Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ken Rose on "Life Before Birth". Part 6/6

KR: Yes. We're gong to wrap it up, but I want to say something here, most of us to greater or lesser degrees have been wounded, have been traumatized, either a little or not such a little, and we pay the consequences of this, and there's really not much that can be done about it in our short of undertaking a very difficult therapy, which some people do but most people in practical terms cannot. Like many people, I had a difficult birth, and I knew who my mother was and she smoked cigarettes and she had an unhappy marriage, and I know that I have suffered my whole life from the life I spent inside my mother and as a consequence of the reality of my family that I was born into, and I just want to say that even though I joined the 99% of humanity who suffers from difficult life circumstances, just understanding how all this works and understanding that there are reasons that we are anxious, or depressed, or strange or tormented to different degrees in different ways. I probably could be saying this in a lot better way but I'm kind of just blurting it out. I'm just making the case that just knowing this or understanding it is very helpful and that is just my testimony and it helps me a lot to understand who I am and how I got this way, and the plusses and minuses of living and ordinary life as a human being in the 20th century in the 21st century. I just wanted to say that.

JL: Yes, I think you said it splendidly, I think what this book does is forces you to sort of look at yourself, and look at yourself differently and really start to think back to those earliest experiences and your mother's pregnancy and think about how you are as a person what your personality... what is derived from and who you are as a result of very early experiences, and I think that's a very illuminating and also, I think in a sense curative experience, just knowing, just having that knowledge allows you to better understand yourself and kind of who you are.

KR: Yes, my mother was anesthetized at my birth, I was anesthetized and I'm a mess. I've been a mess my whole life.

JL: But, again, I think as Dr. Janov writes, we didn't know a lot of things fifty years ago, and behaved the way we did because of the knowledge we had at the time, what was available and I think one of his points is that, that knowledge is different now, we know different things, so we have to start to chart a new course for psychotherapy and a new course for the whole practice of pregnancy, and how we treat pregnant women and help them have the healthiest birth experience they can.

KR: We can do much better going forward and we can give our new children and their new children much better lives. That’s pretty great!

JL: That’s the hopeful way, I think to end, for sure!

KR: I really thank you so much for coming and talking to us.

JL: I appreciate it, it was really a true pleasure and hopefully I’ll hear from you again soon.

KR: Hopefully we did a descent job serving Dr. Janov’s heroic work.

JL: Yes, I think you did, and I appreciate you sharing your own experience.

KR: All right, we’ll talk again, thank you, thank you thank you…
Jeff Link, Chicago Illinois, the editor of “Life Before Birth” I’m sorry I don’t have the book, how our womb life rules the rest of our lives, like it or not, that’s not the subtitle, but like it or not, what can you do? It’s hard, it’s painful, it’s horrible, and there it is, what can you do? You might as well eat it. You’re going to eat it anyway, and eating it is OK. If we were going to live forever, then we’d really be screwed up, forever. But, we’re just here for a few decades, and if we can move this thing along, if we can provide our children with a much better head start a much better prognosis for a relatively pain free life, or a relatively trauma free life, this is stupendous achievement, and something to be very excited about and proud of, I think, and I hope you do too, and I hope that you’ll investigate Dr. Janov’s work. New book is called “Life Before Birth,” and you know that’s what we’re here for, we’re here to improve… if we do have a future while we’re here, we might as well make it a better future for our family. It ain’t about us as individuals, it’s about us as a family among other families, among all other families. I hope we’re getting this, thank you for listening.

That was Jeff Link, the editor of “Life Before Birth,” by Arthur Janov


Monday, September 21, 2015

Ken Rose on "Life Before Birth". Part 5/6

KR: Right, the fetus constantly adapts to the womb environment and pays the price for it. The first order is survive at all costs. Then if we’re fortunate later, possibly the opportunity exists to go back and take care of unfinished business, and also it’s the last thing we want to do. Nobody wants to feel their pain, nobody wants to feel terror or anything unpleasant really. That’s what our whole lives are about, distracting ourselves in a thousand ways from all this pain we’re carrying around, which keeps relentlessly surging to be made conscious.
Dr. Janov  writes, “those who experience trauma while being carried and in childhood die in average twenty years earlier than those who did not have those risk factors.” So here this is a good argument, for understanding and reliving and feeling our pain, and possibly even healing big sections of our hearts and souls that are… there was an old book that he wrote called “Prisoners of Pain.”  That we’re all kind of hugged tied by our pain and the repression that we use to keep it away from consciousness and the price we pay for it.

