From animal behavior it is well known that the first emotional learning after hatching or birth, imprinting, is the most fundamental learning of the whole life, for animal as well as for human children. Imprinting is irreversible.
Primates have a special mother-child-relationship: the little baby clings in the fur of the mother: she is the “nest” for the baby. If it loses its grip with its hand or foot, the baby’s life is threatened because apes live in trees. The mother always reacts immediately when her baby begins to cry.
This archaic knowledge is displayed in all traditional societies: the baby is in constant body contact with its mother or with another caretaker (mostly a lot of them) – day and night. In traditional societies one rarely ever hears a baby cry – this is a fact mentioned through out ethnological literature.
All high cultures on the other hand, separate mother and baby after birth: the higher a culture, the earlier this separation or the more radically mother and baby is separated. This process has been going on for thousands of years, since the beginning of high cultures: the Sumerians in the Near East first gave evidence of this separation, 5,000-
6,000 years ago. This separation is an emotional adoption to the alienated way of life in the towns.
In our own culture this separation was exacerbated in the 13. -th /14. -th century: the baby was no longer allowed to sleep at night near the body of its mother. The baby lost its last bodily contact with her. Next step: the own room for a baby was “invented”. And finally the mother was no longer allowed to feed the baby more frequently than every 3 to 4 hours: the baby was trained to cry. In the birth arrangement of clinics in the 20th century mother and baby had to lie separately for the first 6 days after birth.
For about 30-40 years there has been a reversal to this trend. In a non-conformist part of the population the mother has begun to give the baby the breast again, it is cared for a great deal of the time on the body and in progressive families the baby is even allowed to sleep in the bed of the parents at night. These parents and babies begin to heal from their old separation trauma. This tendency has even begun to change our birthing practice in clinics.
From the point of view of prenatal psychology and psychotherapy we know that emotional life already begins during pregnancy: the baby is a fully conscious human being from the moment of conception. Barbara Findeisen uses the picture of a tree to emphasize the importance of prenatal development: if we see a tree growing out of the earth, the trunk and its leaves, this is like seeing the emotional development of a baby only after birth. Important for the essence of a tree are its roots: comparable to the prenatal dimension of a human being. And maybe the consciousness of a baby is even higher at his early time, as it is still close to its divine origin. David Chamberlain says: to understand a baby we have to consider all the scientific research on its development in the womb on one hand and on the other hand to consider the spiritual dimensions of the soul of the baby as well. This view of prenatal psychology and psychotherapy is the origin of a completely new understanding of us as human beings.
The fact its: worldwide, 45-million babies are aborted every year – the estimated number of unknown cases is much higher. The significance of this fact is like the suicide rate in a population – the peak of an iceberg, it indicates how depressive a population is. That means: the high number of abortions shows the strong ambivalence most parents feel in the moment they realize they are pregnant (discovery). William Emerson speaks of the most fundamental trauma of our society – that most babies feel unwanted. Or put in another way: when parents discover they are pregnant, this fact awakens their own, deeply hurt feelings, their “inner hurt child”. And since we live in a deeply traumatized society, such parents cannot emotionally bond in a good way with their baby. Already in pregnancy the isolation, pain, despair, sadness and rage begin to overshadow the child’s emotional development.
From the neurobiological research of Allan Schore we know that during pregnancy and in the first two years of life (babyhood) the right hemisphere of the brain is dominant: here all bodily sensations, feelings and all bonding experiences are imprinted: during the pre-verbal period of our life. In the third year and thereafter the left hemisphere slowly begins to dominate and this lasts for the rest of our lives. In the left hemisphere lie the logical strategies and the speech center and from this age on, conscious memory begins.
In conclusion we can say that all imprinting, all fundamental learning occurs in our pre-verbal period, which we cannot remember consciously. The memory of this early time is in our body and/or our cells. And these imprinting and bonding patterns determine our whole life: we re-enact these old imprinted patterns constantly with the goal of healing our old hurt feelings, healing our inner hurt child. And all our old bonding patterns also re-appear in our partnerships. That means: the partner triggers our strong feelings and conflicts – but the origin is always hidden in our pre-verbal past. That is why we react so strongly (see the article form Carmen Ehinger and myself on my website: Die pränatalen Wurzeln von Konflikten in der Partnerschaft – which will soon be translated into English). All this signifies that accompanying people in a crisis only by talking is never enough. It is necessary to have the possibility of reaching them at a physical bodily level.
All the people I take in my courses: physicians, psychotherapists, midwives, cranio- or shiatsu-therapists, nurses, child or baby advisers etc. – I instruct to become aware and have a feeling for these early traumatisations in the pre-verbal period, so that they can work on a bodily level with their clients and patients. Only at the bodily level can a door to a healing process open.
Further Information on Level 1
Further Information on Level 2
Further Information on Level 3
Further Information on Level 4
My training will be supplemented in time. Each level comprises 5 days of seven hours (35 hours a “week”), most probably in future; I will do it in 6 days.
The training is held every second year in my practice in Basel – every other year it is held in the Kientalerhof in the Berner Oberland. It is not necessary to join the whole training course; it is possible to just learn from level one, as an introduction to prenatal psychology and psychotherapy. It is also possible, under certain conditions, to begin with the second level.
As my baby work is inseparable from my work with adult patients in birth workshops and on the other hand my demonstrations with babies in my training courses are limited, I give special baby workshops on three days a year: working with 5 babies and their families to deepen the knowledge and skills for my work with babies and little children.
Every year I give several birthworkshops: three days; open to 7 patients – to deepen self-experience.
Together with Carmen, I offer couple groups and couple workshops (3 to 8 days) so that couples can learn to help each other against the background of this early experience.
All my training and workshops are held in German. If specifically requested it would be possible to give them in English.
Franz Renggli, Nonnenweg 11, 4055 Basel, Tel. (0041) 061 271 62 32