In Utero (2015) - full transcript

IN UTERO is a cinematic rumination on what will emerge as the most provocative subject of the 21st Century - life in the womb and its lasting impact. Epigenetics, biochemistry, Alice In Wonderland, The Matrix, scientists, psychologists and doctors converge to prove that we are not what we think we are. IN UTERO brings together for the first time convincing data that explains why some of us face challenges from the start while others thrive. Prepare to be surprised, intrigued, but no longer baffled by what the future holds for yourself, your loved ones, and the human race.





MAN ON TV: A large,
handmade pepperoni pizza
for five bucks.

WOMAN ON TV: This year'
fashion week has shown us

some bold new trends
for the upcoming season.

She started out
as a hot, new designer...

It was initially reported that

57 people were
killed in Iraq today.

discussion of the summit was

climate change,
despite opposition...

I heard that children
were taken out, bloody.

WOMAN: I am very scared
I'm worried about my daughter,

I'm worried about my...

The military space race
is not over.

There's no doubt
in my mind that...


...killer was on several
mind-altering medications.

MAN: ...don't want
any more
adrenaline junkies...

...tragic death of
a 5-year-old girl...

...cutting edge research...

WEINER: We've been very good

at making enormous
strides in technology.

It makes us look advanced.

But I think where we fall down

is that we haven't gone
nearly as far in
our internal world.

I don't know that we've really
come too much farther

than people did
thousands of years ago.

MATE: Most of us don't know
why we're doing what we're
doing most of the time.

Especially when it comes
to the really important
decisions in our lives.

This is largely
a society in denial.

WEINER: We have been stuck
I think, for a very long time

in the ways we've done things,
and everybody sees it now.

I don't think people can
really look around the world

or the Earth and say,
"It's all great."

Well, how about now, we start
to look inside ourselves?

How about we take
the ideas that fueled

this kind of development
and look inside?

Why wouldn't we go back
to the womb?

Why do we want to start
anywhere else really,
but there?

It's where we all start.

JANUS: In Western culture,

we have no idea
about prenatal life.

Life begins with birth,
not before.

But other cultures

have an understanding
or an intuition

what prenatal life may mean
for the becoming child.

They believe
the pregnant woman

should be cautious
and not excited,

no burdens and so on.

The time before birth
is your living time.

One hundred years ago,

babies were put into,
you know, strange clothes,

they could not move,

they were embalmed
like mummies,

and their heart rate
beat was slower,

they would eat less,
they would develop less.

Up to the '50s and
even the '60s in Europe,

babies were operated on
without anesthesia.

"Babies don't experience
and don't feel,"

that was the general opinion,
that they forget everything.

And so, you can let them
cry and they forget it.

Doctors would do horrible,
horrible, horrible operations.

And they told their parents

that the reason that they
are not using an anesthetic

is because the anesthetic
would damage the child.

But in fact they damaged
the children themselves

through this
traumatic experience.

The reason I did not
become an obstetrician

is because I hated the way
obstetricians were
treating women.

They were yelling at them.

"Push! Push! Push!
What's the matter with you?"

You know, "Push!" [INFANT CRYING]

And we were taught that
babies can't remember anything

before the age of two.

NESCI: In this last century,

the attitude
is changing dramatically.

We can identify

with a child, with a baby.

Ultrasound is magic.

How could you see a baby
in the womb during pregnancy?

MONK: The nature of what w
do is really thinking about

development as it starts
before birth.

And we're really pushing
back that timeframe

to say that there are
factors environmentally

that happen, um, prenatally

and so their environment
is their mother's.

Human beings are affected
by the environment,

as soon as they have
an environment.

And that means as soon as
we're implanted in the womb.

So, from that moment on,
until we die...

Uh, we are creatures

who are interacting with,

shaping, and being shaped by,
the environment.


NARRATOR: Our whole stor
is about "little number five"

and how his mother
is preparing for him.

She knows that he will have
nothing to grow on

except the food
that she eats for him.

She really is eating
for two people,

herself and
"little number five."

JANUS: Fifty years ago,

we have the research
to brain development,

we have the
epidemiological research

and we have the direct
observation, uh,
via ultrasound

and film and so on.

The epidemiological research

is coming from a man, uh,
whose name is Barker.

Some of the early
observations by Barker

were in England and Wales,

that geographically,
there were different areas

that had high
neonatal mortality risk

as well as high
cardiovascular mortality risk.

There were
further investigations,

which ultimately linked
low birth weight

to an increased risk
of cardiovascular mortality.

And when you think about
low birth weight,

the main driver is
the nutritional
environment in utero.

JANUS: That was 2
or 30 years ago,

and there was an explosion
of research.

Some of this came out
of studies, for example,

with what's called
"The Dutch Famine."

From November, 1944
to April, 1945,

the Nazis constrained
the amount of food

going into the Netherlands.

And so the government
reduced the rations

from 1,800 calories a day
to 900 calories a day.

There were about 5,000 women

who were pregnant
during this period.

And what happened was

people followed up
in adulthood,

to look at what kind of
problems they were having.

Fetuses who were
in this period of famine

in the first trimester

had a whole host of problems
when they got to be my age.

MATE: They will be
more likely to develop

the so-called
metabolic syndrome,

which consists of diabetes,

high blood pressure
and heart problems.

And these are
obvious examples

of how the environment
already in utero

can affect
the life of the adult.

The factor that we least
appreciate, however, is that

in addition to
these self-evident
physical factors

is the emotional state
of the mother.

About how many months
pregnant would you say
she is, Doctor?

About seven months.

Have you someone to help you
with the housework?

My sister comes in
once in a while,

but it's hard for her
to get away.

JANUS: In our life,

the first, big person
is the mother.

Mother is giving life,
giving birth.

And if the mother
is feeling well,

the baby feels he is
living in a good world.

If the mother has stress,

he feels the world
is stressful.

VERNY: Stress decreases
the immune response.

Everybody knows that.

If you don't sleep enough,
if you work too hard,

your stress level increases,

and your immune system
goes down the toilet.

When that happens
while you're in utero,

it really affects
your immune system

for the rest of your life.

Human beings are affected
in their development

by early experiences,
including, in the uterus.

They are affected by
the emotional environment

in which they're conceived
and carried and birthed,

and then reared in.

The broad outlines
of that knowledge

has been really
well established.

