Thursday, June 28, 2012

On the Diagnostic Manual in Psychiatry (Part 2/3)

Each of us  in  psychiatry has a right  to our own opinion, but no one of us has a right to our own science.  Facts are public and are in the domain of science. They cannot be argued against; we need to test them in a specific way.  That is why there can no longer be many different psychiatric approaches  with all those disparate  schools of psychiatry.   They all have concocted beliefs and theories that are not based in strict science and so of course they differ. No different from differences in politics.  It is just a matter of who has the best argument.  Is childhood sex a fact as the  Freudians believe or used to believe?   Or can you think your way to health?   This is the true underlying principle of all insight and cognitive therapists.  You cannot do that therapy if you don’t believe in that idea whether  explicit or not.  If you believe in insight as curative you are a  cognitivist, no matter how you deny it. It is again thinking your way to health.

 There can be no paradigm shift in psychiatry until we are bereft of the cognitive bias implied in all of this. And it is underlined by psychiatrist Michael First, who was an editor of this Manual some time ago. What he states, grosso modo, is that none of this can be helpful.  What it will help,  and this is acknowledged  by many of my colleagues, is billing insurance companies.  Why is there  such a debate among my confreres about all this?  Because each has a different idea of what constitutes  an affliction.  If you are a psychoanalyst you have one idea, and if you are a Jungian quite another. And  since it all is  part of intellectual fabrication everyone or no one is  right.  None of this is based solidly on neurobiology.  It is as if the brain and the body are two distinct entities that have nothing to do with each other.  These psychiatric disagreements occur because of the theories they adhere to; and those theories reflect the doctor’s  personality, and little else.  A feeling woman is never going to be a cognitivist; she knows feelings and the unconscious, and cannot adhere to the idea that we can make profound change because of a change in our ideas.  

     I have treated hundreds of anxiety states (as explained in my Life Before Birth book), but the origin is nearly always remote and deep in the brain.  How can anyone diagnose it so it can be treated in a few sessions?   It has its beginning often in the first months of life, not life on earth but in the womb.  So those specialists take what the anxiety behavior looks like, try to change it, and when the apparent symptoms go away they imagine there has been success. The problem is that the generating source is still there raging below; that promises early disease and a premature death.  That is what we get for ignoring history, especially the critical nine months of gestation.  We will ultimately be struck down by a reality that is denied or ignored.  We are creatures of need and history; there is no escape from ourselves.

 There seems to be no motivating source in what they do.  Yet the unconscious is merciless and relentless.   The imprints lying there do not go away, not with pleas, exhortation, shock therapy or mechanical  manipulation.  It will only go away when it is addressed, relived and integrated.  Only then.  It needs to be experienced because it never was,  and has remained an alien force inside our bodies.   A small part of the original experience may have been felt but the charge value, the valence or force had to be instantly repressed and put on hold.  It is still there waiting for full connection.  We must eventually address and integrate it into the system.   It is that motivating source that is the origin of so much neurosis and psychosis.   The emperor is naked!

     On any given day there are about five million individuals getting mental health help.   And what they get now is mechanics and count-downs;  cut down mania to 3 days and they believe we have really helped the patient.  I don’t see much science in all this except they say that when the patient is fearful  he  has greater neuronal activity in the amygdala.  OK. Agreed. Now what?  Of  course  the feeling centers will be activated when feelings are.  These are accompaniments, not separate diagnoses.  And the cortisol levels will go up  too, as  they should when we are on  alert. But what to do about it?    We will never find a cure in the minute examination of the neurons; we may find a way to help; i.e., drugs and shock therapy.  But in all this there is no talk  of curing anything.   Where does the illness come from?   Why is it there?  How did it start and why? These are the critical questions that should be asked.    Ask a superficial question and you get a superficial answer. That is   the dilemma those doctors are in; they don’t know how to ask the critical questions.   And why don’t they? Because  their theory and therapy doesn’t allow it. And why not?  Because  their personality and repression won’t allow them to adopt a feeling approach.   Because to speak of cure you need to speak of generating sources.  So they are Behaviorists out of conviction and that conviction emanates out of  repression . How do you beat that?  Moreover, Behaviorism gets paid, and feeling therapies do not.  You see, as I have said before, that if I knock you in the head every time you start to smoke, sooner or later you will stop. Now if my criteria for progress is stopping smoking and I have the research to prove it, then of course I will get backing because no one seems to criticize the criteria I use for progress.   In the same way if I tell a therapist that every time he treats a patient I will give him money (but only if it is cognitive or behavioral), then he will treat in the manner I want.   Or to put it differently, if every time the patient stops smoking I  will  give him one hundred dollars, chances are he  will stop. So isn't that what the insurance companies are doing?

