The Feminine Is Finally Allowed a Place at the Table

Yesterday’s heat wave in Los Angeles combined with our tired air conditioning system, sent us to take refuge in a cool movie theatre where we saw Beatriz at Dinner, a deceptively small film (run time: 1 hour, 23 minutes) that delivers a luminous message from the feminine unconscious.

The film opens with a camera shot of a pure white baby goat beside a river and we learn over the course of the movie that this was Beatriz’s goat, Geronimo, when she was young in Mexico. We also come to find out that he was killed by those who came to develop the land that her small home town occupied. A neighbor has also recently killed one of the goats she keeps at her small house in Altadena. Clearly, these goats represent the innocence and purity of nature, akin to the conceptus in utero.

Salma Hayek delivers a stunning performance as an earthy healer who inadvertently finds herself at a dinner party in a Newport Beach gated estate with a group of mercenary commercial real estate developers and their superficial, sychophantic wives. Needless to say, this combination makes for an interesting and uncomfortable evening for all, but Beatriz’s confidence in her own grounded emotional intelligence allows her to hold her own, and she gradually shifts into becoming an estimable adversary to the three poster boys of capitalism and the masculine paradigm.

In one of her most powerful speeches Beatriz talks to the alpha male of the dinner party, perfectly named Doug Strutt. Late in the evening, after alcohol has loosened everyone up, including Beatriz, he ecstatically describes the “pure” thrill of hunting big game in Africa (characterized as better than sex, drugs, or money!), When Beatriz is passed Doug’s cell phone to view pictures of the rhinoceros he most recently killed, she becomes so enraged that she throws the cell phone at him. Later she tells him that destroying things is easy and what is difficult is having the patience required to heal the sick world.

Unfortunately, Beatriz doesn’t understand the mental and emotional root that gives rise to the sickness she is attempting to heal. Her work in a clinic devoted to healing cancer patients was where she came into contact with her dinner hosts when she helped to heal their daughter who was very ill with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy. Her only tools are Reiki, massage and sound therapy and, most of all, her own loving kindness. She doesn’t understand the roots of the sickness she so clearly sees and feels in the world. She is exhausting herself mowing the weeds without knowing how to get at the roots of the suffering. I could very much empathize with her because before I found Dr. Bail and his theory of the imprint, my psychology practice was burning me out. I just didn’t have the tools, like Beatriz.

Over the course of the movie, we watch Beatriz unravel and her final line in the movie is spoken to a stranger who is towing her disabled car back to Altadena. She says, “That man killed my goat,” with its echoes of the slang expression “to get one’s goat” meaning to rile or provoke anger. It also speaks to how the insensitivity and destructiveness of the masculine paradigm disturbs the health and balance of all life, including Beatriz’s.

Like Beatriz, everyone who sees the film will be disturbed because her words of truth disturb the status quo of our diseased world. Beatriz speaks for the Feminine in a world that has forgotten how to listen and how to love.

Introductory Remarks for Dr. Bail’s Seminar, American Psychoanalytic Association meeting – Austin, TX on June 9, 2017

Back in the day, when I was just beginning in the field people seemed to be forever asking me, “What’s your orientation?” There were so many, as there are today still. My colleagues and I quickly settled into answering the question with a single word that required no further explanation or defense. We said we were eclectic.

At this conference we have Freudians, Kleinians, Bionians, Lacanians, just to name a few of the major theorists from the last century. People may celebrate this as diversity, but what it really means is that psychoanalysis still does not have a correct theory that can account for the cause of human suffering and the mechanism by which it is engendered. Without that, we do not have the solid foundation necessary to conduct efficacious treatment.

I believe many analysts intuit the shortcomings of existing theory and don’t adhere to any of them strictly. Rather, I think most analysts employ the old eclectic approach I employed for many years, taking a bit of this and a bit of that to try to piece together something workable. In other words, they do not have a cohesive theory of mind that allows them to feel the security of a solid foundation for their work. I think this must trouble analysts more than perhaps they realize, just as it did me for 20 years.

