Der Seelenraum Des Ungeborenen. Pränatale Psychologie Und Therapie (the Psychic Space of the Unborn Child: Prenatal Psychology and Therapy)

Article excerpt

Ludwig Janus (2000). Der seelenraum des Ungeborenen. Pränatale Psychologie und Therapie (The Psychic Space of the Unborn Child: Prenatal Psychology and Therapy). Düsseldorf & Zurich: Patmos Walter. 235 pages.

In the textbooks on psychotherapy, the terms birth and pregnancy, not to mention the experience of birth and prenatal experience, hardly come up at all. From the point of view of prenatal psychology, this constitutes a systematic distraction from the relevance that experiences at the beginning of life have for an individual's lifehistory.

This is the powerful conclusion to the new book by Ludwig Janus, a book based on extensive self-orientation in psychoanalysis and primal therapies in the broad sense and on a sound knowledge of literature. Janus has been trying to integrate prenatal and perinatal psychology into the broad field of depth psychology for decades. He has also been President of the International Society of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine and co-editor of the society's journal since 1995. His struggle to win support for the cause has been a long one, and he is particularly upset that the early "excommunication" of Otto Rank and his book The Trauma of Birth which was sharply criticised by Freud, has not long since been revised. After this long struggle, Janus is now more relaxed in his analyses and his hopes that perinatal psychology and, more importantly, the wealth of experience in therapy by the wide variety of schools of thought will be integrated in psychoanalysis. The topic has existed in psychoanalysis right from the beginning in a distorted, episodic or mythological form, but it was never reflected in the therapeutic setting. In contrast to the verbal ego required in psychoanalysis, dealing with the preverbal ego of experience often requires changes to be made in the setting: physical contact to provide support and sometimes much longer sessions. This is because early traumas, caused by prenatal shocks, becoming stuck during birth, the experience of attempted abortion, forceps delivery, and huge rejection as a child, for example, are easier to access via physical memories than via verbally encoded ones. Understandably, Janus says therapists should have familiarized themselves with these dimensions by becoming aware of their own early stages of life in order to provide appropriate support to a patient with such early traumas. Janus is also self-critical, emphasizing that in hindsight he sensed indications of an early trauma in many of his patients but, due to a lack of relevant training, was not able to pick up on them properly. However, he also sees the bridges that the pioneers of psychoanalysis built to these early stages, particularly in the London schools of thought. …


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