JL: Right, and I think this can have all sorts of affects too in terms of how we repress or how we try to deal with it, but many of them are just as bad if we are constantly trying to dig past the pain or repress it that creates enormous strain on the system, which can then show up in other ways. There hasn’t been a lot of definitive research on this, but Dr. Janov really believes that this also may be behind what eventually causes cancer, this sort of massive repression on the cellular level that prevents natural growth and then overtime creates catastrophic consequences.

KR: I’d like to read another short section here, Dr. Janov writes, “What most of medicine and psychotherapy involves today is the treatment of fragments of the human being. We then go about treating the varied offshoots from a central imprint, rather than the imprint itself. Treatment becomes interminable, what we get is a fragment of progress, a change in aspects of an early experience, rather than a holistic recalibration or neuro and physiologic mechanisms connected with the experience.”

JL: Right. I think that’s really… to kind of take that and kind of go tied in with what he was saying… comparisons he draws in the book to somebody like Freud, the relationship he has with some of the earlier schools of psychoanalysis and some of the work that preceded him is complicated. Freud he had this notion that hysteria was rooted in repressed sexual desire and he often charted it in dreams and sort of this symbolic notion of dreams. I think what Janov really does is he takes, much like those I think, thinkers who dwelled in big ideas and sort of profound conclusions, he sort of notes that while Freud was working on the symbolic labels and missed a lot, he was right about the symptoms. Individuals that show this hysteria would constantly be unreflective and prone to overreaction, and Janov would say that yes these traits exist, but instead of looking for symbols in dreams, he’ll look for the signs of what’s actually happening when we’re having nightmares. What’s happening to us biologically when we have a nightmare, or what do we feel during that time, and why is that terror coming up. He’ll look to the limbic system to find where the terror is actually rooted. He’s not trying to find something that’s going to calm down a patient who has ADD or depression for the day or the next couple of hours. Even something that maintains the status quo, he’s really looking to something that can eventually promote a cure.

KR: I’m going to read one more paragraph OK? On my end… Dr. Janov writes, “The brain we need to address doesn’t talk, doesn’t understand English, and as a matter of fact doesn’t understand words. In fact, the term ‘understand’ is a bit of a misnomer, we are not after understanding in the intellectual sense of the term, we are after integration that can happen without cerebral understanding. Yes, understanding helps, but it must not be confused with resolving, connecting and integrating. When a therapist tries to get a patient to report on his feelings all may be lost, for those feelings may be wordless. Trying to express them verbally distances us from the origins of our pain in the lower brain, and since one layer of brain tissue cannot do the work of another we have effectively trumped or efforts, once we get away from words we can focus on what is curative. Understanding came last in human evolution, long after feeling, and it will not lead us to the long term healing we are after. None of this requires abstract or esoteric methods, we can make major changes in society just by paying attention to gestation and changing our birth practices.”

JL: Right, and I mean I think that’s one of the book’s key conclusions, is that we have to look back at birth practices and look at a mother’s emotional state as not just… not at all incidental. I think the idea that feeling is connected to our biology and has these sort of biologic implications, we can see it in our biology is a pretty drastically different way of looking at the field. A field that has been historically characterized by Talk Therapy and by approaches really focused on analysis, not on the right side of the brain. That’s where I think Dr. Janov is really looking to go.

KR: Well, it excites me because I think it opens a huge door. I think it opens an enormous door of understanding and of suggesting very fundamental, none esoteric, as he says, simple birth practices, practices of pregnancy and child birthing that can have the most dramatic and far reaching implications for our human future. It can probably do more good than all the billable hours in the history of the profession.

