Saturday, May 12, 2012

Erasing Bad Memories; Is It Possible?

Well here we go again. I keep swearing I would concentrate only on the positive and what really helps people and yet I see new articles every day that really need a response. This one is touted as exciting; it has to do with erasing bad memories and allows people to get rid of bad memories and get on with their lives. Sounds good, yes? And it has the imprimatur of well known and respected scientists. So what’s wrong? Just about every conclusion they come to. (It is about The Forgetting Pill by Jonah Lehrer, Feb 2012, Wired Magazine).

It all starts in the experience of a firefighter, called Jeff Mitchell. He witnessed a terrible auto accident and couldn’t shake the memory. He discussed it with his brother. It worked. He felt better. Jeff began to research it and finally wrote a piece on it in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. He called it Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD). He thought he stumbled on an amazing new kind of therapy. Here is what he said: “People who survive a painful event should express their feelings soon after so that the memory isn’t ‘sealed over.” He means before the memory gets repressed; once that is done we are vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder. In other words, suppressing the memory allows it to remain in the brain and physical system for a long time, may be a lifetime.

The article continues: it isn’t the trauma; it is that the trauma cannot be forgotten. The memory does not seem to fade over time. This is a slight turn on the old EST notion that it isn’t what happens to you; it is how we react to it.  This is pure solipsism, reality is not what counts; it is all in your head. Too often this slides off into cognitive behavior therapy, where all we need to do is to change your ideas and beliefs. Think positive thoughts. So researchers decided that the therapist needs to ask penetrating questions. And, they go on, that the best way to ease traumatic memory is to express it…get the sufferer to talk about it in depth.

But, ayayay. They quickly add that they have done studies and found it makes people worse. Soon we arrive at the dilemma that statistics can point in several directions. But the net result was that debriefing did “not hasten recovery.” In brief, you can’t talk your way to health. So the scientists argued against using the method. They believe that the CISGers mistakenly think the way to get rid of trauma is to talk it out. But they emphasize that memory is not like an inert packet of data that is unchanging; that there is no indelible memory of our past. That the very act of remembering changes the memory; it is malleable, and therefore not reliable. Mitchell now claims that it does not help traumatic memories. So what’s wrong? Is it just a faulty idea that has no merit?  Do people really get worse in recounting old traumatic memories?

The scientists say that trying to remember changes the entire memory itself, making it “the biggest lie of all.” But do they understand, really, what’s wrong?  Is it going over the past? Does that in itself make us worse? Is “let sleeping dogs lie” the best remedy? And when anyone then quotes Dr. Elizabeth Loftus to bolster his case, it soon becomes a faux piste, a disaster, in my patois. For many years they have trotted her out to bolster the case against recovered memory, and she happily accommodates to their request. I have made many claims about all this but she clearly isn’t interested. She says that most if not all recovered memories are manufactured and not reliable. I have seen the opposite; reliving old traumatic memories are nearly always reliable and exact.  Patients who relive a specific trauma continue to show the same vital sign alterations each session; something that cannot be faked, nor can their brainwave patterns be faked. Patients who relive incest find that their hands assume the position during the session with wrists bound together, held in place by the criminal/father.

What all this leads to is the America of the 1940’s, where due to Psychoanalysis the patient can never be believed; it is all a fantasy in the doctor’s mind. And this compounds a terrible crime against the patient who has to bury the memory all the deeper, and suffer more. Worse, the father often threatens the daughter if she says anything, and the mother castigates: “if you didn’t dress so seductively it would never happen.” So the poor girl is not only not believed but made to feel that she is guilty one. Loftus is aiding and abetting a crime. When did patients lose the right to be believed? When did we take on the role of judge?

Of course, if you go the cognitive route then it may be faked, but if the patient is in deep feeling during the session it won’t be.  I have never seen it.

Sorry to get off the track. But of course, talking should not be the end goal; feelings should be. And that is why those doctors don’t believe in it. They are doing it wrong, and they have no guiding scientific frame of reference to help lead them to an understanding. Point by point research leads to facts and more facts; rarely to a broad understanding. That kind of broad understanding lies in the domain of the right brain, usually absent in all this kind of research. Point by point studies are often the province of the left brain.

About memory: down below the cognitive level it is exact, precise and never ever changes; what makes it change is the involvement of the neo-cortex whose job it is to warp memory, especially when the memory is very painful.  The cortex, in this sense, is an anesthetic. It bolsters gating as it was meant to do. There is a whale of a difference between cerebral recall and neurophysiologic memory. And of course those scientists are confined to recall not memory. But the problem is that they designate recall as memory.

Yes memories are built out of consolidating proteins; and if you block the production of certain proteins you can block memories. But why? If you cut out the nerve tracks leading in and out of the amygdala you can block traumatic and fearful memory.  But do we want to do that?  Why do we want to inject chemicals that block key proteins from consolidating into bad memories?  We already have a way to eliminate terrible debilitating memories; it is called Primal. But do we want to rearrange our history? To eliminate history? There are memories that need to be retained. The death of a sister should not be forgotten because it is painful; it should be cherished because it is both painful and endearing. I think it is a bad idea to start messing with the brain, its chemicals and nerve tracks, because there is nearly always a payback. We are interfering with a natural process. We need to mourn, and if we go to a therapist who is going to “cut out” our history, we had better be sure of what we are doing. Do I need to remind everyone about the prefrontal lobotomy so prevalent in the forties and fifties? They cut out a piece of the brain which relayed memories to the top cortical level; and they made vegetables of those patients. You see, eventually, we are going to find the brain structures that deal with fear, rage etc. But it is not the structures that are the problem; it is the person housing all those structures.

