Friday, August 30, 2013

On Catatonia and the Freeze Response

We have a patient coming into therapy who has been diagnosed by an English clinic as catatonic. She freezes up and it can last 8 hours where she cannot move or react. She has no feelings during the episode, just numb. She has stayed in the clinic for eight months while they tried everything they could including art therapy and few booga-booga varieties of nonsense. Why am I mad while I am writing this? Because it is criminal what happened to her. They had no idea what was wrong so they tried a potpourri of all the things that the usual addiction clinic tries. And with the same result: nada.

So let’s look at what it really is: first it needs to be triggered. We are not triggering catatonic; what is triggered is first-line terror, and what happens is one of two responses, both originating in the hypothalamus. The first is attack and aggressive; fighting off menace. The second is the freeze, becoming paralyzed with terror where moving is life endangering; the mother on serious drugs or tranquilizers, for example. Here is where using up oxygen becomes life endangering; the whole system has learned that freezing is the first primal response against danger. And in the first instance where danger lurked it worked. The carried baby may have been reacting to heavy drug overdose or drinking. So some of us, depending on the nature of the early trauma and genetic tendencies admixed with epigenetic effects, find the inexplicable reaction of no reaction as effective. We see this so clearly during the trauma at birth where the baby heavily anesthetized has to withhold breathing deeply to conserve oxygen. These are the later breath holders.

I have seen and helped catatonics at the mental hospital where I worked; most suffered from what is known as “waxy flexibility.” We put their arm up in the air and it stays there. We twist their hands in a certain direction and it remains in that position. They cannot manage any voluntary action. At the time no one, including me, knew what it was. Now we know. And I shall explain it.

Let’s go back to our three levels of conscious; the first line is basically brainstem and ancient part of the limbic system—the amygdala. This is our most ancient brain that has its beginnings millions of years ago. It is a mass of impulses but no feelings; here is where the primitive parts of the hypothalamus exert their dominance. And depending on many factors determines whether there will be either anxiety reaction with aggressive responses (the sympath); or whether there will be anxiety responses held in immediate check as bodily reactions freeze (in the parasympath). These response tendencies get stamped in and engraved so that it directs our characteristic reactions thereafter. The parasympathetic nervous system activates the freeze response everywhere in the system, not just in behavior. Think of the frightened reactions of a deer or rabbit. So something in the human triggers off fear, which then may resonate with first line terror which provokes the parasympathetic system into action—freeze. “Freeze” is a reaction to something that really happened, not a chance or whimsical caprice.

An example: some years ago I was napping in the backseat of the car. The driver looked back to make sure I was comfortable. By the time she looked back to the road she was in a culvert heading for a major steel signpost. She froze. I reached over grabbed the steering wheel and guided us back on the road and to safety. The imprinted reaction governs our life forevermore. My basic tendency was sympathetic but with a lot of parasympathetic reactions as well. The “freezer” usually has low blood pressure and low body temp; she is in the constant conservation of energy mode. She is not a self starter and needs constant direction and guidance. One has to “breathe life” in them to get them going. And why? Because something could have happened during womb-life or birth that diminished oxygen to dangerously low levels. They go on acting as if the imprint is now— current. They go on in a passive mode; go on as if they had no more energy to fight.

Freeze and paralysis is a reaction to anxiety and terror, remember. It doesn’t happen without reason. It is the alarm system that signals the response; we must suss out what the danger is that provoked that alarm reaction. Then we can treat it. And what is the danger? Nothing external; something internal…..sensations (of suffocation) or feelings (something closing in). When the patient who is coming into our therapy gets provoked she goes into the freeze—catatonic response first, for an hour or five. Then slowly as the defense weakens and body lets go of its tension/defense she develops an anxiety state. This is what the freeze response is defending against….not enough oxygen, which produces terror. Then after more time, she seems to be flooded with feelings which causes great frustration. But she doesn’t know what is flooding her. It is now a mélange of feelings liberated. So it is literally the freeze response we see where the person cannot move or speak because she is locked into the deep, brainstem imprint where there is no emotion, nor speech. Her nervous system is moving up the chain of pain, up to higher levels of brain function.


  1. Hi Art, this is very helpful,

    It is a good conversation piece for discussion about the difference between parasympaths and sympaths and how each may become attracted to the other.
    Such was the case for me and my ex; me the sympath instinctual type and she the parasympath intellectual type.

    I would like to draw attention to the cult of voodoo and santaria. Mediums (often women smoking strong cigars, a 1st line blocker) go into a "catatonic" state. They sit one leg crossed over the other, often with head tilted (as when recumbent in the womb perhaps, staring blankly into space).

