Saturday, November 9, 2013

How Womb Life Shapes Us

 There is a recent experiment that throws light on this subject. Babies can learn a musical melody while still in the womb.  They recognize it after they are born.  They took two groups of babies, testing them at birth and again at four months.  The tests were of brain responses. They were greater in those who recognized the tune.  And it was equally true at four months of age.  One key conclusion by the authors was that, “ a baby can be relaxed and soothed by melodies it hears before birth.” Obvious.  But the neurotic mother’s metabolism also plays a tune, a fast or erratic one.  And that baby is not longer soothed; rather, she is galvanized.  Or confused, or dazed. And this state is imprinted in the same way that she is soothed with nursery rhymes.  (twinkle twinkle little star).  (see Eino Partanen, University of Helsinki,  Finland).

Here is what makes early life so important; experiences can be engraved for life.  They stick and they guide behavior thereafter. They make us open as individuals or closed as personality traits.

 The point is that we start learning long before we think we start learning.  Yes, it is a nursery rhyme, but any key experience affects us for a very long time.  Long before we can say, “Oh yes, I remember when my daddy came home drunk and beat us!”  These are things of instincts, primordial memories that have no words, yet shape us ineluctably as any later trauma; more-so, because very early experience is stamped in with a force that is often powerful because it is stamped in to a vulnerable, naïve soul that has little previous experience to fall back on.  There is no reservoir of perceptions that help establish a frame of reference to make sense of things.

The experience joins in the a-perceptive mass which helps form an orientation to life that ultimately shapes one’s attitudes, interests and perceptions.  Later when we are asked what made you think that,? there are childhood experiences we can evoke but also many pre-birth experiences of which we are unaware.  These join into the ensemble of experience that form us. And these are the experiences that psychotherapy ignores systematically.  How can we know what drives us when we ignore life in the womb there the mother is severely depressed or takes heavy duty painkillers?  How can we know about terror and anxiety in a patient when we ignore a father who left home when the fetus was seven months? Or neglect to take into account a severe auto accident where the mother was pinned against the seat and the baby petrified?  We ignore this because we do not know about the imprint of experience and how it endures perhaps for lifetime.  We do not “grow out” of experience; we grow into them.

If we do not understand our malleability early on or how the brain changes all along the nine months of pregnancy we can’t hope to figure out endogenous depression at age thirty.  Those early experiences are still part of us and guide behavior.  So when a therapist says “I focus on behavior and try to make the patient take a healthier more wholesome attitude,” we know she is missing out.  She is missing out on causative factors that are alive and well inside of us.  And when we address the imprint we make real profound changes in the patient as he relives those central imprints.  It is supporting evidence that the traumatic event lives on. Otherwise, obviously there would be no change.

Now we see why some of us suffer endogenous depression.  Children whose mothers were depressed while carrying are more likely to have depressed offspring. (major work done at Bristol University, England who studied 8000 depressed mothers. Also see the work and comments of prof. Carmine Pariante of King’s College, London Institute of Psychiatry, Published in JAMA Psychiatry 2013,).
These studies are part of current science that should affect our practices.  We need to investigate birth weight in our patients because recent studies point to birth weight as affecting how long we live and the rapidity of aging.  (International J. of Epidemiology. 2013).

I don’t want to drown the fish but I do want to underline what we as therapists must do to be effective and help patients:  read the scientific literature.  That is our key responsibility.    We don’t want to rely on the writings of Freud or Jung from one hundred years ago. There is a new science out that we must adhere to.

What is uplifting about this research is that those nursery rhymes can still play in our minds as we mature.  We carry around that relaxation as an imprinted memory, maybe for all of our lives.


  1. The psychiatric and psychological dilemma... we are escaping from something our symptoms talks about without being heeded!

    I have sometimes felt that I did not recognize myself for where I am... an unpleasant experience where I had to catch my breath in shock of confusion in attempts to get back to my cognitive state... a stat already confused for not being conscious of what is told from my limbic system! A reality academically educated need to know much more about ! If possible?

