Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Mysteries of Some Behaviors

One of the great mysteries escapes most of us:  why is this child so anxious and out of control, so incapable of doing school work, and mostly hangs out with the wrong people?  Gets in trouble all the time,  several auto accidents,  takes drugs and cannot be counted on.   Recognize him?  He is your neighbor, the guy down the street or the person who works next to you.   He is unstable  and cannot do anything , any project or task, for any length of time.  He is anxious and skittish and very unreliable.   He, and less often she, flits around and cannot be pinned down.  Often leaves a trail of destruction everywhere he goes.    He can be charming on the surface but when it gets deeper he is a mess.   Cannot keep a relationship for any length of time.  Never count on him; cause his word means nothing.

Yet he had stable loving parents who continue to blame themselves. 

So what is wrong?  He suffers from ineffable damage so early as to be unimaginable.   It is ineffable and inexplicable for a reason: it is damage done before we were verbal, and before we had language.  The mind of this person seems like a cesspool of inputs that drive him hither and yon.  What inputs?  The damage inflicted by an unsuspecting mother who drinks many cups of coffee a day, or is highly anxious, keeps on an unhealthy diet, drinks alcohol, etc.   Each piece of damage is imprinted and sends its message through the system that there is impairment there.   It keeps the mind busy dealing with all that information, which is ultimately distracting and plays into ADD, attention deficit disorder.  It is like a phone operator sending the top level brain unending messages which overwhelm its  possibilities for integration.  It is, ultimately, the imprint. It is covered over, repressed, hidden, but its energy sprouts everywhere.  And it is the energy component that cannot be stopped.  We give tranquilizers to block its spread but that is only a temporary measure.  Energy is now free-floating; traveling to the top level thinking area and also to deeper levels of the brain.  It agitates and aggravates. It is the signal left behind that warns,  "danger, ahead."  And believe it or not, the closer we get to it, the more danger it signals; higher blood pressure, body temp and heart rate, all activated against the danger: of what? Terrible pain ahead, lying in wait; a danger so volatile and impacting that seems life-endangering, which it was and is.   It is again, the memory, the imprint that frames the damage lying in wait to be fully felt.  And why all those complications?  Because liberation lies just on the other side; freedom to be out of pain and no longer driven incessantly.  

He is often labeled a psychopath because on the way in the womb towards life on the planet, his limbic/feeling system has been damaged and he no long can feel for others nor empathize.  The imprint impairs the limbic/feeling system from keeping feelings alive and expressive because it too is flooded with damage information.   It keeps him from being stable and being able to maintain a long-term emotional relationship.   The damaged limbic system won’t allow long-term emotional commitment.   And the developing brain begins to lose its adaptability and plasticity in infancy so that the earlier damage cannot be changed.  Any intervention to be effective at all must occur during the brain’s most dynamic growth, just after a trauma occurs.  After that not much can change.   The cure lies at the spot and time of the damage; and that is often during brainstem development and inchoate limbic evolution.  That is why it is all a mystery; its origin is so remote as to be unbelievable.  Yet there it lies with methylation traces signaling damage.  And those memory imprints are traceable and knowable, not in the language of our culture but of the archaic language of our remote ancestors. We are going back to meet them millions of years ago, communicating in their language of grunts and physical signs.  We don't have to travel back a million years because that time is imprinted in our nervous system.  We go back there through a descent through ontology, the evolution of our species.  And when we are down at the beginnings of brainstem evolution we arrive at a time when sharks ruled.  And we must learn to recognize the shark influences and talk their language; and never approach too quickly and abruptly for fear of evoking great terror.  That animal and his simple brain is easily disrupted and rendered dangerous.   If we want psychosis to appear we do rebirthing and then see the flooding, and inundation of the neo-cortex at work, creating delusions to avoid the real pain.  Then "he is one with the cosmos," and other fabrications as the cortex is devilishly busy concocting ideas to fend off the brainstem terror and pain.  He has now risen above the pain and lives in a schizophrenic world where all is wonderful.   It is easy to see that here psychosis is a good defense, and perhaps the last one on the road to serious psychosis.   

