Thursday, September 8, 2011

Origins of ADD and Leaky Gates (Part 3/4)

Dr. AJ: PRIMAL PRINCIPLE: You know it’s funny. Drugs normalize. The reason you get addicted is because you try to normalize the system. And then they are taking away drugs – why? Until you get normalized here, you need them.
The whole system is on its head. I tried to offer the NIMH my cure for addiction, and they said, “See my friend in L.A.” The guy’s name is Allen Leshner – and I said, “Why do I have to go to your friend in LA when you are right here?” and he said, “You have to go through my friend because I just don’t deal with that.” Anyway, that’s my shit. What about you, Frank?

Frank: Well, one of the first things I thought of when you were asking why did it keep coming up there like that and why did it affect your thinking? My thought right then was, “Don’t bug me, I’m trying to survive. I don’t have time for this crap up here. This studying. I could never do my homework. I was always scared. I’d sit on the couch and tying myself in knots (physically) and my dad screaming, “Sit on that goddamn couch like you’re suppose to! Straighten up!” And I’m just terrified – my whole life growing up.

Dr. AJ: You were terrified of your father?

Frank: Oh, yes.

Dr. AJ: (to David) And you were terrified of your mother.

Frank: I was terrified of her too.

Dr. AJ: (to Ken) and you, your mother?

Ken: Oh, yeah, she was a razor.

Dr. AJ: So that’s how you exacerbate the whole thing from the start.

David: What it does, in my opinion, is it keeps the gates from having any chance to close. For me, I developed no defenses. I tried to develop them later on but I had none. I was just….

Frank: My only refuge was to go in my head and have fantasies of being Captain Marvel or some omnipotence fantasy, or saving the world or….

Dr. AJ: Could you study as a kid?

Frank: I couldn’t really study because it was so hard to keep focused in a book. And even to this day I still depend a lot on audiobooks because I’ll either space out, or, because I only have one eye, my eye won’t stay focused, even with glasses, because the focus is changing, or nod off, or go off thinking of something else. And virtually everything I read triggers a new thought pattern I have to think out.

Dr. AJ: (at Ken and David) Do you have that too?

David: I’ll be reading something and then one sentence will grab me and I’ll start ruminating about it – all the different angles and…

Dr. AJ: Because?

David: It’s the gating. There’s the ability to focus and prioritize. Now, I’m better at it but it still grabs me. It’s very hard to pick out the most important thing. They all have a very similar level of importance. And we’ve talked about this, whether it’s the bird chirping out the window or the boring English teacher.

Dr. AJ: That’s one of the hallmarks of ADD – it’s the inability to get the values and priorities, the most important thing, straight.

David: Because they all have import, and like Frank says, the vigilance is always coming up.

Dr. AJ: Is that right? (turning to Frank) It’s that way with you?

Frank: Yes, when I was listening to him I was thinking: That’s why he knows my defense system so well. He can relate to it directly. It’s not through books or anything. He knows those feelings I’m having… those gwizshy-gwizshy feelings. It’s the only word I could think up that approximates the feelings I have that are just tearing me apart. I have to jump up and…

Dr. AJ: Do you know what’s causing it?

Frank: What it always goes to is: I’m trying to get out of here!

Dr. AJ: Isn’t that interesting.

Frank: I’m literally trying to get out of my own skin.

Dr. AJ: You’re trying to get out.

Frank: Yeah, it certainly works out in my birth sequence – and I do a little head banging too. But I’ve never been able to focus in on exactly what’s happening, when I’m going through a birth thing. After I come out of it, I can’t tell you if I’m in utero or in vagina or if I’m out. When I think I’m in utero is when I feel completely crushed. And I feel like somebody is trying to twist my head. Of course my whole process is the “curse of Sisyphus.” In my birth I’m trying and trying and trying to get out until I think I’ve made it – and then phew! Everything just turns to shit and I just give up to die…

Dr. AJ: Because?

Frank: Because I can’t do it no more. I’m done. I’m finished. And that’s been a pattern throughout my life. I come so close to success. I think I’ve made it; I think I’ve made it, and then pshew. My whole life turns to shit.

Dr. AJ: Was that because your mother was drugged?

Frank: Well, she smoked. She drank. They thought it was “ Oh, well, lets let him get a little tight too.” But you have to remember, this was in the 30s. They had no idea what they were doing.

Dr. AJ: It’s funny, you know, in the 30s my mother was psychotic. And they didn’t have shock therapy in those days, so we had to move to the beach where she had to go in cold water every day to have shock. And that shocked her and tried to keep her sane.

David: The cold water, it closed her gates.

Dr. AJ: Yeah, it did. Isn’t that funny? But I’m not sure how much it did, she was so wacko. But that feeling “I’ve got to get out of here.” I think no matter where you are in a confined space, like a classroom, that feeling, “I’ve got to get out of here.”