    I have as defense for survival attempted concrete tasks... conceptually constructed sentences to fit as a defense against myself (my limbic system)! An extremely confused state as my reality in cognitive sense is nothing but a defense against what my limbic system tells about... something that I involuntarily relegated to without any awareness of what was happening... a catastrophic reality without any possibility for myself to do anything about... a disaster where I could not possibly interpret the content depending on the intensity of life-threatening experiences!

    Today I know what happened! I ended up involuntarily in the limbic system... and no one there to help me in my confusion... even when I was like a lookup painting... an answer key in the human equation... possible to see ALL of my psychological dilemmas !

    Today I can sit next to someone's stroller and hear how a child desperately crying out ... crying in need for their mother or father without heeded. I'm listening "to what my limbic system tells of suffering and I feel what must be done without any right to it... a terrible experience! I often try to help them... but with a response that tells of hell on earth!

    I welcome my thoughts on a legal process in try to end the suffering!


  2. In part, the problem is many of those therapists believe that 'attitudes' and 'behaviours' are the cause of feelings. So they think they're getting to the cause by addressing those attitudes. Of course it's the other way around...a simple revelation they're 40 years behind primal therapists on.

    btw: to say, I use to really like music from the BeeGee's (sick of it now). Apparently my mother played it a lot while pregnant with me. But virtually all music I listen to has a constant-running rhythm to it, like the mid-70's BeeGee's music.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      When I was in a relationship with my sons mother we used to listen to Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Eek a Mouse, Black Roots and various other 80s Dub Reggae artists. When he was a teenager he "didn't like" that kind of music but now he's a parent he now has a collection of all that 80s dub in modern remix and he plays that when he's most happy. . .
      and he uses it to help flip himself out of depression. . .

      When my daughter was learning to walk, I used to walk her across my chest toward my face as I lay down, she holding my thumbs. step by step I used to sing to her an R & B beat box rhythm dancing her arms and now she & I improvise beat box duet rhythms in the car !

      It's a real bonus playing with your kids from an early age because later they still want to play with you.

      My Dad used to love (still does) classical music and as a teenager I had to hate it of course but now I love classical, well some of it. . .

      It's too ironic that Art should have to feel glad that this research proves what everybody knows already any way. Every body knows the babbers are imprinting GOOD stuff, they just don't want to imagine the babbers are imprinting the "BAD" stuff too.

      People are two faced in their belief systems.

      Paul G.

  3. This is good to know for future parents, because their infant in the womb, not going through any kind of birth trauma, the infant could grow up being a little more relaxed, than the babies that have been previously produced. With all the violence in the world now, we need to have more relaxed children in hopes that it will be a more relaxed world for them; where people aren't so upset. Sometimes when people are upset (not relaxed for long periods of time) they turn towards violence and crime.

  4. Nicely put, Art. You make me feel the need to join in with the nice putting, but I will probably just pontificate again...

    It would seem that the baby is designed to start learning about it's environment as soon as it is capable of forming a memory. With the unborn baby being so vulnerable to trauma, why didn't evolution design it's brain to totally ignore trauma until it is born and strong enough to process it? Why must it form all of these haunting imprints?

    Well, the body and brain are connected. The body cannot grow if the brain cannot learn the best way to grow it. The brain cannot grow if the body does not teach it how to function. The entire growth process is dependant on learning, right from the beginning.

    Pain is education. If the pain is too strong to be felt, it will be registered in the unconscious -- but never forgotten. And it will be used, unconsciously, to build a viable life form. Conscious learning is more intelligent and more complete than unconscious learning, but if the pain is unfeelable, nature will make a compromise.

    If we want scientists to start considering the mental effects of life in the womb, we must encourage them to realise that early pain has an intelligent purpose -- it is not just a temporary alarm signal that fades away when the trauma is over. PTSD is not just unexplainable mental damage. It is intelligent damage, but it cannot be processed intelligently until it reaches consciousness. Scientists must learn that pain is in fact a set of guidelines for physical and mental development. And scientists must learn that consciousness is the place where the mind and body can update each other instead of remaining in a compromised state of development.

