Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Mystery Known as Depression, Part 3/12


To understand how it is possible to trace the causes of a lifelong illness – and its cure – to the very beginning of a person’s life, I must explain my view of the three levels of consciousness.
We basically have three brains in one as MacLean (1985, 1990) already proposed in 1960s: the brainstem, the limbic system, and the neocortex, each representing different stages of evolution, from shark, chimp to human brain, respectively. These neurologic stages of brain growth correspond to three distinct levels of consciousness: the earliest, pre-verbal stage of infancy, followed by childhood and finally present-day awareness. At each level of brain development, we have specific needs that must be fulfilled uniquely. The earlier the needs the more lasting the consequences when they are not fulfilled, and the more grave the imprint. In infancy, we have a need to be touched and nurtured tenderly. On the second line, we seek fulfillment of emotional needs: to be listened to, to feel secure and supported, to get an empathetic response to our hurts and fears. And the third level involves intellectual stimulation, communication and understanding by the parents. Fulfillment on this level can lead to clear and logical thinking; to an accuracy of perceptions.

3.1. First Line – The Brainstem
The first level, the brainstem, is a primitive or reptilian brain, which is our oldest brain system (MacLean, 1990). The brainstem was the first to evolve, and the first part of the central nervous system to develop in human evolution. It seems that we never lost that part. We just added new brain tissue on top of it. The brainstem deals with instincts, basic needs, survival functions, sleep, and basic processes that keep us alive such as body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and very deep breathing. At this level, we can store a carrying mother’s depression, anxiety, stress, drug-taking, smoking, or drinking. Mother can also communicate, through her changing hormones, her unconscious rejection of her coming baby, which then becomes stored in the baby’s brainstem. Such experience is not stored as ideas, obviously, since we don’t yet have a neocortex, the thinking, intellectual, comprehending mind. But what is important is that the imprints in this storehouse will later motivate certain thoughts and aberrations of thinking. The brainstem imprints the deepest levels of pain because it is developed during gestation and handles life-and-death matters before we see the light of day.

3.2. Second Line: The Limbic/Feeling System
The second level of consciousness is basically the limbic system of the brain (and its affiliates), which is responsible for feelings and their memory (MacLean, 1990). It provides images and artistic output, processes certain aspects of sexuality, and is partly responsible for anger and fear. The limbic system possesses some key structures which affect brain function. They are the hypothalamus and thalamus; the hippocampus, which is the guardian of emotional memory; and the amygdala.
The hippocampus contains the archives of early experience, particularly trauma, and also puts a damper on amygdala activation so that our reactions themselves do not become a danger; after all, continually high blood pressure and heart rate will threaten our existence. The hippocampus has a high density of stress hormone receptors and is therefore quite sensitive to stress. The context of a feeling is predominantly organized by the hippocampus. It gives us an anchor for our feelings—a time and place—and allows us to connect to our feelings.

The amygdala is one of the most ancient structures of the brain and the oldest structure of the limbic system. It is the hub of the emotional system; the gateway to feelings. It gives us the sensation behind feeling, while the later developing hippocampus registers those feelings as facts. Early traumatic memory is consolidated by the amygdala. Luckily, when the going gets rough, it can help manufacture its own opium to hold back pain. In this way it helps us remain unconscious. It is truly a wonder that this small brain structure “knows” when to stop pain and can release a poppy derivative to help. More, it tells other brain structures about how much to release and when to stop.

The hypothalamus works with the lower structure, the pituitary, to govern the release of key hormones, not the least of which are the stress hormones. When we have strong emotions, it is the hypothalamus that organizes our response. (Within the hypothalamus lie two different kinds of nervous systems, the sympathetic and parasympathetic, which are key to understanding depression and are discussed in detail below.)

The thalamus is the central switchboard of the brain, relaying certain aspects of feeling to the frontal cortex. It can decide a feeling is too powerful to be felt and orders that the message not be relayed, and thus kept from awareness. The thalamus talks straight neurochemical talk, a language that expresses itself wordlessly. Yet it can translate painful messages into something understandable by the frontal cortex. If the pain is too much, the message that arrives is garbled. If it is acceptable, the gates open and the message is clearly understood – we know what we feel.