And if we can’t even agree on what causes the problems with which our patients present, or how they can best be treated, is it any wonder that the public doesn’t take psychoanalysis, Freud’s great discovery, seriously any longer? Since its heyday at mid-century, the popularity and esteem of psychoanalysis has deteriorated in the mass culture to being a punch line in a Woody Allen joke.

They say that psychoanalysis is not scientific. And they are right. All the theorists I mentioned above have based their ideas primarily on intellectual fantasy and their results cannot be replicated.

I believe that if psychoanalysis is to have a renaissance, it must find a compelling and replicable theory, a scientific theory not based on intellectual fantasy. A new paradigm.

One of the most remarkable and revolutionary aspects of Dr. Bail’s work is the introduction of a new paradigm for psychoanalysis: the Feminine Paradigm. His theory of the imprint puts the mother at the center of our emotional universe where she belongs and makes clear her impact on the baby she conceives, gestates, and gives birth to. Up until this point, the ruling paradigm in psychoanalysis has been masculine and intellectual, what we might call the Freudian Paradigm.

Freud proposed the theory that the cause of psychopathology was centered in the relationship to the father and the Oedipal complex was the event that must be analyzed to produce a successful therapeutic outcome.  But we now know that much has already affected the child by the age of five. Focusing on this period of life as the beginning is like trying to construct a building by starting on the fifth floor. And that is why the Freudian paradigm has crumpled. It cannot be saved because it is an incorrect theory.

Melanie Klein knew intuitively that Freud was not digging for answers in the right place and, being a mother, she focused her search on infancy.  One of her first case studies was of her own baby, her last child Erich, conceived and born during one of her bouts with severe depression. What she observed in him formed the basis of her theory, not realizing that what she saw was a reflection of her own terrible feelings and deficits in mothering. Her theory suggests that psychopathology arises from the innate badness of the baby, an hypothesis that defies commonsense. Her fantasy of greedy, envious, devouring babies stretches the imagination and denies the pivotal role of the mother. Babies are different in temperament because they have different mothers.

And don’t we all know intuitively that the mother is the most powerful emotional force in the family? We talk about Mother Nature, the Motherland, the Mothership. And who do we wave hello to or thank on television if not Mom? We live inside her body; her emotional chemistry is ours too. Nine months is a long time and our in utero experience represents the ultimate intimate connection, the like of which we have trouble even imagining. These obvious facts are why Dr. Bail’s work focuses on pre and perinatal life as the beginning of human emotional life and where we must look to ascertain what has gone wrong.

What the unconscious has revealed to Dr. Bail, and will reveal to anyone who follows Dr. Bail’s method, is that humanity’s problems arise from our earliest experience in the womb which we recreate unerringly over the course of our lives. He calls this an imprint because it is an emotional state etched into us at our core. You will hear an illustration of this in Dr. Weiner’s case presentation today.

Now I want to be very clear that this theory is not mother bashing. No mother sets out consciously to harm her child but the tragedy is that she can’t help but pass on what is inside her and especially so because it is unconscious. These terrible feelings were passed to her from her mother so that root cause of the disorders we treat is this multi-generational imprint. It is the legacy of the mistreatment, oppression and diminution of women that has plagued the Masculine Paradigm. This is what the church was getting at with the concept of original sin but they didn’t understand its origin. The imprint is universal but has nothing to do with a child’s true nature. It is an artifact of the world we have, in our ignorance, created. As rates of mental illness indicate, it is not getting any better despite a century of psychoanalysis, it is getting worse.

