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Table of contents
PREFACE
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-1.1
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-1.2
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-2.1
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-2.2
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-2.3
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-2.4
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-2.5
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-3.1
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-3.2
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-3.3
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-3.4
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-3.5
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-4.1
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-4.2
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-4.3
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-5.1
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-5.2
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-5.3
EROTIC SYMBOLISM-6
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-1.1
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-1.2
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-1.3
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-1.4
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-2.1
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-2.2
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-2.3
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-2.4
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-3.1
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-3.2
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-4.1
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-4.2
THE MECHANISM OF DETUMESCENCE-4.3
THE PSYCHIC STATE IN PREGNANCY-1
THE PSYCHIC STATE IN PREGNANCY-2
THE PSYCHIC STATE IN PREGNANCY-3
THE PSYCHIC STATE IN PREGNANCY-4
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-1.1
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-1.2
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-2.1
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-2.2
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-3-4
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-5.1
HISTORIES OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT HISTORY-5.2
INDEX OF AUTHORS

 

 

The phenomena of the longings of pregnancy are linked to the much more 

obscure and dubious phenomena of the influence of maternal impressions on 

the child within the womb. It is true, indeed, that there is no real 

connection whatever between these two groups of manifestations, but they 

have been so widely and for so long closely associated in the popular mind 

that it is convenient to pass directly from one to the other. The same 

name is sometimes given to the two manifestations; thus in France a 

pregnant longing is an _envie_, while a mother's mark on the child is also 

called an _envie_, because it is supposed to be due to the mother's 

unsatisfied longing. 

 

The conception of a "maternal impression" (the German _Versehen_) rests on 

the belief that a powerful mental influence working on the mother's mind 

may produce an impression, either general or definite, on the child she is 

carrying. It makes a great deal of difference whether the effect of the 

impression on the child is general, or definite and circumscribed. It is 

not difficult to believe that a general effect--even, as Sir Arthur 

Mitchell first gave good reason for believing, idiocy--may be produced on 

the child by strong and prolonged emotional influence working on the 

mother, because such general influence may be transmitted through a 

deteriorated blood-stream. But it is impossible at present to understand 

how a definite and limited influence working on the mother could produce a 

definite and limited effect on the child, for there are no channels of 

nervous communications for the passage of such influences. Our difficulty 

in conceiving of the process must, however, be put aside if the fact 

itself can be demonstrated by convincing evidence. 

 

In order to illustrate the nature of maternal impressions, I will 

summarize a few cases which I have collected from the best 

medical periodical literature during the past fifteen years. I 

have exercised no selection and in no way guarantee the 

authenticity of the alleged facts or the alleged explanation. 

They are merely examples to illustrate a class of cases published 

from time to time by medical observers in medical journals of 

high repute. 

 

Early in pregnancy a woman found her pet rabbit killed by a cat 

which had gnawed off the two forepaws, leaving ragged stumps; she 

was for a long time constantly thinking of this. Her child was 

born with deformed feet, one foot with only two toes, the other 

three, the os calcis in both feet being either absent or little 

developed. (G.B. Beale, Tottenham, _Lancet_, May 4, 1889). 

 

Three months and a half before birth of the child the father, a 

glazier, fell through the roof of a hothouse, severely cutting 

his right arm, so that he was lying in the infirmary for a long 

time, and it was doubtful whether the hand could be saved. The 

child was healthy, but on the flexor surface of the radial side 

of the right forearm just above the wrist--the same spot as the 

father's injury--there was a naevus the size of a sixpence. (W. 

Russell, Paisley, _Lancet_, May 11, 1889.) 

 

At the beginning of pregnancy a woman was greatly scared by being 

kicked over by a frightened cow she was milking; she hung on to 


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