But we're not practicing it
as a society,

we're not recognizing it.

Prenatal life
is so unknown to us

and yet so important
to who we are as people.

You will see it unconsciously
expressed in many ways.

You will see it in movies,

you will see it in fairytales,
you will see it in novels,

you will see it in mythology,
in folklore.

You name it,
you will see it there.

JANUS: In older times,

fairy tales were told
to the young people

to help them to
confront the old anxieties

from birth
and from helplessness.

It's the fight with
the mighty parent figures.

Maybe a witch,
maybe a cruel father figure.

And in modern times,
we have films.

They follow the frame
of the fairy tales.

In the uterine world,
you are swimming,

and there is the film,
The Little Mermaid

URSULA: Hurry home, princess.

We wouldn't want to miss

old Daddy's celebration,
now, would we?

JANUS: The crisis begins

when she falls in love

and feels weak

and loses her voice...


And then the film goes back

and shows the background. Keep singing!

There, this is a fixation,
anxiety fixation

by a big, cruel,
dominating mother.


And the story of the film
is the fight and overcoming,

being stronger
than this mother,

and it is a fight
of life and death.


So much for true love!

And these ambivalent feelings

against the mother
are natural.

If it is going good,
our life is an adventure.

If it is bad,
it is traumatic,
it is suffering.

Intrauterine life
is not a paradise

as some people
try to make us believe.

We are the receiver
of all the happiness

and of all the anxieties

and difficulties
of our parents.

The fetus
is a sentient being.

Think of it as
moving, quivering,

without a skin.

He marinates in
the feelings of the mother.

BAIL: It feels every shudder.

It feels the mother's
gladness and happiness

but it feels every anxiety.

It's the anxieties
that cause the difficulties.

And of course,
something that
happened in the womb

would be at
the deepest level.

It's at the start
of your life,

it happens with the woman
who gave you life.

This would be at
the deepest level, I think,

of everybody's personality.

NESCI: Since I was a child,

I had the feeling that
there were family secrets.

My father and
my mother gave me

versions of the history
of the family.

That was something that
didn't work out completely.

So, I understood
I had to look for something

that was beyond
what appeared
on the surface.

I think from here
came my interest
in the unconscious.


I was very interested
in dreams and movies

because they speak
a very similar language.

If you look at
Alice in Wonderland,

you have the rabbit.


The rabbit is the animal
of making many children.

♪ No, no, no, I'm overdue!

♪ I'm really in a stew

♪ No time to say
"Goodbye," hello!

♪ I'm late, I'm late,
I'm late! ♪

What can I do for you?

Well, I'm looking
for a white rabbit.

So, um, if you don't mind...

Eh? Oh!

There he is!
I simply must get through!

Sorry, you're much too big.

Simply impassable.

You mean, "Impossible?" No, impassable.

Nothing's impossible.

There is always
this question...

Too big, too small?

Always the problem,
to get into?
Or to go out?

To "go out"
is to be delivered.


Once upon a time,
we were walking on four legs.

We had a head
which was smaller

and we had hips
that were larger.

So, the birth channel
was very big.

When the human beings

began to reach
bipedal erect posture,

gradually the bones changed

and the birth channel
became more narrow.

And then
another thing happened.

The brain became larger.

And here,
the obstetrical dilemma came.

How would it be able
that the new human baby

could come out of the womb
with such a big head?

So, if you see
the whole movie again,

thinking of
the obstetrical dilemma,

you will get another picture.

Someone's head
will roll for this!


And there is the issue
of cutting the head.

The dream of mothers,

if you can cut
the head of the child,

the child can come out.

Off with their heads!


Off with her head!

Off with her...

Slowly, uh, there was
a sort of natural selection

that the women who were able

to deliver earlier survived.

Because if you
delivered earlier,

the baby is smaller.

And if it is smaller,
it can come out.



Ah! I'm late!

and physiologically,
in so many ways

the human infant is
way behind other mammals.

JANUS: We are all born unripe,

very helpless,

therefore a good bonding
and a welcoming mother

is important for
development of a child.

In earlier centuries,

birth and pregnancy
and the fate of woman

was very, very difficult.

Every sixth birth
meant death for the mother.

Up to one half
of the children

died during birth
or in the first year.

And, therefore,
was an anxiety
from the woman

and from the men,
to all, what birth meant.

In the last 50 years,

birth becomes
safer and safer.

Now we have, uh, the power,

or the stability,
or the safety to confront

and to be curious.

I started out in the lab

studying very narrow
questions in animal models.

And I quickly realized that

I was interested
in broader questions

that affected human health.

I grew up in
Southern California

and I grew up with
"smog alert" days

and when pollution was
very much defined

by whether or not
we could see the mountains

that were theoretically
really close by.

I grew up in
one of the communities

that we actually study now,

which I always think
is kind of ironic.

And it wasn't until
a little bit later that
the epigenetics came in.

"Epi" really means,
"on top of" genetics.

So, when we think about
our genetic code,

which is our DNA sequence,

when we talk
about epigenetics,

we're thinking about
other factors, other things,

that can be on top of
or attached to that

can help fine-tune
the genetic code to
turn genes on and off.

YEHUDA: This is something

that we're just beginning
to explore, gene by gene.

It's not what genes
you're carrying,

it's what gets expressed.

Genes are, you know,
only the blueprint.

Imagine you have
a blueprint for a house.

You have a house
that you have built,

sort of,
to your own specifications.

And it has
followed the blueprint

in terms of where things are

but a lot of things
have changed

as a result of all kinds
of environmental factors.

Being able to adapt to
a changing environment quickly

is very important.

However, not every
adaptation is necessarily
going to be for the better.

When the sperm
and the egg are forming,

as part of normal development,

there's this period of
erasing past marks, basically,

and re-establishing
the new set of marks for
the future of that cell.

And then this happens again
in early embryogenesis.

In some ways,
wiping the old slate clean

and starting new
for this new fetus,
this new baby.

There is
a whole period of time

during fetal development
where many things,

including just the environment
that the fetus is growing in,

could alter or shift
that process.

YEHUDA: It's fantastic.

Because the idea
of epigenetic changes,

based on exposure
to the environment

at different intervals

really provides
the body with a way

of continuously adapting
to their environment.

Bad environmental events
cause change,

good environmental events
cause change.

And what you gotta do
is just make sure that

you have enough
of the good events.

