Monday, July 30, 2012

Reconnecting the Brain

There is more and more evidence that brain tissue at the extreme anterior (front) part of the prefrontal cortex is responsible for integration of emotional states. Work of a Yale team, Patricia Goldman-Rakic and Pasco Rakic, focused on the corpus callosum (the bridge between right and left brains), in which they developed a model of symmetry in the brain. Cells in the corpus callosum are marked so as to attach to mirror image cells on both sides of the brain. There may be either a certain resonating frequency that helps each side recognize each other or there may be a chemical affinity that allows cells on one side to join up—connect—with cells on the other side. Connected memory may exist when lower level imprints resonate with the same frequencies higher up in the brain. When the prefontal cortex and sub-cortex meet, there seems to be a pattern of recognition; it’s kind of like finding a soul mate. More possibly, the lower level imprints rise to seek out their other half higher in the nervous system. Once joined, they form an integrated, unified circuit.

In an excellent book by David Darling called Equations of Eternity (Hyperion Press, 1993), the author discusses how nerve cells and more specifically axons behave. “Different groups of axons must be able to recognize different signposts, or else most axons in the nervous system would grow in the same place. Evolution has sited many different receptor molecules on the surface of nerve cell, each of which will stick to only one specific molecule.” The result is that nerve cells have a guide that directs them toward connection with other cells. All that is required for connection is that other nerve cells have matching receptor molecules. The cells are able to ignore all other non-matching nerve cells.

Darling goes on to point out that these cells go on to establish a “skeletal nervous system upon which all subsequent fibers can build.” This is one way that each new level of consciousness elaborates on previous levels. Thus axons grow from the lower level brain tissue to its proper target. Darling states that these cells “know” when they have arrived at connection because the receptors on axons are found only on the correct target nerve cell. He continues: “By unfolding stages, the brain organizes and interconnects itself.” Even in the womb, he believes, the brain is preparing itself for when it comes into daylight. I will quote further because what he states in a neuro-philosophic way dovetails precisely with our clinical observations: “Already, the individual has recapitulated, while in the womb, the physical evolution of all life on earth. Now it is racing through the stages by which life evolved mentally.” The stages are “from mindlessness to shadowy awareness to consciousness of the world, to consciousness of self.” Each new level is an elaboration of the previous lower level until we arrive at full consciousness. Critical here is the concept of connection; the merging together of related neural networks.

Without lower level connection to higher levels, we are only considering the late developing cortical brain and not the brain as a whole. He points out that in our personal evolution, the brain is racing through the stages of all of human history. In Primal Therapy we race through the stages in reverse. Only it is not a race; it is more like a crawl. No one can make a connection (insight) for us; it must come out of a feeling, and it must do so in slow orderly fashion. When the patient has the connection, we know it is time. When the insight is forced by a therapist, it usually is not the time—organically; it defies evolution—ideas come after feelings, not before. What Darling points out is that truth is an “unbroken reality”. Neurosis manages to fragment that reality (disconnection). Feeling therapy reestablishes that total reality. There is a unity of nature that happens only with connection. Neuro-psychologic laws do exist. It is up to us to find them.

Let us sum up some of the key points up to now. Early events even before birth are imprinted throughout the system and largely onto the right brain. These events can occur before there is a functioning left pre-frontal cortex to make sense out of them. And by the time we do have that portion of the cerebral cortex the pain on the right, severe because it involves matters of life and death at birth and before, is repressed and results in a disconnection between the two sides, and from lower to higher brain centers. Moreover, the connecting links are not as yet matured. This process is called repression or gating or, as it is often called in the scientific literature, dissociation. The right brain, then, becomes the repository of the unconscious. Becoming conscious means reconnecting the pain to conscious-awareness. Connection means awareness even when the event has no words or scenes. We can be aware of a lack of oxygen during birth or of the agony of being twisted around due to breech presentation. That awareness is every bit as crucial as an awareness of events at the age of six even though there are no words to explain it. Sensing the pain is awareness. It doesn’t need words.
Connection cannot be achieved when the connecting cable (corpus callosum) has been impaired or thinned out due to early trauma. Once the event has been dissociated, the right lower brain areas have a “mind of their own”. That is, the energy of the pain innervates the heart and key organs and begins the ever-so-subtle damage so that years later there is a serious illness and no one seem to know where it comes from. Suddenly the person develops high blood pressure or heart palpitations, or worse, a stroke. Because the origin is so remote, one could never dream that it was due to a birth trauma. The treating doctor says, “Have you been under stress lately?” “Not that I know of.”

