Sunday, October 25, 2015

Epigenetics and Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis (Part 3/20)

The Urgency of Early Love

What is important is that we can begin to zoom in on a specific answer to the question that eludes so many in the study of mental illness – why? Granted, damage means heavier methylation. But what is that great damage? The answer is simple – early lack of love. It takes many forms in humans: poor nutrition, abuse, neglect, lack of touch (licking in animals). Methylation seems to be an important marker for lack of early love, both in animals and in humans. The new research is finding that so many diseases are affected by methylation, including multiple sclerosis, diabetes and heart disease. Again, these are stress-related and the great stressor seems to be a simple lack of love, meaning deprivation of basic need. Not surprising in the rat study was the fact that heavy methylation occurred in the limbic/feeling structures such as the hippocampus which has to do with feeling/memory. The upshot is that rat pups that are unloved are more susceptible to later stress, while those that do get loved (licked) do much better later in life, becoming more adventurous and curious.

Remember, when there is very early stress during womb-life, the genes can be up-or-down-regulated, and here starts the origins of depression and anxiety. It becomes the crucible for later disease. When we add later trauma – abuse in infancy and childhood, given away to foster parents, a mother too sick to care for the child, etc. – we can almost be sure that neurotic behavior and disease will follow. That almost surely will involve ADD, lack of concentration and learning disorders. The DNA has been chemically modified and it reroutes normal reactions for behavior and disease. These changes are not neurotic; they are often normal to the noxious intrusion of things like a mother’s smoking or drinking. The fetus is trying to adapt as best she can. Neurosis is an adaptive reaction to threat. It is in that sense, normal. So when we find a mother who is not loving we need to know that she may be driven by her epigenes; she is a victim of those changes. Her cortisol/stress hormone level militates against maternal instincts; methylation shuts down a number of “natural” behaviors, including the maternal instinct. One of the hormonal controls for love is oxytocin, which responds to our therapy; it builds as pain descends and allows the person both to give and receive love. Those new mothers who cannot give adequate breast milk for their newborns are usually the ones with little love in infancy; they are often deficient in oxytocin. It is why I call it the hormone of love.

As it turns out, love is not as ephemeral as we might have thought. Love means having a proper birth, without heavy anesthetics to shut down the oxygen supply to the newborn. Most important, it means a mother fairly free of anguish and depression; for her physiologic and emotional state is more or less the offspring’s state, not just momentarily, but for a lifetime. In fact, when we see the documentation we discover that how we’ve been nurtured in the womb and our first years is at least as important, if not more so, than heredity; when love is absent, there are enduring physical consequences. And therein lies the rub; we are dealing with errors of omission, an absence not a presence — which is why it is so hard to pin down.

Animal experiments have shown that separating a baby sporadically and unpredictably from its mother causes severe stress, and the same applies to a human baby who is not touched right after birth and in the first weeks of life, as we find in babies raised in incubators. Another study showed that early trauma produced heavy methylation in those children who grew up in orphanages (Drury et al., 2011). And that process then affected much more in terms of brain and neuronal development. The effects of this stress become heritable from the epigenome. This imprint then affects many aspects of our biology, including the memory system. That may mean that a condition such as Alzheimer’s disease may get its start from birth, and not show up for another sixty years. Research by D.K. Lahiri and B. Maloney (2010), at the Indiana University School of Medicine, for instance, indicates how this all might work— first by the imprint and then, they suggest, by the methylation that carries on the imprint. Again, the imprint changes how heredity manifests itself. Clearly, without an understanding of the imprint there is no way to solve the mystery of mental illness which derives from serious imprinted experience. And, in reality, it is never just “mental” illness. It is neurophysiologic to the core. That is why to use intellectual methods such as Cognitive Therapy to address deep-lying memories is a contradiction in terms.

So what is the imprint? It is a memory, an ensemble of all the circumstances surrounding a key adverse event; a memory of an early trauma encapsulated. But it is not just a “memory” in the usual sense of recall or actively going back to purposefully retrieve something forgotten in the past. It is an event sealed-in biochemically and which affects us forevermore. The reason it is so important is that it determines personality, illness, longevity and many other facets of our lives. It drives our behavior and the kind of sickness we will suffer from, whether Alzheimer’s disease or cancer. Once we understand the nature of the imprint we understand that no basic change in personality can take place in therapy without altering the imprint. But you cannot get there from here; you cannot willfully try to retrieve the memory because “willful” is the opposite of what is needed. One needs to let go of high-level cortical processes and descend down the levels of consciousness where the imprint exists. And there we find that we cannot reach out to it because it is encapsulated, surrounded by aspects of the methyl chemical group, which helps encase it and makes it unreachable. Thus, when an infant suffers trauma during the critical period before birth and at the very beginning of life, methylation leaves the mark of that trauma on the cells. The methyl chemicals seem to cling to the gene and control whether the genetic switch is turned on or off, and whether it is on when it should be off, such as in serious disease. In effect, it is methylation that is heavily responsible for the imprint and its enduring affects.

