In October of 1632 Galileo was tried for heresy because, based on telescopic investigation, he had insisted upon the accuracy of planetary motion. An old man and fearful of torture he recanted of what his own powers of observation had revealed to be true. Legend says that as he was taken from the courtroom to spend the rest of his life under house arrest, he was heard to mutter under his breath about the planets, ". . . but they do move."
Circumstances are sometimes not very different for those who investigate the fascinating world of prenatal and perinatal psychology. On page 38 of the April 30, 2001 issue of Newsweek magazine a brief article described the trial of the two therapists who were convicted of "reckless child abuse" in the tragic death of Candace Newmaker. This one heartbreaking, ill judged and unnecessary event led the Governor of Colorado to sign a bill, called Candace's law, which bans rebirthing in that state. At the top of the same page, by contrast, evidence supporting the research provided by APPPAH founder Dr. Thomas Verny and his graduate student Henry Brandtjen in their article Short and Long Term Effects on Infants and Toddlers in Full Time Daycare Centers was corroborated by a 10 year study released by the National Institute of Child Health and Human development. In the course of the study, among other conclusions, "researchers found that 17 percent of children who spent more than 30 hours a week in non-maternal care had behavior problems," of a significant nature. The Brandtjen-Verny article offers some pivotal explanations for the stress levels and behavior problems of small children left extensively in the hands of even the most well meaning caregivers.
The same issue of Newsweek contains a column by George Will describing the Stanford University study conducted by John J. Donohue III and Steven D. Levitt in which the professors maintain that: "Crime began to fall roughly 18 years after abortion legalization" (Newsweek, p. 84). Will points out that the researches are not advocating abortion any more than Galileo was "advocating" planetary motion. Will's pertinent question is connected with the notions that if pregnancies are not wanted "does that make many children . . . unwanted?" In phase with this question Dr. Bobbi Jo Lyman examines the differences in effect, depending on ethnicity, that abuse to the mother during pregnancy has on the behavior of newborns.
That a sense of nihilism is present in many of the young is frighteningly apparent. This is the generation, that frequent journal contributor, Dr. John Sonne calls "abortion survivors" with the concomitant negativity of behavior inherent in that phrase. In my class on American Popular Culture, Politics and Film two students made a documentary on the binge drinking, indiscriminate sex, and drug use that pervades even a small liberal arts university in middle Georgia. At a book store in Atlanta last week, I bought a soft drink at the little café from an attractive young man wearing a plastic framed picture of a baby hung from a cord around his neck. The metaphor was too obvious to pursue, but I did ask him if the baby were his. He said, "No, but I just wish it were me." "Why is that" I asked. He replied, "Because someone takes care of a baby. One of my best friends died yesterday-of a heroin overdose. Do you know how hard it is to have lost 80 percent of your friends before you are 25? I kicked the habit three times. Now I'm done. It's just too much work. All your energy goes into trying to score."
Because of the oddities of the English language, written music is of course also a score. It is through music that perhaps some answers to prevention and healing of birth trauma may be effected. Gabriel F. Federico, M.T. and Giselle E. Whitwell, RMT share the positive outcome of pregnancy and neonatal life with the correct use of thoughtfully chosen music. In her commentary Chronic Grief-Spiritual Midwifery: New Diagnostic and Healing Paradigm Elaine Childs Gowell, Ph.D. proposes some changes that may also offer hope for positive human growth.
If, as Elaine Gowell suggests, there is indeed a possibility for the infinite perfectibility of humankind then, in Ralph Waldo Emerson's words, "Don't waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good."
Ruth Johnson Carter
Editor in Chief
Georgia College and State University
JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.