Saturday, September 27, 2014

On the Science of Psychotherapy

Sometimes I realize I am getting science heavy but what is happening today is so exciting, especially since it supports what I have been writing about for almost 50 years.  (See the following:  T.J. Rebello, et al., “Postnatal day 2  to 11 constitutes a 5HT sensitive period.”    G. Perna: “Panic and the brainstem: clues from neuroimaging studies.”  2014 1996 Betham Science Publishers (see an abstract at    Justin Feinstein (my colleague) with E.G. Velez and D. Tranel  “Feeling without memory in Alzheimer Disease.” see

I will try to sum up the implications of their research without all the scientific lingo.  Let’s start out with the urgency of early love.  Eric Nestler, (Mt. Sinai Hospital, N.Y.)  writing on epigenetics states the following:
“There are epigenetics effects that last a lifetime.  Rat pups that are rarely licked are more susceptible to later stress.” (see the full article at: And of course rat pups licked and love do much better later in life.  They are more adventurous and curious.  What is important is that we can begin to zoom in on why, and the answer seems to be that damage means heavier methylation.  And what is that great damage?  Early lack of love.  It takes many forms in humans, but poor nutrition, a mother drinking, smoking and taking drugs and later abuse found in neglect and lack of touch (licking).

Methylation seems to be an important marker for lack of early love, both in animals and in humans.  What new research is finding is that so many diseases are methylation dependent, including MS, Diabetes and heart disease.  Again, these are stress related, and the great stressor seems to be a simple lack of love.  And lack of love means ignoring and denying the baby’s basic primal needs.  Not surprising in the rat study was the fact that heavy methylation occurred in the limbic/feeling structures such as the hippocampus which has to do with memory.  It doesn’t take an Einstein to see the possible later relationship with Alzheimer’s disease.    Above all, we need doctors to stop asking “Have you been in any unusual stress recently?”  They need to ask the right questions if they want the right answers.  And that includes research scientists who must delve into the marks of damage to key cells that will provide answers.  Since we cannot ask the fetus about his stress we need to do the next best thing and sniff out biologic damage.

Remember when there is very early stress (womb-life) the genes can be up or down regulated, and here starts the origins of depression and anxiety. It becomes the crucible for later disease.  When we add abuse in infancy in childhood, given away to foster parents, a  mother too sick to care for the child, etc., we can almost be sure that neurotic behavior and disease will follow.  That almost surely will involve ADD, lack of concentration and learning disorders.  The DNA has been chemically modified and it reroutes normal reactions for behavior and disease.  These changes are not neurotic; they are often normal to the noxious intrusion of things like a mother’s smoking or drinking.  The fetus is trying to adapt as best she can.  Neurosis is an adaptive reaction to threat.  It is in that sense, normal.  Behaviorists are trying to change a normal adaptation into something else that is not organic nor adaptive.  They are basically moralists, trying to get patients to adopt healthy behaviors when they are already in normal behaviors depending on their early experience.  Or they concoct exercises for relaxation when the only proper relaxation is to deal directly with the imprint.  Otherwise, they are still behaviorists trying to find ways to change our response to early damage without acknowledging that damage.  My patients do not need special relaxation ploys because when we take the pain out, they are very relaxed and that state endures.

Now the important part:  they are finding where all this begins, and like my mother used to say, “Columbus discovered America”, early damage, the primordial primal imprint involves the brainstem.  Phylogenetically this is an ancient brain system that we share with sharks.  It makes us hyperaware and hyper-reactive. It is the source of basic biological impulses, fight or flight.  And research points to this key structure as where anxiety emanates from.  Something I have seen and written about for many decades.  Somehow,  “objective” research has credibility.  What imprints here do is adversely affect the serotonin system which should help dampen panic but it cannot.  So what do we do years later for panic? We offer serotonin pills in the form of SSRI’s.  And what does that do? Make up for what was affected during brainstem dominance.

What the Perna group did was do a complete literature search of many databases for panic disorders.  Yes the brainstem was involved. The brainstem, which registers very early trauma and sets the tone for how we respond to it later in life.  So  mother’s drug taking and later birth anesthesia sets up a panic reaction to lack of oxygen.  Later in life, closed doors or windows become a threat and can set up a panic attack.  Their summary was as follows: “Panic patients tend to have abnormal brainstem activation to emotional stimuli when compared with healthy controls.”