3.3. The Third Line: The Neocortex
The third line is the neocortex, the part of our brain that was the last to evolve and the one responsible for intellectual functioning, generating ideas and thinking (MacLean, 1990). The left pre-frontal area deals with the external world, helps us repress and, when able, to integrate feelings. It comes online at about the third year of life. The frontal cortex is part of the feeling system to the degree that it gives meaning and understanding to our physiologic- emotional reactions. The neocortex serves as a portal for entry into the suffering component of memory, a portal that cannot operate by itself. It’s the first door we walk through toward retracing our history and understanding our pain.

We can be fulfilled or deprived on any of these levels; when deprivation occurs so does pain, as the lack of fulfillment means that the integrity of the system is threatened. And pain is most often accompanied by its counterpart, repression. Fulfillment is more serious and urgent as we descend down the neuraxis on what I call the chain-of-pain. Indeed our biology dictates that deep pain elicits strong repression, to keep the pain at manageable levels. Heavy repression on the first line can mean a deadness of affect, a lack of good interconnection to bodily function so that sex is problematic and appetite is dulled; there is a lack of energy and passion. Symptoms on the first line include ulcers, colitis, and breathing problems. Symptoms on higher levels have different manifestations; the inability to make a decision, to be independent and forthright and to be aggressive.

This is simply a brief overview of the three levels in order to better understand the origins of depression and its therapy. If we consider that those ancient brains are still active in our head, the nature of the problem becomes clearer. All three brains should work in harmony throughout our lives. How they all get along is paramount. We need clear channels among the levels; otherwise there is distortion. Early trauma, however, creates a lifelong disharmony and disconnection among brain levels, resulting in many forms of mental illness. Essentially, neurosis is driven by lower brain centers that are trying to communicate to higher ones but are unable because a disconnection has occurred, a disconnection caused by the imprint of an early lack of love that spells hopelessness and helplessness. The goal of therapy is to restore that harmony, neurologically and psychologically, because consciousness (not to be confused with awareness) means all three levels working fluidly.


  1. Hello Art. I decided to comment at this point about the triune brain model, its current status, and also about terminology and simplifying things for the reader in general. 1990 was a long time ago, as far as neuroscience is concerned. It turns out that McLean's original model, while neat, was wrong in many respects, or at the very least, too simplified - for most neuroscientists anyway. Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry about the model's current status:

    Depending on your viewpoint, you could say that the triune brain model is a useful one; it was just wrong about some details, and has been refined. This is, I assume, your take on it. For the purposes of Primal Therapy and Primal Theory, what matters is the big picture, the details not so much. But regarding simplifying and terminology: if you say "reptilian brain" or "chimp brain" it will probably make most neuroscientists cringe and not take you very seriously.

    So, what is my point? I think it would be better if you made it clear, in your writings, that you are well aware of the inaccuracies in McLean's model, and that you are simplifying. And that the details don't matter that much in the context of Primal Theory and Primal Therapy, where the model is useful enough. In other, specific areas of neuroscience or paleontology etc., those details aren't just details, and they do matter, but here we can simplify safely.

    Or something like that. A disclaimer, if you will.

    Another point about being clear. In Primal Healing, you used the phrase "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." The problem is, that phrase is inseparably linked to Haeckel's theory of recapitulation - a theory that has long since been disproved. At that point, I think it's very important to emphasize that you aren't supporting Haeckel's exact version of recapitulation, and that instead you mean there exists a sense in which ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny - a sense which doesn't include the disproved parts of Haeckel's theory. Otherwise, the reader might be left with the impression that you don't know much about biology and evolution. If the reader is a scientist and/or intellectual, they might simply stop reading there - they've decided that you're a hack, and they have more important things to do, in their opinion, than to waste time on a book by a scientific illiterate. I know you write these books with the general public in mind as well, but by oversimplifying you might shoot yourself in the foot.

    So, what if the reader, or potential reader, isn't a scientist and/or intellectual, and let's say they've read The Primal Scream, and it moved them (you know what I mean). Suppose they are considering some type of therapy, and they are wondering what is up with this Primal thing 40 years later. They may be told by someone, or they may read somewhere: "Janov supports the triune brain model, a model that current neuroscience and paleontology have found to be wrong, or overly simplified at best. Plus, he doesn't even know the first thing about evolution, just look at him repeating a disproved theory by Haeckel. You remember Haeckel and those embryo drawings? We were told about that fraud in biology class." That might persuade the reader, or potential reader/patient, to decide against Primal Therapy, and choose a more "convenient" therapy; one that doesn't acknowledge Primal Pain as real.

