Saturday, April 25, 2009

Reliving Womb-Life

We do know that each level of brain function can incorporate the previous lower level and represent its sense or meaning to higher levels which then code it in terms of the specific function/structure of that level. As the imprint is registered, it will take on a new coloring as it moves upward. Hypoxia as a choking, suffocating sensation on the brainstem level becomes being suffocated by one’s husband on the emotional level; and then there is the last level rationalization for the lack of freedom in a given situation. The patient starts with the latter (She suffocates me), and then over time moves downward until she arrives at the Primal event that started it all.

So early memories become elaborated on higher levels of brain function and are incorporated into those levels and interpreted differently depending on the level of brain tissue. But they are not separate entities. It is all an ensemble of levels that produces a complete memory. When we relive a non-verbal pain or trauma in infancy we are at the same time reliving the residue from earlier in womb-life. The events are united under a resonance factor that makes a higher level of brain function trigger off a deeper and more remote feeling. To put it differently, each early preverbal imprint is ramified on higher levels so that feeling fully on the higher level automatically has us feeling the earlier aspects of the feeling. Because of this we can over-react (or under-react) to events in adult life. As we see in our therapy, it may be one cause of erectile dysfunction—the feeling of being overwhelmed because of even slight pressure to function in the present. Or the inability to get going at work.

To summarize: There seems to be a time in gestation when pain or noxious stimuli impinge, but we are not yet able to produce our own gating chemicals, such as serotonin and endorphin, resulting in un-gated pain. When I refer to gating, I refer to electrochemical process that blocks the transmission of the pain message across the synapse.This residue will continue and may lead to bouts of anxiety later on in life. It becomes free-floating, unbound fear or terror. It can then be focused on elevators and a phobia is born. This is not due to heredity but rather to experience in the womb. Part of our in-uterolife, therefore, takes on hurt at a time when the system can do nothing about it; nevertheless, it affects all later development. At 30, we may suffer from panic attacks that began its life in the very early months of our mother’s pregnancy. It is pristine, ready to spring forth whenever we are vulnerable. No talk therapy can affect it because it involves a vegetative, primitive nervous system which was only adequate to register pain and terror during womb-life. This is a nervous system impervious to words; so insights leave it absolutely indifferent. That is why new experience does not change the neurotic. She goes on having the same experience, the imprint, over and again. It is a sealed-off feeling that remains as part of a survival function.

The womb experience leaves us fragile for a lifetime so that any insult or lack of love in infancy and childhood weakens us all the more. And the imprint can dictate chronically low levels of serotonin. That is why we need drugs that work on lower brain centers below the intellectual in order to suppress these imprints for a time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On the Corrective Emotional Experience

In the era of Freud and psychoanalysis the linchpin of the therapy was the analysis of transference: how the patient responds to the doctor and (counter transference) how the doctor reacts to the patient. The whole idea was to change the patient through a corrective emotional relationship. Helping her to be more independent, not rely for advice or love and guidance from the doctor. Now decades later, that notion of the corrective emotional experience has gained many adherents. It is still in essence the analysis of transference.

Their theory is the following: it is not enough to relive early trauma, you must follow it with a corrective experience that will allow the patient to make progress and change. They believe that allowing the patient to wallow in pain only reinforces neurosis.

