The goal of this article is to examine pre- and peri-natal trauma as a source of Fibromyalgia and the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (video presentation on latest research). The appendix to the article explains what should be the nature of the dreams of FMS and CFS sufferers - that they would have more frequent and more violent dreams than others because they had traumatic births and/or severe intra-uterine traumas. Quotations and discussions from various practitioners in the field of medicine and clinical psychology, as well as from patients are presented to support this hypothesis.
"I have a strong sense that fibromyalgia may well be based on extremely early and probably preverbal trauma that often is difficult to document in a patient's clinical history."
--Robert Scaer M.D., in The Trauma Spectrum:
Hidden Wounds and Human Resiliency
The predominant symptoms of fibromyalgia are not presented in isolation, although the physical pain which is triggered when pressure is applied to specific body points is the procedure performed to diagnose the syndrome. The diagnosis is more academic than real because both Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia sufferers have many symptoms in common; so many, that some believe that they are the same malady with CFS characterized by the predominance of symptoms of fatigue with profound weakness.
FMS patients may present with a host of physical and emotional symptoms, including,
It is a medical puzzle why the typical fibromyalgia sufferer has so many different physical and emotional pains. Typically, in psychiatric cases a few psychological symptoms and/or a few psychosomatic symptoms predominate.
Most neurotic symptoms can be traced to a deficiency of love which one should have adequately received in infancy and early childhood and as a result might feel anger, while another might feel guilty, and still another may feel overwhelming loneliness.
Thus, problem emotional feelings originate from particular early deprivations in infancy and childhood, or the manner in which the deprivation was perceived. But apart from these parental upbringing traumas there exists a profound shock-type trauma which is prepotent than even inadequate parental upbringing. These are the traumas which were laid down in the psyche during one's birth and pre-birth development.
Physical: Autoimmune diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis and lupus), insomnia, headaches (migraine and tension), numbness or tinglings of the extremities - muscle twitches,
increased sensitivity to pain, osteoarthritis, fatigue (acute and chronic),
irritable bowel syndrome, painful menstrual periods, restless legs syndrome,
cold and heat sensitivity, cognitive/memory problems (sometimes referred to as "fibro fog"), muscle pain, , temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), dizziness and nausea, morning muscular stiffness, skin complaints, symptoms affected by weather conditions, multiple chemical sensitivities, a multiplicity of vision problems, frequent urination and pelvic symptoms, breathing difficulties (shortness of breath), nasal problems (non allergic rhinitis), ribcage and chest pain (costochondritis with rapid or irregular heart rate), repetitive physical activity (such as RLS), emotional stress, mood changes, bloating, constipation, abdominal pain and reduced tolerance for exercise.
Emotional: Nightmares, sometimes with themes of violence, See appendix, mood changes, OCD, panic disorder, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, inferiority, inappropriate feelings of shame and guilt, anger, grief, loneliness, numbness, jealousy, undue shyness, etc.
Some researchers devote their time searching for genetic or physiological factors which differ in fibromyalgic patients compared with those who do not have symptoms. Other researchers, however, recognize that these patients have a very prevalent sharing and overlapping of symptomology in fibromyalgia with patients who do not have the fibromyalgia diagnosis. This may be the reason why many in the medical field believe that the symptoms are psychosomatic. Since the examination of these patients reveal few or no abnormalities and testings are normal, physicians may wrongly suspect that the patients are malingering.
These patients are sometimes diagnosed as hypochrondriacs - a diagnosis sometimes made with barely concealed opprobrium. When some may also happen to be correctly diagnosed as hypochrondriacs, their fear of disease can be closely aligned with a fear of death since extreme health concerns can be closely related to an unconscious or conscious obsession with death and dying.
Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof writes that such patients
". . . have a variety of strange
body sensations that they cannot account for and tend to interpret them in terms of actual somatic pathology. These involve pains, pressures and cramps in different parts of the body, strange energy flows, paraesthesias and other forms of unusual phenomena. They can also show signs of dysfunction of various organs, such as breathing difficulties, dyspepsia, nausea and vomiting, constipation and diarrhea, muscular tremors, general malaise, weakness and fatigue. Repeated medical examinations fail to detect any objective indications of actual physical disease. . . ."
