Book Review - Birth & Relationships: How Your Birth Affects Your Relationships by Sondra Ray - Bob Mandel. Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA, 1987, pps. 164, $8.95

Reviewed by John A. Speyrer

The authors of Birth & Relationships discuss pre- and peri-natal issues from a rebirthing therapy perspective, although there is no information in the book about the therapy itself. The book simply discusses what insights rebirthings have revealed about births and relationships. After interesting explanations from each author on how their particular birth affected their life, they explain how different births influence one's personality, outlook on life, and particularly, one's relationships.

Most of the chapters are short. They include such topics as how even our conception and normal births can influence our relationships. The authors explain that such births, even if mostly non-traumatic, represent a huge change from our intrauterine environment, and therefore, can influence our perception of change in the present.

Other chapters discuss the traumas and/or results of:

  • being unwanted
  • being of the wrong sex
  • being born fast or being held back
  • being premature or late
  • having a cesarian birth
  • having a transverse lie (sideways presentation)
  • the effects of maternal drugs on the fetus
  • how an induced birth affects the fetus
  • forceps deliveries
  • being delivered with the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck
  • being a twin
    • being the first twin delivered
    • being the second twin delivered
  • how separation anxiety affecting a newborn when being placed in an incubator instead of with the mother affects one's later separations
  • the choice of a child's name
  • being born in a family with financial difficulties
  • having problems with breast feeding; other nourishment/food issues
  • having difficulty surviving birth being projected as a money or security issue
  • ease or difficulty in the completion of a project since it is experienced as one's birth

The authors believe that much more clinical research is needed to learn how certain types of births would influence one's behavior and attitude of life. Unusual locales of births, such as being born in unexpected places, like in taxi cabs or elevators, or being a sibling of a multiple birth, such as triplets or quads, being born during an active war zone -- all of these and others would make interesting studies.

The development of patterns of relationships which are deeply influenced by pre- and peri-natal circumstances is illustrated by over one hundred case studies. Such studies comprise about fifty per cent of Birth & Relationships.

As an example, here is one such study of a "normal" birth:

"My birth was in a hospital. I am the third child; my parents were together. I experienced a lot of anger and rage from being held upside down, and fear of being alone, abandonment for being taken away from my mother. I am afraid of being alone, not in a one-to-one relationship. I become possessive, jealous. I want to be held a lot and told that they care about me.

People often get angry and disapprove of me. I want more relationships than I have because of fear of abandonment. Sometimes I want more freedom and feel smothered.

I sometimes hold onto a relationship, even though it doesn't give me anymore.

People think that I'm not there enough for them, they seem to want more of me. Maybe I'm overcompensating for people not being there for me after I was born. I feel a great need to be with people, have a lot of friends and to be in groups."

Each chapter ends with a summary list of the effects of some of the particular traumas or birthing conditions discussed as well as a list of affirmations and prayers. An affimation is an "endorsement" opposite of the position one has taken as a result of a particular aspect of one's birth. For example, the authors believe that while one is regressed and has insight as to why and how a particular "script" or life position was adopted, the wholeheartedly affirmation of the positive position (opposite of the negative position actually held) can influence the results of one's earlier self-programming.

Thus, if one's parents wanted a child of the opposite sex, an affirmation might consist of the expression of the feeling, "I am the right one," or "my sex is right for me." One of the important affirmations is for forgiveness of onesself and of others. The rebirthee, who was unwanted, might be encouraged to state, "I forgive my parents for not knowing what they really wanted."

Arthur Janov, the discoverer of primal therapy, believes that such affirmations are useless. In his writings, he does not mention the use of either affirmations or forgivessness in the therapy and believes that such efforts to have the birth experiences end on a positive note are of no help. He writes:

"(W)hat is important about reliving the birth experience is that it must be run off exactly as it happened without interference. The experience itself is resolving. That is why one cannot decide to superimpose a good ending over a particular Primal trauma with the hope of resolving it. When the rebirthing therapist does this he is tampering with a precise neurological circuit -- a memory imprint as unmodifiable as one's past history. That history is a prepotent reality.

The original trauma did not end well . . . . There is no way to make a primal experience end well. Since adults are stronger and more mature when they come to relive the birth trauma, they can integrate an experience that the neonate could not. That integration ends the sequence. . . . Far from resolving the birth trauma, the rebirthee has interfered with the normal repressive processes and the natural unleashing of Pain."
-- Arthur Janov, Imprints, The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience, p. 243

Birth & Relationships is out-of-print. I understand that it is being re-written and that the next edition will include some of the authors most recent discoveries in rebirthing therapy.

Sondra Ray trained as a nurse and is the author of fourteen books. Ray's form of re-birthing is Loving Relationships Training. Though not her website, this area discusses her work. LRT

Bob Mandel's website is located at International Seminars Leadership Programs . He has an M.A. in English Literature, leads seminars and does re-birthing work in Connecticut

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