During much of my working life I have been tied to university teaching schedules. So only twice have I been privileged to be almost entirely free of responsibility during the month of October. Once, a decade ago, I spent the fall in an art deco beach house in St. Augustine, Florida and during this October I've been hi Healdsburg, California. I am writing this editorial while sitting in the small park, which marks the center of the town. Red maple trees burn against the intense blue sky. In the background, I can hear the gentle sound of water flowing from the fountain in the central square, and the soothing murmur of conversations among people sitting on nearby benches.
A young man arrives carrying a tenor saxophone and begins to play slow unobtrusive jazz. The calm is broken only by a group of perhaps a dozen adults and several children. The adults have gathered, placards in hand, to protest an upcoming vote on school vouchers. They march in orderly fashion around the sidewalks that rim the perimeter of the park. Occasionally they yell in the direction of a passing pedestrian or car, "Vote no against school vouchers!"
Several of the children are running and playing joyously. One child, a small boy with ringlets of light brown hair, wearing a faded purple shirt, jeans and boots, makes a deliberate misstep from the coping around the fountain. He laughs in glee as his slightly exasperated, but obviously amused, father orders him back to dry land. This peaceful scene is a nearly perfect evocation of the promises of the First Amendment and the Jeffersonian ideal of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
This same day marks the report of the perfidious attack on the US naval vessel Cole, while it was anchored at the port of Aden, and the breakdown of the fragile peace between Palestine and Israel. A broadcast I saw earlier in the day reports that the ensuing violence between the two countries led to the death of nearly a hundred adults and several boys, one as young as twelve.
As I consider these contrasting events, I remember these lines from Franz Kafka's short story, Wedding Preparations in the Country, "The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual." "That is why", he argued, "the revolutionary movements that declare that all former things are worthless are in the right for nothing yet has happened." Those who may find Kafka a bit heretical may take refuge in the ancient Roman historian Sallust, who around 50 BC observed of the Greek myths, "None of the events described ever happened but they are always happening."
Why bother to create or to work for change, if the more things are different the more they are the same? Well I, for one, am not certain that we as human species can help creating or for that matter engaging in revolution. The dilemma is how to ascertain which revolutions support human evolution and how to diffuse those which are a deterrent.
Oddly we have frequently gained and lost the same worthwhile information. A friend recently gave me a book called Vivilore, or information for living, by Mary Ries Melendy, M.D., Ph. D. "For the benefit of timid, expectant mothers," Dr. Melendy, says that she has, "much good cheer and hope to offer." In her Chapter on "Childbirth Made Easy," Dr. Melendy suggests, that in childbirth, "The simplest means in aiding nature are always best" and that "pain in childbirth is a morbid symptom," which may often be alleviated "by allowing the mother to move about freely" encouraging "perspiration and extra breathing of pure air." Before you hasten to search for Dr. Melendy's book, I have to add that the edition I own was published in 1904, by which time she had already practiced obstetrics for 26 years.
Many who read this Journal are skilled researchers and practitioners observing and frequently ameliorating the trauma which sometimes surrounds intrauterine and neonatal life. At the beginning of the new century, some are engaged in work to help rectify psychic injury, which, without appropriate intervention, may negatively color the emotional experience of young people and adults. The research that results from this work has the potential to revolutionize the human experience.
This issue of the Journal features three research articles which contribute to this possibility of therapeutic and potentially life enhancing change. Dr. Antonio Madrid and his associates at Russian River Counselors were the recipients of funding for the first clinical experiment in prenatal and perinatal psychology and health, sponsored by APPPAH, through a generous grant given to the organization by the Van Strum Foundation. This research, Does Maternal-Infant Bonding Therapy Improve Breathing in Asthmatic Children? offers considerable insight into the positive change that can occur in both physical and emotional states with appropriate therapy.
In a second study, Fetal Awareness of Maternal Emotional States During Pregnancy, John T. Ham, Jr., Ph.D. and Jon Klimo, Ph.D. also investigate the beneficial results of hypnosis in recovering past experience and healing present interaction. The third study by Anne Marquez, Ph.D. continues this Une of research with her article, Healing Through Prenatal and Perinatal Memory Recall: A Phenomenological Investigation.
Ruth Johnson Carter, Ph.D.
Georgia College and State University