Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Want to be closer to others? Get closer to yourself

When someone’s entire being is permeated with the sense that "no one wants me," to the degree that he needs drugs to kill the pain, this is not just an idea we have to change; it is an organic part of that person. Ideas are not something we produce willy-nilly. We don’t just have differences in opinion; we have differences in total personality, which gives rise to opinions. Likewise, when a person’s “default” mode is to give up in the face of obstacles, he is responding to the sensation deep in his brain of “What’s the use of trying.” Because it lies so deep, it has a profound impact. The words to describe his state are a late evolutionary development. They are not to be confused with the biologic state; the physiology of defeat.

In the hierarchy of valence or strength, words are the weakest when compared to the force of these first-line non-verbal imprints. We must not believe that if we treat the patient with words, changing the labels, we can make a profound difference. We can plaster on new (false) ideas to old feelings, but the feeling changes not at all. All that happens in this case is that the further suppression of the real feeling creates more stress on the system. Imprints are not conquerable nor to be convinced. We may be able to convince someone out of her ideas, but never out of her physiology. Our job is to align the ideas with the feeling. I should say it is the patient’s job because her feelings when felt will do it all by itself.
No patient sitting up in a chair in a comfortable office can feel the kind of terror he can only feel in a darkened, padded room. Yet this sitting-up framework prevents the cognitive therapists from taking patients back in history. First, their theory does not account for it, and secondly, the very office set-up prevents it. The organization of an office follows from the theory. It is all designed to keep the focus in the present—often on the words of the therapist. Sadly, one of the greatest dangers we face is from our past and ourselves, a memory informing us that we are not loved by our parents, that we never will be, and that all is hopeless. This forces us into all sorts of behaviors to avoid feeling hopeless. The problems we have may be between people, but the solution is within. The closer one is to oneself, the closer one can be to others.


  1. you couldn't describe me better

  2. "We can plaster on new (false) ideas to old feelings, but the feeling changes not at all. All that happens in this case is that the further suppression of the real feeling creates more stress on the system."

    Got to be careful with words like that. Mock therapists believe that a weakened defense system means less suppression, which means less stress on the system.
    But what we might have is a person who finds it harder to defend, but indeed continues to defend. This means suffering. It doesn't mean less stress on the system.

    The intelligence behind Primal Therapy is the scientific process of bypassing the defenses so we can get down to the source of the pain so that we can resolve it. Then we will lose the need for defenses. Much better than trying to weaken them from the outside.

  3. Wow Art,for a long time I have felt that (my) opinions are driven by our/my subconscious and not as we believe; something thought through. It's all set-in (cement) in those formative years, though we argue differently and presume rational reasoning--because we are disconnected. Being connected to my past shows me that I opine from that experience. I wish to state it, but am more reluctant than ever to argue it.

  4. Hi everyone,

    A friend of mine at work was complaining to me about her boyfriend the other day (er, she does this a lot). He always works hard to entertain her and do things for her, but she doesn't really like it...because she just wants *him* as a person, not "the monkey show" he provides.

    I would confidently guess that her boyfriend was rejected for who he was by his parents, and now he does not feel good enough for his girlfriend - nor anyone, no doubt. I would say he could never have a "real" relationship until he confronts himself, and basically kicks his parents out of his feelings.

    I think this is an example of what you are going about, Dr Janov. We just can't get close to others because we can't get close to ourselves. Once you are rejected by your parents you ARE and WILL BE the rejected child...no matter how much "love" you obtain for everything that you may defensively do or associate yourself with, that, on a core level, is still basically removed from yourself.

    I would guess that the more we identify ourselves with our "monkey shows", the more unconscious of our rejected reality we become. Probably spending the rest of our lives having relationships without ever being able to know what a 'real' relationship even is. Especially if our partners (like our parents) only want to see the monkey show too.

  5. Richard: The intelligence behind Primal Therapy is the scientific process of bypassing the defenses so we can get down to the source of the pain so that we can resolve it. Then we will lose the need for defenses. Much better than trying to weaken them from the outside.

  6. Wow, that was great. These astute observations reminded me of why I regularly read Dr Janov and have all of his books (except one).And what implications, if all this is true, as it seems to be!

    One last thing: I see , Dr Janov, that you finished writing this at 3:02 am. Are you a night-owl like me, or did you just a get a flash of insight while temporarily awakening and just had to write it down?!


  7. Art, I know this blog is intended for everyone - not just one person's selfish agenda...but please let me advertise my album here. This will be the only time, I promise.

