Friday, April 25, 2014

The Unconscious As The Last Frontier

How come the unconscious is constantly neglected.  I know:  No one knows what it is or what it contains.  Best to let sleeping dogs lie, especially since we don’t know what kind of dogs we are dealing with.  One could be dangerous; but that cannot be true cause all we do is dredge up our own feelings; how dangerous could that be?  Well, let’s see:  no one likes or loves me.  Nothing will change.  There is no hope to ever be loved by two people  who cannot love.  I know those feelings and have relived them; they are painful but they cannot drive you crazy because you are feeling them. That means that your compulsive behavior, migraines, high blood pressure, epilepsy will go away for good because there is no residue of pain to drive the symptoms again.  What a relief; no recidivism.  The end of criminality.  But………but you need to feel a lot of the pain and not stop in the middle.  Otherwise, there is that residue.

So let me ask you this.  Why is all this love, this hugging and kissing so important?  Why is it the linchpin of primal therapy?  Because it is essential to our life, longevity and healing.  Nothing matters when we lack it and success means nothing without it.  Life is empty not because you don’t have it now but because the lack of love was imprinted even during gestation and overshadows everything in life.    So even when someone comes along who is warm and kind we cannot feel it because the imprint dominates and colors our lives.  And what happens? The person thinks it is others’ fault and seeks out love from others; alas, it will not happen.  What will happen is divorce.

So what really happens to us when there is no love, even during womb-life?  Your brain shrinks and you no longer play with a full deck.  I should add that most brain studies are on children but the results play an even more important role for the evolving brain of the fetus.  So how do we love a fetus?  Correct nutrition, careful behavior while pregnant; no very hot baths or sweat cabins, no flying, no extreme sports;  but most important you need to be normal. WHAT?  Janov is nuts, it seems. But if you are chronically anxious or depressed it seeps into the fetus and affects is functioning.  It will be either uploaded or downloaded; not normal.  And the physiology of the mother will be visited upon the baby.  He will end up with many of the maternal traits.  But wait a minute; how do we get normal?  Get rid of what makes us abnormal and that means imprinted pain.  Better yet, be born to loving parents.  Aah.

Look.  After we make for the best gestational life possible, we need to sleep with the child, hug and kiss him and help him feel wanted and welcome to this planet.  Talk to him, approve of him and lay off all the criticism.  Not so hard?  When it does not happen you have a brain that does not function well; does not remember well and cannot focus.  It is a smaller brain.  This is a brain that underwent serious neglect and abuse early on.  What they found is that the smaller brain has a right hemisphere, the feeling one, that lacks some essential elements.  The larger is nearly always the smarter one and the more socially adept.  When there is no close bond with parents, starting with gestation,  there will be faulty relationships throughout life.  But why do those with smaller brains seem smart?  Because they become intellectuals and that ain’t smart.  (For more on all this look up the Health Freedom Alliance. April 8, 2014, and also Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Early Edition). When we think about smart we need to think about emotionally smart, yet neglect causes the limbic structures to become smaller.  As they get smaller we find ADHD and lack of good focus.  Not surprising, there is diminished growth of the left hemisphere.  All this from lack of love?  Yes yes.

When scientists discuss this research why do they not follow suit and address those very early events that lay imprinted deep in the brain? Instead of using the higher level neo-cortex to suppress it?  Why do we need to plunge into the abyss of the last frontier?

When there is inadequate stimulation early on we do not get the full quantity of neurons we need; the half-full deck.  And, I might add, we lack the full arsenal of repressive chemicals we need to block pain; hence anxiety as a chronic state.  Chemicals such as serotonin get “used up” in the battle to keep the gates closed.  As a result the gates get “leaky”.  Pain passes through the porous brain, and we are very uncomfortable and can turn to drugs.

So where does addiction come from? Those in pain who need to kill it.  We usually address taking drugs and never “why”.  The key element is left out of the equation—pain.  And the rest of the equation is where does the pain come from?  Neglecting need, the most basic physiologic need to the needs of a growing child.  It is those very early needs we cannot see and never know exists.  If we leave those early imprints untouched we can sure addiction will thrive again.  Do-gooders help with higher levels but never the deeper levels.  Lo and behold; the one with the smaller brain is much more likely to be addicted.  And he will be violent. Why?  Because the early damage can exist on the deep brainstem level where violence is  organized and imprinted.  This means very early and deep damage.  We have found a way to go deep and we hope others will allow us to teach them and there abort so much suffering.  We need to travel where there are no words and even no tears; into our prehistory.  That is what this has made it all such a mystery.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On the Rationale for a Diagnosis

There is an article on attention problems in the NY Times (April 13/2014. “Idea of a new attention disorder spurs research.”; There is the claim of an entirely new diagnostic category: Cognitive, Sluggish Tempo (CST). The brain seems not to be active enough to focus and concentrate; another facet of ADD.
 So what is wrong with that? A new category? Everything is wrong with it. .