   We adopt the theory and therapy that suits our personality; that easily merges one with the other (therapeutic mode is therefore an outgrowth of one’s personality).  If we have never had a feeling and are not  close  to our pain, we will never adopt a therapy that will penetrate defenses and aim at feelings.  Theory, in so many cases, is part of the defense system—beliefs are one aspect of our defenses.   They emerge from the prefrontal cortex and help suppress rising feelings from the right limbic area.  Or to put it better,  beliefs are generated as a result from a surge of powerful feelings from the limbic area which galvanizes the cortex to rush into action to form beliefs which ultimately will hold back those feelings.  They dilute, vitiate and absorb the force or energy of the feeling through a myriad of ideas.  It makes the shrinks comfortable.  The rational we propose “works” and we feel better for a brief time; which is why we need to go back many, many times.

    Who would  adopt something that makes them uncomfortable.  We adopt beliefs, now called  theory, that helps keeps  feelings away.  Yes, we can call it theory but it is still a belief.  That is why real science plays so little a part in all this.  Those manuals of diagnoses never change how we do therapy.  We can still be Cognitive or Analytic therapists even with or despite this manual.   The frame of reference, the theory they adopt seems to have nothing to do with diagnosis.  So how come it never questions how we do therapy?  Why is it a given?  Because we need to go on doing what we are doing without having to change anything, particularly how we do therapy.  Our whole training militates against any change.    So on one side we have diagnoses, and the other side we have treatment.   I know from my training at the Freudian clinic of the West, that they never have anything to do with each other.


  1. Hi to all:

    A primal life,
    There is primal therapy which we seek to resolve past imprints and there is a primal life provides or even forces on you. In both cases we have a chance to take the opportunity to face the imprint of pain.
    On Friday the 22nd my descent began at 4 am. My husband, sick now 3 years, gradually declining to a stage of basic existence, was breathing very flatly. Lying in bed, mouth wide open and non-responsive. His hands, arms, feet and legs were cold, but the body warm. I froze and reacted a few minutes later automatically measuring his pulse – down to 50 and his temperature 92 F.
    Panic set in - I stopped breathing for a moment while a forgotten memory appeared - seeing my child, age of 2, suddenly collapse and stop breathing.
    Suddenly I reacted, like I did 41 years ago and called for help. Calmly to the outside world, I reported to the hospice nurse the symptoms, reacted to her questions and responded to her instructions – 0.25 ml morphine under his tongue – to keep my husband comfortable. The nurse guided me by phone and I answered instinctively. She asked what color is the urine (he has an external catheter) I answered – brown. My husband begun to stop breathing for a few minutes and started breathing again. She said, there is nothing I or anyone could do, just keep him comfortable.

    The next two hours I sat frozen in the living room until the female Chaplin came. She did not confirm nor decline his condition, but she asked if I have made funeral arrangements. There was the picture of how the people in black put my grandmother in to a black box – (I was 6 years old). The Chaplin left – the picture of the black box remained and as it was silent in the house again, a feeling of endless helplessness appeared and unbearable pain with it. I know now that I never felt the grief and pain of my grandmothers death.