MATE: I was conceived

during the Second World War
in Budapest, Hungary,

in 1943,

at a time when Hungary,
being an ally of Germany,

uh, was in the war
on Germany's side

and there was a lot of
anti-Semitic legislation,

restrictions and threats.

The genocide
hadn't happened yet.

And then,
I'm born in January, 1944.

And then, the Germans
marched into
the country in March.

March of 1944.

And, as my mother told me,

the next day, she phoned
the pediatrician to say that

Gabor is crying all the time,
you should come and see him.

And the doctor said,
"Sure, I'll come,

"but I should tell you,

"all my Jewish babies
are crying."

It's so clear to me
that the fear that
I've carried all my life,

literally in my molecules,
is my mother's terror,

and then the terror
that I experienced,

during the first year of life
under Nazi occupation.

Those experiences
have stamped my personality,

they've stamped, um,
my reactivity to the world,

they've stamped my worldview,

mostly on
the unconscious level.

I wasn't a happy camper.
I was...

Lot of issues
in my personal life,

a lot of depression, anxiety.

Then I realized in my 50s
that I had ADD.

I clearly see that this
is not a genetic disease,

despite the so-called experts.

Um, it is the impact
of stress in
the early environment.

YEHUDA: When I was in school,

we used to have conversations
about nature versus nurture.

Nobody says that anymore.

We don't have nature here,
and nurture here.

We have nature
and nurture interacting

to form a new thing.

I do research on
post-traumatic stress disorder

and its effects
on trauma survivors

and, actually,
the next generation.

I'm interested
in understanding

individual differences
and how they manifest

interacting with
the environment

and, more specifically,
traumatic events.

We have been doing
studies of

adult children
of Holocaust survivors

and we were finding

very interesting
and important effects.

If the offspring will be
raised in the same context,

their body will need
to be prepared

maybe for prolonged
periods of starvation

or maybe for
overwhelming stress.

So, having a change
that is passed

from mother to offspring
could be very helpful.

Maybe less helpful,

if the offspring
is not gonna live

in the same environment.

An offspring lives
in urban New York

where starvation
is really not an issue,

then having the same kind of

biological adaptations
being transmitted

may actually result
in a flip side

of just being anxious,

and people
not understanding why.

Or even you
not understanding why.

From this
evolutionary perspective,

the fetus gets constructed
via epigenetic processes,

to be awfully alert

because that would be adaptive
in a threatening environment.

But if you were wired
to be very adaptive
and very vigilant,

that's not a good fit
with a postnatal environment

in the late 20th
or early 21st century,

where the requirements for,
you know, success in school

is to be able to
sit very placidly,

to have very unique focus,

to not be oriented to
what's going around.

So, again, it's this bad fit.

MATE: If there's
a lot of stress
in the early environment,

then the infant's capacity

to respond to stress
will be altered.

The tuning out itself,
which is the hallmark of ADD,

is nothing
but a defense mechanism.

Infants, when their brains
are developing,

if there's stress around them,

they'll tune out,
that's how they survive,

the tuning out
gets programed
into their brains...

Bing! They're diagnosed
with ADHD.

Not enough dopamine,
let's give you Ritalin.


MATE: There are 3 millio
kids in the United States,

according to latest figures,

who are taking stimulant
medications for ADHD.

There are 500,000 kids,

according to
the latest statistics,

who are taking
anti-psychotic medications.

They're getting
these medications

not because they're psychotic.

They're getting them because

it's the only way
we can figure out,

when I say "we"
I mean society,

to control their behaviors.

And this is what

the pharmaceutical industry
is able to exploit

in their promotion
of high volume drug use

in their advertisements.

We don't even know what
the long-term effects are

of anti-psychotics
on the developing brain.

And yet we still see

medication advertised
as a quick fix,

endorsed by
the medical profession.

Well, what's going on?

And what's going on
with the burgeoning
diagnosis of ADHD

and opposition
defiant disorder

and bipolar disorder in kids

and autism, which has
gone up 40-fold
in the last 30 years.

What's going on and what
we're not recognizing is that

people are parenting
and conceiving

and carrying
and birthing children

under increasingly
stressed conditions.

HIRSCH: In our society
there's so much rushing.

You're so busy. Everything
going, going, going.

Our mind that's
always busy chattering

and making us stressed.

I was born in Israel.

My mother said
there was a place

where all the mothers went

with their babies
for a few weeks,

then they bonded and then
they all went home together.

We don't have that here.

We barely
get to stay overnight
in the hospital now.

Increasingly, it takes
two people now

to provide a living
in this culture to families.

And they're doing so

in the context
of less support.

Because one of the ravages

of industrialization
and globalization

is the destruction
of the extended family,

the tribe, the clan,
the village, the neighborhood.

MONK: Frankly,
hundreds of years ago,

not to glorify the past,
'cause there were
other stressors,

but you had
extended family around.

I think we don't talk
about that enough
in our society.

So, there's less support,
there's less context,

there's less connection
that people can benefit from.

Less connection
with grandparents,

elders, wiser women.

MONK: We started by saying,

"Let's try to bring
this into the lab

"and get pregnant women to,

"what we call acutely,
briefly feel stress."

And when we divided
the fetal response,

the fetuses whose mothers
were high-anxious

had a heart rate increase.

And the fetuses of mothers
who were low-anxious,

either had no change
or a decrease.

And then, what we saw is

if you go all the way out
to women

reaching criteria
for depression,

their fetuses have
a significant stress
response in the lab.

Your breathing goes up,
your blood pressure goes up,

and your heart rate
is going up.

That's all stimuli
to the fetus.

So, over the course
of pregnancy,

being in an environment
of a woman

who is seriously depressed,

is different than being in
an environment of a woman

who is feeling fine.
No symptoms.

And that shapes fetuses

so that by
the end of pregnancy,

when they get a stimuli,
like the heart rate change,

they're showing
differences almost,

we want to say,
in temperament.

In their reactivity style.

Big reactors, or just calm.

MATE: Emotiona
states aren't just

abstract psychological

They have their physiological
correlates in the body.

So, if I were to
scream at you right now,

your body would change
in a split second.

Nobody touched you,

nobody put any poison
into you,

but your body would be
in a completely altered state.

High levels of cortisol,
the stress hormone,

would be elevating
your blood sugar

so that you could fight
or have more energy to escape.

