Monday, May 30, 2011

"Drug May Help Overwrite Bad Memories" from Science Daily (May 27, 2011)

Drug May Help Overwrite Bad Memories
ScienceDaily (May 27, 2011)

— Recalling painful memories while under the influence of the drug metyrapone reduces the brain's ability to re-record the negative emotions associated with them, according to University of Montreal researchers at the Centre for Studies on Human Stress of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital. The team's study challenges the theory that memories cannot be modified once they are stored in the brain.

"Metyrapone is a drug that significantly decreases the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that is involved in memory recall," explained lead author Marie-France Marin. Manipulating cortisol close to the time of forming new memories can decrease the negative emotions that may be associated with them. "The results show that when we decrease stress hormone levels at the time of recall of a negative event, we can impair the memory for this negative event with a long-lasting effect," said Dr. Sonia Lupien, who directed the research.
Thirty-three men participated in the study, which involved learning a story composed of neutral and negative events. Three days later, they were divided into three groups -- participants in the first group received a single dose of metyrapone, the second received double, while the third were given placebo. They were then asked to remember the story. Their memory performance was then evaluated again four days later, once the drug had cleared out.. "We found that the men in the group who received two doses of metyrapone were impaired when retrieving the negative events of the story, while they showed no impairment recalling the neutral parts of the story," Marin explained. "We were surprised that the decreased memory of negative information was still present once cortisol levels had returned to normal."
> The research offers hope to people suffering from syndromes such as post-traumatic stress disorder. "Our findings may help people deal with traumatic events by offering them the opportunity to 'write-over' the emotional part of their memories during therapy," Marin said. One major hurdle, however, is the fact that metyrapone is no longer commercially produced. Nevertheless, the findings are very promising in terms of future clinical treatments. "Other drugs also decrease cortisol levels, and further studies with these compounds will enable us to gain a better understanding of the brain mechanisms involved in the modulation of negative memories."

My comments:
I think that if you deprived anyone of the elements that go to make up anxiety or stress, you can diminish the reaction. The same if you suppress or cut out key brain areas, you also diminish the response to pain. And this is what EMDR does. You conger up an old painful memory and then the therapist distracts you so that you cannot fully react, and it is called cure. Here, what is blocked is the anxiety/alert/vigilance chemicals so you trick the body. What are they doing? preventing a full reaction. You have an aborted reaction. Here one is chemically prevented from retrieving the memory. Of course, if we cut out reactivity we are also a bit less human.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Can you Die from Lack of Love?

YES. A young actor died today. A friend said it was due to too many prescription drugs. And I thought, gee, there are so many ways that we die from lack of love; dying in a car accident after driving drunk. But let’s concentrate on this very sad tale of the actor from Grease who need massive amounts of pain killers.

The drug companies have found molecules, say for serotonin, that we manufacture ourselves; or should I say, “ought to” manufacture ourselves. Prescription drugs mimic what the body and brain produce, all things being normal. But all things are not normal. We are learning that life before birth (the title of my new book) has such hazards and can imprint such devastating pain that we are drained of our normal painkillers before we are even born. Then add to it a birth with heavy anesthetics and then no one around immediately afterwards to hug and kiss the baby. As a bonus, we add to the mix parents who are emotionally indifferent, emotional stones who have no idea about feelings, and we get an actor who overdoses on drugs.

All he is doing is trying to make up for the deficit, the epigenetic deficit. That means the damage done all along the gestational and birth epoch produces a lack of what we absolutely need to feel comfortable in life. A lack of repressive capacity due to “leaky gates.” This results in ADD, the need to drink and take drugs, impulsive behavior. It means constant malaise,discomfort and the inability to sleep properly. Leaky gates sees to that. I hope most of you have read my work and know what leaky gates are. But the gating system that helps keep pain at bay is faulty when overtaxed. It was not meant to withstand assaults during gestation of a mother taking drugs and drinking alcohol. It was not meant to combat a carrying mother who is chronically depressed. It is the same system as in apes. They have different problems but not always what we have.