    Well my dear ex partner would freeze into this mode regularly when confronted with difficult decisions. Even simple decisions, this is why in the end nothing ever worked between us, nor could it have.

    If only I had know Primal Theory and recognised it as a 1st line defense.

    Later, I went into 'bodywork' therapy (as the sympath) and she went into 'psychosynthesis' with a feminist buddhist. She dumped me, got the house and kid and social benefits, I have been homeless and of no fixed abode ever since and gradually I am becoming ever so slightly parasympathetic experiencing M E type symptoms and she is becoming ever so slightly sympath. . . (experiencing 'choice', determination and bursts of energy she had not been able to access before).

    But when I go to collect our daughter from (her) house I have only to say slightly the wrong thing and straight away she flips into catatonia and dissociation. She even sits down, crosses one leg over the other and fazes out like one of those voodoo mediums.

    I don't think her feminist buddhist psychosynthesis "adviser" gave her access to true feelings, I think she just helped my ex find a scapegoat (me) for her catatonia.

    To this day my ex says she should have said "NO" and frankly that has become the slogan for empowering parasympath women who cannot make up their minds and go along with whatever their current 'knight in shining armor' suggests. . . Then later they weakly say: "I should have said "NO".

    I really, really wish with all my heart that I had gotten into Primal the first time I read one of your books. I so, so resent the therapist who said to me:

    -"Primal Theory has been incorporated into all forms of psychotherapy and the 3 week intensive is no longer necessary"-.

    What this really reflects is the way clever cognitives have hijacked Primal Theory to use it as a way to shift the responsibility to those whos gates are worn more thinly and therefore exhibit more bizarre behaviour than the supposed victim of that bizarre behaviour.

    Before, sick patriarchy blamed crazy women for the woes of the world and now sick feminists blame men. All the while neurologists and Primal Therapists (real ones) discover more and more of the truth about who we really are and why. Thank goodness for that.

    Paul G.

    1. Hello Paul!

      Diagnoses an academic dilemma!

      I think it would be beneficial for the purpose of feeling if focus on reason became common practice... be more directed to feeling if we deported all diagnostic explanations to the happy hunting grounds... they satisfy only the academic "elite" and nothing else... an explanation for the records to not be forgotten!

      What emotions with life-threatening experiences find their way to... not to be recognized... is what the patients themselves shall put into words and not hemmed into a symptomatic supportive "policy" in neo cortex... to be busy by it for the rest of their life!

      What would happen if sufferers did not get a diagnosis in their face... it against a life-threatening experience much earlier in life?

      Yours Frank.

    2. We are our own thinking as "tornado"!

      Our thought in neo cortex spinning like a tornado and “destroys” any possibility of perceiving what is in the limbic system!

      Seen from the neo cortex... we are in a state "far" from an emotional consciousness in the limbic system!

      In its own function is neo cortex strong but when the reason for it peters out we can feel what is hidden in the limbic system!

      Life... of life and death without perceiving it!


  2. how she became patient for addiction in England? was she a drug addict and the doctors didn't see the addiction-catatonia connection? that the terror is behind everything so they decided to treat the addiction separately at the cost of catatonia and other symptoms?

  3. or she developed catatonia after she was deprived of repression and exposed to additional stress in England clinic?

  4. If only I could freeze when I have a panic attack! Seriously. I'm a parasympath, but my gating system is very poor. The suicidal thoughts & feelings that come with the panic attacks... the thing is, I gotta move, and I have to be able to GET OUT. Not get stuck 'cos that's the worst thing that could happen. Get stuck... I know it stems from my birth trauma, where I was actually stuck and couldn't get enough oxygen.

    The catatonia thing brings to mind the three types of schizophrenia: paranoid, hebephrenic and catatonic. Schizophrenia runs heavily in my family: my mom's dad was schizophrenic, my mom's twin sister is schizophrenic (hebephrenic), and my oldest brother is schizophrenic (paranoid). Take a wild guess at which mental illness I'm afraid of getting...

    Now that I think about it, here's a question: Have you treated schizophrenia at the Primal Center?


    1. Antti: yes and I just heard from one of them, an old patient who is doing well. But generally we try not to take them; they like addicts need inpatient care and supevision. We cannot do that. They can be treated but the pain is very very early and severe. It takes special care and lots of time. Right now we have our hands full with those who get benefits soon enough. art

  5. Without primal therapy... we are "doomed" to die tormented!
    What is coming up is also what must be restrained... it with life at stake! The consequence of anxiety... depression... panic attacks... shame... ulcers and cancer etc. We are going to die without ever having felt us alive!
    And how do we know that... we don’t... we just suffer!