Adrenaline would be
pumping through your system,

causing your heart
to beat faster,

causing your muscles
to tighten up, to be stronger,

giving you more energy,

enabling you
to escape or to struggle.

And what if
you're carrying a baby?

And what if you're
chronically scared?

Those same stress hormones

and other compounds

would be going through
the placenta, to the infant.




Already back in the 1970s,

there was a CTV documentary

on how emotional deprivation
in early childhood

fosters the development
of violence and aggression.

Psychologists proved
the inverse relationship

of violence and affection

by studying what happens
to monkeys

who don't get any mothering.

Parents who are stressed

have been shown
not to be able to be

as attuned to their
infants and children

as parents
who are not stressed.

Not their fault.

Not because
they don't love the child.

Not because they're not
dedicated, devoted, committed.

Simply because
the stress effect

impedes their ability,
not to love their child,

but to attune
with their child.

So, that mutual responsiveness
is interfered with.

And that has an impact
on brain development.

There's an important
chemical called dopamine.

Dopamine is essential
for motivation and attention.

Now you take infant monkeys

and you measure
their dopamine levels

in the front part
of the brain,

and you find it to be normal.

Separate them
from their mothers?

Those dopamine levels
have diminished.

In other words, the child's
brain chemistry is affected

by the unavailability
of the mother.

And this is true
even if the mother
is physically there

but emotionally absent.

Imagine two tuning forks,

like in this very famous
"Still Face Experiment".

The mother is one tuning fork
and it starts vibrating.

And the baby's tuning fork

begins to vibrate
in unison with hers.

And when that happens,

gradually, its own
prefrontal cortex gets tuned.

So, it becomes empathic.

It begins to relate
to the mother.

Infants don't
understand words.

So, they respond
to body language.

So, is my mother rigid?
Or relaxed?

Is she afraid?
Because if she's afraid, I am,

because she's my protector.

So, if she's afraid,
who's going to protect me?

The size of
the mother's pupils,

the mother's voice,

is it confident and relaxed,
or is it tense?

These are not
conscious thoughts,

but this is
the infant's experience.

Depressed mothers,

or even worse, um,
schizophrenic mothers.

They are not in synchrony.

The baby is
getting the message

that there's
something wrong with it.

Its prefrontal cortex

is not going to be
tuned properly.

So, that baby
is going to develop

a kind of
depressive personality.

Okay... [CRYING]

I am here.
And what are you doing?

Oh, yes. Oh!

The monkeys tell us more

about the severe effects
of infant deprivation.

The ones that were
reared in isolation

just don't behave normally

when they're
finally given a playmate.

They rarely touch,
and when they do,

the contact's
surprisingly vicious.

VERNY: Children who are
emotionally inhibited

will become
dysfunctional adults.

They will have
difficulty learning

and will be more hostile.

And that starts
right in the womb.

When the brain begins
to be organized,

um, genetically speaking,

each neuron is destined
for a certain place

where it will
eventually end up.

THOMASON: Neurons, brain cells

are the information
processing units
of the brain

and they make connections

and they organize themselves
into functional networks.

In every second
of prenatal life,

50,000 new neurons
are being produced.

Every second.

There is not a machine
in the world that
can duplicate that.

And when you have
all those neurons
being produced,

they are very vulnerable.

And the smallest,
smallest influence

will make a huge
sort of imprint

on those neurons
and the neural circuits.

If there is chronic stress,

the woman is constantly
obsessing about something,

or worrying about something,

more and more stress hormones,
like cortisone,

is being pushed
into the blood stream.

When you have too much
cortisone in the brain itself,

then the nerve cells
will be interfered with

in their passage and
they may even be destroyed.

We were the first
or amongst the first

to glimpse inside
at the brain
becoming wired up.

With this new, safe
MRI technology,

we're observing
large-scale systems.

What we see in infants
exposed to stress in utero

is reduced brain volume,
reduced gray matter density.

So, if you are less dense
in those regions,

that suggests that there are
less processors available.

We also see reductions
in hippocampal volume,

and increase
in amygdala volume.

The hippocampus
is critically important
for learning and memory.

The amygdala is very important
for emotional processing,

responding to
emotional information.

And why we think those are

particularly important
during fetal development is,

first of all, they begin
to be developed very early.

Disruption in those areas

is also associated
with higher risk

for emotional psychopathology
or neuropsychiatric illness.

VERNY: If the mother is upset,

if she has a very high level
of neurohormones,

if she has very high level
of stress hormones,

all of those things
will be passed to the baby.

BAIL: There are
all kinds of feelings
coming from the mother.

All kinds. Anxieties.

Depression. Fears.
About everything.

WEINER: Let's be clear
Mothers love their children.

So do fathers.

But there are these subtle
unconscious things, see,

that this mother
is dealing with in her life.

Say, she may be
in a tough marriage,

but she gets pregnant.

Well, part of her
may want the baby,

and part of her
may really say,

"Gee, this is not
a good time for a baby.

"In fact, this is
gonna be very hard."

And a baby may get
a lot of that.

That little bit of stuff
is feeling all of that,

without any way
of communicating.

It just absorbs.
It just holds it.

And that's what it gets
for nine months.

What comes to mind
is the, um, confusion,

if you can speak
of that in a fetus,

um, a developing human being,

whose mother
is conflicted,

who wants the child
perhaps but is afraid
of having a child,

who wants to love but is

herself very afraid
and very stressed.

So, the kid is getting

a very confusing message
about the world.

That "this world wants me,
this world doesn't want me."




MAN: Hold! Hold!



Help me!



The Alienfilms

show the very difficult side
of pregnancy and birth,

the side that the mother
does not want to be pregnant,

does not want to have a child,
but the child is coming,

the child is there,
the child wants to live.

This is the story
of theAlien films.

This alien
is an embryonic being

that wants to implant
in the persons of the crew.

And the film is always
about this unwantedness

and this will to live.

It's a dark film.

It is, in a certain way,

and as a very melancholic film

or a depressive film.

But for people who
have this background

that they were not wanted,

and had to implant
in spite of this,

it is, in a certain way,

ASH: Don't touch it!


This is a typical cult film.

There are many
people who see, um,
several times this film

to clear their own feelings

about wantedness
and unwantedness.

MONK: I do worry about
this kind of research

getting lumped with research
that has a political agenda,

which is the personhood
of the fetus.

