Thursday, September 26, 2013

Suicide is Painless (More on Suicide with some additions)

I was discussing the difference between self destructive behavior and suicide with a colleague. They are quite different, although you would think that suicide is destruction of the self, but it is not at all like that. To understand, we must go back to the imprint, as so many of my suicidal patients have done.
In many of these cases, the person has experienced an oxygen deficit, perhaps due to a heavy dose of anesthesia to the mother during labor, or being strangled on the cord during birth. And after an agonizing attempt to get born, death approaches and there is a sense of impending relief. That memory of possible relief is sealed in so that later, in the face utter hopelessness, an impending divorce for instance, death becomes the answer. An attempt at suicide follows. The memory of possible relief becomes stamped in, or engraved, and it endures for a lifetime. It is the last link in the chain of pain, as it were, the logical denouement when current hopelessness can set off the primordial (primal) hopelessness where death lurks and where suicide seems the logical step.

You may wonder: how is it that hopelessness today sets off the same feeling created during birth? It is again the chain of pain, the descending links between levels of consciousness. It is known as resonance, where one feeling, which evolved out of similar feelings at earlier stages, ultimately triggers the earliest related feeling that was originally imprinted at the start of life. I have written that it may be a specific neurological brain frequency that sets off the imprinted counterpart. Each deep feeling, such as hopelessness, matures and evolves onto higher brain levels where there are more advanced levels of consciousness. Thus the deep imprint becomes reflected in the same or similar feelings higher up. Conversely, in our therapy we start at the top, the last stage of the evolutionary chain, and work down the chain of pain to those earliest imprints. Normally the gating system keeps the brain from evoking those deeper levels but when one has undergone years of neglect and lack of love, the gating system falters. Then, a current frustration can set off profound feelings of hopelessness impressed deeper the brain. Here we may see violent act-outs as those more powerful feelings are elicited. It is why, for example, a student’s current fear of failing in class can set off a full-blown anxiety/terror attack. The manifestation of the feeling in the present gets amplified through resonance. Thus, the current feeling sets off the same deeper feelings until the whole system is engulfed in utter hopeless feelings. And worse, there is no scene attached to it, since it is pure feeling, naked and unadorned, the exact same feeling from gestation and infancy, rising again to smother the person and make her suicidal. It is the most profound hopelessness. The current feeling has triggered its progenitor with sensations of approaching death becoming paramount. When that feeling becomes excruciating one may want to kill oneself, just as the fetus/infant had no other options. The accompaniment of this hopelessness is nearly always lower body temperature, the parasympathetic nervous system dominance.

That early hopelessness is later expanded and ramified as the whole system and brain mature. As each new brain system comes on line, it adds its emotional weight to the feeling. But it is the same feeling with increased neuronal development. It is that feeling that is the essence of depression. As I explain in my extensive article on the subject, “The Mystery Known As Depression,”  it is the system’s effort to suppress the feeling that produces depression. So depression is not a feeling; it is what happens as that feeling is blocked from higher level access. And when we unravel depression that is what we find: utter, unarticulated hopelessness. And as it is felt and experienced with all of its pain, the depression begins to leave, at last.

This means that we must not trump evolution and experience the deep feelings too soon in therapy. This happens when gating is leaky or faulty. And it is here that for a time the patient must be given pain blockers to temporarily hold back resonance. We are not blocking higher levels of expression, only that portion of the feeling that might be catastrophic if experienced too early. Inadvertently, I think this is what doctors are trying to do with their drugs; sever the possibility of triggering off deeper pains for a time. They are attempting to block resonance, though they may not even acknowledge that it exists. Yet, painkillers that work on lower levels are targeted precisely for that. We can only feel those deep hurts as the body and brain allow – current hopeless feelings first, then those from childhood and finally infancy, where the deepest feelings always lie. I use the word “compounding,” because these are not different feelings; they are the same feeling compounded. The child just seems unhappy and sullen and no one knows why. And certainly the child has no idea at all, nor do his teachers. He is in the grasp of that early primordial, devastating feeling that no one can say or name. It is literally ineffable – so deep and overwhelming as to defy description.