So the actor who died was only trying to be normal; to have a normal amount of painkillers in his system to get along comfortably in life. And of course, his doctor and friends were warning him of the dangers; but his system only saw “normal and comfort” not the dangers. He overdosed because he was largely “under-dosed” while living in the womb and afterward. No one could see it but we knew it from his behavior. No one stuffs drugs into her system if she doesn’t need it. We need to get away from our abject morality. That is what is immoral; depriving humans of their needs.

To my Colleagues and Shrinks everywhere

Forget what you learned in school: it is wrong

Forget what you learned about diagnosis: it is wrong

Forget what you learned about therapy: it is wrong

Forget what you learned about theory: it is wrong

Forget about your office setup: it is wrong

Forget about the fifty minute hour: it is really wrong

Forget what your learned about insights: it is wrong

Forget what your learned about therapeutic progress: it is wrong

Forget what you learned about relating to patients: it is wrong

Forget what you learned about how to treat patients: wrong again

Forget about what you learned about the unconscious: it is wrong




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On Incest

You asked me to write on incest but I think I already did months ago. I have treated a number of prostitutes, including one in France who was the daughter of a Nazi officer. Nearly all of the prostitutes had incest as a child. Of all the women psychotics I have treated a good ninety percent of them had incest very young. There is nothing more devastating than incest for a woman. Also for boys but that is very very rare. I have seen one case; he was in great pain but not psychotic. In incest the person who is supposed to be your protector becomes the danger, and since the mother is nearly always complicit in this crime, and it is a serious crime, the child has no place to turn. She keeps it all in to horrendous effects. It is not less a crime when person of the church, those holy beings, commit it. The result a lifelong misery. No amount of money or apologies will help. It can mean I am helpless and hopeless not worth anything, not worthy of proper love---worthless. There are many reasons they turn to prostitution but they learn soon that their only key role in life is to serve and to be abused. They come to expect it and lead lives of great danger as a result. And worse, the mothers, glad to be relieved of sexual importuning, blame the child for seducing the father; as if a young child could ever think of that or calculate such behavior. So the pain is doubled: they are abused and then blamed for it. How can anyone survive it? And of course, several of my patients were warned that if they told they would be killed.

The amount of pain this all leads to is beyond imagination; it takes months and months of reliving before they can even get to it. It is most often deeply buried. Do not think that any other therapy that avoids feeling the pain can even touch the problem. We have films of some of these women reliving incest. It will be shown in some months. You cannot begin to imagine what happens to these girls. The fury they feel, pounding the walls for months on end. And of course they are usually into drinks and alcohol because of their pain. My German girl did not crack up until her father abandoned her for her younger sister. She was a severe alcoholic, coming to sessions dead drunk. I had to discharge her because she was too drunk to benefit from sessions. She needed in-house therapy, something we cannot do. Churches who allow abusive behavior are nothing more than a criminal enterprise. If any other groups, not religious, did the same thing there would be an outcry for prison for them. Religion covers a multitude of sins.

The girls are forced to keep the terrible secret inside until they literally explode, their thinking crashes; they are often ADD as that pain keeps bubbling up interrupting thinking. One girl who I wrote about, starting hallucinating on the street. She was a former patient who now realized something bad was happening. She came back and opened up to her incest which was totally unconscious. The amount of pain she was carrying around was enormous; no wonder she was barely functional. Of course many of girls become lesbians; men are dangerous and to be avoided. The avoid pain by avoiding anything that reminds them of men. Will medication help? Of course. But it helps repress. Is that what we want? The pain needs to be expressed, in small titrated doses.