David: I’ve got both: I’ve got to get through and I’ve got to get out of here. It’s actually more “I’ve got to get through.” If I’m feeling blocked, If I can’t get through to someone, if I can’t make them understand what I’m trying to say… Boy, that sensation of uumph comes. It’s a frustration. It’s a frustrated need if you will, to be understood or get through to someone. And at the very bottom, just to get through.

Dr. AJ: When you had a project, did you get through, did you finish?

David: No, I mean I had to wait until the last minute. The pressure on the outside had to be greater than the pressure on the inside.

Dr. AJ: Now, have you got that? (motioning to everyone) This is really important and it probably is good for you too. This applies to everybody.

David: And I want everyone who’s out there watching this to know. It probably sounds just like words, but the suffering people go through with this thing is really not to be taken lightly.

Dr. AJ: Well, you can’t concentrate, you can’t sleep.

David: If you want to put a word on ADHD, for me the word is failure. Failure, I failed to get my parents to love me, I failed at the projects I used to do, and I failed at my birth.

Dr. AJ: And you felt like a failure.

David: Yes, and I felt like a failure. That’s one of the things I liked about this program on PBS, again I know they’re only words, but it had a little palliative effect. It doesn’t last long but nevertheless, you know when people call you crazy, lazy, and stupid, you know that little thing, well, that’s what I was called. My parents called me all of that, and then I get tested and my IQ is kind of high, in the 130s or something… “Well, gee, he’s not stupid, then he must be lazy.” But all the time, I can’t focus, I’m trying to survive.

Dr. AJ: Because there’s so much to focus on inside.

David: Yeah, there’s so much to focus on inside, exactly.

Frank: I get a hundred projects going on at the same time. Even now, I have a hard time with that. I’m busy working on a fiction novel, and I’m busy working on a nonfiction book, I’m busy with my Primal Therapy, I’m busy with my therapy at FSA, and now I’m in training here, and I’m trying to shift my priorities and get rid of all the stuff I don’t need so I can focus on just here, and take care of my FSA patients.

Dr. AJ: I should add, that these guys are on their Masters and Doctors. So here we’ve got three guys that are messes but can function and get on with their advanced degrees. Now how do you account for that?

Frank: But wait a minute. I couldn’t really function until I came to Primal Therapy. I mean I came here so I could feel a little bit better before I died.

David: That’s right. I remember that’s what brought you in.

Dr. AJ: What’s that?

David: When I asked Frank what brought him here when he started therapy, he said he was coming here just so he could feel a little bit better before he died. Those were his exact words.

Frank: I mean I’d given away my Martin D21 guitar, 40 years old. I thought I had no more use for it. I mean you were the last thing on my bucket list. And then when I came here… after a year and a half I thought… what am I going to do with the rest of my life. So I thought: I’ll go to graduate school.

Dr. AJ: And you did.

Frank: Yeah, thanks to you, and thanks to David.

Dr. AJ: I know how hard it is, yet you guys do it. It’s a miracle. The question is, what kind of feelings allow you to do this now?

Frank: Well, Ken said it in his dissertation. I get in touch with me – the real me. Down here. What do I want? And as long as I can stay with that the failure doesn’t take over. But otherwise, every time I hit a real hard spot… Whew, I collapse.

Dr. AJ: So that’s a repeat of the birth sequence.

Frank: My whole life has been a repeat of my birth. And now I can say, “Oh, here come those feelings. I’m ready to mess it all up and give up to die. I mean it’s over and over I’m in a suicidal…

Dr. AJ: I just understood it. He’s always next to death. That’s what’s coming up all the time.

David: Yes. That’s exactly right. That’s the failure.

Dr. AJ: (turning to Ken) You too?

Ken: Yeah, but not the ADD. I can’t sleep lately. The anxiety is always coming up… and it’s to die… and the terror thing that you are talking about, it just so rings a bell. And when I get to that in therapy… it’s not therapy anymore. It’s not like “Oh, feel that.” It’s fuck that I’m out of here. There’s not an option to feel it. It’s just terror.

Dr. AJ: Do you know where it comes from?

Ken: Yeah, I know being trapped and stuck and not being able to breathe and being alone… it’s just all that…

Dr. AJ: And when you’re trapped, what happens – like being in a classroom and having to study. What happens?

Ken: I’m antsy, I’m moving around, I do other things. It takes me, I mean doing my dissertation, it’s been years. I’m great at procrastinating, or doing something else. You know, just sitting down to do it…it’s been really hard. Like I was saying… reading, that’s so hard, like I fall asleep. I get so bored.

Dr. AJ: Procrastinating. That’s one of the key points of ADD. What’s causing it because I know, but do you know?

