Shirley A Ward M.Ed, Dip.Ed, MFPhys.
The Development of Birth and Womb Trauma Therapy
In the late 1970’s our work developed in helping clients relive their womb and birth trauma experiences. Frank Lake’s hypothesis was that any trauma happening to the pregnant mother was passed to the foetus through the umbilical cord. We found that clients were experiencing, as a feotus, being marinated in the negativity of a particular trauma. The personality and character developed similarly. So not only would the foetus experience trauma through the umbilical cord, but also by the whole of its being developing in mother’s auric field.
Our way of work was to suggest that a client lay on a mattress on the floor with pro tective cushions around and, if it felt right , to curl up in the foetal position. Concentrating on breathing more deeply, the client was able to contact feelings and go where body, mind and spirit needed to wander in order to explore where these early traumas lay. The healing seemed to happen when the client regressed to an early trauma and gained insight that the response of either the foetus, the baby or the young child now need not be imitated in the adult’s present day life. A change of behaviour could now occur and the adult react in a rational way rather than that of the irrational child.
“How one is born seems to be closely related to one’s general attitude towards life, the ratio of optimism to pessimism, how one relates to other people, and one’s ability to confront challenges and conduct projects.” Stanislov Grof
BIRTH SCRIPTS BECOME LIFE SCRIPTS
Although we were taking clients through the process from conception to birth, it became more and more obvious to us that birth scripts become life scripts and the human organism had the capacity not only of having complete recall of memory, but also adapt ing these birth scripts into life scripts – how, we were not sure. We understood that there had to be three parts for a primal trauma to be healed: emotional feeling, physical sen sation and historical memory. The whole process appeared unexplainable and, for many clients, their negative approaches to life seemed irreparable and unhealable. Wounded people suffered the degrading feelings of being unlovable, rejected, and often an insurmountable terror or dread of death. Their lives damaged, their feelings wounded, egos non-existent, these responses were transferred and projected onto people and situations. By reliving the birth process physiologically, psychologically and spiritually where negativity occurred, and by bringing this negative situation into consciousness, it seemed to facilitate the healing process and the negative reactions could be returned to the initial trauma.
What was happening was an imprint of patterning and primal scripts encapsulated in the birth – “It never goes right for me”, “I’ve got to struggle to stay alive”, “I go round in circles”, “I never seem to be able to finish things”, “I can never understand what is going on”, “I’ll never make it”. All of these scripts coloured clients’ lives and prevented them using the human potential that they had. The subsequent repetition of the pattern through infantile and childhood circumstances also caused a birth script to become a life script
“ The increasingly distressing, very real dangers, now being generated in present day wombs, and often forceps assisted or rapidly induced births we provide for babies, will ensure a steady supply of damaged adults, who will see it all just as we do and carry on the carnage.” Frank Lake
It appears that when the birth experience has been traumatic it does set a life pattern. In other words, at the moment of birth people form impressions which control them subsequently from a subconscious level. A distinction does have to be made between the projection of mature experience onto the foetal infantile world, and the triggering into adult behaviour of negative anger, anxiety, and terror patterns from the associated infan tile experience. Our research with the different types of birth over the years has shown specific scripts with similar types of birth. It is interesting that Ray and Mandel, when looking at the effects of birth types on relationships, also came to this conclusion. (1)
We find that in many people the foetal distress and the trauma of birth are repressed and do not emerge into consciousness again until late adolescence, early adult life or even middle life. They may emerge at a time of illness, or at a time of great pressure or stressful situations. The discovery that our basic, original injuries take place during embryonic and foetal life, means that healing, to be radical and complete, needs to take place at this same deep level.
Different Types of Birth Trauma
The obvious medical classified birth types include: breech, forceps, caesarian, induced, premature, late, transverse lie, face presentation and the use of drugs and anaes thetic. The life scripts which have appeared on the therapy room floor experienced by adults being regressed into their birth process are expressed in the following language:
A breech birth is violence in the womb and the breech born often becomes the victim:
It’s difficult to do things the right way round. I always do things ‘arse’ backwards. I get into spaces or situations I can’t get out of. I look for solutions but feel so insecure. I know the way out but can’t get things in order. It’s frustrating. I keep trying but nothing is right in life.
