Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Anthony Wiener and His Sexual Compulsion

 The recent chapter in the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal brings to mind the old adage, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” I think Weiner’s disgraceful downfall shows that we, as psychologists seeking to explain sexual compulsions, need to turn that saying on its head: The mind is weak when the flesh is willing.

By now, most of us have heard of the sad and sordid escapade that threatens once again to torpedo the political career of this once rising star of the Democratic Party. It came as a shock two years ago when the married congressman from New York was forced to resign after being publicly exposed, quite literally, for texting photos of his private parts to a woman he had never met. We would think that after a world-wide embarrassment he would have learned his lesson. But another surprise came this week when it was revealed that he continued to carry on internet liaisons even after his remorseful resignation, his apologies to his wife and constituents and, most importantly from my perspective, his promise to change his ways and stop his incredibly risky behavior. Now, after his wife and the public forgave him the first time, Weiner is under pressure to drop out of the race for mayor of New York City. Still, he is standing firm, no pun intended. He appeared at a press conference with his wife in tow and vowed to stay in the race. She admitted that it took a “whole lot of work before I could forgive Anthony.” Given his compulsion, she may have to forgive him over and over again.

 A year ago, I commented on Weiner’s resignation in my blog, ending with a line that turned out to be prescient: “He went away, but his needs didn’t.” On the surface it may sound like a simple thought, but the idea of being driven by insatiable yet unconscious needs is key to understanding why smart men do such dumb things.

 I will not get into the politics of it all, whether he should quit or not. My question is: What makes someone take such risks, with his marriage and career in the balance? What force is so strong that a public figure with such a formidable intellect – and so much to lose – cannot stop himself, especially with the whole country watching? Why doesn’t his intelligence kick in and stop him? Why can’t he reason himself away from this behavior?

 In his press conference Mr. Weiner admitted that he and his wife are in analysis to figure out what is wrong. But he’s kidding himself if he thinks he’ll ever get to the bottom of what’s driving him through conventional talk therapy. If you don’t believe me, just ask Woody Allen. Psychoanalysis simply bolsters the cortical intellect which has failed him so miserably so far. That part of the brain – and the psyche – remains completely out of touch with the deep impulses that are driving his serial sexual act-outs. “Figuring out” is, I am sure, what he has been trying to do for years. The more he tries the more distant and out of touch he becomes from those impulses he needs to control. He is battling forces that will not recognize nor submit to intellect.

Clearly a therapy must address the lower brain where those impulses reside if it is to be successful in cases of obsession. Any therapy that ignores two thirds of the brain cannot possibly succeed.

 To understand this seemingly unfathomable dynamic of destructive compulsions and obsessions, I must explain my hypothesis of the three levels of consciousness. The human brain is really three brains in one: the primitive brainstem, the limbic system, and the neo-cortex, or thinking part of the brain. It is constructed in layers that correspond to the way our brain develops from infancy, and also how it evolved in stages over millennia, from shark to chimp and to human brain, respectively.

These neurologic stages of brain growth correspond to three distinct levels of consciousness: the earliest, pre-verbal stage of infancy, followed by childhood and finally present-day awareness. At each level of brain development, we have specific needs that must be fulfilled uniquely. The earlier the needs the more lasting the consequences when they are not fulfilled, and the more grave the imprint on the person’s nervous system and personality. We are discussing the instincts for survival so that when there is a trauma the in infancy, we have a need to be touched and nurtured tenderly, the need can be thwarted or diverted but never erased. It lives on as an imprint. It is engraved forevermore and drives later symptoms and behavior. The disconnect between that deep imprint and a knowledge of it is great, so great that this makes the thinking brain unable to suppress its force, which again, I remind you, had survival value early on. On the second level, we seek fulfillment of emotional needs: to be listened to, to feel secure and supported, to get an empathetic response to our hurts and fears. And the third level involves intellectual stimulation, communication and understanding by the parents. Fulfillment on this level can lead to clear and logical thinking, and an accuracy of perceptions. Problems arise when those needs at any level are not met.

