In Search of the Lost Mother of Infancy by Lawrence E. Hedges, Ph.D. Jason Aronson Inc, Northvale, New Jersey, 1994, pp. 354

By John A. Speyrer

Rather than selecting this particular book of psychoanalyst/author Hedges to review, I probably should have chosen another one of his books. The one entitled, Remembering, Repeating and Working Through Childhood Trauma also has an intriguing title. However, the book being reviewed was available to me. Oftentimes, I have been led astray by a book's title. The Primal Whimper, The Earliest Relationship, Unlocking the Secrets of Your Childhood Memories, Primal Health, and The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant -- all had names that were deceptive. The authors, I am sure, would not agree that their titles were deceptive, but none of those books turned out to be about therapeutic deep regressions to childhood traumas. In Search of the Lost Mother of Infancy joins that group, even though its first few chapters did seem promising.

Dr. Hedges talks the talk of regression therapists, but in this book does not seem to walk the walk and he remains a traditional psychoanalyst with the exception that he correctly emphasizes the pre-oedipal and earlier stages as the most important shaping influence of a person's life. He believes that it is the failed contact of the infant to the mother (which he defines as the "organizing experience") which is the source of psychopathology. He writes, ". . . many people experienced actively traumatic intrauterine or postnatal situations that have left them living pervasively organizing experiences because very early in life they became terrified of human emotional connectedness." This fear of failure in seeking love later in life, causes a withdrawal of loving attempts to be connected to another human being. He believes that this early deprivation causes a "private madness" which is universal and endemic. So far so good.

The author believes that the positive connection between mother and infant is accomplished through the sense of touch and yet he proposes that touch between patient and therapist be more or less prohibited. As the therapy relates to touch, he writes that he and client are there to study what went wrong during the patient's infancy, Thus he might tell the patient that touch in the present can now be fulfilling, and asks him, "Can you hold my hand now? Can you work to overcome your ofverwhelming urge to split away?" He writes that in the current atmosphere of commonplace sexual harrassment lawsuits therapists must protect themselves and in an appendix of his book is contained an example of an Informed Consent form in which the client acknowledges that some very limited therapeutic touch will occur.

Yet he does write in passing, and strictly as an aside to the above paragraph, that knowledge of how to foster deep regressions is increasing. After the introductory chapters, the case studies begin. Unfortunately, the cases seem to me to be completely devoid of the enticing material in the earlier chapters!. The transcribed case studies, are between members of a a therapist group and comprise, perhaps 95% of the book. I read no references to regressions in them. The therapists seem to discuss their patients strictly from a psychoanalytical viewpoint.

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It seems that in the past ten years are so, some psychoanalysts have been making a change away from the emphasis on Freudian theories of drives and complexes and instead have been exploring trauma theories. Author Alice Miller was one of the earliest to make that break. See the review of her book: For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty In Child Rearing and the Roots of Violence . And there have been others. For another example, see the press copy for Lynda Share's If Someone Speaks, It Gets Lighter: Dreams and the Reconstruction of Infant Trauma.

There is no doubt that trauma theory coupled with a form of regression therapy will continue to become more generally accepted by both the psychoanalytic and other psychotherapy schools. When that happens, the acceptance by the public of primal and other regressive therapies will become widespread. This is inevitable, both because the therapy works, and because it works for the right reasons.

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