Monday, November 26, 2012

How Long Will I Live?

  There are several ways to know about how long we will live.  First, if you drink and smoke a lot it won’t be very long.  If you do a genetic test you will get an idea, but also a very good way is to measure your telomeres.  These are the ends of the chromosomes which, if you expect to  lead a long life the telomeres need to be long.  The shorter they are the shorter the life, in general.  And the real question is what is their function and why do they get shorter and therefore shorten our lives.

  Lifelong stress will shorten your telomeres, which shorten under stress or adversity.  Telomeres  form the ends of the chromosome that shorten under chronic financial problems, long-term care of  a loved one, emotional neglect and being unloved,  including getting divorced, or suffering chronic anxiety.  It is one way that anxiety kills.  It is that chronic stress indicates a system-wide problem that is expressed in telomere length.  The key ingredient for this is long-term stress resulting from more rapid DNA replication.  And the key ingredient, then, is imprinted stress that causes rapid DNA turnover; generally the earlier it begins the more deleterious it is because unavoidable stress is deadly.  Living in the womb is about as helpless as we get.

  Of course what stress does is ramp up levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that work in see-saw fashion with telomere length.  The higher the cortisol the shorter telomeres will be, in the long run.  When we couple higher cortisol, shorter telomeres together  with higher body temperature  and elevated blood pressure we have an index of a shorter life.  Fortunately, there is something we can do about it since we do lower vitals after one year of our therapy; body temp is on average one degree less and blood pressure in hypertensives are 24 points lower.  We have not as yet done telomere studies.

  There have been studies on healthy adults who started in life in an institution; they had radically lower telomere  lengths. (see Nature.  Vol 490.  Oct 11, 2012).  More important, mothers who underwent severe stress while they were carrying (death of loved one) had offspring with lower than average telomeres.  I have not seen studies on telomere length in those with adverse gestational lives but we plan to do it.  Particularly, we want to study imprinted stress that continues in our system long after the very early trauma.    We must never neglect the imprint; it is the way we  engrave experience in the total system.  A person can claim that he had a wonderful childhood but if his telomere length is shorter than average we need to examine him more carefully.    When we have shorter telomeres we can expect that the person will be more vulnerable to such diseases as diabetes  and heart problems.  The shorter length individuals are much more likely to develop cancer, by the way.  And dementia is another great likelihood.  Can you die from neurosis?  (chronic imprinted stress). Absolutely.  Can you suffer from premature serious illness?  Yes, Yes.  Can we avoid it? Yes, yes.  Take out the pain.  It’s the pain, my friends.  Take it out and there will be far less smoking, drinking  and drug taking, and therefore, longer telomeres.  It is the telomere that are shouting out the pain in their own way,    We need to listen.  And we need to talk back to them in their own language—physiology.  And we need to say, hang on, friend, we will take your pain away, even if you do not know it is there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Really Counts in Our Development

  As I have pointed out, the brain develops  into  three different systems.  I call them the first, second and third lines.  The first  is brain stem and parts of the archaic limbic  system, the second is basically limbic system, including the amygdala, hippocampus and other structures such as the anterior caudate nucleus.  Each of these structures (including the striatum) contribute to our general feeling capacity.  They are connected to the top level prefrontal cortex to help us be aware of our  feelings; this is the area of insights.  And they are evolved out of the brainstem that provides the energy and gravity of feelings.  The  first line is silent and wordless.  It grunts, exhibits rage, terror and great physical reactions that are never expressed in words; that is why we need higher levels to provide those words when necessary.  But less us not believe  that the cognitive level by itself  can make any changes--insights.  It  misses out on the serious sensations that exist on the deepest brain  levels.

  So we have a basic primitive ineffable level, a higher  emotional one  and finally, a verbal one.  All together they form a fully feeling experience.  When we relive events from our childhood there is generally all  levels involved.
There is the memory by  the third line, then we add the emotion to  it in therapy and then allow  the punch of the  feeling to join in.  When  we  relive events before birth, during gestation, it  is a first line experience where there are no words or even tears.  When we read a speech too often we lack the emotional level; it remains dry, cognitive and intellectual.

