At 80 years old, I hope none of you ever sink into the depths of desperation that I did. My faith was severely tested—not just my religious faith, but also my faith in myself, in other people, and even in life itself. Nothing I had learned as a pharmacist helped, and being a lifelong skeptic seemed to make it worse. I think that my doubts, my search, and my eventual reassurance were what prompted Alex to invite me to share this with you.
This involved my beloved wife, Betty’s massive stroke. After intensive hospitalization, no extended-care facility would accept her with indwelling breathing and feeding tubes. So I continued caring for her in our home for five months, as I had during two years of her intractable back pain.
During those years before her stroke, Betty and I had time to reminisce about our life together. She often praised my devotion to her and kidded me, “After I’m gone …” We never seriously discussed death but it wasn’t totally off my radar. My curiosity had begun to bud about the increasing popularity of books on near-death experiences. So, over time, I began searching for answers that my immature religious faith had not answered. I published what I found in the book Love and Immortality: Long Journey of My Heart.
I’m still not sure when it finally hit me that I was about to lose Betty. Yet I admit that, at least once, I considered putting an end to both her suffering and mine. Around that time I wrote, “I have peered into the abyss of insanity and grabbed at any toehold or handhold to keep from tumbling in.” Maybe I wouldn’t have been so desperate if I had believed preachers’ assurance that we all would meet again in Heaven.
A year after losing Betty, I published my second book Mind, Body, & Spirit: Challenges of Science and Faith, with a chapter entitled “Into The Jaws of Desperation.” That book carried my search beyond the metaphysical into virtually every influence that shapes who we are—all except the one thing that I felt would reassure me of reunion of Betty’s and my souls in Heaven.
Two years later, I literally stumbled across the evidence that I so desperately wanted—the existence of our souls! This was discovered during research in a relatively new discipline, involving an area of human life to which mental heath care had never given any attention.
So revolutionary is the basis for this new specialty that the concept shocked a few psychologists who first happened to experience it in their own lives or practices, as far back as 1966. Founded over a quarter-century ago, the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) has had its own journal since 1987 and also has an Italian partner organization. Anyone who is not familiar with APPPAH’s body of evidence might consider the following unbelievable.
The basic principle underlying pre- and perinatal psychology is the diagnosis and treatment of emotional and dysfunctional influences being suffered by patients of any age attributable to their experiences in their mother’s womb from conception through childbirth. This typically involves hypnotic regression of the patient into his or her mother’s womb. Validation of prenatal causative circumstances is possible from the mother. Birth medical records can be used for perinatal cases. Just as in past-life therapy, positive outcomes have shown these approaches to be effective.
It may surprise readers that APPPAH research has found the fetus to be amazingly perceptive about the mother’s pregnancy: her mental state, her relationship with the father, and her surroundings during the pregnancy. Examples include whether the mother did not want this child, she had considered or tried abortion, the father was threatening to leave her, or the parents wanted a child of a different sex. APPPAH pioneer David Chamberlain initially registered his surprise at “hundreds of hypnosis sessions with clients that described prenatal perceptions, feelings, and experiences that were too early to be brain based.” He concluded, “ Increasingly, prenatal research reveals more sentience [i.e., consciousness] than can be explained by old theories of neurological development.”
Among the womb-regressions have been many patient testimonies of being able to sense two “presences” in the womb. In other words, the patient could perceive the fetus’ somatic feelings of being in a cramped and wet place. But the patient also had a separate sense of an “awareness” that reached far beyond the fetus’ immature brain.
The March, 2009 issue of Pediatric Research contained the article “The Emergence of Human Consciousness: From Fetal to Neonatal Life.” It reported that even “Newborn infants display features characteristic of what may be referred to as basic consciousness and they still have to undergo considerable maturation to reach the level of adult consciousness. The preterm infant, ex utero, may open its eyes and establish minimal eye contact with its mother. It also shows avoidance reactions to harmful stimuli. However, the thalamocortical connections are not yet fully established, which is why it can only reach a minimal level of consciousness.”
APPPAH member and researcher Wendy Anne McCarty described her own personal regressions, “Underlying all of my [preconception through infancy hypnotic regression] experiences, I found I had a clear sense of myself. Often I was in the midst of a viscerally intense experience, yet I also had a witness self that was experiencing it from a much broader perspective. I never experienced an interruption of my sense of self.” McCarty believes that “our primary nature is as conscious, sentient, non-physical beings that exist prior to and beyond physical human existence” (her emphasis).
APPPAH member and researcher Jenny Wade’s article “Physically Transcendent Awareness: A Comparison of the Phenomenology of Consciousness Before Birth and After Death” acknowledges that our typical understanding of consciousness is “a brain-based source of awareness which gives us our everyday experience of the world.” But she believes that “consciousness” also can provide “a physically transcendent source of awareness” which “predates physical life and survives bodily death.” She calls this additional state the “transcendent source of consciousness (TSC).” Wade emphasizes that TSC is “particularly likely to be prominent in prenatal and near-death experiences, as well as in mystical states of consciousness, but this tends to be damped out by brain-based consciousness [i.e., ego] during most of the [human] life span.”
