Monday, June 1, 2009

Transforming Feelings Through Resonance

How do we transform sadness into depression? Anger into rage? Fear into terror? RESONANCE. The deeper we go in the nervous system the more unreasoned, out of control, impulsive feelings/sensations there are. For good reason. The deeper we go, down into the brainstem the more survival, animalistic, immediate reactions are elicited. Rage and terror are there to help us react quickly to save our lives. Also there is deep hopelessness (the basis for severe depression). It is all there and can be triggered off in the present through resonance. It seems to me that all basic feelings are held together through specific frequencies which unite such feelings as anger and rage. Rage and terror are the first line components of feelings that are triggered off, resonate, with/by current feelings which are far less severe. Nothing in the present is ordinarily meant to be terrorizing. Yet giving a speech can be just that. Why? Because when one’s childhood is ridden by constant lack of love and neglect and often hatred by parents, the defense system is weakened and resonance can go deeper without impediment because of weakened or leaky gates. Those early traumas when early and severe damage our ability to develop a good gating system.

So giving a speech elicits terror, which actually has nothing to do with what is going on in the present. But what is resonated with is real and tells us a lot about what lies down there in that primitive salamander brain. Is there an immediate life-threatening event? Often yes. A mother smoking or drinking or taking drugs. A pre-psychotic mother can do it due to her high levels of mobilizing chemicals. The excessive vital signs speak to us in the language of the body, and they tell us how severe the early event was. This is particularly true in psychotics. I treated a young man who was born on a marine base to parents who were divorcing. The mother abandoned him and he was reared thereafter by a father who was nearly always absent, sent to war zones. There was trauma after trauma, meaning no love.

The problem is that we often do not recognize the resonance factor and treat the top level as the problem. In cognitive/insight therapy the patient is convinced that there is nothing to be afraid of. Ay ay ay. There is a lot to be afraid of only we cannot see it. It is like anger management. We treat rage through top level cortical pleadings when the real rage lies sleepily but stealthily down deep ready to pounce. Here is where words are but a weak, weak weapon for dealing with it. We must understand resonance, for that is what we must treat. We must attack what we cannot see; the imprint that has been there for decades, something that will eventually give us cancer or a heart attack, and we will wonder why?

How can we be sure about all this? One way is through vital signs. We systematically measure all patients’ sessions before and after. As the resonance factor kicks in, we find that the deeper we go in the brain the greater the vital sign measures. So down in the brainstem where much of our birth trauma and prenatal trauma is registered is where we find the long slow-wave brain signatures in our patients as they approach the deeper levels. It is where we see blood pressure of 200 over 110, and of resting heart rate of over 100.

Thus, the terrific impact these very early imprints have is demonstrated every day in almost every session. A patient comes in very hopeless and depressed and her blood pressure is very low. Another comes in with great anger and his heart rate is exceedingly high. It is of a piece, and we literally see the contribution of each level of consciousness during the session. We rarely if ever find a patient down on the brainstem level without resonance. This alone should guide us in the therapy of those who are ridden by out-of-control impulsiveness.

Someone comes to a doctor with chronically very high blood pressure and they immediately give blood pressure medication. And they should offer medication. It must be controlled. In our therapy, we have an idea already of where the origins lie because we are a therapy of genesis, of genotypes, not phenotypes. In fact the phenotype (appearances) is one way to arrive at the genotype. If we suppress the phenotype with medication we can almost be sure the patient will not get well. We know very little of the minute details of a malady but we know a great deal about genesis. This tells us a great deal about the status of the gates, how leaky they are, how solid and impenetrable or refractory they are. As soon as the patient comes in her body is sending out information. If she is awash in first line input we know where we have to go in therapy. Either help her into the imprint or perhaps helping with the gating system through the temporary use of tranquilizers.

A new patient with very low blood pressure and body temperature already signifies parasympathetic excess. We may have to boost her vital functions for a time with energy boosters. We may have to offer something that enhances stress hormone output. As I have pointed out, in our therapy we attack the conductor of it all, not the individual players such as blood pressure or heart rate. And that is the difference between what we do and what other therapies do. We have an overview. We know the music and it often has no lyrics.