JL: Yes, I think there was a chapter in this book that came about later specifically dealing with pregnancy, and I had a really great time working with Dr. Janov in this whole process and just kind of being exposed to the constant influx of new ideas and research he was exposing me to and all the work that was being done, in the field of epigenetics and in the field of gestational health and new studies he was showing me about memory and anxiety and all these other topics, but one of the things that I think really stuck was this idea about what to do during pregnancy. And he ended up sort of writing a chapter on pregnancy and just offering some almost concrete pieces of advice for women that can have some really lasting implications. As he writes at the beginning of the chapter, “I know it sounds like an oxymoron for me to give advice since I am not by profession nor intention an aficionado of advice. But let us not minimize what a carrying mother can do for the good or bad of her child.” It is with a little bit of caution that he approaches the subject, because he is male and because obviously this has a big impact if you’re sort of providing some guidelines for how it behaved. But things like watching your stress; if I can read just a couple parts of this chapter I think it’s really important. “There is no way to eliminate stress entirely, but there are certainly ways to manage it. Don’t plan a new business or start a series of complicated projects that put you under stress while pregnant. The baby will feel this anxiety and suffer. Try to work out problems with your spouse before you get pregnant. Once you are pregnant, it is largely too late. That doesn’t mean you should never argue or fight again; but try to resolve the more serious difficulties before you introduce a new life on this planet. The baby deserves his or her best chance at life, and what you do during pregnancy to manage your stress is important, in that regard.”
He talks about eating right and getting protein, calcium, folic acid, fiber. He talks about being very cautious about going about tranquilizers and painkillers to relive anxiety. New studies are coming out all the time on this but there have been new studies on the use of antidepressants, the use of tranquilizers during pregnancy, and we’re still kind of figuring out what all this does, ultimately it may be good for the mother to keep her emotions balanced but we really have to see what other effects this could have during gestation.

I think the main thing he focuses on all of this is love. To touch your baby early on, to breastfeed if you can, he says, "Read French obstetrician Frederic Leboyer, who popularized the practice of immersing the newborn in a warm water bath, without drugs and without bright lights. Leboyer recommends that the baby be held right away and for a long time. He advises against cutting the umbilical cord too soon as the child's attachment with his mother is vital at the start of life." "There is no greater advice I can give than this: be open, expressive, and feeling with your children. A caring mother gives her baby the best chance for long-term well-being. Yes, even if you don't eat those carrots and tomatoes when you should, love will help. Your child is part of you and feels what you feel, even though he doesn't have words to express it. All I ask is awareness. The research is there; we don't have to guess anymore." He's putting it out there, we have research into this field, we can't turn a blind eye to it, we have to look at it and start to think about what it might mean.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ken Rose on "Life Before Birth". Part 4/6

KR: Yeah… Would you talk a little bit about anxiety?

JL: Yes, Dr. Janov has really fascinating things to say about anxiety. To begin with that anxiety is not a normal feeling. He talks about how we would see signs of anxiety in somebody who maybe stays on the phone for a really long time, and talks and talks but doesn’t listen, you try to talk back to them and they’re not hearing you. Or you make a grocery list and give it to somebody who has extreme anxiety and they’ll go to the grocery store and sort of forget everything that was on the list. Basically the way he explains this is through an idea called “gating.” What he’s saying is that in the brain, if it develops in the way it should and things are healthy, there’s sort of like a hierarchy and there is the cortical areas, the sort of upper level brain is able to repress certain things or certain lower level pains from constantly shooting up, but for somebody with high anxiety the barriers between different brain levels are too defused, so that pain is constantly shooting up, and it’s causing us nightmares and it’s creating difficulty sleeping and it’s creating this need to constantly release this sort of hyper energy, through talking, through constant movement. Dr. Janov refers to this as “leaky gates,” in other words you don’t have any control for this anxiety that keeps bubbling up, and that becomes very difficult.

KR: It should be said that anxiety is naked terror, and it has everything to do with the threat of death for the fetus. The felt threat of death.

JL: Right, and again, when he talks about anxiety and when he talks about depression too, all of this goes back to things that are happening in the womb. If I could just for a second read a little bit from the anxiety chapter because I think it’s helpful to what we’re talking about. “As I’ve discussed, the deepest level of brain function, rooted in the brainstem, is what I call the “first-line.” The inability to concentrate comes from massive pain input surging upwards from this region. When input is not properly gated, it disrupts the normal functioning of the neocortex. Poor gating, as I’ve said, can derive from any number of emotional and physiologic disruptions that occur during pregnancy: a carrying mother who is terribly anxious; a mother who takes drugs; a mother who does not eat enough or properly; a mother who is miserable due to the strain and hardship of a difficult life.
All of these gestational effects then emerge later on, this sort of terror that’s imprinted in the fetal system emerges later in life, and what happens is, it could be something that’s somewhat innocuous; like having to wait a long time in a restaurant for a table, but somebody who is prone to anxiety will react inordinately to something like that because these early primal imprints are surging upwards, so it’s in a way accessing the lower level pain and causing exaggerated reactions to things that are maybe stressful but shouldn’t be caused for extreme panic.