Here is what the famous brain research Joseph LeDoux has to say: “When therapy heals it is because of reducing the impact of negative memories. Therapy allows people to rewrite their own memories while in a safe space.” You see, it is a matter of rewriting memories. Sorry, doctor; it is the opposite. We don’t want to rewrite memory. We don’t want to change our history. We want to experience that memory fully and so get it out of the system so it cannot hurt us anymore. The memory is real and is to be believed; not in recall but in memory—the exact way it was set down in the brain. We remember with all of us, not just the top of the brain. Why do you suppose we have the ability to remember and to cry? Evolution provided our means for healing; it is already there and ready. Why do we think it can’t be trusted? Or it is unreliable? Here is what my scientific associate and science writer Bruce Wilson, has to say:  

“There is a very important reason why "expressing their feelings soon after so that the memory isn’t ‘sealed over’” doesn't work. It's the same mistake made by the old analysts and the new analysts. The feeling/memory never has a chance to fully unfold as it was laid down and get connected to the cortex.

Without the understanding of how feelings actually work, without knowing them from the inside, one is led into a desert of ideas about feeling, some of which are quite bizarre. This inevitably leads to talking about feelings, which is useless, or to abreaction, which is not only nontherapeutic, but dangerous. This is undoubtedly why most psychologists reject deep feeling approaches on the grounds that they are re-traumatizing. Dredging up feelings without a clear understanding of what’s going on is a recipe for disaster.

Elizabeth Loftus, Joseph Ledoux, the CISGers, and most so-called "experts” don't really know what memory and feelings are. They don't do it right because they've never been there in the middle of it—not in a full, connected way. They think they know but they don't and they're all the more dangerous for it. They're like grocers doing brain surgery as you once wrote. And amid this muddle of non-healing, the psychosurgeons enter with their molecular scalpels. What you don't understand, you ablate. And then later, you witness the iatrogenic effects.”
Yes we can take out certain brain structures or chemicals in rats but will they lead a good life afterward? We did give electroshock therapy to thousands of patients during those same years, and all we managed to do was to separate a person’s feelings from his consciousness; separate his memories from conscious/awareness. To make him emotionless and ahistoric. Is that what we want?


  1. Forgiveness and anxiety a divinely gifted phenomenon!

    There was a TV show about a female racer driver… at a race she went off the road and plunged fifty meter down in to a lake... the car sank seven meters down into the water... it took them thirty seconds to get out of the car.
    This event was presented on television where she was asked what she thought about during that incident.

    She had lost her husband a few years earlier at a rally in Monte Carlo. The cause of this… now accident… was that her husband was waiting for her “he wanted me to come home” WHAT A TRAGEDY FOR MANKIND... no... not just for her ... She also spread something that is almost irresistible for those who suffer and listen to the "divine" event that waits!

    She talked… not just about how she missed her husband ... her husband as the last resort to avoid having to experience what it was that really was happening to her… but also what she always has as last resort before death.

    She would probably change her life completely if she only got part of what is rely happening to her.

    When we see the role that religion fills… it's not hard to understand how the martyrs give their lives in faith… fate to come "home" through madness like no other.

    It is time to let these sufferings share what primal therapy presents? I mean we live in a total madness with ourselves as victims... victims for madness and because of that we can’t not be part of reality… reality of what life contains.

    There is no forgiveness for these "sins" against upgrowing generations... we must ensure that information is disseminated.

    Art ... if I can arrange lecture about primal therapy at our universities do you have someone who can come?


    1. Frank: Which university? France can give lectures. I cannot til the stem cells kick in, if they ever do. art

    2. Art, I read your comment about the stem cells and I am saddened. I don't know what your situation is, but I am hoping you have tried nutritional supplements, which may sound kinda lame to some, but as my own pet guinea pig I can tell you that some of this stuff works. It is a lot of research and trial and error, but well worth it in my opinion if you can improve your quality of life.

    3. Retrun: thanks I have done every supplement known to man

  2. I will try stockholms univesity... Uppsala and Lund and som others if so. Is there any you preferred?


    1. Frank: No there is none I prefer but I did speak at Karolinska years ago. My guess is you will get nowhere. Art

    2. Art,

      By what right can they bend away such an offer... that is the question and further what rhetoric we make use of. What could be the risk of going forward rather "brusquely"? They must finally provide answers to questions they cannot put right for their own meaning. This is also what a legal process should be about.


  3. Hi Art,

    Last week was not good for me, coulda been worse though. In and out of various agencies to sort out my homelessness situation. Trying to get a flat so that I can be Grandad and Father to my kids in my own place.

    I had a nasty fright nearly crashing the car on the way to work. . . When I recovered I knew I needed a mental health diagnosis (instead of trying to just live with it and hide it). That might get me re-housed. So I went and laid it on the line with the bureaucrats behind the benefits / NHS doctors' desks. . . . I cried hard when I discovered to my horror that my doctor who knows our family history has retired. . .

    These bureaucrats said that they might be able to put me into a hostel but because I was working I would have to pay £200 weekly for the privilege. I earn approximately £200 weekly.

    One kind lady said I should take antidepressants, another offered me a bedsit (useless for caring for kids). Now, if I refuse the bedsit I may be relegated to another 6 months of homelessness. . . The fact I am desperate to be an actual practical Father and Grandad as well as working professionally whilst enduring an acute mental health problem has escaped the bureaucrats. I'm but one more statistic.

    My ex partner occupies my old 3 bed council house (given to us 10years ago because we had my son to look after) she's on benefits and only pays £14 per week rent! She said I should get a room in a shared house privately. Nowhere to keep all the family members together, nowhere for my stuff and nowhere to cry. She knows what's going on for me but like the bureaucrats, in her mind my housing needs do not relate to my parental responsibilities or to good mental health care. Basically I've got Saturdays to act out Dad in the park, I've got antidepressants to act out good health and I've got sofa surfing to cater for my housing needs. Oh yeah, I've got a job so I must be ok and financially secure Jack. . . I should be so grateful.

    Well I am of course. I'm not pushing up the daisies yet!

    This is how the cognitives reason isn't it? Take a problem, divide it up into individual fragments and treat the individual fragments as separate and unrelated 'bytes'. . . Vaporise each one with Glib & generic words, get irritable when the words don't fit. Blame it on the victim.