    1. Hi Richard,

      so where do we get consciousness from ?

      I've been wondering if Primal Theory when taken seriously, is a lens for self observation. Is it one way to open the door a little more to let that light of consciousness shine in ?

      Self observation is a wonderful thing but through which lens . . . ?

      It's gotta be a Primal Lens, not a lens constructed out of the imagination.

      Paul G.

    2. Paul, nature did not always choose the best path for survival. If it did, there would be no life forms other than bacteria. Instead, the universe's abundance of chaotic chemical reactions led to many unnecessary creations. Consciousness is an unnecessary creation -- humans could survive more efficiently without it. Like those man-made robots that can read music and play the piano, we could de-evolve until we are simple, perfect robotic organisms, like we were in the beginning.
      Consciousness is a peculiarity. The human brain's extraordinary processing power and compactness would not be possible if it were built like a man-made computer, no matter how small we could build the electrochemical switches, the human brain still defies our current understanding of physics. Somehow, nature created consciousness and used it to generate 'impossible' communication between brain cells, and retina cells, and other cells, as has been observed by scientists for decades, only to be butchered by unconscious neurosurgeons at harvard university.
      Consciousness is precious -- it facilitates healing and happiness. Less conscious means less happy... less human... less capable of raising a healthy child, but more capable of bringing the human species back to it's original bacterial form. We have a responsibility to harness whatever amount of consciousness we have left, and find a way to purify the human race, to preserve it's love and intelligence and get rid of the contamination. If we don't do something soon, we will rot, and the bacteria will win.

    3. Hi Richard,
      the idealist in me wants to believe that consciousness is a necessary ingredient to being human and that human ness is uniquely feeling. Isn't that what makes consciousness precious ?

      This same idealist (in me) likes to believe that we can't survive without consciousness. Also, that the absence of consciousness is accelerating our collective doom.

      So, what is consciousness ? It seems to grow out of experience. . . if you're lucky. . . Art has said consciousness is a 'fluid connectedness and inter functioning of the the three brains". . . An ideal state that not so many of us achieve. We get flashes of it and surely insight is a product of consciousness.

      It's hard to pin down what consciousness is. . . It's easy to say what it isn't though !

      Paul G.

    4. Hi Richard

      I am sure that nature always chooses the right path for survival. After all if a species does not fit an environment it dies out. Look at the great Climate experiment man is creating at the moment. Some species of birds in Europe that fly from northern Sweden to the South of England are actually growing in numbers whereas those which fly much further in their migration are seeing rapid decline in numbers. The Dinosaurs died out due to a catastrophic meteorite impact. I would argue that man has to a certain extent side stepped Nature for a long time because of our intelligence and ability to adapt but is perhaps now seeing the massive scale of change which may well wipe him/her off large parts of the planet. I am not arguing that that intelligence is intelligent as many of the people driving the destruction of the planet are ignorant and driven by a distorted personal greed that does not see our planet as finite.

      I am sure our conciousness and intelligence was developed as a means of working within larger groups where we had to develop empathy and other feelings to be able to cooperate and interact. However most humans only have the capacity to deal with about 150 other people in their life. I have read that the change from a hunter gatherer society to a farming society was driven by the need to grow wheat which was then turned into bread which was then brewed into beer thus society is based upon the production of a drug that helps people feel loved. Therefore when did we learn to like alcohol and for what reason. It would seem to me that a very big trauma hit mankind early in his evolution which prompted that change and the distortion of our species including the loss of some of our conciousness. I have wondered what that trauma was? It must have been big.

