Sunday, January 29, 2012

Revisiting Anxiety

A recent Time Magazine has its cover titled “Anxiety,” accompanied with a serious article about it. (Dec. 5, 2011. “The Two Faces of Anxiety.”). There are many circuitous byways in the piece but if we are to get a grasp on its treatment we need to be sure about what it is. I am not sure that they state what it is, only that in some cases it is good for you. It is never good for you, especially when it revs up the system to prepare for a danger that most often does not exist; that is, that does not exist outside. It does exist inside. It is called a memory, an imprinted memory of danger that dates back to the time we were living in our mother’s womb. The danger back then could have been a carrying mother who drank or smoked, who was depressed or anxious, who did not eat properly, who took tranquilizers and other pain killers or who was chronically upset with her marriage. These are dangers for the baby that menace his life. His system reacts with terror because that is the highest level of brain development, for the moment; and because those events are most often life-threatening. The fear reaction is not quite in place; for that we need a fully development limbic system which at the third month of gestation is yet to come. A heavy dose of anesthetics to the mother during the birth process can shut down his respiratory system and bring him near death. This is the time of rapid brain development where trauma can have long-lasting effects.

We need to understand that once there is terror installed in the evolving fetus the genetic cells change and become epigenetic. Those transformed cells are the carriers of terror. They drive neurotic behavior and all sorts of serious diseases including cancer (the cells that block cancer cells from developing are nearly always heavily methylated, indicating early trauma). The process of this imprinting is carried by methylating the cells; adding part of the methyl group of chemicals to the gene. The cells then carry the “brand,” perhaps for a lifetime. There is such a distance from the time of that imprint, to terror of exams at age twenty that the source is not even considered. What has been imprinted is terror; terror of suffocation, strangling, deprived of oxygen and of being blocked from getting out. All of these are life-threatening and they remain in pristine form throughout our lives ready to surge forth. Terror is later joined by fear, a higher-level event in the brain, a later evolution. They are combined by a process known as resonance so that anything that can set off fear later on may dredge up underlying terror with it. When it bursts through to conscious/awareness later in life we call it panic or an anxiety attack. It is not; it is the same pure terror that was imprinted perhaps decades earlier. It may arrive in disguised form, a phobia or compulsion, but at base it is still that terror, and it is never good for you. When the terror is felt and experienced the phobias fall away.

Thus, anxiety is terror emanating from the deep reaches of the neuraxis; more precisely, from the brainstem that controls digestion, breathing, elimination and other vital functions. Anxiety is not fear; fear is the portal of entrée to earlier and more potent times. It is deeper in the brain and earlier in our evolution. Terror is for radical and immediate action; a key survival function. It is part of our primitive brain and predates our emotional brain by millions of years. When a carrying mother is seriously agitated she is activating her baby, setting off terror response. When the mother’s emotional state goes on and on it marks the genetic cells of the fetus and alters them, imprinting the terror response as an enduring legacy. It is given a different name; it is no longer terror, it is now anxiety, still terror filtered and disguised but the feeling is exactly the same, unchanged. And when our patients relive those early imprints the wrapping comes off the anxiety and it becomes the terror it was at the start; we see it now for what it is and was. It now has a context, an origin. With this reliving there is a radical change in biochemistry of the patient as well as vital signs which tend to normalize. In the reliving of an anxiety attack the anxiety transforms into pure terror; it does not exactly “transform,” it “reveals” what it is. And at the end of the session key vital signs drop to below starting values. When reliving the terror the anxiety disappears because the patient has felt it in its entirety and its origin. They are, as I noted, identical. Once we understand that anxiety and panic are pure terror we understand how it cannot be good for you. Yes, it will get you going, but how do you stop it? And how do you keep it from blocking your ability to focus and concentrate? So long as we think it is anxiety and not terror we will not know how to eradicate it. So long as we think it should be embraced, as the article states, we will be misled in our treatment of it. It is true that this can “get our adrenaline pumping,” but at what cost? Prolonged anxiety will surely cause a premature death, and in addition will damage the cognitive brain and diminish its thinking/reflective capacity later in life. Since anxiety seems to work in reverse order with telomeres (those caps on the chromosomes that indicate how long we may live), I think anxiety is a dangerous thing.