First of all the diagnosis should inform us, not simply describe. So OK the person’s mind works slowly, does that help tell us why? Which brain is sluggish and where? The same can be said for ADD. She can’t pay attention. OK. Anyone on the street can make that diagnosis: He muses; she seems too active, her mind is racing and she cannot sit still. So what? Is that indeed a separate category? In what way?

Description alone is not a proper diagnosis. The bacteria below infection is. So if I say, he sweats, has a high continuous fever, shakes and often seems to chill that is still a description; not a diagnsos…….no cause. If I say he is depressed, that is not a diagnosis; it is a description. What is depression? What is behind it? Oh, I see, he seems sad and down, has no energy and moves in labored fashion; is that any different from what the ice cream vendor could say about him? I doubt it. If we find that the vendor’s description parallels the doctor’s, throw them both out; no, save the vendor’s.

And there is then the other type of error in diagnosis. “His locus ceruleus is too active and there is an anomaly in his hippocampus”. In short, he is only a bunch of neurons and some seem deviated. No connection to his life, now or previously, no human touch; pure neurology. What’s wrong? It is a diagnosis in a vacuum. The same for biochemistry. We are not just cortisol; we are humans who respond to EVENTS with changes in biochemistry. No event, no real diagnosis. Unless we really do live in a vacuum.

And how about psychology?

Yes we have made all the diagnoses and see that the brain runs too fast and with far too high amplitude……he is therefore “”. And once we are certain of our diagnosis we rush to give drugs that are proven to slow down the brain? And they do achieve that and the person is far less anxious.
I forgot to ask, does he have a history? Traumas, lack of love, etc? Was there a key traumatic experience? Was there a trauma at birth or during gestation? When we have no frame of reference on the human level we are wandering in the dark, acting on half truths. …seeing only part of the brain and only part of the human.

We need a diagnosis, especially in psychology that is more encompassing; that goes below the obviously observable. That really explains and tries to find origins. It is not enough to find medicine to ease anxiety without ever knowing what it is and how to deactivate and decouple if from pushing our brain so hard. Until we do that we are forever in danger of recidivism; of it coming back again and again so long as the cause remains intact.

Worse, so long as the primal source remains intact there will be a need to drug the symptom and that is partially what this discussion is about: drugs for symptoms. Big Pharma at work. They have no incentive to find causes and put themselves out of business; so long as they dominate research and medication we become the losers. The source is what provokes the symptoms into life. The problem is that the source and origins are imprinted and can stay for a lifetime. And that is not just in the brain; the cells are found throughout the system, which is why cognitive therapy is lame against early imprints. It is not just ideas; it is in the lungs and kidneys, in the heart and blood vessels.

Let me tell you about a sluggish brain. In my earlier books I describe 2 kinds of birth; sympathetic nervous system dominance due to child successfully struggling to get out; and the parasympathetic birth where there was no possibility to move through the canal easily—a blockage. This describes the active person with an active brain versus a slugish person with a sluggish brain and that works more slowly….the sympath versus the parasympath. This is a complete systemic event and is not limited to brain function.

 There is more: a mother taking drugs or painkillers or tranquilizers while carrying can produce a down loaded baby who is very sluggish; I have seen it so many times during relivings. And that same mother drinking a lot of coffee or cokes can up load the baby and make him hyperactive. It becomes imprinted as a normal way of life, first for the mother and then the baby. The baby begins to adapt to his environment, which in this case means either too much stimulation or too little. It becomes “normal” and he adapts accordingly. So “sluggish” has very early effects. And a diagnosis needs to include that possibility.

 Oh my! Did I mention that this new diagnostic category is supported by Eli Lilly? That means financial support. They also pay him for speaking tours. It is good for them that a diagnosis requires drugs, but not so good for us. We need a real diagnosis not supported by drug companies.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

On Dreams and Nightmares

Have you wondered why my patients have less nightmares and have dreams that increasingly become more and more real and present? No?  Oh dear, I had better explain.  What does it mean to dream?  It means that the limbic system is actively processing feelings as it does during the day when we are feeling something. Except at night it is going over feelings from the past and trying to integrate what? Not the dream: the feeling.  It may have been events from way back that were traumatic and could not be integrated at the time.  We were too young and fragile and perhaps non-verbal.  It is a mass of vague sensations and discomfort.  They bubble up when there is not too much external input and put pressure on the neo-cortex to do something with those feelings.  The cortex accommodates and provides images and thoughts.  The limbic system joins the cortex to mount a story to rationalize and  make the feeling coherent. This is what our therapy is about.  Dream processes lay bare the evolutionary path that we must follow in therapy; evolution in reverse.  We do not go straight to the emotional past; we anchor the patient in the present and focus her feelings in the present; from there the brain takes its own piste below.  Ideas, then go to meet their maker; they go to where the feeling is cemented in; where it began.  I dreamed for years about being chased by the Nazis and could not escape. The feeling? My father was unrelenting in his chastisement and would not let up.  He was always after me: sit up straight, don’t talk through your nose, why are you lying around and not doing something useful?  That dream disappeared with those felt feelings.

