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Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script That Rules Our Lives Hardcover – December 1, 2011

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Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script That Rules Our Lives + The New Primal Scream: Primal Therapy 20 Years On (Abacus Books)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Lucidly, the pioneer of primal therapy provides the scientific rationale for treatments that take us through our original, nonverbal 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, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction



“A thrilling journey of discovery . . . 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, FCCM, FRCPCH, professor of pediatrics, anesthesiology, anatomy, and neurobiology, 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 be studied in the context of evolution—from the brain stem up—now lies at the heart of the integration of neuroscience and psychotherapy.”  —Lou Cozolino, PsyD, professor of psychology, Pepperdine University



Life Before Birth is a valuable guide to creating healthier babies.”  —Paula Thomson, PsyD, associate professor, California State University, and professor emeritus, York University



“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



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.”  —Jaak Panksepp, PhD, Bailey Endowed Chair of Animal Well Being Science, Washington State University, and author, Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions

About the Author

Arthur Janov, PhD, is one of the world’s leading psychologists and the founder and director of the Primal Center in Los Angeles. The originator of primal therapy, he has treated thousands of patients while undertaking extensive research in support of his thesis that both physical and psychic ailments can be linked to early traumas. He has lectured at the Royal College of Medicine in London, Hunter College in New York, and Karolinska Medical and Research Center in Stockholm, and his work has been the subject of documentaries in England, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United States. He is the author of 10 books, including The Primal Scream, which have been translated into 24 languages. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 290 pages
  • Publisher: NTI Upstream (December 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983639604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983639602
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #752,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Stensrude on February 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Janov's Primal Therapy, the darling of the New Age Movement in the 1970s, was embraced by meaning-of-life chasers (including such as John Lennon, James Earl Jones and other celebrities) and scoffed at by his professional colleagues (with not just a little name-calling on both sides). Now, 44 years after his first client screamed and writhed his way to mental health -- and several books later -- Janov again writes about the fruits of his several thousand case studies.

The first half of Life Before Birth reads like a third draft with three more drafts to go. It suffers from repetition -- Janov's need to restate every few pages that our prenatal experience is the most important predictor of our future behavior. And every third or fourth time that he mentions that, he feels compelled to repeat that primal therapy is the answer to mental-health problems -- not a band aid, but a cure, the therapy that will replace all other therapies.

The second half of the book is more organized and an easier read. It is also populated with the true-to-life examples that bring these sorts of books alive to the reader with a limited knowledge of biology, biochemistry, and scientific lingo.

Format criticism aside, the stats are impressive. For each of the thousands of therapy sessions over the past 44 years, Janov and his colleagues have recorded vital signs (temperature, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure) before and after each therapy session. They report that, somewhere around the end of the first year of therapy, the vitals begin to show improvement, and with a few more years of therapy the improvement becomes remarkable.

Improvement after a year and more is hardly the "quick fix" that Janov's early critics claimed he was promising. He did, though, promise 100% success.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Juhapekka Tukiainen on August 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I don't want to disparage the earlier lukewarm and wary reviews. It is certainly prudent to keep a critical distance from an offbeat and unpopular theory. However, it is also prudent to consider the possibility that the theory is correct.

If Arthur Janov indeed proves to be right, then we face a paradigm shift that the world has not seen in a century.

Janov's ideas are not compatible with the current psychological paradigm that is supported by hundreds of thousands of earnest, serious and hardworking professionals and academics. You might say that no, it is not possible that so many people could be wrong and just one ragged outsider could be right, but it has happened many, many times before.

My own take is that the balance has already changed, but the change has happened in a way that has been difficult to notice. Janov started out with 15 minutes of fame back in the 1970s, but then he was sidetracked as a "pop psychologist" for 30 some years. Everybody got used to this situation, so when new research results started to come in after 2000, the world has been slow to make the connection to this seemingly forgotten theory.

At the moment I wouldn't bet against Janov. I am a journalist with a big, sensitive nose for news and I smell a change in the wind. There might come a day when cocky young people will look at us and laugh: what were you thinking back then? Why didn't you see what was so very obvious?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Yelda Basar Moers on July 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
How does womb life affect a fetus? Does it shape his infancy? What about the rest of his life? Can a mother affect her pregnancy adversely by her mood, behavior or actions?

Arthur Janov, in his new book, Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script That Rules Our Lives, would go as far as to say that pregnancy and the first few months of life can determine whether someone will develop depression, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or cancer. Janov, who is a leading psychologist and bestselling author, integrates neuroscience, psychotherapy, clinical observation and research in his narrative.

I was seven months pregnant when assigned to review this book, eager to begin, and hanging on every word.

Aside from his innovative gestational trauma therapy (he suggests a psychotherapy that accesses womb-life to relive early traumatic experiences), Janov tells us a lot about how a mother's behavior during pregnancy shapes her unborn child. If a mother experiences significant anxiety during pregnancy, her child may be at risk for a higher output of the stress hormone cortisol. Maternal stress can have disastrous effects on a fetus, affecting oxygen levels, which can lead to placental failure. Janov also focuses on epigenetics, how genes are affected by intrauterine life. Apparently, genes can be changed through experiences the fetus undergoes while in the womb. The fetus may decide whether to express or repress certain genes.

I agree with Janov that stress is an anathema to pregnancy, but I have issues with some of his assertions. For instance, he cites one researcher who claims that the fetus is so incredibly vulnerable and fragile that even subtle perturbations in the mother's mood can have measurable affects on the fetus that last for years.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C or E Kleinman on January 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book hoping to find some deep insight into one/s early birth feelngs. I was a former patient of jules and helen roth at the denver/boulder primal center in 74-76. I never quite got to the level of my birth feelings, but did resolve a lot of issues.The book goes into a fair amount of detail and research into the events that effect our intrauterine life. There was a fair amount of scientific terminology that I did not understand, and had to look up. I call these 50$ dollar words, since I have a 10$ vocabulary. I gave the book 4 stars, because unless one is a trained scientist with a medical background it is difficut to analyze the information. Some parts of the book left me scratching my head. Some of the anecdotes were recycled from previous janov books.The author makes a serious attempt to explain how our intrauterine life affects every single thing we do in our lives today. For that I am eternally grateful.Thanks for another great book art.
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