Re: PSYCH: Studies on birth methods
Mon, 12 Aug 1996 21:21:31 -0600 (MDT)

Although I don't know of of any scientific studies on birth memories and near
death experiences such as Max requested, I do have some personal experience with

As a child in the 1950's, I was given ether as an anesthetic twice. Once for a
tonsillectomy and once for a minor ear surgery. Each time as the anesthetic was
started, I had the experience of being propelled down a tunnel.

For the next few years, I was puzzled by this bizarre experience but never
attached any explanation to it (although I was raised in a rather traditional
midwestern religious family). After thinking about the experience several years
later, I realized this was a birth memory and became curious why it was
triggered under those conditions.

Thinking it might be the ether, I asked my mother if she was given ether when I
was born. She told me that the nurse-anesthesiologist showed up late in the
delivery room and she wasn't given any anesthetic or pain-killer at all. (I
suspect that babies born to mothers who are sufficiently drugged would not have
a birth memory.)

I suspect that what triggered the memory was the combination of the operating
room environment and the feeling of being suffocated. Both ether and the first
movements down the birth canal result in intense feelings of suffocation that
induce strong feelings of panic.

Descriptions of near death experiences that I have heard all are almost
identical to my birth memory in every respect except their interpretation.
Those I have encountered who interpret the experience as something
other-worldly, emphatically reject the idea of a birth memory. Most people who
interpreted the experience as a conventional Near Death Experience have a
wistful longing for their own deaths. On the other hand, by the time I was
twenty, I had rejected my religious upbringing and become passionately
interested in life extension.

Jerry Emanuelson