One example: when a patient relives a traumatic birth, we sometimes see the reappearance of the doctor’s fingerprints on the arms of the newborn. We have photographed this, as it is unmistakable to the eye. And at the same time, so difficult to understand, until we realize that memory is far more than cerebral. Hoping to cure by cerebral methods while ignoring the imprint is but a fantasy that ignores reality.


  1. Hello Art!

    Where can I find you in
    I have been looking and looking! Do I need to be a member in order to read about it?

    your Frank

    1. It is the Journal of the World Psychiatric Association: Activitas Nervosa Superior. My article will appear next week. art

  2. Dear Arthur You are genius, you've overtaken your era.

    1. Piotr: Thank god or whomever for that. art

    2. This is proof that the imprint for some is so strong...that the fingerprints of the physician shows up on the newborn's arm. Some people just on't realize. The birth trauma person doesn't want to go through life being and thinking "different"; they can't help it. The parents, if they are good parents and knowledgeable seeks advice in handling a child who has gone through a birth trauma. Before school, before kindergarten, my mother used to tell me I had "a birthmark" but I could never see it. (Ha,ha....she was just talking and trying to help). My parents tried the best they could with me., I can only imagine a child without loving parents and the child without lack of interest from their parents ; how that child must suffer (first they suffer from the birth trauma, and no one even ever attempts to help out this child as he or she is growing up.) Sure I most certainly do know that I would be a better person and people would be probably feel actually a "sense of relief" if I got Primal Therapy. In the meantime, no one really focuses on what happened to me in birth, but yet it's always there. I was watched so closely as a child, and every now and then, find someone in my family, analyzing me. They have the time to try to help me. I have a responsiblilty at my job, and that is why I feel that I get analyzed every now and then throughout life with family members. I try to be self - aware, I try to find peace,.....and get along, I try to help out when I can. For others, they are so multi-faceted, and make living and work look so easy. I'm not dumb, but I know Primal Therapy is really the answer.

  3. Hello Dr. Janov,

    very clearly explained what the world needs to know.

    Should we include the words "a clean environment and medical care" in this sentence: "It takes many forms in humans: poor nutrition, abuse, neglect, lack of touch (licking in animals)."

    My one year younger brother had ALS and died on Jan 15. My second brother has been pre-diagnosed with ALS.

    It did not come as a surprise to me when I read the latest findings about a link between human endogenous retroviral genes (HERVs) and ALS: "Dormant viral genes may awaken to cause ALS"

    In the first trimester, shortly after the brain stem and neo-cortex are in place, the pituitary gland is developed and the endogenous ACTH concentration-cortisol secretion begins. If the mother is exposed to stress, viruses and dangerous bacteria in the third through eighth weeks, the embryo is especially vulnerable to damaging substances, such as alcohol, radiation, and infectious diseases. The fetus endogens (hormones) cannot combat such intrusion - and gene methylation begins right then.

    The same vulnerability exists after birth until the child is about 3 Years old.

    1. Sieglinde, I want you to explain what you mean by "gene methylation begins right then". art

    2. Sieglinde, your letters are always gems. art

    3. Dr. Janov, thank you for the gems.

      I don’t believe I’m qualified to explain with absolute certainty the full interaction between genetics and epigenetics.
      What I have learned so far will I explain in simple words.
      We inherit good and bad genes.
      Many genes were altered thousands of years ago and show virus/bacterial induced markers. Do these markers become automatically active or are they missing an off or on switch? No.
      Stress, trauma, infections, or chemicals can trigger a gene’s malfunction.
      for example: the moment the hypothalamus is forced to produce adrenaline, due to stress or trauma, the anterior endocrine gland (pituitary gland) becomes active and releases high amounts of adrenaline (and 7 different hormones) Cortisol level becomes high, while the posterior pituitary gland, remains inactive. The posterior pituitary gland however secretes only two hormones ADH and oxytocin. Oxytocin is very important to calm the person or even the fetus.
      It is suggested when too much adrenaline is released and for too long, methylation begins. Sleeping inherited damaged genes can develop a double helix or be methylated (malfunction). When long term inflammation is dominant, the immune system becomes partially weakened (DNA markers for Interleukin).
      As a reference, I offer these three links that explain my summary in details.