    Friday and Saturday went by... nurses came and went and my husband was sleeping 23 hours of 24, but amazingly my fear and panic begun to subside. On Sunday morning my husband was awake again. He asked for water and breakfast – he began to drink again but ate only a few bites.
    On Monday the nurse came again, but not for my husband, she came to be with me. She allowed me to express my fear without giving advice or comforting me. After 4 hours she said – you have unsolved grief. Astounded that she did not do the usual – touching to restrict or interrupt the flow of my feelings, I asked her – did you read “The Primal Scream” she said – no. Then I asked her, do you read any of Dr. Janov’s books. And she again said – no. She asked why. I told her that she did instinctively the right thing – allowing me to feel my pain without being interrupted by the usual comforting touch or hug. She was surprised and wanted to know more. I told her when everything is over I will tell her why.
    My husband is now eating and drinking again and can get even up for a half an hour.

    I no longer panic or feel helpless and I know when death comes. I’ll will not collapse. The burden and I felt in the last year is no longer there. I cannot express why yet – but I know that I felt some pain buried deep down and long overdue.

    The inside turned into knowledge. I know now diagnosis does nothing for us - we need to feel who we are and what pains us to process unfinished/frozen feelings.

  2. You make me feel intelligent!

    The more I read about psychiatry and the old, still dominating paradigm, the happier I am that I developed epilepsy, which, how strange it may seem, kept me basically a feeling person, even though I during 40 years was being chemically lobotomized. What I read from your Reflections (clearer than ever) I understand and recognize as my truth. When I realize that it is the only true and possible way, I feel a tremendous relief.

    Being trapped in the uterus with my head, face, mouth and body squeezed together to the utmost under unbearable pain, which eventually turned into seizures, can be used as a metaphor to explain how I felt during the years when I tried to study psychology. I just felt epileptic and stupid when I tried hammering useless skills into my head. The opposite happened, and I felt depressed and unreal. To become a Primal Therapist, I needed to humiliate myself and to get a degree in accordance with the old but still reigning psychiatric paradigm. I could not manage that, my pain was too real and too big.

    So even though Art Janov’s PT saved my life, and I could understand the underlying causes of why I was cured, I had no degree to become a Primal Therapist. I was too smart to believe in the old paradigm, but I was not, officially, cunning enough to become a Primal Therapist. I had adopted a therapy, that suited my personality, which cured me, but I could not adopt to the necessary theories which are officially required to become authorized like those who can absorb knowledge for a cognitive degree even though they later turn out impotent and dangerous.

    We need someone who can offer a creative solution to that, someone who can take the stand as Columbus finally to make the egg stand. Someone needs gently to tap the egg to make it stand. Once the feat has been done, anyone will know how to do it!!!

    Jan Johnsson

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Sieglinde.

    I get the feeling you could write a very good autobiography one day? You have a very good writing style for this, I believe.

    1. Andrew,
      You are welcome.
      You kind words reminded me that I still have a lot to accomplish – continue writing my second book – which I had to neglect for over a year.

  4. Hi Sieglinde,

    -"The inside turned into knowledge. I know now diagnosis does nothing for us - we need to feel who we are and what pains us to process unfinished/frozen feelings"-.

    When I go to collect my daughter for "contact visits" there is the picture of me at the boarding school gates, I can see the tracks on her cheeks, she has been crying for her Dad . . . The thoughts going through my mind are indescribable.

    Then an almost unbearable feeling. . . collecting and when I take her back. My emptiness; but it's not total or all consuming any more.

    Paul G.

    1. Dear Paul:
      “My emptiness”....... two very important words.
      Paul, my dear, your emptiness will be replaced with something you cannot imagine. At least I never thought this whole inside of me has a purpose. It has, - something is waiting to fill this empty space.

  5. Hi Art,

    -"Each of us in psychiatry has a right to our own opinion, but no one of us has a right to our own science. Facts are public and are in the domain of science. They cannot be argued against; we need to test them in a specific way. That is why there can no longer be many different psychiatric approaches with all those disparate schools of psychiatry"-.

    Trouble is, in a world of rugged individualism (where labelling is "bad" and rugged individual development is supreme) every-one has a right to their own opinion about other peoples' opinions.

    Consequently Science has been downgraded to another 'opinion'.

    I mean, who has the right to say they are more right about anything universal? Sounds very judgemental doesn't it? "Stick to your own opinions"! (Have you got a problem with blame? etc, etc).
    'We could all be wrong', so say the rugged individualists; so I'll just stick to my version of the facts, yours you can keep to yourself, that's democratic isn't it? (I'll buy that for a dollar)!

