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The following tributes speak eloquently to the deep respect that David Chamberlain inspired in all who knew him. The first four are from a very select community, the former and current presidents of APPPAH. Dr. Chamberlain was an honored part of this community, as president of APPPAH from 1991 to 1999.
Thomas Verny, MD, DPsych., DHL, FRCPC, FAPA (President from 1983-1991)
In the spring of 1981, I read a report in a Toronto paper about a psychologist in San Diego whose research demonstrated that children’s memories of their own births were real and not, as psychoanalysts held, fantasies. Since I was just about to embark on a coast-to-coast book promotion tour of The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, this study was welcome news, buttressing as it did the central premise of my work. I immediately wrote to Dr. David Chamberlain, the author of this study. We started to correspond. When David learned that I would be in LA as a guest on the Merv Griffin show, he proposed to attend a taping of the show and to meet me there. This we did. And that marked the beginning of a 33-year friendship and collaboration.
Following our meeting, David suggested we present a joint workshop at the 1982 American Psychological Association Annual Meeting. Our proposal for our presentation was quickly rejected. When I heard the news, I rather impetuously said,” If they don’t want us in their club, let’s form our own.” David thought that that was a good idea. If I were willing to organize the conference, he would send me a list of his contacts and support me in any way he could. A year later, in the summer of 1983, the 1st International Congress on Pre-and Perinatal Psychology was held in Toronto. On the last day of the Congress we founded the Pre-and Perinatal Psychology Association of North America (PPPANA) with David as 1st Vice President, Sandra Collier as 2nd Vice President and Secretary, and Marsha Penner as Treasurer.
Two years later, David chaired the 2nd International Congress of PPPANA in San Diego following which he became a tireless and enthusiastic champion of prenatal psychology, writing and lecturing widely on the subject. His contributions to our association are enormous; President from 1991 to 1999, Acting Editor of the PPPANA, later renamed APPPAH, Editor of Newsletter from 1995 to 1999, producing and editing annually 100 books list in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health from 1993 to 1999, Book Review Coordinator from 1997 to 1999. In November 1996, David founded and continued until his passing away to edit birthpsychology.com - APPPAH’s gateway to the World Wide Web.
David was a first class professional, accurate, precise, and analytic. He considered carefully what he wrote and what he said. His books and publications reached a wide readership. In person he was always cheerful with an impish sense of humor. I don’t think he had an enemy in the world. He inspired people and people loved him.
David and I did not spend much time together but we did not need to. Although cut from very different cloths, we understood each other and we were friends. We were brothers in arms. We took on the establishment in psychology and psychiatry; we upset a few apple carts and we made some headway. The struggle is not over; the road ahead is still full of obstacles. But because of David’s contributions, some of the path has been cleared. He has left this world a better place than when he entered it and that is really the most any one of us can hope to achieve in our lifetime. Thank you, David.
Barbara Findeisen, MFT (President from 1999-2005)
I met David Chamberlain at the first APPPAH Congress in Toronto. Then the name was PPPANA. It was an exciting time for all of us to be a part of the birth of the association. For some, like David, who had stumbled on to birth memories, we were thrilled to find others we could talk to who didn’t think we were a little bit crazy. It was such a wonderful experience to share and learn from others. David chaired the second congress in San Diego. I brought a camera person and interviewed most of the presenters including, Stan Grof, Ashley Montague, David Cheek, and of course, Thomas Verny and David. Though many of us came on board, it was Thomas Verny and David Chamberlain with the support of their wives, Sandra and Donna, who created the organization. Of course I interviewed both of them. I filmed David at his home. As always he was informed, interesting, and enthusiastic about the subject. His warmth, humor and wisdom, and honorable New England character were in evidence. David was personable and relaxed. Whenever I see the documentary, Journey To Be Born, I am reminded of his good humor and relaxed style as I watch him cross his legs and wave a sock covered foot casually in the air. I smile once again with my friend David.
David cared about people and babies and mothers and it showed in his books, his presentations, and in his life. He was really involved in his subject. In one of our Congresses, I had the job of being timekeeper to keep the program on schedule. I sat in the front row with my time cards. When David’s time left was five minutes I held up the card. David, caught up in his enthusiasm for his subject, seemed not to notice. Not then, nor at the two-minute, nor at the No Time Left card. I waited. After a few attempts at hand signals and more time passed, I went up on the stage and whispered in his ear. I was very embarrassed and quickly tiptoed off the platform, but David had heard me and smoothly ended his presentation. He and I later often joked about it.