    5. Hi Paul, I agree with most of what you said but I doubt that consciousness grows out of experience. Strictly speaking we can be only conscious or unconscious - there is no in-between - but the amount that we are conscious of can decrease as we are denied access to various processors in the brain. When you are in a very deep dream, you are conscious, but not conscious of much. When you fall into the deepest stage of sleep, you become unconscious; you no longer exist but your body continues to function. Children have less memories and less brain tissue but they are conscious of more at any given time in their waking lives -- much more than what you and I are conscious of. Consciousness has nothing to do with memories - it is everything that you are experiencing right now.
      While I was writing this I could not feel the pain in my right buttock as I sat awkwardly on the edge of a high bed, trying to type on my new ipad - it is a bed designed by people who cannot feel. As the blood painfully returns to my ass, I feel no desire to help those designers even if their profits went directly to the primal center. I am not conscious of anything other than my immediate need to finish this letter and escape the pain which is being exaggerated by unconscious memories -- urgent memories that will not allow this letter to be interrupted until a pain in the ass becomes a life-threatening trigger. Got it?

    6. Hi Richard,

      call me devils advocate if u like but I feel consciousness is on a three dimensional sliding scale. Well, actually 4 dimensional if you take the passage of time and therefore memory and history.

      In this particular instance I feel an old ideal about our psyche might be useful:

      We are sitting on a three legged stool.

      One leg is sensing, one feeling and the third a-thinking. . .

      If we keep the stool top level, well then everything is fine and we see, hear, speak and act consciously but if we let the legs change length too much, well then we slip off toward the lowest one.

      I have emotional days , I have sensing days and I have thinking days and other days when one leg is too high. . . occasionally I have days when all three are working together, that's when I am most productive, loving and alive.

      Paul G.

    7. Paul, I bet you have days when all three levels push you into a dry corner where the leaks can barely reach. On days like that, you find yourself in a small, sunny place where you can experience 'warm' feelings. Those feelings will remain dry and warped in the lovely heat coming from your beliefs. Warped feelings never make a straight and true connection to the limbic system - they never have the lush fullness - they never draw from the water down below. Why? because your water is boiling with traumatic memories -- but how can you expect to have full feelings if you never properly connect to the water supply? Get real my friend! On those nice sunny days you do not suffer, and you function more harmoniously with your neurotic friends, but you are still missing out on the fullness of a real life. You have to dive down and switch off that traumatically hot element before you can drink from cool water. You are dying, Paul... you need to drink. I know, sometimes it feels 'nice' to bask in the sand... but really you're just lost in a desert. In the desert you can't remember your name coz you can't feel the pain coming from the lower brain (is that a song?) Don't set that little desert as the benchmark. In therapy your body will learn the real benchmark (hormone setpoints)

    8. Hi Richard,

      I wouldn't put money on that, I'd lose because I know I don't have days like that at all.

      I also don't have any friends (neurotic or otherwise). Those all left me when I broke down and cried for my mum as a child. They made out I was some kind of 'old age loser'.

      I have children / grandchildren I look after and I use cognitive strategies to make sure my stuff doesn't spill over onto them.

      I don't have nice sunny days, except when I see my children smile and then the pain diminishes for a while. All my days are either filled with pain or suffering, or both.

      As a direct consequence of crying so much, at last at 53yrs, I also have finally developed strategies for handling the ill will of others, their sarcasm, their witlessness and their inability to grasp the depth of my perceptions. Usually all that just reduces me to tears, which ironically helps, a lot. But most of all Richard (from all that crying) I have finally rid myself of my addiction to telling people about themselves.

      Paul G.

    9. Hi Richard,

      The 3 legged stool is just a metaphor, it doesn't indicate how any one gets their stool top level. I used it to illustrate my opinion (just an opinion) that consciousness is not "black or white".
      We are often referring to the 'intellectuals' and occasionally to the 'emotionals' and being one of those 'menial workers' also I refer to myself as an instinctual type. Though I admit I have been 'intellectualised' and use my neo-cortex as a defense against pain.

      I came across a theory of personality type which for a while became a belief system of mine and I attended many workshops and panels to test the theory. This is where I got the metaphor from. On these panels we repeatedly discovered certain rather obvious 'traits' that most (if not all) of us kept on returning to and these we referred to as 'personality traits' or 'chief features'.

      It became difficult to deny these chief features and even though I fell into a group who (like Art) decided "LABELS AR'NT HELPFUL" (so I gave up those workshops and training), I still find myself noticing these chief features repeating themselves in me and also in others. . . I try not to judge, I turn a blind eye and even feign to avoid these pithy (cognitive) observations / issues but the observations still remain.