    So goes the universal law of rugged individualism. It's this kind of thinking that allows the Sarah Palins and the Charlton Hestons of the world to scream: "Over my dead body"! and rally the majority to bear arms against each other, even in the same Nation. . .

    Let's face it, if these professional actors can get away with that then it's not surprising "science" can be twisted to 'prove' anything. The human neo-cortex is a hall of mirrors in which the truth is lost in its' own second, third and multi handed reflections.

    If only there were another way to approach the FACTS than the scientific. I mean for the purpose of diverting the attention of others to the truth.
    I mean 'universal truths'.

    Furthermore this 'scientific debate' has been bubbling away since the 16th C. 400 years of debate about the facts (and then the explosion of the information highway) has produced a culture of 'doubt' about everything.

    What a shame.
    Paul G.

    1. Paul: True. But science has still got us a long way. Yet in the 100 years of psychological science we have not come one inch closer to the truth of feelings and their importance. art

    2. Hi,

      It's still the 3rd line 'describing' the 2nd & 1st.

      What seems to attract me personally is the impact our imprints have on our group dynamics, on how we relate in groups and on how our personalities 'mesh' or not.

      I'm not a writer. To be honest I find myself writing passionately about the things I need to understand. . . It's a means to an end and also I have found my style is not everyones' cup of tea.

      But there seems to be a continual need for us humans to tell stories and to listen to them. What makes a good story is the relationships the characters have and the way those relationships encounter real life situations. Fact is so often stranger than fiction and when something really profound is 'injected' into a story it brings that event to life.

      It seems to me that Primal offers the radical (profound) missing ingredient to relating and to understanding relationships and I wonder if therein lies a new direction for Primal to gain the dimension needed to reach a wider audience.

      The science (so called) of group dynamics and non verbal communication merges with story telling because it is situational (comedic, tragic, epic, mundane etc). All feelings are situational. How 'history' repeats itself and how the relationships pan out is such a huge resource for the story teller.

      There is a relatively new culture of story telling for traumatised children. Books written specifically to help children identify grief, loss and so on.

      Since I got onto this blog I have realised how emotionally stunted most other writing is. Particularly considering the breadth and scope of Primal Feeling. At some point somebody has got to start writing Primal Novels. I'm not trying to trivialise PT. But if you think about it for a moment, imagine what your favourite stories would be like if re-written by the author who felt their own Primal pains fully.

      Imagine if you could re-write history books to include the Primal perspective. How many writers refer to their characters' birth experiences? To the way Mum had to cope, or not?

      It's not necessarily a minefield but it would be a challenge.

      At least we can write fully acknowledging peoples feelings as they are now. Thanks all bloggers.

      Paul G.

    3. Paul: I agree totally except I tried and wrote a good play/musical but no one got the feeling part. They wanted more spectacle and less drama art. You cannot break through because it is not a feeling world.

    4. Art!

      No it is not a feeling world we live in but the psychological equation that you reports about is of psychlogical science with physiological results… so it should not be a problem if we could have a round table discussion… round table discussion with all those necessary involved to disclose what they have on their "bow"


    5. Mmmmm, a song and a dance? less drama. . . where do we go from here? The Clinic?

      Ok, I confess, I'm writing a story for my daughter. It is an oblique and disguised allegory about people in our family and peer group and friends who should exist but don't. It is an invention that allows me to put feelings where they should be in real relationships but arn't. I have found that my acceptance and acknowledgement of my own grief has given me an edge for tackling taboo feelings and latent contradictions.

      There is a way to address contradictions so that the reader becomes "torn" as well as the characters in the story.

      The reader has to become torn apart inside. Not by gore, or 'drama' or bad news or whatever 'sensational' action drama can be constructed with but by the contradictions in her own assumptions.

      It seems to me Primal Theory (1 2 3- 3 2 1) offers the perfect expose' for the reader if the characters in the story reflect what the reader doesn't know about themselves but is likely acting out anyway.. .

