Monday, January 30, 2017

More on Hallucinogens

Recently I wrote on the dangers of hallucinogens. One of the more long-lasting and well known of them is LSD, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. Let us go on to examine what these drugs do. I have noted previously that we have a chemical in our brains, serotonin, that fights off pain by blocking its effects. And when serotonin gets depleted in the internecine battle against pain at the time it is imprinted, we begin to suffer; our bolstering chemicals are empty. Usually, without too great a load of pain, our internal pain blocking system will manufacture more and we feel better. But with many compounded experiences of agony, a carrying mother who is chronically anxious, or a drinker, we become in great deficit. Then we go to a doctor who writes a prescription for more of it. He does not know that the chemical was the same that was depleted at birth or in gestation, but he does know it works. 

And the level of pain engendered by trauma early in life, mediated in part of the brainstem, is so great  that it takes powerful drugs to shut it down. Enter Serotonin. It makes its dainty step into the neural armamentaria to fight the good fight. Sometimes it is not enough, so we double it, or more often add to it with other tranquilizers. And soon we become addicted. Too soon we grow addicted, and too soon we grow smart enough to know about the battle. It is forever a losing one until we fight the RIGHT battle. Where on earth is that? Inside of us. The fight between imprinted pain and its adversary: pain blockers. And what is another name for those blockers? Oh yes: Prozac plus dozens of others. And what does LSD to? It attaches to serotonin receptors to soften and mollify their effects. In effect, it pushes down on the activating part of the hallucinogen and controls its egress. It keeps us from feeling. Yes, that is what repression does: it blocks feeling. It does that naturally against great early suffering, even before birth. So we see the cemented faces that portray a lack of feeling and we know there is pain there, in the same way that we see the faces of those on hallucinogens who block feelings. I have written about this as blocking the gates of pain; and the deficit in this blocking action produces what I call “leaky gates.” It is leaky gates that help produce addiction. They allow the ineffable lower level pain to escape its total capture.  Just imagine when drugs blow the gates wide open. Then we see indescribable agony.  Sometimes, we do not see pain; we see what the pain does to te top ideational level producing bizarres ideas and beliefs. God is a way by which we measure our pain.

Several theories exist on how drugs actually act in the brain and body. These are by (1) attaching to cells called receptors, (2) interacting with cellular enzyme systems, or (3) affecting the chemical properties of the outer cell membranes (Goldenberg. Pages 36 & 37).

Many drugs are believed to combine with chemical groups within the cell or on the cell wall. These drugs combine with specific agents known as receptors. The theory is that these receptors actually attract the drug by having a molecular shape that fits with the drug. This is sometimes known as the "lock and key" theory. Think of the shape of a key that will only fit into a certain lock. When the correct shaped key and lock are matched up then the lock can be opened. The receptor theory is much the same. A certain shaped drug molecule is attracted by a receptor site on the cell wall. When the two shapes fit or line up together, the drug acts the same way as a natural body chemical does to set off a chain of events. The key here is that the drugs mimic what our body should have done if we were loved as infants or even before.  Let me repeat: some tranquilizers somehow mimic what we should produce naturally. For example, the naturally occurring body chemical acetylcholine combines with receptors in the membranes of muscle and nerve cells that are chemically specialized to receive it. Certain synthetic drug agents can duplicate the action of acetylcholine by combining at the cell wall. These drugs are sometimes referred to as agonists. They boost the action of the cell. The antagonist, in this case atropine, competes for the receptor site which normally accepts acetylcholine. It says, “get out of the way. I will now take your place for the moment.” It will block or dislocate the normal physiological function. Why dislocate? Because the energy and its tendency still exist but must be diverted somewhere. It noses around finding another vulnerable place. The person acts out by overeating, is made calm by drugs, and then suffers from high blood pressure. Sometimes the attack site is not apparent until years later.

There are drugs that can block the receptor site and interrupt its effect. If there is too much stimulation and we feel that we are about to jump out of our skin, there are medications that can stop that stimulation. The pressure is so much from inside that we literally feel that we need to get out of our skin. It is the message lodged deep the nervous system that is doing it, mostly of not being loved or early trauma, a chronically depressed mother both while carrying and afterward, for example. Not being loved has always to do with not having needs fulfilled—from lack of oxygen at birth to lack of touch right after birth. There is a timetable of needs that form a critical window when they must be fulfilled. Once past that window needs can only be fulfilled symbolically. Feeling unloved cannot be eradicated in adulthood by more love. Primal Pain blocks its entry.

One way to rid of the feeling of being so anxious and agitated is to slow down or stop the transmission of messages between neurons (nerve cells) so that the message of pain (which stimulates) does not reach higher levels. We then feel calm even though a grand tumult is going on in lower brain centers. We never change the pain, only the appreciation of it. That is why we can take tranquilizers and pain-killers and feel good, but damage is still going on. No matter what we think or what we think we feel, it is an unreal state. In cognitive/insight therapy they change the way patients think they feel, not the way they really feel. To change the way they really feel means pain. If there is no pain there is no addiction or need for a drug that is calming.

The aim of therapy must be to establish fluid lines of communication among the levels of consciousness. This communication is a given when we have positive experiences from conception on. But when noxious stimuli--pain--intrudes, gating intercedes and blocks information between the levels. Communication is halted or misdirected, and one level doesn't know what's going on in the other levels. The true meaning of "holistic" is when all levels speak a common language and contribute their share to a single feeling. To make a patient whole is a desired goal so long as we know what that means in the brain. This is, grosso modo, the overall scheme, the goal of our efforts.

To be human means to be feeling. Inordinate, noxious input very early on provokes repression and blocks an aspect of feeling. Fully feeling beings are not blocked off from any aspect of themselves, that is, there is no massive gating that has sealed away major portions of brain function from access. Thus, each level of consciousness is able to contribute its share to an experience. This means being able to feel great joy as well as sadness. It means to sympathize and empathize. When a depressive tells us that he is not getting anything out of life, no interests, no joy, we know that he is carrying a load of repression and that repression is the underpinning of depression.

