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Dr. David B. Chamberlain, Ph.D. was a pioneer in modern psychology. He was a Methodist pastor, counselling psychologist, author, and groundbreaking researcher in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology. He wrote the visionary book Babies Remember Birth. In 1998, he renamed it The Mind of Your Newborn Baby for its 10th Anniversary release. In 1996, he created www.BirthPsychology.com, the website for the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) which he co-founded as PPPANA in 1983 with Dr. Thomas Verny, MD (author of the international best-seller The Secret Life of the Unborn Child). Dr. Chamberlain continued to explore the origins of early life memory and in 2013 published Windows to the Womb, Revealing the Conscious Baby from Conception to Birth.
Dr. Chamberlain wrote and spoke extensively about the concept that the womb is a classroom, that babies in utero are capable of learning, having real memories, feeling pain, and real communication. Beginning in the 1970’s, his research documented many cases of people who were able to remember events that occurred while they were in the womb. His case studies included research on twins and their parents who had not previously discussed their birth experience. This revealed remarkable corroboration between the twins concerning the reported facts of their births.
Through his research, Dr. Chamberlain learned that babies in the womb have a “psyche” or a soul from conception. He became a vocal advocate for change in the way that newborns are treated. He wrote and spoke extensively about how newborns and babies in the womb are sentient, conscious people. He reported that some current practices in childbirth ignore that infant crying is meaningful communication. In 1989, he published a paper, Babies Remember Pain, in which he explained that babies’ cries are important messages about painful procedures.
Dr. Chamberlain was often sought out for commentary in childbirth-related documentaries. He advocated for midwifery care in childbirth to improve the treatment of babies. He made appearances in What Babies Want, narrated by Noah Wylie, in The Other Side of the Glass, and The Psychology of Birth video productions, among others, including the YouTube video, David Live http://youtu.be/2L03vB4jAKE
Dr. Chamberlain received his B.A. degree from Randolph Macon College in Ashland, VA in 1949 and was awardedthe “Distinguished Alumni Service Award” there in 2004. He studied at Washington State University in Pulman, WA and received his Master’s degree in Psychology in 1950. He then entered the School of Sacred Theology (BUSTH) at Boston University where he earned his Master of Divinity degree in 1953. BUSTH is the oldest theological seminary of American Methodism which in 1871 became the founding professional school of Boston University.
David became the pastor at South Street Methodist Church in Lynn, MA and commuted to BUSTH for his doctoral studies. As a fellow pastor, he perceived the need for pastors to have a resource for counseling outside of their church. In 1958, David completed his Ph.D. with a focus on Pastoral Counselling. He was subsequently posted to the John Street Methodist Church, the oldest U.S. Methodist congregation located in New York City’s financial district. In 1964 he transferred to Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, OH where he began a state-wide counselling practice caring for Methodist ministers and their families. In 1969 he published How Jesus Loved, guideline to small-group practice to deepen understanding of love. This work was coupled with a Marriage Enrichment Manual, published in 1971 by Cokesbury, the retail division of the United Methodist Publishing House.
In the early 1970’s Dr. Chamberlain left the Methodist Church and opened the Anxiety Treatment Center, a private counselling psychology practice in San Diego, CA. This is where he was introduced to clinical hypnosis and made his discovery of birth memories. For the past 40 years, in a series of over 80 professional papers, he continued to validate the existence of early life memories and the importance of these experiences for each of us. Dr. Chamberlain helped create the first curriculum in prenatal and perinatal psychology in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute.
Dr. Chamberlain was for 13 years the President of APPPAH. During this time he was awarded the Verny Award for his dedication and service to the organization. Dr. Chamberlain was a revolutionary in his own way. He communicated clearly his sense of the significance of the psychology of babies. He influenced countless lives with his research, speaking, writing, and giving tireless support to the next generation of thought leaders and practitioners in the young field of prenatal and perinatal psychology.
David was the youngest of six born in West Haven, CT. He is survived by his loving wife Donna Chamberlain of Nevada City, CA, and his two sons Dr. Allan Chamberlain of Huntington, WV and John Chamberlain of Reston, VA, step-children John Chamberlain of Boston, MA, and Laura Brown of West Hampton, NY, and his grandchildren John Chamberlain of Washington, DC, and James Chamberlain of Columbia, SC. Included in David’s family are Donna’s children, Lynda Bell of San Diego, CA, Robert Bell, III of Nevada City, CA, Bruce Bell of Piermont, NY, and their children, Bevin Bell-Hall, Daeira Bell, and Schuyler Bell.
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