This article by Alice Park claims that anxiety is a “normal adaptive response.” But what is it adapting to? Surely not just taking school exams. Is it normal to be anxious before an exam? Sometimes yes; most often, no. But being apprehensive and suffering anxiety are not the same thing. They live on two different levels of the brain and should not be confused. Anxiety appears when fear has triggered off deeper levels of consciousness, of brain function. It is from the past, historic, not an adaptation to the present. That is why it seems so aberrant. We cannot see what causes it. For that we need to travel the person’s past and see for ourselves, and the person, himself, will see it, experience it, too. We see how in vain it is to deal solely with the apparent problem, exam anxiety, when it has very little to do with the exam, and very, very little to do with current life. It is just that the imprinted early terror is so at-the-ready, so close to conscious/awareness that it does not take much to set it off.

As I noted, the article states that not all anxiety should be battled, sometimes “it should be embraced.” Why would we want to embrace terror unless we really don’t know what it is? What they say is that just the right amount of agitation provides proper titrated motivation and is good for us. And so the article goes on, “the key isn’t not to feel anxious; it is to learn ways to manage that experience.” So no longer do we attempt to understand causes and origins, we just need to development management skills, as though feelings were a business to be managed. The trouble is that we use the top level neocortex to control and manage feelings but alas, all we can do is suppress and mask it. That is part of the function of the frontal neocortex. But feelings are not to be managed; they are to be felt and experienced. Animals know that instinctively. Animals don’t block their survival functions; they act on them. When we block them we are at the mercy of the outside world. And that blockage or repression means a great pressure internally acting on our organ systems, grawing away until serious disease appears.

One of the specialists on anxiety in the article states, “anxiety is neither helpful nor hurtful. It is your response that is helpful or hurtful.” In other words, it is all in your head. It is not whether your dad dies; it is how you respond to it. This is an old canard put forth by the booga booga therapies of the sixties and seventies. such as EST. It is pure solipsism; there is no outside world, just what goes on in your head. Reality is secondary to attitude. Belief trumps reality. So the result is that they treat attitude and ignore facts. The analogy to this is that if you change your mind you can change reality.; an offshoot of Cognitive/Behavior therapy. And they add, “our species would not be better off without it.” (Anxiety). I disagree. We do not need to terror to function except when a truck is bearing down on us; something that does not happen every day. Terror usually keeps us from functioning. I suppose that if you are on the outside looking in, (cognitive/insight therapy) you can come to no other conclusion. If you manage to get inside and look out (outsight) you get a different perspective.

I think it revolves around the idea of where is the danger? If we believe it is outside then treatment focuses on that (which is left brain), by the way, But what if that danger is inside, as it most often is, and it stays there no matter what we do (right brain). We cannot maneuver the inside from outside. We cannot make the left brain do the work of the right. What if anxiety has outlived its usefulness and continues to damage our brain and shorten our life? What do we do then? Mostly drugs and medication. Blocking it instead of expressing it. Once we know what “it” is we can then treat it and let it out and be done with it. It is far easier to try to change beliefs and attitudes instead of feelings because feelings are lower in the brain, in the subconscious and much more difficult to access. For those who live in their heads it is simpler to address the present, the superficial and get on with life. The confusion seems to be between motivation and terror. We never need terror unless a snake attacks. It is good to have that primitive animal, that same snake (and its primitive reactions) in our heads, just in case. We do need to be motivated but it should not be due to negative fear but to positive desire. Some actors state that they need anxiety to drive their acting and make them better. So they are never satisfied; they brag about this as something positive when it is not. They think that to be satisfied is to be smug and self assured—arrogant. They believe that if you are not anxious, and are satisfied with your work you will never improve. Isn’t there such a thing as wanting to make a good something without the anxiety? Can’t we have a sense of the good without terror? Too often the person has never had enough approval early in life and that is what drives him. The need for love and approval. It was never good enough for a critical father and thus never good enough for him. So he struggles; making a virtue out of missing love; thinking it is a good thing. But always anxious and never satisfied can never be a good thing.

In this kind of approach there is almost never a mention of history, of memory of imprints. Never a recognition of generating sources; of origins and causes. Until we deal with origins we can never consider cure because that is what cure is; a plunge into history, to those imprints that drive us.

