The Core Curriculum: Four Interactive Forums

In the Beginning: Pre- and Perinatal Imprinting

Moderator Michael Trout, M.A., Champaign, IL

Invited Speakers: Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., Cell Biologist, researcher and lecturer on cellular consciousness and biological evolution; Marjorie Rand, Ph.D., Director of thirteen Integrative Body Psychotherapy Institutes and co-author, Body, Self and Soul: Sustaining Integration; and Alice Rose, Ph.D., Atlanta, Georgia, clinical psychologist with twenty-three years of experience in primal psychotherapy. NOTE: All presentations at this congress are fully indexed, searchable, and available from Gold Key Recordings at (713) 623-1974) or via email to vicky@goldkeyendeavours.com

Nature, Nurture, and the Power of Love

Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.

Leading edge research in cell biology reveals that "environmental signals" are primarily responsible for selecting the genes expressed by an organism. This new perspective is in direct contrast with the established view that our fate is controlled by our genes. The new emphasis on NURTURE (environment) controlling NATURE (genes) focuses special attention upon the importance of the maternal environment in fetal development. In addition to the established role of maternal physiology, it is now recognized maternal behaviors and emotions profoundly impact the child's physical development, behavioral characteristics and even its level of intelligence.

Working on Early Imprints in Integrative Body Therapy

Marjorie Rand, Ph.D.

Extensive clinical experience with body-centered psychotherapy reveals how the earliest experiences create a holographic imprint affecting later physical and psychological development. A fetus or newborn will understand its parents attitudes, moods, desires and needs, not through words but through presence, emotions, and sensory experience. These impressions become confused with the child's own unique essence of self and give rise to defensive strategies which may be mistaken for the true self and distort relationships. Birth traumas such as artificially delayed birth, or birth rushed by induction or cesarean surgery may create anxieties about starting things, ending things, or dealing with change.

Prenatal Keys to Love Problems

Alice Rose, Ph.D.

Falling in and out of love in marriage is a malady which can lead to aloofness and frigidity where a deep, even spiritual bond, once existed. Many babies are conceived in such an atmosphere making their prenatal journey a battle for survival. Key prenatal contact points have turned out to be critical in understanding the loss of love and the restoration of the love bond: contact of sperm and egg, implantation in the mother's uterine lining, twin contact, contact with the walls of the uterus during growth, and the sometimes excruciating contact at birth. Dr. Rose presented several case histories to illustrate how couples have rekindled their love for each other, and even reclaimed sexual rapture through reliving prenatal events where contact was an issue.

Forum II: With Others:The Power of Caregivers

Moderator: Michael Mendizza, Touch the Future, Long Beach, CA Invited Speakers: Raymond Castellino, D.C., R.P.P., Santa Barbara, CA, Phyllis Klaus, M.F.C.C., C.S.W., Berkeley, CA, Robert Oliver, Obstetrician, Sylva, NC., and Maureen Wolfe, CNM, Geyserville, CA., Raymond Castellino, D.C., "The Power of Caregivers"

Dr. Castellino shared preliminary findings from work at the non-profit research clinic BEBA (Birthing Evolution - Birthing Awareness) on newborn nursing self attachment and the establishment of healthy nursing habits between mother and baby. Video segments from a baby's birth and first nursing attempt reveal how adverse imprinting from birth interrupted the baby's and mother's ability to nurse. Video segments of follow-up therapy in the BEBA Clinic showed how this baby and mother were supported to successfully nurse. Noted were the influences of three levels of caregivers: the obstetric and pediatric team, the parents, and the prenatal and birth therapists. These findings support the "Delivery Self Attachment" observational research of Dr. Lennart Righard from Sweden.

Cross-Cultural Observations of Women in Childbirth

Robert Oliver, M.D.

Dr. Oliver described his experiences with mothers in different cultural settings around the world. When mothers are reluctant and remote from their babies he works hard to "hook" them with what they can contribute to the child. He and his staff work to connect mothers to their babies in utero by a lot of touching through the belly, talking directly to it, and listening for the baby's response. Mothers who do not connect with their babies typically have more complications in pregnancy, premature labor, more emergency room visits, and false labor. Fear is especially potent in destabilizing normal birth. Dr. Oliver avoids technical interventions, epidurals and episiotomies, and has been offering waterbirths for two years.

The Role of the Midwife

Maureen Wolfe, C.N.M.