So what’s wrong with taking tranquilizers and pain-killers? Their primary job is to gate emotional pain. It keeps feelings unconscious. The result is that the cortex cannot signal emergency; thus keeping reactivity within bounds. The key here is that with pain-killers reactivity is blunted in order to save the system from massive over-reactivity (or occasionally, under-reactivity). That reactivity, when enormous, can threaten one's life. This is what we see in our therapy when defenses are dismantled. Vital signs mounting to the danger area. Feelings are responding realistically to some unknown hidden force. If we do not acknowledge that force we are helpless before it. If we measure lower brain activity we will understand immediately; there is tumult going on below decks that we never dreamed existed. The ship is sinking; there is water below decks and we carry on as if nothing were happening. Many of these so called soft drugs are ultimately killers.

Quelling the deeper centers with drugs eases the so-called "thought" disorders. As our patients ease their defenses in a session, and great pain begins its march to prefrontal areas thinking centers, their cortex will ruminate about this danger or that until they actually lock into the feeling. In short, there is an anxiety attack as the system tries to stave off the approaching pain. Great terror pressing against cortical centers creates paroxysms of obsessive thoughts: "There's no space for me." "I am stuck and no one is helping." These often are birth statements. But because the actual feeling is so well buried, the person is left only with a vague anxiety. She will manufacture things to be afraid of but it is all a rationale.

In the hierarchy of the nervous system the comparative force of imprints on the different levels diminishes as we move up the scale of evolution. Thus, something that happens at two months can alter the brain structure permanently, whereas if that same trauma, lack of touch, happens at age ten it will not produce serious brain impairment. There is clearly a timetable of imprints depending on the critical period; what characterizes the critical period is its irreversibility. Once the cortex is diminished it is not going to flower in adulthood. And the brain scans bear this out. There is less activity in the prefrontal area in certain impulse states.

In our Attention Deficit Disorder research, hyperactive patients we have seen had elevated cortisol or stress hormone levels. (Our research in salivary cortisol, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London) After reliving very early trauma, including the birth trauma, there is a normalization of cortisol levels. So dampening of pain is no longer necessary because the pain is gone—shorn of its original power it is now but a memory.

Based on our own research, we can find no other explanation for chronically high cortisol levels other than the imprint. There is also a normalized brain system with a better balanced right and left hemispheres.

We are all of one piece; part of an organic whole. Thus, we cannot isolate one factor, serotonin, or another factor, time off drugs, to make definitive statements about addiction. No can we attack only one aspect, lack of serotonin level, to achieve our goals. We need to attack the central organizing principle, and then the rest will take care of itself. The brain can no longer be considered an isolated organ encased in the cranium but must be considered part of an entire physiologic system. Thus, when the body is in distress, that distress can be found not only in the brain but in hormones and in the blood system.

It is our hypothesis that drug addiction is made up largely of early pain, i.e., lack of love, and that pain sets in motion its countervailing forces, namely repression. When repression is in place but faulty or failing, when the serotonin-endorphin systems are inadequate to the task, there is suffering and the need for outside help in the form of drugs to dampen that suffering.

Often the outside drugs utilized mimic the exact biochemicals we should produce internally, and that is what makes it so addicting; drugs are normalizing the system. We need them. We will go to any lengths to get them, even risking jail. The strength of internal imprinted pain can often be measured by its opposing forces--the repressive system. It is the dialectic again. Pain provokes its opposite and turns feelings into numbness. Then the person feels like she is in a bubble and cannot reach out of real life. It is all grey and dull. That is the price we pay for tranquilizers. Feeling no pain equals no life.

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Life: The Early Primal Years

I finished university and transferred to USC Graduate school. I was their top student according to my professors, but at the one-year mark I was asked to leave. Why? I have my own ideas. It was USC, after all. They told me I could not work and go to school. I had 2 kids, so I had to work and I was already licensed as a social worker. I was told by a professor years later that the head of the department did not want me. She had never met me, but she knew my name. That seemed to be enough.  

I left to go to Graduate school at a beautiful place called Claremont Graduate School. I got my Doctor’s degree there and, to my surprise, was elected to the Academic Hall of Fame. This from a guy who thought himself a failure. It was a tough school, with high academic standards. For the Ph.D, we had to pass tests in two other languages. I spent a summer learning scientific French, which I forgot the day I passed the test. I had several pals there, including a woman called Belle who in mid-term died of cancer.

I invited my parents to graduation in a very English hall with British trappings, very elegant. I invited them to give them one more chance to be happy for me. They never said a word, never looked happy and on the way there, my mother said that she knew more than I would ever know. We all forgot she was psychotic and delusional. I almost never saw them again after that day. They never cared. And I learned to get on with my life. 

But getting on with my life has a very different meaning to me now. I know the deed is done, the imprint of the hurt is engraved deep in the brain and I will not shake it for a long time. Except with Primal which burrows down in my brain, searches out the hurt and, believe it or not, forces me to feel it again, this time with feeling.  The pain was so enormous that I could only experience pieces of it at a time. I know that it will stay embedded until it is felt and done with; no escape.  No baby can feel that. He needs a bit of maturity before he can.  But biologic law dictates that “no child left behind.” We cannot leave behind aspects of the pain unfelt. It will stay and cause trouble. And for the pain living in the shark brain, the trouble can be fatal. I have relived it, and I can assure that it is beyond belief. However,  it is now "feelable" and it becomes a feeling, not just of pain but of great relief.  Otherwise our therapy could not work. I sometimes call it “a pain that does not hurt.” It becomes a memory shorn of pain and simply takes its place in our memory bank. So in a strange dialectic we have a feeling that when not felt becomes pain; and a pain that once felt becomes a feeling. What does that mean? It means that feelings are essential to development and good health.  They are in the essence of things and cannot be ignored. It has to hurt to make us aware of unfinished business. It is also what all those symptoms and afflictions later on mean. Reminders of feelings foretold.  We watch closely and do not allow the experience before its time. Early patients who are disturbed get into this monumental pain right away; here we see the precise source of their mental disturbance. Deep pain unresolved. It is right on top because compounded pain from later on has feebled the gating system and faltered in its job to repress pain. These patients need pain pills for some months to give a helping shoulder to the gates.