  1. Dr. Janov,

    Just a couple of questions. First, you mention rage and terror in the context of survival responses. Then, referring to the same deep level, you mention hopelessness. This latter seems to have an anit-survival function, at least at the individual level. Do you see this as having a broader survival function for the species?

    Next question: Why do you choose frequency resonance in particular as the model of propagation of what you call "current" feelings downward to their deeper correlates? If I understand you, you are saying that fear, for example, is a frequency range, just as the color red is. And it seems to imply that certain neuronal traces are "tuned", perhaps by their chemistry or their topology or both, to fire most readily within a particular range. And then also that other traces can be induced into action just by this frequency. Is there any science supporting these notions?

    Also, wouldn't the above tend to mean that any fear in the present necessarily resonates with all fear of the past, as opposed to present situations triggering memories involving analogous sensory inputs or meanings, which seems to mesh more with experience?



  2. More thoughts:

    Though the 2nd-line 'resonates' with the 1st-line, how does the associative link between the brains establish itself in the first place? I would think that when we have a 2nd-line trauma the 1st-line is automatically triggered at the same time, so there may not be such thing as a 2nd-line trauma that is not also, in effect, a 1st-line trauma in part too* (I know you've spoken along those lines in the past, Dr Janov). Maybe this is part of the reason why the brain gates itself between the brainstem and midbrain...maybe to help suppress 1st-line over-reactions when recieving further input from 2nd-line trauma, so as to make further trauma more manageable and maybe less severe.

    If that's the case, then I would imagine that someone who has recieved relatively low amounts of 1st-line trauma could integrate their 2nd-line pain in therapy more quickly because they're not suffering from constant excessive 1st-line over-reactions every time they have a 2nd-line primal. Any thoughts on that?

    *Psychologists have noted that individual memories do not seem to be stored in any one part of the brain. Maybe this is because all memories ultimately exist as a 'network' within the brain, maybe related to all major parts of it. I would say that all memories are also experiences, and experiences involve all parts of the brain, at least to some degree. This is probably why memory relates so directly to context - because context is in fact a concrete part of the original memory.

  3. As someone studying American Lit and psychology Dr Janov's writings on how the mechanisms of feelings operate are interesting to compare with assertions by other American thinkers and artists. The following is a very relevant passage from WS Burroughs who had his own idioysyncratic style and approach to writing about the inner landscape. But I think that it can easily be related to Dr Janov's view on human feeling also:

    "All right, here's the whole liberal position: Well, people are possessed [Burroughs sees negative emotions and feelings in the context of an invading spirit from without - blog writer's insertion] , but their intellect is not possessed so they can oppose that which is right in there possessing them; they can oppose it intellectually. But this does not deal with it at all on the whole, should we say, psychological, and finally, molecular level. You can't oppose something intellectually that is overwhelming you emotionally. The chain of command, or the chain of action, comes up from the back of the viscera to the back brain and then finally to the front brain. But the front brain cannot reverse this and give orders to the back brain and the viscera: it just doesn't work. "pull yourself together!" they say. Well you can't. The more you try to pull yourself together the further apart you get. You have to learn to let things pass through. I am a man of the world; I understand these things. They happen to all of us. All you have to do is understand them or see them for what they are, that all. So don't think you're alone because you're not."

    Dr Janov's assertion that trauma creating resonance in the deeper brain cannot be treated with words or pleadings by the cortex is really important. Throughout my 20's i believed that words or a correct understanding of my pain would be enough to reduce it. Now i'm well into my 30's i see the error in this thinking. The question is to learn how to circumvent your own defences to actually connect to the feeling. Where a person is neurotic and rigidly bound to ideas and to the familiar sound of an internal voice that he equates with himself then a totally new sense of self must be attained - one in which you get to view yourself as a the total organism and not just a prisoner or inhabitant of a particular split off part of it.

  4. All right Andy fess up. you are a neurologist? close to one? Not at all, just smart? Sorry I am on vacation now. on my way to my hometown, Paris. Ask me this in mid july. art janov Maybe someone else can try answering what I consider a well thought out question.

