Friday, June 10, 2016

How Can We Remember What We Can't Remember?

I am asked this question over and over. That is because we think of memory as cognitive output. There are very different kinds of memory that have nothing to do with words. In fact Primal memories, the ones that cure, are often just the ones that cannot be remembered … in words. Usually the damage was so early and deep that made trauma immediately repressed and shut away from top level conscious awareness. What we are left with is a feeling tone: sad, depressed, angry, fearful or hopeless. But, and this is critical, the memory is usually not verbal at the start. It is that tone which represents key early events that are unconscious, for the moment. 

 It usually expresses itself in some kind of physiologic disorder. Stomach aches and cramps, migraines, high blood pressure and on and on. It starts being largely physical with physical symptoms. They are apt to be symptoms or their precursors on deep biologic levels. Diabetes, Alzheimers, cancer, Parkinson and epilepsy. All potentially life-endangering symptoms, matching the dangerous Primal input; a carrying mother smoking or drinking, for example. These are processed on the survival level and the impairment shows up here….on all the critical physiologic processes of food/hunger, drink and thirst, Blood circulation, breathing processes, digestion and elimination. We do not remember the imprint of cellular overload and the inability to integrate the input, but their effects are deeply installed and ramified. 

 That is why Primal is often a therapy of deeply embedded memories and of deeply repressed impulses; it separates Primal from other approaches because we do not deal with verbal memory as a goal. Feelings must be our primary aim because evolution dictates it; feelings came along before we had words to describe them. “Mama, hold me, cherish me, want me” these are feelings that are curative, the unspoken, repressed feelings/needs that belie so much pain; feelings often not easily accessible to conscious awareness. In this sense, we are a therapy of the unconscious. And a therapy of full consciousness. Dialectically, we cannot have one without the other; the deeper we delve into the unconscious, the deeper is our level of conscious awareness. We cannot defy the dialectic and go directly to consciousness; it is imprisoned by the cage of repression. It can only be liberated by looking and feeling underneath to meet the pain that keeps it all hidden. That pain is the door that broadens conscious awareness. Cognitive has it backwards: trying to enhance consciousness through intellectual processes primarily. That only cloisters it and embeds feelings even more; all this to the neglect of gaining to feelings; again, we are a therapy of feeling. Because ideas, too often are used to suppress feelings. That means we can’t get there from here. We cannot get to feelings by intellectual means; only by letting go of the intellect. First, we all have to agree that feelings are our ultimate goal. Once that is done we know what road to take or at least what road not to take. 

 We also need to agree, all of us, on the law of self-determination. Each one his own life. He cannot and should not be dictated to as to what feelings he must be feeling. That is up to the patient, his evolution and his biology. His system must dictate the order of feelings, not an outsider. 

 An example. One patient, now feeling has had a memory of bouncing her ball up the stairs to her home. She had done it many times as a child but in therapy it was the tone that directed her; on the way in for her session some children were bouncing balls on the sidewalk. She began to feel that little girl going home and found that home was a place of no love. It was a vacuous place, bereft of caring and warmth, and she began to feel it. It was a devastating feeling of loneliness, no one cares, and no one loves me; there is no love in this home. It was a horrifying awareness. Intolerable and un-feelable. Far too much for a very young child to feel. In a safe milieu she could begin to feel it; it is a place that encouraged deep anguish and crying. The Primal Center. It is a place where over 50 years we have learned about feelings. For example a patient, after months of therapy, may suddenly emerge deep into something where his movements are sometimes blocked with crossed feet, (nearly always) a fetal expression, crossed arms and constant choking; this is a new kind of memory, something he never felt before. We do not interfere with it; we know where it is going. It is a first line memory with no words or tears and crying. If these expressions exist they are not Primal. They may be a mélange of levels of feeling which too often are not resolving because they are not pure; they are a slop-over from one level to another, a sign of being flooded with heavy feelings. 

