Two weeks ago I began reading two books on the subject of love -- Dr Arthur Janov's The Biology of Love, and the subject of this review, Bonds of Fire: Rekindling Sexual Rapture, by Dr. Alice Rose. Though both deal with regression therapy, they are very different.
Alice Rose's Bonds of Fire is replete with case studies, and is easy to read but yet, at times, I found the going difficult since I could not relate with many of the regressive experiences recounted. Perhaps that is because I have had no cellular consciousness experiences. I have had a couple of primals of floating blissfully in the amniotic sac. That is the furthest back I have explored.
The author believes that sexual rapture can be a gateway to spirituality and to God. Like many authors in the deep-feeling-oriented therapy field, she believes that spirituality is a natural progression as one reaches certain levels in the therapy.
When Dr. Rose, a clinical psychologist and resident of Atlanta, first began using a form of primal therapy in her practice twenty-six years ago, it was to treat typical neurotic ailments such as anxiety and depression. But when a client began to regress into life in the womb she knew that this was an area with which she was not familiar. She decided she needed additional training and began studying regressive pre and peri-natal theory and techniques with Dr. William R. Emerson.
The largest portion of Bonds of Fire is devoted to the ways in which envelopment and implantment can go wrong. Traumas relating to those periods of development, by one or both members of the couple, are one of the greatest impediments to intimacy between the two.
Implantation is the "digging in" which the conceptus does to connect itself to the uterine wall. The envelopment occurs when the conceptus first connects physically with the mother. This is when the marinating process begins -- when the direct route of maternal feelings (both positive and negative) are directed to the fetus via the umbilical cord.
Most complaints about love relationships, the author has found, have the same origin. Whether the husband is an adulterer, unable to commit, the wife too possessive -- in short, all relationship problems -- have the same cause and that cause has nothing to do with the partner making the complaint. The problem is with the other spouse! Something went wrong during that person's early gestation process.
Later, the fetus will endure the trauma of birth which Dr. Rose describes as: "Without question and without exception . . . the single most traumatic moment of our lives."
As we get close to physical intimacy some of us develop feelings of suffocation. These feelings are memories which are traceable back to our birth. The author believes that everyone wants to be free but none of us realize the real source of the anguished feeling of needing to be free.
Dr Rose writes:|
The horrors of birth include the threat of death. The holding onto which one mate wants, triggers the need to get away by the other. So even though there is a deep need to be held, the force of the memory reactivation of the pain of being held is greater than the need. This alternating between desire and repulsion in holding can be felt by those who have not felt their birth trauma or who have not as yet resolved certain aspects of it.
It is easy and natural for the person experiencing this push-pull to intimacy to project the problem on the spouse since leaving stops the pain - and feelings of needing to breathe, of needing to "get out" - from being re-stimulated. When separation occurs between the two, the trapped birth feeling of the disgruntled spouse disappears. The rejected lover may decide that perhaps she is too needy and withdraws even further.
It is usually the husband who feels trapped since he unconsciously equates the pain of birth with his relationship with women. This is because his very first intimate relationship with a woman, his mother, was a painful one (in birth - perhaps both physically and emotionally). He thus continues to get triggered by all subsequent close relationships with women, especially the most desirable ones - the ones he loves. It is very probable that his choice of a spouse was based on his relationship with his mother.
Those who have had a bad birth may feel only one urge: to get away from an insistent mate. They immediately project their memories of pain and entrapment onto their lover. As soon as the two are alone, all the recalcitrant person feels is, I've got to get away. . . A mate has a legitimate desire for physical and mental closeness, which is love, but triggering the birth trauma memory makes it feel like smothering.
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The feeling of revulsion at being touched may also be from the envelopment trauma, although the author writes that early sexual molestation can also have this effect.
I have noticed in myself a revulsion at being touched when I am close to feeling my birth pain. After I relive deep birth trauma, and have just resolved a micropart of my birth trauma, especially of having nearly died in the birth canal, I am especially open and want both to receive holding from and give holding to a woman, especially one with whom I feel close.
