Tuesday, August 16, 2016

On the Difference Between Abreaction and Feeling (Part 8/15)

Feeling is healing. No feeling, no healing. Connection is the Key.

 So how do we guard against abreaction and produce genuine feelings? There are two important factors at play. First, the patient must arrive at a particular feeling/pain/need untrammeled by other feelings, which are often compounded by a history of unrelenting pain from childhood trauma and neglect. That is, the therapist must be acutely aware of the leitmotif in the session – which feelings are critical and which are peripheral. It takes much experience to know how to do it because often, there is a tendency to conflate feelings and go off on the wrong tangent. If the wrong feeling is addressed, we get abreaction. For example, if a patient is in a feeling and suddenly starts gagging and coughing as a result of first-line intrusion, the therapist should steer him back to the original feeling because the intrusion is a diversion, and that diversion itself is the abreaction. Or if the patient comes in bitching about his wife – “she is just suffocating me with her demands” – and then he begins gagging, we know that the origin of his complaints is deep in the brain, likely the part of the brainstem concerned with breathing. We do not push the patient into the birth trauma unless he is far along in therapy and ready for such an experience. Otherwise, he is steered back into the original feeling, to explore why he feels suffocated. It is indeed a thin line to know which level the patient is on and what level he can access without unbearable pain.

 The same is true of a patient who comes in crying on the third line and never goes beneath it, to older pains. That too is abreaction. He is discharging deeper feelings on a higher level of brain function, unable or unwilling to take it back further and deeper. The result is not a full feeling; rather it becomes a chronic discharge of the energy of the feeling with no final resolution. For example, a patient may come in and cry only about a film he just saw, but never connect it to his own life and his past experience. He is stuck on the third line, and abreacting. Screaming and yelling in and of itself always remains a simple discharge. Feeling ultimately means an experience in context. The problem is that yelling, crying and screaming with no context still feels good and can form a groove of relief.

 This is where it gets tricky because there are levels of contexts: the ideas (top level), the emotional experiences (limbic system) and the infantile (brainstem) level. The contexts deepen as the patient is able to go deeper in his therapy. A complete primal experience means encompassing all three levels of brain function involved in a single feeling. That comes later in therapy when access allows the patient to travel to the beginnings of experience and of life. He is then allowed to complete the cycle of feeling and obtain resolution. In this kind of primal the patient feels the entire crucible of his behavior and symptoms. It is no longer a mystery, so long as we allow evolution to do its job. It is too tempting sometimes for a therapist to push the patient into something very dramatic so as to show his so-called skill.

 So we need to know on what line or level the patient is operating on, so that we help him and us to focus. This avoids a mélange of levels that also prevents proper connection. We see this with patients who wander over several feelings and disparate subjects during a single, scattershot session. Nearly always, the patient’s wandering over many subjects means there is a mélange of great underlying pain pushing him from one place to another. Needless to say, this is the patient who often suffers attention deficit for the same reason: too strong a primal force, preventing focus.

 Feelings must be felt on all levels but in an orderly sequence, not all at once. The therapist must get the patient back on track so the natural feeling can be allowed to unfold in tune with the natural resonance that links the levels of feeling together neurologically. Once the patient is on the right track, resonance will take its course, leading the patient naturally deeper and more remote over time. In abreaction, it’s often the therapist that is leading the patient in the wrong direction, creating all manner of bad outcomes.


  1. Hello Art!

    "The same is true of a patient who comes in crying on the third line and never goes beneath it, to older pains".

    Crying on the third line must anyway be the ultimate for getting on to the deeper pain because crying is itself a state away from thoughts as prevent us from crying... it because we as boys are told not to cry... and a million other reasons which belongs to the neocortex alone. This also applies for girls... but to a lesser degree. If we then can be directed to not cry for anything else then what is the hurt a little deeper than we not think of... then we are in the primal therapys elements.

    If we think about something and it prevents us from crying then it's a matter of letting go of thoughts that bind us to remain numbed from feeling. And how is it done? That is the question for a detective within ourselves. It's there ... and we can not think about it to experience it. As when we have lost someone or someone close has died... that is the right time. Or left us for someone else ... but then the first thing we experiensing is might hate... which also leads us to the primal therapeutic process... but a different experience to get there.