The pain from that deprivation creates an imprint in the brain that remains hidden from awareness but continues to drive behavior years later. That is how a person like Weiner can act out in destructive ways and have no clue what is driving him to do it. The real cause is hidden in his past, but stored in the lower levels of his brain, and his consciousness. There is no rationality there. The brain has to wait millions of years in evolution and decades in personal maturity before one can properly use the cortex to figure things out. He is acting out a need and a feeling that were left over from early in life. It is so early that it remains unconscious all of the time. It cannot be remembered in the conventional sense of the term. But it is a concrete memory that altered so much of him without his knowing it. At a press conference given by the offending congressman during the original scandal, someone shouted out “pervert!” Was he a pervert? Yes, in the sense that his basic need was perverted or twisted in order to feel loved. Otherwise he would never have lost his control, and he would never have this perverted need, his needs would never have been so direly distorted in the first place. It had to be such a strong past unfulfilled need as to crush his judgment. That need forced him to channel it into bizarre behavior, especially for a well-known politician. It had to be diverted just because it was never fulfilled. He was driven to be well-known, to be seen and appreciated and judged a “man.” Only his parents never saw that.

 The congressman’s unmet needs decimated his critical mind. What was that need? I surely do not know. But I have treated “weeny wavers” (excuse the expression) for years and have seen the motives behind what they do. I often have them do it (act out the exhibitionism) where it is safe in group, and where afterward they fall into the feeling: “Look at me! Pay attention to me. I am important. Please care about me. See me. Want me.” And so on. The penis gets the attention, which is what the person wants. It is often the only way he finds to get that attention. Those are not the only motives but we can be sure that deep unfulfilled need is behind it all. If not, the critical capacity would kick in and stop the act-out. The act-out is always saying the feeling; we only have to pay attention.

 No one is smarter or stronger than his need. Need overwhelms any thought almost every time. Why should that be? Because need and its fulfillment always deal with survival, and always derive from very early in our lives when fulfillment was crucial. It is that which mounts and suffuses our critical capacity; no different from hypnosis where someone can suggest we lose that critical capacity and we do. We become Sinatra because we are told to. Or become Nazis because the pressure is there to become them. We lose our critical capacity.

 The problem is in Weiner’s case that he was both combative and impulse ridden. That forceful combativeness also may signal early infant trauma, meaning brainstem forces at work. That is where not only pure impulses exist, but also rage. What happened to him early on stirred up what I call first-line reactions, brainstem activity that is imprinted and remains as a constant threat. Those impulses took on yet another flavor dimension in his infancy and youth when the constellation of his family life directed them in a specific direction. I do not know what his family was like but I have treated others with similar problems. What might they be? A father who belittles the boy and makes him feel like a “sissy.” A mother who dominated her son; he was close to her but somehow felt “unmanly.” And his father reminds him to stop crying and act like a man. Which is what Mr. Weiner was doing in his act out: acting like a man; proving he was a man. But before we draw any conclusions I remind you that there are a myriad of reasons and I may not have touched on his. The point is that he was driven by powerful, primeval forces that he could not control, nor could he learn from because they were deeply sequestered in the brain. Out of sight but nevertheless omnipresent in driving him.

 So to sum up, here is a very rational and brilliant man, and yet he acts dumb, so dumb as to ruin his life. Why? Because his need drives him toward “symbolic” fulfillment, wherever that leads him. That primitive need is what guides him, not his rational mind which has taken a vacation for a while. He is acting out in the present the needs and feelings from long ago, and that disconnect is what makes him look dumb. Those old childhood needs never disappear. They are inappropriate now, but were appropriate back then. Always think “back then.” One man might act out with his penis — “Be happy to see me” — something his mother never was. The women he flashed or texted never were either, but that never stopped him from trying. He needed a caring mother, but it’s too late. He can’t stop because he’d have to accept that he’s never going to have one.

 It is most interesting that the hapless Weiner used the sobriquet “Carlos Danger” in his emails, acknowledging the danger both to him and from him. He now claims that the behavior is “behind me.” So long as it is below him, imprinted deep in the brain, it will always be a clear and present danger.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

On Cancer and Evolution

I have written about resonance before; how an input today can reawaken inputs years ago, eventually traveling all the way down to basic origins, all along the resonance chain that follows evolution. It may be what happens in cancer since I believe that resonance is a biologic law and not a one-off event.

So what happens when there is a trauma or severe intrusion while we live in the womb? Where does resonance travel? The same route of resonance, only this time a trauma forces the resonance back in phylogenetic time.  Thus trauma in the womb, a smoking mother, forces the resonance back to ancient times to where primitive reactions are activated and that could mean cancer. From this standpoint, cancer is an evolutionary disease. It moves with evolution and follows its rules and laws, including resonance. Once this resonance has triggered off phylogeny, cancer would be the logical result. What is happening is that the switching mechanisms for genes are tampered with when there is trauma and there is a loss of natural evolutionary order to their development. Certain genes get out of control. They no longer recognize boundaries and run wild. Natural genome sequencing has been interrupted. Then we are left with what to do about it; how de we treat it? I think in the same evolutionary way; going back in ontogenetic time to where the disruption and imprint took place and address and attack it as the enemy. That is the enemy, at long last, not necessarily the cancer itself.

