Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?

Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?
Alternative Psychotherapies: Evaluating Unconventional Mental Health Treatments

Monday, August 29, 2011

Examining Unconventional Theories: More on the "Primal Wound"


Like many other unorthodox belief systems, Nancy Verrier’s “Primal Wound” theory just keeps on keeping on in spite of clear evidence that it can’t be correct. For those who are just coming in, the Primal Wound idea is the entirely speculative notion that babies adopted in the first days or weeks of life are deeply troubled by separation from the birth mother, and that this disturbance causes psychological difficulties that continue to be experienced right into adulthood.

An interview with Verrier at http://blog.adoptionmosaic.org/interview-with-nancy-verrier/ shows a continuing emphasis on some easily refutable points.

The first of these is the assumption that infants are psychologically more vulnerable in the period soon after birth than they are later. This belief depends on a logical fallacy; it’s based on the idea that if childhood is a vulnerable period, and people in later life are less psychologically vulnerable, then earlier and earlier developmental periods are times of greater and greater vulnerability. In fact, though, both physical and psychological vulnerability have schedules in which a somewhat later period is more sensitive than the earliest time. As an example, the probability of birth defects from exposure to rubella is much less right after conception than it is 6 weeks later.

Critical periods in development, when normal events are more easily disturbed by trauma or disease, are different for different aspects of developmental change. Emotional attachment to a caregiver has not developed at birth and is not apparent until 6 months or so later. Think about this a bit-- what has there been for the baby to attach to, before birth? In the interview with Verrier, she says the baby knows nothing but that mother. In fact, though, the baby knows nothing but the inside of that mother, not the outside.

Are we to assume that newborn babies are grieving for the taste of the amniotic fluid and for the sound of the mother’s stomach rumbling, not to mention other less socially-acceptable noises? If not, what are we to think they miss? Is it the “psychological connection” mentioned by Verrier, which she says is not severed with the umbilical cord? What was that connection? Are we actually talking about a telepathic communication between mother and baby, as posited by the ‘50s psychoanalyst Nandor Fodor? If so, why doesn’t such a connection continue after birth-- is it somehow dependent on physical transmission through the cord? There seems to be quite a confusion of material and non-material events here.

Verrier argues that babies remember not only birth but prenatal events back to conception because of cellular consciousness. This idea, that experiences are imprinted on cells and need not be represented in the nervous system, has been popular among Scientologists for many decades (see Janet Reitman’s recent history of Scientology). It has also much been much favored among advocates of Janov’s primal therapy, including the Australian physician Graham Farrant, who believed that there were memories from the egg and sperm stages too (see http://primals./org/articles/farrant3.html). There is certainly no evidence that this type of memory exists or that either subjective experience or recall can occur without the functioning of high levels of the nervous system; this also applies, by the way, to the “body memory” idea much discussed by Bessell van der Kolk. Once again, this belief seems to involve a confusion between functions of cells and some posited non-material component of the personality.

Now let’s consider Verrier’s idea of “biological mirroring”, which seems to be the experience of observing others who share some of one’s genetically-determined behavior traits. I wonder whether Verrier is aware that human infants don’t even recognize themselves in the mirror until 15-18 months of age? How are they then to compare their own more subtle behavior characteristics with those of others until a much more advanced age? And when they do notice differences, what does this mean--- would we see psychological problems caused by being the only girl in a large family of boys, or the blue-eyed child of heterozygous brown-eyed parents? As for genetically-determined behavior traits, I would be at a loss to name even one that is obvious and is inherited according to a dominant-recessive pattern (we can’t expect tongue-rolling or tasting certain chemicals to be easily observed). Instead, behavior traits like temperament are determined by combinations of genes and environment. The big similarities in behavior of some separated twins, so much emphasized by the media, need to be considered in the context of other separated pairs who have little in common. Before arguing for the positive impact of “biological mirroring”, Verrier needs to present evidence that children in families where there are strong resemblances are somehow psychologically healthier than those in families where the roll of the genetic dice has produced varying temperaments and appearances.

The Sunday New York Times (Aug. 28, 2011) this week carried an obituary whose details reminded me strongly of Verrier’s claims. This was the obituary of Budd Hopkins, an abstract expressionist painter-- and, more to the point, the instigator of the “alien-abduction movement”. According to the Times, “Many who shared their stories with Mr. Hopkins had no conscious memory of their abductions at first. But they had lived for years, he said, with the nagging feeling that somewhere, something in their lives had gone horribly wrong….. by his reckoning, 1 in 50 Americans has been abducted by an alien and simply does not know it.” Here is a theory of emotional discomfort that is as much supported by evidence as the theory of the Primal Wound. Is there the slightest reason why anyone should accept either of these ideas?




131 comments:

  1. Missing from your self-serving attack here is the fact that your so-called rational approach is, in and of itself, a function of the dominant cultural mode that you serve with such blog posts. By this I mean to say that the very "rational", "civilized", "modern", "enlightenend" approach that you pretend to advocate for is, in and of itself, designed to support a control structure and a power differential that is to your advantage in your line of work. In this light, whether one agrees with The Primal Wound or not is irrelevant, although for many of us it certainly resonates in ways that are just as valid as your "proven" approach, sanctioned as it is by institutions of power and control, creating as they do the so-called objective "environment" that we all suffer from. For those of use who have escaped this environment, and who have returned to our countries of birth, it is certainly enlightening to see that the scientific approach has little hold on the rest of the planet; in fact, the understanding of "nature" is implicit in most conversations I have about my adoption here in Lebanon. It might behoove you to explore this before condemning anyone that simply is competing with your academic point of view. That you dismiss the valid feelings of thousands of adoptees with nitpicking annotations reveals not the invalid aspect of these works--though we might indeed question them--but your need to maintain your place in this power structure. And for this you have a lot to answer for.

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    1. As a Birth Mother who attends Group with adoptees and other Birth Parents, I want to thank you for your reasoned and thoughtful rebuttal.
      Amongst all mammals, I cannot think of many which thrive when separated from their Mothers, and most suffer horribly.
      The person who authored the above is terribly misinformed based on what I have heard from the adoptees.

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    2. I'm not sure which "above" you mean.

      As to mammals thriving when separated from their mothers, there are many examples of those that do, ranging from hand-reared domestic animals to lab animals that are cross-fostered (litters of two mothers are traded) in an attempt to tease out the influences of genetics and of maternal care. Young animals are generally willing to accept any caregiver-- it's the adoptive mother who has to be tricked into adopting a lamb (e.g.) whose mother has died or who will not care for it.

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    4. As for attachments to Aunts, Uncles, Brothers and Sisters, it all begins with the Mother/Child bond. If that one is severed, the rest will appear just fine on the surface, the part YOU see, but the insides are hollow and empty. What YOU witness is a human being child just trying to do the best with the cards they've been dealt. Everything you are able to see is superficial, the kids learn to mask quite quickly but Jean, can you quantify that child's heart and what's in it?

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    5. Can you explain why you think you can observe what's in the hearts of others, or generalize accurately from your own feelings to those of others? Is this a matter of what some call "a word of knowledge"?

      Without wanting to exaggerate the usefulness of scientific method, I have to say that I feel much more certain about information based on things I've observed and that other people can also observe and correct me on. I don't trust that my personal feelings and experiences tell me accurately what other people's feelings and experiences may be, or what may have caused the feelings. It's not a matter of quantifying hearts, but of observing and describing the natural history of human events.

      You, it seems,depend on your own intuition to lead you straight to correct answers about matters that you say cannot be observed. If you feel confident about that way of knowing, there is nothing to stop you from depending on it. However, that's not the way that child development professionals do their work.

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    6. It seems to me that you are making a concerted effort to discount the experiences of the very people you are claiming to understand better than they understand themselves, and it seems quite inexcusable to me. Your studies MUST be skewed majorly to the right. One person, sure, discount what I am telling you, but trends.... Masses of the same class of people who have lived something you have not lived means you are most likely MISSING a large swath of data. Or ignoring that data, which is perhaps the most important data, that of the very segment of society that has lived the life that you proclaim to have studied for many years. Your opinions are not rooted in fact, only observation, which you obviously believe to be the ultimate authority on this matter, so tell me about double blind studies that include this most important segment of your subjects, those who have LIVED the life. Open your mind a bit, and explain to me how life experience is not a part of your research. I wonder if you even went to the link I posted? Why are the adopted children having emotional problems at a far greater rate than non adopted children for scores of decades? You cannot complete a puzzle Jean, with half of the puzzle pieces missing. Not only my intuition, but thousands of adopted "intuitions" that your methods choose to ignore. I suppose if you cannot scientifically explain the anomaly that I present, then perhaps Developmental Professionals need to re-evaluate how they do their work because I assure you, you missed the boat. I'm glad you feel more certain evaluating what you can observe, but you cannot observe a child's broken heart or soul can you? I repeat, in your rigid methodology, you are absolutely missing the most important part of the picture, directly causing your data to be as flawed as Adolph Hitlers battle plans to invade Russia. In any and all respects, you missed the mark. Perhaps Developmental Professionals need to examine their methods just a bit, perhaps a bit of tweaking may be required. Psychology is still a developing science, is it not? Is this profession complete, or is it a constantly evolving science? That's what I thought. Perhaps next year there will be a breakthrough but it will never happen with a closed mind and rigid, we already know all that stuff mantra that you exhibit. Science considers all theories to find the truth, and I'm not seeing an open, inquisitive mind at work in your writings. Seems you've made up your mind from a very old text book. You are never too old to learn something new, Jean. An open mind is key to new discovery. You really should examine your methodology and you just may find that your methods are sound, but missing a whole swath of potential data. What a shame.