Maureen reported on the findings of an international task force called together by the World Health Organization to define "physiological birth." Discussion texts were prepared by a Dutch midwife and gynecologist. Six midwives from Gambia, Tanzania, Australia, Sweden, Malaysia and Chile met with six gynecologists from Zambia, India, the Philippines, Lesotho, Egypt, and Uruguay. Four categories were used to catalog the many methods and customs used in obstetrics: methods clearly effective and needing greater use, methods clearly dangerous or ineffective and should be abolished, methods without evidence to recommend them which should be used with caution, and methods and customs often improperly used. Because in many countries no distinction is made between 'high risk' and 'low risk' births nearly all births happen in hospitals, with abuse of technology, unnecessary interventions, and the freedom of women in labor is sacrificed to the process of speeding up, monitoring and drugging to facilitate delivery. In extreme contrast to this is the situation in many third world countries where less than 20% of the women have access to hospital care and birth happens at home without any assistance, and no option available to transfer to hospital when necessary. The WHO report finds midwives the best placed caregivers to conduct a normal pregnancy and states that midwives must be able to make decisions autonomously. The use of epidural analgesia during normal births is seen as one of the most controversial interventions. The partogram was preferred to electronic monitoring for its superior results and lack of complications. A maximum rate of 10% of episiotomies was set as a goal for practice. Only a few conditions were indicated for legitimate use of oxytocin in labor.

The Power of the Doula

Phyllis Klaus, M.F.C.C.

Eleven randomized control trials examined whether additional support by a trained lay person (a doula), a student midwife or midwife who provides continuous support consisting of praise, encouragement, reassurance, comfort measures, physical contact and explanations about progress during labor, will effect obstetrical and neonatal outcomes. The women were healthy first time mothers at term. Meta-analysis of these studies showed a reduction in the duration of labor, the use of medications for pain relief, operative delivery, and in many studies a reduction of cesarean deliveries. At six weeks after delivery in one study a greater proportion of doula-supported women were breastfeeding, reported greater self-esteem, less depression, a higher regard for their babies and their ability to care for them compared to the control mothers. Observations during labor showed that fathers remained farther away from mothers than doulas, and talked and touched less. When a doula was present with the couple during labor, the father offered more personal support. The father-to-be's presence during labor and delivery is important to the mother and father, but it is the presence of the doula that results in significant benefits in outcome.

In the Family: Lessons of the 4th Trimester

Moderator: Wendy McCord, Ph.D., M.F.C.C., Gilbert, Arizona Invited speakers: Thomas Portney, M.A., L.I.S.W., Douglas Gosney, M.F.C.C., Marti Glenn, Ph.D.

The Empty Well

Wendy McCord, Ph.D.

Dr. McCord presented the theory and visual diagrams of "The Empty Well." She offered this as a convenient way to communicate to the public regarding the psychological importance and impact of the period from conception through the first year of life.

The Roots of Love and Violence

Thomas Portney, L.I.S.W.

Researchers such as Bruce Lipton and Candace Pert are now proving in the laboratory what practice has shown for years. Domestic violence and sexual abuse are coded in a template form during conception and gestation. This coding at the cellular and molecular level takes the form of a positive charge, (growth, love) or negative charge (protection, fear). This imprint is then awakened by recapitulative experiences and emerges fully in the perpetrator and victim during such ceremonies as dating, marriage and childbirth. The failure rate of traditional treatment programs for physical or sexual violence is due to the misconception that therapists can "educate" 0or "train" someone to call forth a loving response from a cellular program of fear and protection. How can anyone be empathic if there is not first an empathy for self and the right to thrive. The implication of these findings is that systems such as day cares, schools, prisons and hospitals tend to have a tiered hierarchy utilizing unattached and unbonded caregivers to provide safety, protection or care for unbonded and unattached recipients (babies, children, inmates). Only when the original charge is safely discharged and modulated is there room to build a new charge of growth and love for self and others. Thomas spoke from clinical experiences illustrating the prenatal and perinatal roots of violence and the need to remove those roots of violence so that relationships have a chance to grow in love. It's pretty hard to be "in love" when you are already "in anger". The nature of the human spirit is love, so when you remove any unconscious motivation to be angry, you allow the person's love to emerge into their personality, character, and relationships.

The Importance of Presence, Deep Seeing, and Deep Listening

Marti Glenn, Ph.D.

As professionals in the field of pre- and perinatal psychology and health we are pioneers in the advocacy of the unborn child. We are in a unique position to know and understand that the prenate is a conscious, aware and feeling individual and that every experience of the family, and especially the mother, from pre-conception onward, affects this developing being. Whether we work with birthing families, children or adults, there are several principles that can make our work more effective. These principles" presence, deep seeing, and deep listening"are both ancient and simple, which may partly account for the fact that they are often overlooked in our fast paced, fix-it society. Being fully present, slowing our pace, so that real contact can happen, is primary. Within this quality of being present is truly seeing the other. Many spiritual traditions speak of embodying Christ Consciousness, Buddha Nature or simply the divinity within. When we recognize that we, and everyone with whom we interact, are in fact, a spark of divine goodness, we can meet Essence to Essence. We can see others as they truly are, which is a healing act in itself. A natural component of presence and deep seeing is deep listening. This does not include teaching, persuading or making our point. It is simply hearing what is being said, both verbally and nonverbally, and honoring it by mirroring that reality back. Being fully present, deeply seeing and hearing the other are the corner stones of healing and health.