I could not escape the Nazis because I could not escape the feeling; someone was after me and trying to harm me.  It was never the Nazis; they were only a symbol for my feelings.  See, a symbol for my feelings; and that is how we develop dream symbols; same process.  I never knew it was my father because my system only knew the feelings, not the source.  Until I had a developed cortex I could not know what was wrong.  The feelings predated cognition and were properly registered limbically.  We must pay attention to that evolution when we do therapy:  feelings first, long before our ability to think.  In therapy feelings first, long before insights.  There is no defying evolution.

  So how do we explain this?  The imprints form a prism through which we see the world; they distort reality and give us symbolic dreams.  The first distortion is from our true feelings and then it moves up the neuraxis to the neo-cortex which joins the distortion with ideas.  Hence, “They are out to get me”.  But it is not that just because we dream that they are automatically distorted and symbolic. It is because repression holds back the pain and produces distortions; awake and asleep.  As we experience the imprinted pain and lift the gating force that keeps pain locked away there will be diminished  distortion awake and asleep.  Neurosis is systemic, not sleep determined. We carry it around always. It won’t let go.

Patients have more real dreams because they are more real;  they are less repressed and more open.

And of course we can spot where dreams come from.  First line dreams rarely have elaborate symbols; they are direct and short—“I am stuck in a washing machine and I can’t stop it.”  “I am in a  dark cave and cannot find a light to show me the way out.”  Pre-psychotics are awash in first-line pain and continue to have first-line dreams and frequent delusions.

Second line dreams are more intricate have a more coherent structure, contain some but not a lot of words, but they are more difficult to understand. “ I went to see my old teacher and tried to talk to him but I could not make him understand me.”  The real feeling was, “I could never get through to my parents and could not make them understand me.”

So more direct, non-symbolic dreams is a good index of a patient getting well.  We corroborate with vital signs, cortisol levels, behavior changes and a host of other measures. We get well systemically.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Where and How Does Deep Repression (and therefore depression) Get Its Start?

There is a new research that sheds light on this problem;  (See ) only it is not this problem of repression that they target. Their target is how pain in infancy alters response to stress later in life. They studied early life stress (prematurity) among infants who had undergone prenatal treatment, without anesthesia or painkillers. They were all patients in neonatal intensive care who had a number of invasive and painful intrusions. They found that when this happened, and when the pain was not dampened by medication the whole pain regulation system was changed and brain circuits were altered.

They found that when pain was not suppressed there was a lifelong change in stress and anxiety reactions so that later reactions to pain were lessened. In short, the pain reaction was repressed and not reacted to fully. So here we have evidence of repression of pain very early in life, and that this reaction set up a prototype for further reactivity.

The first thing that stands out is that doctors still treat newborns as unfeeling blobs that has allowed for physicians for the last many decades to operate on fetuses and newborns as blocks of flesh with no pain response. This was systematic during the beginning of the last century.

The infants who were studied spent an average of 25 days in intensive care with often undergoing 10 to 18 painful procedures. It is not surprising that the system becomes activated to suppress the pain response when he is assaulted over and over again before having a life on earth. This becomes a prototype and that means blocking input as an habitual response to any kind of assault later on. This immediate reaction can affect the development of severe and deep depression later in life; the blockage accumulates and occurs over and over again as the prototypic response. The point is that it begins so early which we have always suspected. What is new in their research is that when pain is blocked early on there is less of a prototype; the imprint is less forceful and the brain circuits are not so readily altered. The imprint is not so readily stamped-in to control later automatic behavior. In other words ameliorating a child’s pain with a hug, kiss, soothing words or painkillers might abort the depth of the imprint.

That is something new and important. After a surgical procedure the child needs physical support and caresses; just as we all do when undergoing a trauma.

Now we see why having a parent there immediately after birth is critical. Otherwise, it can imprint a basic loneliness and fear of being alone for life. When the parent falls ill on the arrival of the baby there is great trauma for him. If he then undergoes a time in an incubator we can imagine the damage being done…..all alone with no one to reassure and hug and kiss, no physical contact and support figure there. This on top of no parent to hold right after birth. The imprint is set and fixed. The researchers noted that in the children studied about 65 percent of them had procedures done without any analgesia.

