Saturday, March 20, 2010

Deep Hopelessness

In our research into serotonin we found that after a year of our therapy there are stable changes in serotonin output. Those who feel very deeply seem to normalize in predictable ways. What it shows is that early pains are involved in how much serotonin we produce. By experiencing preverbal feelings we can make serious hormonal alterations in our patients that endure. I do not think that these changes can occur solely by reliving later childhood events. We are obliged to return to the scene of the crime; the event that deregulated the hormones, in the first place. We do not normalize every dislocated hormone but we have enough success to indicate that the origins are far earlier than we thought. When we understand that very early feelings become compounded as we develop; this is an important notion because when we re-experience a later childhood pain we take some of the force off the feeling. But resolution only occurs when we feel the basic platform of the feeling, as for example, hopelessness. It is the primordial hopelessness that makes for suicidal thoughts. Then when we grow up and find ourselves in another hopeless situation the resonance factor kicks in, sets off the basic hopelessness at birth, for example, and the inevitable suicidal thoughts. It is not as though the thoughts have been hiding waiting to come out but that when the first-line is triggered and it sets off the feeling, (of hopelessness), which in turn sends signals to the cortex to produce terrible, despairing thoughts. Those thoughts are the result of feelings on the move; they cannot be changed by encouragement or exhortation, because the thoughts are not the problem, feelings are. And those feelings reflect specific experience. It is the experiences that we must address.

It is the first-line component of hopelessness that engenders self destructive behavior. This is because the trauma at birth, for example, when the newborn was heavily drugged was accompanied by the deep physiology of hopelessness. (of trying to get out; a matter of life-and death). So when all of the feelings of hopelessness throughout our lives are lined-up, we are in danger. One part may be feelable, but all together they are not. So we can feel hopeless at failing in school, but when that sits on top of hopelessness of ever being loved by a divorcing and departing parent, it becomes too much. Here we see the drive behind stalking, for example. Any more departing of a loved one cannot be tolerated. The current loss sets off the earlier one.


  1. Art, your objective approach to talking about feelings does, I suppose, have some great value, but for me I want to hear from others that have faced and felt this unutterable hopelessness. My experience of 'deep hopelessness' in 1st line was so desperate that I reached a point where I felt I was dying. It is to me a total sensation and without words or scene. It is not possible for me to feel this at any one time, but to go through layers and layers of the feeling; each of them different. It's like the dialectic is to permit myself to die in order to come alive, BUT permitting myself to die is perhaps the hardest thing I have ever faced. It is complicated at times to sort out the past from the present because if it is the present, then I will do everything in my power to prevent it.

    1. Jack, not sure if my comment was posted so I'm re-typing as we speak :)
      It all began with my sick father asking me to relocate him and live with him after he had a few minor strokes. My whole world came to a standstill - my father had always been distant and yet there was an incestuous underlying and sometimes overt surface that I had learned to ignore/deal with over the years. He became violent and when I realized that I really never had his love and never would - I had a major emotional breakdown. And then it was a snowball effect: I started having weekly panic attacks in the middle of my sleep, getting ill for days on end, I could no longer communicate with my OCD/Narcissistic mother, I lost my beloved pet rabbit (she was truly my guardian angel) to a terrible illness, my boyfriend of two years was uncertain about staying with me although he always said/showed how much he loved me, and then I got cancer along with SVC syndrome which is life-threatening. One thing that I treasure from all of this is that, as a true Warrior in life, this near-death 'cleansing' experience has forced me to re-assess my life purpose and lifestyle in general. I am now a Wellness Coach in the area of nutrition and disease-prevention and after Primal Therapy, I plan to have this therapy in addition to my coaching. Another critical juncture for me was cultivating utter unconditional self-love and acceptance, even acceptance of all those cancer cells. I read "Cancer is not a Disease" and the author spoke of certain holistic therapies, including laughter, completely reversing cancers of all kinds.... Your thoughts are greatly appreciated! ~Amy

  2. Art...How timely and appropriate for me is your topic. I can relate to the hormonal predicament as well as the hopelessnes that came with my depression 18 months ago. The depression side has gone and I have been free of it for the last 12 months and I am just left with the intense hormonal hot flushes. It seems to coincide with my current stresses. eg looking for a new job, mother with dementia for the last 4 years, etc etc. The depression I'd never had before but it really terrified me for a while that it would come back. I was hypersensitive to any medication so have approached it with undergoing various therapies eg RADIX therapy here in Australia. I know Primal therapy is where I want to go with my future healing. Thanks for your enlightenment on this...cheers from Theresa

