Sunday, February 6, 2011

More on the Imprint

I think where conventional therapy and I part company is on the notion of the imprint, although there is ample evidence for it. I am reminded about the imprint today in the press where there is an article on stem cells. Scientists had found a way to avoid using embryonic stem cells by using current skin cells, and through a complicated procedure managed to wind back the clock and make those cells the equivalent of embryonic again. Except! It cannot happen in some cases. That is, the adult cells, no matter what they do to them, cannot be rewound to their naked, primal selves. They still retain the memory of their experienced selves and therefore cannot be used for stem–cell therapy. They retain their identity, their real selves no matter what. In short, they cannot shake off their imprint. Memory is so strong and unchangeable that even after a drastic procedure it remains the same.

In general, embryonic usually means within 12 weeks of conception. Embryonic, primitive cells can be used because they are as not yet “dedicated.” (called pluripotential). They have not become what they are destined to; bones, blood, kidneys, etc. So they are uncommitted and have no special identity. Researchers can then make them into anything they want. They are malleable because they lack experience and they have not as yet evolved. In a way, it is what happens to infants who are short on experience; they can be made into what the parents need and want.

Once cells become what they were destined to be and have an identity that is imprinted, they often cannot be changed; their identity (George, the skin cell) remains unshakeable. So in these skin cells, that were rewound back to their primitive selves, some of them could not be used to rebuild a different organ--bone, for example. They retained the memory of who they were. And the danger of all this is that you start using these cells for therapy and suddenly (and I exaggerate) you grow teeth in the throat. More likely you get what is called a teratoma, growing tumors instead of the desired organ.

The point being that the imprint is rock solid and is engraved even into microscopic cells. And they do not shed their identity easily. Our human imprint, I propose, is found in every fiber and cell of our being and retains a precise memory of its past. So of course it rules our lives. And of course, it cannot be pinpointed anywhere in the system since it is everywhere. The imprint says, “this is what happened to me and this is who I am.” Our memory and our identity become one. Because the imprint is everywhere, when we relive it there are changes throughout the system. And that is why we need to relive to produce profound change in medicine and psychiatry.

There is more to this story for early, gestational stress leaves a mark on the genes. It then hard-codes that mark which becomes part of us; an epigenetic memory. The way this happens is through a process of methylation, adding or sub-tracting aspects of the methyl group to the cells. Stress or primal pain is encoded into the most basic aspects of our cells and endures. It can mark the hippocampal cells and so affect later memory. The way this evolves helps to define the critical window—the time in which the needs must be fulfilled or there is pain imprinted; and it defines where the patient must go for resolution.

The assumption by some researchers is that the process of methylation may be altered. And that possibly can be done when the patient goes back to the neurophysiologic state when the imprint occurred. It can mean changing the imprint and perhaps normalization of the cell. In other words, once that mark is made on the cell we are stressed for life until, and only until, that mark/event is revisit and relived. And it can be relived unconsciously; it can be re-experienced without a specific awareness of it once we are locked into the memory circuit. But wait a minute; the process of methylation can be temporarily reversed with medications such as Prozac. So tranquilizers can helps us momentarily find surcease. Now we see how we can confuse genetics with epigenetics because it all seems to be involved with heredity. After all, if both parents and grandparents have blue eyes it is not a mystery if the children have blue eyes, But when it comes to behavior and feelings it is another matter. Because they can be changed through experience those genes undergo. And those experiences then “decide” when those genes are expressed or repressed.

And it is here that some of the mystery of cancer can be uncovered because it may be that the cells would evolve normally except that stress has provoked repression where it should not be. And the cells are now “crushed” or deviated as they surge forward only to be blocked. The cells can no longer be themselves; they lose their identity. They are changed. We are changed.


  1. Epigenetic memory?

    Dr. Janov,
    When I was 10 or 11 year old, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. My answer was always “a head doctor”. Today I would call it neuro-scientist.

    This was also the age when my headaches began and psoriasis (immune disease) appeared. At the age of 14 I concluded there must be something wrong with my head. I had other symptoms, not being able to run or walk long distances like other children. I collapsed if I walked more than 1/2 km.

    Until last year, at the age of 60, I med 48 doctors who dismissed my symptoms, called me a hypochondriac, or assumed that I was too lacy to work. One other doctor insisted I have “Addison’s disease” and insisted that I take high doses of prednisone.

