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Publication Date: 
December, 1991
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The relationship between birth trauma and suicide is discussed. A critique of psychoanalytic theory is presented. A number of studies linking suicide to birth trauma are surveyed. A synthetic theory of this relationship is described and the positive role of therapy in resolving birth trauma-related conflict is explored.


1. National Task Force on Suicide in Canada (1987) Suicide in Canada: Report of the National Task Force on Suicide in Canada. Ottawa: Ministry of National Health and Welfare.

2. ibid., p. 25.

3. ibid.

4. ibid.

5. ibid.

6. ibid.

7. ibid.

8. Durkheim, E. Suicide: A Study in Sociology. (1951) New York: Free Press.

9. National Task Force on Suicide in Canada, p..25.

10. Salk, L., Lipsitt, L.P., Struner, W.Q., Reilly, B., Levat, R.H. (1985) "Relationship of maternal and perinatal conditions to eventual adolescent suicide," The Lancet, 1:624-627.

Jacobsen, B. (1988) "Perinatal origin of eventual self-destructive behavior," Pre- and Peri-Natal Psychology Journal, 2:227-241.

11. Salk, et al., 1:624-627.

12. ibid.

13. Jacobsen, 2:227-241.

14. Dublin, Louis, I., Bunzel, Bessie. (1933) To Be Or Not To Be: A Study of Suicide. New York: Quinn & Boden.

15. ibid.

16. ibid., p. 70.

17. ibid., p. 71.

18. Irving, Michael, C. (1989) "Natalism as Pre and Perinatal Metaphor," Pre and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 4(2): 83-110.

19. Brown, Norman, O. (1971) Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan Press, p. 114.

20. Lake, Frank. (1982) Tight Corners In Pastoral Counselling. London: Darton, Longman and Todd. p. 18-19.

21. Fodor, Nandor. (1949) The Search for the Beloved-A Clinical Investigation of the Trauma of Birth and Pre-Natal Conditioning. New Hyde Park, NJ: University Books, p. 4.

22. Feher, Leslie. (1985) The Psychology of Birth. New York: The Association for Birth Psychology, p. 195.

23. Brown, p. 114.

24. Freud, Sigmund. (1959) (James Strachey ed.) Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety. New York: W.W. Norton, p.10.

25. ibid., p. 8.

26. Grof, Stanislav. (1985) Beyond The Brain. New York: Dell. p. 245.

27. Freud, Sigmund. (1936) The Problem of Anxiety. New York: W.W. Norton, p. 93.

28. Rank, Otto. (1973) The Trauma of Birth. New York: Harper & Row. (originally v published, 1929).

29. May, Rollo. (1986) The Discovery of Being: Writings in Existential Psychology. New York: W.W. Norton, p. 33

30. Ring, Kenneth. (1982) Life At Death: A Scientific Investigation of the Near-Death Experience. New York: Quill.

31. Moody, Raymond. (1976) Life After Life. New York: Bantam.

32. Sagan, Carl. (1980) Broca's Brain-Reflections on the Romance of Science. New York: Ballintine Books, p. 358-359.

33. in Ring, p. 54.

34. Grof, Beyond The Brain.

35. Ring, Chapter Three.

36. ibid., p. 36.

37. Freud, Sigmund. (1958) The Interpretation of Dreams, Vol. V. Standard Edn. London: Hogarth Press. P. 402.

38. Ring, p. 20-21.

39. Sagan, p. 355.

40. Moody.

41. ibid., p. 21.

42. Fodor, p. 4.

43. Sagan, p. 356-357.

44. Rank, The Trauma of Birth.

45. ibid., p. 199.

46. ibid.

47. ibid.

48. Savage, Mary. (1979) Addicted to Suicide: A Woman Struggling to Live. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Schenkman.

49. ibid., p. 58.

50. Brown, p.98.

51. Grof, Stanislav and Joan Halifax. (1977) The Human Encounter With Death. New York: E.P. Dutton.

52. ibid., p. 187.

53. Brown, p. 107.

54. Fodor, p. 3.

55. National Task Force on Suicide, p. 25.

56. Savage, p.62.

57. Fodor, p. 9.

58. Janov, Arthur. (1974) "On Suicide," The Journal of Primal Therapy, 1:198.

59. Grof, Beyond The Brain.

60. ibid., p. 245.

61. Savage, p. 5.

62. Janov, Arthur. Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience. New York: Coward-McCann.

63. ibid., p. 229.

64. Savage, p. 100.

65. Feher, p. 195.

66. Janov, Imprints, p. 216.

67. ibid., p. 217.

68. Savage, p. 78.

69. Janov, Imprints.

70. ibid., p. 219.

71. Belkin, Gary, S. (1984) Introduction to Counselling. Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown.

72. ibid., p. 434.

73. Holden, Michael, E. (1981) "Prototypic Trauma: Patterns of Response and the Course of Therapy-Part II: The Struggle-and-Fail Sympath," The Primal Institute Newsletter, 3:1-4.

74. ibid.

75. ibid.

76. ibid.

77. ibid.

78. ibid.

79. Janov, Arthur. (1974) "Further Implications of "Levels of Consciousness': On Morality. On Suicide." Journal of Primal Therapy, 1(3):200.

80. Janov, Imprints, p. 159.

81. Lowen, Alexander. (1983) Bioenergetics: The Revolutionary Therapy That Uses the Language of the Body to Heal the Problems of the Mind. New York: Penguin.

82. Hall, Calvin, S. (1979) A Primer of Freudian Psychology. New York: Mentor.

83. ibid., p. 104.

84. Anand, K.J.S., Hickey, P.R. (1988/Winter) Pain and Its Effects in the Human Neonate and Fetus. Pre and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 3(2):111.

85. Greenacre, Phyllis. (1980) Trauma, Growth, and Personality. New York: International Universities Press.

86. ibid., p. 34.

87. Holden, in Janov, Imprints, p. 163.

88. Grof, Beyond The Brain, p. 266.

89. Savage, p.24.

90. ibid., p. 36.

91. ibid., Prologue.

92. Grof, Stanislav. (1975) Realms of the Human Unconscious. New York: Viking Press. P.71.

93. Grof et al., Human Encounter With Death, p. 68.

94. Savage, p.12.

95. ibid., p. 54.

96. ibid.

97. ibid., p. 115.

98. ibid., p. 116.

99. Grof, Beyond The Brain. p. 266.

100. Grof et al., Human Encounter With Death, p. 213.

Jude Roedding, B.I.S.

Jude Roedding is currently with the Canadian Mental Health Association, Guelph, Ontario and hopes to open a private practice in the near future, specializing in birth regression work and the treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder. She completed her undergraduate degree in the Independent Studies Program at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, in 1990. This article is one chapter taken from her final thesis. The personal impetus for this study grew out of resolving her own suicidal feelings through intensive birth work with psychotherapist Michael Irving, Toronto, Ontario. Much gratitude extends to Michael for his patience and expertise in the area of pre- and perinatal psychology. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Ms. Jude Roedding, 46-D Meadowview Ave., Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1H 5S8.