". . . (T)he complaints of these patients should be considered very seriously despite the negative medical findings. Their physical complaints are very real; however, they do not reflect a current medical problem, but a surfacing organismic memory of serious physiological difficulties from the past, such as diseases, operations, or injuries -- and particularly the trauma of birth." [Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy 1985, pps. 282-3]
Dr. Arthur Janov, discoverer of primal therapy, writes that some researchers
". . . may look to heredity when social influences in the womb are to blame. The abnormalities may only become manifest as life goes on and other traumas occur. People who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, for example, have been found to have abnormal interleukin II output, a function that may have been upset during the birth trauma and remained that way. . . (T)he immune system may be weakened even before birth, so that prebirth experiences can predispose one to a range of later illnesses." [Janov, Why You Get Sick, How You Get Well: The Healing Power of Feelings (1996)].
In, The Biology of Love (2000), Janov recounts the story of a patient diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. After reliving aspects of her birth over a period of many months her fatigue left.
Later Trauma As a Trigger
Many fibromyalgia sufferers have noticed that their pain syndromes began after a trauma, such as an automobile accident or injury, or even a severe case of flu.
The trauma theory of FMS origins is becoming more prevalent. Relating the after effects of a "severe case of flu" with the complex and disabling systems of fibromyalgia becomes more readily acceptable when it is realized that the effects of flu or other infections can cause a sudden decline in the body's overall defenses - against both illnesses and psychosomatic emotional and physical symptoms.
When this lowered defense level is coupled with a recent emotional disturbance, the combination can readily trigger and strain one's defenses. This combo brings to the fore the incompletely repressed contents of one's earlier pre- and peri-natal traumas with resultant symptoms. But again, why so many symptoms?
Drs. B. Van Houdenhove and P. Luyten of the Univ. Hospital Gasthuisberg in Belgium discuss Stress, Depression and Fibromyalgia in Acta Neurol. Belg., December, 2006. The authors conclude that childhood trauma can produce life stress resulting in fibromyalgia. They hypothesise that years of chronic stress and depression can contribute to a dysregulation of bodily mechanisms. It was thought that neuro-endocrine, immune system, and central pain mechanisms may result in fibromyalgia. Does that explain the multiciplicity of symptoms?
"Fibromyalgia is so inclusive of many separate syndromes that it may be considered
to be a prototype for posttraumatic autonomic illnesses."
"The role of life trauma in the generation of immune disorders...must still remain
--Robert Scaer M.D., in The Trauma Spectrum:
an intriguing but speculative hypothesis....Pre- or perinatal trauma. . .
remains an intriguing possibility."
Hidden Wounds and Human Resiliency
Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof believes that many psychosomatic and psychiatric symptoms may result from the over or under stimulation of the sympathetic or parasympathetic operational phase of the autonomic nervous system and that the original imbalance disturbance had its origins during one's birth traumas.
He writes that the
"most common and characteristic organ-neurotic symptoms appear to be derivatives of the physiological processes and reactions that form a natural and understandable part of birth. This connection is quite obvious and requires no further explanation in the case of various forms of headaches, particularly the "belt headache...A subjective feeling of lack of oxygen and of suffocation--commonly experienced by psychiatric patients under stress-- is also easily accounted for. Similarly, palpitations, pain in the chest, blushing, peripheral ischemia, and other forms of cardiovascular distress, as well as muscular tensions, tremors, and twitches present no difficulty for interpretation." [Grof, Beyond the Brain, (1985), p. 287-9]
In the instances that a particular organ system was not physically traumatized, Grof believes that the operation of the ANS could be repeating the memory of pre- and peri-natal assault to or strain of the autonomic nervous system which mediates a number of organ systems. "Constipation or spastic diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, general irritability of the gastrointestinal system, excessive sweating, hypersalivation or drying of the mouth, and chills alternating with flashes are examples." [Grof, op.cit., p. 289]. Perhaps that explains why fibro patients have so many symptoms.
