Interpreting the Dread of Being Aborted in Therapy
This paper will illustrate how the sequelae of prenatal trauma can be transferentially expressed in a variety of pathological symptoms in postnatal life. An in-depth examination, based on a receptive posture in the therapist, often reveals that the traumatized unborn in the patient has developed a congenital diathesis which has predisposed him to have repeated postnatal reenactments symbolic of the original pre-natal trauma. This diathesis cannot automatically be assumed to be an expression of genetic endowment. The ambient psychological family is an important determinant in both the causation of prenatal trauma, and its healing or reinforcement in postnatal life. The meaning of the messages communicated by the traumatized unborn are "known but unthought" by the patient until the associative links are interpreted in therapy. Such interpretations require the therapist to think in terms of prenatal mentation and communication, and to consider the dread of being aborted as a possible component in the transference, and also in common syndromes that have been traditionally viewed and interpreted as primarily having a postnatal origin. Failure to do this may result in an interminable or unsatisfactory therapy. Ten clinical case examples will be presented.
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Reprinted from: Int. J. Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine Vol. 8 (1996) No. 3, 317-339.
Paper presented May 12, 1995 at the XI International Conference of the International Society of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine, "A Time to be Born," Heidelberg, Germany, May 11-14, 1995.
Address correspondence to John C. Sonne, MJD., 443 Shady Lane, Moorestown, NJ 08057, USA.