A client who was breeched and was Turned to come out:
I think things are terribly complicated. I’m always doing things I don’t want to do. I’m afraid that what I get myself into won’t be right. I go round in circles to get there. (In two sessions this client had re-directed her life, cleared the negative scripts, found a new job and moved on!)
This is also a violent type of birth, help comes at last but can that help and support ever be trusted again? Adults who were forceps deliveries give double messages. Birth language is often as follows:
Why do I have to do everything myself? Why can’t someone else do something properly? They are all so incompetent! I’ll do it myself, it’s safer. Life is such a struggle! I need to keep control, but I need help. (Always a double message combined with a great lack of confidence) I’m not going to make it. I can’t make a decision. Why do I always have to work under so much pressure?
Caesarian borns enter the world through a different doorway (2). The difficulty is how to reconcile the experience of being ‘done to’ instead of ‘doing it’. The mothers of Caesarian borns have the difficult task of teaching their children how to do things for themselves – and to teach them boundaries that they never had like vaginal borns:
Anything I do isn’t worth doing because nothing happens. If I knew what I wanted I could get it. I want to know where to go and what to do I’m waiting for some thing to happen. It’s OK – it will get done – someone will do it. There’s a gap – a place I can’t remember. They are right – I’m wrong. I’ll sit and wait. I start some thing and I can’t finish it. I can’t think for myself. I am never in the right place at the right time.
Because of foetal distress, for medical reasons or shortage of staff a birth is induced or artificially started:
I am not ready! Don’t push me. I feel helpless – I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to do it. I am missing out on something. It’s a real problem knowing how to start. I can’t get what I want. Wait! I’m not doing this until I’m ready.
Over the last nine years we have spent a great deal more time trying to find ways in which we could help clients alleviate the pain of these early traumas without having to physically and mentally violate themselves in the present in similar ways in which the early pain occurred. This is not always possible but the strength of our human organism never fails to amaze me – with the stress that the foetus often has to live through.
Serious illness to the mother often resulted in the child being in shock for most if not all of its life. Scripts are:
I am sick. It’s my fault she’s sick. I feel dragged down. If I make a big effort to get what I want it won’t be what I want. This amount of closeness makes me sick. I wasn’t able to be fed – milk made me sick. Must be something wrong with me. Always expecting something and getting nothing back. Its all my fault.
Sadly a person can be sick for most of their lives and never understand why, except that it is mother’s illness they are carrying in memory form. It is vital for the client to separate out their own feelings from mother’s from these early periods for healing to take place.
Time and again the foetus experiences the occasions when the parents are making love. Real feelings of sometimes misinterpreted physical and mental abuse can be experienced – but when the lovemaking is violent the foetus is aware and attitudes to sex can well be formed in this situation. We had often associated sexual problems with the umbil ical cord and the feelings coming through but there seems to be yet another way of communicating these feelings like being marinated right through the cells. An extraor dinary number of clients experienced the sperm being ejaculated, and felt dirty, sticky, frightened and were also aware of mother’s feelings to the act of lovemaking. The number of clients experiencing this as sexual abuse gives rise to the question of how love- making is approached during pregnancy.
THE WRONG SEX!
To experience being a girl when a boy was wanted is a pretty painful event. And to be a boy when there have been one, two, three, four and even five boys before you arrive – it is a wonder that anything has ever gone right in your life. Scripts are:
I always get it wrong. I am such a disappointment. I can’t please anyone I want you to love me. I’ll die without love. She doesn’t want me. I’m in a double bind – she wants me but I’m all wrong, I’m a failure. I can never get it right.
And the foetus often is aware in the womb that they are not the sex the parents want.
WHEN MOTHER FINDS OUT SHE IS PREGNANT
Mother’s reaction to her pregnancy can have a great effect on the new human organ ism. Total lack of recognition leads the foetus to feel degraded, unwanted and rejected. The terror is a direct result of what Frank calls transmarginal stress in the foetus. The revulsion turns inwards and becomes a profound and permanent sense of worthlessness. The scripts can be:
No-one wants me. No one loves me. I’m not wanted. I’ve got it wrong. I’m never right. I’m no good. I wish I weren’t here. I’m insignificant I want some recog nition. It’s my fault. I feel guilty.