    Your Frank.

    1. Hi Frank,

      I agree.
      We have speculated whether patients 'need' to know much about Primal Theory. It depends on personality (defenses). But we usually know something about our illnesses. With neurosis we get act outs & symptoms whilst the signs remain hidden.

      Though the 3rd line is a thinking defense, it can nevertheless reflect on the way it 're arranges the furniture on the deck' (to quote Art).

      A good therapist is a well seasoned, professional furniture removal expert. S he is cable of spying out exactly how hir patients are moving their furniture around and why. . .

      I only have Art's best intentions through his written words (which I can respond to, amazing). Reading between the lines, we can make an agreement about the limits on the 3rd line. We can begin to notice a correlation between our act outs (behaviour) and our symptoms. We can grow an awareness of the real signs, stuck in our own personal Janovian Gap.

      Who we really are with all our (repressed) pain, lies somewhere, suffering, between these two poles, one all on the outside (though some are 'act ins' such as blaming yourself and /or self harming) and our symptoms on the inside, in our bodies.

      Who we really are is 'suffering' in the void between those two poles, with no real connection to the actual pain. The signs of the disease are so hidden they can't easily be separated from the actual causes/pain stored in methylated epigenes.

      This is what is unique about real primal, it doesn't look for signs where they don't exist.

      Primal perceives the act outs and symptoms for what they are.

      By eventually realising on the 3rd line that we are NOT all ourselves and so much of our personal energy is used up on our act outs and symptoms, we can reflect on the bits that are missing. Thus we prevent the worst excesses of abreation.
      So, even without connection we can stay closer to who we really are by remembering these primal facts in ourselves. We might call it: 'owning our own stuff'. Some knowledge of the theory is therefore essential.

      If in the beginning, therapists offer a supportive, human atmosphere for the patient to gain hir own insights about this 3rd line reality, then the patient will get on the right train.
      If therapists talk, it must be to develop and maintain a trusting relationship. One piece of furniture the therapist must look for is the patients version of primal theory and how s he uses it.

      Real primal is set apart by this. If you think about it, nearly every other form of therapy is offering a reconstructed self made up of ideas that don't really belong to the patient. Ideas the patient can't really know much about prior to entering therapy. These other therapies having largely invented and unverified theories. They are mostly all virtual bits of furniture which belong neither to the patient nor the therapist.
      Primal theory belongs to everyone as it pertains back to the 1st line and those common causes proven by epigenetics.

      The three week intensive helps establish this 3rd line inner & outer relationship. The 3rd line so easily wanders off on it's own merry (or not so merry) way. Knowledge of primal theory begins to take the energy away from our furniture moving act out. We can know about our furniture and prevent the worst excesses of abreaction. We can stop believing stuff that isn't real, inside & out.

      Some conventional therapists might say this is pure CBT. I say it is what we do to prepare ourselves to be real.

      The CB Therapist will be keen to help us reinvent ourselves with ingredients supplied by or having had 'value added' by the therapist. So keen they will be to prove the value of their fee and rid themselves of the burden of their patient's pain. But a good primal therapist will want to be paid only for assisting the patient to rid hirself of hir pain by gradually getting to the sources of it, over time.

      Paul G.

  2. We must also say something about those who determines the order of what shall be or not!

    Something that is not allowed to be among professional... it is depressed. In these spheres it is not so popular to vent this phenomenon to be. But it is really to be a symptom of opportunities to recover from depression. But who will dare to stand up for one so disappointing "weakness"... when to been honored and then suffer of so "disastrous" consequences! We have a problem... a perhaps insurmountable problem where they might choose silence instead of showing it... it for what it contains... proven scientific facts. Depressed... something that is not allowed to be among professional! They must not be depressed... it is experienced to be a mood-lowering phenomenon and no one is willing to take a risk to be seen for what the future with depression include... if nothing else happens to show what primal therapy is good for!

