Treating Birth Trauma During Infancy: Cesarean Trauma
a video by William Emerson, PhD
Part 1 covers the incidence and symptoms of cesarean birth trauma, and procedures that parents and professionals can use to treat cesarean birth trauma. The treatment of a baby girl named Morgan is shown from beginning to end, with videotaped excerpts of treatment sessions and specific descriptions of necessary techniques.
Part 2 describes the outcomes of Morgan's treatment. Follow-up videos and interviews with Morgan and her parents make it clear that trauma resolution has a broad range of powerful and transformative outcomes.
Parts 1 and 2 should be helpful to parents and professionals alike, in spotting unresolved trauma in cesarean babies, in making appropriate referrals, and in assisting with the treatment process.
1995. Part 1 is 88 minutes. Part 2 is 55 minutes. Price $69.00 each or $120.00 for the set
"William Emerson has done an excellent job of naming the details of cesarean birth trauma. His work is systematic, in-depth and compassionate...(and) includes the important step of repatterning, which is often neglected in cathartic therapies...His work facilitates emotional, mental and spiritual growth."
-Jane English, Ph.D. - Author of Different Doorway: Adventures of a Cesarean Born
(Note: It is labor cesareans, not non-labor cesareans, who are primarily discussed in this video. Non-labor cesareans have less sense of an uncompleted birth canal journey as they didn't even start it! --Jane English)
Transcript of the narration:
Here we are watching the treatment of birth trauma for a baby who was delivered by cesarean section. She is crawling through a simulated or pretend birth tunnel, but it took her months of treatment before she was able to crawl through. These months were filled with cathartic releases of traumatic feelings along with curiosity, ambivalence, and false starts around the birth tunnel. Cesarean babies need to experience success in crawling through and pushing through simulated birth passages because their efforts during birth were frustrating, incomplete, and unsuccessful, and because cesarean birth experiences underlie important attitudes and motivations about success in life.
Notice the glee and satisfaction that she feels in successfully crawling through a birth-simulated tunnel. Her healing requires that we understand and empathize with her reluctance and her fears, realize their origin in the birth process, and acknowledge her efforts and her accomplishments in encountering birth-simulated passages.
During this videoprogram you will be viewing excerpts from treatment sessions for a baby named Morgan. This video describes the treatment of Morgan's cesarean birth trauma while she was an infant, and the immediate and long range outcomes of her treatment...
Morgan was selected for this videoprogram because the treatment procedures and outcomes are representative of what can be expected to occur in cases involving cesarean trauma. Morgan is among 155 infants who have been treated for birth trauma, and they are the true pioneers of this work. They went where newborns had never gone before, and in their vulnerable and courageous explorations of themselves, revealed and verified procedures which could be used to uncover and heal birth trauma in generations of future infants.
In the first video segment, Dr. Emerson shares statistics on the frequency of cesarean births and the incidence of cesarean birth trauma, and reasons why it is important to provide treatment for cesarean birth trauma.
For twenty years, Dr. Emerson has been observing and treating babies who were delivered by cesarean section. His clinical observations indicate that cesarean birthing involves a considerable degree of traumatization, probably more so than vaginal birthing, and that more than ninety percent of all cesarean babies are birth traumatized to some degree. Cesarean deliveries have physical and psychological impacts that are undesirable. These physical and psychological effects are subtle but powerful, and occur at the unconscious level of babies' psyches...
They result in immediate symptomatic effects such as nocturnal awakening, extensive crying , feeding difficulties, digestive difficulties, colic, tactile defensiveness, and others. There are also long term symptomatic effects such as rescue complexes, inferiority feelings, poor self esteem, inconsistent task performances, difficulties with task completion, guilt complexes, procrastination, boundary difficulties, and other dysfunctional behaviors and feelings. Further information on the psychological effects of cesarean birthing are available from Dr. Emerson's office.
Morgan's birth postures and movements were analyzed for purposes of diagnosis and treatment, and you are viewing this analysis on the screen. Morgan's c-section was unplanned, and unplanned sections are usually more traumatizing than planned sections because they occur when births deviate from established norms, and/or when there are significant birth complications. Morgan's mother experienced the birth as extremely stressful and difficult. She was in the hospital for three days. During the first 19 hours of labor she failed to dilate fully and was in a lot of pain. She was acutely anxious about the lack of dilation, and frightened by the pain and intensity of contractions. On top of this, she didn't feel like the medical personnel or anyone else understood what was happening to her or attempted to do anything about it. After many more hours of painful labor, she was administered an epidural to reduce the pain...