Back to my life.

I graduated in 1951 from social work school and then discovered it was not at all what I wanted, but I had been chosen for a special internship in psychology for an additional year of graduate school. I began treating patients. My chiefs were  friends of or students of Freud, nearly all from Vienna with all that Viennese charm. It was a great experience. But it was strict Psychoanalysis straight from Vienna. We treated many stars of film because these chiefs were well connected with Hollywood. When Hedy Lamar came in, it was some surprise.

I then entered psychology graduate school. And did several years at Claremont before getting my doctorate. Every day I drove from West Los Angeles to Claremont, about a hundred miles, coming back at night to take care of my children. Then I found out that it was also not what I wanted. So what on earth did I want? Something that dealt with people and their anguish, not understanding how to do a two tailed statistical measurement. 

That kind of psychology did not exist, so I invented it but it was far from an invention. It was a true discovery that was destined to change the world of psychotherapy and the treatment of mental illness. Concocted theories are intellectual,  someone’s great idea, and often useless.  Why?  They neglect feelings in order to build some intellectual precipice. It was painstaking work, observing patients and then trying to figure it out, being careful not to contradict neurologic science. 

Here is what took place.

I was living and working in Palm Springs.  I was conducting a regular group therapy; all of us on chairs, talking. One patient, Denny, had just returned from New York, and was recounting the Theater of the Absurd he saw: a guy was dressed in diapers  and sucking on a baby bottle, yelling out “Mommy!  Mommy!” I asked, “Denny, why not do that?” He answered, “It is not available to me.” So I said, “OK but why not try?”  “I told you, it is not available to me.” I pushed and pushed with no idea of why. He started softly, “Momma, Momma.” I yelled, “Go on!” and his voice got louder and louder, until he suddenly fell off his chair and was screaming it.  He fell on the floor, writhing and seemingly out of control. After an half hour, he came out of what seemed like a coma, scraped the carpet with his finger, and looked quizzically at me as if to say “What on earth happened?” Then he uttered the words that shook me for decades: “I can feel! I can feel.” Neither of us had any idea of what happened.  Or why he could feel. And what did screaming have to do with it? I kept the tape of the session and listened to it for days, trying to understand it.  I then tried it on different patients, all with amazing results. I knew I was onto something, but what? It  took me decades to figure that out. What was I looking for? Who had the answer? It is pretty strange to begin a hegira into the unknown and not know where you are going or what you are looking for.  And more, how to get there? An enigma inside a mystery.  As I learned more, it became even more mysterious. Why all the choking and suffocation? Where did it come from and why? Why couldn’t they scream? Why couldn’t I scream no matter how hard I tried? I began to learn in small bits when screaming develops, and how this lack tells me when the trauma occurred. I developed the theory of the hierarchy of needs. 

Meanwhile, the man who did the Theater of the Absurd came to see me in Los Angeles. We had lunch and had a good time. A good man. He told me all about how he came to do the theater in the first place.  He is now a professor at UCLA.

With the discovery of new research in neurology 50 years later, it all became clearer but it was in my clinical work that it was already clear. And it took all of those 50 years to even come close to perfecting it. But it has evolved now into a very complex theory and therapy that takes years to learn properly.  So what is it all about? It was not the screaming, although I thought it was when I wrote a book that sold millions called The Primal Scream. It changed the life of so many and above all, it changed me completely.  It gave me a whole new perspective on life and the human psyche. How did I learn? From my body. Everything I needed to learn was waiting achingly in my system, just waiting to be liberated. And boy what a treasure lay inside: my entire past life. But I learned that it cannot ever be hurried or else danger lies ahead. And what a danger that can be. It is neurosis doubled, and it is a bitch to undo. With no understanding of the three levels of consciousness, some neophyte therapists allow so much pain to emerge at the same time as to create overload and abreaction. All levels of the brain work in hyperactive fashion surging toward conscious/awareness. It is so powerful that it cannot be integrated and remains an alien, dangerous force, an intruder that needs access, but it cannot be let in with its naked and unadorned  power before its time. We are dominated by evolution and must obey its laws. No shortcuts allowed. 

The time could be months away until the brain says, “OK, I am ready to face it now.” And he does not seek out of the pain actively; he lets it come to him, infiltrating a bit at a time until it becomes part of him. But I am getting ahead of myself. What is it all about? I am glad you asked. What I learned was that pain can be embedded in the system with a force that becomes engraved and endures,  perhaps for a lifetime. I call it Primal Pain, which can be massive, overwhelming and catastrophic. A force we have never imagined exists, and still it is very hard to believe that this kind of power dwells inside our system, wreaking havoc. A pain that can lift a patient off the floor with its strength and can do so day after day, month after month. It is truly ineffable.  We have never seen it in history for one simple reason: patients have never been down in the brain that deep for reasons of survival. Once we see it over and over again in our patients and in our therapists, we begin to understand the possibility of cancer. It is a pain that evolves from inside, not outside. Its meaning is as yet inchoate but it soon becomes clear as it nestles into its berth and transforms into pain; that pain informs us of its meaning and its provenance. Without language, it speaks volumes of the extent of the pain.  It makes clear why we took painkillers. As it slides away, so does the pain. The pain carries with it so much of our history and explains our ailments and compulsions. Without the pain it carries no information.  

This pain radically alters brain waves, vital signs, biochemistry, and dozens of key functions. Blood pressure over 300. Heart rate over 200, and I could quote all this until it becomes unbelievable. Again, we could never imagine or now believe that such force lies inside, agitating the system. I have never seen it before and never heard of these numbers because, for example, I never knew to check the biology of my depressives, but when I did I learned what they were undergoing was tantamount to a body-fail and near death experience. It took me many decades to understand that, and I could only understand it after we treated many, many depressives and checked their vital signs all through their feelings sessions. I had to figure out what near death had to do with depression. And how we could reverse it.  And why were they suicidal. Who could dream that life during gestation was key here? It would take more than a dream; it would take seeing many patients, observing their maladies and putting observations together with theory.

