Tuesday, March 3, 2015

When the Unconscious and Conscious Become One

I had a Primal in my sleep last night.  I will tell you about it because it lays bare what is going on in the unconscious.  And I will try to answer the question, “Why in your sleep?”

Is was about my mother, whom I rarely have feelings about because she was emotionally absent and never really “there.”

There is an old saying that if you raise your kids right they leave you as children and come back as your friend.

But what if you were not reared (the correct word) right?  They stay your children forever looking for the fulfillment the parents should have given you.

Once you have all a good part of your need and can begin to see them as people, a lot changes. Your need no longer clouds your perception of them and that leads me to my Primal.  In my sleep I was crying deeply and saying, “I’m so sorry. So, so sorry.”  I was not nice because my mother was pre-psychotic, I treated her later on as “crazy Annie.”  I could never see her limits, yet within those limits she and my father, two lost souls from Russia, did the best they could.  They never heard about, nor knew anything about love.  They never even knew that parents were supposed to talk to children.  Their parent left for America for years to find work, leaving them on their own.  They abandoned me for years in other places because they were left, and that is the way life is.

For me, everything was a mystery.  I never knew their history except what I learned from my aunt.  I knew nothing about their lives, their finances… nothing.  They never knew about touching, softness or caress.  It was a daily struggle to make a living.  We were working class and my sympathies have always been working class.

So in my primal I began to feel how unfair they were to me but also how unfair I had been to them.  I wanted and desperately needed, what they could never give.  So long as my need was strong I could not see beyond the need. No one is smarter or stronger than their need and no one can see beyond it.

Why in my sleep? I think it is because at this late date my unconscious and consciousness are merging.  They are become almost one.  So what should happen on the top level happens during the lower level.  Why?  Because having felt for years the gates are now pliable and allow feelings to rise almost at will.  They rise when I and my brain are ready for feelings.
How do I know? I don’t, except that my body temp remains very low which is usually a sign of far less work the body is doing to maintain its equilibrium and the work it constantly does in the service of constant repression.  That is a great effort.  It used to be higher.  I no longer have nightmares nor do I think my unconscious drives me because that unconscious is now mostly conscious.  I control it, not the case at all when I was younger.  Back then, compulsions and obsessions abounded.  I will  spare you the details but I was run by the unconscious as so many of us are who have not felt.  And that unconscious , more than any bad diet, will shorten your lifespan as it gnaws away at the heart, liver, kidneys and other organ systems.  Of course proper diet is critical, but not as critical as the force of the unconscious.  That maims and kills.  That sends too many prematurely to the great beyond.

What happens in sleep?  Some of the childhood pains reside there, and like all Primal Pains they need liberation. Not everyone has to have merging levels of consciousness but it is critical to reduce the pressure that lower levels exert all of the time.  When they drag the system down into depression or speed it up due to anxiety, they need to know that there is a way to dredge up and eliminate those forces forever.  After all, those forces are only you and your feelings.  Nothing else.  So how bad could it be?  It is now part of my life; not part of a psychotherapy but a state called living.  We laugh and we cry; that is also known as sanity.  It is not that we are so emotional.    We have eliminated all that extraneous force so that emotions are commensurate with reality.  Not a monster driving entity.
When we are not emotional it is a problem; because we means repression and suppression and the emotions are hardly being contained as they whiz around the brain creating havoc.  If are made to laugh we are also made to cry. It is natural, biologic, not an aberration.  And because we often suppress this biologic tendency we suffer.  We have denied our biology.  We cannot do that and be healthy.

We often believe that we can think our way to health and sanity.  Nope.  We think our way to denial, to neurosis, to a false consciousness but not to health.  For health and healing we need feeling; that is what makes us human; feeling human beings.


