Monday, November 15, 2010

On the Loss of Freedom

The hallmark of neurosis for me is the loss of freedom; and the impossibility of gaining it back. Because unfulfilled need makes us obsessive and compulsive and deprives us of choice. So we have to drink, take drugs, work so hard, eat so much, unable to rest; you fill in the blanks. We have reduced our choices and narrowed our perspective. We lead more superficial, narrow lives; lives bereft of feeling because feeling has been buried along with our basic need.

We keep having broken relationships, brief rapports, truncated love affairs because we started out in life like that; inconsistent love, sporadic affection, parents leaving. We are prisoners of these patterns because we have no idea as to the why of it all. We are on automation; acting out unthinkingly a continuous, repetitive behavior that we utterly cannot control. It controls us. And what is “it?” Need, deprived need that keeps in the unceasing quest for fulfillment. Always symbolic since it is far too late for love from “them.” So we get it from professors, bosses, partners, foremen, wives, husbands, friends. But we never get it and the task goes on ad nauseum. We never get it because the critical window is closed; it is over, done with, finished. Getting that love is no longer possible; the love as that little baby. That is why some women want sex all of the time. They need to be touched like that baby. It was why some of us seek approval over and over to try to get that tyrannical judgmental parent to see the good in us, and above all to say a simple but evasive sentence; “you are really good.” That simple sentence might avoid a lifetime of seeking approval; but ah no! We first get involved with those very critical people and then try to make them approving. Otherwise it would be too easy. We as neurotics never go straight for love. We take the parental route, circuitous; we re-create our childhood again and then try for love. Ay ay ay. We are prisoners of pain. We create our prison and then spend a lifetime getting out of it. We travel the world over trying to find the real home we never had. We idealize the women we meet and do not see who they really are until reality sets in slowly over much time. Another divorce; locked into divorce and broken relationships. If only we had access to our feelings we could get involved with decent, normal, non-neurotic people and be able to stay and grow old together. We could give our partners love and be able to feel their love. Usually, it is the opposite; we don’t want real love, we want a mother or a father, someone to take care of us, indulge us and give into our whims. When there is no old imprinted need we can stop acting out the past, trying to get something from our history and accept the love that may be there now. If we are totally narcissistic we may want total approval, total indulgence and total acceding to our wishes. That is not always easy to find but the one who is totally into herself or himself never stops trying. And they discard what little love there is for them. They look past love to the struggle, the struggle to get more and more of what no longer exists.


  1. It makes sense that the neurotic does not feel love (from others) - but only the hope that they will eventually get it. Because feeling love = feeling the need for it = feeling the pain of not having it when you really needed it as a child.

    We are only "happy" when we think we will (one day) be happy. We live like donkeys who believe they will actually get that carrot.

    ...And people don't want to believe this because they want to just keep on believing in the carrot; and they need to keep on believing in the carrot for the sake of their defence system.

  2. "If only we had access to our feelings we could get involved with decent, normal, non-neurotic people and be able to stay and grow old together."

    You're dreaming. I bet less than one percent of the world is non-neurotic. I don't know anyone who lives a non-neurotic life. If I find a nice-ish girl I will try to drag her into the Primal Center...or maybe she is already there.

  3. Art: Somewhat off point; there is an article in today's LA Times, Health "E" section, p 4 titled "Pop psychology fads: Where are they now?" Primal Therapy is discussed along with "EST", "Transcendental Meditation" and "Lucid Dreaming." What, to me, is so "off" in this report on PT is their claim that your 'scientific foundation' is questionable, without once mentioning Primal Theory. They instead attack your scientific back-up of your therapeutic practice.

    This article, by my way of thinking, is an attempt to make PT a "Fad" but ignore the very basic concept of first Neurosis (Freud's hypothesis) then it's definition, by you. I will write a letter to The Times about this article, but suspect it will not get published.