KR: Right, and these pains are always surging toward consciousness, to be consciously connected and felt, and have the energy sequence of the trauma run off. Which is why crying or deep crying is so healing. It’s the last stage of a fully conscious connection to something that was not fully conscious, and the pain is felt and expressed and finished.

JL: Exactly. Even further confirmation for some of the views of Janov, that maybe weren’t widely accepted for a time, it’s new research now being done into memory and what a lot of scientist are seeing, a lot of different studies is that memory reactivates the same neuroimpulses that were initially firing off when the event happened. So a traumatic event when you remember it, the act of remembering it is actually creating a neuromirrior of what went on initially. In a lot of ways that is what Primal Therapy is attempting to do; is to go back to that place and reconnect, or as it’s sometimes refer to, reconsolidate the brain state so that real haling can take place.

KR: Right. To bring the pain through the repression.

JL: Exactly, and that repressive lid, which he talks about a number of times is really what’s blocking a lot of people from access and Dr. Janov would talk about lifting the repressive lid, to allow those feelings to be remembered organically. And he makes an important point, when he’s talking about memory he’s not talking about recall, he’s not talking about as you would remember say; a famous poem that you would recite for class. He’s talking about very organic memory that is felt biologically. So in Primal Therapy when a patient would enter the primal zone there will be changes to their vital signs, there will be very observable changes in biologic functioning.

KR: He means literally reliving the trauma at the point that we split away from it, at the point where there was too much pain to feel at the time. So we split away from the pain. (Laughs) It’s so brilliant.

JL: Yes, because it’s essentially a matter of survival. This goes back again to the evolutionary foundation of a lot of his ideas, isn’t that we’re reacting, or that patients who are showing some of these symptoms are reacting against nature. It’s that they’re actually acting in the interest of survival at the time; they weren’t getting enough oxygen to the brain for example. A great example he talks about a well birth weight baby and how the size of their head compared to the body is disproportionate. Or the brain needs oxygen to function properly, so in the interest of survival the body will actually slow its growth, so that more of the nutrients and oxygen flow can reach the brain. Of course, that shows up as distinct physiologic changes and then by the same token if a feeling becomes too painful to bare it’ll sort of shut down and it will never get integrated and that’s what has to be corrected to make things right.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ken Rose on "Life Before Birth". Part 3/6

Ken Rose: This is in the last chapter of the book, which is entitled, “Feeling emotional pain: can it be a matter of life and death.” And this is Dr. Janov commenting on the psychological professions and practices, and he writes; “so what should a therapy be and do? First of all it needs to focus on history, any therapy without a “why” in it cannot work on a deep level. Any time a therapy ushers patients through a mechanical process, requiring them to pray, meditate, think new thoughts, undergo biofeedback and so forth, it cannot succeed. We are the results of our histories, yet almost every therapy extant ignores those histories and takes the symptom for the problem: crushes it with words and ideas, drugs it with medication, punishes it with exhortations or the invocation of deity, pleads with it to be more wholesome, or analyzes it to death with some kind of guess about its causes. Let me be clear: No therapist can ever know what is in your unconscious; the unconscious contains a record of events long before we had words, and linguistic approaches, offer little hope for ascertaining what is going on in those lower regions of the brain.”
Thank you for letting me read that.

Jeff Link: Yes, it’s a wonderful passage.

