Cellular Consciousness and Conception
An Interview with Dr. Graham Farrant
Thanks to Steven Raymond,
first published in Pre-& Perinatal Psychology News, vol 2,
issue 2 (Summer), 1988
Graham Farrant is an Australian psychiatrist whose
work was launched into greater international prominence with his
presentation at the 2nd International Congress on Pre and Perinatal
Psychology in San Diego 1985. He is currently the Director of the
Primal Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and in the past has established
birthing centres in hospitals and was the founder of the Australian
Birth Foundation, an educational, research and fund raising arm
of the Childbirth Education association. Graham is currently the
PPPANA Regional Chairman in Australia.
The interview was conducted in Los Angeles, Graham's
first stop on a round-the-world tour, conducting weekend experiential
workshops in many cities in The US and Europe.
S: Graham, why don't we begin by having you give
us a bit of personal background information, leading into how you
became involved with Primal Therapy?
G: Well, I grew up in Melbourne, Australia, in an
upper middle class family and attended wealthy prep schools there,
later going to Melbourne University where I received my medical training
and an MD. Then, I attended McGill University in Montreal and received
a Diploma in Psychological Medicine, after which I received a Fellowship
in Child Psychiatry from Harvard, and another Fellowship in Psychiatry
back in Melbourne. I had held a senior professorial Appointment at
Melbourne University Hospital until 1973, and then in 1973 to 1975
I came to the United States for my first experiences with Primal Therapy.
S: How did you become interested in Primal Therapy?
G: I had a client who basically told me, "Graham,
you're a very nice man, but you need to go to the States to experience
Primal Therapy so you can come back here and do it with me."
Of course, it wasn't quite as simple as that, but that's basically
S: Your particular expression of Primal Therapy
is different than most in that you give a lot of attention to conception
experiences in addition to your work with prenatal and birth trauma.
As Arthur Janov is the founder of Primal therapy, would you mind comparing
your model of therapy with his?
G: I almost don't even like using the word "primal"
because there are so many connotations that have become attached to
it during the evolvement of Primal Therapy but "primal"
is the best word to describe the kind of experiences that come up
in therapy as I practice it.
In the early years, when I did some therapy with
Janov, his view of the Primal experience was primarily of experience
derived from the infancy. He didn't include prenatal or birth experiences
in his understanding of what was occurring in Primal states at that
time. It has actually only been in very recent years that he had acknowledged
birth trauma, and I doubt that he includes cellular experiences of
conception experiences as part of his model of understanding, where
I have found those experiences to be quite relevant and capable of
evoking tremendous healing.
S: What do you mean by "cellular memory"?
G: Cellular memory refers to a kind of preverbal
memory, contained within the physical body of experiences that occurred
when we were gametes. That is to say, there is a body memory, a cellular
memory, of our experience as a sperm, and also of our experience as
S: Why do you consider these experiences so important?
G: I never tried to emphasize conception experiences
or cellular consciousness in my work, ALThough I personally and professionally
have had extremely profound experiences working in that area. I consider
the natural unfolding of the psyche to be important in therapy, with
birth trauma, prenatal experiences, infant bonding or non bonding
or later traumas all being important to deal with. But since my presentation
at the 2nd Congress in San Diego, I have received so many questions
regarding cellular consciousness that I realized it was one of my
unique contributions to understanding human consciousness.
S: How was it that you first became interested
in conception experiences?
G: In the States you may not have heard of Professor
Carl Woods. In Australia he is almost a historic figure, because he
was one of the early pioneers of the test tube baby program at the
Queen Victoria Hospital in Monash. There was a period of time when
he worked with me as a client, and when some members of his team worked
in group experiences at my centre in Melbourne. I was fascinated by
some of the slides and photographs he showed me, as they posed concrete
images of experiences I was having in therapy.
My peripheral fascination with conception was triggered
by him being a client, however, almost dogmatically, with the passage
of time my own regression experiences have gone back to conception
anyway, and that process had already begun long before I met him.
I see this as a completely natural process.
If you really spend enough time exploring your own
psyche, the experiences seem to naturally progress to dealing with
cellular memories of your conception. Usually, one has had to work
past childhood traumas, the birth trauma and the prenatal imprinting
of the mother's psyche to get to these states, but occasionally the
rare person will spontaneously regress into deep cellular memories
of conception without having prior Therapy experiences.