  5. Hello Walden

    I choose resonance cause it makes sense to me and in my new book, Life Before Birth, I cite a few scientists who support this idea. It is unproved. Hopelessness, in pure dialectic fashion, gives rise to hope and then drives us to survival behavior. When left too long it becomes antisurvival, however. We all need hope. I would like readers to find support or non support of my idea about frequency. But you said it well: neuronal traces are tuned to fire when certain similar circuits are engaged. They are chemical and electric brothers, bound together by feelings. art janov

  6. Happy holidays Art. I don't want you to feel burdened by my posts. I'll send this post anyway - do with it what you like.

    I think it's interesting how when you get close to a big 1st line feeling, you can kind of tell how big it is going to be even though you haven't felt it properly yet.
    I suspect my biggest hurdle will be a a feeling like this:
    very little control over my arms and legs - utterly isolated - nothing to hold on to - hopelessness and helplessness - terror

    That is the ultimate 1st line feeling that I sometimes approach, particularly when I am in a shallow sleep. It seems to me that I know how big it is even though I haven't felt it fully yet. I could draw it on a graph. If I drew a line at a height to indicate the maximum feeling I can withstand, that line would be about 3/4 to 2/3 of the actual feeling.
    Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that feelings can show you their size without being fully felt.
    I suspect that your drive to understand your patients came from a subliminal awareness of the 'truth' coming from your leaky feelings. If you felt moved when you witnessed your first patients primalling, it is because your 'subliminal' feelings were still able to give you a sense of the size of your discovery. I think this awareness can be there even while your feelings are unconscious. A few subliminal leaks is all it takes.

    My brother and I and my brother's friend watched a video of you with a patient who was having a birth primal. I was amazed when my brother's friend started laughing when the patient began to suck on your finger. I don't consider myself to be a feeling person (I don't care much about other people) but to not even see the significance of that birth primal - well, it's a bit creepy to see how cut-off people can be.

    When I am asleep (and more feeling) I can sense what it is like for you and France and other feeling people to be 'on the other side'. Reality sinks in more when I am tired. When I am wide awake with energy, I start to think a lot. I look at your brief replies to your 'blogophiles' and I become suspicious. I wonder if you are giving cheese to your little test-rats.
    Then I go to bed and as I am falling asleep, I realise you are trying to reach out to people. You are looking at people who are lost. In that context, everything you do makes sense. I think you are a kind person.

    That's all I want to say.

  7. resonance in physics and electrical engineering is a process whereby one or a narrow range of frequencies are selected and the rest filtered out. You get a strong response at one frequency. the canonical circuit is the LRC circuit with a resistor (R), an inductor(L) and a capacitor (C). The resistor provides some damping by dissipating energy , the resonance occurs at the angular frequency omega such that omega = 1/sqrt(L * C). This is called a tuned circuit.Any input to this LRC filter not at the resonance frequency will have negligible output, an input at the resonant frequency is amplified,and can even be in principle infinite. In this case we have an oscillator , the circuit has an output even when no input is applied!. I think Dr. Janov means some inputs are at the resonant frequency of a neuronal circuit and are strongly amplified,whereas the same circuit filters out other (out of frequency) inputs. Whether this is what actually happens of course I don't know; since brain networks seem so richly interconnected, and the example I gave is very simple but at the very least it works as a metaphor for some kind of input response selection mechanism.
    there are other analogies. for example in communications used in say cell phones, many different voice and data streams are encoded using orthogonal codes and added together. the resulting bit stream is spread over all frequencies in the band and looks like noise (i.e it has the mathematical properties of a noise like signal); however multiplying this noise like signal with the original code of the desired signal using the binary Xor operation brings out only the desired signal out of the noise , while all other data streams stay at the lower noise level.This is a different kind of filtering and amplification because it is done in the time domain rather than the frequency domain.