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    7. Actually, the evidence does not show that adopted children have emotional problems at a much greater rate than non-adopted children. Early-adopted children have not been shown to have more problems in general, although they have somewhat more internalizing and somewhat less externalizing problems. Later-adopted children (who have almost always been in poor care situations) are more likely to have difficulties, but as Michael Rutter's English-Romanian Adoptees study has shown, by the teen years most of these have smoothed out--- even the children who were of concern because of apparent lack of attachment are doing well and often regarded as admirably friendly and outgoing. It's true that the late-adopted children tend to have language delays, however, and of course those can feed into social problems.

      Be all this as it may, however, let's just suppose for the sake of argument that there were more mental health problems among adopted children. How would this indicate that there was a PW? There are many other possible explanations that should be considered: genetic tendencies to emotional disturbance, possibly shown in the birth parents in ways that led to the child's adoption; ongoing concerns of the adoptive parents about their infertility, causing depression and interfering with a relationship with the adopted child; societal attitudes and expectations about adoptive families-- and,how about Nancy Verrier assuring these people that they must be going to have trouble!

      So here's the situation: 1) there's no evidence that early-adopted children have unusual levels of problems; 2) of late-adopted children, the great majority eventually do well; 3) where there are problems, there are multiple possible causes; 4) observation of young infants shows no distress about separation from the birth mother. To me, these facts add up to reasons to reject the PW concept.

      I will hold back your other comment from posting , so you won't be spammed. However-- I didn't ask who you were, but what form of treatment you thought would be suitable for the problems you attribute to a PW.

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    8. So here's the situation: 1) there's no evidence that early-adopted children have unusual levels of problems; 2) of late-adopted children, the great majority eventually do well; 3) where there are problems, there are multiple possible causes; 4) observation of young infants shows no distress about separation from the birth mother. To me, these facts add up to reasons to reject the PW concept. So, you cite these 4 points as absolute fact and draw your conclusions, and build your house on this foundation that you have established in your mind as bedrock. Problem is, you aren't really on bedrock, you just think you are. There is actually a sink hole under your house that you built, and it's only a matter of time before it opens up and eats your house of philosophy alive. In other words, I can shoot all kinds of holes in each and every one of those 4. I have lived a life with this condition, and you haven't. It blows my mind that you dismiss a person like me with the same ol same ol but I see more and more, you will not be swayed. When you say, "so here's the situation" what you are saying is "so here's the situation as I have decided I am going to believe, no matter what anyone relates to me, even if they have lived with it". Each of those 4 "facts" I can shoot more holes in than a block of Swiss Cheese. Period. :)

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    9. How does your data quantify a small child with a broken heart Jean? A small child with something missing? All of those "grin and bear it" individuals who cope all their lives thus, they never appear on the stat sheets you are holding high, but nonetheless are deeply affected by this wound all the days of their lives, and you, up on your pulpit, doing your best to admonish and negate any validity this work may provide for their self understanding. Validating and understanding. one's lifelong feelings is the vital first step towards healing oneself from a PW. You are dismissing the very notion of their pain and where the point of impact occurred that caused this wound. The ones who say it rings true to their life, you marginalize. Blame it on some other factor. You cannot begin to heal until you locate the point of impact. The point where the damage changed you forever. That point for me Jean, was the point of separation. I suspect that was the point of damage for a million others also Jean so, do you understand why your position is a bit of a slap in the face to many adopted people?

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    10. No, I don't understand, and I don't think it is a slap in the face. If people say they are in pain, I assume that's true-- why wouldn't I? But I don't believe the pain has been caused in the way you claim, and I believe that your approach has the potential for causing even more pain than already exists.

      If someone is in agony with appendicitis, which they believe is caused by demonic possession and can be cured by exorcism, I am not denying their pain when I state that appendicitis has causes that are not demonic, and cures that do not assume that demons are at work.

      Same difference as PW, right?

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    11. By the way, why do you think you can't begin to heal unless you know the cause of the problem? Can you explain to me why you accept this piece of vernacular belief?

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    12. For some reason, I can't get a way to reply to your post where you state that you can shoot holes in my facts. Okay, shoot-- this will be interesting, But please, restrict your bullets to things other people can know. "This is how it feels to me" does not do the trick.

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    13. this thread makes me believe Jean's blog all the more. I too am an adoptee, am 51 now so have lots of experience in this and not long ago read the PW which just made any pains, real or imagined, worse and provided no solutions of healing other that possible reunion with birth family where was presented yet another realm of a whole new host of potentail problems. Thank you for this writing and your responses to this adopted fellow who obviously have issues most likely post adoptive. ta

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    14. I find that your assumptions that Nancy and her Primal Wound theory is wrong almost offensive. I am 53 years old and I have experienced much of what she has said. Being yanked away from a birth mother I liken it to someone being kidnapped from the US and brought to Palestine. An environment that is unknown, food, smells and everything else that is unfamiliar. It is traumatizing. And if you don't think so that's fine. But research that being to occur before you were even born reaches the same conclusions Nancy does. So move to Palestine and let me know how you make out.

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    15. What is the research you mention?

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  2. Why does it bother you so much that people agree with Nancy Verrier? Why are you so adamant about debunking her theory? So little is known about brain function, and scientific discovery is so fluid, I have no idea how you can be so certain that there is no such thing as a primal wound. We know that babies recognise their mother's voice from the womb. What makes you so sure that the disappearance of that voice is not damaging? A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

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    1. hello totaly agree with u and im not just sayin dat cos we abductees wanna hear that lol but i waz impressd with your ethics and wanted to chat atleast bit bout potential commonalities which suspect thrre are a few btw are u greek too ? egw pateras geneticos lol)
      anyway mike u can catch via bibeeno at hotmail dot com God ble

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  3. Daniel, will you show me one thing I've ever written that said I denied the experiences of adoptees? What I deny is the speculative explanation of those experiences offered by Verrier.

    As for the power structure, blah blah blah, can you argue that this is anything other than a personal attack which you use because you have no better argument against the conclusions I drew?

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    1. thou i cannot find much reason to side with mercers arguments got to agree the debunking of them based on the blah blahing did sound like an 80's feminist sociology text book ooops

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  4. Eremintha, you too seem to want to make this a personal matter. What difference does it make what "bothers me" or does not "bother me"?

    Can you answer the questions I posed in yesterday's piece, and thus refute my conclusion? If not, perhaps you should think this over again.

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    1. perhaps what e meant was :
      on what basis are you denying pw ieven if therewas no true or hard evidence eitherway??? and considering that she felt you are 'debunking it she then delved into a potential more perhaps personal' basis in tge apparent absence of a scientific on (scientific from hellenic definition rather than eng) mik

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  5. Of all possible replies, the one surely not open to you is to play victim. I work in academia, I know very well how the Machine works. If this had been a personal attack, I would have told you what I think about you, not your work. You post about research related to your work, I reply in turn concerning that. You, like all those in your realm, set up the parameters of debate, and then hold against those who don't debate this way these statements of "personal attack". Do you think that I have not experienced this in my academic life? I am simply taking a step back and challenging the very basis from which you make your premise, which is very shaky. Because to "debate" it as you might wish is to acknowledge the validity of your discourse, which I don't. In spades. And I will not be drawn in by straw man arguments. The ball is in your court; a reply is awaited.

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  6. I already played the ball in my court. You're asking me to hop over to a different court. If you don't think my "court" is a valid one, what do you care what I say?

    Please note that I have not in the least denied the unhappiness of adopted people who say they are unhappy. However, I could name a dozen possible causes for unhappiness that are associated with adoption, and a dozen more that are not associated with adoption. None of them involve this purely notional primal wound.

    An "exorcist" has written about the idea of "fruits and roots"-- that when you see a symptom in adulthood, you can then know what were its roots in childhood. Are you, like the exorcist, arguing that where you see unhappy adult adoptees, their problems must have been caused by sustaining a primal wound? If so, your argument is really at odds with the complexity of causes and effects in personality development. I think this is relevant to the discussion, but it may not be relevant to your court and your game.

    Be that all as it may, I'd like to hear more about the role played by "nature" in the discussions of adoption you have in Lebanon. There are enormous cross-cultural differences in beliefs about this.

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  7. Speaking of what nature tells us, let's return to genetic mirroring for a minute. Why would anyone think children actually relate to adults - any adult? No child resembles an adult; adults are mostly mystifying to kids. Few adults, including genetically related ones, know instinictively how to make children comfortable in 'the family' or anywhere without seeking advice from others.

    Childhood is an awful test of putting up with adults at large from a kid's standpoint.

    Everybody knows that except the people who think adoption is the root of all evil.

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  8. Most interesting-- I see that Daniel on his inquisitor blog has nominated me an Adoption Criminal. Yes, I'm guilty of thought crimes, it seems, and have said "ain't" when Daniel and others said "is".

    Wot next!

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  9. idk, maybe you get a real career?

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  10. Anon---Say what? Oh, I see, that's "wot next".

    First time anybody ever suggested that my professional life has been unreal, although it's had its fantastic moments.

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  11. "idk, maybe you get a real career?"

    Would that be referring to Jean Mercer or DIZ?

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  12. I for one have always noted you never deny the unhappiness people can feel about having been adopted. I really wish everyone else would stop for just a minute and consider that most important point as well.

    What is this Primal Wound theory that cannot be questioned, analyzed? Everything you've written in this post is worthy of consideration. Why is it dismissed as an attempt to exert power and control? Seems to me that PW itself is a far more blatant attempt to control the adoptee experience. Words such as "always" and "every" are thrown about by Verrier as if they are nothing, what about those of us adoptees to which her all encompassing statements don't apply? For example, in the interview Verrier claims that adoptees "always" feel abandoned. We know that's not true, where is the outrage at an 'adoptoraptor' speaking on all our behalf? As an adult adoptee I found much in this interview that needs to be questioned and will never understand the free pass that's handed to Verrier. What is it about her and her message that it's received and protected like dogma and anyone who dares to question it is labeled a pariah or seen as an enemy to adoptees. An adoption criminal. It's kinda creepy actually, cult like.