My first experience of my life as a sperm had already
happened by 1976, but so unaccepted was this in my intellectual mind,
let alone my peer medical group, even my staff, that I did not let
on for a few years that what I seemed to be experiencing was existence
as a sperm until I read an article by a spiritual guru on his belief
that you could relive your life as a sperm.
In 1979, I made a video of myself in a regression
therapy session where I was in the cellular consciousness of my own
conception. Four years later, in 1983, the"Miracle of Life"
film came out of the Karolinska Institute, confirming two phenomena
that I had experienced during those early primals that were not accepted
as medically true.
When I had these experiences in a Primal session,
my intellect kept battling what my body wanted to do. First, I experienced
that the sperm did not necessarily penetrate the egg, but rather,
two "arms" could extend from the egg and selectively embrace
a particularly chosen sperm into its substance. This seemed strange
to me because the common wisdom was that the sperm competitively and
aggressively penetrated the passive egg. However, my Primal experience,
and the film four years later, revealed that the egg was much more
active, even, you might say, selecting a sperm. The film confirming
a personal experience to which I was so intellectually resistant was
a tremendous convincer to me.
Secondly, I also experienced that I, as the fertilized
egg, did not speed up my movements and rotations counter-clockwise
in my descent down the fallopian tube. Indeed, I felt I stopped several
times in my journey, and I've always thought I stopped not simply
to take a breath, but to decide whether to live or not. It felt like
a crucial moment of truth, a sensing of the world around, the maternal
environment, and the physical, mental and spiritual state of mother
as a symbolic partner and whether or not life was to be on this occasion.
Now, this was my emotional interpretation of my physical experience.
However, I was intellectually convinced that the physical reality
of the egg was a continuous and progressive rotation and movement
down the tube. When the film showed my physical experience to be accurate,
it was another incredible confirmation of an experience that I had
so resisted accepting as true. So the film from the Karolinska Institute
had a great impact upon my belief systems and my intellectual acceptance
of memories of conception during therapy.
Is it ridiculous to think of fertilized eggs as making
decisions about life? I certainly know it sounds that way, but it
is interesting to contemplate upon the fact that the attrition rate
of fertilized eggs is enormous. Over 60% die in the fallopian tube,
and many more die in implantation, and then many more are spontaneously
aborted in those first weeks of life. So its feasible to say that
those of us who are adults are survivors. We have made it, where many
of our zygotic colleagues did not.
Feeling the absolute truth of my own body experiences
of cellular memory confirmed by the Karolinska Institute's electron
microscopy work encouraged me to approach the test tube baby team
and invite them to my clinic for a personal experiential experience,
which they did, but the resistance and reluctance of all of them,
except for professor Carl Wood, was enormous. I could only understand
at that time that this was an adult expression of the resistance in
their own respective conception, that they did not want to "let
in" new ideas or new knowledge. Besides, it really challenged
pails of their work, for example, eggs fertilized in vitro are implanted
in the uterine wall, not having the three day "float" in
the body of the womb. My experience of this float, totally and personally,
was that it was the time of spiritual reappraisal, as I mentioned
previously. It's another kind of breathing space where the fertilized
egg takes stock of its origins, its pre-gamete truth as a spirit or
Conception is a trilogy, not a duality. It's a threesome:
body, mind and soul; the egg, sperm and soul come together and unite.
The pre-conception consciousness of the gametes has the predominant
quality of spirit. Sure, its chemical and biological and physical
and its human, but there's more of a spiritual ethereal quality to
it. Once fertilized, there's a kind of looking back to take stock
of truth. Jung called it "oceanic bliss," where the human
zygote is not attached to the womb wall. It's detached, in the spiritual
Lots of people meditate to get back into that same
spiritual sense of detachment, seeking to relinquish attachment to
money or sex or people or fame, power and glory, and to live more
within the consciousness of God. I accept these zygote experiences
as being a truth of that part of human existence, but it was difficult
for the members of the test tube baby program to think that the embryos
they had fertilized and implanted might have difficulty being spiritual
as adults. There were many other reasons for their discomfort, but
the end result was, we did not continue our intimate dialogue. They
went back to their test tubes, and I went back to my sound proof rooms,
and never the two met until infertile couples began to drift into
therapy, not referred, but by chance. They would usually come for
other reasons, but infertility was part of their life's problem.
S: Do you feel that the soul always attaches
to the zygote at conception?