  When are born we have most of the brain neurons we will  ever need, except for  some limbic brain cells that go on developing throughout our lives.  Early on the brain is developing networks and  circuits where different brain structures are connected to each other.  But lack of love and  trauma during early childhood seriously affects how the brain develops and what networks there are.  The feeling system  will recruit  aspects of the limbic system into a  feeling  network.  Except  when there is little emotion in  the environment, when the parents are two stones who  do not react much.  It affects the brain  development of the child.  The emotions  become stunted.  The cognitive level may go on developing but it leaves the  emotional level  behind.  We get brainy people who don’t feel much.

  We know from much research that neglect in the first months of  life on earth adversely affects brain development; there  are later learning problems and relating difficulties.  But picture the traumas before birth  during gestation; imagine the kind of long lasting damage there will be.  This is the kind of damage that affects physical systems, the precursor to  heart problems later in life and cancer. Why so?  Because the newly forming heart cells (and other cells) are being affected by a  mother who is anxious and/or depressed, weakening the baby’s  circulatory system.  First line damage equals first line  reactions.  This damage may not be apparent for decades but the beginning vulnerability is already there.  It has changed the way that neurons develop and differentiate.  There is now a sort of detour going on.  And more, there  is suppression of those traumas automatically so  that each  trauma  evokes its own repression, and  here we may have the beginnings of later  cancer.    This means that first line repression is heavy and  deleterious.

  Speaking of cancer, I am hoping to carry out some research to follow up on something we did decades ago.  We did a double blind study of Natural  Killer (NK) cells which are part of the immune system charged with watching out for newly developing cancer cells in order to kill  them.  After one year of our therapy there is a significant increase in NK cells.  What I want to do with  a research team is pierce the tumor take out key cells, multiply them a  lot and then re-infuse those extracted cells back into the person’s system slowly over time.  If I am not mistaken those infused  cells will kill only the tumor cells and nothing  else. This will be a lot more efficient  than chemo therapy and will only destroy cancer cells, leaving the healthy ones alone.  And because NK cells are genetically designed to go wherever there are the bad cells it will  be less dangerous  and far more effective.  All we need right now is the money  to do  it.

  When I discuss  the idea of detour it may be exactly what happens in the brain, for there is a migration of neurons from the brain stem up.  And when there  is trauma those neurons may well take a  different route in  their development (see the work of  Bruce  Perry in Texas). This migration is foremost  in the earliest months in  the womb  so that a mother’s smoking or pill-popping alters the  migration and brain  evolution.  One way this happens is that we are born with  a certain gene pool  but how  these genes evolved is  due  to epigenetics, events impacting genetic development.  This determines how the nerve cells  evolve, how dense the dendrites are and how they connect with  other nerve  cells.  Dendrites accept the messages from other nerve cells.  When they are sparse or less  dense we don’t get  the full message.  A carrying mother’s smoking can alter the baby’s oxygen supply for life.  That means breathing problems later on.

  So we have an ordered evolution of brain cells from the stem cell area  on  upward.  And each new  system appears on a fixed time-line.  These systems occur  in order so that we can’t speak at 3  months.  Brainstem functions include digestion, breathing and blood  circulation.  If later on  there are symptoms in these areas, we need to look  at first line events.  Did  the mother  smoke heavily in  the  first 4 months  of pregnancy?  If so,  there are likely to be serious developmental problems including evidence of  mental illness later on.  These primitive neurons are there long before the  cortical neurons exist, both in evolutionary times and in personal ones.  And during  gestation and the first months of life on earth they are the most sensitive to environment impacts.

  This is no more than saying that there are critical  windows when the system  is the most  sensitive. Not  being touched  at age ten  is not going  to have  the impact if there  is no touch right after birth.  What  this means is that the  critical period for the first line is far more  malleable than  later critical periods.  And its impact  the greatest, which is why we  always need to include  this period in any of  our studies, and especially in our therapy of patients.  This first line is  the epoch of  longest lasting effects and of  the greatest impact in terms of our  evolution and brain development.  This has been emphasized in a study by Cornell University (Nov,  21, 2007.  “Trauma Earlier in Life  May Affect Response to Stress Years Later”).  During womb-life there is a new organizing framework which determines  how  the person faces life later on.  The brain is  “settling in.”  And it imprints this frame  of reference to guide our lives.

