanted. So, I gave in, and gave up, I relinquished to my father’s wishes and said, “Ok Dad I will take ballet.” His response was something like, “no, you can’t do that,” for whatever reason. He always had some reason why I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. All he ever seemed to know to say to me was, no. And, I gave up wanting and asking. I gave up saying NO…. NO you f***ng as***le I am never going to get anything I want from you.

    Jean

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  9. Hi Art ,
    Took me nearly 30 years to discover why I couldn't say no. Not because Primal Therapy takes that long, but because I didn't get the help I needed to have those feelings until recently. What I discovered was revalatory. My birth itself was uncomplicated, and not traumatic. My birth was satisfying. It felt good to push ounce I expressed the fears and angers from my womb life,that energised me for the birth process .For me it was the after birth time that traumatised me, for the simple fact that my Mother didn't pick me up and hold me and keep me with her. So straight after saying yes to life I had to say no to the midwives who separated me from my Mother after I was born. This left a life long imprint of not being able to stand up for myself and say no, because to reclaim my no meant feeling what it was like, not to have my no respected in the first place. Saying no to the midwives, meant to fight for ( the quality of ) my life.After I'd already battled the birth process and won, I was then required to fight for my right to be with my Mother because she didn't simply do the natural thing of picking me up, and holding me, to show me I was wanted and safe.
    Saying a simple no meant being prepared to fight for my life to stand by it. I didn't even know I needed to say no, because I was shown that my no didn't matter, at a time when I was helpless to do anything about it.
    So all those people who said, "stand up for yourself" and "stop being a victim", have no idea that it required laying down, and feeling all that I was a victim of.
    What was so tragic about all this was that my Mother and I didn't celebrate the rewards of our birth work when we had every reason to. My birth went so well and my Mother gave it all away,and let others take over and take me away, and took away my right to say no, and my right to feel good about life. .... I had every reason to feel good , and they took it away! But , I'm reclaiming it!
    Katherina

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    1. Right on Katherina. You got it right. art

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  10. In my last therapy session I was feeling about my inability to say no. It has always been an issue for me. And now it is an issue to say no to my adult children…I just can’t say no even when it is not in my best interest and ends up hurting me.

    I was terrified of my father and his anger. I would study the creases, lines, and wrinkles on his face like a road map. I knew every little twitch of his face and feared that his anger would lash out on me…I never wanted to get him angry and did what ever he wanted and never asked anything of him.

    I remember as a small child wanting to dance. Every ounce of my body wanted to dance. I especially wanted to tap dance. I would pretend to tap dance but I didn’t know the intricate steps that my feet should move, so I would feel frustrated. I begged my father to let me take tap dancing lessons. His reply was no, over and over. I begged and begged to no avail. Finally he said , “why don’t you take ballet?. “ My reply was, “no, I don’t want to take ballet, I want to take tap.” I remember this going on for quite awhile. Finally, I knew that I wouldn’t get to dance unless I did ballet, what my father wanted. So, I gave in, and gave up, I relinquished to my father’s wishes and said, “Ok Dad I will take ballet.” His response was something like, “no, you can’t do that,” for whatever reason. He always had some reason why I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. All he ever seemed to know to say to me was, no. And, I gave up wanting and asking. I gave up saying NO…. NO you f***ng as***le I am never going to get anything I want from you.

    Jean

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  11. This is good ; thanks for writing this Art. The fear, sure it's almost always there. I don't think "regular", "normal" people really can quite possibly comprehend that part (the fear) of what some of us go through in living. What a "release" that boat ride must have been for you and for the kids.

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  12. Art,

    Your post inspired me to not make a dick of myself. Just the other day my boss asked me if I wanted to pick up another job that wasn't in my interest, at all. My compulsion? To say 'yes' because I'm afraid not to please. I said 'no' this time. No regrets!!!

    Thanks :)

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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.
Editor