As labor continued, dilation did not surpass 8 cm., so pitocin was administered to foster labor and dilation. Further dilation did not occur. Exhausted and in intense pain, the mother opted to do a c-section. During the cesarean birthing, there was fetal distress. Her baby aspirated and swallowed fluids, and the fluids were suctioned as soon as the baby's head was available. Morgan screamed during and after the suctioning. She was 4 days postmature, at a birthweight of 8 1/2 lbs. and a length of 22 inches.
Morgan's parents brought her for treatment because they knew of Dr. Emerson's work and wondered whether Morgan had been traumatized during birth. They were particularly concerned about five behaviors and wondered whether these behaviors were indicative of birth trauma. Dr. Emerson informed them that the five behaviors were common symptoms of cesarean birth trauma, that the same behaviors were absent in babies who did not have cesarean birth trauma, and that the behaviors would not go away but would probably develop into more progressive symptoms and behaviors as Morgan got older. The five symptoms that Morgan's parents mentioned were nocturnal awakening, lack of eye contact, tactile defensiveness, startle responses, and breastfeeding difficulties. Morgan awoke on the average of three to four times during the night. Some consider this normal, but Dr. Emerson has found that babies with no birth trauma rarely awaken during the night, and usually sleep for long periods of time...
Similarly, babies with no birth trauma have good bonding and excellent eye contact with their parents. Morgan's eye contact was sporadic and inconsistent. Morgan also had tactile defensiveness. Tactile defensiveness refers to tendencies that babies have to dislike or withdraw from touching or holding, or to be sensitive to touching on or around the head, torso, and/or feet.
Of all her sensitive areas, Morgan was most sensitive to touching on the top of her head. However, whenever touched in any of her sensitive areas, she would become agitated and would attempt to move away. If gentle touching continued, she would cry. The heads of cesarean-delivered babies tend to be the most sensitive because their craniums are jammed up against the pelvis during unsuccessful pushing attempts. This jamming creates physical and psychological pain and trauma. It also contributes to a lack of descent and/or to insufficient dilation. In the next treatment excerpt, gentle contact is being made with Morgan's head, and we see an example of Morgan's cranial sensitivity. During the treatment segment, notice that her head is very sensitive and that she spits up. The amount of pressure being applied to her head is about the amount of pressure that one would use in pushing a paperback book across a table. When given such pressure, most birth traumatized babies will respond with agitation and with crying, and will not experience the process as pleasurable in any way...
Conversely, most untraumatized babies will not manifest sensitive craniums, will not experience agitation, will not spit up, and they will experience the cranial touching as pleasurable.
The next video segment has to do with the treatment of Morgan's birth trauma. In this treatment excerpt, Dr. Emerson is simulating contractions to her head, and we see another example of Morgan's tactile defensiveness. As gentle pressures are applied to her head, you may notice that she stops breathing, turns red in the face, and begins to cry. Her crying is an expression of the frustration and fear that she had during birth when she was stuck and couldn't descend.
Feet and torso sensitivity are also common in cesarean babies. Feet and torso sensitivity occur because the feet and torso are firmly and forcefully grabbed in order to facilitate secure lifting from the uterus, but this secure holding may also cause pain and trauma. Torso sensitivity is often exacerbated by the objective and painful procedures that sometimes occur during post surgical interventions, examinations, and tests. Morgan was also very sensitive to being picked up and/or to being held firmly. When attempting to pick her up or to hold her, Morgan would typically tighten up, twist away, whine, and/or cry... These symptoms stem from the objective, sudden, and frightening lifting that occur during cesarean deliveries.
In addition to these symptoms, Morgan had startle responses and breastfeeding difficulties. Startle responses are reflexive movements to sudden or unexpected noises, or to unexpected or abrupt moving. Startle responses stem from the sudden penetration of medical instruments into the uterus, the sudden and unexpected pulling and lifting, and the sudden and unexpected medical procedures that occur after cesarean births.