KR: It is. It is difficult material, it is very difficult material, but if it’s the case, if it’s reality then not confronting this material is far more devastating. This understanding as difficult as it is, it opens up a horizon for a healthy future for the human family. It suggests a much greater understanding of the crucial importance of high quality pregnancies and childbirths, and how we all need to support mothers who are carrying our new family members into this world. And how important it is for husbands to support their wives, etcetera etcetera…

JL: Right, right. I think you make a good point that even though it is difficult, if it’s true, we can’t sort of avoid the truth, that’s sort of what we have to face. And I think Dr. Janov alludes to some earlier work and very important work by people like Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin, and I think one of the interesting things about the book is the way we see resonances of these earlier theories kind of recurring. I think most of us are familiar with Charles Darwin and “survival of the fittest” and how that applied to animals, but I think what Dr. Janov does that’s interesting is he takes these evolutionary theories and applies them to the brain, and when we see that and we see how the Primal approach really looks at how we can heal by targeting those areas of the brain that developed first in very early human evolution and that are, unfortunately largely ignored, those areas; the brainstem and the limbic system, that’s really I think how we can arrive at cures. If you don’t mind I can say a few words on epigenetics, which I think it’s really at the heart of the book.

KR: Please.

JL: One of the things I think Dr. Janov goes back to again and again is the notion of the imprint. By the imprint he’s talking about a distinct physiologic signature that is passed from the mother to the child, and this is I think what is closely tied with a lot of new research being done in the field of epigenetics. Which Dr. Janov points out didn’t really exist when he was coming up in the field, but will probably be what more and more scientist are looking at in the years to come. The idea is that through DNA we have, we all have DNA passed through our genes, but what epigenetics is, is other chemical groups; methyl and other chemicals groups can attach to the DNA and change how our genes are expressed, and this is what’s happening during pregnancy, so the genes aren’t changing, but the way they express themselves is, and that changes how we behave, it changes our resistance to diseases, it changes how active or how inactive we become later on. It has all sorts of effects and this is, really I think, one of the most fascinating fields. He talks about its role in memory problems, in mental illness, in resistance to disease, and it’s interesting that, really what it boils down to is our cells can remember their history. So what was originally intended as an adaptive measure has all sorts of implications. It kind of goes back to a biologist, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck who Janov spent some time talking about in the book, who was well known for his work with invertebrates, he worked with worms and spiders and mosques, and he also developed an important evolutionary theory, which was kind of overshadowed by the work Darwin was doing and eventually wasn’t accepted like Darwin’s. It wasn’t the most possible, but one of the interesting things Lamarck showed was, for example; you have a giraffe, and the giraffe stretches out its neck to try and bite some leafs on a tree, overtime because there is this sort of environmental need to reach those leafs, there’ll be changes to the organism, the giraffe would grow a longer neck, and that can really play out historically, but now these ideas are coming back again as Janov notes, because of what’s going on in the womb, and how that sort of affect of the environment shaping how our genes behave really is true in the womb and specifically in the relationship with the mother and the child with the womb being sort of the environment, and the child learning to come to know what to expect when they get out into the world. One important study that Vivette Glover and her colleagues at Imperial College in London show that transmission of high levels of cortisol from the mother to the child could have all sorts of effects; lower I.Q., anxiety, ADD, depression and this is really groundbreaking research that I think it’s going to have, when if understood more, when people do dozens and hundreds of follow up studies to kind of fully understand what’s going on, I think it’s really going to change the way people think about how we develop, how we’ve evolved and how we become who we are.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ken Rose on "Life Before Birth". Part 2/6

Ken Rose: What does Dr. Janov mean when he talks about pain or primal pain?

Jeff Link: When he’s talking about pain, he’s talking about very deep level imprint in the brain. A good example; you very early on when you’re being born, perhaps a mother is very stressed and there’s a number of ways this can happen, but some research has shown for instance that victims of PTSD or mothers who grew up in war torn environments, or mothers who were pregnant during the time of 911, or during the holocaust, all these sort of very significant and traumatic events show a high level of cortisol and that cortisol can be passed to the child. That creates pain in the form of excessive strain on the system.  It is the child trying to deal with, and anticipate stressful life conditions. From an evolutionary standpoint it prepares the child for kind of what they’re going to expect. If they expect to be born into a war torn environment this sort of excess cortisol can help them deal with that. But the reality is that most of us don’t encounter those kinds of situations. Most of us grow up into a relatively stable environment. So then what you have is, you have the environment in conflict with what the child actually grows up in, and that creates a dissonance that continues throughout life.  That’s one form of pain, but he also talks about things like oxygen at birth. If there is birth complications where a child may be partially strangled on an umbilical cord, or if a child is exposed to tobacco or drugs, even heavy anesthetics all that can change the neurochemistry and then create what Dr. Janov refers to as an imprint or a set point that then dictates sort of how the child will release hormones and adapt to life for the rest of his course. It is in essence a hidden script that rules his life.