In Psychology of the Future, Lessons from Modern Consciousness Research (2000), Grof insists that traumas after birth, in and of themselves, are not of sufficient import to explain emotional disorders. He calls these later explanations "superficial and unconvincing." He believes the force of severe physical traumas are required to explain the strength of the psychosomatic symptoms and these traumas are usually the traumas of birth (p. 129). However, in The Trauma Spectrum, Scaer concedes that, "Pre- and perinatal trauma, including abnormal maternal/infant bonding with resultant inadequate modulation of autonomic functioning, remains an intriguing possibility."
I assume that Grof is less tentative in his opinion because of his extensive knowledge based on over 50 years of experience with patients during the reliving of their birth traumas in various regressive psychotherapies. He began his research in 1953, when Sandoz Laboratories began the world-wide distribution of LSD. When that psychedelic became illegal in the late 1960s, he and his wife developed a non-drug mode of regression therapy, - holotropic breathwork.
In regard to autonomic system dysregulation as an explanation for many of the diseases of trauma, there is seeming agreement. [Grof, Beyond the Brain, p. 289; Scaer, The Trauma Spectrum, p. 247.] However, Grof remains convinced that this explanation is incomplete for all of trauma derived diseases, as he believes pre- and peri-natal trauma is ultimately the source of almost all psychosomatic disorders. Those not based on ANS innervation trauma, he believes, are the result of direct trauma to the body part as a result of the physical pre- and peri-natal trauma.
It requires a much earlier overwhelming assault to the body to explain the extent of suffering which the typical fibro patient endures. Only severe traumas during one's pre- and peri-natal life coupled with an adult failure in one's defenses the result of the much later lesser trauma could account for the extent of physical and emotional pain which fibromyalgiacs suffer. Since they are obviously unable to discuss their birth and other early traumas with their health providers, the origins of the multiciplicity of their symptoms will remain hidden to both themselves and their physicians.
The traumas of birth which the typical neonate endures is not known and the typical severely traumatized baby's birth certificate will show that the birth was normal. Registered nurse, Bonnie Randolph, in Birth and Its Effects on Human Behavior, emphasizes how severe were the traumas of our births. For some of us, she believes,
"(o)ur fetal existence in the womb was barely an existence at all; instead, it was a continuous struggle to stay alive. At this time in development, needs are exclusively physical -- the need for oxygen, nutrition, fluids, growth, proper temperature, balanced hormonal, endocrine, and enzyme supply, genetic strength, and many others. Without these essentials the fetus would die. However, the fetus can survive under very minimal conditions - those which are extremely depriving and yet not totally void.
Hypothetically assume that an embryo needs an environmental temperature in the range of say, 96 degrees F to 102 degrees F and that going to as high as 104 degrees F would bring on his death. Then imagine the embryo's environmental temperature is 103.999999 degrees F. The embryo, because of its own inner strength and instinct for life, manages to hang on and survive - though at most times on the threshold of death and in excruciating pain. What would that embryo be like once grown?"
Fibromyalgia is not new, and neither is almost dying from our pre- and peri-natal traumas. From the beginnings of time, birth and death have been intimately associated in the human mind because death, at birthing, was a risk for both the mother and baby. For many fetuses, this risk was not just autonomic dysregulation problems but from the effects of direct physical assault to the body which resulted in their death. Fibromyalgia symptoms, under various names, have been described for hundreds of years. One set of symptoms akin to present day fibromyalgia was recently called fibrositis or neurasthenia.
In publication since 1906, The Macmillian Medical Cylopedia Twenty-Second edition (1955) explains under the "neurasthenia" entry, that one of the causes of the condition ". . . is found in injuries of the head and back received in situations likely to cause great anxiety or fright, such as railway accidents. Indeed, slight forms of neurasthenia due to this cause are often known as 'railway spine', and severe examples are afforded in cases due to shell-shock or accidental burial." (p. 632) That was then. Obviously, railway accidents are not at the fore of present day trauma.
In the case above, the significance of a "psychological" trauma as the antecedent trigger is emphasized.
