Friday, December 30, 2016

My Life: The War Years

I have been telling my wife some stories about my life and she has encouraged me to write about it.  So I will.

I had spent the war in the Aleutians, South Pacific and now I was my on way to Europe. We took a troop ship. We marched down the highway in New York with crowds gathered around, cheering us off.  People rushed up to me to hand me things, mostly beer which I did not drink. But we were treated like heroes already. Getting on the ship was another matter.  Hundreds of us packed into what looked like beds but were jut light cots. This was not a three star voyage and our comfort was of no concern to anyone. Many got seasick, which was highly unpleasant because no one planned for that. Just like when I got to the Aleutians there was no foul weather gear. In 40 degrees below we were wearing towels. An officer stopped by to give us all nose clips. I asked what it was for?  He said, “You’ll see.”  And I did as everything in my nose froze into solid ice and I could not breathe.

Back on the troopship to Europe began the chase: submarines everywhere. It was obvious we were a troopship and so a grand prize for the Germans. If they could wipe out a few thousand troops how happy they would be. They chased us across the Atlantic until we got to England. Because I had been a Commando, they transferred us to South England to a base. We were getting ready for crossing the Thames to land just before D-Day to capture the submarine base in Brest, which even to me was a suicide mission. Their base was half underground and built with steel and cement. A guy who wanted to see Paris offered to trade with me. We got the papers and the deed was done. I don’t know if he made it. 

Speaking of being chased by submarines, we had a hard time leaving the steel enclosure near Kodiak because we were told that Japanese subs were waiting for us to come out. We finally did to fight in the islands of Kiska and Attu with fog so thick we could only hear the shells coming overhead but could see nothing.  We then chased Japanese ships all the way back to their homeland. Remember I was on a 365,000 ton battleship. It was in Tarawa that they sent over a massive fleet of Mavis bombers to put us out of action.  They were right above my head; they never saw us.  It was so dark. 

Meanwhile I traveled all over England in a band, which was wonderful. They had Tea Dances everywhere and we played  their favorite songs, ending with, Good  Night Ladies, Til We Meet Tomorrow.  On leave, I went to see my pal Larry Allred from Chicago who wrote to me years later. He drove for the Admiral in London and there were bombs just before I got there, which left Piccadilly Circus in complete rubble.  Hard to believe the blocks had been wiped out by the Germans with their buzz bombs. The Brits got to work right away to rebuild; brave souls. 
I stood amid the rubble in the area for a long time, seeing what people can do to each other; and for what?

And then I was ordered to go kill.  I would not kill in anger; I didn't even know who I was killing. It was my “job.”  Imagine, I was convinced to kill as a job. And I did in the Pacific. I was a machine-gunner, don’t forget. It left me with an antipathy for war til this day. We invaded an island and the women and children natives ran into the sea to escape our big guns. We shot our 20MM shells into the sea where they were. A guilt I never got over.

By the way, I was transferred to many battle areas because I was marked low down on priority due to my color blindness. The commander who gave me the test took me to the street and asked me the colors of various signs and I got them right. But still I was marked “failure” and shipped out. I got help to pass the test later on and went on to become a fighter pilot trainee on a carrier. I never got there because the war  ended. I was discharged at 
Tacoma, Washington, where I was at the day the war ended and some of the women in the street danced naked. What a jubilant scene. I went straight to UCLA and signed in. More than 12 years and 4 universities later, I got my doctors degree and became staff at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, Psychiatric Dept. After a few years, I could no longer take sick and wounded children so I left, but some of the kids stayed in touch for years. I wish I could say that I learned about human life and the human condition but that would be a lie. It was all statistical and numbers and graphs.

Back to Europe. I traveled Europe with my band the same time as bandleader Glen Miller, one of my idols.  He disappeared in an air crash and was never found. I danced to his music for years.  Such a loss.

I already wrote about my return to the south Pacific and more battles including the most beautiful island I ever saw: Majuro. When you see photos of WW2 there is a picture of Kwajalein with a giant plume of smoke rising over the island. That was us. We saturated that island and blew down every house and building and then we decided they were hiding under the trees so we destroyed every tree there. Thank the Japanese for that. Why on earth would they attack a country as well armed as the USA is beyond me? But they did. Not “they” but those crazy leaders far removed from battle decided it might be a good idea. And millions died, some horrendously, burned alive by the Hydrogen bomb.  These were thousands of children, mind you. President Truman believed it was the only way to end the war.  It helped but there might have been a more human way. We bombed citizens near Japan, not the fleet of ships in the harbor, but people going to work. The US helped keep their fleet intact. But hang on, mine not to question why, mine only to do or die. And we did. I was in the bloodiest of pacific battles: Tarawa. They knew we were coming and put out false reefs and slaughtered thousands of us; bodies floating in the water everywhere. We were the first ship in and bombed them non-stop and used gasoline spray to burn them out of the caves where they hid. After all, they were the “enemy.”  And then I learned an important lesson:  if you make someone an enemy, even in politics, you can do anything you want to them with impunity. We burned the “enemy.”
I have written how out at sea en route to another battle the captain called me in to say that I was being picked up by a destroyer and taken back to the States to go to the university.  The shock of my life; I was sure they made a mistake but my intelligence test said I was smart so I went on the destroyer whose screws had been shot off, making it list heavily to the right. And we entered San Francisco and I traveled to Oregon, a most beautiful town. Soon I organized a 26 piece band with two gorgeous singers, one of whom was my girlfriend and we traveled and broadcast over KOA Portland.  Is it still there?  More than 50 years later?
I never would have considered university without the Navy sending me, even without my asking.  They even chose the University for me: Oregon State,  and then I chose UCLA, USC, and then Claremont Graduate School… But  I never realized that my father had to make me stupid over and over again until we were driving East on Melrose when I was in my twenties, and he stopped at a signal where all alone, to no one, he blurted out, "I’m a failure." He never looked at me or addressed me.  It was so importuning that he could not hold it back; he was an utter failure. I mean, driving a meat truck is not the summum bonum of success. And in trying to be smart, he was obsessed with making me dumb. And he did. That is why I never considered university. My grades were terrible. I felt it was way above me. When I started Oregon 
State, I studied Portuguese for no rational reason and got A’s. For the first time in my life, my teacher asked me to stay because I was such a good student. That was a major epiphany of my life and a turning point. I felt I could do things and I began to study voraciously. I became a top student and an academic hall of fame. I received a lifetime achievement award from Los Angeles High School. All because I needed to hear just two words of praise. That is all it took. Parents remember that: PRAISE. You never build character through criticism.  NEVER.  Just “you are good and you can do it." That is what we all need and it is what I see in patients screaming out their need. HOLD ME,TOUCH ME, SEE ME, LOOK AT ME, WANT ME, CHERISH ME. How how hard is that? My neurosis made me well prepared for a therapy of pain.

End of part A

Friday, December 23, 2016

Treating Depression with LSD: Cure or Hallucination (2/2)

In our research we had much more evidence of how the liberated pain militated towards the last cerebral defense; the neocortex to concoct all sorts of nonsense to explain the inexplicable…..deep imprinted pain that is preverbal and therefore has no name. There exists no words in that repertoire to explain what is happening. A true mystery which Is now whispered in beneficent tones as the ethereal mystical experience, acclaimed as an exalted experience. It seems ethereal because it borders on the religious, unknown, unexplained, out of reach of ordinary intellect. It sounds so sweet….. mystical.

Of the 20 subjects we studied, all took at least ten LSD trips and almost every one had trouble sleeping for months and months. Even tranquilizers could not lower the activation levels to allow a calm system. Is that helpful for depression? Yes of course, if we open up the gating system and release the heavy mound of suppression weighing down the system. Yes, it is a momentary release, but what happens afterward? Is it biologic? As deep depressive patients travel down into the nervous system there is an accompanying lowering of blood pressure. The whole system is approaching fail. Their feelings of impending death is not mysterious; it is truly a state of impending death and the body accommodates. And of course as blood pressure dips into deep lower levels, to accompany a system drenched by hallucinogens, there are feelings of approaching death and thoughts of suicide.

The massive upheaval of pain from the lower depths floods the neo-cortex, infiltrating it with such input that concentration is impossible. It happens to our patients without drugs when they have undergone an infancy, and earlier, of constant and chronic neglect and abuse. The mounting layers of pain soon become laminated agony that no longer can be integrated.

As patients relive these pains in methodical order they begin to eliminate their anxiety and ADD. The thinking inventing neocortex is the last developed part of the brain and called into service when all else has failed. In our therapy patients soon learn what it is and what needs to be done; not to call on Allah or mysterious forces but on their history. To follow messages from the underground that point to stored pain.