  1. Thank Art... so beautifully written !
    Your Frank

  2. This is SO beautifully written Dr. Janov! I especially appreciate the part where you cried in your sleep. While writing here to you I'm also crying...crying for you, crying for your mom, crying for your dad...and crying for me. I come from the same background of severe emotional neglect.
    I was born in April, 1951...and the PTSD of both my parents has rubbed off onto me from day one and became part of my own struggle. My father was a prisoner of war in Germany for four years...and my mother was waiting for him here in South Africa for four gruelling years, not knowing if she would ever see him again.
    My mother never talked to me and never touched me...let alone telling me she loved me...and she died in 1995 of cancer, leaving me with this very unfinished business. The scars caused by that behavior of hers, have become the pivotal stimulus which gave me perspective of what life on this earth is all about. They opened up a new horizon for me...the knowing that no one is accountable...that all are doing their best...and MOST of all...that no one is in control...ever! And THAT is exactly where freedom lies...that we are not in control and that we can relax and heal in doing so. What a liberating concept that has become to me...oh my goodness!
    If the world could but know about this truth...and what devastation the so-called "free will" and "freedom of choice" paradigm has dumped them into.
    My paradigm of NO free will has given me the ability to see ALL adversities in the same light...as been orchestrated by one Regisseur..GOD...the Creator of all good and evil (Isaiah 45:7). The freedom that this knowing brings cannot be described...one has to experience it.
    Since you do not have this paradigm at all, I doubt whether you will publish this comment Dr. Janov...but whatever it will be...at least you will read this.
    I thank you for the immense impact YOUR writings have had on my to this day. Your different way of thinking re religion does not affect me at all...there is enough other things I have learned from you...and still learn!
    Once again...thanks for YOUR input in my life. Willien

    1. Willien, What a terrific, feeling letter. I am so moved when I see that others are moved by my writing. thanks so much art

  3. Hi Art,

    I am so glad for you and this also makes me glad for me too.

    Paul G.

  4. Thanks Art... what you write is from a reality no one should have to go through... but almost everyone does... it in one or an other way. The grief finds no limits to what never contains... more than to be there in en unimaginable grief. It's a loneliness in a room without anyone ever comes to visit us.

    There is an outcry from where I understand you got the title of your first book "The Primal Scream". But it's like you say we do not screams to get to our pain... we are "screaming" of pain when we come to memories we could not endure! That is two fundamental differences of the understanding around the Primal therapeutic process.

    But we need to feel safe when we gently opens the door to this solitude!


  5. Art,
    Grazie al cielo(the great beyond...?) a better human being `s gene(ius!) than that capable writer but
    (You fill in the blanks..) than Mrs. Ayn Rand from the Russian people!!! Yours emanuel

    1. Emanuel: Lets try again as I do not understand what you are trying to say. art

  6. Thoughts to help... thoughts that can help!

    So what thoughts do? They must surprise us to be a possible connections. And how do they do it? We are surprised all the time from the reactions that we do not have any eye on... where it is possible to go on a journey not like anything else... just if we get a little help along the way. Little stands for all what we need of help... for what we are looking for in our lives.


  7. I´m still astonished you´re primalling 48 years after your first one Art. In The New Primal Scream, "Alietta" wrote that after just 15 years she was no longer sure she even had an unconscious after years of birth primals and these being spaced further apart too (as a general rule) as the years went on.

    In your first book you say that formal therapy ends after several mnths, though primalling continues for some time afterwards. There is a widespread belief that you were saying then that the total primal period is much shorter than it obviously is with yourself, perhaps just a couple of years. Certainly "Tom", "Gary" etc in the Primal Scream give the impression of absolutely massive changes and great joy aftr just a 3 week intensive. So the question on my lips, and this is a big issue on the primal scene, is: "Done properly just how long will your average neurotic take to deal with all his pain?" Is this possible? Did you once believe it was possible to deal with the whole lot in, say 18 months, and if so, do you still believe this?

    as you explain in your books.