      Thus I still maintain that consciousness and personality are closely linked and we all do tend to be more or less emotional, instinctual and or intellectual and also our consciousness is so coloured and changes with mood , weather and current circumstances.

      I don't want to draw Art and his opinion into this because he has already said that the imprints define the later development of personality. Thus Primal trumps personality typing but that is beside the point. The point is that there are shades of consciousness and I for one can't help noticing the three legs of that metaphorical stool pushing and a pulling me into those 'distorted shapes' you refer to.

      Richard, I don't have days like you describe AT ALL. All the crying I have experienced whether it is ab-reaction or the real descent into my pains (some of both I am sure) has allowed me a very slight improvement in my consciousness and I would have to rely on the 3 legged metaphor again to say that when I slip off my stool top into an emotional pit it is something only Art's Primal theory has helped me deal with. When I slip off into an instinctual pit it is only Art and his theory of the Sexual Hijack (in particular) who has helped me and ironically it is only Art and his theory of leaky gates / Primal pressure etc etc who has helped me when it comes to all the crazy intellectual ideals that have clouded my mind and interfered with my life.

      Lastly, I don't mind admitting that I used to be so intellectualised (as a defense against my own pain) that I just could never resist the temptation to tell other people about themselves. I had that disease badly. I even wanted to train as a psychotherapist because telling others seemed "SO HELPFUL" (!) Now, after all this crying and insight into my f****d up gestation / birth / infancy and childhood I am no longer tempted to tell any body about themselves if I can possibly avoid it. Even their behaviour is now mostly out of bounds for me. As one contributor so eloquently put: "I avoid entering into anything emotional with people due to being aware of the likely large pit of stuff there"- (words to that effect).

      Paul G.

    10. Paul, let me put it this way... I cry in my dreams when I feel a need to love someone who needed love but never received it and I feel the awful tragedy... life wasted. I wake up with watery eyes and a lump in my throat and chest ... but even if I could let more of that feeling out the way you do with your teddy bear it would still be absolutely nothing compared to a primal, and my insightfulness - my self awareness... life awareness... family awareness ... is absolutely nothing compared to a primal. A primal is an unlimited and explicitly truthful and detailed feeling showing you exactly what happened and exactly who you are... no hazy interpretation... just brutal reality awakening you in full consciousness... it's almost enough to kill you... it can blow you away for hours.. but it's an agony that you want and need to feel... it's a million times more accurate than your teddy bear. That's why I am saying don't assume that you know when all three levels are connected... don't assume that you are making any progress at all. Keep an eye on the clock... you are getting old. That's all I am saying.

  5. To be or not to be!

    To experience something versus feeling something is in a physiological process unlike each other... a state and to interpret this state... to be something unlike to look at it on the basis of not having been present at the event for the experience.

    To interpret... it is the psychological physiological process of not having been present at the time of the experience in the limbick system... which is what we express as a feeling through "help" from neocortex and not a stat of experience!? An evolutionary processes for survival!

    If we feel what is up in the limbick system and also in neocortex... what makes the difference?

    And for it to be right the primal therapeutic process is needed... needed by feeling it's way back to the experience!?


  6. how many times did we hear something like this: "he is an exellent guy if he just don't smoke"....or whatever.
    is this an excuse to not like somebody and have power over him or blindness to see the rest of him.
    or both.
    behind blindness there is always some invisible goal.
    before we search for faults in any system maybe we should assume that the system is perfect. but unknown. often, not pleasant position to be in ...

  7. could it be that not to be powerless is what is behind the miss interpretations.
    to be powerless is just not an option. so we miss the whole universe... of realities.

  8. if baby can hear/feel in the womb and is connected to mother... can baby stress the mother if it doesn't like what it hear/feel.
    is a baby an environment for the mother?
    mamma gets stressed and stresses the baby that stresses the mother that trigger the father that stresses he mother that flood the baby so the mother or the baby or both start to repress... each for themselves and for each other?
    just trying to figure out...


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.