    Attention everyone:
    If you would like to help me get primal therapy, there is a very effective way you can help. Check out my music: Land of the Hogganort.
    Show the youtube video to all your friends! (even if you think it sucks)

    It's very difficult to get initial exposure on the internet, but when enough people are reached, a chain reaction occurs, and then it would be quite possible for me to earn enough from downloads (as many independent artists do). Just got to get past the initial hump.

    Thank you very much!

  8. What does this mean for people not in therapy? Is there any point trying to be more real, or should we just give up and accept our limitations?
    Duncan Hackett
    South Australia

  9. I never stop writing until I am done no matter what time it is. Work never ever gets me tired. art janov

  10. Duncan. It is not so much about how to fix it as indicating and understanding why we do not get close to others. I would love to hear others input. art janov

  11. When we taken the "role" as an adults ... it is hard to get back for what there was ... because we left it unconsciously ... something we could not accept… and that was all we had. How can we ask ourselves anything when what we ask is what we unconsciously opted out ... we can find our way back if the legitimacy of the pain it contains are accepted ... that can no cognitive approach ever achieve.

  12. Art

    About getting close to others...in words one can say "if you do not love yourself… you cannot love others"... and how do we know that? We dont... not until we know what it would feel like… that is painfully buried in something rather then to be loved. As long as we struggle with attempts to be loved we are lost in our efforts ... that we don’t know.


  13. Frank: You cannot love yourself. And loved people do not feel loved, they just feel themselves, who they are. They do not know pain so there is no reason to love themselves. They just exist; very well. AJ

  14. Art, your comment to Frank is the sanest thing I have ever heard. I like listening to sanity. I look forward to meeting sane people in LA

  15. Art,

    When you speak like that [your reply to Frank] people feel a coldness. So they don't want to believe you.

    What they don't realise is that that coldness is only their childhood reality, that they are still emotionally stuck in.

    And for sure: The preoccupation with 'self love' is defensive - a way of pushing out (er, repressing down) the coldness in us.

  16. Cognitive therapists tell us that their therapy "opens up new pathways in the brain" as evidenced by fMRI scans (Beck et al 2009). Presumably the more profound changes brought about by primal therapy would also show up on an fMRI scan. Has this been tried? It might give the critics who dismiss primals as "mere confabulations" pause for thought.

  17. An interesting video by Ramachandran, about neural circuit disconnection:

  18. Art

    This ends up to… to feel for someone is a physiologic need… while love explains psychological analyses of a physiological reaction. That means we all are driven by symptomatic psychological needs of physiological causes.


  19. About getting close to others...in words one can say "if you do not feel about yourself… you cannot feel for others"... and how do we know that? We don’t... not until we know what it would feel like… that is painfully buried in something rather than to be felt. As long as we struggle with attempts to feel we are lost in our efforts ... that we don’t know.


  20. I have a different reaction to Art's "you cannot love yourself..." comments. To me, it's counter-revolutionary rhetoric, contrived to sound like something other than status quo, and also contrived to be non-falsifiable, as in elusive of any scientific scrutiny.

    You can warm yourself when you are cold. When you do, you will feel warm. And so on with all the human needs. Why would love be any different? And no one lives without knowledge of at least some pain; it's just not possible.

    Duncan asked a practical question and presumably wanted a practical answer, but didn't get it. So here goes, Duncan. Yes, when you discover albeit through intellect that you are living a distorted pattern, then use your free will to change that to the best of your ability. What's nice about this is that if you are also opening up to feeling what's inside of you, changing those patterns intentionally will leave you in a place where the feeling may be accessible. Then you can use that opportunity to learn a bit better how you are feeling, and the process, if followed, will leave you continually more able to know yourself. This is the gradual unfolding that primal therapy always should have been.


  21. Duncan:

    Just pointing out that MRI scans that show changes in the brain do not, in themselves, mean resolution or even progress. The changes observed may still only be changes on the 'manifestation' level.

    As I see it - if you're not breaking down the neurotic system then you're not breaking it down. You are probably only redirecting it, for better or worse.

  22. Richard: I will try to keep my sanity til y ou get here AJ

  23. Duncan: We have done 4 different brainwave studies on our patients and have found significant changes. Look up my Primal Healing for a discussion of all that. art janov

  24. Walden: If only there were the free will you mention. Over 59 years of therapy I see how little free will we have; we are all so programmed by our past and held in its tentacles firmly. art janov

  25. Walden: I think that "changing patterns" just equates to (trying to) undermining our defence system. I would bet that if you tried to do that by force of will, then your brain would only 'invent' other patterns and likewise leave the act-outs to operate on other levels, and on maybe not-so-obvious levels (we can't stop the fundamental drive to act-out by force of will!).

