Those of you fortunate enough to attend the APPPAH Congress in December, 2003, could not help but be struck by the resonance of findings in genetics and developmental neurobiology that are adding their voice to what the pioneers in prenatal and perinatal psychology and health have long intuited: very early life experiences, prenatal and perinatal experiences, do impact later development. Developments in these fields and related scientific fields are clearly demonstrating the physical reflections of early experience. Each of the articles in this Summer edition of the journal brings a slightly different perspective and the same resounding message: What happens to us early in life reverberates through all levels of our being.
In the lead article for this edition, we welcome Daniel J. Siegel, MD to our pages. Those of you who heard Dr. Siegel speak at the Congress will recognize the concepts presented and welcome this review. These concepts can be most briefly described as the neurobiology of attachment. You will find his discussion of the "high road" and "low road" in parenting situations invaluable for your own life and in understanding others. Clinicians working with families are sure to make this overview of Dr. Siegel's recent work a ready reference and will want to back it up with reading his work in more detail.
Our own Michael Trout, APPPAH newsletter editor and board member, brings us a very moving article and a case study you will long remember in his discussion of adaptation and resilience. He discusses with expertise and clarity the connections between very early life experience and their reflection in the brain and nervous system, then puts this in very human terms in his examples and the case study. Also based on a presentation at the December Congress in a precongress workshop, this article is sure to become a classic in the literature of pre- and perinatal psychology. It will be particularly relevant for clinicians struggling for a deeper understanding of their clients.
Jianghong Liu adds academic depth with her well-researched article on the behavioral outcomes of pre and perinatal complications. She then presents the case for the neurological underpinnings that account for these behavioral outcomes. This is followed by solid recommendations for preventative strategies. This article should open the door for others to make connections between scientific research and potential early interventions to prevent the behavioral outcomes that are now being substantiated.
Ann Weinstein and Dr. Thomas Verny add their contribution in the form of presentation of research that has been done regarding the impacts of previous sexual trauma on birthing mothers. The cycle of life tends to perpetuate trauma and this article clearly indicates the need for awareness in those working with birthing mothers to interrupt the passage of the mother's trauma to her newborn. It also clearly indicates a need for further research in this area.
Our final article brings the spiritual dimension of human life into the discussion with Robert Newman's contribution. He makes a clear and convincing case for the addition of meditation training to childbirth education. Indeed the wholeness of our being needs to be involved as we as we bring into life the next generation.
We come to this work from many perspectives and, as we grow and welcome knowledge from diverse paths, we are reminded that the path we take to new truths is not so important as is the ability to recognize these truths.
Jeane M. Rhodes, Ph.D.