Why do I think these power drugs are dangerous? Because it has a lasting effect and upsets the equilibrium of the brain which is now structured to include what the brain already underwent in its ontogeny. Traumatizing that precious brain can never be considered therapeutic. Except by those ethereal souls who tend to believe in the booga booga. I know, I worked with them, including associates of Tim Leary, the guru of drugs. Too often their research falls on prepared minds who can accept the mystical and received wisdom with alacrity. The wife of the director of research took me for a walk while high on LSD. We started to cross the street when I panicked. I looked down at the curb which seemed to me to be a mile down and a dangerous fall. I backed up. I had no aftereffects from it but knew to use caution. For those who are fragile it can cripple the neocortex by opening the lower level gating system and allowing the in-rush of immense, unintegrated, very early pain, which can lead to serious mental problems.

The job of the drug is to open the gates. But out comes voodoo land; latent imprints from the deep interior that scramble any coherence and replace perception with all kinds of irrationality. Irrational thinking is an attempt to maintain sanity, to make life experience make sense even in a twisted way. We not only see crazy; we think crazy. We think in the same way that some think when life has piled on trauma after trauma from very early on. Scrambling is a defense operation that prevents us from facing reality; the early reality of beatings and neglect, of no love, of being sent away alone at an early age….in brief, my life.

Here is an example from a patient describing the result of a psilocybin trip before entering therapy: “On the trip sitting in a car looking out the window at the sidewalk which became a bubbling liquid mass. It looked like bubbling cement. Later on when I judged it safe to exit the car in a residential neighborhood, I saw an alligator in the middle of the street; these were hallucinations that contained the feelings of my youth: fear and terror. Here was a safe place so the unsafe place was bubbling inside of me. The alligator nipping at my heels was only the fear and terror coming at me in symbolic form.”

In my case, further use of hallucinogens would have caused serious damage. If I had continued taking drugs, I believe the symbolism would have overwhelmed me because the gating system would not have been able to recover enough to withstand more pressure. When preverbal (first line) imprints of pain are thrown up indiscriminately they first attack the highest levels of consciousness. But because the nonverbal content cannot be assimilated and integrated on that level there is an overload of unconnected Primal information. If pains come up in a cohesive manner one would then be in the midst of Primal feelings. The problem is that with the drug it rises in undelineated form, vague, putting pressure on the gating system. It is coming up out of sequence and cannot be anchored in reality. Therefore, it takes on a mystical air. The hallucinogen does not allow an ordered sequence to develop. It prevents a slow unfolding of Primal Pain to achieve proper connection and instead it opens gates widely allowing pains from several levels at the same time that have no chance of integration. Those preverbal pains thrown up by the drug, thrust pre-birth traumas into the fray long before the person has relived much less forceful hurts and has prepared the way to live deeper pains. That is why it takes month to prepare the piste toward the inner depths.

This is the origin of abreaction, which I have written about extensively. Those patients who come in and begin to undergo birth Primals are often pre psychotic and need tranquilizers, never hallucinogens. The level of pain must be heavily controlled lest the patient slips into a beginning mental affliction. It is very difficult from that break in defenses to find normalcy again. This is also true of those chronic users of marijuana. The defense system is called in to help out but it loses its impact after a while and there can then be a break in defenses with strange ideation and hallucinations. Defenses are weakened so much that often there is no recovery or only partial recovery. If they go on with seemingly benign drugs such as hash they may lose their sanity and fall into periodic delusions and paranoia. I am against legalizing these seemingly innocuous drugs because they can cause psychosis in fragile souls. And they do not liberate anyone or anything.

In some literature these drugs are classified as hallucinogens. A person first taking cannabis may laugh or cry more easily and seems more relaxed and less depressed. But over time he will pay a heavier price as mental symptoms appear, not always obvious to him. These are also openers of the gates of repression, but more slowly done over great amounts of time. Their memory system will slowly suffer as will their cognitive abilities. We want a free lunch but it is wrapped in a nightmare. Unwrap the fragile covering and we get open mental illness.

One serious trauma can produce it at once. Incest by a parent can produce it as the person who is supposed to protect you becomes the danger. I have treated several of these cases; the earlier it occurs the more likely the psychosis. In Europe I once treated the daughters of a Nazi officer. They both kind of made it until the older daughter found out he was also sleeping with her sister. She fell into psychosis. It happened more than we imagine among the Nazis. The trauma was “I am no longer loved.”
There may be many roads to Nirvana, but all are posted with same sign: Danger Ahead. You will lose your mind if you stay on this road. Only feeling is healing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Treating Depression with LSD: Cure or Hallucination (1/2)

I read a recent article in the New York Times about new research in treating depression with hallucinogenic agents (see I found the article – excuse the expression – mind-blowing. And I suffered a flashback to a time 50 years ago when I, in my youthful stupidity, took LSD on two occasions. One was a very bad trip and I decided the experience was not for me. After I did research on the effects of hallucinogens on the brain, I decided it was for no one.

I was under the impression that experimenting with mind-altering drugs was a thing of the past, along with The Sixties, Timothy Leary and Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds. And I thought the dangerous notion of treating mental disorders with hallucinogens had been discredited, or at least abandoned. But I was wrong. It seems like the old adage forever holds true: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Today, there is a renewed interest in the use of hallucinogens to treat depression, accompanied by much hype, as The Times article indicates. I believe his resurgence is a sign, not of progress, but of our failure to understand brain science, and in particular, methylation. To say little about what is anxiety and depression, which they are studying.

The article published Dec. 1 in the Health section of The Times is titled, “A Dose of a Hallucinogen From a ‘Magic Mushroom,’ and Then Lasting Peace.” It reports on two experimental studies – at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and at Johns Hopkins University – in which cancer patients were given doses of psilocybin, an illegal hallucinogen. During the eight-hour sessions, patients were provided with eye masks, ear phones, programmed music, hospital setting, the whole panoply of the proper accouterments necessary for an “out of space,” serious experience. Their question: Can the drug reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients?

The results: 80% of cancer patients “showed clinically significant reduction in psychologic disorders.” They often had mystical experiences which I would like to know much more about, because my explanation is quite different from those who write about it. Too often, in my previous research, those studying hallucinogens thought that mystical experiences were a good thing, beneficent and healthy. My view is different. It is dangerous for reasons to be explained in a moment.

  But what if the psychologic disorders and physical aberrations such as cancer, are essentially the same thing; stemming from the same source and originating during the same evolutionary time frame. We have seen this many times over in non-cancer patients, and have also seen it with cancer patients. We have seen serious psychologic afflictions such as anxiety making their appearance during the earliest time frame, during gestation and just after birth. We have also seen patients who have been reliving those very early times who have incipient, inchoate cancer. Our research has not gone as far as to justify a hypothesis about anxiety and cancer but in my papers I have alluded to the possible relationship between them. Our future research into early trauma and cancer will delve into it much more strenuously.

Here is an important result of the Langone study: “The intensity of the mystical experience correlated with the degree that their anxiety and depression decreased. Why is that? The usual statistical studies which should explain it, do not.

The results of both studies were also released concurrently in the Journal of Psychopharmacology (December 16, 2016). I saw no reports on the deleterious effects of this drug on patients, which to me, should be a sine qua non of any research: Can it do harm? The mystical experience these patients underwent seemed to me, based on my own research, to be signs of overload. That is, the unleashing of mountains of pain which is not always evident, even to the patient with pain. What seems to happen is that the gating system, charged with suppressing deep pain militates to where it is needed to control the level of pain. That is, to keep the system from being overwhelmed by the input. Heavy pain becomes a beacon to guide the pain to where it is needed, to aid repression and keep us unconscious. Nevertheless, the impact of high pain levels weakens the defense system so that further use of drugs can produce a crack in the gating system, leading to strange beliefs, such as being at one with Allah. These ideas, like many symptoms, are signs of overwhelming input. That is, when defenses falter, symptoms appear to absorb the input. These symptoms such as migraine headaches, or hallucinations, are indicative of too much input into the neurobiologic system.

The input happens when the repressive gates weaken, allowing accumulated pains from the start of life into higher levels. What also allows this to happen is the use of hallucinogens which blast open the gates, allowing far too much pain into the system. Normally these pains stay in the neurobiologic “cage.” Bur forcing drugs into the system allows the influx of historic early hurts to ramify throughout the body and brain. The gates give way. The result is serious cognitive aberrations, such as mystical experiences, which are no more than ineffable, laminated loads of pain arising in vague and diverse, aleatoric form to higher brain levels. Once the pain breaks through, those higher brain levels are then forced to concoct esoteric ideas without form, as the brain starts to lose cohesion and boundaries.