 Cure means a purity of feeling exactly how it was laid down with no intrusion. Here is where the skill of the therapist enters. We do not lead the patient but follow him to make sure that an overload of feeling does not drive him onto a derivative channel. The mélange of feelings are never resolving. We must take great care. It is not that the unconscious is intruding (as Freud surmised) but that too much of it is intruding all at once. When a therapist leads the way and gives orders to the patient, chances are he is driving an overload; much too soon and too early, hence no integration and no resolution; result, no progress. We now know the signs of both good and bad therapy and how to treat it. We do not have to re-invent the wheel and make mistakes while learning on a patient. We learned from the best expert around: our patients.


  1. Fascinating post. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Hi Art,

    this is particularly well explained. . .

    Paul G.

  3. Hi,

    -"When a therapist leads the way and gives orders to the patient, chances are he is driving an overload; much too soon and too early, hence no integration and no resolution; result, no progress"-.

    This could be a metaphor in ordinary life, just swap the two words 'therapist / patient' for any other type of one to one relationship: Brother/sister, boss/employee, spouse/spouse, parent/child etc etc. . .

    Some rules apply across the board, from palliative to cure, this one could be one of those 'unified rules'. . .

    Paul G.

  4. I've found that consciously improving my every day life paves the way for unexpected unconscious memories to emerge and they demand to be felt, so I stopped searching for them. I always failed in my search efforts anyway. The reason is of course obvious: A specific Primal Pain is by definition impossible to know in advance even if the general area of damage is known. So, I don't worry about primalling but about living, which right now is quite rewarding. Thanks, Art!

  5. Dear Art,

    Such a good post, but then again all of your posts are and everything you say and write is packed full of meaning.
    You talk about the very early and preverbal deep trauma, where there are no words to convey the feelings only the tone: sadness, depression, anger, hopelessness, and fearfulness. So much of my life I couldn't find the words to the way I felt, no matter what it was that I was feeling. If I was angry or hurt in the present I couldn't express the feelings, the words weren't there. It was maddening and frustrating; where are the words, I can't grab them, they are not here, I can't find them. Therapy has helped me become expressive and to find my words.
    I was not wanted from the beginning. I was a mistake, an accident and my father wanted my mother to abort me. She didn't, couldn't, not because she wanted me. All through my life she showed me and told me in every possible way that she didn't want me. She didn't abort me because it was against her religious beliefs.
    She was drugged under ether giving birth to me. Being born was long, hard, tedious, and I felt like I couldn't get out; it felt so hard. And then the hard and difficult was compounded in my childhood. My father left when I was five. He didn't want my mother, me, or my brother. I was left ALONE with a depressed and schizophrenic mother. Again, everything was hard; I had to take care of her and there was no one there for me.
    I had no one to talk to and no one to express my feelings to. I was very afraid and very alone with no one. Again, I had no words because there was no one to listen.


    1. Jean, It is such heartache all that. i know it well having a psychotic mother who could not listen or hear and an emotionally absent father. Inever knew there was such a thing as feelings until after I went to college. And now there are therapies who work as if not feelings exist. Ayayay. What can we do. I try to help in any way I can but there are so many deaf ears out there. I do hear you. art

    2. Jean,
      My warmest sympathy goes to you. Thanks for sharing.

    3. Art, thank you for listening. I can't imagine my life without primal therapy.
      You have helped so many people ... maybe one day even some of the deaf will be able to hear. I felt like a mute and I learned to talk...thanks to primal therapy.


    4. Jean you are so welcome. it is my pleasure. Don’t give up art

  6. My body remembers and tells me every day. It hurts. Art You cant save the world.

    1. Piotr, I can save a small part of it; otherwise why do i write and work? art

  7. An email comment: "Brilliant as ever ... AND, as ever, progressive from the last article to the next.

    I for one sure hope you are going to be around for quite some time.

    Take great care and my best wishes. Keep on informing us

    1. And my answer: I will take care but alas, it is all finite. thanks for the encouragement. art

  8. Hi,
    slightly off topic, I have had some startling meetings with people who appear to be quite markedly 'sympath'. I hate sticking labels on people nowadays but find myself doing just that in 'defense' of these meetings. I used to look up to these types; for a while I almost deceived myself into thinking I could carry on like that too. Like what?