So why not have a new ending to a feeling/memory? Because it is not real. It is a concocted scenario that defies the patient’s reality. It is not our job to rewrite history. It is enough to help patients learn about themselves and their history. But is it true that patients who relive without rewriting the ending continue to suffer and be neurotic? One could only come to that conclusion in the absence of clinical experience. What we have seen year after year is that reliving in and of itself leads to profound changes in the neurologic, psychologic and physiological systems. Over and over in double blind studies there have been changes in brain functioning, hormone secretion and, above all, changes how the patient feels about himself and his world. There is a systematic alteration in body temperature and blood pressure, (lower) which does not happen in those who abreact. That is, there is practically no change in those who fail to connect their feeling to conscious/awareness. I call that abreaction, a discharge of the energy of the feeling on a different level of consciousness—in symbolic channels. It is a random event that does not follow neurologic/evolutionary functioning. The problem is that so many clinics and mental health professionals claim to be doing Primal therapy yet the results seem to be that the patient continues to suffer; hence, the notion that patients after a reliving wallow in pain. If only the higher level is addressed and even resolved on that level it does look like the patient is wallowing in pain. Without having the theory and techniques to go deeper it can lead to misinterpretation of what is happening. Providing a different ending depends on the unconscious of the doctor who needs to supply it. Clearly this is not an organic affair, emanating out the patient and her unconscious. And what about if each doctor provides the corrective emotional experience in a different way? Are there several different scenarios for the patient? Implicit in this is that the doctor knows best; whereas it is the patient and her unconscious who knows best. If there were no connection we would not see systematic changes in cortisol levels in our patients. Clearly, reliving is sufficient. But it must be a true reliving; and it is clear that when we provide the script for the patient reliving is not really reliving. It is rewriting history. It is the fulfillment of need on the part of the therapist who is supplying a good script with a happy ending. Is that our job? To cheerlead the patient away from reality? To help him lead a symbolic life? It is perforce a happy ending because why else would we want to channel the patient away from imprinted reality? It is that reality that has been driving the patient to act-out, develop migraines and high blood pressure and remain unable to relax. He, in his constant behavior is doing exactly that: trying to produce a happy ending for himself so he can get out of pain. It is that reality that makes a patient exhibits himself in public time and again, or bedeviled by an inability to orgasm or to shy away from all human contact. We have all heard by now of erectile dysfunction. The penis is not the problem; the brain is. It is history that largely determines all this. And responding to that history instead of repressing it is what leads to liberation. How do we do that? Penetrating the deeper levels in a slow methodical manner.

After all, when a doctor prescribes Zoloft for a patient he is producing a happy ending. Instead of feeling pain the patient has become, “à la Candide”, egregiously sanguine. He is happy now, or is he? His stress hormone level is still very high. Unconsciously he is not happy but he has convinced himself that he is. But that delusion will kill him or make him prey to serious disease too early in life. Repression to me is the number one killer in our population. When we supply a happy ending we are aiding repression. We are aiding delusions by the patient. We as therapists have become cheerleaders, trying to find a happy ending for our role as doctor. It is a mutually shared delusion that fits into the zeitgeist where we all want to put on a happy face. So we do; and then try to develop a rationale for our choice. We don’t have to redo history. The patient, after having made his unconscious conscious will rewrite his own scenario as time goes on. He will lead a different life; the exhibitionist will stop showing himself. This, with simply reliving his pain. Don’t forget that the deep experience of a feeling leads to the cortical understanding of it automatically. In my jargon it is the third-line component of the feeling.

There are so many levels to pain that a person can relive higher representations of it and still have enough pain to continue to be driven by it. It is not that the therapy is faulty; it is because the road is longer than we thought. It may be because a therapist has not acknowledged the depth of pain nor has she produced the techniques necessary to probe down deep that she can believe in the happy ending. It took many years for us to develop those deep-probing techniques so I am not judging therapists, but I do know what it takes to go to the antipodes of the unconscious. It is not a trip taken lightly because meddling in the deep unconscious requires precision in one’s therapy. It is not that everyone does what they feel comfortable with. It means adhering to very specific clues and following them back into history in an ordered manner. When one of my students shows a tape of his therapy on other students, (which we do systematically) we know immediately when a mistake has taken place. There will not be integration. So there are two different ways to go amiss. 1. To believe what is not there. 2. To refuse to believe what is there.

It is when the doctor forces the patient into too much pain that he must supply a new ending. If therapists have not seen what connection can do, then they forcibly choose a happy ending script. If the doctor does not force the issue and drive up out-of-sequence pain, there is no need for a different ending. Connection says and does it all.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Oxytocin (Part 5/5)

It is my goal in therapy to help patients love and have the capacity to receive love; all else is secondary. Love makes us strong for our progeny. We need sex to enhance love, have progeny, and vice versa. It is the natural outgrowth of love. What we too often confuse is love and need. Those who never had their needs fulfilled early in life will keep on looking for fulfillment, believing it is love when too often it is only sexual. So long as someone is needy, he or she will confuse that need with love.