Because that's a wholly
different question,
and it's what data is used,

in my opinion,
for the discussion
about the right to choose.

So I think, also people
may a little bit,

shy away from this

because that is such
a fraught debate.

It is an inconvenient truth
that fetuses feel things.

It is just inconvenient.

Um, because if they do,
then many things
have to be rethought.

It makes no sense for
a girl to have a baby
she does not want.

If she is forced,

that means misery
for a whole life

for her and for the child.

It's a very difficult issue.

And if she has not the right,
she takes the right.

I think eventually,
maybe in 100 years,

maybe not that long,
I would say the goal would be

"let's get women and men
in such a good place,

"that they come to realize
that bringing another soul
into this world

"is a very big job."

BAIL: I'm 92 years old,

and I've been
practicing psychoanalysis
for almost 60 years.

It was the war.

My being in the war and
what happened to me in the war

that decided me
to become a doctor.

I wanted to heal people,
not kill people.

My training finished in '58.

At that time, analysis didn't
teach anything about the womb,

didn't teach anything
about prenatal life.

The paradigm in analysis
was the masculine paradigm,

with Freud,
and the Oedipal struggle.

In doing my work,
I discovered that patients,

when I listened,
were coming forth
with a different story.

They felt very guilty
about their mothers,

and they were feeling
they had to,

put in a global sense,
rescue their mothers.

Now nobody is
born like that.

That's programed into people

when their environment
is such that parents can't
take care of themselves.

So one possible response

on the part
of the child then is,

"Then I got to take care
of them in order to maintain
my relationship with them."

It's a survival thing.

Once you're in that state,
whatever mom says goes,

"I'll do anything.
I have to live,
I'll do anything.

"So whatever
you need me to do,

"do you need me to hold
all of your bad feelings?

"I'll do it."

Now, an infant
can't really do it,

but there's an omnipotent
attempt to fix it

because your life
depends on it.

Later, that fetus growing up,
may become a writer,

and write these stories,

and may not know where
that inspiration comes from.

Like the story of Superman.


Okay, hold it,
come on, hold it!

Get back.[SHRIEKS]

WEINER: If you think,

"I am a fetus,
and I'm to take care of
a full-grown woman's problems.


"Well, I better become
a superhero.

"I better become
the strongest person on Earth.

"I better be able to fly,

"I better be able to leap
tall buildings
in a single bound,

"and really do what?
Save her."

What was that?

Easy, Miss, I've got you.

You've got me?

Who's got you?

WEINER: If you look at
movies about superheroes,

really the task of an infant,
is a superhero task.

Supermanis partly a story
of my helplessness

during or after birth.

My aloneness and my fantasies

to be strong and
the strongest man
in the world.

WEINER: Now, thi
does damage to the baby.

Because, really,
if you think about it,

how is a fetus supposed
to take over for a mommy?

How is a fetus supposed
to take all of this trouble?

The fetus can't.
There's no way.

The child automatically
adjusts to the environment

in any way that'll
further the chances
of its own survival.

The baby has to
become the mother,

doesn't get to be the baby.

And if the baby
can't be the baby,

the baby can't develop
his or her full potential.

And again, it's not according
to the intentions
of the parent, either.

But it's just what happens.

WEINER: So now we have
a baby that has limitations,
but is going to protect those

because, really,
those were set up so early,

and they were set up
to save this baby's life.

MATE: These people then
develop lifelong patterns
of self-suppression,

which then suppresses
the immune system as well,

because the immune system
and the emotional system
are the same.

Not even controversial.

What will happen
later on in life,

is that anything
that challenges
these basic limitations

that were set down,
a grown person
will fight against.

MATE: Because they fel
responsible for their world.

"Well, if this thing
happened to me,

"it's because
I'm a terrible person.

"And therefore,
how do I make sure
it never happens again?

"I become the perfect person,
so I'll be good all the time.

"I'll be good to everybody.

"I'm going to be
the best in the class.

"And I'll always excel.

"I'm going to be
great at my job.

"And when stuff goes wrong
with my marriage,

"I'm not going to say a word,
because I'm good and
I can handle it all."

And then they get cancer.

An adult trauma
is really a fetal trauma.

The fetus feels the pain,
and all the consequences,

all the distortions of
personality create an entity
I call the internal saboteur.

It's the job
of that internal saboteur,

to see to it you never ever
experience that pain again.

People will talk about this
all the time. They say,
"I self-sabotage."

And I think that's
a very well-known idea
in our society.

I think people don't
realize the depth of it.

I think they don't realize
how true it really is,
and what they're really doing.

And what people
are really doing is saying,

"Mom, you gave me
this constellation of trouble,

"I took it into
my personality.

"It's set down the limits
for what I was going
to be able to do,

"but it kept me alive.

"I will hold onto this with
every bit of strength I have."




Underneath everything
in your life,
there's that thing.

That empty-forever-empty.

You know what
I'm talking about?


Yes, I...Yes.

The capacity to be alone,
and to perceive,

that's been a human
challenge, I think,

for thousands of years.

And not just in this society.

It's just more difficult now
because it's more pervasive

and because we all have
these devices.

And that famous clip
with Louis CK,

he's talking
about cell phones.

And sometimes,
when things clear away,

you're not watching it,
and you're in your car

and you start going,
"Oh, no, here it comes."
That "I'm alone."

Like, it starts
to visit on you.

Just this sadness. Yes.

Life is tremendously sad,
just by being in it.

And so you're driving
and you go, "Ah."

That's why we text and drive.

I look around pretty much 100%
of people driving are texting.


And they're killing...
Everybody is murdering
each other with their cars.

But people are willing
to risk taking a life
and ruining their own

because they don't
want to be alone
for a second.

By not being alone,
you never really get a chance
to think about yourself.

So this is a wonderful way
of anesthetizing yourself

against any
kind of introspection.

There used to be television
and movies and radio.

And in terms of today's
favorite anesthetic,

I would say
it's probably Facebook
and the reality shows,

and all those game things,
and then of course,
there's pornography.

So instead of coming to terms

with my lack of
ability to love or
to care or to feel,

you can do
all this other stuff.

BAIL: One is frantic,

one will try anything
to relieve the pain.

We can measure it
by the number of people

who are addicted
to various things.

Addicted to drugs,
addicted to alcohol,

addicted to sex,
addicted to power,

addicted to money.