Frank: When it gets too hard, I can’t take it anymore so I’ll go to something that’s easy and I’ll keep going and going with that until it gets too hard and can’t do it anymore and I’ll switch over to another one.

Dr. AJ: Right.

Frank: But I get going until the pressure of the old pain has made me so nervous and so upset and tense, I’ve got to go on to other stuff. And I had such a startle reflex that when I watched a TV program, as soon as it got really tense, like someone was about to get killed or something, I’d jump up and run out of the room. And when I’m out of there… “Why’d I do that?” and then I stop to think.

Dr. AJ: Wow. How about you guys, do you procrastinate a lot?

David: I can tell you what it is for me. To sit down, focus, and finish a project, for me that is a sensation of confinement. You’re asking me to go into a very small space, that is my subjective experience. You are hurting me by asking that. I’ve got to move. No, I can’t. You’re going to kill me.

Dr. AJ: And you can’t get down to anything.

David: No, I can’t. You’re putting me in a real bad situation.

Dr. AJ: Why can’t you get down to something? And you too, Ken?

David: Because the feeling is very overwhelming. I know this sounds so melodramatic and people watching this, trust me, it’s not melodramatic. I’m using words that sound melodramatic but that is how big the feeling is. I’m being crushed to death. I mean you want me to go and sit here and read and concentrate on a book that is as boring as the day is long, and if not enjoy it at least be there with it and learn from it… and my brain is just crackling. Trying to get out of it. Trying to get out of a space, it’s confinement. You’re blocking me. You’re blocking my movement. You’re blocking air, it’s terrible.

Ken: A couple of things resonated. It’s just, I get this feeling… it’s the only way I can answer it… about procrastinating. I get this feeling that I’m being held down. It’s like this rage. I’ve got to move. I’ve got to get out of here. I’ve got to move and… I’m not sure how it applies but I guess that’s what it’s like making myself sit there and do something like that. And the only way I could do my dissertation is because I did it about something that meant something to me.

David: That’s right it means something to you and if that meaning overpowers that in there, you can lock in and you’re ok.

Dr. AJ: What makes you finally get down to something?

David: Like I said, the pressure from the outside has to be greater than that on the inside. For me that’s a lot. And number two, if the thing is so stimulating for me, like the research I used to do and do in here. That is so stimulating, it can abate – it can ameliorate, and kind of put a lid on…

Dr. AJ: It soups up the function of the prefrontal cortex, which pushes the top gating.

David: Right, and helps focus because of the gating. That’s right.

Frank: And when you have so many thoughts coming in – like if you’re writing something, and all these thoughts come in, pretty soon it’s like there’s no way possible I can get all these thoughts in here and make them all right… and so I get up and pace.

Dr. AJ: But how do you finally get down to it?

Frank: Tenacity. One, go back, and go back, and go back.

David: You asked me to do the ADD thing. You ask me on a Friday and say, “Can you have it to me by tomorrow.” What? And then I sit down and start to write a little and there’s this thought attached to it and this thought attached to it and you can go into each channel and it’s like ha.

Frank: Little things get real big.

Dr. AJ: I ask you guys to have something done in three days and you couldn’t do it because?

David: Well, I have a great rationale for it. I’m doing sessions every day, and all that but nonetheless the point is well taken. I sit down and start to write it and it’s overwhelming. It’s overwhelming. There is so much to it. It’s not a “just write it”, there’s so much to it and then there’s making sense of it, and then there’s putting it together into coherence. And there’s a thought here, and a thought here… and yes they relate but… coherence, yeah, and on to resolution.

Frank: To get a first draft done, the first thing I’ve got to do is to get my judgments to get out of there… because always… it has to be right. So help me God, that better be right! You know… my dad… That, and then another thing with me, when I was a toddler, I had severe eczema, and they would put this real stingy salve on me – underneath that is a big itch – then they would put socks on my hands, so I couldn’t scratch myself and then they would tie my hands to either side of the crib, and then leave me there to go to sleep – to cry myself to sleep.

Dr. AJ: Unbelievable. You know, by the way, Primal Point: that the best treatment for this eczema stuff is to rub the person to sooth them – to do what should have happened to them in the first place.

(To be continued next Sunday)


  1. “Origins of ADD and Leaky Gates.

    Drugs normalize. The reason you get addicted is because you try to normalize the system. And then they are taking drugs away - why? Until you get normalized here (in PT) you need them.”

    The title and the quoted sentences are extracts from a documented conversation between Art Janov and two patients undergoing primal therapy treatment.

    When I read these sentences, I became aware of what I have “known” a lifetime. During a long life, rich in changes, I have met many in my immediate surroundings, families, friends and colleagues who have been dependent of drugs to function. However, I could not really see them as addicts (I’m talking about those who were criticized for balancing their pain with drugs) and moral comments about their drug consumption, I could not understand. In a way, I saw them as “normal” and in my ignorance, I never gave it a thought that they were affected. After a few incidents, I learned that I could not judge when they were on drugs. My own drug those days, Tegretol, to kill my imprinted pain during birth, and my lack of sense of smell during almost 50 years, made me disabled as a “police dog”.

