Our relationships can be clear and complete only when we dissolve our resistance to having that ideal condition. Unconscious birth memories bar the way as a closed portal on the path back to bliss.
-Fredric Lehrman (p.ix)
Thus begins this exploration into how pre- and peri-natal memories and our adult relationships are intertwined. Written both for a general audience and \rebirthers" in an anecdotal, personal style with an almost evangelical flavor, Sondra Ray and Bob Mandel delve headfirst into this most complex topic. Their information, gathered from rebirthing sessions and surveys among clients, is perhaps more subjective than many researchers would care for but the authors let it be known they would welcome professional and scientific research of their work.
Their material is divided into three major parts-pre-natal, birth, and peri-natal influences-with a couple of other general issues addressed separately. The first area-the pre-natal-is dealt with very poorly. Rather than a true discussion of the ramifications of trauma from the prenatal time period, most of the writing merely proposes elaborate theories of spiritual conception. Their suggestion of an "obstetrician syndrome," (included with the "pre-natal influences,") however, is quite interesting. Many relationships, they say, act out the obstetrician/baby or rescuer/rescuee scenario. Such relationships are doomed to failure-once the repairs are complete, the repairer leaves unless more damaged goods can be created. The relationship will only continue as long as one person is constantly in need of help and the other comes to the rescue.
Their discussions of birth traumas, the most developed section of this book, is by far the most important. Cesareans, late and premature births, drug induced, and even so-called normal births, to name a few, are examined. It is then shown how the traumas suffered in all these birth types have been prototypic of lifelong problems, particularly in relationships.
Those who have had cesarean births, for instance, will tend to be involved in relationships that include "conflicts of will, changes of heart and mind, constant disruptions." (p.83) They are in a double bind with unresolved feelings of "I want to do it my way" and "I'd better get help or I'll never get out of this." (p.84)
Clients who were drug-induced often "go unconscious" during the rebirthing process and report having spent their whole life "in a fog." They sometimes remember the smell of the anaesthesia and, in one case, the therapists could also "smell the drugs as they were breathed out." (p.93) These people often tend to go deadjn their relationships as well-a direct co-relation to the experience at birth.
It is the summaries of the characteristics of birth types at the end of each chapter that make this book valuable for anyone interested in or working with the pre- and peri-natal area whether with infants or adults. To my knowledge, this is the first time since Arthur Janov's Imprints that an attempt has been made to isolate a variety of adult characteristics that are direct outcomes of the person's birth experience. Imprints is more of an overall perspective of the implications of the birth trauma. Birth and Relationships is different from Janov's book in that Ray and Mandel are specifically exploring and trying to note common characteristics for a variety of birth types.
Lists of "affirmations," also at the end of each chapter, and used specifically in rebirthing sessions, perhaps have more limited reference value, depending on the context in which they would be used.
While this book varies widely from concrete, integrated thought to loose theory, it deserves notice for the suggested connections between the neuroses that affect relationships and the original pre- and perinatal traumas that caused the neuroses.