Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Past Without a Memory

If you have no memory, you have no past.  Wait a minute, could that be true?  No it is not.  Many of us wander around this earth with little memory of the past, especially if that past was very painful, and very early—predating conscious-awareness. Predating our verbal capacities.

So what do we do in our therapy?  Recapture our past; retrieve our history.  And why do we do that?  So we are no longer controlled and driven by it.  We are historic beings and need again to be historic; complete and full.  Why don’t we remember so much of our childhood and earlier? I assume it is due to pain which sets repression in motion so we do not remember; so we are not so troubled by it.  But it is there, nevertheless and it directs our symptoms and behavior later on.  So even if we don’t consciously remember we still have a past.

Why should we be whole and complete?  Because being unconscious is life-endangering.    We get involved with the wrong people, sometimes dangerous; we take chances we shouldn’t, gamble on things that are not possible for success, etc.  And being unconscious means we have forces gnawing away at our system, making us sick and shortening our lives.  Is that reason enough?

What we do is help patients retrieve key memories that open up the memory system and give us access to whom?  To ourselves so we can be whole beings, not partial entities.  And if we want to retrieve very early memories of gestation,  birth and infancy we need to understand the memory system; for our very earliest memories are of smells; so early that they bypass the usual routes, and travel directly to the limbic/feeling system,  directly to the memory centers.  Memory of odors are idea, concept and situation free; they are pure and unadulterated.  If we let the patient slip into them totally we often get remote pains that were hardly ever retrievable.

I visited a friend in a hospital recently and there was the scent of ether there.  It brought me back immediately to my own time in a hospital which was horrendous.  It was a pure, unadulterated memory that was attached to a specific time and place; it was a first-line memory from deep in the brain and from a primitive nervous system.  That is, smell lives in the deep brain associated with deep and remote memories, the ones that are difficult to access in normal everyday life.  It is one reason I think our patients might benefit for a trip to visit a hospital.  In the same way that we encourage patients to bring in photos of their early lives, and to bring in music that evokes old feelings and their memories.  Remember, there can be no effective psychotherapy without retrieval or our history.  Unless we only rely on cognitive memory; then we make progress on in  our top level and have neglected two-thirds of our brains and their memories.  To access preverbal events we need non-verbal techniques. Words will never do it.  We need to open up the memory bank to get rid of pain and put the system into a pain free state as much as possible.

So if I tell a patient, “tell me about your life in college,” it is a good idea but never ever deep enough to make a difference in what really drives our behavior.  Yes, we deal with college and school life but not to the neglect of very early memories.  The odors from infancy and before have an enduring quality; the reason?  It often has to do with life and death. Those memories could be of life-endangering events even before we had ideas to remember them with.  But they are there in full force all of the time.  They recede but never disappear. What pain drugs do is make them recede for a while, which feels fine but we pay a price for making our memories that could be liberating into deeply hidden events.  Drugs, obviously make them difficult to access and that means we cannot reach deep aspects of ourselves.  Those memories become the “untouchables.” They will certainly shorten our lives, both directly,  and indirectly through our smoking and drinking to keep them down and away.  We become addicted without knowing it to those memories and their suppression.  We are addicted to our unconscious memories; they hold us firmly in their grasp for a lifetime.  They demand more and more of us to keep them at bay.  And we think addiction centers will change that?    Never.

I should add that some preliminary research points to loss of sharp memory as possibly indicative of beginning dementia, and also signs of depression.  They do not necessarily cause them, but are compadres on the route.  Depression means deep often first line repression and that suppresses memory, as well.  Depressives are “down” in every sense of the word.  I think that one thing it means is that first-line deep in the brain trauma has an effect on deep reactions; hence loss of smell and memory.


  1. Hello.

    Personally, I have no memory before my 5th year of life. Actually, it feels like as if I was send/teleported on Earth, when I completed my 5th year. And even from that point, almost I couldn't create a stable memory inside me for many years. It is hard to explain with plain words; perhaps I should say, as if I couldn't create a personality of my own.

    Concerning the fact that a neurotic attracts potential dangers through events or people, I will say this, from my experience:
    almost everyone complains that they have the wanker-magnet (as we say it in Hellas), and they mean that they attract every scumbag/loser/etc individual that will demolish their lives. Since everybody claims the same, this automatically means that 7 billion people are all those "nice" adjectives....which is a total nonsense and absolutely false.
    I believe that we attract many kinds of experiences through friendships, jobs, relationships, but we tend to focus (subconsciously) on those that will trigger a feeling. And we act so, because we WANT/LONG/CRAVE the be healed from our inside pain.