Once unloved, the feeling and the related physiologic levels remain. So now there is a vicious cycle; feeling unloved makes one act in ways to be further alienated and unloved: failed relationships, marriages, etc., which make one finally despair of ever being loved. The consequence may be depression and suicidal thoughts. Why? Because the imprint "unloved" can make one demanding, irritable, distant, angry, cold and unaffectionate. It has long been thought that the alerting, vigilant, aggressive system – the sympathetic nervous system – was the survival mechanism; the function of this system was to watch for danger, and initiate the flee or fight impulse. Research now shows that when the sympathetic nervous system is vigilant for too long it may eventually shut down altogether. There is, however, a backup system for hyper-vigilance; it is the inhibitory mechanisms that help determine survival. Over-stimulation is dangerous to the system.

Many may find it hard to believe that we can really inject love, albeit for a short period of time. Remember, animals share most of the same hormones with humans. We can take virgin females, inject them with oxytocin, and within thirty minutes they become maternal. So, yes, we can inject love if we define it carefully. We can help someone temporarily feel something they ordinarily couldn't. At the very least, we can inject the qualities of love and give rise to greater attachment, touch and nurturance. The critical point here is that by changing hormone levels we can alter behavior toward the loving. And by inference, if we can do a therapy that changes the set points of those loving hormones we may well offer the capacity to feel and give love permanently. Implicit in this is an understanding that hormone fluctuations alter behavior. The reverse, however, is not necessarily true – psychotherapy does not affect the system by changing behavior.
Animal studies are extremely important in understanding ourselves as humans. The new genome project has found that humans do not have all that many more genes than rats. There are even similarities in genetic structure between us and the lowly worm. What applies to animals, therefore, has a good chance of applying to humans.

Biochemical researcher Susan Carter has suggested that oxytocin is affected "by the developmental history of an organism." When there are high steroid levels in the womb due to the pregnant woman's stress level, the whole development of the fetus can be altered, including lowering fetal oxytocin levels. Years later, a mother may have no milk for her newborn, yet no one can understand why. Oxytocin affects the quantity of mother’s milk. The mother may insist on going right back to work after giving birth, rationalizing that her career is very important. She may not understand that her own experience of an early lack of love created a decrease in production of her maternal, loving hormones, while at the same time upping her stress hormone level which keeps her very active.

All this importunes her to get back to work; she has no idea about what is behind that drive. The lack of the chemicals for loving drives her to leave her baby. Her priorities are not the result of her attitudes but rather her neurochemistry, which motivates her. She is less maternal, and cannot sense the needs of her baby, or how much she needs her. Her attitudes, interests and thoughts may be rationalizations for her physiologic hormonal status. She hasn't had the biochemical equipment to be maternal since her own childhood. Her mother, not being maternal, has managed through her own lack of physical contact with her baby, to lower the maternal hormones in her daughter. Thus, the daughter will resent being a mother and her own children will feel it. Her lower oxytocin level may already be affecting the fetus in the womb. I would hypothesize that the infant may be born deficient in the love department. I have noted how womb trauma results in lowered serotonin levels; I speculate the same may be true for oxytocin. It is tempting to ascribe many of our alterations to genetics but we must not overlook the nine months we spend in the womb where the brain and body are forming.

There are psychopaths who look human, but who never establish any kind of loving relationship with anyone. They leave a trail of human debris in their wake. They relate only to what they can get. They only know how to manipulate. Their false charm sometimes allows them to get away with it. Yet they were victims of insufficient humanity and love in childhood from their own parents. Just below their seeming human charm lies an empty shell. You cannot be good to them because they cannot feel it. They just want more.

Love means a correct hormone balance and proper development of the brain. It means all the sexual hormones and equipment are in good working order. A mother’s love for a child regulates his brain development, learning and emotional evolution. It is reflected in the neurophysiology of the offspring. A loved child will have the best chance at a normal sex life later on, and that means the species will have the best chance of continuation.