We do not want these women to be overwhelmed. So we go slow and never enter that area until the patient is ready for it. When they finally get there they cannot wait to relive it; they know that they are finally going to eliminate their suffering. To be rid of the pain you have to feel it; there is nothing else we can do.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On the DSK (Head of IMF) case

So the head of the IMF is alleged to have sexually attacked a maid. His friend, the philosopher Bernard Henry Levi wrote a piece in France saying, “I am a close friend of Strauss Kahn for 25 years and I know he would not do anything like that. He is not that kind of man.” So you say. But does he really think he knows anyone? Does he know what goes on in private in a man’s home? Can he tell a man’s sexual proclivity through a friendship? I doubt it. Why? Because nearly all of us have secrets and a secret life. It is the nature of neurosis that we hide part of us; that we have fantasies no one would even dream of. I treated a famous athlete who needed to wave his penis at women. He was at that moment out of control. Do you think his friends would know about that? How about another well known athlete who was addicted to porno magazines. And addicted to have to dress up in women’s clothes. Do you think his friends knew about that? We got to the basis of all that: his mother left him when he was five to go to work. He was left with a cold nanny who never touched him. The only way he could feel close to his mother was to hold her clothes and later rub them on while he masturbated; a way of getting relief from his terrible tension and unfulfilled need. He was close to his mother. It was his way of feeling loved; something we will need and something we nearly all act out in different ways to feel some warmth. It can be stuffing ourselves with food, to feel fulfilled, acting out sexually in order to feel held and touched; you name your poison.

So let us get back to Mr. Kahn. He comes out of the shower and he sees a maid. He is supposed to have jumped her. If I tell you that at that moment he was psychotic would you believe me? So let us define it. He gets sexually aroused; now on top of that there is triggered many other imprinted impulses lying deep in the brain/nervous system. And for that moment it is all bursting through his neocortical control apparatus.

There is any number of current studies indicating that our memories are imprinted dating back to just after conception. Those memories are imprinted low in the brain, beginning with the newly developing brain stem and limbic/feeling brain. They are imprinted into the reptilian/alligator brain. There is indeed a snake running around in our heads and it contains the memories engraved why back before birth that have a life-or-death urgency to them. Under current emotional/physiologic stimulation those memories/impulses are dredged up with the current situation through a process called resonance. They join together and become a dangerous ensemble threatening our control apparatus. In everyday life there is not enough stimulation to cause that dredging; but when sexually aroused it can be all triggered off. It can happen when we are extremely frustrated or furious about something. We really don’t know anyone until we see her or him under stress or some kind of excitement. So Mr. Levy you really don’t know. You are not going to see it at a dinner party. But you will see it in our therapy when we lift the lid of repression and a patient becomes immersed in all of those early memories. That is how we really get to know someone. Otherwise, in the absence of great emotional stimulation the shrink knows very little about his patient. He only sees the surface; so even the doctor cannot see what the patient is really like. We help put the patient under stress; not by threatening to hurt her, but by simply finding a way to allow emotions to rise; emotions that are a serious threat to the integrity of the organism. In one patient every time he got close to his deep-lying pain he had an erection.
There we saw the connection…..between emotional arousal and sexual behavior.

So at a certain moment deep-lying pain resonates with sexual arousal; critical judgment is gone and one is in control by unconscious pain. That is, his thought/judgment is waylaid by all of his impulses at once. In psychosis it is a permanent affair; all of one’s very early pain takes control of mental processes and the person is delusional and paranoid. He is psychotic. The difference is that in sexual assault it is momentary, set off by high level sexual arousal which then triggers off other deep-lying pain.
Sexual arousal raises the stakes, as it were. If she were an older person it may not have been a problem. But otherwise he was out of control; in control by deep forces. His possible lack of early love or trauma while being carried by a (just an example) highly depressed mother lowers the bar of acting-out. His gating system cannot hold back the tide. Others who do not have those early imprints can have a functioning repressive/gating system that can keep control. So it is the nature and strength of the gates that determines who will act out (out of control) and who won’t. And those gates depend on the nature and strength of early trauma for their strength. Gestational trauma, followed by an early lack of love in the home, plus traumas in school can all bind together to produce leaky gates and a subsequent act-out.

So who gets pushed over the boundary and who doesn’t?

We are meant to be controlled by our reptilian brain because it involves basic survival mechanisms. To get of the way fast, to hide when in danger, and to attack when necessary, etc. Some of us had traumatic gestation and some only had major traumas after birth. The earlier the trauma the more powerful it is. That last point: to attack when necessary gets mixed up with current sexual stimulation. His snake brain took control and he (allegedly) attacked. When the neocortex can safely put the snake back in his hold there is no more danger.

