As I write this, we are experiencing an unusually cool day in late August creating that nip of fall approaching. When you read this, fall will have arrived and leaves will be turning. By that time, I hope to have seen some of you at the APPPAH Regional in Seattle. As we transition into a quieter time of year, we bring you thought-provoking articles and book reviews for your reading pleasure and contemplation.
From our esteemed colleague in Europe, Ludwig Janus, we receive an invitation to reexamine psychoanalysis and its contribution to prenatal and perinatal psychology. Dr. Janus considers the zeitgeist of the 19th and early 20th century as well as Freud’s own history as contributors to his theories. Only by more deeply understanding the past can we avoid some of the pitfalls and glean those concepts that are still valid and valuable in the present.
We welcome Kathy Greathouse to these pages with an excellent paper based on her PhD research into tokophobia (fear of childbirth). This research is a significant contribution to the literature of prenatal and perinatal psychology, addressing a topic that is often neglected. Dr. Greathouse’s study was the first to look at fear of childbirth among women who had not previously given birth. The importance of this topic cannot be over-emphasized. Quoting from the closing paragraph of the article, “ … the emotional environment in which our children are contemplated, conceived, gestated, and born has an arc of influence beyond the individual or the family concerned; it is foundational to the collective thinking of our society as a whole.”
Those of you who attended APPPAH’s 19th International Congress last December and were fortunate enough to attend Susan Highsmith’s session will be pleased to see her work in these pages. Dr. Highsmith has been focusing on the power of words, especially the words used with expectant and birthing mothers. How we use language and how that use of language impacts our experience are two faces of the same phenomenon, one the result of our experience and the other creating pressure to continue that experience. By consciously “watching our words” we can become aware of the conditioning we have experienced that created those word choices and begin to develop the ability to make new choices that will change our experience in the present and lay the foundation for future change.
Sharing Space brings two pieces for your reading and reflection. The first, from Joseph Jacques, makes a connection between Joseph Campbell’s concept of the hero’s journey and our own common journey through gestation and birth. Joseph then shares his personal journey to discovering prenatal and perinatal psychology and the inspiration for his own unique contribution to the field.
Finally, we have a very brief but powerful account from Luisella Magnani sharing with us her experience of being with a mother who has just lost a baby in still birth.
Our book review editor, Stephanie Dueger reviews Heal Your Birth Heal Your Life: Tools to Transform your Birth Experience and Create a Magical New Beginning by Sharon King, which Dr. Dueger terms as, “An extremely useful book about healing adverse perinatal experiences…”
Dr. Dueger’s second review is a double-hitter, as she delves into two works by Francis Mott written in the mid-twentieth century. These books are a perfect supplement to Dr. Janus’s article as they are contributions based on psychoanalytic theories. The Nature of the Self (1959) is annotated by R.D. Laing, so you have the input from both these thinkers. This book lays the foundation for the second, The Mythology of Prenatal Life, first released in 1960 and re-released in 2013. This new release indicates increasing interest in mining psychoanalytic theories as proposed in Dr. Janus’s article.
At the end of this issue, you will again find a page providing space for publishing reader comments on past issues and/or editorial corrections. This month the page is blank. We are grateful there are no editorial corrections, but do want to encourage your comments so that we can share them in future issues.
Jeane Rhodes, PhD
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