We can treat the presumptive enemy and leave its imprinted dangers untouched. That only presumes that it will return again and again.

We need to push back our timetable until we reach our ancient brain and its deep molecular processes. Cancer may not appear early on but its organizing processes can. The stage can be set so early that we remain unaware of it.
Cancer has been called, The Emperor of all maladies, and it is clear as to why. When we are just formed so are the cancer cells. We evolve together and require an evolutionary approach, slowing the evolution of its cells.

Why should cancer be exempt from evolution? If it is not, then evolution must be taken into account in its treatment. Why is there always a danger of recidivism? Because the generating sources of it are not addressed. To do that, first, we need to study early trauma in the womb and at birth to see if there is a high correlation of adversity in the womb and later cancer, which is the study we plan to do. Cures have been elusive up to now because we have not seen the effects of very early life in the origin of disease. We will try to correct that omission.

Monday, July 15, 2013

How and Why Primal Therapy Works, by Frank Robinette (from our Staff)

A thing I find most odd in all psychology, and particularly psychotherapy, is how little attention is paid to the process of crying. Despite the fact that Homo-sapiens is the only animal that possesses this function, it is for the most part treated as though it is not all that important. I disagree. Furthermore I believe it is the crucial function that sets us apart from other animals, and is essential for truly complex rational thinking; and perhaps speech. It opens us up to resonation, affectively connecting similar feelings and is certainly responsible for our capacity for metaphor. And to speak metaphorically, crying is what keeps your computer brain from crashing, and when it does, it’s the only thing that can effectively reboot the damn thing. It is also probably responsible for our capacity to lie at will about anything.

But what does it do? What is the function of this odd, semi-convulsive behavior accompanied with runny nose and profuse tearing? It makes no sense to me that something that elaborate, complex, and temporarily disabling of normal function could not be extremely important. I know of no ongoing neurological studies of crying. Little is known (so far as I know) about what is going on in the brain when we cry. There was one little book (174 pp.) I know of that made a modest effort in that direction: Crying, The Mystery of Tears by William H Frey. But that book was written in 1985, several years before the affective neuroscience revolution, and was limited to the chemistry of tears. I’ve seen no fMRI studies of crying. When there is a tiny spark of interest, it is always focused on babies crying, not adults. Our warmonger society is militated against crying, and sees it as weakness. Today I received a notice from Amazon for a book by the preeminent neuroscientist, V. S. Ramachandran titled The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human. I did a search in the book and found not one single reference to crying. I did the same for Antonio Damasio’s book Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain. He used the word only twice, and that was in passing. This is the epitome of repression at work.

After years of Primal Therapy along with perusal of the recent work of Dr. Arthur Janov on the relationship of methylation and the imprint (permanent reaction to trauma, stored in the brain by the process of methylation that controls aspects of a person’s behavior and even physiology. In Art’s recent paper on depression he points to a gaggle of studies that confirm this. All of the Canadian studies of Meaney and Szyf offer a plethora of info. One study not included in Art’s references that I recently read focusing on oxytocin receptors and brain derived neurotrophic factor is: Dynamic changes in DNA methylation of stress-associated genes (OXTR, BDNF) after acute psychosocial stress E Unternaehrer, et al., Transl Psychiatry. 2012 Aug 14;2:e150. doi: 10.1038/tp.2012.77.) I’ve concluded that crying is the mechanism for demethylation. But even in the face of this the CBT headfreaks are still trying to hijack the science with books like, The Genie in Your Genes by Dawson Church. He implies that you can change your beliefs and change your epigenome with a little practice, and you are on your way to mental health. I think what they leave out is what I also think is the great discovery of Arthur Janov: How to cry. And subsequently, how to love. This is the foundation of Primal Therapy. As Janov has demonstrated over the past half century, it is not just any old crying that works in Primal Therapy. Insane asylums are full of people that cry constantly and never get better. Crying occurs haphazardly in many psychotherapies, and as the results come in, they don’t show any consistent, replicable effectiveness.

