Monday, February 29, 2016

Epigenetics and Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis (Part 16/20)

(After a long pause, I will be publishing the remaining articles about Epigenetics and Primal Therapy over the next few days.)

How Early Is Too Early?

In the scientific community, the question has always been, “How early is too early?” And this is where epigenetics is relevant to our discussion. A group at Washington State University led by Matthew Amway found that gestational experience in animals that sways the genetic unfolding can show effects for three generations. They found that exposing pregnant adult rats with defective sperm could engender many diseases, including cancer, in adult animals. Females avoided mating with other rats that were also exposed during gestation. And this went on, not only for the life of the adult, but for the life of their offspring, as well. It seems that the system knows how to behave given certain biologic deficiencies, and it does so according to what is best for heredity, what gives us the best shot of succeeding in life. So when we cannot explain some trait in adults by heredity we may have to reach back several generations to find the answer we’re looking for. This gives us a new perspective on so-called psychological problems in adults. When we do an intake interview of prospective patients, it has to be thorough enough to include the prenatal life of the patient, as well as their parents and sometimes the grandparents, as well.

Without clinical evaluation we can only guess as to what traumas may have occurred in the life of a pregnant mother, and what adaptations continue to show their effects in her children and grandchildren. Of course, it isn’t just that a mother underwent trauma, but that the trauma has altered her basic physiology and produced lifelong changes in her and her offspring. Did the pregnancy occur in wartime? Were the parents fighting all the time? Was the child’s grandmother depressed? Was she a heavy smoker or drinker during her pregnancy? These are all questions we should be asking.
And in truth the distinction between heredity and epigenetic “heredity” must be made, if we are ever to reverse disease. When a mark is made on certain anxiety-regulating cells, for instance, we may be stressed until that mark is revisited and relived. As I have noted, the process of methylation also can be chemically reversed by demethylation agents, for example. That leads us to believe that certain regions of the brain altered by drugs are the same areas that may be affected by reliving gestational events.

What is most important is that stress in the mother compromises the repressive system in the fetus, so that later it will be difficult to mitigate surging feelings. Low-level imprints from womb-life burst through the repressive barrier, overloading the system, and — in the absence of a cohesive cortex — result in difficulty focusing and concentrating, and problems learning. The prefrontal cortex becomes overwhelmed as it is pressed into service to counteract and hold down painful feelings.

Why are those early imprints so critical? Because almost every key adverse event in the womb can be life-endangering: low oxygen, inadequate nutrition, too much agitation, flooding by drugs or alcohol, etc. they all affect vital organs and change the system of the baby accordingly. I will never omit smoking, which is deadly to the maturation of the baby. Imagine being in the womb while a mother ingests all kinds of toxins hour after hour, every day of the year. Who can survive that?

There is a beginning to personality development and we must not immediately ascribe it to genetics. Epigenetics is possibly more important. Life circumstances wrap themselves around the gene, and alter who we are and what we become. It is those days in the womb that form the crucible for personality type; they all accommodate life circumstance. They pivot around the imprint; and when we take patients down deep we find the little nugget, the key imprints that forced all that accommodation. And when those early imprints are relived and all the vital signs move as an ensemble down lower, we know we have struck gold. We have found Nirvana, the core of the pain. Remember, there is no suffering in the pure state of Nirvana.


  1. If almost the whole world is in a perverse state then the majority is on their side... but it has also been proven that the majority not seldom has given way for what they been far from being right in their opinion... it given what science tells us about!

    If you only knew what you are doing when you end up in relationships and there will be children through so-called love... love through perverted minds! Do we have we the right to know about this? Yes of course... and it is far from enough that it is only available here on the blog!

    I'm back to my notions about legal processes. How can someone be entitled to be sitting still and be silent about something so fundamentally important as the knowledge about the physiological consequences... it with results a disaster that life becomes impossible to live!? Is this not a crime for what our communities protect human integrity?

    If we only knew what we where doing when we through "love" may have children in the faith of so-called love... love perverted without even finding out that it is... if love without the slightest chance for the offspring to get a life! So what do we do????

    I'm back to my notions about legal processes. How can someone be entitled to sitting still and silent about something so fundamentally important without obligation to tell about it???

    No... do not say it... you have greater obligations toward life! Is it scary? Yes... but what choice do we have? Scary? Let us remain at the science!

    Is it urgent? Yes... in many ways... but it would be an incredible experience to be part of the change!


  2. Art, thanks so much for resuming sharing this with us. Was really hoping you would. It's exciting stuff.



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.