    On this posting: Yes, it's neurosis that is the problem. How do we get beyond that? My feeling is to promote Primal Theory and to ask the health-care professionals to look into it and either invalidate it or, see it's validity ... for the sake of useful science. No-one, to the best of my knowledge, has been able to invalidate Primal Theory. Promoting scientific validation of the practice of Primal Therapy will always be contentious. It's got first IMO to promote Primal Theory, also no-one since Freud has suggested a psychological theory until The Primal Scream and no-one thereafter. Jack

  4. Well, my contention is that most prefer to be lied to and never get at the truth. To me, truth is an honest search into what is really going on and how to solve it. To me, that means taking an objective look at the problems and their real solutions.

    so then we get off the going no where merry go round and stop running and hiding from the truth. Start recognizing our choices make no sense or progress.

    that is how you often end up recognizing PT. It gets to the real heart of the matter. From there, you realize that feelings are sabotaging your efforts.

    But the main problem with PT is that it is not always easy to fall into feelings. It often takes help. Help takes money and circumstances. It is not likely something that can be done on your own, as many things can be.

    Feelings are more elusive and take help to get into. But I maintain like a fanatic, the the intellect is important in overthrowing the internal saboteur. The intellect has to recognize that the feelings are the problem to get at, and then one can pursue the feelings, albeit, with help.

    but here on this forum, I get the impression that intellect is seen as enemy number 1 to be despised and hated above all but God, another four letter word. Jack Waddington, well meaning, I have no doubt, seems to suggest to me that the intellect is nearly useless. I am afraid I do not get that.

    Arthur, where do you stand on Jack's theory?

    I think too many have confused intellect because they think intellect is simply a victim of the feeling core, 1st/2nd levels. It can be but does not have to be, either. A knife is great for cutting steak but not so good if used to kill people. the knife is not good or bad except by how you use it.

    So it would be with the intellect. Feelings are great to relive, integrate, and learn from but first you have to discover that they are the saboteur that hinders pure intellectual analysist that can recognize Pt to begin with. So says I, anyway.

  5. Art,

    You are so right Sir! But at least I can enjoy reading your reflections and feel the satisfaction to know why I hurt! I suppose it is as far as I can get at my age! During many years in my carrer my insights were a tremendous tool to survive, not without pain though, in a neurotic world... Jan

  6. ...” Usually, it is the opposite; we don’t want real love, we want a mother or a father, someone to take care of us, indulge us and give into our whims...”
    The problem is that we do NOT know what the real love is. We are used to exchange love with suffering (as children we hear that parents love us but make as suffer and such kind of love we are use to call real deep love) . All songs, poems, films, books telling about love stories describe love as suffering and more you suffer they tell you that the LOVE was/is DEEPER. Old myths are strong in the society and such messages from songs, books, films.... continue to confirm again and again and again .. that REAL love must make us suffer.
    I hate old myths !-:))

  7. Jack: did you write to them? it would be a good idea. Actually I would hope that a number of people would write to them so they would finally run an article by me. art

  8. Richard: good reason to come and find out. art janov

  9. Apollo said:
    .....”The intellect has to recognize that the feelings are the problem to get at, and then one can pursue the feelings, albeit, with help....”
    I agree with this and experienced it by my self. All problems we have in our childhood make our self-esteem very low and this create us then problems in our adulthood and we need our intellect to find how to higher our self-esteem.
    To feel good we must build our self-esteem so it become high. I work on it for more then 15 years, provoking by myself situation I was afraid of to be off with my fear which blocked me all my live, to prove that I can belive in myself, that I can take good decisions and that I am OK and special. Step by step from the person of very low self-esteem I became the opposite so people who know me when I was younger can’t believe it. So I think that reaching our emotion is not enough and it’s only beginning of the hard job on self-esteem.
    When we have low self-esteem we create problems to people around us and to ourselves.