KR: Dr. Janov writes; “pain is commensurate with the urgency for fulfillment and a mother’s physiologic and emotional state is more or less the offspring state, not just momentarily but for a lifetime.”

JL: Yes, and that’s an interesting idea to commensurate with the need for fulfillment. One of the things he kind of strikes out in the book is how in Primal Therapy one of the things they’ll measure is one of the patient’s vital signs, and the way they’ll see that maybe something was wrong very early on that the patient, him on herself might not even be aware of is in the discrepancy between sort of a normal vital sign reading and one in which there is a problem.
He writes about, for instance; depressives often have a parasympathetic imprint or nervous system imprint. Where their body temperature would be lower than normal, they’ll have a tendency of being pragmatic and kind of passive. The opposite of that is a patient that is highly anxious and suffers panic attacks, we’ll see an elevated body temperature, and just how elevated that temperature is or how far below normal it is, is a good indication of how severe the trauma was from very early on.

KR: So for example if at the time of the child’s birth the mother is anesthetized, the child will be anesthetized, the child essentially will be paralyzed in the birth canal and to maximize the chance of survival is to surrender. This sets up a template, if that’s the right word, for a lifetime of parasympathetic nervous system dominance. It has everything to do with personality and relational capacities, and really everything. It’s so fascinating to understand the theory behind this. The understanding that Dr. Janov presents us with, and then to look at the world, to read the news paper and consider any given individual in the world and really see quite clearly that many of the most prominent manifestations of personality are really the language of neonatal and womb life, of reality in the womb, of reality in the earliest moments of life.

JL: Yes, it has really profound implications. I’ll maybe talk a little bit more about some of the work with exposure to anesthetics and drugs. For example there’s the researcher Albert Hollenbeck who Dr. Janov talks about briefly in the book and he shows that the serotonin and dopamine levels maybe change permanently by local anesthetics that were used with mothers and affect then the mechanism the child has for dealing with pain. So Janov would talk about how the child learns what works to alleviate pain, and develops an affinity for it. He says, “To cope we create what we are missing.” So you’ll see a depressive who may take Prozac or Zoloft to boost certain serotonin and repress that anxiety or pain. Or you’ll see somebody who is the more passive, lethargic, parasympathetic mode, who would be looking for cup after cup of coffee, or even worse cocaine or something like that, to sort of compensate for what’s missing.
He even talks about this with ADD. A lot of kids now are being prescribed Adderall and Ritalin, but again this is a compensatory mechanism to deal with what was missing from very early on. While Janov would say that these medications do cure the symptoms they don’t actually get to the cause of what’s wrong. He has a strong reaction against a lot of contemporary psychotherapy because he feels, and I think he’s justified and correct in saying this, “we’re going after the symptoms but we’re not really digging deeper to try to get to the source and what’s truly wrong. So we have these temporary solutions but we don’t really know all sorts of other things may be happening as a consequence, which we’re not entirely sure of.

KR: He says we’re going to the wrong brain.

JL: Yes.

KR: We’re going to the wrong address, he says.

JL: Right. So while traditional talk therapy would try to deal with some of these issues through a verbal explanation or an upper level left prefrontal explanation where language and meaning are stored. The pain exists in a much different brain, a brain that developed earlier, which Dr. Janov calls the first line brain, and exists at the brainstem, which is the brain that we shared with reptiles and earlier animals, which is more instinctive, responsible for things like coughing or gagging or are instincts but not in any way are things we can express verbally or talk about. So all the talk therapy we’re doing is not really rooting out where the pain was.

KR: Right, the traumas are imprinted in the brains in which at that developmental stage the traumas are laid out, if I said that right. So we have a lizard brain, we have a chimp brain and we have a human brain, and we are traumatized on all three brains. God bless us, lucky us.

JL: I think one of the things about the book is, it is a difficult message to hear. It’s not comforting to know that from such a young age we can be damaged in this way, or we can have these things we carry with us. I mean, when I was editing the book I’d find myself sort of going back mentally to what happened to me at a very early age, or imagining what was my mother going through when she gave birth to me and maybe that’s for many people not a pleasant thought, and I think Dr. Janov would be the first to admit that, that’s right, it can be a very harrowing experience to go back there, but that is really for many people where the pain lies, and it’s not to say he discounts the role of genes, or he discounts the role of events that happened early in life, experiences with parents at a young age, but he does say that a lot of what we’re sort of missing is this whole period of gestation where profound things are taking place, but the therapy isn’t really accounting for.

