LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 2, 3
July 16, 1987
Dear Dr. Verny:
A few days have passed since the PPPANA conference, where I was informed and deeply touched by the current research on pre- and perinatal psychology. My husband recruited me to help in the conference planning, a task I enjoyed very much.
My staff and I offer education services to the "unwanted children," described eloquently by Laura Huxley and Piero Ferrucci in their July 9 presentation. You may be aware of the enormous high school dropout rate on many American schools. Educational Clinic is a center which provides basic academic skills and vocational counseling for students who have dropped out of the traditional schools. Our students need a great deal of flexibility, kindness, and support to open up to learning. Their histories have a lot in common-disjointed families, weak bonding with parents, some acquaintance with drug addiction, inconsistent support systems, geographical uprooting, emotional or physical abuse, now on now off financial stability. And that is only their postnatal histories.
School personnel complain about their anger, disrespect for authority and low academic skills. Teachers' expectations continue to be unfulfilled by kids who have difficulty loving, respecting or committing, even to their own well-being.
Some facts about the clinic. We are beginning our second year of operation at this location. At our peak, last year, we had 105 students enrolled, with 50 students in attendance on a daily basis. During the initial assessment we discovered that, on the average, our students perform academically at three grades below their peers. However, many of them perform below that level. At some point last year, we offered instruction to students performing between the third and fifth grade level, that is, four to six grades below the norm. It takes a Herculean effort from these kids, not to mention from their teachers, to catch up and obtain a high school diploma. The consequences of not obtaining a high school diploma in this society are economically devastating. Just about any semiskilled or skilled job requires literacy. Illiteracy also impairs one's ability to participate in self-government, to be informed on how to rear children, to reprogram one's prejudices and misconceptions on self, those around us or how to establish relationships with them.
So far our data reveals that 67 percent of the students enrolled at the clinic have been transitioned after program completion into constructive placements, i.e., gainful employment, continuation school, high school equivalency testing center, one of them is attending college. The job of repairing and reprogramming, however, is no easy task. At this point it requires a lifetime endeavor of our clientele.
My present concerns are: (1) that the clinic personnel manages the stress derived from interacting with our students and that they are able to revitalize themselves daily; (2) that the respect and encouragement that the teachers present toward the students plant the seed of self-love and self-respect in the students; (3) that the positive experiences at our clinic continue to translate into constructive behavior once they leave the clinic; (4) that the academic information that they absorb in our classrooms provide the foundation for future learning. The latter is more easily obtained than the other three.
The information that PPPANA provides must permeate the public schools and day care centers. I suggest that some effort is spent by PPPANA members in recruiting to its ranks not only health professionals, but individuals involved in understanding human behavior in the classroom setting. We seem to be dealing with the processes of learning in a vacuum, not fully understanding that continued concentration in learning activities is not easily performed without self-confidence and self-discipline.
If you would like information on the student population we serve, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for your contribution to further enlighten us.
Celia Barberena Budlong, Ph.D.
July 14, 1987
Dear Dr. Verny,
The 1987 PPPANA Conference was incredible! I have attended many conferences during the last twenty years and this was absolutely the most stimulating and among the very best organized. The presenters were excellent and the information was exciting for everyone.
I have completed the assessment forms at the Conference and also wanted to share suggestions and recommendations with you as well. This is especially since you said no one writes you any letters.
Hospitality Suite: A hospitality suite has been very useful at many conferences I have attended. This is simply a room where members can gather at almost any time of the day 01 night and is open for extended hours. If at all possible, it should be stocked well with food and beverages.
Opening Experience: An initial official opening experience that develops a sense of community among participants is needed. Usually people found others of like minds accidentally. I think an open experience is especially important since so many people come from diverse backgrounds and from many parts of the world.
Mailing List: A mailing list of participants and their identified professions would be useful.
Integrate Luncheon & Business Meeting: The luncheon meeting was a good start at meeting other participants, but was interrupted when people were shooed away for the business meeting. I recommend that the luncheon and business meeting be integrated and both tasks could be accomplished at the same time and during a more leisurely period. Also, there could be a head table of association officers as otherwise they are seldom identified.
Official Banquet with Keynote Speaker: Another event that may be helpful and stimulate active participation is an official banquet which also would provide a keynote speaker.
I felt the best services included the excellent audio-visual resources. The availability of multiple monitors was most effective since the rooms were very large.
I was lucky enough to purchase your latest book at the Conference. Also on this cross-country flight to Atlanta I am dictating a letter and offering my services for possible courses in Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology to local continuing education and university programs.
I just wanted to take a few moments and thank you again for making such a valuable contribution and inspiring others that they may do the same.
I wish you the very, very best of luck.
Polly Paul McMahon, Ph.D.
Dear Dr. Verny,
I received your book a week after you had mailed it (!). I am reading it eagerly. I particularly enjoyed your introduction when you refer to the professionals of various disciplines not being able to find their proper place in their own Professional Associations, and how important it is "to bring together the various pieces, so that the puzzle can be more efficiently solved." I can speak for myself: what it meant to have attended the San Francisco Congress, the importance of having met Graham Farrant and his twin ideas to mine. How much it lessened my so uncomfortable feeling of being always an outcast.
Arnold Buchheimer's article on "Memory" represents such an important support for my ideas, when I am being attacked for lack of scientific ground for my statements. Up to now, I only had the French Physicist Jean Charon ("L'Esprit, Cet Inconnu") to rely on, just roughly.
There are so many things I want to do, that it is difficult to decide for the priorities.
Today I asked the secretary of our Psychoanalytical Society, to pass a letter to the members asking who might be interested in the book you edited. Some years ago, initiative of I don't know who, this was done concerning "The secret Life of the Unborn Child." That is how I got hold of a copy. We made a collective purchase, through the Society, and the books arrived in December 1983. So I thought it might be a good thing to do the same for this one, which is so very important.
The next thing will be to translate it and have it published here. I already saw two publishers, in order to interest them in all the important books on Prenatal Psychology to be published and translated. I found out that Michel Odent's "Birth Reborn" is already being translated by a young obstetrician who got the authorization directly from Odent. I shall try to help him find a publisher.
As to the other matters you mention in your letter:
1. Laura Uplinger, the Brazilian young lady who lives in Washington, was visiting Rio-Sao Paulo. We met and had a long talk concerning PPPANA (Brazilian possibilities). We made a long list of people to contact. Some, we already did.
Laura's husband is President and Chief Executive Officer of the "Foundation for Global Broadcasting." So, we are figuring out as to the possibilities of having part of the Boston Congress Broadcasted through Satellite down to Brazil. If this proves possible, then I shall advise Eva Grundberg: perhaps it might also be done to Venezuela.
2. I am making contacts here at a big TV Channel ("TV Globo") in order to get them interested in making an hour's program about PPPANA. Their program is called "Globo Reporter" and has a 15 million people audience. I shall discuss this matter with Paulo Shiller. In case they agree, they would interview you in Toronto, and other people you would consider suitable, wherever they are.
Thank you so much again for your attention, very affectionately
Dear Tom and Sandra,
The conference meant a great deal to me and I feel fortunate to have been able to be a part of it and look forward to being part of future ones and to joining the organization. I have never joined any organization around the subject of birth, but I think this one will be it! Thank you both for all you have done to midwife it so well.
Have a lovely, restful end of summer.
Suzanne Arms Wimberley