That’s not the case with Primal Therapy. Deep behavioral, mental, affective, and physiological changes are regularly observed. And interestingly enough the first question our clinical director asks us therapists about our sessions is: Did the patient feel? And with the exception of some expressions of anger (which is usually a defense against crying), that question is easily translatable: Did the patient cry? Once the patient starts to cry, the session is on its way. Of course, that’s just the beginning: 

From there, the therapist is concerned with helping the patient maintain his/her focus on and deepening the level of feeling. And the way we tell if the feeling is deepening is to listen to and feel the quality of the crying the patient is experiencing. Ideally the patient starts out in what we call the 3rd line crying about the present and what is going on in adult life. This feeling will resonate with childhood trauma and the patient will drop into 2nd line. This for many patients is difficult and frequently they claim to have no memories of childhood accessible to them. But soon, if they persist, the resonation will eventually rule the day and those memories will bubble forth. These memories can be excruciating as they become fully manifest. As they deepen and roll back in time, the character of the crying changes to somehow match the age the patient was at the time of the trauma. Then the crying ceases and the feelings become physical. The patient’s body takes over and starts to writhe in waves of dolphin- like patterns. The feelings are usually a crushing, suffocating, grinding terror. At their apex, they can be felt only for a few seconds at a time. Only the patient’s body knows how long they will last before they have run their course for the day. At this juncture, the patient will relax and slowly come back to the present, right back up the chain of pain – into 2nd line and up to 3rd. Along this trail a flood of insights and connections will occur, and as the patient discusses them with his therapist, more will occur. The patient will usually feel as though his/her whole life is connected. And from this, the patient will be in the world in a whole new way. Attitudes, likes, dislikes, and goals will begin to change. The patient will start becoming who she/he really is without the destructive defensive (or methylation) patterns learned for survival. They, quite simply, will not be needed anymore. Of course, that is ideal, and this does not happen in all patients. But that is a subject for another occasion. Having said that, I can say, persistence, eventually, will win over the defense system with systematic, consistent therapy.

But, again, what is the mechanism that causes this change in patients? It is not will power or awareness. It is biological. The patient’s whole physiology is affected and that is what drives the changes experienced. And when I say that crying is the demethylation process that begs some questions:

1. Why don’t all who cry in any therapy get well?
2. Why do so many babies that cry a lot end up even more neurotic?
3. What about that part of the Primal session (the 1st line) where no crying occurs?
4. Why don’t those people in asylums continually crying get well?

It is partly these questions and my attempts at answering them that led me to my hypothesis of how crying works as the body’s natural demethylation process.

First, I think all crying is demethylating. But if that’s all that occurs, it is not permanent. As we come into the world, if our gestation and birth were not damaging, crying is a natural process that can keep permanent imprinting from occurring and usually undo any pathological methylation imprints that have occurred. If the child is raised in a loving minimally traumatizing environment, and his/her cry function is not interfered with, the child’s natural demethylation process (crying) will undo the effects of most trauma, preventing imprinting and subsequently neurosis.

But, unfortunately, in virtually all societies now extant, the cry function is drastically interfered with to the point that many totally lose their capacity to cry, and, those that don’t, live with a perverted cry function inappropriate to the actual needs of the person. In other words, repression rules the day, preventing trauma from being properly integrated, in a large part because the cry function has been repressed or damaged. For men, in many societies, crying is anathema and every effort is used to prevent or stop crying. I still shudder when I remember John F. Kennedy’s funeral where all there were so impressed at how his widow remained so strong, and didn’t shed a tear as the funeral procession went by.

Later on in some people’s lives, they may enter a psychotherapy (or somehow else – even a personal tragedy) and regain their capacity to cry. But again, unfortunately, these patients have no idea how to use the function. Over the years they have accumulated so much trauma, and their systems are so overloaded that crying is haphazard and without focus. The pain is of such intensity, going all the way back to the womb in more directions than any person can easily count, that the defense system goes all out to interrupt the natural function of tears with renewed repression – the only way the body knows to protect itself from such assault – reacting as if it is undergoing a new or perhaps the original trauma. So, obviously, any demethylation that might occur during the crying episode is counteracted and/or aborted. I might add that this is also a natural process. When in crises, our defenses kick in and suspend feeling. (For example: have you ever been in a near car crash and notice how you react as though on automatic. Then when the crisis has passed you might pull over to the side of the road and shudder, cry, or laugh until you settle down? The pathology occurs when you don’t pull off to the side of the road, and just stay defended.)

