“Michael Gabriel’s book, written with his wife, Marie, is about how fetuses cope in the womb and how they make decisions affecting the rest of their lives. The author, a clinical hypnotherapist and not a primal therapist, has extensive quotes from Arthur Janov which help to backup and support the points he is making.
Gabriel insists that the recollections of birth and of life in the womb are not vague or confabulated recollections. They are detailed and are accompanied by much emotion. But the emotions which the fetus feels are not only his own but also those of his mother and sometimes even his father; a position Janov has not written about, but which some regression theorists have supported. It is almost as though the fetus absorbs and becomes marinated in the emotions of its mother, so if the mother is angry the fetus feels her anger. Psychiatrist Frank Lake termed this phenomenon the “umbilical affect.”
A mother who is happy during pregnancy will also project these feelings to the fetus living within her body. If the mother is content in her marriage and is happy to be pregnant, on some level, the fetus knows this and realizes that it is wanted and loved. Thus bonding begins very early in life. Even feelings of inadequacy by the mother may be absorbed and can become an element of the personality of the adult later in life.
The developing fetus can even take on the characteristics of a co-dependent as she can begin to feel responsibility. Gabriel explains how a client, as a fetus, developed a feeling of guilt for causing his mother’s morning sickness. Such fetuses, he writes, want to be rescuers and may feel that they are responsible for their mother’s unhappiness.”