KR: Right, and it would serve us well to just contemplate just how vulnerable we are in the womb.

JL: Right.

KR: With your permission Jeff; we are talking with Jeff Link, the editor of the book “Life Before Birth.” Would you please indulge me, I have in my notes, I circle things and I underline things, I circled kind of a bit of a long paragraph and I really want to read it, so would you please allow me.

JL: Yes.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ken Rose on "Life Before Birth". Part 1/6

This is the first part of a 6 part series. It is the transcript of a December 2012 interview of Jeff Link, the editor of my book "Life Before Birth". He talks to Ken Rose  on his "What Now" show on KOWS radio.

KOWS 107.3 FM Occidental California it’s the ‘What Now’ Show Mondays 11:00 am to 2:00 pm every Monday, today is December 12th. On the telephone we have Jeff Link, good afternoon.

Jeff Link: Good Afternoon Ken.

Ken Rose: Welcome to the show, thank you for joining us, where are you in Chicago?

JL: Yeah, I’m in Chicago.

KR: How the heck is Chicago?

JL: It’s great, we’ve been having the first taste of winter here but Chicagoans are pretty hearty people so we’re ready for it.

KR: Yes you are, Chicago is… people of good strong character come from Chicago.

JL: Right, right. I hope so anyway.

KR: This is an important hour for me and I hope for our listeners and hopefully our guest Jeff Link, Jeff is the editor of a very very enormously important new book called; Life Before Birth. It’s written by Dr. Arthur Janov and I hope it doesn’t take a long time before the book gets recognized for what it is and before Dr. Janov’s work is likewise recognized.
How did you come to be associated with Dr. Janov?

JL: Well, I work for a publisher NTI Upstream in Chicago and we’re fairly new but we focus a lot on children’s health, specifically issues that happen during gestation and the first years of life and how those affect a child’s development, and then emerge later on in some of the conditions we see in adults.
We came to Dr. Janov, because we knew of his work, we knew of his work with Primal Therapy, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Kimberly Cameron, his agent who had a manuscript that she sent me, we had expressed an interest in this subject matter; gestational health and some of the new research that was coming out regarding epigenetics and prenatal stress, exposure to drugs and alcohol in the womb, and she sent us the manuscript.
I read the introduction and was instantly astounded by Dr. Janov’s writing and his voice, which I think is uniquely direct and compelling, and able to sort of able to translate very complex ideas into relatable metaphors and concrete images and descriptions that I think anybody can latch on to.

KR: So your background essentially is in publishing, is there any particular connection personally that you have had to the topics that you talk to; gestational life and early childhood, this type of thing?

JL: Yes, and maybe I’ll go back to kind of a little bit of a background of our publisher. We have kind of a unique motto here in Chicago, Dr. Ira Chasnoff, who has done a lot of work in the past with prenatal drug and alcohol exposure started NTI Upstream years back, about ten years ago. He was one of the first researchers to really identify and sort of sound the alarm for the effects of exposure to alcohol and to cocaine and many other drugs. The media kind of ran with it very early on and sort of exaggerated some of the first claims or some of the early research about the effects of cocaine, and we’ve since learned that alcohol exposure during pregnancies is in some ways just as if not more dangerous, but this work and this study of how the brain was developing in this sort of critical phase really prompted us to look for new material, to look for writers who are doctors, psychologists, mental health professionals and just what they were researching affecting children.
We also work pretty closely with the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Foundation, so we do a lot of writing on these topics with them. This all sort of coalesce into our desire to really pursue somebody at the forefront of this new research, and that’s how we came across Dr. Janov.

KR: So this was your first exposure to his work?

JL: Yeah, after I learned of this book I did some research and went back and examined Primal Scream and some of his earlier works. I guess I maybe predate the attention that book got, I’m 35 myself, but we really saw in this book his ideas from that book coming back full circle and really placing many of his ideas about Primal Therapy and the importance of biologic truth back before birth. I think he says in the book; this is by no means a negation of that earlier book, but it just sort of moves everything back. Whereas before the focus of trauma and kind of looking at the past as a source for mental illness and afflictions we find later on, initially people thought it was just the first couple years of life. Now this book really takes it back another nine months.

