Thursday, November 3, 2011

Serotonin and Anger

In my writings I have emphasized that early experience can deplete supplies of pain-killing chemicals that we produce, such as serotonin. And then we need to take medication that enhances supplies, medication found in many tranquilizers. Now there is a study of this in the journal of Biological Psychiatry (Sept 15, 2011). Here is one thing they found: reduced levels of serotonin make us more prone to aggression; something I have discussed for over thirty years. In other words, serotonin helps regulate serious emotions, especially those that can cause harm. And when there is very early trauma or adversity in the womb and at birth our ability to control our impulses is compromised, because our systems over a long time have evolved in order to keep anti-social impulses under control; otherwise we would all go around killing each other. Still it seems like all too many go around killing. Those, in my opinion, had very early trauma and neglect, and have diminished repressive capacities. Their brains are deficient. It might not show up for decades but they will be a danger.

What the research showed was that low brain serotonin made communication between certain areas of the brain more tenuous. Not any area of the brain but specifically in those areas dealing with feeling. Not just the feeling centers but their connections to the top-level control centers, the prefrontal cortex. So here we have confirmation that when there is diminished serotonin the prefrontal area has a much tougher time to control feelings. The researchers discuss the emotion of anger but I am certain that it applies to many of the deepest feelings we have, whether terror, hopelessness or helplessness. One way we know this is that we prescribe tranquilizers for depression, which has at is base both hopelessness and helplessness. When we suppress those feelings we tend to feel better. And when a carrying mother feels depressed there is a good chance that the offspring will also have a tendency to those feelings, as well. It all depends on later life experience.

We see again how the top level thinking area and feelings work in see-saw fashion so that the very active top level cortex can control the lower level emotions; or not. That is, when the top level is compromised the control evaporates and we have an impulsive individual. And we may have a criminal or someone who takes risk when he shouldn’t. Or we have a volatile husband who beats his wife. And so they go to a counselor who encourages him to control himself—anger management. But the cortex cannot manage the fury that lies sequestered just below the surface. And no counseling will ever, ever, change that. Exhortation does soup up the prefrontal area a bit, and in so doing arrays the forces of thought and belief against feelings, but that is at best ephemeral. The faulty equation between feelings and control centers still exists and will continue to exist. And obviously, we must address that equation and normalize it, which can be done. No amount of talk and encouragement will achieve that. That is the trouble with anger management; feelings were never evolved to be managed. They exist to be expressed.

And now the investigators concoct a new nomenclature for this: “intermittent explosive disorder.” (Now officially known as IED). Isn’t that the same as blowing up every now and then? Again, we are trying to ape medical diagnosis, while the inventor of this new diagnosis bathes in glory. Oh my, that love of diagnosis with fancy sounding names that does nothing to enhance science. But the behavior/cognitivists hold sway today and so they continue to add this behavior or that to a long list of so-called neuroses. And they believe that behavior is indicative of neurosis, rather than what drives it. It is as if there is no unconscious. Everything for them is observable. They believe only what they can see when most neuroses are hidden and not observable. Can we “see” depression? Can we see anguish? Can we see rejection internally? These are not single behaviors; they are systemic problems that affect the whole system. The real culprit here is the psychiatric diagnosis manual, which has as many pages and afflictions as the Manhattan telephone book. It is that thick because the behaviorists control all this.

When professionals limit themselves to the here and now they have eliminated the time and epoch where and when they could understand origins and generating sources. They have cut away the elements that could offer understanding. And who suffers? The patient.


  1. Hi,

    "“intermittent explosive disorder.” (Now officially known as IED).

    I've got Psychoanalytical Tourets.

    Paul G.