    We can always fool ourselves into thinking we're better with the evolution of a more subtle defence system.

    Art: I think there is an ultimate free will, at least of a kind. The guy who knows his fear of flying is irrational can still force himself onto the plane by shear force of will. On this level at least we have 'free will'.

    But ultimately, everything we do is dictated by an emotional priority - a realistic fear or enthusiasm for consequences (of our actions) will still only translate to an emotional priority in itself i.e. we still only actualise "free will" when we have the *emotional drive* to do so. So feelings do ultimately rule - and that, I suppose, is our programming.

  26. Art: A short question to a former article of yours: I'm just translating "Life before birth" of November 22, 2008 and would like to publish it on my website and also offer it to a German 'web colleague' who is interested in primal psychotherapy and primal research. Is that okay?

  27. Art,

    The point is that we do have *some* free will, and the point is also not to defer the use of that until after we have been "cleaned out" by primal therapy, or some other condition that may never arrive. Carpe dium, in other words.

    I appreciate what you are saying: that there can be so little of that free will. All the more reason to use every last drop of it. Moreover, don't get hung up on exactly how "free" it is. It's only important to be moving in the right direction. And how do we know when we are?


  28. Thanks Walden I appreciate that comment, It is depressing to think we have no capacity within us to change. I would have thought that the person themself should be able to recognise something as a defence against feeling. You can't just take a therapists word for it. You need to test it out. I respect Arthur's opinion and experience but I have to admit he scares me sometimes.

  29. Duncan: What scares you exactly? AJ

  30. Ferdinand: Of course it is OK. AJ

  31. "It's only important to be moving in the right direction. And how do we know when we are?"

    That is the biggest question ever to be asked by mankind. Well done Walden. We may well be reading that question in electronic books a thousand years from now. And it will remain unanswered because there is no answer.

    When we lose too much of our feelings, we lose our ability to know.

    For those of us who cannot know, I think the best thing to do is take a calculated risk. Why? Because evidence shows us there is no risk (when we avoid mock therapy), and there is so much to gain. That is an unfeeling point of view, but a most logical one. Mr. Spock would say "do it".

  32. Alexander Lowen has an interesting take on will power isuue that some others (above) have brought up. He writes that in a normal person the use of excessive will is used in an emergency only (like runnin away from a thug), and then relaxed when the emergency has passed .But a neurotic is more or less always using his will in an excessive conscious or unconscious way because he is ALWAYS in a mode of unconscious emergency. As the neurotic becomes normal , his excessive willfullness decreases, and he becomes , for lack of a better word, more ..flowing. Lowen also calls this flowingness , "self-possession"; that is to say, that the normal neither under- nor over-reacts to any situation. He possesses himself : he does not lose control or over control. In a situation ,for example,calling for anger, she neither acts hysterically and out of conscious control, nor under-reacts with no anger at all; she expresses the anger at the appropriate moment using her normal will to wait for the right time. She is self-possessed.

    All nice in theory, hard to attain in practice, at least for me!


  33. Andrew,

    What you say is true to some extent, both in and out of therapy. So if I'm feeling as a result of changing a pattern, even in some small way, then I'm getting that closeness to myself that this week's blog is about.

    Andrew, your perspective on "changing patterns" strikes me as odd. I would say it is about improving my life as I live it; you would say it is about undermining defenses. There is a phenomenon among primal people I don't know if you are aware of. In the beginning, they feel they have to frame everything in terms of Primal Theory. It wears off after a while, fortunately. In the meantime, that "primal framing" is exactly the kind of re-formulated defense that I think you're talking about.

    It's always fun to end on irony. ;-)


  34. Duncan, thank you so much for the kind words. I couldn't agree more about patient experience, and at the same time I think it's important to recognize this area as impossible to get right every time. It's at the essence of living in that sense. There are times when the therapist seems utterly wrong and you seem utterly right, and you have to go with that. Later you may find out that it wasn't that way at all! The inverse can also happen, and is worse. But whenever you follow someone else's heart, you are on the wrong track. I'd estimate hundreds or thousands of people fake primal stuff because they are confused on this point. The good news is that if the process is pointed in the right direction, the errors will always become evident in time. The system heals at more than one level, it seems.


  35. Walden: It never wore off with me. It is simple; if you have access to your feeling self, the right brain and lower brain centers then you are feeling. You can feel yourself and also others. You can sense what they feel, the nuance and subtleties. If you cannot feel you cannot relate to any meaningful way. art janov

  36. Hi Walden,

    It's true that I relate primal theory to the 'real world'. This is why I have so much faith and respect in it i.e. it FITS!