  10. Regarding the mainstream media taking Primal to be a fad (Jack's post): this is pretty well par for the course with these people. How often have I heard over the years uninformed and superficial people use the cliche of a "primal scream" to characterise some type of raging outburst.It happenned again just a couple of weeks ago , someone on a TV show talking about a "primal scream". Sometimes ,though, mistaken impressions can be corrected: I posted one of Dr Janov's recent blog articles on a site critiquing AA, and one guy told me that he too had thought Primal was just some California fad, a fad that had actually burned him because he did some "therapy" in the past with a mock primalist that left him with post-traumatic symptoms.But after reading Janov on that site, he said he was really impressed. And so were many other people there.

    As always, I really loved this article. I found it very poignant, especially the part about broken relationships and brief rapports. Story of my life. All the more poignant because we have collectively gained the "world" with all our wealth and power, and lost our souls.All this wealth around me...and all this loneliness, boredom, emptiness, mute bewilderement...

    The only thing about the article that puzzled me was the referral in the first line to the "impossibility" of regaining our freedom. Well, if so, why search for any solutions like Primal to help each other out?


  11. Art: Yes, I wrote to the LA Times and sent you a copy via email of my letter to them.

    Apollo: I don't doubt that you "do not get that" and see how and where I get the notion that the "intellect" and it's parent; "thinking" is a neurotic act-out and that below every thought (and idea) is a feeling/s. You are not alone; on the contrary, I am the one alone. It took me many years of thought, therapy and insights to come to that notion. Having done so, simplifies so much for me and my life. However, there is an analogy I can point out to you demonstrating where I am at.

    The Papacy and the population at the time of Copernicus and then Galileo, could not see the sense of their view that the earth was spherical and that the earth revolved around the sun and there was some order to what we saw in the heavens. It was common sense, they thought, that the earth was flat. Nowhere did they see any evidence of curvature and also it was 'common sense' that everything revolved around us, the earth: common sense--it looked that way. I see you Apollo having the same 'common sense' notion (what ever 'common sense' is supposed to be). My notion that thinking and intellectualism is a neurotic act-out, would require you read my book, in order to get into the depth of my thinking on this matter. It would be far too long for a comment on this blog.

    I will send you a free e-copy of my book if you will give me your email address (I cannot, on this site, give you mine) and I will return it with the copy attached.

    Two provocative thoughts. There is no such thing as "The Truth" out there in the ether IMO. There is only: my truth, your truth and every other persons truth ... and no two are the same. 2) "It's not easy to fall into feelings" you say. Nonsense! feelings are natural and are attacking us 24/7 and the only thing that is difficult is keeping these feelings locked away in our subconscious. We neurotics have everything backwards, cos we are IMO fighting nature, instead of flowing with it. Jack

  12. Great post. You really nailed it Art. Of course there are less neurotic people who get into a relationship with the more neurotic consciously because they are easier to manipulate and control. But this is another matter altogether.

  13. Hi Sabina. Here's my opinion...

    If you know you are worth a lot to someone else, then your self-doubts will disappear without any effort at all.

    But how can you know what someone else is feeling? The answer is simple:
    When your intelligent left brain connects with your intelligent right brain, you will become super-intelligent. Then you will know your friends and you will know yourself.

    It's not always good to be confident, but it is always good to connect to your real feelings.

  14. Marco: I meant "other than primal therapy." art

  15. ""It's not easy to fall into feelings" you say. Nonsense! feelings are natural and are attacking us 24/7 and the only thing that is difficult is keeping these feelings locked away in our subconscious. We neurotics have everything backwards, cos we are IMO fighting nature, instead of flowing with it."

    Jack, the intellect is only one part of the defence system. What about muscle tension, breathing, or just a general state of alertness? It seems to me that there are defences which are more robust than the fickle intellect.
    I don't think it is easy to let go and flow with nature, particularly when first-line pain is involved. If you "stop fighting nature" you may find that the automatic defences will continue to 'protect' you. "Letting go" might result in pointless suffering as your defence system is forced to readjust itself to whatever game you are playing.
    The unconscious is UNCONSCIOUS. It is a separate animal with a mind of it's own. Who said it was easy to make it conscious?