The addictions run
and run and run and run.

If you look at addicts,
and by the way,
not just drug addicts,

but any addict.

Gambling, sex addiction,
shopping addicts,

what's missing
is a sufficient activation,

in part, of the brain's
reward motivation circuitry,

of which dopamine is
an important driver,

Cocaine elevates
dopamine levels.

Nicotine elevates
dopamine levels.

Um, caffeine elevates
dopamine levels.

So people whose
early development

sabotaged the development
of their reward
motivation circuitry,

will find some relief
in doing drugs

that elevate dopamine levels,
temporary relief.

Or in activities that
elevate dopamine levels.

So for the gambling addict,
that's the gambling.

He's not after the gambling,
he's after the dopamine
that he's getting.

And it's not about the money.

Because when
they win the money,

they go back the next day
and they lose the money.

And if you look at brain
scans of people engaged
in compulsive shopping,

the same part of the brain
will light up as will light up
if they do cocaine.

If, when we look
at those people,

we don't see the pain
that's driving their behavior,

it's because we're
denying our own pain.

And if we are driven
to judge them for their
compulsive attachment

to seeking momentary joy
from external source
like a drug,

it's because
we live in a society

that's completely addicted
to seeking momentary joy
from external sources.

Whole industries
and businesses

and the livelihood
of millions of people

depends on manufacturing stuff
that's completely unnecessary,

doesn't enhance anybody's
life in any significant way,

but which provides
momentary pleasure.

I was in San Francisco
a couple of years ago,

and around this block
there was this thick line up,

people four abreast,
around the block.

I said,
"Gee, what's going on?

They said, "Oh, the new iPad
is coming out."

So I actually
talked to somebody.

I said, "Look, I get it.
The iPad is a great...
I don't have one,

"but I get that
it's a great device,

"but why line up here?

"Couldn't you wait
till tomorrow or next week?"

"No, man, you know."
You got to have it right now.

Bob Dylan in his great...

I think Martin Scorsese,
the documentary
with Bob Dylan, uh,

he's sitting in the back
of a limousine or a car,

and these two young fans
want his signature.

You're so miserable. Come on, it won't take long.


They don't ask me.
Those other two people
don't ask me.

Why do you?

Why shouldn't you give it? You so miserable?

Why shouldn't you give it? Why did we come...

Well, because they like me.
They said...

We don't like you anymore.

She called me a bum.

That's all we want.

May I have
your autograph?

You're kind of a bum...

You called me a bum... Come on, Bob.

Oh, come on...

You don't need my autograph.

If you needed it,
I'd give it to you.


MATE: Nobody needs an iPad.

People can use it,

but why line up
at 4:00 in the morning?

You think that's going to
somehow fulfill your life,

fill in the holes
where you're empty?

That's the society we live in.


We see the addiction
as the problem,

and of course
that's legitimate,

addiction is a problem,
it creates problems,

but it's not
the primary problem.

We really need to appreciate

the importance
of the prenatal environment
in child development,

and to understand that
when we see dysfunction
in people,

we're actually
seeing the imprint
of that early experience.

You talk to people
about their childhood,
and they say,

"I don't remember,
I don't remember,
I don't remember."

Well, the fact is,
everybody remembers,

they just don't recall.

It's usually because
either nothing happened,

or too much happened.
Usually it's too much.

And so that, one way
they dealt with it,

was to split their attention
from what's going on,

so they're not
going to recall.

I know that people often
tell me that I have a sad
expression on my face.

That sadness is a memory.

It's somehow just
programed into me.

But it's not a recall memory.


We have to distinguish
between those two important
kinds of memories,

and so often
our lives show up

as those imprinted memories,
and that imprint

starts in utero.

During the time in the uterus,
we have no speech.

All these experiences
are real experiences,

but not represented
in the speech ego.

Therefore these pre-verbal
experiences are unconscious.

They can be in dreams,

but also in all
daily situations,

they can be present.

VERNY: When you put
optic fibers into the womb,

you can see rapid
eye movements of babies,

which in adults, always means
that they are dreaming.

People will often wonder,
"What can fetus dream about?"

Well, he dreams about
the same things
that you and I dream about,

in terms of our experiences.

There's a lot more
to fetal life than
we have ever thought.

I reckon, by now,

I've analyzed
thousands of dreams

by many patients
and the dreams,

reveal earlier levels of life.

The patient may be far away
from his or her fetal life,

but in due time,

as one wipes away
level by level,

eventually we get down
to the truth.

Everybody has an imprint.

The imprint happens

because of the long history
of traumas in the world.

We have to be aware
of the fact that

there is a whole spectrum,
you know, uh,

of traumas
that can happen to us.

And it is those things
that are passed on
from generation to generation.

So that if a certain gene
is switched on,

it will continue
to be switched on

until the environment
somehow switches it off.

Genetically, we have taken
genes from a lot of people

so each one of us has roots,

even if we don't know
the roots that we have.

And these roots, furthermore,
go back in time,

so in some way,
we have, inside of ourselves,
layers of humanity.

What we're actually
looking at is the impact

of the multi-generational
family history.

Mothers, grandmothers,

and however far we go back,

people have been through wars,
famine, disasters of all sort.

Stress that affected
one generation,

will be played out very
exactly in the next generation

to the degree that
the next generation

has understood
or not understood it.

Has dealt with it
or not dealt with it.

So fundamentally, so long
as we're not conscious,

we're going to pass on
our stress and our trauma
to our kids.

GAVIN: When I was
in graduate school at
the University of Michigan,

one of my classmates
was talking about this idea

called the black-white
disparity in preterm birth
in low birth weight.

Something I'd never
heard about.

And I was shocked
at the reality that
in any given year,

black women are
nearly twice as likely

as their white counterparts

to deliver a low birth weight
or preterm infant.

And why
that's such a big concern

is that babies born early
obviously have higher rates
of morbidity and mortality.

When I became
a professor here,

I immediately wanted to know
what was behind this.

And then,
with my own pregnancy,

I was carrying twins,
a higher risk pregnancy.

I started thinking about
my great grandmother. Um...

She had two sets of twins
that both perished before
they reached 12 months of age.

It haunts me.

No one has since had twins

until from my
great-grandmother to me.

So that was always a story
my grandmother told me

that she remembers them,
briefly in her life.

