Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Beauty of Primal Therapy

(This is a modified (and better!) version of the previous post "Why is Primal Therapy Beautiful")

The Beauty of Primal TherapyWe don’t usually think of psychotherapy in aesthetic terms. The concept of beauty doesn’t normally come to mind in connection with a discipline that deals with people’s most disturbing problems and offers mostly messy, hit-and-miss solutions.

But for many reasons, I think of Primal Therapy as something beautiful. That may seem like an oxymoron for a psychotherapy immersed in people’s pain and its power to distort their personalities. Yet, there is a beauty to the naturally healing solution that Primal Therapy provides.

Let me start with one of Primal Therapy’s most compelling strengths: Patients come to us for help and wind up learning how to help themselves. Otherwise you learn a lifelong dependence on someone else and you lose autonomy. Thirty years later, you still need the guidance from a therapist (a surrogate mama or papa) who can help you decide, make choices, and, basically live your life for you. And it never ends; it is not designed to. It is a therapy for the wounded who won’t let go of their crutch. Nothing beautiful about that.

How beautiful, on the other hand, to get access to yourself and learn from your own system about life and how to live it. Our therapy means liberation, independence and self-determination. Not dependence. That is not therapy; it is permanent leaning on someone else for decisions. Better to go to a counselor who will perform that function ad nauseam. The counselor helps in time of need, which never seems to end in those who are victims of an endless therapeutic system. Those who had a bad childhood seem to want to start over with a new parent and encouragement and constant help to grow up. Their therapy is an act-out of their unfulfilled need, an interminable act-out, as it must be so long as people are deprived.

Right here is a central difference between Primal Therapy and other psychotherapies. We get to the deep base of painful memories deep in the brain that produce instability, depression and anxiety. We know how it starts and now know how to root it out of the system. I have been taught to this day that being in touch with deep brain processes was not possible. It is. We have learned, thanks to brain science, how pain is embedded in the neurologic and biochemical systems, how it endures and above all, how to eradicate it.

Oddly, in order to eradicate it we have to “be” it. We need to travel back in our feelings to our earliest days and be the fetus and baby again. It seems impossible, on the face of it, but it is not, and we have observed it over decades. We have to go back via feeling processes, back through the levels of consciousness to those preverbal days of infancy, where the patient, in reliving them, is bereft of language, no matter how hard he tries. And if he says words during the therapy session, the session is false and unproductive.

There is also something beautiful about the way our bodies can heal. Cracked bones are rebuilt, lost blood is reproduced, flesh cuts are closed. And broken hearts can be made whole again. That is what we do for people in Primal Therapy: We help them restore their fractured selves by showing them how to mend the wounds of their childhood.

Once a pain is experienced it is out of the system and health is on the way. The patient is going back into his history slowly to gain access to himself. That is why it is beautiful. To really get your life back and to start to grow again. When I say get your life back I mean that patients, some of them, grow longer arms, fingers, feet and breasts in women. Feeling their feelings helps re-establish their original genetic trajectory. It unblocks repression and opens the system up for proper genetic growth: beautiful. That is truly a growth experience. It is what I mean by getting your self back; in a real way for a system restarting in its growth.

So in one sense, a patient enters Primal therapy and learns how to gain access to himself and learns how to help himself, to become his own therapist. The patient goes from needing help to helping himself, from patient to therapist. Not a professional Primal Therapist but someone who has mastered enough of it to help himself get well. Beautiful.

Let me not get ahead of myself; we don’t make therapists out of patients, but I teach them what I do and why and explain sometimes the brain function so they have a good grasp of what is going on and can see the signs of upcoming pain. But this is never a learning situation in the classical sense. Everything they are going to learn is already inside them. They learn from their own feelings; we just show them the way. They need to access and connect to them. Through their own experience they learn the warning signs of upcoming feelings and how to deal with them. They usually do not have to call the doctor for guidance. Maybe it is too facile to say that they become their own doctor but their feelings, not others, direct and guide them.

So let us be clear what getting well means. I think it is getting ourselves back; reliving the severe hurts from early in life that can no longer dominate our actions. It means organs that function properly and behavior that is not self-destructive. We are in the pursuit of recovered memories, which is a deadly serious undertaking. Those memories are the gateway to freedom from a painful history. We have found that we cannot change our history unless we submerge ourselves in it. That is the linchpin for cure. It cannot be done from a distance anymore than we can love a child from a distance. It is not pleasant but it offers unlimited relief, a good bargain. Why face pain? If we do not then we spend a lifetime pushing it away with all the strum and drang that repression entails. We work overtime to do that and it drains us all of the time. What we are retrieving are feelings, lying deep inside hidden from view, so deep as to remain a mystery. Feelings explain better than any words can. They tell us why we have symptoms and why we behave in one way or another. They open the port to liberation….from our terrible history, and we can only liberate ourselves by feeling it. We become whole again.

In science and mathematics, elegant solutions are highly prized. These are often the simplest, cleanest answers to complex problems. But elegance also connotes balance, harmony and, yes, beauty. Not to sound immodest, but I see Primal Therapy as an elegant solution to the ugly, thorny problems of mental illness. The theory describes a system by which the disease contains its own cure. Pain is the source of neurosis, but feeling the pain is also the way out. There is beauty in the balance of that dialectic, and there is harmony in its resolution.

We also often say that there is beauty in nature. That’s undeniable when contemplating the myriad colors and shapes of flowers, the vastness of the universe, the innocence of a baby’s face. Science is beautiful because it explores how nature works, how everything from the planets to microscopic cells are governed by certain immutable laws. The human psyche – the brain and mind as a whole – is also subject to a system of internally coherent laws that we are beginning to discover. We are also part of nature, and understanding ourselves is a beautiful endeavor.

Primal Therapy is based entirely on a natural process already contained within every human being. We are simply unlocking the mysteries of that process, allowing the cure to unfold. Anyone who has had a primal, descending through time into feelings that span a lifetime, and emerging into the light and lightness of experience-based insights, can attest to the beauty of the process.

On the other hand, obstructing nature is rarely a pretty sight. Much of psychotherapy today involves intercepting and diverting our feelings, which mans repressing our true nature. Feelings are quelled through pills or through retraining the brain to think happy thoughts. Either way, there is no beauty in trying to subvert nature by reinforcing the ugliness of repression.

In Primal Therapy, I am describing science at work; a science we have worked on and refined for fifty years. We can now add methylation and demethylation to the mix to verify improvement. The pain does not come back, nor does the anxiety, the ADD, the phobias nor the inability to sit still, focus and concentrate. It is left back in personal history. How great to not be weighed down by unrelenting depression; to be able to lift that weight and be light and free. What a feeling. I have experienced it myself so I am not describing an isolated or esoteric incident.  Beautiful.


  1. I'm jealous. I want to be me. But wanting is not enough.

  2. It is beautiful, because when in a feeling, you never want to get out of it until it's felt. And even if you do get out of it (perhaps from extreme fear), you want to be able and resume wheneven possible.

    Not because you have become masochist. But because you DO KNOW that this is way. Whatever you are ever told, it simply vanishes and you recognize the correct path!

  3. Hello all!

    Maybe it's the right way to use beautiful because we never experienced what really is beautiful... but after experiencing needs... so we can express what should have been beautiful and now what is beautiful.


    1. Frank, yes, it is my goal to help make life beautiful, and that includes me. art

  4. It is so true,so true...I know that with growing certainity for almost thirty years.Your books were road signs for the way to go thru my primals,which gave me strenght to endure all pain,doubts and misery...All best from eternaly gratefull..

    1. Dear Tanja, do not forget the pleasure I get in writing those posts. It takes two to tango, and without my fellow bloggers there would be no point. art

  5. But who helped you, parent you....
    Who did u go to as this therapy progressed....i survived peritonitis three times...the last time gling under the knife for intestinal blockage while undergoing primal therapy...therapy wasnt too helpful with that...i was given last rites...but survived. I have no desire to relive that again. Ive died three times. Now i seek spiritual answers not therapeutic. ...theres a limit. So i have big why did i survive.

    1. Mark, Listen. I understand but eventually the feelings will seep through and demand that you feel them. But right now you need a good rest from it. art

    2. Hello mark nicholson!

      Your story hit me!

      Can we perceive what is beautiful in humans when everyone smiles in order to get attention for what they lack? Yes a possibility is for how they are but not sooner than we experience lack of love in ourselves... a need that may need an "insane" intensity... it to be accessed for not having a smile as input!

      My dreams to come home ended when my mother died! So my dreams of love... the beauty of life was tied to my dreams even if it was not so beautiful dreams so well dreams... if only hopes so well the illusion that saved my life. My hopes to get home ever since I was five years old... then when I was left at the hospital in a desperate despair... being left and in the same time be threatened by a nurse to keep me quiet... MY GOD.

      The shock silenced my desire to just see the room around me... a room without any one... just me left in my isolation... isolated in a suspicion of that I was infected by something.

      I do not know to this day how I survived it. To be alone in loneliness when needs of love was so crucial... it in every cell of my body cannot be anything but a total disaster.

      A smile from anyone... even from someone with a need to smile can be helpful for a five year old... but there was no one who smiled at me in the hospital!

