Chronological and Calendrical Unconscious Memory In Primal-Oriented Psychotherapies

by John A. Speyrer
For some reason, which I cannot even attempt to understand, there seems to be a synchronous chronology as to the most propitious time for reliving one's birth in regressive type therapies. Well, at least, for some of us. Often the reliving is near or exactly at the time of one's actual birth. This congruence of time is not invariable nor has it been established scientifically. It only consistently applied to me during the most critical times of my birth primal process. In this article I am also including other's anecdotal stories.

There are many biorhythms in life. Sleep and waking. Eating and digestion. Cellular reproduction. And many more. All these suggest that there are inbuilt biological clocks that are part of everything we do. Do cycles such as these extend to birth and other primals? And if they do, what are the determining factors?

When I first began experiencing my birth in primals, my inner clock mechanism must have been turned off, as the flood and necessity to re-experience my birth was always present. The longest time of birth primalling, in one 24 hour period, was 7 hours. When I was re-living the most severe traumas of birth - the times when I was experienced near death in the birth canal - these occasions seemed to be more concentrated between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

When I began the birth primal phase of my process there was such a flood of birth feelings that I did not notice that the need to feel early traumas occurred at any particular time. But about five years ago, when I was a regular member of a primal weekend workshop near New Orleans, I first began to notice that the most pressing and productive time for connecting to birth material was between 5:30 and 7:00 p.m. Often it was the only time I was able to enter into such primal feelings. I had read other accounts of what I had experienced; that these instances were not coincidences - that the body remembers the time of one's birth and that this window of opportunity presented itself once again at more or less at the same time of day. This did not necessarily happen each day, but when the birth material was pressing for release, it very, very often was near the bewitching time. The primal workshops were held once each month and the schedule also held true when I had a birth primal at home. Searching my journals I found that this pattern had actually been active for many years.

I didn't know the time of my birth, and since I'm a senior citizen who has outlived his parents and others who might have known the approximate time I was born. There was one other source I could tap - the Louisiana Dept. of Health kept such detailed birth records. However, at that time, I did not wish to spend the $25.00 fee just to satisfy my curiosity.

But a few years later, in May of 2000, after a quarter century of primaling I had a more pressing need to obtain a certificate of birth as a local group decided to make a European trip and had invited me to join them. Of course, to apply for a passport I had to furnish a birth certificate. When the certificate arrived I discovered that my time of birth was at 8:00 p. m. I had guessed that my actual birth might have been closer to 7:00 p.m. but the 8 o'clock time was definitely in the ball-park since undoubtedly during the 2 hours zone of my birth primals I was surely in the throes of the birth process.

I posted on the Yahoo's Primal-Support-Group, my personal account of my birth and birth primals congruence and I received the following reply that is added evidence that birth primals have some relationship to the original time of birth. (The last account in this article is about a recurring time period whose genesis is attributed to a childhood event -- and may open the door to consider other kinds of cycles that we may be unaware of in our lives.

Dear John:

I had wanted to write to you since I read this post of yours about primalling at approximately the same time you were born.

It made me make the connection that usually the time of day I would tend to feel anxiety, is often at the time that I was born. I had always noticed that at 8:30 pm I would get more easily triggered by my children's own legitimate needs and having to look after them and their needs used to be around that time. . . . well actually before that time, since exactly at 8:30 p.m. I would have been struggling to be born. In truth my birth was a forceps delivery.

I could never understand why I felt so much anxiety around that time, sometimes even on a daily basis, especially when my children were younger and needed me more. I used to think that it was due to the fact that I was forced to become a surrogate mother for them from a very early age and that it triggered those feelings of anger and helplessness, which really had something to do with it, but those two feelings were more like a second layer of pain, instead of the primal one . . . the original one and how I would try to avoid being there, just enjoying myself and enjoying my children.

I used to feel ashamed of myself for not being able to enjoy being with my children at that time and how they freaked me out because of having to look after them and now I understand why. . . it was like adding more pressure to the old and very scary trauma of my own birth.

I am still easily triggered around that time of day and I also have a feeling of sleepiness, like a huge feeling that I cannot control. I used to think I was avoiding feeling something by being sleepy, but perhaps it's also a feeling about my birth.