We can measure love if we define it carefully. It is important to measure love because so many sexual problems derive from its lack. We need to know how deep someone’s emotional deprivation goes, how long it lasted and what affect it had on the neuro-physiology.

In Primal Therapy, the fact of getting a little love in the present, even when in a session we hold the hand of a patient who is in terrible pain, is enough motivation for patients to travel back to a time when they were unloved. They open up to that pain, which means they open up overall. To feel love, we must first feel how we were unloved. And to feel pain is to liberate our sexual health, and ourselves because sex is all about sensations and feelings, and repression gets in the way.

The goal of repression is to restrict access to those sensations – if we have suffered some trauma while in the womb, or during the birth process, repression will set in early. We then cannot sense pain and we also cannot fully sense anything else – we become removed from experience. That is repression’s purpose: to keep external stimulation from rocking the internal boat. Repression doesn't just blunt the effect of not being touched in infancy or being ignored; it is global and affects every aspect of our being. Repression isn’t selective, and doesn’t confine itself to one trauma. It works in a global fashion, and affects us system-wide, including our sexual health.

Looking at other primates, we can begin to understand ourselves. Caged primates in a zoo are less sexual and less inclined to procreate than in their natural habitat. Their physiology and their hormones know better than to bring offspring into such an environment, so their endocrine system changes. It speaks in the language of survival. The system says, “We don’t want to raise our babies in cages.” The more their instincts are suppressed in the interests of "taming" them, the less sexual they become. By contrast, the more freedom they have the more sexual they are. Suppression of their freedom has twisted the species' survival mechanism.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Oxytocin (Part 4/5)

Another hormone, vasopressin, contributes to male nurturance of offspring – it makes for caring fathers. It also has pain-killing effects and helps make animals venture out and be more exploratory. If vasopressin is blocked, there is immediately less paternal behavior. When injected directly into a section of the brain of male voles, vasopressin increased their paternal behavior. They couldn't be loving fathers without it. Vasopressin is a counterbalance to oxytocin, creating more aggression and territoriality in animals.

Scientists recently took mice that are loners and injected a gene of vasopressin into them. This was taken from the prairie vole, known to be gregarious and faithful to its mate. Result: they became more social, more caring about female partners and spent more time with them. They were generally nice to them.

Both vasopressin and oxytocin have a role in brain maturation. When there is trauma early in the brain’s development, such as in the womb, the maturation of the brain is hampered. This is where the old adage, "We don't have all our marbles," comes from. A brain that suffers such impairment is a different brain, thanks in part to these two neuro-hormones. It is crucial when synapses are being organized and neuronal networks being set, that there is a proper balance between these neuro-hormones to support a healthy process of brain development.

Vasopressin and oxytocin, which are similar in molecular structure, can be traced back millions of years through evolution. We see from this that love and attachment have always been important to mammalian organisms, and closely related to sex and reproduction. Sexual activity increases oxytocin levels. In sexual arousal, vasopressin is at its peak, while oxytocin peaks during ejaculation. Vasopressin cells are concentrated in the amygdala, in the feeling centers of the brain. It is love that motivates us toward reproduction, towards sex. When there is little oxytocin, there is no attachment. When there is no attachment, there is no love. When there is no love, survival is at stake. Love, therefore, is a key survival mechanism, and that is why it plays such an important role in human social commerce. It is the first step toward survival of the species.

Male rats treated with vasopressin during the first week of life were more aggressive later on to strangers. Vasopressin, released when there is stress to the system, can be combated by oxytocin. This may seem strange, when they are so molecularly similar and can use the same receptors. Vasopressin plays a role in determining partner preference, and in some male animals encourages the selection of specific female partners. It is one essential element in pair bonding in animals. It is also associated with testosterone, which increases vasopressin levels.