  8. So true and so devastating. I understand. I truly do.
    Now, You say "They rise when I and my brain are ready for feelings."…"my body temp remains very low…". So, there is an I, the possessor, the owner (so to speak) of the body, brain and feelings. So you're not those parts. They 'belong' to You. Consider for a minute how releasing that sounds. If I am the "feeler" not the feelings themselves, then I am, so are you, more, much more, than the expression of my self. Maybe there's still a meaning for Life: feeling the pain. Could be experiencing pain is something we can only undergo while "staying alive". Could be after all there is more of something else 'after' Life. A new birth? You don't have to buy this bullshit (unless you consider it not simply bullshit)

  9. Thanks Art,

    Reading this I cried, and that made me feel unblocked. Sometimes I feel blocked due to my induced breech birth with anestesia. Crying for you and crying for me made me so vivid and alive now.

    It is nice to read about scientific side of feelings, and also it is nice to read about feeling the feelings.


    1. Nenad: I forgot to say how nice it is to get these kind of letters. It makes all so rewarding. art

  10. Gary, Ayayay, in all my latest books I say that Primal Therapy is a way of life, not a therapy as such. We go on crying like we go on laughing. We do the human thing. I started to write the Primal Scream almost 50 years ago. Things change and I learn. I hope I never get stuck in any litany. art

    1. Hi Art,

      "-Primal Therapy is a way of life"-.

      For those of us having trouble making it to the center it's more than comforting to realise the truth in this. Your writing does actually lead some of us to feelings. . . I don't think you're stuck in litany, or ever could be. . . I don't see how any feeling person could write posts on a blog like this as do you, deal with us (on top of all your patients grief over 50yrs) and somehow be finished with their own feelings. . ?

      You may have become an apologist for your own 'therapy'. . . Precisely because everyone elses snake oil promises an 'end'. . . We only 'end' with death. That truth is scary WITHOUT feelings. . . With feelings (thanks to you and your writings) I for one know I will arrive at my end with some dignity.

      Paul G.

    2. Very accurate, Art. "There is nothing permanent except change itself" (Heraclitus)

  11. An email comment:
    Art thanks for writing this... I remember meeting you at the institute on Altamont you seemed to me almost like a tornado, it must be so hard when everyone looks to you for all the answers instead of their own hearts. I am so sorry that you had such a painful life, that you weren't nurtured and cherished as you should have been... Thank you for freeing me along with yourself and thank you for writing this. Love you.

  12. From thinkers to become sentient... from hell to become feeling human beings!

    So once we comes over the barrier... the obstacle (neocortex) against to feel so there's no turning back... we can only become more and more "normal" for what the human foundation in its evolutionary process is intended. What a brilliant option!

    When we talk about freedom... I understand where it comes from! To be detained at sentences about life... thoughts against feelings. Thoughts to solve technical problems instead of feeling the hell as constructed them and become loving people. What a most extreme disaster!

    To be faced with katastrofala feelings is like the eternal solitude... it without any experience of the process of love's enormous significance! Now thoughts is formed... it in neocortex for what we now know the church's preaching to "burn in hell" comes from... it to schizophrenia and anxiety. Art... I do understand your promptings of caution.


  13. It is inspirational and motivational to a lot of people; Art's writing this. The accomplishments he has made in spite of the upbringing he had, just shows a lot of character and strength that he has. Another man or woman may not have survived so well. Seriously.

  14. Thanks for this Art as always. I am finding sleep quite interesting at the moment. Firstly I think I am sleeping differently for the first time in my life. My dreams are no longer surreal (or not often) and seem to be like real life as you have suggested in your writing. I have even been aware that I have been dreaming sometimes. I have thought during a dream "I'm dreaming". Amazing! :-)

  15. It`s always more interesting to find out what an individual has gone through specifically than to just read about generalisations of personal experiences. Or if you will, case histories as an indispensable compliment to psychological theory. The touching experiences of Dr Janov will also probably evoke a lot of feelings about our own mothers. As for me, I have not ovecome the intense bitterness and rage I`ve felt all my life towards her, although it`s a lot better. I still can`t be around my mother for a long time, because everything about her annoys me. Art`s age, she is a typical Italian fascist of the 30s era, harsh and authoritarian,my always being a lazy good for nothing in her eyes. To try to get her approval when young, I`d point out I was first of my class, and that I did not get high marks from telepathic studying. But that made no differences to her contempt for me. For her, work meant cutting the grass, and such useless activities, and I was not interested.Thus was born a life-long angry anarchist.