I had read in the works of many regression therapy theorists that one's early pain can cause a revulsion to touch, but other than reading that it was related to birth and early pain, I had not read of any opinions of its exact cause.
Dr. Alice Rose's explanation of its source is as follows: "Contact itself is repulsive to the implantus in traumatic envelopments. The implantus wants nothing to do with the 'toxic' mother. It is as if its 'skin crawls' from the contact that has been forced upon it."
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She describes her therapy technique as core regression therapy. The therapy makes it possible for the spouse to relive early birth and pre- and peri-natal traumas. She treats both individuals of the couple together since she has found that such joint therapy is the best way to rekindle passion in a foundering relationship.
Another surprisingly common trauma is 'twin loss.' It is estimated that forty percent of all conceptions are twins. The sequelae of the loss of a twin by death and absorption can be severe depression in the survivor. Another effect is survivor guilt. Sometimes it makes it difficult for the surviving twin to bond since he expects another loss. The author includes a sixty-eight question list so that the reader can determine whether he is a surviving twin.
I have witnessed primals in group of some re-living their twin-loss. The feelings are as deep as any I have witnessed. Dr. Rose admits to the reader that all of this will sound improbable; but by 1996 she had spent over two thousand hours working solely with twin loss. The twin loss is an important determinant in the relationship with individuals of the sex of his lost twin.
In order to resolve these and other problems caused by repressed memories, one's memory must be re-programmed. This happens automatically when the couple relives their early traumas. But clients do not only relive their birth and implantation, but sometimes also their conception and their life as a sperm and as an egg! As important as re-living birth trauma is, it often opens up a person to get to repressed material which can be more vital than birth.
Even before the egg is released for fertilization, the eggs in the ovary possess a kind of group consciousness which Dr. Rose calls the 'ovarian sisterhood.' Some female clients have stated that the most enjoyable part of their life was when they were members of a college sorority! There is also a similar 'brotherhood' among the sperm making the journey to fertilize the egg!
Another interesting concept discussed by the author is the 'toxic womb syndrome.' The lining of the uterus can have specific tissue toxicity which makes the womb a very difficult and unwelcome place for the conceptus to attach. This discomfort can be relived and resolved in therapy.
After the conceptus is implanted into the wall of the uterus, many traumas may occur. When the mother does not wish to be pregnant the developing fetus can have difficulty in implanting into the uterine wall because the fetus senses this rejection which has changed the characteristics of its lining. Ingestion of drugs, alcohol and tobacco can be harmful to the developing conceptus. Less commonly, rotting flesh lining the womb can make it difficult and uninviting to the conceptus.
Rose's book places particular emphasis on a special part of pre-birth life - the time when a fertilized ovum implants into the uterine lining. It is at this stage of gestation that the conceptus is particularly vulnerable to its environment and from both the physical and emotional life of its mother. The implantus becomes stewed in both the positive and negatives emotions of its mother. If the mother is distressed or depressed, happy and calm, welcoming of her pregnant status or resentful of it, her fetus will know.
Rose has found that fetal trauma in this period can be responsible for many of the problems of marriage and of sexual relationships. Her work in this field is aimed at "discovering, deepening and maintaining passion in relationships." As we shall see, this implantation and envelopment period of the fetus is a very critical time relating to the origin of these problems.
The author believes that during this implantation sequence there is much which can go wrong and "is the most crucial experience of prenatal life as far as its effects on adult sexual relationships." The traumas of implantation are re-lived during the actual birth process, and continue to be triggered throughout our lives. So if you've had a traumatic implantation and/or envelopment, your birth and subsequent life will contain residuals from your implantation.
In later life any type of a committed relationship can trigger and unconsciously remind the person of the envelopment trauma one suffered as a conceptus and implantus. This occurs especially during a committed monogamous and passionate sexual relationship.
