Friday, March 22, 2013

The Difference between Reform and Revolution

The difference between Primal and the other psychotherapies is that the others are reformists and we are revolutionists.  So what does that mean?  In reform, the power structure, the current professional zeitgeist is left intact and one works within it.  No basic change.  In a revolutionary approach the current professional zeitgeist is overthrown and we do not work with that structure.  So one is able to make moderate change without changing anything; and the other is changing everything.  What does that mean?

Leaving the theory aside for a moment,
It means no more 50 minute hour where the doctor looks at his watch instead of at her patient to see if she is crying or hurting.
It means a quiet, soundproof setting and sessions which are open ended where the patient stays as long as he needs.
It means a place where the patient is heard and not lectured to.
It means a setting where her feelings count the most.
It means a place where the doctor does not offer insight into the patient’s deep unconscious and where the patient already “knows” what is wrong once we unleash the unconscious.
It means the patient is the final arbiter.

   The above means a revolutionary structure where the whole setting is conducive to feeling, not to endless discussion, a bavardage (endless esoteric discussion)  between patient and doctor that goes nowhere.   The point being that we cannot conduct a revolutionary therapy in a conventional setting.  Way back when, I tried that, with expensive Spanish furniture, which was soon was full of holes.

   Reform does not question the status quo but works within it.  But neurosis is obdurate and will hang on, dictating behavior and symptoms no matter how we try to change them.  And when we are reformists we are forced to be tinkerers. There is no choice.  The reason is that neurosis is systemic, taking in all of us, and it is everywhere.  When we try to change it we must take into account the entire system, not just something here and there that we try to control and change.  In reform we can only treat piecemeal because we are inside the defense system, working within the neurosis.  So, accordingly there must be an experiential therapy that encompasses all of us, something that begins with the brain and history as they affect how we act.  If we do not do that then the symptom or behavior will return over and over again as in drinking and smoking or taking drugs.  We can submit to a here-and-now therapy that begins with the symptom and not the person and can drive the symptom  away, usually underground, falsely believing we have made progress.  All this means that we ignore history and the imprint of the history in the brain and find this technique or another to combat the symptom or behavior.

   In reform , we push the symptom down either through that bavardage I mentioned, or through medication which is designed to push back feelings.  We need to reverse that approach and liberate, not suppress the person.  And what does liberation mean?  That unmet needs have finally been attended to.   It is filling unfulfilled needs that are crucial in a liberated society, which is also true in the personal realm, getting to need.  If there is no focus on need, there is perforce a reactionary therapy no matter what name we give it.  When we understand the brain more,  particularly the neo-cortical brain, we see that one of its  functions is to use language to suppress feelings.  And indeed, in history one reason we evolved from feelings to ideas, I believe, is to have a system where we can disengage from ourselves and split off from feelings that are very painful.  We can flee to our “head,”  leaving our body behind.

   Let’s take an example:  heavy drinking.    The person can go to center after center for rehabilitation.  No matter what the rehab does, it is never revolutionary; they are  busy getting results in a  hurry.  Their historical causes are rarely here and now, but sequestered through a long evolution of our lives.  We need to allow for “evolutionary” time getting down there.   Rehab is not designed to do that.  Getting down deep in the brain means getting to generating sources and that may well mean overthrowing the imprinted memory.  It means ultimately reversing the imprint so that we are no longer driven by it.  This means altering the brain circuitry.  Changing structure and function.   It means basic change in our biochemistry, as well.

Any therapy that is not experiential can succeed.  There are therapies that pretend to focus on the body, but that is to the exclusion of the brain.    And there are so-called feeling therapies, such as Gestalt, that still focus on the present, encouraging  screaming but it still remains in the present.   We must always keep revolution in mind in therapy because once we try to change a specific pattern of behavior, we are ignoring evolution.

    All this means overthrowing who we are; the face we present to the world.  When patients get to deep feelings their faces change. The look different, because they are different.