The Fourth Trimester and Relationship Imprints

Douglas Gosney, M.A., M.F.C.C.

Mr. Gosney spoke about working through his own birth trauma and how it impacted his relationship with his world. After a birth involving not being wanted, a long labor, drugs, forceps and being left by himself in the hospital nursery he disconnected from life and people in substantial ways. He wasn't able to reconnect until these birth trauma memories were resolved as an adult. Additionally, he spoke about what children and infants have taught him about the long term effects of birth trauma and how it impacts relationships with the mother, other people, the world, and life in general. Doug related the story of how the birth trauma of a teenage girl was acted out toward her parents with a lot of rage. Therapy uncovered that beneath the rage was terror and grief about a C-section she had. Her parents were oblivious to her pain about this throughout her life, which left her in almost constant anger. She acted this out by cutting herself, or on her parents by raging at them and being oppositional. Therapy supported the parents to start acknowledging their daughter's pain with empathy. This made it safe for the daughter to experience her deep sense of grief and vulnerability. She calmed down considerably at this point, stopped cutting on herself and began having a much calmer relationship with her parents. The Mother, no longer having to be in such a dramatic struggle with her daughter, started getting in touch with her own birth traumas that were constantly being restimulated by her relationship with her daughter. As she worked through her own birth issues, her life and that of her family relaxed considerably. Douglas also reported on a two-year-old infant that had been diagnosed as autistic. She had been abandoned at her birth by her birth mother. The little girl would barely relate to people, apparently feeling more comfortable relating to inanimate objects. Her adopted parents brought her into therapy where the little girl was supported for having feelings about her abandonment: rage, grief, fear and deep, deep despair. As she worked through these feelings and had them mirrored with empathy in present time, she was able to start relating to her world and people in a warm, human way. In a final case, Douglas described treatment of an eight-year-old who would tantrum regularly. Her birth was full of life and death imprints and lots of medical interventions. As the child was supported for expressing her full range of feelings regarding these events, and as the parents were taught how to encourage their child's emotional expression in safe ways and in safe places, the child's tantrums became a rare occurrence.

In the World: Community, Society, and Culture

Moderator: Ruth J. Carter, Ph.D., Georgia College and State University

Invited speakers: Anne Hubbell Maiden, Ph.D., San Francisco, Robbie Davis-Floyd, Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin, Annica Kempe, Sweden and Yemen, and Adrian Raine, D.Phil, research psychologist, University of Southern California

Tibetan Birth Relationships and Rituals: How They Sustain Cultural Values

Anne Maiden, Ph.D.

A Tibetan birth is a celebration of family connections and life teachings. This is a tradition where birth is viewed as part of a continuum within each individual life and its full cycle of integration of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual development, of growth through relationship, and of connection with the environment. Tibetans believe that the quality of each life affects all future life. Birth marks a new start, linked to all the lives and relationships that went before it. Fundamental values in a Tibetan heritage are transmitted in ritual and practices through seven stages of birthcare, from before conception through conception, gestation, birthing, bonding, infancy and early childhood, intended to prepare consciousness for later spiritual initiation, community action, and the ongoing cycle of parenting. Tibetan birth ways emphasize the strength and dignity of women and the participation of the father and other family and community members. Primary value is accorded to inner experience, innate wisdom and the immediacy of the sacred. Vivid illustrations abound.

Birth Complications Combined with Early Maternal Rejection at Age One Predispose to Violent Crime at Age 18

Adrian Raine, D.Phil.

This study tested the biosocial interaction hypothesis that birth complications when combined with early maternal rejection of the infant predispose to adult violent crime. The hypothesis was tested using a cohort of 4269 consecutive live male births on whom measures of birth complications (age 0), early maternal rejection (age 1), and violent crime (age 18) were collected. A significant interaction between birth complications and early maternal rejection indicated that those who suffered both birth complications and early child rejection were most likely to become violent offenders in adulthood. While only 4.4% of the subjects had both risk factors, this small group accounted for 18% of all violent crimes. The effect was specific to violence and was not observed for nonviolent criminal offending. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that birth complications in combination with early child rejection predispose to violent crime. Findings illustrate the critical importance of integrating biological and social measures to fully understand how violence develops and also suggest that prenatal, perinatal, and early postnatal health care interventions could significantly reduce violence.

Birth and Relationships - The Global Dimensions

Annica Kempe, M.P.H., Stockholm, Sweden

From her position as Director of "Children of a Better Time" Annica is involved in research exploring the cultural dimension of pre- and perinatal psychology in relation to public health problems affecting mothers and children in developing countries. Her recent research has been in Yemen, evaluating the point of view of women there as they react to the modern maternal and child health care system in Yemen. She addresses the urgency of collaboration, cross-cultural dialog, and global strategies in the field of prenatal and perinatal care. Yemen has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.