    Depression belong to the secret window and is partly open with no possibility by your self close it... so you "know" what one near you can imagine there is to come for you. So it can become problematic to admit depression... because it colors the mood of mind in all areas of us... and what is disastrous it is to become known to be just depressed. So what they possibly can know about depression... we do not even exist in their eyes for what we suffer... for what they do not understand.

    So we have a problem... what ours professional has difficulty accepting them self to may be.


  3. Hi Art,

    I was wondering how we, your followers, can resolve, at least, 3rd level issues without doing primal therapy. Cause i guess that the majority of your readers would like to do your therapy and start the process but they can't for financial reasons or others... Personnaly I read your books since many years and i hope that one day i could do primal therapy but in waiting, what can i do to feel better? I read that cognitive therapy is bad, reichians and massages too, etc... So what is good Art? You seem have find THE SOLUTION but i, sadly, rarely find i your books concrete solutions for now, what finally makes despair rise... cause all solutions if not access to feeling finally just reinforce the neurosis... so what can we do if we can't do your therapy and feel very bad right now? Abreaction seems like a temporary solution no? Like a beginning of feeling which is better than no feelings at all no?

    Thanks for your answers,



    1. Herman, Oh no no no. Abreaction, primal therapy done badly, destroys. Never ever get into it because it is very difficult to get out of. What you seem to want is brief counseling; it is not what we do. We undo neurosis, and that is a very tall order. There are all kinds of counselors out there who can advise. Not me. art I have found that eventually people drop counseling and need to go deeper.

    2. Hi Herman & Art,

      One thing the Legacy might provide is fertile ground for discussing the gap between where good counseling leaves off and PRIMAL begins.
      It's up to us to interpret, then start 'filling in the gaps' (to quote Art). . .

      Paul G.

    3. Thanks Art for your answer...

      Ok no abreaction but anyway abreaction is never a conscient intention... so i have this question : Do people crying when watching a movie or listening sad music and get connected with some feelings are abreacting? Sometimes it can takes couple of listening to understand what’s up inside, so is that the first time the person is crying is abreaction even if she don’t understand why?

      - What i'm looking for is not brief conseling Art, it's just to know how to get into 3rd line feeling, which seems to be the ''point de départ'' of the primal therapy process... As i said, there are just a few peoples who can afford a primal therapy and set up their life around (ie : moving to california and going to the weekly therapy group while 2 years) so what can you say to those who can't hope to do your therapy but who would still move in their feelings? For after reading your convincing books, the desire to do primals and experiment what you describe as great insights and liberation is the reality of your readers... You give the solution ‘’do the primal therapy’’ but if i can’t, it just makes my despair rise… Do you understand what i mean?

      And you said that there are all kinds of conselors out there who can advise but through your books and your blog you just always down value them, saying with great arguments that they just doing bullshit cause they always reinforce neurosis which is bad... So don't you have something concrete for your readers to help them in their life right now like tricks to go into 3rd line feeling? I know you work very hard and that you hope that one day all of your works will be recognized and thus the system will change and i hope so but in waiting, don’t you have the desire to help people more concretely? Cause finally, if i'm just reading your books and don't get into feelings, i just take another interpretation system which help to contain pain with ‘’hope to do primal therapy’’, just as religious system do with the after death life, no? But with religious system and faith i can find brotherhood turned into love… do you follow me?



    4. Hi Herman. You know it is difficult to answer this question. I have written chapters in some of my books on how to get to feelings but it depends on the person. I wish I could be of more help, art

    5. Herman, you could try to watch movies that make you cry and let yourself cry as much as possible.

  4. Hi,

    I wonder if the two nervous modes: 'sympathetic & parasympathetic' have a correlation in the corpus callusum and if this has something to offer our understanding of abreaction?
    A normal person has each system working in balance, thus would know and experience their own true feelings without much 'blockage'; for them there are no significant 'fixations' in their 1st line toward one system or the other. Does 1st line trauma establish Left / Right divisions? This might help us understand abreaction. The 'memes' stored in our cells need to move from the right side to left for resolution so, does this in some ways reflect a change in the relationship between the two nervous systems in the brainstem? Is it a demethylation? Is the right brain therefore some kind of parasympath department & the left brain a corresponding sympath department, each with their own process of movement, like a valve, back & forth across the corpus callosum?

