Dr. Arthur Janov – psychotherapist and author – passed away peacefully at his home in Malibu on October 1.  His work was an inspiration for so many of us.  His 1970 best-seller, The Primal Scream, was one of the pioneer works to explore the vital importance of the the early years, and later books focused even more on the pre- and perinatal period.

“A paradigm shift” is the way that Dr. Marti Glenn characterized this new understanding. As she noted at the 2010 APPPAH conference, “researchers are beginning to discover...that the events and environment surrounding pre-conception, pregnancy, birth and early infancy set the template out of which we live our lives.”

While this paradigm shift is new to many, it is a view that Janov put forth decades ago and elaborated in later books such as, Life Before Birth.  Janov explained that “imprinting” may take place when the fetus reacts “to the womb environment by readjusting its vital signs, hormones, and neurotransmitters to adapt to a
new reality; s/he is getting ready for life in the outer world.”  One of the central themes in this book is that we are most vulnerable in the earliest stages of our development.

Dr.Janov wrote that love, “means fulfilling the needs of the baby,” such as a healthy environment in the womb, lots of cuddles for infants and a gentle, natural birth. Despite his focus on therapy, Janov stressed that the most important task that society faces is to prevent children from being hurt in the first place.  

Many tributes have been given of Dr. Janov’s work.  Perhaps one that sums his work up the best is “Dr. Janov’s works are a valuable guide to creating healthier babies”  Dr. Paula Thompson, York University.  APPPAH respectfully appreciate what he has done for the field of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology.

Contributed by Peter Prontzos