Here is my question for them but it cannot be answered by research alone?  Where does that come from?  What causes that brainstem reaction?  Or does the brainstem just go off and do its own special thing?  What is the exact relationship between certain experiences and brainstem activation? Those are the answers that will lead to proper therapies.  Above all, why is the brainstem so involved?  Maybe the damage is registered there because it dominates during the first weeks or days of life in the womb.  And the brainstem becomes methylated early on.  And as I say, it is the earliest imprints that are the most damaging; there is where therapy needs to begin.


  1. part 1.

    Hi Art,

    I was checking wikepedia on the subject of PTSD and under the subheading 'Epigenetics' I picked out this sentence:
    -"(Epigenetic) modification is the environmentally induced change in DNA that alters the function rather than the structure of the gene. The biological mechanism of epigenetic modification typically involves the methylation of cytosine within a gene that produces decreased transcription of that segment of DNA"-.
    What seems significant are the words: -"decreased transcription of that segment of DNA"-.
    To my mind this means there is a modification resulting in 'suppression' of certain functions, ie: a lack or absence of responsiveness.
    From the evolutionary point of view this could result in an 'aversion' to negative stimuli which is useful in a natural environment with simple hazards; but the hazard of this mechanism is that in a complex modern environment it could easily become maladaptive.
    I was discussing with my counsellor here in UK the notion that neurotics continue to 'seek out' circumstances which mimic the original traumatic event; as if "trying to re-create the situation with a view to solving it" (like the criminal returning to the scene of the crime).

    I don't like this 'idea' as it seems just another way to blame the victim for hir imprints. . . The idea of 'suppressed gene function' makes more sense. The maladaptive outcome opens the 'victim' to 're-traumatisation' from similar stimuli to the original trauma due to the inability of hir defensive mechanisms to recognise the hazard. . . IE: "Blind Spots" in perception. I don’t believe we neurotics go looking for trouble. . . we are merely susceptible to it through epigenetic blindness.

    Surely these 'blind spots' define 'personality'. Thus Primal 're-integrates split-off parts' (suppressed gene expression) resulting in a retrieval of natural abilities and the long term consequence would be the development of a less partial personality.
    If you believe in "Free Will" as a "Given" then it follows you will misinterpret the blind spots in others (or even yourself) as a kind of "moral deficit". . . As if the neurotic were "choosing" their maladaptive behaviour. So, outside of Primal any counsellor / therapist who does not recognise the power of early imprints could potentially re-enforce the patient's own negative self perception. There is evidence that shows trauma debriefing does indeed make some people worse; but that is what you would expect if you didn’t comprehend the possibility of RE-LIVING as a way to resolve imprints.

    part 2 follows.

    1. Paul: You say that there "is evidence that shows trauma debriefing does indeed make some people worse", and you are saying it has a lot to do with one's attitude. I agree, but also know that for some that went through birth trauma, it takes a lot of work sometimes to just "get through to that person". Not that they are dumb, or ignorant, but many times unfortunately do not perceive things the way a lot of "normal born" people do. Many times they might see things totally "backwards", and one has to get through to them, if they were born backend first out, and cord around the neck. I do believe in free will; I let people be. I don't believe "it is a given" even in the U.S., Free will should "be a given." Sure we do need one another, but to me, it is important that the people have good mental attitudes, and are open-minded to suggestions that could possibly help them (such as Primal Therapy) Other people are so concerned with the way other people are, how they live, what they do...., they put pressure on other people, almost to the point where the person just seeks to be alone many times; possibly to obtain some strength, and good mental health. No one really knows themselves better than themselves. To me, I don't pressure people....just cannot. I, myself, don't really "cotton up" to the "very pushy person". Neurotics....many of them, know how to act as an adult; to me, they are the ones with the problem.

