Imagine a conscious little being growing in the womb of an untreated mentally ill 17-year-old girl, afraid she is the cause of her mother’s illness. Imagine her hearing repeatedly, “I don’t want you, I can’t keep you.”
After her birth, she was in a group foster home for six weeks before she heard the words from her adoptive parents, “You are home now.” If you can imagine that, then you will understand why baby Gina was born scared, insecure and overly sensitive to any messages from others that she was unwanted or unworthy.
Birth trauma isn’t just physical, like when a child is born with the umbilical cord around its neck or during emergency Caesarean section surgery — it is also about the emotional events that happen while in the womb or soon after birth. In baby Gina’s story, adoption itself is traumatic — separation from the birth mother is called the “primal wound” by adoption specialist Nancy Newton Verrier.
No matter how loving and accepting his or her adoptive parents are, all adoptees suffer greatly. It often shows up as separation anxiety, but also a deeply held belief that they are not wanted, don’t matter or are not secure in the world. That is, until they become conscious of that primal wound of separation from the birth mother, and work those issues through, on their own or with a therapist.
Anxiety also can develop when the birth mother goes through trauma. Imagine an unborn baby in the womb very close to her birth date. Her mother was present when her father was viciously assaulted with a knife and stabbed multiple times. The effect of the stress hormones her terrified mother secreted through the umbilical cord, plus the baby’s own reactions to the chaos around her, profoundly affected her brain and her fragile nervous system.
Even though that memory had been repressed, her father had survived, and her mother and father were loving parents, the trauma of hearing their screams resulted in a child who lived in constant fear, bracing and certain she would be attacked at any moment.
Other sources of fears and anxiety due to prebirth and childhood trauma include prematurity, conception by rape, the death of a twin, and the mother having been mentally or physically ill or in a stressful or dangerous situation.
How do people come to learn about their traumatic beginning? Through the use of hypnosis — a highly useful and greatly misunderstood therapeutic tool — a process that helps clients of all ages turn off their analyzing/judging brain, and discover the source of their anxiety or fears (as well as their strengths and courage).
Contrary to myths, memories uncovered using hypnosis can be trusted. Unfortunately, in the early 1990s some inexperienced people asked too many leading questions of vulnerable children and adults (such as “Was it your teacher?”) and thereby created what has been termed “false memories.”
In the hands of a trained hypnotherapist, people can quite easily recall things that happened, even prior to birth, by being asked open-ended questions (such as “What are you noticing?”). Birth Psychology expert, Thomas Verny, M.D. found that people accurately answered what direction their head was turned and which shoulder emerged first during their birth. He also noted that people can recall their own conception.
In finding the source of the anxiety or fear that plagues a person, the pathway to healing becomes evident. It is very comforting to finally have the answer to why they or their child is so anxious or full of fear.
Frequently, when I prompt a client to “go to the source” they will report being in a different body and in a different time and place — what we call a past life. Many clients have found the source of their overeating or binge disorders in lifetimes of starvation or severe deprivation. Phobias are almost always the result of past life traumas, for example a college student who was afraid of the dark and of closed spaces found she had been buried alive in a prior lifetime. A preteen girl was cured of bug and snake phobias in just two hypnotherapy sessions. In exploring the universal fear of being hurt due to believing or behaving outside of what the dominant culture demands, I uncovered dozens of case stories of clients being accused of heresy or witchcraft and being exiled, imprisoned or burned at the stake.
Through hypnosis, we not only find the cause, but we also use simple tools to assist in healing the anxiety or fear. You may have been born scared, but you can live free today.