Since its founding in 1982 by Alison Hunter, Amethyst Resource for Human Development in Ireland has pioneered and spearheaded the experiential work of over 2,500 people reliving their Journey from conception to birth This has been experienced through tried techniques of primal integration regression therapy, energy healing visualization, fine art work, shamanic journeying, sacred music. These methods, along with the rapidly growing science of pre and perinatal psychology, which is dedicated to the in-depth exploration of the psychological dimension of human reproduction and pregnancy - and the menial and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child, constitutes the work at Amethyst in Pre and Perinatal psychotherapy. The major work is the healing of wounded adult and children whose problems may lie in this often uncharted area of life.
The Retrieval of Birth Memories
The retrieval of pre and perinatal memories (from before and around birth) and including as far back as conception, can help us understand how and why we behave as we do in the world. The deep parenting, and spiritual parenting of our own self discovery of those primal times begins to heal what might have gone amiss in the conception, gestation and birth from our physical parents. That conception, gestation and birth may have been wonderful or terrible. Remembering helps the recreation of us. It creates the deep healing of what went wrong - and the deepening realisation of what went right. It is important to remember and experience the positive - in order to empower our whole being and to overcome the negative blocks which have hampered the development of our human potential. Many answers are found in these periods of human development, the study of which is still in its own infancy.
Over the last twenty five years or more there has been a timely renaissance of birth memories and hypotheses of intrauterine and conception memories. Theoretical studies go back at least eighty years to the time of Otto Rank's work in 1924. Amethyst has at its foundation the work of Dr Frank Lake, the British psychiatrist who spent many years of his life exploring the realms of conception and the first, second and third trimesters of life and the affect upon later personality and behaviour. Nearly twenty years after his death Lake's work is having a major impact upon the realms of pre and perinatal psychology worldwide. He believed that the behavioral and emotional reactions of a pregnant mother affect her foetus in ways that contribute to its perceptions of itself and its environment in the womb, and the world it is entering, and these perceptions persist into adult life.
Two Perspectives of studying birth and intra uterine memories
Today researchers are studying birth and intra uterine memories from two perspectives, the Pint perspective - (scientific) and the second perspective - experiential therapies. Firstly, scientific studies of the activities of the unborn and new born baby are being documented, particularly the unborn, with the use of ultrasound scanning of the foetus in utero. So from before birth ultrasound is revealing the hidden life of the unborn baby. We are learning that babies are a source of knowledge themselves and can teach us much about this early stage of life. Others are conducting research with groups of babies after birth, whose mothers for example, may or may not have taken folic acid during pregnancies; or the effects of alcohol, drugs and nicotine upon the new born.
Until recent years the common scientific practice has been to approach the earliest period of human development - from conception to birth as a period of quiet time in the womb where nothing happens. Believing that baby lives for nine months inside its mother's womb, cosy, warm, protected and comforted by mother and father. And also believing that life begins at birth and not before. In many cases nothing could be further from the truth and two major contributors documenting some of these results are Dr David Chamberlain, in his book The Mind of Your Newborn Baby and Dr Tom Vemy in his earlier book The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. David Chamberlain states that babies live in their mothers and not in an iron cage. If mother laughs or coughs most foetuses will move and respond. Chamberlain reports that if mothers are violated or assaulted babies will learn about violence. 1f she is loved babies will learn about love. A foetus whose mother received an electric shock whilst she was ironing sat bolt upright and immobile in the womb for two days - long after the mother had recovered. Mainstream medicine is also looking more deeply into the prenatal period. Two programmes on British Radio in October 2000, reported further research.
On a programme entitled Life before Birth on Radio 4 it was reported that David Barker, Director of the Medical Research Centre at Southampton University believed that what we do as babies in the womb marks us all for ever and somewhere in there lies the origins of the diseases from which most of us will die. Medical science now may have a new model of chronic disease. It is now being hypothesised that what happens in the womb may lead to a whole range of conditions previously associated with getting old. Medical science is now proving that bad memory, heart disease and diabetes can be traced back to the intra uterine period. Woman's Hour reported that a female doctor in Sweden had done a small study of 69 cases of drug addicts. She looked at the births of the drug addicts to see if there might be a correlation between drugs given to their mothers at birth (narcotics given to ease the pain) and the reason why the children might become drug addicts later. These hypotheses are not new to the therapists working in the second perspective of past memories in experiential therapies.