The neuroscience department at Georgia State University studied rat pups who had a single trauma on the day of birth. There were site- specific changes in their brains. These changes determined how they responded to stress later on. Without medication to suppress pain, they call it unresolved pain, children under-reacted to pain later on. May I add? They were deadened because they already had so much assault that they could hardly react any longer. I think this is the missing link in the research; they show what happened but not why or what it really meant. There was no broadened implications, no wider context, of the research. Still it is damn good.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On Mental Resistance

A confession:  a year ago I was recommended to a naturopath for stem cells.  He was even near my house.  But I never went to him because “naturopath” didn’t sit right with me.  I was resistant; had mental reservations, and was prejudiced.  And then a few weeks ago my old MD called me and re-recommended anew this same stem cell group.  So I went just after going to Cancun for adipose tissue stem cells which did nothing and cost a fortune.  So now it is 2 months into the new stem cells and for the first time in 45 years I talk and am out of pain.  And this is a naturopath.  What does this tell me?  Stop with mental prejudices and resistance.  It kept me from getting well for over a year.

And they were recommended by a "proper" medical doctor.  The same is true of most medical doctors who cannot see and adopt the new.  This is especially true for shrinks, several hundred thousand of them in America.  After my 17 books, published in 26 countries, not one has come to us and wanted to know more about our work.  Thousands of scientists downloaded my scientific articles in the World Congress of Psychiatry (It is considered one of the most downloaded pieces in their history),  yet not one has contacted me.

I have found that most MDs stay in their groove and never seek out other alternatives.  And the question is, why?  One answer is, "I have the tools and will use it hither and yon, whenever I have a patient."  This is true in psychiatry where "I have the shock machine, the favorite pills, the rigid adherent to one single therapy often with no basis in deep science".  And what is wrong with that?  It is therapist oriented, not the patient.  It is he who has the power and the magical therapy; he is the holder of all the secrets.  And we the patients remain powerless.  Their "tool" is applied to all kinds of patients with no acknowledgement of individual differences.

So what is wrong?  Doctors are doctors, without a broad perspective.  They are rarely inclusive, mostly exclusive.  My prejudice came from the fact that when I grew up there was nothing else. Our MD was the be-all and end-all of status.  So therefore I began to suspect anyone who was not a "real" doctor.

On the other hand, the "natural" healers I have known, whom I call booga booga merchants, were not high on science. They were more loosey-goosey.  Which is not a bad thing; they were open to everything; sometimes too open so that they lacked the discipline needed.  Their open-mind became a sieve.  And they used every vitamin in the book to treat patients.  They purveyed received wisdom.  And they too often say, that you have to believe to make it work; a bit of circular reasoning.  So if you are slightly skeptical it won’t work and they say, aha!, you see. So that field attracts believers and people who through wish fulfillment think they are doing great and say they feel wonderful.  Who can argue with that?  Nevertheless,  my current naturopath is curing me which 40 previous MD’s could not do over many decades.  They lacked the essential curiosity and willingness to look at all kinds of solutions, not just their bag of tricks.  So when I had surgery, and when it did not work the doctor washed his hands of my case.  He never explored about what others might do for me.  Why?  Because they do not know what others in the field do, and mostly, they are not interested.  This is what I call medical rigidity.

So here is what happens:  as we mature the zeigeist and all its ideologies, perpetuated by the medical establishment spin a web of ideology inside us which then takes charge and directs our choices.  We are now driven by inner forces.  And I for one, avoided the one thing that could cure me.  How tragic.  What is even more tragic is that the Big Pharma and the health institutions prevent them from even using the term stem cells. So what cures is banned. Not because it can help but because they flouted the regulations of “real” science:  double blind studies with plenty of subjects, and plenty of controls,  done at reputable science centers, blah blah.  The top guys don’t even want to look at the actual people who have been cured; they want statistics and proper procedures.
Following the rules is the summum bonum.

Why all this?    Because they can keep a monopoly on the whole business of science.  And extracted from their feelings, what they see and feel does not count.

In my field,  no one who has spent 10 years on his studies is going to say, Oh yes, I get it. I will start to learn something new all over again.  So it is not mental resistance so much as pocket resistance and energy resistance.

Let me diverge for a moment: today in science they reported that children who suffered emotional neglect were more likely to suffer stroke later in life.  Now if those researchers were to read a bit more they might stumble on my work and the notion of enduring imprints that lead to stroke. They lack curiosity. They remain in a medical cloister about what is out there; about what more there is to learn.  They lack a broad frame of reference, so what has been known for fifty years is ignored.  This is typical; everyday there is a new study stating the obvious. Researchers could not feel what was right because they lost touch with that baby inside of them.  They should guess that early neglect would lead to disaster, and they should say to themselves, “maybe I should follow up on that?”.  First, you need to feel what is right.  Living in your head for too long robs you of the innate sense; feeling.

Maybe it is not lack of curiosity? Maybe it is just indifference?  No matter, science and humanity will suffer from it.

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.