  3. clearly inter-personal relationships are the context and cause of our pains. Feelings of hopelessness are often a reflection and indictment of these relationships. We are unloved, or projected upon or misunderstood or moved to fulfill the needs of the parent in the hope by fixing the parent we can finally be mirrored properly. I think a concept that you have brought up in your work Dr Janov is the idea of 'wholeness' - that pain and negative feelings respond to a loss of unity whereby the balance between self and other is thrown out so that it is the parent's needs that may come to over dominate or at least the subject's needs are so unmet that the integrity of the organism's sense of itself is lost. So only through re-contacting the pain do we reconnect to the self that has somehow been buried, dishonoured or disrespected by the key relationships it is embedded within (ie. family in most cases). For me it is the pain and hopelessness caused by inter-family relationships that far outweighs pre-natal injury for example. Though, I agree that pain is cumulative and early pains may may us less able to tolerate later pain leading more easily to depression or even mental illness.

  4. Will You are right but clearly you have never felt being stuck in the canal and losing oxygen and coming close to dying. That is also hopelessness. art janov

  5. Of course you are right, Jack, but what about all of us poor souls who are already damaged? Isn't it nice that there is something we can do about it? Sometimes even reverse what happened to us early on? We can do both; it is not one or the other. When most of us are into prevention then we no longer have to worry about treating us damaged ones. art janov

  6. Art, there is no-one more grateful for the chance to do this therapy than me and I have greatly benefited, however, my last point was hoping I could hear from others how they feel subjectively to get through their hopelessness. It is only on the grander scale of what can be done for human kind that I proffer the prevention notion. I am not aware that anyone is proffering a means to prevent neurosis. I would like to see both offered in tandem. It's akin to taking about obesity through overeating as a preventative measure at the same time treating those that are obese, best we can.

  7. Hi Dr. Janov,
    this topic of yours seems to cover very much the point of the (Primal) therapy where I am now.
    Some weeks ago I had a quarrel with a neighbor, a young guy which I responded to his "hello" without looking at him.
    He demanded that I looked at him while I said Hi, but I was quite tired from work and also I did not like him a lot,
    so I said Hi without looking at him, and we had this little quarrel.

    I kept thinking all evening about this fact, if it was my fault, if I had the right to behave like that etc.
    (I think a feeling was building up), then I went to bed.

    While I was kind of asleep, I had some kind of dream seeing myself going toward a dark mist and
    at the same time I recognized the pattern of descending inside by following a feeling. I cannot describe
    my sensations but what I can say and wrote on my journal is that, "it takes courage to watch death in the eye balls" and that, if I went all the way through that black "nothing", I would have come out been a totally different person.
    But I felt like I was going towards a very scary black emptiness with nothing around to hang on, that I was going towards my death.
    From what I learned in primal therapy I knew I had to let myself slip-follow-go towards that black fog but
    I was scared to feel totally alone whit no reason to live, and die. I haven't had the courage to go all the way, and I woken up.

    After a while I had this image of myself as a young bird falling off the nest, with a need to learn to fly and start living a new life.

    I don't want to go further whit this thing, I just would like to ask you if, when you are entrenched inside first line feelings (like the ones I described-
    "your guts are taking over"), whit out anybody around, can it happen that you actually die?
    I am thinking for example of Sudden Infant Death Sindrome.

    Thanks Gianni

  8. Art,

    Sorry if I’m missing something here but is recovering the first line and its attendant ‘hormonal alterations’ essential to overcoming Hopelessness? Can it be done with only (thorough) second and third line rehabilitation? From what you say here, it appears not. If it is indeed essential, can you give an estimate of the percentage of patients who successfully access and deal with first line stuff? I was given to believe that – at least in the past – first line access was by no means a given for those entering therapy.


  9. Gianni: In the thousands of people we have seen there has never been a death. My belief is that if you survived the first time you will survive the reliving. art janov

  10. Erron: Look I write books. You need to read them. It is all explained in Primal Healing and in the Biology of Love. If you relive the first prototype, a great deal will change because that is what made for disregulation in the first place. art janov

  11. Art,
    Have you ever noticed that when a feeling is felt, the "bad" component has a "good" counterpart, and it seems as though they are pulled toward eachother? It might be, that in order to reconnect a neurological curcuit that has been detached, we need to get the two corresponding circuits working together ("fire together wire together") and that would explain why we need to "relive" - in order to get the asociative disconnected net firing with its relevant counterpart. That would account for the remainder of the "bad" notion/memory - as the two get connected thereafter.