  What new research is showing is  that those young children who  are abused, neglected or otherwise unloved have smaller  brains  than those who grew up loved.  This implies all kinds of associated problems from learning to  relating.  We and our brains need others; we  need attention  and love and caring.  And we need it during the greatest epoch of our critical  window—the  first line.  That is when there  are irreversible imprints with widespread effects.  Our lives are in danger when we are unloved; when the mother is heavily depressed or drinks.  Institutional children  do die when  there is no love in the first years of life.  So instead of  children not being  allowed  to speak at dinner there  must be lively  conversations all of the time.  They need information and stimulation.  They need food for the brain.  So just imagine what damage happens  to children who  are unloved as children, and  before  that when the critical window is  wide open during first line before  birth.  If we can see the  damage done to young children in  institutions can we  imagine what goes on earlier in the womb when we cannot see the damage?    The  earlier  the damage the more irreversible  it becomes.  Luckily we have a  therapy that goes deep and undoes some of the damage.  But with no first line therapy there  will never be a cure, not if we ignore the crucial critical window where so much impact exists.  There has been an attachment theory around for more than fifty years, but consider the attachment between the baby and the carrying mother where her every mood is transmitted directly to the fetus.  When she is anxious so is her baby; when she is depressed so is her baby.  And as the pain mounts from  womb-life  on  there will be a greater  tendency to shut off the right feeling brain and flee to the left where there is no  direct pain.

  All  I am reiterating is that there is  information and research  to  show that the earlier the impact on the brain the more damaging and long lasting the effects.  We must never ignore this period if we want to help our patients.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why We Need a Frame of Reference

I am not against statistical research.  It is essential.  But too often research studies are a stand-alone  phenomenon;  true unto themselves but  unrelated to a larger  picture and other key phenomena.  They are not plugged into a bigger frame of reference.  And that is my quarrel with constant statistical studies, especially in Psychology.  Let me give you an example.  There is a new study that states: serotonin promotes patience.  The idea is that animals can wait longer for reward once given serotonin. And, not surprisingly, the animals failed  the test after being given something to stop serotonin production.  Ok .  We have the results, but the “WHY” we don’t have.  Their conclusion:  these findings suggest that activation of serotonin neurons is required for waiting  for delayed reward.  OK fine.  Our clinical experience shows that the more activated  the top level neo-cortex, the less impulses break through to force impulsive behavior.  It is one way we know that serotonin is an inhibitory chemical.  We know that very early neglect and  trauma require  the production  of more serotonin. We now know that a dog can be more patient with injected serotonin.  A frame of reference  would  inform us that high level cortical functioning can be recruited to shut down feelings and make us feel better and be patient; that general inhibition can lead to patience.
And that serotonin can shut down feelings and impulses. And when we do that we increase the ability to wait.  My birth trauma patients are often impulse-ridden.

  I  don’t want to drown the fish but here is one more example: almost 20% of patients with coronary heart disease suffer from major depression.  Another 20% have some symptoms of depression.  Again,  Why?    The problem with statistical  studies is that  we get statistical  truths;  and  in the usual  research we get correlations; this correlates with that, etc.  What  we don’t get are causes of disease.  Correlations never do that, and indeed  in our field of Psychiatry and  Psychology we are looked at negatively because we offer causes or at least generating sources.  Scientists are  too often content to do stand-alone research.  And too often  it is the left brain  that is content with statistical  studies because it requires little further imagination.  We don’t have to engage in pesky thoughts beyond  what we see and  measure.  We don’t have to posit implications.  It is one reason we do not get beyond  Freud and/or cognitive therapy.  Is is why we have rigid, inflexible, dry results.  And scientists seem to prefer it that way; equating  dryness with science.

  These are interesting studies(above) but they lack a frame of reference, which is what I require, “a  truth beyond  the facts”.  A frame of reference is essential in order to make sense of our results.  For that we need experience with patients; to see how theory and research studies merge  with clinical observations—the  proof in the eating.  It is the frame of reference that can tie two disparate studies together and provide broader implications.  It is indeed a truth beyond the facts; that truth requires a frame of reference.    It seems that it  is right brain  that supplies the frame of reference, the meaning and implications of  our studies, while  the left brain deals  with point by point statistics.  We need both in our therapy and our theory.  It is why statistical results are rarely enough, yet psychologic science is stuck there and why so little has changed in therapy over the decades.