The good news is that because this early trauma is buried deeply in our unconscious mind, it can only be accessed through psychoanalysis and the dream. If psychoanalysts can heed the call to a new paradigm, a Feminine Paradigm which recognizes the power of the mother in shaping our lives, they already possess the only method capable of discovering and removing the Imprint their patients carry, Freud’s brilliant method of free association for understanding the latent content of a dream. A theory that can explain the mechanism of emotional disturbance will be our field’s equivalent of the theories of Gravity, Evolution, Relativity.  Combining this with a powerful method like dream interpretation will allow psychoanalysis to finally deliver on the promise of its beginnings and begin to transform the suffering of the world.

 

 

Feeling is Queen

It isn’t often a book comes along that gives poetic voice to a seminal scientific theory and when such a meeting of the minds does occur, we should take note. In this case, Ian McEwan’s new novel Nutshell is an extraordinarily accurate depiction of the scientific theory of eminent psychoanalyst Bernard Bail, who has discovered, through sixty years of clinical practice, that human beings are imprinted in utero by their mother’s unconscious mind. Although he does not yet have the international recognition enjoyed by Mr. McEwan, Dr. Bail’s insights into life in the womb and its ensuing consequences predate this novel by at least a decade, most notably in his 2007 book, The Mother’s Signature, in over a hundred essays on his website bernardbailmd.com, and he will soon become known to a wider public in a documentary movie about his life and work to be released in 2017.

The gift of great artists (and I include scientists in this designation because the great ones, truly are) is their courage and ability to tap into the deep Unconscious of the world and to share what they discover there, by way of their creations. This is the case whether the ultimate creation be Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Watson’s model of DNA. Thus comes the adage, great minds think alike; great minds are accessing the same Source. When two experts in seemingly disparate fields come back with the same or similar insights, the truth and relevance of each is amplified.

This isn’t the first time Dr. Bail’s theory has been confirmed in other fields. For example, in 2006 The New York Times published an article entitled “Silent Struggle: A New Theory of Pregnancy” reporting the research findings of a Harvard evolutionary biologist and geneticist named David Haig. Dr. Haig found that mothers unconsciously alter genes of their fetuses. He dubbed this process genomic imprinting and predicted that the discovery of this phenomenon will be one of the most important ideas in science in the near future.

I became interested in Dr. Bail’s ideas many years ago because I heard the unmistakable ring of truth when I heard him speak about psychological matters, in a field where I had begun to despair of ever finding clear, grounded wisdom about the causes of the suffering we see all around us. After studying his ideas for two decades, I find them to be remarkably useful in understanding not only the emotional struggles of my patients but also the seemingly insoluble problems that plague our larger world.

Nutshell is the first book ever written completely through the mind’s eye of a fetus and I take its appearance as a sign that the time might be rapidly approaching in which Dr. Bail’s theory of Imprinting will finally gain the attention and recognition it so richly deserves. After reading Nutshell with its uncannily astute reflection of life in the womb, a picture previously understood and arrived at scientifically by Dr. Bail, I am more than ever convinced of it. The crucial importance of prenatal life and the emotional health of the mothers who give birth to us all is a reality that can no longer be ignored.

The stage is set for Nutshell with the following epigraph from the Bard:

“Oh God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space—were it not that I have bad dreams.”

~Shakespeare, Hamlet

Mr. McEwan’s tour de force novel hits all the notes of the Hamlet drama, cleverly reset in a modern and prenatal context. Our nameless narrating fetus, like Hamlet before him, is forced to consider the burning question of existence (“to be or not to be”) because of the emotional upheavals, poisonous feelings and bad behavior of his mother, of which he is all too painfully aware. The mother of our fetus is named Trudy (Gertrude) who has recently separated from her sad sack poet husband and taken up with his brother, Claude (Claudius), a slick, insensitive brute of a real estate developer. The couple plot to poison her husband, the fetus’s father.

The narrating fetus of the book is breathtakingly wise. His mother’s heartbeat and chemistry, even the tone of her voice, are his window into her soul. “The body cannot lie, but the mind is another country, for when my mother speaks at last, her tone is smooth.” The mother can dissemble to others and even to herself, but every fetus is privy to the truth.