  2. From someone who 'works' with perpetrators of domestic violence, I couldn't agree with you more.
    And from my experience it's as if the clients/patients somehow know this themselves and are calling out for the right answer/resolve.
    We must give it to them.
    (Perth, West Australia)

  3. An email comment (Part 1):
    "Hi Art,
    > Hope you dont mind me emailing you. As I think you know, I am one of your blog followers and I proof read your latest book for you some time ago and have your email from that time. At present I am a PhD student at Turku Univ., Finland where I am doing a research project on trichotillomania or hair pulling and hair root eating. I have come up with a basic theory for the disorder that reflects influences from evolutionary psychology, existential psychology (e.g. RD Laing) and primal theory. If you have any spare time to read through my explanation of trichotillomani below and can give any feedback i would be grateful. But if you are too busy I understand too.
    Best regards,
    Will Sillitoe

    Explaining Trichotillomania
    If an organism develops within conditions that prevent or inhibit species specific behaviour then various other behaviours may emerge as a consequence. The precise nature of the disorder that develops depends on whether the behaviour is a direct response to frustration (leading to an obsessive compulsive behaviour) or whether the behaviour is an indirect response (such as a displacement activity) which alleviates tension but in a manner seemingly unrelated to the original nature of the stressor. For example in trichotillomania I would suggest that this odd hair pulling and hair root eating behaviour provides environmental enrichment thereby facilitating homeostatic adjustment to an impoverished environment.
    Where a behavioural impulse seeks to be activated but is equally being inhibited a 'displacement activity' or alternative behaviour may emerge in order to resolve the tension arising from this state that threatens homeostasis (e.g. wanting to leave and not stay, to flee and not fight). This emergent alternative mode of behaviour is therefore not a direct response to the situation but is a means to coping when the organism can find no satisfactory behavioural setting point through which homeostatic equilibrium can be attained. In contrast a stereotypy may involve a repetitive behaviour that can be viewed as a direct reaction to specific environmental conditions. Captivity is a state that may lead to both modes of behaviour(displacement activity and sterotypy) in mice. A desire to be outside and not inside the circumstances one finds oneself can produce stereotypies such obsessive compulsive cage jumping or bar sucking. But whereas such examples are a direct response to being in captivity (i.e. a cage) hair pulling or or barbering in mice may be a form of body-directed cage enrichment strategy whereby stimulation or activation of species specific behaviours, otherwise prevented by the environment, becomes the aim rather than escape per se.
    The impulse to escape, to be outside of the situation one is inside can lead to stereotypical behaviour. But the impulse to escape when it is both activated and inhibited at the same time (because no escape is possible) may well be responsible for producing the displacement action. It is the simultaneous activation of two striatal pathways (activation and inhibition pathways) that may prompt hair pulling behaviour, a displacement activity that alleviates tension whilst offering an indirect outlet for thwarted escape seeking.

  4. Part 2:"Hairs are on the outside of the body. By plucking and ingesting them the barber mouse is taking something that the barbered mouse feels himself to be inside (he is inside his fur coat) and takes it outside before finally eating and thereby taking it inside the stomach. The result is a shift in sense of ego boundary because what once constituted a confining physical boundary has been ingested and now exists within. This alternation between being 'inside' the sensation of hair (your hair is on the outside of your body and in terms of ego boundary is outside of you, although it is part of the body.) then experiencing it outside and finally internalising it so a part of what was outside is now inside offers a phenomenological description of the relief that the disorder known as trichotillomania affords its sufferers.
    But why is being inside a cage such a problem anyway? It is a problem when the ecological and/or social environment does not allow psychological goal states (safety, comfort) to be achieved. So in mice the constant threat of space being invaded by the uncued opening of the cage door or lack of living space etc. means that a stressor exists that the organism cannot avoid by any alteration in his own behaviour. e.g hiding from an invading hand that enters the a cage is not possible if the cage is small or has no camouflaged cover. In short the animal can find no setting point or homeostatic solution to its problem. As a result, where the environment cannot be altered homeostatic regulation can only be achieved by neurological rewiring because the goal state must be attained by alteration of the sense of (body) ego boundary instead. Hair pulling fits this explanation because the body is used to offer environmental enrichment.not provided by the environment. It offers a means by which the desire to be outside the cage can be enacted symbolically to provide psychological relief and thereby being outside of one's own confined physical boundary i.e. on the outside of one's own hair, which means outside of the encaged body itself and therefore free!
    Phenomenologically this sense of being inside (trapped) and outside (free) is related to the sense of tension and relief that hair pulling involves. Often trichotillomania sufferers mention the pleasure derived from the 'popping' sensation that they feel when a hair is plucked with the hair root attached. This 'popping' sensation is marked by the tension of the hair pull and pain of this alongside the dopamine that is released in anticipation of the appetitive reward (the lipid fat that will shortly be consumed). As soon as the hair is plucked the pain gives way instantly to a sense of well being and relief, or a sense of liberation. The next sequence of trichotillomania involves visually examining the extracted hair root and next rubbing the root next to the lips/skin, thereby accentuating this sense that some part that of you that you were 'inside' of a is now 'outside' of you. But the satisfaction comes not from 'liberating' a hair but liberating the self. By eating the hair root and thereby taking something that you were once inside of (your sense of ego boundary means your hair is something that you feel to be beneath, under or alternatively on the outside of you), that has been taken outside and is finally ingested so it is inside of you (rather than you inside of it) the sense of ego boundary is altered.