I use the term “crucible” when referring to the womb because it encompasses various elements, molecules, and organ systems. It is broadly systemic. It forms and directs later development. The prototype sets the tone or the stage for what comes later. A twin I saw was left in the womb after his twin sister was pulled out. They had no idea he was in there (this was decades ago). He waited a long time and death threatened. Later his parents never offered any love or touch. He felt he waited for that as well, something that never came. The urgency of that wait was based on the life-and-death struggle in the womb (the crucible). That gave the trauma its force later on. He was sent away to boarding school at age six and waited years to come home to family. The family rarely, if ever, visited the school. As an adult any waiting was excruciating. One night he was going to make love to his girlfriend, but first she had to go to the bathroom. The inordinate wait put him back into old feelings (he was waiting for love—literally), and he lost his erection and could not get it back. The wait triggered off waiting for his parents to come and take him home from school, and then set off the prototype of waiting to be born.

The original reaction during the prototype was that he could do nothing to help himself (weak and helpless=impotent). There was an imprinted lower stratum of helplessness and hopelessness from that time on. When the early pain was provoked, the precise early reaction was also set in motion. It is not simply that the pain of the trauma is stimulated all the way down the chain of pain, but also the whole panoply of reactions with it. They are an integrated whole.


  1. Art,

    What can stand up against such an explanation? A lack of understanding is not otherwise than what the consequences is of feeling and interpretation of what we feel. We interpret to avoid having to face the truth and it automatically.
    “Suddenly the person develops high blood pressure or heart palpitations, or worse, a stroke. Because the origin is so remote, one could never dream that it was due to a birth trauma. The treating doctor says, “Have you been under stress lately?” “Not that I know of.””
    And if they “know” about their stress they find reasons that recently happened.


  2. A fascinating piece. I was breach birth so wonder whether I was twisted round or not.

    I understand that much research into Axon's has been done using Squid Axon's because they are so large. This book is really fascinating read about those studies and also about a really incredible creature we are only just starting to understand.

  3. Finding soul mates on different levels.

    There are few things that are so enjoyable and satisfying as when we find a soul mate, whether it be an author of reflections, an old girlfriend from 50 years ago or when the prefrontal cortex and subcortex meet and when our lower imprints have found their other half in the nervous system. “Once joined, they form an integrated unified circuit”.

    When I read your section about “the awareness of lack of oxygen during birth or of the agony of being twisted around due to breech delivery there are no words to explain it”, I realized that this is the reason why it is so hard for me to write about my primal experiences in technical, neurological terms, “how the connection process between lower and higher levels is racing through the stages of all of human history”. Thank you for guidance also in this respect!

    After a few years of training I can appreciate to read about the neurologic and psychologic facts being processed. However, it is still hard to create a feeling / concept of a natural / automatic association between my feelings of a dramatic birth experience and my subsequent description in technical / intellectual terms. The words are not enough. It takes a deeply knowledgeable researchers report to be able to get close.

    My birth was, as I said, a nasty dramatic experience which meant agony and pain and that eventually led to concentration problems and neuroses that, in the late teenage years, developed into epilepsy, which became a social stigma. The fact that I was squeezed hard, anesthetized, turned and pulled out the tail first, and was nearly strangled by the umbilical cord has received all the attention in my stories. However, the fact that my brain (though not fully developed) also received positive imprints and memories of vital importance from this dramatic and complicated process that ended successfully has been overlooked. My epilepsy and anxiety have (for > 50 years) been compensated by a subconscious desire / feeling that it is possible to solve my pain / epilepsy and / or understand it.

