Otto Rank (1884–1939)
Otto Rank studied how birth impacts individuals’ psychology and creates anxiety throughout their lives in Europe and the US during the nineteenth century. In his book The Trauma of Birth, Rank stated that birth was extremely traumatic and that one spent his or her whole life trying to recover from the experience of being born and harshly separated from the peaceful womb. He argued that the trauma experienced at birth is the source of all human suffering and the key to understanding anxiety later in life. He stated that the experience of birth was one’s earliest experience of anxiety, which served as the blueprint for all other anxiety related experiences in life. Through his work, Rank prompted studies in developmental embryology analyzing early mother-child relationships and problems in early psychological development.