  1. A 40 year revolution - an oxymoron!

    “ Neurosis is systemic and it is everywhere in us. We must take into account the entire organism, in order to reverse the present psychotherapy approach, and avoid not to suppress the patient. We need to allow for “evolutionary time” getting down there. Getting to the generating sources in the brain and reversing the imprint means altering the brain circuity, which leads to a basic change in our biochemistry”.

    It is easy to agree with everything you mention in this paragraph. It takes time and requires a lot of patience (often up to several years, which requires highly qualified resources, guidance and (ay ay ay) money.

    A revolution is a sudden radical and pervasive change in ideas, methods etc. Primal Therapy has been around for more than 40 years, a too long transition to be considered a revolution.

    What we now need by the help of Primal Therapy is a long expected reform of the Freudian psychotherapy-revolution which introduced clinical techniques in an attempt to help neurotics. Freud’s innovation has for decades proved to be a decent but insufficient, short-term, help. It is in need of innovations and modern techniques that, if possible, can cure the patients.

    I and others have said it before and I will repeat it again. The Primal approach to psychotherapy is far too narrow which is a pity now when there is such a need for a drastic change to reform the old psychotherapy which has entered into a dead end. Why? Because the dominating part of the society being slave under the evolutionary capabilities to use language to suppress feelings and to disengage itself from painful feelings.

    A “revolution” started with few supporters takes a long time to implement.

    Jan Johnsson

    1. Hi Jan,

      listen, how do you understand decent and insufficient together. in my reading decent is good and insufficient is bad, let's say it to simplify. how come you mean a therapy is good (helping the patient) and then insufficient (not helping the patient) - how can Freudians be good if they do not achieve anything?


    2. Decent, but insufficient

      A psychotherapy may be decent (“good” in a modest way put into relation of the dominating recognized standards, which patients are being offered under the present treatment paradigm) at treating symptoms but at the same time insufficient when it comes to curing the imprinted pain of a patient.
      So yes, something can both be decent / (modestly) good and insufficient at the same time.

      Jan Johnsson

  2. "It means the patient is the final arbiter."

    I think this is what is scary to conventional psychologists and psychiatrists - to let go of all preconceptions and assumptions and to actually *learn from the patient*. If I am not mistaken, this is how you, Art, discovered primal, and developed the theory and therapy - by learning from the patients. You have mentioned that in the early days of primal therapy you were told by a neurologist (I think?) that birth primals are not possible, and that for a while you believed him and didn't accept that they were possible. But soon you had to accept what you saw in your patients and learn from them.

    A revolution would also mean no more wondering endlessly about what the correct diagnosis for a given patient is, because in most cases it doesn't matter. Patients are people in pain... that's what matters. No more Rosarch (ink blot) tests. I had one done to me by a psychologist recently. I was surprised how much he could tell about me from that test - but ultimately it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. Oh, btw, the most recent fad in psychology & psychiatry is *mentalization*, of which the aforementioned psychologist is also very excited about. Here's a link to the Wikipedia article on treatment based on it:

    If you read it you can see that it's ultimately just another form of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Therapists gotta stay on the third line, it's safe there...

  3. Hi Art
    some 20 years ago in a "massage-like" therapy session,some participants
    therein made the complimentary(?...) remark tha "I looked totally
    different before ...
    I think :because of relaxation involved...TENSION is the key word of my

    That really noone !! of my "therapists" ever noticed that I was defending against it by downplaying it by talking incessantly and charmantly(is that the correct expression?) bewilders me in hindsight!!!

    I think it all derives from my beeing in the role of a"therapist"to others
    and not in need of beeing treated as a man/boy in Pain.
    Yours emanuel

    1. Hi emanuel,

      I get terrible tension too. My bodywork therapist was a competent masseur but some-how he /we tacitly agreed that massage was not appropriate for me. My body screamed for touch and my muscles screamed for deep manipulation and every time I went to see the therapist on Fridays after (hard physical carpentry) work we would just keep it all on the 3rd line.