    Art needed help to access his unconscious. Everyone needs PROPER help....not the freestyle help offered by therapists who like to see suffering. I think your message is dangerous. How many of the several hundred mock therapists will be comforted by your message? If they don't know what they are doing, how do they maintain a confident attitude while their patients suffer? Mock therapists probably adhere to basic philosophies such as yours, and they probably need to hear it from others. If mock therapists are neurotic, then it is fair to say they are children in need of support.

    Art, I know someone who tried to do primal therapy on a friend, after reading one of your books. The 'patient' responded with a yell and a cramped stomach but nothing spectacular. How many people think it is easy?? How many parents are secretly practising their own version of primal therapy on their naughty kids?

    I know you can't police the world, but I want to police Jack's comment. I believe I can help to educate people about primal therapy after I have been through many of my own primals. I will write in a style that is very different to yours and Jack's. But I think I need to lose the bossy tone :D

  16. Richard: I don't want this to become a verbal boxing match, but permit me a general response since. What I am attempting (but obviously failing) to do, is convey an intuition by way of a concept.

    Expressing myself with words is the best I can do through this medium, but, to me, words are so ambiguous (as is adequately demonstrated in this last mid-term election and courts of law throughout the world). We/I can make a phrase or sentence mean anything we/I want it to mean and then HOPE that conveys the essence of our/my feeling/sensorium. Language (the use of words) was invented, by us, not that long ago in terms of our evolution as homo-sapiens. I contend as a creature we did this at the time in our development/evolution we became neurotic--since (according to Benjamin Lee Whorf circa 1941) we think in language.

    We are the only creature on the planet that "thinks"--all other creatures feel then express their feelings in that same area of the brain that we 'think' with. They SIMPLY go with nature, which doesn't require thinking--we have to boggle the mind and think about everything--instead of feeling and expressing it.

    Hope I got my sentiments across. Jack

  17. Richard said:"We neurotics have everything backwards, cos we are IMO fighting nature, instead of flowing with it."

    Richard I agree, neurotics are fighting feelings, over defending to preserve some state of ego organisation acquired in the absence of the real comfort that they were not able to attain from the relationships around them. But letting go, as Art often mentions in relation to mock PT therapists, is risky. It causes:
    - fear that you will lose the (neurotic) relationships that you are accustomed to
    - fear that you will lose your very self, the familiar voice(s) in your head you are over attached too e.g. voice of the intellect (or control)
    - fear and anxiety of entering the unknown

    (if you have seen 'one flew over the cuckoos' nest then these anxieties are depicted.) I think why people attack PT is because they are afraid of it in part. It is easy to caricature it and call it a fad and this is a typical neurotic defence (dismissiveness). They focus on the obvious - people flailing around, Art's connection to the 60's counterculture and Hippie scene. They overlook the good science in PT. e.g. that PT's emphasis on the patient as the true expert on himself rather than therapist is now part of mainstream academic thinking too. Unfortunately, it is human nature to take the path of least resistance - the media do this and it might be a factor in neurosis too.

  18. Thinking "thinking" is neurotic is, itself, neurotic. And untrue. The left-brain exists for a reason. Or do un-neurotics never think?

    Is "clear" adulthood merely the life of a healthy baby? That is, a state of perpetual bliss experienced in the love and care of others? The problem is that those of us who didn't get healthy love early on don't know what healthy living NOW is. We neither experienced it ourselves nor saw it modeled by other around us. If gramps was a crusty fuddy-duddy that's what we think being elderly means. If nuns who said they loved us hit us or said sex was bad, we'll want to live that way (even if they, on the sly, slept with priests).

    We use words to describe feelings. Then we mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself. That's why we can write an encyclopedia about suffering that is trumped by 5 minutes of actual sobbing.