      John Cleese and Robin Skynner wrote about humour and how 'contradictions' juxtaposed create this 'rift' and then laughter is the result. . . The same for tragedy and for betrayal and grief.. . but you gotta get the reader torn by their interest in the outcome.

      Every day people are disappointed and betrayed by ordinary life events and the story teller is there to catch those moments and enshrine them for all who would normally 'walk on by'. . .

      Primal Theory seems to offer a completely new dimension for that.
      Paul G.

  6. Paul:

    You wanna know how you're arguing with a left-brained intellectual? You can never win the debate.

    Ultimately getting a grip on things boils down to natural perspective - a right-brained function. Left-brainer's have (and invent) all the cryptic answers they need to validate their prejudice because they have such poor context. They don't even know they're doing it. And it never ends because they can never "see" when something is truly right or wrong.

    1. Andrew: Right on brother. So so true. art

    2. Yes, absolutely 'natural perspective'.

      That involves connections to sensations and to feelings. In Arts' books he talks about sensations distinctly separate from feelings. It's a bit crass to say this but I only do carpentry well with both sensations and feelings working (as well as my rational mind) and what a struggle I have 'coercing' these three parts of me to 'wake up' and then to cooperate.
      If I were not self employed doing this special carpentry I would be unemployable because I simply cannot function until I've got all those 'marbles' rolling together. I cannot work by just "cutting the joints"; some subbies do and they f**k it up, or they hog the job! People say to me: "Paul, how do you get those joints to fit together so closely"?
      I don't have the heart to invite them to read this blog; I tell you, I do carpentry well because of the things Art draws my attention to, not because I'm a carpenter.

      Paul G.

  7. You know not so many of my posts have been put up recently. Last week I watched three football matches. More than I have done in years. A hurt little Boy just wants to be loved by his Dad and will do anything to try and get that. Even taking on board all that Father's ire and anger with his own Father. Suddenly I feel more free. One of the ways I got there was by hating my Father. is hate such a dreadful feeling. Is anger such a dreadful feeling. PT is about feeling feelings whether good or bad. I learned to think I was crazy or depressed because my Father wanted me like that. he wanted this little Boy who would worship him and help him feel powerful and when I turned round and screamed "He's naked" he wrote a letter and told me that I was not allowed to go tho his funeral.

    My Father liked to think he had his own diagnostic manual. He could just pronounce what he liked and I had to believe it. I had to believe he loved me when in fact he hated me. I think PT is quite obviously very powerful. He hated his own Father and could not bear to even consider he did. My Father did not understand his feelings and society sided with him against me. He could if he had wanted to use the DSVM against me and many shrinks would have happily helped him do so.

    I have fought for 7 years to be me against the most profound bullying and prejudice and all I want to do is be me. I have done it through feeling rage, anger, hate, dispare, sorrow, pain, loss, helplessness, impotence, hopelessness, etc, etc, etc.

    Science like any other study is a double edged sword. It gives us penicillin and the Atom bomb. It gives us the chance to delve into the Brain and understand structures without always understanding the ghosts and demons mixed up with the pheromones and hormones.

    There is also Art as well as Science and split those two sides and we lose. Science is always changing and evolving and it will always find something deeper. Who is to say that on the Day that the Higgs Boson may have been discovered that something even smaller and powerful won't then appear. Who is not to say that Picasso saw as much about what was to be human as someone looking into a microscope. It's how it is seen that is important and one person see's things in a different way.

    Hurt does not change, Love does not change, Hate does not change, Sorrow does not change, Abandonment does not change, Abuse does not change.

    Someone can write something in a blog and be forthright and confident in themselves and perhaps they are judged even before they are met face to face!

    1. Hi planespotter,

      30yrs ago my Dad told me he had considered getting me 'sectioned' because I was a pot smoking hippy. . . What arrogance to assume that he could manipulate the authorities like that.

      My Dad went to a very posh boarding school during the war and never did any work or achieved any exam results. Nevertheless he worships the 'privilege' and values it as an end in itself; proudly off to school reunions.

      Having advised my Dad 30 yrs later not to be rude to the doctors in white coats about my Mums' serious dementia he at first took the advise and resentfully bragged to me that he had (wriggling around in his false narcissistic self).

