Sunday, May 27, 2012

Psychology and Ideology. How Could Anyone (Except the Rich) Vote for George Bush? By Peter Prontzos (3/6)

Arthur Janov focuses on the specific psychological dynamics between children and parents, which is a major determinant of how one thinks about the world.  Janov contends that children who are raised in a loving and nurturing environment are more likely to develop in a healthy manner and that a truly ethical, caring society would prioritize the needs of children.

Janov’s Primal Theory starts from the premise that we are born with a few basic needs, such as for food, warmth, affection, safety, and, in general, an environment which allows a child to develop at its own pace.  Providing these necessities are concrete demonstrations of love.  When children get what they need, they naturally develop into caring and feeling human beings.  (In this context, Maslow’s concept of a “hierarchy of needs” is relevant.  He held that an individual’s most basic needs, such as food, shelter, and safety, naturally take priority over important and universal, but less vital needs).

When babies and children do not get their basic needs met and are sufficiently traumatized, for example, by emotional neglect, or physical abuse, or continuous criticism, (there is usually more than one problem), the attachment process is disrupted and the child cannot develop in an emotionally healthy fashion.

It turns out that, “our parents’ behaviour can change the way our genes function” (Tencer, 2006).  Studies done by McGill psychologist Michael Meaney found that intense childhood experience can turn genes on and off.  "Parental care does affect the activity of genes in the brain that regulate stress response, and it can create structural change in the DNA and affect its expression”, he writes.  These are known as "epigenetic effects", which can be caused parental behaviour, making changes in hormone and neurotransmitter production (Meaney, 2006).

In The Myth of Sanity, Martha Stout, a clinical psychologist at Harvard, writes about dissociation, which is the universal human reaction to extreme fear or pain.  In traumatic situations, dissociation mercifully allows us to disconnect emotional content – the feeling part of our “selves” - from our conscious awareness.  Disconnected from our feelings in this way, we stand a better chance of surviving the ordeal, of doing what we have to do, or getting through a critical moment in which our emotions would only be in the way (Stout, 2001).

Dissociation due to trauma is extremely adaptive because, if the hurt is too overwhelming to tolerate, the child may actually die from the pain.  Stanford neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky recounts a tragedy in U.S. orphanages in the last century, when infants would be fed, kept warm, and so on, but would not be talked to, or held when they cried, and so on.  An investigation of 10 institutions found that, in nine of the ten, every single child died before the age of two (Sapolsky, 2005).  The pain of the emotional deprivation (“loneliness”) weakened the immune system, which fatally lowered their resistance.

Children who manage to survive abuse and neglect are literally brain-damaged.  The integrative fibers of the brain may be affected the most; “that is, they're not able to grow well, and they can actually be destroyed” (Siegel, 2006B).  Such damage disrupts communication between differentiated parts of the brain and prevents the integration which is essential to healthy functioning.

Janov views the split between one’s awareness and one’s buried feelings as the essence of neurosis, self-alienation, and the inability to feel empathy.  If one is unaware of how one really feels, or the true source of one’s pain, then pathological emotions (such as anger, or an obsession with wealth or power), and unconscious feelings (like the need for love) can be manipulated by others (e.g. advertisers or political leaders).  Moreover, when a person is unaware of their own feelings, they often have less empathy.  As De Waal noted, losing access to one’s own feelings in childhood makes it difficult to empathize with others (CBC, October 2009).

The relationship between feeling and morality was discussed by of one of the most influential 20th century Anarchist thinkers, George Woodcock.  He wrote that morality is part of human nature, a natural law of life, which has only been perverted because men live in societies based on artificial standards and not on the internal nature of man (Woodcock, 1945).

The parallels between this essay and Janov’s On Morality are striking.  Janov writes that “morality” is an externally imposed concept, whereas one’s own feelings “are the only moral principles” for people who have access to them.  He believes, like Erjcb Fromm, that if “neurosis [emotional repression] prevents feeling” and one cannot know why one is frustrated or angry, then external “moral” codes are needed to control the resulting anti-social behaviour.

For Janov, these artificial codes of conduct have significant social and economic implications:

When you cannot offer people what they need you must give them morality…The whole notion of a future reward serves to keep people from fulfilling themselves in the present.  It keeps them working under exploitation, producing profits for others…Morality is truly the opiate of the people... (Janov, 1975).

A person who has not lost their natural empathy will not need an externally-imposed “morality” or threats of punishment to prevent them from hurting others.  Janov adds:

Morality is basically a totalitarian notion since it involves an outside power coercing people into certain modes of behavior.  It contravenes the principle of self-determination…
We refrain from cruelty to our children not because to hurt them is “wrong,” but because a feeling person cannot hurt anyone else (ibid 271).