    Many sympaths are like domesticated predators, vigilant, often 'successful', planning, on the go and (so far) I haven't found one yet with much ability to 'self reflect'. . . They don't 'DO' therapy, they "fight depression" and 'think positively'. Oxymorons are fun word games for them, never the actual reality of their own world view. Goodness me aren't I being judgemental? Anyway, in the place of 'self reflection' they often have very well developed intellects devoted to seemingly specialist interests. But they turn out to be so invested in these specialisations they ARE their intellects, they live in the ramparts and choose to look 'out there'. . . As I said, I tried this (model for good behaviour) but was always too depressive underlying to keep up the deceit. . .

    Unlike genuine comics they seem to lack that laconic underlying depression which makes humour so human and without which comedy is superficial and rarely really funny. Thus their humour is never self deprecating unless it serves as a transparent wall to keep people out.

    Flippant not witty, aggressive or passive aggressive when assertion would do quite adequately. . .

    Last but not least, either very sporty OR often raging cigarette chain smokers and Acid heads. . . Self proclaimed anarchists.

    These used to be the ones I was attracted to because they can be fun, intelligent and welcoming. . . Until they find out you're into therapy and self reflection. . .

    The good thing is, after this discovery of theirs about you, is that they're so busy being busy that it kind of doesn't really matter to them, even if you do mourn the loss of what isn't there in the relationship that you thought you had with them. . .

    So there we go then. . .

    Paul G.

  9. Why we do not feel are three reasons... we are very scared or we do not know its nature or it is impossible for us to get to the feelings!

    In all processes of my therapy I begin experiencing an anxiety which in itself is a terrible experience. Where it lands in my therapy is in a hopeless loneliness... a room far from what my dreams have kept me alive... it is death... I am just physically alive without the horrible experience that was and in many parts is my life as the sentient person I am.... sentient in pain... I'm a wreck of emotions.
    So... is it any wonder that the world look like it does when my ilk can be counted for what percentage that is almost at hundred!?

    I dont want to feel... I want to be my feelings of love... so I need to feel... but in a process for the best possible results!


  10. Memories from here to eternity…..

    There are different types of memories and different versions of these memories. Operating / short term working memory, long term / life span memory, sensory memories, documented memories from notes to USB mass storage devices etc., etc. All of them can be dependent on / influenced by memories which early on were repressed by survival reasons. They were made unconscious due to an early trauma / unbearable pain. Therefore to re-live an early trauma and remember / re-experience the original pain makes many memory clusters change / able to interconnect and create access to a new depth and become conscious awareness.

    Blockages between different memory types and memory clusters can be resolved gradually and links between emotional and intellectual memories can be faster, straighter and less affected by neurotic act outs and influences. As a result of improved conscious awareness, which has happened to me, memories of previous unreal / neurotic "successes / achievements" become uncomfortable, make you feel ill at ease when they are no longer pain propelled. My experience is that this personal audit is like a mini Primal, which is accompanied by dissolution of a suffering that was the price for the neurotic success / performance.

    In recent decades, I have with growing awareness / consciousness activated / exploited my short-term and long-time memories by re-living traumatic pain and practicing new skills. I have through Rolfing and The Primal Principle been aware of my sensory memory and I see the past years deep tissue massage as a crucial factor in my re-living of traumatic pain. During the past year, my awareness regarding sensory memories multiplied. This has been done by that I decided to learn to understand music and play the saxophone.

    There are three types of sensory memories. Iconic memory is a fast fading store of visual information. It is a type of sensory memory that briefly stores an image which has been perceived for a short duration. Echoic memory is a fast fading store of auditory information, a type of sensory memory that been perceived for small durations. Haptic memory is a sensory memory that represents a database for touch stimuli. Daily, when I am practicing musical scales on my saxophone, it's my iconic and echoic memories I constantly put to the test when I build up the long term memory I need if I, eventually, want to be able to handle the saxophone to my own satisfaction.