Is there a Breakthrough in Breakthrough Therapy?

I saw a TV special on group therapy. They filmed a weeks’s worth of breakthrough therapy and allowed us to see the progress. Before I say it is all bullshit, I shall refrain from that word and say that it has value, only not the value they see.

Basically it is a one week group therapy where they are instructed to pound the couch, yell at your mother and then cry while those around you become a “family,” and hug you like brothers and sisters. I hope this does not sound snide because I think that anything that helps open up people is good. So this is a good third-line approach that gets people to consider feeling. They can cry and hug each other experience an emotional closeness, perhaps for the first time. But don’t see this as therapy; see it for what it is. A first step, a baby step toward feeling in the future.

I guess their idea is that once there is a breakthrough of feeling/crying the patient is one her way to progress. I never see any science in all this; it is doing what you feel comfortable with. It can last a short while and that’s that. The problem is that the ragefull guy will recidivize, and he will be disappointed cause he thought he “cured” it.

If they knew about levels of consciousness they would know that they only touched the surface, and that there are months ahead of feeling. Above all, the patient should know this so they won’t be surprised when their symptoms and old behavior returns.

I have written time again that to do something like pound pillows at the behest of someone else is useless. That is going through the motions of getting better without getting better. Again where is the science? It is sorely lacking in almost every approach I have seen. I don’t mind people declaring themselves therapists but at least have some kind of qualification. Here the patient is again a dutiful obedient child who takes orders. There is no sense of what feelings really are, even though they are supposedly a feeling therapy.

The therapist says over and over again how proud she is of the addicted, rage case. He pleased her, and I suppose that is good? But all this current therapy approach is a do-gooder,-liberal one but if you asked them what makes for progress in their therapy, they would be hard-pressed to answer. You cannot love pain away. If the pounding does not come out of a feeling it is just an exercise, no better than appealing to a higher power; you know, “God loves you and is proud of you.” I really don’t know how any approach can eliminate history and expect progress in their patients.

Unless we know how deep in the neuraxis rage lies we can never integrate it.

At one point the group was asked to draw their early family home, and then they cried about it. Fine but what then? How is that different from explaining to a relative about your childhood home and then shedding tears. Is crying in the present enough? It is helpful, nothing to do with cure. In all of this there is no sense of evolution; how the brain and consciousness unfold. It reminds me the courts sending ragefull people to anger management. What they do is get the rational mind to suppress feeling. Isn’t there a better way? Let those feelings up to conscious/awareness, to be expressed and resolved? It is not a plug for primal therapy; it is a plug for science in therapy. If we don’t do it this way then we are candidates for heart attacks, strokes, hemorrhoids and pure misery as we can never feel totally comfortable in our skin. Remember, managing anything including feelings leaves a powerful residue in the system, grinding away below the surface.

In the breakthrough approach there is a decision by the therapist on what feelings will be addressed. “Today is Shame day. We can all get to shame.” What if that is an irrelevant feeling for the patient? Again, no sense of evolution, no sense of letting feelings come up in proper evolutionary order. I know they all want to do the best they can but there needs to be some thought-out approach; which is also lacking in every booga booga /NEW AGE approach in addiction therapy. I am appalled by the total lack of structure and understanding there is. As an example of this, there is then a role playing in Breakthrough therapy where you become my mother and I become your father and we express feelings. Does anyone ask themselves, “What is the history of role play? Did it ever help anyone? If so, how?" This is a spin-off from Fritz Perls and Gestalt therapy. It is a kind of anything goes.

Whenever a doc runs the show, (shades of Albert Ellis). There will be problems. We are again his children and we obey. He is not learning about his patient; we are learning the rules of the game. The patient does not do what he feels like; he does what is required of him. In the name of feeling it is just so mechanical. “Do this and then do that!” Don’t think having a doctor’s degree is any better. It just gets fancier, with more high-falutin language, vis a vis cognitive therapy. Let me offer a solution — a solid, scientifically based therapy about feelings.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Let's Stop Psychologic Creationism

If we do not understand the evolution of the brain, we are little more than creationists, believing that the unconscious was installed in us by some force—God, nature or whatever—and there is nothing we can do about it.Therefore, we don’t touch it, and don’t go near it for fear of rattling the demons first put there by the religionists to keep parishioners in fear and therefore under control. “If you don’t behave and pray enough, those demons will get you.”

