Robert Clover Johnson comments below on my previous post, dated January 21, 2013, about Robin Grille’s article “What Your Child Remembers–New discoveries about early memory and how it affects us.” I want to thank him personally for having the courage and taking the time to share his experiences and his knowledge with us. He is a pioneering educator on the subject of the trauma of infant circumcision, and I am honored to have him post on myincision. His thoughts are extremely important for us all to consider.
Thanks for bringing my attention to the work of Robin Grille. I am perhaps a case study of someone who coached himself through various forms of regressive therapy to discover the sources of lifelong tensions and depression by opening up the repressed memory of infant trauma. Grille describes this process very well, though his description is so succinct that some readers might suppose that just a few sessions of exploring postures and breathing techniques might lead to such revelations. My story spans three decades with lots of distractions and detours and important life events intervening. But as a result of my therapy I know from personal experience that infant surgical trauma is deeply imprinted in the amygdala and can have serious deleterious consequences throughout one’s life unless dealt with in a very caring, sensitive way.
In 2005, I re-experienced the cutting sensations of my infant circumcision during a therapy session. At that time, I knew nothing about this surgery. This experience has altered my life in many ways. One of the hardest aspects of gaining this somatic knowledge and the book-learned knowledge that followed is learning how to share what I have learned constructively. Most Americans still simply do not believe that such memories can be accessed or that they have any effect whatsoever on adult life. Alas, these imprints do affect us and the news is not so good. In the case of circumcision, the infant is not only traumatized, thus losing trust in the benevolence of parents and humans in general, but also most of a man’s erogenous nerves are cut off and thrown away (or sold to pharmaceutical or cosmetic companies for commercial and medical uses).
Most people in our society have adjusted to this unnatural reality, primarily through suppression of information about it and the propagation of such lies as that “the foreskin is just a useless flap of skin.” (It also naturally lubricates sex, by the way, so the effects are felt by women as well as men.) Fortunately, such organizations as Intact America and NOCIRC are gradually making headway and fewer boys are being cut than in the past. I urge everyone to look up those organizations online and become enlightened, if you are not already enlightened.
Robin Grille is right. Infant trauma can be remembered, and it has bad effects whether or not we consciously remember the trauma.