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Premature Deliveries and Children

In their 1991 paper, Bleton and Sednaoui-Mirza offer an overview of the literature on emotional psychic influences of the mother and father that might influence delivery, specifically premature delivery. They hypothesize that the unresolved psychic positions of both the mother and the father toward their parents and toward each other may be factors resulting in a shortened pregnancy.

Our studies suggest that prematurity and its subsequent pathology can be the result of the intrapsychic and interpersonal activities of the parents during the pregnancy. The whole-self hypothesis holds that all of the parent's feelings during pregnancy, pathology-generating or benign, could be the source of the child's recurrent feelings.

Whole-self work is basically an holistic, transpersonal therapy, recognizing there are aspects of each person that cannot be explained by empirical evidence alone. We believe this approach is often effective and meaningful because it explores not just the mind but the interconnectedness of all parts of the person: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual; that is, the whole self.

An Experiment

We mentioned the ease of recovering data from this nonverbal pre- and perinatal period. Perhaps you would like to try an experiment yourself in working through what we call your whole-self. We define the Whole-Self as that part of each person which knows everything that the individual's consciousness has ever experienced either consciously or unconsciously. In this experiment, the Whole-Self is asked to let you experience the answer to the questions. The answer may be experienced through words that describe the feelings (some people see written words, as if they were on a page of paper or television screen). Most adults actually feel the answer in their own body, as in their days as an infant, and then use words to describe those feelings. Others will just "know" the answer. It can be productive to write down the answers you are given for later exploration.

After each of the following questions is read, close your eyes and pause to let yourself experience the answer. The first intuitive reaction is the answer, so please just allow an answer to come to you, without thinking.

Sometimes no feeling is the answer. If you get an answer that feels uncomfortable, please do not change it until you have explored it. Before you begin, please close your eyes for a moment and become aware of how you feel. This can be accomplished most easily through watching how you gently breathe in and out several times.

Now I would like your Whole-Self to take you back to the time after your birth when you are in a crib or, if premature, in an incubator. I would like your Whole-Self to let you experience the emotional feelings you are feeling as this newborn infant in the crib or incubator. Question: Are these familiar feelings in your life? Yes or no?

As this newborn infant, I would like your Whole-Self to let you experience what are your emotional needs-not your physical needs, but your emotional needs. Question: Are those still your emotional needs today? Yes or no?

Thank your Whole-Self for giving you these answers. If it feels comfortable to do so, briefly share your experiences with another person.


When we ask people to focus on the feelings experienced in the crib or incubator, there are several words that almost everyone mentions: cold, alone, isolated, abandoned, rejected, shock, helpless, hopeless and powerless. People who are very mental at the expense of the emotions make conclusions such as, "I am out of control!"; "No one loves me!"; "Mother abandoned me!"

We find that when people have feelings they do not like, they naturally tend to oppose, resist, deny or suppress those feelings. We say that this creates the Law of Opposition: "Whatever I am opposed to, I have to experience!"

When people are opposed to what they are feeling, at a non-conscious level they make judgments against themselves. The most frequently mentioned self-judgment words are: unlovable, unworthy, worthless, unacceptable, insupportable, not good enough, inferior, inappropriate, bad, wicked, terrible, horrible, despicable, disgusting, dumb, stupid, inept, incapable, incompetent, incomplete, insecure, helpless, hopeless, or powerless. These self-judgments trigger the Law of Confirmation: "Whatever I really believe about myself I will keep proving to myself!"

Case History I

John-Raphael Staude, transpersonal psychologist and Director of Proteus Institute in California, reports a case in which he used the Prebirth Analysis Matrix (PAM). With his permission, here is a brief synopsis of his case, which he called The man who could not stop running.

R. was in his mid-50s and presenting an array of definable pathologies including depression and paranoia. He had a sense of never having a home, even when he was married and had children, and of not being able to be in a partnership. In addition, he always felt compelled to run when he was

successful in his career. He had an obsession about his mother and all the

women he had pursued in his life.

R's reported history described how his mother, an artist from New Orleans, became pregnant during a passionate affair with a musician. Abortion being illegal and otherwise not possible because of her Roman Catholic religion, she fled to New York City in shame, unable to tell her parents about the pregnancy. This move apparently encoded into R. the pattern of running away. When her shame became unbearable, she got an unethical doctor to deliver the baby two months early.

R., in his PAM session, was able to describe and relate very specific moments and feelings of his mother during the passion of the affair; the devastation of learning that she was pregnant; the feelings that precipitated her running away; the shame, humiliation and fear of people seeing her pregnant and knowing that she was unmarried; the fear, terror, and panic over having this unbearable thing growing in her belly (R, slightly overweight, has a belly which makes him look pregnant when emotional pressures build); the terrible conflict of having the baby removed from her to erase her shame. R was in an incubator for almost two months. He experienced the feeling that he could never connect with any woman, including his mother, who had never connected with him before or after the birth.

When R. was two, the mother married and legally adopted R. but delegated his upbringing to others just as she had done before the marriage. It was not until R. was an adolescent that his mother told him the truth about his parentage.