    The cognitivists are actually psychologically in competition with the victims. That's why more and more victims are generated on the planet. It's all the victims' fault for whining. Thus the rationalists deserve more.

    The problem with the cognitive view is quite simply that there is an absence of feeling and so there is an absence of Consciousness and therefore a total absence of genuine understanding.

    This is a convenient way to live isn't it? I mean, having stuffed ones' own feelings well below the threshold of personal awareness one can fully expect everyone else to as well.
    It must be so hard for these bureaucrats, having to endure the needs of the 'service users'. . . Gritting their teeth and smiling: "Next Please"!

    'Local Authority Care': 'Meritocratic Hierarchy' relies on how cleverly you conceal the victim you really are so that people can 'feel sorry for you' without actually having to care, or without having to 'resonate / empathise' with 'service user'. Are you a service user? Take a ticket, sit down and wait to be 'served'. Are you grateful? Are you complaining? Would you like a complaint form? Do you have a diagnosis? Can you move your arms, bend over, fill in this form? Which language would you like it printed in? Be grateful for choice!

    So, (as you loose your temper) the reply is: "Do you see yourself as the victim here"?

    And the best liars get the best resources. . . So I am re-training as a liar in order to deserve better the satisfaction of my needs.

    Paul G.

    1. Paul: The problem with the cognitive view is quite simply that there is an absence of feeling and so there is an absence of Consciousness and therefore a total absence of genuine understanding. I love this line Paul. I hope you are getting it together. Art.

    2. Art,
      It is frankly too damn that science from the primal therapeutic nature can not reach the ones that should know is in it self also of science... science of why it can not be done? We know that by now.

      Given the system is geared to not know what is the reason to not feel... then we know the impossibility.

      That someone deliberately is so "stupid"... that is not the question... it is "obviously" a tragedy... the question is... for how long can we let it pass?


  4. Ohhhhhh nooooo Dr. Janov, not another one.
    All these philosophical (solipsism) ideas, created in one's own mind. They are so sure, but have no proof.
    How much more of such self-indulgent garbage humanity has to endure? Why don’t we ask Ratzinger (pope), he has his version of healing – pray, pray, pray.
    The VA tried a similar method with combat soldiers in 2004 and found out, a few years later, it didn’t work.

  5. Can I spell it out again, Andrew style?

    If a thug grabs me then crushes my thumb by smacking my hand with a hammer, then that event will be imprinted into my brain as a solid memory. It will be a raw, blunt recording of reality. That is the memory in its pure and real form.

    If the memory is traumatic, then when I start to recede into this horror memory my brain will try to escape from it. One way to do that is to distract myself from the memory by creating (NOT remembering) a false reality in response to the initial recall of the real memory. For example, the moment my brain reverts to the original memory I might, by force of creative will, imagine myself escaping from the thug before the hammer strikes.

    So would that be a distorted memory? Obviously not. It's just a fantasy to distract me from the real event and the real pain. I'm just playing games with myself to avoid the imprinted truth - and that truth in itself is going nowhere. Psychoanalysis does the exact same thing by getting people to analyse feelings rather than feel them. It's all about turning that steering wheel hard-left to avoid going head-on into reality. It's nothing more than a distraction.

    Distraction/repression/distraction/repression/distraction/repression...and on and on. There are an infinite number of ways to do it.
    All you gotta do is stick your mind somewhere else. And call it therapy of you wanna make a buck.

    It's almost boring, eh!?

    1. Andrew: By George he's got it!

    2. Thanks Art. I'm hoping that some of the "fantasy therapists" and cognitivists might one day get it too. That's why I tend to re-write some parts of your posts...Another way of saying the same thing can help to make things clearer to an audience, I believe.

    3. Andrew: You mean I am not clear? art

    4. Hi Andrew. Interesting point. Freud called them masking memories. I've had a few of those. I also think that that one's mind could go blank. An event happens and there is no memory after a certain time in other words amnesia. For example some victims of the holocaust were talking on Radio 4 a while back and one talked about how she had repressed the memories and the way she talked it seemed as though she had not created a masking memory. How could one do so in those circumstances. She knew she had been in the camps and faced horrors so how could she create something better. What was better about those camps? Nothing. Nowhere to go even in the mind. The only way to deal with it was blank it completely. If one is so truamatised as a child then one perhaps creates one big masking memory such as having a delightful childhood. There are so many and varied trauma's that they mesh into one and can be hidden by the lie that one's Parent's loved one and one's childhood was nirvana.

    5. "Andrew: You mean I am not clear? art"

      Yes there is still a little bit of murk in my head. Most of your writing is crystal clear to me. Feel free to tell me if any of this is wrong:

      A misguided patient could easily confuse an emotionally charged somnambulistic trance (such as feeling angry while sleepwalking) with a primal. During a somnambulistic hypnotic trance, the third line disengages. The patient operates on the second or first line. He is vulnerable to suggestion as he loses his capacity for critical thought. But his surroundings remain a part of his consciousness.

      During the most powerful part of a primal, the third line goes "dark" or "offline". Indeed, the patient is unable to think. He operates on the second or first line. But he is not in a trance; he is not unconscious, and therefore not vulnerable to suggestion from other noisy patients in group therapy. His feelings can be triggered by other patients, but not distorted. In the most powerful stage of the primal, the intellect goes blank while the left frontal lobe communicates with the right, and the upper levels communicate with the lower levels. It is this important, unthinking communication that enables the patient to be fully conscious of a non-neurotic feeling. To put it another way; the patient is 'deep' but fully conscious of his real self, though it is only a memory.

      A hypnotised patient will never experience the full force of a traumatic feeling, but will have no way of judging his own experience, and therefore could falsely believe he is primalling. This is great news for mock therapists. As a bystander I suspect I will always be able to sense the difference between a real primal and a neurotic emotional trance. When I watch videos, the real ones rush straight down my spine, and the fake ones just annoy me. The real ones have a relentless and realistic feeling whereas the fake ones have lulls and moments of awkwardness.