"Falling in love is an altered state of consciousness only partially grounded in reality. . . . Your feelings are based not on real knowledge of that person, but rather what
you project unto him or her. The feelings satisfy the unconscious yearnings
for the safety and security you felt or craved in infancy, the sense
that you would be unconditionally nurtured."
-- Charlotte Davis Kassi in Women, Sex and Addiction
My attack of neurasthenia was triggered by an event which normally does not have such untoward effects. A long time ago - in the late 1950s - I had asked a woman to date, but she was not interested. This rejection produced many of the neurasthenic symptoms described in the Macmillian Medical Cylopedia referenced above.
But the rejection was only a trigger to earlier hidden traumas from my very earliest beginnings and was not the real origin of my neurasthenic symptoms.
The symptoms which I developed were particularly uncomfortable and included a panic attack, insomnia, loss of appetite and extreme fatigue which bordered on exhaustion. I became very anxious. depressed and worried and as described in the Macmillian Cyclopedia, I was unable to distinguish "triffling from essential things."
The Macmillian Cylopedia continues its description of neurasthenia:
Some of the symptoms above (and listed in the paragraphs below) did come from the spurning I received from the woman with whom I had wanted to date. Although not the "cause" of my neurasthenic attack, her rejection was significant since it marked the beginnings of an uncovering process of my early traumas and made it possible for me to ultimately experience my birth traumas which I consider the "real" underlying factor.
A few months before my spurning, I had a severe bout with a strep throat infection which was another important factor which contributed to the lowering of my defenses and made possible the display of the symptoms of neurasthenia. This infection had the same effect as had the case of flu referred to in a paragraph above.
Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof in, Beyond the Brain (1985), writes that "Neurasthenia is characterized by muscular tension, tremors, excessive sweating, cardiac distress and palpitations, free-floating anxiety, a sense of oppression, intense headaches, and faiblesse irritable - a feeling of general weakness and lack of energy, combined with easy irritability." [p. 292]
"The most prominent and constant symptom is that of weakness and weariness on exertion. The person may feel fresh enough in the early
part of the day, but after very slight effort he becomes exhausted, and trembles. . . . Generally, the neurasthenic person loses appetite and digestive power and becomes painfully thin as well as weak. . . . A condition of 'irritable weakness' develops throughout the body, in the heart, stomach, bowels, and other organs so that the person suffers from palpitation, loss of appetite with dyspepsia after taking the simplest food, and griping pains in the abdomen, generally associated with obstinate constipation. As a result alternating colitis is apt to appear in neurasthenics, and thus prolonging the disease and makes its treatment more difficult.
Although in the early stages the person may be overcome with sleep when tired, sleeplessness is a weariness symptoms later on. The temper changes also, the sufferer becoming, as a rule, intensely irritable and emotional. Another mental peculiarity is a failure to distinguish trifling from essential things, so that the neurasthenic becomes worried by the smallest incidents and a prey to groundless fears and to anxiety over unlikely misfortunes. . . .
In those cases due to shell-shock or to other severe accident, in addition to headache (there may be), mental irritability, exaggeration of the reflexes, easily induced fatigue and shakiness on making an effort."
"The agony of birth is both of body and mind.
It is easier to believe in the former than in the later."
--Nandor Fodor, Ph.D., in The Search for the Beloved
He believes that neurasthenia in particular reflects the traumatic aspects of the third stage of one's biological birth. The ideal therapeutic approach to resolving the underlying causes of neurasthenia, he believes, is to re-live one's birth traumas in an experiential psychotherapy.
The third stage of birth which he names Birth Peri-natal Matrix III, is the period when "the uterine contractions continue, but the cervix is now dilated and allows gradual propulsion of the fetus through the birth canal. This involves crushing mechanical pressures, pains, and often a high degree of anoxia and suffocation. A natural concomitant of this highly uncomfortable and life-threatening situation is an experience of intense anxiety." [Grof, Psychology of the Future, p. 45.]