What has this to do with self-destruction? Let’s take a literal example of destruction, cutting oneself. This is a later ploy, making hurt obvious. It is a plea for help: “Please see my hurt. See that I hurt.” This in lieu of screaming out that hurt. And the cutter is not often aware of what she is doing or why. It was never acknowledged by anyone because perhaps the parents had no idea of that hurt, or even that such emotional hurt existed. There are many aspects of this. For one patient, the feeling was, “I’m trying to let the hurt escape,” even when she had no idea what it was. She just knew it was inside and it had to come out. In therapy, that is exactly what we helped her do – let it out in methodical ways, so she no longer had to cut herself.

Examples of self-destructive behavior are myriad, but all the manifestations come from subdued feelings. There are people who set themselves up for certain failure, who always make sure things turn out bad, who drink themselves into oblivion or who repeatedly get involved with a low-life they know is bad for them. Here the driving forces are nearly always deep-seeded pain. But in the strict sense, a sense not in the psychoanalytic lexicon, these are secondary effects of imprinted hurt.

An example: one patient in graduate school could  not get feedback from his professors for a paper he turned in.  After weeks of “trying to get through” he sent a most nasty letter to the instructor.  For that, he was delayed in getting his degree. So he shot himself in the foot (self-destructive) because he could  never get through to his father and also because he literally couldn’t get through in being born. Being blocked from getting what he  wanted and needed had set off a rage in him, and as we know rage is first line,  brainstem originated.  It is the seat of the most atavistic anger possible.  He was helpless before this surge of fury.   Resonance reached down and dredged it all up, surging beyond control.   He knew when he  sent the letter it was wrong; this is what used to be called “emotional.”  His emotions got the best of him.  They weren’t irrational; they were real but buried deeply.

In the news, there is story of a man who went on another mass killing spree, this time at a supposedly secure Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. The shooter walked through the facility with a shotgun and calmly fired at defenseless people, killing twelve. Somewhere he might have known that it was suicidal but that was a faint force against his feelings. A month before the rampage, the killer had told police that he was being followed by three people who were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel room and sending microwave vibrations into his body to deprive him of sleep. In this case, we see clearly that the killer’s feelings are so deep and so remote as to seem like a machine controlling his brain. Otherwise he would know it derives from deep in the  brain.  It has been discovered that when such disturbed people hear voices, they really do. And what those voices really say is,  “I hate.”

Here is the important point. This man did not suffer a “thought disorder.”  If it were a simple thought disorder then it might be treated with more healthier thoughts; i.e., cognitive therapy. But to believe it is a thought disorder means  to ignore the evolution of the brain, to deny that there are lower levels with their own characteristics and functions.  To believe this means that the thinking cortex arrived de novo with no antecedents, and that it was not  anchored anywhere in the brain. It  is considered by cognitivists as an entity unto itself. These are the deniers of evolution, the “creationists of the brain.” They might not agree  to this characterization but there can be no other. It is feelings that drive thoughts, in the here and now and in the history of the brain.  The killer  suffers from a feeling disorder.  Until we acknowledge that we will go on treating the wrong thing  in the wrong way.  Feelings have that great power in history, and when it comes to the brainstem,  unleashed,  it  can lead to murder. Ideas, remember, are the last vestige of brain tissue that we can resort to.  Feelings slop over boundaries and surge into the ideational brain where we manufacture ideas to match them. The most bizarre come from the earliest imprints where they provide a terrible neuronal force that the cortex has to deal with.  When ideas no longer do their duty, a stroke cannot be far off.

  How can we be so sure? We see this in our therapy: as deep feelings rise they can sometimes provoke strange ideas. When we give patients medication that addresses mainly the lower feeling centers, the paranoid ideas may disappear for a time. We would not think of attacking the ideas head-on.  We address the underlying feelings, but again, only when they can be safely integrated. Indeed, when a patient is on the verge of a deep, heavy feeling, she may get paranoid transiently: “They are trying to suffocate me.” We know immediately where it comes from and can treat it post-haste.  Once our patients begin to relive deep brain imprint those paranoid ideas disappear.