      I am interested in the techniques used to preserve full consciousness as the patient is descending to the deeper levels. The therapist must know when to provide truthful ideas, when to stop talking, when to use wordless stimuli etc. It's all very interesting isn't it?

    6. To avoid confusing other readers, I should say that the primaller is fully conscious of his non-neurotic feeling AND his present surroundings. In other words, he is fully conscious/awake but unable to think during the full force of the feeling.

    7. Richard: Well it depends. if there are no words during the reliving then he can think and feel but not in words during the session. art

    8. aaah! now i get it. when reliving, the brain behaves similarly to the way it did at the time of the trauma. if the trauma occurred at a time when the intellect was very developed, there is no reason why the intellect would go 'offline' during the primal. but if it's a birth trauma, the intellect will go offline, and the limbic will too because those parts were barely functional at the time of the trauma. and the patient will return to the original physiological state. the past becomes real in the a time machine.

    9. Richard: By George he's got it! The difference between recall and primal remembering is that in a primal you return to the organism as it was originally. You are in the brain of a five year old. That is why when patients descend further back they begin to lose articulation and never utter a big word. Art

    10. when you are primalling, when you are lying on your back with your mouth filled to the brim with saliva -- and you have forgotten how to breathe -- you are completely unfamiliar with the muscles in your throat and chest -- you don't know how to begin the breathing motion -- and you are most definitely suffocating....your left brain will stay connected to your right brain. that is how both hemispheres stay with the present as both hemispheres relive the past. that is how the patient stays AWAKE and therefore fully aware of the feeling. that is how the patient remains fully self-aware. he is reliving a birth feeling, but he knows his present self. that is why he can sense when the therapist is doing something wrong. that is why he can help the therapist after the session. he is not the therapist's puppet - he is self-aware. the two brains are working as one; there is no disconnection -- no trance. the patient is never unconscious.

      art, i needed you to explain things together instead of creating separate topics. i couldn't put the pieces together but you have done that now. thank you. hey, don't assume i am too intellectual. it is easy to get lost when your imagination is constantly distracted by all of those abstract explanations. 3,2,1...1,2, i can see what you were meaning when you wrote that. you were talking about the different stages of the subjective experience. you were not talking about a mechanical disengagement of one level as the next one kicks in. that would be disconnection, and of course we don't want that. can you see how i and many others were getting confused?

      hey guess what...the primal i described at the very beginning of this comment; i have had that experience a few times. i didn't think it was a proper primal (and maybe it wasn't) because i thought (afterwards) that i was too AWAKE during those experiences and although it was scary to be suffocating, i needed it to continue. but afterwards, i thought that a real primal would have been way more horrific than that. and i thought that those experiences didn't last long enough to qualify.
      but now i am not so sure. my mouth was really full of saliva, i certainly wasn't thinking about anything during those experiences but i was aware that i was lying in bed in my room, and you say that time is not recorded during a primal -- that might explain why each experience seemed like a short time. dunno. but it's interesting. MAYBE i am sort of already there. maybe i am strong enough to go into my first line early in therapy. we'll see.

    11. i've been thinking about my primal-ish experiences. i don't think they were primals. i didn't feel hopeless and helpless. i was suffocating but i had an awareness that everything would be alright. damn those sneaky defenses...each time that happens it probably creates a permanent reduction in my potential for improvement.

  6. Is it possible to erase memories?
    “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” (Cervantes: Don Quixote)

    Over the past year I have often thought of and felt a / my loneliness. Not that I’m feeling more alone than before in my life, but because the loneliness is about to change meaning and become something more graspable and less intimidating than before. Previously, I felt loneliness as something ugly and as a punishment, a stigma that haunted me since early childhood.

    Since my feeling of loneliness has been so total and versatile, the word lonely is inadequate. My loneliness covers insecurity, fear, being misunderstood, deserted, locked, trapped and unfree. To cope with this cluster of emotions, I have often become angry, aggressive, critical, physically active, and I have developed neurotic actions to “impress” both, myself and the surroundings. This has sometimes “succeeded”, which has delayed my liberation many years.

    Since my struggle with my painful loneliness takes place in a world in which very little, of what happens, is taking place based on real needs, but is a reflection of my own neurotic behavior. It sounds, in other words, as a catch-22, to be miserable and full of compressed loneliness, which is hidden by the neurotic, pain-killing actions in a mad world. Is there any hope for improvement?

    There exists a route. It is narrow and long and is coated with skinless feelings. Evolution filters, if necessary, away our unbearable pain, so that we may survive. Pain is the name of the road to freedom. It is possible under safe therapeutic forms to go back into the pain and feel it, the way we could not, initially, cope with it. In this way, we can erase the protective filter that we no longer need as we’ve felt / lived the original pain caused by a dramatic experience at our entrance into life.

    Does this sound complicated? However, it is extremely simple, under correct and knowledgeable guidance, to dare to learn, gradually, to feel the pain. It is a totally natural method that restores distorted, repressed feelings, which becomes a memory, which the body and brain assimilate as a rich experience. In recent weeks, I have had the strength, easily to slide into my birth primals and feel / live the loneliness, helplessness, claustrophobia, that made me insecure, trapped and scared. I feel the connection between the birth process /childhood traumas and my loneliness.

    I do not think that it is possible to erase bad memories. We relive dreadful memories, when we have the strength and resources to allow the three levels in the brain to accept a painful, traumatic memory. Your body often gets, as a result, the information it needs to also be cured. Bad memories become thus, though still bad, an enriching experience that strange as it sounds, makes life easier in a twisted world.

    It is no longer as easy to get your “buttons pressed” by external impressions when you have access to your true feelings! The flip side of the coin is that there is less room for neurotic Euforia, which in turn gives the advantage to have fewer hangovers...