What are these pains? Trauma during gestation, birth and infancy. A smoking, drinking mother. An anxious mother living in chaos. An impatient parent who demands too much from the baby. A carrying mother taking drugs or ingesting medicine that alters the baby’s metabolism. And on and on. They are too numerous to adumbrate.

When those pains suddenly break through after a lifetime of repression, they cannot be enumerated nor defined by the patient, not his doctor; hence, they are considered mystical. It should read “mystery” rather than mystical because that is what it is for the victim, who never sees himself as victim. He swears he has been liberated. “Liberated” temporarily from his pain, it seems.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Precious Advice

Here is the response I sometimes get from so-called well wishers:   “Hey, time has passed.   Get over it and get on with your life.   Blah blah blah…”  This is not a well wisher; it is the  ultimate denier.  And the more you try to get over it the shorter your life will be. You cannot leave a trail of emotional debris scattered around while you “get over it.”  Biology will not permit this wait because you cannot get over what is now part of you.   Now here is the problem: if you are enmeshed in mental activity and insights and explanations you are in fact stating that memories are mainly in your thinking, remembering mind.  Yet our work and recent research says the opposite, that key embedded memories that contain the mountain of pain are located much deeper than that. And you cannot  just get over something engraved in your neurology and biology. And get on with your life.  Your life is driven by those memories, ad nauseam.  It is like telling someone to cut off his hand and get on with his life.  Well with imprinted Primal Pain he has cut off something far more important for survival:  his feelings. They should guide and direct him but alas, they fail because they have been left in the wilderness.   I was going to say, “left in the wilderness without  trace,”  but unhappily there is always a trace.  A trickle of methyl that marks the spot and tells us where the memory lies and how forceful it is.

It damages us and then screams its message, “I am suffering and I cannot stop.  The pain originates right here.”  It demands that we return to the scene of the crime and address it again. You mean to “suffer all over again.”   We can rationalize, forget and deny but the memory does not; it stays in its pristine form, unchanging, clamoring for surcease.   Yes you have to suffer again but this time there is an ending.  The first time we could cry  but repression rushed in to stop the overload.  This time in therapy the therapist will help stop any hint of overload which can often lead to the deadly abreaction and the blockage of feeling. That is what overload means; no more feeling.  It is already too much.

So what are we getting over, at last.  We are not; we are forgetting, denying, changing the subject.  We are changing our mind in the guise of ”getting over” something.  And yes, we can force the top level mind to change the direction of memory and pretend mentally that it does not exist.  We can play tricks with our minds but never can we play tricks with deep-lying trauma whose memories have penetrated the deepest levels of the brain and, like the methyl trace, are part of us biologically.  And those are the memories that wreak havoc with the system creating  afflictions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and numerous others.  And those are the same maladies that require addressing on the level where they were imprinted:  diseases that become systemic because the deep-lying pain has  also become systemic.

Here lies the crossing of the road where  conventional psychotherapy plays games with the brain, making it mindful, or unleashing volcanoes of pain. When taking hallucinogens, for example.  But not making the slow, painful, journey into the zone of the interior to meet with the devil also known as birth with  drugs, lack of touch, lack of nursing,  or a nursing mother taking pain killers, and you can fill in the blanks.  And it remains a “blank” until we can give it a name---pain.  We use any kind of painkiller, no matter the name, because it erases for a moment the real problem, imprinted agony.  Why?  Because we cannot see it, and above all, we cannot feel it because the system in its wisdom has shut down the pain just so we cannot feel it.  Imagine what a miracle it is that when deep pain becomes overwhelming we have a mechanism to shut it down for decades, and oft- times, for all or our lives.  How about that for efficacy? We  survived because we could build and create despite our pain.  And we could die prematurely because of that same pain.  We pay a price for repression; that is, for cutting away part of us so we can go on creating and inventing.

When we go deep in the brain we can feel it in all its agonies. And patients tell me that is a pain that does not hurt. I would say that it is a pain that has an ending, where each session is limited to what the  patient can feel and integrate.  That is the need for an expert therapist.  To make sure that patients do not suffer too much and are not pushed to go on feeling beyond his limit.   For that reason we need feeling therapists not someone who delights in watching someone writhe to prove what a good therapist he is.

Believe me, it I could have gotten over it and got on with my life I would have but memories endure; they are a life force we must deal with.  No way out and no short cuts.  I always knew the danger of abreaction but it was only recently that we know how to reverse it.   In long-time abreactors who wanted the easy way they often become untreatable.  So caution and care; do not treat your body as a toy or plaything.  There are serious consequences for not doing it right.  I can tell who is an abreactor, but treating it is a whole other matter.

 An example:  my cats were yelling for their food this morning.  And I got anxious and wanted to feed them right away. It is also the reason I am known as some one who gets things done.  Why?  I felt about that need to feed the cats.  It took me back to my asking my father for something I wanted to buy.  His answer was either "Later”.  Or no response.  He was incapable of acting spontaneously.  This helped make him a loser.   He could not get going on anything.  Kept it all inside, and died early of a massive heart attack.

It was all of a  piece; he could not say anything spontaneously, could not show love or affection, could not reach out to touch or hug.   Everything was “later” for a later that never came.   He just could not make a decision.  He was happy to drive a truck and have no one bother him, which he did day after day, never putting his life in question or what his life was about. He never read a book, listened to music, never escaped that tight circle he called life.   He had to have it that way because he wanted no surprises not even a son who asked for something.  To put it off for him was never having to make a decision or do anything new or different.  He was comfortable doing nothing and never changing his routine.

I became the  opposite; wanting to find out more and more; reading religiously, becoming a musician, traveling to various countries; you get the idea—to become the opposite from him.  That was my way to survive.  I learned from him; how not to be.  Money was his only interest which was something that never ever interested me.  He never laughed or joked.  Never saw the humor of life and above all,  never saw any beauty in the world.  I learned to travel to art galleries in many countries.  I learned foreign languages.  He dined at the 5:30 at inexpensive restaurants, not because he liked the food but because it was cheap.  Money dominated everything.  I never knew there was a place to buy clothes apart from the little Mexican shops on the East side.  He never gave gifts because he could not give.  A man with a short fuse, angry all of the time, something I never am.  I heard his screams constantly and vowed not to be like that.  He was my inverse role model.  A man with no interests and no knowledge and no idea how to interact socially. A man without friends whose wife was mentally ill.  She was also my mother….. A five year old who called my father, "daddy". "Daddy can I go to the store now?"

She was always a thing, a nonentity to me.   I needed love and believed I could get it from my father until I learned better and saw a man who could not love.  As Shakespeare described him: a man with no music in him. I made my own.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

If You Value Privacy?

If you truly value privacy do not ever join the Navy. I will tell you why. 3000 of us slept head to feet every night.  If anyone snored then none of us slept.  If you wanted to do a serious bathroom, do not go to the john. There are little tin gutters with water flowing through them to wash it out.  We sat on the gutter facing guys just facing us with all the grunts and noises.  For me it was humiliating.   And worse, during battle and rough weather, the ship was rolling up and down and sideways and “material” was flying all over the place.  Unbelievable.  When we tried to zip up and walk out, the waves were so high that we had to walk up a huge hill to get out, usually we bang against the steel doors. Or as the wave was deeper we found ourselves hurtling downhill to leave. If we were eating then food fled everywhere.

During battle the 16 inch guns moved the ship 16 feet to the side and buckled decks. Their noise was deafening and many of us on the gun mount went partially deaf afterward.  If a bullet stuck we dared not touch it as it was white hot.   I had a machine gun mount just on the side of the 16 inters. And I never once considered that I was shooting at human beings, the mothers and children who ran into the sea to escape our shells.  These were not Japanese soldiers, they were families who lived there; it was their home, until we arrived.  I was never mad at anyone, I was just doing a job… kill.  And when a submarine tried to sink us we fired on the men who run up to the top deck to escape.  We blew them up to the top with our depth charges.

 We had to take our guns and helmets with us during battle because we could not go back inside for days. The ship had to remain waterproof at all times.   We used our helmet to do our defecation and washed it out by dipping it in the sea.  But we had no food and ability for ablutions for days at a time.  If you value privacy would you like to do that? I never thought it was so bad, at age 18.  That is why they get us very young. We know nothing and do not have the experience to question anything.  ayayay.    art

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

About What Embeds Neurosis in the System

 I have been wondering why it is that battle in combat did not seem to make me neurotic while seemingly innocuous events during home life did.  I think I found one answer.  That old devil… need … raises its ugly head.  What happened early in life when need was at its asymptote, our system made sure that even banal events were embedded in our nervous system. When we needed holding and touch in the first months of life to mollify the appearance of agonizing pain, we found ways to encase the pain (defenses)and made the pain bearable when love went missing.