    Gradually, as I experienced primals and understood the connection between my miserable birth process and my epilepsy, the more I got to experience how my lower imprints, both those which caused my epilepsy and those which carry positive memories of my survival during the birth process, have found their other halves in the nervous system. I have for years had a growing feeling that they have formed an integrated unified circuit. Nowadays, when I get stuck in my dreams, I / my brain figure out how to change and dissolve my locking, or I wake up to “lay back and feel the stab of anxiety” and thus let the integrated unified circuit relive unfelt pain and continue my/its cure.

    The Primal Therapy has the potential to join our lower imprints with their other half in the nervous system and to form an integrated unified circuit!

    Jan Johnsson

    1. Jan: a very brilliant letter, as usual. art

    2. Hi Jan

      Your comments about having positive imprints about your birth experience is great to hear. While I suspect that I did have a bad birth I had not thought about how it could also be a positive experience. I suppose I got out. I often find that I get overwhelmed by stress in life and then maybe have a rest or do something else for a while but at the last moment I always seem to manage to pull the Cat out of the bag and be successful with things.

  4. Thank you so much.

    You just answered a question for me re my son who had birth trauma and did have high BP etc at 22 when stressed.
    It was a specialist in Dublin who explained to me about birth trauma in 1985, as my son reacted to vaccines and those screams still remain in my head.
    On doing my own healing journey I realised my trauma during this birth with all professionals panicking and abandoning me in the hall on a trolley, because the doctor went home early- despite having been paid to be there. The cord was so tight around my son's neck that the midwife panicked and the panic spread like a virus.

    If it was today though, I would be labelled a Munch Mum and my child would be stolen. I so remember that lady doctor trying to blame me for the screams, saying I was spoiling my son, but I knew it all began at birth. The allergy specialist confirmed it all, including the birth trauma.
    Another thing I noticed is mothers feeling they have to work as well as nurture baby and the pain of leaving baby is so great that they shut down, and of course the baby senses it and feels abandoned.

  5. How do you do… as an individual… in a very brittle situation... get on with your life when madness is what still is offered.

    To stand face to face with the "professional" and by yourself know that there is no help available. That is a scenario in which we choose madness because our own terror in our own mirror compeer to the madness as are offered... we are allying ourselves as a defense to not be aware of what there is... not to be aware of what is happening here and now.

    How can we trust and talk to someone about something when something that made us crazy still is what prevails.

    A dead psychiatrist with crazy eyes and a psychologist who otherwise do than confuse us.

    What could be easier to pursue a lawsuit against. All those "pals" who are standing in a row to be ground down to not being recognized as pals longer... isn't that worth a lawsuit?


  6. art, can a patient experience a primal as a perfect chronological series of events? like....a patient feels himself fighting for oxygen as a torrent of drugs seep into his nine-month-old body, and then he feels himself sliding between the pelvic walls, and then he feels the vagina lips sliding over his face and the sudden burst of cold air which travels down his slimy blue body as he slides out onto a rough dry sheet, the lights burning his eyes, the deafening screams coming from crazy-eyed aliens - crazy eyes looking into his.
    has anyone ever described a primal like that?

    1. All I have experienced is the first line leaking through,but there seems to evolve a sequencing of events over time as all the parts come together. More and more connections seem to lead to a clearer sense of a "feeling" both in time and in space. I am assuming that with a trained therapist this sequencing would come quicker. All I am able to do is probe the wounds in various ways until feelings burst forth so my approach leaves a lot to be desired, but from it I am clearly assuming that a full sequential event could be expected even in regard to a traumatic birth. (I'm just trying here to get someone more shy and who has experienced such a thing to post, I hope this works, as I am also interested to know.)

    2. For "second hand" experience read "Birth without violence" written by Frederick Leboyer. Feel what's going on when you wake up in the morning, twisting your back and yawning or later during the day. The baby feels he's climbing up (not slidding down). Lying down on the grass, look up at the sky and imagine how it could feel...