She was working out
in the field,

so she brought them out
in the fields with her.

And she wasn't able
to breastfeed them.

So that contributed
to their early demise.

Obviously she felt
a deep sadness about that,

and my mother
repeated that story,

and she, as well as I,
felt this deep remorse
for the loss of these twins.

My grandmother
had undiagnosed depression,

which then contributed
to my mother's
stress level as well.

And I started
thinking about that,

and how that got
transmitted to me,

and how I was going to
transmit that to
the next generation.

It was scary.

I felt like
at any point in time,

unfortunately, my children
could die in utero.

How I dealt with the anxiety,

was that I would refuse
to look at the ultrasound

until my husband told me
everything was okay
with their heartbeats.

Um, and that's basically
how I lived through
that pregnancy.

And I think that affected me
in my attachment to them

when they were born,

I couldn't change
their diapers.

I didn't really want
to hold them,

which is probably
part of the reason
why we had a third child.

Every woman who has a child,

puts on that child
her experience.

And so any way that women
are treated

is what gets passed down.

Women have borne
the burden, the pain,

of thousands of years

where men have treated
women badly,

have devalued women.

That devaluation, that pain,

is part of every
woman's heritage.

Men took over, being stronger,

and made women believe
they were second-class.

And women are second-class
in the minds of men
to this very day.

You know examples
and I know many examples.

Despite our talk
about equality,
it is an uphill battle.

Thousands and thousands
of years, of this toxicity

that is ground
into the unconscious

of every person
and every woman.

Now, that stuff is what is
projected into the new baby.

And what's terrible
is the children born now,

have to bear that burden
from the past,

and have to bear the burden
of current conditions
in the world.

MATE: I had this
sex trade worker who
has died since of HIV,

but I asked her what heroin
did for her, and she said,

"The first time I did heroin,
it felt like a warm soft hug."

Which is exactly what
she would have gotten
from her mom,

had her mom not been
traumatized herself.

And a guy in his 40s,
a big imposing-looking,

muscled, tattooed
fellow in rehab,

I asked him what
the heroin did for him,

and he said "Doc, I don't know
how to tell you this,

"but it's sort of like
when you're a kid,

"and you're three years old,
and you're sick
and you're shivering

"and your mommy
puts you on her lap,

"and she wraps you
in a warm blanket

"and gives you
warm chicken soup,

"that's what the heroin
feels like."

What are they talking about?

They're talking about love.

Heroin gives them
that feeling of love.

Who wouldn't want that?

The heroin is their attempt

to solve the problem
of the absence of love
in their lives.

And that of course, again,
goes back to early experience.

There's that awareness
that we have to get
to know ourselves.

But we flee from
that kind of knowledge,

and I think we flee from it
because there's pain there,

and people don't want
to experience pain.

I think pharmaceuticals
are so prevalent

because people
don't know what to do.

The problem is,
when you say to somebody,

"Take this drug,"
what you're really saying is,

"I don't think
I can understand you.

"I don't think
we can get at your pain,

"I don't think
we can understand
why you're anxious everyday

"or understand
why you're depressed,

"so what I'd like to do
is quiet you down.

"I'd like to at least...

"Let's make it feel
a little better every day."

Well, then you're stuck.

You have to take a pill
the rest of your life.

And most people
on medication will say,

"Well, it helped me
for so long,

"but, Doctor,
I still have nightmares.

"What do I do?

"My relationships
still don't go right.

"What do I do?

"I'm still not happy.

"I'm not suicidal.
But I'm not happy.

"What do I do?"

When they present
this stuff about trauma

and early experience
and pain to physicians,

they don't get
a lot of arguments,

and I don't get
a lot of arguments.

We present the data.

What we get is silence.

A kind of stunned,
uncomfortable silence.

This is your last chance.

After this,
there is no turning back.

You take the blue pill,

the story ends,
you wake up in your bed

and believe whatever
you want to believe.

You take the red pill,
you stay in Wonderland,

and I show you how deep
the rabbit hole goes.

WEINER: I think the kind
of suffering people,

at least come
into the office with,

runs the gamut.

And it really
is everything from,

"I can't find the right mate,"

to "My marriage
is falling apart,"

to "I don't know what
I want to do with my life."

And then of course you have
much more severe pathologies.

People can't work,

or they can't go to school,

they can't sustain any kind
of meaningful relationship.

And, you know, sometimes
they're really on the verge
of saying, "I'm done."

InThe Matrix, Morpheus
would play the analyst.

What it's really talking about
here is the imprint.

It's really saying,

"Listen, each person doesn't
realize that they're plugged
into their own imprint."

The Matrix is a system, Neo.

That system is our enemy.

WEINER: This is it.

You think
you are living your life,

but really you're not.

And what Neo discovers,
is that life is a fantasy.

In a way,
that's what the power
of denial does.

Keeps you from really
living your life.

You have to understand,

most of these people
are not ready to be unplugged.

And many of them
are so inured,

so hopelessly dependent
on the system,

that they will fight
to protect it.

You've split off
your personality.

You've taken on
an enormous portion
of your mother's.

So it's not really you.

The moment when Neo is
unplugged is quite a moment.

I think it's just as
terrifying for a patient.

Because they're facing
the moment of their
initial trauma.



Get my body back
into a power plant,

re-insert me into the Matrix,
I'll get you what you want.

I think everybody
could understand

Cypher's desire
to be plugged back in.

Nine hard years,
they're running
for their lives.

This is a constant battle.

He's saying,
"What have I really got?

"Please make me numb again,
give me back my fake life."

After nine years,
you know what I realize?


Ignorance is bliss.

The part of him
that can't tolerate it,

that says,
"This is too painful,
I don't like it," wins.

But we know where
he's going back to,

and it's not good-looking.

I think a lot of people
consciously want freedom.

They're talking about it
all the time.

But if we start to see
the reasons that people
may talk about it,

but might not
either fight for it,

demand it, or even notice
when it's chipped away at.

Because there is an idea
already embedded that says,

"Take care of me.
Take care of me.

"See, if you're free,
you won't take care of me.

"I need you to take care
of me because I can't
handle doing all of this."

BAIL: Civilization is
a very thin veneer
that everybody wears.

You wipe that off,

everybody's functioning
like a baby.

With all these
archaic mechanisms,

with all those archaic
feelings running rampant.