When I remember David, I also think of his lovely wife, Donna, who was such a huge support for him and such good company for all of us. Through the decades, their contribution has inspired and warmed our hearts. David’s work and unwavering dedication to Pre and Perinatal Psychology is a treasure for everyone, one we can share and build upon. Dr. Chamberlain himself was a treasure and his legacy continues to teach and bless us. My life was enriched by his presence. We miss him and carry on in his footsteps.
William R. Emerson, PhD (President from 2005-2013)
A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.
This tribute is not about David's professional accomplishments, as these are widespread and well-known. Instead, this tribute is to David the person, to what he was as a human being. Hundreds of times in my life, I witnessed him being present for others when they needed support and encouragement, and he had an amazing gift for recognizing giftedness in others, even if he could not name it right away.
Once he was there for me when the world walked out, or at least that is how it felt. He was also there when the world walked back in. Here is what happened. I'd recently published an article about my therapeutic work with babies, and received some "hate" mail and personal threats about forcing babies to feel emotional pain that did not exist (i.e.babies could not experience or remember such things). In addition, the cultural zeitgeist at the time was dim - there were a lot of cultural attitudes and biases that swam directly against the emerging scientific and practical tides of birth and perinatal psychology. Feeling discouraged and distraught, I telephoned David out of the blue, and I suspected he had not heard of me, which turned out to be true. I announced myself as William Emerson, and briefly described my work with babies. His response was warm and enthusiastic. He said, "William, how nice to hear from you, and I certainly hope to hear more from you. Tell me more about this wonderful work you've embarked on." I did so, and sent him some videos and papers I'd written on baby treatment. Afterward, I realized he had welcomed me like a prince or a special friend or colleague. Days later, he contacted me and invited me to be a speaker at a 1985 Conference in San Diego, with prenatal and birth experts from around the world. I share this story because David believed in himself, and he believed in people. He was always eager to learn and to share, and to sustain others in the same way. He became an instant friend and trusted colleague, and succeeded in shaping a birth community (APPPAH) into a vital and successful organization, largely based on his trust, love, and respect for humankind.
His love was exceptionally keen for his family, and I recall asking him a hypothetical question which I sometimes ask family members. I asked him, "If you were exiled to a beautiful and habitable island with lots of vegetation and food, including fish, meat, and fowl, and could take only one thing with you besides clothing, what would you take?” Many people take many minutes to ponder this unique question, but David's response was immediate. "Donna" was his answer. Donna was the love of his life and an avid companion on his passionate pursuit of knowledge in the field of prenatal and birth psychology. But more than that, they shared a special love that was obvious to all.
Donna was his mainstay, and together they formed an important and vital coalition. They were omnipresent at APPPAH congresses, conferences, socials, lectures, and workshops. Like Thomas and Sandra before them, they became a loving mom and pop to many, and created a professional and family atmosphere in which all could thrive. I am forever grateful to Donna for her myriad contributions to our field, including but not limited to BEPE, a pre and perinatal organization she currently runs from Nevada City.
David loved his children, and on special occasions we talked about our own kids. I'll never forget a series of glorious spring mornings on his front porch, when we talked about fatherhood. We waxed eloquent and long on related topics - the nature of fatherhood, its essential presence within the family system, and the nature of good and bad fathering. Staying on the male side of things, we shared the wonder and joy of being fathers, and told our favorite father-son stories. In the end, we celebrated being the greatest dads of all time, proven by t-shirts given to us by our very own sons. There was a lot of tongue-in-cheek, but it was heartwarming to celebrate the wonderful journey we had as fathers.
In the end, David turned out to be one of the greatest gifts to the field of prenatal and birth psychology. David was a pinnacle leader in the field; along with Thomas Verny, David broke the barnacles of societal repression, unearthing the fact that unborn babies were conscious, aware, and full of talents and abilities. Together, they opened public eyes and ears to the truth about human babies by citing case studies, scientific observation, and research. And in the process of doing so, David was one of the finest and most loving human beings I’ve ever met.
Sandra J. Bardsley, RNCC, LCCE, FACCE, CD (Current President, 2013- ….)
