“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.“
— JACK PANKSEPP, PHD, BAILEY ENDOWED CHAIR OF ANIMAL WELL BEING SCIENCE, WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY, AUTHOR OF AFFECTIVE NEUROSCIENCE: THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN AND ANIMAL EMOTIONS
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Praise 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.”
— PAUL THOMPSON, PHD, PROFESSOR OF NEUROLOGY, UCLA SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
“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.”
— K.J.S. ANAND, MBBS, DPHIL, FAACP, SENIOR SCHOLAR, CENTER FOR EXCELLENCE IN FAITH AND HEALTH, METHODIST LE BONHEUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
“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.”
— LOU COZOLINO, PSYD, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY
“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
”Life Before Birth is a valuable guide to creating healthier babies. . . .”
— PAULA THOMSON, PSYD, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, YORK UNIVERSITY
”I am enthralled. Dr. Janov has crafted a compelling and prophetic opus that could rightly dictate PhD theses topics for decades to come.”
— ED PARK, MD, MPH, FOUNDER, RECHARGE BIOMEDICAL CLINIC
About the Book
Albert Einstein spent the latter years of life in pursuit of a general field theory—something to explain how gravitational fields and electromagnetic fields intersect in a single theory. Today researchers in the field of psychotherapy are looking for an analogous theory, particularly for the treatment of psychologic and psychosomatic diseases. Arthur Janov’s compilation in Life Before Birth is nothing less than the beginning of a unified field theory of psychotherapy.
Dr. Janov’s leitmotif is rather simple: the period of our lives that has the greatest impact on disease and personality formation is our gestation and birth. A blend of clinical observation and research leads him to suggest that overlooking pregnancy and the first months of life prevents one from adequately addressing mental illness and treating major health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer.
Recent studies at the Primal Center in Los Angeles and elsewhere provide compelling evidence that fetal imprinting, an evolutionary strategy to prepare children to cope with life, establishes a permanent set-point in a child's physiology. Mothers highly anxious during pregnancy, whether from failed marriages, war-torn environments, natural disasters, or other stressful life conditions, may thus give birth to babies prone to mental illness and disease later in life. Low oxygen at birth, drugs taken during pregnancy, and a lack of parental affection in the first years of life may have similar adverse effects.
Until we embrace a unified field theory of psychotherapy, Dr. Janov asserts, we are in the uncomfortable position of knowing more and more about less and less; studying the minutiae of a patient’s symptoms without understanding how early experiences in the lower brain shape our personalities and our susceptibilities to disease and addiction.
In the 1970s, The Primal Scream dramatically altered the landscape of psychotherapy, becoming an international bestseller and introducing more than one million readers to primal therapy, the lower-brain therapeutic method Dr. Janov applied in his therapeutic work with John Lennon. Life Before Birth is just as important. Dr. Janov asks for a reorientation of not only our approaches to pregnancy and our use of drugs for a variety of symptoms, but above all, to the modes of psychotherapy we implement to treat everything from phobias and compulsions to chronic anxiety and depression.
As Dr. Janov writes, “We no longer have to remain in the dark, applying hit and miss therapies while we hold our breath. We can know causes and therefore how to treat misery. We can move toward an end to human suffering, or at least be on the road toward eliminating harm.”
About the Author
Dr. Arthur Janov is one of the world's leading psychologists and author of eleven books, including the international bestseller The Primal Scream. He is founder and director of the Primal Center in Santa Monica, California, and has been elected to the Academic Hall of Fame of Claremont Graduate School. Early in his career he was on the staff of the psychiatric department at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, where he was involved in the development of their psychosomatic unit. He and his wife, France D. Janov, have lectured worldwide on primal theory and primal therapy, including at the Royal College of Medicine in London; Hunter College in New York; and the Karolinska Medical and Research Center in Stockholm. His work has been the subject of a PBS special in the United States and documentaries in Germany, England, France, and Sweden.