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The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child (1993)
by Nancy Newton Verrier
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Nancy Newton Verrier's book "The Primal Wound" is certainly a controversial book amongst adoptive parents and has long been on my to read list. I actually agree with much of what Verrier has to say here -- though she has a very traditional view of gender roles and a few things that I don't completely agree with, especially in the conclusions she draws.
Her central point, though, that children and their biological mother share a special and unique connection that begins in the womb that that children who are removed from their mother's care suffer a lifelong wound that -- left unhealed -- is formative in their choices and behaviors is very sound. She says that wound exists even if children don't have a conscious memory of being removed from their mothers and are placed in good adoptive homes, suffer from this wound.
Overall, I found the book to be interesting and a helpful way to take a look at the choices and behaviors of adopted children.
This book is a valuable read for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth mothers. The author provides a comprehensive survey of many issues that MAY be present in the lives of adopted children and their parents - both biological and adopted.
The author presents her thesis in a clear and cogent fashion and incorporates a good deal of research with references and further reading list. Since I am an adoptee myself, I read this book with a critical eye - checking all of the experiences, research, and findings against my own feelings, perceptions, and family experiences, including meeting my birth parents when I was in my early thirties. While the content of the book presents experiences that are quite different from my own, many of the adoptee reported feelings and perceptions resonated deeply within me. While I was tremendously blessed to have loving parents (I see my adoptive parents as my real parents) and a wonderful home life, this book gave me a great deal to ponder and was a helpful resource for examining, and better understanding, how feelings of abandonment may have influenced some regretful decisions of my younger adult years.
The author has done a great job of presenting the previously unacknowledged experience of adoption from the adoptees perspective and provides very well developed and important thesis for consideration by all adoptees and birth parents. My rating for this book would have been a 5 except for the failure to articulate the experiences of well adjusted adoptees with minimal testing or acquiescent behaviors.
I initially thought this book was just someone being a little too fanciful.
But then of the adult-adoptees that I know, I could definitely say that the 'primal wound' applies to about half of them. That the author thinks it applies to 'all' adoptees and that those who think it doesn't are just in denial - I don't agree. That the author thinks the primal wound applies to babies left in humidity cribs or to babies left in the 'baby' ward of a hospital for a week or more (like they did in the old days) - well - the later happened to almost all of us born in the 60's or earlier, - and I'm not sure we can blame the primal wound for all the problems of almost everyone born in a developed country who is currently aged in their 40's and older???
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (1)
The Primal Wound is a book which is revolutionizing the way we think about adoption. In its application of information about pre- and perinatal psychology, attachment, bonding, and loss, it clarifies the effects of separation from the birth mother on adopted children. In addition, it gives those children, whose pain has long been unacknowledged or misunderstood, validation for their feelings, as well as explanations for their behavior. Since its original publication in 1993, The Primal Wound has become a classic in adoption literature and is considered the adoptees' bible. The insight which is brought to the experiences of abandonment and loss will contribute not only to the healing of adoptees, adoptive families, and birth parents, but will bring understanding and encouragement to anyone who has ever felt abandoned.
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This is like the adoptee's bible. It's one of the most recommended books in the groups I belong to. Some of it rang true. But it rang true like horoscopes ring true.
Then Ms Verrier wrote that under hypnosis that people remember attempted abortions upon them.
She wrote this at the very end of the book... And all that came before fell like a demolished building. ( )