    There was no point telling any doctor, that I have a FEELING that something is wrong with my head. No one believed me.

    Finally, in 2008 I met an Endocrinologist who listened to what I told him. He acted on and started with blood tests.
    First, he found out that I have low cortisol 1.1. He suspected a possible tumor on pituitary gland and sent me to an MRI with contrast.
    The result were Chiari I malformation and my brainstem has a kink in the middle and is leaning toward the front.
    I finally had the proof for what I felt since early childhood.

    It was in fact gestational stress.
    My mother came back from Riga (Russian front), where she was a nurse in a Red Cross Lazarett until late 1946. Her first child was born Febr. 48 and died two days after birth. I was her second child. She used pain medication, drove a motorbike during the pregnancy, while taking care of all wounded soldiers in an area of 50 km who came back from the Russian prison camps.
    A German scientist found out that Chiari malformation forms in the first 6-8 weeks of gestation.

    My mother was never interested in taking care of her children, neither during the pregnancy nor after.
    Since early childhood I know for sure I have to help myself, the same way I know I had to birth myself after my mother was for 76 hours in labor.

    In 2009 I had a Chiari decompression surgery. My brain finally had enough space in the skull. 8 months later, my cortisol was up by 8.8. and my pituitary was able to function because it was no longer squeezed by the brain in a too small skull.

    Was it an intuition, an inside, that I wonted to become a “head doctor”, a feeling since early childhood, that something was wrong with my head. Could it be an epigenetic memory?

  2. This was a great post. I have read about de-differentiation, whereby cells, with a mild current and in the presence of silver ions, can revert back to stem cells, de-differentiated. This was in “Body Electric,” by Dr. Robert Becker. Lots more interesting stuff on that subject but the thing found was that they could not get all cells to de-differentiate. They had trouble (or at least so they thought) getting the silver to all the cells. But your findings seem to indicate another possible cause. Remarkable.

    There are many things that have been suppressed in the cancer industry, according to my research. And maybe even Primal therapy has been slighted due to its implications for solving cancer at least partially. Its also funny how all knowledge seems to run together eventually. You just can’t stop the synapses from connecting up.

    This is why I claim that those who know much and yet resist PT do so quite deliberately. You can’t avoid coming to these conclusions without deliberate denial, in my opinion. Motivations are an interesting subject. Is it the mind that goes haywire or is it the forces below that interfere with the direction of the mind? I ask those primarily that down the intellect. I say it is the forces below, those primal saboteurs.

    At least up to a point, the intellect is a good friend and ally if we have the courage to hold back those intruding primal forces that try to get us to run and hide from anything uncomfortable. Know what corrupt social guides and manipulators feel most threatened by? The very same thing that primal forces often fear. Yes, the truth. Whether internal truth or philosophical and political truth. They hate and fear independent thinking, thought, reasoning.

    We are all supposed to be dumb obedient sheep who do as we are told and believe the propaganda fed to us by those above us. So the challenge is to give the intellect some room and freedom and some good ideas, as opposed to that propaganda junk food we are fed a steady diet of.

    I recall in Star Wars a battle to listen to the “force,” the sort of internal force as well as the external that permeates the universe. Well, it is just a good story but not without some relevance. We need to listen more to the scary things of life, the unpleasant, the “dangerous”and “threatening” stuff out there. It is easy to embrace the standard typical propaganda. It is far more difficult but brave to dare ponder the unthinkable. And to imagine that all that fear and anxiety we feel inside might be important and useful to us? It is useful and important.

    So dare to think and dare to question. For in these lie real truth and progress, as well as some trouble, too. Listen, nothing is completely free of trouble in life. That is how life is.

  3. I got a crazy question, ARthur. I see these programs on hoarders. Some of these people are not to be believed. As they are confronted with throwing things out, they break down. You know about that. But some of them begin to have their eyes rock and twitches and they seem to completely malfunction.

    Have you dealt this such ones in treatment? Are some damaged and beyond repair as I suspect? My mother is a hoarder and my father to some degree, too. He is missing a few nuts and bolts so that is understandable. But I suspect the old lady is also missing some key parts somewhere.

    Maybe you might have a brief blog on such critters sometime. It would be fascinating, to say the least.

  4. Sieglindes assumption that her Chiari malformation can be traced back to her mother’s stress and medication in early pregnancy appears very plausible to me. That makes a lot of sense.

