Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Can Psychosis Be Treated with Primal Therapy?

In our Primal view, all mental illness arises from trauma and pain at different stages of development, starting in the womb. But since there are different degrees of pain in people, we also see different degrees in the severity of mental illness. In the broadest terms, insanity falls on a scale from bad to worse, from common neurosis to full-blown psychosis.

Which begs the question: Can Primal Therapy help with the most extreme cases of mental disturbance? Do we even treat psychosis? Is that so different from treating neurosis?        The answer is more complicated and nuanced than the question suggests. Please allow me to explain.    

Psychosis, is the result of massive first-line pain compounded by later devastating pain. For example, gestation events such as a smoking and drinking mother – which from the start overloads the baby’s ability to integrate the input – compounded by continuous trauma over the early months and years in the form of neglect, lack of touch, harsh parents who eventually divorce. In short, a life immersed in the complete absence of love. That is a prescription for psychosis.    

I treated two women who were psychotic, and both had experienced incest in childhood. One was the result of incest at the age of seven; the other was the daughter of a Nazi officer who also underwent incest. I find from clinical observation that the earlier the incest the more likely the psychosis. Obviously, incest is devastating, as the protector becomes the predator.    

The point is that one rarely gets over incest or a terrible birth. The imprint has a great force and it endures. Then when it is compounded by so many adverse events early in life, it becomes deeply embedded and endures as a lifelong force. Along the way at various stages, the system has a number of options for dealing with the trauma. If the traumas are early enough, the effects lie deep in the brain with major impact on the brainstem. Since the verbal system is not yet developed, we can expect the possibility of cancer or major biologic disease. The memory is deep in the brain as are its ramifications. Vascular problems, heart and kidney ailments, breathing impairment, are all part of the effects of the imprints. What happens is a serious crack in the defense system, leaving the person much more vulnerable to later trauma.        

There may be hallucinations and delusions that become possible, the latter as the verbal/cognitive system becomes functional. Hallucinations signal a very early, preverbal brain system at work, meaning the result of more primitive traumatic imprints. In the case of delusions, a later system is working to provide some sort of meaning to the experience. In one case, I was walking down the street with my patient who suddenly ducked, yelling that the ice cream vendor wanted to kill him. Notice here the content: death is approaching. Terror is involved. Someone wants to kill him. Yes, there is an imprint of impending death from early on, but the person has no idea that it comes from inside. He projects that terror and the related threat onto the ice cream vendor. Death from an imprinted memory is near, but he has no choice; he projects it outside. And now he can hide from the threat. He is no longer helpless.      

One of my patients, a boxer with many blows to the head, sealed up all his doors and windows to keep the “enemy” away.He still could concoct reasons and rationales for his terror, but it was totally irrational. Yet, his cognitive brain had to produce reasons for what was going on inside of him. This means that cognition was still in force, somewhat. When deep pain surges forward we see, “They are after me. They want to kill or poison me.” I saw one patient who, as a child, had the misfortune of witnessing his father shoot himself before his very eyes. The poor boy soon became delusional about the police, who he was sure wanted to kill him.      

So what is the central difference between neurosis and psychosis? Defenses. Neurotics can incorporate some of the input and hold the major force of the imprint below the gating system. Psychotics have a different defense structure with the inability to reconstitute a normal reaction. In their minds, there is now a permanent threat. That is why when there is a deep imprint there is a constant menace of the return of symptoms. With a small adversity we again may see psychotic ideation. Or later, the return of a catastrophic physical illness.    

So here is the problem for us lonely shrinks. In psychosis, we need to rebuild a dangerously damaged defense system. Patients need tranquilizers for many months or years. These drugs make up for a chemical system that was impaired early on in life. Those natural chemicals are part of the defense system which have been depleted due to the early trauma, a carrying mother who takes pain killers daily and smothers the baby’s ability to integrate. What is overcome and devastated is this ability to integrate input and make it part of the biological system. The neuro-biologic system can only take so much before it becomes a new kind of system: psychotic. In depressive psychosis there is a serious descent of blood pressure as depression grows deeper.Psychotic ideation is the last stand against the imprint of pain. The system seems to reach high up for help from the newly active ideational brain, which responds with concepts and rationales. That higher brain jumps in with weird ideas but to no avail. Because when I write “pain,” I mean a terrible pain that exists in force on lower brain levels. It is beyond description. Not like a broken arm. This is pure agony. And it informs us that a force exists in us that is truly ineffable.The reason that the verbal/cognitive system resides far above this kind of imprint is that the level of pain is far below and beyond verbal description. Patients often tell me about their deep pain: “It is something I do not even know how to describe. There are no words for it.” It has to be approached in therapy slowly and methodically, often with the added help of strong tranquilizers so that even a small part can be experienced. Once we see and observe that kind of pain, then psychosis is no longer a mystery.    