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    1. Ha, I'm an adoptee who never believed it affected me until I had to look at the obvious later in life. 1/2 the people out ther that aren't adopted have major issues just from their childhood experiences. I would love to hear about your life & your experiences bc I believe no adoptee is w/out some issues. Most people have just surface awareness of their thoughts & emotions & adoptees are infamous for living in denial.

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    2. No one has said that being adopted has no effect, especially if there are experiences of abuse or neglect that cause the adoption. What I've said is that there is no Primal Wound.

      Why would anyone tell their experiences to an anonymous person?

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    3. My name can remain anonymous. I lived and continue to live with a Primal Wound. There is such a thing as I along with many others have LIVED it. I'm a 58 yr old woman. I know my birth parents. We have traits that no 'environment' other than the genetic one could have created.
      And I have also proven this to professionals when I argued Nature vs Nurture.
      Nature won hands down. You can purport to study, have knowledge but you have never walked in my shoes or any other adoptees. Books, theories are available to support any research you could choose to study.
      But that is all it is, a STUDY.
      I have run adoption support groups, mothers, daughters, sons...and various other interested parties. We all shared the same thing essentially - loss.
      I am a very damaged person. As Nancy Verrier pointed out, and rightly so, we were abandoned at birth. Your theory/opinion about when a child is adopted has an impact on their outcome as an adult is total and utter rubbish.
      Goodness me Jean, are you a mother?? Have you had children, did you study them as a child and analyse their growth and take what you should do out of a book to ensure that you did it right and they would turn out as rounded adults? Not likely.
      I work in a prison and also see damaged people who unfortunately never had a chance. And guess what???
      Their genetic imprint and I re-state once again their GENETIC imprint was faulty.
      Go back to your theories, books scientific studies. Instead of having such a closed mind open it and look at the bigger picture.

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    4. Are you suggesting that the genetic material is changed by separation from the mother? What would be the mechanism for this?

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  13. It does seem as if the thought police are here with a search warrant--

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  14. It's interesting that you mention Nandor Fodor, an internationally known psychoanalyst and author of The Search for the Beloved: A Clinical Investigation of the Trauma of Birth and Pre-Natal Conditioning. In the 50s, there were people who clung to his beliefs in much the same way that some adoptees believe Verrier's truth.

    Here's an example of one such belief that once had its group of supporters: "The trauma of birth is not the bottom-most determinant of neurotic predisposition for later life. Parental intercourse which impresses the unborn as a murderous attack or the mother's attempts to break up pregnancy, may produce almost all the shock effects in which the trauma of birth manifests itself." Yes, people did believe this and some still may.

    The danger with the PW belief is that people may delay getting proper treatment for their ailments when their problems are mistakenly attributed to adoption or separation from the mother by some other means (e.g. death). Additionally, adoptive parents may get the mistaken notion that their newborn comes to them already a wounded victim.

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    1. just as much one may falsy atribute an ailment to be Not based on maternal privation when it could be it seems ?????? i just dont get that???

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  15. Anon-- I do find it especially disturbing that advocacy of the PW concept can cause young adoptive families to focus on the sadness that they believe their child must have.

    In one case I've observed, a child was placed with a very nice foster family within two weeks after his birth. He remained with them until 11 months, when he went to adoptive parents who had met him and cared for him on a few brief occasions. When he was 5 and doing very well, his adoptive mother read Eldridge's "20 Things" and began to focus on talking to him about the birth mother and that part of the history. She had maintained contact with the foster family who had played such an important part in his early life, but didn't seem to regard them as "real" figures in his family network. To my mind, the connection with the foster family, to whom he had had an opportunity to attach, and whom he had to give up, was much more important than the birthmother connection.

    Thus the PW belief not only encouraged the view of a healthy, well-developed child as "wounded", but led to ignoring the potential impact of an actual attachment.

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    1. so are you saying that users of that model can make mistakes then?????
      mike btw God willin afew prior anonymous was mik

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  16. I have heard many adoptees say that the idea of "Primal Wound" is "comforting". I do not understand this, except that it validates that there is a lot of pain for many in being adopted which is certainly true and often ignored. But the concept is so global and so dire, in that it is inescapable, universal, and does permanent damage. It is incurable. That seems hardly a source of comfort, more a source of despair. Can someone explain this?

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    1. You know what the source of comfort is? Finding out the everything you've thought & felt is normal, given the circumstances. Many adoptees have a low self esteem & feel different, & when we're in denial about our adoption we tend to feel more unsure & more abnormal. Then some lady who had interviewed many of us & has her own experiences, writes a book that verbalizes & validates our feelings. The relief is that finally someone understands us & it's not forever but it must be dealt with. Once you understand you're not as bad as you think, you can begin to heal.

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    2. I second ur words!

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    3. I agree tremendously. That is exactly how I feel. We'll said!! Thank you,

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    4. I lived my life with a empty hole in my soul. I found my Mother when I was 40. The primal wound exists. It is real. I went straight to my adopted family shortly after birth. No Foster Family for me, so that puts me into the lower percentile so I shouldn't have remembered being seperated, right? Perhaps if you had been adopted Jean, you could feel it too. But you weren't adopted were you ? It's a very heavy burden to carry through life, I assure you that. And at the core of it all - who am I? Who is my biological family? Who was my mother? Is she still alive? Do I have other family members I'll never know? I am damaged goods. When you cannot feel love but you are in love, when you are afraid to delve into that scary dark bottomless pit in your soul, you have a problem. Then at some point, you cannot take it any more, you brave it. Then you find out what has been hurting you all those years is what happened when you were a helpless infant. Jean I have lived a sad life, I promise you, I assure you PW is very real, and it's no joke. Not all adopted adults ever figure it out. They just live miserable or clueless all their lives, stuck in cope mode. They just grind on through life, to their credit. I got brave and dove on it. It was very scary because I had no clue what was down in that pit. It was unknown to me, but I knew there was pain galore in there just waiting to flood out. I'm 50 now and yes, it's taken nearly a lifetime to just figure myself and my heart out. Just keep throwing your theories out there. Keep disputing what I know to be true. I have lived it and I know you are dead wrong, but say what you will. Good luck to you! And to all my adopted cousins out there, do the best you can and if you can't face the hurt in your soul, try to make the best life you can. I wish you ALL the best in life and I hope you can all find a way to love those around you deeply and completely and let them know, regularly. Hopefully you can minimize the damage you do to the people you love. Yes, you love deeply, but it's hard to show it isn't it? I know! Miss Jean, my best to you. No hard feelings. My hope for you is that you gain the ability to see through others eyes and feel what they feel. Back off of the books a bit and delve into the human side of it if you ever want to understand what you profess know, but in 20, 30, 40 or 50 years they will NOT be referencing your work as groundbreaking research from the 2010's. Jean Mercer, misdirected academia at work. What a waste of your valuable time when you could actually be building upon knowledge, not attempting to destroy someones excellent work. Stigma? Rise above? Your post 9/1/2011 7:24pm, it seems you are really reaching there for anything. Really really lame Ma'am.

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    5. William, I just want to give kudos to you for trying to explain to Jean Mercer, how we, the primally wounded, feel. As an adoptee who only 3 days ago, met her birth family for the first time in her life(I'm 52 & sadly, I will never know my birth mother, as she died 7 years ago), I completely agree with you and what you are trying to explain to Jean. She cannot know how we feel, for she has not lived the damaged lives we have led, that many people cannot understand, even other adoptees, because our feelings regarding this are swept under the carpet, never acknowledged, in order to support theories such as hers!! There are millions of us that understand where our wound comes from, but just as many of us, who, because of people such as Jean Mercer & her flawed theories, will never understand the root cause of their PW. I am obviously not as well-versed or well-spoken on the PW as you are, but I know the feelings and the damage of which you speak and applaud your effort to try to educate the ignorant, no matter how well-educated they may think they are!!!

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    6. I'm posting this so other readers can see how PW adherents put all their emphasis on how they feel and assume that they can infer from their present feelings what the source of those feelings must have been.

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  17. I would like to hear about this too.

    Does it perhaps come from the stigma still placed on lasting emotional distress, a sense that one is supposed to be able to "rise above", and therefore that it's someone's own fault if she can't cheer up? If a distressed person thinks those things, she may feel comforted if she can point to a dramatic event that made her history undeniably different from most other people's and perhaps created different rules for her life.

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  18. Could it be that the thought of having a “primal wound” provides a sense of relief as in, “Well, at least now I know what’s wrong with me and it’s not my fault. I can’t help it. I didn’t do anything wrong,” This thought process then leads to the anger and the blame which can be seen in the writing on various blogs. Oftentimes the anger is expressed through name calling (adoptoraptors, adoptlings, etc.), snide remarks (e.g. one blogger claims to have an anal probe up her butt), put downs, profanity and an expressed need to feel a sense of elevated importance. Many of the same people have been blogging and commenting for years and sadly not much has changed. There have been proclamations of severe depression to the point of suicidal thoughts and proud declarations related to the joy of being mean and nasty. It’s really all quite sad.

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  19. Nancy Verrier wrote (on her web page)
    "You suffered a loss that you can’t consciously remember and which no one else is acknowledging, but which has a tremendous impact on your sense of Self and others, your emotional responses, your behavior, and your world view. Your brain synapses connected according to your perception of your environment which seemed unsafe, unfamiliar, and in need of constant vigilance."