Morgan's breastfeeding difficulties had to do with agitation. While breastfeeding, Morgan would become agitated, and would squirm, kick, and/or cry. Such difficulties are common in babies with fluid traumas. Fluid traumas refer to incidents like swallowing amniotic fluid, breathing in amniotic fluid, and aspirating and ingesting other fluids that are present during birth. These kinds of incidents are terrifying for birthing babies, and they are likely to become anxious and distracted when subjected to fluids during their infancy and childhood. This is because liquids symbolize and trigger traumatic memories of fluid trauma during birth. Babies may be resistant to water on or around their faces, may dislike baths, may choke when drinking liquids, and may also experience difficulties with breast- or bottle-feeding because breast milk symbolizes the traumatizing fluids that were present during birth.
This was the case with Morgan, who ingested and aspirated fluids during her birth...
When she initially encountered her mother's nipples, particularly when there was an ample supply of breast milk, her traumatic memories of fluid ingestion and fluid aspiration were restimulated. Morgan's breastfeeding difficulties may have been due to her sensitive feet as well, because her mother reported that Morgan kicked while breastfeeding, and her tactilely-sensitive feet frequently came in contact with her mother's body, causing Morgan to feel agitation and frustration.
Fluid traumas have been found to be related to childhood respiratory symptoms such as mucous, colds, viruses, bronchitis, and asthma.
People often ask Dr. Emerson if c-sections are easier than vaginal births, and if he would recommend that people elect to have cesarean sections. This is Dr. Emerson's reply.
Morgan was first seen for treatment at three weeks of age, and received ten weekly sessions. The treatment model for cesarean birth trauma is generally the same as the model used in treating all birth traumas. One of the most important aspects of treatment is the rights of infants. Infants have the right to say no to any or all treatment procedures, and to stop and/or modify the treatment process at any moment. To make sure that babies' rights are honored, the treatment process emphasizes the following important procedures: ...
1) making certain that babies' nonverbal ways of communicating resistance and/or refusal are clarified, 2) making certain that facilitators are able to read babies' communications about resistance or refusal; and 3) making certain that the treatment process is modified and/or stopped whenever these communications occur. The overall aim of treatment is to make certain that babies are able to be in control of the treatment process. In the next treatment excerpt, Morgan communicates resistance to a particular therapeutic technique. Whenever these communications occurred, her treatment process was immediately modified in some important way, usually by changing therapeutic techniques or by reducing their intensity.
When treating cesarean birth trauma, it is important that the uncovering of traumatic memories be gentle and respectful. Babies are generally led up to the edge of their traumatic memories, and are then allowed to either engage with or withdraw from their trauma memories. It is important to realize that babies will attempt to lead the treatment process and it is also important to support them in doing so. Babies will initiate and lead the treatment process by pointing to trauma sites on their bodies, rubbing places that were wounded or bruised, engaging their own trauma postures, and/or initiating techniques that were introduced in prior sessions...
If treatment is conducted properly, with enough sensitivity to babies' rights and feelings, then babies will lead the treatment process and will initiate treatment procedures over fifty percent of the time.
The treatment model for cesarean trauma involves four procedures: 1) the uncovering and releasing of traumatic memories through a process called emotional catharsis, 2) the establishing of deep and empathic bonds during cathartic releases, 3) the repatterning of trauma by reconstructing positive outcomes, and 4) the releasing of somaticized trauma through appropriate body work. In Morgan's case, six cathartic and three repatterning techniques were used. The six cathartic techniques are called trauma posturing, birthsimulating compression, section lodging, section dislodging, section rotating, and section lifting. The three repatterning techniques are called arm and hand repatterning, gross motor repatterning, and section lift repatterning. Dr. Emerson describes the six cathartic techniques.
During the section lift, Morgan reached the deepest crying and the deepest catharsis of her therapy, and she expelled fluids and mucous. These expulsions represented her body memories from birth, when she aspirated and ingested fluids. After the intense catharses which emanated from the 'section lift' technique, there were dramatic changes in her most chronic presenting symptoms...
Her respiratory symptoms were completely resolved. Her startle responses, resistances to being lifted and held, cranial sensitivities, and podiatric sensitivities were dramatically improved but not yet resolved. However, as soon as she initiated and made progress on repatterning techniques, all of the described symptoms were completely resolved and did not recur during any of the follow-up periods or up until the present time. This demonstrates the importance of the repatterning process.
In order to heal birth traumas, babies need to remember and cathart their traumatic experiences and they need to undergo positive and corrective exercises, exercises which allow them to use their bodies in powerful and successful ways.
