In celebration of the field of pre- and perinatal psychology and health (PPPH), editors Jon RG Turner, Troye GN Turner, and Olga Gouni have brought together an anthology of writings by people involved in the field internationally to explore the development and evolution of PPPH over the past almost-100 years. It includes a field of diverse professionals (medical/mental health/research) both prominent and well-known, as well as those less known, who have played a key role across the planet in the development and understanding of the multifaceted elements, components, and factors involved in the field of PPPH relating to society, family and human development, personality, and temperament.
There are two notable references given to birth issues much earlier in history:
- by Plato in his dialogue entitled Meno, where Socrates (470 BC - 399 BCE) put forth the theory of anamnesis, in which he postulated that the trauma of birth causes the soul—which is immortal—to forget the eternal knowledge it has, making this one of the first recorded references to the impact of birth on human functioning.
- by Erasmus Darwin, MD, (Charles Darwin’s grandfather), who wrote Zoonomia, or The Laws of Organic Life, in 1794 in which he stated: “Fear is developed as a result of experiencing sudden input of unfamiliar and multiple stimuli from the environment at birth...,” which specifically acknowledges a psycho-physio-emotional impact of the birthing experience.
Even with these acknowledgements, this arena of PPPH did not begin to be recognized until the coming of Freud’s psychoanalysis and Dr. Otto Rank’s book, The Trauma of Birth, published in 1924. The publication of Dr. Thomas Verny’s book, The Secret Life of the Unborn Child in 1981 inaugurated the field, bringing together and coalescing the research and clinical practices (medical and mental/behavioral health) that were developing and evolving at the time.
This anthology presents not only the works that have developed over these almost-100 years, but also links together current research findings in the fields of neurology, biology, genetics/epigenetics, and human physiology with the research and clinical/therapeutic interventions that have been developed during the past five decades to address and resolve pre- and perinatal trauma, and document how sentient and intelligent preonates* and newborns are.
The information presented is diverse, ranging from highly scientifically-technical information, to personal, human dynamic stories. It encompasses matters and issues in the field of obstetrical and somatic medicine, mental/behavioral health, and parenting/family dynamics as relates to human and personality development. Some of the chapters are extensive and lengthy; fortunately they have subtitle divisions, which provide good stopping points in reading, if needed.
Prenatal Psychology: 100 Years is a book that belongs in the library of everyone either involved in the field of pre- and perinatal psychology and health or interested in the field. It also provides the opportunity for those of us in the USA to learn more about what our international colleagues are doing in the field.
Reviewed by Kelduyn Garland, PhD
2017 recipient of the David B Chamberlain
Lifetime Achievement Award in PPPH
*The spelling preonate was requested by the author, rather than the Oxford English spelling, prenate. The author said she has been using this spelling for 45 years in her teachings and writings, believing it to be more fluid in pronunciation than prenate, and more aligned with the spelling and pronunciation of the word, neonate.