  8. Andy You may have it backwards. Every feeling begins in the first line. which provides push or energy or force of all later feelings. In short, it is first line that is then elaborated onto the second and third. That is, it is rerepresented on higher levels. Not every trauma elicits first line. Not everyone has first line trauma but most of us do. but gating sees to it that the first line is not set off prematurely. that is the joy of gating. Your mid paragraph is right on. Those who do not have rabid first line do indeed integrate second better. I think you need to read biology of love again. Or any of my books where I describe how the three levels work. art janov

  9. Hello Will. There are feelings you cannot get to alone. Your defenses are in place for good reason: that you won't have access and that it won't have access to you.. No act of will can give you access by circumventing your defenses. For that you need professional help. art janov

  10. Hello stevenB. I would agree with you if I understood it all. But it sounds right. You are obviously an engineer with a good understanding. Now we need a neurologist to help with applying it to the human brain. But your explanation seems correct. How does tuned circuits actually work, and can that apply to my frequency explanation? art janov

  11. Hi Dr Janov, and thanks for your reply.

    I speculated that the 1st-line could be triggered by the 2nd. I respect that you can know through your therapy that people can engage in a 2nd-line primals without a 1st-line over-reaction. Though I imagine that a 2nd-line feeling will involve the brainstem as part of the functional 'master' experience (but not necessarily anything to do with 1st-line trauma as such). If it is true that "where neurons fire consciousness is" then the 1st-line would have to be part of it on some level unless the brainstem is completely shut down during experience; of course it won't be.

    You say that all feelings begin in the 1st-line. If you don't mean that in terms of the development of feeling/cognitive systems as we grow up, then I suppose you mean that in terms of what we finally subjectively experience with respect to a feeling. Because clearly feelings can be first initiated into action by higher-level processes, such as when you think about something that finally makes you feel bad (cognitive realisation stimulates lower-level reactions).

    I would guess that all feelings communicate with upper and lower brain centres in a cyclic manner i.e. what you feel impacts what you think about, and what you think about impacts how you feel. (unless we're taking neurosis of course which is a one-way street of lower centres "drilling" higher centres).

    To say, I think trying to clarify how the brain works on this structural level -with detail- is very tricky. I wonder if there has been any EEG scan stuff that correlates neurological activity with reported feelings as they actually develop and change in real time [movies - not just snap shots]. I think it could help a great deal to ever better clarify how exactly it all works.

  12. Arthur Janov and StevenB:

    I have read somewhere that an electrical coil designed to 'resonate' as specific frequency can obtain a considerable amount of energy from a *distant* generator also operating at the same specific frequency - the "resonance" allows the magnetic field developed between the resonators to be effective like a conventional generator, even over a somewhat large distance. Maybe the brain exploites this function on the 'micro' intrabrain level?

    I have no idea, it's just a thought...but nature does seem to exploit every natural principle if it's worth it and it functionally can.

  13. I would welcome replies to this. art janov

  14. Hi Art. Quote "Every feeling begins in the first line. which provides push or energy or force of all later feelings. In short, it is first line that is then elaborated onto the second and third."
    You are making it sound like the brain stem holds the entire blueprint for a complex emotional feeling.
    It can't hold that much information.
    For a complex emotional trauma, the brain stem must react to information coming from the higher levels.
    If the emotional primal experience feels like something that begins in the 1st line, it can only SEEM that way to the primaller's perception.

    Your explanation is very confusing.
    I'm assuming 1st line means brain stem, 2nd line means limbic system, and 3rd line means intellect. Have I got it wrong?

    Maybe you (or someone else) could copy and paste something that explains it better. It might be beneficial for many people reading this blog. (or I could just get off my lazy ass and read Biology of Love).

  15. Hello Richard. First line means brainstem and other primitive limbic structures such as the amygdala, which is one of the oldest limbic structures. There is a smattering of other lines in whatever line you choose to study. It is a matter of predominance. art janov

  16. I just read a paper on Small-World Brain Networks which suggests a correlation between brainwave frequency and the type of network that is active. Lattice type networks tend to be local, while the "small-world" topology is an interesting fractal structure characterized by tight clusters of "cliquish" cells connected to other distant clusters via short paths. Fractal in the sense that this structure exists at macro and micro levels. These small-world networks are active at intermediate frequencies of 8 - 13 Hz. This is probably the model for integration of nonadjacent brain structures. This could be the topology of deep connection.

    Why is broad connectivity associated with particular intermediate frequencies? Maybe because of size. Same reason why walking music (andante?) is associated with the approximate length of the human leg. Natural harmonics.