Repatterning is the process which attends to this need. At its most general level, repatterning encourages babies to crawl and push through simulated birth canals. For example, infants are sometimes encouraged to push themselves down their mothers' legs, to push through tunnels that moms and dads make with their hands, and to push through narrow tunnel-like spaces that can be found between pillows, inside cardboard boxes, through plastic innertubes, and through blankets and sheets. In a more specific technique, repatterning involves the identification of specific movement patterns that were impotent during birth, and the facilitation of alternative and powerful movements...
For example, if the solar plexus was particularly impotent during birth, then this aspect of the body would be identified and energized until successful movements were organized and carried out from this part of the body.
Next we see three brief and specific repatterning segments. In the first, hand and arm movements are repatterned. Hand and arm movements are repatterned because Morgan's hands and arms were pinned-down during birth, and were unable to ward off the grabbing and lifting that occurred during her section delivery. Repatterning involved placing her in her birth posture and encouraging her to use her hands and arms to push mom's hands away, symbolically resisting the grabbing and lifting that occurred during birth.
In the second repatterning excerpt, gross motor movements are repatterned by having Morgan use her whole body to push out of her trauma posture and into her mother's arms.
In the third excerpt, birth feelings are activated and she is lifted up by her arms rather than by her neck, as she was during birth.
In the next segment, gross motor movements are repatterned by inviting Morgan to push through a tight tunnel made by her mothers arms and torso...
This provides impotent muscle and tissue groups with the opportunity to be powerful, and also provides Morgan with successful experiences in pushing through a simulated birth canal.
Repatterning was largely an engaging and positive experience for Morgan, as it is for most babies, but it sometimes brings up frightening and traumatized feelings as well. When this occurs, it is important to pause to honor and allow whatever crying and catharsis need to occur. Morgan's mother did repatterning at home, and reports on the experience.
The process of repatterning is important for all cesarean babies, but particularly for those babies whose cesarean sections were unplanned. When c sections are unplanned, babies are likely to experience failure- failure to push through the birth canal and be born. Failure during birth is readily translated into feelings of physical, psychological, and/or sexual impotence during childhood and adulthood, as well as strong feelings of personal inadequacy and low self esteem.
Morgan's mother was interviewed throughout the treatment process, to ascertain the types of changes that were occurring. Some of the symptomatic changes were immediate, and others were slow to resolve. Most of the changes were clearly the result of cathartic releases of trauma memories and powerful repatterning sessions...
Morgan's nocturnal awakening is a good example of this. Early in the treatment period, Morgan awoke frequently during the night, presumably because of hunger. However, once she cathartically released her negative birth feelings, her sleep patterns improved dramatically. Her eye contact improved as well.
In addition to changes in sleep and eye contact, Morgan's cranial and feet sensitivity showed clear improvement throughout the treatment process. In the next treatment excerpt we see an example of the improvement in Morgan's cranial sensitivity, which occurs during session 8.
As with all treated infants, Morgan was followed up at regular intervals to ascertain her status on presenting and potential symptoms, and her symptom progress was also compared with the symptom progress of a control group of untreated babies. Morgan was evaluated at the completion of treatment and at one, two, four, and eight years of age. When Morgan was brought for treatment, she had five major presenting symptoms: nocturnal awakening, low eye contact levels, cranial/torso/podiatric sensitivity, startle responses, and breast-feeding difficulties. Nocturnal awakening, low-level eye contact, and breast-feeding difficulties were resolved almost immediately, and other symptoms were progressively resolved throughout the treatment process, and did not recur during any of the follow-up periods.
During one of the follow-ups, Morgan's mother was asked what she thought was most helpful about the treatment process. She replied that the release of Morgan's negative emotions and the regaining of Morgan's power in the birth process were the most important aspects of treatment. She was also asked which of Morgan's symptomatic changes was the most memorable for her. She replied that the change in cranial sensitivity was the most memorable.
As with all infants, a list of potential symptoms was devised, and Morgan was evaluated in terms of these symptoms during all follow-up periods. Potential symptoms are symptoms of birth trauma which, if unresolved, emerge in childhood and adulthood. Potential symptoms are highly unique to the kinds of births and birth complications that occur, so all infants have different sets of potential symptoms. Potential symptoms were determined for each infant by using consultants in the field of pre and perinatal psychology. In conjunction with Dr. Emerson, the consultants made a list of Morgan's most likely potential symptoms, and evaluated the degree to which she manifested these symptoms. The consultants particularly noted that Morgan had fluid traumas and that fluid traumas are associated with respiratory symptoms during childhood. There were fifty four other potential symptoms, and traumatized babies manifest about ten to fifteen percent of all their potential symptoms.