Take  migraine. We have had success in treating it.  One  research study found that oxygen therapy helped alleviate its suffering.  It was stand/alone research.  Our own frame of reference  after seeing dozens  of migraine patients over the years, indicates  serious oxygen  lack during  the birth  process, usually due to massive anesthesia given  the  birthing  mother.  It causes a serious oxygen decrease in the baby who struggles for air.  One result of  this  oxygen loss is the precursor for migraine—constriction  of blood vessels to struggle with the loss of oxygen.  And what is one treatment for  it?  Oxygen.  And treating dozens of those migraine people  led us to a breadth of data to provide a frame of reference.  I didn’t  have to concoct a theory; I had to observe closely and note what I saw.  I rather doubt that anyone could come up with  our hypothesis with  statistics alone.  At least now after almost  one hundred years of headache research  I still have not seen possible causes mentioned.

  What  is lacking?  A frame  of reference.  We really can’t come up with a frame of reference with  a one-off study.  We need a good deal of information.  With each patient we gather more evidence, and we modify our theory  accordingly.  Our  patients are our research subjects.  We are now correlating  our vital sign  results.  We will  soon know how and when blood pressure and body temperature change with feelings.  Our results are found in our patients; they have  the answers.

  Our clinical work has found depression  to be  a forerunner for later heart disease because of deep repression involved in  both.  And from our clinical knowledge of how early repression sets in.  When in our work we extirpate pain out of the system we alleviate  depression and possibly prevent  heart attacks.

    It's not that we are depressed  and also then we have heart disease; it is that deep suppression  of early pain, often begun in our womb-life, activates heart cells and affects later heart function.  That is, constant repression is involved in depression and heart disease.  Seeing the whole person allows us to develop a frame of reference that statistics usually cannot do.  Both heart disease and depression emanate from the person and begins most often during life in the womb.  No theory of womb-life--  no understanding of its role in heart disease.  So if we treat heart disease  by stand-alone methods,  leaving the  imprints out of the matter, we are possibly ensuring another attack. This is one reason that in therapy with serious disease if we do not address the generating sources, the imprint, there is a constant danger of recidivism.  And yet if we add imagination/frame of reference to our results we are often looked at as unscientific because we have gone beyond the facts. This is a dilemma because too often getting ahead of the facts can indeed be dangerous  and unscientific.  Look at our pal Freud, he posited childhood sexuality out of his own unconscious, nary a fact in sight.

  The danger is that a largely left brain scientist (a right brain scientist is too often an  oxymoron) cannot objectively supply an untrammeled frame of reference.  Our brain research indicated a more equalized brain in patients after one  year of our therapy.  What this means to me is a more objective one; a brain that will follow facts and produce a relevant meaning, not fabricating theories out of the unconscious.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Do Psychedelics Do Actually?

    What  they do is explain to us how psychosis happens.  New research informs us about the brain structures involved, but what it does is simply pin down in the brain something we have  seen for years clinically; both help to clarify psychedelic effects.  It is not that brain research is more scientific; rather, it offers the cerebral corollary for what happens clinically.

  The research is by Drs. Carhart-Harris and David  Nutt, using MRI’s to pinpoint what  goes on after a subject is  given a small dose of psilocybin. (See or/and There was  reduction in those areas of  the brain that, inter  alia,  control feelings and their rise into the top level cognitive  cortex.  It also seems to unhinge parts of the limbic system,  including the anterior cingulate cortex.  Basically it allows lower level imprints to rise unabated into the thinking area;  and from there, because as someone said, it  is like trying to drink from a fire hose, there is an inundation and flooding.  The brain regions dealing with constricting conscious/awareness give way and we get  exactly, not approximately, what happens in psychosis.  The  difference is that in psychosis there is a slow accretion of imprinted pain that finally damages the gating system and feelings rise and  flood the thinking cortex;  exactly what happens much quicker with psychedelics.  The gates are open in either  case; the pain is the  same.  Nothing changes except the time to takes to damage  the  gates and allowing flooding.