      Your Frank

    3. Mark, I was an orphan with parents; and I mean that literally. People often wonder who guided me? No one. That is why I am not psychotic. No one cared enough to try to guide me a certain way. I had to fend for myself and I did. art

    4. I can relate to this notion of having had to fend for oneself emotionally.It's amazing :you go through a long life in this alienated society and rare is the time that any genuine contact is made with anyone else, despite your great need and natural inclination to do so. And that does not seem to bother most people. Your parents have no idea what is going on with you deep down, and you certainly are not going to risk telling them, because what you will get in return is miscomprehension, or rejection, or well intentionned but useless superficial "positive thinking" banalities.All they saw, in my case, was an angry rebellious "lazy" mouthy son, and my father's response was not to get involved or say "be nice "; and my mother's response was to try to beat me into abject submission, trying mightily and sadistically to make a half-dead polite responsible "hard-working" half-human out of me (It didn't work!!).

      How utterly insane! Thank "God" a few people have tried to make some sense of it all, like Janov, and many artists. Here are some lyrics that have helped in the last few days:

      "Drift away" by Mentor R. Williams

      Day after day I'm more confused
      Yet I look for the light in the pouring rain
      You know that's a game that I hate to lose
      I'm feelin' the strain, ain't it a shame

      Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
      I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
      Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
      I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
      (Won't you take me away?)

      Beginning to think that I'm wastin' time
      I don't understand the things I do
      The world outside looks so unkind
      I'm countin' on you to carry me through

      And when my mind is free
      You know a melody can move me
      And when I'm feelin' blue
      The guitar's comin' through to soothe me
      Thanks for the joy that you've given me
      I want you to know I believe in your song
      Rhythm and rhyme and harmony
      You help me along makin' me strong


    5. I was too Art. Altho my early interests were recognized &supported to a degree. I often wonder how I was able to be so in touch with myself, regardless. Jacquie

  6. I would like to draw people`s attention to a very disturbing photograph that appeared on the front page of last sunday`s "New York Times". It is a picture of a Venezuelan schizophrenic man weighing about 75 lbs. sitting forlornly in what seems to be a dark cell with just a little light coming in from a window in the back. If what Janov says is true, it is amazing what Pain can do to a person, reducing this one at least to a lost skeletal wreck. That image haunted me for hours after seeing it and I have kept it. I sure wish there was something I could do to help this man, but alas I can do nothing.


    1. During Nicolae Ceaușescu's reign of terror in Romania the Orphanages were full of unwanted children (because women were refused abortions) and many of the very young babies were left alone in thier cots and never touched or interacted with an simply fed. They went grey and died from lack of love and from great pain I am sure.

  7. As long as my mother was alive... I was in an iron grip of that my life would never end! My dreams could never cease... it of its natur in a process to repress my need... I was the represser of my early needs... it at the time which I never would have survived the knowledge of what my feelings was all about .

    Is it so simple that the science around our mental condition does not present itself just because we do not ask the right questions? Yes... it is so simple... it without any doubt for what science presents! So... now when we have the right questions to be asked and the existing tools available to his task... WHAT IS HAPPENING?


  8. More on what could be beautiful!

    On the verge of madness... in the grip of madness... we must search for the beautiful... but not with it!

    Beautiful is an emotional experience... and we are suffering terribly without it... it in our neocortex for what is leaking from the limbic system. We are talking about BEING the pain... it before it is possible to experience what is beautiful!

    We are suffering terribly as we approach our need cemetnerat in the emotional part of our brain (we shall not let it come up... we shall look it up). That is what we are up against for what can be beautiful... pain without awareness.

    So a question is what is beautiful before it is possible? Perverted behavior in the process of alleviating the misery!

    It is on the brink of what should be beautiful... but now are drenched in pain where we struggeling in our lives which we must tackle before we can talk about what really is beautiful.

    My suffering is my companion but also my future storyteller away from it!


  9. I seek out my pain when I get off the train heading to the wrong station!


  10. Art is it a chance that this hellish Titnnitus will go away from me after therapy?

    1. Piotr, I wish I were a specialist in that condition but I am not. Sorry art

    2. Piotr,

      I can't guarantee you will get the same results I did, but I used Sound Therapy – CDs of specially manipulated classical music – to cure my tinnitus. I thought at first that the best I could hope for would be partial relief, but I can honestly say that it seems to have gone for good. And that was several years back.

      If Art will permit me to post it, here is the website if you are interested:


    3. Piotr, Erron on the blog is offering help. check it out art

    4. There is a group in LA called Pacific Eye and Ear care who do treat it, 3104775558 good luck. art

  11. Hi Art

    Totally off topic but have just finished "Beyond Belief". A fantastic book with so much to absorb. I realised that my Father ran a cult of one, me (oh and maybe my sister). When I started to stand up to him and tell him what I though in my late 40's it was quite obvious that he was falling apart as I had removed his position as cult leader. he then faded away as the full extent of my Mothers domination of him (and his Mothers domination) wore out his lungs. He suffocated to death which I am sure also reflected problems during his birth. Thank you for a great book.