Three of the fifty four symptoms are very common among cesarean born children, and these symptoms are mirror images of what occurs during cesarean deliveries. The three symptoms will be briefly described. A large number of unplanned cesareans are stuck during birth and are unable to descend through the pelvis, and this is mirrored in their childhood when they feel stuck and unable to move, particularly during difficult developmental periods or during difficult educational tasks. Other cesarean babies seem to give up during birth, or to give up after a long struggle of pushing and turning. In life, they tend to give up prematurely, or to give up after efforting and struggling. Some cesarean babies are not at risk but obstetrical personnel fear that they might be and intervene. During their childhoods babies who are not at risk tend to feel misperceived or misunderstood even when they are not, to feel interrupted even when they are not, and to feel that help is misplaced, unneeded, or untimely. Conversely, cesarean babies who are at risk and who do require rescuing later tend to create, ask for, and/or expect help and rescuing in their lives, even when it is not needed. They also tend to have rescue fantasies and rescue dreams.
Shown here is a complete list of potential symptoms for Morgan. The symptoms were rated by the mother, the daycare teacher, and the classroom teacher when Morgan was eight years old. The symptoms were rated according to a five point scale which indicated how frequently the potential symptoms occurred. The ratings for each symptom were averaged into one score...
An average rating of one means that the symptom never or almost never occurred, two that it seldom occurred, three that it occasionally occurred, four that it more-than-occasionally occurred, and five that it often occurred. A low rating is the best because it means that trauma has been resolved and a potential symptom has been averted. Several of the potential symptoms were rated highly but seemed to pose more of a strength than a problem. For example, she was rated high on 'resistance to anyone taking over', but this seemed to be more of a strength because she really enjoyed doing things on her own. The mother's average rating for all symptoms was 2.14, the teacher's average rating for all symptoms was 2.19, and the daycare teacher's average rating for all symptoms was 1.72.. The average of these three ratings was 2.07, meaning that she seldom manifested potential symptoms. This compares to an average rating of 4.13 for untreated infants, meaning that untreated infants manifested potential symptoms more than occasionally.
Morgan's ratings were obtained at three and eight years of age. The ratings were done by her parents, preschool teacher, and daycare teacher and were averaged into one score. At three years of age, eight of the qualities were rated as 6 or higher, and two as 5 or higher. At eight years of age, six of the qualities were rated as 6 or higher, and four of the qualities as 5 or higher...
Ratings of 5 mean that she often, but not consistently, manifested the qualities in appropriate situations. Ratings of 6 indicate that she consistently manifested the qualities in appropriate situations. For the sake of brevity, only four of the qualities will be elaborated on.
When traumas are unresolved, bonding and attachment suffer because unresolved traumas obstruct the integrity and depth of the bonding process. Bonding and attachment were Morgan's most highly rated skills, and this is an attestation to the success of the treatment process. She received average ratings of 6.2 and 6.7 on bonding and attachment, indicating that she consistently manifested these qualities in appropriate situations. Her high ratings are not surprising because bonding and attachment are typically accelerated in treated infants. This occurs for two reasons: 1) because treated infants resolve their traumas, and have no resistances to the bonding process, and 2) because the treatment process is a virtual training ground in bonding and attachment. Life-long bonds occur when babies relive their traumas and when parents and therapists respond with empathy, compassion, and understanding. Babies experience and internalize the bonding and attachment process, and they exhibit this process throughout their lives. The result is trusting and affectionate children who have the ability to attach and bond with people and who also have the ability to discern who is trustworthy and who is not. Following is a description of Morgan's attachment as described by her daycare teacher.
Morgan's mother mirrored the teachers observations, saying that Morgan bonded to people and established deep friendships in most situations.
Mutuality involves experiencing events simultaneously and together. For example, when a mother and baby laugh together over a tickle, or become excited when grandmother walks through the door, both are experiencing mutuality. Here we see a brief example of mutuality, where Morgan is pointing to a bird and trying to say the word bird. She and her mother mutually experience joy in the process of her pointing, her word attempts, and her success.