    3. that's interesting yann. i have never felt a feeling of struggling or climbing. i always get a feeling like i am flying into oblivion, and i have no control over anything. can't even control my arms and legs...can't protect myself. every move i make feels foreign and hazardous and wrong, and i feel weak and have no desire to exert myself...but there is a static tension in my muscles. i am not relaxed - my body is locked a state of apprehension - like i am waiting to collide with something. i feel all of that while i am sitting at my computer or sitting in my van at work. it sneaks up on me many times every day - sometimes only mild, sometimes overwhelming. but i have never felt it properly. i obsess until it is 'resolved' intellectually.
      whenever someone asks me to hurry up, they actually force me to do the opposite - i slow down to avoid feeling like i am blindly rushing out of control. i prefer to be with patient people!
      i suspect it is a birth feeling. also i was hit by a car which sent me flying through the air...i suspect that accident might have compounded with my fast birth (i came out very fast and was immediately carried away to another room instead of staying with my mother).
      i will not take your advice to lie down and look up at the sky! you seem to remember that i talked about that. it just makes me panic. obviously i need help to feel it properly.
      i think the leboyer birth is probably a good idea, especially if the lights are dim and the umbilical cord is not cut too soon.

    4. My ex girlfriend is like that (we are still good old friends)the more I hurried her the later we are bound to arrive...I learned to stay calm and wait. I always make fun of her because she's always late (we knew each other for 20 years). She is born slightly prematured and spent some days in an incubator. She's not found of exercices too.
      From what I read in Dr Janov's books we were the typical partners (one too much "up" and the other too much "down".
      Too late for us for the Leboyer birth but I'm trying to straight things in my life in order to start the therapy asap.

  7. The electrochemical reaction!

    What can we imagine that a chemical composition off balance causes? Yes… it causes a different process than expected.
    If we think as a consequence not to be in a feeling chemical composition... not to feel what the process suppose to be… not to feel that we suffer which will prevail thinking alone. Then we cannot feel what is necessary… live up to what is necessary for to feel… then is the thinking consequence... we misses the goal to feeling.

    I see my baby cry but feel nothing but irritation... my child is left in solitude with all the needs without being met... a chemical raktion is of facts... facts... not to be for its purpose.


    1. frank, a baby should never be left in solitude. if you are feeling irritated, you could try a cognitive approach; remember the baby will grow up so so fast....the crying will not kill you and it will become less frequent as time goes on. just try to comfort the baby all the time for at least the first six months, and remind yourself that those first six months are shaping your child's personality. yes, the prenatal and birth trauma will create a chemical reaction, but love creates a chemical reaction too. remember, time will go so fast.

    2. And we can love as much as possible during perinatal and birth too. Jacquie x

  8. Dr. Janov,
    You describe the process - I can follow, as I have read many papers on neurons and their connections. Thanks for clarifying.

    Just recently I read up on dopamine and the outcome, or lack of, in what the dopamine is causing - for instance: Parkinson’s.
    However, what is nowhere mentioned or described is, what causes the neurons to “misconnect” or when the neurons still in place for dopamine but receptors are closed up, unable to receive dopamine output.
    If the cause is anoxia at birth, why is the reaction time so late in some cases?
    I suspected contamination caused by environmental stress related facts, such as drugs, abuse and/or accidents, that can cause an ongoing adrenal overload - even adrenal burnout.
    I can see how the thinning of the corpus callosum is possible in the prenatal development as the result of ongoing lack of oxidant. There may also exist, not proven yet, that subsiding disconnection of the corpus callosum is possible by emotional contamination, meaning over stimulation by stress, deriving from different variations of neglect/abuse.
    One fact is undeniable, emotional contamination leads to all kinds of action and reaction. As long as the people in this world do not understand or disregard the emotions as the fundamental basis of our existence, we will produce more disasterous outcomes.
    I have no doubt that PT can reverse some of the early imprints, but the primal center cannot help the millions of damaged people.