    "Practice makes perfect" and after half a year I start to get a first feeling for pitch, fingering, and rhythm. An insignificant step for a talented musician but a giant step for me. In addition, my saxophone trip reminds me constantly about the struggle / battles I fought during my epileptic journey. Many exciting memory clusters are formed that often leads to resolutions of subtle blockages.

    Today, in the morning, when I walked on the Mediterranean beach in Gandia and sang scales - "do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si-si-la-sol-fa-mi-re-do" - and, imagined the associated fingering of notes I was suddenly interrupted by a strong, long term / sensory memory. I was suddenly on a beach in Hawai in a film, “From here to eternity”, with Frank Sinatra, Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift Which I saw in the mid-50s. It was Clifts sensible trumpet tap for his killed friend (played by Sinatra) that “brought me to Hawaii”.

    I stopped singing and could hear the mournful tones of Clift’s trumpet and I became 15 years old and felt my own sadness.

    Jan Johnsson


    Art’s Reflections have for years served as a provocative reflection om my collective memory, both the conscious and the unconscious. It is not my memories / understanding of the Primal Principle / Evolution in Reverse that matters but the successive changes in my feelings, memories, and needs that Arts message has meant.

    1. Jan, interesting letter. I remember Clift too, a terribly tragic figure. As you know, I disagree with your general idea that Rolfing helps a lot. I had it done by Ida Rolfe’s associate and was not impressed. art keep up the sax. Are you listening to jazz?


    2. Art,

      I'm sorry for your bad experience with Rolfing, which, like the PT is a natural treatment method against defects / repressions incurred in connection with traumas during, before and after the birth process. I was lucky, when I took a risk, to get good, though rough, treatment in Boulder, Col., 1979, and excellent, soft, treatment in Valencia 2009-10. I have since experienced how my friend Eva and my daughter Isabel, has felt great after being treated by my Rolfer in Valencia, Jordi (who combines being a professional musician with giving treatments in Rolfing).
      Anyway thanks for your tolerance and for publishing my articles even though my hints of Rolfing. As you often point out; To live and let live.

      In this context, I can reveal the following: In my inner emotional world, you represent my father and Ida Rolf represents my mother. Since both of my parents had time to realize their shortcomings associated with my birth and my upbringing and asked for forgiveness the "merger" between them, you and Ida Rolf is a natural evolution that has made it easier to re-live repressed pain. Add to that the outstanding luck I had throughout my process of change when I during four decades had access to you and your guidance and the Primal Principle / Evolution in Reverse. Four decades and one therapist /guide. Extremely unique. A remarkable experience that made my life meaningful.

      I listen since several decades constantly to jazz, particularly with saxophone elements. Stan Getz was married to a girl from my home region and you might remember your Danish patient and "my" jazz singer Grethe, she lived for several years with Ben Webster in Copenhagen. These two and other classical saxophonists have long been represented among my old LP records. However, I have not until now, when I am trying to get the sound of my saxophone, begun to understand how big virtuous Charlie Parker was. He will get more time. His magical charisma, when he was at his best, reminded of another, now dead, black virtuous, Muhammad Ali. Both were pretty and could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, each one in his specialty. They changed the world. Like You!!!!!


    3. Jan, You need to come over and I will sit for you to feel and discuss birth trauma. art

    4. Have you heard of my pal Charles Lloyd? He is in NY now giving concerts. art

    5. Hi Art,

      Thank you for your offer to sit for me and discuss birth trauma. If you were only a little more close, somewhere here in Europe, I would make great efforts to meet with you often. My planning and economy are fully booked the next few months so we'll have to keep going strong into the fall. My life feels since a long time in good balance. My great joy is the remarkable improvement my friend Eva passed since we regained contact 2011 after more than 50 years. The Primal Principle / Evolution In Reverse has revolutionized her life and made me a successful "mock therapist". Here we can talk about a ripple effect. It is not the PT itself that is the real phenomenon, but its effects and the changes it causes.