    Jan Johnsson

  7. "When therapy heals it is because of reducing the impact of negative memories. Therapy allows people to rewrite their own memories while in a safe space.” You see, it is a matter of rewriting memories"
    Hi Art:
    Good article. When I read the above I thought of how many years I spent in cognitive therapy and outside, trying to convince myself that my dad really loved me. I did everything, looked through my moms old pictures trying to find one of him holding me in a loving way. I asked my mother to share memories of him loving me and on and on and on. All in all it didn't work. I was living in an unreal place and underneath I still had all that pain.
    What did work was my experience in primal therapy, going back and feeling the pain of not being love and the need that was there. That worked my friend! So your article is write on!
    You can't just erase memories by talking about them, (God knows I did that) and you can't rewrite history to make it be what it wasn't. The only answer is your answer, to go back feel the feelings, and gain insight and connections, This is what allows for change,
    Keep on keeping on.
    You can

  8. Hi,

    -"Paul: The problem with the cognitive view is quite simply that there is an absence of feeling and so there is an absence of Consciousness and therefore a total absence of genuine understanding. I love this line Paul. I hope you are getting it together. Art"-

    I was in our local authority housing office this morning. I noticed a young adviser nonchalantly swaggering his way from the office to the interview room and I thought to myself: "Ah yes, there we have your typical 'bright young' ex social science graduate office worker. He had obviously learned the ropes because it took him twice as long to 'swagger' his way across the nylon office carpet than even an old lady with a zimmer frame; somehow he even managed to swing his arms in time with his 'office carpet shuffle' too. One of his trainer laces was undone. . . I thought to myself: "Oh please, please don't let this twat be my interviewer, please no"!

    I took a deep breath and went woozy with the adrenalin rush. Through the glass of the interview cubicle I could see him scratch his cowlick and slouch and slouch again as he waited for the next 'service users' details to boot up on the computer screen. The old guy sat opposite me was still ranting about the airforce and Churchill and the immigrants and how he'd been living in a garage for five years and the country was going to the dogs. . . I blamed Thatcher for selling off the social housing. My pulse raced and the adrenal anxiety rose and the tosser in the cubicle got up, swaggered the two metres to the glass door and said: "Paul"?

    What followed was pure farce. The point came where this 'bright young thing' could no longer cope with me. I did not raise my voice, I did not break down, I did not lie, I did not falter in my quest to be re-housed. As the time went by I could see that my PTSD was indeed resonating his but only I was aware of that. The bright young thing began to feign, chew his finger nails, tap his fingers, dissociate, confabulate, forget, invent and generally talk bollocks. In the end he crossed his arms and threw the rule book at me.

    I feel 'immunised' now. Dealing with these cognitivists is like getting a vaccination. I didn't get the social housing I need but I did get a lesson in Irony and that is almost worth more. 6 months ago I'd've been down the pub drowning my sorrows about that. Perhaps I'll start looking for a private tenancy, after all: "When in town, be prepared to pay the whole ticket including the postage". I'm moving on all-right. . . Fuckwit!

    (There should be a designation for 'fuckwit' in the diagnostic manual; it's a proper technical term I reckon, shorter than cognitive and wholly more understandable).

    Paul G.

  9. An email comment:
    "Yes, thank you, it's all so true and also very frightening that so-called experts are such non-feeling
    robots. Recently I responded to a New York Times solicitation to subscribe to their paper with a suggestion: You print Dr. Janov's work/articles,essays, and I will gladly subscribe. Not a word from them.

    The little boy/pals death broke my heart. I've reread it several times. I cannot come to California. I've read all of A. Miller's books; worked with Stettbacher's self-therapy; and gleaned some useful points from Jean Jenson's book. Now I heard that she and a Dr. Bosch have developed a therapy called "Past Reality Integration." Have you any thoughts on it?

    1. And my answer: Sorry but there is so much nonsense out there that I cannot answer each every inquiry about this or that approach. art

  10. Another email comment:
    "I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I read "We did give electroshock therapy to thousands of patients during those same years, and all we managed to do was to separate a person’s feelings from his consciousness; separate his memories from conscious/awareness. To make him emotionless and ahistoric. Is that what we want?" There is something about that that brings me to the sick feeling of too much pain killer which I experienced shortly after back surgery. I never went for drugs because they all made me feel disconnected. What is life without a feeling connection? I am remembering when I used methods to ease first line pressure, something that seemed to get in the way of real connection or give me a rebound that I felt as anxiety. Ok, I don't want to go so far that this is a therapy session, but the reason psychological theories other than yours makes me angry and sick inside, just like religion, is that it is a kind of numbness to life. I can't see how that can help anyone. I am also getting a clue as to why separation from non feeling people in one's life is necessary. They seem to either be creating too much stress or too much numbness, it blurs your mind and buries your feelings: where the the real you can be retrieved. Even the techniques I use that work require too much time and aren't often possible in my environment and with my associations. So what do the poor do who can't help these situations Art? They are often necessary to survival, as in working a poor job without a union voice, without respect. Once when I was young some boss told me that a lady in another factory was the fastest of all. I asked him questions about how she operated the machine and it turned out that she was sitting down... When I tried to do the job with a stool the same boss came and jerked the stool from under me landing me on the floor. Recourse? There was none. Options to survive? Go to the plantation down the street? Art, some of this is political... period. Some of us need better circumstances and more freedom before we can have the resources and freedom to feel that we need. What do you say to this? Perhaps Peter Prontzos has a few suggestions???"

  11. Another email comment:
    "This was IMO one very superb statement. It sure was put with ought-to-be impacting succinctness - including the very topical, so totally acceptable, digression!

    I too suffer from seeing such Publicized Output Of/from the combined efforts of journalists and scientists (so called!).

    Yours (sometimes picky and provocative but nevertheless largely very appreciative),

  12. Art,

    A big part of this problem stems from the "false memory" episode from 10 years or so ago. During that period, some therapists insisted that all patients had been sexually abused. Those therapists even convinced some patients that they had been sexually abused when they had not. Subsequently, the patients came to believe that some vague images in their heads were emergent memories of repressed sexual abuse. When some of these patients' "memories" were revealed as incorrect, some outside researchers and commentators (who often cite Loftus) concluded that all memory of trauma is just unreliable then.