As we have seen, when an infant or child is sufficiently traumatized, their only option is to repress the pain that is too overwhelming to feel.  It must “forget” its real emotions and construct a partially false self in order to cope.  Such children ( and adults) “live” in a state of semi-consciousness, driven by mostly unconscious pain that causes them to “act out” for reasons that they don’t understand.

 As soon as you’re born
They make you feel small
By giving you no time
Instead of it all
Till the pain is so big
You feel nothing at all.

Keep you doped with religion, sex and TV
And you think you’re so clever
And classless
And free.
-  John Lennon (Working Class Hero)

One’s unconscious emotions may, for instance, be projected onto others (liberals, Muslims, foreigners).  This “attribution error” underlies much of the hostility to “the Other” and provides fertile ground for demagogues to manipulate repressed feelings of fear and anger.  It also serves to keep the focus of the person “out there”, thus serving as a defense against the true source of painful feelings.

This phenomenon is related to what Marx called “false consciousness” – ideologies that serve to perpetuate the rule of elites – and it partly overlaps with Janov’s concept of “bizarre ideation.”  Primal Theory holds that, in a world of pain, repression, and dehumanization, it is to be expected that people will believe all sorts of nonsense: religious charlatans, “greed is good”, and that the President is really the Anti-Christ.  Such beliefs are especially powerful if they seem to provide meaning and help to cope with daily life.  “God is a concept by which we measure our pain” is how John Lennon phrased it.  Indeed, after noting that, in time of economic distress, “people were more likely to turn to authoritarian churches”, Jost’s meta-analysis (op. cit.) adds that they view their research as generally supporting John Lennon’s (1970) famous observation…insofar as people embrace different religious conceptions as a function of the degree of adversity and threat they experience (ibid).

It’s hardly a novel idea that people often construct ideological and emotional defenses, including the futile search for some transcendent “meaning”, in order to endure the real pain in their lives.  Creating humane and nurturing societies would obviate the need for such illusory consolations.

To paraphrase Marx, the demand to abolish alienation is a demand to abolish the conditions that create alienation.
Lakoff has found that political socialization begins in the home: parents who are more nurturing have children who tend to be more liberal - empathetic and open-minded - than those parents who practice the traditional “strict father” method.  Children raised in the latter situation tend to be more conservative politically and see morality as based on obedience, whereas children raised in nurturing families tend to use empathy and responsibility as moral foundations.


  1. When you cannot offer people what they need you must give them morality.

    That really is mind blowing. To get what you need (love) you must prove you are good. In other words original Sin. Again a totalitarian means of forcing morality onto people. To get what you need you must place your self in the hands of others ie Parents.

    Someone tried to persuade me that it might be a good idea to seek reunion with my family even though they are bullies and liars. They told me that sometimes one had to put the self to one side. The person is a lay preacher and a good man. I replied that my issue with my family was that I had spent my life putting my self to one side.
    In terms of my Fathers politics he tended to vote labour but say that people had too many freedoms. The older he got the more openly racist he got. His morality was wholly founded on guilt and fighting to be good. He ended up as a National Socialist.

    I think my politics are directly founded upon fighting injustice and exploitation. I would describe myself as a liberal and yet much of it is as a direct rebellion against my Father. It is complicated by a Mother who was more liberal and professed to be caring. Trouble was that was not the Mother I faced in my pre-concious baby and toddler years when she was brutal and violent. I am sure this is what causes a great deal of confusion inside people.

    It is interesting that there is much debate at the moment in what might be called the post religious society about how one should 'impose' morality thus suggesting that people are still essentially bad.

  2. Can psychology be taught?

    In your 1/6 you referred to Daniel Kahneman (awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics) and his fascinating book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. In one chapter, he is describing experiments, which show that people will not draw from base,rate information, which in turn may lead to the uncomfortable conclusion that teaching psychology is mostly a waste of time.

    I will try to boil down the Kahneman chapter (which can be recommended in its full version!). In the renowned “Helping Experiment” each one of a number of participants was to talk in turn for about two minutes, over the intercom, about their lives and problems. A stooge said he felt a seizure coming on and asked for someone to help him, and he faked a fit.

    Only four of fifteen participants responded to the appeal for help. The others felt relived when they knew that others had heard the request for help.

    Videos of interviews with people who had participated, showed they were nice, normal, decent people with entirely conventional hobbies, spare-time activities and plans for the future. After watching the videos the students guessed how quickly the particular person had come to aid the stricken stranger. Using two test groups, one knowing the outcome of the original test (that 27% of the participants were immediately helpful) the other not, the predictions were identical. Both the test groups predicted that the interviewed individuals would rush to the victim’s aid. Please note that the second group knew both the procedure of the original experiment and its result. The interviewed people they had just seen had not helped the stranger!!