    Not only does primal theory make excellent sense internally, as a ratonal and believable psychological system, it can be successfully applied to real world observations - including my personal (introspective) observations.

    There's a lot that I can't know as a non "primal person", but there is a lot that I can know through careful observation as a neurotic living in a neurotic world.

  37. Walden,
    I just want to make a post about your comment "There's a lot That I cannot know as a non" primal person". I live close to a person who doing very well in her progress of doing primal therapy… she often comments "Frank it’s like I feel with all of my body" what that provides for her… I can only imagine… but her comment makes me realize that there is something completely different ... other than what she is accustomed... she is in the process discover something ... something she through her joy ... peace and silence exudes. Of cause she have been shooing a lot of pain also… but even that in a way she shows that she knows what happening.It is satisfying to be near her.

  38. Frank,

    That was Andrew, not me. But your point is that there is a lot that one can know second hand? It makes sense. What else makes sense is that each of us (most of us, that is) has some ability to feel and connect to what is real to us in that moment. Just being as truthful as we can. There is no external judgment that comes into play, no "primalling for daddy" as it were. And there is no reason for anyone to hold those experiences at bay for any reason if they know of the possibility and can recognize the opportunity. Every single experience is valid, as long as you are truthful. You already own the rights to yourself.


  39. Walden: The point about no external judgment. That means the therapist is not there to judge you as the cognitivists would have it. They help you get more wholesome ideas and behavior. But the patient can do no wrong when it is always his reality; when he is not feeling for anyone else but himself. art janov

  40. Hey in the next week or two I will be weighing in on science. art janov

  41. Art,

    I don't hear the judgment in "helping you get more wholesome...". I think a parallel point could be made about primal therapists "helping you get more access...". But I wouldn't make either of those points, because they don't seem constructive.

    So what does seem constructive. It's back to Duncan's question. We can do a lot for ourselves even outside of a formal therapy setting. We can use the smarts we have to make our lives better, even if it is without deep feeling. We can use what we know about pain and repression and symbolic struggle to convert certain moments in our lives to feeling experiences, and those are examples of "going in the right direction." We don't need permission, and we don't need to wait to do it exactly right at the Primal Center or not at all.

    That last part maybe sounds like I'm trying to steal your business. I can only say that personal health belongs in the hands of the population, and if your "medicine" is valid, it will find its niche, even in a well-empowered and actively healing population.

    So Peace and Prosperity to you, Art Janov, and please post this message for your readers to see.


  42. Walden: anybody want to answer? AJ

  43. I will attempt to answer the question Art asked in response to Walden. No-one has a monopoly on feelings. No-one either has a monopoly on encouraging others, or themselves, to have a full-feeling experiences. However, some are better than others. Feelings are what (for the most part) we were born with. Neurosis, the blocking off of feelings, was a learned experience picked up later in life. Getting back to feeling-full-ness is very tricky cos from the perspective of 'defending', 'acting-out' 'neurosis', there is no awareness of what we are missing. There is a a sense 'in the back of our minds' that there is something amiss and religion, politics and philosophy has been mired in trying to figure this out for millennium. (without success IMO). Once one has had a full-feeling experience (primal) and integrated it there is not doubt in the mind of that person what it felt like when we were relatively feeling beings and the knowledge of that will remain embedded for the rest of our life. However, Primals (as Art designated them) are actually not new. I contend many over the millennium, many have had partial feeling experiences, but sadly, came rushing out of them with an immediate explanation. IMO some these of people are Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohamed, Copernicus, Galileo, Joseph Smith, Archimedes, Pythagoras, Newton, Einstein & Max Planck. Had these guys had a full feeling experience, their conclusions would have been very different. Who knows, Primal Therapy might have been devised centuries ago.

    If society was organized differently, I contend, that would facilitate matters towards becoming a more feeling species. IMO the abolition of money which would obviate the necessity of law and government. Competition which would obviate sport and that competitive type entertainments and would promote co-operation and abolish the need for war. Education (teaching as opposed to learning) which would permit each one of us to be precisely who, and what we are, instead of someone else idea of what we ought, or need, to be. Religion, which would obviate the necessity of someone else telling us how to live and think and what is righteous and what is wrongteous.

    If only we were able to listen to others especially children and yes babies, we would see that we each have different feelings about different things and there is no right or wrong way to do anything. If each of us could be encouraged to express our feelings with the caveat that we do not hurt other people or creatures and that we do not destroy property, I feel we would be well on the way to a more feeling-full (better quality) life.

