Thursday, August 14, 2014

More on the Act-Out: Goodbye Robin Williams

There are some common act-outs that dominate so many of our lives.  I was thinking of having to work under pressure; that is, waiting until the last minute and there is pressure on, and then we start to work.

So what does the act-out mean?  It means neurosis: acting in the present as if it were the past.  Symbolizing the feeling from the past in the present.  So it is waiting for pressure to start going.  Needing pressure to get moving.  And how does that start?  Often, but not always,  the pressure of trying to get out and the need to activate oneself to move.  Thus, one exerts great effort in order not to fall into a failure syndrome of utter hopelessness, and the depression that it engenders later on.  There is the need to live together with the impending death surging forth.  One cannot get going on one’s own; one needs some “help,” some outside push to move us along.  It becomes a lifelong event; needing pressure to do or to go or to start.  One is no longer a self-starter; the impetus must come from the outside.

Why do I say that the impetus must come from outside?  Because the pattern usually starts so early in life, established by imprints in our earliest days of life, long before we could be self-starters, depending on mother’s impetus for motivation.  We then need someone to say, "OK, let’s get going.  Put on your jacket."  The motivation must be originated outside, not inside.  Or someone has to get ready, keys in hand, before the person decides to get ready.  Things need to "pile up" before we can be activated.

One sure way to start this off is to pile up anesthetics into the mother during the birth process. It knocks out most of self motivation and produces a whole system that veers toward para-sympathetic dominance.  This person is passive, has a low, languorous voice and has movements that are labored.  His vital signs are on the low side, with low blood pressure and body temperature.  In short, it is all of a piece. The whole system accommodates to the imprint.    And what does he learn from his womb-life?  Patience.  He can wait, because he had to, but then desperation sets in and waiting becomes life endangering, in his mind.  Then he can wait no more and needs to move.

When we examine the vital signs we can pretty well describe the personality type: when the blood pressure, body temp and heart rate are together rather high, then we know the person is a sympath, controlled or skewed toward sympathetic nervous system dominance.  It is those days in the womb that form the crucible for personality type; they all accommodate life circumstance.  They fare around the imprint; and when we take patients down deep we find the little nugget, the key imprints that forced all that accommodation.  And when those early imprints are relived and all the vital signs move as an ensemble down lower, we know we have struck gold. We have found the core of the pain.

Why are those imprints so critical?  Because almost every key adverse event in the womb can be life-endangering: low oxygen, inadequate nutrition, too much agitation,  flooding by drugs or alcohol, etc.  They all affect vital organs and change the system of the baby accordingly. There is a beginning to personality development and we must not immediately ascribe it to genetics.  Epigenetics is possibly more important.  Life circumstances wrap themselves around the gene and alter who we are and what we become.

This is pertinent to the death of Robin Williams this week.  He had just finished yet another round of rehab.  It should inform us of the ineffectiveness of rehab but it doesn’t.  Rehab is big business and it goes on uninformed by strict science so that anything goes.  It is surrounded by great food and exercise programs with a bit of booga booga therapy to round it all out.  And when I hear Dr Drew pontificate on addiction’s causes it makes me worry.  Every TV specialist, and they are often pretty young shrinks, tell us how it is a brain disease for which we need to get help, and  what kind of therapy is there for brain disease? God knows.  They never say.  They are forced into the “brain disease” notion because with no understanding of the imprints they have no other place to go.

Clearly Mr. Williams had deep-lying imprints that could overwhelm any later imposed ideas such as “see or focus on the positive.”  Who can believe that events in the womb are the forerunner of later depression and/or addiction?  I mean where is the science in the rehab centers that speak of methylation and epigenetics?  Where do they speak of the necessity of demethylation; of undoing the imprint and measuring it so that we know what we are doing in addiction treatment?  And who is there in those centers that could help him understand deep and remote memories that have changed his brain?  So he could have some small handle on his malady?  No one, it seems; for first they would need to understand it themselves.  And I see no evidence for it.  If only a professional could speak with him of his deep hopelessness, and get off that nonsensical “brain disease” mantra.