  5. Part 3: "This means that you are no longer trapped within the physical boundary formerly marked by the existence of the hair root above you (ie. in your scalp) because that boundary is now experienced as below you and you are above it. In this sense you have achieved a new ego boundary (or sense of body-ego) whereby the old border of being within or trapped inside a boundary has been moved and you now exist on the outside of it. This illusory sense of freedom is maintained as long as the behaviour, which is sustained by dopamine release in anticipation of food (lipid fat) reward, continues.
    The existence of a condition such as trichotillomania perhaps indicates that this disorder is part of ancient psychological and behavioural mechanism that exists to serve homeostatic regulation in conditions when the organism has no control over his environment. This in itself constitutes a definition of what a captive state means – an organism's lack of environment control over its homeostatic regulation. It also may mean that enduring or coping with captivity or captive states is part of the evolutionary history of many species that is only revealed when triggered by particular conditions. The need to restore a particular relationship to the environment and therefore maintain control over homeostatic regulation so that the integrity of the organism is not jeopardised is central to an organism's sense of survival. An animal without essential control over its place in its environment is severely at risk and in such a condition essential psychological goal states cannot be attained. e.g. a sense of safety. So where conditions are so seriously compromised to prevent a goal state from being attained neurological re-wiring maybe the final resort of a desperate organism to attain the sense of security it truly needs. But unfortunately any security obtained by this means is illusory and risk to survival remains.

  6. Part 4:"In terms of treating trichotillomania the explanation I have offered for why trichotillomania occurs offers some helpful insights. Firstly it is not sufficient to simply prevent the patient from pulling hair by making them wear a head garment because this does not interrupt the source of motivation for the hair pulling. Other methods such as redirecting pulling behaviour into other less destructive ones, such as clenching fists three times every time the urge to hair pull is felt, seems to me to be side stepping the issue and possibly producing some new compulsive behaviour. Also the chances of relapse must surely remain high since the impulse itself is being rechanneled but not directly targeted. I believe that the patient must be helped to achieve the goal state that eludes him/her and in relation to which the hair pulling has been a desperate attempt to achieve. However the patient may be unconscious of the fact s/he does not feel safe or lacks comfort because they may not be touch enough with their feelings to know this. Re-engaging the patient with the cause of stress is therefore vital in order for homeostatic equilibrium to be truly found.
    An animal may know something is wrong; it may instinctively know that is in a condition that is unnatural to it. It may also know it wants to escape and be free. However humans born into their own form of captivity may not be conscious of this or their own deeper human responses to this situation. They perhaps cannot realise that being trapped with people who do not promote species-specific behaviour or do not respect the environmental conditions necessary for mental well-being is a form of confinement that can lead to a displacement behaviour such as trichotillomania (or to obsessive compulsive behaviours). Maybe this is a knowledge of an organism's condition is too troubling for it to realise at the time it is occuring. But by taking both an ethological and evolutionary perspective (as well as a phenomenological one) towards trichotillomania and understanding that it emerges when an impulse is being simultaneously activated and inhibited, prompting a seemingly unrelated behaviour to emerge, we may gain a new understanding of this disorder and possibly our own wider condition too.