Wade does not use the term “soul” for her “transcendent source of consciousness.” However, footnotes in her book Changes of Mind do acknowledge her reluctance to use the word “soul” because she feels that it is not sufficiently academic. David Chamberlain uses the term “soul” in some of his publications.
I believe that this circumstantial evidence of the incarnated soul—never before revealed except through its presence in the womb—reassures me personally of my and Betty’s souls’ reunion in Heaven. But for all of us, family members or other caregivers who are present at the death of loved ones sometimes witness soul survival of mortal death and its departure into another realm. The soul’s presence in the womb as a soul-consciousness, separate from the brain, also lends credence to the reality of out-of-body and near-death-experiences during cardiac arrest as well as past-life and life-between lives hypnotic regressions.
APPPAH’s contributions are far more significant than they may appear for all of humankind. Their mission statement says, “APPPAH illuminates the life-long impact of conception, pregnancy and birth on babies, families and society.”
Once the soul joins the fetus in the womb, it therefore seems impossible to distinguish the roles of each in recording the impact of emotional trauma experienced in the womb and through childbirth. Such memories as well as those recorded until the child achieves cognition, usually ages two to four, are registered subconsciously. Although typically inaccessible to normal waking consciousness throughout life, these imprints can unconsciously affect a person of any age—unless satisfactorily resolved.
For example, in McCarty’s book, she writes, “A very common constricted [fetal] belief we hear a lot in the PPN work is ‘Something is wrong with me.’ Two common situations that give rise to this belief include (1) the discovery of a pregnancy in which the baby is unwanted, rejected, or a source of resentment or shame and (2) the [permanent] separation of the baby and mother at birth.” Anyone who doubts that such subconscious recordings can significantly shape a person’s entire life—self-esteem, attitude, beliefs, emotions, relationships, motivation, and/or behavior—need only to consult Louis Cozolino’s or Daniel Siegel’s books. It is obvious that unresolved issues in parents’ lives can further affect their children’s lives, and the compounded impact of individual inadequacies on human relationships throughout humankind is inestimable.
The prenatal and perinatal periods of one’s life traditionally were disregarded as having no significance. But the mounting evidence to the contrary is helping to identify and heal psychological traumas in the womb and at birth. APPPAH seeks to draw attention of other heath care providers and prospective parents to more informed care from conception forward. APPPAH discoveries are the basis for my newest book Spirituality Beyond Science and Religion, written with the assistance of a theologian and a clinical psychologist,
The outcome of my experience, doubts, and searching have made me more discriminating in accepting what to believe. I now judge the "circumstantial evidence" of any metaphysical event by the number of consistent supporting reports from eminent health care professionals who, themselves, had been highly skeptical initially on the basis of their education, training, and experience. So I believe that healthy skepticism is important for everyone, to help protect us from being too gullible about anything—both metaphysical and otherwise. I just happen to dislike skepticism seemingly felt or expressed for the sake of negativity or pessimism.
I recommend that you too maintain an open, inquisitive mind. Our senses naturally tell us to believe the reality we know. But we are increasingly confronted with details about amazing, often incredible, claims that defy our senses. Depending on their threat or value to us, we can disregard or pursue their validity, recognizing that answers for the metaphysical may be beyond the present limits of both science and religion.
APPPAH. “Birth Psychology: Mission and Our Legacy.” The Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health. APPPAH | Birth Psychology
Chamberlain, David B. Babies Remember Birth: And Other Extraordinary Scientific Discoveries About the Mind and Personality of Your Newborn. Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1988.
———. 1988. “The Significance of Birth Memories.” Birth Psychology. The Significance of Birth Memories | Birth Psychology
———. (1994) “The sentient prenate: what every parent should know.” Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 9(1), 9-34.
———. The Mind of Your Newborn Baby. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1998.
———. Chapter Ten “Prenatal and Perinatal Hypnotherapy.” Transpersonal Hypnosis: Gateway to Body, Mind, and Spirit. New York, NY: CRC Press, 2000.
Cozolino, Louis. The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: Attachment and the Developing Social Brain. New York, NY: Norton, 2006.
Lagercrantz, Hugo and Jean-Pierre Changeux. “The Emergence of Human Consciousness: From Fetal to Neonatal Life.” Pediatric Research: 65:3 pp. 256-260, March, 2009.
Linn, Sheila Fabricant, William Emerson, Dennis Linn, and Matthew Linn. Remembering Our Home: Healing Hurts & Receiving Gifts from Conception to Birth. Mahwah, NJ: Mahwah, NJ, 1999.
McCarty, Wendy Anne. Welcoming Consciousness: Supporting Babies’ Wholeness From the Beginning of Life. Santa Barbara, CA: Wondrous Beginnings, 2009.
Mendizza, Michael. “Touch of Hope: Discovering the Mind of the Prenate.” iscovering the Mind of the Prenate | Touch The Future:
Siegel, Daniel J. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. New York, NY: Bantam, 2010.
Verny, T.R. 1989. “The scientific basis of pre- and perinatal psychology. Part I.” Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 3(3), 157-170.
Wade, Jenny. Change of Mind. Albany, NY: State of New York University Press, 1996.
———. 1998. “Physically Transcendent Awareness: A Comparison of the Phenomenology of Consciousness Before Birth and After Death.” Journal of Near-Death Studies 16:249-275.
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