So what are the self-destructive people among us doing?  What and who a re they destroying? The feeling self, the one with all the pain, but they are not destroying it, they are keeping it from destroying them. Drinking into oblivion seems self destructive but it is the person’s means of keep pain under control.

Suicide and self-destructive behavior, then, are indeed two different things. Even though suicide attempts to destroy the self it is not, oddly, self destructive. Suicide means one final act. It is not anything in the present that causes it; it is the result of a deep memory. And yes, if one could, then screaming it out could help temporarily, since it would relieve the pressure. There are some acts of suicide that are a cry for help; taking a certain amount of sleeping pills, for example. And there are others that say, I really don’t want to live anymore; that is a jump off a bridge. That is final, no call for help. It all seems so helpless and hopeless; they want to die for relief. No more pain; that’s enough. That’s why the theme song from the television series “M*A*S*H” rings with a profound kernel of truth: “Suicide is painless.” Killing oneself is not meant to be self-destructive, per se; it’s meant to kill the pain, which has come to subsume the self.

In Primal Therapy, we get patients gradually down to those deep feelings that are so disturbing. It takes time, but when they get there, they discover real relief, the kind that lasts and lets them live.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

On the Imprint: Its Role in Psychotherapy

It seems that by now in Science, we have a good idea of what the imprint is about. Something I did not know about 50 years ago when I first posited the concept. The reason it is so important is that it determines personality, illness, whether we are constipated or not and many other facets of our lives. It is now an established fact in human development. I will explain but let me first say that once we understand the nature of the imprint we understand that no basic change in personality can take place in therapy without altering the imprint.

So what is the imprint? It is a memory, an ensemble of all the circumstances surrounding a key adverse event; a memory of an early trauma encapsulated. It is not just a “memory” in the usual sense of recall or actively going back to consciously retrieve something forgotten in the past. It is an event sealed-in biochemically forevermore and it affects us forevermore. It drives our behavior and the kind of sickness we will suffer from, will be get Alzheimers disease or cancer? The imprint may be able to answer those questions. And you cannot get there from here; you cannot willfully try to retrieve the memory because “willful” is the opposite of what is needed. One needs to let go of high level cortical processes and descend down the levels of consciousness where the imprint exists. And there we find that we cannot reach out to it because it is encapsulated, surrounded by aspects of the methyl chemical group, which helps encase it and make it unreachable. In effect, it is methylation that is heavily responsible for the imprint and its enduring affects. To retrieve the memory we need to “live” on the level of its existence for a time, use the right brain to lift it toward conscious/awareness, and bit by small bit integrate parts of the memory into the brain and the entire system. Thus, we need to de-methylate the memory. Until we do that there can be no profound change in anyone despite all claims to the contrary, notwithstanding. Not meditation, not cognitive therapy, not mindfulness or hundreds of other nonsense approaches that ignore neurobiology. And, I might add, that ignore evolution; how the brain evolves and what levels of the brain are holdovers from our animal history. No one can make real change when two-thirds of our brains are unacknowledged. We have the tail and the feet but we still don’t know what it is; how can we treat it?

Yes, one might add but this is just a theory. Yes but a substantial one with much research and therapeutic years behind it. And for over fifty years we have not seen any substantial change in patients until they descend down into the levels where the imprint exists. It is the deep unconscious and it has not been seen or observed in any way because it is out of contact with our intellectual brain. It is the province of the shark and chimp brain; the province of non-verbal behavior.