In the early 1980's I was studying about childbirth education with Lamaze International. I was learning many aspects of physical preparation, but became very interested in learning more about the emotional and relationship preparation needed for this momentous change in a woman (and her partner's) life. In my reading, I became aware of the book The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, by Dr. Thomas Verny. I learned that he and Dr. David Chamberlain had formed a group known as the Pre and Perinatal Psychology Association of North America (PPPANA). They had just had their first international conference in Canada and were soon to have their second gathering in San Diego, CA. I was fascinated about the studies they were proposing and determined that I would go to their conference to learn more.
At the conference I was truly amazed at what I experienced and the happiness I felt. As others have said, “it felt like coming home.”. One person who was so very enthusiastic and welcoming was a joyful little man named Dr. David Chamberlain. He was so very loving, bright, and made an effort to include each of us over those conference days. He specifically visited with, and listened to so many people and I was one of those who was captivated by his presence. David seemed to energize everyone he was around. That was the beginning of my association with this wonderful group of people and this beloved man, David Chamberlain.
At one of those early conferences, I remember a gathering with several of the early leaders where Robbie Davis-Floyd encouraged each of us to commit to writing, speaking and publishing works about pre and perinatal psychology. David was one of those persons who became prolific in his writing of articles, speaking all around the world and publishing books about the conscious life of the unborn & newborn baby. The rest of David's life he was tireless in advocating for the human rights of the unborn baby. His research was scholarly, factual, and informative as to how the baby is a conscious, sentient, and communicative being while gestating in the womb. Dr. Chamberlain inspired other professionals in PPPANA to continue studying and improving the quality of human life. He worked tirelessly for over 39 years to prove that the quality of a humans life is largely affected by what the he or she experienced in the womb, during birth and then early childhood.
One of the things that now impresses me is how David and other great leaders, kept working to prove their theories about the consciousness of the unborn baby and the long term effects of prenatal and birth trauma. In those days we had no special photo optics, ultrasounds, epigenetics, or other aspects of psychology and neurobiology to enlighten scientists and psychologists about these ideas. I admire David's inspiring and encouraging of other great men and women to persist in working on revealing and proving their findings, advocating for the unborn and newborn babies, and uncovering and healing somatic memory.
As the years went on in PPPANA, I watched and participated in its unfolding into APPPAH. I watched and participated in its international growth. I noted the love and energy David had for, and gave to, APPPAH. David had a very caring nature and great love for people. He was always attentive to people's needs and used to say “I've always found something to like in everyone I meet.” I used to enjoy watching David's twinkling eyes as he talked about, or even said, the word “Baby.”
I grew to have a deep and special love for David and his beloved wife Donna. In the last year of David's life I was given the gift of spending many happy hours in their home and in their presence. I especially loved watching how he and his wife Donna interacted. I felt so much love, support, and caring, between them. I learned a lot from their example of what true devotion to another means as I watched Donna lovingly and attentively care for and serve David. I will always consider my time of observing and learning from David as one of the highlights of my life. David was and is a GREAT LIGHT to us all!!
This special eulogy is included at the specific request of Donna Chamberlain
Sheldon Stoff, EdD
David Chamberlain, in this particular incarnation, was “a psychologist, scholar, international lecturer, and author, with more than sixty publications and twenty-seven years of leadership in the Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health(APPPAH). Mothering Magazine celebrated Chamberlain as a “Living Treasure” in 2003, and he was honored in 2007 at the Gentle Birth World Conference with the Mother Goose Award for his work with mothers and babies.” www.DBChamberlainPhD.com
There is much joy in our gathering today. Those of us who have been visited by David since his crossing have found him in good spirits and fully involved in our task of getting the message out. As when he was with us in physical form, he stresses that this message is important and that he is a deeply concerned and involved energy.
David and I think it appropriate to attempt to state the main themes from his last book—Windows to the Womb: Revealing the Conscious Baby from Conception to Birth.
We share the belief that a noble, thoughtful life begins at the moment of conception. David provided us with proof of that:
“Babies have been trying for centuries to convince us they are like the rest of us: sensing,
feeling, thinking human beings…with new investments in ‘infant’ studies that uncovered
previously hidden talents of both prenates and newborns. At first controversial, findings
eventually demonstrated that babies (of whatever age) were more sensitive, emotional, and cognitive than previously believed.” (from Windows to the Womb)
David was quick to understand that earth-changing events would follow if we understand the little miracle growing in the womb:
“…we must get serious about constructing a new paradigm that will accurately define their multidimensional capacities for out-of-body travel, near-death experiences, past-life recall, and other transpersonal events. The consciousness they demonstrate with or without their brains, their enlarged sensuality and emotionality, and their clear vulnerability to negative learning experiences makes it urgent, that we understand the complexity and wonder of babies…No wonder people find it hard to believe that a traumatic birth, whether cesarean or vaginal, can have significant consequences for a lifetime.”