The Freudian twist is, “If you insist on going into the past, the demons will catch up with you and destroy your mind.” It is a turn on the old religious notion of the 1800s. That is one reason therapists stay away from it. But if they were ever to disregard that warning and let patients slip into their past, they would see what lies in the unconscious. What they would find is nothing more than our history, laid out in order from the present to the most remote, including birth and womb-life. And it would not be approximate; it would be precise, with memories lying in storage waiting their turn to be connected to conscious awareness.

And while we are on the subject of awareness, allow me to say that one central difference between the Primal and other insight approaches is the matter of consciousness. They reason that the unconscious did not result from specific events in our lives but from some genetic source that is never too specific. Yes, there are genetic forces, but let us not confuse nine critical months of life in the womb with genetic forces. Without a ground in evolution, we can never comprehend how neurosis evolves, and how a proper psychotherapy is neurosis in reverse, addressing the painful imprints in the reverse order in which they were laid down—not just addressing pain from our childhood, but also from infancy and most importantly, from our womb-life. And it’s not just addressing those events from the adult standpoint, but far more importantly, reliving those events with the brain that was the highest level of neural organization at the time. We had a brain in the womb that was capable of registering noxious events such as pain, coding and imprinting them, and keeping them for a lifetime. And those events direct our lives decades later.

Once we have a firm grasp on history and its evolution, we will know that addressing mental illness is not a matter of just understanding it but being immersed in it, submerged in our history, in its feelings, ceding to its power until words will no longer suffice. Words will simply not do the job; in fact, words are the antithesis of cure, inimical to any therapeutic progress,as odd as that sounds. Therein lies the rub. For it means flouting the Freudian warning about plunging patients into the deep unconscious, an unconscious, Freudians say, that will irrevocably disturb the psyche. And it is this caveat, along with many other equally wrong ones, that have kept the practice of psychotherapy in the dark ages, believing there are dark forces that propel us here and there beyond our control. It takes one to know one;

I practiced Freudian-oriented psychotherapy for many years. One key reason I did so was that there was relatively no other avenue for the practice of dynamic psychotherapy. At least Freud posited an unconscious, and were he alive today, I am sure he would not be a Freudian. I have said that we can only heal where we were wounded. We know now that emotional wounds lie deep in the brain outside of conscious/awareness. They are impressed low into the brain system long before we have words to describe them. We can heal those wounds if we can address them directly and not have to travel through a labyrinth of words. Theories have an evolution. Let us not stay “stuck in the past” to a theory frozen in time that has not basically changed or advanced. Freudian theory has seen very little change in 100 years. The attempt to take a current theory and attach it to a past frame of reference is taking a new science and attach-ing it to an old theory that is not longer valid. That is not progress. As I said earlier, if Freud were alive today, I doubt if he would be a Freudian. Can we imagine any other branch of medicine still in the grips of the science of the 1920s? Freud wrote his major, Interpretation of Dreams, at the beginning of the last century. Surely there has been a bit of progress since then.

Monday, May 16, 2011

On a Unified Field Theory in Psychology

Toward the end of Albert Einstein’s career he was searching for a unified theory that would encompass and explain diverse aspects of the heavens, the planets, stars and space and time. In a way I feel we have backed into a unified field theory in psychology that explains quite diverse behaviors, disparate and seemingly unrelated symptoms and illnesses and deviations from normal over a wide expanse of human interaction.

