Understanding how people get wounded

Before we are born

Much research has been done into what happens to us in the time before we are conceived, when we are conceived, and as we grow in the womb.

Cellular memory, which starts at least as far back as the time we start out as a sperm in our father’s body (still in his mother’s womb) and an egg in our mother’s developing foetus in her mother’s womb, can be an amazingly accurate and strong influence on our later
life. What happens then can shape many of our future actions and reactions.

The act of conception and growing as a foetus are also not without their influence on us. The emotions of the people around us, particularly our mother, the food and drink she consumes, the physical incidents and the environment all play a role in influencing us.

Each shape on each timeline represents a traumatic event of a similar emotional tone which is linked to those before and after it.

The articles below document some of the research into traumas we suffer at the early stages of our life and how these are remembered or manifested in later stages of our lives. There are also links to organizations which study this.

Graham Farrant

Wolfgang H. Hollweg

  • What the Unborn Perceive A description of the sorts of endogenous perceptions and memories we have while still in the womb.

William Emerson

  • The Vulnerable Prenate This paper clarifies the conditions under
    which prenatal experiences produce lifelong effects. It also describes the perspectives necessary to understand the effects of prenatal traumatization.Click here to get a copy of “The Vulnerable Prenate” in PDF format.

Santa Barbara Graduate Institute

  • Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology Program –
    Students in the Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology programs learn
    to work in prevention and treatment modalities with families, infants,
    children and adults.The Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology Programs specialize in the extraordinary new discoveries in research and in ground-breaking clinical work that examine this earliest of human developmental periods. Conception, life in the womb, birth
    and bonding, and the beginning experiences as an infant in the family shape our
    sense of self and our lives at all levels of our being–physical, emotional,
    mental, social, and spiritual. This program of study provides an exquisite opportunity
    for students to help mothers, fathers and infants/children have the most optimal
    early foundation available. The program also prepares students to work with individual
    adult clients, couples and families.International Society of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine (ISPPM)

    • ISPPM is devoted to the initial phase of human development – prenatal and perinatal
      life. ISPPM considers this earliest stage of life as the first ecological position of the human being and the womb as its first ecological environment. Pregnancy is perceived to be a period of active and continuous dialogue between the prenatal child, the mother and her psycho-social environment. From a holistic view, human life is recognized as an indivisible entity and continuum of all human functions, both physical and psychological in which no division between “body” and “mind” can be made. This comprehensive and holistic approach is also reflected in the interdisciplinary character of the ISPPM membership.
  • Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health
    • Explore the many mental and emotional dimensions of pregnancy and birth in everything from scholarly articles to personal stories and late-breaking headlines. APPPAH was founded in 1983 by Toronto psychiatrist and psychologist Thomas R. Verny, M.D., D.Psych., F.R.C.P.C., as a forum for individuals from diverse backgrounds and disciplines interested in psychological dimensions of prenatal and perinatal experiences. Typically, this includes childbirth educators, birth assistants, doulas, midwives, obstetricians, nurses, social workers, perinatologists, pediatricians, psychologists, counselors, researchers, and teachers at all levels. One does not
      have to be a professional, however: all who share these interests are welcome to join.

Birth and the early years of life

For many of us, the birth process is rather traumatic. We go from a warm, muffled
environment down a tight birth canal out into a brightly lit, noisy environment where, if we are lucky, the doctor or nurse does not handle us like a fresh side of beef. We are often suddenly held upside-down, whacked on our bottom and then washed with some liquid. Our link to our placenta is often suddenly cut and we are whisked off to a room away from
our mother.

During our childhood, we are exposed to a number of events which can imprint upon
us in ways that only much later can we decipher, if we have the courage to look back and see. This is the basis for much of modern psychology.


Terry Larimore

Peggy Rubin

Arthur Janov

  • NeurosisMany parents make the mistake of not picking up their child sufficiently
    out of fear of “spoiling” him. By ignoring him, this is precisely what they do, and
    later they will be swamped by the child’s insatiable demands for symbolic substitutes — until the day they crack down on him. The consequences of that are both inevitable
    and dreadful.


Entire contents copyright 2005/2006 Robert S. Vibert, except where noted