In the early stages of treatment, instances of mutuality between Morgan and her mother were sporadic, inconsistent, and of low frequency. This was not surprising because unresolved traumas impede and obstruct the mutuality process. And as might be expected, there were noticeable and dramatic increases in mutuality between mom and baby as sessions progressed and as traumas were resolved, and these instances of mutuality carried over into childhood. Her childhood ratings on mutuality were all six and above, indicating that she consistently manifested these qualities in situations which called for them. Mutuality is an important developmental process because it prepares babies for the experience of empathy in childhood and adulthood, and empathy and mutuality are closely related...
Mutuality is the ability to experience events with another person, and empathy the ability to experience the other person as the event, and to have compassion for experiences of the other.
When Morgan was eight, the most common ways that she experienced mutuality was through humor and through vocalizing and singing. She liked to laugh with other people, and to make other people laugh. She also liked to get on the same wave length as others by vocalizing and by singing. She frequently did this with her mother, especially at bedtime. They attuned their voices to each other, got on the same wavelength, and sang - experiencing joy and affection in the process.
Dr. Emerson found that empathic relating styles were relatively universal among children who were treated as infants, occurring in over 90% of all cases, whereas empathic relating styles were uncommon in children who were not treated as infants, occurring in under 20% of all cases and at low levels. It is probable that the ability to be empathic among treated infants is due to the fact that trauma resolution opens up the heart, and creates inner feelings of love and compassion toward oneself and toward others. It is also likely that this ability has to do with the empathic experiences that babies encounter during treatment. During treatment, infants are consistently responded to with empathy, and it is likely that they internalize empathy as a normal dimension of relationships...
It is also probable that the empathy of treated infants stems from the responses of their parents who learned empathy as a relationship tool during treatment and who applied it during childrearing. The old adage "children learn what they live" is appropriate here.
Morgan was first evaluated for empathy at the three year follow-up. During this follow-up, her mother was asked what quality she liked best in Morgan, and she replied that she liked Morgan's empathy.
To further illustrate Morgan's empathy, Morgan's mother told the following story. "A child in Morgan's preschool was sitting alone in the room, crying softly to himself. No one seemed to notice, but Morgan did. She always noticed such things. Morgan went over to the little boy, sat down next to him, and just hung out with him. Occasionally she said things like, "You're really sad...your feelings are hurt, I know you feel alone but I am here". The mother went on to say that Morgan would often just sit with other children until they felt better. To further illustrate Morgan's empathy, Morgan's mother described a personal situation in which Morgan had been very empathetic toward her. The personal situation had to do with a good friend and coworker who left the job which they shared together, and this left her feeling very lonely and full of grief. Here is the mom's description.
The mother said that Morgan's empathy extended to other children, to other adults, and to broader issues as well. As an example, she said that Morgan was very aware of homelessness in our society. Morgan insisted on learning about a homeless person that they occasionally encountered, and Morgan expressed compassion toward this homeless person.
During a follow-up evaluation, Morgan's daycare teacher was asked to list any exceptional characteristics that Morgan possessed. The daycare teacher replied that Morgan was very pensive, introspective, and able to tune into other people's perceptions and feelings. This is a classic definition of empathy.
Morgan's third grade teacher also had high esteem for Morgan's skills in empathy, and said "Morgan's consciousness extends past herself to the consciousness of others....she can feel for other people, and she has empathy in a high degree...."
One of Dr. Emerson's surprising findings was that infants manifest spontaneous preferences and/or behavior patterns during or shortly after the resolution phase of treatment. Further research revealed that these attentional preferences and behavior patterns were accessed primarily through trauma resolution, that they became relatively permanent aspects of the personality, and that they were sustained into childhood and often developed into exceptionality...
Because of this, Dr. Emerson came to suspect that the newly emerging preferences and behavior patterns in infants represented the core of their human potential, the core of the talents and abilities that they were meant to actualize in life.
To understand how this process might possibly happen, Dr. Emerson theorized that the basic instincts and impulses which represent and organize human potential are stored in the depths of the psyche, at relatively the same depth and location as unresolved traumas, and that trauma resolution opened infants to the depths of their beings, thereby accessing the basic impulses and instincts that guide and govern human potential.
This theoretical perspective explains the emergence of Morgan's human potential. During the period of trauma resolution, there was a spontaneous and profound increase in the frequency and longevity of vocalizations. Vocalizing refers to the ability of infants to communicate their feelings and /or perceptions through voice tones rather than crying. Morgan's increase in vocalizations was entirely unexpected, since other treated infants had never manifested radical increases in vocalization. In the next treatment excerpt, we see an example of Morgan's vocalizing. This excerpt was filmed during her most intense and cathartic treatment session. In this session, Morgan's vocalizations appear to be telling what happened during her birth and how she felt about it.
