(Investigator 191, 2020 January)
Rebirthing is as
old as the ages, the idea being that the mind is "cleansed"
(brainwashed) and amenable to new programming.
movement was founded by Leonard Orr in the 1970s. Orr, a former student
of spiritual and metaphysical thinking with the est organisation
(Erhard Seminar Training), describes rebirthing as a process of
"learning to breath energy as well as air". It is an extension of
Arthur Janov's treatment of primal therapy or primal scream. Predating
Janov in the 1920s was Otto Rank, a Viennese psychologist, who
encouraged his patients to adopt the foetal position and re-experience
their births, but later abandoned the practice.
The aim of
rebirthing according to its practitioners "is to more fully understand
and resolve the issues in one's life and relationships". In essence, it
is a program employing techniques of environmental and interpersonal
manipulation designed to change behavioural patterns by adopting
rebirthing consists of continuous deep breathing exercises without
pausing between breaths, followed by a massage while on a mattress,
called a "dry" birth, or in a tub of water heated to approximate the
temperature of the womb, called a "wet" birth. During the physiological
state that ensues from the hyperventilating, dramatic impressions of
happenings in one's childhood are recalled usually resulting in a burst
of anger or a flood of tears and a feeling of emotional release.
include hypnotic regression, and psychoanalytic methods — using
psychedelics. The latter, which usually involved the use of LSD, has
now been discarded for legal reasons.
The theory of
rebirthing is simple fantasy. The idea that a new-born brain is able to
encode any sort of experience is akin to a blind artist trying to paint
a picture without a brush or paints.
It is similar in
many respects to the hypothesis common to all therapies that seek to
"unblock" emotions, and like so many New Age beliefs remain, in the
absence of any evidence, simply a fabrication of the imagination. What
it does in fact, is to set up an artificially intense experience in
which many people feel release. The same physiological effect (and
considerably cheaper) can be achieved by blowing up balloons until you
In her book, The Psychology of Healing, Murry Hope comments: "I have
ascertained the opinions of several psychiatrists, social workers, and
therapists from other disciplines, all of which have confirmed the high
mental casualty rate resulting from Primal Therapy and
Due to patient confidentiality however, no details were supplied to substantiate their experiences.
Adamedes, M. 1983. "Rebirthing — what is it?" Southern Crossings. 3(4).
Dury, N. 1983. Healers, Quacks or Mystics? Hale & Iremonger. Sydney.
Orr, L. 1983. Rebirthing in the New Age. Millbrae. CA.
Hope, Murry. 1989. The Psychology of Healing, Element Books, Longmead, Shaftsbury, Dorset.
Kastner, Mark and Burroughs, Hugh. 1993. Alternative Healing. Halcyon Publishing. La Mesa, California.
From: Edwards, H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary, Holistic & Spiritual Healing, Australian Skeptics Inc