Trends and Influences: Part 1

Slide 1: Welcome to the Summary of Trends and Influences in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health. This presentation tells the story of our paradigm.

Slide 2: Let’s remember APPPAH’s story. Our organization was birthed 33 years ago, a brainstorm of 2 men who heard about each other because of their unique passion for baby consciousness: David Chamberlain and Thomas Verny. Their books and papers started our evidence based approach. There was not a lot of evidence back then. The APPPAH Journal became a beacon for those passionate about consciousness in babies, and peer review papers about our paradigm have been quarterly published every year. Still, it has taken years for our paradigm to be accepted by mainstream practice. The passion of Chamberlain and Verny ignited a small fire, and we have been nursing this fire for many years. 

The Prenatal and Perinatal Certificate Program for Educators was born in November 2013. This online program presented writings and lectures from experts in 11 different competencies that support our paradigm. APPPAH added a Somatics program as well, introducing professional educators to basic embodiment skills for effective presentations about baby consciousness.

Slide 3: What is prenatal and perinatal psychology? Pre and perinatal psychology and somatic health is the study of influences on the baby’s experience from preconception through the first year of life. This includes conception, prenatal experiences, birth, and attachment. Studies have shown that ancestral health, the womb environment, how we are born and attach with our caregivers all have biopsychosocial effects that can have lifelong implications.

Slide 4: We know through research that experiences in the generations before us can cross over into the present, and that adverse experiences in children aged zero to three may have lifelong effects that result in adult disease. The missing piece in the health puzzle is APPPAH’s mission, that the experiences of babies from preconception through the first year of life may also have lifelong implications. David Chamberlain, one of APPPAH’s co-founders, said “The womb is a classroom, and every child attends.”

Slide 5: We have documented five different trends that tell the story of our paradigm. Starting in 1924 with the publication of The Trauma of Birth by Otto Rank, these trends include psychoanalysis, historical threads of pioneers who explored consciousness and birth and how early memories are alive in our bodies, more formal channels like organizations and areas of research about babies and their experiences, sciences that grew to prove that experiences during the prenatal and perinatal time had effects throughout life, and finally a period of integration, where the earliest experiences we have in life became part of scientific programs and approaches for health and healing. This integration is continuing today. We are going to tell you stories from each of these eras to give a flavor of our paradigm, as each of these trends is still in operation today.

Slide 6: Our first trend and influence we call “Origins” and tells the story of how all this got started!

Slide 7: In 1924, Otto Rank published the Trauma of Birth where he introduced the prenatal period as a form of paradise, and our birth was a separation from that and we are constantly trying to regain or return to that feeling. He was part of the prestigious Vienna Psychoanalytic Society that was run by Sigmund Freud. Rank was a student of Freud and had a seat at the table as a young disciple. Many famous therapists were apart of the circle, as this was the height of early psychoanalysis dominated by Freud and his ideas. But the notion that birth was a trauma fell out of favor when Freud decided he didn’t approve of the theory, and Rank was excluded from the inner circle of the Society. You know that must have hurt!

Slide 8: Psychoanalysis continued to grow as a discipline, producing many great theories and practitioners, including Wilhelm Reich whose ideas about the body and its influence on the psyche were the early roots of body psychotherapy, and Donald Winnicott, whose perspectives on the mother baby dyad and the baby’s experience especially were the earliest beginnings of prenatal and perinatal psychology.

Slide 9: The 1950s and 60s saw the development of pioneers who took the ideas of birth trauma and the baby’s experience into a deeper experiential phase. These pioneers included practitioners who found ways to access early memories from the prenatal and perinatal period, mostly overwhelming birth patterns. These historical trends included Arthur Janov, Graham Farrant, Frank Lake and Stan Grof, all of whom supported ways to create regressive therapies where people could bring early memories up to integrate them into their psyche.

Slide 10: Primal Scream, or Primaling was one such trend. But there were others, like breathing techniques and experimentation with mind altering drugs like LSD. Under the influence of an altered state, our early pioneers experienced trauma from the prenatal and perinatal period and were able to categorize and recognize patterns. They found that the baby’s experience was different than the mother’s experience of birth. Their belief was that feeling these early overwhelming states would help integrate them, and would have a healing effect. This was true for some, and still remains as a therapy today. Important therapies emerged from this time, such as holotropic breathwork by Stan Grof, one of our pioneers who discovered how something experienced today could drop us into our early history, and early precursor to understanding implicit somatic memory. 

Slide 11: Gentler birth practices emerged. Our birthing practices were medicalized with interventions and hospital stays. Pioneers like Michel Odent, Frederick Leboyer, and Barbara Harper advocated for water births, and uninterrupted births, writing about and broadcasting messages about how women could naturally birth without interventions. Home births began to return to practice, and natural methods that support a more holistic approach.

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