    This is different from saying frequency Z is sadness, frequency X is fear, etc. I don't think brain regions signal each other via electrical inductance, like two primitive villages signalling with drums. It wouldn't make sense given all that nice cable that strung between them.

    Maybe Dr. Janov would share a reference or two on frequency/resonance to serve as a starting point for others who might like to follow up?


  17. Hi Art. I am also confused, like Richard, when you say "Every feeling begins in the first line." Let us assume that one has a "wonderful" birth, which is almost impossible, with no damage, i.e. pain left. Then this person got hit by his father when he is 10. Now in the present, as an old man, this person is afraid of men. When he feels this feeling in a primal session this feeling comes, i.e. originate, begins from the second and NOT from the first line, right?

    Please help me clarify this. Thanks.


  18. Walden: I am in France and do not have my references here. Let's see, there is Mericea Steriade. Try that. dr. J

  19. Matthews please further in greater detail. I am not an engineer. But I would like to know more about your reference. By lattice type networks you mean? Do you mean via dendrites? Explain in English "Why is broad....." art janov

  20. Your piece has got me thinking. A patient at birth and even before feels helpless then hopeless, 2 key feelings. It is then rerepresented on higher levels as they come on line. They join each other in terms of many factors of which one important one is frequency. If you look at the work of Steriade it seems that this is so but I am still not sure. I do know there is a resonance factor that reawakens earlier factors from what is going on now. But how, is the question? It is not that the feeling in and of itself is crucial but the whole gestalt circumstance that surrounds the feeling. e.g. I cannot get out of the womb, to get out means life; to not get out means death; hence panic. When blocked later on by a parked car or one that refuses to move forward that same frenzy/panic enters. I am also sure that there are important chemical cousins that tie the feelings together. But that is not my expertise. It is enough that we treat people who get well. That is already something. Hey do a piece on this for the blog. art janov

  21. Mathews:

    Quote: "This is different from saying frequency Z is sadness, frequency X is fear, etc. I don't think brain regions signal each other via electrical inductance, like two primitive villages signalling with drums. It wouldn't make sense given all that nice cable that strung between them."

    Fair enough, but how does the link between the neurons establish itself in the first place? Where/what is the pathfinder? I think that's a really tricky question, and open to a lot of speculation.

    As I have said in an earlier post on this blog, the brain can recognise that two stimulated sets of neurons are responding to the same fundamental reality if they are being stimulated at the same time. For example, if you see a banana (visual cotext stimulated) and smell it while eating it (smelling cortex...where ever that is...being stimulated) then the brain can link the 2 inputs together as the 'master' experience/reality. And it can know to link them by the fact that both components (smell and sight) were experienced at the same time i.e. they have the same 'date and time' signiture. Maybe they were "resonating" at the same time too, which created an electromagnet interaction which, in turn, provided some kind of guiding compass (path finder) for the brain to link the memories supporting the sets of neurons.

    Again it's all speculation - but something on some level has to navigate the linkages. It curious to think what.

  22. The brain is full of little sub-programs. These programs are genetically determined. Hardwired. They are very generic. Various combinations of these hardwired programs are accessed to process a new, unique experience. Only a tiny proportion of pathways are newly formed whenever we are processing a new experience. So most of what we experience, even in terms of detailed thought, is automatically pre-processed. By constantly returning to these generic sub-programs, the brain is able to remain compact despite the huge quantity of differing experiences.

    It is possible that most of the automatic pre-processing for a new experience is identical to the pre-processing for an old traumatic experience. When this happens, the highly important, and nearly processed old experience fights for consciousness even though the brain was trying to process a new experience. Consciousness is always pulled in the direction of the most urgent and important information. The more the urgent information is processed, the stronger the pull becomes. (If the brain didn't work like this, we would be dead in less than a year of life.)

    What causes the pull? Certain generic programs are used for processing the 'importance' of any information. These programs are responsible for controlling vital functions and complex feelings. These programs send instructions on where to block or allow access to higher level programs. If certain information is recognised as very important, and able to be felt safely by the body, then all the relevant programs will be automatically accessed, while irrelevant programs will be denied access. This is the 'pull'. Conscious awareness is pulled in the important direction. The only time when relevant programs are denied access, is when the process would lead to life-threatening symptoms. I am talking about very controlled, computational automatic decisions.