    So allow me to be bold and say that every lousy, wretched or miserable situation is a "blessing" that keeps us up-to-date, as to our progress in Primal Therapy. Every single situation will trigger a feeling and from that point, it up to as to grab the opportunity and go deeper and be FREE AT LAST.

    I will not say that this is an easy task, but this is LIFE itself...


  2. Our faith moves mountains nonexistent!

    We understand very well that blocked roads makes traffic flow impossible... so why do we believe that the brain's winding roads offer else where blockages are about guarantor against further life-threatening journey!


  3. Hi Yannis,

    I also can't really remember much after my 4th birthday and what you say seems to be a common thing. Recently my sister in law (who runs a nursery school) was giving me a lecture about my grandson (and how totally hopeless it all is) when for some strange reason she started demanding I confirm that I also can't remember anything after that age. It was as if she were trying to get me to agree with her that none of us exist before the age of 4 or 5 (so we can all collude in repression)?

    Another interesting thing, There is this theory that we attract to us a recurring 'act out' of our unmet needs. IE: "we are victims of our history" and if anything untoward happens then we must somehow be to blame for the bad outcome. . . (Perhaps it's our 'Karma')?

    Personally I feel this is bullshit based on the illusion of universal free will. IE: If you believe in (so called) 'free will' then of course you can also make simplistic judgements about other people's bad outcomes. . . Very convenient if you are trying to avoid 'resonance' from witnessing something unpleasant. . . -"Oh"- you can say, "She had it coming to her anyway". . . etc, etc. Then you can just walk away. . .

    I think it's true that unmet need shows itself in act outs. . . but this does not mean that people who do relatively well in life don't have a huge pool of pain or are not indeed 'acting out'.

    The way unmet need manifests is multifarious. In so called 'advanced civilisations' the vast majority of people pay large taxes to get other members of society to act out on their behalf. This shows itself in militaristic foreign policy and our addiction to television and the film industry. . . . . All those "Good Tax Payers" aren't acting out are they? No, they just pay others to do it for them. Then when they fall dangerously ill later in life they can 'rest assured' they have 'paid their dues' and let the nurses and doctors take over with vastly expensive processes to prop up their disintegrating existences. But this wouldn't be 'acting out' would it?

    Paul G.

    1. I 'll try to answer it by paragraph, so let's take ... #1
      "Hello to you Paul" ;-)

      Now, to #2,...apart from my girlfriend, many other persons have told me stories about their very early childhood. But personally, I couldn't succeed even in building a strong memory-personality-base from my 5th year and on; reaching even my teen years. To be honest, I don't care or complain about it, but it is useful for me, when I share it with people who are more profound than others.
      So, I guess this indicates that some people can do it and others cannot, for whatever the reason.

      For #3 and #4, the word "bullshit" is really unfair for something that hasn't been proven. Although I am a physicist, I like to look on every possibility, even the un-scientific ones.
      All I can add is this, however. Maybe there is or maybe there is not "free will" or "karma" or "past lives"; but who cares? Really! This cannot change life. Children act so naturally, they laugh or cry, they express what they feel and while doing so, they may be influenced by a murder they did 3 lives ago (or not). The point is..WHO CARES. Children really don't care. They just ARE.
      Concluding, if one uses paranormal ideas to keep the feelings down, this will deteriorate one's life and the latter is THE ONLY REASON for me to pinpoint this fact to him. The same goes with religion, relationships, profession whatever it might be.

      Looking at the last paragraphs...:
      society was "settled" mostly by neurotic men/women. Perhaps, the greater the unmet need, the greater the need for power over others and consequently the greater the impact on humankind. Thus, even if most of our surrounding are false or unbalanced, the Sun will always be bright (at least for the next 5 billion years) and I believe this is how we should act upon our lives and the people we love.

      Take care, Paul.