The presence of real intimacy is what makes a sexual relationship so pleasurable, but intimacy just won't happen if a spouse is triggered by envelopmental trauma. Unfortunately, the deeper the love and need for intimacy, the greater the probability of having a fear of intimacy. Rose believes that being unfaithful is proof that envelopmental trauma memory is being avoided. This trauma can also result in frigidity and impotence.
She calls such a relationship drama between the mother and the developing fetus, the 'implantation dance.' She writes that without re-living those early traumas in therapy, "couples often have to choose between being faithful and sexually dead, or alive and unfaithful."
Dr Rose believes that the presence of sexual bondage, nymphomania, compulsive masturbation, autism, bulimia, anorexia, workaholism, male compulsive sleeping after sex, weight gain after marriage, cancer and perhaps even necrophilia and pedophilia, can all be explained by the operation of toxic intrauterine envelopment.
Bonds Of Fire contains a detailed chart of the causes and symptoms of envelopment trauma which include the above listed symptoms as well as a discussion of how to prevent implantation traumas. The prevention of these traumas is all about loving and wanting the child.
Dr. Rose writes that a couple may wish to try a do-it-yourself technique to overcome the fear of intimacy. This fear impedes the passion which some couples formerly felt for each other. You must be willing to re-live the trauma of being trapped in the birth canal again. There you will discover the source of your suffering.
The secret is to give a husband less space than he wants if he has the feeling of being trapped in the relationship. This helps to activate the original memory which is the real cause of the feeling. The husband must endure the feeling of being smothered or suffocated. Rose gives instructions on how the wife can use a pillow and sheets to that end.
If either parent has any thought of abortion but you decide to keep the baby, accept that he has been traumatized, and get neo-natal therapy for him as soon after birth as possible. Otherwise he will be imprinted with lifelong emotional pain.
The wife should continue the treatment in the face of the husband's protests and even intensify the pressure by sitting on him and gradually move the pressure of the pillow from the head down his body. This is continued until he has pushed free from the pillow/body restraints.
When this is accomplished and emotional connection successfully made to the peri-natal trauma, the husband usually feels resolution of the tension and the feeling that his wife is not giving him any 'space.' Feelings of bonding and closeness ensue which often results in intense lovemaking. After doing birth work one feels 'clear,' relaxed and extremely open.
Ideally, she should hold him down on the bed, causing him to feel more and more trapped until memories of the birth trauma explode within him. She should place a pillow lightly over his face, making breathing slightly more difficult.
The author writes:
The results gained from regression therapy far outweigh the time, trouble, expense and effort needed to obtain them. And this work is a spiritual path that people today can practice successfully. There is no need to change your lifestyle, diet or beliefs. In fact no direct 'spiritual' effort is necessary at all.
While this contradicts commonly accepted ideas about spiritual life, I rest my case on the evidence of hundreds of patients who have had remarkable spiritual experiences as a direct result of this work.
Core regression therapy "is not for the faint of heart." Dr. Rose explains:
The result can be "deep love" and "prolonged sexual rapture, and for many people an unsuspected gateway to God, a doorway directly to the divine."
I enjoyed reading and reviewing Alice Rose's Bonds of Fire: Rekindling Sexual Rapture.
(G)reat courage is needed to face the intense pain of prenatal trauma . . . of intentional suffering involved . . . The passionate lovemaking that usually follows clearing may last for 2 hours of actual penetration. This is not as farfetched as it may sound; it becomes very easy for a man to do, once he's discharged his deep withheld feelings. So in a sense this regression therapy is a spiritual ordeal that may last as long as 5 or 6 hours. . . this feeling work seems to be a shortcut to numinous states of consciousness.
The author received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Georgia State University. At age 27 she had therapy at the Primal Institute in Los Angeles.
Although Bonds of Fire is presently out of print, there are plans to release it perhaps in both English and French.