Fetal Despair


A French psychoanalyst argues that narcissism is a powerful, primitive, archaic, dangerous and regressive desire to return to the womb.  The narcissist wants the world to respond positively to his every wish, desire, need, and ambition.  And where could such a desire every have come from but the womb?  One was fed without moving; one dumped without worry.  One was sheltered from the elements and the temperature was just right.

 I may be a narcissist, but I am not one of this type.  For, as I like to say, my woes began in the womb.  I had a premature leg up on misery.  My mother had the “RH factor.”  And because of it, when my body began to produce its own independent supply of blood, my mother’s blood attacked it in a form of allergic reaction.  My blood was friendly and did not attack hers. I was but a mere fetus and utterly outgunned by my mother’s crazed immune system.

What could I do?  Instead of growing stronger and stronger, more and more vibrant and energetic as the moment of my birth approached, I became weaker and weaker and weaker.  I have to believe that this experience accounts in large part for my negative take on existence and my anxious fear that whatever lies in the future will be even worse than now.  For, as I approached the light, a heavy darkness spread through my physical being.

I was born prematurely and weighted less than 6 pounds.  Also my complexion was yellow from jaundice; I was topped off by a stock of orange red hair and one of my ears was broken from a too forcible application of the forceps.  My father felt some mistake had been made and perhaps my unearthly appearance at birth is partly responsible for my mother’s belief that I was “Satan’s spawn sent to torment her.”

 While many problems attend being the first born son of a first born son, I was lucky in a way to be first.  The “RH factor,” as antibodies build up from one pregnancy to the next, gets worse with each child.  My brother survived but had to be completely transfused.  The third child—a girl, my sister—lived just a week.  I can only imagine the deep darkness spreading within her as she approached her too brief sojourn in the light.

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