Acting Out Memories

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Andrew Feldmar, a therapist from Canada who was in England studying and training at a noted clinic in London, ended up working with four youths who had each attempted suicide at least five times. Their individual attempts were curiously seasonal, occurring over and over again at about the same time each year.

In trying to figure out this repetitive pattern he decided to find and interview their mothers. From them he was surprised to learn that each of these suicidal persons had experienced an abortion attempt at some time during the pregnancy. It turned out that the suicide attempts were occurring during the months that their mothers had attempted to abort them–although none of the clients had conscious knowledge that an abortion attempt had been made. He convinced the mothers to talk to them about this reality.

Feldmar writes, “I discovered that an unsuccessful attempt at abortion can be remembered (unconsciously) by the child and much later commemorated by repeated and unsuccessful suicide attempts. Even the style of the suicide echoes the style of the abortion (i.e., if mother used mechanical means, so did the child; if mother used a chemical, the child tried to overdose). . . . Neither mother nor child makes the connection. Until asked, mother may never have confessed to anyone her early assassination attempt, least of all to her child. Once the connection is made, the child is relieved of compulsively having to act out the memory. What seemed like insanity turns out to be a haunting memory.”

By David Chamberlain, PhD (Windows to the Womb, p. 136-137, used with permission)