    Students exempt themselves (and their friends and acquaintances), quietly, from the conclusions of experiments that surprise them. Being presented with a surprising statistical fact, the students managed to learn noting at all. However, being surprised by individual cases - nice people who had not helped - they realized that helping is more difficult than they had thought and first then their guesses were accurate.

    Subject’s unwillingness to deduce the particular from the general was matched only by their willingness to infer the general from the particular.
    The test of learning psychology is whether your understanding of situations you encounter has changed, not whether you have learned a new fact.

    Most of us think of ourselves as decent people who would rush to help in such a situation, and we expect other decent people to do the same. Even normal, decent people do not rush to help when they expect others to take on the unpleasantness of dealing with a seizure. And that means you and me too!

    Jan Johnsson

  3. I think all morality--or not--is always ultimately driven by how we feel. Twisted feelings means twisted morality. Some thoughts:

    In a zone of limited resources the tribes have to go to war with each other to survive. So they go neurotic due to events like cutting off each others heads. They then pass on their insanity to their kids...who, like mum and dad, have deep toxic neurotic feelings like rage and hate. "Luckily" those feelings can be projected onto a safe target - the outside group. And "usefully" so because you have to go to war with them anyway, so it pays to interpret the outsiders as total scum. (And maybe the character of neurosis evolved this way because it is indeed a useful functionality?).

    But this is the danger of highly neurotic societies. Outsiders too easily become enemies. We see this in New Zealand society today. Many Maori people grow up with incredible amounts of abuse at home, and we still have this ridiculous grievance industry going on where the white men are hated for the supposed wrong-doings of the ancient colonial past, as though we are somehow our ancestors and should somehow inherit someone else's criminal record. I think we're just looking at an example of that ancient act of out-group projection of which is rooted in the emotional distortions coming from being abused in their childhood. But it doesn't seem like that to them - in their emotionally distorted minds you ARE scum!

  4. This is such a truthful, brilliant article and I have always felt that the ruddy church which professes to be a harbinger of morality, for instance, is really a super structure of totally oblivious, ruthless, heartless,merciless, mercenary, bloody- minded, child abusing and exploiting population of rigid, totalitarian, nasty power mad fanatics who like to put the tag of sinner on anyone who isnt one of the congregation and isnt religious and also, among countless other highly amoral and unfeeling faults of the heart and soul-dead, is an institution which has perpetuated many wars and invasions in their name. But where is the Humanity? Where any true understanding and conscious feeling for others, for children in their Care homes? Religion is a highly dangerous institution and should be entirely banned in my opinion! (For one thing, they view sex and anything in Nature,m any natural innocent impulse in a young human being of either sex, as something sinful and wicked to be oppressed. For those who preach Morality are frighteningly without true morals, the ability to care and empathise and feel.

    1. Anonymous: Don't be too quick to eliminate religion because it serves a purpose, and if you do not address why it is sought you will miss the point. Thank God for religion, if you get what I mean. art

  5. I like to hear from you what you think of Clint Eastwood,he votes conservative when I am correct....
    and still makes very good sensitive movies.

  6. Hi,

    -"Morality is basically a totalitarian notion since it involves an outside power coercing people into certain modes of behavior"-.

    But I'm pretty convinced it's not a conspiracy. Because, the drive is unconscious. No matter how 'psychopathic or sociopathic' a group f peoples' behaviour is, the delusion is in the belief that there are them huddling together in a plot to do stuff to us or vice verca. I mean yeah, sure, on the face of it it looks like that but when you find out how driven you are by your own repressed feelings how can you attribute a conspiracy to the behaviour of others who are as likely to be even more repressed and damaged?

    One 'moral' antithesis to gross selfish behaviour on part of others is supposedly 'forgiveness' but one can reason oppositely in a 'moral' society just as easily for strict punishment. Neither really hits the bulls eye though, do they?

    Primal Theory is an altogether different target. People are shooting on the wrong target and scoring illusory points.

    Paul G.

  7. Hi Jan,

    Actually I lived on a hippy small holding in Wales many years ago and one of the 'residents' was an amazing artist who suffered the most appalling grand mall epilepsy. She was aware that her birth by forceps might have had something to do with it. Anyway I befriended her and was indeed one of the few to patch her up when she wandered back from some dreadful collapse, covered in blood and bruises with bits of her tongue bitten off, black eyes etc.
    I also wiped her arse and held her in the aftermath of several fits till she eventually came out of it. I never felt anything but respect for this woman and I never expected anything from her. She was a friend; I don't know how I might respond to a stranger in a predicament though.