    As long as we will attribute all these symptoms to be the cause without asking why... we will never know! SUCH A SIMPLE QUESTION WITH SUCH A GREAT CONSEQUENCES!


  6. Dr Janov, can you describe your criteria or whatever for excluding a comment from publication?

    1. MercurialRythyms: Well it has to have general interest and apply to others, even when it is a personal story. Having said that, it is rare that I reject blogs but I am not interested in polemics or arguments about this therapy, or God, or Meditation etc. it's a totally authoritarian operation; I am the ultimate decider since there is no one else to decide. art

    2. Hi Art,

      thanks for that.

      you set me a good example and I'm not ashamed to assimilate it.

      Paul G.

    3. Paul: Please send me parts 1 and 2 again of meditation. it got erased. thanks art

    4. Hi, part 1:

      Ok, there is a very charming ceremony involving flowers, a piece of fruit (for the guru) and a chant in Sanskrit which ends with the recipient repeating their mantra after the teacher. Thus one is induced with one's mantra (word) sound. This is then intoned internally to oneself. The teachers use the analogy of 'descending' ever more deeply into the source of thoughts. Knowing the basic Primal Theory of the three brains, I can now see a correlation with the idea that one starts on the 3rd line with the word / mantra. Then, as one 'descends' more deeply into the 2nd line the word ceases to be a 'word' as such and becomes a sound/ feeling. . . Then (I presume in the light of Primal Theory) the sounds becomes a vibration in the 1st line.

      Do you remember as a child experimenting with words and wondering at the feeling they induce as sounds ? Is this not also the source of verbal word play and humour ? I digress.

      The 27 or so mantra sounds are variants reflecting subtle personality differences. This is my subjective conclusion based on other intensive research and training I did into personality typing.

      Thus the 1st line gets a sonic & tonic massage ? (I am making this up as I go along, but at least based on personal self observation).

      There are theories that the entire universe is constructed of sound and frankly speaking, with modern science as it is, this is hard to deny. I mean, most scientific instruments measure wavelength, frequency and amplitude in one 'spectrum' or another.

      Therefore we should not be surprised to hear that what we call 'sound' is words on the 3rd line, sound & feeling on the 2nd line and vibration (sensation) on the 1st.

      At first (again bearing in mind the Primal Theory) beginners can't tell the difference between the word (mantra) and the sound because at first (I assume) our disorganised defenses are not differentiated. . . thus over time, gradually the experience of the mantra becomes a thought / sound at the feeling level as well as a word / mantra on the thinking level. Thus the intonation becomes part of the way one refers internally to one self, at increasingly deeper levels.

      part 2 follows

      Paul G.

    5. Hi, part 2:
      To re-cap: at first beginners don't get much out of it. As time passes the sound gets into your deeper levels of consciousness and eventually vibrate your 1st line (my supposition here). It is a buzz literally and phenomenally (in my head, just behind and below my eyes). It is easy to fall asleep and doze in deep breathing, it is certainly parasympath inducing. It can and does temporarily 'revitalise'. It is a substitute for sleep. It does help with anxiety but it is temporary and not the same as Primalling.

      That is my experience but I am certain this does not actually change the imprint.

      Now, whether or not the 'inventors' of this ancient technique had designed it to form a pathway to lower levels of conscious awareness, there is no doubt that successive interpreters of the Vedas and of the Bagavadgita in particular have brought their own interpretation to this very ancient form of mantra meditation (5000 years or more).

      Having personality typed Maharishi Mesh using various systems I can say I am certain he was an "Avoidance of Pain" type; just listen to the way he talks and you can see he is avoiding pain. His appearance on the scene co-incided with the psychodelic / hippy (so called) revolution and TM was marketed as a PAINLESS PANACEA. A cure all.

      This I feel is very important to understand. Most people who do TM do not expect to break down and feel their pain. On the contrary it is marketed as an avoidance of pain. Period.

      One thing I have realised about the 'false self' is that it is so convincing because it runs parallel to reality. That means for example that so much research can be done which literally reflects reality but it mostly doesn't actually reveal it. It so often doesn't UNVEIL it. All it does is offer a parallel symbol of it.

      So too the development of our false selves. So convincing we are, aren't we ?

      Thus one can do TM for years and may never get to pain. It all depends on whether you are satisfied with the more or less false self and assumptions / sensations / feelings / beliefs you tell yourself (or get someone else to tell you).