During this stage, blood circulation may be interfered with by arterial compression. Problems at this stage of birth often require mechanical intervention by forceps, cesarean section or vacuum extraction which themselves are often traumatic and will need to be resolved. The procedures which were intended to facilitate the birthing process, in turn, become a source of birthing trauma itself and are often relived in regression therapy. Electro-convulsive treatment (shock therapy) is also a treatment for a trauma which can be re-experienced in therapy. [See Emerson and Larimore for the experiential treatment of infants and children with birth trauma.]
As discussed, some of the physical symptoms of the fibromyalgia syndrome listed near the top of this article had already been encountered in the patient's early pre- and peri-natal life. The symptoms of fibromyalgia were experienced directly by the particular organ systems of the fetus during partuition, while the remainder are the result of alternating parasympathetic and sympathetic autonomic nervous system innervations to which the birthing fetus was subjected. [See, on this website, the article on panic attacks. (Panic or anxiety attacks, in reality, are disconnected symptoms of those early pre- and peri-natal traumas.)]
Thus, there is a clear relationship between fibromyalgia and many psychiatric conditions, particularly psychosomatic symptoms. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as depression, panic disorders, anxiety and depression,
headaches, hypertension and gastrointestinal conditions are all closely related to, and have their origins in the traumas of our intrauterine and birthing experiences.
Grof believes that the symptoms of neurasthenia are derived from birth traumas. They are closely related to traumatic neuroses such as post traumatic stress events, being in war situations, catastrophic natural disasters or other situations when loss of life and limb are possible and dying becomes a possibility.
Dreams of Violence and Fibromyalgia
"The common nightmare is about going along an underground passage which becomes so narrow that the dreamer feels unable to move and wakes up in a state of acute anxiety. These considerations shed a new light upon the phenomenon of the traumatic experience which is so commonly found to precipate a war neurosis. It can now to seen that such experiences not only function in the same manner as the birth trauma, but actually precipitate a revival of the birth trauma at the deep level at which it lies buried."
Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality,
Ronald D. Fairbairn, M.D., p. 276, 1994
If fibromyalgia and the chronic fatigue syndrome have their origins during our severely traumatic births, then they should reveal themselves in the symbolism of our dreams and especially our nightmares. In that case, violence leading to dying, should comprise a common theme in the nightmares of those who suffer from fibromyalgia.
Many of us came close to death during our births, and dream analysis should document that intimate contact with the physical forces of birthing which ended in injury. Psychohistorian Lloyd deMause in, The Psychology and Neurobiology of Violence, quotes Sylvia Anthony that "dreams are full of death symbolism." He also quotes Rush W. Dozier, Jr., who in Fear Itself writes: "From ages four to six, the fear of death and imaginary threats come to dominate the child's mind [including] fears of monsters, ghosts, murderers, tigers, lions, or other predatory animals." Undoubtedly, many of these threats and fears come from the blunted memory of violence suffered in one's birthing process. In time these overt fears begin to recede but never disappear.
The WWI soldiers' . . .'"experiences in the foxholes had dramatically increased their propensity to claustrophobia and nightmares involving suffocation. Fodor believed that 'they needed to understand that their real fear was furtively cloistered in their unconscious. The source of their fear dated from the time of birth. . . Nightmares were the soul's way of tapping into both primorial angst and birth trauma.'"
[Fear: A Cultural History by Joanna Bourke - 2006, p. 119.]
The war or battle nightmare in which one feels that he is being attacked or being killed is often used as a metaphor of the birth trauma. In Arthur Janov's, Imprints, The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience, p. 111, a patient describes a recurrent nightmare of being in a battle and fighting for his life. The drugs his mother was being given stopped his birth process. During his birth, he had felt he was dying and even wanted to die, but could not. In the dream "he is being pushed to fight against great odds. And in his birth, there were great odds preventing his escape."
Dr. Janov explains his futility of trying to explain away a nightmare to a patient who believed that someone was trying to kill him. Janov writes that the goal was impossible because ". . . his body and brain knew that death was around the corner." The Biology of Love, p. 77.
Such birth dreams are often persistent during childhood. As we grow older, it was mentioned, their severity and death themes usually fade away. However, when birth traumas were particularly severe, the feeling themes of one's dreams may repeat through life besides showing themselves in somatotype and emotional symptoms from which fibromyalgia victims suffer.