When we "love" there is a chemical component. It is my hypothesis that the more intense the love feeling the higher the oxytocin level. And the reverse may also be true – the higher the oxytocin level, the more love there is to give. To be clear, love changes the entire physical system and can be measured in any number of systems. This is just another way of stating that the love we receive early in life helps our ability to love and have healthy sex later on. There is a hidden implication in all this, however: Even though we may swear we love someone, our biochemicals may betray us. So here is the second lesson: Stress, pain and anxiety are all enemies to love; they deplete our chemical supplies, the essential elements of love.

Research has shown, as I noted, that when the bellies of animals are stroked, not only is more oxytocin secreted into the system, but blood pressure drops, as well. Most importantly, there is a shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance, as the relaxing, rest and repair system takes over to promote survival and good health. Love is calming and normalizing. While oxytocin helps lower blood pressure, pain raises it. That means a lack of love raises blood pressure, which is what we see in our patients; after one year of reliving pain, blood pressure drops an average of 24 points in the group. Oxytocin in animals inhibits the secretion of stress hormones, known as glucocorticoids. When the system is in a vigilant mode, the oxytocin levels drop and the anxiety system heightens. Oxytocin release is an important aspect of serotonin secretion. They work in harmony to help us repress pain.

Mother's milk contains high levels of oxytocin. That is one reason why breast milk is so important in nursing young. It is sent directly to the suckling baby's brain for comfort and calm. Research shows that mothers who nurse are calmer, more sociable, handle stress and monotony better, and have more skin-to-skin experiences with their baby. It has been found that when a newborn has not undergone a birth trauma and is able to suckle the mother’s breast right after birth, the gentle massaging by the infant’s mouth and hand increase the mother’s oxytocin level. What this does is enhance the mother-child bonding, producing an even greater closeness. So we have an increase in milk production and heightened maternal feelings, all wonderful for the baby. ("Alternatives." Sept. 2001. The Numbing Down of America. Page 21)

If we prevent oxytocin production in a baby animal, preference and closeness to the mother does not occur. Bonding does not occur. When there is no closeness the baby suffers, perhaps for a lifetime. Attachment is a basic need. It is a two-way street: lowered Oxytocin in the baby prevents him feeling close to his parent. He becomes a baby who does not adore being cuddled, who squirms while being held. When the mother gives birth, her oxytocin levels rise dramatically, offering her the wherewithal to deeply love her baby. Some of that is transmitted to the baby. This biochemistry is telling us that love is essential. In the womb it has already been transmitted by the fact of love for her baby. That love, even when the baby has not been born yet, has chemical roots. Yes, the baby can feel loved in the womb. Not in the sense of comprehension, but of biology. That is why biology can speak volumes, even contradicting our thought processes which came along much later in human evolution.

In one experiment, women were encouraged to place their babies at the breast right after birth. The earlier the contact, the more physical the mother was later on with the newborn. We see more loving contact with early bonding. Lactation and nursing is one expression of loving a baby. The best preventive medicine – mental and physical – is love and its hormones.

Oxytocin is responsible for most ejaculations, including the "ejaculation" of mother's milk to the baby and sexual ejaculation in the male. A mother who was loved as a child is apt to have more milk to breast feed her baby; and the male who was loved early on has more active sperm as an adult. Being unloved early in life may very well limit sperm production.

As I have indicated, oxytocin injections in animals facilitate the onset of maternal feelings. Of course, early parental love would eliminate that necessity. If you give a female sheep this hormone, she will adopt other infants for mothering, whereas without this hormone, she tends to reject outsider’s babies. When animals suckle they have higher levels of oxytocin. In rhesus monkeys that received oxytocin, there was an increase in touching, lip smacking and watching by mothers of their infants. Primate conduct parallels human behavior and the human brain; it is, therefore, quite important towards understanding human behavior.

How we feel, our attitudes about love, parenting and bonding, may well be dictated by our hormone state, and that, in turn, may be dictated by the set points of our hormones from experiences going all the way back to the womb. Those set points are fixed by the amount of love, or its lack very early in life. Early love gives us the capacity for love later on. It means a parent who looks lovingly at the child, who matches his mood, who touches and caresses softly, who listens without distraction. We may change our attitudes about love through exhortation by others, but we will not change our hormone state permanently.

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.