This is David Chamberlain's long awaited book about the mind and personality of newborns. It is the result of a decade of painstaking work, collecting hundreds of pieces of research on the newborn and unborn child and his own pioneering studies on hypnotic regression of mother and child dyads. Babies Remember Birth is a wonderfully caring and humane book with a strong spiritual bent. Reading this book one begins not only to appreciate but admire the mind of the newborn.
Two excerpts will illustrate this point.
I felt I knew a lot-I really did. I thought I was pretty intelligent. I never thought about being a person, just a mind. And so when the situation was forced on me, I didn't like it too much.
I saw all these people acting real crazy. That's when I thought I really had a more intelligent mind, because I knew what the situation was with me, and they didn't seem to.
They seemed to ignore me. They were doing things to me-to the outside of me. But they acted like that's all there was. When I tried to tell them things, they just wouldn't listen, like that noise wasn't really anything. It didn't sound too impressive, but it was all I had.
I just really felt like I was more intelligent than they were.
I'm like a little cream puff and I can feel the vibrations. They waited seven years to have me. If they were disappointed that I wasn't a boy they didn't show it. No, no, they're just standing there like two silly little kids. And I'm the prize.
And I just know it, too. I'm just so little and so perfect and so loved! And I don't even know how to talk-all I can do is scream and holler and carry on. My little legs are just going up and down. I'm just having a wonderful time. I have no idea why, but I'm getting a tremendous reception. I've never even seen my parents look so happy and delighted. My mother is absolutely beside herself.
I can do no better than to quote from Chamberlain's "Conclusions":
If birth memories are true, we will have to reassess many of our previous ideas about the nature of babies. Birth reports are charmingly intimate and revealing; they are also revolutionary, confronting us with unimagined intelligence and suggesting that babies deserve new status, that of conscious persons. They share with the rest of us a capacity for enriched and expanded consciousness, something we are only lately acknowledging in ourselves. Referring to these as "altered states of consciousness," or "unconsciousness" states, psychology slowly has been introducing us to a range of nonordinary states where things once thought impossible are possible.
This book was intended by the author to be read by both lay people and the scientific community. However, the publisher decided that they wanted to have a book primarily for pregnant mothers. Consequently, a lot of the detailed notes at the end of each chapter were omitted. Most importantly, they did not even consider including an index and a list of references. This is a great disservice to those of us who would like to pursue some of the original sources of Chamberlain's research references.
Apart from the above deficiency this book will no doubt introduce thousands of pregnant parents to the new world of the unborn and newborn child. All of us in PPPANA can be proud of Chamberlain's achievement. He has written a very fine and important book.
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