Dr. Emerson was curious whether Morgan's vocalizing would be a resilient aspect of her personality and a manifestation of her human potential. If so, it was anticipated that vocalization would manifest in childhood in exceptional ways and at exceptional levels. It was anticipated that she would be verbose, articulate, and excel in verbally-related activities like speaking, vocabulary and reading. As with all cases, Dr. Emerson did not mention these possibilities to the parents because he did not want to bias the research results.
Follow-up indicated that she was very active and talented in verbal activities and skills. This is apparent in the teacher's and the mother's spontaneous descriptions of Morgan. Morgan's preschool teacher said that Morgan was very verbose, and that while Morgan worked hard to not intrude on or disrupt anyone with her verbosity, that she just loved to talk, and did so at every possible opportunity. As he interviewed others, Dr. Emerson noted that everyone, without exception, described Morgan as an articulate and "verbal" person, or used analogous words. The mother's way of describing Morgan was that "Morgan does not stop talking...she can really articulate what she wants to say, has a good vocabulary... and is beyond her years in how she uses and understands words."
As a child, one of Morgan's favorite activities was finding out the meaning of concepts and words, and playing word games...
Her favorite game was Junior Pictionary, which involved vocabulary skills. She was tested on vocabulary at school, and received a score which was better than 94% of her peers nationally.
Outside of things like crossword puzzles and vocabulary games, reading was Morgan's favorite activity. This was illustrated when she was asked what she would bring if she were going to be stranded on a desert island and could only bring one thing.
Morgan had another trait which emerged early in her life, shortly after the period of trauma resolution, and was a likely aspect of her human potential. She was a devoted tomboy, and had been ever since she could crawl. She was squeamish about frilly baby clothes, paid little or no attention to dolls, hated to wear dresses or lacy things, disliked grooming and primping, loved to play sports, and loved to wear jeans and overalls. Probably the greatest symbol of her tomboyishness was how she dressed and groomed herself. The daycare teacher and Morgan both comment.
She owned one dress and had worn it at Christmas, but refused to put it on so Dr. Emerson could see how she looked in a dress. After some encouragement, Morgan agreed to hold it up so Dr. Emerson could see how she would look in a dress.
As with all other traits which emerge early in life, her tomboyishness will be followed up, to see if and how it manifests in terms of adult human potential.
Another surprising finding was that the treatment process augmented infant spirituality, and that treated infants were thereby more spiritually inclined than untreated infants. Spirituality was defined in terms of internal characteristics of children, rather than in terms of interests or involvement in religion. Children's spirituality manifests in internal characteristics such as inner light, depth of presence, inner knowingness, understanding of synchronicity, and other characteristics, and rarely does a child manifest all characteristics. Morgan's spirituality became evident during the treatment process, as her traumas were catharted and repatterned. Morgan's spirituality manifested in terms of an inner light, a deep presence, and an inner knowingness. Morgan received high ratings on spirituality during all follow-up evaluations and from all evaluators. Her average rating on spirituality at three years of age was 6.5, out of a possible seven, and her average rating at eight years of age was 6.3 . This means that she consistently manifested spirituality in her daily life. Morgan's mother first noticed Morgan's spirituality during the resolution phase of treatment, and describes what she saw.
Morgan's mother went on to say that Morgan's spiritual qualities and spiritual interests continued into childhood, and that she often inquired about or practiced meditation and chanting.
Using contemplative depth as the criterion of spirituality, the daycare teacher gave Morgan the highest possible rating on spirituality . The third grade teacher said that Morgan was "very spiritual in the sense that her consciousness is expansive and it extends past herself and into the consciousness of others".
During the follow-up evaluations, it was discovered that Morgan had a strong and spontaneous interest in religion. This is interesting because neither her parents nor grandparents were religiously inclined. Upon further evaluation, it was found that treated children have more of a proclivity toward religion than their parents, and more of a proclivity toward religion than untreated children, in spite of the fact that spirituality was not defined in terms of religious orientation or religious values. Morgan's mother describes Morgan's interest in religion.