Toward the end of the piece they acknowledge that anxiety may be related to fear but is “more prolonged and diffuse. “ They need to see that it is an emotion surging from different parts of the brain, and that the earlier the imprint usually the deeper in the brain it is, hence, the more terrifying. There is an hierarchy of feelings which get more powerful as we descend into the unconscious. As we descend fear becomes terror, organized deep in the brain, anger becomes rage, disappointment becomes hopelessness, and so on. There are levels of feelings. We often anticipate catastrophe because we are reacting to an event that has happened long before we have words to describe and understand it. That anticipation is called anxiety by the cognoscenti. We think we are seeing the future when we are only observing our history. That history predates ideas and beliefs. There was never any words for it. Now that we do have words we apply it mistakenly to the present when it is from our personal archives.


  1. Dr. Janov,
    A little knowledge can be very dangerous.
    Aren’t you getting tired of statements like “anxiety is neither helpful nor hurtful”…?
    My answer to these “specialists on anxiety” would be – keep your 5 cent magazine wisdom to yourself.

  2. Over the past 7 years I have slowly worked my way towards my deep internal world and obviously have not got there. By this I mean that before I discovered people like Dr Janov and Alice Miller etc I was trying out different diets etc to stave off my very real anxiety, or trying to meditate. How is one supposed to sit still and ignore ones thoughts when there is an internal earthquake going on. Everything in one's body is preparing one to fight or run and I was being told to be contemplative. There is also the third option of just freezing. I think very often I have felt the terror underneath.

    Quite obviously it is very frustrating for someone to read about the effects in the womb and it is like Tantalus reaching for the bunch of Grapes. They always move away. It would be good to deal with that early stuff too.

    What I can understand is the anxiety of not feeling loved by my Parents because I was not good enough or clever enough. Not being loved is pretty much a death sentence to the forming character of a child. My Father has always been proud of his criticism of me throughout my childhood. He boasts that his comment "You were a lazy little Sod at school" got me to work hard when it did the exact opposite. Dr Janov you often cite the very real needs of a tiny baby and child to be loved by his or her Parents. I was never loved by my Parents. I was exploited for their own neurotic needs and strove every day of my life to try and live up to their rediculous pressure. It is ironic that since I have no longer seen them my career has taken off to a certain extent.

    7 years ago I ended up curled up under my desk at work (I work for myself) for about 3 weeks or so. I could not concentrate and woke up terrified of the alarm clock. Quite obviously being curled up in a ball was about wanting to be back in the relative safety of the womb though I wonder how safe I felt then. I think my Father was a malign and dreadful creature throughout my life. Oh Hell both my parents were.

    I suppose I have been working my way back through my life though many of the events are jumbled and ghostlike sometimes.

    The clue that I must have suffered from early womb terror is that my Mother lost a child to dreadful Spinabifida about two years prior to my birth. My understanding is that Folic Acid is easily destroyed by anxiety. Thus the little embryo I was, had to deal not only with my Mothers already deep anxiety but also a terrified Mother who though she might lose another baby. I then had to deal with the rejection and lack of bonding that a child who appears after such a tradgedy has to but obviously does not understand. Add to that being told "We chose ********** (my name) because it would look good in neon" and there was time bomb waiting to happen. Place huge pressure for success on an anxious and terrified Boy and one day all he is, is going to come crashing down.

    Boy can I relate to this piece!

  3. Two articles about Anxiety. (The Two Faces of Anxiety and Revisiting Anxiety)

    Time Magazine’s article is as good as most non-primal information I have read about anxiety. The paper by Alice Park is very ambitious, and I feel embarrassed when somebody calls it unprintable “5 cent wisdom”.

    I interpret it as a serious intent to identify one of the most widespread health problems of our days. It seems to me, seriously to try to come to terms with, and explain our anxiety ridden reactions for good and bad. To know about imprinted pain from before birth and its lifelong impacts on our defenses and leaky gates take quite a trip and Alice Park can hardly be blamed for not having insight into evolution in reverse. How should a journalist, publishing an article in the prestigious Time Magazine, find and verify scientific and established information about how Dr. Janov and his disciples are seeing things?

    There are a few insiders understanding the healing which may be achieved by living old pain so still there is a way to go before the connections can be made to quite a few of the
    areas where Alice Parker is lifting a warning flag for what is not good for us. She is identifying examples when people she is referring to see the other face of anxiety. One, understandable, negative aspect of the article is that she does not mention all the people with heavy pain having efficient defenses, where the pain is transferred to the heart, the stomach and/or effects, the vital signs and shorten lives, escaping the anxiety label.