Let me add a warning about the danger of hallucinogens. These psychotropic agents can make matters much worse, because they open the gates even more to relieve the pressure of repression/ depression. It affects the person systemically, making them vulnerable to the heavy input of subsequent repressed pain that will be too much for him. This is particularly dangerous once it is set loose by the drugs. In the case of someone who uses pot and hash, we have a system enfeebled and more likely to have subtle paranoid ideas. It is not as irrational or abrupt as with hallucinogens, but still dangerous. In either case, the lesson is there: a fragile system can go psychotic when we open the gates abruptly. Or, over time, if we add so-called benign drugs to the mix until the system implodes.       It is very hard to reconstitute a broken system that was overwhelmed by deleterious input and then later aggravated by drugs that weaken the gates. Why are we fooling with one drug after the other? Because we do not understand what is going on in the neuro-biologic system. We are fiddling around with what seems obvious, but OH, it is not. If I told you that the average neurotic carries around an ineffable pain deep inside him all of the time, some may scoff. Alas, it is the ineluctable truth. We produce painkillers to meet terrible pain; even that is not often strong enough so we go to our personal pharmacy and take drugs that add to the mix. We do not buy them; we order them from our cerebral system. And still we may need more; then we buy what we need, and when that pain is agonizing and enduring we keep on buying until we are known as addicted. Then we are treated for addiction: with what? Pain killers.

So can psychosis be treated? In some ways, but that always requires a full knowledge of Primal Pain and Primal Therapy, which elicits traumas engraved deep in the brain. The doctor must be awareof the lurking menace that can spring forth and crash the system without warning. I have seen that force for decades. It is not guesswork. And it is certainly not banal. It is ineffable.


  1. I cannot understand why intelligent people consider Primal Therapy as a lot of "mumbo jumbo". Parents do go to prenatal care and classes for their newborn, but the environmental surroundings during the labor and birth is also important. Frederick Leboyer, a French obstetrician, knows the importance of how the surroundings should be when an infant is born; saying that the surrounding environment should not create trauma for the newborn, and many times, even in today's world, it still does create trauma. Taking this into consideration, what Leboyer has to say, why wouldn't parents take care for their womb-traumatized infant and get them help through Primal Therapy. The womb is where it all starts. Just because the newborn is out of the womb where they had a trauma in the womb or a birth trauma, doesn't mean they are not still suffering. It is still the same, except more severe in the womb. The parents should take note of this and try to help their infant that was traumatized in the womb. With the help of Dr. Janov's books and his clinic, the parent should know what to do, how to treat their child who went through a birth trauma and get them to Primal Therapy. The consequences of what could happen if a birth trauma child is just totally ignored are too great; not saying that they need "special" treatment from their family and friends just because they did go through a birth trauma, but a person can be helped in many ways. The surest lasting cure would be through Primal Therapy.

  2. Well i must suffer from psychosis then. Had peritonitis at four, again at sixteen agsin at 31.
    I wAs sewed up three times...so i dont know what to do. The terror is unimaginable. No thrrapy can take that away. The last happened during my primal therapy many years ago. Do i wish to relive THAT again. Never. Lived on morphine and glucose. Death three times.over. that,ll produce psychosis for sure. Sonetimes pain is so intense, it cant be felt.
    I dont even recall doctors names.
    I was product of divorce vrry early and had three dads. And as you ststed earlier...people just say be positive. Get over it.
    I cant begin to type the expletives i feel. So all i have hope for is something eternal surviving death. Ive read how you feel about that. Ive had people give me books on nde,s. There are many thjngs we cant explain about consciousness. And the possibility of a hereafter....whatever and wherever HERE really is....

    1. Mark, The more I see of all of us the more the widespread pain is everywhere and ineffable. I am doing my best to make this a better world but it aint done over night. courage. art

  3. Art,

    Thanks once again for an article that's powerful and meaningful. Yours is a sane voice in what often feels like an insane world.

    I'm a victim of many of the traumas you write of here. If I were to let myself, I could be like the boxer and seal myself in for safety. I choose not to, though; I choose to be out making my way in the unprotective world, which unfortunately means I have no choice but to come up against the "pure agony" and "impending death" you write about. You're speakin' my language.


  4. Art,

    Your writings are always a breath of fresh air in a world of mostly ignorance and blindness, willful and inadvertent.

    I always look forward with anticipation to your next post.

    It is the first thing I want to read when I open my mail box.

    Thank you.

    Re: drugs:

    Have you any experience with ayahuasca?

    There are so many claims by people that say it has helped them.