It seems that it is not like I need a piece of cake every afternoon; rather it is something essential to life and development; it is part of our biologic development that goes missing.  Need is basic to fulfillment; they form an equation and when that equation is unbalanced we become so, as well. It is not just what goes into the mouth; it is what enters the whole system. It is like touch. It is not what we feel on our cheeks.  It is what that does to the whole  system; the warmth, the caring and love. A ruffling of the child’s hair can carry with it a note: you are loved, appreciated and wanted.  A mussing up of hair carries a biologic message that says so much. You are wanted, I feel close to you and want to be near you. One touch contains pages of monologue without any verbal discussion.  Touch is the message without words. But words without touch dilutes and vitiates that message into a loss of meaning.  Words without feeling do not travel to the feeling centers.  The actual message is lost and we are left with vacuous meaning that has lost its power to move others.  It can no longer convey love.  It becomes an empty vessel with no place to land. One then lives on a barren island bereft of meaning and above all, bereft of love.

Combat is not based on biologic need; quite the opposite. it is what happens then there is no chance for it.

So a slap on my face at age five conveyed a new message: you are not loved there is need to afraid. Do not look to me for understanding and compassion.  Beware!  You must obey without question.  And you slip into obedience as a normal thing.  You no longer expect kindness, just the lack of rage.  There is a new “normal” in life: the lack of anger and the lack of danger. No needing love; needing just to avoid menace and threat.

Friday, November 25, 2016

On How the Needs Change in Life

I have often described the timetable of needs; that a baby must be touched immediately after birth;  to be touched for the first time at age six is to late to stop the damage of unfulfilled need… To be talk to and listened to and explained to.  An example of my life might help. I wonder why there has always been a terror of death in me.   I remember that at age six there was an accident with my dog who was hit by a car.  I did not know about soothing and easing the blow with my dog.  I walked away at the very moment when his whimpering and cries begged me to stay with him.  Now I am primalling about how sorry I am that I left him.   I never knew there was such a thing as compassion and kindness.  I never had it and never knew how important it was. Now I beg him for forgiveness.  And I am in agony over it.  How could I have been so unfeeling?

But what also was imprinted was the fear of death and the desperate need to have it explained to me and mollified.  But my parents never talked to me, and I sensed that they never would. If someone had talked to me about fears that I had I know it would soften the blow.  But it went missing and the terror was deeply imprinted.  And in my primals, I learned not only is there a specific time to be held and hugged to ease the pain and fear, but there is a time to talk to children which would ease their terrors. And because it never happened, my terrors went on into the night and became exacerbated into devastating nightmares. Plagued night and day by terrors and night-terrors … and ADD, another phrase for night terrors, the same ones that plagued me all of the time.  In the daytime I could not sit still or pay attention as I had terrors that fed into my system all of the time.  How could I pay attention when internal input was nagging me all of the time?  Those terrors were night terrors, imprinted from birth on when the deprivation of oxygen was so great. Above all, I could not move towards anesthetics, couldn’t move toward air and breath. I was trapped and I needed to move to respond to be put into so much hurt. Trapped is a lifelong feeling I carried with me.  My primal: I have to get out of here or I will die.   I never articulated the notion of death but it was there; the approach of death and more terror.  That was the holdover from the past that dogged me constantly.

So now a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and to me too! I am making it better every day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

On Why we Take Drugs and What Kind?

We are doing staff meeting today where three different beginning patients were each taking a different pain killer. And each takes a pill according to the level of consciousness he was on and  of the amount of pain  he suffered. It actually is a diagnostic tool indicating  the level of access the patient has to each level of consciousness; that is, the kind of pain that can access certain levels of consciousness. Predominantly, first line pain often calls for a first line blocker,  the benzodiazepines such as
Xanax or Atavan.  Or when the pain is based higher up and less severe, second line, we may use Zoloft or medication aimed at the limbic system. Here we use the kind of medication that was used up originally in the initial trauma in the battle against a lesser trauma.   It needs replenishing and that is the function of feeling level drugs such as Zoloft.

So who gets addicted?  Those first liners who are loaded with very early preverbal and often during womb life. These first liner may well be compounded by later traumas, neglect and indifference from parents.  Thus, first line pain may not be addicting but when it is combined with infancy and childhood pain may well be addicting. That is why having a therapy of feeling may lessen limbic pain enough to wipe away addiction but still leave the tendency in place. I liken this to homosexuality where the person is becoming less addicted to male love (for men) as he relives first line pain and also some of childhood emotional deprivation embedded in his nervous system. Inside that obsession with male love  is terrible need, and that need, unfulfilled,  turns into the need for surcease,…. a temporary drug fix; i.e, a homosexual affair and/or  a shot of whiskey or tranquilizer pills for the druggies.  We can see from this that nearly every obsession has some kind of need behind it.  That obsession, masking the real need,  And it has to go on for a very long time so long as the basic need has not been felt and relived.

How do I know all this? Because luckily for the past two decades there is research on all this. Long before the laboratory neurobiologic research, we made the discovery of deeply imprinted pain in our clinical work but it took years to quantify the pain.  We  found biologic equivalents that pointed to when the pain lessened.  And years later a new field of methylation came along to inform us of how pain got imprinted, and above all, thanks to measuring demethylation, how pain got removed from the neurobiologic system.  Thus we knew how much pain was in the system and where, and then we found out how the pain was extirpated, and where.  We came onto this because when patients reliving early pain, their drug addiction lessened;  and after a time it disappeared. We saw that there were different levels of primal pain and different nervous systems that imprinted them. And then we saw symptoms begin to disappear but not always; which  led to another discovery; that feeling was healing and that the more the patient felt deeper levels, the more severe symptoms left. We learned how the connections on deeper levels of brain function were essential  to cure.  And that there is no cure without a complete reliving of the basic need for love. And that love has different meaning according to the level were are operating on. The need for calm and proper nutrition, the need for a good and drug-free birth; the need to be touched and caressed,  the need to be safe and understood.   There are many, many more needs and any lack will be marked as pain; I mean marked, literally, as pain leaves a mark of methyl that says “there  is pain” and how much.  As pain is relived there is less pain, indicated by demethylation.  So we now have a marker for less pain and the resolution of neurosis. If the doctor  asks you, “Were you loved as a child?” and you shrug and say, “I do not know”, now you will know exactly.  Because to be loved means to experience basic need and the body knows even when we were not loved.  It cries maladies and makes us miserable because something is missing. In some cases we are sure it is a man’s love or another fix of a powerful painkiller. It tells us, “Watch out! Neurosis has set in”. Thereafter the habit still won’t go away until the need is felt completely.   Until it is experienced we can only be partially well and healthy.  The lack will trail us for a lifetime.  Since every unfelt need prevents full healing we know that feeling equals healing. There are no shortcuts. Biology is not constructed like that.  It never takes the easy way and neither should we.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Elusive Truth

I often write that the simple truth is revolutionary.  But where is that truth?  How do we recognize it when we find it?  It is often not a truth we seek out; it is a truth that hits us from inside.    A truth that can rattle our bones and can alter our thinking.   I will often an example from my life.
I have been trying to have an MRI for a long time but I cannot make it.  When I undergo the scan it seems likely my whole birth history arrives intact.  And I fall into an anxiety state that is as spooky as anything I have ever undergone.    It is not anxiety; it is terror of approaching death.  So why is that?  Because we carry it around all of the time, and when the circumstances are right it can be triggered again, especially when your head is not allowed to move, one cannot see out and breathing is more and more difficult as Primal suffocation raises its head.  The baby feels all that and is in pure terror with no help, no one to ease the pain and no one to explain.

It takes place on the deepest levels of the brain where no concepts for understanding exist.  And it leaves a trace, a methyl trace (called methylation).   That marks the spot and indicates how painful it was and is.   It  agitates us so that we cannot think clearly and concentrate.  We have to keep moving.  I call it an “imprint” and it stays embedded in the brain and affects our anatomy, biology and neurology.  It later drives our adult behavior and symptoms.   If we do not recognize this we are doomed to not understand any of this;  nor the origins of our compulsive behavior and recurring symptoms.
Our lives remain a mystery.