I learned the key to unraveling depression and many other afflictions. It was due to what I came to call The Imprint. That lack of love, an angry look of a parent, leaves  a trace (now called methylation) that stays for a lifetime, doing ineffable damage. And psychotherapy as we know and knew it, never altered one drop of it. Psychotherapy is useless and unscientific and should be abandoned. And what we were taught in college was a myth that best be classified as fairy tales. Harsh? Sour grapes? I have practiced therapy for 60 years and learned what works and what does not. We need a minimum of neurological information in our practice to begin to understand how and why therapy does not work. We must know how the brain works. There is a brain that does not speak, so let’s stop asking it questions, asking it to explain when it does no speak any language. And if we insist on explanations we neglect answers given by that brain. There is another brain that can explain but it is far removed from the feeling brain which holds key answers to our questions. So it explains but cannot understand information from a brain that knows only music. And if that person stutters we can stop it if he will sing his information. This is not a joke. I have done it  with stutterers. It seems like a miracle but it is only a different brain doing the work. It is the brain of feeling. And this is the brain we lean on in Primal. The brain that feels and has insight and sings. Until we get into using that brain instead of the explaining brain, Primal Therapy cannot possibly work. The patient will never know when he is close to a feeling and learn to take the piste to expand its capacity. What we want is to explore his inner depths. That will not happen if we remain on the top brain. It is the feeling brain that we have neglected and ignored. It has to join the circle of its friends and get back to hugging and kissing. Remember Janovian law: we cannot get one brain to do the work of another brain. Each brain has its function and it adheres to that. In that brain and only that brain lies the tears that need release. 

Why have we ignored it? Because we learned early not to cry or be exuberant. We learned that feelings were bad and had to be kept in check. So they atrophied from disuse. I learned when I was eighteen about a famous lady who wore strange hats. When asked why she wore such strange hats she did not explain. She said “Because I like them.” I never know that was enough. In my world, we needed excuses for everything. You could just like something: what a revelation. And that non-emotional world carried on to therapy where feelings were an anathema. A world upside down.  Implied in all this? Feelings do not count. 

I left L.A. Children’s Hospital and went into private practice. I had discovered Primal in mid 1967.  My first book came out in 1970. Very soon I got a call. I never knew that my publisher had sent The Primal Scream to John and Yoko Lennon for review. They not only read it but Yoko called to say that John needed help. I told her he needed to come to Los Angeles for therapy. He could not get out of bed. I told her I could not leave one hundred patients and go to England. And I hung up. My kids, who were preteens at the time, asked who called. I told them it was Yoko. “What did she want?” I said she wanted me to come to England and I refused. At this point I heard screams of “Are You Crazy?” My son said, “You call her back and tell her that you will come but only if you can bring your kids.” In those days my kids were kings, maybe too much so, as it turns out. I gave in, after talking it over with my wife. We left for the Lennon’s home in Tittenhurst, England. Way out in the country. My son was playing Frisbee with John in the morning and driving his electric cart; pretty heady. They were given tickets to music festivals and private limousines. 

I am leaving out all mention of sessions to respect their privacy but there were some very funny episodes all the way. I recount this little bit because it was the height of Beatlemania and the kids had the time of their lives. It could only happen once in a lifetime. After a month, I had to get back to my patients and I left for home. The Lennons followed and continued the therapy for some time. Then one day John came to me asked if could I follow them to Mexico. He told me that a few months before he gave a concert for the Rocker John Sinclair, who denigrated President Nixon. John was put on Nixon’s enemies list and was being deported. He had just a few months of therapy and was really just beginning to open up. It was the worst time to stop but I could not go to Mexico, neither could my staff. We were overloaded with patients. I rarely saw him after his deportation. I should add that he and I spent some time in a rental home in Bel-Air, quite posh. And we talked for hours. “Tell me about God,” he would ask. I said, “You know that God was just an idea to keep the pain away,” and then he wrote: "God is a concept by which we measure our pain."  We talked about his mother. I would make a few comments and he would write, “Momma, you had me but I never had you.” And on and on until he finished his Primal Album called The Plastic Ono Band, which I think is the most revealing of music I know of. To say nothing that soon after he wrote a song which I treasure: Imagine. I was a  musician who wrote music so how could I not be enthralled by John’s work?

David Foster and I wrote 36 songs, one of which -The Color of My Love- was recorded by Celine Dion and sold over eleven million albums. She got married to the song. That song contributed to my basic assets. It became part of a musical I wrote with David Foster called The Primal Scream, performed at a University theater to great success.

David Foster told me that he had a hard time writing with someone else, as I seem to know what he means by his music and he knows what music to put to my words. A song we wrote, Say my Name, was recorded by a wonderful young man who cried so much while singing that I had to keep my arm around him to allow him to go on. Oh yes, there is so much to write. He lived in his car near a police station, and he began to have delusions that they were going to come to kill him. He was mentally ill and was sent to a hospital near San Diego. His mental problems allowed him to sing like Sinatra, Elvis, and any one of a dozen singers. David Foster heard that the Queen was coming to Canada and he was invited to sing for her. He wanted our friend Warren to back him up but we did not know how to get him out. So Foster devised an idea: Warren would give a concert for the head psychiatrist of the hospital to prove he was OK. So he did that just for the chief, and he was discharged. He went to Canada and sang. He was so full of pills he could not sing well and basically it was a disaster.  Not long afterwards he shot himself. I should add that when he was a child his father shot himself in the stomach in front of him. The loss of a most sweet and talented human being.  He was a mass of feeling that he could not feel. 

