Volume 9, Issue 2
Simultaneously with the completion of this Winter 1994 issue of the PPPANA Journal I am preparing for a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the second annual National Conference on Crimes against Children. I have a two-fold mission-to help bring the existence and message of the Association for Pre and Peri-Natal Psychology and Health to a wider audience and to become more familiar with the work of Dr. Lloyd deMause, who is internationally recognized as the Director of the Institute for Psychohistory, and who has graciously agreed to be the keynote speaker for the APPPAH conference to be held in San Francisco in September of 1995.
In one of his earlier works Foundations of Psychohistory, which may be familiar to many of you, Dr. deMause investigates the evolution of childhood and hypothesizes the fetal origins of history. He argues that the "fetal drama is the basis for the history and culture of each age." Since the fetal experience is traumatic it is "endlessly repeated . . . and expressed in group fantasies which even today continue to determine much of our national political life" (deMause, 1982, p. 245).
Dr. deMause also postulates an evolutionary development of childrearing practices. Ranging from infanticide to socializing these stages are evolving in the late twentieth century, he optimistically contends, toward a new awareness of a helping mode of child rearing. This method may offer the opportunity for the emergence of more psychologically healthy individuals who in turn may consistently develop constructive group interaction. In developing a psychological analysis of history and child rearing Dr. deMause is both provocative and fascinating.
Yet, sadly, the extensive use of psychologically aware methods is limited and instead the less evolved child rearing modalities are still in use somewhere among various cultures world wide. For example recent statistics seem to indicate that female infanticide, especially in India and China, rather than having been eliminated has instead reached horrific proportions. A survey from Madras in Southern India indicates that of 1,250 women questioned "more than half had killed baby daughters." In China so many cases of female infanticide have occurred that a half-million bachelors are unable to find wives "because they outnumber women in their age group by 10 to 1." From South America to South Asia girl children who are allowed to survive are subject to ambivalence and abandonment-two of Dr. deMause's categories. Male children are being subject to the less evolved and least desirable methods of child rearing described by Dr. deMause as well. Worldwide some one hundred million children of both sexes are living on the streets and suffer almost unimaginable neglect and exploitation.
In a now notorious incident, the September 12, 1994 issue of Newsweek* features an article entitled: "There Are No Children Here", which describes the murder of a fourteen year old African American girl by an eleven year old boy. The male child was then later murdered by a pair of teenaged brothers, to prevent his "crumbling under police pressure" and potentially implicating members of the gang to which all three boys belonged. The unconscionable disclosure was the fact that the eleven year old alleged murderer Robert (Yummy) Sandifer had a Department of Children and Family Services file documenting his own abuse dating back to 1985 when he was less than two years old! Mayor Daley of Chicago could offer only the usual placebo comment, "This young kid fell through the cracks." (Newsweek, p. 44).
The conference in Washington which focuses on strategies to deal with the physical and sexual exploitation of children is directed toward developing greater public awareness of these issues. The APPPAH Conference in San Francisco in September, 1995 on Birth and Violence: The Societal Impacts will offer another such opportunity. Your participation is vital and I join the other members of the APPAPA Board in inviting you to attend.
The papers in this issue include an exploration of the use of life enhancing techniques to maximize human potential in both the pre and perinatal environment which the author Dr. Chairat Panthuraamphorn and his colleagues provide at the Hua Chiew General Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, and an analysis of some techniques for the prediction of postpartum depression by Dr. Paul Trad, who is the Director of the Child and Adolescent Outpatient Department of the New York Hospital at the Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Gayle Peterson, who trains psychotherapists in prenatal counseling, examines the impact of perinatal loss on subsequent pregnancies and offers some suggestions for healing. Kimberly Edwards, who was a student of Dr. Charles Laughlin, my predecessor as Journal editor, brings to our attention the ongoing mutilation and suffering caused by female circumcision. Finally Jeannine Parvati Baker, who is internationally known for her contribution to women's medicine, shares the use of dream analysis to build trust in pregnancy and birth as a healthy and natural process.
* The incident became impossible to overlook because the Sandifer child also made the cover of Time magazine with the accompanying headline "So young to kill so young to die."
DeMause, L. (1982). Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, Inc. "There are No Children Here." Newsweek, 12, September 1994.
Ruth J. Carter, Ph.D.