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 Post subject: Mental disorders and the mother's womb
 Post Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 2:50 am 
Mental disorders and the mother's womb

"The pregnant mothers are treated with respect and care in traditional societies. In traditional Sri Lankan society, there are customs and rituals performed for the well-being of the expecting mothers and children in their wombs. For instances, the near and dear ones on hearing about the conception of a child, used to pay visits bringing various kinds of dishes, sweetmeat and fruits. It is also customary to make a vow for the protection of the child and the mother. After the child birth, the family members accompany the child and the mother to the place where the vow has been performed. The value systems such as these are very necessary for a mentally healthy society. The point I raise in the article is that some people become mental patients due to traumatic experiences of the expecting mothers."


Dr. H.S.S. Nissanka
CDN / 01Mar2006


Mental disorders: There is a general belief that some people become mental patients due to traumatic experiences in their childhood. Also, many case studies have revealed that some people have become mentally ill due to traumatic experiences undergone during their teens or even adulthood.

Going by Freudian psychoanalytic concepts, some believe that the incidents which caused traumatic experiences are the causes of mental disorders.

As I have observed, what has caused mental disorder is not the particular incident but the memory of it. If the incident had generated fear in the experiencer, it is the memory of that fear remains in him.

Memories of traumatic experiences remain in the mind of the person concerned. There are some memories which could be recalled easily - those that are located in the conscious mind. Some memories located in the unconscious cannot be recalled easily; thus memories can be classified under two groups - conscious memories and unconscious memories.

It is easy to recall conscious memories which carry with them the emotions associated with the original incident and therefore such memories remain green in the person concerned. Although the memories in the unconscious can not be recalled easily, emotions associated with the original incident are alive and keep on influencing the behaviour of the person concerned.

For instance, emotions such as anger or revenge (Kleshes - mental defilements) will influence the behaviour of the person concerned.

In the treatment of mental patients, I was using the six step method of Buddhist Psychotherapy, but in some cases I have failed to cure them.

All my efforts to get at the causes of the mental illnesses, in those cases, were in vain. Tracking down the memories of incidents were of no use. No related incidents could be found.

Could it be that such incidents took place when the patient was in his or her mother's womb? If the causes of the mental illness originated in the mother's womb, how this could be verified? The knowledge gained through my case studies on alleged rebirth cases could be applied here. The experience that the person had in the mother's womb and the memories of those incidents can be brought to light by the following means:

It is possible to get a patient to regain his memories by means of deep hypnosis. Sometimes it is possible to get the patient to recall his experiences of his childhood and then go back gradually to the experiences in the mother's womb.

By means of extra sensory perception

Extra-sensory perception is a skill that one could cultivate through meditation. Gauthama Buddha comes to mind. In Buddhist texts there are hundreds of references to extra-sensory perceptions through which the Buddha tracked down incidents (Karmic actions) of people.

In modern times, Edga Cayce of the USA has had extra sensory perception skills as evident from the records in the archives of Edga Cayce Foundation in America. (Please read: "Many Mansions" by Dr. Gina Cerminara.)

Without using the techniques of extra-sensory perception or deep hypnosis, we can verify from the mother of the patient - the mother under normal circumstances can recall of what happened when the child was in her womb.

In my case studies, I have utilized this method. By this method, the normal memories of traumatic experiences that the mother had, while the child was in her womb, can be tapped.

As stated earlier, the memories of the conscious mind can be tapped easily by asking questions such as: (1) Was there any threat to your life when the child was in the womb? (2) Were there any unpleasant incidents such as family quarrels and frightening experiences while the child was in your womb? Thus mother's normal memories can be brought out by means of conversations with the mother concerned. There are the possibilities of memories getting buried in the unconscious.

The mother may have forgotten the incident completely but it could have gone in to her unconscious. To go into the mother's unconscious, personal and confidential meeting for conversation is essential. The best and easiest method of going into the unconscious is to study the dreams of the mother. Here I will give two case studies related to the conscious memories.

Case study of a university girl

A girl from the University of Peradeniya came for treatment for a complicated psychosomatic disorder. Earlier, for about two years she had psychiatric treatment and Ayurvedic treatment plus Pirith and all kinds of 'Poojas'. But all these had only temporary effects.

She had eleven therapeutical sessions with me and completed the course of treatment. She resumed her studies at the university and was feeling better. But a few months later, she got a relapse and came once again for treatment. Earlier, I had tracked down "Fear" as the cause of her illness.

But my explanations, it is apparent, had no lasting effect. This time it struck me that the patient's 'fear' (Klesha) may have been caused by an uterine experience.

In the presence of the patient I spoke to her mother over the phone and asked whether she had experienced fear or shock while her daughter was in her womb. She narrated the following incident.