      Once he tried massaging my feet, I just keeled over and started purring like a cat, dozing off into a meditative state. That, he said, was the reason why he did not want to do massage with me. . .

      I don't quite get it. I went to another masseur and she had me screaming on the table. . . I'm so close to my feelings now people have only got to smile at me and I break down.

      I had a course of very effective shiatsu Japanese acupressure. That brought me close to my feelings and helped release chronic tension in my joints. On reflection I think some therapists who use massage may also have borrowed some old ideas from the Primal Scream. I think in the old days there were those ideas that a degree of 'frustration' of expression to start with was part of the way to expose the patient's need. But I think this is out of date now? A bit cruel? It fits into a tortuous 3rd line view.

      Paul G.

  4. Hi AnttiJ,
    -"I was surprised how much he could tell about me from that test - but ultimately it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know"-.

    Con men, salesmen, marketing experts, astrologers and fortune tellers all have this ability to 'read' what people already know about themselves. We give it away in our non verbal queues and then they tell us.

    I have found re-assurance when 'diagnosed' or labelled but not cure.

    One reason why people like a diagnosis or 'label' is re-assurance. Giving something a name can be helpful. Not every-one is like that and of course the label doesn't always fit.

    Paul G.

  5. Hi,

    -"Therapists gotta stay on the third line, it's safe there"...

    Safe from the terror of their own hidden agendas.

    Paul G.

  6. I think I have said it before that it was the unlimited time frame which in the end caused me to wish to try to get to the Primal Centre. Having been and started to open up it can be pretty scary and that needs the therapist to support the patient. To feel that one's feelings are paramount is vital.

  7. Hi,
    -"It means a quiet, soundproof setting and sessions which are open ended where the patient stays as long as he needs"-.

    I can only conclude that conventional therapy has not considered this due to the need to 'control' the outcome and to limit the healing process. I know of no UK therapists or therapy rooms set up in this way and it is hard for me to understand why not. It is beyond belief really. . .

    Ok, it costs more; but only at first. . . The three week intensive is essential. . . How could any-one break through their conventions and their usual defences to get into lower brain structures? Well, it's obvious, I mean those 'lower brain structures' are simply disregarded or badly misunderstood. Lastly, it's so misleading that the conventional therapies act as if people's problems can be overcome as 'part of an existing lifestyle'. Hence the 50 minute hour. It is an issue of convenience. Like liposuction instead of exercise and a healthy diet.

    I am frightened of going to the Centre. But the one thing that re-assures me is that padded, sound proofed room. How simple an idea and how essential.

    Paul G.

  8. Dr. Janov
    To understand what you are proposing requires “independent thinking/feeling” (like Thomas Paine) cutting the umbilical court to ancient lectures AND committing to truly human healing.
    The few willing have only a little chance; the psychologically burdened are a blessing to pharmaceutical companies and pays them, without proof of success, a good living for the 50 minute therapist.
    To change the 100 year old Freudian IMPRINT requires a big bang – scientific evidence must prove that therapies stimulating only left brain without erasing trauma-imprinted pain in the right lower brain, is no more than an expensive farce.

    1. Sieglinde: I do believe that starting this week there will be parts of my article for the World Congress of Psychiatry: Activitas Nervosa Superior. Even a piece in an august scientific journal will change them. It is, "I won't believe it even if you prove it," syndrome. art

    2. Sieglinde again: So so right. art

    3. Dr. Janov
      As you know, every syndrome "has a cause" and the "I won't believe it even if you prove it," syndrome, has a BIG one. We need to find out why PT is rejected.
      Reading the February WP publication I find only “diagnosis” and “suggested“ treatments. None of the articles (example: EDITORIAL Mental disorders as “brain diseases” and Jaspers’ legacy ) is clearly pinpointing a cause.
      Still existing statements such as: “all mental illnesses are cerebral illnesses” lead to nothing, expose no more than another black hole (the big unknown) where all psychiatric illnesses disappear without a “cure”.