F. M. Farrar, in How I Began the Primal Process, wrote of his recurring nightmares:
"I was in a cave and was walking to the back of it. The cave narrowed as I walked into it so I got down on my hands and knees and began crawling. Soon there wasn't room to crawl so I got down on my belly and began to wriggle forwards. I didn't have any idea or understanding in the dream as to why I kept on going. But I did. At this point my body sensations became very familiar and I knew I had entered into my old dream sequence. I no longer was aware of being in a cave. I was simply experiencing physical sensations. I began to feel rhythmic squeezing of my body which grew more and more intense. My temples felt as though they were trapped in a vise, and in my mind's eye I could see the type of spiralling shapes and flower patterns you see when you press your eyeballs.
The pressure kept building up until I suddenly felt a wave of shock and panic descend upon me. But still the pressure kept building, though now less rhythmically. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore and the dream released me. Whenever I had this dream as a small child I would wake up screaming."
Elizabeth Noble in, Primal Connections, believes that dreams are recapitulations of the feelings of one's uterine life and tend to re-engage the birth traumas. She quotes Francis Mott, as believing that the dream evokes the "pattern of the feelings in the womb and their migration and transportation through the prenatal body." Even though the dreams are different, the feeling theme is continually repeated. For many, the feelings were of violence and death.
In her biographical book, Beyond All Reason, Morag Coate, recounts that as a child, a common dream she had was ". . . of crawling into a tunnel in the earth and of finding that I was stuck and could not get through." She speculates that this dream ". . . was a reactivation under stress of the infantile terrors of the birth experience."
A commonly symbolized representation of the oppressive nightmare of suffocation by chest pressure is typified by the night appearance of the Incubus or Old Hag syndrome, which is played out by sudden awakening from a nightmare.
Johann Heinrich Füssli , "The Nightmare" (1781)
One engages an oppressive dream of suffocation by chest pressure during when the dreamer is startled awake, breathless and terrified being unable to move as a result of a presence sitting on the subject's chest, interpreted by the dreamer as a demon or old hag. This paralytical visitor experience is, plausibly, a fragment of a birth nightmare of which a component originates from when the dreamer was stuck in the birth canal.
Some of my birth dreams which symbolized the feeling of compression and inability to control my movements included typical ones, such as: "I am driving, but am unable to stop because the car brakes won't work." "I am driving but suddenly find myself in the back seat, unable to guide the veering out-of-control car." "I am in a small room when the walls begin closing in." "I am walking in an office and suddenly desks appear which block my way."
In, Peri-natal Agonies, I wrote about a persistent nightmare, one which presented itself to me only when I had fever:
As a child, but much less often as an adult, a fever was an open-ended invitation to my brain to conjure up its awful "twisting sheet routine." The scenario would occasionally present itself when I was between being asleep and being awake. I assume that this was because a febrile illness lowers one's defenses, making repressed trauma easier to access.
At that time, I would have hallucinogenic movie episodes of a twisting sheet which would get tighter and tighter. It would continually replay in my mind like a 5 second looped length of video tape. Each "showing" would end with a complete unitive identification with what I was seeing - the symbolic reliving of maximal, almost unendurable, pressure and upper body twisting and turning.
In the external rotation of my birthing, I had endured feelings of nausea and dread. The fever-triggered torment was repeated until I could force myself out of my semi-conscious dream state. The sheet upon which my mother and I were fitfully resting, time and again would take on the aggressive qualities of my nightmare. The sheet was the first external object I had viewed and it became a symbol of my ordeal. As a fetus being born, I had viewed it as the source of the twisting, nausea and torture I was experiencing. I find a bed with rumpled sheets more inviting than one with fresh and taunt linens!
Drowning is a typical symbolic representation of birth and is often depicted in nightmares or in transpersonal therapies as being sucked into a whirlpool or being strangled by sea monsters. Those who were nearly choked to death at birth often have a fear of large bodies of water and have a phobic reaction to the thought of learning to swim.
In, The Feeling Child (1973), Dr. Janov writes: "An early pinched umbilical cord may result in nightmares of suffocation, while being clogged with birth fluid may give rise to nightmares of drowning." p. 172.