"Being pregnant I was resting in my bed after lunch and woke up in the afternoon to go to the kitchen to prepare tea. When I was about to keep my feet on the floor, I noticed a huge cobra coiled on the small bed-side carpet. I screamed and screamed till the neighbours rushed in and removed the cobra. I have never experienced such an agonizing shock in my life before."

Thus the mother confirmed my guess that her daughter has had a deep impact by the fear and shock experienced while the child was in her womb. The explanation was convincing enough for the patient to realize that her illness was not caused by any external agency. A course of meditation was recommended to remove her fear. Thereafter she became normal and well.

In this case, the disorder was caused by the fear that was transmitted to her from her mother-again an unconscious act. Fear is a klesha - a mental defilement. Usually a klesha is protected by a psychological phenomenon known as Neevaranas mental obstacles. According to Buddha Dhamma, there are five Neevaranas which keep the kleshes covered and concealed.

Being unable to understand what has really happened to her, she was suspicions of others. Suspicion is one of the five neevaranas. Some psychiatrists jump to the conclusion that the patient is suffering from schizophrenia and treat accordingly.

According to Buddhist Psychotherapy, Neevarana of suspicion is used unconsciously by the patient to cover the klesha. Here, the klesha found is fear - the fear that had been transmitted from the mother to the daughter while she was in the womb.

'A' Level student

A twenty year-old-well built young man was brought for treatment by his father. While studying for GCE 'A' Level in a leading school in Kandy, the young man found it difficult to concentrate on his studies because of a severe headache that came off and on.

In spite of medical treatments, aches and pains all over the body persisted. Medical specialists were consulted! Several medical tests including test for cancer were done. Those tests excluded neurological and cancer disorders. Both Western and Ayurvedic treatments were of no use.

The treatment that this boy received during the first sessions gave him only temporary respite. He had a relapse. The treatment resumed.

During the first seven sessions the following facts came to light:

The patient had constant quarrels with the mother and most of the time he was in angry mood.

Experience of fear was accompanied by body pains - particularly a severe headache.

Fear was detected as the psychological cause of the disorder.

As time passed, he displayed signs of bi-polar disorder - an illness fluctuating from extreme depression to extreme restlessness and anger.

The cause of the disorder - fear was covered up alternatively by two neevaranas (1) Theenamidda (depression) Uddachcha kukkucca (restlessness and violence).

With the above points explained. I advised the patient to continue his studies for 'A' Level by attending private classes. His father was very co-operative.

The boy was able to secure passes in all the subjects. But his headache continued, therefore he came for treatment once again. At this stage it occurred to me that the cause - the klesha of fear could have transmitted to the patient while in the mother's womb.

The patient's mother was consulted for information of her pregnancy. She revealed that she was having high blood pressure.

She had lost a child immediately before the present child was conceived. She had constant fear of losing this child or of getting a deformed child. Thus my guess proved to be correct. This fact was explained to the patient and recommended a course of therapeutic exercises and meditation.

Later I spoke to the patient's mother. The boy had gone for a class. The mother reported that the son was much improved but used to get agitated occasionally.

I have treated at least ten mental patients who had similar experiences as indicated by the two cases given above. It appears that children while in the wombs get conditioned by their mothers' experiences.

Normally when a klesha is present, the child concerned tend to be a mental patient. Those who are concerned with mental health of their children, should understand the need to treat their pregnant wives with lot of care, kindness and affection.

In traditional Sri Lankan society, there are customs and rituals performed for the well-being of the expecting mothers and children in their wombs.

For instances, the near and dear ones on hearing about the conception of a child, used to pay visits bringing various kinds of dishes, sweetmeat and fruits.

The concept of 'Doladuka' is important here. This word means that what mother desires are also desired by the child in the womb. 'Dola' means what two hearts desire. By pleasing the mother they please the baby in the womb also.

There is a ritual called 'Gaba perahera' or 'Gap-perahera'. In order to invoke blessings on the mother and the child the near and dear ones engage in religious activities. In Buddhist families, the monks are invited to the house for giving alms or for recital of Partithrana Dhamma. The word Partithrana means providing protection. The monks, in their Dhamma Desana stress on the need to protect the child and the mother medically as well.

It is also customary to make a vow for the protection of the child and the mother.

After the child birth, the family members accompany the child and the mother to the place where the vow has been performed. I have seen some people of remote villages coming to the Dalada Maligawa and offer the children to the Sacred Tooth Relic.They keep the child on the threshold of the shrine room for a while and take away. Sometimes, the monks make special blessings on the child.

The pregnant mothers are treated with respect and care in traditional societies. When a pregnant woman gets into a public vehicle, she is offered a seat promptly. The value systems such as these are very necessary for a mentally healthy society.

The point I raise in the article is that some people become mental patients due to traumatic experiences of the expecting mothers. To establish this point scientifically, intensive research is necessary.


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