    When you are talking about brain synapses and neurological changes due to trauma, you are in the realm of science, not personal experience, so it is appropriate to ask for scientific proof that this is so. If she were speaking purely of personal experiences, no, those can not be quantified, proved, or disproved, but Verrier herself goes beyond anecdote into neuroscience.

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  20. By thge way, speaking of citing neuroscience in these matters, people might want to look at www.santiagiodeclaration.org, in which a number of developmental scientists state their opinion that current understanding of neurological development is not enough to create a basis for early interventions.

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  21. hi - i'm completely neutral in this argument but i have a question i'd love you to answer - someone posed it earlier - since it is believed that babies recognise their mothers voice as being most familiar from the womb, would it not make sense that they would 'miss it' when it's gone, just at the same time they're faced with the new world they're entering> thanks

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  22. Sure, it would "make sense" if we assume that young babies share the adult characteristic of preferring familiarity. In fact, they look at and listen to unfamiliar things longer than they do familiar ones.

    The problem is that accepting things because they "make sense" (rather than because there's evidence for them) falls under the category of the critical thinking error "confident speculation". It doesn't "make sense" to decide that something is true just because it seems to be congruent with our own personal ecperiences.

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    1. Likewise, to assume it isn't true because the science does not yet exist to prove it is a bit short sighted. The raw numbers of troubled teens in my generation indicate a vastly disproportionate ratio of adopted boys having many many difficulties with life as opposed to non adopted boys. Jeeze Jean, wake up.

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  23. And 500 years ago the world's best 'scientists' thought the world was flat. Now we know it is not. Keep looking at the neuroscience to back up Verrier's theory and you'll find evidence to support that theory. Maybe not now, but 5, 10 years from now. Unless you're so interested in being right you won't even consider the possibility. A possibility which, by the way, seems likely considering the tone of the article and your responses to the posters who disagree with you. And yes. That was a personal attack. Don't bother replying. I won't be back to see your response.

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  24. Pseudoscience looks for information to confirm a theory. Science tries to find information that will disconfirm an idea, and only accepts a claim when an exhaustive search fails to disconfirm it.

    In the case of Verrier's theory, I'd say that it is readily disconfirmed by information about the lives of the population of adopted individuals. There's no need to try to find neurological information to support or reject her view, because it's easily disconfirmed by the basic facts about development following adoption.

    The possibility that I won't consider is that anecdotes presented by a small number of people are a more accurate statement about the effects of adoption than information collected from a large population.

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    1. Wow. I can't believe this. I am one of millions Jean. Keep chasing your data, Jean I'm done here. I consider you an Internet Troll. If you think a newborn does not know who his mother is, there is no use in even talking to you. Goodbye.

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    2. For some reason, William Wise, I wasn't able to post your whole list of comments together-- they are scattered throughout this comment section. I thought they might be useful for readers, though.

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  25. I think all theories need to be questioned, and it's healthy to do so.

    But I am also aware that there is so much out there that tries to dismiss the profound mutual connection between a mother and her (separated by adoption) child, and I am wary of attempts to debunk Verrier being further cloaked attempts at that.

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    1. In other words, you don't think it's so healthy to question assumptions about the profound mutual connection you claim exists? I don't think there's anything "cloaked" about my discussion of Verrier and rejection of her belief that emotional attachment of child to parent begins prenatally. That's exactly what I'm saying-- that although the birth mother may be attached to her concept of who her child is, and although the adopted child in later life may wonder about the birth parents and have a strong sense of concern about the reasons for separation, these things are not the same as the mutual attachment that results from actual social interactions over the first year or two of life.

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  26. Good Christ. Jean Mercer, can you say that you directly relate to what the adopted child feels, and how they are psychologically affected by the immediate separation from their birth mother.
    I read the book, and not once did I take it as scientific proven fact, and I didn't feel it was presented as such. All I know from reading it is that, that was separated immediately upon birth, is that I can directly relate to many, many of the things that she surveyed though countless interviews of other adoptees. the simple fact that such a high percentage of adopted individuals can relate to those emotional affects should indicate that what was written in that book is far more than just a collection of words and egotistical assumptions.

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    1. Of course I didn't say I "directly related" to it (although it seems you are saying that about yourself). What I said was that the behavioral evidence about infants does not support the idea that they are disturbed by separation in the early months. (Parents will remember the transition from calmly leaving the young baby with a sitter, to trying to comfort a screaming and crying child before they can leave the house.)

      Now, what about these countless interviews? If you or anyone else wants to use them to support a claim, you'll need to count them, to report how many do and how many do not "relate" (to use your term), and to compare that information to material drawn from a similar group of nonadopted people. That would be interesting,but of course inconclusive, as what people can "relate" to is not necessarily evidence of what their own early experiences were; reality is often counter-intuitive.

      If you and others want to read Verrier and take her position as a way to organize your thinking about your own lives, you get to do that. I'm simply saying that your feelings are not good enough evidence to use in a national or international reorganization of adoption practices.

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  27. Your comments about Verrier are most distrubing to me as an adoptee. You have no more proof that she is wrong as you have proof that you are right. All I need to know is that as an adoptee at 50 years of age is this. Her writings fit me and others like me like a glove. Having been married now for 24 years and having 2 children biologically my wife can tell you that without any doubt there is a connection between her and her boys that if broken at an early stage would have been life changing for her and them. That said...I wonder on which side of abortion you stand Ms. Mercer? It seems to me that if you can debunk Verrier then your feeling about a child being aborted can be eased. So when does life begin? If as you say that a fetus can have no lasting effects on separation from a birth mother, then killing the unborn is more comfortable for you?
    Are you married? Do you have children? Were you adopted? Do you know what it is like to be raised by a set of adoptive parents who have no where near the same genetic make up that you have, and the frustration that comes from being interested in things during life that your adoptive parents have no interest in. Can you imagine what it is like to want to communicate with them about your interest, and they are not interested? Do you know what it is like to be coerced thru life to be what they want you to be based on their make up when yours is not their own? Get real and leave the science out of this...that is all theory, my feelings are fact! I have a ton more if you would like to discuss them. The fact that I was adopted at 6 months, and have the experiences and feelings I have are proof, factual proof that Verrier is on to something, something much more helpful then your explanations.

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    1. If you know all those things and believe them unshakeably, why are you worried about what I think? If you've found a belief system that works for you, that's great-- I'd just prefer that you not extrapolate from your own feelings to come to a conclusion about how early emotional development works for everybody.

      I see that part of your concern is that you oppose abortion, and I suppose that is probably a strong motivation for many supporters of Verrier. For myself, I believe that abortion can be the best choice in some circumstances, as it is permitted by the laws of the country. As to when life begins, I would say it never actually ends, and that what you really mean is when personhood begins. I'd argue that personhood begins with some degree of awareness of the environment, at about 7 months gestational age. But really none of those things,or my opinions about them, or your opinions about them, are directly relevant to questions about the formation and dissolution of attachments.

      I'm sorry that you had such a bad experience with your adoptive family, but as a non-adopted and non-adoptive person who is both a daughter and a mother, I can point out that genetically-related people can also have trouble communicating.

      Remember, when an event happens after another event, the first one did not always cause the second one.

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    2. The Primal Wound absolutely exist, for the adoptee, the adoptive parent and the birth parent!

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    3. Thanks for this proof by assertion... but I am curious, how do you figure the adoptive parent into this? I hadn't heard that one before.

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    4. It's sad for all three. Adoptive mum struggled to have kids. Totally understands what adoptive had to go through to make decision hard as it is to give up their own child. And the difficulties when the children have different genetic footprint which is expressed in personalities, iq and behaviour. I met my birth mum and half sister. I am JUST like them and nothing at all like my own family. But my adoptive mum will always be my mum. She did all for me and I am forever grateful for her unending love and patience. I will always feel the PW. The fear of rejection. The fear of not being good enough. And the fear of being totally alone. My whole childhood I knew something wasn't right. Even though I knew I was adopted from the minute I could understand. there was always something. Every birthday I had sadness. I knew there was someone out there who loved me so much to give a chance at a better life. And my own mum, who loved me so much, she tried to give me what she thought I wanted. And myself, so sad at never truely being understood but wanting to make my special mum happy all the time so she'd love me. The PW exists.

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    5. Dear Anon-- you are right that there is good reason for some sadness for all three of the people you mention, not to speak of brothers, sisters, and fathers. Any thinking person would find it melancholy to think about what might have been and to realize the unhappy circumstances that created what is. But the PW idea suggests that unhappiness is created for the adoptee when he or she is separated from the birth mother and is caused by grief over that loss. The two things are very different, and it seems to me that the circumstances you talk about are quite enough to explain your state of mind. It's not necessary to posit a PW in the way that Verrier does.

      When I say there is no PW, that does not mean that I am denying the special concerns that go along with adoption and that are different from the concerns within birth families.

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  28. I am concerned about your comments for one huge obvious reason! You could cost a person who is an adoptee, adoptive parent, or birth mother to have the feelings they carry through life never understood, or investigated so they can come to their own conclusion.
    As for attachments for everybody...I am not concerned for everybody in this context, only the people who have been separated from their birth parents. This goes back to making comments about this topic which you admit you have no experience, hence why would you get involved?
    As for abortion, you have made an assumption much like the rest of your thoughts. I am not against abortion. At times in my life I have thought that if I had been aborted, life for so many others may have been more pleasant. I am not an advocate for choice or life. I do not support you or Verrier, I am sure though of my feelings and the facts of my life. It just so happens that her writings are to a tee what my experiences are.
    As for when life begins...you must be very delusional if you believe that life begins at anytime other then conception. That is when the beginning is, growth starts from there. Abortion or no abortion why is that such a mystery? That is similar to a person telling another person that there is a certain god, and that they should act a certain way or something bad will happen to you, when in fact the person has no proof of any of it. You don't know and I don't know when awareness begins, but we are very sure when a person is conceived they start to grow. This makes them a living thing, that is a fact. I am very confident in the fact that when something, anything starts to grow it is aware of it's surroundings. Any separation either abortion or adoption from the familiar surroundings has to have a devastating effect. That is how I find this part of the discussion relevant.

