Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine: New Interdisciplinary Science in the Changing World

By Fedor-Freybergh, Peter G. Md, PhD | Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine: New Interdisciplinary Science in the Changing World


Fedor-Freybergh, Peter G. Md, PhD, Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health


ABSTRACT: The prenatal encounter is the beginning of the continuum of human life towards self-realization. It presents a unique opportunity for the primary prevention of psychological, emotional, and physical disorders in later life and inspires a new interdisciplinary dialogue that replaces isolation and disagreement. Prenatal science demands a new level of harmony and integration among specialties to understand the nature of all life and supports the needed renaissance of human empathic relationships and spiritual unity in ecological peace.

INTRODUCTION

The prenatal stage of life represents a unique opportunity for the primary prevention of psychological, emotional and physical disorders in later life. At this stage we can also develop preventive procedures to decrease premature birth and perinatal morbidity and mortality. In order to understand the enormous potential power of the prenatal processes and their impact on the individual's prenatal and postnatal health, we have to ask ourselves what the prenatal stage of life implies.

The encounter with the unborn is the beginning of the continuum of human life towards self-realization. The key to this life impulse is for everyone and especially each one of us in psychology and medicine to extend the standard definition of life's continuum to include the prenatal experience because it is an indivisible part of life's continuum. We need to do this because the prenatal stage is what shapes us. And, it determines who we are and what we will become. For the unborn, it is primarily through the imprinting process that this experience is initiated and realized. For the mother, pregnancy, the encounter with the unborn, is her chance for self-realization. For the rest of us this encounter with the unborn is the opportunity to extend and deepen our own understanding of this life continuum wherein there can be found no possible separation between the physical and psychological dimensions of our existence.1

A NEW INTERDISCIPLINARY SCIENCE

Prenatal and perinatal psychology and medicine is a relatively new interdisciplinary scientific field within medical and psychological research, the practice of which attempts to integrate different disciplines dealing with the basic questions of life and its disturbances.

Emphasis is placed on the interdisciplinary character, which enables different scientific specialties such as medicine, psychology, psychoanalysis, anthropology, human ethology, sociology, philosophy and others to meet. And, in dialogue, each is able to find a common language and go through the process of a mutually creative influence or, as it were, a 'cross fertilization'.

Prenatal and perinatal psychology and medicine can also serve as a 'psychosomatic' model stressing the indivisibility of 'psychological' and 'physical' processes in the continuum of human life from its very beginning and also the indivisible development of all functions of the central nervous system and the immunological and neuroendocrinological processes. One of the important intentions of this new scientific field is the publication of different methodologies, both from experimentally oriented methods and studies and also from more introspective methods. This new attitude invites us to look for and find a common language. And, through a common language to diminish semantic misunderstandings. It also enables us to define a scientific theory applicable to this new interdisciplinary and integrative approach. Integration linguistically means, among other things, assimilation, fusion, incorporation, combination, unification and harmony. The latter, harmony, should be stressed in particular-harmony and cooperation between different integrated approaches and views, methods and methodologies, theories, ideologies and practices, rather than confrontation and disagreement.

Society at large must encourage a sense of responsibility in parentsto-be and counsel couples long before conception about their commitment toward the new life; it is essential that this new life be highly respected from the very beginning and be considered as an equal partner in a dialogue. …

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