  12. Hi Will

    what if the intolerable deep feeling of inside harassement, that has no end (hoplesness), that one may attribute to a family situation is indeed the physical part of an earlier trauma, like the resulting loss of oxygen from being held by the umbilical cord around the neck or around the body ?

    Maybe the same person, without that 1srt line trauma would have go through the same family situation with more indifference because of the absence of the physical imprint ?

  13. Jack and Gianni, I know what you are both talking about. Art says "Hey, it's ok, no one has died..." but of course it's not so easy to say that to yourself when you are teetering on the edge of an unknown darkness, feeling like you are lost in oblivion. That is surely the most difficult part of therapy. Of course it is way beyond the feeling limits of a tiny baby. It is tempting for me to ask Art more questions about this, but I will bite my lip and continue reading Primal Healing in my spare time.

  14. De-regulation is a bloody understatement. I have personal experience with hopelessness myself. It brought me to suicidal thoughts, then to attempt it. When I did, I was confronted with just enough hopelessness to cry and sob it out.

    I knew Art was right about halfway through reading the Primal Scream. Up to that point, I had wondered what made me different. Why did these thoughts smash into my mind with the force of a runaway freight train? Why could I not block or override them? Why did the full force of it hit me at puberty (when the full force of never having a woman love me hit)?

    Feeling hopelessness is like eating an ice cream. Take it in manageable bites, or you end up with a splitting headache. For me the trick is trying to eat bite sized pieces, as opposed to stuffing the whole thing in my gob and choking on it...

    No one who has been there and felt it would understand, but trying to kill myself and being confronted with the feeling motivating me was the beginning of my release.

  15. Richard: I am very proud of my forthcoming Life Before Birth, so just hang on. art janov

  16. Delphi: We hook up the feeling with conscious-awareness. art janov

  17. Many babies DO get super-close to death. My mother's first two babies were born dead. Those babies were real people. Most people laugh at the idea of going back to birth and prenatal feelings - as if to suggest that we were a different creature back then. Or that we simply don't have the capacity to remember that far back in time.
    People who say this can often remember things from when they were four years old. Do you really think it's impossible to remember stuff only three and a half years before that? And what if the memory was about a life and death situation? That would be hard to forget wouldn't it? In fact, we spend every minute of our lives automatically ignoring memories like that - memories which contain feelings that were too big to feel at the time it all happened. Those memories will continue to send stressful alert signals throughout the body until the memories and feelings finally reach consciousness.
    Those of you who think it is science-fiction need only look at the number of people who show a lot of stress in the most mild situations. WHY?? And then look at the stories written by primal patients. Try to be open-minded about all of this, even if your first thoughts are "this is bullshit".
    If you are a good psychotherapist, you will make every effort to be open-minded.

  18. Art,

    Okay so you write books, as you’ve said before whenever you want to blow someone off. Pity you don’t always read what we post with the same comprehension and respect you expect us to oblige you with.

    Your reply answers none of the questions I asked, it simply repeats the premise that led to me asking them, namely “If you relive the first prototype, a great deal will change because that is what made for disregulation in the first place”. I know that, I do read books, and I have collected and read all yours.

    I mean, what’s the problem? Was my asking for an estimate of success with patients what got to you? If you continue to bang on about how important first line reliving is, and imply that it’s only possible through PT, is it not a valid query to ask how often you achieve success with this?


  19. Hi all,

    I guess everyone has an agenda. Mine is: find a way to leverage the current sway and interest in cognitive-based disciplines toward a primal focal point. Change direction profoundly through a series of turns, not by trying to apply the brakes and jamming into reverse. Swimming alongside the Queen Mary, we can't stop her, but we can nudge her to the left.

    Jack's agenda seems to be: forget about therapy and focus on education. Jack, I don't think there could be any such program, and I wonder why you think therapy is a poor investment. Let me explain further. As an organic gardener, I think everything in the garden is interrelated systems and you can't push on this without perturbing that, so to speak. Specifically, if you were to mount a huge educational program, two things would arise out of system dependencies. One is that learning to treat our children more humanely is also teaching us to treat each other and ourselves more humanely, and when that happens, feelings arise. What will we do with those? A program on enlightened child rearing becomes a magnet for adult therapy.

    The other system effect is that the education gets absorbed into a system (the neurotic adult) who thinks he/she perceives the lesson, but is only receiving what the neurotic filters will allow in. Therefore, temperance becomes cowardly indulgence and firm guidance becomes abuse and terror. And so on, but with a newly learned set of rationales that we can use to defend existing maladaptive behaviors. It's not a matter of ill intent, but a matter of partial blindness.