    Well, that was my two c... I mean 7 cent nickle. Do with it as you see fit. If you don't like my opinions, well... I have others.



    1. Antti: I love your criticism and will take it to heart. thanks for taking the time. art

    2. Hi Antti & Art,

      This is very interesting and I would like to know more.

      Could you both write a discussion on Haeckel's theory and how it has been disproven and how it compares to Janovs model please ? To save me trying to fathom it all on line and getting totally lost in cyber / info space.

      What seems so important and is reflected in my own personal experiences is that the three brains have such incredibly different languages. Also that the 3rd is an outgrowth of the 2nd and so those two an outgrowth of the 1st. So say and so seem from my experience.

      Paul G.

    3. Hi Paul,

      I usually find that when I'm explaining something, someone has already said it better than me. So, with that I'll just quote straight from the Wikipedia article about Haeckel's theory, or "biogenetic law".

      "Haeckel formulated his theory as "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny". The notion later became simply known as the recapitulation theory. Ontogeny is the growth (size change) and development (shape change) of an individual organism; phylogeny is the evolutionary history of a species. Haeckel claimed that the development of advanced species passes through stages represented by adult organisms of more primitive species.[7] Otherwise put, each successive stage in the development of an individual represents one of the adult forms that appeared in its evolutionary history.

      For example, Haeckel proposed that the pharyngeal grooves between the pharyngeal arches in the neck of the human embryo not only roughly resembled gill slits of fish, but directly represented an adult "fishlike" developmental stage, signifying a fishlike ancestor. Embryonic pharyngeal slits, which form in many animals when the thin branchial plates separating pharyngeal pouches and pharyngeal grooves perforate, open the pharynx to the outside. Pharyngeal arches appear in all tetrapod embryos: in mammals, the first pharyngeal arch develops into the lower jaw (Meckel's cartilage), the malleus and the stapes. But these embryonic pharyngeal arches, grooves, pouches, and slits in human embryos can not at any stage carry out the same function as the gills of an adult fish.

      Haeckel produced several embryo drawings that often overemphasized similarities between embryos of related species. The misinformation was propagated through many biology textbooks, and popular knowledge, even today. Modern biology rejects the literal and universal form of Haeckel's theory.[20]"

      Antti J. says: Note the words "literal" and "universal" in the last chapter. More from the almighty Wikipedia:

      "The Haeckelian form of recapitulation theory is considered defunct.[23] However, embryos do undergo a period where their morphology is strongly shaped by their phylogenetic position, rather than selective pressures.[24]

      Embryos do reflect the course of evolution, but that course is far more intricate and quirky than Haeckel claimed. Different parts of the same embryo can even evolve in different directions. As a result, the Biogenetic Law was abandoned, and its fall freed scientists to appreciate the full range of embryonic changes that evolution can produce—an appreciation that has yielded spectacular results in recent years as scientists have discovered some of the specific genes that control development."[25]"

      Drunken Antti J. says: So, in some ways, Haeckel has been disproved, and in other ways vindicated. There's a great book on evo-devo by Sean B. Carroll, called "Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo", from 2004, that sheds more light on this.

      Well, I hope that was at least of somewhat helpful.

    4. I have found the "Tri-Brain" analogy very useful in understanding Primal Therapy. Obviously everything is moving on very quickly at the moment. For example my understanding is that the human stomach has millions of neurons in it. Obviously a simple animal is going to need food first and foremost. This is an interesting piece from the New York Times. It may even explain why a friend of mine has bad irritable bowel.

      Obviously the brain and body are one and so also very complex but us laymen need something to work with whilst at the same time having to trust experts who can explain why things work the way they do. I don't trust many experts except Art as it is good to see such an expert take on criticism and think about it.

  2. This model of Art’s makes sense, but yet I have some reservations about it. Having been reading much about the “Hidden Observer” (HD for the remainder of this post) of Hilgard and others to follow him, it Appears this HD is awake when our cortex sleeps, or seems to. The HD can interpret language and translate it to and control autonomic processes. It can totally embrace reality or completely shut it off and remain internal in its focus entirely. We might call this psychosis if done for the wrong reasons.

    Placed under heavy sedation with barbituates, the HD loses language ability so that a stimulant drug must be added to barbituates that allow just enough of the right stimulation to keep language abilities while shutting down all other higher functions.