  4. People cannot understand many times the person with this problem; not being able to use 2 senses in one moment. Some people think that it might be due to drugs, which I don't take. I seem "normal" but am not. The smell, yes, but to actuallly see and understand what someone is saying at the same time, can be a task. Now I just read where some people having gone through birth trauma, as an adult, they have difficulty going from (transfering) one conversational topic to another......they seem to "dwell on what is said, whereas the regular person( not having gone through any birth trauma) just is able to not harbor, or dwell on conversations. Now that I read about this, I realize that the normal person doesn't think too much about conversing and feelings whereas the other person (having gone through birth trauma becomes sensitized to a degree, and harbors the subjects many times in conversations....of course, this person doesn't outright show that he/she doesn't transfer from one conversation to another, but inside, there it is...they are dwelling on a subject that was spoken 5 minutes ago...and the speaker has gone onto something else...this person who is dwelling or harboring, misses the new topic, the way the speaker presents himself, the way the room might smell, and/ or other senses are just totally missed because they are like "stuck in a moment" of conversation subject that was spoken about 5 minutes ago. Not good. I never knew that people could go so quickly from one topic to the next without giving it some thought. I'm not slow, but I do many times feel "stuck in a moment" of a "conversational subject" by myself. I look forward to just getting out...on my own, and away from some of the "talk"....why, I really don't know. A lot of it is harmless. I have learned now not to "harbor" or dwell on too many things. My father always told me "don't have too many hang ups," or "don't dwell on this," or "don't harbor this" I know what he meant. I listened to him, but when I read this , I was able to make the father knew in life , I would "feel " too much (like an echo) when there were conversations at times. He didn't want me to harbor too much, because he knew I would miss out on trying to enjoy my life. One can miss out on the senses, and to me, the senses are an important part of life; of enjoyment many times.

    1. Hi coastbeach7,

      -"they seem to "dwell on what is said, whereas the regular person (not having gone through any birth trauma) just is able to not harbor, or dwell on conversations"-.

      This is true of me. 'Ruminating thoughts'. Well, with one exception. . . I kind of don't really care what people say as long as it doesn't affect my actual life circumstances.

      Unfortunately slander and libel can and does really mess up your life in ACTUAL practical (or should I say "impractical") ways.

      As a neurotic I am at a disadvantage here because I already struggle with divergent energies. Of course the casual observer may then generate a 'self fulfilling prophesy' on me by accrediting a negative outcome on my actual character. So, I have learned to 'grin & bear it'. If I don't, I find myself offering people a satisfying way (for them) to displace attention from themselves onto me.

      Neurotics and other vulnerable/disadvantaged people really need to watch out for this kind of thing.

      But you don't have to be 'non-neurotic' to avoid this ever likely hazard in human affairs. You can just have CAST IRON GATES. Indeed I am certain that those with such intact defenses are likely candidates for 'casting aspersions' in this way precisely because they are compulsed to keep other people at arms length (attack being their 'best' form of defense, so to speak).

      There would seem to be no end to the malarkey going on in human affairs. In some ways I wonder if us neurotics don't actually serve a wider purpose here. I mean, it seems to me that neurotics don't have cast iron gates and our stuff is leaking up. . . If every one had cast iron gates what would the world actually be like? I'm not trying to justify neurosis or put it on a pedestal but it seems to me neurosis is asking for normalisation in the social sphere. Well defended people are not. Well defended people remain an 'unknown quantity'. That is very important I think.

      I have come to understand that the vast majority of psychotherapies out there are desperately trying to get peoples gates back into that CAST IRON state. Perhaps with a veneer of empathy and compassion sprayed thinly on the surface. . . It kind of works for many people because it FITS repression. But it doesn't work for me. Presumably it doesn't work for all you other bloggers out there either?

      Paul G.

  5. I spent much of my life wandering around with memories that were in some way invented. I invented a happy childhood. PT has enabled me access more memoeries and there time when i feel exceptionallu lucid and able to retrieve names etc that I never could before. Then along comes some more pain and I shut down for a bit. Last night during my session I got in touch with how important my Maternal Grandmother was to me as a little boy. She was pretty well the only person who never let me down (other than dying quite young) and was just there for me. I seemed to drift into a semi sleeping state and suddenly saw an incredibly accurate image of my newly born sister being held by my Mother and tickled under the chin by my Father. All the lealously and envy from that image shot to the surface over the evening. It's almost as though my life around that image is rising to the surface at the moment. The lonliness and hurt. The sense of abandonment. My Grandparents doted on me and in many ways saved my sanity later in life. I'm crying perhaps because while recognising how much I missed my Grandmother and her quiet kindness I am also beginning to feel the lack of love from my Mother. Diving into those memories is so bloody painful even if I did smile as I suddenly felt how much I felt loved by those two people who died when I was 11 and 13. I never knew them as an adult. Never made that transition. I did'nt go to thier funerals. Never allowed to say goodbye. No memory of that fond farewell.

  6. Part 1:


    In a wonderful little book, “I would love to seduce you, but I’m too weak,” a writer, Margareta Strömstedt develops, ingeniously, memories from a long life in the center of attention. She does it through memories of her dead friend and fellow author Astrid Lindgren (“Pippi Longstocking,” “Karlsson-on-the-Roof”, “The Brothers Lionheart” and “The Children of Noisy Village” etc..). Astrid Lindgren’s books are all, invariably, about being ready to defend the weak and vulnerable in our harsh adult society. “The establishment, in each moment, should be prepared to make a revolution on the mental level, when the mind is about to freeze, let us be called back by the child within us - back to the imagination and creativity, to the vivid sensations and to the bold changes of thoughts and experiments.”