    2. thanks for your response planespotter,

      the kind of free will that I believe we don't have is the kind that assumes people with traumatic problems and defective gates (and I have ship loads of both of those) "choose their problems" and are thus somehow morally deficient; many philosophies/religions take this attitude and it's all a bit like blaming the victim (karma, original sin etc etc). The 'obsession' with our cognitive faculty causes us to believe we SHOULD think our way to a BETTER ATTITUDE. But I don't think there are many people without trauma (Art has said this too); it's just the majority have strong gates (ie: effective repression). I am convinced these people with strong gates also show weirdness of one kind or another; that was my point . . . this weirdness you can define as personality. A truly healthy person is hard to 'type' because they have no "split off parts", no "imprinted" trauma, no 'bias'. People who have strong gates can often be hypocritical. . . I sometimes feel like saying to them: "It's alright for you, just wait till YOU get sick". . . So often people who havn't collapsed sense getting too close to some-one who's facade has cracked will start the process in them too. . . and they're right; so they back off and freeze that person out. Willy Reich called it "Morphic Resonance" I think. It's true, empathy is a weird thing because crying like laughing can be infectious. I see "neurosis" as a 'gating problem' first and an imprint problem second. . . In so far as most people are imprinted but have strong gates; I'm repeating myself. . . Anyway:

      Before my breakdown I could at times be a very pushy person because my imprints 'drove me' unconsciously. . . That was an act out I simply could not see till my false psyche fell apart. I suppose for that I should thank my ex for dumping me. . . There's a bitter pill for me to swallow. . . (again and again and again). . . But she's as weird as they come and so are all her friends who used to be mine (!)

      I'm not sure what you mean by attitude. . . Did I say attitude ? The thing about trauma debriefing came from wikepedia and also from the common (semi true) fallacy that talking about trauma makes you worse, so, bottle it all up eh? Art's in depth discussions about all that explains how ab-reaction can come out of talking about trauma. . . conventional therapists are largely stabbing in the dark. . . Unless they are trained Primal Therapists at the center working WITH patients to access those hurts. . .

      As Art said in very early posts the problem with conventional therapy is that it doesn't recognise the 1st line stuff. Thus to aim at the 1st line stuff from 3rd down through 2nd in reverse evolution is the key to effective therapy. Not knowing about 1st line stuff could result in circular affects- ie: ab-reaction.

      My brother was born breach too. . . He seems to do many things and perceive many things (particularly me) arse about tit. . . I wish you could meet him and help him see that. . .

      Paul G.

  2. part 2:

    "Free Will" (as a given) seems to me to be part and parcel of the repressive / belief system in the neo-cortex to hold down pain as a short term survival mechanism. Problem is: it has become increasingly exploited as a way to control people for selfish personal gain. But you can't really say it is a conspiracy because those who do the exploitation are likely as "imprinted" as those who they exploit. It's just their gates work more effectively, ie: at face value they exhibit less neurosis. I have already suggested in previous posts that “face value” is all you will ever get from them though.

    Nevertheless (as I've pointed out before) these allegedly normal people have blind spots in their personalities and that IS SURELY what makes one personality distinct from another. Thus, to an extent we can 'type' ourselves by what we avoid (or even fail to avoid) and in a Primal context we can follow that back through reverse evolution to the original trauma.

    An aside: We know that putting labels on people (such as personality type) is not always helpful. But also “Not Labelling” can be exploited by people who hide their aversions behind the illusion of free will. They say: "I choose to be a CBT practitioner (or whatever)" when really they hide behind it. . . They don't "choose", they "prefer". . . after all, we ARE all individuals and have as much right to self determination as anybody else, so don't label me selfish or partial, that's your problem mate. . . etc etc. . .

    Paul G.

    1. Paul, I have this ridiculous defense: I shrug my shoulder and squeeze it against my neck and lower skull to create some pressure (when no one is looking). I know why I do it but it would take too long to explain it here. There was one time when I was falling asleep, I slipped through my defenses and something horrific lurched toward consciousness. Instantly my shoulder thrust itself into my neck in the usual manner but violently faster and totally involuntarily. It worked...the threat was gone. My unconscious brain CREATIVELY DECIDED to select that particular shoulder-to-neck movement (I have many other body motion defenses) to block the pain BEFORE I was able to comprehend what was happening. It all happened in a tiny fraction of a second.....lightning fast pain blocked by lightning fast defense. The defense occurred through NO ACT OF WILL whatsoever; my shoulder moved on it's own accord as if it were an animal separate from myself.