Anthony Weiner had an imprint that drove him to act out in exhibitionism.   Once the imprint was there the act-out had to return in force and it did. No different from a severe physical symptom; once treated it remains a danger for years to come. It is an ineluctable force from which there is no escape.  We cannot run from the imprint; it is part of us.  On the contrary, we must run toward it, experience it and then be done with it.  It has been part of our lives; only now it must be part of our conscious lives.  My belief is that the earlier and more powerful the imprint the more like it will dog us for a long time. It is that recurring nightmare with the same demon chasing us. I know, I owned one for years.  It never let me be free.  I was living in a nightmare and never knew, but my whole system knew it well and expressed itself every night in those nightmares.  How did I find their origins?  When I travelled deep in the brain to where those deep imprints lay. I relived all the origins and my terrors disappeared. They were allowed to rise above the gating system to be faced head on, and I do mean “head on”. I then knew immediately why I had to sit in a restaurant with nothing over my head. I had to drive  a convertible for the same reason; and that reason was so arcane as to remain unbelievable .  When patients started to tell me, “It feels like I am living my birth.”  I told them, “Enough of that nonsense, let’s stay rational and away from booga booga explanations.  That means “I” the discoverer of this whole process, did not believe in the most important part of it, until, the evidence became overwhelming.  So I fully understand when it is poo-pooed and scoffed at by others. If we do not believe in the imprint there is no way whatsoever to understand mental illness. Imprints are the safe haven for the secrets of the unconscious.

Monday, November 14, 2016

It Is Not Only Food that We Ingest

Anything that goes into a carrying mother’s system will affect the baby.   Medication, above all. And we may not be aware of it, but the biochemicals processing anxiety and depression too. The mother and fetus are in many ways one system.  The mother is depressed and so is the baby; he will be largely more lifeless than normals.  Heavy repression is going on, which diminishes energy levels; which is also very true in anxiety where energy levels are increased.  The baby may be born hyperactive and soon may not be able to sit still or concentrate early in life.

Here is a study that throws light on the problem.   (Science Daily sept 18, 2016, Depression in Pregnancy, see  This study maintains that depression can reduce  the enzyme in the placenta  that breaks down stress hormones in the fetus which then produces epigenetic changes  when the baby is stressed.  The DNA remains the same but how and when it is expressed changes.  Here may be the beginning of mental health problems in the baby. It may look like inherited depression, but no.  The carrying mother’s physical state has much to do with it.  Experience changes how genetics is carried out.  And that too often includes the medications the mother takes which alters the baby”s system.  An adult dose for a newborn may be overwhelming and life-threatening. Any drug can produce major biologic changes in the baby.  We need to be aware of that.  A baby is not an adult.  And too many mothers take a couple of pills in the morning without thinking of the lifelong consequences on the offspring. “It is just a mild painkiller,” we rationalize but it is not mild for the baby.   These pills may aid serious repression. It can set up  a lifelong prototype  of being “down”  in the baby. As the pills inside of him re-set  a new his natural state:  repression.   He is sent to a doctor in his childhood.  He is asked whether he has taken any drugs?  “No” he says, unaware of the embedded memory of drugs that his mother and he took together when he was a fetus that set up a prototype.

In one sense, the depressive mother’s “down” tendency can become part of the child’s inheritance and it becomes very difficult to separate out what contributes to abnormality.  Is it really experience or pure genetics.   I vote for genetics given expression by experience. Is it inherited?   We have to understand inheritance to know what we mean.  Are we inheriting pure genetics (blue eyes) or are we inheriting a hyperactive system which may be a combination of the two. Some of the recent research shows a wide discrepancy between actual age and  methylation age (an accumulation of life’s traumas).  The latter is far more accurate estimate for our longevity.  It makes sense that trauma wreaks havoc on our biologic system and curtails its endurance.

It seems now by carefully studying methylation age (the age of accumulated traumas) we are measuring one’s longevity.  It is something we have noted for decades; that early life lack of love, neglect and lack of touch shorten our life span.  They certainly point to the build-up of serious illness.   Most serious scientific papers urge the search for what factors we can add to prolong good health.  My vote is for our therapy because when we lower body temperature on a long term basis for example, we extend life.  I recently quoted a study on body temp that seems to confirm this point. Why?  Because we reduce the constant work of the body, save energy so that system is more relaxed and healthy. Early life is critical to how long we live and if we are to inherit terrible afflictions.  Love the child at age one and prevent illness at age fifty.    Not a bad bargain.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Suicide is Painless Repression, Despair and the Relief of Reliving Near-Death Feelings (5/5)

        What has this to do with self-destruction, as some therapies describe the suicide attempt? I was discussing the difference between self-destructive behavior and suicide with a colleague. They are quite different, although you would think that suicide is destruction of the self, but it is not at all like that. Let’s take literal destruction, cutting oneself. This is a later ploy, making hurt obvious. It is a plea for help; “Please see my hurt. See that I hurt.” This in lieu of screaming out that hurt. And the cutter is not often aware of what she is doing or why. It was never acknowledged by anyone because perhaps the parents had no idea of that hurt or even that such emotional hurt existed. There are many aspects of this. Her feeling was, “I’m trying to let the hurt escape,” even when she had no idea what it was. She just knew it was inside and it had to come out.

Another woman, a self-cutter. told me that she cut because it took away some of the emotional hurt which was more painful. It had a beginning and an end. It was controllable whereas the emotional hurt just kept going on. She found out that it was exactly what we do; letting pain out: but in methodical ways so she no longer had to cut herself. The feeling has to be felt deeply to match the force of the pain involved. The patient is trying to let the pain out in the only way she can; make it visible and palpable. If you can at least see it there is something you can do about it.

When there are later circumstances of neglect and lack of love, the deep imprints become compounded and cemented in. Those later traumas (lack of love) increase the repression and force unconscious acting out, such as cutting oneself, to try to get at the source, hopefully, yet unconsciously. But suicide is still a long way off. It is amazing how so often people cut themselves, unwittingly digging out the source of their suffering without even knowing what they are doing.

Suicide, then, is a deeper, earlier sensation/feeling with no behavioral possibilities. They are, indeed, two different things. Even though suicide attempts to destroy the self it is not, oddly, self-destructive. And of course, self-destructiveness it ramifies so that the destructive behavior takes on many forms, such as sabotaging one’s own success or always picking toxic partners. But it is not as direct as suicide. Suicide means one final act. It is not anything in the present that causes it; it is the result of a deep memory.

There are myriad examples of self-destructive behavior, but all the manifestations come from subdued feelings. There are people who set themselves up for certain failure, who always make sure things turn out bad, who drink themselves into oblivion or who repeatedly get involved with a low-lifes they know are bad for them. Here the driving forces are nearly always deep-seeded pain. These are secondary effects of imprinted hurt. Driving with drunk drivers is a good example.

 Another is the case of a graduate student who could not get feedback from his professors for a paper he had turned in. After weeks of “trying to get through” he sent a most nasty letter to the instructor. For that, he was delayed in getting his degree. So he shot himself in the foot because he could never get through to his father and also because he literally couldn’t get through in being born. Being blocked from getting what he wanted and needed had set off a rage in him, and as we know rage is first line, brainstem originated. It is the seat of the most atavistic anger possible. He was helpless before this surge of fury. Resonance reached down and dredged it all up, surging upwards beyond control. He knew when he sent the letter it was wrong; this is what used to be called “emotional.” His emotions got the best of him. They weren’t irrational; they were real but buried deeply.

The Relief of Reliving

In Primal Therapy, we seek access to those deep recesses of the brain, where ultimate healing lies. First-line is always more powerful than later imprints; and they are the most healing, offering up many insights that previous behavior was based on. The insights that flow from first-line feelings are widely encompassing because they are the basis for so much later behavior. Reliving on the brainstem level means complete connection as the driving force of impulses are experienced at last. We connect, in short, on the level of the trauma and in that context only. Here we are dealing with the shark brain: no shouts, no wild movements; evolution has taken over. It means the patient has gone back in time and is living again what went on decades before. Then it was too overwhelming for a naïve and fragile infant brain to integrate. Now, perhaps, he is ready for it.

That is the true meaning of facing yourself and accepting yourself; not in the booga-booga, new-age sense but in the biologic evolutionary meaning of it, where the feeling is now integrated into the physical system. It becomes ego syntonic. That is the real meaning of becoming oneself. As the reliving goes on, the feeling is fully integrated and there is a continued drop in vital signs and body temperature lowers to real normal, rather than “average” normal. In this sense, “integration” is a new biologic state where the whole system can re-regulate itself. Normalization has set in and depression bids adieu. And no one has done anything outside the body. It all originated from inside. That is why I say that everything the patient has to learn is already inside, waiting.