    You make my points for me. You say you are sorry that I had such a bad experience with my adoptive parents? I did not have a bad experience, could it have been much better? Yes! IF THEY HAD HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO READ VERRIER!That is my conflict with you, on a baseless theory that lacks experience you may cost someone the chance of free choice. Communicating is not the problem, it is trying to assimilate to a non-genetic related family that is the problem!

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    1. Let them read Verrier-- I'm not stopping them. But before they seek treatments that are based on a misunderstanding of early emotional development, perhaps they'd do well to read some other things too.

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  29. Really? That is the answer to my questions and comments? You are not stopping them. That is entirely true...however you are not helping in anyway. If you truly were in the business of helping you would let your findings stand on their own instead of attacking someone else's work. I find it very interesting that you put no more effort in this response, I wonder why?
    Our country is imploding because of people who are elitist in their thinking. I find your attitude similar to that of our current administration. Very lazy, very arrogant, and very hypocritical. My adopted dad always said if they can't do it, they teach it. The world is full of people who have no real experience, yet for some reason think they are smarter, better prepared, and rely on the control of others for their own self-worth and ego.

    That said, what should the minions read to get what you perceive to be the correct path?

    I would appreciate it very much if you would respond fully to my earlier thoughts.

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    1. I don't see any point to responding to your earlier or later or present thoughts. You told me that what you feel is fact, and that there are no other relevant facts. I don't agree that what you feel, or what I feel, is fact in the same sense as information about events that a number of people can observe and compare notes on.

      If you would like to read about early emotional development in any developmental psychology textbook, you would have a foundation for thinking about Verrier's claims and those of APPPAH and similar groups.

      If you don't want to read such material,don't. And if you want to discuss any of this with me, don't be snotty, sarcastic, and personally insulting. Consider how you'd speak if we were face to face and I knew your name and background as you know mine.

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  30. I promise you that being adopted makes a person very capable of speaking face to face or otherwise of no consequence. I would tell you the same either way. If you would like to have a more private discussion I would be happy to accommodate you. I did not chose to post my feelings in this realm as you most certainly did when building this website. If you would like to talk in person or over the phone we can do that. Just so you know I have not read about you, I have only read this blog from start to where we are today.

    On a better note...I appreciate that you have let our conversation be made public.

    As for the sarcastic, snotty, and insulting comments, I apologize. When having a discussion with a professional about something as important as this I was upset that your response was so limited. Oh well, I got your attention. That is a symptom of being adopted by the way.

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    1. No doubt you would state the same opinions, but I think you would have been more polite if we were looking at each other.

      I would certainly like to see any evidence that being adopted makes a person more capable of speaking in various ways than non-adopted people are-- or that getting attention is a symptom of being adopted! This kind of statement is what worries me-- your apparent view that you became who you are as a result of adoption-- you seem to attribute all the outcomes to that single fact, which is easy to do when you pay attention only to your own subjective response. I'm willing to say that my subjective response is probably inaccurate if it contradicts information other people have gathered systematically and objectively, but not everyone handles information in that way, it seems.

      I think I said everything I had to say about Verrier in the original post. All you have said is that my statements there don't feel right to you, and Verrier's statements do feel right. I'm not sure what you want me to do with this discrepancy, as we seem to be inhabiting different universes of discourse.

      Thanks for the handsome apology, however.

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  31. I can tell you that I am sure most of who I am is due to my being adopted. However, I agree we are wasting time. Until we walk in another persons shoes we should withhold our rantings.

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  32. Jean Mercer, are you adopted? I am. The experience of the primal wound cannot be clinically analyzed. It is a subjective experience. Otherwise every adoptee would respond to relinquishment identically. Your position is offensive to me, and obviously to many others. You simply do not know what you are talking about. And it would be lovely if you stopped talking.

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    1. 1. No, I'm not adopted,and neither are my children. For what that's worth.

      2. There's no reason that I should stop talking, but you can stop paying attention.

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    2. Jean...are you for real.....a real professional or some Crack pot speaking on the soapbox????

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  33. Dear Mag Shock-- I don't suppose you really expected that I'd post your recent comment , which is insulting and has no content. Save yourself the trouble, in future.

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  34. Dear Jean Mercer,
    I have not read The PW, but as a scientist, it does seem to me that it is not based in science. Since many people relate to the book, I suppose it is more like a spiritual treatise. I think you are right that you and some of the commenters seem to be arguing from different platforms.

    I find it interesting that this book and its critique has managed to straddle the boundaries between biology, psychology, morality, and spirituality; I guess it proves how complicated our consciousness is!

    I think another book that might develop this conversation further (though it is not really from the adoption standpoint) is "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks". Those who agree or disagree with you, Jean Mercer, will be challenged by the case of Henrietta Lacks and her cancer cells, which have been propagated without her consent and which have led to many important health discoveries. Do her cells have a memory? Is she alive and suffering? Or are the cells just made of the growth medium providing nutrients? I guess it is similar to the idea of organ transplants. Do the hands of a murderer affect you if they have been transplanted onto you (film- Hands of Orlac)?

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  35. Well-- those who support the idea of cellular consciousness would suppose that Henrietta Lacks' cells continue to have individual consciousness and memory. These are the same people who believe you can recover memories of the experiences of the egg and the sperm that started your development. People working in the life sciences generally don't think that, but attribute memory only to organized, developed nervous systems.

    Thinking that a murderer's hands will go on murdering even if transplanted to the arms of a non-murderer is sort of at the level of thinking that all of a woman's children will in some way resemble her very first lover, even if he is not their father.

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  36. THANK YOU for refuting the ridiculous idea of the Primal Wound.

    I am an adult adoptee, and I have never had any of the issues described in Verrier's book. None. Zero. I think it's absurd, based on what we know about psychology and the development of babies, to assume that any kind of damage whatsoever can be done to a baby by separating it from the bio mother at birth.

    Despite the lack of logic and evidence for Verrier's claims, birth mothers and unhappy adoptees cling to the notion for dear life. THANK YOU for writing this.

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  37. Hello. Very interesting point of view, however I'd like to ask the author: are you adopted? If you aren't, then you don't know what it FEELS like. All the clinical evidence in the world can't PROVE how people FEEL, or why they feel the way they do.

    Perhaps you might not want to post my comment because I don't support your point of view, but I don't think that there is any way that you can "objectify" feelings, so to speak, in the sense that, you can't tell me that because there is no proof in a laboratory that I am feeling a certain way, then it's not possible for me to feel that way.

    Growing up I didn't know that I was adopted, but all my life I felt as if the person I loved most of all had died. It didn't make any sense, my mother (adoptive mother, who I thought was my birth mother) was always there. Intellectually I knew that she was there, but emotionally, I felt like she was dead. I also always felt like I couldn't connect with my mother, as though there were some kind of wall or barrier between us, even though it didn't make any sense to feel that way.

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    1. No,I'm not adopted. And I haven't said a word about how you feel or don't feel. What I said was that babies don't appear to have special feelings about specific people until they are six months old or so. From that, and the fact that there are sad non-adopted people, I concluded that unhappy feelings experienced by adults do not depend on whether or not they were separated from their birth mothers at a very early point.

      I don't deny your feelings, but I do deny that there is a "Primal Wound" and am concerned about the worry this idea creates in adoptive parents and children.

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  38. First of all, I am an adoptee. Second, I do completely understand that some of these ideas are extreme. I have not read the book, but I've heard about it, and I think I understand the main points.

    I didn't read all the comments, but I think everyone is being extremely opinionated and short sighted. The subject of adoption is very complex. It involves a lot of feelings, experiences, emotions, etc. Unfortunately, there is not a good, reliable scientific method to study this topic, because we are dealing with small babies who are unable to verbalize feelings at this stage in their life. OF COURSE a newborn does not experience stranger anxiety like a 12 month old would. Babies have extremely primitive emotions and do not respond to loss the same way an older child would. But to say it would not impact a baby at all to be taken from his mother, when studies show that babies know their mother's voice, prefer her smell, is like saying the mother-baby bond doesn't exist.

    Trust me. It does impact us. I am a well educated, well adjusted adult with no mental illnesses or criminal past. I am not "unhappy." I do not regret being adopted, and I do not prefer my biological mother over adopted mother. Nonetheless, the separation has an impact. I have never met an adopted person who has not had some type of impact from the separation. Unless you have experienced adoption, you will never understand the feeling. Likewise, unless you conduct scientific studies, you would have no way of knowing what this impact is and isn't.

    Again, I realize these ideas (book) may be somewhat "out there" and I'm not saying I agree hook, line, and sinker, but to say a newborn cannot be impacted by a separation is (in my opinion) not a wise or scientific thing at all.

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    1. I'm glad that your life has gone well and you are not commenting on this matter out of personal misery. And I don't doubt for a moment that adopted people have thoughts and concerns about their origins that are not experienced in the same way by the non-adopted.

      But read what you wrote again. Aren't you simply saying that what you think must be the experience of a newborn baby, therefore must be just what you think? And aren't you insisting that feelings that could have developed at any time in the first ten or twenty years of life must be due to events soon after birth, rather than any other factor like becoming able to wonder where you came from or like being baffled by genealogical tables?

      Perhaps it would help both of us if you would define what you mean by the "mother-baby bond". Who is bonded, in your definition?