    The HD acts as a vigilant super-fast protector of the active personality, what I call in each of us, our front desk receptionist that functions as our main consciousness/intellect. Now we can argue about names, but the HD is always conscious, super-conscious while the cortex can think and relay sensory input. But the HD can wall off the cortex from feelings, a sort of knowledge, and it can even dominate the “front desk” consciousness and prevent its partial or full performance. The HD can direct anything to be done and the awake front desk receptionist will be powerless to disobey and does not even have to know what is going on. It can be kept in the dark.

    These hint of a control center much like the 2nd line system Art describes. But it also has data and evidence that might contradict some minor details of the Janovian descriptions in this post. The HD seems in control of everything. Whereas, the intellect 3rd line has no control over the other 2, 1st and 2nd line.

    It seems to me that though there are the 3 departments Art refers to, HD consciousness seems to flow or stop through all 3 departments. As I see it, the 2nd line so called, the limbic/feeling system, may well represent much of that mediator control between the 1st and 3rd and maybe the whole brain. The 2nd line is like a big junction control center. I just throw this out as something to consider. The Hidden Observer phenomenon gives us much reason to reflect more deeply about our understanding and definitions of “Consciousness.”

    1. Hi Apollo,

      My experience of the 'front desk receptionist' is that s/he is rarely connected to the other parts of the organisation in a two way manner. IE: all s/he does is to 'face up' to a 'new inquiry' and then wait for instructions from 'higher authorities' in the organisation. . .

      -"Ok, you can go on through now, Mr Boss is ready to see you"-.

      This is awareness, not consciousness. Awareness is not consciousness. Consciousness is what the entire organisation can create in order to actually process a "Gestalt".

      So often the super vigilant assume that super vigilance is consciousness. I can give a good example. A little old man supplied me with spare parts for my 1975 Landrover. I told him I needed to get the project finished in 3 weeks. I wrote him a cheque and then later (no doubt under the influence of my own hard earned CONSCIOUSNESS) I realised I should check up on him to see if he had ordered the parts in time for my booking of a workshop to actually do the work. . .

      -"Oh no"- he said. . . "The cheque won't clear for ten days, so I havn't ordered the parts yet". . . So, realising I had relied on a super vigilant bread head (only interested in selling spare parts) I rushed to the bank to give him the entire amount in cash. He didn't like that at all, at first, because it reminded him that the only reason he was actually selling parts was because he was (allegedly) MEETING HIS CLIENTS NEEDS.

      But the sight of the cash registered on his consciousness and he eventually conceded to meet my needs and order the f*****g parts.

      Therein lies my sermon on the difference between super vigilance and consciousness. Consciousness meets needs but super vigilance merely hijacks the advantage one can obtain by having something some-one else 'needs'.

      Paul G.

  3. How am I supposed to know something when something is what I know to not know... in other words... how will I be able to lift myself in my hair?

    When I listen to what the limbic system informs about... then I lift myself in my hair for what content presents between the limbic system versus the neocortex!

    How will I know that my pursuit of an academic education subconsciously is driven in a process to relieve suffering... suffering from when I was very little and that it occurs in an electrochemical process to disconnect the limbic consciousness... against consciousness driven by a very active neocortex in blocking order against limbic presence? I know it throught the children I am in time for the blocking... blocking of the limbic system and I lift myself in my hair when I say "please daddy let me be with you"!


  4. I have tried to get intellectuals (including several experienced cognitive therapists) to consider Art's findings and asked them to temporarily ignore any contradictions they may have found until they have investigated the much more important points that I have shown them. They are just not interested. One cognitive therapist mistook me for another therapist and verbally abused me -- told me she feared for my patients and called me names etc. even though I was polite to her the whole time. She quickly stopped abusing me when she realised her mistake and told me she believed Primal Therapy would help me even though she believes it is full of flaws.

    1. Hi Richard,

      -"Flaws"-. . .

      How the 'fix it' cognitive mentality must constantly try to fix 'flaws'. . . This is the great trick of thinking rather than feeling. If I think (then I believe) I can fix it; if I feel I will resolve myself.
      These intellectual types must always only ever try to fix something or dismiss it.

      Paul G.

    2. We need to rethink how we presenetrar Janovs Primal Therapy! There are many things you may wonder about!? Why is not their business of science to argue? I mean why are they not required to demonstrate the scientific content... where Janov shows it?