In Primal Therapy, we get patients gradually down to those deep feelings that are so disturbing. And once those feelings are resolved and brought to consciousness, there are no more thoughts of suicide. Why? Because there are no more buried feelings driving the suicidal thoughts. It takes time, but when they get there, they discover real relief, the kind that lasts and lets them live.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Suicide is Painless Repression, Despair and the Relief of Reliving Near-Death Feelings

It is difficult, perhaps, to believe that birth problems can give rise to suicidal tendencies years later. This is because we are not used to thinking about physiologic memory. Nor are we used to thinking that the most powerful memories we have are those without words, memories of events which predated our ability to understand what was happening to us. It's not always the case that the suicide method mimics the birth trauma, of course, but it is often what we discover in talking to and observing our patients. If we want to get an idea about our birth, look at our imagined choice of suicide. Conversely, if we want to know the origins of depression, we might examine the birth epoch. Eventually, we will discover the secrets of our beginnings in life.

Suicidal or Self-Destructive

There are some acts of suicide that are a cry for help, taking a certain amount of sleeping pills, for example. And there are others that say, I really don’t want to live anymore; that is a jump off a bridge. That is final, no call for help. It all seems so helpless and hopeless; they want to die for relief. No more pain; that’s enough. Their pain is importuning and relentless. Because so is the imprint. No immediate escape, as there might not have been during the original trauma. The pain is so devastating and militating to higher levels that the person cannot contemplate other options. Those feelings are terrible, and they say to us, “Life is terrible.” No it’s not, a therapist may say in an attempt to steer the patient’s mind away from desperate thoughts. But if we try to argue the person out of those thoughts we are using the wrong brain. Our words can never reach the wordless pain they are in. Yet counseling can be a help, although not a cure. It offers help against feeling helpless and hope against hopelessness. It means someone cares and wants you to live. Crucial.

There are some cases where it was impossible to try; further trying might have been life-endangering. Here lies the “loser.” Everything is too much and he gives up automatically. The whole parasympathetic nervous system dominates and directs, and leads him to a passive lifestyle. Why doesn’t get up and get going? He cannot. He is blocked by a memory of action is dangerous. This is not a fantasy; it is real history he is fighting and he lost originally and he will lose again. His depression deepens as he seems stuck in life and can find no way out. He needs to be led, encouraged; to have life breathed into him.
In many suicide cases, it turns out victims had suffered some sort of oxygen deficit early on, caused perhaps by a heavy dose of anesthesia to the mother or by being strangled on the cord at birth. And after an agonizing attempt to get born, death approaches and there is a sense of impending doom and then relief. That memory of possible relief is sealed in so that later in the face of utter hopelessness – triggered by an impending divorce, for instance – death becomes the answer. So an attempt at suicide follows. It is a memory of possible relief, stamped in, engraved that endures for a lifetime. It is the end of the chain of pain, as it were, the logical denouement when current hopelessness can set off the primordial hopelessness where death lurks.

How is it that hopelessness today sets off the same feeling during birth? It is again the chain of pain, the links between levels of consciousness. One way we see that link is through resonance; the current feeling sets off the same deeper feelings until the whole system is engulfed in utter hopeless feelings. And worse, there is no scene attached to it as it is pure feeling, naked and unadorned, the exact same feeling rising again to smother the person and make her suicidal. It is the most profound hopelessness. The current feeling, in short, has triggered off its progenitor with sensations of approaching death becoming paramount.

That early hopelessness is later expanded and ramified as the whole system and brain mature. As each new brain system comes on line, it adds its emotional weight to the feeling. But it is the same feeling with increased maturity and neuronal development. It is the system’s effort to suppress the feeling that produces depression. So depression is not a feeling; it is what happens as that feeling is blocked from higher level access. And when we unravel depression that is what we find: utter, unarticulated hopelessness. We get confirmation by drops in body temperature and blood pressure, a sign of giving up. That foretells a suicidal attempt. However, it can be felt and relived with all of its pain, which provides the ultimate relief as the depression begins to leave, at last. This is not done in a day because it is very deep, the end point of the birth agony, a cord around the neck, for example. This means that we must not trump evolution and feel it soon in therapy. And if we do not take care to go slowly we will touch the embed too early and abreaction results. Why? Because the patient is not ready for that much pain. We can only feel it as the body and brain allow, current hopeless feelings first, then the childhood compounding and finally, the first line, brainstem component where the deepest feelings always lie. I use the word “compounding,” because these are not different feelings; they are the same feelings laid down and layered at different stages of development, and connected through resonance. The child just seems unhappy and sullen and no one knows why. And certainly the child has no idea at all, nor do his teachers. He is in the grasp of that early devastating feeling that no one can say its name. It is literally “ineffable.” The feeling cannot respond to encouraging words because discouraging feelings take priority.

  Suddenly, one day in therapy while the patient is feeling deeply about childhood events where he was blocked for whatever he wanted to do, he shifts into choking and suffocation; the precursor is on its way. It says, “I am strangling on the cord.” Only it does not say it for the moment. The patient is in the grips of first-line, brainstem imprints which only later can he give it a name and context. For the moment the patient only senses the physical sensations. As the body experience enters resonance again and moves higher in the nervous system, where words and thoughts become available, then he knows it is the cord that is stopping me from breathing. That cord has imprinted the trauma, and with the sensation of suffocation together with hopelessness and helplessness.
  How does he know? The inevitable concomitant of this is during the Primal he again sinks into deep hopelessness, and with it a lowering of core body temperature. It can go down several degrees, and, happily, after the feeling it can normalize and rise to higher levels again. But the body nearly always follows suit in these situations; not just the mind at work. And they never say, “I feel depressed.” It is evident in all of their demeanor. Even how they breathe; it gets more and more shallow as conservation of oxygen takes over during the session as the patients goes deeper, approaching the primal imprint.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Suicide is Painless Repression, Despair and the Relief of Reliving Near-Death Feelings (3/5)

As I have written "à maintes reprises", many times over, we respond primarily and firstly to apparent problems in the present, and later to inner links that are awakened by those current problems, such as job losses or divorces. Those repressed traumas are ready to fire and when those links fire together they become wired together, solidified. That is the process I call resonance. The body and brain are busy reacting to what happened decades earlier during womb-life and birth. Those are the events we continually react to because of their remoteness, something that occurred when we were vulnerable and easily and heavily impacted. This is not only my hypothesis. Within the past 20 years, there have been literally hundreds of studies verifying the importance of early imprints, how they last a lifetime and alter our systems. Imprints lay down engraved memories that show themselves when we are alone, in a weakened state or otherwise too open to events.

That is what I believe may have happened to L’Wren Scott in those moments alone before she took her life. She must have had an inkling, a deep down unease and hopeless feeling that would have warned her. It was all hidden inside her, pushing through her weakened defense layers and making her feel so hopeless and “down,” despite her current surroundings. Being alone for a short time can set it off. It can first set off, “I am all alone and no one to hold and comfort me.” Just a few hours alone with no one nearby can do it. Remember, small things can set off huge feelings. If she were left alone and neglected by her parents very early on, the connection to despair of the past it becomes clear. She probably had no idea about imprints or deep-lying trauma/memory. That is the reason our theory is so important, so that people who are suffering can be aware of what is going on inside and understand where their despair and suicidal thoughts come from. This may avoid needless deaths. How tragic and unnecessary all this. And now you understand our mission: not money nor fame, but the lives of us humans. We all have a basic right to a full-length life.

The Way In Is The Way Out

You may wonder why a privileged and wealthy celebrity can’t find distractions for her despair. Why doesn’t she run away or go to parties and “take her mind off of it?” She cannot; the imprint confines her. She lives within that primordial memory and cannot imagine or think about other solutions. There were no alternatives originally, thus there are none now while awash in the imprint. And the imprint forces her to remain on the same route all over again. Her hopelessness (depression) is all-consuming. She cannot stray outside its bounds. The stabs of depression she suffers are reminders of the mounting memory that periodically surges upwardly toward awareness.

There is no way to know now exactly why she killed herself. But a clue to her motive can be found post-mortem, in the manner in which she chose to kill herself. Scott had just about everything in life; although she was in debt, she lived well and lived high with Jagger. Yet she took the trouble to go through the machinations of hanging. Why not take the simpler “way out,” with pills? Though some will find this hard to believe, the answer goes back to the very beginning of life: the way in is often the way out. The same imprint that produced deep hopelessness at birth – the root of depression – is also what likely led to her to choose hanging. I am not familiar with the circumstances of Scott’s death, but I am not limiting my discussion only to her. This applies to all of us.