    1. Sieglinde!

      The primal center would solve the psychological worldly problems if we could allow it to be the "Messiah" necessary for its target. It is quite possible even in an intellectual process... only the arguments reach the goal of their task.


  9. The Examiner had recently an intresting article about corpus collosum and connection of the two brain hemispheres refering to the film "Rain Man":

  10. The Primal Therapy's intelektuella obstacles .

    A psychosomatic disorder must be treated for the cause of it… not according to its symptoms. If we think we know something about it... it is better that we think what is right. I mean... if I through a stomach ulcer... suffering from pain… it am better that the pain is linked to its cause than I am treated for its symptoms… the ulcer itself. The voice from suffering… the tone from the cause reverberates through our system if we are entitled to listen to it.



  11. Replies
    1. Hi Jan & Art,

      I read the article.

      I have an acquaintance who I work with occasionally. Over twenty years.

      I used to feel safe discussing emotional issues with him, on occasion I was able to express true feelings in his company and he too to me. Recently I have decided to stop so doing; we're both involved in construction but it's not that industry nor its' reputation for emotional ignorance that has caused me to want to 'change my behaviour'.

      I asked him if he had decided to give up construction to become a therapist, his reply: "Building Therapist". . .

      Now that's quite funny, because, well, you know you have to look after the family when you do work in their home (it's a real intrusion). He, like me has an interest in bodywork, nutrition and mental health. He (like me) was in psychotherapy for years. . . he has trained as a masseur. However he started speaking the same language of the cognitivists. . . As a super Mr. 'Nice Guy' he can now do no wrong until cognitively backed into a corner; IE: I have to explain his actual behaviour to him and the impact that has on the project we are doing. He has 'new age' belief systems in place too.

      So, as a super nice cognitively 'rinsed' new age individual I now work for him, he has hogged my workshop. There are two days left till he's off to some new age festival when I need him most at work and even he desperately needs the money to pay the rent for the house over his families' head. Festival first, carpentry second.

      I despair. I count the days till he goes on to his 'holiday destination' so that I can take control of my workshop again and lick my wounded bank account better and find a replacement to help deliver the next frame.

      He tells me his partner has recently been "re-birthed" by the wife of his ex therapist. . . (who 'approves' of Arthur Janov' by the way, we should feel so grateful, I feel so grateful).

      I also despair because I could not resist telling him he had been brainwashed his therapist. Some people can learn to use a tape measure and use it as a weopon

      Paul G.

  12. Off topic:

    Just thinking. I think one of the weaknesses of the sympath mode is that it doesn't make for exceptional artists, because they don't have the kind of patience for it that parasympaths or maybe 'normals' have.

    Do you reckon there's any truth in that, Art?

    1. Hi Andrew,

      I'm coming to see that as the critical window comes to an end there is the beginning of the connection between feelings and the neocortex.

      Some people describe this as the 'narcisistic' stage of development. . . we all need to be able to 'show off' and win the 'approval' of our parents and mentors. Somehow this is linked to language and being able to "Show & Tell". . .

      I suppose that if we do actually get the attention we need to fulfil that 'self reflection' from our loved mentors at that critical time then we are able to pursue further links which have their correlation in neural circuitry. Thus the development of conscious intelligence proceeds unhindered. Then, later, whatever circumstances we find ourselves in (and there are always circumstances) we have the 'equipment' in place to be able to respond to these circumstances with some artfulness and flair. . .

      If on the other hand we are chronically ignored or controlled or abused at that vital window then the need to be heard, to be seen and to perform for attention remains in a state of permanent suspended animation. . . 'trying to get out' takes on a multi layered meaning. Imprint apon imprint, we repeat the demand for an audience in a symbolic way, most probably unaware of the 'act out' inherent in that.