    Margareta Strömstedt shows, through examples from her long life, how the universes of the child and an adult have affected her in different stages as a child, woman, wife, writer and human being, etc. and with warmth, love, tragedy, rage and pain taken from her personal experiences, she stimulates skillfully endless memory clusters in my life. She makes me feel lucky to have experienced the Evolution in Reverse and had the opportunity to re-live my earliest trauma / pain and to have obtained improved access to my memories.

    The memories of the many people and situations I have encountered, the hundreds of books I have read, and the successes and failures I have experienced do not always remain in their original memory version. However, when pain, neuroses and traumas no longer inhibits my memory, I retain the feelings from my accumulated experiences as an accessible wisdom that enriches my daily life.

    Music and particularly jazz music is one of the memory connections from which I now have much pleasure. Many memories in my life, including in my dreams, have musical ties. Often when I write about or to someone, a classic jazz tune runs out in my memory. This ability has been specifically developed over the last 10-15 years since I freed myself from my epileptic stigma and my chemical lobotomy and become freer. For me, this was a surprising “bottom-up” communication of memories that I thought reserved for “musically gifted people.” With jazz-musical-poetry life becomes complete when words are not enough.

  7. Hi,

    On smells, sounds and colours. Just recently I have been looking at a lot of old mini cars. There has been a flush of them appear on the UK roads recently. Some fully restored, some partially, some looking like they just been wheeled out of a garage after thirty years.
    Plenty of them re-sprayed. Back in the 60s & 70s people were experimenting with 'metal-flake' (metalic) colours and when I was making Airfix models I bought some of those tiny pots of paint for modelling.
    This morning I spotted a two tone bronze metalflake mini cooper s and straight away I could almost smell the paint ! I was transported back to that whole 'model making' excitement that I used to get when the paint and glue was on the table before me.

    I've been getting that sensation with the colour purple (don't laugh) too. I used to have some felt tip pens which had a particularly strong purple and it just takes me straight back to the feelings of being 8 or 9 years old.

    I think the motor car marketing boys (& girls) have been copying the colours of the 'go-fast matchbox' toy cars from that period. Remeber 'Hot Wheels' ?

    All those sheeny metalflake colours and even the futuristic 'drag racer' designs are being 're-invented'. . . And we flock to the car showrooms to buy them up. . .

    Paul G.

  8. Hi,

    So, having discovered I don't want to admit I'm a victim, I've also noticed I am far too ready to 'rush in where angels fear to tread' (as my dear old Mum used to say) and try to rescue some-one else from their predicament. It seems to me that denial of internal pain can turn us into rescuers of others as a defense against our own pain. Rescuing someone else is a good distraction.

    My poor victim (ha ha ha) therefore and unfortunately, is likely not to realise that hir symptoms are not actually the problem either. Thus ensues a farce where the blind tries in vain to rescue the blind.

    What to do?

    A third party is needed to seal the farcical contract. Maybe this third party is already at the 'scene' and willing to participate further. Some-one who feels strongly opinionated about the behaviour of others perhaps? Someone with very pointy fingers perhaps? Someone who has a load of rage and doesn't know it perhaps? How many of us are never enraged or opinionated about "Other Peoples Behaviour"? ? ? How many of us don't have pointy fingers?

    Not many.

    Perhaps my vain attempts to rescue this recalcitrant victim of mine trigger my dissatisfactions and there I am pointing my finger at my victim telling hir she's not good enough blah blah blah.

    So, perhaps a third party isn't actually needed in this farcical contract because the rescuer can very quickly turn coat to persecutor. Why not? It offers two distinctly effective ways to deny ones own internal pain. All of this is going on in the neocortex and this is just exactly how the neocortex works in people who have not acknowledged their own terrifying predicament.

    God forbid you admit you're a victim because you are likely to be up against this "Dual Personality" in your relationships with other allegedly supportive people.

    At night sometimes I hear an emergency vehicle siren and from the11th floor I look out of my window to the street below to see a blue flashing light and I wonder whether it is a Police Car or an Ambulance. These days in the city I live in they both look and sound exactly the same and I can never tell which is coming. . . Someone to persecute me or someone to rescue me.

    Paul G.

    1. Hi,
      -of course the 'antithesis' to this drama triad is to do. . . do what?

      As representatives of the state the qualified intellectuals can rush in too late like the cavalry, read the riot act and then fuck off back to base having said and done nothing that helps AT ALL. . . IE: their antithesis is to take control & then drop the matter completely into some one else's lap (whilst observing from a distance).