  7. And my answer:
    Here is what I don't get: why is it necessary to use all those big words and complex philosphies to understand something? Is it more scientific to make things complicated? Can it all be said more simply? I just get lost in all this verbiage. LOOK AT HIS....." when the organism can find no satisfactory behavioural setting point through which homeostatic equilibrium can be attained. In contrast a stereotypy may involve a repetitive behaviour that can be viewed as a direct reaction to specific environmental conditions. Captivity is a state . I'm sorry I cannot relate to this. We need more humanity in our field, not less. Too many abstractions. art janov

  8. an "improvised explosive device" of wounded souls?

    Kudos, too, on not only your new book but the somewhat favorable attention you, at too long last, seem to be getting along with its publication.

    > "feelings were never evolved to be managed. They exist to be expressed."

    Keerist, but you remind me of Alice Miller. You both have a clarity of expression and lucidity in observation that inspires. Makes me want to compile a list of "Janovisms."

    Anyway, how cruel-yet-pervasive that do many males in America (a country now stomping OO-RAH! around the world bullying others) are socialized to stuff feelings of pain or suffering. Maybe that's WHY our GIs are so gungho to kill: the stuffed feelings must come out somehow.

    Such conditioning is also central to the world of "game" and "pickup artists." They teach men to always be "in-control" and never-ever-EVER let females see men crying.

    It seems insane. Men are taught to keep at arms length females who could offer comfort. Maybe such dating advice is popular because its male subscribers were never allowed to express dependency needs when younger. So as adult they prefer (as Simon and Garfunkel sang) to be islands and rocks, protected from feelings by books and poetry.

  9. > "We need more humanity in our field, not less. Too many abstractions"


    Like most euphemisms and acronyms, abstractions can be used to mask realities that might give rise to feelings. For example, "collateral damage" masks the "slaughter of innocent fellow humans."

    Politicized editing (propaganda) maintains the status quo. Embedded journalists no longer show our wounded in war. We also don't tally murdered enemy civilians. And banks bamboozle us with references to MBS, "quantitative easing," and other arcana like "investment instruments." Why? Those in power (like bad parents?) don't want us to know what they're doing. They know when people are viscerally moved they tend to act.

    Alas, it's easy to herd "sheeple" when the fleeced (!) are cut -off from feelings. And easy for unfeeling folks to rob, cheat, and steal from others, too (the Madoff Syndrome).

    Finally, I find this site personally comforting. It's easy to get depressed reading most "news" stories. I come here and sense community and caring.

  10. Hi,

    but it does explain why I start chewing my fingernails and pulling my hair out in despair when my so called partners and collaborators leave their mess lying around all over the place and forego the responsibility to do what they said they were going to.

    I feel trapped and caged by their caprice. . . this makes perfect sense to me; although I appreciate the language is challenging.


    Paul G.

  11. Hi,


    Yet more irony. . . also stands for 'Improvised Explosive Devise'.

    So removed are the behaviourists from every day reality, they see not the way their own unconscious morphic belief system absorbs true facts and spews them out as fiction.

    Fact is so often stranger than Fiction.

    Paul G.

  12. Arthur, you are right on, in regards to the complicated language that may or may not even make sense. And if it does, who wants to strain their brain to try to understand it? It can be and should be reduced. In fact, science and law often like veiled big words in order to hide what they ever refer to so that the lay people may be kept outside in the dark. Lawyers do not like competition from the outside and neither do scientists or academics.

    Simplification, as much as possible, should be the goal. Einstein said there is truth in simplicity. Occam’s Razor says the simplest solution if usually the correct one. Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer was the comical satirical version of the guy who likes to complicate everything for the sake of fantasy and adventure. Rube Goldberg also made fun of complication in cartoons.

    While good reasoning may be beyond the reach of some, at some point, it should be comprehensible to reasonable minds, if made simple or reduced to its basics.