It is as if he had no life before the age of six, no experience to explain changes in the brain.  In other words, when they avoid basic need, they then have nothing to fall back on to explain embedded early pain.  And then they have no means to explain the now ample research to shows how imprinted pain detours basic nerve roots and nerve tracks. So they fall back on empty lectures, calling in "experts" to explain addiction and/or depression with no reference to very early experience.  And so they go on searching and searching for areas of the brain to explain what can only be explained, not by those key areas, which only accompany experience, but by how early experience impacts the whole biologic and neurologic systems.  How does hopelessness change brain function?  Where does that hopeless/depression come from? Is it really deep in the brain? Yes it is down there but it does not start there; it begins with experience and what it does to our thinking apparatus years later.  Experience does change us; so we need to get out of our solipsism and see the world and how it affects us.  The answer lies not in the brain which is most often normal when early experience is normal, but in what a carrying mother’s anxiety and depression does to us.  And it turns out that we end up duplicating the mother’s internal life almost exactly after birth.  If she is depressed we may end up depressed, as well.  We adopt her nervous system and we do effortlessly and without any reflective thought intervening.  We merge with her inner life and continue where she left off after our birth.  We become a "downer" too.  And if she produced all the chemicals involved in depression then so do we.  She provides the template and we act on it.  We have become her neuro-physiologic slave.  Our fate is sealed.


  1. Why people commit suicides , I have no idea. "If only a professional could speak with him of his deep hopelessness, and get off that nonsensical “brain disease” mantra", if someone could have helped him. He had a family, loads of friends, was a funny man, had money and fame, but for some reason, funny people do have that "dark side". How could he be feeling pressure, except for what he put upon himself; people put pressure on themselves, and sometimes it's like to them: "sink or swim", "go along in life or die". Maybe he was just tired of "going along in life" maybe he didn't feel any pressure or anything. Too bad; really too bad. At 63, and that was it for him; makes one wonder what goes on. Did the alcohol disease him so badly in his thoughts. Now they are doing an autopsy to find out if he was on drugs and/or alcohol. I liked Robin Williams, always thought he had everything going for him. I thought he was a "happy, contented man" even though he was on his 3rd marriage; but is that so wrong?

    1. The thing is that when the memory comes up (strangled at birth etc) so does the situation: being all alone to fight off overwhelming pain. That was how it was: there was no one. Of course there's lots of friends now that would help/listen but they weren't there then and it wouldn't help in a real way... It just has to be felt..period! Then it becomes 'I had a horrendous birth and it affected my life'

    2. David: An astute comment. Thanks. art

  2. As Dr. Janov pointed out, R. Williams must have had "deep lying imprints along with his struggle with alcohol; for sure, that must have been it ; the reason for his taking his life. Just cannot believe with all the money he had, that he couldn't get adequate that he could live, so that he could be "happy" once again, so his family, friends, fans wouldnt miss him. He wasn't stupid, he could have looked online as to what could possibly help him, and then if it didn't , rule it out. He should have looked into getting Primal Therapy...that's for sure. I pray for "lost souls".

    1. Hi,

      Robin had Parkinsons,

      but why did he 'choose' hanging himself as a way out ? He was sober too, apparently he had a re-lapse when he 'played a role' that required him to drink alcohol (he 'chose' the real stuff rather than coloured water). Method acting. Here is a man with a lot of 'control'. . . that he could do that professionally. . . and then hang himself (because he discovered he had Parkinsons)?

      Paul G.