IMPLANTATION IN THE WOMB
The scripts that come from implantation have surprised us over the years. We have been going further and further back in utero in order to find the healing places for people, Although this is not necessary for everyone, it does help to know that if reliving the birth trauma does not heal the problem then it is possible to keep going further back. This is not uncommon with those familiar with Grof’s work.
Finding a place to implant in the womb has an effect on the way in which people ‘fit’ into life. Scripts from implantations are:
I have no place to be. I can’t settle anywhere. I’m in the wrong place. I don’t belong anywhere. Nobody wants me here. I am half afraid to aim for anything. Why does it have to be so bloody hard to find a comfortable place. Out of one bloody mess into another one. The world feels unsafe. To find one’s place in life is vital and to find a place of belonging is part of the healing process of therapy. It is an interesting factor to relive how one found one’s safety and security in the womb.
ATTEMPTED ABORTION OR NEAR SPONTANEOUS ABORTION
The implications for survivors of attempted abortion or near spontaneous abortion, including near accidental miscarriage, is stressful. Frank Lake always stated that it is no longer possible to assume that the foetus up to 24 or 28 weeks had no feelings when abortion is attempted. Even in the late 1970’s scientific evidence (Verny 3) showed that there is a highly developed organism reacting with purposeful movement and feelings to changing environment.
The foetus, as we have learned from the reliving of attempted and failed abortions, knows that its presence is resented and its life in danger. It relives its own near murder, terror of death, with quite astounding accuracy. The enormous feelings of rejection throughout adult life are an affliction for many who have survived this horror. The near miss of a spontaneous abortion can leave the threat of doom around the corner as a permanent memory. Also the preborn can pick up mother’s terror and make it their own so there is a double terror.
Accidents to the pregnant mother, like falling down stairs, car and bicycle crashes, may also appear to the foetus as attempts to kill. Baby logic, when arising in the adult, may be quite misplaced and regression work can rectify the picture which has become misplaced by the adult.
Attempted abortion scripts like those of the adopted baby, are of complete rejection:
I am a mistake, I shouldn’t be here. I have to block pain – it hurts so. I feel so tense all the time. I don’t know if I am wanted or not. I can’t forget – but I can’t do anything about it. I don’t want to upset anyone. I am going to split wide open. I’m going to die – I’m going to hell.
FALLOPIAN TUBE TRAUMA
Frank always said that everything that happened in the birth trauma had already hap pened in the first trimester, the first three months. This has become apparent to us as our work has progressed. It is amazing how the scripts in the Fallopian tube are reiterated in the birth. The scripts could be identical. There seems to be a typical Fallopian tube script but a varied number of what could also be birth type scripts. It has been our hope that reliving the Fallopian tube trauma could possibly alleviate the actual reliving of the birth trauma. It could cut therapy time down and reach traumas at a deeper level. Much more, research is necessary in this area.
The blastocyst travelling down the tube can have a pretty tough time. I don’t want to be attached to anything so I’ll stay in the middle. It’s closing in around me. I can’t grow. I feel like going in the opposite direction. I’m stuck. I put a lot of head work into it and I get nowhere. I can’t do it. You’re going to kill me. It would be better not to achieve. I haven’t the confidence to move forward.
Although the negative side of the journey is highlighted in therapy, as that is what we are often dealing with, clients often experience the fun, love, and good things in utero. It is not uncommon for clients to achieve a creative regression to the ‘ground of being’ as first experienced by them in the week between their conception and the implanting of the zygote into the wall of the uterus. Frank found, as we do, that some are impressed, even dazzled by the bliss and brilliance of their entering into the blastocystic phase, before this free, mystical oneness is curbed by implantation. It is at the joining up of the now functioning foetal circulation with that of the mother, with a finger placed on the navel, to stimulate the cord, that the ‘umbilical affect’ if it is by no means what the embryo expects, but in some way it is bad, is powerfully experienced.