    A person who "gets" that s/he was not loved enough will, hopefully, feel sad and cry. Hopefully that person will NOT be "thinking" when crying. After sufficient crying freedom enters in that the person is no longer pretending they were loved...or will ever get love...from those who denied it. However, if they then think love doesn't exist, or that they should stop looking for love, then they are STILL stuck. They just fear being hurt again if they seek love in the present.

    The right-brain exists for a reason, too. And it's not to make us accept that the "good life" is becoming an unfeeling rock.

    It's not being "free" to sit on a hill stoically unloved. That's not just neurotic, it's insane. You don't cure neurosis by denying need. You don't get free by endlessly suffering, either. It's like classic Jewish humor: You laugh about sad things, somehow making like bearable. It's when you stop laughing/feeling that you truly begin to die.

    You become free by feeling emotions you couldn't (for numerous reasons) express before. If we'd cried and gotten support we'd not have tried to "rationalize" pain. We'd have felt it. And known we needed/deserved love. And simply didn't get it from those who should have given it freely and consistently. If we pretend today that we were loved when we weren't, we're still stuck.

    Alas, the way in is the way out...yet weren't allowed to be sad for even a nanosecond. We're told to "cheer up" and/or take drugs/booze/etc. We're hectored to put on "happy faces." We're chided, told that crying chases others away. That just compounds things.

    Good friends/lovers let us feel what we feel. They don't try to "fix" us because they know we're fine. Life is not always daisies. It makes things worse to stuff feelings. We need to enjoy boisterous rock-n-roll as well as elegiac cello music.

    Why is it lauded when men "choke back tears"? Is that all we're allowed to show as males? How brave is a soldier who can kill another human, but not cry? Hell, he's killed his own soul. And will henceforth insist that other "real" men stuff feelings, too...lest they remind guys of unmet needs.

  19. Trevor: So ... is thinking that thinking-is-not-neurotic, NOT neurotic? Just because we 'think it' doesn't make it correct. If you are genuinely interested in 'why I felt the left brain exists', I wrote a full chapter on this very issue in my book. In short I suggest that at the point in our evolution we began being neurotic, in tandem, we started to think. If you have a competing reason for the development/evolution of thinking, I would be interested.

  20. Hi Jack, I just thought of one....

    Hoards of not-very-hairy primates were thriving when the earth was very hot. But as the earth started to cool, most of them died because their instincts did not align with their environment. However, there was one group of hot-weather primates who began searching for the remains of dead animals. They began using the animals' furry hides to keep warm. They were not following their hot-weather instincts. They were the first thinkers.
    Their intellect was nothing more than a teeny weeny mutation in the cortex...far too small to articulate false beliefs. This tiny intellect was dominated by the force of the limbic system. But the intellect grew bigger because of the ADAPTIVE advantages it provided. This clever primate did not specialise in any particular survival strategy other than adaptation. And so the intellect grew bigger and bigger. Eventually it became big enough to accommodate the complex thoughts necessary to generate and maintain false beliefs.

  21. I got this comment in an email:
    "Mostly an irrelevant blog. Art...remember it's "acting away", not "acting out." At least that's how Pearls had it. Thats how the phrase was initially. It meant acting away from a particular feeling that was too painful to feel and feeling a feeling that was more pleasant...away from the painful feeling and event. The phrase was perverted in mass consumption by the populace and press and made into "acting out" as a replacment for the word "expressing physically" or simply taking overt physically action. You should know this Art. To keep trying to keep up with pop culture is a grave weakness of yours. This is a serious process...Primal..and to cater to the crowd is fatal. Fill in the blanks. And women are about ten times more sexual then men. In a non-repressed state the female homo-sapiens can have coitus many many times a day. Think Bonnobo. You sound very naieve you have no clue about what women are about. If boinking is a problem for the individual female...if the desire disturbs the rest of her life then that is an entirely different thing. If that is the case your point is well taken. BJF"


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.