WEINER: Now, the good news is,
life in the pod was nothing.

You thought this would
all kill you at the start.

But giving it back
or getting rid of it,

unplugging from it,
will actually give you a life.

This may be your first chance
to know your whole self.

Can you imagine?

But you're talking to a baby.

You're talking to
a little baby who's
saying, "No, I'll die."

You're not talking
to an adult.

An adult might say,
"Yeah, I get it, Doctor.

"I'm rooting for you."

But a baby says,
"Don't you dare.

"I'll fight you."

InThe Matrix,

there's a whole scene
where there's a battle,

and I would say
the battle is between
Neo and a terrified baby.

Which is, "Are you going
to be able to change things?"

Every time a person
wants to change something,

the baby that's afraid
steps in,

and it says,
"I can't change this.

"This saved me.

"This preserved my life.

"You want me to change this?
You must be crazy."

And it's not so polite.

That experience
is so dreadful,

that anything, any clue,

any hint of an analyst
approaching that domain

will send a number
of patients scurrying.

Fear of re-experiencing
that terrible trauma.

The necessity
to wake up is universal.

But what induces sleep

is our vulnerability
as fetuses to handle
the suffering.

And so that we don't
even fault ourselves

for having been asleep,
but we do.

We accept that,
that's what happened.

When I was 21
and enlisted in the Air Force,

I thought war was exciting.

With all kinds of fantasies
built up by movies and books.

The 25th mission,

the target was to hit
this jet plane factory
deep in Germany.

And over the target,
we got hit.

I felt the noise,
and I screamed.

It was so painful.

I saw the pilots who were
like dolls on the side.

I knew they were dead.

And there was only myself
and the engineer,

and he couldn't move.

And I called him a name.

I said, "You son of a bitch!
Come on!"

He was frozen.

And then it was too late.
I jumped.

His fear overwhelmed him.

I know about fear.

You cannot be in the war
without knowing about fear.

One understands
why people seek to die,

for example,
stand up in a trench

and be shot by the enemy
just to get it over.

But I also learned
that survival
is what people strive for.


Survive at any cost.

Do anything to survive.

When you see people
fight to get their lives,

and you see what human beings
are capable of,

I don't think there's anything
like it in the whole world.

It's striking

how often I've been
told by people
with serious illnesses,

and even fatal illnesses,

that this disease
was the best thing
that ever happened to them.

Now, I don't recommend
that way of waking up.

But what they mean is that,

"Having to deal
with this disease

"actually woke me up
to who I really am,

"and who I've been and what
I've not been all my life.

"And it's taught me
what life really is all about.

"And that's worth
dying for."

WEINER: I think inThe Matrix,

it's very interesting
because when Neo finally dies,

what brings him
back to life is love.

Well, wait a minute,

love can bring you
back from death?

This is very good news.

BAIL: When you com
to a point of knowing

what is the cause of all this.

And you know
it's your fetal life

where all this desperation,
this pain, takes place.

And when you have an answer,
like the door opens.

Because one can
make sense of it.

One can make absolute sense
of all the feelings.

The patient has to come
to an emotional understanding

because what is first
in a human being is feeling.

The fetus is a feeling entity.

Not a mental entity.

A feeling entity.

Only when compassion
is present,

will people allow
themselves to see the truth.

Compassion for the fact
that unconsciousness
is a response.

Because it was too painful
to be conscious
when we were young.

Not to blame ourselves
for what we did
as a result of that,

but to be compassionate
with ourselves,

not to fault ourselves,

what we did to
ourselves or others,

but to be curious
as to why we did it.

I read a quote
by Maya Angelou.

She said,

"You do the best you can

"until you know better,
then you do better."

That's a paraphrase.

You have to be careful
how you tell a woman

that what she does
impacts her baby

because she can only
do what she can do.

I tend to be very analytical
and think about things a lot,

and, um, give myself
some unneeded anxieties.

HALE: Is this chil
going to be healthy?

Is the child going to have

some kind of, you know,
developmental disorders,

or be killed at whatever age?

I spent a lot of the pregnancy
being very on edge.

ERTEL: The way that
we're taught in our society,

we're always second-guessing.

We're looking to books
and other people
for information

on how to raise our children
when it should be,

and it is,
an innate knowledge.

Women need to know
that babies are strong.

We all spend
nearly nine months
in this intrauterine life

with this happiness
and with these sufferings

and we all have to
pass through birth,

which is perhaps
one of the hardest
labors on this planet.

To be born.

And to give birth.

The birth is a journey
of the hero

like The Little Mermaid...

Alice in Wonderland...

and The Matrix.

I remember walking
into the clinic on a Monday,

and having nurses' jaws drop.

I was 213 pounds the day
before I delivered them.

I started having contractions
around 1:00 or 2:00
in the morning.

When labor actually started,

all of our children were able
to be there for the birth.

It was absolutely insane
getting to the hospital.

My feet were hanging out
the window, practically.

We arrived,
screamed up to the front door.

And then, you know, like,
an hour later,

I was ready to push.

Certainly the contractions
were intense,

but I can only imagine
what it feels like inside.

I was thinking to myself,
you know, just breathe.

Just breathe, just breathe.

It's an awful pain,
but it brings you ahead.

And with every wave,

you come a little bit
nearer to our world.

VERNY: World ecology
has to start with
womb ecology.

We cannot have peace
and good people in the world

without raising peaceful,
good children.

And that has to start
at conception,

not at birth,
but at conception.

The more people
really realize all of this,

I think the more thought
goes into how we treat

the unborn child,
but also how do we treat
the mother?

How do we start
to make sure we're
really making this a world

where we don't
have to send so much

very troubling, difficult
thoughts and feelings
towards our fetuses?

It's our responsibility
to make a better job of it

than we have done in the past.

There are too many children
who are neglected,

who are born
and raised unloved,

and unless this changes,

the world
is not going to change.

WEINER: When you start
to lift off the damage,

you get to a much
more loving state of mind.

And love in that sense
is not only a feeling,

it's also
a set of actions.

It's also a set of relating.

It's, above all,

a constant seeking
to understand the other.

When a baby is understood,
that baby is loved.

When the mother
puts the baby to the breast,

and the baby's hungry,
that baby is loved.

When the mother picks
the baby up
and holds it and pats it

and that's what
the baby wanted,
that baby is loved.

Being understood
is being loved.