      Would you please send me a link to " World Congress of Psychiatry: Activitas Nervosa Superior." when it becomes available.
      Thanks, Sieglinde

    4. Hi Sieglinde,
      -"We need to find out why PT is rejected"-.

      Fear of feeling, fear of loss and fear of needing to respond.

      Like rabbits in the headlights. . .

      Paul G.

    5. Hi Paul G.

      You are right.

      However if we don’t push beyond fear, ask for scientific proof, therapies become/are no more than a religion.
      Cancer can’t be cured with aspirin and mental trauma cannot be cured with positive thinking.

    6. Paul and Sieglinde: So true. art.

  9. Art,

    "It means a place where the doctor does not offer insight into the patient’s deep unconscious and where the patient already “knows” what is wrong once we unleash the unconscious.
    It means the patient is the final arbiter".

    This means that the patient has become so "aware" of what the feeling means for their symptoms of anxiety here and now... which can be likened to stepping on the train and finally get off at the right station.


  10. Hi Paul,
    in a sense my body screamed to be touched ... if only through the hands
    of this idiotic!! MD who performed this sympathectomy (cutting through

    It may may sound ludricous: but really looked forward to this (inspite
    the pains involved therein) and since 12 Years the "aftermath" of this
    MEDICAL NONSENSE Yours emanuel

  11. Art, is there a part of the brain that deals with the present
    reality throughout our life from conception to present adult age...?
    The part that coordinates level(s) of consciousness for best and appropriate reaction to the outside and (maybe later in therapy) inside stimuli according to situation and age. The perfectness.
    The part that in proper environment that "acknowledges" perfectness ("it means...") will decide to disengage the thinking brain to focus on inside and not only whatever inside but true inside - perfection.
    The "boss" of our consciousness and of resonance.
    Could it be called "top level"?
    It is too early to call it brain from conception... i know..
    Maybe should call it Life.
    It could be present everywhere... resonate with everything.

    I think that the third line is only a part, newest part of
    the system of our consciousness - but not the top level.
    Top level organises and develops itself in interaction with the environment from the begining. Life that is perfect as it is... and primal therapy
    success is due to "it means ..." acceptance of patients just as they are... from conception... they can feel it... so they can be and heal Life.

    I see top level priority is to fully connect with present outside reality. For survival.
    Sometimes that means to resonate with inside and go inside... but
    the outside is what matters eventually.

  12. If our genes can change their behaviour in response to feelings, perhaps they can be affected by knowledge too....or more specifically....understanding and knowing. If you KNOW that your legs are too weak for the amount of walking required every day, even though you are not straining your legs.....your genes will ensure that your future children grow stronger legs. Is this possible? Why not? If epigenesis is that advanced, it would be hugely beneficial to the survival of our species.
    Conscious awareness is so important for the primal healing process. Why???? Because our conscious awareness is more than an experience; it is a tool, and it is hooked up to our hormones, and our genes. Conscious awareness is the programmer. We are our own gods. If you KNOW (rather than fantasize) how to improve your body....why wouldn't your body take advantage of that precious knowledge? Why wouldn't your body learn from conscious awareness? After all, your conscious awareness is not just an unexplainable experience; every moment of it is recorded onto electrochemical is revealed as a physical structure in your body....more useful than an arm or a leg.
    If you want an impractically enormous penis, you can think about it all day, every day, but if you don't KNOW that you need a bigger penis, your genes will ignore your penis-related thoughts. Conscious awareness is useful because it cannot lie.

    1. Hi Richard,
      -"your genes will ensure that your future children grow stronger legs. Is this possible? Why not? If epigenesis is that advanced, it would be hugely beneficial to the survival of our species"-.