    As another example, Dr. Ofshe did research in which he got a subgroup of people to gradually believe (wrongly) that they had been briefly lost in a mall when they were 4 or 5 years old. Since their memory of an event was incorrect, this apparently means that memory is no good or is "reconstructed". This was the conclusion drawn by many people who followed Ofshe's work.

    The thinking goes something like this. Some person (or group of people) mis-remembered an event. Therefore, memory is not reliable; it is reconstructed.

    Of course, that's just silly. Memory is not an either/or proposition. People forget trivial events but remember major ones. When people mis-remember something trivial, it means that they did not remember THAT THING correctly, not that all memory is radically unreliable.

    Past traumas are ruled out on similar grounds. I can gather two groups of people, and can tell one group (the treatment group) to yell "FUCK!!!" one hundred times in a row in order to discharge the trauma. They did not improve. Therefore, any cathartic therapy doesn't work. This is science, because there was random assignment and two groups. (This experiment, or something like it, has actually been done, and is usually the sole basis for ruling out primal therapy).

    Simplistic thinking is very widespread in Psychology.

    -Tom W

  13. Off topic:

    The other day I was lying in bed almost asleep. I was playing a radio show that I was falling asleep to, and as the speaker spoke I literally experienced his voice as my own thoughts. My brain did not differentiate. I then immediately woke up, properly, with the curious dream-like experience fresh in my memory.

    It seemed to me that the part of my brain responsible for determining my own mind was off-line, so there was nothing to mediate the input from the radio. I also noticed how easy it is to comprehend when your mind is not working so hard to mediate input - that is, when you just let it "roll" into your brain like your own thoughts. The comprehension takes care of itself without effort; well that's how I experienced it anyway.

    I wonder how many people learn in a partial sleep state? I wonder if some people absorb their professors thoughts as their own, with inadequate mediation because it's so easy? Maybe this is a normal process to a given degree? Maybe this is why many shrinks just can't "get" Primal theory...i.e have already swallowed someone else's brain as their own and there's no room for 'primal' thoughts?

    Just some curious thoughts. I found that dream experience of mine fascinating because it showed me how extreme my brain can be in a passive state. I now know that it's truly possible to *directly* experience someone else's thoughts as your own!

    Link to Arthur Janov's hypnotism posts:

    1. Just read Art's hypnosis blog. Fascinating. I sure as hell have felt hypnotised or in a trance like state though if I recognised at the time I was in such a state, then either I was not in such a state which one would not notice or I was becoming more concious of myself. I think I went through a stage of flipping between a concious state and a hypnotic state about 5 years ago. What helped me during that time was knowing that if I felt anxious and terrified I must be closer to my real self and when I felt cold and unfeeling I was not my real self.

    2. Also interesting to read about Barkers research into Epilepsy etc in the Primal Scream (page 140) with the use of none stage hypnosis which Art suggests weakens the unreal self so taking the person nearer to the real self. Experiencing early trauma and feelings headed off an epileptic fit which would have been the person's neurotic answer to avoiding the associated pain.

  14. Andrew Atkin,

    I want to comment on your experience, when you almost asleep mixed your personal thoughts with that of a radio speaker. You said his voice felt as your private thoughts and you thought your brain did not differentiate.

    I have many times had similar experiences. It has happened when I have had a condition of depression, and without being able and/or willing to feel, during the day, have entered into a sleepy / “relaxed” / off guard state. When I occasionally, under those conditions, have been listening to the radio / TV, then suddenly the speaker’s voice expressed my thoughts / feelings, and I “manipulated” his words and the tone of his voice. What I developed was a hallucinatory experience, which in my case realtes to the field of psychogenic epilepsy.

    In my case, these experiences happened when I was less able to feel my pain. They were a sign of leaky gates. My pain found a way out, and the hallucination happened in an off guard /drowsy stage when a word from the speaker had struck a cord in my mind, which was transmitted to my repressed pain, and the leak took place. Now, years later, when I have felt my horrific birth pain repeatedly, the tendency to need these releases of tension/pain has dissappeared.

    No doubt it is interesting how my pain, when my mind was “off-line” /off guard could find an escape, which though in the beginning was confusing. Slowly, I learned that leaky gates have many alternative escape routes. Hallucination was but one.

    I share your concern that uncritical minds, with repressed pain, might adopt their professors words. Fortunately, in a sane, healthy brain, able to feel the pain, I value the risk as low. However, in a neurotic, pain propelled world, there is risk that the bullshit goes around.

    Jan Johnsson

  15. Hi Andrew,

    I has long been said that the best way to get some-one to do what you want them to is to somehow get them to believe it was their idea in the first place. I've often been fascinated by the way I and others 'mimic'. my Grandson does now. I have acquired mannerisms and ideas from other people who I respect and 'look up to' and even end up sounding like them; I really wonder how 'awake' I was at that time. . .

    Sometimes there's a willingness to copy others and take it as ones' own because of the unmet need to be filled with love and useful things by our parents when we were little. What we never got. . . so easily filled up later by our 'peers'.

    Somewhere else on this blog Art asks the question how asleep / awake are we?

    Paul G.

    1. Hi Paul

      I am there with you on the mimicking thing. It is said that the more confident and centred the person is the less likely they are to change an accent for example.

      For example I grew up in the West Midlands and had a bit of a Birmingham accent and then when my family moved to Herefordshire in the mid sixties I soon gained a broad country accent. When I left home and went to college I made friends with a bunch of guys from Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester and picked up something of a northern accent which I still have slightly. People think I am from up north.