      Or maybe, just maybe the TM technique was indeed invented to gain "access" but successive interpreters have used it and taught it to dissociate instead; things like this can so often go one way or the other can't they ? - The Primal Center as a group of therapists is constantly alert to the blind alley of 'ab-reaction'. Ab-reaction may be all that I am experiencing and TM is the culprit (!!!! ????) maybe all the other things I do and ingest don't help. But actually I am just a poor carpenter trying to get by in life. I really don't know. I am glad I found out about my pain though.

      Paul G.

  7. Is'nt catatonia one of the supposed symptoms of "schizophrenia"? I hate that word.

    My understanding is that there is the Fight or Flight response with the third response being the Freeze response where neither of the other two would work or the organism is totally confused by terror or the baby is so small it has to stay very still to hide from a predator?

    A couple of years ago I experienced a sense of not knowing where to turn when confronted by overwhelming events. I think I was starting to get in touch with a younger me and yet was still having the feelings as though they were mine as an adult. I always felt about the age of two. I have stood very still while incredibly upset and not wanted to move. Perhaps if everything is on a spectrum the earlier the trauma to worse the freeze.

    I do hope you can work some magic on her Art!

  8. Cannot make connections, so maybe one just freezes and gets catatonic for a while; knowing that to conserve their energy level is the most important thing to "carry on". They see how the normal person reacts to something; and are amazed at how that person is able to progressively "move along". To try to "enjoy and relax" the way other people do; not easy for one that has become catatonic even for 5 minutes. I think Paul G. is correct in saying how it is men vs. women, and women versus men. As life goes on into the future; sometimes it seems as though almost no one in the States really gets along or even makes an effort. The neurologists, and primal therapists are the ones who might possibly be able to make life better. As Paul says, they know more about who people really are and why; how they function. Many human beings, nowadays, don't tend to "help one another out" mentally; help to make one feel "at ease". Look at how "bullying" among kids became so bad, they had to make a law against it. Then the population has doubled, so that it is difficult to help everyone who needs it. One can only hope that more people are getting into the field of neurology and becoming neurologists and primal therapists.

  9. Art!

    Outside of what you write about here!

    Dreams are in their intensity inherently closer to reality than our everyday lives!

    Dreams are in all their form a safety valve to our waking state!

    Dreams are in the primal therapeutic process a reminder that something is going on!

    Can you comment on that?


    1. YES!
      Dreams balance me. and everything else that you say...

      in my "reality", few days ago i asked support from maybe sounded like a joke but it was also a trigger compounded with the uncertainty throughout most of the day...
      so the next morning (i usually dream or at least, kind of, remember what i dreamed in the morning) in my dream a searched for ,guess who - Art!))
      and found "him"... busy with his own stuff, couldn't be bothered.((
      i couldn't even get a proper eye contact. His whole body language was "leave me alone, i got enough of my own things"... buzzing around like a crazy.
      it was a struggle... and when i woke up - the relief.

      this morning, for some reason, it was France's turn -)). "she" was so calmed, available, elegant, even spoke to me and her body language was "i am here interested and i like to be here and feel free to express yourself" sooo.. sweet. and so much i liked her but i had to disengage. the dream ended here. it was too much this time, i guess.

      throughout all this period i was very much intellectually triggered by Art's blogs. but struggled to make an opinion.

      rarely if ever i don't get relief after more or less intensive feeling in a dream. i think it is a safety valve effect. and there is something wild, unpredictable about dreams. they are fun and are precious.
      but should we write down our dreams? shouldn't we leave the dreams stay undefined and free to evaporate, forgotten... and then be brought back inside the unforgettable sea of our feelings? where they turn back into "gold".
      i won't make a copy of this letter. so you decide, Art.

      wait a you support writing during the three weeks intensive so this might be published. but this is private, i'm embarrassed.
      anyway, the dream starts to fade... bye, bye, not ready yet.
      thank you and see you with some other leading roles, next time ))

    2. Hello voko!

      I believe that dreams will have greater and greater importance in our primal therapeutic process because the intensity of them more will resemble reality we have within us! Before... they are a safety valve! They already have the intensity from our reality but the pain is too overwhelming... so we have to patiently wait until the process is approaching the possibility of integration!

      Yours Frank

    3. Hello voko!

      I believe that dreams will have greater and greater importance in our primal therapeutic process because the intensity of them more will resemble reality we have within us! Before... they are a safety valve! They already have the intensity from our reality but the pain is too overwhelming... so we have to patiently wait until the process is approaching the possibility of integration!