The second perspective - experiential therapies
The second perspective is that of birth and womb experiences relived by adults, children and babies in regression therapies or other body related therapies and hypnosis. Some of these therapies go back to conception and before. My own attention was drawn to the study of intra uterine trauma and birth trauma back in the 1970's. Whilst undergoing counselling training at Leicester University 1 came across Frank Lake's work in Nottingham at the then named Clinical Theology Association (it has recently been renamed the Bridge Foundation but Frank will always be Clinical Theology!) Having been born myself during the Second World War I found many answers to my own problems, in this difficult time of being conceived and my parents living through wartime in England.
A glorious or awful conception?
Over the years the most amazing concept arising from clinical work with clients reliving their journey from conception to birth is the knowledge that the state of their parents physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually and the environment at their conception was vital to the well being of the future baby, child and adult. Our conception may have been glorious or awful. Perhaps we spend the rest of our lives trying to heal the 'awfulness' without consciously knowing where 'it' comes from, If conception has beers glorious and loving maybe we become the type of people who love the planet, who take life in their stride and are able to relate in loving and caring ways. Bliss! Perhaps this is the bliss that many of us were denied. The whole fractal or rhythmic patterns of our conception may permeate the whole of our life and we do not know where the patterns come from.
Over the years clients in their therapeutic situation, often in altered states of awareness and consciousness, have told me in no uncertain terms and with great clarity what was wrong, they have told me they were not wanted, or that they were really loved. They knew when mother was sleeping and at peace, or being hassled, or being assaulted. They knew when an abortion attempt was being made on their lives and was unsuccessful. They told me when drugs or anaesthetic was being administered. It often reverberated in their later life when being 'out cold' helped them avoid painful situations. They knew when father was loving and caring and attentive or busy and missing. They have shared what it was like for them in utero. their whole journey from conception to birth has been charted and the pattern of this first journey has been repeated in their young and adult lives.They knew their parents emotional state at their conception. Some could even describe where they were conceived - whether it be a romp in the fields or in the bedroom with red and white curtains - if we learn from prenatal times that the womb world is warm and open and a positive experience, then this will predispose our attitude to life as being the same after birth. If our womb experience has been one of fear and anxiety then surely this will be the blueprint from which we live our lives.
Fact or Fiction?
How dare I say all these things? Because the evidence is there. Because babies in utero are screaming out from the wombs to be understood. Because wounded individuals in their young and adult lives have strived to find healing midst their hurts; have tried to make sense of senseless pain; and tried to find joy in their joyless world. They have spoken of terror, fear, abuse, anger; of peace, joy, love and caring depending on the womb and family they were born into. They have spoken of cold rooms, bright lights, rough hands, pressure of forceps, good nursing, gentleness, needle injections, of being suspended by their feet and being smacked, of hasty cutting of the cord, of separation, abandonment and isolation in incubators and nurseries. They tell their stories of their birth journey and life journey and the links and similarities between them.
There is a resonance between the state of the parents at the conception of their child and from this point they can affect the future adult life of their child. There is a resonance between scientific womb discoveries and future parents undemanding what is happening to their baby in utero. There is a resonance between better birthing practices as advocated by Judith Crowe in Network number 35 and the vision of the future of humanity on the planet. There is a resonance between the process of individual therapy at the primal level and the future healing of humanity. Conscious regression enables us to reclaim the energy to become a child of the universe as we traverse into our new millennium another major leap for humankind. There is no shortage worldwide of research of the hidden life of the unborn baby from babies in utero up to adults reliving their journey all looking for empowerment and understanding.
All looking for the deepening of the good things and the healing of the less than good things. Whatever our status in life all human beings are responsible for the evolution and development of the future. The only sin is ignorance and we all have a responsibility to change this. Belief in birth memories, and before, is a difficult concept to grasp and a possible one that many skeptics would prefer to deny. The idea is not to frighten future parents but to impart vital information of these uncharted territories. It is a concept of the utmost importance to understand and believe for the future of our children's children. The responsibility lies with us all.
© Shirley A Ward October 2000
Shirley has built up a busy practice in psychotherapy and healing over the past 16 years she has been living 1n Ireland. She trains healers and psychotherapist and bas been actively involved in the work of the late Dr Frank Lake since before his death In 1982. She is an International Advisor to the Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health In the USA. She has also lectured and facilitated workshops at the United Nations to Vienna. She is a director of Amethyst. After reading this article if you feel your child has difficulties that may arise from pregnancy or birth trauma contact Shirley or Carmel or Alison as follows: Alison Hunter 061 - 376331, Shirley Ward 061 - 374533, Carmel Byrne 061 - 374926. Further Information is available on the Amethyst web site http://holistic.ie/amethyst