G: Clinically, people have experienced that their
soul may have attached anywhere from fertilization to when they took
their first breath, however, the vast majority seem to experience
that they became attached at the moment of fertilization. There's
a subgroup that don't seem to want to come in. I refer to this as
the "reluctant soul syndrome." They seem to take their time;
they may come in at implantation or the first trimester, and many
times they seem to go out again, and report experiences of feeling
like they are sent back to a human existence, and they may do this
several times. In adult life, they tend to be the meditative, contemplative
mystics of the world, who perhaps find spiritual communities to work
in, or places of employment or occupation where they don't have to
be too much in the material world. They're always contemplating and
philosophizing, but they hanker to be back with God.
S: There are a great many professional people,
men and women of integrity, compassion and intelligence, who would
feel that what you are saying about souls and gamete consciousness
is utterly insane. Even if these experiences you describe do come
powerfully and spontaneously from the human psyche, why should these
people believe that they have any relevance for understanding the
existential nature of human beings?
G: I originally had the same difficulty as a medically
trained scientific person. I wanted double blind studies for "proof",
but in psychiatry in general and in regressive therapies in particular,
it is extremely difficult to achieve concrete studies. What I have
come to rely upon more and more over the years is seeing profound
and sustained clinical change in adults who prior to therapy had a
multitude of problems. For example, being unable to conceive, or stricken
with rheumatoid arthritis or ulcers or other psychosomatic diseases,
or psychiatric syndromes that had been previously unresponsive to
medication or psychotherapy. In cases such as these, when memories
of conception were achieved, expressed, relived and integrated, and
there followed a dramatic, sudden and sustained change in personality,
behaviour and interactive life experiences, it became convincing to
me that the experiences relived in therapy must have had some basis
in a concrete reality.
S: Now I really must play devil's advocate here,
because there is always this problem of what is "real" and
"not real" in all of the regressive therapies. It's important
to address these reality issues because many social issues hinge on
whether or not, for example, it is reasonable to talk about an unborn
child having consciousness, or whether or not it matters how an egg
Can we really assume the existential truth of experiences
in therapy on the basis that the therapy produced change, even if
that change is profound and sustained? There are whole systems of
psychotherapy, namely Ericksonian hypnosis and some applications of
Neuro Linguistic Programming, that are based upon changing the unconscious
through fantasies and metaphors. Even dream states, which I see as
kind of 'night school", can evoke change through symbols and
It is possible to argue that all of these experiences
in the regressive therapies whether they be experiences of conception
or birth or prenatal experiences or past lives, or spiritual out-of-body-experience
or the memory of a sperm or an egg are metaphors instead of memories
of real experiences. They may be metaphors implicitly suggested by
the therapist's paradigm, and then unconsciously acted out by the
client, who projects his emotions into the structural framework of
For example, the client projects his emotions into the
imagined experience of birth, goes through an intensely abreactive
experience where his emotions fit the structure of the imagined birth,
and in expressing these emotions, forms new unconscious beliefs about
his experience, beliefs that may be far healthier than his previous
beliefs. In that situation, the client would have resolved significant
unconscious feelings through a metaphor as opposed to experiencing
a truth of his own development. And if it were a metaphor, it may
be good for therapy, but useless for assuming broad social or political
So, my question is, other than clinical change in behaviour
as a result of therapy, and other than the fact that the emotions
expressed in therapy may be very deeply and physically felt, why do
you believe there is a reality to cellular consciousness? Why can't
these therapy experiences be explainable as strong emotions expressed
G: That's really an excellent and pointed question,
and I agree, the whole reality issue is an important one to address
when trying to draw social conclusions, ALThough it can become a limitation
in the day to day practice of helping people to heal themselves.
I believe the reality of conception experiences in
therapy because I have been able to identify specific movements of
the body, especially the hands, in relation to specific sequential
biologic phenomena. These are consistently and spontaneous present
in different clients who don't know each other. In their regressions
they believe they are re-experiencing various aspects of conception,
like implantation or floating in the womb, or descent in the tube,
or conception and pre-conception. It is true they may know my paradigm
includes conception, but they do not know the various movements that
I have previously correlated with different conception memories, and
these physical movement come quite spontaneously, even uncontrollably.
This is one reason I am convinced that their experiences are memories
instead of metaphors.
However, not only have I discerned specific movements
associated with specific conception memories, but I have also been
able to link various clinical syndromes to the reports of specific
therapy experiences within those first ten days between conception
and implantation. There is a discernible pattern of certain kinds
of life-problems associated with certain kinds of conception. Lastly,
when talking about clinical change, I would see that these different
life-problems and clinical syndromes would begin to change when the
clients' bodies biologically and physically re-experience those specific
conception moments, even though they may have had other meaningful
therapy experiences prior to the re-experience of their conception.
