Life Stages, Gender and Fertility in Bangladesh – Page 130books.google.com.ph › books
K. M. Ashraful Aziz, Clarence Maloney – 1985 – Snippet view – More editions
Often the mother-in-law will arrange for the childless wife to get an amulet (tābiz) from the “herbalist healer’ (kabiráj). … that childless couples would try to alleviate their loneliness by keeping animals: cats, dogs, goats, and parrots or other birds …
Saturday, Oct. 7th, 1882.
Dr. Maughs introduced Dr. Stevens, formerly a member of the profession in this city, and now a distinguished member of the profession in New York, and a brother of Dr. Charles W. Stephens of this city, to the Society.
Da. Stevens.—I was hoping that in coming here this evening I would see a large representation of this city, and .among that number I would see a few, at least, of the old faces with which I was familiar in former times. Circumstances relating probably to your public operations in the city at this time prevent a larger attendance to-night. I will only remark that it is a great pleasure to me, and affords me a good deal of satisfaction to visit your city once again, after an absence, with but one or two brief exceptions, of forty years. I made my bow on the west bank of the Mississippi in 1841. I had just graduated from the Medical College of Albany, New York, and I came out here to go to work in my profession. I made a few marks that some may remember when I was here. Some one alluded to the fact that I started the first Medical Journal west of the Mississippi; I believe that is the case. I commenced the publication of the Missouri Medical and Surgical Journal, and I have a copy of that Journal at home now. Now I am glad to know that the condition of the profession in this city has enabled sompbody—whoever that may be—to cultivate the profession in the way of Journalism to a very great extent. You are able to send abroad one of the best Journals of the country, I am glad to see that west of the Mississippi the profession is doing all in their power to maintain the standard by the maintenance of such Societies as you have here and I am glad to say that there are those in New York city who are struggling, and will continue to struggle to uphold the standard of the profession, and keep it at that high point that it ought to occupy. But we have with us, as I suppose you have with you, those who are flooding the profession and sending abroad with sheepskins, those who really ought not to be entitled to the name of doctor. I regret to say that the title of doctor doesn’t give one the standing that he ought to have by the mere right of possession of the title But then men are judged by their practical work in the profession, and those who stand high are those who have raised themselves by good practical work.
When I was here before there was on the ground: Drs.. Pope, McPheeters, Johnston, Moore, Pollak and a few others;. I don’t know how many I could mention, but I suppose I could count them upon my fingers almost—the remainder of that number who wore engaged in the practice of the profeesion then. I also had the great pleasure of seeing my brother here in the profession, and to find that he is an honor to his profession. I am glad to own him as a brother in the profession, as well as a brother in fact.
Dr. Maughs.—I don’t propose to-night to prove any proposition, I only intend to give the reasons why I believe as I do. It will be recollected by the Society that on last Saturday evening Dr. Mulhall reported a case, and very pertinently asked whether there was any connection between certain effects and the condition of the mother—whether the mental condition of the mother during gestation might not have influenced the condition of the child. I said that in that particular case I thought not, but in order to encourage the discussion as much as anything else, I said that while I didn’t believe there was any connection between the mental condition of the mother and the deformity of the child in that particular caser I did believe that under certain circumstances—in certain rare cases—the impression of the mother did influence the child in utero. I gave no reason for this belief. I stated that it was occasionally the case, I believed, that the deformity of the child was referable to this cause. That the vast majority of deformities could be accounted for otherwise, or could be relegated, at least, to other causes; that some of them were readilyattributable to other causes under the laws of embryology, nevertheless that I believed some were due to mental impressions of the mother. [ didn’t propose to prove the propositionThere are a great many things which are generally accepted as facts which are not susceptible of proof. Many of the great cardinal beliefs, which have practically the force of mathematical demonstrations are of themselves of a nature that won’t permit demonstration. We are nevertheless justified in believing the facts. For instance, I believe in the existence of the immortality of the soul, in a future state and in the existence of an unseen world and yet none of these propositions, can be demonstrated. Well, I do not expect to prove my proposition but my intention was to show that there were good reasons for believing this thing possible, that the mental impressions of the mother might influence the foetus in utero and I purpose to-night to state some of my reasons for believing as I do. My first reason for this belief is that very early in my professional career, I was called to attend a lady who was remarkable for the large amount of her reading, her fertile imagination, and quickness of conversation, and good memory. She had read almost everything in biography, history, romance, natural history, etc., and recollected it; she had it well digested. She was a lady of remarkable intelligence. This lady had married a retired merchant and