      But I trained that reaction....I was the original inventor of that defense, and my clever unconscious machine borrowed it in a time of need. My unconscious knew more than I did, and reacted faster than I ever could. I would never have been quick enough to think of that defense and use it. In fact, I would never use that defense at all if I was faced with a real sudden threat.

      This event begs the question: what is a primal? Is seems to be an entirely involuntary reaction, but can it be a product of various present-day influences? If I read stories about grown men squealing like newborn babies, will my unconscious machine choose to squeal when I too am close to death? How will I know what is curative and what is unconscious mimicry? What if a primal therapist measures my before-session heartbeat while I am feeling nervous, and measures the after-session heartbeat while I am drained of energy and lethargic from exhaustion? How will I know that my unintelligible birth feelings were curative? That my vital signs were an accurate indication?

      What am I? A willful person or a programmable machine? Am I being too intellectual? Or just being naturally curious about the possible weaknesses in Art's scientific process? I don't care. Primal Therapy is the only option I have, and I will take it as soon as I can do it properly. If I feel better after a year of therapy, I won't care about all of these questions.

    2. Hi Richard,

      great post - I am obsessed with the AUTOMATON like predictability of people who are obviously to me (now that I have seriously studied Primal Theory and observed my many reactions and experienced many deep feelings) BLINDED by the illusion of free will so that they can live according to a morality script which requires of them "NO NEED TO FEEL". . . I will never tire of this obsession until :

      I imagine that if (neigh when) I finally get to the center (and I havn't given up on that desire, despite the goal appearing to disappear over the horizon even further as I gaze even more longingly at it, I digress) I will NO LONGER CARE about the hypocrisy of others just as you will no longer care about all your questions. . . Until then I will cast nasturtiums at AUTOMATONS. . . Aaaand that is part of my act out. We need act outs.

      Take Care Richard and keep up your inspiring posts- i love em.

      Paul G.

    3. Hi Richard,

      great post- " what is a primal? Is seems to be an entirely involuntary reaction"-.

      And: -"can it be a product of various present-day influences"?-

      well, I often wonder about these two questions in relation to each other. The answer to the second leads to the answer to the first:

      RESONANCE DOWN. Resonance occurs when a current (stressful) life experience triggers off RELEASE of the methylation in the histone layers. But first, as you have so eloquently worked out from Arts books and posts in your own earlier posts, something happens in our brains to allow the 'loosening' of our repressive thoughts and beliefs. So, there is a tiny bit of volition in so far as we want to suspend beliefs and thoughts to allow something deeper to emerge. Interestingly other repressed people need to suspend disbelief to entertain these concepts at all. . . I digress.

      Therefore the Primal may be preceded by some volition but the Primal itself is an "organismic" event. Like throwing up or coming out in a rash. It is an "expulsion" of toxins. . . it is a release from the suffering generated by the traumatic pressure trapped in every f*****g cell.

      Paul G.

    4. Don't get me wrong guys, my belief in primal is as strong as it has ever been and I will be at the Primal Center before Art dies, but I would love to ask the guy I saw in a primal video, "Do you have any idea why you strained your larynx to mimic high-pitched baby noises considering the fact that babies don't strain the larynx to produce those frequencies?" And why a woman lay on her back and raised her bent legs to mimic the sexual abuse she experienced as a child? Children are forced into that position - they don't hold themselves in that position. To hold that position requires considerable effort from completely different muscles. Try it.
      What I am suggesting is that a primal is a little more than the simple continuation of a previous biological state. There must be some kind of higher interpretation going on; an interpretation that allows sounds and movements to be mimicked artificially. Why is it so important for the sounds and body posture to be accurate if the body's only goal is to de-methylate? I am suggesting there is some need for communication with the outside world -- the primaller needs to SHOW someone else what is happening while the internal world goes through the motions in every f*****g cell. Perhaps we evolved this storytelling ability for the benefit of our species as a whole. Reasonable thought? Hey it's interesting... that's all.

    5. Richard: This is what happens when you try to figure things out. It is a lower power and lower brain that drives it, not higher brain. good try, love art

  3. As well as mentioning the mother, I would also mention violent fathers and how they affect the foetus and the mother.
    I have seen mothers hospitalized by perpetrators, only to find full custody of that child is given to the perpetrator - because he has rights.
    Some of these children are deprived totally of their mothers for up to 18 years.