There are easily several hundred current research studies on methylation, acetylation and phosphorylation that describe how imprinted memory reroutes the brain. How it changes brain circuits. Do we really think that changing our perceptions, rationales and attitudes can alter those basic processes? Research says “No.” There are chemical processes that help open up the memory system and others such as with methyl that closes it down. But once locked-in, it lives on and experience does not change it. The evolution of the genes has been rerouted. Epigenetics reigns. That is crucial; experience cannot change it. That is why we cannot love neurosis away or exhort it to change, or plead and beg for it do something “healthy.” Its ineluctable road is already paved with bumps and crevasses. We are destined to travel them unconsciously. We could say in this sense that our lives our predetermined.

Let me give you an example. We see a patient and we do not know why he is so hyperactive, cannot sit still and cannot concentrate. How do we now what’s wrong? We won’t until we know what events at birth or in the womb transpired to fix this affliction in the system. Was the mother on coke, both kinds? What she very active and nervous throughout her pregnancy, especially since her husband left her. Was there a war going on? Was she depressed or was she given heavy drugs to hurry birth along? Hundreds of questions that need answering. A therapist can say, “I’m not interested in the patient’s past; it is her present that counts. Yes but the present is very dependent on that past. This is too often a rationale to simplify therapy but it is simplistic, at best. How did the pregnancy evolve? We know that bickering parents often produce allergic children. Should we ignore the gestation period? We know that a carrying mother takes drugs it has a profound effect on the later drug taking of the offspring. Should we ignore that too? We will never know the true causes of adult cancer and Alzheimers disease without know the patient’s history. So what on earth does paying your attention to your breathing in mindfulness therapy do to the imprint? What does it do to prevent serious disease? Nada!

So how can we understand mental illness with 2/3rds of the brain missing? It is a practice with one arm tied behind. In my clinic with many hundreds of patients over fifty years of primal I have seen what a carrying mother’s heavy smoking does to create severe mental illness. It happens too often to be a chance affair. Or the mother’s drug taking and how it affects later drug use in the offspring. Karen Nyberg’s research, which I quoted in my other blogs, is instructive. There is a heavy correlation between the two. We must change the imprint and begin to reverse the memory and its impact. Our research will tell us more about this. How on earth can we understand anorexia without knowing about the research (Roberts and others) on early trauma and later eating disorders? The research states that it is largely due to epigenetics. And key epigenetic changes take place very early in our lives that alter fetal programming and the evolution of the fetus/baby. Let us not forget the critical window where those events are engraved for a lifetime. That is where we therapists must go; to that window where trauma was impressed into the brain and whole system. If we do not, then we cannot understand anxiety states in our patients or ADD which shuts down focus and concentration. It is not here and now; it is there and then that must be our focus because there and then determines here and now, to a great extent. If we exclude there and then we will not know that later eating disorders are often caused by the nutrition of the carrying mother. That has been confirmed by numerous studies. Let us take off our blinders and look at the whole brain. And above all, the whole person.

We need to make clear that we need to change consciousness in psycho-therapy, not just awareness. Too many therapists conflate awareness with consciousness. Consciousness encompasses many layers of brain function not just the neo-cortex. It is all levels working fluidly together that form consciousness. Awareness is but one level trying to do the work of all layers.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Adversity in the Womb and How It Affects All of Our Lives

Over the years I have quoted a great number of studies showing how womb-life experience can carry on for a lifetime. What seems to be evident is that the chronic moods of the carrying mother produce the same or similar effects in her offspring. One way we imprint these deleterious experiences is through the process of methylation. We recruit part of the methyl chemical group to enhance or seal-in the repression of the memory. And the importance of our proposed research is to show how remote/early experience changes the neurophysiology of us humans for a lifetime.

I have explained that traumatic imprints change our biology and our neurology; the process of repression of these pains may play into such serious afflictions as cancer and Alzheimers disease. But what we want to show is that we can reverse the imprint or alter it a bit with our therapy. What I have proposed is that in reliving the primal imprint we lessen its effects, and once that is done can we actually short-circuit or demythelize the imprint. Can demythelation abort the advance of a serious disease? I think so. We need to prove it.