      I presume this would also depend on what is carried over in the sperm and the egg, and then what the parents / carers 'encourage' / 'educate' in the growing infant. (Womb life included).

      My personal opinion is that 'bigger legs' will evolve out of the evolutionary process of natural selection or 'adaption' over many generations.

      The mountain folk of South America are a good example. They have evolved large rib cages / lung capacity with extremely efficient oxygen uptake for their high altitude life. This may have involved some epigenetic processes but actually those children born with small rib cages just did not survive so well. Nor did they look attractive to other larger ribbed people (for many reasons including the breathing efficiency)etc. Eventually, in that region the small ribbed ones ceased to be born and the big ribbed ones with large lung capacity became the predominant genetic stock.

      I suppose the only way to test this theory (ie: to see if epigenetics plays a larger part in the process of 'natural selection'), would be to intentionally look at high altitude types living over many generations in low altitude areas to see if this process reverses WITHOUT BREEDING WITH SMALL RIBBED TYPES. Is it the 'gene switching' epigentic process producing smaller rib cages from larger rib caged stock when in an oxygen rich low altitude? I don't think so but I am interested in how epigenetics works other than as a buffer to protect the original gene material from shocks and knocks.
      I would appreciate Art write a bit more on epigenetic theory and how it fits in with natural selection theory. I am no expert and the science is still young.

      Paul G.

    2. Paul: Not only will I write about epigenetics but I am meeting next week to discuss a research project on it. We want to see if our therapy reverses methylation. art

  13. Hi emanuel,
    It's so easy to say yes to people with power over us. It's never easy to live with the consequences. I'm glad you have discovered Primal and this blog, (me too).

    Paul G.

  14. Willpower exists at the top of the patient's brain. As we go deeper we can see that the patient has less control until finally, at the bottom, he has no control at all. You cannot will an orgasm by controlling the brain stem; you must control the higher level and allow the subsequent out-of-control reaction to occur.

    At the bottom of the neocortex, truthful thoughts are generated instantly and automatically. The bottom is also responsible for instant, automatic lies. For example, the patient suddenly explodes with the idea: "OH MY GOD....I AM SURROUNDED BY DINOSAURS!!!!" And then the top of the neocortex requires some effort: "Ummm.....well....umm.....ummmm....I am surrounded by dinosaurs but I can't see them because they are hiding behind the trees.....I think....."

    Do we choose our beliefs? Not really. Our complex beliefs stem from a neurotic explosion from down below. In therapy, the patient must put in some effort at the beginning until he begins to free-fall. As he falls, he loses control. The forces from the deep can suck him in or spit him out. Ultimately, the BRAIN STEM will decide whether the patient is strong enough to experience the primal.

    The role of the therapist is to guide the patient towards the brain stem at a pace that the brain stem can handle.

  15. Richard: Some true and some not so true, but are you trying, which is good. art

    1. I am conjecturing, Art, but I do know from personal experience that a crude belief can form in an instant, without warning, such as my belief in being surrounded by dinosaurs (when I was five years old). Obviously I was getting close to a truthful connection, and my brain automatically replaced the truth with dinosaurs. I believed the dinosaurs lived in the real world, and I knew I was in the fake world, and I knew they couldn't get me in the fake world. That belief came to me like a sudden realisation -- a sudden awareness -- but obviously it wasn't conscious awareness; I wasn't conscious of the truth. The extremely difficult part was somehow finding a way to accept such an awful belief while the terror was overwhelming me. After considerable thought (and shaking), I decided to stay forever in the fake world, and concluded that the fake world was OK so long as I was happy. I calmed down, and before going to sleep, my final thoughts were: "my happiness is the only thing that really matters". I was only five but I remember every detail of that scene as if it happened yesterday.

