Friday, November 8, 2013

The Mystery Known as Depression, Part 2/12


Let me begin by proffering my definition of depression, and how it is understood within the paradigm of Primal Therapy. One caveat before proceeding: Our understanding of depression arises from an observational, not statistical, perspective. Ours is basically an empirical science; wanting to know rather than knowing what we want. What I describe has been seen in hundreds of our patients over 45 years. It is a new paradigm, a departure from the conventional notions of depression. If we try to understand it within the old frame of reference we will fail. Depression has its roots in the earliest moments of a patient’s life, during gestation and birth. Since first espousing these theories more than four decades ago, advancements in brain research have offered mounting evidence to support our theory about the role of early trauma in causing mental illness. What is still difficult to accept by some is our assertion that reliving those traumatic experiences, including birth, is the way to reverse depression. In this sense, exploring the mind has been a little like exploring the world to prove it is round; it often can’t be believed until somebody actually makes the journey. In the development of our therapy, we have made no a priori assumptions in our observations. From the beginning, we have always let ourselves be guided by one unassailable truth – the experience of our patients.
Not long ago, a group of my depressive patients met to discuss their problems and the overwhelming pain that surrounds them. As they talked it became apparent that there were numerous things they had in common. Looking back at the experience of their lives, they identified certain symptoms and tendencies in their feelings and behavior, including:

. A feeling of constant suffering
· Difficulty concentrating
· Extreme fatigue
· Immobilized and paralyzed
· Feeling helpless to change a situation
· An inability to talk
· Lack of energy
· Can’t move, enclosed, stuck in a dark abyss
· Not being able to find anything to live for
· A monotonous, inner deadness
· Feeling that nothing is going to change
· Something wants out
· An inability to feel pleasure.
· Unable to make a decision, or make something stop
· Numbness and ponderous, labored movements
· Recurrence of a wish to die
· Sense of isolation
· Falling into a black hole
· Not getting anywhere
· An overall heaviness or deadness
· An effort to breathe or even lift an arm
· Not interested in anything
. No sexual interest
· Despair, resignation and wanting to give up
· What’s the use of living? Don’t want to go onlike this

This group of “symptoms” is based on my experience with my depressives describing their own general condition. But in addition, what these patients have come to realize, however, is that they were describing the sensations of a birth trauma, the common denominator of their communal experience. No one suggested this in any way because we would not have known what to suggest.
If we were to overlay a transparency illustrating the characteristics of depression over one showing the effects of the birth trauma, we would find that they match perfectly. Everything a person felt during the birth trauma back then is reflected in the description of her current depression. Clear examples are contained in the list of depressive symptoms enumerated by my group of patients; they are expressing exactly what they felt as infants being born. The traumas set down in the womb, at birth and during infancy are coded, registered and stored in the nervous system. They become a template for what happens later.

1 comment:

  1. What could be more interesting than the science of science that has relegated man to wonder about himself!?

    I wonder if I go too far if I states that the sense in human terms is a consequence of evolution... consequence to that neocortex evolved as a defense against our own suffering? (I know that this is an ide of yours Art)

    If it would be consistent with science... we need to start talking about the phenomenon of neurosis ... depression and anxiety based on entirely different circumstances. Maybe this is something that is easier to reconcile with science?

    We are in a stage of survival by acktion from neocortex... and that is far from where we would be if the limbic system was talking its right language and we could understand it! I mean... if we did not suffer from complications of evolutionary factors for survival all would be different!

    We find ourselves in a situation where we are trying to find answers to anxiety and depression etc. by impossible equations for physiological conditions until we addresses the issue to the correct part of the brain why we will remain carry on these phenomena.

    If it is the case that the neocortex evolved as a defense against own suffering with the result of anxiety and depression... a task to keep the limbic system absent... it for survival and continue neocortex is the part of the brain we use in try to find answers... then it just imagine the results!



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.