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  39. Considering you are not adopted, why are you bothering with this. Many adopted people are left with long term issues and many find themselves in some type of institutional situation on their life journey, which has been documented.
    You can see that by the comments that it is a very sensitive and painful topic for some. While I can appreciate and am interested in all views on any matter to enhance my learning, I am saddened by what I see as dogmatism and seeming lack of understanding and compassion.
    What are you really getting out of this?
    And yes, I think parents of adopted children should know all possibilities, not just one, not just yours. Maybe you could open yourself to the possibility that a baby knows things instinctively, with their senses, not consciously.....smell, taste, hearing...and when these things that are known, and are suddenly gone....perhaps that leaves a primal wound?
    something to ponder....among the many things that we may never truly know.....unless we have had the experience ourselves...

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    1. As a developmental psychologist, I consider adoption to be a useful test of the information we have about attachment of children to their parents. That's why I'm interested and "bothering". And I don't like to see people sold a bill of goods about psychological problems-- that's also why I'm "bothering".

      Can you support your apparent claim that if you've had the experience of being adopted yourself, you know what a newborn baby feels like when separated? As it happens, I also was born, but I have no idea what newborn babies feel like.

      As I've pointed out before, people who have written descriptions of prenatal and perinatal experience have usually drawn their ideas from experiences under LSD. I see no reason to think that drugged adults can remember their infant experiences-- do you?

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  40. Why not examine your starting premise? A theory which has suffered as much damage as tabla rasa has in recent years is a theory headed for the dustbin of scientific history.

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  41. Not sure who is the "you" you refer to. I don't think I've claimed tabula rasa.

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    1. I think you have claimed Tabula Rasa in a roundabout way, Jean. Sure you have. Haven't you? Sure you have.

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    2. When it's stated, accurately, that babies learn their languages from experience after birth, that is not a claim that tabula rasa operates. Neither is it a claim of tabula rasa to say that attachment depends on post-natal experience. Babies are born capable of and interested in the social interactions that lead to attachment, but not attached to a particular person.

      By the way, if it's all happening before birth, how come infants and toddlers are attached to their fathers, brothers, sisters, and non-family caregivers?

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  42. http://www.originsnsw.com/mentalhealth/id4.html

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  43. My comments were spread throughout this thread because as I read down the thread your responses and statements spurred me to comment on a few particular posts. Anywho, it's a shame that I'll be long gone by the time science advances to the point where it can explain this phenomena completely. Thanks Jean for the good reading, I meant no harm, I am just passionate about this because this issue has OWNED my life no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. Thanks for letting me step up on your platform and give my 13 cents worth of opinion derived from my life experience. It's mind blowing to me that as a troubled child there was already all this research into the "troubled" adopted child, but I guess nobody read any of it because everybody I had contact with as a kid used to stand around and scratch their heads about what the heck is wrong with this child? I was acting out because I was a wounded soul. I had a great family, I love my adopted family dearly, but why then was I in so much pain if, as you say, as an infant I couldn't have known I was taken away from my biological Mom? I tried to fill that emptiness any way I could, but my legacy was an inability to feel the love that does, indeed, reside in my heart. Why could I never tell my family that I loved them, when I obviously have a tremendous amount of love for my family? By your accounts, I should have been an exemplary child. I have high intelligence, good morals and I love my friends and family very deeply. I'd just like to see a world that when adoption HAS to happen, that when that child starts acting out and is obviously in distress, somebody steps up and addresses the REAL issue. Get the child some REAL help, not just shake their heads and blame it all on the kid!! He was a victim once, he becomes a victim again and again and again when that child is the only person in this whole cycle who was truly the innocent one. Your ideas and beliefs perpetuate the idea that babies are so immature that they don't even know when they've been "taken" and you know all of this through study of developmental studies. I get that. I'm telling you a major component is missing in that research and it's hidden deep in the heart of each and every adopted child. At least as a favor to me, would you try to keep that in mind? It would help you to not seem so coldhearted and clinical on this issue. Thanks for the platform, and have a great day!

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    1. Like you, I don't want to go on and on with this, but I remain very curious about what you mean by real help. Can you describe what that would consist of-- I mean the methods, not the outcome?

      Of course I always keep in mind that what I can observe might not be the whole story. I don't see any point in getting into slanging matches, though, or making personal remarks when the subject is much bigger than the small number of people in the discussion. I'm aware of and sympathetic with your pain, but I don't like the idea of making others feel that your interpretation might be correct (when I don't think it is). I foresee unnecessary problems being caused by a mistaken belief system, for children and families in which everyone is truly innocent. I've seen this happen in my own circle, so I would appreciate it if you will also keep in mind that you might be wrong, however passionately you may be convinced of this narrative.

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  44. I would have to say real help might be facing the problem, not brushing it under the rug and proclaiming "I don't know what's the matter with this kid"?! On a case by case basis, help might be intensive therapy, it might be reuniting the child with birth mom. I mean, that's what you do, right? You tell me how to heal a kid who yearns for his biological family. You may have a case where a birth mother was too young to take on the responsibility of a child, thus the adoption but by the time the kid presents issues, the mother has grown older and may be up to the challenge of raising her child. In my particular case, my birth mother contacted the state agency for an inquiry as to whether I was doing well and so on and so forth. I wasn't doing well, meeting my birth mother at that time might have leveled my world out. Just let me know her!! At that time, adopted mother feels threatened, refuses to allow any contact in a bit of a selfish act. I believe if you truly love a child, or anything for that matter, you want what is best for the child. This child is crying out in obvious emotional pain. Child is in emotional pain before he even knows of the adoption, so why is that? (Child is damaged by PW Jean). No two ways about it. State agency sides with adoptive mother (of course) and so they tell biological mother that the family has moved out of state, and they have no contact with the adoptive family. Truth was, we never left the state, they WERE in contact and it was decided that I was in effect legally the possession of adopted family, and that once the deal was done, they weren't noble enough to admit that birth mother indeed HAD matured, was capable but the executive order had been given and so the lie was passed on to bio mom, doing irreparable damage to her as well. She was broken. Keeping track, we have 2 broken hearts at this point! "They left the state and we have no contact". It seems to me that you have something that rightfully belongs to someone else, when they call on you to return it, or at least let them see the child, you do the right thing. You produce the child, as gut wrenching as it is, it's the right thing to do FOR THE CHILD. Now, I believe what you wrote is basically comparing apples to oranges, so there's MY version of apples to oranges for you to consider. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, regardless of how gut wrenching it may be for all parties involved. I propose no-one is thinking of the child, they are thinking of themselves. Very selfish for such open hearted, good deed doing adopters, wouldn't you say? A couple years later, adoptive family divorces, life is a whole lot worse for the child. When you adopt, you have the responsibility to tend to the best interests of the child. I mean, the whole adoption thing is supposed to be about what's best for the child, so then, sometimes if you love something, you have to let it go. Sure I would have eventually came back and loved my adoptive parent even more for doing the right thing for me. But, aided by the state, possession and greed for a child turns into blatant neglect for what the child NEEDS. His MOTHER.

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  45. To me, if rich people wanted to help a child, they could use their money to help the mother become the person that she needs to be to raise a kid, not use their money to block a mothers attempt to reunite with her child. It seems a bit self serving to me. In an attempt to gain a child that they need to make their family complete, the child and the birth mother are severed, kept apart and made to feel guilty for ever wanting to know each other. Even to the extreme that the child is troubled for no good reason, no consideration is given to that severed relationship. Now Jean, why is that child troubled, sad and heartsick when he knows nothing of his adoptive status? You contend some other factor must be involved, not PW. I contend his heart is broken by PW. Period. I lived it. I remember EXACTLY how it all went down, but I had to gain adulthood and a mature mind to be able to put the pieces into place. Perhaps a lawsuit against the Kentucky Department for Families and Children for LYING to my birth mother would toggle the correct switches to insure no birth mother is ever again lied to about the status of their child. The way the system worked in the 60's in Kentucky to me was unconscionable. I don't know how they could look at themselves in the mirror every morning knowing they facilitated what they did. I can't be the only one, Jean. I have no shame, I've laid my life story out for the world to read right here. Go ahead and make your judgement, say what you are going to say. I already know your MO, but with GOD as my witness, PW is as real as the keys you type upon. Like I said before, no hard feelings on my end and I thank you for the debate, and the respect you have shown me. My opinion, having lived through this madness myself, is that PW exists, and it's a hard wound to heal. I live with this thing every day of my life, so forgive me please for my passion. It drives me from deep within. And Jean, thanks for your skepticism. It's healthy and I appreciate the back and forth, I just wish I could help you learn to look at it from a slightly different perspective than the perspective you currently operate from. If perspective were a pair of glasses, yours are smudged and need a good cleaning. I say this from the heart. I sincerely wish you the best life has to offer, and I'll not waste any more of your time or mine on this topic. Thanks for the forum, It seems I've overloaded the box, so you will see this post in 2 segments. I've said all I have to say. I've lived this life, I know what caused all my heartache. You can dismiss my testimony, it's not a problem. My only hope is that I have given you something to think about, a different perspective. Until we meet again, best wishes to you and yours. Sincerely, William Wise, Adoptee with PW

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    1. Dear WW-- can you hear yourself saying that because you feel sure about something, it must of necessity be true? Please keep in mind that one's sense of confidence is not evidence.

      Let me point out to you some points you have mentioned that may be the source of your unhappiness (as well as some you have not mentioned). Now that you know that your birth mother was treated badly by DFC, of course you feel disturbed and sympathetic on both her behalf and your own, and as you can do nothing about this it may weigh on your mind. In addition, your adoptive parents divorced, possibly leaving you not only with the difficulties of a "broken home" but perhaps with the sense that there were disagreements about adoption, and even about you personally, that caused this event. Those two issues alone would be possible causes of years of distress and confusion about oneself and one's life narrative. In addition, at the same time you have longed for your birth mother,you must have been realistic enough to wonder what might have been the outcome if you were reunited, because the relationship between an at-risk mother and a child she does not really know can not be guaranteed to play out positively.