But the theory should guide us here; deep repression, heavy methylation is the culprit in many afflictions, not the least of which is depression. Can we intervene in time to avoid the advance of both physical and mental disease? We do attack the key primordial imprints at their source. And since we lessen chronic cortisol (alarm reactions) levels, as well as lowering blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate, we already have evidence of the reversal of key indices of neurosis/imprinted pain. It seems to me that the system functions as a whole, and when we relive and relieve many of the concomitants of the imprinted pain we are affecting the imprint directly. Otherwise why would the stress hormones continue to decrease in many of our patients as the result of our therapy? What I am indicating also is that undoing repression may contribute to a longer lifespan for our patients, something we shall measure through telomere lengths.

Methylation is becoming critically important in current science. What has been found recently is that if a stretch of DNA has a lot of methyl surrounding it the activity of some of the genes is suppressed. And they found in a study of twins where one was healthy and the other had a split spine (New Scientist, 31, Aug. 2013), that the possible cause was a plethora of methyl in the area which down some of the activity of growth; growth was suppressed. Methyl and repression seem to be more and more blood sisters. It’s hard to get one without the other. We are finding that more and more of harm such as pesticides is agented by the methyl group; that is, methylation patterns are altered. And it may also be that prolonged smoking may have impacted methylation as to produce enduring harm.

I have wondered why it is that we see wisdom teeth dropping after the age of forty in some patients, or why there is marked foot growth in their thirties. Methylation may be one answer since, an assumption, what seems to happen is that we do in part is reverse methylation, allowing certain structures to continue their voyage to their proper destination. In other words, methylation blocks or aborts genetic evolution, puts it on hold until it is revisited and then allows it to continue along its genetic arc.

Regarding the twin study, the authors seem to think that even though the twins share the same womb, the methylation for each of them can be different. And this may ultimately affect how each person interacts with others later on; making for marked differences.

What brought this home to me was a recent article in Science News (Also Human Health, Brain and Behavior, Aug. 25, 2013) (see Mice given caffeine while pregnant changed the brains of the offspring. Also, a set of mice drank water treated with caffeine, (an amount a woman would drink while carrying--about 3 cups of coffee a day). There were direct effects on parts of the limbic system, particularly the hippocampus. There were fewer neurons in these structures that deal with memory in the mice. And more, these caffeinated mice did poorly on tests of memory. These mice did not explore new stimuli and had what I think was aspects of ADD. They were not as curious as normal mice. Their brains seemed rewired. And it is not a big step to see the implications for humans. A mother does not have to have drunk coffee to produce adverse effects; she simply needs to be in a chronic agitated, nervous state. It is exactly as if she drank many cups of coffee. The fetus picks up on this automatically and reacts accordingly. Neurons in the limbic system, then, became hyperactive, as well. And that chronic agitation keeps focus and concentration from happening.

During sessions with in-dwelling thermisters in our patients we can observe changes in blood pressure as the patient relives key imprints. It lowers when primal pains are relived and rise when repression is evident. We see this clearly also with body temperature; depressives come to sessions with low body temp and we see it normalize when they relive early traumas. In other words as key memories are relived the accouterments of the memory do change; from this we may find, as I believe, that these are the indices of changes in the imprint itself. In short, the imprint is an ensemble of reactions, not just the chemical.

Whatever external stimuli are affecting the carrying mother are also affecting her baby. He is not behaving on his genetic legacy so much as his epigenetic inheritance, his life experience. We must understand that we need to be careful about ingesting any foreign substance from alcohol to tranquilizers, while pregnant. And we therefore need to be aware that womb-life effects are impactful and enduring.

Because they endure and continuously stimulate the system there is hope; that we can attack the basic imprint and reverse it. It is not heredity that is irreversible, but epigenetics which is reversible, something we have been doing for almost 50 years. If it has been life experience that has caused changes in the biochemistry and neuronal circuitry it can be altered. It is not a fixed entity. The way this is done is searching out and reliving key imprints. The changes in vital signs are part of the imprint so that when we reverse the by-products (lower blood pressure) it tells us of its effect on the imprint.

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.