    The world Alice Parker is writing for is a true reality for billions of people. We might say that most of them think and act wrongly. To reverse evolution and change the way very many are living takes a genius in the shape of an enlightened despot, “Evolutions own Steve Jobs”. However, even if it seems almost impossible, some of us know that the Janovian way works so at least in theory we have the tools for the future.

    What a splendid article it might have been if Alice Parker had had the input of Art to show that for those, among all the curios people reading the article, there is an alternative.

    Our problem is not whether Alice Parker is right or wrong, but that Art Janov’s Reflections are not in the Time Magazine.

    Jan Johnsson

    Since Alice Parker referred to Sören Kirkegaard (who Art also quotes) I remind us of:

    “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” Sören Kirkegaard

    1. Jan I suggest to you to write to the author or magazine. art

    2. Hi Jan & All,

      I have condensed Arts' entire body of work to the following words ('précis').

      Repression (through epigenetics) is our naturally evolved defence mechanism against trauma.

      Suppression (through various beliefs, distractions & drugs) is the maintenance system of it.

      Oppression is the collective family, social & cultural consequence.

      Depression & Anxiety is the inevitable consequence in the individual.

      Through acknowledging these 4 stages and accessing their historical impact on us (in reverse order) we can 're-live' the trauma and 'un-cook' the set points.

      In no way do I mean to trivialise Arts' work but really, the basic premise is not complicated is it?

      Paul G.

    3. “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” Sören Kirkegaard

      What is true? Illusions fill our lives. Someone can obsess about dirt and scrub their fingers raw as that is preferable to the painful truth that a Parent sexually abused them. They felt dirty as small child and that sense of dirtiness is so engrained how can one scrub off the dirt? If something is below the surface of conciousness it can still effect our concious mind like the Moon effects the tides so getting to the truth and knowing it to be the truth can be a dreadfully painful process.

    4. Hi Jan Johnson,
      I use the term 5 cent magazine wisdom when people seeking publicity, get paid for articles and say nothing new. You will see what I say if you enter the word anxiety in google. Thousands of websites provide explanations we know already without naming the real source. More free information can be extracted from the DSM and the ICD 10.
      And this website writes in regards to The Two Faces of Anxiety : As I read the article, it seemed that it was written using anxiety and stressor interchangeably.
      Please tell me what is new in these articles? Is there a real healing solution presented? Or just ways how to “manage” or “repress”.

  4. Does terror imprinting have a deliberate history?

    The other day I watched this You Tube article on slavery. In it, it claimed that when the blacks were brought to America the procedure was to get the slave woman pregnant, then later take about 10 pregnant woman to see one of them be cut in half, then watch her baby fall out of her belly and then stomp on the baby's head to kill it.

    According to the narrator, this was "scientific imprinting" to infuse terror into the unborn children, via the womb and of course the mothers experience. The idea being you end up with scared slaves in the future who can be easily intimidated/controlled.

    It's highly speculative but I wonder if this was an origin of circumcision? That is, make the baby boys terrified of the idea of grotesque torture because it has already happened (been imprinted into them) via circumcision? I suggest this because I'm suspicious that I have this imprint myself, with that effect. I get strange chills down my lower abdomen when I think of grievous bodily harm, and the idea of torture in general absolutely horrifies me - maybe inordinately? Also, I remember the boys at primary school who were not circumcised. They were different. More intimidating and bullish - maybe less fearful?

    Back in the Roman days, if you put a sword in every slaves hand then you've got a serious problem. This is why they used terror to suppress rebellion - the playing field was just too easily leveled out, with potentially bloody consequences. So who knows, maybe they took the principle further with various kinds of terror-imprinting epigenetics?

    Those psychopaths are capable of anything, at the end of the day.

  5. An email comment: "Dear Dr. Janov,

    I have ONE main question....

    If one's environment is ideal and one has no obligations and can be 'relaxed' in supportive surroundings...does the body have the ability to release these old suppressed traumas and memories automatically by ITSELF...WITHOUT doing anything actively to enhance it?
    In the event of you answering this question negatively, how will you substantiate it...since the body has such an innate intelligence?

    Why do I ask this? Because I'm going through the weirdest of physical symptoms which can disappear in one day or after a week without doing ANYTHING about it. By the way I'm on NO medication at all. AND, I find I'm dreaming my past experiences so vividly.