    As for myself, with what I know about the problems of the mind,(causes and cures) I can't see how any drug could truly solve a problem with the mind.

    I know the effects of drugs can be very deceptive.

    And the damage can take years or decades to manifest.

    Nature cannot be manipulated or fooled, without consequences,(sooner or later), at least not that I am aware of.

    And: For everything genuine there is perfect counterfeit.

    So I am extremely leary and skeptical of such methods and claims.

    Therefore, I want to know if you have had any experience with ayahuasca, and what you think of it, and what is going on when people make claims that it has helped them.

    Or anything else you can say about it.


    1. David, thanks for the kind words. About ayahuasca; it is defined by me as an hallucinogen and I consider it dangerous and lastingly dangerous. There are no shortcuts to liberation. art

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  6. Art

    Let me call you my friend, is it misuse? I don't know. Few nights ago I was close to primal, this time it was no alligator or falling building on me, it was my mother. I felt the same as years before, terrible terror and will to kill me. By this post you've explained a lot. Recently I was wondering If my case is so hard that even primal therapy can't help. I regret, that I can't go to you, I regret that I can't help people with the same history, but I will share my knowledge about PT where I can.

  7. Have you had any luck with narcissism? Is that treatable? I would think it would be somewhat of a shock to them to learn that they weren't perfect but had a glitch with their brain, on top of the regular neurosis like rest of us have.

    1. Very little luck with narcissism, art

    2. Never mind, Art, I doubt Donald Trump will come calling any time soon ;-)


    3. Hi Erron,

      My conventional therapist here in UK reminded me that narcissists never ask themselves if they are behaving narcissistically; he said if you feel remorse for your own bad behaviour you're not a narcissist. It follows then, that they would never seek therapy. I assume those who have been 'treated' in therapy must have been sent to therapy by the authorities as part of their 'rehab' program.

      I found the following quote by a well known comic here in UK:

      -"In any case, I’ve always found the idea of “speaking truth to power” faintly ridiculous. Powerful people are generally quite well aware of what they are doing and – should you ever make it past their security – will respond to your truth-speaking with a look that says: “you don’t know the half of it”. The thing you can rely on about self-interested people is that they won’t really be interested in you. They don’t care, and you’re not going to find the right form of words that suddenly makes them care"-. . .

      This was the unfortunate conclusion I came to last night after losing my temper with both my brother and father (at my birthday dinner party where they talked about themselves and their own opinions for the entire evening). In particular I lost my rag for their gross presumption about the morality of homeless people with mobile phones - They both refused to acknowledge that to receive benefits or get re-housed when you are homeless you need an email address and / or a mobile phone number to receive texts from the authorities about your status. In their tiny minds homeless people should have nothing at all, maybe even no clothes presumably?

      My brother came to visit me where I live a couple of days previously, the second time in 8 years despite living only 20 miles away. He never calls me unless he wants something; he said: "Oh, it's not the grubby hovel I thought it would be". . . etc etc.

      I showed the above Frankie Boyle quote to my Dad and he said he didn't understand it. . .

      My brother once told me on the subject of the trauma he experienced at boarding school: "If I can't remember something it didn't happen".

      Both my brother and father are ex professional salesmen.

      Even when (particularly when) I challenge their assumptions or worse, lose my temper with them they just roll their eyes and tell me I'm making stuff up. . .

      When they go to visit my poor demented Mum I can see them 'acting out care' and so can she. . . But they can't see that she can and so can I. They use my visits as an excuse to excuse themselves from their own visit. They said: "Oh Paul has a certain way with her". . . But they have no idea what that 'certain way' is, neither do they care to find out.

      I'm not sure if these family members are narcissists but their behaviour is consistent. . .

      Narcissists need scapegoats and unfortunately I have become the family scapegoat (perhaps along with my poor demented mother - who I also have extremely ambivalent feelings for since her behaviour was for years enough to drive me to outbursts of anger). I find narcissistic behaviour particularly infuriating as it so often involves D A R V O or:
      -"Deny Abuse, Reverse Victim/Offender"-. . .

      We can see this happening through the entire political spectrum at the moment.

      Paul G.

    4. Erron and Paul, there's a you tube piece about psychopaths/narcissists called "I, psychopath." It is eight short videos of a narcissist undergoing a brain scan and his relationship with his wife, all documented by a journalist who found the task very unsettling. The brain scan showed how different the psychopath/narcissist neuronal wiring is from the general population. I'm not surprised they don't do well in therapy.

    5. Sheri,

      I do PTSD therapy, and technically speaking, narcissism can be "cured",(any disorder of the mind can be "cured")

      but Paul G. is right in what he wrote.

      A narcissist is worse than the "horse" in the metaphor:

      "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

      You can't even lead a narcissist to therapy (water.