H. R. Giger, a Swiss painter who won an academy award for his artistic creation of the fearful creature in the movie, Alien, depicts, in his art work both stoic birthing mothers and fetuses enduring birth torment. Often they are both being tortured by elaborate machinery.
German psychiatrist, Ludwig Janus in, Echos From the Womb, writes of birth trauma: "This trauma leads to feelings of fear, panic, anger, despair, and shame, and feelings of total shock and annihilation, as if one were being torn apart." He believes that "coming into the world is regularly accompanied by a mixture of uncertainty, desperate aggression, and even fear of annihilation."
According to Dr. Stanislav Grof, clients in his holotropic breathwork form of psychotherapy can become completely identified with Christ's suffering during the crucifixion. Their regressions during therapy when they feel close to "dying in the birth canal" can become a powerful and unitive symbol that on occasion can even induce visual elements of the crucifixion [The Cosmic Game, p. 144].
Dr. Janov, in The Biology of Love, quotes a patient: "For most of us, delving deep into the dark pits of our earliest memories means reexperiencing the complete and total abject terror of death. And wouldn't you know it that's where the biggest payoff is."
Even before clients were consistently re-experiencing their birth traumas and the terrors of their deaths in regressive therapy, Nador Fodor, a Hungarian born psychoanalyst, had studied birth trauma from the perspective of dreams. In The Search for the Beloved (1949), subtitled, A Clinical Investigation of the Trauma of Birth and Pre-Natal Conditioning, Dr. Fodor felt that "(b)irth and death are interchangeable symbols for the unconscious mind" (p. 383), because, at birth, "the child goes through an agony only comparable to the slow torture of death" (p. 15). He believed that "(t)he record of these experiences is preserved in the unconscious and emerges in dreams."
Dr. Janov writes that some may not feel any aspects of their birth trauma before primal therapy, but may do so later, after they become less defended as a result of therapy." "Accessibility of the birth trauma" he writes, "depends on compounding. If the childhood was filled with traumas that taxed the whole defensive system, the child will be riddled with birth nightmares, and will always remain close to those sensations."
See Harry Bosma's 1997
Sleep and Dreaming Survey of patients with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (link to video presentation) , Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction, and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
|- Reports On Violence in Dreams - |
from Bosma's Dream Survey Participants
"...it seems that most of the time they are about loved ones getting hurt or killed.."
"...My daughter dreams about being killed or having to fight not to be killed. Both of us tend to wake up in a panic..."
"...If I were a writer, I could make Stephen King cry!.."
"...If you think about it all my dreams have a recurring theme of saving myself which involves a lot of aggression, running, violence, getting help, defending myself and overcoming obstacles..."
"...I often dream about people dying, and in my dreams everyone else is nonchalant about it, yet I am terribly upset and wake up this way..."
"...Some recurring for years e.g., man in black hunting me down no matter where we move, he finds me...I end up killing him before he can kill me..."
"...It happens every night, all night long except early morning, and has been going on for quite sometime. There are recurrent dream themes that include serious violent attacks against an image I can't quite make out..."
"...I have dreamed about being stabbed with a knife more than once..."
"...I dream that I am violent to others or myself..."
"...The nightmares have always been there too, its a certain entity, and we have always been at war, both phyically and psychologicly, and these I can never wake out of , (except for lately) when I want to..."
"...People I didn't know were getting killed and stabbed, etc...."
Bosma wrote about the survey results: "I . . . wondered if there would be other recurring themes than just the violence theme. But violence simply seems to be the most important theme."
He suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a closely allied condition to fibromyalgia. He wrote, "My dreams are greatly influenced by the disease. Surprising is the huge amount of violence. In the dreams to me I'm like I've always been. All the others in my dreams have gone berserk. They attack and fight not only me but usually each other." [His CFS Dreams - Also see his second listing.]
Even as a disconnected feeling, the truth will out. The violence of birth will reveal itself in many ways, of which dreams and nightmares are only the most well known. [See Virginia Tech Terror: The Terror of Birth & The Origins of Violence]
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