Friday, March 24, 2017

A Brilliant Idea

A hospital back East has just come up with an idea to save and change lives; an idea so simple it is brilliant. They have founded the Cuddlers Club where people volunteer to cuddle babies, kiss and caress them while the mother is gone. They are first trained on what and how to do it and then they are given a baby to hold and sing to. It aids general development, general health, and enhanced brain development. Newborns need all this immediately in life, not years later. Isn’t it ten times more valuable then letting babies rot alone in a hospital bed? Even at our age, wouldn’t we want comfort and company when we go to hospital?  Why not a baby who is first learning to react to others and to feel their love and comfort. Above all, he senses and feels he is not alone and abandoned. How else could he react?

I have seen so many patients who relive being very young and left along in a hospital and they are terrified, to say nothing of SUDDEN DEATH SYNDROME, where babies die from fright on being abandoned, left in the dark without human succor, feeling isolated with no help anywhere. Why can’t we understand their fright when they are just coming into a new world and have no idea what that world is about? They cannot ask for help but they can feel terribly frightened.  They have no words to express themselves; and since we live in a world of language, it is beyond our comprehension.     

There is a way to give them a primitive language which I shall discuss elsewhere but their needs are for closeness and physical reassurance. A smiling soft face and voice. They need love in the language they speak; holding, touch and kisses. They need protection and when they do not get it, we find the beginning of an imprint of never feeling safe. It is a basic low level terror that we do not see but the child cries all of the time, is chronically timid and skittish. His first reaction is to withdraw, not see out and approach. He is imprinted with passivity and lethargy. He cannot smile fully because it is layered over with terror. Remember, there is a critical period when imprints take hold because the need is at is asymptote. The need for caress above all. Caresses years later through compulsive sex won’t fill the bill. It is far too late but the need lingers on and dogs us all of our lives. Is he a sex addict? No.  He is a need addict where lack of fulfillment is a constant reminder of what is missing. I have seen patients who are compulsive sexers. One woman got high blood pressure when she could not have sex. Compulsive anything informs us of what has gone missing early on. Even the search of fame and adoration can begin very early on when the child was not cuddled and adored; at age thirty he needs it desperately. And he gets it symbolically from applause. But it is symbolic so never fulfilling and then he needs it more and more. Now add to this indifferent cold parents who never touched the child, never cherished him, and were never physically close to him. The need is compounded and becomes more importuning. He now brags and makes himself important because the parents never could. He is trailed by his exploits that he has invented where he is the best, most talented and adored; trapped by  figments of his imagination... They Love Me. 
All this the hospital knows to avoid. Bravo, bravo to them. They are setting the stage for normal healthy children.  Who could do better?  The babies get physical care but too often what is neglected is their emotional life. Some hospitals have figured it out and what is more they give a chance for women who have lost their baby to again love a child. Wonderful.  


  1. Hi Art,

    I cannot begin to express in words, even here, how relevant this is to me and also because it's a generational thing going back to my parents and grandparents and forward to my son. There was once a theory that babies should not be held. . . Put into boxes even.

    I am so trapped in my box. . .

    Paul G.

  2. Well....if a child died of SIDS years ago; to me, one cannot blame the parents; they had been trained not to pick up a crying and/or sleeping infant. This is where, yes, progress has been made to help youth of today. Now parents are trained how to put the baby in crib, to hold them, etc. Before it was don't pick up a crying baby from crib, you will "spoil them". People just didn't know back then, and many a parent so upset but they are not to blame. Progress here , has been made, which is good. However, if something is wrong with a child now, there is a name for almost everything and it isn't just that oh...he is just that way or it is just a phase he/she is going through. Life is tough. And the better we go back to basics, simplicity, it might be just a whole lot better. Some people just "settle" saying "I'm o.k." , and really they should themselves, strive to be better than "I'm o.k." unless they were traumatized in a war, but even that, they might want to try to "get over" and a soldier might really want to be better than "just o.k." People can be tough; and that isn't good many times. The youth of today, almost ask the adults to be "tough" with them, even when the adult doesn't feel like it; why , because they just want attention so much and aren't getting it from their parents or siblings; is that good...I just don't think so; them seeking out that kind of attention. Sometimes just totally wrong and it should start always with either in the womb, or in infancy; a good foundation which primal therapy can give one.

  3. Thanks for pointing this out. I didn't know that babies would prefer to be held by a kind stranger than no one at all. I thought babies only wanted their parents or nothing because that's how I felt. For me I hated being held so soon by the nurses after being born because I wanted them to leave me alone so my mother would hold me. If the hostpital system wasn't there my mother would have held me, but she just went along with the system. No wonder I always wanted to buck the system.

    We have some of these types of volunteer cuddlers programs here in Australia too. I found something about it on ABC news but their site is down so I'll post a link when it's back up.

    I've been supporting a young single mum with her baby in my local community. My mother and I helped her write her birth plan, and talk with the midwives at the hospital before going into hospital about keeping her baby with her straight after birth and waiting for the cord to transfer all the blood after birth before disconnecting it. She was so much more confident about going to the birthing unit.
    And no doubt her baby was less stressed in the weeks leading up to birth.

    Also my boyfriend and I are giving her my second hand car which I could sell but I'd rather help a mum and her baby. Doing this has instantly lifted my heart. If only someone had done that for my mum and me. When I was born my mother hitch hiked home from hostpital in one of the worst winters on record, back to an isolated run down cottage in the country with no hot water or electricity. She had to chop fire wood. No wonder it means so much to me to give a single mum a car. Makes my heart feel good.


  4. Yes, I see more and more of these programs where volunteers cuddle babies, for example babies born to addicted mothers. It's a beautiful thing that these ideas are spreading and get implemented. Thanks for your tireless work.

  5. Hi Art

    Yes, what a beautiful idea !

    Here is another good idea where newborns gets special attention :

    Groups of women crochet colorful Octopus' for premature babies. The tentacles of the octopus resemble the umbilical cord and remind the babies of their time in the womb. This helps the little newborn to feel a little more secure.

    Flemming D

  6. Hallo Art
    Thank you for this news! At last something good is being done to stop unnecessary emotional pain in babyhood and childhood. It is very interesting... wonderful. I wish it had been there in 1948. I spent weeks as a two-month premature baby untouched in an incubator and then to a very cold mother who hated and never touched me, let alone acknowledge my existence. Perhaps human beings are kinder now or at least try to be to helpless babies. I hope this happens in England or is that hoping for too much? Sandie.


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.