    What I have learned from my reliving episodes is that there was a time in the womb, when my mother was in a very good mood. A good, positive imprint or memory of love, if you like. Presumably it was that early period after conception when she didn’t yet know what was going on in her womb. For me, that early good period had been very important, because it meant a solid base for surviving the huge and load of endlessly compounding pain that was to follow on that positive experience. So I can say that my mother loved me as long as she did not know about me, and that she started destroying and slaughtering me from that moment on when she knew that I was growing up in her womb. Crazy and perverse, but true.

    It seems that we have to learn something new nearly every day; all these epigenetic, molecular-biologic aspects make primal theory and primal therapy an issue which has never been as complex and also fascinating as it is currently. As a “user” of primal therapy you may think “I’ve just been reliving this or that pain and now I’ve done it!” But this is not the case. The next imprint is forming up already and waiting for coming up to conscious awareness for integration. As a writer you may think “My book is ready. Now I’ve done it!” But not so. The next pile of new research results yet is hulking up in front of you and you have to start from scratch.

    Art, you say: “Our human imprint is found in every fiber and cell of our being and…..our memory and identity become one.” But doesn’t this also mean that we have to handle the notion of “undoing history” with great care? Can we really completely undo our history, even if that history of pain literally is inscribed into each and every molecule of our existence and in fact goes back to the first weeks of pregnancy? I ask you because in every field of science or economy all originators and inventors of a product may tend to assess “their baby” more favorably than the users of this product perhaps would do. As a user I would say: There are limits for any therapy beginning in adulthood, also for primal therapy. I don’t believe that primal therapy can give back to each and everyone the “innocence” and integrity of a human, who really has been loved from early on. We can get access and feel the pain, and our system will start repairing itself as best it can. However, sometimes the damage is so severe and the process of repair so long-lasting that complete recovery seems to be impossible. You as “originator” would put in a caveat here, wouldn’t you?

  5. Art: What's interesting is the *specific* link between imprinted pain and epigenitic programming. We know that the environment turns genes on and off, but what of the epigenitic change the functional memory itself, or is the memory held as a specific recoding in the cell, and then the memory controlls the genetic expression (?). The specifics of that dynamic are largely invisible to us. But that should change in time:

    In time we will be able to totally simulate a cell cybernetically, and in turn experiment (via the simulator) with changes occuring within the cell in response to simulated inputs. It's a whole new fronteir of science. Super interesting!

    Also you say: "Now we see how we can confuse genetics with epigenetics because it all seems to be involved with heredity".

    Very true and I would like to spell out your popint:

    I recently read parts of a book on psychopathy (a few years old), and it claimed psychopathy is 50% genetic and 50% environmental. But now we have to carve up the genetic part with epigenetic, because this 'conclusion' came from studies based on identical twins seperated at birth i.e. the womb environments epigentic influence was not isolated from the studies. It's interesting, but the only way we can seriously control for epigentic factors in studies like this is to put two identical zygotes into two seperate wombs etc. From what I understand this has been done with cats, and the cats were born looking completely different!

  6. Apollo: One of the reasons I think "the power that be" don't like primal theory is that it shows us what mental sickness really is - and in turn what it isn't.

    You know, our social engineers like to define Normal, and a part of this is labelling behaviours/thoughts that they don't want us to have as "mental sickness", or "aberrant" in the negative meaning of the word. And you can see that it's very difficult to call things like "questioning authority" mental sickness (and get away with it) when a real understanding of mental sickness show such an assertion to be, in itself, patently ridiculous.

    We have to remember that the powers that be only care about how we *behave* - that's their bottom-line. They don't give a shit about how we actually feel, at least not for its own sake.

  7. Apollo: It's all about human management!

  8. Ferdinand: Hey I am always amazed at how bright you all are. Whenever I get discouraged I think about letters such as this. It is self explanatory and right. I cannot give you back a life you never had or undo experiences you had. I can take the pain out and let you have a decent life from now on. But years and years went into who you are. I do think when you go back to early childhood and the critical period you do open up again to having new shaping experiences. In effect starting over again, if you see what I mean. But no we do not make you into someone else; we do make you into someone who can love and be loved; which is a lot.