      You can't even talk to them about such things.


    6. You must know more than I because I have never cured a psychopath. Art

    7. Art,

      Thank you for your reply.

      You can only help someone who wants to be helped on their own volition, not because someone told them to get help.

      If there is a true will, there is a way.

      It also takes work on the part of the client.

      The client can't just throw himself in front of the therapist and say ok, Dr., fix me.

      There is no incurable disease or disorder,
      there are only incurable people.



    8. They are not treatable in my experience. I have no interest in them. There are so many deserving people. Art


    Anyone interested in reading two current articles about the resurgent interest and use of LSD may wish to read : " A trip of one's Own" on "The New Republic" website, and "How LSD Microdosing Became the Hot New Business Trip:
    Regular doses of acid have become the creativity enhancer of choice for some professionals" on the "Rolling Stone" site (naturally!).

    Not that I am actively researching this topic, but I also came across an account of the experience of aquatic sex queen Esther Williams' with LSD in the early 60s after her reading about Cary Grant's positive experience in a Life magazine article.They say that they both had very helpful experiences. I do not doubt that they are telling the truth, but I am still very dubious, and Janov's critique of LSD makes total sense to me.


    1. Marco, not only a smart writer but so right on about LSD, the most dangerous of the new medicines. Results are devastating and long lasting. I treated so many of the users in the 60’s and 70’s. They were all heavily damaged. They mistook blown gates with liberation. There is no safe way……no safe way to find liberation. CAREFUL. art

  9. Without love there is no life!

    My curse is that I have nothing to offer... my life is a mess... but still I offer something... it in hope that it will do for what I'm trying to be in order to have something to offer... I am driven to be someone I'm not... it without me to know what is happening as I know nothing better. What a tragedi a life can be!

    What I am doing with my intellectual ability... the only thing I can se is that I am trying to prove my existence. And by that I now know the majority I am meeting has their own mental illness as obstacles to meet me.

    I can not come back home as the child I ones was more than my memories makes possible... that's what my life is all about. How do I tell someone who has his home in Colombia as a child but now lives in Sweden and are homesick that my way home is just as long if not longer... even when I lived only a block from here as a child... it because he has getting much further in his therapy than I have.

    When we put plans in place to achieve what we once never got so we project our needs of memories to be of a reality it will never become. Pain as overflowing outside the therapeutic process can cause considerable problems. But may also a delay necessary as the therapeutic option is not the best.

    Without love there is no life!


  10. Art
    Are you tired of telling people what's wrong?
    I can't get to this 1st line stuff by myself, it is to hard. Prenatel trauma, surgeries, incest, beating, abuses.

    1. It is never a good idea to try to get to deep imprints on your own and before their time; it is most dangerous. Careful. Art

    2. Hello Piotr!

      To hear the child in us who whispers for not daring to be heard in our everyday tasks... it is what it is all about. It's an incredible contact to be made and it does not hurt when we manage to do it right.

      your Frank

    3. Hello again Piotr!

      I just feel threats and never any opportunities! I can see a coin lying on the street and the first thing I feel is a threat that I am worth less if I bucks me down to pick up the coin. That's where I have to begin my therapy... it is I me myself that I experience without being aware that it is whats happening... a worthless little child like nothing else can do than trying to calm my self from feeling it... it's an incredible pain. It has everything I need to care about... for what further experiences can lead to. It's like opening a door to what I my self is... myself only I can let go of my attempt not to experience it.

      All we need is to be aware of the "whispers" about our selves as constantly leaking through but we have learned not to listen... so it's time to learn again... to become aware about me... my self and it is not far away

      Your Frank

  11. I think the issue is always 'Can or can't feel !'.
    Regarding Psychopathy, I would say the issue is they cannot feel and cannot even feel that they cannot feel. Never mind all the head trips they are only a myriad of distractions to stay away from the question 'What are you feeling?'.

    Psychopaths can be brilliant and mask their inability to feel, and can look caring and empathetic when they're not. Hard to believe they will never feel anything, and to let them go on their merry own way.


  12. Also I just fully got the significance of why a smoking and or alcoholic pregnant mother causes a neurotic infant. Because the infant is developing in a neurotic environment because only a neurotic needs to smoke and drink alcohol. But also the drugs effect the physiology of the womb and foetus.
    Poor little foetus!


  13. Art,

    Piotr says he regrets that he can't go to you.

    Do you mind if I contact Piotr, and offer to help him,

    free of charge?

    I can do it over skype.

    I am pretty sure I can help Piotr, at least some, if he is interested. It is worth a try.


    1. I know that your offer is appreciated but I do not recommend it. I don't know who you are or what you do and Primal can be dangerous in untrained hands. 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.