      Now, let me point out that there is a factor you have never mentioned: your birth father. What about that guy? Have you wanted to find or know him or punish him for abandoning your mother and you? Do you wonder if their relationship was so tenuous that he never knew she was pregnant? Or so abusive that she concealed her pregnancy until she could get away from him? That man gave you half your genetic material. Am I to assume that his shadowy presence in you has no significance?
      If you had been brought up by him,you might well have experienced the "double whammy" that goes to kids who get the genetic material associated with antisocial tendencies and are abused, too. As it is-- does a "single whammy" of genetic material alone have anything to do with your misery?

      Those are some things for you to think about, and they are said in full recognition that you are a very unhappy man, but with the hope that you may think critically about the PW story.

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  46. Contrary to your assumption, I am a happy, well balanced adult, Jean. I'm just not real happy with the way my case was handled. The fact that you came to the conclusion that I am miserable and unhappy makes me further question your validity within your profession. I guess I read your credentials and assumed that I was conversing with a true professional, but that last attempt to discredit my credentials of life has caused me to seriously doubt your skill level. Think what you will of me, I have no problem with that and I do not care one way or the other, but the points you raised, do you really think that you "revealed" anything to me that I didn't already know or ponder deeply? Lol. Your veiled insinuations and presumptions were a weak attempt to undermine my belief system and yes, you failed. The fact that you think you know who I am based on my feelings of PW through my life experience show your true colors. My work is done here, as I see now that I am dealing with an unreasonable person. Have a great day, Jean. I won't be back. :)

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    1. You're not unhappy? Then what has all this been about the PW and how people's lives are wrecked by adoption? (I ask rhetorically, because as you've said several times before, you Won't Be Back.)

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  47. Early on V.'s posits her whole book as her Thesis. Not scientific fact, proven through strenuous experimental testing. I, too, am adopted and I have had many of the problems that V. describes. But I also have my BA in Psychology. What runs through my mind is how do we design an experimental approach that accounts for all the variables, besides adoption, that could account for emotional disturbance? This is like when Madame Currie discussed the possibilities of radiation with colleagues at the French competition. It wasn't until after years of experiments that they could PROVE that there was another chemical to add to the periodic table.

    We are just at the beginning of exploring this. Bowlby and Erikson, and even Maslow alluded to the need for safety and security immediately after food, covering and shelter. Insecure attachment leads to lots of behavioral problems, that could be caused by something as noble as working all day and going to school at night to get your Master's Degree, while your child stays at daycare, goes to a babysitter until dad can pick him up in time for bed.

    The two primary participants in this discussion both sound like they have too much of a personal, wounded, stake in this. Methinks thou protesteth too much!

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    1. I don't think anyone would ever accept doing randomized controlled trials on adoption (which has been described as the most successful intervention).

      Why do you think someone has to be "wounded" to have a strong opinion? When you say this, you're making it a personal issue, as much as do the people you consider to be taking it too personally. Let's all try to focus on observable fact and ignore the inflammatory statements that do nothing but darken counsel.

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  48. Hi Jean,

    I'll keep it short and sweet.

    I am an adopted child and I carry the wound. I have my entire life. Denial keeps people like me functional. We learn to compartmentalize the pain and not deal with it directly or at all for some of us. I am not a psychologist. I have no fancy degree. All I have is this incredible would that punctures me so deeply it penetrates my soul. It is the single most influential factor in my existence and how I relate to the world. Do not deny me the reality of this agony nor it's source - it's simply insulting beyond words.

    You wish to disprove the primal wound with science. Good luck.

    Why don't you disprove something like love while your at it. We can't see it, we can't touch it, we can't measure or weigh it, we cannot smell it or taste it. I could go on but you get where I'm going. Not all of reality can be measured in a lab by a clinician.

    Just because something cannot be measured or calculated or seen or touched doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    Walk a mile in my shoes sometime.

    A reply is truly not needed nor wanted. This post is not meant for you - really. No insult to you. In fact I thank you for having this discussion so that I can make this "public" commentary. I simply wanted to post this for the other wounded adopted folks out there who know exactly how I feel and to completely validate the existence of their owns wounds. May we continue to search for a way to heal.

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    1. I would not dream of denying the reality of your feelings-- why should I or would I? I do deny the source you claim for those feelings, and I do so because I consider the claim you make to be something that stands in the way of your resolving your pain. In my opinion, you need to search elsewhere for your "way to heal". To use an analogy, if someone has appendicitis and we insist that the pain is caused by an infestation of demons, that claim stands in the way of any help we might give. Similarly, it may well be the case that your focus on a "primal wound" stands in the way of your finding help. In any case, from what you say, you have not found a resolution even though you are sure you know the cause of the problem-- might it not be a wise thing to consider some alternatives?

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    2. People need to read objectively and comprehensively. I do not read Dr. Mercer's posts as seeking to disprove anything with science. To the contrary, she is saying that the theory espoused by Verrier is inconsistent with what has been observed scientifically. Yet, some therapists treat as if the Primal Wound is scientifically valid. If psychology is to be considered a science such that licensing and academic training are considered pre-requisites to practice, then surely insisting that practitioners adhere to scientific approaches is a minimum expectation.

      And a last short and sweet thought, questioning causation of feelings and experiences is not the same as denying there existence. Think critically please.

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    3. Thanks, Mark, I think you've phrased this better than I have managed to do.I hope readers will understand these points.

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  49. Jean,

    I don't even know where to begin. As a scientifically minded person, I am immensely saddened by your approach and misguided defense of scientific principles on this subject. As as an adopted person I am horribly offended. You clearly know more than you understand. It is obvious (at least as it pertains to adoption) that you are completely caught up in what you already know and are not at all concerned about what you might actually learn.

    Based on what I have read in the above posts; for the love of God, please NEVER treat any adopted person. Please refer them elsewhere. You have absolutely zero ability to help them. So far in any of your comments you have shown no real compassion or understanding of the issue. Your clinical understanding is cold, and completely inaccurate. You have a lot to learn, and for someone with a PhD you know very little. The degree isn't supposed to mean you have arrived. It should be indicative of your ability to continually learn and you have shown very little of that. Please try.

    This concept resonates with a statistically large number of adopted people. You can't ignore that, and your clinical dismissal is simply unwarranted. Please open your mind if you truly want to help people, or you can continue to solidify my argument that you are in the wrong profession. I think you would make a great accountant! There is nothing wrong with that.

    Just please don't hurt or offend anymore adopted people with your misguided "knowledge". You know nothing about it, and you won't until you start listening.

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    1. So,to summarize, you disagree with something I said, although you don't say exactly what. Rather than explaining your position and stating your evidence and rationale, you have preferred to unroll an ad hominem argument. This is not persuasive, in my opinion, but then I'm not exactly sure what point you're trying to press.

      I'm not a clinician, as you can see from my CV. And people need not read this blog if they are offended or if they prefer to avoid thinking about developmental realities.

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  50. Is this argument against the Primal Wound theory and in support of the Blank Slate Theory?

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    1. That's a false dichotomy. To reject the PW, because of lack of evidence supporting it, is not to assume that all aspects of development are based solely on experience.

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  51. Interesting. I have read the comments from top to bottom. I read PW after a recommendation from a therapist when I reacted badly to my (then) husband's infidelity. (read: rejection of me). It took a lot of persuasion on the therapist's side to even get me into the book as I was in total denial. How could something that happened to me as a baby / small child (oh yeah - I was adopted twice) affect me as an adult? When I finally read the book my comments were "someone has lived inside my head my whole life and now has written a book about me".

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    1. Of course, those of us who were not adopted have accepted marital infidelity with equanimity-- heck, we were even glad that straying spouse was having such a good time! That was because we didn't have any PWs of course.

      Or, maybe not so much?

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  52. I read the book totry and better understand myself.I am not ashamed to admit that from early in teh book thetears started and didnt stop.Tears of relief. Relief that all the things that I felt about my own adoption were in the realms of normal response to my circumstances. I also cried tears of sadness that i wasnt adopted by the kind of sensitive and loving parents that adopted children need. I found reading this book critical to my emotional healing, and would thank the author endlessly.IN the same way I would criticise the author of this article as being emotionally retarded and almost completely devoid of empathy.

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    1. That's a pretty heavy statement to make about somebody who disagrees with you on facts, don't you think?

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  53. I'm an adoptee. 10 years ago PW was the first time I ever read anything that described my experience back to me. I wonder why you are so desperate to debunk this book. I mean - telepathy?

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    1. Is "being desperate to" the same as wanting to? I want to debunk things that are incorrect and potentially harmful, that's why I want to debunk the PW.

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    2. There's nothing in that book that reads like telepathy, doctor. Please do cite a passage. I would hate to be lead astray by someone with an agenda.

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    3. If you'll look at what my post said-- I didn't attribute this belief to Verrier's book, but to Nandor Fodor. It is also held by various APPPAH members who are great PW supporters. Can you propose any more sensible mechanism for the connections Verrier says exist?

      As for agendas, I think it's plain enough-- I consider it important to debunk bunk. If you mean, do I have some alternative belief system I'm selling-- no, I don't. What is your agenda?

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  54. With the following quote you put PW and telepathy in the same boat, as if telepathy is not only likely what Verrier was implying, but the only likely thing worth mentioning.

    Quote:
    Is it the “psychological connection” mentioned by Verrier, which she says is not severed with the umbilical cord? What was that connection? Are we actually talking about a telepathic communication between mother and baby, as posited by the ‘50s psychoanalyst Nandor Fodor?

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    1. Okay-- what do you think the mechanism for such a connection would be?