  3. Dr. Janov,

    I want to first say I am in debt to your astounding work. I am a 30 year old male living in Lawrence, KS. I am ready to begin the deep feeling work of primal therapy-- and have been since I was probably 22, I just never knew this existed. I've read 3 of your books over the course of this past year. Recently I enrolled at the Primal Center in Santa Monica-- however, once the cost of the treatment was revealed, there was no realistic way I could ever do this. Sure, I was budgeting for the cost of me leaving work for 3 - 4 weeks, on top of paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000 - $3,000 for the treatment. But this was almost triple that. I was crushed that due to MONEY, this was no longer an option. Sure, I'll keep saving my money to do this program, because I believe in it that much. But I think the prices are extravagantly high for someone living in the Midwest. Maybe they reflect the cost of living there in Santa Monica? Sure, the select few independently wealthy people around the world could come and do the therapy, but what about the other 99% of people who are young, who don't come from money and who work? I certainly don't mean to bog your great article down with fiscal / practical concerns like this one. I feel you are a revolutionary and a genius Dr. Janov, I just wish your program was more accessible to those of us who struggle financially. Is there a way you could work with me on the cost of the program? There's almost nothing I wouldn't be willing to do to begin immediately. Thank you,

    Matt 816-646-1107

    1. Matt 816-646-1107....Dr. Janov's treatment is a permant cure. I also am looking forward to the day I can spend money to enroll in the Primal Center. I have thought that possibly since I have a buyout at work for health, which is 1500 each year, that I could do it, but cannot. Now I am thinking that possibly the VA might cover the cost. I know how you feel in a way, but this is profound and extraordinary. If you could get some type of coverage from somewhere or borrow the money from relatives or an institution, it might, just be well worth it for you. Right now, I know I just can't, but I have never given up on the idea.

    2. Now they just said that Robin Williams had just found out he had Parkinson's Disease before he commited suicide. I don't know though, other celebrities have Parkinson's Disease and are even able to still act. I think this just might have compounded his imprints, but I really don't know.

    3. Matt: I also wish it were more accessible. It's not that we didn't try. The cost is almost the same as forty years ago. There is no profit and we try to help some who cannot afford it with funds from the Primal Foundation. When you apply you need to ask for foundation help. art

    4. Hi,

      I am increasingly realising that (in the absence of the therapy itself), the theory is more important. I mean, Primal is so essential that accessibility is not the main issue for those of us who are "Victims of Inaccessibility". . . It should be more accessible. . . . . . but it isn't. . . and so in the absence of it, well we can only rely on the theory.

      But there is this strange effect of knowing the theory and also of attempting to 'disseminate' it. We are having to be some strange new type of evangelists. . . The old types demanded belief but Primal does not need belief to work.

      And like the old evangelists of before we have to stick to our guns. . . We must not waver in our aim or we will not hit our target.

      Paul G.

    5. Paul: Keep up the good work. art

  4. Hi,
    regarding Robin Williams,

    Some researcher in UK has researched comedians, can't remember who but he talked on BBC radio 4 about it. He had a test which sounded like a test for parasympath / sympath tendencies. He used different words but I'm sure that's what he meant. He said that most of us fall into one or the other category but what marked out Comedians was that they scored really high in BOTH categories.
    IE: comedians (satirists etc) are BOTH simultaneously.. .

    A while back Art talked about how the 'actors' are always playing a ROLE and Robin seems to be an extreme example of some-one who not only could play ANY role but NEEDED to play any ROLE in order to avoid his pain. It seems to me that after years and years of PLAYING roles a person totally loses their true self. . . Well, that's a bit harsh but what I mean is that WHO the person REALLY is becomes starved of nourishment to the point of becoming an empty shell. . . And that is what a neighbour described Robin towards the end: A shadow of his former self; a shell.

    When your profession requires of you that you perfect being some-one (many different ones) who you are not then tragedy IS the likely outcome. . . You become starved. . . you NEED drugs and alcohol to kill the pain of starvation.

    Most ironic of all is that poor Robin played a psychotherapist with Matt Damon as his patient. . .