      Similarly, you talked about a patient who suddenly sat up and said "I have been saved by God"
      This is why I am conjecturing that the intellectual processes are cruder and faster down below, consistent with the overall pattern of the brain. The lobe narrows at the point where it joins onto the corpus callosum. The neurosis begins, possibly, as a life-saving detour in the corpus a fail-switch reacting to a powerful electrical spike....a "shocking" realisation of the truth..... a fat lightning bolt trying to connect from bottom to top. The quick brain stem instantly bends the lightning bolt near the bottom. It's only a slight, crude bend, not far from proper alignment, but it's enough to cause huge deviations at the top of the intellect. As the therapist and patient go deeper and deeper, the lightning bolt gets straighter and straighter from top to bottom, like tightening a slack rope. And it gets fatter and fatter. This is only a symbolic explanation but it might be consistent with real anatomy, as strong signals take the path of least resistance. The lightning bolt is not the 'computer program'. The program was already written from top to bottom, and perfectly preserved (even if the top was not very developed at the time). The lightning bolt is the connection that allows or denies access to the program. The program cannot be re-programmed by a cognitive therapist because access to the program is located somewhere in the deep, in the area where access was originally denied.

      You're the expert. You'll have to show me what you do in therapy. By the way, I have good savings now but I am still looking at ways to stay in America for longer than three months. I will be in touch.

    2. Richard: I am trying to understand what you write but I am having a hard time. Your dinosaurs are the symbols of real origins because those origins are imprinted without words and are not knowable in everyday life. What child or adult could guess about terror at birth due to lack of oxygen? art

    3. Hi,
      Soon after I read about the three brains evolving in a linear way from the stem I began a very long and subtle insight, I'm quite certain it will never stop till I drop.

      Previously, without this 'piece' of simple information I couldn't really discriminate between sensations, feelings and thoughts. I just speak for myself but I am always astounded by how simple the basic Primal Theory is and how well one can use it to recognise what's coming up from where to where, so to speak. Also the idea that what is important in dreams and fantasies is the sensation/feeling. . . that the 'images' are almost entirely distorted thought forms. . . thoughts and ideas are so ephemeral, if they don't relate directly to the facts.

      The theory links with the facts of ones psyche and a strange new marriage begins. I think you've got to be married to yourself before you get married to any one else.

      That would be a very good thing.

      Paul G.

  16. Richard: You need to improve your skill in writing so as to make that which makes sense to you, also make sense to others.

  17. An email comment:
    "A response (Primal Theory and The DSM)

    Thanks Art for writing this...

    I was struck once again, by how true your words are from my own personal experience...

    But I also think that part of the problem with psychotherapy, is the business structure in which it is forced to function. For example most therapy is paid for by insurance companies who take a dim view of sessions that go on for more than an hour or longer than 6 months to a year...

    Then there is the DSM, strictly a behaviorist document that offers little help in terms of understanding the nature of someones suffering. In fact its really just a billing document that helps a treatment provider bill insurance companies. As I am sure you are aware, In many ways the DSM, is something that all therapists have problems with, there have been protests over what it classifies as a disorder, and how it views some diagnostic criteria.

    Also the disconnect between symptoms and history perpetuates the mistaken belief that illness does not have a specific cause and has made it impossible for therapy to advance.

    This has led me to wonder what a DSM, based on Primal Theory, would look like. It could be a wonderful tool that could offer understanding about peoples suffering. The classification of diseases would be based on history, instead of groupings of symptoms.

    For example using heaving drinking, that you mentioned in your Article.

    While the DSM, does help describe alcohol dependence, it does not offer any treatment suggestions. And in fact psychiatry offers next to nothing when it comes to alcoholism. Since they have no treatments that offer much of a success rate they just send their patients to endless A.A. meetings, with the hope that they will become just as addicted to them as they are to drinking.

    Instead, addressing the unmet early needs of an Alcoholic, in terms of diagnostic history, could off an understanding of what they are going through, why it drives them crazy, why they are powerless to control it, and also how primal feelings can free them.

    Once again, thanks "


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.