It's so amazing to see how many subtle ways there are of getting wounded very early in our lives and how difficult and painful it is to untangle the whole mess - following the thread of symptoms until we get to the original pain, to when it all started. There are many knots of primal feelings to unravel and endure before we can return to following the old thread of our pain.

It seems that our birth memories permeate each and every action in our lives. Thanks for sharing your fascinating truth, John. In so doing, you helped me to mirror my own experience which began shedding a new light into my own insightful progress."


Over the years, I've read a number of case studies which mentioned this remarkable re-living of one's birth in regression therapies on the 24 hour chronological anniversary. I wish I could remember all of the cases, but here is one from Remembering Our Home a book by Fr. Matthew Linn, Dr. William Emerson et als., They wrote,

"As a newborn, John woke up screaming every night around 1:20. This was the only time each day that he woke up in this way. We learned from his birth records that he was born at 1:20 A.M. As mentioned earlier, when John was three weeks old, William treated him for birth trauma. After that first treatment session. John stopped waking up at 1:20 A.M." (p. 112)

For many years, Dr. E. Michael Holden was the Medical Director of the Primal Institute in Los Angeles. In a tape recording he explained how, for a period, he was often awakened each morning at the same time. He wrote, "Let's start the story when I was four. I started to have a nightmare, every single morning at 5:00 to 5:02 A.M. which was the time I was born. This nightmare occurred almost every night." (See Dr. Holden's tape transcription of an account of his primal and born-again religious experiences.

"Sometimes the wanderings of sleep-walkers coincide with the hour of birth. . . . For analogy, I would point to the uncanny appreciation of important anniversaries which the unconscious mind displays in dreams. Personally, there is no more important return date than birth, be it back to the day, the week or the year. I have cases on record in which the approach of the anniversary of birth cast a shadow of gloom over the patient's life for some weeks in advance. In another case a woman suffered for years from violent headaches and deep depression every Friday at two P.M. until it was found that this hour and day coincided with her birth." -- Nandor Fodor, The Search For the Beloved (1949), p. 30

Chronological anniversaries of primal feelings often refer to birth events and other such anniversaries of traumatic incidents often have a built-in time recording mechanism besides the event imprint.. But these cycles appear apart from birth and some cycles are much longer than 24 hours.

For example, Australian psychiatrist and primal therapist, Graham Farrant, writes how he was able to convince no or few colleagues about what he had learned about primal therapy, so instead, he

". . . tried to apply what I'd learned through primal in a constructive, creative way, introducing Leboyer to hospitals enthusing the pediatricians to come work with me and help children, which John Spensley initially rejected I might say, for 4 1/2 years. But I had learnt to be patient and wait knowing that there was a very valid, dynamic reason why he waited, and when he did come into therapy in his first session he connected that he was 4 1/2 years (old) when his father was shot by the Japanese. And 4 1/2 years is as long as he ever held one house or one appointment or most friendships so, of course, he was going to do the same thing with therapy." ( Interview of Graham Farrant, M.D. with Arnold Buchheimer, Ph.D.)

One who also noticed the recurring time pattern of effects of repressed trauma wrote:

"I do notice a pattern in my life too. My mother laboured through the night, and that is when I become very active.

I was born just after sunrise, and that's when I pass out, like I did at the end of labour when my mother was given a general anaesthetic.

After that I took a long while "coming round" and getting myself properly awake before noon has always been hard for me, even as a child.

I wonder if these patterns get set for everyone, or if they are just coincidences."

To which I replied:

"I believe those "time memory patterns" of behavior and understanding are set for everyone and theoretically knowable, but actually only by those who have deep access to their early repressed pain. It would seem that not only are experiences which involved our senses recorded, but also the time of day or night and season of the year when the event occurred. Otherwise, why would the need to have the regression continually return at the same time the original trauma happened? The body/the mind remembers.

The reader remarked:

"Getting up in the mornings was always a nightmare for me, and as a child my mother would drag me out of bed in the mornings, force my clothes onto me, force some food into me and push me out of the door to catch the school bus. How I did it I have no idea. I was semi-comatose. It took till at least lunch break before I was fully awake."


See Temporal Transmission of Parental Life Events to Children by Averil Earnshaw, chapter in, Pre-and Peri-Natal Psychology: An Introduction, 1987

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