The fact of the deep imprint also can lead to hanging for if she were strangling on the cord she is most likely to repeat the act. It was the closest she came to death and the trauma and its consequences remain. Fifty years ago, I wrote about methods of suicide and I noted that they followed the deep imprint. Being strangled on the cord would lead to hanging. Being suffocated in the womb might lead to gassing oneself. Being mangled at birth might end in jumping off a building or in front of a train. A mother drugging herself might be duplicated in suicide by an overdose of pain-killers in the offspring. Thus, the imprint, now embedded, searches out its duplicate, like most act-outs. And act-outs follow the imprint closely because there is a sense of approaching death early on, and it follows by approaching death now, where death is the final relief from this catastrophic imprint. That is also an imprinted memory – final relief. It is the final denouement of the imprint.

Recent research has confirmed the link between the nature of trauma at birth and the manner of suicide chosen in adulthood. In a study published in the journal Biology of the Neonate, K. J. S. Anand and associates state that in a number of suicides by violent means “the significant risk factors were those perinatal events that were likely to cause pain in the newborn.” (Anand & Scalzo, 2000). In other words, suicides will often choose a method that reflects the prototype of their birth experiences. Why? Because each prototype requires its own conclusion. For a neonate strangling on the cord, further strangling would have ended the agony. Those drowning in amniotic fluid at birth may opt for death by drowning. Those who received a massive dose of anesthetic at birth may take an overdose of barbiturates, or they might gas themselves in their garage. And so on.

I remember one patient who saved up dynamite; having experienced anoxia at birth, he was going to put a stick to his head and blow his head off so that he wouldn't have one second of pain and hopelessness. He laughs at that now, but at the time it spoke volumes of his desperation. Another patient was obsessed with jumping off a building. During her birth by Cesarean, this person had felt wrenched into space with nothing to hang onto. Another patient, battered and squeezed at birth, obsessed about jumping off a bridge, head first.

I found this was almost a universal law: we attempt to die in the way our birth was threatened. Those memories, that of trauma during gestation, last a lifetime and lead to same attempt years later to die in the way it might have happened at the beginning. In other words, as the memory of the early trauma rises, the memory of the early result mounts as well. Thus early strangulation may lead to the same course of action with the final denouement; death. The logic of the system. It is confirmation of the imprint and its lifelong effect on the system. It drives behavior ineluctably. So the imprint includes the probable outcome – death. We need to consider suicide as another form of act-out. It channels behavior despite exhortation and encouragement; the sense of approaching death. What is often articulated for those who have no idea about the imprint is, “I don’t want to live anymore.” And even that is not fully articulated; it is usually a vague thought or sense. It is often not, “I am in so much pain I don’t want to go on.” It is just a vague sense of hopelessness and helplessness that leads to an attempt. It all remains vague and aleatory, a constant rumination inside of a black cloud descending.

Anand, K. J. S., & Scalzo F.M. (2000) Can adverse neonatal experiences alter brain development and subsequent behavior? Biology of The Neonate, 77(2), 69-82. Print.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Suicide is Painless Repression, Despair and the Relief of Reliving Near-Death Feelings (2/5)

There is only one way to stop the suffering, and that is to revisit the imprint and relive the pain. Until then, we cannot know the real lack and what it is. That is why the system insists on reliving later in life. Our own system is pushing for real integration and liberation, because it seeks to become whole again. That imprint has only one goal in life; to be relived exactly as it was laid down. Its message is a constant warning of unfinished business. The pain from very early on has to be felt and dealt with in all its agony. The imprint knows no mercy. It wants conscious awareness somewhere inside even while the top cortical level does what it can to imprison it. Conscious awareness means delving into deep feeling plus ultimate awareness of what it is. The imprint will never leave until it is lived again, fully, in its original context. Enough rearranging of the chairs on the Titanic. We must join feelings with their thoughts and make ourselves whole. Fame won’t do that; I have treated enough stars to know that, and my patients also know it. There is no substitute for extirpating the imprint. None. Avoiding the imprint and we are leaving misery in place. Reliving it finally stops the terrible drive to feel like a success. That is different from being authentically successful, which is the drive to do things right. A little more relaxing.

To be loved early on, that is what sets the stage for your life. It means fulfilling basic needs as they evolve; it makes us feel confident and productive, but not driven. It offers daring and enthusiasm and a joie de vivre. It allows us to try but never in desperation. Symbolic love – the kind we get from fame and celebrity – has to be repeated over and over exactly because it cannot fulfill. Why not? Precisely because it is symbolic, a substitute for the true love we never got from our parents. When there is a basic lack of fulfillment early in life, especially during gestation, birth and infancy, an imprint is created that stamps in that deprivation, through the partially open sensory window. That imprint is embedded deep in the brain and stays there, almost inaccessible. We are aware only of a gnawing emptiness, feeling unfulfilled. Empty like a shell, as one patient put it. And that need, now unanchored from its source, drags us into the race for symbolic fulfillment. But it’s a race that never ends because it does nothing to alter the motor that’s driving it, which is the painful, buried imprint of getting no love when it really mattered. Once the pain is embedded and out of reach, we will seek out substitutes, so as to stop feeling empty. The agony from that deep, deep pain becomes a primordial part of us. It now confuses us, distracts us, and above all, stops our concentration. Oh yes; it depresses us because we live with an enemy in the house that we cannot escape. It lives with us and in us; it claws for its liberation; it wants freedom to live the pain, believe it or not. Yet we do what we can to stop it. No wonder most psychotherapy is aimed at repression and rationales, understanding but never deep feeling. They get a bit of relief, which the patient settles for; but no cure. So what does the successful person feel? Very little: Down, unhappy and unfulfilled. He has no other choice because those feelings will not leave even for mercy’s sake.

Success is not a feeling; being loved is. Fame is other people’s idea of our achievements; it is in a way their feeling…admiration, humbling, important, etc. And why does even the most accomplished person never feel satisfied nor fulfilled? Because all of his fulfillment and all of his admiration is symbolic; it is not the love he needed early on. It covers it over the lack of love, sits on top of the real need. The feeling window is now closed, and leaves an emotional vacuum in its place. It is the imprinted pain that cannot be erased no matter what kind of success is there. And it drives him for more and more – more money, more applause, more awards.

Finally at the top of his fame he feels still unfulfilled and a failure; there is nothing more to gain, nothing more to try for. He looks at all his billboards and feels empty. What does it mean? “I don’t know what else to do to feel good, to feel successful.” It seems that life is empty. There is no point; suicidal thoughts thrust their way in, as he feels the real deep feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that he has been escaping from in his work. The pain that drove it all is still alive and gnawing inside. It says, sotto voce, you are not loved and that is all that matters. Something is missing and you have no idea what that is. You have failed at what matters most; to be adored, admired, encouraged, held and caressed. That is the constant malaise that speaks of something missing. “All your drive was to try to feel loved, and you believe you are, but not by the people who really matter, and not at the time when love was a life-or-death affair.
I treated one film director who became seriously depressed when he was no longer on stage. He felt useless, unneeded and unwanted; he started to feel his old feelings once again, only before therapy he drugged his hopelessness and now in therapy he is feeling it for what is really is. He began to feel the childhood part of the pain with parents who did not want him around; he was convinced there was something seriously wrong with him. This lay on top of the earlier pains of a sense of dying, of suffocating and losing consciousness. But not being needed on set began the whole process all over again. The first part was the feeling of “I will die if I am not loved,” and then much later, “I am dying and there is nothing I can do to escape.” This was the ultimate helplessness and hopelessness, the key elements of depression. Resonance always involves the chain of pain; the neuronal linkage from one set of neural processes to another. It is why something innocuous can set off catastrophic feelings.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Suicide is Painless, Repression, Despair and the Relief of Reliving Near-Death Feelings (1/5)

A recent federal government study shows that suicide in the United States has become epidemic, hitting an alarming 30-year high (see More and more people, both men and women in almost every age group, are killing themselves, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics. And experts are struggling to adequately explain the troubling trend.
“The question of what has driven the increases is unresolved, leaving experts to muse on the reasons,” states the New York Times in an article about the suicide data.
And so they speculate. Maybe it’s the rising divorce rate, or the lower rates of marriage. Maybe it’s the worsening economy or the new limits on social mobility. Or maybe it’s the country’s weak suicide prevention network.
They can’t find the answers, I believe, because external factors are not the cause; they are just the trigger. After all, many people get divorced and lose their jobs and their homes, or worse, but don’t decide to end their lives. The explanation is elusive because the causes are hidden. They lie deep inside the desperate individuals who see no way out but death, and who may not even know what is driving their desire to take their own lives.
The best way to illuminate the problem is to look at it from the other side. Set aside for a moment those poor souls who are suffering obvious misfortunes. Consider instead those apparently lucky people who have it all, but still choose to end it all. Why do so many celebrities commit suicide?