    These are two reasons why I just don't think you can have one and not the other. To move a large system out of its entrenched behavior, you need to apply pressure at multiple sites. That's why I think therapy will always be very important. Another reason: there must be a NOW, not just a future. Therapy is help now.

    What do you think?


  20. Dr. Janov,

    Above you say "reverse what happened to us early on". Is that what you mean? It can be confusing. There is the original trauma, and then there is my response to that. The trauma "happened" to me, and in a sense so did my adaptation. I would believe that some of the adaptation could be reversed, but as something once learned, I would not believe that it could ever be eradicated. As far as the trauma itself being "reversed", that sounds like time machine material. I know there are scientists who think that the right drugs introduced into the right brain parts (no "right brain" pun intended) at the right time, can erase unpleasant memory. Your claim sounds a little bit like that, but I think you would not intend an interpretation like that. Is this correct?


  21. Art,
    I know that the knowledge of primal therapy is sufficient… nobody could miss the content at a consultation. Cognitive methods have only symptomatic changes as result while primal therapy has physiological proof ... how should it be with a legal process at the matter?

  22. Richard. Very well said. art janov

  23. Erron: When people stay and see it through we are very successful. But don't forget it is not just successful by what patients say; it is because we make serious changes in the brain and physiology. That is what is missing in other therapies. art

  24. Art
    Our understanding of the physiological process and lack of psychological connections is the real issue of psychological knowledge and should be sufficient for a legal process ... a process that not least would get the attention Primal Therapy deserve. A report on the content during this process would have… by my opinion a revolutionary effect. I have been present around the primal therapy since the mid seventies ... I ask people today about their knowledge, the answer is frighteningly low. Something to think about?

  25. Dr. Janov: I have to know what you think of this. It's been nagging at me all week. For the first time in my life I woke up crying. I had a dream in which my mother was yelling at me and I jumped up and shoved her. I didn't really think about it; I just did it. It was kind of reflexive. Afterward I got panicky and started trying to apologise. But not because I was sorry for shoving her but it was more like I was apologising to myself for losing control. (I usually don't say/do anything--I hide my pain/anger behind a stone face.) In the dream I tried to regain control but couldn't and I started crying and woke up crying. What's your take on this?

  26. Art,

    With all due respect, people have to do more than "stay and see it through". They have to attend whatever primal organization your are running at the moment, even if they had their therapy in 1970. It seems like it's all good going forward (at the Primal Center) and all crap before that. But you were saying the same thing back then, too! I'm not a dummy, Art. I can see the pattern in that. Primal not working? More Primal, but at the Primal Center now. You have a tough question? Buy and read all my books. Oh boy.

    The problem is that Primal Therapy a la Janov is like the ultimate violin that can be played only by one person, and since there can be no observers, we have to take that violinist's word for how good the music is. Don't you see that? And don't you see how it is fatal for what you have invented? Do you care?

    Post this if you like; I realize it's not very friendly. I don't dislike you, just the opposite. But your ways frustrate the heck out of me.

    Maybe you're not really Arthur Janov but somebody paid to attend the website? With this technology, anything's possible.


  27. Walden: No. when you relive there is a chance of reregulating what got deregulated at the beginning. Some of our hypo and hyperthyroids have found this as well as natural killer cells and cortisol, etc. So we reverse the effects by going back into the memory FULLY! with every deviation again present during the primal. We see enormous high blood pressure during a primal which then dives below base line permanently. art

  28. Frank: I have thought about suing the APA to get them to prove their methods but I thought better of it. But it is not a stupid idea. art

  29. anonymous4: My take is that you are now close to your feelings which means that you have a choice; feel them or suppress them. Not much else to do. It is all a good sign. art janov

  30. Walden: I really am who I am and if you had read Primal Healing you would see that we have done many esearches with outside nonprimal people. The truth is that we are far far advanced over what we used to be. art janov

  31. About the suicidal thoughts in the article :

    It make me think about Art janov writing in a book that in general, what drive us crazy is not feelings themself but the way we try to escape to them.

    One who has suicidal thought usually enter into a conlictual racing thinking that in fact is due to the conflict between the rising feeling (I want kill myself) and his "moral" culture or education (it's not good to kill yourself, what about the pain it's gone cause to you family, you can not do that, etc.).

    Once in that situation of thinking about killing myself, not knowing why but i could later relate it to hoplesness, I told myself "it's ok, you can kill yourself if you want", that did stop the racing mind conflict and gave me relief and tears. I DO NOT PROMOTE SUICIDE by saying that.