Speaking of a great human being: France, my wife of 43 years. She effectively runs the clinic and teaches the therapy. She spent six long years making the Legacy program, over a hundred videos of how to do this therapy for both patients and psychologist. A labor of total dedication to this therapy that also saved her life, literally. She is French and helped me open up and direct the Paris French Institute in 1980. Almost immediately, we were overwhelmed with applications partly because my book came out there and was Book of the Month. We had a five story building and our therapy was going night and day, until France’s health started to break down. She was losing her hair. A three hour special just came out on French TV and it seemed like the whole world was trying to get into our therapy. It is there that we began serious research and worked with hospitals and universities in France and England. These were double-blind studies in psychology and biochemistry.  Our work was published in scientific journals. 

A man came to see me and I showed him some films of patients reliving their birth.  At the end he stood up and shouted, “I am vindicated!” It was Frédérick Leboyer, author of Birth Without Violence, a book that began to change the birth practices in hospitals and clinics all over the world. A “Leboyer birth” is a soft, gentle, non-drug birth where he took the baby right after birth, gave him a warm bath and played the flute for him as he was welcomed the newborn into this world… We became friends and I adore him. He saw in the agonizing reliving of birth in my patients what he was trying to tell doctors.  

As France’s health got worse, I told her we were going to close the Paris Institute. We could not go on like that. She said that with all our patients needing help, how could we do that? I told her the choice was keeping the clinic going or losing my wife. No choice at all. We closed and moved to Los Angeles so she could recuperate. She did, and while I swore I would never open again, patients were waiting for us in Los angeles. Two years went by and we decided to open a small clinic in Santa Monica.  Again, it was self deception because we found that we were full very quickly.  Again, more research at UCLA and more writing in science. Then, a new development: countries like Russia were telling me that wanted to publish my book. And they did without my permission and without me receiving any royalties. Several major publishing houses stole my book, and because it was in Europe there was nothing I could do about  it.  So now we have a constant flow of patients from Russia and other countries. 

There is now a plethora of psychiatrists in every country using my name and books to say they are Primal Therapists. I would not mind but what they do is phony ineffective treatment and patients get worse. I have no legal recourse. Right now there are people showing their photo, claiming to be graduate Primal therapists.  And then their patients come to us to pick up the pieces. Not so easily done. Primal is not like other psychological treatments. It is complex, takes a long time to learn, and is based on science, not booga booga. Charlatans do not have time and patience for science. Their goal is money and profits. Who suffers? Human beings who desperately seek help. Even Steve Jobs went to someone who advertised Primal Therapy. Result were not good. He never had a chance with someone without a day of training. He paid the ultimate price. I can never guarantee that we will do better or cure someone, but at least with science the patient has the best chance to get well.   We see so many patients now who have come from clinics using my name and who have been badly hurt and it is now our job to undo bad therapy and help them toward health.  Caveat emptor. 

There are all kinds of thieves in this world but those who steal our health and ultimately our lives, are the most egregious. We have no desire for a monopoly but we must protect patients from charlatans. The problem is that there are therapists with 20 years of experience who begin to practice Primal Therapy, saying to themselves, “How hard could it be? If Janov could do it so can I.” Oh no you can’t. I see the results daily in those who come to us for help. The problem is that those who went to Booga booga therapists never know they were harmed. They abreact and it feels like therapy. It is not until later, when they begin their chronic depression and it seems like such a mystery. We are plunging deep in the brain, something never to be fooled with. There is now no reason to reinvent the wheel. We have gone through thousands of patients over 50 years and have learned what to do, and above all, what not to do. If we harmed anyone, it was by inadvertence and trying to learn. No one has the right to experiment again on humans. With advanced patients, I often, after a session, ask if I made a mistake. It is their body and they often know better than me. Especially if they have been Primaling for a long time. This question has helped me learn a lot.

I often think of those addiction rehab centers, treating serious addiction with pure booga booga treatment. With all the accouterments of exercise programs, great food, lectures, massages, and patients not having to work. Who can beat that? Almost anyone who is willing to do the same thing with no therapy at all. Lots of hugs will do it. Why does this field attract so many pretenders? Now I know. Because psychology is not a science and cannot really help seriously mental ill patients.  So of course charlatans step in. I don’t like being harsh nor sounding arrogant, but I feel I must protect suffering souls who do not know any better. And even that smells of sulfur, as they say in France (ça sent le soufre).  A bit self-serving. But I have seen so much damage in the name of psychotherapy that it makes me heartsick. We have not taken any salary for many years, and do not practice therapy for profit.  Years ago we made a profit in order to practice therapy.  Now we make nothing and it is fine with us. But I do not recommend this approach to new therapists because they will not stay around very long.  So if we don’t make a profit, what on earth are we protecting?   Patients. I have never believed that health should be a matter of profit. It is far too precious for that.  Alas, I am trapped in a capitalistic system. The way it turns out is we have been taught to abhor socialism and love free enterprise. But what I have seen in health is that it is socialism for the latifundium who control health, and capitalism for the poor. Too many have to cut down on their medicine in order to pay their doctor bills. And sometimes it is a matter of life or death. That can’t be right.

So my wife soldiers on, and runs the clinic in every way, something I cannot do. I know nothing about business and legal issues or accounting or what one needs to run a major clinic. I might add that she was one of the most beautiful women in France when we first went there, but it was not just her allure, it was her great intelligence to go with it. I have a bias but facts have proven me right. To  produce a major work like the Legacy is one of intelligence, persistence and deep understanding of the human condition. Yes, she could have spent those years shopping,  but she often insisted that it would be for the vacuous empty heads who are satisfied with their looks and nothing more. She is the complete woman, and a Frenchie, besides.

We lived in France for years, had mostly French friends and lived the French life. I did something that is so out of place for me. Thanks to Celine Dion and the song Foster and I wrote for her, I bought a boat; a 70 foot motor cruiser, and found out I was not allowed to run it without a French Pilot’s license. So I took the test which apart from my doctorate was the toughest thing I could do. It was only in French  and the technical terms were difficult.  How many degrees  do you need to make this turn and how many toots do you need to warn other boats of your maneuver? And on and on. I passed and got my license and the right to go where I wanted. And we did, all over the Mediterranean to Greece, Italy, Rhodes, Sardinia, and Corsica. It was great and I learned about navigation. That reminds me that Senator Ted Kennedy came on board and we decided to take small boats to two different islands. We dove off the boat and all of a sudden there were patrol boats following him everywhere and not one for me. They were making sure of his safety. They had their priorities fairly straight. Alas, I had no worth to them.  He had worth for the country.