David’s thoughts, as spelled out in his writings, led him to our real Self. He knew who we are. This deep knowledge will inevitably result in our Great Awakening! It signals a wondrous time for us all and for the world.
“Babies have taught me a lot, as I have been privileged to listen to their deep memories. As a
psychotherapist, I am especially aware of the need to create babies that are mentally and
physically healthy in order to have a world that is healthy and peaceful. Babies are the key to
the future of the world. Obviously they will be replacing us and going on to have their own
babies—based on their experiences with us, I am also deeply aware that civilization itself is at a
critical turning point and our babies will eventually have the responsibility to redefine
civilization—if the word is to have any meaning in the future. Any society on earth is going to
require great numbers of healthy, creative, and happy citizens (grown-up babies).
Through an endless process of the survival of the wisest, humankind will selectively move the nations of the world to one of enlightened destiny. Emerging after seeing and hearing the miracle of life, our goals will gradually change from quests for power and greed to that of the knowledge of who we are—really are—spiritual beings garbed in physical bodies in order to mature as Self-Realized Beings entrained with the Most High. We will have matured from an embryonic state to that of true self-realization, along with a profound change in worldly values.
These changes in our life goals will inevitably cause humankind to move from self-centered greed to one of community and unity. We will, as a vast grouping, be reborn to a new horizon. We will be one with the cosmic life-force.
On the whole, we will have grown from a selfish materialism to a loving, intuitive amalgamation of Human Beings. Our consciousness will have inclusively blossomed. The evolutionary process, which we have witnessed in the growth of babies, will have been repeated in the growth of humankind from the individual to the “we” to the inter-relationship with the Most-High. We will have climbed from concentration on the externals to the knowledge that our inner-self opens us to all that there is and all that there will be.
It all begins with a healthy, happy, well-cuddled baby.
Following David’s passing, APPPAH received many message from around the world. We share a few of these heartfelt and moving messages here.
It was with great sadness that I received the devastating news about David. He was a noble man, a great scientist, and a good and true friend to me for over thirty years. His friendship was always very precious to me and I will miss him deeply. He will stay in my mind and heart forever.
Please convey my sincere condolences to Donna. Blessings to all of you who mourn for David.
Peter G. Fedor-Freybergh
I incline my head before memory of David Chamberlain.
We have met in London in 1998, had interesting conversation and we have agreed that I will translate his book, The Mind for Your Newborn Baby, into Russian.
The book was translated and published in Moscow in 2004 and in 2005 again.
I translated and edited the book with the large respect and attention.
When I wrote the Foreword to it, A New View on the unborn and newborn child, I tried, that it corresponded to the high level of the book.
David’s book promoted penetration into Russia of ideas of pre-perinatal psychology.
We continued our contacts the next years by mail. The letters from David and Donna always gave a good emotions to Katia and me.
We shall save kind memory about David in our hearts.
Prof. Dr. Grigori Brekhman and Dr. Katia Brekhman
Herzl st 97/5, Nahariya.22447, Israel.
What a great loss. We had a meeting in Berlin last weekend, where we (including Ludwig) had a strong memory on David. We’ll keep his wonderful thoughts in mind and will go on bringing forward his work.
I received information from you for very deeply sadness.
I lose my moorings. It was last time of a congress of APPPAH of
November, 2012 that I met Dr. Chamberlain. At that time, he called me
"brother." It was a great event for me.
It has been my dream that invited him to Japan someday. But It is very
sad impossible my dream anymore.
I genuinely pray for his happiness in the next world.
AKIRA IKEGAWA M.D. PhD
2-5-13 Daidou Kanazawa-ku Yokohama Japan 236-0035
TEL +81-45-786-1122 FAX +81-45-786-1123
❤️ I never met David personally - yet I feel that I know him.
Blessings and love to David, his family and to you dear APPPAH family❤️
Karina Isolde Balslev
Ambassadør og katalysator for trygge fødselsoplevelser
To these tributes we add the deep sadness of all of the APPPAH community at this great loss, knowing that we have been blessed and enriched by the presence of David Chamberlain on this earth.