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.


  1. I enjoyed this post Dr Janov.

    For the sake of saying, I think there is a way to tell the difference between love and need. I think need is easily promiscuous because need can chop-and-change its "objects of fullfulment" with relative ease when there is no or little true interpersonal attachment, as the individual is primarily attached only to their own needs. I'm not saying that to be judgmental on others; indeed, I think I am largely speaking of myself as well.

    I'm also not suprised that rats are genetically very similar to humans. The true difference between humans and other animals (especially higher animals) is extremely superficial - structurally, we are almost identical. Just a 'bloated' outer cortex and that's pretty much it.

    -And intelligence, at the end of the day, is just a mass of associated memories. I doubt very much that there is a true qualitive difference between human intelligence and other animal intelligence. I think human intelligence is just an extention of the same theme.

  2. Dear Dr. Art Janov,
    I read “The Primal Scream” in 1975 here in South Africa where I live. In 1980 I started PT at your Institute
    in Colby Road in L.A., doing my intensive with Nick Barton, I was there for about 2 years after which I continued with Brenda Craven, who was absolutely wonderful. I came back home at the end of 1992. Needless to say, Primal therapy has changed my life forever. I have been self-primalling since and I feel that my therapy is right on track.

    However, I doubt whether even ten other South Africans had done PT. I have not been able to contact any
    except for one lady who lives app.1500 kilometres away from where I am, which is Gauteng Province. It means that I have no personal contact with other primallers and thus have no-one to buddy with. I would really
    love to be able to buddy with someone in person again.

    I am now wondering if there are any other South Africans who read your blog. It would be a real thrill to
    meet them. May I please leave my details?

    Once again, a heartfelt thanks for what your therapy has meant to me..


    PATRICK VAN NIEKERK e-mail address: Tel 27 01 482 - 6000

  3. Andy,

    From above:

    "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."

    The reverse may not be _necessarily_ true, but it can be true, whether the result of psychotherapy or something else. An observation can lead to a decision to change a behavior can lead to an alteration in the hormone system, which can be subjectively felt and experienced. I'm not citing a study here; this is my own experience as a second grader. I was frustrated and in a flash, decided to copy the attitude of a calm female classmate. The change was transient but not temporary. It showed itself through the shape and weight of my handwriting. It felt different in a bodily way, so I know it was mediated by the hormone system at least.

    Such observations and decisions to change behavior are key to enabling a therapy that allows one to change the way one responds to beckoning feelings. Without this level of behavioral control, Primal Therapy would not be possible. Think about that. You use your mind to allow you to have an alternate experience.

    So Andy, there you have it. That's the qualitative difference between human intelligence and other mammal intelligence. Our ancient ancestors are more of a one way street when it comes to intelligence; we're two way. Viva la difference!

  4. Hi Walden,

    Thanks for your post. Yeah, for sure our intelligence allows us to do things qualitively in advance of other animals, but I don't think that our intelligence, in itself, is necessarily qualitively advanced. For example, the very first electronic computers could solve basic maths problems ok, but operating multi-media programmes took a lot more power and time, even though the raw architecture of those early computers was/is the same as modern computers. That's where I was coming from with respect to the difference between human and other animal intelligence.

    I also think that feeling a feeling, in a primal, is critically different to choosing to feel a consciously idealised feeling. In a primal you simply choose to feel "whatever is there". That is, you "give in" to the repressed feeling, be what it may. So yes, higher-level control ultimately allows us the decision to give in to a feeling or not, but once we have given in to the feeling the historic truth of what lies within us dictates whatever we shall specifically feel (at the time). In essence, the process of having a primal is more about allowing yourself to lose control, than specifically choosing to feel a given way.

    You also mentioned about hormones. I think that can be tricky. Clearly hormones correlate to feelings and play a critical role in them, but whether or not that correlation is absolute is not conclusive(?). I don't know if different feelings of different types always correlate to hormonal changes?

  5. Andy,

    It's probably fair to say that a continuum exists among animal intelligences, and that along that continuum we choose to posit qualitative differences. I understand "qualitative" to be a feature of how we view phenomena, not necessarily something intrinsic to those phenomena.

    To ground the discussion, I'll ask a question. Can a cat primal? I'll say no, and I think it has to do less with the loss of control and more with intentional self-guidance and higher cognitive function. When I was a kid, by the way, we had a neurotic cat "Smitty" as a pet. He was rescued alone as a very small kitten from under a car in a parking lot where my mother worked. All his life he compulsively sucked on the end of his tail and had a "borderline" personality wherein the initial enjoyment of affectionate petting would always turn into an aggressive attack on the person petting him. Is there a "primal therapy" that can work on such a creature? Why or why not?

  6. Sorry to disagree. We had a dog who was rescued and it was very frightened all of the time. I put his head under my armpit and caressed him. He began to cry and whimper like a baby. dr. janov

  7. Walden,

    I had a primal about 15 years ago and it was totally involuntary (as in TOTALLY). It was almost like a part of me said: "Right - you're gonna feel this whether you like it or not!".
    I experienced the primal sequence exactly how Janov describes it. From my experience, there is nothing abstract about it. You are simply experiencing the truth of what happened and what those truths really meant to you (on a feeling level), and in turn allowing yourself to simply feel what you feel of it. It's just like a child that has been hurt in the here-and-now - they don't conceptualise how or why they have been attacked by their mother (as an example), they just feel hurt, and feel through the hurt (unless it's too much and repressed, of course). If you get Janov's Primal Therapy, and I hope you do, you will see.