Even with his parents, who soon learn that they have little influence on him or his emotions .  We may blame his parents as they may blame themselves but the damage is done before he was born, and they could even touch him. He is behaving as though his parents made him suffer constantly, which they did, only inadvertently.  They certainly did not mean to but their own pain made them act in deleterious ways toward the baby; taking drugs, or drinking or smoking.  And it happened during the critical period with the wide open critical window; which according to very recent research, demonstrates that the fetus is more open to pain and feels it just as strongly, if not more-so, than us. When the damage from an anxious mother, or one who smokes and drinks or fights with her spouse, is deeply embedded, inaccessible and practically irreversible, it is always the imprint.  Therein lies the mystery; an arcane memory lying in the antipodes of the mind out of reach and out of touch.  Who could possibly imagine that a 20 year old college kid cannot concentrate because of damage to his archaic shark brain?  Or that  thirty year old man is hooked on heroin because of damage that occurred when he was just beginning life?   It seems beyond comprehension; and yet there is where real cure lies, and often only then and there.  How we do know?  Our patients go back there and relive the damage and solve so much of it, including heavy drug addiction.  They never do it in a day or weekend; rather it is accomplished over many months.   For that we need patience and a bit of science and a lot of evolution.   
So we therapists have been taught to reassure our patient that it is not her fault. Relieving her of any blame but maybe it is; maybe it is fault by default; not in her control, at least not in her awareness.  It happened when the baby could not scream, or complain, just silent suffering which shows up in force later on when he can behave. And he does.   Do not try to control him because he is not in control, or rather, he is controlled by powerful forces sending out messages of constant pain.  It continues to drive him in every direction possible.  He cannot pay attention.  What do we do?  We drug him, not for what we think is wrong but to cool the imprint which has gone awry.   What is controlling him is far more powerful than any control by teachers or parents, who complain that he is out of control.  We drug his neuro-biologic reactions to calm him down. Sometimes it works for a short time, but not for long.  

My God!  What is the solution?   To attack the origins of it all; I know of nothing else to do but to relive the trauma fully, as painful as it might be.  To relive in small feel-able bits over many months.  That, for me, is what we must do.   Otherwise,  we have to keep pushing it back, an endless affair.  And we cannot just approach the imprint quickly; we have to feel many other feel-able  memories first, and over months before we can approach the deep imprint.  There is where the deep pain lies, we have measured it in many ways, much higher blood pressure and heart rate and changes in brain frequency and amplitude.   That level of pain won’t let us attack it directly; we need to approach it with great caution.   If we don’t we will get the effects of rebirthing: greater damage and more irreversible pain.   This happens because we dredge up great pain which arises out of sequence and is overwhelming and can never be properly integrated.    The unconscious is no place for charlatans who decide they know what to do and they don’t.  Let us never lose sight of our shark brain.  It is ready to pounce at the slightest intrusion. Let us approach with caution.


  1. This could be told a thousand times yet we would never have enough of the wisdom it sheds. And our species' story goes on and on, constantly looking for redemption that never comes from the outside of our own domain (faith, hope,...). All theses confusing terms unconsciously borrowed from religious organizations whose aim is certainly already passing the severest and most serious scrutiny. Yet the merry go round is spinning faster than ever ad nauseam -which should be interpreted as a good sign of evoultion: the more psycothics we encounter the nearer the global repressed pain comes to the excruciating point of no return. Because, let's not fool ourselves, the pathology is splashing every single human being in a certain degree. It shows. Those bleeding scars splash blatantly around through our talking. Time for everyone to start considering not just one's Pandora's box but a bigger framework as well. Because one thing is for sure: we humans are, wether we like it or not, onboard the same vessel so to speak. Noone is going anywhere without the rest if us. We all need to take a break (and we're damned well being forced into taking it) and a serious chance on our hurt feelings right now, so we can manage tomorrow that flow every now and then as the therapy turns hopefully into a self-administered treatment, away from social archaic prejudice.
    Again Thank You so much for your ever powerful insight.

  2. Hey Lars, so nice to hear from you again. I cannot believe you are not American nor English cause your writing is brilliant. art

    1. Yes, Lars, I love it: "..and a serious chance on our hurt feelings right now, so we can manage tomorrow.." Beautiful, empathic. Jacquie

    2. Art: Why do you say "He, and less often she, (flits around and cannot be pinned down.)"? Do you think your description here pertains to men more than women? If so why?? Thanks

      This piece really speaks to me right now.. Thank you so much. Again. (Don't leave us!). Yours, Jacquie

    3. Jacquie: As I explained in a previous blog, he is just more convenient to us. art

    4. Hello Art, my friend. Just letting you know your explanation to Jacquie doesn't make sense.

      But anyway, we all know that men flit around more than women. Most homeless people are men. Most psychopaths are men. Most people in jail are men.

      From my completely unscientific but real observations, it seems that the male brain is designed to allow for a more explorative and experimental lifestyle... whereas women are genetically locked into a sociable lifestyle even when they are growing in a toxic womb. Yes, women choose to abandon their babies, but not as often as men do. And women cling to their babies when danger is present.... men don't. We can see this pattern in other mammalian species. The male explores and fights while the female stays with her babies.

      Is it any surprise that men can become so unfeeling and unmoved in times of war while their wives beg them not to go? Men's brains become emotionally detached when they are growing in a toxic womb... they are more likely to become psychopathic. Maybe there is an evolutionary purpose to this weakness in the male brain.