    About why some peoples commit suicide, Art wrote in a comment to a previous post that he once had a therapist in his team who believed that suicide is a way for nature to get rid of the damaged or weakest of us, as a natural selection. As does Art, I don't agree with that. Who is she, nature, by the way ?

    I think that in an search for osmose from the what we are, we act unconsciously in a way that create a reality that match with our unconscious feelings. One may have a masochistic behavior to match with a feeling of being molested as a child on the rise but not connected. one may stay alone to match with a feeling of being left alone as a child, one may end relations with his mother to match with the 'I have no mom' feeling of a child. One may commit suicide to create a reality (being dead) that match with the being dead feeling coming up from the birth experience and not just to stop the pain as commonly accepted.

    As a child, I had daydreams about my family and friends and people attending to my funeral. I had this daydream back once recently, in a time after I had experienced part of the hoplesness feeling. I did realise that my mind was in fact creating a scene where I'm dead that match with the feeling
    "I'm dead" that had not been fully connected when experiencing hopleness.

  32. Dr. Janov: thank you for responding. But I still can't seem to feel fully, even though my feelings are close to the surface and my defenses are weak overall. I end up screaming and crying sometimes when I can't hold it in any longer, but it's not the hopeless cries and deep screams from within that it must take to free me from the pain. It's simply relief. I liken it to an example you gave in the Primal Scream where the patient pounds the pillow. She feels better afterward but the pain soon returns because all she did was drain off excess tension. So I want to know how to fully feel. Do you think it will take PT to do that?

  33. My agenda Walden, Is that those that can afford it and have access to it, Primal Therapy is cheap at the price and I, for one, am forever grateful that I was able to do this therapy. However, even for the many that would have loved to have done Primal Therapy, most could not afford it and even some that could had no means to access it. Since Art in "The Primal Scream" laid out succinctly, Primal Theory, I wanted to promote the IMPLICATIONS of that theory. If Primal Theory is correct (and I know from within it is) then first we have a totally new model to look into mental illness and neurosis. and second, from that model we can see a way to "prevent" neurosis in future generations.

    Let me offer the parallel in the area of science and astronomy. Mankind had been pondering the heavens and attempting to make sense of it for millennium, but until Copernicus (or thereabouts) no-one had offered a theoretical model to explain it. It took some more years before Galileo was able to refine that model and though the authorities of the time denied it (seemingly it was a threat to their own explanations; Genesis and God) it did eventually become almost universally accepted (There are still some flat earth believers and quite a few that subscribe to the absolutism of Genesis). Revolutionary ideas do take a while to get accepted. Primal Theory is one such (revolutionary) idea. Since Primal Therapy is subsumed on the premise of Primal Theory and since the practice of Primal Therapy (in the world at large) is fractionating into several schools and many more practitioners (as did the findings of Freud), arguments for this or that practitioner seem, to me, futile in the broader cognitive awareness of the theory. Further, since delineating the theory into seven short pages (as I have done in my book) and proposing in five pages at the end of the book, how even neurotic parents, who want and love their children 'might' lessen the pain of the next generation, is my prognosis for promoting prevention. As Art stated; it is not a case of 'either or', but that independent of therapy and it's practices we could make a concerted effort to prevent some (specially womb and early childhood damage) to 'the children of tomorrow'.

    I sure do feel like Galileo.

  34. anonymous4: Yes, otherwise you are working inside your defense system. You can certainly get help at the primal center. good luck art janov

  35. Delphi:

    It makes sense to me hat a primal would in part feel good, not just bad. If a primal is therapeutic and likewise good for you, then your system should indicate this on some level with some kind of 'reward'.

    Art has often commented on "how it feels good to feel" in a primal. Again, it makes sense.

  36. Dr. Janov: I'd be there now if I wasn't broke. Can you tell me more about the financial aid you offer?

  37. anonymous4: Check with my office. tel. 310 3922003 AJ

  38. I have just started reading your site although I have read the New Primal Scream. I read on your site that your weregiving medication to depressives and was really horrified by this. Did I mis-read this?

    I live in London and was wondering if you knew of anywhere that carried out genuine primal therapy as you practice it. I went to the London group but they have changed how they practice it and it is no longer in alignment with how you practice. I also go to France a lot and was wondering if you had a centre there.

  39. Nicola. As with all pretenders to doing primal therapy there is finally a degeneration into some kind of false therapy. It is your life so why not do it right and come to Santa Monica. We cannot recommend anyone in Europe. good luck. 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.