    It took 40 years in PT to realize the importance of AJ’s words in the extracts. How little we know of human needs, sufferings and behaviour.

  2. "...they would tie my hands to either side of the crib, and then leave me there to go to sleep..."

    My mother pinned the top sheet to the crib mattress tight across my shoulders so I couldn't move much less get out of the crib. One of my most vivid memories is how I always wiggled my foot after she did this and decided that's what made people go to sleep.

    As she was a devotee of Dr. Spock, I always assumed she was following his advice on this as well (?).

  3. Mary: Spock did a lot of damage. art

  4. Hi,
    Spock recommended 4hourly feeding whether the baby is hungry or not.

    Given that the 1st line has no way of comprehending time then the neonate is going to get a traumatised and dissociated appetite cycle here isn't she? Possibly a permanently distorted sense of time given that our digestive cycle is one of only a few regular passages of time. . .

    Paul G.

  5. Jan Johnsson:

    “Drugs normalize. The reason you get addicted is because you try to normalize the system.”

    You said it. We try!
    The problem is drugs normally fail for more than one reason. There is one pill, let’s say Paxil, that is suppose to help a para-sympath and a sympath... Psychiatrists normally don’t know if you are a para-sympath or sympathy, if you have high or low cortisol, but pills are handed out like candies.

    Besides, side effects or interactions with other common drugs can be dangerous and, just recently discovered and admitted.

    Many of us have or had major migraines and used Motrin (anti-inflammatory).

    Here the latest:

    “Antidepressant effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are attenuated by antiinflammatory drugs in mice and humans.
    Our data indicate that clinicians should carefully balance the therapeutic benefits of antiinflammatory agents versus the potentially negative consequences of antagonizing the therapeutic efficacy of antidepressant agents in patients suffering from depression.”


  6. in addition to their so called ADD, david and frank were dealing with a new and very real stress. conventional psychology students are required to train their thoughts in a meaningless direction. this is a painful exercise for any normal inquisitive mind. in most cases, only the nerds survive because they feel no need for meaning. for them, abstract meaningless concepts will do nicely. how did you manage to thrive in that environment, art??? you say you weren't an intellectual. david and frank were able to concentrate better when their work became an act-out. act-outs are not boring; they have meaning - albeit neurotic. was it your quest to save your mother that got you through university?

  7. Richard: No it sort of got me interested in psychology. now I am very interested because I can't believe what is going on in the field. it is like someone found the cure for cancer and all the specialists are rumagging around trying to find it. art

  8. Hi Richard,

    It was my quest to save my mother that got me into the next relationship with a woman. And the next, and the next, etc etc.

    The repressor societies we have invented seem to compel most men to put women on a peda-stool (just look at the advertising) and subsequently help women become dependent on mens' ideals. Worse, it really then becomes true that "Men are only interested in One Thing".

    Thus Women need to say "No" to break free and our societies end up with twice as many houses as it needs and therefore an unsustainable growth followed by a protracted recession.

    There's a nasty involution going on here in my humble opinion. Men support misandry for example by freezing out single parent men, this is a fact. Women also support misandry by taking a 'closed shop' point of view to single parent men, this is a fact.

    Opposedly and by default, women support misogeny through their automatic membership of the matriarchy, which assumes the predominant caring role (due to 'him' being 'outdoors' and her being 'indoors').

    Thus women end up in the same place in the same boat and men end up in the same other place in the same boat. Each sex blaming the other for being different and failing to benefit from the potion-entity-ial-ity membership of the same club, ie: being Human.

    By establishing Primal Theory as the fundamental blueprint for Human Development you could also end Misogeny and Misandry. The Social Anthropological implications of Primal Theory are far reaching.

    Paul G.

  9. Paul G:

    Thanks for the insight. I've always sought to operate on other people's timeframes (needs) and was wondering why that is as I'm now able to do things in my own time which is liberating.


    I'm so glad you were interested in psychology and not just cancer - bah specialists!

  10. You know, Art, one can only attribute so much to blindness and then it is not blindness anymore. YOU and I both see this in politics all the time. They deny knowing anything. We should ask, then why should we vote for them if they know nothing and their job is to pretty much be informed all all relevant matters.

    They in psychology see very well. They know full well you are right. It is too hard for you to believe they could be that insincere if not downright diabolical. But when the impossible is removed, what ever is left, however improbable or disturbing, is the truth.

    by allowing poor excuses from them, you aid and abet them in their conspiracy. They ought to be exposed. Just saying.


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.