Michael Gabriel's book, written with his wife, Marie, is about how fetuses cope in the womb and how they make decisions affecting the rest of their lives. The author, a clinical hypnotherapist and not a primal therapist, has extensive quotes from Arthur Janov which help to backup and support the points he is making.
Gabriel insists that the recollections of birth and of life in the womb are not vague or confabulated recollections. They are detailed and are accompanied by much emotion. But the emotions which the fetus feels are not only his own but also those of his mother and sometimes even his father; a position Janov has not written about, but which some regression theorists have supported. It is almost as though the fetus absorbs and becomes marinated in the emotions of its mother, so if the mother is angry the fetus feels her anger. Psychiatrist Frank Lake termed this phenomenon the "umbilical affect."
A mother who is happy during pregnancy will also project these feelings to the fetus living within her body. If the mother is content in her marriage and is happy to be pregnant, on some level, the fetus knows this and realizes that it is wanted and loved. Thus bonding begins very early in life. Even feelings of inadequacy by the mother may be absorbed and can become an element of the personality of the adult later in life.
The developing fetus can even take on the characteristics of a co-dependent as she can begin to feel responsibility. Gabriel explains how a client, as a fetus, developed a feeling of guilt for causing his mother's morning sickness. Such fetuses, he writes, want to be rescuers and may feel that they are responsible for their mother's unhappiness.
Sometimes a mother decides after birth that she does in fact love her offspring. But the love and acceptance might come too late with her infant continuing her pre-birth attitude of anger and apartness from his mother. The mother may never understand why her child was so emotionally distant and unloving in later life. Under hypnosis a client named Janice explained,
In one case a client decided that
My mother tried to be kind, but I didn't want any part of it. When she tried to help me, I was very critical of her and would blame her. On my sixth birthday, my mother put out an enormous effort planning my birtyhday party. I complained about the way she prepared everything. After that experience, my mother swore she would never give me another birthday party.
Gabriel says that the fetus can even realize that a different sexed child was desired rather than its own sex. So the growup person can spend a lifetime trying to make the parents love and desire it. Such drives can result in a need for financial, or educational success in life to prove ones worth.
". . . there is no way I can love my father. He made my mother unhappy. I will go through the motions of being his son, but he will always be an enemy!"
For many the actual birth seems more like dying. This can result in lifelong feelings of claustrophobia and hypochrondria. The author writes that our actual birth will be similar to our gestation. Even the presentation position of the fetus in birth can be determinated by the pre-nate himself. Intolerable womb conditions can make the infant decide to get born earlier than normal.
Many experiences immediately after birth can be traumatic. Among those are too early separation of the mother from the child and harsh conditions in the delivery room such as noise, blinding light and cold temperature.
When the baby is to be adopted the mother-to-be sometimes intentionally attempts to emotionally disconnect herself from it during gestation and the fetus knows this! The attempt to re-connect to its rejective birth mother (to repeat the intrauterine hope for love) is one of the reasons that a desire to re-unite with the birth mother can retain obsessive qualities for the rest of the person's life.
It is at this point that quotations from Dr. Janov no longer appear as the author begins his theories of soul incarnations and re-incarnations. He believes that certain children are born to parents, not randomly, but with a need to fulfill a synchronistic destiny - a destiny involving the fulfillment of a teleologic need on both the parental and child's level.
The author writes that miscarriages and stillbirths can be caused by a suicidal decision of the prenate. But the reader might protest: "If the child is born dead how could it grow up and go into hypnotherapy with Michael Gabriel and reveal that it decided to die in utero?" The answer to this question is that the author believes that one's soul can incarnate more than once. He believes that consciousness exists even before conception.
This coming to earth or incarnation of the fetus' soul involves "the transition from spiritual being to human being." According to the author, sometimes such transitions are resisted by the spiritual entities. Some non-physical beings (also known as guardian angels) assist people when they are in need of help. Others await in special holding places until they incarnate into humans.
Some clients speak of other previous lives they lived. Some clients describe their experiences from conception and how they bonded with the fertilized egg. [In contrast to the theories of Graham Farrant who believes in sperm and ovuum memories, Gabriel does not acknowledge that cellular consciousness exists.] And yet sometimes the ensoulment is not permanent. Some go "in" and "out" of the fetus' developing body. If the ensoulment does not continue on a permanent basis, then a miscarriage or stillbirth will result.
The author believes that the experiences of his clients tells us that there is a continuity of consciousness both before and after life. During these times we exist in other modes of consciousness. This theory implies that we are all part of the larger process of evolution of the universe.
Gabriel writes that he has ". . . witnessed hundreds of people, many of them skeptics, who found themselves encountering vivid memories of living other lives during their sessions." These experiences help make them understand the issues that they are facing today. Re-incaration is a belief in the majority of people living today even though it is not a prevalent concept in western society. He writes that approximately 23% of U.S. and Europeans believe in re-incarnation.
So what advice does the author give to potential parents? The best gift a parent can give to his unborn child, he writes, is a gift of love. And that gift is to love onesself. If you can begin to love yourself, you will love your child. If you do, then your child will be able to love himself. But before having a child, he advises, re-experience and heal your own gestation and birth traumas. This will enable you to have self-love and pass this ability on to your own future children.
In Appendix C of Rembering Your Life Before Birth the author describes processes he uses to relieve pre and peri-natal stress and trauma in his clients. He uses four techniques to help resolve his clients' issues:
So the therapy he uses is not a full regressive or primal therapy but rather a hypnotic recalling with feelings combined with spirituality and rescripting imagery.
- Recalling of Early Formative Experiences.
- Reframing: Educating the Infant Within (One's Inner Child).
- Releasing the Triggered Emotions
- Rescripting or Rebuilding/Restructuring of One's Emotional Patterns
- Experiencing womb life as a fetus with "ideal parents."
- Experiencing womb life with the actual love which the parent probably held for the child but did not express.
- Symbolically separating from the parents' identity and emotions.
- Experiencing womb life while accompanied by one's adult, friend, guardian angel or spiritual guide.
- Experiencing womb life from the aspect of ones own spiritual identity.
The author believes that re-scripting works by going beyond our early deprivations into the spiritual realm. Gabriel concludes his book with these words, "We seek to allow the power of who we are as souls and spirits to hold greater sway in our lives. . . . We strive to be in our physical form the radiant spirits and immortal beings we truly are."