was living in affluence. In the very early stages of her gestation—I know it was very early, perhaps about the third or fourth week, not later than that, because she had not yet missed her menstrual period, but she believed that she had conceived— believed herself pregnant, and dwelling upon the subject she awoke one night in great fright about a dream that she had, she awakened her husband and told him that her alarm was on account of having dreamed that she had given birth to an hermaphrodite. He laughed at her, and ridiculed the idea that the dream had any real significance. and did what he could to prevent her troubling herself about it; but she continued to talk about it. She related it to all of her intimate female friends and annoyed her husband by her persistent reference to this subject, which haunted her during the remainder of her gestation. It was an actual presence to her; and she insisted that she was confident that she would give birth to an hemaphrodite child. The first question that she asked after she had given birth to the child was whether it was all right, and as I saw nothing to indicate but what the plump, well-developed child was a boy, I said that it was all right, and gave it to the nurse to dress. 1 saw nothing wrongs about it and supposed that it was a boy. The man laughed at his wife and reminded her of her foolish notion, and how silly she had been to worry herself eight or nine months about such an imaginary thing—a mere dream, that the child was a perfect child in every respect. Well, she said, she had doubts about it yet, and she wouldn’t believe it until she saw it. The child was brought and stripped and lo! it was an hermaphrodite. I am not stating, of course, that there is in humanity such a thing as a perfect hermaphrodite, of course it doesn’t exist in a perfect form; but to all intents and purposes this was an hermaphrodite. It was neither male nor female, so far as we could determine at that time or up to the time of its death,which took place two or three years afterwards. I didn’t know whether it was male or female. There was no post-mortem made, perhaps it would not throw much light upon the subject if there had. Now it seems to me that this was something more than a coincidence. Either the dream influenced the development of the foetus or the development of the foetus influenced the dream. We could scarcely believe the latter, and therefore the probabilities are that the persistent distress, and mental perturbation of the mother caused the hermaphrodism of the child. This case impressed me so strongly at the time that I have always, from that time to the present day, believed the possibility of this thing, after rejecting the vast majority of cases reported. Some •of these cases are not mere coincidences. In looking up this subject I found that the great obstetrician of London, and a most eloquent teacher, Dr. Blundel, in his work states his reasons for believing that this thing may occur. He states* as follows:
“It has been often asked, and is still a question undecided, whether the imagination of the mother may have an influence in giving rise to those morbid formative operations on which the generation of monstrosity seems to depend—a question which is not to be decided by reason independently of observations, as a simple reflection may show; for, as we know but little respecting the powers which operate, we must necessarily know as little respecting the powers by which this operation may be influenced. In matters of this obscure and unoertain kind, to ridicule without giving ourselves the trouble to examine, seems to me to be at once both petulant and unphilosophical, Fac s, and not a priori reasonings form the basis of modern philosophy; that incubation should give rise to the formation of the chick within the egg-shell—that the conjunction of the sexes should give the first inpulseto the formation of the infant in the uterus, must, independently of observation, have appeared both absurd and incredible. In the compass of generation, nothing need surprise us; it is the fairy land of physiology; and, in the hands of divines, its wonders may serve as a good preparative to discipline the mind for the more ready belief of those miracles which it is their office to inculcate. When first I set out on my physio
* The Principles and Practice of Obstetricy. By James Blundell, M. D. Washington, 1834, p. 99, et sej.
logical career, I certainly set out with a strong impression, that the fancy of the mother could not operate in the formation of her foetus; nor am I prepared to concede, at the present moment,. that this impression was erroneous; nevertheless, I must, in candor, admit that various facts have been brought before me, which do prove beyond doubt thus mucj), that there is sometimes a very striking coincidence between impressions made on the mind of the motner, and appearances which manifest themselves on the body of the foetus; these coincidences being sufficiently frequent to create a sort of suspicion that they may be of the nature of cause and etfect. If I press my finger upon the box which now lies before me, it moves; but how do 1 know that this motion may not arise from some other simultaneous occurrence distinct from the pressure of my finger? In truth I should this coincidence of pressure and motion in this case be observed but onoe, were it not for analogical and uncertain experience, I should have just cause to doubt; but when I make this pressure repeatedly, under varying circumstances, and find invariably that motion . ensues, unless some third cause of obvious operation bo interposed to prevent it, I may reasonably infer that the coincidence of these two occurrences is of the nature of causation; and in all cases of rarer occurrences, I conceive, the more frequent these coincidences, the stronger does the proof of causation become.