So, how does Primal Therapy address this problem? Of course, our first job is to help our patients gain access to their feelings. We let them select a particular feeling or thing they are having a lot of feeling (both repressed and expressed) about, and help them focus on specifically that. It is usually the first thing that comes up in a session, and almost always has shown itself within the first 10 minutes. This becomes the leitmotif of the session. In other words, we are initiating an organized, process so that demethylation can occur in an orderly way along the same natural route that the methylation occurred. This is because certain types of trauma likely initiate a specific pattern of methylation. The body aids us in this through resonation. This takes us down what Art calls the chain of pain. With precise therapy, the current trauma will be traced back to its prototypic origin. And, as we have found, it has usually occurred before the being’s capacity to cry. I think that when it hits that point another process occurs. I don’t know exactly because I don’t possess even meager training in biochemistry or affective neuroscience. But I do have a pretty good idea that it has something to do with methlytransferase, which is involved in maintenance methylation. That’s what allows the DNA to replicate without losing its methylation pattern. In other words, I think it is the birth primal that fixes or holds in place the demethylation that has occurred. And this can only occur if that chain of pain has been followed precisely so that a particular pattern can be eliminated.

This, I think, is a natural process that people are always moved toward, but in our present psychologically chaotic society, we can only move towards it symbolically. You see it on the news all the time with reference to our system of justice. It is usually called closure, and is usually a euphemism for revenge. But the need is real. We have a need to resolve the trauma we suffer so we can get on with our lives out from under its destructive effects.

Now, thanks to Janov, we are learning what separates us from other animals. He has taught us how to cry. However, I also think that is where the focus of research should be. I would like to see some truly profound investigation of crying to determine exactly what is going on in our brains and the rest of our bodies during this process. I think the focus there offers the most comprehensive approach to the investigation of Primal Therapy because it naturally extends into and affects any study connected to it. As I mentioned above, most of the research done now is vulnerable to misinterpretation and hijack by headfreaks. Even the cortisol studies that Art did in England are routinely attacked and dismissed by the headfreaks. I also think the biggest defense against real psychotherapy is our ingrained fear and prejudice about crying. So long as that is in place psychotherapists will continually turn to therapies that they can do without it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

So Why Are We Gay?

I have written about this in my book “Sex and the Subconscious”. I realize how little I knew back then. There was evidence that trauma during womb-life altered the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn altered the sex hormones, which, when given certain family constellations, could turn the offspring to homosexuality. It turns out that new research is important in this regard. Researchers in China have found that when they blocked serotonin production in mice the females preferred other females. They wanted to mount them. (See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2332771/Does-brains-happy-chemical-influence-sexuality-Researchers-blocking-serotonin-reverse-preferences.html?ito=feeds-newsxml)As we know, serotonin is an inhibitory neuro-transmitter which helps in the repression of pain, inter alia. But it is not just the serotonin that is critical, it is the reason for its production—trauma and pain, which upsets the apple cart and changes the hormone structure. Trauma distorts serotonin production so that there is either too much of it or not enough. But trauma means an ensemble of hormones acting together so that serotonin affects the sex hormones as well as cortisol, and vice versa, cortisol also affects sex hormones. When there is an intrusion of pain and trauma the whole system takes a detour and the system is askew. One of the effects among many is a change in the sexual chemical base.

That is not the whole story. Now we need a specific constellation of family life to make the sex base turn into homosexuality or hypersexuality.  And that all devolves down to need. Whatever the unfulfilled need is, there will be a militating force toward fulfillment. So the groundwork may be chemical but it will not expand into homosexuality without other key factors apparent. And even here we still need much more data. But when there is a father missing for a young boy, there can be a need for a father; even if he is there but emotionally absent, there still is the need. Or a tyrannical cold mother can leave a young girl with that need; or she can be sweet and interested in her daughter but she never touches her, and that is enough. How it all plays out is myriad and there is no specific family constellation that accounts for it. The one key enduring fact is need, however. However the child is deprived is where he or she will go. Of course there can be seduction by an older man in the park as one of my homosexual patients reported, that tipped the scales.

If there is no altered chemical base then even when the need is there in a child, it just produces pain without a change in sexual orientation. It is always a complexity of circumstances, and never one single item. A priest who seduced one of my patients over years left him homosexual. It was the only “love” he ever got and he was seduced by it. That is, all of us get seduced by our need. It twists and turns us toward fulfillment all of our lives, and it is the very early need that is most important. Beginning in the womb where we need comfort and safety, not a mother who smokes and drinks. She is already unloving and it just continues throughout her life; the mother’s needs supersede the offspring’s. And why does the mother’s needs override the baby’s? Because the mother was also very deprived and must seek out her own suppressor of pain. The most loving of parents have to be those with very little pain. They can then attend to all of her child’s needs. The baby comes first, as it must.

I needed love and was never going to get it from the two stones I had as parents. So who did I fall in love with?....my dog.  And that love affair is lifelong. I didn’t turn to men for many reasons but I latched onto the first possible love object and I clung to it. And what did my parents do? They gave my dog away as too much trouble. To this day I give much of my money to dog shelters.

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.