      The only genuine antithesis to this drama triangle is for some-one with resources and experience to offer 3 SPECIFIC INGREDIENTS TOGETHER:

      1. Immediate PALLIATIVE HELP/ CARE to the most vulnerable member/s of the group AND ACTUALLY DELIVER IT UNCONDITIONALLY (not "later, later").

      2. Acknowledge the VULNERABILITY OF THE MEMBERS and prevent any further abuse.

      3. Make a medium term commitment to SEEK and GET SUPPORT from the wider COMMUNITY. A short term commitment is never long enough; a long term commitment results in dependency.

      Anything else is just 'playing along' in the game.

      Paul G.

  9. Not to hijack this thread, but yet another Primal "truism" has found scientific support -- studies conducted at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (NY) have shown that depressed lab mice have increased medial prefrontal cortical activity on a subcellular and (epi)genetic level.

    mPFC activity itself has been known to be related to depression for a couple of years now. C-FOS, one of the genes in question, is known to increase with age, making it a possible marker in future Primal research.

    Of course, my description is over-simplified. Read the abstract here:

    "Synaptic Modifications in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex in Susceptibility and Resilience to Stress"
    The Journal of Neuroscience, 28 May 2014, 34(22): 7485-7492;
    doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5294-13.2014

  10. Hi David T,

    Thanks for the reference and it's not off topic. But why do researchers keep on researching traumatic effects/stress? What is their motive? Who commissions/pays for the research ? Surely it can't just be the drug companies?

    If I were already a primal therapist perhaps I would not be so interested to know the answer to this because I would be actually helping people get better. As time goes by I find myself increasingly more interested in people getting better rather than inching ever so slowly toward the specific scientific reasons why they get ill. That's not to say 'causes' are not important but these 'causes' are actually the very private history of individual people/ prospective/ actual patients and not the 'scientific explanations' that run parallel to those histories.

    I mean this intellectual pursuit of knowledge and information is vital, I don't knock it (well I do) but will it ever actually converge with the solutions to our problems already developed at the Primal Center? How much science does a good Primal Therapist need to know when actually she is dealing directly with one individuals historic pain and suffering?

    I listen to radio 4 in UK and read the newspapers and I keep on finding material that supports Primal but you have to be into Primal to see the connection. Without already being into Primal these 'researchers' can continue to 'run parallel' but it's only 'parallel' in a conceptual way. Outside of the conceptual box these researchers are mostly worlds apart from Primal themselves. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe there are some researchers who have come so close to the Primal reality that they would be able to make that leap of faith (so to speak).

    I think this is important because as far as I can see from reading this blog not one single researcher has made that connection. . . yet.

    What are we really waiting for? Vindication? From whom? Why?

    So far, here in UK I have wriggled with much mental gymnastics about my circumstances and it hasn't got me or my son any closer to therapy at the Primal Center. At some point I can see me making some kind of major financial commitment which literally 'bridges this gap'. But these researchers are paid to research. That IS their subsidy, to remain firmly on one side of this most gaping of Janovian gaps.

    Patients have to pay but researchers get paid. . . I don't see any realistic convergence on the horizon myself. This is not a cynical view but a realistic one.

    Paul G.

  11. Hi David T.

    This is useful and I will include it in my next update for the essays I am 'promoting'. . .

    So far these 'essays' have gone to 5 different agencies responsible for the distribution of basic needs. Every time I do an update I find new material to include within days or hours of printing the last update. Then, I am faced with the torturous mental exercise of deciding 'what to', or 'not to' include in the blessed document. The essence of marketing is in targeting your message; filtering down the scope of your likely audience.

    Less is More.

    It seems to me that science journalism 'needs' more than words to express the sentiment. It's not enough to write 'about' science and then include the bloody 'research reference' in an index in the back. How old school is that?

    I mean, given the significance of Primal there aught to be ways other than (mere) words with which to 'express' the sentiment. . .

    This sentiment is quite unique too. . . this sentiment comes out of an 'originating source'.

    Primal is not 'primal' because it's got the letter A in it. It is an 'original idea'. Not because Art is an original 'great thinker' either. But it is because he thinks about 'origins'.

    It's challenging to think about origins. Most of us avoid it if we possibly can. We may look at archeology documentaries or even be archeology students, but then we are looking at other people's origins and they always make such a good distraction from our own.

    Nothing quite like 'Digging The Dirt' on other people' is there?

    So where does epigenetics meet archaeology?

    Paul G.


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.