Birth Trauma

Otto Rank (1884–1939), an early psychoanalyst believed that birth was a traumatic experience for humans on a psychological as well as a physical level, and could cause multiple issues in later life.

Although there are a small number of psychologists and psychotherapists, including Arthur Janov (1924–) and Stanislav Grof (1931–), who believe that the act of being born is a source of lasting psychological trauma, the majority of the field continue to believe that the infant brain is not sufficiently developed to clearly register and retain the experience.

See also Birth ; Freud, Sigmund; Psychoanalysis ; Rank, Otto.



Beck, Cheryl Tatano, et al. Traumatic Childbirth. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Connolly, Thomas M., et al. Psychology. Harrisburg, PA: Information Science Reference, 2013.

Milton, Jane, et al. A Short Introduction to Psychoanalysis, 2nd ed. London: SAGE, 2011.

Rank, Otto. The Trauma of Birth. Mansfield Centre, CT: Martino, 2010.

Ulman, Richard B. Shattered Self: A Psychoanalytic Study of Trauma. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor & Francis, 2013.


Beck, Cheryl Tatano, and Sue Watson. “Impact of Birth Trauma on Breast-feeding: A Tale of Two Pathways.” Nursing Research 57, no. 4 (July/August 2008): 228–36.


Birth Psychology: The Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health. “Birth Trauma Is Real!” (accessed September 15, 2015).

Birth Trauma Association. “What Is Birth Trauma?” (accessed November 20, 2014).