It seems now that Primal Theory has made an important beginning step in this field theory. As it becomes refined it will apply more broadly to an ever-expanding human universe. It will show us how the various disciplines, biology, psychology and neurology intersect and interact. How certain psychologic states alter the neurology and vice versa. It will demystify the sudden emergence of such afflictions as deep depression and inexplicable panic attacks. It will clarify the origins of migraines and high blood pressure and help us understand the failure syndrome. It will make the relationship between high blood pressure and depression understandable, and help explain the onset of most serious ailments such as cancer and diabetes. It will help reduce the gap between awareness and consciousness and elucidate the role of awareness in psychotherapy. It will point the way to a proper therapy, taking into account the depth of the brain, its levels of consciousness and the key role interactions between and among brain structures play.

It should help prevent false routes, unscientific approaches to mental illness, and offer methods for measuring improvement in psychotherapy that does not rely only on patient reports. Whether implicitly or explicitly most of us professionals are looking for some unified notion of how it all fits together, some explanatory system that makes sense of what we do with patients. And helps us find a way to measure patients’ improvement that encompasses many different disciplines. It helps us break out of the narrow confinement of psychological theories that are studied apart from the human neurobiological systems.

It eliminates the need for insight therapy, so long the backbone of psychotherapy and avoids such drastic measures as electroshock therapy. It helps us understand the role of painkillers and tranquilizers in psychotherapy, when and how to use them, and why? It will stop the nonsense of rehab’s revolving doors, of anger and sex management and other unscientific approaches. It will help the therapist understand his or her role as a professional and not attempt to love neurosis away. Yes, warmth is necessary but it is not curative. Therapy is not do-gooder measures; it is verifiable science at work. We can check and measure each other’s work; we can see if this or that method is workable and measureable. We can finally help the patient get well; really well, not only in his mind but in his brain and body.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How Our Experience Make Us Into Who We Are

So far I have made a case for the long-term effects of early experience. Let’s see now exactly what happens to make us into who we are.

We know that experience while in the womb, just after birth and early infancy are usually registered down low in the neuraxis. As I already mentioned, we know too that those experiences send their antennae higher in the brain system to inform the higher levels of their existence; first to the emotional/limbic brain for adding feeling content, and then higher up and forward to provide ideas, beliefs and thoughts about the experience. It isn’t just biochemical information that is re-represented on higher levels; the energy, valence and urgency of the imprint is also represented. That is why with even a small banal input there can be over-the-top reactions. That urgency is always there and makes a small criticism seem like a matter of life and death. On the lower level it probably was a matter of life and death; and now it hovers just below conscious/awareness waiting to be triggered off again. This is especially true of those who have leaky gates. What happens in the present isn’t just what happens now but resonates with what happened back then. In the brain they are connected, and in current behavior they are again connected. They slop over each other and make reactions inordinate. I say, “you didn’t do this right,” and your brain says you “I am going to die.” Intervening is “I am wrong. I am bad. I am not good and unloved, and if I am not loved I will die.” This is the second line reaction to the event, which then triggers off the first line: “something terrible is happening and I am in danger.” When there are leaky gates the resonance reaches down quickly through the levels of consciousness down to the first line in microseconds.

Each level takes on a specific role in a feeling; the lowest level adds the oomph, the energy, the immediate reaction; the limbic area adds emotion or feeling, and the cortical level adds understanding and awareness. All make up a complete feeling. It is when we become intellectuals that we may lose part of the feeling component. We become too heavily weighted on the cortical level.

With all three levels we become whole, organic and integrated. We have access to our instincts, feelings and ideas. So as we evolve we drag our memories along with us; each new level of consciousness brings a new dimension to the experience. We can then experience aspects of the experience on three different levels. And that is what a feeling is: an experience on all three levels. It is never enough to explain or discuss our feelings; we must, first of all, feel them. If a level is left out it is not a complete feeling.

On the most primitive level, say, a father and carrying mother bitterly arguing and deciding to separate there is a great impact on the fetus, so much so that the offspring stands a much greater likelihood of become homosexual early in his life. What makes that happen, however, is that the experience alone might not make it all overt if there were not an absent father and tyrannical mother (as one of many different family configurations). This frame of reference shapes how the affliction will evolve. It channels the underlying trauma and makes it manifest in a certain direction.

