It’s been about 12 years since I read Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier. What incited my interest was hearing about the book from other adopted people in the adoption community.
The Primal Wound theory doesn’t mean much to me because I’m clueless about the science of the infant brain. Although, separating a baby from its mother seems to me a pretty traumatic event for both mother and child.
I did not conclude the book’s content to be a life-sentence for feeling screwed up by adoption; rather some interesting pieces of insight that provided clarity to a continuous niggle I couldn’t seem to shake off on my own.
The Primal Wound book gave me the awareness that I have a real Mother; that the mother I was separated from for 32 years was a real person.
That would be a Mother that gave birth to me, not some biological whatchamacallit that needed to go to school so it had to give me away so it could have a better life. It hadn’t been possible to grasp that I’d been created the same way other humans were created. I was adopted. So a mother, a woman who had been pregnant--with me and from whom I received life, an identity and a tribal tie to generations of people living and those who came before me was an alien notion.
For me, growing up without the presence of genetic parents, family, or tribe meant no understanding of how it feels to ‘be like’ anyone. And even after reuniting with my mother and after her untimely death I still didn’t get that she was my mother, forget about the whole ancestry and relatives bit. That came much later, long after I’d processed having a real mother and father. Reading The Primal Wound, though, restored the acuity I’d had as a child—before the years of being fed mixed messages, myth and parental absence – the certainty that there was a real woman who was my mother.
After reading PW it was easier to learn more about adoption secrecy laws and adoption as a universal mess that has affected millions of people around the world. Betty Jean Lifton’s book, Journey of The Adopted Self came next and stayed near by for about 4 years. I was happy the day I was able to look at that book and think, Yuk. Self-help books are supposed to provide insight then retire to the second hand bookshop. Post these adoptee-centred books, though, adoption as a systemic legal issue and discriminatory institution became much clearer, therefore no need to revisit those particular perspectives.
I see people periodically accuse The Primal Wound book of being the source of some sort of interminable adoptee victimhood. I don’t get that. Anyone I know that’s read PW simply read the book took from it what they wanted and moved on. It’s never talked about now in my circles other than joking about the people who feel some bizarre compulsion to demonize it and the readers who found it useful. It’s just a book with a few antidotes to assist folks trying to figure out adoption crap. It seems opponents to PW are more victimized by it than those they allege are trapped in a PW void.
Nancy Verrier may thank those who fervently oppose her PW book, because it’s likely through that anti-Primal Wound pack she has received, inadvertently, much publicity and praise.