Our fetal narrator understands the laws of nature and exactly what he is in for “…the bad won’t end, the bad will be endless, until ending badly will seem a blessing. Nothing will be forgotten, nothing flushed away. Foul matter lingers in unseen bends beyond the plumber’s reach.” The Imprint by definition is the mother’s “foul” unconscious feelings that remain within her and her child for life. What Mr. McEwan doesn’t know is the hope that Dr. Bail’s discovery delivers: that dreams can extend the reach of the plumber/analyst’s understanding so that the bad can finally be accessed and cleansed.

This highly sentient fetus gives voice to Dr. Bail’s concept of the Imprint: that not only do we live our earliest life in our mother’s body but also, more fatefully, in her mind and that experience marks us for life. “This was my paternity, until my mother wished my father dead. Now I live inside a story and fret about its outcome.” The fetus will have to recreate, live and fret in his parents’ story and he will come to forget that it is not his own. He is aware that his greatest burden is his mother’s emotional state, “My heart is struggling with my mother’s angry blood.”

Mr. McEwan makes us feel the wrenching dilemma of every fetus with this passage, “I need a moment alone, beyond the reach of voices. I’ve been too absorbed, too impressed by Trudy’s art to peer into the pit of my own grief. And beyond it, the mystery of how love for my mother swells in proportion to my hatred. She’s made herself my only parent. I won’t survive without her, without the enveloping green gaze to smile into, the loving voice pouring sweets in my ear, the cool hands tending my private parts.” Later, the picture of this painful fetal reality is completed, “Blood-borne well-being sweeps through me and I’m instantly high, thrown forwards by a surfer’s perfect breaking wave of forgiveness and love. A tall, sloping, smoothly tubular wave that could carry me to where I might start to think fondly of Claude. But I resist it. How diminishing, to accept at second hand my mother’s every rush of feeling and be bound tighter to her crime. But it’s hard to be separate from her when I need her. And with such churning of emotion, need translates to love, like milk to butter.”

Finally, with stunningly poetic insight, our narrator describes life in the womb by summing it up perfectly in three words, “Feeling is queen.” The mother’s unconscious feelings will rule the life of her child. We are all ruled by these feelings, despite our conscious, logical best intentions. Any attempt to improve ourselves or our world will fail unless these feelings are understood and resolved.

Nutshell is short and deliciously full of Mr. McEwan’s insight and literary virtuosity. But, even more importantly, this book is a vivid depiction of what will in all likelihood prove to be one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 21st century:  that human beings spend their first nine months of life struggling with their mother’s “angry blood” and that experience marks them for life. Anyone who thinks that this trauma does not affect every fetus should consider the question of whether any woman alive today does not carry the legacy of centuries of oppression and mistreatment by a male dominated culture. By understanding the root cause of the emotional difficulties that beset so many people, the theory of Imprinting, an idea whose time has come, opens the door to a cure for the universal trauma of life in the womb as portrayed so artfully, first in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and now by Mr. McEwan in this unforgettable book.

We all have the bad dreams referenced in the book’s epigraph above. Most people, if they remember them at all after waking, pay little heed to them. But those bad dreams are the key to understanding what happened to us, the story we “live inside and fret about”, the story we didn’t create and that, unbeknownst to us, colors our daily lives. The new paradigm for psychoanalysis that Dr. Bail’s work provides offers us finally an opportunity to free ourselves from the nutshell of our early trauma.

 

Womb

WOMB

Judith V. Parker, Ph.D.

If Oscar nominated movies are a glimpse into the Zeitgeist of the times, then this year’s crop of nominees can offer us some hope that people are finally ready to see beneath the surface, to turn a Spotlight on the lie at the heart of the system and to take a Big Short on the fraud and stupidity of conventional thinking.