      I would argue that those of us who were brought up to be who our Parents wanted us to be are more like sponges than people. We learned at a very early age that who we were was not right and had to in essense be our Father and/or our Mother. Thus to fit in we have to take on external influences and make them our own. Having one's Mother tell one she did not like me or tell me to be more like so and so simply shows that she could not handle anyone standing up to her. An assertive young man reminded her of aspects of her childhood she did not like to think about including a domineering and I suspect sexually abusive Father. The Sins of the Fathers and all that.

      I would say that I still have the northern accent because maybe I did a lot of growing up once I left home. I became set as a hopefully more solid person. As you say filled by my peers. Sadly the foundations for that had been laid down far earlier in my life so my growth later on was never going to be as secure as it should have been.

      I would argue that if we are loved from before we are born and respected for who we are we will always learn something rather than "be filled" with something so we can feel loved. A confident child will learn what he or she needs. Lloyd de Mausse described children as being poison containers for their Parents neurosis's. I think that much of our language is influenced by the common neurosis of society. I added a comment in another of Art's blog saying that he and Alice Miller allowed me to be myself. Why "Allow"? What about "accepting" me for who I was. My language is littered with these neurotic terms.

      We have to be asleep to be filled. To be conscience is to take more concious and informed decisions about what we decide to take on board from our peers. The trouble is that the vast majority of people are "filled" and therefore think they are normal. If Madness could be considered as an imbalance of our internal and external world then the vast majority of the world are mad in one way or the other. One well known english writer and physcologist was on Radio 4 about 2 years ago and said that he thought that only 20 to 30 percent of the UK population was completely sane. I suppose if we are filled with ideas that are not our own we are not sane.

  16. Congratulation Dr. Janov,
    “Life before birth” is available in Germany September 2012.
    Preorders can be placed:

    I wrote a short introduction on Twitter (in German) to get the word out.
    I'm very happy for you and all the people who will read it.

  17. An email comment: "The words from anonymous and Andrew:

    "when therapy heals it is because of reducing the impact of negative memories,"

    "if a thug grabs me then crushes my thumb by smacking my hand with a hammer, then that event will be imprinted into my brain as a solid memory,"

    bring to my mind an old memory of an event in a school library. When reaching for a block of wood (representing a reference book at the front desk) on a very high shelve it slipped and fell on my big toe. The impact was excruciating.
    It felt like my foot was in shock. Somehow I knew to go into one of the small enclosed study rooms and let myself cry.
    This hurt! Amazingly, within moments I could feel my numb toe come alive. It felt warm and then hot as the blood flowed back into it. The next morning instead of finding my toe black and blue there was absolutely no sign of trauma. I remember it was such a revelation to me. Feeling my pain, feeling what happened to me when it happened to me was truly healing.
    Just a memory shorn of its pain.

    1. I think pain is intrinsically part of healing. I know that anesthetics interfere with physical healing.

  18. Richard: By George he's got it! The difference between recall and primal remembering is that in a primal you return to the organism as it was originally. You are in the brain of a five year old. That is why when patients descend further back they begin to lose articulation and never utter a big word. Art

    And the amazing thing about that is that you can be a witness to these events involving yourself. Who is the 'you' witnessing 'you' cry as a pre-verbal baby? Certainly 'you' are still here, 'you' are still present and 'you' can live to tell the tale. Truly a survivor of your own frightful past, in the present.

    Paul G.

    1. Paul: As long as we understand each other; you are not witnessing the event; you are in it totally. When you come out of it you know what you have been through. And moreover, you know how that feeling drove many behaviors. I had to go out for coffee every morning until I felt I can't get out at birth. My act-out was getting out. Art

    2. Interesting. I always have to get out of the house each day too. I was stuck for 6 hours until the doctors aligned my head properly.

  19. Paul, about your housing dilemma! I understand completely. I put my reply on another blog on this one but I want to warn you about experiencing and expressing natural human emotions or feelings in a multi occuped block of flats or under a shared roof. I did it, you see. Had a soundproof (I thought) chamber in my flat. A place to cry in and stupid neighbours told the social housing landlords a lot of strange rumours which created a horrendous nightmare for me involving many social service depts, a mental hospital in South West London and my local authority housing dept. I went to challenge the chain smoking social worker who had instigated a secret referral and stopped the whole nonsense which would have seen me put into a clinic where care in the community completely mad people walk round in wearing crazy hats or muttering and in the end the head os the south west NHS authority informed the council housing and social services dept that this referral was entirely inappropriate for me and they not only had to back down but my housing file which had a record of this in it went 'missing'. I was wrongly diagnosed with a serious mental illness which I do not have. My doctor was absolutely furious because she had never given any information to the housing organisation or the council.The reason this happened? Because I used the only place I had for my feelings.( I called it 'the elephant.' This after a place I had used for 6 years became became no longer available. Do be careful where you live Paul. Few understand about the essential work involving feelings! It is very sad primal therapy is not an affordable option for some people. Although, I am sure it is worth much more than the cost. It is best to live with a lot of space between you and your nearest neighbours unless they are conscious feeling people! All the best to you.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thanks for the warning but it's too late. I'm demanding a psychiatric assessment and I will get one that tells the sorry tale, I await an appointment. There is a big Irony about to happen because the authorities kept me on an 'Open Sick Note' for 7 to 10 years (whist I volunteered as a carpentry instructor). I have been assessed already as PTSD due to what happened with my kids. When I told the benefits assessment doctors every year for 7 years what the authorities did to my family they took notes, agreed I was damaged and quickly signed the sick note. They're doing the same thing with my son too. None of the professionals know what to say when they hear what happened. In fact they shut the f**k up and sign the documents. Strange eh?

      All the records will be there and the Inland Revenue Know about it too. I was smart enough to volunteer for 12 years as a not for profit carpentry and woodland managment company director whilst battling the kids' mad mother in court 5 times till she drank herself to death.

      This is what f****d my relationship with my last partner of 17yrs. She's got PTSD because of it too but stupidly (IMHO) got CBT instead of feeling therapy, dump your partner and start afresh, f**k history. Thanks for the living nightmare courtesy of the child protection dept and the UK Courts.