      Then , like the extremely resentful toddler he is, he let the doctors have the full force of his spleen, so he got his own way both ways. He's completely blown it. The white coats now have nothing to do with him, do not respond or include him in their machinations, they see him as part of the problem. I warned him this might happen. I told him it had happened to me with the social services and my kids 20yrs earlier. Did he listen? No. So he has further isolated himself.

      I could have gone the same way, like father like son. . . but it doesn't have to be does it?

      Paul G.

    2. Hi Paul

      Thanks for the reply. I feel slightly embarrassed as I wrote that last post while a little drunk. I think I have been coming to some realisations. Firstly just been reading Art's "The Janov Solution" which as usual seems to hit many nails on many heads. I also think that I have found the whole talk about birth trauma and by that I mean early gestational stuff quite difficult to deal with because perhaps I still have some 2nd line stuff to deal with or stuff from the first few weeks of life. It's like my small self (perhaps angry toddler :-) )is raging "There is other stuff" and I just can't get to it. So maybe I've been giving Art a hard time. Sorry Art!

      I avidly watched nearly all of Wimbledon over the last few weeks. It's as though by dying the weight of my Father's repression has lifted somewhat. I had to be my Father for him to love me which he patently never did. Very sad but very liberating. He was disdainful of sport and only thought things like reading and opera were worth considering. Probably because he was not good at sport. He was a poor working class Boy who had the 2nd World war for saving his teeth and giving him a different chance in life compared to the previous generation. He though he was so clued up about life and was able to dish out his wisdom to his little Boy. He could not let me go even when I was older because then he lost his Pupil!

      Your Father sounds different to mine. My Father was proud of his repression and was very Passive Aggressive. He told me he dissipated his anger while not seeing the result in his Angina and Psoriasis. My nickname for him was "The Saint" though not in any way cool like Roger Moore! More because he placed himself on a little cloud and dispensed wisdom to me. An omnipotent Parent. Arrogance does not come into it. Blind unseeing Hubris that was slowly killing him. He always looked down on me because I was more passionate and more angry (OK maybe too angry but with good cause) and that is so often seen as some kind of Sin. My Father's side of the family does not do Anger. The men drown their sorrows with booze and the women tend to hide their anger and pain behind incredible suffocating sentimentality. Faux feelings one and all.

      It's all so bloody sad.

      Good luck with getting the dosh together for LA

  8. An email comment: "How true! I believe, as you do, that
    the major problem with looking for the truth within, is the fact that facing the truth means pain for the seeker. So few people have the courage to fact their reality. What a shame, although I certainly understand it. I'd like to thank you for your courage in writing the truth all these years. It certainly has helped me on my own journey.. You are a brave soul.Arthur Janov.

  9. Paul

    A GREAT idea about the writing books including feeling awareness but they probably wouldn't be published. I write, I hope, such books. The characters I 'see' almost in flesh and blood, their faces, ages, everything. I feel happy with them and suffer with them. They're alive, at least to me. But such books will not be published. Publishers only want known celebrity writers (so-called!).So if youre a famous footballer and write badly you'll be published. If your name is Obama, Bliar or Cable you'll automatically go into print with big rewards of money. If youre a nobody who writes well, tough. they wont touch your work. Its the way it is now. Write a book, Paul. I think you'll do it well and the best of luck! Such books which you suggest though will never be published in the usual channels unless the agent or publisher has had primal therapy.

  10. Hi Anonymous,

    because I'm not a writer or publisher I can't really argue against this.

    Nevertheless I came across a great book by Nicholas Monserrat called the Cruel Sea which was written during or soon after the war. It touches on core feelings and for the time is exceptional in addressing (explicitly) the depth of human tragedy.

    Then there's Alice Millers' books and then Arts' books. . . They got published.

    Whether or not people have had Primal many of us break down and cry deeply as human, as adolescents, as children and as babies. . . all triggered off by events in real life. The first obstacle to overcome is the erroneous idea that crying is somehow going to be fatal or 'habit forming'. Some kind of 'social shame'. . . books like the Cruel Sea address that wrong assumption.

    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.