(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.
The rebirthing 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 alternative behaviours.


Essentially 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.
Other techniques 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 feel giddy.
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 Rebirthing".
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