      There is probably no point in discussing all of this. If there are genetic differences there is little we can do to change them. Better to focus on those psychological aspects that can be changed.

      Still, I am almost embarrassed to be a male primate. I loathe the stupid male thugs that grunt at me when I ask them a simple, polite question, and I adore the enthusiastic, almost affectionate response I get from females. Males have invented wonderful machines but where would we be without women? Right, Jacquie?

    5. Made sense to me. 'He' is just a more convenient a term to use.


    6. Steve, you can trust me too. That is not what he meant.

      Some quotes from a psychology website which have as much credibility as a typical scholarly article:

      "Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is more commonly diagnosed in boys than girls, but research into ADHD in adulthood suggests an almost equal balance between men and women."

      "Greater self-referrals among adult women may underlie the more balanced gender ratio."

      "Women are less likely to be diagnosed because the guidelines used in assessment and diagnosis have traditionally focused on males."

      "A 2005 study looking at gender differences in ADHD found higher rates of “oppositional defiant disorder” and “conduct disorder” in males, and higher rates of “separation anxiety disorder” in females"

      You see a pattern here? Little girl seeks help and clings to mommy... little boy goes his own way. Not always but there do seem to be gender-specific tendencies.

      Ever wondered why girls get better grades at school? Maybe girls are easier to control because they are genetically programmed to keep the peace. Keeping the peace is a sensible strategy for an ape that is physically weaker and busy breastfeeding.

    7. Hi Richard
      Thanks for your thoughtful posts. You sound as if you attribute destructive and harmful male behaviour primarily to nature, rather than nurture. I don´t. The abuse women endure in every sphere of their lives cannot be in the natural scheme of things. I receive a regular newsletter from "feminist current" which has really opened my eyes to what women have to put up with. A recent poll of 600 women in Paris found that ALL of them had suffered sexual harassment/intimidation on the Paris underground before the age of 18, and ALL had since. REGULARLY. A 23 year old English woman recently endured a month of daily wolf whistles, shouted sexual remarks and even having her path blocked by builders on her way to work. Eventually she reported it to the police. The media got hold of it and both men AND women joined in a media debate in which the whole thing was treated as a game and her feelings mocked & trivialised. The very fact that a story like this is set up as a juicy back-and-forth debate suggests that a woman’s right to be treated as a human being is still being called into question. We have not conclusively agreed, in 2015, that women have the right to walk the streets, wearing whatever they choose, without being shouted and whistled at.
      Sarah Green, acting director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, questions the media’s “cynical framing” of “a story with lots of detail and angles”. “Some of the newspapers have wilfully misrepresented what happened and created an impression of someone who responded disproportionately to something she should just ignore – that isn’t what happened. She was left with few alternatives."
      "She continues: “Just because someone somewhere has a personal opinion that wolf-whistling and boorish behaviour is ‘fun’ and not criminal does not make it right – try living with the day-to-day drip, drip feeling that someone is acting in a way that causes you fear and knowing that they just don’t care about the impact on you.”
      "In reality, though, we are hardly facing an epidemic of self-righteous women wasting police time with unimportant issues. In fact, the opposite is true. Many young women I have spoken to have endured groping and unwanted touching that falls squarely under the UK law on sexual assault, but would never dream of reporting it to the police because we live in a world in which it is considered a normal part of being a woman, or “just a bit of banter”.
      I submit that the oppression of women by men and by the male controlled legal & educational/media systems can only occur when neurosis is preexistent and provides fértile soil. Pornography is therefore not a root cause of violence against women. It aggravates violence and dehumanisation by legitimising and encouraging it, but both pornography and the behaviour it triggers are caused by primal trauma. To believe otherwise is to have a very negative & cynical view of human beings, especially men, and tragically, this is by far the majority attiitude. Gary

    8. Interesting, Gary. I have received a wolf whistle only once in my life. It came from a car full of girls.. no males to be seen anywhere.. so I was delighted to receive the whistle. I was smiling for quite some time afterwards. Maybe they were just joking around but it felt nice to me. Who doesn't want to be desirable?
      In my job I work with about 250 young attractive girls (flight attendants and front of house staff). On their days off, some of them arrive at the airport showing most of their breasts and wearing tights that show the explicit shape of their vulva. Being a shuttle driver, I hear a lot of sexual comments, especially from the male pilots who seem to feel that they are above the company's laws. Most of the girls who receive these comments undoubtedly enjoy the attention... I often see the same smug smiles on their faces that I had on mine when I received that one and only whistle.
      We live in a world full of hot-blooded human primates. We cannot expect a poorly socialised construction worker to refrain from flirting at all times. We all have to live together in this world -- a little give and take from everyone.
      A long time ago I chatted with a social worker who was arranging for me to see a cognitive therapist. She was extremely attractive and wore a blouse with a plunging neckline that showed off far too much cleavage.... essentially pornographic. She soon noticed that I couldn't stop staring at her outrageously exposed breasts. She was not offended at all. She casually left the room to do something. When she came back she was wearing a pink cardigan which was buttoned up so that I couldn't see her cleavage anymore. We carried on with our conversation, we maintained eye contact, and when we parted she even told me she liked me.
      I wondered why she didn't feel naked when her boobs were hanging out. I also found it interesting how she accommodated for my impulsive staring rather than demanding that I behave in a more respectful manner. Perhaps her intuitive brain could see that I was trying to be respectful, but failing.