Many who did not want to be conceived find great difficulty in being in a physical body. Often there is a great split where beauty is fantasised – and fact and earthly respon sibilities are avoided. It is a painful place to be – a conception visualisation as devised by Ruth White is helpful, but the pain will not be alleviated greatly until the acceptance of actually being here. If this is never realised there can be great discontent and sometimes severe mental illness and physical debility sickness.
Conception scripts can be:
I shouldn’t be here. I hate life. I want to die. I want to be nowhere. I didn’t ask to be born. I didn’t want to come. Leave me alone. Why am I here when I don’t want to be?
There are classic twin syndrome scripts. A twin born second often feels the older twin to be better, brighter and the leader. The second twin will put up with things, feels they cannot do anything about their own position, will often have to wait for something to happen as there is ‘something’ in the way! Often this script appears as the second twin usually knows ways out of difficult situations but feels unable to do anything about it. Other scripts are: I’m not recognised, I don’t know where I come in. They are not expecting me. They have forgotten me. I am insignificant. I shouldn’t be here. This stimulates a life script of not being able to trust, and some anger and feeling about being left out. The second twin follows what the older twin often does: I took the easy option and let him do it!
The first twin often has some guilt and also is a leader. They often act as the older brother or sister. Twins often want their own space, have a fear of closeness but also want it, and feel they cannot survive without the other. If the tragedy happens and a twin dies either at birth or after, the remaining twin suffers immensely. Scripts become: I feel there is something missing in my life (and this is relevant and comes to light even if the remaining twin has not been told until years after wards that their twin died at birth). I did two jobs for life. Something does not feel right. I didn’t know why I cried so much. A puzzled look often flickers across the face and a feeling of being lost, or looking at people’s faces in the street and checking – always look ing for someone who isn’t there.
The lost twin syndrome has also been experienced by the surviving preborn in utero as far back as in the Fallopian tube when the twin became a spontaneous abortion. As many as 65% of fertilised ovum do not make it and are aborted spontaneously. These are just a few examples of the birth scripts we come across over the years
From the work of birth trauma our research continued on the various aspects of intra- uterine life – situations that had occurred in the normal life of the mother. Each seemed to have an astounding effect on the life of the embryo and foetus. Even with Frank calling this work negative umbilical affect or the maternal foetal distress syndrome, it still did not give an answer as to why the human organism was able to remember so much detail of its life.
Is the mind in the energy field? If it is then would this be an answer as to the apparent presence of cellular consciousness?
More understanding of what we are doing in our therapeutic discoveries came to light in our meeting with Rosalyn Bruyere, America’s first scientifically tested aura reader and healer. With Dr Valerie Hunt, Rosalyn in 1979 had participated in the Rolf Study (4). This was a scientific study with over 1,000 clients experiencing deep massage whilst attached to electrodes recording changes in the electro-magnetic field. Rosalyn also recorded the changes in shape and movement and the colours in the energy field. There was direct correspondence with what she saw and the electronic recordings from the clients’ bodies. Dr Hunt’s eighteen years of research revealed the energy field as connecting with consciousness, and if so, was this the mind? These new scientific explanations showed there was a relationship between biological phenomena and Mind Fields.
For us in our work the importance of the body energy field took on a new meaning. It also linked with all the ‘new’ and alternative therapies and complementary medicines that were flooding the market. They were all based on an energy system in the body not recognised by western medicine. And the introduction of Yoga to the western world, from the east, based on the chakra system seemed to be introducing the west to some thing far more important than just relaxation techniques. Rosalyn teaches that the mind is in the energy field around and through the body and is controlled by the brain. We adapted this belief to our work along with Frank’s theory of there being cellular memory or cellular consciousness. If the mind is in the energy field then memory is also in every cell of the body. Although cells renew themselves every so often, memory is still in the energy field in the subsciousness, and remains there until brought into memory and dispensed with.
THE UNIVERSAL MIND
With this understanding of the universality of the mind, penetrating deep into cel lular structure, our work in Primal Healing began to make sense: particularly in the evolution of the single cell or nucleus that was to form a new human being. It also helped us to understand our work that we experience as being sacred, and that all healing is spiritual. It also brought an expanding idea – is this universal mind part of what or whom we call God? If some people can glibly say that God is everywhere and in everything then the whole concept of man being made in the likeness of God may be understood in yet another format.
