A man’s character and his behaviors are shaped in his mother’s womb. As parents, they only care about the physical development of the child in the womb, not the mental growth. The prenatal and perinatal learning are base for one’s character and behavior. Children are well influenced by the environment and the other maternal factors, even when they are in their womb. Each and every human beings are coming across this phase of life, so it is necessary to analyze the influences of these factors in one’s prenatal and perinatal period. This research article exemplifies the role of the prenatal learning and environmental influences on an unborn baby, and how the babies are acquiring basic information and ideological understanding with reference to Ian Mcewan’s Nutshell.
I’m grateful to intelligent people. That doesn’t mean educated. That doesn’t mean intellectual. I mean really intelligent. What black old people used to call ‘mother wit’ means intelligence that you had in your mother’s womb. That’s what you rely on. You know what’s right to do. – said by Maya Angelou.
A man’s character and his behaviors are shaped in his mother’s womb. Impartially, every human being are born with some innate abilities, qualities and behaviors, these behaviors are the results of their prenatal and perinatal experiences. Human beings are not born as ‘blank slates’, since the learning processes begin in the womb, human beings are coming to this world with their own personal set of memories and behaviors.
The babies are learning through their senses, especially through listening, tasting and smelling. The maternity care, environmental changes, relationship bondage and mother’s mental condition are the major factors, which influences the mental behavior and character of the child at the time of pregnancy. The unborn children are learning things in an unconscious way, where things are stored in their memory and lasts for a long time. Good experiences are stored as memories and bad experiences becomes a trauma to them. So, it is the duty of the parents to create a peaceful environment and to provide proper maternity care for their children.
This research article makes an attempt to study the prenatal and perinatal psychological developments of an unborn baby and how the socio-environmental, domestic violence and maternal activities of the mother affects the baby even before its birth.
In Nutshell, the nine months old unborn baby learns about the world and his environment, even before he steps into it, by listening to the conversation, radio podcasts, audio lectures and television. The baby is conscious and his sensory mechanisms are helpful in learning about the activities of the world, the situation of his own family, about his mother and father. We could see all the normal learning abilities of an infant in this unborn baby, he can listen, sense, smell, tastes, identify, store information, relate and recollect. The baby can even learn the language, even in the womb, though he couldn’t use the language perfectly, he could learn some of the words, which are repeated often. The human personality and behaviors are designed in the womb, based on the environmental and maternal factors, that is evidently true in the case of the unborn here. He explains about the consciousness like, The beginning of conscious life was the end of illusion, the illusion of non-being, and the eruption of the real.-(2) Human ‘consciousness’ is different from “conscience”, where the first one is awareness, the other one is moral judgment. Consciousness begins even before one’s birth, but conscience comes only through one’s experience. The children are conscious, but they are not conscience enough to make moral judgments. Because of the lack of experience and empathy, their emotional and situational experiences are bit minimal.
The unborn narrator is also conscious in his mother’s womb, it all started like an explosion of consciousness and all of a sudden he is pulled into this world with the string of consciousness, as a passive observer. He is aware of both external and inner self, this leads to the processes of learning, perception, behavior, memory, prenatal attachment and understanding about others as well. The narrator tells that, I am, or I was, despite what geneticists are now saying, a blank slate. But a slippery, porous slate that writes upon itself as it grows day by the day and becomes less blank.-(2) The path of consciousness leads to learning, about self, parents, environment and society. It helps for the baby to adapt to the environment and circumstance, also to prepare for its future life as well.
According to the geneticists, every human mind is a ‘blank slate’ at the time of conception, it is believed that human beings are learning things only after birth, but babies are learning to identify the voice of their mother in the womb itself. So, as like Eileen Hunt Botting in her book Mary Shelley and the Rights of the Child: Political Philosophy in Frankenstein- has stated, Godwin put forth the provocative rejoinder that the education of the children in fact began in the womb.- (55) Babies are learning so quickly about their environment with the help of their sensory mechanisms, scientists are looking this as the survival strategy of the babies in this evolving world. I stay awake, I listen, I learn.- (25) These lines of the fetus, explains his source of learning. Listening is the source of the baby’s learning in the womb, where they store the repeated words and sounds in their memory, recollect them and relate them as well. Only in this way, the babies do identify the voice of the mother and differentiate it from the other’s voice. Through their listening only, the baby comes to understand about its environment, family relationship and maternal care. It influences them, both mentally and physically. The unborn Christopher in Carlos Fuentes’ Christopher Unborn, learns about the world in the same way.
The unborn child’s perception and behavior are shaped by the environment and maternal care, mother’s mental thought process and its experience in the womb. The environment that the mother and the child are experiencing, creates innumerable changes in the mind if the unborn child. In The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, Thomas Verny said that The womb is the child’s first world. How he experiences it, as friendly or hostile, does create personality and character predispositions-. The experience that a child gets in the womb, influence much of his character and decides one’s personality. The child’s perception changes according to their environment or based on the information presented before them. ‘¦my thoughts as well as my head are fully engaged.- (1), says the baby. The unborn narrator’s life is in serious tension, where his mother is planning to murder her husband, with her brother-in-law, with whom she also has an affair. The baby hears their conversation and it knows each and every step of their plan. This creates a chaos in the mind of the baby, it gives him a bad perception about this world.
The person the poem addressed I think of as the world I’m about to meet. Already, I love it too hard. I don’t know what it will make of me, whether it will care for me or even notice me. From here it seems cruel, a nightmare we can’t wake from’¦. (84)
Because of the activities of his mother and the environment in which he lives now, he is frightened about the world, the future, loss of affection and loneliness. The world, which is portrayed before him is too small, with a few members of his family and all others that he knows is just news, may be cooked up or which is an illusionary on.
With these minimal inputs, he visualizes the real world in his mind and comes out with a negative understanding. The negative perception of the human beings leads to the fear, stress, anxiety and trauma, where a mothers thought process affects the baby at the time of pregnancy, because both are connected with one another and they share their blood, food, thoughts and fate. Mother and child ‘“ a great religion has spun its best stories around this potent symbol.- (132) Their lives are inter twined, both shares the same soul but the mind is two. One lives within another, listening the thoughts, working like a conscience at times. But still the baby feels the mother’s mental and physical state, even when it is in the womb. