Thursday, December 28, 2017

The UCLA Experiment

(Originally published August 15, 2008)

At UCLA Pulmonary Laboratory, my staff and I filmed two patients in slow motion moving exactly like a salamander (in a birth reliving that was spontaneous and unexpected) for over an hour and a half each. They were reliving anoxia at birth due to the heavy anesthesia given to the mother which affected their respiratory system. Drugs given to a 130-pound mother enters a system of a six-pound neonate and shuts down many systems. They were reliving this anoxia with the most primitive nervous system, hence the salamander-like movements. It was evident that no person, not even themselves at a later point, could duplicate their movements nor their deep breathing voluntarily, and certainly not for half an hour. They would have been exhausted. These patients were not exhausted. In some of these relivings, which were filmed, the body temperature dropped to 94.8 degrees in a matter of minutes. The patient was neither cold nor suffering from it. He is reliving an event where the body temperature was exactly 94.8 degrees. And each time the patient relives this kind of event, the fall, or rise, will be the same. The individual, therefore, in his reliving does not lie; it duplicates history exactly; the history that each of us carries around every minute our lives. It is that history that often requires quelling or suppressing with tranquilizers and painkillers, particularly when there was no love or touch very early in life. When patients relive enough of their painful history, they no longer need alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and painkillers.

The research in blood gases with these patients was carried out in association with UCLA director Dr. Donald Tashkin and his associates, pulmonary scientists Dr. Eric Kleerup and M. B. Dauphinee. They were wired for, among other things, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. They were then taken through a simulated Primal, or reliving, of an early trauma. During the simulation, both patients became dizzy and had "clawed hands," within three minutes, typical of hyperventilation syndrome. This research has great significance for understanding the human psyche, for understanding access to deep brain levels and for how psychotherapy must be practiced.

We took frequent blood samples with an in-dwelling catheter during the subjects' reliving episodes (every two to three minutes for one and a half hours) and during voluntary hyperventilation. We measured blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, as well as core body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. The simulation and the reliving were quite similar in terms of strenuous physical activity and deep, rapid breathing.

During the simulation, the blood carbon dioxide and oxygen levels were what one might expect. There were clear signs of the hyperventilation syndrome after a little over two to three minutes of deep breathing, including dizziness, tingling hands, rigidity of the extremities, bluish lips, loss of energy such that the subject could barely exert himself, and great fatigue.

In the reliving of oxygen deprivation at birth, however, there was no hyperventilation syndrome. Despite 20-30 minutes of deep, rapid, locomotive breathing (it is raspy and sounds like a locomotive), there was no dizziness, puckered lips, or tingly hands. The UCLA researchers found that lactic acid in their blood compensated for the low carbonic acid level caused by their locomotive breathing, preventing the hyperventilation syndrome. In other words, their muscular exertions during the reliving were so great that their oxygen requirement exceeded the supply. Their muscles were forced into anaerobic respiration, like a sprinter in a 100-yard dash: glucose is broken down to lactic acid in the absence of oxygen. No amount of voluntary exertion during a simulated primal could equal that effort. The factor that makes the difference is imprinted memory. The musculature under the control of the imprinted brain memory is working as hard in the session as in the original trauma to try to survive. In the reliving, the brain was signaling its history; a lack of oxygen and the necessity to breathe deeply.

In the UCLA study, we had accessed, almost directly, brainstem structures, something unheard of in the psychological literature, and witnessed their awesome power. It is perhaps the Holy Grail of psychological science. The import for psychotherapy is that only total reliving and frontal cortex connection makes profound change, for it is only in a reliving that vital signs change radically.


  1. Thank you France for re posting this,

    it gives me hope that I might one day get to my birth in re living episodes despite having been born unconscious, probably knocked out on strong drugs given to my mum. I suspect I was pulled out forcibly by hand, having got stuck just under her pelvic bone - that would explain why she got 'torn' down there (& why I often feel like a 'head banger'). I have patches of missing hair follicles in my beard which match finger prints positioned around my jaw to lever me out. You can put your fingers on those patches and it positions your hands exactly where you would need to 'get me out'. I suspect, if I can get to that early stuff, bruises will appear in those patches, possibly the hair will grow back and I will finally get a full beard. I have noticed quite a lot of older men do not have full beards and I wonder if this phenomenon is common.

    One thing is for sure, as I get older, my beard in particular and body hair generally is getting thicker (except on my head where I am going bald & grey)! My arthritis is stabilising and my reliving experiences have changed radically.

    Had I not read the Primal Scream in 1985 and then discovered this blog after a very serious breakdown in 2009, I may not have survived this long.

    I have Art & France to thank for their work which aught to get mainstream recognition, we all know why it does not.

    Thank you.

    Paul G.

  2. My tribute to Arthur Janov

    I want to pay a tribute to the man who has saved my life. I've got something amazing in my hand. Being in touch daily with what I feel is a gift. I had never been able to figure out this equation my self and put 1 + 1 together so that it could be 2.

    What I've got is absolutely amazing! I feel great now, joy, lust and I feel so motivated and positive inside. All the time I have experiences, everything is explained to me by feeling it. I know all the time that there are no parts of me that I do not know anything about and that's amazing because I want to know ALL about myself now. I miss it and I can't almost wait. I simply can not be without it, the feeling of wanting to feel it all has taken over.

    I would not experience this today without Arthur Janov's books. My life is very interesting today. I am at the center of myself and no one can take it away from me anymore. The consciousness about myself is not a miracle but miraculous. I have Arthur to thank for everything, but all the work has to be done by myself it is up to me to do the job myself. No one can help me, if so it's only me who knows what hurts and ultimately me who can solve it all.

    I understand the greatness of Janov's discovery. I understand the greatness of this amazing man. It's the discovery of myself that makes it so big. I have learned from the work that Janov wanted to show. My gratitude is endless. Waking up without anxiety is amazing, not to suffer, I'm in pain but have contact with the reason of it, what else can I ask for? The "happiness" I was looking for I have found. I feel so good.

    Aida Castañeda


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.