So, if the change was occurring through metaphor,
why would those other meaningful therapy experiences not serve equally
as well as a metaphor for creating change'? My observation is that
clinical change would seem most dramatic and sustained after the deep
psycho-physiologic re-experience of conception. It's not just the
fact of change, but also the timing of the changes. So over the past
fifteen years I have built up a series of syndromes and conditions
that are referable to specific points of trauma in the ten days from
pre-conception to implantation, and have come to trust the biologic
reality of conception memories in therapy.
S: Why don't you talk a little bit about the
film you produced, "Cellular Consciousness."
G: It's a film that shows a split-screen throughout
it's entirety. In one screen, I regress and relive parts of my own
biological truth, from pre-conception, through fertilization, through
division of cells, and through implantation. This is the regression
film I spoke of earlier, originally filmed in 1979. On the right side
of the screen is the film "The Miracle of Life," produced
it the Karolinska Institute in 1993. I referred to these two films
at the beginning of our talk.
One day, I had the idea with one of my associates
to view my video side by side with "The Miracle of Life."
In one of those strange but fortuitous accidents that sometimes occur,
the timing of the two projectors was somewhat off. Suddenly I was
witnessing my physical movements as I relived my conception experience
as an ovum synchronizing almost perfectly with the movements of a
fertilized egg in the"Miracle of Life," which is really
the first biological view of conception that we have been able to
see as it occurred in a human body. (Editor's Note: The Miracle of
Life is filmed in a human body through the use of fiber optic and
electron microscopy, providing incredible in vivo views of human reproduction.)
There were pristine moments of truth that appeared, knowing that my
regression film was made in 1979, and the other made in 1983. As I
described previously, the "Miracle of Life" provided validation
for inner experiences of my own that I had great resistance to accepting
because it did not agree with the general medical beliefs about conception
at that time. So, seeing the impact of these two films side by side,
I created one film that showed the two images together, which I named
S: You speak a great deal about physical experiences
in therapy and in the film. Why don't you describe an example of these
physical experiences and explain further why you believe the physical
experiences validate the reality of cellular memories?
G: OK, you remember I described my experience as
an egg welcoming a sperm rather than feeling penetrated by it. In
my experience as an egg, as shown on my film, my arms create a circular
kind of movement, going out from my body with the fingers turned towards
my body in a sweeping motion. My emotion at the moment was a total
welcoming, "Come here, Come in!" Physically, I felt deeply
rounded; my legs were drawn up in a circular position and my arms
moving in a circular position with the sweeping "Come into me"
movement. It felt absolutely and totally a moment of preparation for
the entry of the sperm.
There's no way that I experienced myself, either
as egg or sperm, with the sperm thrusting into the egg as I was medically
taught, namely that the head of the sperm elongates like an arrow
and burrows and bores into the egg, thrusting and penetrating like
a sword or a spear going into a fleshy orange. It wasn't like that
at all. Again, because of my intellectual beliefs, I tried to resist
this movement and turn it into something else, but the energy was
just sweeping me along and had its own sequence and rhythm and position
and so forth. So what was startling, was seeing the "Miracle
of Life" film demonstrate the egg as I physically experienced,
gathering the sperm into its substance quite actively, instead of
being a passive target of the sperm.
S: You described another experience of the fertilized
egg stopping to "take stock" of its environment. What was
that like on the physical level?
G: My arm movements became rapid and vigorous, not
at all like the prior gentle sweeping, but more like a criss-cross
movement around my body, with my body gyrating left to right, and
I'm feeling as if I'm hurtling down a long passage. Then I suddenly
stop. I sweep up on my left hip, my right arm goes out towards the
ceiling with my left arm on the floor, and my ankles and feet are
off the ground. This is a position I have tried to imitate but cannot
when in my usual daily consciousness. Gravity stops me from being
able to sustain it, but in the film I am in that position for at least
30 seconds. Again, when I experienced this, it conflicted intellectually
with my belief that the fertilized egg gathered continuous energy
and momentum through cell divisions as it progressed down the fallopian
tube. I tried to abort the stop and get the movements going faster
as I thought they should, but it wouldn't. It started again when it
wanted to, and later again stopped in the same way. This is what was
physically occurring when I was in that state of taking stock of whether
or not I wanted to continue my existence. This, too, was shown on
the "Miracle of Life" film. The film clearly shows the egg
stopping its divisions and movements, perfectly matching my spontaneous
experience in the regression session. Since that time I have worked
with other clients, though not all my clients, who have related a
similar kind of stopping to the same feeling of sensing the environment
and making decisions about living.