Having lived and worked in France for years I became a Francophile. Their environmental protection laws are strict. And to this day there are words I use in French that have no English translation: engrenage. All of us should learn a foreign language.  It expanded my group of friends exponentially. And what I read, as well.  My world became larger and far more interesting. To go to the museums and understand the lectures was critical. To inform French doctors what was wrong helped with my treatment. And on and on. But the friendships we made were so engaging: bank presidents, actors, artists, scientists, etc. I worked in an English hospital for a time and met fascinating scientists and learned and learned, doing double blind research on human behavior. We had retreats all over Europe, in the mountains and at the sea. We all cooked together and rapped together and gave concerts for each other: magic. Some became lifelong friends.

I spent a good deal of time in England while living in France. I had a meeting with Diane Cilento, Sean Connery’s wife. The night before, the BBC called me and asked if I had ever heard about the Screamers. No, I had not. They described them to me and said they claimed to be my adepts.  I said no, they are probably nuts and had nothing to do with me. That almost sealed my fate. At my hotel at 5AM there was a loud knock on the door. A guy in an IRA uniform shouted “Janov?!” He was in a combat uniform and looked ready for battle.  He tried to break down the door; and he and I wrestled over keeping it closed and locked. I pushed him hard and closed the door and yelled to my sleeping wife to call the front desk. She tried but they had someone on the phone downstairs so we could not get through. The hotel called the police, 50 of them who surrounded the hotel. Now Cilento arrived and was also surrounded. She had no idea what was happening, but we ate safely. And then we escaped the hotel and checked in elsewhere. The police put us in a taxi and kept us on the floor until we had gone several miles.

It was a strange ambience in London. My friend Ronnie Laing, a well known psychiatrist, was giving hallucinogens to his patients and no one thought it was a bad thing.  Ronnie was a sweet man but he did harm by not probing the effects of his drugs on patients. It was in the zeitgeist and became the thing to do if you were “hip.” They  all paid a price for this; those with strong defenses were less damaged;  the problem was that it attracted those fragile souls who were damaged. Meanwhile Ronnie concocted a new theory of the implantation Primal.  That, he said, is where it all began. This without a single clinical trial. It was pure guesswork and fantasy. He invited me to one of his lectures. I thought it made no sense, so I made a comment about it. My companion said, “who cares, it is fascinating and interests me a lot.”  One for the Gipper. I missed the point: it was pure show business and I could never compete with that. But, though he was a pal, I knew that he was delivering harm in the guise of show business and entertainment.  He had already taken so much of his own medicine that he didn’t care. He knew it was helping because he believed it liberated him. He attracted some very smart professionals, none of whom thought about studying the effects of the drugs he was giving. When these people came to believe they were one with the Cosmos, they all thought it was a good thing and was truly liberating. It was what I call “institutionally validated psychosis.” All the shrinks thought it was good for us, so it must be. Oh no, it wasn’t. I would also like to believe I was liberated but it was far from that.  The druggie’s  minds were not only open but they became a sieve so that any nonsense became believable. When I write, sieve, I mean that literally, as the gating system holding back pain became fragmented and inefficient. “Leaky gates”. Constraints were gone but so was rationality.

Speaking of drugs, some of the inhabitants of Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, the drug capital of he nation, came to see me. Most were basket cases, mostly paranoid, some dangerous, all were overdosed on LSD and other hallucinogens. They wanted me to help them,  they could not sleep, plus a myriad of other symptoms such as lost concentration, but I tried, to no avail. I did not know enough in those days to treat them properly. Now I do. Nightmare of nightmares, their use is coming back for their treatment of anxiety, depression and God knows what else. In my opinion, these drugs are more dangerous than heroin. I say this not because of statistical studies but because we have studied humans who have taken them. Now horror of horrors, there is a renaissance of electroshock therapy. Why? Because conventional psychotherapy is a failure. Instead of thinking maybe we need a new kind of therapy, and it does exist now, they believe we need new kinds of drugs. This is akin to voodoo. A new magic chemical to transform us. We transform people time and again but we do it based on a dynamic understanding of what is wrong. But there are those who have gotten help, they insist, from therapy. I say, it is a giant M… F… How can anyone get well when he has someone telling him how to live, how to make decisions, what to do about this situation or another. He is learning dependence, not independence. He is learning how to live someone else’s life, not his own. He is not learning how to stand on his own feet. He has borrowed a mother or father to make up for what he never had. But he needs to feel his need for a caring, helping parent, not to act it out with a stranger called doctor. The rental for those people is high and last and lasts. My therapists do not do that, telling people how to act. They learn from their history how to put themselves back together. What do I mean? What is missing? Pure unfulfilled need. That is what is missing. Therapy should never be doctor-oriented. I had that kind of therapy and I practiced that kind of therapy: useless. Nobody can tell you how to lead your life. It is your life, remember. Learning how to lead my own life ought to be enough.   

I came back pretty messed up from my war years and sought out an Analyst for help. We analyzed my dreams for most of every hour. I learned nothing and certainly nothing germane to my life. But, but here is what I did learn from my own Primal therapy: I became fully conscious and have not had a symbolic dream in many years.  I know what my dreams mean; no one has to analyze them for me. Why? My conscious and unconscious are very close, in effect they have merged, and their meanings are not deeply buried. That is why I now know what makes me behave the way I do. Having felt those deep needs and feelings, I am now in control. It is not even control. My unconscious is available to me. I have to laugh at the new, “Anger management” therapy. They are using lectures and insights from the top neocortex to manage feelings that are far down in the brain, untouched by ideas and words.  Just one lesson in brain development would help them stop that nonsense. They need a therapy that deals with feelings. A therapy that deals with causes, deprivation of needs and lack of fulfillment. A therapy about deprivation, deprivation, and oh yes, deprivation. What is missing? Love, caring, protection, warmth and kisses and hugs.  Feelings are not destined to be managed; feelings are to be felt. 