    Art`s understanding of his mother seems to be a genuine one, achieved after going through much therapeutic cleansing , so to speak. Contrast that with the facile calls to premature "forgiveness" by so many so-called "spiritual" people, and other dull middle-class types. I remember listening to AA people talk about heir upbringing,and they would all inevitably either say that their parents were OK with them, or, if the parents were harsh, they would say that their parents did their best. In the former case, I doubt any alcoholic had parents that were OK. In the latter case, their understanding of their parents seemed phony to me, done to appear "spiritual" and "forgiving" to themselves and the rest of the "forgiveness" addicts of AA.When i expressed my bitterness , I was subtily marginalised. But so what? I no longer waste my time going to AA.


    1. There is that classic cliche/joke about therapy and especially about Freud "So tell me about your Mother" which obviously does point in the generally right direction in that our experience in our Mothers womb and our experiences in the first 2 years of life when she is often our only carer is vital in how we turn out. When I read Art's piece I was initially worried about the influence of forgiveness which can be a terribly malign and destructive imposition on a very hurt person by a Society generally unaware of how it damages it's own members. Boy have I had enough of that powerful dogma thrust in my direction by other family members most of whom are wrapped up in Religious dogma.

      I can understand your anger and bitterness Marco as I feel the same. My Mother was and is a Bullying Coward unable to face her own abuse as a child so deny's all the things she did to me and my Sister were very abusive. I pity my Mother but I cannot forgive nor can I see her in a positive light. Right now I feel it would be destructive to even try. The whole issue of forgiveness is so powerful in my head due to my Father's Catholic imposed guilt that I worry it would undo much good Art's therapy has so obviousy done for me. It is a fight sometimes to feel the anger and fury she evokes in me because of an urge to forgive her. Maybe that's the first signs of my need to be loved. I am not sure whether it's a neurotic one or the real one. Time will tell.

      Thank you Art for your help and your teams help. I honestly do feel partly out of the woods now.

    2. Hi planespotter,

      I've been listening to BBC Radio 4 series on 'debt'. Apparently the word to 'pay' comes from the word to pacify and the meaning of the word 'forgive' is related actually to debt, or rather the 'foregoing' of debt.

      It is with some considerable irony that all these things come from the religious glergy's attempts to organise and standardise the different values for various different household goods and more interestingly the various parts of the body when subject to loss / injury / destruction and therefore how to 'pacify' with 'compensation'.

      The Magna Carter (this year 800 years old) is a fine example of this way of thinking.

      We even talk about 'clerics' but the word 'clerical' has come to mean finance. . .

      It seems that some terrible con has taken place whereby we have all become permanently indebted to each other and somehow compelled to forgive, but we are not the clergy telling us that are we? Moreover the clergy aren't the bankers lending us more digital finance to pacify ourselves either. . .
      When you consider for a moment that ALL the worlds resources cannot be valued to even 0.0001% of the digital capital that exists to buy it up with, you realise that we have made the world 'owe us' a 'debt' which can never be paid.

      Debt and forgiveness is therefore THE zeitgeist of the last two millennia and we are indentured slaves to it. Religion keeps the ideals / belief going.

      If you give up religion, you will inevitably face your debts without the belief they were worth the paper they were promised / printed on. . .

      Paul G.

  16. Art, Apologies for my Italian /broken English mishmash...!!
    I was flabbergasted that Your parents were russians and since I do know some Mrs.Ayn Rand`s
    books (she a a russian who came to America and unfortunately adopted it`s (America`s "philosophy of radical "free" capitalism etc.