But the nominated film that speaks most closely to the core of our world’s problems on a microcosmic, personal level is Room, whose lead won the Oscar for Best Actress. Despite its flawed ending, it is as apt a metaphor for the imprint as any seen recently in film.

Based on an acclaimed book, the story, as it is gradually revealed, involves a young mother ironically named Joy and her five-year-old son Jack who are held hostage in a tiny heavily secured garden shed by a man known only as “Old Nick” and whom we see mainly through Jack’s shuttered vantage point in the cupboard when Nick visits at night for sexual congress with his mother. We learn that Joy was kidnapped at the age of 17 by Old Nick and that Jack is the product of rape by Old Nick and has never known the world outside of the one room they live in. Eventually, Joy devises a plan to fake Jack’s death so that when Old Nick takes the body rolled in a rug to bury, Jack can escape and secure help for them. The plan is successful and the rest of the movie deals with their adjustment to freedom and their process of healing from the trauma of their captivity.

Beyond the obvious rhyme, I believe there are many reasons to view Room as a metaphor for the experience of being in the womb. The claustrophobic lack of space and the fact that both mother and child are locked into the situation are reminiscent of gestation. The absence of love or kindness in the relationship between Joy and Old Nick is not so dissimilar to many bad marriages. Old Nick brings home the bacon and Joy and Jack are completely dependent on him to provide food and the essentials for life. He is not beyond reminding them of this whenever he is angry. He has no relationship with his child because Joy will not even let him see Jack. Jack is hers alone, her compensation for the dismal and abusive terms of her captivity. Although this situation is portrayed in the extreme and we like to think that there are fewer of these kinds of relationships in the modern world due to the empowerment of women, this picture of domestic life is not so far from what women have had to endure over the centuries.

Joy’s despair is palpable in the film. She alternates between moments of love for her child and irritation with his needs, his desires, and his questions, all of which serve to complicate and magnify her powerless position. This aspect of the film is a powerful portrayal of how a mother cannot protect her child from her own state of mind. Even though she tries to keep it in the background and put a positive face on for his benefit her anguish calls forth his grief, intransigence and temper tantrums in response.. There is no boundary between the two of them.

On a deeper level, and key to our purposes in writing about the film, Old Nick can be seen as symbol of the imprint that holds us all captive. It is old indeed, an accumulation of untold centuries of suffering and abuse experienced by women and passed automatically and unconsciously to their children in the womb. Old Nick has clearly been formed by the brutal unfeeling dominance of the masculine paradigm that sanctions the use of force and violence to take what one wants. This paradigm has held civilization hostage for thousands of years and produced the imbalance between masculine and feminine that continues to create the kind of relationships between men and women depicted in the film. When Joy returns to her mother’s and stepfather’s home after her escape we see that she was herself the product of a failed union. When her father makes his appearance, having flown in from out of town at the news of her escape, he cannot even look at Jack, the product of his daughter’s rape. His masculine pride of dominance and ownership trumps the love he should be feeling for his daughter and grandson.

Like the imprint, nothing is known about Old Nick. We see only brief glimpses of him on camera, we know him mainly through his effect on Joy, the misery he creates in her. In this way, the film portrays accurately how little anyone knows about the imprint currently, while we can clearly see its effects in the suffering of the world all around us.

The ending is false in that the escape from Old Nick does not happen in real life. One has to do more than fake one’s death in order to escape the imprint. It is with us until our actual deaths unless we can understand what it is, how it operates, and how to cleanse ourselves of it. It cannot be tricked like Old Nick and doesn’t lose heart and let go as easily as he does when Jack makes a run for it. Unlike Old Nick, the imprint is not afraid because, thus far, no one, with the exception of Dr. Bail and those few of us who have experienced or practiced his work, has seen it. It has been ruling the world for thousands of years. But like Old Nick the imprint ultimately fears exposure, as can be attested to by anyone who has tried to probe its existence. When one dares to do this, a considerable arsenal of weapons emerges in the unconscious and the battle for one’s life will ensue.