      Why are they not obliged by law to prove their scientific activities when Janov does it? Because the law does not impose the requirements and Janov does not even have the right to demand it? Or has he???

      So now to the question of a legal process! I think it will be the only way to achieve a revolutionary process with primal therapy!?

      They sell drugs to children in our schools ... it with legitimitet from children in an attempt to feel better ... seeking to pursue a "better" state of mind... something society punishes very hard!?
      Now... why is it not an offense to give psychotropic drugs with the same task as the dope when science proves it? What is the difference?

      A lawsuit is our only chance! There are too many out there as through the law are drog delaers and they will not let go... we know by now how drog delares react and we have to protect the citizens who need care!

      Your Frank.

    3. Bridge of Asses (Pons asinorum)

      To create a new frame to understand the Primal Therapy.

      I have often found it difficult, in an easily understandable way, to explain how, using the Primal Therapy and its principles, I was able to relive the imprinted pain from my terrifying and traumatic birth-process. It has taken four decades of my life to feel at home, “confused on a higher level”, in that potential new paradigm of PT.

      Art Janov writes for instance in his article series “The Mystery Known as Depression”: “It is a new paradigm. If we try to understand it, within the old frame of reference, we will fail. What is difficult to accept is our assertion that re-living traumatic experiences, including birth, is the way to reverse depression, Exploring the mind has been like exploring the world to prove it is round; it often cannot be believed until somebody actually makes the journey. In the development of Primal Therapy, we have always let ourselves be guided by one unassailable truth - the experience of our patients.”

      The above quote by Art Janov caused me, during my long, unusual and eventful Epileptic Journey, often to come across a “Bridge of Asses”. I had need of a metaphor for an explanation or justification which could pass a critical test of understanding to, for myself and others, explain the experience, I physically and mentally experienced. That meant, not infrequently, especially in the beginning, deductions / syllogisms of extremely subtle, sophisticated or deceptive neurotic symptoms.

      The documentation available on the principles of the Primal Therapy has its predominant source in Art Janov’s vast literary lifetime achievement as books and articles. I have often made it easy for me by, relatively unsuspectingly, swallow the truth from other sources, which Art referred to. Although, I have informed me of inaccuracies in both McLean’s model of the Triune Brain as in Hæckel’s theory of recapitulation “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”, it has not interfered with my “worldview”, and I have found no reasons to doubt.

      On November 14, AnttiJ (AnttiJNovember 14, 2013 at 9:27 AM) commented on Part 3 of “The Mystery Known as Depression” in an intelligent way about the danger of using metaphors of dubious up to date scientific value. The readers / target groups of articles do not consist only of patients (potential and those who are in treatment) but hopefully they consist of knowledgeable, critical scientists and neuroscience experts of all categories.

      I agree with Antti that Art Janov’s mainly practical / experiential-based conclusions of the Primal Therapy should be anchored in facts that include current, impeccable scientific terms to create interdisciplinary respect. It is crucial that both simplified and complicated transcriptions from therapeutic experiences take place in a proper manner so that neuro-scientific and psychotherapeutic circles do not expose a sensitive treatment like Primal Therapy, with unique potential to cure depression, to floccinaucinihilipilification (the act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant, of having no value or being worthless).

      Primal Therapy is challenged by a two lane Bridge of Asses, one for patients and one for the intellectuals and scientists.

      Jan Johnsson

    4. Frank,

      Why do you so persistently believe that anything can be achieved through the courts ?

      Have you ever been in court ?

      Paul G.

  5. That giant word in Jan's comment is a combination of four words, all having the same meaning. This quadruple word was used by the educated elite as a way of separating their speech from the commoners who were likely to stumble in their attempt to pronounce it, or even remember it.

    "You what? You don't know that word? Oh my gawsh you are an embarrassment - don't stand next to me."

    "You what? You want me to consider a wonderful new idea - one that completely contradicts my seven years of elite scientific training... you want me to give you the benefit of the doubt just because you have this 'feeling'... but you cannot explain this 'feeling' in flawless scientific terms because you are trying to describe a subjective experience? Oh I see. But you use scientific methods to unleash this subjective experience, and you want me to feel it too? And you want me to invite my peers to this party? Huh? Is that it, party boy? Oh my gawsh... do you know how to spell the word 'Psychology'? Don't stand next to me."


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.