    Dr Janov:

    That post about the dog was interesting. I know that my cat is sensitive to how I feel in relation to her. If I genuinely don't mind her sitting on me and I'm happy with her company (usually she is a pain), she seems to know it and relaxes more. There are probably a lot of core communicable similarities between the mammals. We do, apparently, have pretty much the same midbrain, I understand.

    Humans feel more when they're feeling secure and unassaulted - I feel with a lot more depth when I wake up at 2am in the morning, when my defense system is more "slackened off" (I believe). Maybe animals spontaneously primal in their own way, like you suggest, when they feel secure enough too. I see no fundamental reason why not.

  8. What fascinates me about PT is how the changes it produces affect the patient afterwards. I I have never had any form of therapy though i visited a counsellor a few times and talked about stuff which doesn't really count as there was no intervention as such. But to go from a repression induced numbness to life to an opening up to the new feeling of previously blocked sensory input is a huge shift. It also may require the resetting or a new co-ordination of ones senses to integrate them towards one another or alter behaviour. (I can't recall in which of Dr Janov's books but he said that many patients take to listening to music more after PT as simple sensory activities become the cause of much greater fascination and enjoyment) Such a change or jolt from a sudden engagement with previously unfelt sensory data could be initially quite scary and constitutes a fear which requires the support of a knowing therapist to guide you into the new feeling. In this sense the therapist is on hand to offer protection and reassurance without which the patient could not settle into a new mode of being. This is most likely why animals are less able to alter their states because they're position in the food chain offers no sanctuary from fear - unless, like Dr Janov's dog, they get adopted into a safe environment.

  9. Dear Dr. Janov,
    The need for PT has reached a new urgency. Can you name any PT-Therapists in Germany?

    My statement relates to the reality, that the German government has finally acknowledged that in the years between 1949 – 1975 over 800 000 children were in religious institutions and over half of them were severely abused.
    Now the government has ordered a Round Table to function as “truth commission”.
    One of their (limited) aims is to provide therapy for the abused. However these politicians know only about the conventional “talk therapy”, which they will now authorize.

    My input is to bring the awareness that these childhood abused adults, who lived with early inflicted trauma for over 50 years, need more than cognitive therapy, - they need healing.

    For now I have only two German scientists who will speak on the subject – the effect of abuse.
    Prof. Elbert “neuro science Structural and functional neuroplasticity in relation to traumatic stress
    and eventual Prof. Wiedemann with: Cortisol and Imaginal Exposure in Posttraumatic Stress

    I would also like to introduce to the Round Table “truth commission” a therapist who earned credentials at your institute.

  10. Arthur Janov,

    I don't question whether these animals can cry and whimper and even have memory of trauma. What is the significance of your armpit in the story? What can you say about the connectedness of the experience of your whimpering dog? Did the dog cease to be frightened all of the time after one of these whimperings? After many? If so, how does that differ in results from others who rescue dogs and just treat them well? You're really not making much of a case that your dog primalled. And even if you made a strong case that your dog had a vivid reliving experience, I would still question whether it was a useful primal. This is very important (and in fact the real reason I opened this question), because it seems that with psychotics and certain others who lack stable intellect, gaining better access to primal feelings can be disintegrative more than integrative. So my real question is not whether animals lacking the human extent of frontal brain matter can regress, it's whether they can make permanent learning out of such an experience. Would it be healing? I am skeptical. Especially since in these animals, where there is a paucity of frontal "control", it would seem that primals should be spontaneous and we should never see lasting neurosis in them. But we do.


  11. I think my wife, Dr. France Janov, who is clinical director the Primal Center would be the one you want. Glad you are trying. I never had much luck. We gave a few week course to Germany professionals who promptly hung out a shingle stating that they do primal therapy. That is dangerous, and they are ruining lives. dr. janov

  12. Dr. Janov,

    It is disheartening to hear about professionals hanging out a shingle, as you say, without the proper training and preparations. This goes back to the "tolerating nonsense" argument, doesn't it. And the response is to pull back and disown them. And I suppose they resent that and keep on in defiance, but eventually drop the idea because of poor results. It's a shame this polarization has to occur. I can't help but think that by setting the proper expectations of what can and cannot be accomplished by untrained "professionals", along with providing some on-site guidance for them, a better albeit more meager set of results could be achieved, and then built upon over time. There must be a continuum from no therapy to proper therapy with safe stations along the way. The Primal Center must take the lead in innovating that. I volunteer to help.


  13. Dr. Janov's Primal Therapy is not yet acceptable science. If permanent changes in hormones/vital signs is not acceptable as scientific evidence, then we should all look to the heavens, because nobody else is offering a cure.