    Culturally there is a tendency to reinforce repression; it seems those tending toward the sympath are most adept at it and so say, the least likely to attend therapy. . . Maybe those on the brink, when the parasympath part of them begins to take control and demand their organism release it's stress; maybe they become attracted to CBT (which is like life coaching). The dominant record of their former life is one of striving and achieving, thus striving and achieving is also their perceived escape from neurosis. . .
    On the other hand the parasympath who perhaps is too down to attend to anything at all, may try to find ways to get more energy. . . Maybe if society wasn't so fixated on CBT and the sympath values in life, parasympath addicts would present themselves for therapy even more frequently than they do.

    My central point is that each of the two systems with their accompanying 'personalities' tries to be like the other as a way of performing a balancing act and in so doing ends up approaching a crisis, if not actually precipitating one eventually. Abreaction is the result.

    Is abreaction therefore, a form of act out which is trying to shift an energy from one side to the other but by somehow bypassing the 1st line brainstem methylation?

    I wonder if it's a survival instinct? There are many 'left / right, black & white, right / wrong' dualities in human affairs. Are these symptoms of, or act outs, most of all are they 'abreactions', trying so desperately to avoid the original cause?

    Like juggling a hot potato that never cools off, with nowhere to put it down. . .

    This would explain why so many men in particular perform like dutiful soldiers for several decades or more and then collapse and die; or collapse and realise we were always parasympaths but got sick trying to be something we never were. I imagine the parasympaths have the more difficult journey because culturally they are expected to look like and behave like sympaths. I wonder if in reverse this applies to women too? In so far as women have been expected culturally to perform a 'passive' & parasympathetic role in contradistinction to the sympath one of men.

    As a parasympath I spent 50 out of my 57 years trying to be a sympath. I deceived myself and got ill. Maybe if I stopped believing I should be something I'm not I can get well ! I am suggesting abreaction can stem from this and be limited by addressing our assumptions about our former lives.

    I can see some women trying to be more sympath (more like men) and ending up in trouble with the opposite but same problem. Other commentators have shared this insight too.

    Maybe I'm just trying to be too darn clever for my own good. . .

    Paul G.

    1. Hi Paul, it's interesting that some Hollywood macho actors have said that they wished they had some of the traits that Clint Eastwood possesses; calmness, being thoughtful and deliberate, seemingly parasympathetic characteristics. Who else would stop in the middle of a fight and ask "Do ya feel lucky, well do ya?" in Dirty Harry movie. I think the sympaths are always looking to slow down. I guess each of us knows when something is missing and is why we look for the missing traits in companions or mates.

    2. Hi Paul,

      I think 'abreaction' is a term we can reserve for the therapy situation where energy, physical and emotional, is discharged without any lasting beneficial effect.

      Neurotic actouts in everyday life can certainly discharge energy, like work-outs or compulsive sex, but I see no reason to re-label them as 'abreaction'.

      The sympath/parasympath balance or imbalance is most likely determined by how the birth went. I see no reason why the function of the autonomous vagussystem should be referred to any particular half of the brain.


    3. Hi Erik,

      thanks for putting me straight there. I don't know why Art prints my ramblings sometimes. However, I do understand the idea that birth trauma can generate epigenetic tendencies to one side or the other, or as in 'bi - polar' an uncontrollable swing between the two.
      The two aspects of the nervous system do seem to have their own 'personalities' as do the two halves of the frontal brain. I have noticed that depending on my 'triggering' of my traumas and also on my state or physical / emotional condition that I can experience personality changes ( other people do too).
      I was wondering how abreaction can discharge the energy without connection, that is a phenomena worth investigating further, if no connection then how the energy release? It seemed to me this may be something going on across the two frontal brains in the corpus callusum without any connection to lower systems. I was wondering if, therefore there might even be a spectrum, a 'scale' of 'discharge' from acting out to abreaction at the extreme end. I ask this because:

      In ordinary society, in the theater, in the cinema, in people's homes, in prisons and 'mental hospitals' people are regularly 'breaking down' sometimes uncontrollably. Sometimes through neglect, ostracisation, bullying and violence people are left with the common condition of depression with chronic grief / weeping. . . I don't think abreaction is limited to bad therapy situations. . . Just look at all those faux feelings 'out there'. . . So, on the contrary, I would say that abreaction is a common phenomena, mostly of accidental and deliberate abuse and of a society deeply enmeshed in the unreal, the non essential and the violent subjugation of true feelings.

      That was my point and I'm glad you responded because it has crystalised better what I was trying to get at.

      I've got more to say too, but I really must go collect my daughter now. That surely will interrupt the depressive and abreactive act outs I seem to be struck in. . .

      I hope this generates some discussion.

      Paul G.

    4. We read about feeling vehicle that drives us to primal.. Is there an abreaction vehicle? That is not curative... That keeps us on the wrong track.

      If there is, then there is abreaction in a wider sense of the word. The one that therapist should be aware of very early in the session so it doesn’t end with deep grove making - abreactive crescendo.

      In those exciting days when i first read about abreaction in a book Primal scream i wandered why so much fuss about it. I was a teenager and i thought it can not be that difficult to recognize abreaction. Didn’t pass much time and i was in a mess from my leaking gates probably... Now i am not so sure if i could see it and realize that the point is to prevent it. To see it before it gets more obvious, on every level... ??

    5. Vuko: It is also the therapists job to watch for abreaction, that only happens with bad Primal therapy. art

  5. Hi,

    I got my daughter with me now, so I feel more 'complete', less broken, aggrieved and lost, more directed (it won't last of course).

    The following appears to be about politics but please don't be fooled.

    There's been a lot of speculation in the media about the words politicians use. Particularly on the UK side of the pond we see certain US voices uttering utter nonsense as a form of political railroading.

    So what? Well, like trying to sing out of tune deliberately, deliberately talking nonsense is incredibly difficult, unless you are infact very confused inside but competent (or rich) enough to gain a stand to become a public orator. That usually means you have more money than sense. Let's not name names but there are at least two US politicians who seem to be able to talk utter nonsense precisely because they are actually deeply confused and paranoid individuals with an audience of similarly confused and paranoid people.

    What is going on inside their heads? I have mentioned this before and psychologists have begun analysing why right wing / left wing political brain functioning is so different. To obfuscate with nonsense is a psychological defense. It is also a way to conceal the truth, to tell lies; but when the 'leaders' do this without any particular awareness of the 'content' inside their own heads, when they merely spout nonsense because that is all there is inside their heads, then we know as if by looking at a 'linguistic barometer' what the 'lowest common denominator' is.

    Here in UK the 'nonsense' has a more insidious theme; it does unfortunately make sense. It has a certain colour and pattern and therefore reveals the truth behind what is hidden. If you read between the lines, you see the intentional vindication of the vulnerable as a way to divert people's fears onto the weakest scapegoats. Surely this happens in US too but the English form of it is the original (imho). The US are blindly following in UK footsteps.

    I am reminded of Eric Berne's writings where he mentions a conversation between a 5 year old and his Dad, the boy says something like: "You just say the words Dad and I'll agree". I can't find the precise quote but the sentiment remains. Before a certain stage of development, as small children we 'play with words' as a game. Through 'word play' we eventually understand their meaning. With compassionate and involved parents we can pin the words to real life and thus articulate. But without such parents and mentors we can end up with no real skill in our cortex to say what we mean or interpret the world realistically. Then UNreality becomes the main product in society. We all end up 'pouring from the empty into the void' or despairing that those with power are so incoherent the same results despite one's own best articulations.

    My point is that as well as offering a cure for neurosis, Primal Theory offers a dialectic, a framework for words which explains pretty much everything IF you apply it in your life.

    It explains the nonsense better than the current 'analysis'.

    It prevents me personally from being 'taken in' by nonsense.

    Paul G.


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.