S: How did you sense your environment as you
took stock as the fertilized egg?
G: In my case there was a horrible, rejecting: "Get
out of me, I don't want you" kind of a feeling. As I paused to
take stock, I felt I had to decide whether I wanted to continue, whether
life was worthwhile, if this existence was worth the effort.
S: Part of what I'm hearing in your story is
that there is not necessarily a direct correlation between the mother's
emotions and the consciousness of the ovum, that they may be quite
G: Absolutely, very much so. Although mother's contribution
in the energy of the ovum is profound, once the new human existence
is there in the form of a fertilized egg, it is quite a separate and
distinct entity. It is still strongly influenced by the mother's psyche,
but has its own set of feelings as well.
S: I mean even prior to fertilization, because
you experienced the ovum as welcoming the sperm wholeheartedly, "Come
into me", while your mother's emotions were rejecting of the
pregnancy, "Get out of me, I don't want you". So even before
fertilization there was not a direct relationship between the consciousness
of the ovum and the consciousness of your mother. This is quite differently
than I have previously interpreted ovum consciousness, which I would
have said is always emotionally resonant to the mother's unconscious
feelings towards her pregnancy. I have perceived cellular memory as
the cells being influenced by the emotional energy and environment
surrounding the cell, in effect, that cellular memory is an imprinting
of that environment. Is my interpretation incomplete or incorrect?
G: I personally feel that the energy of the arms
welcoming me in, was the love of God, welcoming the spirit in the
sperm. This is really way out, and I feel shy about sharing this aspect
of what was a very deeply personal experience. But the egg and the
sperm feel to me as though they were the forerunners of the me that
evolved after my soul completed the trilogy of sperm, egg and soul.
They were not simply the reflection of my mother's cell, though I
was in her body. So cellular memory cannot be limited to emotional
imprinting from the environment.
An ovum especially, seems to have a consciousness
individual from that of the mother, much more so than the sperm, whose
life is relatively brief compared to the ovum that has existed from
very early in mother's fetal development. This prompts the concept
of pre-conception spirit awareness. Maybe this is one explanation
of the mystery, "Why do the gametes join'?" Why does the
sperm search out the egg, the equivalent of 10 kilometers away from
ejaculation? What is the attracting force, what's the purpose, what's
In spiritual terms, in my adult life, I have come
to believe that the meaning of life is to simply get back in touch
with the truth that we are divine, that we are part of God. If He's
the sea, then we are the waves, but we are the same essence. All of
this transient experience in life is simply the vehicle by which we
can get back to that absolute truth before we die, so that in our
transition back to that state we achieve a conscious oneness with
our original source.
S: Well, Graham, all I can do at this point is
thank you for sharing your views so intimately and personally. I know
it takes courage to do so when discussions that include the spiritual
are so frequently criticized by those of a more strictly scientific
disposition. But as our talk has been so far ranging, I wonder if
you would have any particular advice about conception for average
middle-class couples who may not have opportunities or the desire
to deeply explore their own psyches?
G: In fact, I have encouraged the beginning of preconception
and childbirth education classes in four capitol cities of Australia,
so that on a practical, common-sense level, young couples can have
the opportunity to discuss their own childhood, birth and even conception,
for the sake of deeper understanding and release. This is a very natural
process, and discussions may stimulate a release of deeper memories
through dreams or daily life experiences. Many things can be worked
through in a verbal sharing in a group. I think its always wise for
young couples, considering having children, to reflect back on their
own early lives and profoundly and with integrity communicate why
they have chosen to share their lives together, and their fears, hopes
and aspirations for a child that may join their family. These discussions
can really help in dissolving many undesirable influences and allow
for a much more conscious conception. More basic advice would include
planning your conception during a vacation in a natural environment
that appeals to you. Try to plan your vacation so that ovulation falls
somewhere in the middle so you have had plenty of time to unwind.
When you are desirous of conceiving begin talking with your baby as
though he or she is already with you, even long before you will actually
conceive. Understand that you are already becoming a threesome instead
of a twosome, so that consciousness starts right at the beginning.
These practices make all of your child's later life
transitions much, much easier. On a broader level, we are creating
a generation of humans who will be much more aware of the universality
of man, of the oneness of life, and of the connectedness of continents,
races, creeds and colors. Then those things that divide us as nations
will slowly melt away. I really believe that this is entirely possible,
and that it starts with conscious conception.