Not every child with divorcing parents during pregnancy becomes homosexual. But there is the groundwork already in place; the soil to allow a deviation to occur. It is not a one-to-one relationship but as research shows that configuration alone goes a long way to create homosexuality.

In the same way that many of us undergo trauma while we were being carried but not all of us become hysterics, uncontrolled individuals with heavy impulsiveness and chronic anxiety. This will happen when there is compounded trauma from womb-life and soon after that weakens the gating system. The person then is awash in pain and will need heavy drugs to suppress it; an addict. Someone with the same kind of experience but without too much compounding may have a gating system that works so that drugs are not needed. So clearly, it is rarely one bad experience that shapes us (incest being one major exception); it is compounding that is to blame. The compounding may take place on a genetic vulnerability or previous deleterious experiences that render us weaker. A family history of migraines will force the memory to act on the circulating blood system to produce severe headaches. A carrying mother who did drugs may produce a child who “needs” drugs for his anguish. He is not consciously anguished at first; there is an insufficient cortex for that, but he will be unable to sit still in class or concentrate on his studies. This is how the imprint will be manifest on a lower level. He will be consciously anguished as he grows up. It may be that someone whose mother did drugs while pregnant will abhor them because they disoriented him completely at the beginning. It has so many facets; but we need to focus on generating sources, originating causes that help explain who we are.

This business of informing the higher levels of what lies below means that the higher level will be deviated/react accordingly. Thus, take again the arguing parents, the low-level anxiety in the offspring will move first to the feeling centers producing very bad dreams and effects on one’s emotions, while the newly-informed neo-cortex will provide the insight and explanation for it. And the first-line imprint will cause the cortex to think differently about things; not to see what may be obvious to anyone else—that their child is seriously damaged emotionally. Or as the imprinted memory moves higher it interrupts our train of thought and can cause it to be unable to focus on a task.

What I want to explore now is what happens when the imprint militates to higher levels and how it produces the kind of behavior and symptoms we know too well.

I have discussed in my other works the notion of the “trauma train.” This is the train of events from the time the mother is ready to give birth until she actually does. How the train ends its journey is stamped in and becomes our prototype; it is how we will react in the face of emergencies. The prototype, by and large, is governed by two nervous systems—the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The first is the system of aggressive, of rapid reactivity and drive, while the second, the parasympath, is the system of rest and repose. It is the system of reflection and passivity. Normally, we all have a good balance of those two systems but they are skewed by early experience into one side or the other. The parasympath is the system of low blood pressure, low body temperature and slow heart rate. The sympath is just the opposite. The way we are born has a “cut-print” aspect to it and governs our later behavior. The parasympathetic system was the original “freeze” response that foretells the lack of spontaneity and expressiveness. This cut-print is shaped already by the earliest months of womb-life that provide a channel for our behavior. Thus, a smoking mother may make the newborn overreact to the anesthetic given to her. Or it will make a newborn who has been constantly drugged by a tranquilize-taking mother to be all the more passive as a lifestyle. He is already vulnerable to lack of oxygen, for example. But the ramifications are widespread. Obviously, it cannot simply be a birth trauma that accounts for so much later behavior, when that trauma may sit on nine months of previous deleterious events, and those experiences also shape how the birth trauma is experienced.

The trauma train that ends with the newborn stuck and unable to get out easily may imprint a “struggle-fail” syndrome into the offspring. Try hard and then give up too quickly. Here the mother may be given heavy anesthetic that in effect paralyzes the baby and stops so much of his efforts. And how quickly that happens can determine how quickly one gives up and stops trying later in life. The struggle and succeed can inculcate someone who learns to struggle for everything she gets; struggle becomes the watchword for her life. She becomes ambitious wanting to “get ahead,” and does not let obstacles get in her way. She drives and struggles when she shouldn’t. She takes on too much and works under great pressure.

And there are of course those who have to have pressure to function. They learn to wait until the pressure is on them and then they whip into activity. Such things as waiting until the waiter is there before ordering in a café. Or not getting the class assignment in on time; waiting till the last possible moment and then make a move. They have to feel the pressure…. Back then.

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.