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March, 1987
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In this paper the author reviews and extends his previous researches into the negative birth experience. He notes that the incidence of the negative birth experience is constant at about 30% even in asymptomatic individuals who on further enquiry admit to restrictive feelings which have effectively limited their access to a full potential. The prominence of the negative birth experience in the production of certain symptom complexes is detailed. The negative birth experience is therefore to be considered a potent inhibiting factor to be dealt with therapeutically wherever it is discovered. In a consecutive series of 260 patients 76 (29%) indicated that they had negative birth experiences. Of these 48 (63%) reported prenatal experiences responsible for their negative feelings at birth. Some of these experiences are described. An investigation into the 61 cases of depression (having a high negative birth experience incidence of about 40%) reveals a high incidence of prenatal trauma of 77% in the 26 with a negative birth experience. These figures suggest that almost 20% (probably nearer 30% for cases of depression) of all patients attending for psychotherapy suffer from symptoms due at least in part to prenatal trauma. It is further postulated that this 20% is likely to remain inaccessible to psychotherapeutic approaches that ignore the role of prenatal trauma.


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