    The research is there in USA to prove it with Barry Goldstein and Mo Hannah.

  4. Fascinating piece Art. What has always confused me about what happened to me is that for years I could concentrate; read books, make things etc etc. In fact concentrate really well. Now i find it much more difficult to concentrate. It's almost as though I developed ADD in my late 40's. Perhaps it's because the pain is nearer the surface than it was and stuff is still coming up. PTSD.

    It does all make so much sense.

  5. I think one should be concerned enough to get their serotonin levels checked; especially if they went through birth trauma. I don't think I have a lot, but I do things naturally to make myself feel better. I don't know if the pills that are advertised would even work with me. Hard to say. The answer is Primal Therapy.

  6. .....'Clinical' or 'Social'? The dynamics of Personal-Growth - by Bill Howard......

    Art Janov queries the benefits of becoming 'science-heavy' in psychotherapy circle - while it's perfectly alright to be 'science heavy' up to a point but it's not alright to become 'clinical-heavy' since 'Psychotherapy - Counselling - Personal-Growth' et al, is not so much a 'Clinical-Science' as a 'Social-Science' since the vast bulk of the issues arise not from any 'Clinical-Trauma' (actually very rare) but more from peculiar sets of 'Social-Circumstance' and in particular where emotions were restricted or repressed particularly in the formative-stage of life in other words the 'Childhood' which may well begin at birth and only end by 20 years since the human brain does not cease growing until that time and even some hormones do not kick in until the 24th year of life - suggesting our childhood comprises an enormous portion of our lifes much more than the chimpanzee's 3-4 year formative stage. The real 'meat' of Art Janov's books are the testimonies of the people themselves along with Art's social analysis while the 'clinical' side of things - the measuring of blood-pressure, heart-rate, hormone-levels etc etc might just as well be left to an interested clinical-lab rather than be included in what must be finally a social-critique which can be as personal or as scientific as one pleases. In view of this it would be good to see Art drop the 'clinical-verbiage' altogether (including 'Medulla Oblongata' for goodness sake) and concentrate upon what Art excels at - conveying in laypersons terms what are the causes and cures of what normal people call 'Personal-Problems'. I suspect France Janov is having some input here since Art has become slightly more 'human' since they met. 'The Art & Science of Personal-Growth' might be somewhat more appealing to our more practical interests and give more scope to Art's hobby of Materialist-Dialectics at which of course he excels...

    1. Hi Bill,

      -tongue in cheek- . I never got the impression that Art was always a 'science- heavy' Materialistic- Dialectician. I get the impression he was once a repressed emotional/instinctual type shrink (ex-ww2 sailor) struggling with out of date theories. . . And then after many years of 'hit & miss' discovery/experimentation (and therapy himself) finally delved into science as the science (epigenetics mainly) caught up. . .

      Then (in exasperation) as a way to try to get this amazing discovery more accepted he embarked on a re-interpretation of the said science as he still does.

      Of course he gets little if any credit for this as the authors of said research do not take kindly to emotional weight being added to their 'paper propositions'. Paper propositions are SAFE. They do not impart PAIN.

      Arts re-interpretation of the evidence unfortunately adds emotion to the science and that is of-course what the scientists HATE. . . And that is why so few scientists (or any other so called "professionals") take what he proposes seriously.

      It probably is some consolation to him that he is not the only person struggling with this kind of phenomenon. . . I have spent decades trying to make environmental / traditional skills impacts where I live and frankly speaking it would be easier teaching chimpanzees trigonometry.

      yours tongue in cheek

      Paul G.

  7. Hi Bill,

    -"even some hormones do not kick in until the 24th year of life "-. . .

    Which ones are those ? It's interesting what you say here because there is a popular idea that some people are 'late developers' or 'early developers' and I wonder if these hormones you refer to have any influence on what you might call "Adult Direction". . .

    I was pretty directionless until about the age of 25. My stepson the same and I suspect also my son. . . My ex partner too. . . I wonder if the tripartite nature of the brain requires a certain (as you say) extended period of development AND THEN the right hormones before 'actuation' kicks in, so to speak.

    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.