    I tried to celbrate the russian Genius ! coming to America via the genes of You(resp.Your parents.

    Again I beg Your pardon for my poor english!
    Your emanuel

  17. Maybe some feelings require the total absence of here-and-now distractions, and for that reason they emerge more easily when you are asleep. Or maybe sleep is sometimes a good compromise when you do not have a therapist to stop you from being distracted. Who knows? I guess it doesn't really matter so long as you are resolving your feelings.

    Art, what do you mean when you say "Not everyone has to have merging levels of consciousness"

    Also, I found it interesting when you said you rarely have feelings about your mother because she was not really there. If both my parents died painlessly, I just can't imagine that I would feel bad at all! I mean.....they are nothing to me. Just two people whom I never loved and who never loved me. Why should I care when they are gone? I can't. I am not sure if my apathy is a result of repression or if my parents have always been so unlovable that I would simply not be losing loved ones. My feelings about them (in my dreams) have always revolved around my feelings of rejection and abandonment -- but never any yearning to be close to them. Asking to be close to them would be like hugging a frozen tree (my mother) or hugging an enraged demon (my father). When I was about nine I tried to be my father's friend, doing virtually anything he wanted, I went running with him in the mornings, tried to have friendly conversations with him, but he was never comfortable with friendliness and was only happy when I performed well and made him look like an amazing father. My desire to be his friend was quickly demolished (by him) and my hatred towards him grew more and more over the years, but now when I see him I feel nothing.

    Yeah I know it's a waste of time thinking about this stuff. Just got to discover the feelings hiding in my unconscious.

  18. Hi Richard,

    -" I am not sure if my apathy is a result of repression"-.

    My bet is that it is. Whether or not you uncover this form of 'denial' and gain access to the void of what you should have received from your Dad BEFORE he dies, if you remain true to your own Primal principles, you will probably feel bereft AFTER he dies.

    Many men report not being able to 'get on with their lives' until after the death of their fathers because the deep underlying hope that the old bastards will finally acknowledge us and meet our need for approval doesn't die until they do. Then, it is like the floor has dropped away from under our feet, the carpet pulled out and the grief of unmet need surges up. . . Only then can we 'let go of false hope, grieve for what we never had and get on with our lives'. . .

    Despite having formed a kind of truce with my Dad I know for sure I will turn to jelly when he finally goes.

    Paul G.

  19. Art, look what Annie &your Father produced, think about what they would think if they knew the person you have become, what you are doing (&will continue to do) for the world. It gives me goosebumps
    Reading this, I'm humbled &awed (yet again) what you have come from, to what you are. You are truly magnificent &inspiring
    Again, I wish you could live forever

    I'm sometimes almost shocked by the intensity of emotion in my dreams, those near waking/sleep-finish/to do w/present day happenings. And the vividness/creativity/colour. It's like my heart is wringing out &my head is exploding. Jacquie

    1. Jacquie: Jacquie About parents being proud: don't over-estmate the power of neurosis to erase pride. I wrote the Primal Scream in the 60's and it was published in 1970. My father came to see me in 1969 and saw a manuscript on the table. He asked me what it was. I said it was a book I just finished called The Primal Scream. He picked it up, leafed through it for 2-3 seconds put it down and said, "We know all that". And proceeded to walk outside. That moment froze in my mind, cause I said to myself, what do I have to do to get approval or some nice word, like "how good you got a book published." But then he never read a book and I am sure could not understand them so he was too challenged by it all. He could not feel proud cause he felt stupid. art

  20. Jacquie: Well how sweet. My mother, also known as crazy annie, came to me after I was a shrink for many years and said, "what is it you do? Is it psychriatry; if so remember I know more in my little finger than you will ever know." My mother who was illiterate lived in another world. What they would think would never change; they were russian peasants and remained so. art

  21. It's great post! Thanks for sharing!


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.