  44. Hey Jack. blocking feelings is not a learned experience. It is an automatic in-built response to block too much pain. It goes on in our womb-life. Still,a good letter. art janov

  45. Hi Jack and Art,

    I agree, a good letter. Jack, you said "there is no awareness of what we are missing". True, there is no global awareness of that, but there are moments in life when there are little windows into that awareness. They tend to be poignant moments, if they occur at all. It is highly individual, I suppose.

    I had a near primal at around the age of twelve. My parents were not home and my sister was teasing and tormenting me as usual. In rage, nearly beat the bathroom door down with my fists (a behavior parents would have prevented), and then my anger shifted into sadness, as I dragged myself upstairs to bed, where I sobbed for I don't know how long. When my sister poked her head in to ask if I was alright, I just calmly and politely asked her to leave me alone. Do you remember the Beach Boys song "Wendy what went wrong"? It was going through my head in a loop, and is still a gateway into that experience for me.

    I don't have any misgivings about being "cured" by that one experience. All told, I think I was better off having had it. I knew nothing of Primal at the time. I don't think I'm unique in respect to experiences like this...

    Several years ago I was reading books on consulting skills and encountered a phrase and concept that stuck with me. "Conventional inertia." It means that things will stay the way they are, even if they no longer need to. It also means that in all systems there is a certain margin in which change is easy, almost free. Some people like to call this "low hanging fruit." It is my thesis that neurosis is one of those systems, and Dr. Janov, by writing the books he has, has given us the knowledge we need to harvest what is available already. Until that's harvested, the next crop will not be available. And it may never be available, for that matter. Still, if you can pick an apple, why wouldn't you?

    The word "integration" is used a lot in the primal context. I think integration, as a concept, is inseparably lined to the notion of continuum. As long as experience is continuous with past experience, we can integrate it. When it isn't, we can't. Therapies of discontinuity are not good therapies. I think Primal started out as one of those, but has evolved into something in which continuity is highly valued and protected. "Re-birthing" would be an example of discontinuous "therapy". Because continuity also means safety, there is no risk for normal people stopping to notice a little more of what their body is feeling, and this habit, if instilled, may become indistinguishable from therapy in all ways.

    There are other things we can do for ourselves, too, like diet, exercise and washing of hands.


  46. Walden: good point about continuity. Having internal access means continuity. art janov

  47. Art,

    Thank you. I think another angle on continuity is that we need to feel the small hurts first. You've said that many times, but still many don't get it. I heard from one of your therapists that there are patients who will sometimes take months of therapy just to get to the place where they can shed a tear or two. The work they are doing along the way may not look like much to us, but it is part of an indispensable continuum and cannot be skipped. Skipping leaves holes in our consciousness like swiss cheese. Just the fact that someone can access an early memory does not mean that their consciousness is knitting carefully together as it should be. Do you know who Paul Vereshack is?


  48. Walden: I read something of his but have now forgotten art janov

  49. Art

    Have you ever heard of a Paul Vereshack, a primal oriented therapist from Canada who has complimented you in his book? I read somewhere you had heard of him and his compliments but I would maybe distance myself from him because in his book Part 1, Dr. Vereshack is a legal defendant on trial. Consider the following: "I ask her to let her fingers do as they wish. Slowly, over several sessions, she undoes the buttons and, even more slowly over many more sessions, places her lips against my nipple and begins to suck. She suckles at my breast, lying beside me with my shirt removed, for three years, her hands kneading and squeezing my arms and back." Vereshack adds that later "she asks me if I will lie on top of her in a sexual position." Still later: "After three years of suckling, she developed a compulsion to fondle my penis . . . Once again I decided to let her go ahead and do what she needed to do. In feeling my penis, and in this case feeling it respond to her touch through my clothing . . ."

    Vereshack's defense? This case demonstrates the principles of "regressive therapy," the way to complete the unfinished traumas of childhood via the "search for congruence" and "body necessity." The suckling was a "corrective learning experience." The sexual positioning helped the patient realize that she had been trying to expel her mother from her body. And the fondling of Vereshack's penis helped her to recall alleged sexual abuse by her father. This patient never cried, screamed or raged once in all her years of "therapy," yet reportedly was healed. She was not among those pressing charges, but instead came to his legal defense.

    What do you think of this theraputic approach Art?

    1. George: It should be obvious what I think. He should be in jail. This is sexual abuse masquerading as therapy. I never heard of him and I don't know what you mean by compliments. All this in the name of primal. 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.