    I mean how tragic is that ? To PLAY the role. . . It kind of means his entire professional life is almost like an AB-REACTION. . . Whereby his traumatic pressure is leaked off in his ACTING OUT true feelings. Robin was good at sentimental roles, I mean GOOD. . . I loved his (middle aged) Peter Pan. . .

    What a terrible, terrible torture for such a great man. Surely he was a great man? I think so. I think he knew a lot about himself and he had a reputation for being quite the empathic gentleman when at work; a great man to work with. He knew a lot ABOUT feelings but he could not connect with the real ones emanating from his own brainstem.

    Lastly, to hang himself ? Suddenly and without warning in this way ? What does that say ? Could any one find his birth records and see if he was strangled by his own umbilicus ?
    For some-one who was a chronic drug addict to hang himself seems portentous in the extreme. Why did he not just take a load of sleeping pills and a bottle of bourbon ? Why hang himself ? It seems odd and the Primal implication is rather obvious. . .

    I am sad he's gone, most of all because his wit was his downfall and didn't we all love his super wit?

    Paul G.

    1. Hi,

      it would have been better if his 'therapists' in his 're-habs' had allowed him to 'indulge'. . . Frankly speaking:

      "Keep Tight Hold Of Nurse, For Fear Of Something Worse". . .

      All 'detox' did for Robin was drive his imprint into an impossible suffering. . .

      Paul G.

  5. I kinda liked Robin Williams when he was Mork (Mork and Mindy) but was surprised when I saw him talking in an interview.... he was still acting like Mork! And then all the years later he never changed...always those highly controlled expressions in his voice... never natural and spontaneous. I realised he could never be himself, and it made me feel a little sorry for him. I thought his controlled behaviour would be obvious to everyone, and was again surprised when people disagreed with me... telling me he was just a wonderful man. Well I don't think he was not wonderful... he just seemed extremely out of touch with himself. I don't know if he killed himself, but I have no doubt that he was suffering.
    The thing that troubles me most is the fact that I have spoken of his unnatural behaviour many times over many years, and I have never ever met a person who agrees with me (other than my brother). Is everyone really this blind? This world is creepy. Rest in peace Robin Williams, I wish you could have been more free.

    1. He was a spontaneous comedian. I do know what you are saying, though, about how Mork sounded and how Robin Williams sounded. I never thought his behavior unnatural, except that he was spontaneous many times in the way he would "come on" to people with him, such as Billy Crystal, or Christopher Reeves. Robin Williams was good in that respect, he made a lot of money; quick-witted; but he did have the same voice of Mork many times. I wasn't "blind" to the way he "acted", and I did analyze it to a certain extent. I thought he was "free" in the way he was quick-witted and spontaneous; but then again, maybe he always felt as though he should "put on" for people, so that was his way of not being free. He knew that if he was quick-witted and spontaneous at times, it earned him a great deal of money. The money made him possibly more free and I did see him in some serious interviews. He definitely couldn't have felt free during his alcoholic days. I think he was conscientious and a hard worker; really tried to "be someone". Some people are like that, the way they "come on"; and (the audience) some people find it entertaining, some find it "too much" at times. Possibly he was really coming on (what you call "unnaturally") when he had been drinking too much. Some people might say: "he tries too hard", Others found him amusing and entertaining. Who knows, I sure don't. when I saw him, I never thought he was suffering, I never knew he was an alcoholic either.

  6. Poor Mom; the best Mom....enduring what she had to endure after her beloved first child was born which was that the first born became a heroin addict (and something else; but this is all forgotten now, and the first born is o.k.) . Even poor Dad, I do know that it was through no fault of my parents that this happened with the first born who used to be a girl scout. I say "poor mom" because my mother realizes that when I was in the womb, damage was done, and the poor woman blames herself. What can one do....associations, are they harmful to one's health? Robin Williams had a good friend , who's presence on earth was felt so greatly, even after he died ; i.e. Robin Williams was good friends with Christopher Reeve. The depression R. Williams must have been going through. When one dies , a good friend, we have to be strong; we have to have strength (to carry on) .....very unfortunate imprints that are not dealth with. We do the best we can; just as most mothers do after their children are born.