    Kind regards."

    1. And my answer:
      I think that emotional pain is always surging toward connection only to be met by gating. So if there truly is not current stress at all and the body can take it, then yes it is possible that feelings are generated spontaneously. You defense system is allowing it, which is rarely the case. art

  6. I remember in one of Art's texts he said anxiety is closer to feelings than depression, true Art?
    I've been caught up w/music and am excitingly gearing to spend time in LA later this year but am reading your comments friends.

    1. Jacquie: yes anxiety is much more primitive for one reason, very early on (and this is fully explained in Life Before Birth) there is a time when there is yet hardly any production of inhibitory chemicals such as serotonin which is what accompanies depression but there is trauma, nevertheless. It is very early, a smoking or anxious mother, and yet no chance to repress as yet. Hence pure anxiety. art

    2. The earliness, and accompanying lack of repression, explains why the effects are felt so powerfully later on-- anxiety is almost impossible to control. Despite the clin psych's attempts which I hate.

  7. I would like to corroborate this last comment of Art's from my 'subjective' point of view. After many years of therapy I can now feel, even on my own. Since I now find it 'relatively' easy to allow my feelings to rise and then express them 'relatively' simply. For me, my old feelings come up willy-nilly as I go through life (sometime even once a week) and I am now able to easily allow myself to express them (mainly crying). It is so incredible to me how little stress I feel and, this to me allows for the feeling to rise and for me to express them. I don't doubt that I have some defenses left, but for the most part, allowing my body, and not my head, to go into it is such a great, great asset.

    As I stated this is just my current SUBJECTIVE view.


  8. Hi,

    -"I think that emotional pain is always surging toward connection only to be met by gating. So if there truly is not current stress at all and the body can take it, then yes it is possible that feelings are generated spontaneously. You defense system is allowing it, which is rarely the case". art

    So this beggars the question: "What is current stress"? Also "Are we making a stressful environment around us (socially, culturally, economically) as part of the 'distraction' from our internal pain"?

    Paul G.

    1. Reply to Paul G's question "Are we making a stressful environment around us?

      I would have thought that life throws up problems and conflicts. The mind only has a certain capacity and if a lot of that capacity is used up with obsessions and fears (as well as real events denied) etc then there is little left for sorting out life's problems. This person probably has problems with feeling feelings of the present (mixed up with the past) and cannot understand those feelings due to lack of left/right Brain connection. The person is using the obsessions etc to suppress stuff, gets to the point where the problems in the outside world cannot be worked out because the suppressing obsessions are getting in the way and then boom the Dam bursts and they have a breakdown as early trauma breaks through and because it's all mixed up and told from the position of a small child's view and interpritation of the world everyone thinks the person is crazy when all they are doing is expressing pain in the only way that small child could and add to that stuff from pre-birth and how many people including shrinks understand that. Thus is not stress the war between the past and present and left and right brain. Is not stress simply very slight insanity building up. I also hate the word insanity. Mental distress would be a kinder and more appropriate term.

      My experience anyhow.

    2. And to follow on is not stress simply early trauma breaking through because the mind has no more capacity to block it. Thus insanity as people like to call it is simply the confusion between the past and present. If one can unravel the confusion and get in touch with one's past one is called mad because one's family see's a change in one's character. My idiot of a Father told me that I had had a change of personality because I was getting angry and telling him he was talking utter rubbish. The hurt humiliated little Boy he had been had gained some sense of power by taking power over me. I saw a picture of him recently as he is now 5 years since I last spoke to him. He is a broken stooped old man castrated by a woman unable to aknowledge the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her Father so slowly killing the man she married. When he dies she will fall apart or go completely mad if she is'nt already.

      My Father called me mad because firstly he thought he had the omnipotent right to dictate who I was and how I should act and he ruined my life. Secondly he expected me to be a doormat just as he had been for the last 60 years. His life, his choices.

      I had to break the double bind of still wanting the love and approval of my Father, supporting him as a Son (why?) and then recognising that he had done the most damaging thing any Father can do to his Son. Sexually abuse him. I had to break the double bind of desperately wanting that approval and at the same time knowing that I would have to break him to be true to myself. It's enough to drive anyone crazy. Crazy angry not crazy mad!

      The fact that I could get angry and furious and cry stopped me going mad. And with that the anxiety has faded somewhat.

      It hurts like Hell though.


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.