  3. Yes, great letter Lars. How tragic that almost everyone on the planet is deluding themselves, LYING to themselves, over most everything they do. It´s as if humanity has lived for thousands of years controlled by a vast underworld of puppeteers just beneath the Earths surface controlling their every thought and every action with radiowaves, yet nobody has ever had the slightest idea they are there! And even the people we go to, many of whom have thought deeply over the issue, to find out what is controlling us, cannot see just below the surface. Yet somewhere, the unconscious tries to let us know, but in a highly disguised form; in dreams & nightmares, or in films like Invasion of the Bodysnatchers or The Stepford Wives, and so on. gary

    1. Gary, I'd say the global delusion, understood as the great conviction in falsehood, despite evidence to the contrary, can by now only be explained in a context of a profound (unconscious) will to experience the deepest and most terrifying scenarios possible. I mean when we watch adverts or News on TV we expect (want) to be deluded. No one outside ourselves is forcing us to believe in anything. Same goes when we fall in love: we need to feel loved the way we ought to, back THEN when things went 'wrong', back THERE where the first crossroad made us stumble. That until we admit the most powerful love can only come from 'within'. But really who are we to say something is right or wrong? I believe it's not a matter of judging (the easiest thing to do). All we humans need to is feel the unfelt, in order to stop our neurotic sympathy for delusions. There are those who 'take the bull by the horns', and willingly dig into their own pit of sadness (with a little help from their Primal Friends). They may be unaware of what they are going to face, but the inner and same force out of necessity that put them one day on the run is exactly the same that will help them rebirth from ashes so to speak. And there are the rest who still want to squeeze to the last drop the experience of feeling helpless/hopeless, attached to their possessions as a means for survival. They chose to live the horrific part of the script attached to their transparent iron ball, their vain pride. Sounds Apocalyptic? What's the Apocalypse but the "Revelation" of all hidden (unconscious) truth? Apocalypse Therapy would work fine as an advertising campaign in case primal became too 'chewed'. We're all walking on the edge of a cliff. Despite the giddiness I choose to walk that path alive, as much conscious as I can, not as a walking dead…May Life bless you.

    2. Anonymous said...
      Hi Despertaares; People believe what they want, and in general, it is PRETTY DARN CRAZY....However, an ex friend of mine, also, like me, an ex Anarchist activist (ie very aware of globalisation and what it does to people, and therefore by inference with a sound moral sense), recently said to me, in response to my expressing horror at Afghan women being publicly hanged for adultery under Taliban law, and with not a hint of irony, "Who are we to judge what is right or wrong in a foreign culture?"
      That´s crazy. Accepted morality taken to a logical conclusion. All humanity taken out of the equation. All FEELING. I´ve heard exactly the same "argument" to justify factory farming. There´s no feeling, and no feeling is SICK. Gary

  4. Hello everyone.

    A quick question, Dr. Janov.
    1st paragraph, 6th line: why (do you think) more males and less females?

    And some food for thought.
    There is a math graph that applies in many everyday occasions. Details would be tiring, so the idea goes like…

    …at the beginning of an “event”, the “effect/impact” is greater and after a specific amount of time (which time has to do with the parameters of the examined event) no significant alteration can be made/observed.
    A quick example is how our body gets fit. At the beginning, push-ups, weights, etc have great effect. But after some time, we go to the gym only to realize that either we have v-e-e-e-r-y slow progress or we just maintain our shape and strength and nothing more. The time needed for the above is relevant only to the “person” itself.

    I believe the neurotic impact follows the same principle. At the beginning of our own time (being a fetus or few months after birth), everything that happens is VERY IMPORTANT! Then the impact diclines as we grow older.

    And, amazingly, when a person comes for primal therapy, when the neurotic lid is finally open, the pain just pours out, so violently (at the beginning), that we may outreach the primal zone and dive into deep pain, where little integration is possible. This could go on for a certain amount of time.
    And then we may need weeks, perhaps months, to observe again a really deep feeling and a redemptory reliving.

    - Yannis -

  5. Art: I am rereading this over & over.. Thank you. Jacquie


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.