May 9th marked the 49th anniversary of the book Dianetics
by L. Ron Hubbard, and a quiet, half-century revolution in thought.
The subject? Prenatal influence.
Lest it be forgotten, before the landmark self-help classic was
published, the womb was considered a wonderful place to curl up
and wait -- not, as the recent USA Today headline proclaimed, "The
Womb is No Haven." The viewpoint that prevailed until the early
1950s was that the unborn child was a vegetable, that it saw, heard
and felt nothing. Now, the virtually universal end-of-the-century
idea is that mothers should take care to avoid harmful stimuli and
practices such as smoking and alcohol, because the fetus is a sentient
being -- not only aware of everything but subject to all manner
of dangerous prenatal influences.
But what brought about the cultural reversal? As Dianetics rose
to the top of the New York Times bestseller list in the summer of
1950, it provided conclusive proof that any individual could go
back into the past, to conception itself, and recount who was there,
what was said and what went on. And thousands of individuals reading
and using the book found themselves curled up in fetal positions
while they practiced Dianetics techniques. Indeed, according to
Dianetics, experiences of pre-birth pain and unconsciousness, called
prenatals, are very real. And as for prenatal living conditions,
"It is very noisy in the womb," L. Ron Hubbard wrote. "Intestinal
squeaks and groans, flowing water, and other body activities of
the mother produce a continual sound. It is also very tight in later
prenatal life. In a high blood pressure case, it is extremely horrible
in the womb." Fortunately, the ability of the fetus to repair damage
is also phenomenal.
"The only test is whether or not a fact works. If it does work
and can be used, it is a scientific fact. And the prenatal ... is
a scientific fact," according to Mr. Hubbard. The book spawned all
manner of scientific studies over the ensuing decades.
In the 1980s, Dr. Thomas Verny published The Secret Life of
the Unborn Child, wherein he declared a child's personality
to be quite significantly shaped by prenatal and birthing experiences
-- all of which became the standard of the natural childbirth movement
through the late 1970s and early 1980s. Finally in the late 1990's
the scientific and medical communities have begun seriously to catch
up with the discoveries of Mr. Hubbard. In recent pages of USA Today
alone, for example, five scientific studies are quoted that purport
to show the relationship between stress in the womb and later adult
illness and behavior. According to Dr. Pathik Wadhwa of the University
of Kentucky College of Medicine and others, the uterine environment
"shapes the baby's development, and a lot of maternal stress may
predispose babies for higher risk of disease." Newsweek recently
devoted an entire issue to women's health with a significant portion
focused on the importance of prenatal care.
Nearly 18 million people have read L. Ron Hubbard's classic --
Dianetics. It is no wonder and perhaps no coincidence that
thousands of expectant mothers are now insisting on silent childbirth
and a stress-free pregnancy.
Contact: Barbara Roland, Church of Scientology,
2636 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland 97232. 503-963-8121.