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Books - The Knowledge of the Womb
Written by Athanassios Kafkalides   
Friday, 19 January 1996 00:00


History Female, 23 years' old, married for three years, son six months' old. She complained of anxiety, depression, severe aggressiveness towards her husband, over-emotionality, and vague symptoms from the digestive tract with frequent vomit ing and severe periodic headache. Bronchial asthma during childhood.

Session I   I was cold. I was freezing. The nurse heaped blankets on top on me ... still Siberia. She covered me in a mound of cushions.   I felt better.   I felt wonderful.   I felt as though I was floating on a pool of quicksilver upside down inside a warm cocoon, utterly comfortable, safe, secure. I made little snuffling noises and snuggled deeper into the warm depths. My knees and elbows flexed, my hands came up under my chin. I grew smaller, so did my body and my face. My hands were pulled inwards and I felt that I could not control my muscles. I was completely relaxed. My lids closed. I wanted nothing but to enjoy the supreme comfort in which I found myself. Then I felt as though I were about to be thrown into ice-cold water. I shrank in fear of the contact.   I felt constriction round my head, and it seemed as though I were going to hurtle into a chasm of nothingness.

I was terrified. I was born. Then I felt my bottom being slapped. This was followed by a sensation of emptiness, the yawning gap left when something is torn from its roots. My abdominal muscles were sore. It was as though I had just given birth to my son. I was at once a baby, and a mother. I remembered the words which I had felt, and repeated over the years to my mother: "I never asked to be born. I hate you." She had pushed me, out of my haven of absolute security, and I was resentful. Yet she was the nearest thing to that security. I clung to her possessively.

To begin with, my mother was my world. I was happy in her presence, her absence made me hysterical. When I was one and a half years old, my brother had an accident and cut his chin. He had to have it stitched. I was so jealous of the attention my mother gave to him that I climbed onto a chair and tried to cut my chin in the same way on the window-sill. I was unsuccessful.

Outside it was raining. There was lightning and hail. I was frightened. I was cold. 1 jumped into bed with Mummy and luxuriated in the infinite warmth and comfort of her body. I came to like winter. When the weather was chilly I had a good excuse to run to my mother's arms, to bury my head in her breast. Once within that charmed circle, nothing mattered to me, I was safe.

I was hostile to, and jealous of, anything which took my mother's attention away from me. My father, though a shadowy figure, persistently did so. To makematters worse, my mother seemed to be more interested in him than in me. I felt she had betrayed me with my father. Then I decided: if you can't beat'em, join'em.

Like my mother, I paid attention to my father.   If she could betray me, I could do the same to her. I began to imitate her as much as possible. I put a handbag on my arm, oranges in the front of my dress, and teetered about precariously, my feet encased in the toes of Mummy's high-heeled shoes. I powdered my face into a ghostlike mask, daubed a gash of lipstick on my mouth, and drew owlish circles round my eyes.

I even played a game with my mother: we pretended our roles were reversed. I played Mummy, and she was my daughter. When I was six, my mother went abroad. I made her promise to bring me a doll which said "Mama". My mother's absence threw me into an anxiety state as usual. The doll symbolized that she was thinking of me and that I was with her, in the shape of a baby-doll. My mother brought the doll finally. When she went out and left me, I comforted myself to some extent by mothering my doll, as if to say: "Don't worry, Mummy is still here." I had become Mummy and the doll was myself.

When I grew up, I wanted to have babies like Mummy. The man I married reminds me of my mother as well as my father, in character and in looks. My desire for security drove me towards a person who resembled the original source of that security; my mother. I could never get back inside my mother's womb, but I could recreate my feeling of safety through identification. First, I identified with my mother, and married a father substitute.

When I became pregnant, I identified, not only with my mother, but also with the baby inside my uterus. I relived, at least in some measure, my feeling of security within the womb. (This explains why, when I returned to the womb under the psychedelic, I also felt like a mother.) While pregnant, I felt that if my baby were a boy, he would be a possible ideal husband-father. If my baby were a girl, I felt she would be myself and my mother.

Session 4   I remember the tension I felt when my parents quarrelled. I felt terrible. The slightest movement brought a tide of nausea and vomit up (though I didn't try to avoid the movements). Pain drilled into my temples and behind my eyeballs, making the world spin alarmingly. It was worth it, though. It made my mother worry about me and give me her attention, at least for a short while. That was what I craved, next to getting back inside her. She sometimes asked me if I would like to "go back into her heart again" and I said: "Yes, yes!"

Frequently, I vomited till I was exhausted. I could keep nothing in my stomach. I got double vision and could not move properly. My body became numb. I seemed to be floating. Objects and people were distant and unreal as though they too were floating in a haze, or seen through some liquid. I was oblivious of my surroundings, safe in a world of my own. (Return to the womb through psychosomatic S & P.) In winter my mother made me wear a woollen vest because she was certain that, otherwise, I would get a cough. I got a cough anyway. It inevitably developed '   into severe bronchitis. I could hardly breathe. I used to lie awake making music with my bronchioles, thinking of the inflamed passages, willing the air to pass through, and able only to take in a tiny wheeze of air in shallow gasps of breath.   I only felt better when my mother was by my side. I really wanted her to breathe for me again.

My mother had stiff joints and backache. I developed stiff joints whenever I had to perform a task like, for example, sewing, on my own. I would suddenly get unexpected pains in my legs whenever there was a sporting event at school, eventhough I was a record breaker at normal times. I could not allow myself consistently to do anything well on my own. I did not want to do anything well on my own. It meant that I was increasing the distance between me and my mother, between me and the original source of my security, the womb. I wanted to be dependent in order to simulate, as nearly as possible, the conditions of uterine safety ...


Our valuable member Athanassios Kafkalides has been with us since Sunday, 19 December 2010.

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