Suicide and Success

Celebrity suicides always strike us as a mystery. These are successful, wealthy people we admire and emulate. We even try to be like them. So when the rich and famous find their lives too much to bear – as did L’Wren Scott, the high-end fashion designer and girlfriend of Mick Jagger – we inevitably wonder why. Scott hanged herself in the multi-million apartment she had shared with Jagger in New York. She didn’t leave a note. Her friends, who described her as kind and considerate, were shocked. Jagger, who was on tour with the Rolling Stones in Australia, issued a statement claiming he was "still struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way."
Everyone was asking the same question.

There have been a number of people who have committed suicide who seemed at the pinnacle of success. And most of us thought that once we choose a profession and follow it and succeed at it, becoming an expert and well known, that would be fulfilling. We would feel like a success. Wrong. When we have deep-rooted lack of love, rejection, indifference and lack of touch early in our lives we cannot feel like a success. We can only feel what was left embedded in us as an imprint: the feeling of being unloved, empty, isolated, unwanted. That is always primary. All else and all later feelings lie on top of the imprint. We need to keep in mind that the imprint is embedded very early in life when the struggle has a life-or-death quality. It takes precedence over any later adversity. The memory is of a life-endangering event. It is not an imaginary time; survival is at stake (lack of oxygen at birth). And later, even the slightest threat takes on the original force of the reaction. Through resonance the terror is again elicited. What is set off? The feeling tone, for feelings are primary very early in life, long before we develop an overall sense of the total context. But the feeling tone will be an augury of a trauma gone by, and also a pathway to the past where the tone originated, engendered by perhaps an overdose of anesthetic to the mother for her pain but is far, far too much for a six-pound baby. That tone (hopelessness) may well underlie later depression, which seems such a mystery. But we are immersed in a sense of “what’s the use?” There is no reason to try or to go on; we are trapped in that imprinted memory where it was hopeless. And what do we do when we are bereft of that knowledge of the lingering tone? We seek to submerge it further with drugs. We do the opposite of what is required, which is to release that memory from its neurobiologic cage.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Beauty of Primal Therapy

(This is a modified (and better!) version of the previous post "Why is Primal Therapy Beautiful")

The Beauty of Primal TherapyWe don’t usually think of psychotherapy in aesthetic terms. The concept of beauty doesn’t normally come to mind in connection with a discipline that deals with people’s most disturbing problems and offers mostly messy, hit-and-miss solutions.

But for many reasons, I think of Primal Therapy as something beautiful. That may seem like an oxymoron for a psychotherapy immersed in people’s pain and its power to distort their personalities. Yet, there is a beauty to the naturally healing solution that Primal Therapy provides.

Let me start with one of Primal Therapy’s most compelling strengths: Patients come to us for help and wind up learning how to help themselves. Otherwise you learn a lifelong dependence on someone else and you lose autonomy. Thirty years later, you still need the guidance from a therapist (a surrogate mama or papa) who can help you decide, make choices, and, basically live your life for you. And it never ends; it is not designed to. It is a therapy for the wounded who won’t let go of their crutch. Nothing beautiful about that.

How beautiful, on the other hand, to get access to yourself and learn from your own system about life and how to live it. Our therapy means liberation, independence and self-determination. Not dependence. That is not therapy; it is permanent leaning on someone else for decisions. Better to go to a counselor who will perform that function ad nauseam. The counselor helps in time of need, which never seems to end in those who are victims of an endless therapeutic system. Those who had a bad childhood seem to want to start over with a new parent and encouragement and constant help to grow up. Their therapy is an act-out of their unfulfilled need, an interminable act-out, as it must be so long as people are deprived.

Right here is a central difference between Primal Therapy and other psychotherapies. We get to the deep base of painful memories deep in the brain that produce instability, depression and anxiety. We know how it starts and now know how to root it out of the system. I have been taught to this day that being in touch with deep brain processes was not possible. It is. We have learned, thanks to brain science, how pain is embedded in the neurologic and biochemical systems, how it endures and above all, how to eradicate it.

Oddly, in order to eradicate it we have to “be” it. We need to travel back in our feelings to our earliest days and be the fetus and baby again. It seems impossible, on the face of it, but it is not, and we have observed it over decades. We have to go back via feeling processes, back through the levels of consciousness to those preverbal days of infancy, where the patient, in reliving them, is bereft of language, no matter how hard he tries. And if he says words during the therapy session, the session is false and unproductive.

There is also something beautiful about the way our bodies can heal. Cracked bones are rebuilt, lost blood is reproduced, flesh cuts are closed. And broken hearts can be made whole again. That is what we do for people in Primal Therapy: We help them restore their fractured selves by showing them how to mend the wounds of their childhood.

Once a pain is experienced it is out of the system and health is on the way. The patient is going back into his history slowly to gain access to himself. That is why it is beautiful. To really get your life back and to start to grow again. When I say get your life back I mean that patients, some of them, grow longer arms, fingers, feet and breasts in women. Feeling their feelings helps re-establish their original genetic trajectory. It unblocks repression and opens the system up for proper genetic growth: beautiful. That is truly a growth experience. It is what I mean by getting your self back; in a real way for a system restarting in its growth.

So in one sense, a patient enters Primal therapy and learns how to gain access to himself and learns how to help himself, to become his own therapist. The patient goes from needing help to helping himself, from patient to therapist. Not a professional Primal Therapist but someone who has mastered enough of it to help himself get well. Beautiful.

Let me not get ahead of myself; we don’t make therapists out of patients, but I teach them what I do and why and explain sometimes the brain function so they have a good grasp of what is going on and can see the signs of upcoming pain. But this is never a learning situation in the classical sense. Everything they are going to learn is already inside them. They learn from their own feelings; we just show them the way. They need to access and connect to them. Through their own experience they learn the warning signs of upcoming feelings and how to deal with them. They usually do not have to call the doctor for guidance. Maybe it is too facile to say that they become their own doctor but their feelings, not others, direct and guide them.

So let us be clear what getting well means. I think it is getting ourselves back; reliving the severe hurts from early in life that can no longer dominate our actions. It means organs that function properly and behavior that is not self-destructive. We are in the pursuit of recovered memories, which is a deadly serious undertaking. Those memories are the gateway to freedom from a painful history. We have found that we cannot change our history unless we submerge ourselves in it. That is the linchpin for cure. It cannot be done from a distance anymore than we can love a child from a distance. It is not pleasant but it offers unlimited relief, a good bargain. Why face pain? If we do not then we spend a lifetime pushing it away with all the strum and drang that repression entails. We work overtime to do that and it drains us all of the time. What we are retrieving are feelings, lying deep inside hidden from view, so deep as to remain a mystery. Feelings explain better than any words can. They tell us why we have symptoms and why we behave in one way or another. They open the port to liberation….from our terrible history, and we can only liberate ourselves by feeling it. We become whole again.

In science and mathematics, elegant solutions are highly prized. These are often the simplest, cleanest answers to complex problems. But elegance also connotes balance, harmony and, yes, beauty. Not to sound immodest, but I see Primal Therapy as an elegant solution to the ugly, thorny problems of mental illness. The theory describes a system by which the disease contains its own cure. Pain is the source of neurosis, but feeling the pain is also the way out. There is beauty in the balance of that dialectic, and there is harmony in its resolution.

We also often say that there is beauty in nature. That’s undeniable when contemplating the myriad colors and shapes of flowers, the vastness of the universe, the innocence of a baby’s face. Science is beautiful because it explores how nature works, how everything from the planets to microscopic cells are governed by certain immutable laws. The human psyche – the brain and mind as a whole – is also subject to a system of internally coherent laws that we are beginning to discover. We are also part of nature, and understanding ourselves is a beautiful endeavor.

Primal Therapy is based entirely on a natural process already contained within every human being. We are simply unlocking the mysteries of that process, allowing the cure to unfold. Anyone who has had a primal, descending through time into feelings that span a lifetime, and emerging into the light and lightness of experience-based insights, can attest to the beauty of the process.

On the other hand, obstructing nature is rarely a pretty sight. Much of psychotherapy today involves intercepting and diverting our feelings, which mans repressing our true nature. Feelings are quelled through pills or through retraining the brain to think happy thoughts. Either way, there is no beauty in trying to subvert nature by reinforcing the ugliness of repression.

In Primal Therapy, I am describing science at work; a science we have worked on and refined for fifty years. We can now add methylation and demethylation to the mix to verify improvement. The pain does not come back, nor does the anxiety, the ADD, the phobias nor the inability to sit still, focus and concentrate. It is left back in personal history. How great to not be weighed down by unrelenting depression; to be able to lift that weight and be light and free. What a feeling. I have experienced it myself so I am not describing an isolated or esoteric incident.  Beautiful.

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.