      It's all been sanctioned by the authorities and none of their departments realise it because they all don't communicate with each other do they? Then the individual cognensi bureaucrats who mashed it all up in the first place have moved on to a different department in a different are on a different funding cycle in yet another unaccountable QUANGO.

      It's all about to get blown open now that my adopted kids are nearly 21yrs (havn't seen them for 17yrs). I am seeking a psychiatric assessment for PTSD caused by Social Services and High Court miscarriage of justice regarding their forced adoption against my will. I'm not even taking an action. I'm just seeking a psychiatric assessment based on what the authorities have already acknowledged. They can try to put me in a nut house if they want but they'll have to get a letter from my sons' social worker to agree to it! Who will help my son look after my grandson then? Fuckwits all of them!

      By the time the authorities finally realise the situation I'm in I will have spent all the savings I had earmarked for my primal therapy on being Grandad and Dad Carpenter in a Landrover whilst homeless holding the baby & my grandson & his relationship with my daughter and son and stepson. Exactly like how it was 19yrs ago. Exactly the bloody same repeating situation; because I care for and love my children. Idiots! Why do the intelligentsia allways label the men as bad/ useless parents when they get dumped? Then they set the CSA onto us!

      Nothing's changed despite the Child Protection Department swearing blind they no longer have "Institutional Sexism" again men / fathers.

      It's endemic in our societies and people like me are the living proof of it, there's tens of thousands of fathers in UK like me; half of all mariages with children now fail in UK. It's made me ill by capping previous traumas. The number of 'cognising' women wearing the trousers' (a very English thing) who've told me I'm just acting the victim has become a predictable joke. Even when I'm holding the baby I get this s**t! how do you account for that?
      Most of the men I know are just as bad because they don't really like holding babies do they? No they f*****g don't. Neither did I at first, all those years ago, as a young father but my conscience got the better of me and I don't mind crying about it now either.

      Paul G.

  20. Hi,

    -"Paul: As long as we understand each other; you are not witnessing the event; you are in it totally. When you come out of it you know what you have been through. And moreover, you know how that feeling drove many behaviors. I had to go out for coffee every morning until I felt I can't get out at birth. My act-out was getting out. Art"_

    Yes, well I think that is why I asked the question. When I got to the early 2nd line need of my Mum in the car about three to four weeks ago (several times without trying, I'm not trying, it's like vomiting and it happens as my 2nd line kicks in on the way to work, takes till 11am for my 3rd line to kick in some days)I no longer was fixated with my ex partner. My idealisation and projection on her vanished for good (as did my idealisation and fear of various other people and situations and also my previous gullibility to take peoples' word as sacrosanct and a few chronic eccentric symptoms have almost totally waned). So I can say that I am conscious of being totally in it until I am done. Perhaps you could say where there is a sense of witnessing then that is not touching the original need, degrees of abreaction on the way maybe.

    After the event, much later when back in my 3rd line sometimes I wonder where my true feelings went but I also notice an increment of extra peace, strength and security and the desire to live with my chronic anxiety rather than deny it, drown it etc; I'm far from finished with all this and more determined than ever to so do.

    Paul G.

    1. Hi,

      Briefly before the 22 mile drive to my 'occupational therapy' in the countryside. . .

      I had another one in the car yesterday. I knew it was coming. . . absolutely as Art describes. . . "Totally In It".

      The "It" for me is "Crushing Betrayal", being 'squeezed out'. Really bloody angry about being sent away to boarding school. Begging to be returned and really bloody angry about it, as a 9yr old with "Crushing Intrusion" from early 2nd line. (The concentration of driving seems to be an aid to allowing the surfacing feelings and sensations, then I pull over, park and let go, I'm not making this happen and it's coming up in the mornings as I wake and prepare for precision in my workshop- can't concentrate on that till 11am and often not at all until I've had an episode, this is not sporadic, it is becoming a regular pattern).

      I wonder if I was an induced birth? I wonder if some babies just arn't ready to 'get out' and are being 'pushed out' against their will.

      I remember the psycho headmaster at my prep school saying to Dad: "Oh yes, Paul is not a self starter, he needs pushing". . . .

      So I am wondering how many babies who are not ready to leave their Mums' wombs end up in a lifelong act out of "Crushing Betrayal" as they are induced against their natural will to be pushed and squeezed chemically, mechanically before they are ready and then a lifelong sense of being scapegoated, of loss, of abandonment and of homelessness, Trailer Trash? Travellers, Me? This is why I need the clinic because Ted doesn't have the training or answers and neither do I.

      F*****g Hell! Is this why I never learned to swim until I was 33yrs old? Because I was pushed down the birth canal before I was ready?

      What drugs were they using on birthing mothers in 1960?

      Paul G.

    2. Paul: Some of he drugs were scapolomine, a kind of anesthetic, now used by kids to get high and quite dangerous. It was known as twilight sleep. art

    3. Hi,

      I just checked out scapolomine on wickipedia and it's a sea sick drug, a derivative of detura? also a truth drug?

      You're kidding? No you're not. . . why give pregnant mothers scapolomine? Why? Early pregnancy sickness?


      Paul G.

    4. Hi,

      Ok I've done the research on scapolomine. . . So the question remains what does it actually do when people claim they have "No Memory" after a dose of scapolomine?

      When birthing mothers were given this from the late 19th century onward there were even Twilight Maternity Homes. . . Jesus Christ!

      So what happens to the neonate imprints?

      Paul G.

    5. Paul: It was called "twilight sleep" and was given for light anesthesia 40 years ago. art

  21. I dontt believe in your sentence, that love can not heal... you mean human love. That surely can not heal because it is not real love... I am convinced that love of God, which is perfecht, can love... i have read a lot of your books, but now i have turned to my opinion that only God can heal the mind.

    1. Anonymous: I loved my dog and you love god. art

    2. An interesting article about cellular memory :


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.