The Origin of Anxiety: A Synopsis
Publication Date:December 2002
For thousands of years, in all developed societies throughout the world, mothers have been separated from their babies-as an emotional adaptation to a life of alienation. The first advanced civilizations which can relate this to us are the Sumerians-and their successors the Babylonians. Five thousand years ago they developed the cuneiform writing system and then recorded the oldest stories in the world. I understand their mythology as the 'great dreams' of these peoples.
In the stories that tell of the great goddess Inanna and her Taaby" Dumuzi, these early separation dramas are described with impressive imagery. At a deeper level, the heroic battles are interpreted as a symbolic representation of birth: at the end of a struggle beyond the limits of human imagination, the dragon or monster is beheaded: the umbilical cord is severed, the baby is born. But this enormous battle is not the end of the myth. There are also tales of the gods that actually tell what a baby experiences in its mother's womb. The Sumerians are the first culture to write of these dramatic events. Based on these wounds from pregnancy, birth and infancy, they invented more and more new pictures and stories, to make these early traumatic experiences understandable. As I believe, to calm the people of that tune. These interpretations are the key to understanding the mythology of other cultures, but also to understanding the hidden pre- and perinatal aspects of our own dreams.
Renggli, Franz 1974: Angst und Geborgenheit. Soziokulturelle Folgen der Mutter-Kind Beziehung im ersten Lebensjahr. Ergebnisse aus Verhaltensforschung, Psychoanalyse und Ethnologie. Hamburg. (*Anxiety and security. Socio-cultural consequences of the mother-child relationship in the first year. Findings from behavioral research, psychoanalysis and ethnology.)
Renggli, Franz 1992: Selbstzerstorung aus Verlassenheit. Die Pest als Ausbruch einer Massenpsychose im Mittelalter. Zur Geschichte der friihen Mutter-Kind Beziehung. Hamburg. (*Self-destruction due to Abandonment. The Plague as an eruption of a mass psychosis in the Middle Ages. On the history of the early mother-child relationship).
Renggli, Franz 2000: Der Sonnenaufgang als Geburt eines Babys. Der pranatale Schlussel zur agyptischen Mythologie. Eine Hommage an den hollandischen Religionshistoriker Bruno Hugo Stricker. (**The sunrise as the birth of a baby. The prenatal key to Egyptian mythology. Homage to the Dutch historian of religion Bruno Hugo Stricker.) In: The International Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine, Band 12:365-82.
Renggli, Franz 2001: Der Ursprung der Angst, antike Mythen und das Trauma der Geburt. Dusseldorf. (*The origin of anxiety, ancient myths and the trauma of birth.)
Renggli, Franz 2002: Tracing the Roots of Panic to Prenatal Trauma. In Brooke Warner (Editor): Panic: Origins, Insight and Treatment. Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books.
Franz Renggli, Ph.D.
This paper is the first synopsis in English in which the author, Franz Renglli, introduces the major themes of his scholarly work published in German in 2001: Der Ursprung der Angst, antike Mythen und das Trauma der Geburt (The Origin of Anxiety, Ancient Myths and the Trauma of Birth). The German edition was published in Dusseldorf. Correspondence to: Dr. Franz Renggli, psychoanalyst and body psychotherapist, Nonnenweg 11, 4055 Basel, Switzerland. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.