      The problem with the current 'new age' is in the proliferation of interesting so called creative pursuits that you can get involved in as a 'medium' for expression (of unmet needs). Which came first? The proliferation or the unmet needs? Well, my particular interest is in group dynamics and now (obviously) how Primal Trauma affects groups of us. Our social sphere is the audience which we 'need' to act out our 'need'. . . If individual repression has become pandemic then our social sphere must have also become rife with unmet acted out need and it beggars the question who is motivating who to act out what, particularly in the world of art.

      Paul G.

    2. Paul: OK, but not sure what you mean as the critical window comes to an end.......explain art

    3. Hi Art,

      Oops, you,re the expert! I don't want to be the know all again. Um, age two / three, the start of language and expression of basic concepts, the need to share that with other more knowledgeable mentors, to get feedback verbally as well as through touch and eye contact (and making things, play). That coincides with the last of the imprinted experiences before our personalities become fixated? Words can become more important, worse, a substitute. . .

      I suppose that if we really love our children and grandchildren then as they progress through this age they can maintain a link with their feelings and have some rudimentary "emotional intelligence" (which continues to branch, blossom and flower). . . because they have not been 'shut down' by repressive parents and traumatic experiences totally denied. Over pruned like an ornamental fuscia.

      We talk to our kids and acknowledge their feelings. Hence the value of a 'helpful witness'; as parents we aught to be our childrens' helpful witnesses.

      I know how I feel about this though I wish I could remember being that age. Both my stepson and son can.

      I'm fairly sure I was neglected at that age and part of my desire to pontificate with my acquired wisdom on this blog is probably a bit of an act out to get feedback for the little me then. . . maybe I try to be teachers' pet, the little prof. The fact that I have chronically petitioned others with my ideas (and other peoples') and tried to change the world, and tried to be this that and the other and still I'm doing it. Still trying to get the attention.

      Bloody waste of time and energy talking about Primal Theory to most people though.

      People can act out a rebellious incompetence from that age. . . when we're a bit clumsy and forgetful, leaving a mess everywhere (discarding, trashing out) and curiosity gets us into straights (but not the job done). Some people are like that in my workshop. . . I digress.

      My mother was an Edwardian domestic tyrant. . . She wanted me to attend to her 'regime' and didn't play with me enough. . . So, I suppose I am an expert by proxy!

      Paul G.

    4. So because Art is an expert he is not a know it all even though he knows a lot. Is'nt that rather an endightment of the Expert as such and how some can take power over others (Art excepted). The shrink knows it all and tells us who we are and how to be and the rest of us bow down in front of the Expert because to try and know enough is to be a know it all. What's wrong with some healthy scepticism about Expertness.

      When the first man (or woman) discovered fire he had not taken a coarse in thermal dynamics and pyrotechnics but had probably just observed. He was not an Expert in the modern sense of the word ie a Shamen who must be worshipped but just a smart guy who worked something out. What's wrong with being a smart guy who works stuff out like Art. Is that being a know it all or just taking a bit of pride in feeling like one has worked something out and in doing so helped oneself.

      Paul why are you a know it all because you have worked stuff out and have an opinion on something?

    5. Hi Planespotter,

      Thou Art Mine Saviour because you offer me a direct question to my oblique ruminations:

      "Because I am a recovering New Age Addict formerly brainwashed by the cognitive belief in individualised belief systems".

      Or another way of putting this is to say that I used to believe in free will (the New Age version) and therefore anything that goes wrong in my life must be my fault (failure to adapt). That is the current 'New Age' belief system.

      This sort of 'karmic' belief system is what Alice Miller railed against. Art too, but he tries not to make a point of it.

      As a 'perfectionist' type I find myself 100 years out of date with 'modern' society which seems hell bent on a sort of democratic anarchy which can never perceive detail for fear of alienating anyone. Democracy has turned into genericism, particularly in New Age England. We all hide behind a thin veil of democracy and try not to see the neurosis in anyone else for fear of invading their privacy. "Have you got a problem with Blame? Do you see yourself as the victim?"

      I hear this crap all the time in the "New Age" community. It is all cognitive bullshit.

      Thanks Planespotter.

      You salved me.

      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.