THE EFFECTS OF EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCES IN THE PREGNANT WOMAN ON THE DEVELOPING FOETUS
[International Congress of Preventive Psychiatry, Athens 1979]
Sixteen cases manifesting neurotic and psychotic-like symptoms and phenomena underwent Autopsychognosia Sessions following administration of psychedelic drugs. These Sessions revealed that some of the sixteen cases had, during their foetal lives, been upset by various emotional disturbances experienced by their mothers. And what were these disturbances? Before this question is dealt with, another should be asked: "Were the foetuses in question conscious of their existence?" The answer to this is affirmative and was given in the following sense: each foetus felt that it constituted a separate entity, that it was enveloped by something huge and that this "something" threatened to obliterate it.
We return to the question of the emotional disturbances in the pregnant women which upset foetal existence.
The unwanted presence of the foetus in the pregnant woman's womb (the rejection of the foetus by the womb)
The unwanted sex of the foetus developing in the pregnant woman's womb (rejection of the foetus' sex by the womb)
Fear, anxiety or terror of the pregnant woman caused by various factors, e.g. sudden unpleasant news, distress, conflict with persons in her close surroundings, etc.
And now you will hear a taped excerpt from an Autopsychognosia Session during which a young woman relived the terror which accompanied the maternal rejection of her foetal presence in the womb. The patient was a twenty-six-year-old Englishwoman. At the beginning of the taped excerpt, her voice can be heard describing with moderate anxiety a terrible picture comprising sharp shark's teeth, a huge spiderweb and an enormous spider. The anxious voice gradually becomes more intense and is finally transformed into horrifying screams of indescribable anguish and terror at the moment she feels herself to be encircled by flames. (recording)
According to the patient's subjective interpretation, what you have just heard symbolizes her emotional reaction to reliving her rejection by her mother. Noteworthy is the realization that her daily life constitutes a nearly uninterrupted and sorrowful reliving of her intrauterine rejection. Many questions arise from the aforementioned. We shall endeavour to answer some of the them.
What is autopsychognosia? Autopsychognosia is the neuronic process leading to the emotional and intellectual realization of the content of the unconscious and of the motivations underlying behaviour. It cannot be too strongly stressed that the Autopsychognosia Session is a subjective experience the emotional pain of which cannot be perceived by anyone who has not personally experienced it.
What drugs are known as psychedelics? Those drugs which when administered can produce the externalization of the content of the unconscious. The basic pharmacodynamic property of psychedelics is their capacity to reactivate the neuron's "memory fibres".
This results, inter alia, in the extremely vivid re-living of past events synchronized physically and emotionally. The ability to observe one's inner world and to criticize oneself is likewise amazingly enhanced.
To the question, "What is the mechanism by which the pregnant woman's emotional disturbances are conveyed to the foetus?" we would reply with a purely theoretical view requiring neurophysiological experimental proof. We consider the cause of the emotional disturbances to be the production of specific biochemicophysical elements in the nervous system. The elements in question are absorbed by the pregnant woman's blood, enter the foetal circulation through the umbilical cord, reach the foetal nervous system and stimulate it, producing a feeling of terror in the foetus. We would recapitulate the subjective conclusions drawn from certain cases:
During their foetal life, their existence was shaken in a threatening way by the emotional disturbances of the pregnant woman in whose womb they were developing.
Terror accompanied the threat to their existence.
Intra-uterine experiences were the main causes of their mental disturbances.
And one more question: "Through what mechanism did the pregnant women's emotional disturbances cause mental disturbances in the persons who evolved from the foetuses that had developed in their wombs?"
We consider that when the biochemicophysical elements producing the emotional disturbances in the pregnant woman reach the foetal nervous system through the umbilical cord, they not only stimulate it but also leave "memory traces" on the neurons. These "memory traces" are preserved after birth and their reactivation at any age-in childhood, adolescence or adulthood-results in revival of the terrifying existential threat. The way in which the nervous system reacts to this threat to existence constitutes the clinical picture of the mental disturbances of our cases.
We stress, in closing, that we would not generalise the conclusions drawn from our few cases. If, however, other cases presenting mental disturbances lead to the same conclusions, this would suggest that even before pregnancy a woman should be informed with regard to the effects she will convey to the foetus, which could have devastating repercussions on it.
Men, and society as a whole, must learn that absolute, uninterrupted respect for the pregnant woman and the foetus developing in her womb is the most sacred obligation.