  7. Robin Williams was a living embodiment of contradiction - he was loved by millions the World over for his performance skills yet suffered great unhappiness - was one of the Worlds best 'tragi-comedians' along with Tony Hancock who also killed himself.

    Art Janov to his credit has always insisted on the importance of childhood upon adulthood and I am absolutely certain the same applies in Robins case - it may well be pointed out that with the correct approach - outstanding issues from childhood are not immutable and unchangeable but can be addressed and resolved provided the emotions from childhood days are actually allowed to be expressed. Just as Robin Williams Wiki points out; "Williams's father was away much of the time and, when he was home, Williams found him "frightening". His mother worked too, leaving Williams to be attended to by the maids they employed. Williams claimed his upbringing left him with an acute fear of abandonment and a condition he described as "Love Me Syndrome."

  8. Dear Dr. Janov, Thank you for your amazing work! I saw Dr. Drew talking about Robin Williams on his show, and I had the same reaction to his talking about " brain diseases." I have seen him on his show Celebrity Rehab. He understands how valuable it is when his clients primal about past trauma, BUT, he seems to think that connecting with the feelings is something that happens, and then you move on! He has zero idea of what it takes, and it was exasperating to see clients get into real feelings, only to be congratulated on their breakthrough as though that was it, and they could move on to the usual forms of mood control!

    Thank you again for your work, which has explained the core of damage as nothing else does.

  9. Hi,

    well, these comments are a living revalation for me.

    Strangely (though being 54yrs old) I didn't discover Robin till he did his Peter Pan role. Or thereabouts. I agree with every-one's view but I still FEEL the man was a great man.

    Too many people are addicted to the sentimental, but also few comprehend satire. . . I wish Robin had lived to be invited to host "Have I Got News For You" on BBC TV / I player.

    He would have had Ian Hislop running for cover and Paul Merton Primalling.

    Paul G.

    1. Hi,

      Let's cut to the chase:

      Robin confessed to being needy and earned his "All the Money" from acting out the roles his upbringing 'taught him'.

      A working (absent) mother 'beauty queen' and an (absent, working) 'frightening father'. . . (stuck at home as a single child in 'privileged' surroundings).

      No wonder I 'identify' with Robin. . . His parents made his 'home' a boarding school. His parents were the 'absentee' headmaster and headmistress. . .

      This "IMAGE" is replicated in dreams I have about the headmaster of my prep, boarding school (aged 8 to 13).

      Some how. . . I realise, that Robin was a 'naughty little boy' (with adult 3rd line advantages), acting out his unfulfilled need to be seen. Aged 10 yrs (or so). Some people 'hate' naughty boys. Enid Blighton wrote fantasies around that genre. . . Aaaand somehow (like Robin) she found a way to act out her EXTREMELY CONTROLLED love of being a naughty 10 year old (or there-aboots). . .

      Well join the club. Who doesn't have a similar agenda. and let's face it. . . in a complex society who doesn't need to be seen to get their needs met ?

      Paul G.

    2. Hi,

      Barry Norman, famous film critic in UK described Robins talent as spread terribly thin and 'saccharin' to the point of 'teeth rotting'. . .

      But like dodgy political parties and religious philosophies people flocked 'en masse' to be sentimentalised. Of course, in UK we 'cultured' individuals are all 'above' those 'displays' of emotion, aren't we ?

      Paul G.

  10. An email comment:
    Thank you. I had hoped you would talk about Robin Williams in a blog. Last month when I heard RW was headed for his 2nd rehab, I told my son it will not work. They never do, for the reasons you cite but none of the "experts" know about. I cannot listen to them or read their explanations because the frustrate me to the point I want to puke!


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.