Friday, March 10, 2017

A Little Primal Story

I want to tell you about how Primal need works.  

First, a story in today’s paper about a man who failed at sports but from the time his son was eight years old, he forced him into sports. And even when the child (and he was a child) was hurt, he demanded he get up and play on. He broke a tooth but the father never saw the little hurts because he only could see himself, and when his child was cheered on later in sports the father somehow felt they were also cheering for him. In short, he lived his life and his needs through his son. His needs came long before the ones of his son. He was effectively having an ineffable Primal where he relived the failures of his life and his need to be a winner, through his son. The son never had a chance. 
 
Another story of a patient, a lawyer, who was ignored and derided by his father as someone who could never do anything right. The father continued to criticize and demean him, so he himself could feel a little bit of success… At the expense of his son. The son was treated like “dirt,” he said. And so with his clients the son was supercilious, arrogant, totally sure of himself and could not allow himself to be questioned. He was the important person, and with his clients those old pains seeped through constantly. The feeling of being nothing forced him to act like he was something, someone important and valued. His manner of arrogant speech was the betrayal of his past hurt and denigration. He did not try to speak in a superior fashion; his old need/pain importuned it. His old feelings colored the tone of his speech and offered a protective cover against his feeling like a failure. His work could not be put in question. He ran from criticism and could be bought for just a few words of praise. His flight was constantly away from his pain. He avoided anyone who was critical, and socialized with those who praised him and reinforced his worth. That was as unending as his need/pain, which was locked into his brain. What he sought out was always symbolic, someone who thought he was important, those who genuflected before his superior intelligence. And, of course, he cultivated that intelligence so he could be idolized. But as his need was interminable, so was his act-out.   

I remember in my old days of Primal, I would take someone who was brash and aggressive and loud in his speech and demand he speaks only softly and timidly. He would soon cry; feeling unprotected, weak,  and alone.

In both cases, old feelings and needs superseded reality. Just like a woman I treated, who could only get involved with strong men because her father was so weak he could not protect her against a constantly angry, miserable mother, who blamed her daughter for all her failures and ailments. The mother was as unrelenting with her daughter as her internal misery. Of course the mother had no idea where her misery came from, so she focused on a vulnerable and defenseless target… Her daughter.  That daughter paid a lifelong price for her mother’s pain. When the husband left home, the mother blamed the daughter, “If you weren’t born, he would had stayed with me.” The daughter had implacable guilt and began to feel like the failure her mother instilled in her. Later on, she got married and became the guilt-laden miserable being she was made into. Do not ever think that a bit of counseling would help her overcome her character flaws. Behavior therapists confine themselves to the present because it is so easy to travel in those confines, which limits their scope and therefore their field of required knowledge. They see only obvious behavior, while a long childhood history lies unexamined. If this were applied to geography, the world would indeed be flat. 

23 comments:

  1. Yesterday I felt a bit of a memory, of not being able to breath. I felt it only for a moment or two but that was enough.
    On reflection it was very satisfying even to only feel a tiny bit of that feeling, though terrifying and terrible, because it met my most basic need, the need to breath.
    Now I understand why I could only touch on those feelings momentarily, and why such a primal need could not possibly go on for hours, not even an hour, though it may take an hour and years to get to such a feeling safely, because the memory was at a time, when my life was literally hanging on a moment, and my most basic instinct was for life itself.
    It now makes perfect sense to only feel moments of such a powerful feeling, and then to have resurfaced, though it took me maybe an hour to get down to the feeling, and years of preparation.
    Now as I reconnect to the memory with my word brain, It brings tears to my eyes because it's a memory so touching, because it touches on my very own evolution, of a time of coming out of the water, and adapting to air, and for a few moments I was a fish out of water, so vulnerable, where the only thing to hold onto or connect with was my very own will to breath, to live.
    I had to go all the way back there because it was the earliest memory of wanting to hold onto something and having to let go, which amazingly is the act of breathing.
    To feel what motivates ones very own heart beat and breath rhythm is to discover ones very own will to live, and love of life.
    An unconscious powerful attraction to wish to travel back years in time and evolution, to feel a lack of oxygen that felt like near death, now makes so much sense of a most mysterious and subtle, powerful and unquenchable life long exhausting unmet need, because it was and still is my most vital need, the need to breath.
    The trigger for thefeelings occured during a driving lesson with my boyfriend when he was trying to teach me some defensive, and potentially life saving driving skills. Funnily, and not so funnily it tapped into some of my most fundamental drives and defence mechanisms. Hence the name ' defensive driving' pardon the pun.


    Katherina

    Katherina

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    1. This was written anxiously for fear of being judged as not having real feelings, it may look like I was trying to have feelings about difficulty breathing, but I can assure I was not. It was the furthest idea from my mind when I started my session.
      My session started well anchored in the present, about seeing my boss at work the other day with her little girl who was trying desperately to get her mothers approval and affection. This lead to feeling my need for my bosses approval and affection, and then for my mothers, eventually a memory of needing to hold my mothers hand as an anxious child, and earlier needing her to hold me as an infant, and feeling how she only held me when she felt like it, but not as much as I needed. Whilst crying about it exhausted with grief as an infant, I started to feel that if I kept crying for my mother to come, that my lungs were starting to collapse from exhaustion, and I couldn't breath. The only thing for me to do as that infant was to stop crying, and give up on my need to be held to save my own life and simply breath.
      Anyway, I I'm moving on from needing approval and approving of my own feelings.
      Katherina

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    2. Where do you do these Primals? Art

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  2. So anxiety is a relief for what actually caused it... it at the time when life-threatening events was at it source!

    So anxiety of advanced age is but without its consciousness... so become anxiety a lifesaving symptom! It has lie there for a long time because of its life-threatening background... why etched in... why become anxiety as a relief. But simultaneously it became a chance for us to may later in life be aware of its source... if only we could understand the process to be.

    So anxiety will continue to be the scourge of human redoubt along with the professionals inability of understanding... it as long as they refuse the science of its fysilogiska cause.

    Not to forget the therapeutic process for those who still struggeling with his anxiety and want help from the primal therapeutic process who can turn to the center.

    Thank you Art!

    Your Frank

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  3. Hi Art & all,

    I have 'separation trauma'. I am pretty sure I was whisked away from my Mum at birth, anoxic, drugged unconscious, bruised and left on a cold tray in another resuscitation room. Consequently I really hate being ignored and find that particular 'defensive tactic' very obnoxious.

    Strangely, 'freezing out' and ignoring people has now entered the lexicon of 'emotional abuse' whilst at the same time the rhetoric of how to deal with narcissists who seem always to 'need' attention has been highlighted as the very reason why: "If you have nothing good to say, then say nothing at all"-.

    Such a simplistic 'Moral High Ground'. Perfect for those unreflective types who are always so busy they have never had time to see beyond their own defensive walls.

    Thus, somehow 'freezing out' has become a virtue and skill to defend against potential narcissists. It's like a kind of macho form of 's he who blinks first loses'. . .

    Whatever you do, don't let a narcissist get one over you, just ignore anyone who seeks your attention. . .

    Thus in this ever more neurotic world a new battle of silence ensues whereby anyone who speaks out of turn must be an attention seeker and deserve to be ignored. . .

    There are now four people who are very important to me due to them being directly in contact with my daughter or directly in contact with me at work who deliberately freeze me out because when under stress I tend to talk too much sometimes, I want to express myself, to be understood. . . I also tend to speak my mind, particularly to those whom I am dependent on for work and for my family connections.

    But actually I am merely a subcontractor in both my daughter's life and at work. . . I am the sperm donor and the carpentry machine, so I just put my head down and 'shut the fuck up'. . .

    How grim it has become in my sordid little life. . . Something has to change soon. I am making furniture and a workshop for myself, a new workbench, biding my time, printing new business cards and gradually 'getting on' with my own thing. . .

    It's fucking lonely though. . . Particularly after a whole night of insomnia and three hours under the covers involuntarily deep breathing and speechlessly in the grips of indescribable sensations. . . . .

    Paul G.

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    1. Paul, that sounds very repressive about someone wanting to silence you when attention is what you want and need. It's a kind of double bind. You can't get the attention if you don't speak up, but if you do you are ignored for doing so. Like pretend you don't have feelings and maybe someone might help you. Playing it cool is Crazy.
      You might as well keep talking, at least you can hear what you need even if no one else does.

      Sheri

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    2. Hello Paul & sheri!

      This is exactly what I mean is the situation we ourselves must question the meaning of and whether it is possible to endure! A difficult but perhaps necessary decision that must be made with care for its own good... with tears and sadness.

      Take care Paul

      Your Frank

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  4. Who knows something if they do not know that something else of science exists to be? Then they know more for what their purpose determines the order to be... how can that be? It because science is not allowed to be!

    Hypothalamus... a memory center where Alzheimer proves to be highly active. It was by injecting a radioactive substance that binds to anyloid... a substance that are released by Alzheimer's disease... which made it possible to track where it is produced in the brain. BUT NOT A WORD ABOUT WHY ANYLOID ARE PRODUCED... an issue absolutely crucial to discover the cause of Alzheimer's!

    What happens in the scientific world? Are scientists more tied to the pharmaceutical industry then their intrests of showing the causes of suffering? Or are they so lost in themselves that the question of cause does not even appears to them? I can understand if that is the case... but it is far from any agreement with them... as I understands better to day.

    Frank

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  5. The loneliness in our own history is a places to begin our therapy? Better than when we overflow with pain and suffers. But first it has to be at its option to be possible! This is of a great advantage if it can be done.

    Primal therapy can be "kind" to us if we approach with sense of memories where we were more than were subjected to suffering... but still it is a memory out of understanding for what it was. And how do we do it? The conditions to it are that we are not overflowing with memories so that we can be back there with events not as painful... memory where we just were... and so build on to painful memories at a pace feasible for what suffering is bearable... so that we can be where we were at our pain as a helpless child... not to be a disaster for us. Well there we will know what is happening.


    My life now is similar to my life as a child... but much now is also the same for what I am looking back at my childhood... so the difference is not but I am becoming aware of the child in me... so I get familiar with my memories of my childhood and there I am.

    Frank

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  6. What is behind all these needs and why do they not made themselves visible? Because even the solitude without being channeled into it is a life-threatening experience! We need and we take what there is not to suffer from it. We are hiding behind unawareness which in it self is an evidenced... if we knew... and we are not talking about it? There are those who know this and they are also the ones who have to pursue the matter further to become a basis for further development of primal therapy.

    To get there is beyond the reach for those who are not involved but well for those who are. But it is met with alot of obstacles from many sources who says they know... including from those who are involved in primal therapy as they not rarely defend their own privacy by not be able to disclose own suffering... a privacy unfortunate for what they then pronounce themselves about primal therapy around gods and other philosophies.

    We must have a reliable source! If we do not have it... we will be buried around speculation about other things than primal therapy. Fortunately... we have the primal center and for those of you who do not know... you live a life of loss... a loss of your selves.

    Frank

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  7. Comment from Gary, via email:
    After 25 years of involvement with Primal, in one way or another, I´ve made it a general rule to avoid people as much as possible. I have very few friends and just to keep my head above water emotionally, rely on faceless communication via the internet. How anyone can believe that an entire childhood of daily hurt, one way or another, can have no effect, or even - and tragically this is also the case in some "psychotherapies" - can be neutralized by "forgiving and forgetting" is preposterous and its widespread acceptance in itself a sad reflection of how damaged humanity is. And I must mention this. That most people can just dismiss, one way or another, and put out of their minds the fact of over a billion sentient creatures dying in emotional and physical agony, EACH DAY, in factory farms, after lives of abject physical and emotional suffering, is also a massive testament to the damage done by childhood trauma. The ability of people to dismiss or deny the most hideous suffering and pain makes a total mockery of our self professed claim to being a "superior species". Gary

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  8. More from Gary:
    This resonates so much with me. I had to struggle through years of agonizing academicia - school then universtity - so my parents could prove to everyone how successful they were as parents. No overt pressure was ever put on me yet somehow I knew I had to do it to please them. I HATED every second of my university life and the subjects I studied and got low grades. But fathers generally put their sons in a double bind: the sons must succeed to prove the fathers manhood, yet must not outshine the father, so cannot be too successful. It´s a narrow window.
    So after University, I found myself a totally lost, desolate soul, and only for the last two years (I´m now 55) can I honestly say I´ve found what I know I must devote my life to: Saving animals.But in my infrequent emails to my parents, still my backbiting, condemning mother ignores me, and my father constantly uses the word "disappointed" re their attitude to my life. Never is there a word of praise, encouragement or shared celebration for anything I share with them about myself
    I think generally (I know there are lots of exceptions) girls are not pressurized to succeed as much as boys. Simply by being female, my older sister never felt any of the (subtle) pressure put on myself and my brother to be big wage earners. But because of acute family sexism, she was seen as worthless and discarded like trash, and today is a lonely, emotional mess. Myself and my brother feel like failures. She doesn´t. But her feelings of rejection and inadequacy are much worse. Gary

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    1. Hi Gary,

      My father still cannot resist talking about himself endlessly. At 87 he is writing and self publishing fictional books and short stories which feature parts of myself (no 'copyright' there eh?) as well as his own symbolically represented unmet needs. . . into his own fantastical fictional perception of narrative act outs. . . from his own unreflective eyes, like a cheap Don Juan. He sends me copies of his latest 'creation' to 'a - praise'. The last one a 'history of the family' which featured him and his absent father as the central heroes. He also advises me to get into writing and publishing - Of course I am completely 'upstaged' and have total writer's block as a consequence. . . His professional mentor, a retired and ageing professor of literature has now gone into the advanced stages of dementia and so, my poor father no longer has a 'shoulder to lean on' in the literary world. . . as for my mother - she languishes in nappies in a local privately run dementia care home. Poor chap, he has no one to discuss his next author itarian venture with. Apart from me and my compliant elder brother. . .

      Meanwhile, I hide under the covers or struggle with the Zero hrs contract arrangement where I do carpentry to remain sane.

      I understand your frustration Gary, really I do.

      Paul G.

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    2. Answer from Gary to Paul via email:
      It´s a tough one isn´t it Paul? No matter how intelligent and informed we are, we hold out hope of our parents changing, but they won´t. They can´t.
      The last few years, I´ve subconsciously transferred my pwn struggle with my parents to the world at large in the form of the unspeakable extent and severity of animal abuse. Funnily enough, though you´d expect the magnitude of the resulting psychoemotional pain to be infinitely greater, it isn´t.
      In retrospect, it´s exactly the same as it was as when I first read Prisoners of Pain 25 years ago, and my defences crumbled.
      That´s because the gravity of our primal pain is fixed, and not changed by external stimuli, no matter how gargantuan, unless, that is, that external stimuli further traumatizes us.
      And the unspeakable horror of animal abuse I face every day of my life may well have traumatized me further. I don´t know.
      In Primal THerapy, once one trauma is relived the next pops up for resolution, like, as Art says, those pop up plates in restaurants. In similar fashion, I know that if no animal abuse existed in the world, my pain would still be there, tormenting me, sabotaging each day.
      Thanks for the empathy Paul. I know it´s sincere. But still, current conflicts with my Pa are somewhere behind the surface pains I´m feeling. Gary

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  9. Knowing is the scourge of hell if we don't feel its cause! How can we possibly know about something if what we know is our escape from it... why we know! And so we know about other things in the battle for our lives!

    Someone who know do not need to understand (feel) what is happening... but one who understand (feel) what is happening also know! A vocabulary equation difficult to understand for those who deny the difference!

    If you think you know... you're not even close... because you know in attempt to not feel... if it does not surprise you ... and then you're in trouble... if you just know as defense to not feel. So... your thoughts take routes other than what they are suppose to do... something they can only do with the help from those who feel what is happening... as will save your life..

    Knowing is the scourge of hell if we don't feel its cause! How can we possibly know about something if what we know is our escape from it... why we know! And so we know about other things in the battle for our lives!

    Frank

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  10. My brother died two days ago!

    Ignorance about the meaning of death rests in its infancy when it comes very close to us ... and nothing can make us think of something else to escape its extensive experience linking us up to life... but such a pain!

    Frank

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    1. Hi Frank,

      I'm sorry for you. Were you close? Sometimes grief is worse for the loss of what we never had. I know that when my Dad dies I will grieve so badly because of what he never gave me. Until then I will be 'holding out' with false hope.

      Paul G.

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  11. Dear Art,

    Best wishes and speedy recovery from eternally gratefull Tanja...

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    1. Surgery put off one week. Thanks for all the good wishes. Art

      Delete

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