      “Interaction between oxytocin receptor DNA methylation and genotype is associated with risk of postpartum depression in women without depression in pregnancy”
      “DNA Methylation Could Explain How People Respond to Fear and Anger”
      “Efficacy of oxytocin administration early after psychotrauma in preventing the development of PTSD: study protocol of a randomized controlled trial”

      Have fun reading the links, especially this part:
      "Importantly, among studies of adult depression McQuaid et al. (2013) report increased depressive symptoms following early life mistreatment in rs53576_GG individuals and Bradley et al. (2011) found increased emotional dysregulation and disordered attachment style with childhood maltreatment in rs53576_GG individuals. These data suggest that the rs53576 GG genotype may be sensitive to adverse life experience, and the methylation status of OXTR in this genotype may be important in understanding PPD."

  4. part 2:
    These words come from my dear friend Megan Devine, one of the only writers in the field of loss and trauma I endorse. These words are so poignant because they aim right at the pathetic platitudes our culture has come to embody on a increasingly hopeless level. Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed.
    They can only be carried.
    I hate to break it to you, but although devastation can lead to growth, it often doesn't. The reality is that it often destroys lives. And the real calamity is that this happens precisely because we've replaced grieving with advice. With platitudes. With our absence.
    I now live an extraordinary life. I've been deeply blessed by the opportunities I've had and the radically unconventional life I've built for myself. Yet even with that said, I'm hardly being facetious when I say that loss has not in and of itself made me a better person. In fact, in many ways it's hardened me.
    While so much loss has made me acutely aware and empathetic of the pains of others, it has made me more insular and predisposed to hide. I have a more cynical view of human nature, and a greater impatience with those who are unfamiliar with what loss does to people.
    Above all, I've been left with a pervasive survivor’s guilt that has haunted me all my life. This guilt is really the genesis of my hiding, self-sabotage and brokenness.
    In short, my pain has never been eradicated, I've just learned to channel it into my work with others. I consider it a great privilege to work with others in pain, but to say that my losses somehow had to happen in order for my gifts to grow would be to trample on the memories of all those I lost too young; all those who suffered needlessly, and all those who faced the same trials I did early in life, but who did not make it.
    I'm simply not going to do that. I'm not going to construct some delusional narrative fallacy for myself so that I can feel better about being alive. I'm not going to assume that God ordained me for life instead of all the others so that I could do what I do now. And I'm certainly not going to pretend that I've made it through simply because I was strong enough; that I became "successful" because I "took responsibility."
    There’s a lot of “take responsibility” platitudes in the personal development space, and they are largely nonsense. People tell others to take responsibility when they don’t want to understand.
    Because understanding is harder than posturing. Telling someone to “take responsibility” for their loss is a form of benevolent masturbation. It’s the inverse of inspirational porn: it’s sanctimonious porn.
    Personal responsibility implies that there’s something to take responsibility for. You don’t take responsibility for being raped or losing your child. You take responsibility for how you choose to live in the wake of the horrors that confront you, but you don't choose whether you grieve. We're not that smart or powerful. When hell visits us, we don't get to escape grieving.
    This is why all the platitudes and fixes and posturing are so dangerous: in unleashing them upon those we claim to love, we deny them the right to grieve.

  5. Art: You have always made use of the results of animal experimentation in your writings on primal therapy, and given your recent statement to the effect that animals have the same feeling base as humans (this is well known amongst animal rights activists and your statement would have to be true for you to use the experimentation in any case), I wonder how you feel about using it?

    In general, the animal studies you quote do not involve the sort of agony caused by industry-funded vivisection, but is is still causing pain and suffering and I condemn it unreservedly on those grounds alone.

    You could argue that the damage is done in any case, so no harm is being done by your use of the information gained from these experiments, but if these experiments were made on human beings, would you use this argument? Gary

    1. Gary, I am sure you know that I support several shelters, and that a lot of my money goes to animal protection. art

    2. Gary I agree and I will be careful but remember I cannot take up arms for everything people want me to. art

    3. Art: I´m not asking you to "take up arms" but if possible to stop using the results of this cruel research. Is there not enough evidence to support what you´re saying from human experience, for example, studies done on holocaust survivors, in orphanages, indeed studies done on your own patients? I would like you to make a public stance against animal experimentation and indeed against other forms of grotesque cruelty to animals like vivisection, factory farming and so on, and given the remarks you´ve made about the feelingness of animals and the nightmares you still get hearing those pigs screaming from when you worked in an abattoir in your youth (which i´ve heard too - I will NEVER, EVER, EVER Forget those screams), I don´t understand why you don´t even make the briefest of statements condemning them. Gary

    4. Gary, You all know my stance. I have one goal to educate and save lives. art

    5. Gary,
      Experiments have been done by humans on humans (and mammals) since we first appeared. That is the perverse 'reality' of Human (so called) consciousness. . . That we are able to experiment with all kinds of various 'adaptions' and 'inventions'. . . On both ourselves and other species and life forms in general; I am certainly not writing to justify this, just in case you relegate me to the apologists. I agree essentially that these 'vivisection' activities are wrong and also that 'enough is enough'. However, 'justification' or not is NOT the point I am making (even if you are). Thus I'm unclear as to your motives. Just because cruelty happened in history it does not invalidate the facts that come out of that history.