  9. Andrew: Hey did you read my piece on psychopaths that I published a few weeks ago? AJ

  10. Art: Yes I did - I read all your posts.

    My feeling is that psychopathy will have at least as much to do with epigenetics as genetics, which seems to be your thinking too.

    I find it hard to believe that such an "inhuman" disposition would be locked into our raw genetic hardware and in a manner that the environment could not participate in a final-outcome say.

    ...Though of course, any final manifestation that we become must have a genetic base on some level - we are all "a genetic framework responding to our environmental programming" at the end of the day. And so, so long as our genetics are different, the effects from our environment must be different - at least to some degree.

  11. Art

    Since you do not post my comments and questions on my clumsy English... I would still say that it is great to share the information you report.


  12. Art, do you believe it is possible to relive a pleasant memory that never got repressed?

  13. Art: Okay, thank you. This was a good and satisfying answer to my "skeptical inquiry."

  14. You write: "The point being that the imprint is rock solid and is engraved even into microscopic cells. And they do not shed their identity easily. Our human imprint, I propose, is found in every fiber and cell of our being and retains a precise memory of its past. So of course it rules our lives. And of course, it cannot be pinpointed anywhere in the system since it is everywhere. The imprint says, “this is what happened to me and this is who I am.” Our memory and our identity become one. Because the imprint is everywhere, when we relive it there are changes throughout the system. And that is why we need to relive to produce profound change in medicine and psychiatry."

    How can you re-live what's rock-solid imprinted as you say? You can re-assemble dinosaur bones but they won't relive. I'm just curious what you mean by this post.

  15. Hi Andrew! I agree with you. Humans are seen by some as commodities to use. To use us, they need to control us. to control us, they need to make it hard for us to control ourselves. In studies of religions, what I keep running into the same thing, namely, the leaders trying to dictate what the flock thinks, believes, and does. It is the same control attempted by academics, politicians and nearly everyone else.

    But then again, I was dropped on my head a few times (my mother denies it, of course;-) . But I have never had that much regard for what those above me may say about me. I have pretty much seen through them long ago. Any graduate of our school system has struggled with being labeled and categorized.

    So to me, the ultimate freedom, also seen by some as the ultimate rebellion, is to think and question. Primal Theory is great because it brings back our independence and leaves us to seek the answers from within, rather than from someone else. We were born into mental slavery. PT is the potentially great emancipator of our enslaved minds. Truth is an internal matter.

    That still does not mean that it will come quick or easy. No such thing as quick or easy. but it does offer the chance if one can arrange their circumstances to get the treatment.

  16. SWA, it was good to hear your experience. Good possibilities.

    Ferdinand, great job with the suggestion. I have read about primal "failures" and critics, too. Hey, I always hear both sides of a case I judge. But the so called failures are often patient failures or more likely as you point out, so much damage and water over the dam that it is hard to fix it all.

    Prevention is nice but it is not likely. How do you convince out of control libidos that responsible breeding is very important? All they know are those primal drives for sex and what might come attached with that.

    so that leaves it for brave souls to seek out their healing as best as they can. And primal believers are among the bravest because they have the courage to look inward, no matter how scary or incriminating that might feel. I can think of nothing more un-natural but very healthy than to look in the mirror and recognize some personal responsibility for what we can do to change our lives by pondering what is going on inside us.

  17. An email comment:
    "Hello there just wanted to share this link from the NY Times In January - you may already have seen/read this. Keep up the great work you do and the blog."

  18. Richard: No but you can remember it. In our therapy you do not relive; you live for the first time those painful events that could not be experienced. AJ

  19. Frank, Listen get help with your english and I will print them. Art Janov

  20. Thomas. You need to read what I wrote about epigenetics. It is due to experience. And experience can be lived and relived. Clear? if not, let me know. art

  21. You could say that a traumatic experience is being lived perpetually, but only partially and only in the unconscious (and in every cell in the body). So it is not being "lived" -- it is "reverberating". Another word for "relived" is "completed".

  22. Apllo: Yeah, religion is a mind-job handed down to the peons by a loving elite. But an elite that lives in an "exo-bubble"...meaning, they can see us like animals because when you're completely detached from a people personally you can come to believe anything about them (in relation to yourself) at all. Especially when your fantasies are reinforced by good old [insider] group-think.

  23. Interesting interview with Siddhartha Mukherjee, in English, about his book dealing with the history of cancer.Video will be available in a few days:


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.