      I looked up Charles Lloyd on YouTube and listened this morning to his concert at Lincoln Center in January 2016. I liked his statement “I’m a fan of Lester Young and I’m drunk of this music". So now I'm too drunk of Charles Lloyd’s treat …

      Do you use FaceTime?, Apple's excellent and video communication? Maybe we could talk that way?


  11. Yesterday there was document on TV about albinos from Tanzania. They said that they are haunted for whole life. They are killed and called children of devil. It was a scene when black women left her albino child in refuge camp and this little girl cried, cried and cried. Later one of albinos girls said that she has so much anger inside, but BIBLE forbids to feel this. It was so sad. Is there only Primal Center place to feel? What it is sooo difficult to understand that for baby the most important is his family and his needs?

    1. Piotr, It is so sad there is no place to feel, and psychotherapy has left feelings behind long ago. So everyone tries to get well in their head. art

  12. Dear Arthur

    What is like to be 92? Your post above touched me. I am sad, truly sad that you are so old (maybe it is connected with my parents to, who gave me no love) and I am also glad to have possibility to read your blog and books. I am glad that few times you answered my e-mails. I don't know what I can say more, but your words will last in my heart till the end.

    Neurotic Piotr

  13. An email comment:
    "Hi Art,
    It is always a pleasure when I hear from you. I read your blog faithfully now. It's my "go to" place in a world that makes no sense. It never made sense to me as far back as I can remember and those that rebel against the status quo usually get beaten down in life. Therapy restored my "joie de vivre."

    It's not that we don't still feel bad but we have the miracle of getting it resolved in the most very real way that so many don't want to understand or in reality have no clue about.

    I still remember you asking us in training "How is that you came to this therapy?" I love that question. It speaks to those that knew instinctively that the only way out was to go back deep inside ourselves.

    Seeing you at your 91st birthday gave me great pleasure. You were loving every minute of it and when we sang "happy birthday" I looked around at the group who so genuinely have great affection for you. When I looked at France, I saw a gaze of pure love as she watched you. You are indeed a lucky man.

    Your whole life is a miracle Art and I am one of the fortunate to have known you personally and feel a bond of true affection. Simply put, I'm happy for you."

  14. It really is the most incredible process . And the funny thing is that though we don't remember , once we get to the feeling we realise it was staring us in the face all the time. There is such a beautiful order to all those memories.
    It's like retracing footprints only they are biological footprints, biological footprints that tell us how we adapted, evolved and most importantly survived. Well I have no trouble understanding that our bodies chemistry evolves through adapting to survive our own personal experiences from gestation onward. But how these chemical chains become liberated as memories I can't explain. But it's super fascinating and I would like to understand it.

  15. Off topic:

    Thoughts on neurotic fertility (I wanted to share).

    I think when people have children for non-neurotic reasons, the drive to have kids naturally comes about in response to prosperity. Low stress environments (and 'environment' includes your nervous system) where all your critical needs are met, so you are happy in a more genuine way (not 'manic' type happy...which is empty).

    Contrasting, when people have kids for neurotic reasons it's not because of abundance, but the lack of it. They have kids as a way to make up for what they needed but never had (of course).

    And this I think is part of the reason why so many people screw up their kids, and in often vicious ways. You can tell them, for example, that circumcising their baby boy is brutal and traumatic, as any fool should be able to deduce, but most people still don't really care to investigate or even think about it....why? Because they don't care about their kids on a real level I believe, which relates to the fact that they never even had them for real (non-neurotic) reasons in the first place. I say this because I have so often seen this kind of 'strange' apathy in general conversations.

    That's my best guess from what I have seen. Child abuse begins with having kids for the wrong reasons, in my view. And I think that is the social norm. We are all bastard children in that we have been born to neurotic motives.

    ...Indeed, look at the way people are happy to put off having kids right up until they can barely even achieve fertility, as they are so old. This is becoming the norm. And we have to ask....if they're so happy to put it off for so long, then did they really even want their children in the first place?

    1. Andrew, You are right; Off topic. But I have treated men who have been circumcized and they do suffer. art


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.