      So, yes, I am saying that 'history' was worth it. . . Cruelty and all. . . because without that history we would not have what we need to learn and move into a future without the mistakes of the past. That is the sordid facts of life on planet earth, even if it does sound like appeasement.

      Yet you seem to be saying that you have found a way to return to a lifestyle of the Bonobos 'pre-hunter gatherer', and therefore 'Trumped' all of this abusive history. Thus you diminish Primal Theory with a form of 'oneupmanship'. . .

      You have found an exceptionally high moral ground to look down on the rest of us and I look up at you mostly with respect and admiration for the achievements you have made for yourself. However, I have first hand experience of the serious harm that has been done by certain (known) individuals with similar beliefs as yours. To be brutally honest Gary you appear to be playing a game of 'oneupmanship' and taking that to the brink.

      Which basically means that like these other (known) individuals who have acted from such high moral ground as you seem to, I no longer trust you as a fellow human.

      I am not convinced you would not act out some kind of perverse revenge in the name of animal rights.

      Are you sure that you are not infact acting out what happened to you as a child? Identifying with these wonderful pets you have made in YOUR life?

      I act out my childhood un-met needs and only on this blog is that honesty of any value. If you too are acting out your unmet childhood needs then in no way do I blame you for this NOR try to challenge the dietary/ethical aspects of your lifestyle (that would be crass in the extreme). But if you continue to admit (as do I) that you are indeed STILL neurotic, surely you can't carry on trying to keep petitioning people here on this blog as if ALL Primal Pain is a product of FAILING to live as you do?

      Do you get it Gary?

      Paul G.

  6. An email message: "This is your best post yet. :) Great job Art! As usual I will post this on Face Book. Thanks for adding that ability to do so easily. I believe the next step toward getting more people educated concerning these things in a more motivational and politically motivated way would be to push for emotional intelligence classes in our schools. I've been trying to do that but have encountered similar obstacles, and yet in business it has been used successfully. So I think along with research, and in order to get more research we need to push this awareness and training concept, which may in turn also help us to see what children are at risk in their homes and communities."

    1. Hi Art, emailer et all,

      Since discovering this blog I have marveled at how you can be arrested (as an adult) for slapping or punching another adult but only recently had it occurred to any 'legislating body' that this makes an hypocrisy of corporal punishment on children.

      I think this email is interesting because it highlights the problem of adults finding out being kind and gentle is good for business. . . but seemingly only after they may have failed in this respect as parents.

      It seems that what children need are advocates to protect them from the false ideologies of adults. Given the empathy children have for animals it follows that it's a scientific prerogative to find ways to challenge the 'Adult/Child' relationship before any other. . .

      Primal Theory seems to have the answers (as far as I can see) and therefore the natural lead. . . Which is what your emailer says. . .

      Paul G.


  7. Stockholm 2015-10-28

    We walk the road of death and need without its cause!

    Anxiety and depression are nothing but memories... a symptom of death... death when we long ago with open eyes witnessed something our system could not possibly integrate... and we were blocked by a physiological process... one at the time physiological life-saving process without the "heart" of what need of love intended.
    It's only words... words and words again as long as we do not perceive the words of their meaning and which awaits death... death away from our need of love as we suffer throughout our lives if not death of its symptoms derived to its cause!
    So now we know what it is... but what can we do? We need to experience what passion contains... what death is part of.
    But what can we do without an escort... therapists who know that we suffer... and how... without the memories of what... that's what the therapist faces... it's one of the therapy's heart... just for the patient to experience!
    Death waits but not for something other than what death is the cause... for what our needs were forced to repress... there at the time for what death meant not getting our needs satisfied.
    Who the hell do understand something like that when they understand what professionalism distinguish reality from their cause... it to be a symptom far from what science tells us about.?
    We would get along splendidly without explanations about symptoms if professionalism meant its mission to be professional for the cause.
    Death is not our friend but in therapy an essential experience for its reason for what death would otherwise plague us throughout our lives!


  8. Art: I admire you for supporting those shelters and already knew this, and I intend to set one up myself as soon as i am able to move to a larger quinta. But still, I am not happy wth animal experimentation which for example purposefully deprives small mammals of touch. Such cruelty would need to have much greater justification than it does. I don´t believe it is justifiable at all. gary


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.