Birth Trauma

views updated

Birth trauma

In psychoanalysis, birth provides the first experience of anxiety in an individual's life.

In psychoanalytical theory, birth trauma is the first major occasion of great anxiety in the life of an individual experienced at birth as the infant moves from the gentle comfort of the womb into a new environment full of harsh and unfamiliar stimuli. While most psychoanalytical psychologists assign a moderate degree of importance to the birth trauma in terms of its effects, some believe that the birth trauma is the prototypical basis of all later anxiety neuroses. The universality of the birth experience presents obvious difficulties in the precise determination of the nature and effects of the birth trauma. The term birth trauma may also mean any physical injury to an infant that occurs during birth.

Further Reading

Hotchner, Tracy. Pregnancy and Childbirth: The Complete Guide for a New Life. 2nd ed. New York: Avon, 1990

Martin, Margaret. The Illustrated Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth. New York: Facts on File, 1991.