Conscious People

A Pathway to an Addiction-Free Society

By Elena Tonetti

What does addiction have to do with birth? In one of the previous issues in this magazine, in my article “Limbic Imprint,” I’ve described the mechanism Addiction of the correlation between the way we were born and the quality of our emotional lives as adults. Limbic imprint is an inborn capacity of the nervous system to absorb and memorize noncognitively all of the information from the surrounding environment during the preverbal formative period, from the moment of conception, through gestation, birth, and the first few years of life.

It means that if the baby were predominantly saturated with mother’s “Love hormones,” oxitocin and other dopamine, the baby grows well and feels safe. If, on the other hand, the baby was exposed to predominantly stressful experiences while in utero and had a traumatic birth, the baby’s limbic system would register neglect and pain as the “norm.” As the cortex (and logic) is not developed yet, it cannot cognitively censor sensations and pick only the “good” ones; it registers them all as a way of surviving.

Now I want to address the correlation between the way we are born and our addictive tendencies. It is no coincidence that the drug culture of the 1960s exploded after medical drugs were introduced into delivery rooms during the 1940s. Mothers were gassed, setting up the whole generation to depend on chemicals as a way of dealing with life. Drugs at birth, rough manipulations right after it, and the deep loneliness that follows when the baby is taken away from the mother has devastating effects. It comes as a shock to a baby—numbness, disoriented disconnect from the Source from which it just been rudely yanked away. … The nervous system absorbs this cocktail of sensations as “the life-giving” potion.

Violence also has the same root as any form of addiction. An unbearable confusion in infancy can become an urgent need to inflict pain on others, on oneself, or both. Babies who were not traumatized during their formative period are not prone to become violent and addictive adults. Even if later in life they experiment with drugs, they have what it takes to recover and get on with their lives.

The greatest irony is that our inherent desire to feel good is exactly what drives the unskilled search toward a quick fix.

Ramana, one of the legendary yogis of India, once said that when he finally experienced enlightenment, it lasted for 15 seconds, but it had enough of an impact on him to spend the rest of his life in devotion to this moment.

For a woman, enlightenment is biologically available every time she goes into labor to deliver a baby. The amount of dopamine her anatomy is capable of releasing into her bloodstream in labor would be sufficient for her to enter that state, if she had a chance to learn to relax into it without distraction. If this natural high, which is supposed to be our “basic settings,” was missing at birth, we are bound to long for it for the rest of our lives. …

But if a woman was not born well herself, her body simply doesn’t know how to produce enough oxytocin, the main “love hormone” in labor. For most of us, high stress levels during our formative periods resulted in the absence of a reference point for what it’s supposed to feel like—to be safe, loved, welcomed. Even if our parents loved us, it doesn’t mean they knew how to express their love in a way that made us actually feel loved, because they probably did not have good role models to feel loved by their own parents. In my estimation, about 2 percent to 5 percent of people on our planet can say: “I felt loved as a child”and maybe about 30 percent who can say: “I know I was loved and felt safe with my parents,” but feeling loved—not that many. …

We have to put birth into the context of life, so women don’t feel helpless when it comes to having a baby. Any female cat knows how to give birth. Any male, of any species, doesn’t. Giving birth is not a mental activity that one can learn by reading a book! It’s a deeply mystical experience; that’s why it has a rank of rite of passage in indigenous cultures, in spite of it’s also being a normal anatomical function.

A woman goes through a complete metamorphosis, through the end-of-the-world-as-she-knew-it, through surrender to her own mortality, and then she emerges on the other end victorious, activated in her power … or she can miss it and get the surgery.

I see the main reason for complications at birth in the mother’s own birth trauma, in her unconscious resentment of life rooted in that terrifying time, which leaves her unable to relax in the midst of the intensity of her sensations. This is where introducing conscious preparation to people-making comes in. To consciously create a new human being is to become aware of all the complexities and responsibilities of such a huge task and take necessary steps.

Of course, if there is a real medical indication, we are very grateful that the professional help is available in the hospital! But, still, in normal society, C-section should not occur in more than 10 percent of cases, speaking conservatively—it’s a major abdominal surgery with a huge list of possible side effects!

I see conscious people-making as the answer to most problems of our civilization, which are rooted in fear-based models of living. We can raise a new generation not programmed on suffering and neglect, but free from guilt and shame, free to live by the law of common sense and simple compassion toward each other, which is humans’ natural state of being!

For more information on addiction and what Elena does, contact her at:

Elena Tonetti at 530-566-0199 or visit