  And what happens when there is flooding?  The cortex is exigently  pressed into service to cover over the rising feelings with whatever ideas and imagination the person/brain can concoct.  They have a bizarre quality to them because they arise not out of specific feelings but from an amalgam of them.  The “fire hose” is spritzing everywhere.  And the brain is forced to use its latest developing structure, the neo-cortex, to join the fray.  I repeat: this is no different from lifelong lack of love and trauma that puts cracks in the defense system (including lowering serotonin  supplies), which  then ultimately gives way.  When it (defense) does not give way but only weakens we get ADD attention deficits where the gates are leaky and cannot properly contain the upsurge.  The feelings rise  and are scattered but do not produce full-blown psychosis.  But they prevent careful and sedulous attention to each task; there are  too many tasks,  too much input that breaks  up focus and concentration.  The brain is forced to pay attention to multiple  inputs (leaky gates), and cannot do it.  In this way we could say that ADD is the forerunner, the harbinger, of a psychosis to come.  This only means that the gates are leaky and  will not withstand further trauma input.  The beginning signs of a collapsing defense system can be delusions; this happens often with lifelong use of  marijuana which gnaws away at defenses.  All this  means according the study cited above is  that the areas of the brain that control  memory retrieval are faulty and do not function well.  What some drugs including psychedelics do is facilitate the retrieval of memory; the problem is with these drugs, there is too much retrieval all at  once and the  top level cannot integrate it.  And when there are leaky gates brought on by drugs you get  continued and long  lasting sleep problems as rising feelings agitate without cease.  The feelings rise to just-below-cortical levels so that the top level is constantly stimulated, and falling into sleep becomes impossible.  Sometimes a lone feeling may come up such as feeling unsafe throughout childhood. Occasionally the person can focus on one thing to  alleviate the agitation……"if I try the door knob  twenty times a day I will feel safe".  Often there  is no  awareness of the role of the obsession; the person simply feels better  if she can try the door knobs.  The ritual alleviates latent anxiety.

  This is the difference between what seems like pure statistical  science and clinical science.  Clinically, we see the relationship among disparate phenomena; we understand why this happens and that does not.  We are not bound exclusively by the "facts".  That is, we have a frame of reference in which to place the facts.  This frame of reference is truth beyond facts; it gives meaning to the facts and broadens our understand of what it all means.  This does not mean that we do not use brain science to further our understanding, but that seeing all this in action explains so much and takes us beyond  pure  statistics.  As I said many times; we are after biologic truths, not simply statistical data.  It is data with imagination that we need.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What Happened to My High Level Conscious Awareness?

  Sometimes the three levels of consciousness are sitting right before us for all to see.  I read an article today on Alzheimers Disease.  It seems the victim can still do all of the feeling chores:  affection, getting  a new boy or girlfriend, cuddle up to a doll, take walks with a new friend, cry, kiss, pet animals, and so on.  It means that they can lead a feeling life even when they do not know who they are or where they belong.  They can do all this without an effective  (and affective) third line prefrontal cortex.  They are effectively decorticates.  And yet they can love and  feel loved.

  Now look at the higher level professor, with a super functioning neocortex, someone who wrote a book on the PROOF OF HEAVEN.  He is an M.D. and it is recommended reading by a Ph.D.  It is about consciousness after death.  Here the neocortex is used to keep him unconscious.    The blurb for this book is that he is “living proof of an afterlife.”  Or, as I might describe it, ” living proof of nonsense.”  Unless we believe that we can have experience without a functioning brain.

  What it seems to be is last in first out:  the last to develop, our prefrontal cortex is the first to go as we grow  older.    But we can still have a life even when that happens; it is called a feeling  life.  We cannot do math but we can be overjoyed when someone brings us a teddy bear.  We become the child again who does not as yet have a functioning cortex.    Or in the case above,  they can do math but have lost their child in the process.  Choose what you prefer:  an unfeeling mental giant, or a feeling child.  Who is the more alive?  And if you choose the feeling child you won’t have to read books about experiencing the after life.

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.