Monday, October 10, 2011

Prenatal trauma - an imprint for life

In the Primal Pages web site, which is about primal psychotherapy, Leah McGoy wrote an article called "An imprint for life", which is all about prenatal trauma. The example she used was a little womb twin survivor who came to her for therapy  - but no one had realised until then what the problem was with him:

 A very clear example of this is a 2 1/2 year old developmentally delayed boy I am treating who could not make any eye contact with me initially. His eyes did not track together, he was fixated on circles, his entire body posture turned inward, he did not feed himself, and he did not talk. His hands had been clenched into fists for his first three months of post natal life. This toddler came from an unplanned conception. The mother was thrilled to be pregnant, through it required her to make many personal adjustments in her life. The father was not happy with this pregnancy. 
During the fifth session, I learned the mother had drank an entire bottle of wine celebrating the successful completion of a very difficult and important final exam when, unbeknownst to her she was two weeks pregnant at the time. At almost the same time, she had to go on strong antibiotics because she was ill and had bleeding quite a bit vaginally. As she reported these things to me, her toddler began to grieve deeply and throw himself repeatedly out of her arms. 
The alcohol, drugs and bleeding occurred around the time of implantation. Her bleeding indicated a possible twin loss, which her toddler confirmed by his synchronistic grieving and enactment of repeatedly throwing himself out of her arms, behavior which he had never before displayed. 
In addition, I acknowledged to the child the similarity in body sensation between the movement of energy in one's body which is like the movement of energy in Chinese acupuncture, and the sensation of alcohol intoxication.
I understood this in terms of this toddler's entire turned-in body posture. Every time his energy began to really move in his body, I hypothesized that I reminded him of a sensation level of the alcoholic intoxication and possibly the medication his mother had taken around the same time. Because these things were coupled with the loss of a twin, every time he felt his energy more, a chain reaction of memories overwhelmed him and his entire body turned inward with clinched fists as in a total effort to "hang on" in utero and not die. I told him that when his energy began to "run" it felt like when his mother drank all the alcohol but it was different. "It feels the same but it's different. This is your energy."
What I said to this toddler seemed to match his original experience for the very next week his eyes were focusing, though not perfectly, he no longer walked in circles anxiously, his body no longer turned in and he had begun to feed himself. The power of accurate interpretation and empathy and support on the part of his mother and I had enabled this toddler to begin to separate from his very early prenatal near death trauma and direct his energy into his own development.
 How do we help the little womb twin survivors? See this page for our new book, "Two little Birds."

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