  13. Trevor, I liked your cynical view of the world. I prefer to call it reality without the rose colored glasses. But often, when I point it out, it gets censored. but Art likes you far more than me. I guess it has something to do with the fact that my criticism does not know any boundaries. Wherever I see it, I say it. I'm just "feeling it." What's wrong with that? Feelings a little to honest and raw? Is that possible?

    I know my old x-religion did not care too much for my observations, either. But I think the world has a lot to hide and we would be better off without the blinders we so often wear. But, maybe that is why I am unemployed, too ;-) No one likes a smart employee. Dummies and suck-ups are much preferred. so be it! I like where I am.

  14. Dr. Janov,

    May I ask for clarification regarding how anguish, aggression, depression, hopelessness, helplessness, serotonin and antidepressants fit together.

    A very depressed woman, feeling hopeless, listless and helpless saw a psychiatrist and received antidepressants. After one year, she was a living corpse, no feelings, no desire no drive. She watched TV all day, her house was a dump. Did she receive too much serotonin?
    The cause of her depression is abandonment right after birth. In this case why would she need endorphins? She was already in a repressed mood. Is it possible that too much serotonin fuels depression?

    A man diagnosed as suicidal and very aggressive, almost hostile against everything and everybody (he hated women), became after one year on antidepressants very submissive. His personality changed completely. While he previously able to show at least some feeling (anger is a feeling) he became a psychologically spineless person. I suspect that his feelings are pushed down too deep, unreachable for him to feel his previous anger, his hate for his mother. Did serotonin do more damage here than help?

    Btw, both live alone, because they can’t stand living with other people.

    My question again: Should there not be a blood test to determine if a person needs serotonin or dopamine before prescribing antidepressants ?

    Thank you,


  15. Dr Janov is so right about all this verbiage and these complex philosophies so many intellectuals and professionals get into. All that stuff used to intimidate me; I once thought there was something wrong with me for not understanding all that existential bullshit, for instance. It took a long time, and hard travel down into my body and feelings ,to get that I was not the problem, THEY were.No wonder I dropped out of university; spare me these professors, even the radicals.They bore me. One of the great features of Dr Janov's books is that he is clear and straight to the point.And so are real artists.Most people seem to be so superficial and evasive that getting anything real out of them is like trying to squeeze blood from a rock (working class people, though, seem to be closer to their feelings...still).Image and compensatory highs then dominate their personalities. And then so many people complain they are lonely and depressed!


  16. Hi,

    "collateral damage" masks the "slaughter of innocent fellow humans."

    Some explosive artillery shells are designed to explode with steel fragments of a certain size in a certain way and are called:

    "Amputation Ordinance".

    A rubber bullet is called:

    "Baton Round".

    Meanwhile (in UK) I can't buy "Whizz-Bang" rockets on Guy-Fawkes night any-more because they have been designated a 'Health & Safety Hazard'.

    Which is pretty ironic when you consider what we are 'celebrating'. . .

    Paul G.

  17. Can I "like" your above comment Art?!
    We need more humanity in our field, not less
    Let the only 'complication' be science, it is complicated enough

  18. Sieglinde: Yes we can measure imipramine binding to see about serotonin levels and it should be measured along with cortisol levels. I shall write on this in a few weeks when I finish a long piece on right and left brain. So hang on! art

  19. Hey Marco, that's why I decided to become a carpenter 20 years ago. . .

    Paul G.

  20. Art: your above comment.. stress and anger (cortisol, serotonin).. I am thinking.. I have been working w/perpetrators of domestic violence as I've said for over 3yrs, here (Australia) +US. They constantly attribute their violence to stress.. I've been thinking it is a sympath response (perhaps combined w/birth anoxia) but maybe more hormonal. What do you think? Appreciate your thoughts. With my involvement in this field (DV), and about to come into Primal I'm very interested in pursuing this specific interest. Addressing perpetrators could be one of many ways to introduce Primal to the establishment.
    (I also talked about this in my DVD, sent recently to the Center).

  21. Jacquie: One thing for sure; you know more about this than I do. I am in no position to lecture you. art

  22. Then I look forward to working with you!
    I cannot wait!!!


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.