14 Chapters
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10 Objectivity and action

House, Simon; Ridgway, Roy Karnac Books ePub

Objective evidence has accumulated that violent behaviour arises from early psychological and physical conditions, having long remained merely anecdotal. We have seen that Freud himself, as well as Rank, Winnicott, Lake, and others, perceived psychological scarring as coming from birth and gestation. Qualitative analysis is being corroborated by quantitative analysis. Raine showed that obstetric forceps or other birth intervention, combined with separation from parents in their first year, correlates with increased criminal violence (Raine, Brennan, & Mednick, 1994).

Groundbreaking work in the biochemistry of emotions began in the 1980s. Candace Pert (1998) showed bliss, stress, and shock to be recognizable as molecules in the bloodstream and acting on receptors at nerve synapses. Biochemistry has become an objective common ground for understanding both nutritional and emotional imprints on a child from at least conception. At a time when Frank Lake was facing an early death in 1982, Pert and others were clarifying some of the biochemistry that underlies what Lake perceived: the ways that a child in the womb seems to experience his mother’s emotions, and their lasting effect on him. Lake’s conviction that the impact of the mother’s emotions was greatest in the first trimester is objectively corroborated by Curt Sandman’s studies (as explained in ch. 6[e]). Pert’s work has also substantiated Michel Odent’s (1986) findings that in the first hour from birth, natural closeness and tenderness can bring bliss to mother and child. All being well, she is flooded naturally with endorphins and oxytocin—”love hormones” that are essential to their bonding.

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1 Beginning and adapting

House, Simon; Ridgway, Roy Karnac Books ePub

“The universe resounds with the joyful cry I am.”

Alexander Scriabin, Poem of Ecstasy

The New Zealand gynaecologist, Professor A. M. Liley, pointed out that although in the temporal sense we spend a very short time in the womb, about 1% of our life, in terms of the division of cells, our physical development—apart from stature—is almost complete by the time we are born (Liley, 1977).

We begin life as a single cell; 45 generations of the doubling up of cells by growth division are needed to reach the thirty million million cells of an adult. Of the 45 divisions, 41 take place before birth. Yet even before this single cell there is “life before life”. The sperm’s life can be traced back months to its genesis in the testes, which were already formed in the father when in the grandmother’s womb. The beginnings of the ovum itself existed in the mother when she was still in the grandmother’s womb, where it is known to have been susceptible to the grandmother’s environment. Nor should we lose sight of the genetic trace unbroken down the generations:

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6 Echoes of womb-life: bliss and distress

House, Simon; Ridgway, Roy Karnac Books ePub

“see all, nor be afraid.”

Robert Browning, Rabbi ben Ezra

The French dramatist and critic Jean Cocteau described in his diary an interesting experience he had when he revisited his childhood home in 1953 (Cocteau, 1988). He was interested to see whether by going back he could recover some of the feelings he had when he lived there. Could he relive his childhood?

The man who lived at his old home would not let him in. Cocteau looked around at the street and the houses and found that everything had changed; he wondered if it was at all possible to bring back his childhood memories without going into the house.

Cocteau then recalled how as a child he would walk close to the houses in the road and trail his finger along the wall. He did this again, hoping that memories would come flooding back. But they did not. There were a few memories, but they were thin and pale.

Suddenly, he remembered that as a child his hand had trailed along the wall at a different level. He was, of course, much smaller at that time. So, bending down and closing his eyes, he again moved his finger along the wall. The result was remarkable:

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12 Healing the original wound

House, Simon; Ridgway, Roy Karnac Books ePub

“‘People become so proficient at avoiding these things that they cease to realize they are doing it… . It becomes habitual’, maintained Dr David Bohm.

‘The wound remains’, agreed Krishnamurti.

‘We remember to forget, you see’, added Bohm.

‘We remember to forget’, affirmed a psychiatrist from New York City, Dr David Shainberg, ‘and then the process of therapy is to help the remembering and the recall—to remember you have forgotten, and then to understand the connections or why you forgot; then the thing can move in a more holistic way, rather than being fragmented.’“

Krishnamurti, The Wholeness of Life (1976)

“You are nothing but a set
Of obsolete responses.”

T. S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party

A common thread runs through ways of healing. It is the immediate sense of being loved. Simon House writes:

I was starting my first course teaching Re-evaluation Counselling. We were a group of sixteen people. I was just going to explain how it worked when one of our children ran in from the garden with (a grazed knee and) a pained look on his face. He quickly spotted his mother’s face. As their eyes met he burst into tears. I said, “That’s strange. The sight of his mother made him cry.” We soon agreed that once there was the safety and loving support of the mother, the tears of relief could come, the pain of hurt and shock could be felt and released as the hurt heals. [House, 1999]

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2 Characteristics-intrinsic and being imprinted

House, Simon; Ridgway, Roy Karnac Books ePub

“I am a little world made cunningly.”

John Donne, Holy Sonnet V

In the nine months a child is growing in the womb, he acquires a number of skills, which he puts to good use within a few hours of birth. Within minutes he can communicate with his mother. He can recognize her voice. Later, a short time after birth, he can imitate some of her gestures; he can smile; he can reach out to objects (Bower, 1984). He has other skills, other abilities, which he has learnt in the womb. His entire world, the way he perceives it, the way he adjusts to it, is determined by what happens in the womb.

If everything has gone according to plan and there has been no damage to the fetus, then the bonding process that began in the womb will go on developing after birth, when mother and child are pulled together by signals—by touch, scent, and sound—which produce behaviour designed to protect the child and reward the mother (Klaus & Kennell, 1976).

As in the womb, the child plays the dominant role in the partnership: it is his desires that must be gratified, otherwise he will torment the mother with his screams and tantrums. His mother learns to understand the messages the baby sends with his crying. It can mean different things and produce different reactions in the mother. His hunger cry, for instance, will produce a physiological change in the mother, which will induce her to feed the child.

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