R's mother once took an extended trip to Europe and left him with his stepfather. At that time, the stepfather began to rape and sexually abuse R. This went on until R.. was eighteen and felt strong enough to forbid it. After that he attempted several gay relationships, but found them unsatisfactory. He then started to pursue women but found this to be an equally unfulfilling behavior. R. was simply incapable of transcending the patterns in relationships and sexuality first experienced by his mother during his gestation.

Even though he was brilliant in college, R. was never able to feel self-worth and self-esteem. He did not feel connected to his marriage, children and lovely home. He started running away. Like his mother, he was attracted to Europe.

A long history of prematurely terminated therapies left R. ever more deeply depressed and despondent. However, after meeting John-Raphael at a breathing workshop, he expressed a desire to explore more deeply his birth.

Therapy began, using the Prebirth Analysis Matrix. After seven months of a mix of gestalt and psychosynthesis therapy in which progress was being made, R. suddenly terminated the sessions and ran to another country. Two years later, John-Raphael received a letter from R. with photos enclosed, showing R's house and the woman with whom he had been sharing his life. Although confessing that he still occasionally experienced some bouts of depression, R. stated that he was not running away as before. The key to his stabilization had been discovering that the source of his behavior patterns lay in his mother's and father's emotions and behavior during the time of his mother's pregnancy. He was able to recognize that he had been living out the behavior patterns of his mother. Having recognized this, he was able to begin disassociating from them and to start controlling his own life.

Case History II

A 49-year-old woman, S., had medical problems in nearly every part of her body except her spleen. She survived a cancer of the pancreas 25 years ago and is overcoming a recurrence. This woman had been conceived following a seven-year, very sexually charged and passionate relationship between her father and his mistress. At the moment the pregnancy was discovered her mother was "enormously happy"; her father was very proud of what he had done. Later his wife forced him to close off emotional support to his mistress during the pregnancy. This trauma created a deep depression that triggered three suicide attempts during the pregnancy. Not only that. The wife actually tried to murder the mistress. During the PAM session, the daughter of the mistress got in touch with deeper levels of her origins:

My father is feeling "enormously intoxicated" when he makes love with my mother. [Note: S. was an alcoholic between age 20 and 35]. Father is desperate to be one with her. Mother is feeling a lot of anxiety and a lot of manic, desperate joy. She has also a deep, deep sadness and fear of abandonment.

During the pregnancy a meeting of the wife and the mistress has the tension and drama of a Verdi opera. S. continues:

The wife comes in and accuses mother of nasty things. Mother can't breathe. She feels seared. She is confused as to whether to feel guilty about the accusations. She is tossed in confusion but is determined to have the baby. She judges herself unworthy, worthless, unacceptable, insupportable, bad, terrible, horrible, despicable and helpless, hopeless and powerless. She wants to die but she wants the baby.

Next, S. discovers why the wife hates her mother so: the whole country knows of the notorious affair which produced this illegitimate baby! Not only is shame and humiliation locked into S., but also the fear that women are dangerous, that they can kill. The trauma narrative intensifies: Mother is being hit on the head! She is completely taken aback! Her heart stops! She is falling to the floor in shock!

Father is visiting her one night and apologizes to mother for his wife's behavior. His wife threatens him: "If you see her [S's mother] or the baby you will never be able to see our children again!" Everything stops for mother! She is not afraid but she does not want to breathe! Nothing matters! It is a very familiar feeling for me! Specifically, everything stops! Like being dead! What is alive is in such pain that mother wants to kill it because it hurts so much! She is swallowing a lot of pills to kill herself. It is a very strange feeling!

I want to be killed too! I am very disappointed that we are saved! I feel very egotistical not about mother but about my own feelings! Now, I feel nausea! [As the first contraction strikes] Mother screams in fear and panic, I won't be able to make it!" She feels helpless, hopeless and powerless! Extreme pain for her! She is suffocating and cannot breathe! She is writhing and screaming!

Then he came to this astounding insight!: Just before I draw in the first breath my whole life flashes in front of me like an instant replay! I am not going in there! [S. screams.] I get very, very stubborn! I do not want to be born! The pain is mother's! All the fear, terror, panic, abandonment, etc. are hers! I resist for two days! I refuse to be born! After two days mother is dead! I remember looking down at her! I feel that this will go on forever--that she will just keep on dying over and over! It is so horrible, I do not want to see!

The adrenaline shots work! Mother starts breathing. The delivery starts again! I see her there on the table! Everyone is rushing around mother! No one is paying any attention to me! I'm afraid! Mother is not paying attention to me!

I ask S.: What does a person get when they are in medical crisis? S. responds: "A lot of attention!" Now S. has understood her prenatal and perinatal inheritance ("In the crib I feel alone--so very alone! I feel very wrong! I should be with my mother!"). Her constant medical crises were not just on a mental level but on all levels of her body, mind, emotions, and spirit. She was, at last, ready to begin the healing process.

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