“It would lead to a long disquisition, if I were to bring before you all the different facts which have heen related to me, and which seem to show that the fancy of the mother may have an effect in the formation of the foetus; but some of the more striking facts, by way of illustration, I may perhaps be permitted to adduce.
“In the first place, I myself once presided at a labor where the child, after birth, was discovered to labor under the deficiency of the ribs, and this upon the right side of the sternum near its middle. In consequence of this deficiency of tho cartilage, there is in this child, now living, a sort of dimple or impression, which is very peculiar, and of which the mother gave me the following account: In the early days of her pregnancy, she took one of her children to Mr. Travers, an eminent surgeon well known to you all, it having been supposed that there was some fracture or other of the collar bone, or the ribs contiguous; and Mr. Travers examining the child with a good deal of care, chanced to make a pressure on the ribs in front, near the sternum; the thumb bearing over this part, while his fingers were placed behind on the scapula, and the rest of the hand lay above the shoulder, the child being young and small; and, in doing this, he occasioned with the thumb a considerable dimple or indentation, which, as the mother, of great nervous irritability, told me, affected her very much, and produced in her that contraction of the skin,. which is very significantly denominated the goose flesh. Thislittle occurrence, however, did not ultimately make any very
strong impression on her mind, though she thought of it occasionally during gestation; but when I saw the infant afterwards, she told me the story which I have very accurately related to you.
“Again, a lady whose name it would be improper to mention, (though I had the statement from one of our profession, her own son), at a period, a? I was informed, not earlier than the first two or three months of her pregnancy, was very much frightened by a beggar who had lost the hand and lower part of the arm, and who, to excite her commiseration, exhibited to view the mutilated member. By this shocking sight a strong impression was made upon her mind; and some time afterwards, in a ball room, on seeing a gallant officer who had left one of his arms on the field of battle, this impression was renewed, not without a slight emotion of horror and the constriction of the skin, and some few months afterwards the child was born with a coincident want of the arm.
“Now these cases are not solitary; the same tale has been often told, and the same concurrence has often been observed; and, to say the least of it, the coincidence deserves attention.
“There was a child (of which I have got a drawing) lately born at Plymouth, with excrescences pushing from the mouth, and which certainly resembled a large bunch of grapes, such as might appear in the mouth of a child, if it were endeavoring to devour, unbroken, the whole of a small bunch, there not being room sufficient to admit the whole at once behind the teeth. Before she was aware of this faulty formation, the mother was closely questioned by the accoucheur; and she certainly did state distinctly enough, that in the early period of her pregnancy, not, however, till near the fourth month, in passing along a street, she chanced to see a boy who had got a bunch of grapes, which he was eating very greedily, as boys will do and that she had a very great desire to partake of them. Growing from the region of the sternum, too, there was an excrescence which might remind one of the whattle of the turkey-cock, an animal by which she had been frightened a little earlier in her pregnancy. The coincidence certainly merits notice.
“Tending to illustrate the same point, you will find in my collection, a kitten with an apparent parrot’s head, and the following is the tale which is connected with it: An ancient lady, in his neighborhood, who was, I think, childless, (it is pleasant to love something) among other pets of her family, had a parrot, a cat and a love of a lap dog, all co-rivals for the first place in affection, and who agreed with each other no better than the fair goddesses of Ida, at the time they disputed for the apple of beauty, and unveiled, in the presence of the Trojan shepherd, charms before unseen by mortal eyes. On sojne occasion or other, it seems, that the cat was in an apartment, and the parrot and dog being placed to the right and to the left of the doorway,—minaud, then enciente, retreating from the chamber, nearing the cage, perhaps to avoid her four foot rival, was alarmed hy the ferocious scream of the parrot, and scampered off in a great fright. Date afterwards proved that she was in the first days of her gestation, and she subsequently produced a good many kittens, all of which were well formed, with the exception of one, which has, as you will allow, a head in form very much resembling that of the bird by which she was scared. Mr. Maurice Workman is my voucher for these facts; in all that is essential, they are, on my part, fairly stated. The healthy formation of the other fetuses deserves especial notice; but, say what you will, the coincidence is well worth recording.