    1. Planespotter, you are so welcome. art

    2. Yes, just finished it myself, and agree, another great book, Art. I see now my 'conversion' to Catholicism at the tender age of 7, in its true light! Thanks heaps.


    3. Erron, you have no idea how delighted I am, it means a lot to me. thanks art

    4. Planespotter, that's a way of seeing it!: a cult of one (or more, depending on siblings). I'm staying w/my Dad (&wife) briefly at present, the third time since I was 15. Having my reality externally dictated (and questioned..) has made me feel disconnected, &very unhappy. I won't be doing it again. All the best, Jacquie

  12. The split reality!

    I understand only through my ability to feel... if it is so that we can only understand something if we feel it (the big picture of life). So I'm the one who understands or not! It does not matter what Einstain explained with his theory of relativity... I understand only what he explained based on my circumstances to do so.

    If one now imagines this be the basis for what all "professional" in health care around psychological factors exert so you just have to think of the consequences... as primal therapy is far from being the knowledge around these professional.

    So... they must stop their efforts to be Einstain if they ever shall achieve the what is beautiful!

    Having suffering throughout life it can not be anything but beautiful in the process of getting out of it (I agree with you Art)... it as the expression of beautiful has been without its nature... nature of feelings to perceive what is beautiful... as emotion makes possible. But how will you be able to understand it without the link to what is beautiful? Without understanding the hell that we carry with us in the limbic system!


  13. We're lost in our world of thoughts that we are forced to stay in as help we need do not understand better!

    How are anxiety to be of something in the past as pain of it lies in the limbic system well hidden by narrowing... repressed by our neocortex... neocortex a fort to defend against suffering... suffering because it was so painful to be in need to feel in our limbic system. And now we suffer because we do not understand what help we need!

    Well in the neocortex... we can only look in to our future not back in to our history... it of its task of being in our neocortex... a thinking world that is wary of to feel.

    To feel is for many of us a pain near death and where can we find our need of love in a horror full experience if we do not understand it... feel the reason of it?

    We must not seek out anxiety to feel... even if it is our clock to perceive it... we must seek it up in a way and in a amount possible to cope with. Otherwise we will continue having anxiety of what is to come... and not for what was.


  14. My need is me... my boddy!


  15. In a world of regular, popular science we can be the first and the only one who knows truth. This knowledge can be rejected or recognized and awarded. Shared with the world…. proved.
    Primal truth make us the ONLY scientists that can EVER know it. Truth that can also be rejected or recognized and awarded. Can it be shared? Proved?
    These two sciences should work together, right? It could be beautiful. It could be special. Modified (and better!) version of science? Organic.
    Art, it is interesting that you have been in both of these two scientific situations…


    1. "Primal truth make us the ONLY scientists that can EVER know it"

      I think the only way there is to get the world's attention is through human behavior around primal therapy... by clinical trials. Not to prove it to professionellas but to show what has going on for so long without being told what is happening!

      The professionals resistance as in panic over their own situation persists for what their life holds... it is an impossible situation to manage. To talk you in to it... to sit down and have a healthy dialogue... there is no way to do so!

      They has to know (and you know what that is all about)... and if they do not do so... what so ever their thought is all about.. they end up in the same situation that was the reason we started our process in primal therapy... and if they do not know what is happens... you know... what can we do?

      How much scientists we ever becomes so it will only be our own science as long as we are the only ones who live it! To be a scientist can be a try to show others what I can... that is the equation! When anyone understand and feel the science of primal therapy they are scientist by them selfs. What I am saying is... to be a scientist in Primal therapeutic context eats up himself. To live it... it is what we must do to understand all what science around primal therapy is... then we all are scientist and the rest shows his suspicion or lives as they have gone through primla therapy without the slightest idea what happened and perhaps they see themselves as scientists? That's what a scientist can be today... if you know what I mean?

      What is an incredible experience it is that we are human and we can hold out against many who think themselves to be different!

      Your Frank

  16. Hi Art. I know this is not a political forum, but I noticed you talked about the likelihood of fascism developing in America (in facebook). You also talked about Donald Trump depicting Muslims as the source of all of our problems. Do you think this type of mass-hypnosis could lead to an unjustified attack on peaceful Muslims, tantamount to the killing of millions of Jews, even if Hillary Clinton becomes president? And do you think that millions of hypnotised people should be concerned about the roughly 300 million Muslims who advocate the introduction of Sharia Law to non-Islamic countries?

    1. Richard, I use current events as an illustration of what can happen when Primal principles are violated. But I keep politics and personal opinions out of science. art.

  17. The piece also made me think of children's (natural) beauty; inside and out. It's adults who are usually ugly. Jacquie


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.