KR: Right, and what a nine months it is. This really expands and clarifies the context for all of it.
Jeff, I want to tell you right upfront that what moves me so deeply about Dr. Janov’s work and it has for years, are the larger implications of it. I think near the end of the book, or somewhere in this book he very briefly makes an allusion to the concept of a universal theory, or a universal field theory.
I’m an amateur, I’m not a great scholar by any means, but as far as my own understanding goes, this comes closer than anything I’ve ever encountered to really lay out a viable and cohesive coherent context, for our entire human experience and reality.

JL: I think so. I think the breath of his ideas is what’s most compelling. You mentioned the Unified Field Theory, and really I think what he’s doing here is, I think there is a tendency for disciplines, unfortunately to work independently, so we have new ideas coming up in the field of psychotherapy, at the same time neuroscientists are learning more and more how serotonin and dopamine and some of these neurochemicals are affecting us from very early on, at the same time we’re learning things in evolutionary biology about when certain areas of the brain develop and what’s going on during those times. But really I think, Janov is one of the few writers out there who can really bring those ideas together, and doesn’t adhere so steadfastly to a single discipline but really tries to define the ways that those things can be brought together.

KR: We briefly talked about what we might spend this hour talking about, I will defer to you if you’d like to lead off the investigation, otherwise I’d like to just turn our attention to chapter one, which is called; “how love sculpts the brain.”

JL: Yes, I think that’s actually a great place to begin, I think it’s pretty interesting, just as a concept, the notion that love could affect brain development, particularly the fact that it could affect the brain’s development before we are born. I think when Dr. Janov uses the word, love, and I don’t want to step on his toes at all, but I think he’s using it to broadly define all the ways that fetal needs can be fulfilled, and later on early needs when an infant is maybe one or two years old. That spans everything from the mother’s emotional state; whether she has a balanced mood, if she has a good diet, if she’s abstaining from drugs and alcohol, if she’s maybe exposed to anesthetics during child birth, if she suffers birth complications, all these sort of myriad factors that can affect fetal development then shape how the child will develop. That is true above and beyond the child’s genes, but it’s a very specific time, a critical window as Dr. Janov calls it, where the effects of these things have a profound impact that can last a life time and really shape the way the brain develops.

KR: Right. The subtitle of the book is…

JL: “The hidden script that rules our lives.”

KR: Right, and the word is “rules” not influences, it’s “rules.”

JL: Right, and there was actually some debate about the subtitle, but I finally defer to him on that because I think it really is rules in the truest sense. What you think, and there are numerous studies some of which we could get into here as the hour moves on, which show that these things that happened to us during those nine months will affect our serotonin output, they will affect how our vital signs, how fast our heart beat is, what our body temperature is, how we interact with other people. All these physiological and psychological affects that just simply wouldn’t have happened under a normal, loving childbirth.  

KR: Right. You make a critical distinction about the word “love.” That we’re not talking about romance here or even the best intentions that a mother, or father for that matter, would have toward an unborn child, but you’re putting love into the domain of “need.” Of biological need, fetal biological need, with a discreet window.
So, is there anything more that you would want to elaborate about what’s meant by “fetal needs,” and how these absolutely must be met in their time, and that there is no future substitute for them.

JL: Yes, I think one line that I’ll maybe start with that I found really compelling in the book, Dr. Janov writes it; “there is one word to describe love from birth on, it is touch.” We see this in a couple different ways but touch becomes really important in the one sense from breastfeeding. He is a proponent of breastfeeding, and he talks at length in the book about a hormone called oxytocin, which is basically a hormone involved in a lot of different… it serves a function in labor, it serves a function in our sexual interests, it also basically just helps us show affection towards others. Early on when a mother transfers oxytocin to the child through breastfeeding, it not only increases her level of oxytocin, but it draws the child to the mother and that sort of bonding then has all sorts of implications for the child’s later development.
So what we see, on the one hand biological there is this hormone that has been identified as a source of love, but on the other hand it’s a cyclical effect. When a child is breastfed he then becomes attracted to the closeness and the bond with the mother.


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.