Ante-Natal Communication and its impact
By Karl Ayling, Nov 24 2016 01:06PM
Neuroscience and antenatal communication has come to a greater prominence since the death in 1990 of the British psychiatrist John Bowlby.
In a series of books Bowlby developed his hypothesis of attachment and loss that were much derided by his profession until after his death.
His work contradicted the prevailing theories popular at the time by positing revolutionary ways of understanding the communication of infants and the nature of attachment bonding between them and their caregivers, usually the mother.
In a study involving 684 families in Caracus, Venezuela, Dr Beatriz Manrique conducted a controlled experiment - with the results published in Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health1998; showing that when parents are taught a variety of ways to communicate with their preborn children, ideally from conception, the outcomes were that, physical, intellectual and emotional development is positively enhanced.
Bowlbys work with 15 -30 month old children who were separated for the first time from their mothers, showed he observed as a three phase behavioural display: protest, despair, and detachment. He concluded from these observations that the primary function of protest was to generate displays that would lead to the return of the absent caregiver. More about this can be found in an interview with Dr D Sonkin, here:
You may remember in the late 1980's after the fall of the Berlin wall and the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - there was news coming out of Romanian orphanages, reaching the UK and the West that indicated that without attachment bonding with a caregiver and in fact without 'touch' many of the orphans expired by the age of three.
Mammals communicate in many ways. I have two dogs and although they cannot speak, they can and do, communicate with me and each other in a wide variety of non-verbal ways. The gaze of the eyes, vocal intonation, words, touch and exaggerated body language are all picked up by the dogs and (mostly) acted upon. It is one of the highlights of a winter evenings walk to see (hear) them bounding around the fields around where I live, in pitch darkness, exclaiming all kinds of squeaks, yelps, barks and body language as they play fight with one another.
For around 15 or 20 years I have been aware of the statistic, widely known, that only 7% of human communication is verbal with 93% non-verbal. A certain amount of emotional intelligence and awareness can elicit understanding with yet more clarity of non-verbal communication being revealed by studying others closely and observing what you 'hear'.
Understanding more about the long term impact that communication has on unborn and new born children can help us all to be more sensitive and aware of the impact that negative implicit and explicit communication has on any human being later on in life.
The size of the mental health bill on the NHS is astonishing. The provision of services is stretched at best and a total postcode lottery at worst. As I read more about this topic and the research that is going on, I hope to learn better ways to communicate with others and internally with myself. Once we realise the impact of the internal and external utterings we are better able to observe and engage with those around us and enhance their journey as well as our own.
Bye for now