I am again reminded that in the early years, my therapy attracted a lot of disturbed and dangerous people; strange phone calls, threats, so much so that I had to stay away from the clinic for a while and on and on. That was then. Now our patients are much more in control, taking much less drugs and needing help. The original applicants were far more disturbed than now. I call it having a garden variety neurosis, at this time.  But quite treatable. 

What we find now is that first line pain is very much there and imprinted but we know far more about how to deal with it. We are careful not to allow pains to emerge that cannot be integrated. That is a danger in deep Primal Therapy. It is a fine line we treat and we watch the sign posts so we do not intrude on lower levels of brain function before it can be experienced.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Can Psychosis Be Treated with Primal Therapy?

In our Primal view, all mental illness arises from trauma and pain at different stages of development, starting in the womb. But since there are different degrees of pain in people, we also see different degrees in the severity of mental illness. In the broadest terms, insanity falls on a scale from bad to worse, from common neurosis to full-blown psychosis.

Which begs the question: Can Primal Therapy help with the most extreme cases of mental disturbance? Do we even treat psychosis? Is that so different from treating neurosis?        The answer is more complicated and nuanced than the question suggests. Please allow me to explain.    

Psychosis, is the result of massive first-line pain compounded by later devastating pain. For example, gestation events such as a smoking and drinking mother – which from the start overloads the baby’s ability to integrate the input – compounded by continuous trauma over the early months and years in the form of neglect, lack of touch, harsh parents who eventually divorce. In short, a life immersed in the complete absence of love. That is a prescription for psychosis.    

I treated two women who were psychotic, and both had experienced incest in childhood. One was the result of incest at the age of seven; the other was the daughter of a Nazi officer who also underwent incest. I find from clinical observation that the earlier the incest the more likely the psychosis. Obviously, incest is devastating, as the protector becomes the predator.    

The point is that one rarely gets over incest or a terrible birth. The imprint has a great force and it endures. Then when it is compounded by so many adverse events early in life, it becomes deeply embedded and endures as a lifelong force. Along the way at various stages, the system has a number of options for dealing with the trauma. If the traumas are early enough, the effects lie deep in the brain with major impact on the brainstem. Since the verbal system is not yet developed, we can expect the possibility of cancer or major biologic disease. The memory is deep in the brain as are its ramifications. Vascular problems, heart and kidney ailments, breathing impairment, are all part of the effects of the imprints. What happens is a serious crack in the defense system, leaving the person much more vulnerable to later trauma.        

There may be hallucinations and delusions that become possible, the latter as the verbal/cognitive system becomes functional. Hallucinations signal a very early, preverbal brain system at work, meaning the result of more primitive traumatic imprints. In the case of delusions, a later system is working to provide some sort of meaning to the experience. In one case, I was walking down the street with my patient who suddenly ducked, yelling that the ice cream vendor wanted to kill him. Notice here the content: death is approaching. Terror is involved. Someone wants to kill him. Yes, there is an imprint of impending death from early on, but the person has no idea that it comes from inside. He projects that terror and the related threat onto the ice cream vendor. Death from an imprinted memory is near, but he has no choice; he projects it outside. And now he can hide from the threat. He is no longer helpless.      

One of my patients, a boxer with many blows to the head, sealed up all his doors and windows to keep the “enemy” away.He still could concoct reasons and rationales for his terror, but it was totally irrational. Yet, his cognitive brain had to produce reasons for what was going on inside of him. This means that cognition was still in force, somewhat. When deep pain surges forward we see, “They are after me. They want to kill or poison me.” I saw one patient who, as a child, had the misfortune of witnessing his father shoot himself before his very eyes. The poor boy soon became delusional about the police, who he was sure wanted to kill him.      

So what is the central difference between neurosis and psychosis? Defenses. Neurotics can incorporate some of the input and hold the major force of the imprint below the gating system. Psychotics have a different defense structure with the inability to reconstitute a normal reaction. In their minds, there is now a permanent threat. That is why when there is a deep imprint there is a constant menace of the return of symptoms. With a small adversity we again may see psychotic ideation. Or later, the return of a catastrophic physical illness.    

So here is the problem for us lonely shrinks. In psychosis, we need to rebuild a dangerously damaged defense system. Patients need tranquilizers for many months or years. These drugs make up for a chemical system that was impaired early on in life. Those natural chemicals are part of the defense system which have been depleted due to the early trauma, a carrying mother who takes pain killers daily and smothers the baby’s ability to integrate. What is overcome and devastated is this ability to integrate input and make it part of the biological system. The neuro-biologic system can only take so much before it becomes a new kind of system: psychotic. In depressive psychosis there is a serious descent of blood pressure as depression grows deeper.Psychotic ideation is the last stand against the imprint of pain. The system seems to reach high up for help from the newly active ideational brain, which responds with concepts and rationales. That higher brain jumps in with weird ideas but to no avail. Because when I write “pain,” I mean a terrible pain that exists in force on lower brain levels. It is beyond description. Not like a broken arm. This is pure agony. And it informs us that a force exists in us that is truly ineffable.The reason that the verbal/cognitive system resides far above this kind of imprint is that the level of pain is far below and beyond verbal description. Patients often tell me about their deep pain: “It is something I do not even know how to describe. There are no words for it.” It has to be approached in therapy slowly and methodically, often with the added help of strong tranquilizers so that even a small part can be experienced. Once we see and observe that kind of pain, then psychosis is no longer a mystery.    