“Particular facts of this kind I forebear to multiply, though the task is easy. As these coincidences are occasional only, and perhaps rare, of course they do not demonstrate causation; but if on a candid accumulation of facts, it appears that the coincidences between the impressions on the mind of the mother and the body of the fetus are well marked, and not unfrequent, then, to say the least of them, they establish a very curious fact in animal generation, and their general bearing is to show that the two occurrences are, in relation with each other, as cause and effect. I would that the affirmative of this could be proved; we should then be in possession of one of the principles of formation. But theu it may be asked, how can those things be?—and how, it might once have been said, can it be that the moon should acton the waters? If, like many of our forefathers, wo had no notion of the bulk of our satellite; if, like them too, we were ignorant of the principles of gravitation; if we had no idea that matter was capable of attracting matter, even at remoter and planetary distance, such an action in such a state of ignorance, must appear incredible, yet, when once the necessary knowledge is communicated, the mutual attraction of the two masses of matter becomes to a certain extent, intelligible enough. Observe here the progress of this wonderful discovery, for it illustrates the progress of all solid philosophy. The fixed relation between the moon and the floods was first sagaciously observed, and verified, allowance being made for the irregularities which arise from accidental circumstances. The probable connexion of the two, in the way of cause and effect, was afterwards inferred from the fixity of this relation. At length the large mass of lunar body was suggested and demonstrated, and the mutual attraction of matter was evinced by experiments and calculations addressed to the senses or reason; and thus the doctrine, which at first must have been deemed a wild hypothesis, was not only proved but comprehended. And while all this was doing, some, in the first stage of inquiry, being variously occupied, paid no attention to the observations on which the discovery was to be grounded; and others, as the discovery proceeded clamored, no doubt against the absurdity and impiety of the proposition. What! a small body like the moon, to act upon a huge mass of waters, in the ocean? Lunatic! What! the great goddess of the Bphesians—the celestial archeress, whose gracious presence has been manifested to onr heroes—whose miraclos and oracles have astonished her votaries, and who even now steals down to the mysterious retreat of Latmus!—What! do you dare to assert that this sublime being, may, after all, be nothing more than a huge globe of matter, the scene of tempest and volcano ! Atheist! Such I can easily believe might be the spirit which animated the opponents of those doctrines. Yet in the midst of all these commotions, while puppies were barking and men were clamoring, the moon shone—the ocean rolled—the seasons changed— the earth teemed—the mob of all ranks vanished from the scene, and by its mere intrinsic durability, without effort, the truth prevailed at last. Ourpreposessionsare not the criterion of truth -r improbability and incompatibility may result, not from impossibility, but from our ignorance of the requisite explanatory knowledge. All this is clear in speculation, but, somehow or other it is to be forgotten in practice. Doubt—observe—infer —still doubt, and bring the truth to the most rigorous examination. Truth never yet shunned the light; how can she? it is her element.—But to return from this digression; pray give to the profession, with rigid accuracy and well attested, tacts relating to this important subject. Always, where it can be known, state the age of gestation, the absence or presence ofthe feeling of horror, and cutaneous constriction, and endeavor, so far as may be, to verify all by your own personal observations and inquiry of the woman herself. Monstrosity may occur in formation under the egg-shell. How can mental impression be supposed to operate here?”
The J ws also believed that these things sometimes occurred as cause and effect. He says: *
“The Jews, under the belief of the maternal impression, are said to have been so solicitous about the beauty of their children, that care was taken to have some beautiful child placed at the door of the public baths, that the women, at going out, being struck with his appearance, and retaining the impression, might all have children as fine as he. The Chinese, take still greater care of their breeding women, and prevent uncouth objects of any kind from striking their imagination. Musicians are employed at night to entertain them with agreeable songs and odes, in which are set forth all the duties and comforts of a conjugal and domestic life, that the infant may receive good impressions even before it is born, and not only come forth agreeably formed in body, but well disposed in mind.”
Doubtless the belief of these people was founded on observation. Of course they were more ignorant than we are about
these matters, they occupied pretty much the same ground in not being able to tell exactly how these impressions were made, but they occurred sufficiently frequently to establish the belief that they were as cause and effect.