    Well actually I saw a woman get run down last year and I was the one to carefully drag her out of the gutter and hold her steadily until the medics arrived. The others watched. Watched. With my epileptic friend others watched too. Watched.

    During the period I became 're-traumatised' by the loss of my twins to the forced adoption service I became very, very angry with the "Watchers" and came to the cynical conclusion that they were some kind of perverse voyeurs. That resentful opinion lasted in me a long time.

    Now that I've properly investigated and experienced some of my own past traumas I have come to understand that these 'watchers' are just 'caught in the headlights' like startled rabbits. I'm not so bitter about the dissociated affect of neurotic people in the face of stressful situations. . . I'm like it too sometimes. Even I become one of the watchers.

    Paul G.

  8. Why do people elect presidents such as George Bush? Because people are stupid. They were raised to be stupid ie unconcious, so elect someone else who acts stupid. To elect someone intelligent such as Obama means they are challanging their own stupidity and have to face thier pain so why do it? They were brought up to follow a leader blindly and at the same time have need for rebellion. Thus Bush projected the "Good Ole Boy" persona while also having a huge army of advisors and lobbyists from powerful self intersted groups in the military industrial complex while also cutting government intervention so being able to say "Look I am anti government". He is government while also attacking government. In other words a hypocryte just like the millions of Parents the unconcious electorate all need to rebel against without actually acknowledging it.

    The great US of A still kills people as part of it's justice system, it still beats it's school children with fibre glass and wooden paddles at home and at school and everyone is discussing why people like Bush are elected. Children are not loved so look for love and guidence in thier leaders and yet fall into the trap of often voting in the very same kind of people who they were brought up by.

    In the UK our government is pushing through a great big austerity program so we can pay for the mistakes of the bankers. The bankers are the friends of the Tory's and the tory's are saying this may hurt you but it is for your own good so get to work and stop complaining. In other words be good children in the face of severe parental retribution and work hard and you may be loved. In other words the children have to sacrifice themselves for the good of the Parents.

  9. Art

    Come on, Art, now you're being funny.Are you? Hey, I thought my comment was pretty fair, considering my past and early experiences with such tyranny from vowed christians! What purpose does religion serve if some religious people have used it to excuse terrible cruelty to children? If it allows them to control and frighten others. I grew up with the threat of hell fire, eternal damnation and that I'd go to Hell and be eaten by snakes in the flames of hell for ever more if I didn't be a good girl and obey my father. Hence my lifelong terror of snakes!!Is there a purpose in that? I can understand that 'God' may be a substitute for a father that someone has never had.I often wish there WAS such a person one could go to with all their troubles but I have not yet experienced Him. I was more often looking for flesh and blood men who might fulfil that need. Sadly, I didnt find it.This is a very good post by the way. Sorry if I've detoured again. I s'pose I am a bit anti religion.

  10. Well Anonymous,

    I have two personalities for God. One prays to him for salvation in the face of genuine frightening circumstances such as nearly falling off scaffolding, nearly crashing the car at 70mph and nearly sinking a sailboat in a storm.

    Thus the Lords' Prayer (of petition) comes out my mouth like an old vinyl record and keeps my courage pinned to the sticking place, somehow.

    The other personality which I trust is actually the real me just no longer wants God as a substitute.

    I feel you're right to dis religion and particularly for the reasons you give but I also agree with Art who I feel is playing devils' advocate a teeny bit. I'll explain why I also agree with Art, an old adage:

    -"Keep tight hold of nurse for fear of something worse"-.

    Paul G.

  11. Dear Anonymous, As the cantankerous son of a Baptist minister, I want to support your anger, frustration and bitterness regarding religion. Religion is a blot. I understand Janov's comment saying, thank god for religion, in the sense that we are compelled to construct delusions... we are harmed, Anon, we are harmed individually and as cultures. Whacko Muslim extremists sit in the same churches and whacko George Bush Christians: you and I know that first-hand, don't we.... and I support your rage against this war machine they have the gall to call love.... fuck them. I am sorry you have suffered so under the banner of church and religion. On the other hand, you and I have a very special awareness in our lives, one that remains only a shadow to many others who shine their shoes the night before the next worship service.... that awareness bolsters me finally. I do not forgive and I will never forget but as the curly man says, 'thank god for religion'

    1. Hallo, Paul

      Thanks for your support on this blog! Sounds like you have had an interesting life. I am uncertain by your closing comment, 'thank god for religion' whether you have or haven't dismissed religion. I don't accept the popular view that religion serves a purpose and from what I have heard on Janov's blog it sounds as if it has served more vile purpose than good.However no one will ever catch ME wearing a dog collar. Like hell I will never!

    2. Hi Anonymous, it's the dog collar in my mind I worry about.

      Paul G.


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.