To its credit, the film does realistically show how Joy continues to suffer even after escaping Room. Her rage, depression and immaturity prevent her from seeing how her trauma has affected and continues to affect her son. In the hospital where they are assessed after escaping Room, the doctor advises her to keep Jack under observation for a while longer. Joy declines this in her eagerness to return home and angrily barks at the doctor, “Nothing happened to Jack!” Once they return home she is almost completely consumed by her own rage and depression, pushing Jack and her mother away. At one point she admits to her mother, “I’m supposed to be happy. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

Joy decides to participate in a highly paid interview for television about her ordeal. About what it was like when Jack came, Joy says, “he was so beautiful, I just knew I had to keep him safe.” The interviewer asks her if she ever considered asking Old Nick to take Jack away to a hospital and Joy angrily asks, “Why would I do that?” When the interviewer says, “So that Jack could be free”, Joy quickly responds, “but he had me.” The interview is effectively over when the interviewer asks one last question, “But was that the best thing for Jack?” A suicide attempt is Joy’s next act and Jack is left to find her on the bathroom floor.

Jack, although angry at Joy for her suicide attempt, appears to get better with his mother away at the hospital. But he also tells his grandmother that he misses Room because his mother was always there. He decides to cut off his long hair (he calls it his “strong”) in order to send it to his mother in the hospital. This is a poignant depiction of a child’s need to sacrifice his “strong” to help his mother carry the emotional burden of the imprint. When she returns from the hospital, supposedly mysteriously recovered, she tells Jack that he saved her again. When she confesses to Jack that she’s afraid she hasn’t been a very good mother to him, in all the honesty of childhood, he doesn’t dispute her, he simply says, “But you’re Ma.”

The final scene has Joy and Jack revisiting Room at Jack’s request. Accurately, such a return to the scene of the crime is necessary on the journey to free oneself. But it’s an internal journey that can’t be accomplished without the close attention to and understanding of one’s dreams that only an in-depth analysis based on Dr. Bail’s imprint theory can provide.

It is one thing, and the least of it, to escape Room or Womb physically. It is altogether another thing to remove the residue or imprint of the terrible feelings we all endured during that trying cohabitation. The film’s strength is its vivid depiction of the emotional realities of life in the womb, a much needed, more honest picture of that time in all of our lives, a period that we have a strong tendency to idealize. But after Joy and Jack leave Room, the film looses its way. In trying to construct an ending that avoids leaving the audience devastated, the writers tack on vague abstractions of the rehabilitative process that are reflective of the current state institutional psychology in all its superficial without-a-clue-ness. Clearly the writer and director are in territory they do not fathom, the unconscious, and they find no direction from psychology because understanding of the unconscious and the imprint is sadly absent there as well.

The film I want to see is one that goes far beyond where Room stops and could show the long term effects that being captive to Old Nick has in store for Joy and Jack. Even though Jack looks like he’s adapting fairly well to the world outside Room, I am certain his way will not be smooth. Nothing in this film would allow me to believe that Joy has found real freedom from Old Nick either. A truly revolutionary film would begin where this one leaves off and illustrate accurately what a careful analysis based on a deep understanding of the imprint looks like and how it can meaningfully free the survivors of Womb.

Copyright, Judith V. Parker, Ph.D. 2016

 

The Name of the World

THE NAME OF THE WORLD

Judith V. Parker, Ph.D.

It’s been said that great minds think alike and that great artists see or intuit truths about the world long before others can. With that in mind, here is an excerpt from an acclaimed writer, Denis Johnson, winner of the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize finalist. I believe it contains an uncanny reflection of Dr. Bail’s imprint theory that was beginning to be articulated by Bail at around the same time that Johnson created his artistic image.

