chapter  3
EMBODIMENT BEFORE BIRTH Life in the womb
Pages 18

EMBODIMENT BEFORE BIRTH Life in the womb Because embryological insights are basic to my therapeutic approach, a clear understanding of the development in the womb and the transition to life outside it provides an essential background against which to comprehend not only neurotic conflicts, but also the earliest emotional history of the body and its organisational plan. Therefore, this chapter and the following one are devoted to a description of these earliest developmental processes.When a patient comes to a therapist for. help, he or she brings problems that have an emotional history. The symptoms that are presented can be seen as the tip of an iceberg. The part of the iceberg that is invisible to the patient is his or her own character-structure which generates the symptoms. Reich saw a person’s character-structure as their frozen history.Psychoanalysis took memories back to the beginning of language. Melanie Klein traced the origins of some neuroses more definitely to the first year of life. Otto Rank saw the trauma of birth as the central generator of emotional stress. Frank Lake and a whole school of pre-natal psychologists have gone back to the time in utero to study the roots of emotional problems. Thus, in presenting my understanding of the relationship between energy and character, I will now give an inside view of life in the womb.To form the body of a new person the germ cells which are

embedded in the tissues of the parents have first to be released and allowed to become free-floating. These are explosive and climactic events. Ovulation, filmed using fibre-optic tech­niques, is a spectacular and breath-taking process; the sight of the ripe follicle bursting to expel the future ovum brings gasps of amazement and awe from those who see it. The orgasm itself, during which the sperm are flung by the pulses of ejaculation many thousands of times their own length to begin their journey, is capable of spreading a shock wave of excitement through all the tissues of the body.The sperm and the ovum, microscopic specks of germ plasm with a prehistoric history, begin to move towards each other. The ovum floats down the canal of the oviduct and is carried along by peristaltic waves and the beating of the cilia lining the Fallopian tube. Four hundred million sperm swim against the current, like miniature salmon forcing their way upstream, running the gauntlet of the molecular patterns in the mucus, which are at maximum density during ovulation. Their crystalline patterns, under a microscope, look like fern leaves, coral branches or fragments of snow flakes. This is described beautifully by Lennard Nilsson in his book The Everyday Miracle.