      Yours Frank

    4. Dreams represent inner reality in symbolic form. Aa there is less and less pain and less defense, feelings rise without the symbols in dreams. Advanced patients have real dreams. art

  10. Unfortunately it seems sometimes that the sympath is too weak, to not let someone put them into a semi-catatonic state. Should be caught right away, when they are young, and got through primal therapy, before anyone gets to them (almost impossible though, of course). Before anyone (family)sees how they function, and then feel that possibly they are better off being in a "semi-catatonic" state through teen years, and adult life. It is almost like a joke to them; especially with some siblings at times (if they happen to be in demonic moods). That is where the sympath or instinctual person knows they live almost just to have some type of strength, some type of method for conservation of energy. Many are not aggressive. Eventually the sympath comes around, and realizes that people don't want to see them too "mentally and physically" well, and succeed. They feels as though, the sympath couldn't handle actually possibly getting a feeling of a "normal person", actuallly feeling connected and like "they can handle things, do things". I have no idea why people want limitations for someone who has gone through birth traumas. They know the sympath's limitations and do want them to be well, but only to a "certain extent." When the sympath/parasympath realizes someone is trying to limit them, they either surrender (which is what the sibling wants) or to the siblings "surprise" they are just ignored. Sometimes this does happen.
    It's not a war in the family or anything like that; just using sibling rivelry as an example. Just depends on who had the birth trauma, and, probably only I feel this, in what birth order. The youngest, at times doesn't have a prayer; will never win. Sure at first, it bothered the youngest, traumatized person, but I would think by now, he or she is so used to it (no longer surprised or shocked; so they don't freeze up, go into a "semi-catatonic" state), it just doesn't matter. It must be very hard to treat a person in a real catatonic state. I would think for someone to be in that state; they must be very weak.

    1. coastbeach7,

      I think TM can be catatonia for sympaths, it may also be relief for parasympaths.

      The TM people said they wouldn't teach children under a certain age "incase they never came back". . .

      Underneath my manic sympath "MUST DO / GET OUT" facade lurks an exhausted depressive with nothing to get out for.

      Also what you say about siblings is interesting. I feel my older brother is in denial about his younger brothers appearance (5 yrs after his), I have recently realised he is traumatised because 4 years later our stupid parents sent him off to boarding school. Idiots. Consequently my dear brother is oblivious to his younger brother until I make the effort to visit or contact him, then he's always really pleased. . . he doesn't understand it was our stupid parents who fucked up our relationship. . . They always say "well we always treated you equally". . . Equally stupidly.

      Paul G.

  11. I would like to apply for "you got it by George!!" award
    if it is still actual:

    "freezing" is parasympathic defense/survival reaction.
    "manic" is sympathic defense/survival reaction.

    terror (feeling of impending death)... in specific context
    from thepast is a feeling that lies below these reactions.

    we tend to react prototypicaly in the present
    when the terror(feeling) is triggered.

    reliving the terrorizing near death situation
    in context our sympath/parasympath reactions
    gradually get less and less triggered in the present
    because of integration (losing force).

    every time we get triggered our body get into
    state of alert which is exhausting our life resources
    and distorts our reactions in the present.
    makes us dangerous-not appropriate.

    if I "got it" feel free to use BIG letters )).

  12. Hi Art ,in running the risk/danger? not to be taken serious(ly..):
    On last thursday i became witness of a real feezed/catatonic? body "conglomeration"
    In earnest ; 2 men : one sitting in the lotus position and holding a polein his right hand and ...above! at the "end" of this pole also with his right hand and of course his arm lying on this pole (heigt approimately 15o cm.

    When an onlooker touched this pole lightly this "above" guy (deeply in concentration or whatever indian "fakir" like mental state only strangel "freezed/mechanic.rigid way moved one second.

    Till now I have NO explanation for this ;something muscular /"earthly" was the case (the "manager" told me after 30 minutes they are so tired (understandably...!) that they have to rest .
    I do not expect an explanation but in this case they got money (by some of the onlookers before a mall in Wuppertal) for willful reached Catatonic state ....
    Yours emanuel P:S: I know it`s hard to believe me...

  13. "you got it by George!" i never heard
    before but it sounds funny and supportive.
    jet there are some knots to untie about the understanding
    the imprint but i think i'm a bit closer.

    maybe the feeling is not by rule dominantly parasympathetic event.
    parasympathetic domination comes after the feeling - during integration and rest...
    sorry, i can't even ask you a proper question right now. maybe later...
    i wish you best recovery!

  14. Off topic:

    Did anyone see the Penn and Teller show, on Circumcision?

    Send it to your pregnant friends!

    1. Hallo Andrew
      I am glad I didn't see the show. Both male and female circumcision is an indisputable violent assault, especially when performed on babies and children. It absolutely tramatises them. The ones done to girls by older women in some of the Eastern countries, including Africa, are terrifying just to read about.


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.