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  55. I was adopted and had a good experience. My mother never lied to me about it, and she never made me feel I was less of a daughter to her than if she had given birth to me. She told me my birth mother had given me up because she wanted the best for me, not because I was ever unwanted. She told me she believed God had meant us to be together.

    I believed that I was just as loved and wanted as any other child. I still do. My adoptive mother's love for me is real and sincere and in many ways I've been luckier than a lot of kids, adopted or not. I've been generally successful in life, no drugs, I'm financially solvent, I have many good friends.

    I was married to a man I believed was perfect for me, and I have a beloved and wonderful daughter. I met my birth mother several years ago and she is supportive and a nice person. She confirmed that she loved me and only gave me up because she believed I was where I needed to be.

    But. My husband left me for another man. And my life fell apart. I've been struggling ever since to work out why I'm unsuccessful in adult, intimate relationships. In my 20s I never even dated, and when I did find a man who wanted me, I was unable, apparently, to distinguish between someone who wanted me for me, and one who wanted me to hide his true self.

    I've taken a long hard look at myself and realised I have (and have likely always had) some severe problems with self-esteem, with emotional availability, fear of abandonment, and the tendency to be a caregiver in order to get security in a relationship and avoid rejection. I've started reading other adoptees' accounts, and the feeling of never quite believing you matter to someone, of never quite fitting in, and struggling with adult relationships really resonates with me. This despite the fact that I had a secure and strong attachment to my mother, who adopted me when I was 2 weeks old, from the maternity hospital.

    So although I don't want to fall for an unscientific theory, I find it interesting that other adoptees who had non-abusive, loving adoptive homes had similar experiences.

    Now, my mother was in a horrible marriage when she adopted me, and she had suffered terribly from wanting a child and not having one. She left my father when I was 2. She was a devoted, sensible mother who was affectionate without being clingy, but she was hurting and I know I was the one thing in her life she felt happy about.

    So whether it's the PW, a tiny infant's need for security that they instinctively meet through quietness and compliance, whether growing up with a narrative where to truly love someone means to abandon them, whether it's having somehow picked up on the bad vibes from an emotionally abusive and distant father even though I was too young to remember him, I don't know. I do know that there was a story about my adoption being a wonderful thing, and I know that I spent a good deal of my life making sure that I lived a life that would prove to everyone that my mum had done a good job and there was nothing wrong with us.

    I feel that if I'm ever to have a successful relationship I need to understand what pushed me to make such damaging, stupid choices. The fact that Verrier's book resonates so much with so many adoptees makes me think that even if her organising theory is wrong, there may be a phenomenon here that someone should try to explain, no?

    One question I have about adoption studies is when they end. If adopted children are just as likely to be well-adjusted in their teens, but many of those who relate to the PW are much older (I'm 44 and have only just begun to question whether I'm really all that well adjusted), wouldn't those studies miss something important? Especially if extreme compliance or foreclosure is an adopted child's way of ensuring they won't get abandoned another time?

    Sorry to comment anonymously, but this is all a bit personal for me and I don't want my family reading this just yet.

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    1. Dear Anonymous-- thank you so much for your very articulate account of your history and the conclusions you are drawing from it. It is so nice to read the comments of someone who does not regard this discussion as some sort of "fight to the finish".

      Your point about understanding adoptees' later lives is an extremely important one. Unfortunately, the longitudinal studies that are uncovering some information about adoptees' development began only about 20 years ago, so we still have little systematic data about the possible impact of adoption on life during maturity. I want to point out, too, that as the nature of adoption has changed in many ways in the last century, it may always be difficult to compare the effects of adoption as it took place at time X to the effects of adoption as it took place at time X plus 10 years. Anyway we certainly can't do that now.

      As for your particular case, which you described so vividly, I feel much sympathy, but I have to ask you whether you think that your marriage experience would NOT have devastated a woman who had not been adopted. Also, why do you think that a man who was struggling with his own nature did not in fact value you for your true self-- simply because he valued his own needs more in the long run, as many people have done? And why would you think you should have been able to detect this possibility, when the chances are that he could not do it himself? The answers to these questions may be very intimate matters, and I am not asking you to tell me-- only saying that unless you have some very clear evidence that he was using you, it's possible that he did not originally intend to do so, whatever happened in the long run. (In my own family I have seen a case of a gay man who fell in love with, married, and had a child with a woman, then could no longer resist his own impulses-- they divorced but remained very fond of each other until he died. Was he "using" her to try to change himself? I don't think so, but I can see how his actions could be interpreted that way.)

      It seems to me, too, that by focusing on the hypothetical "primal wound" you are ignoring many other background factors that may interfere with your relationships. Your mother sounds like a lovely woman, but from what you say she was not able to give you a model of successful marriage and complex family life. Your birth mother's story seems oversimplified-- do people give up a loved child because the child is "where she needs to be"? In both mothers' cases, there is that narrative of sadness which is at the beginning of every adoption, which I wrote about recently at http://childmyths.blogspot.com/2015/07/more-nancy-verrier-or-dont-say-aint.html. Are these issues of sadness not sufficient to explain much of your difficulty in relationships and your sense that you must comply in order to be acceptable-- a sense that is probably shared by most women at least until menopause? Why ignore those issues and focus on a problem that is not only hypothetical but whose existence is contradicted by most of what is known about early development?

      I hope you will read that recent blog post and see whether you can reinterpret some of your feelings according to some other possible organizing points, and I'd like very much to hear from you about what you think of those alternative ideas.

      Best regards,
      Jean

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  56. Can someone explain to me why my son would have been better off with his bio "mother" who chose to do methamphetamine daily for the entire pregnancy, drink alcohol, do heroin and smoke? A woman with extreme mental health issues..A woman who overdosed while pregnant. Because I tell you what..he would have not stood a chance. No other family was interested in raising him. My son is a mess from her selfish choices. She had already had two other children she had parental rights terminated on as well. He has a great life and while that may sound arrogant I don't mean it that way. To.her he was trash, thrown away, a problem. To us he is our greatest joy. He is cherished beyond measure. He has huge problems. His nerves are a mess. He has needed intense parenting, therapies, therapeutic preschool etc. Thank you for writing this article. If you look on the reviews on Amazon there are many adoptees who think this whole theory is insulting. I highly doubt a child adopted as a newborn is going to be guaranteed 100% messed up as she says. Our agency told us 100% of adoptees have abandonment issues. I get that..but who doesn't have issues? I have abandonment issues as I grew up in a typical dysfunctional family. We know our son will most likely have some issues from being adopted and we will love and support him through them. But not to this extent! .
    You know what's even more tragic? A child who is unwanted and living with an addict. Now that is truly something to grieve.

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  57. As someone who lives with an adoptee, my husband, I whole heartedly believe in Nancy's theory. His adoptive parents didn't do anything right by him, got him diagnosed with something he didn't have, put him on medication at an early age, then kicked him out of the house at 12. He was what Nancy described as agressive and disruptive.Yet, when he got in contact with his biological family, he become a fully functional person, barely had a temper, actually felt left. I want to point out his bio mother didn't give him up willingly. Child services took him out her care at a year old because of false statements. It makes sense that there would be a wound as a child automatically knows who it's mother is at birth. A child know it's mother's scent,voice etc. I want to know why you completely disregard those facts. A baby spends 9 months in a womb getting used to certain aspects of its mother. Case in point, my children instantly knew their mother and would cry when they were out of my arms. My youngest daughter wouldn't even sleep if she wasn't near me.

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    1. The problem is, what you state as fact about the newborn recognizing the mother is not actually fact. But if believing in the PW helps you, I can't argue with that.

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  58. Jean, I'm an adoptee, white male 49 years old. Adopted soon after birth. I have trouble with forming love relationships. I am reading through all these responses to what you say about PW, and agree with you. There is so much to say and explore. PW theory is so pervasive its hard to find anything in a Google search about adult adoptees and relationships that doesn't base itself off PW. I will continue to read your blogs and THANK YOU for suffering the attacks of the sentimental, not scientifically inclined.
    David Russell
    Blue Bell PA

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments! You are probably right about the Google search, but I can assure you that a search of professional journals would show little or nothing about the PW.

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  59. I wonder how believers in the Primal Wound Theory view open adoption scenarios. I recently read about this theory and it shook me to my core as an adoptive parent of a 2 1/2 year old. I can only offer anecdotal information, but I thought I'd share my story. I took in the neglected son of my brother's girlfriend after she had passed him around from house to house for months. He was 7 months old when I took him in. She did care for him for the first month or two of his life, then decided she'd rather go to the beach and amusement parks than be a mom. He lived with probably a dozen different family members until I offered to babysit him for a week or two, which led to months and months. Finally I told her that I'd fallen in love with him and asked to adopt him, which relieved her a great deal. My little guy experienced some delays. It took him longer to walk and talk than most children his age, but he attached to my spouse and especially me in a short period of time. He sees his biological mother maybe once every few months. I can honestly say that he doesn't seem to have any kind of mystical, subconscious spiritual bond with her. He treats her exactly like every other non-biologically related person in the room. He clearly has a stronger bond with me and prefers me above all others. To my son, I am his parent. He doesn't seem to feel anything for her at all. I would think that if the primal wound was a real thing, wouldn't a child this young feel it especially strong? I'm not saying he won't ever feel sadness about being rejected by her, but it won't be because of this supposed magical bond. I think the best way to prove that this theory is just psychobabble is to look at children from open adoptions.

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    1. Yes, open adoptions show something important, but actually so do "regular" family lives, where young children are attached to both parents, maybe a grandparent, brothers or sisters. The PW is, I think, based on the very old idea that attachment is to only a single person. John Bowlby thought that, but it has not proven to be true.... Thanks for this story, and good luck to your family!

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