Let me add a warning about the danger of hallucinogens. These psychotropic agents can make matters much worse, because they open the gates even more to relieve the pressure of repression/ depression. It affects the person systemically, making them vulnerable to the heavy input of subsequent repressed pain that will be too much for him. This is particularly dangerous once it is set loose by the drugs. In the case of someone who uses pot and hash, we have a system enfeebled and more likely to have subtle paranoid ideas. It is not as irrational or abrupt as with hallucinogens, but still dangerous. In either case, the lesson is there: a fragile system can go psychotic when we open the gates abruptly. Or, over time, if we add so-called benign drugs to the mix until the system implodes.       It is very hard to reconstitute a broken system that was overwhelmed by deleterious input and then later aggravated by drugs that weaken the gates. Why are we fooling with one drug after the other? Because we do not understand what is going on in the neuro-biologic system. We are fiddling around with what seems obvious, but OH, it is not. If I told you that the average neurotic carries around an ineffable pain deep inside him all of the time, some may scoff. Alas, it is the ineluctable truth. We produce painkillers to meet terrible pain; even that is not often strong enough so we go to our personal pharmacy and take drugs that add to the mix. We do not buy them; we order them from our cerebral system. And still we may need more; then we buy what we need, and when that pain is agonizing and enduring we keep on buying until we are known as addicted. Then we are treated for addiction: with what? Pain killers.

So can psychosis be treated? In some ways, but that always requires a full knowledge of Primal Pain and Primal Therapy, which elicits traumas engraved deep in the brain. The doctor must be awareof the lurking menace that can spring forth and crash the system without warning. I have seen that force for decades. It is not guesswork. And it is certainly not banal. It is ineffable.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

On Needs And Their Biologic Window

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hierarchy of Needs

Why do I insist that there is a hierarchy of needs? It is an important distinction.   As I have written that the most powerful needs and pain lie deep down into the brainstem. Howling screams emanating from this area are chilling, something I hear every day. But it can also be a quiet terror of near death with choking and coughing. Rage also lives there, and in a Primal we see it as well. It is how we know what level of brain function the patient is on. And patients confirm it when they come out of it. It is the source of severe migraines and addictions because here is where the pain is great and so are the drugs needed to quell them. We do not have to guess about when pain occurred; the patient in his feelings informs us. If there are no words during the session, just grunts and screams, we know it is preverbal and we would never encourage the patient to speak or say any words. If there are migraines, then we know the pain is deeply embedded; the flow of oxygen impeded in its ability to nourish various parts of the brain with oxygen. The vessels, in order to conserve energy, constrict and diminish oxygen delivery: hence migraine. One good therapy for it? Oxygen.  Any stress can set it off as it is now part of the stress response. The brain thinks it is under attack and shuts down.

One of the reason it has taken fifty years to understand it all is that it took many patients reliving different kinds of pain on different brain levels to begin to compare and distinguish. It took years to find the different reasons and different levels of consciousness for distinguishing muscle headaches from migraines. Now we know that muscle headaches are less involved with oxygen supply and have more to do with wrenching the head and neck at birth, either by the cramped canal or by a rough doctor who was not gentle, thinking, as so many did, that the baby is a blob with no capacity for feeling.

As for addiction, there are different levels. But those who relive birth trauma (never re-birthing) often show signs of oxygen deprivation. Terrible addiction to drugs like heroin can signal the brainstem at work. They are the less prolix of patients. It is a triune, three part brain at work and different traumas and experience reside on different levels.

Those who easily get into fights or shoving matches are often riddled by first-line (brainstem imprints). Road rage is a perfect example. Recently two women on a freeway got into a shouting match because the other one cut her off and blocked her movement. Not being able to move set off first line rage, and when they both stopped to argue the one blocked pulled out a gun and shot the other woman. She was out of control, under the control of deep imprints that the neocortex was helpless against. I taught my wife and kids that there is so much hate out there, they should never argue with any stranger.  I have not done formal research on this except clinical research, which informs me that deep pain can be the source of serious deep disease in the body.  It is so hard to treat because rarely do doctors find the source and address it. The pain is so well hidden as to remain recalcitrant and a mystery. 

We see in therapy that some patients lose clear articulation as they descend down the chain of pain to low levels of brain function.  When they get into pre-verbal life, they lose all articulation. And the pain level rises exponentially. Patients need warmth and kindness when they get into deep pain. When appropriate I will hold their hand to make it a softer ride. Not early in the feeling but when it rises sharply. We need to bring down the level of suffering into feelable levels. That is always the goal; not suffering but feeling which spells the end of suffering. 

Cogitating Again: Get Over It

I had a feeling that my explanation of why we cannot get over our past was not enough.  I think it is also due to needs that we never surmount.  Those needs become exigent, perhaps for a lifetime; they demand fulfillment, and we try through the act-outs. We approach but never figure it out and never succeed. Why?  because we only approximate.  Only through feeling can we hit the target. They tell us what has to be experienced and directs us to the need.  We can only approximate because those power-house pains are installed so early as to remain undetected; not even imagined.  This is particularly true of the Cognitive/Behaviorists who only go by what they see in external behavior.  If they do not look beyond and below behavior they will be lost.

Inexperienced need are biologic reminders of what we lack to become human.  That is why act-outs never resolved anything.  Biology does not permit us to come close; it demands exactitude.  There are no shortcuts.  No easy ways.  If we are dying of thirst, drinking 2 teaspoons of water does not solve thirst. The water we consume informs us of our need, in the same way that drinking alcohol tells  us of the extent of our pain/need.  Yes, we can urge patients to cut down consumption and imagine they have conquered need, but need is basic and is not something to be conquered, nor is anger something to be managed. Feelings must be felt in all their intensity.  If we do not cry as a child because parents have made it verboten, then there remains that many tears to shed. I know because my nose ran all of the time in childhood; until, I felt that the runny nose was those unexpressed tears transformed into allergies.  I could not stop until I felt the pain and sadness underlying the allergies. It took a while so that I have no allergies to anything.  I seemed to become allergic to myself.  Feelings became alien forces that I could not conquer. They were  a force that had to find an outlet.  They did, and fluid poured out of me in large quantities.  It turns out that it had to be the correct fluid attached to specific memories that resolved the problem. Crying as a therapeutic exercise cannot do it.  Memory is what is buried and must be retrieved.  Because it is the harbinger of feelings.

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.