This excerpt is the description of a drawing in a museum that the main character goes to view on a daily basis:

“This picture was an anonymous work that almost anybody on earth could have made, but as it happened, a Georgia slave had produced it. The work’s owners, the Stone family of Camden County, had found the work in the attic of the family’s old mansion. It was drawn with ink on a large white linen bed sheet and consisted of a tiny single perfect square at the center of the canvas, surrounded by concentric freehand outlines. A draftsman using the right tools would have made thousands of concentric squares with the outlines just four or five millimeters apart. But, as I’ve said, the drawing, except for the central square, had been accomplished freehand: Each unintended imperfection in an outline had been scrupulously reproduced in the next, and since each square was larger, each imperfection grew larger too, until at the outmost edges the shapes were no longer square, but vast chaotic wanderings.

To my way of thinking, this secret project of the nameless slave, whether man or woman we’ll never know, implicated all of us…Though simple and obvious as an act of art, the drawing portrayed the silly, helpless tendency of fundamental things to get way off course and turn into nonsense, illustrated the church’s grotesque pearling around its traditional heart, explained the pernicious extrapolating rules and observances of governments—implicated all of us in a gradual apostasy from every perfect thing we find or make.

Implicated. This wasn’t my reaction only. I talked with lots of people who’d seen the work, and they all felt the same, but in various ways, if that makes sense. They felt uneasy around it, challenged, disturbed. I suppose that’s what made it art, rather than drawing.”

Denis Johnson

The Name of the World (2000)

The imprint passes down through the generations and is essentially the unintended imperfections contained in the mother’s unconscious, both those she was passed by her own mother and those accumulated in her own life experience. These imperfections are the distortions caused by the pain arising from a lack of love in its many forms: cruelty, abuse, neglect, violence, war, etc. They are replicated in the next generation unintentionally because they are unconsciously passed despite all a mother’s best intentions for her baby.

These distortions become so exaggerated over time that it becomes difficult to ascertain the original design, becoming ultimately “vast chaotic wanderings.” Anyone who has observed the broken state of our world has been observing the effect of these distortions passed through the imprint over hundreds of generations. Or as Johnson describes it, the “helpless tendency of fundamental things to get way off course and turn into nonsense…” He writes that this phenomenon of distortion “…illustrated the church’s grotesque pearling around its traditional heart, [and] explained the pernicious extrapolating rules and observances of governments…” In other words, just as individuals become increasingly distorted by their imprints over many generations, the institutions they create and control become grossly distorted as well.

Dr. Bail has often said that to repair something we must know where and how it came to be broken. Any healing must go back to the source of the injury. His theory of the imprint reveals to us that we are unintentionally injured by the early trauma of having to carry our mothers’ unbearable burden of imperfections and distortions. Sadly, until the world comes to know and recognize the import of Dr. Bail’s theory of the imprint, any attempts to repair our world, our institutions, our families and ourselves will remain superficial and result in little appreciable progress.

Johnson’s insight that the imprint implicates us all is uncannily accurate. No one escapes the imprint; we differ only with regard to the degree of distortion or suffering contained in our imprint, in that happier, emotionally healthier mothers pass a less distorted, less troublesome imprint to their children. But no one is born free of distortion. It is the name of the world, secret until now. Johnson is also correct in observing that we all feel “…uneasy…challenged, disturbed…” when we come face to face with this truth that lies deep in the heart of the human condition. Any patient who has had the distortions in his personality revealed through dreams and traced those back to earliest life and the relationship to his mother can attest to how deeply disturbing, and ultimately freeing this knowledge can be. These patients are, without a doubt, very courageous individuals.

Hopefully, we will all find the courage in the years to come to investigate the truth of Dr. Bail’s theory and to test it for ourselves in clinical settings, despite our reluctance to enter that disturbing territory. Facing our imprints will allow us to know the true name of the world, the imprint, so that we can begin to change it. Only in this way can we make real progress towards restoring order, symmetry and sanity to our world.