One of the research protocols was to ask children who were treated or not treated as infants if they could remember their births. Treated children were ten times more likely to have immediate recall of their births, and their accuracy rate was well over ninety percent...
Conversely, untreated children were unlikely to have immediate recall, were less likely to remember their births at any age, and were generally inaccurate. They also acted in immature and/or agitated ways when trying to remember. In the next video segment, Morgan was asked if she remembered anything about her birth.
As you will see, she remembers her birth quite clearly and discusses it without emotional charge or emotional agitation. It should be noted that her parents had been cautioned to not discuss the birth with her, and this was the first time that she had been asked about her birth memories. In order to facilitate recall, Morgan was asked to pretend, guess, or imagine what had happened. This is standard procedure when questioning children about their births.
Shortly after the birth, Morgan's mother was asked how she felt about the birth. This is her reply.
When mothers have unplanned c- sections, they commonly feel relieved because they think their babies were saved from serious complications, and because they did not have to endure more physical pain and discomfort. However, a significant portion of mothers also experience failure and a sense of guilt because they were unable to deliver their babies naturally. This was the case with Morgan's mother.
Morgan's mother was also aware that Morgan did not respond to her as warmly as might be expected. This was because of Morgan's tactile defensiveness and low-level eye contact. This made Morgan's mom feel guilty, like she was not a good-enough mother. In turn, she did not feel as close to Morgan as she would have liked.
When mothers have feelings such as these, it is important that they be able to talk about their feelings; such discussions assist mothers in feeling better about themselves and feeling closer to their babies. During the treatment process, Morgan's mother was able to talk about her inadequate and guilty feelings, and this made her feel closer to Morgan. The mother reported that Morgan's birth work was also helpful in this regard.
When the treatment process was completed, Morgan's mother was asked about her opinions of the treatment process and whether she would do it again. She replied that two things seemed most important to her about Morgan's treatment: the cathartic release of feelings and Morgan's empowerment through repatterning.
When Morgan was four years old, the mother was asked what she remembered most about treatment. She replied that the treatment process had provided a real feeling of giving to Morgan, and had been liberating for Morgan. She also said that the treatment process made her feel less guilty.
In closing, we will see some pictures of Morgan and review some important facts about cesarean births. Dr. Stanislov Grof has spent a major portion of his professional life studying birth and death, and has concluded that birth has profound impacts on life. He says, "How one is born seems to be closely related to one's general attitude toward life, the ratio of optimism to pessimism, how one relates to other people, and one's ability to confront challenges and conduct projects." Cesarean births are no different in this regard, but Dr. Emerson found that cesarean-born children have particular personality traits that vaginally-born children are less likely to have. Dr. Emerson says, "All types of birth have positive and negative outcomes, but cesarean birthing has positive and negative consequences that vaginal birthing does not have." As an example, Dr. Emerson shares a quote from an 85 year old woman who remembered her cesarean birth in one of Dr. Emerson's workshops. She said, "Well, it came to me as clear as a bell. My blessed mother, bless her heart, was cut open and they yanked me out, and hard at that. I didn't know I was born that way. But I checked mother's diary, and sure enough I was. Now I know why I've been so afraid of people my whole life and why I've never been a touchy person at all. My first touch and my first experience with humans was shocking and painful. It wasn't right. And I've been mighty frightened of people and particular about touching ever since. I never realized I could learn such things about my birth. It feels much better now, though, thanks to you. I even took a hug from Rev. Parsons the other day. Imagine that."
Prior to her treatment, Morgan had had a nonverbal but similar attitude about people, and a nonverbal but similar attitude about touching and holding. She distanced herself from her mother through tactile defensiveness and through low-level eye contact. It is uncommon in this culture to understand that babies are conscious, and that they can be effected by and angry about their births. But this is an experience that many birthing mothers have intuitively encountered and dealt with. Morgan was angry and distant, and this contributed to the mother feeling guilty. As her birth traumas were resolved, the tactile defensiveness and distancing decreased and dissipated. Morgan became an expressive and affectionate child, and has remained so to this day. Her affection became transparent to her parents and to others, and is obvious in the following video segment.
In closing, we must realize that Morgan's affection and love were always present, they were simply submerged and obscured by her unresolved feelings. Fortunately they were released and activated during her treatment process, and herein lies the hope and the purpose of treatment for all infants- to liberate babies and children so that they are able to experience and express the love, the joy, the compassion, and the uniqueness that are their birthrights.