CREDIBILITY AND POSSIBILITY?
In relation to the question of cellular consciousness, Graham Farrant relayed an interesting account during his workshop in England in November 1990. A video camera was placed in a delivery room in a hospital in Australia. It was noticed that the obstetri cians, midwives and nurses had a reaction of holding their breath at the crowning of the baby and possibly went into their own birth feelings. They were shown the video and afterwards made a conscious effort to breathe normally as the baby was born. The effect of this was that for 793 deliveries after that it not necessary to put the tube into the babies throat to help it to breathe! If this is the effect we have upon each other the constant research to prove where the mind is can have far reaching effects upon our human race.
Expanding Primal Integration, Regression Therapy and Physical Healing
We adapted Rosalyn’s healing technique of the laying on of hands called Chelation (5) into our primal work. This technique helps to seal the energy into the auric field and gives the client the necessary energy to reach and relive the appropriate trauma. To our surprise it also seemed to be a much gentler way of working with people.
or the possibility of preventing some disease by reliving intra-uterine trauma
Our own work is showing the possibility of first trimester trauma bringing charac teristics of certain personality types and illness into being. It is well known that cancer cells are embryonic cells with a low amplitude but with fast reproduction of cells. In the embryo in the first trimester (the first three months) if trauma to the mother occurs, the growing embryonic cells become marinated in this environment. The hypothesis is that if in adult life a similar pattern occurs it may well trigger off, bring into consciousness, or restimulate the trauma and possibly create the illness. We have already experienced this in cases of adult bradicardia, tachacardia and the anger that underlies certain mental and psychiatric cases.
PAST LIFE THERAPY, GENETIC MEMORY OR ANCESTRAL MEMORY?
Our knowledge in this field of work is limited, curtailed by a narrow Christian view- point to reincarnation and the possibility of past lives. What we have experienced with clients and ourselves, on the therapy room floor, is the reliving of lives in the distant past For those who believe in re-incarnation this is an everyday occurrence; for those who don’t, many questions arise. To answer some, there is the possibility of genetic memory, like something happening to an ancestor centuries ago becoming part of today’s family and needing to be healed through a number of generations. This allows for the possibility of cellular and genetic memory.
It is most interesting that Graham Farrant believes the ovaries that we come from were already in our grandmothers when our mothers were born. That when our mothers were conceived by their mothers the ovaries were already there in grandmother. So cellular consciousness carried by us medically speaking goes back three generations. When one to one counselling does not achieve the required depth for change and transformation – then it is sometimes necessary to heal the root of the problem by counselling further back.
CONCLUSIONS AND FURTHER RESEARCH
Disease, behaviour, personality difficulties arise from nowhere else except for the environment, but from the human organism itself. Perhaps to many this may seem incon- ceivable – but already many people in varied professions are looking across the synthesising of many disciplines in order to find out the truth about our human condi tion. To look at intra-uterine life, and neonatal and pre and perinatal life is of absolute necessity.
Further research in many fields is wide open for the future. Simple data of recording birth types on school records could give teachers food for thought and a much deeper understanding to the problem child with learning difficulties and those who are emo tionally disturbed and have behaviour problems, genetic heritage and patterning can be changed. What is passed on from one generation to another does not have to continue to the next.
Shirley Ward is an International Advisor on the Board of Advisors for the Pre and Peri-Natal Psychotherapy Association of North America. She is recently returned from the Fifth International Congress in Atlanta, Georgia USA. The above article is made up of extracts from her forthcoming book on Primal Integration and Regression Therapy.
1. Birth and Relationships. Sondra Ray and Bob Mandel, 1987. Celestial Arts, California
2. Different Doorway – Adventures of a Caesarian Born. Jane Butterfield English, 1985. Earth Heart
3. The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. Dr Thomas Verny. 1981. Shere Books
4. Wheels of Light Rosalyn Bruyere, 1989. Bon Productions
5. See 4
Beyond the Brain. Stanislav Grof, 1985. State University of New York Press.