Volume 6, Issue 4
It never rains but it pours! No letters to the editor one quarter, a flood the next. The letters in this issue of PPPJ address two matters. The first speaks for itself. It involves research on the effects of prenatal stimulation upon later cognitive and intellectual development. Dr. Brent Logan responds to Dr. Justus Hofmeyr's article in Vol. 5, No. 2. Pp. 115-118 on abdominal decompression. Dr. Hofmeyr's short response to Dr. Logan's letter follows. Then Dr. William Emerson critiques Dr. Logan's own article found in the Vol. 6, No. 1, Pp. 7-31, issue of the journal. These letters stand as an excellent example of both the role of the letters to the editor section, and the kind of critique of research and theory that is required for the production of good science. It is my view that serious readers of a scientific journal have a duty to critique contributions when they have the competence to do so. This duty is especially critical when the research and theory involve technological interjection into the course of development of the human being.
The second matter requires some comment. I want to thank Lauren Sproul for raising the issue of abortion in her letter. It made me aware that the journal has not had an explicit policy with respect to controversial issues like right-to-life vs. free choice. I sent a copy of her letter to each member of the ethics committee of our editorial board and asked them for their responses. A number of their responses are presented here, including those from Dr. Thomas R Verny, the founder and first president of PPPANA and the first editor of this journal, and Dr. David Chamberlain, the current president of PPPANA.
I must make it clear that the PPPJ does not speak for the policies of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Association of North America (PPPANA), our parent body. PPPANA has not determined any policy for the journal with respect to this issue. Rather, our editorial policy is determined by a sense of what is required to feed good science, and is implied in many of the things I have said in the series of editorials in previous issues [see Vols. 5(2) through 6(3)].
The essence of good science is the pursuit of truth-that is, the desire to know and tell it "as it is." Mature scientists know that absolute comprehension of anything is impossible. This is because human knowledge is always a point of view about things, whereas the world and everything and everybody in it are transcendental. In other words, there is always more to know about anything or anybody than can be known. This means that all sorts of points of view and methods of looking at the world must be tolerated, cultivated and explored in the interests of the quest for truth.
As some of the letters point out, abortion is both a complex and a highly emotionally charged issue for many people. While some members of PPPANA hold the views of the "right-to-life" position, others believe the 'Tree choice" position to be correct. Some members support the right of women to make decisions effecting their bodies while others place the rights of the unborn child above the right of women to choose. Some people emphasize the right of the child to live, others to the right of the child to be spared the experience of being born unwanted.
The commitment of this journal-indeed, of any real scientific journal-is to be a free forum for the kind of research, reportage, discussion, clinical observation, peer critique, theory-building, ideatesting, etc., that is productive of a mature pre- and perinatal psychology. Our aim is to air the full range of information and thought upon which informed personal decisions and positions may be based. That means that the journal cannot be, nor can it be perceived to be, prejudicial from or toward any political point of view. As a consequence of this commitment, PPPJ embraces neither the "free choice," nor the "right-to-life" position. It must not take sides on this or any other political issue if it is to remain the forum for the free exchange of information and ideas that our readership has come to expect.
We have a wide range of topics discussed in this issue of the journal. Marilyn Moran considers the differences in the marriages of couples who have home deliveries as compared with hospital deliveries. Dr. Lewis Mehl presents research on the relationship between parentinfant bonding and motor development in the infant. Peter Bernhardt reports his interview with Lisbeth Marcher, the Danish-born psychotherapist who has developed some unique ideas about mind-body dynamics. Finally, we present the second in our "golden oldies" series of important, but hard to get sources of pre- and perinatal psychological inspiration, this one by Dr. Niles Newton.