    Everybody keeps asking for hard science. How much science do you want?? If a person is feeling good, he/she will never be able to prove it. There comes a point when we must decide if we want to try Janov's therapy (I will within two years). That decision cannot be based purely on science.

    By the way, I invite Walden and Will and Traudl (and anyone else) to take a look at my ideas I posted in A New Paradigm for Psychology (look at left menue). I'm cooking hotdogs over there.

  14. To Patrem,
    I cannot believe my eyes,I thought you were Pat Torngren.She would write exactly the same as you did,but your name is Patrick.........That you didnot already find her..? Or am I uncovering identities...

    About Germany.In 1985,when I was in therapy for about half a year I coincidentely looked at a newspaper from Germany,at the back of it a complete page filled with advertisements about people offering primaltherapy.Really big advertisements.Is this all gone as suggested here because of disappointing results?

  15. Dear Dr. Janov,
    I wish I could bring Dr. France Janov to the Round Table.
    The language barrier could be one issue. It is indeed a problem for Germans to accept knowledge from outside their comfort zone. Please understand that Germans trust nobody and need to invent, the wheel over and over again. (smile)

    Nevertheless, my webalizer (a statistic tool) tells me that the link to Oxitocin, I placed on my english. website, receives frequent clicks from Germany. Some interest from over see in your writing is now obvious.
    I will continue distributing all material I’m convinced of , and encourage European “experts” to open their minds.
    Sieglinde Alexander

  16. If you don't know what your are doing there is bound to be bad results. I have never seen it otherwise. I would hope that others have found a good way but it is not the case. dr. janov

  17. Traudl: Thank you a lot. Dr. Janov

  18. Traudl: Thanks for that post. I would like to add a thought relating to observations with PTSD.

    I recently read a small article in a science magazine(can't remember which sorry) about studies done on people who suffered from some degree of PTSD after watching -first hand- the twin towers collapse in New York. They found that people standing closer to the falling towers were more traumatised by what they saw than people who were further away. They made this observation primarily by a observing a brain region(the amygdala I think?) which was more heavily swollen in the selected subjects who were closer to the towers when they collapsed.

    This is just an example of how trauma irrefutably affects the brain, but I want to use this example to show the different outlooks that I believe different psychologists have. Some psychologists, from what I understand, don't believe in the reality of repressed memories, or at least their neurosis-inducing impact. So how would they answer to the simple example that I gave in the first paragraph? It's a guess, but I would say that they must see recorded brain changes like this as being representative of the *result* of an emotional storm that has run through the brain *but* finally leaving [so in turn leaving a neurobiological mess in its wake], as opposed to a clinically traumatic physiological and/or emotional perception that *beds itself into the brain*, establishing and induring affect.

    Likewise, this would explain the strictly "lets see what we can do with drugs and/or behavioural/cognitive therapy" approach that psychologists seem to be dedicated to. In essence, I think they confuse neurological damage with neurological defense - an easy mistake to make because trauma, at the end of the day, is invisable to *direct* external observation. When they see those chemicals in the brain not working properly as a consequence of a trauma they think they're looking at the core of problem, because they think that the tornado has gone, so to speak. I believe this might be their greatest assumption and greatest mistake. Because, as I believe, if they can understand that neurosis (with its observed biological correlations) is a defensive response to an imprinted infliction, then, in time, they will inevitably be led to the truth of what must ultimately be done about the problem.

    Why don't they dare consider that neurosis at least *could* be primarily a natural system, rather than an expression of raw neurobiological damage?

  19. What is it you do, andy? dr. janov

  20. Hi Dr Janov,

    I am not a professional psychologist. My interest here has been a private exploration, over about 10 years or so. I am currently working as an aircraft loader, which is a "means to an ends" job for me right now. I have long term ambitions associated with entertainment production (long story) and maybe politics and 'other', which I am working towards.

  21. Andy, your observation “Some psychologists, from what I understand, don't believe in the reality of repressed memories, or at least their neurosis-inducing impact” correspond with personal experience.
    One psychologist told me: there is no need to regress in to the trauma in order to “feel better”.

    Another therapist was des-nerved after she tried several differed theories, encouraging me to release anger (Gestalt). After I told her I have no anger, I feel fear and would like to find the source, she clapped her hands over her head to gather, asking me!!!!!: “what theory fits you”. My answer was, I don’t need theories, I need healing.

    Because she ‘couldn’t deal with me (her words) I was pushed of to the psychiatrist who saw only one solution “350 mg Wellbutrin”.

    Just reasoned, I had an MRI (with contrast). I asked the neuro-surgeon if he detected any abnormality at the corpus callosum, (in addition to another finding). After he corrected my accent, his arrogance phrased the question:” why would you have a need to know about it”.

    Listening in to the complaints of other childhood victims, how they are treated, I’m convinced, there is a significant lack of knowledge, too much theory, very little feeling and most of all, very little respect for the individual is present among the ones who suppose to help healing the emotional pain.
    In an open letter I wrote in 2000 to psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists I said: “heal your self first”. Now, 9 years later, I’m still convinced there is a great need for healing among some experts”.

  22. Well good luck, Andy. Obviously, you are perspicacious. dr. janov


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.