    When a new experience is recognised as important and safe to process, but requires the use of a program which has been denied access, conflicting instructions may cause too much access to the blocked program. (In this instance, a man-made computer would either crash or direct the user to an alternate location, but the organic brain may not be so 'on and off')

    This is my quickly thought-out hypothesis based on research I read today. Research on mice suggests that most of the brain's processing power is the result of genetic hardwiring rather than the constant formation of new pathways.

  23. wolfgang: It is just that the first line gives the push, energy or force to a feeling. It is not necessarily neurotic. art janov

  24. Hi Art. Let me see if I have got this right.

    All traumatic memories are felt initially in the 1st line. Fine.

    A 1st line trauma is felt predominantly in the 1st line. It is later interpreted in the 2nd and 3rd.

    A 2nd line trauma is felt predominantly in the 1st and 2nd line. It is later interpreted in the 3rd.

    I didn't say a 2nd line trauma is felt predominantly in the 2nd line, considering it gets it's force from the 1st line.

    If we begin in therapy by tackling "2nd line trauma", we will try to unlock the non-neurotic 1st line, while being careful to avoid unlocking the neurotic 1st line (to avoid triggering prenatal or birth trauma). If the 1st line can be felt 'cleanly' then it can lead to successful reliving of the "2nd line trauma".

    If the 1st line is too volatile and can't be accessed without plunging into prenatal/birth feelings, then tranquilisers must be used to help alleviate some of this force. This alleviation will help to separate the desired 1st line response from the undesired, or at least allow for some degree of proper feeling even if the 1st line is still contaminated by rogue birth feelings etc. (there may be times when the so-called rogue 1st line feelings are the predominant cause of the 2nd line trauma - in which case the neurotic 1st line is desirable.)

    If I am to assume that no kind of trauma can be relived fully during the use of tranquilisers, then I must also assume that tranquilsers can allow some degree of permanent alleviation, that is, partial resolution of a trauma. Eventually the body will be relieved enough to Primal without tranquilisers.

    Can I feel satisfied that everything I said is correct? If not then I will talk about it with a primal therapist in about a year from now. I'm not obsessed with this part of Primal theory. It's the only part that is difficult for me to understand (because you never explain it very clearly!! - but you are excellent at explaining everything else)

  25. Listen Richard: I don't have to explain it because you are doing a better job than I can. You are dead right. art janov

  26. Why is a 2nd line trauma often fueled by a 1st line trauma with a similar feeling? Here's a useless theory. During 2nd line trauma, a child will try to form a new explanation for the terrible 2nd line feeling. As he tries to block out the real explanation, there is a period when the feeling has no conscious explanation. During this period the feeling can remind him of a 1st line feeling - ie. a feeling with no explanation. eg. A child is feeling alone and vulnerable at a bus stop, but can't explain why....consequently he reminds himself of a time when he was 2 minutes old and completely alone.
    During therapy, he doesn't return to a 2nd line memory - he returns to a 2nd line memory of a 1st line memory.

  27. Richard: Better to have therapy and let the insights come from feelings. art janov

  28. Art, it was just a basic theory to explain "resonance". No insight.
    I think the brain is designed to connect similar feelings together. We search through a bunch of similar feelings when we are trying to remember something, with not much intellectual information to use as a reference. We scan a wide area of feelings and symbols, then narrow down to the detailed target.
    Unfortunately and fortunately, the brain uses resonance while trying to find a traumatic memory. Because of the pain involved, the patient may be inclined to pause at the ambiguous stage of feelings and symbols.
    Resonance is no accident. It's a function which enables us to make optimal use of an enormous quantity of unconscious information. Resonance is used to aid vision (we use feelings and subconscious memory maps to define peripheral vision) and probably many other body functions - all for the purpose of seeing the 'bigger picture'.
    Still - it's just a useless theory. It would only be useful if we could understand how each separate neuron plays it's part. You know that.

  29. Richard. tell me more about your views of this. art 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.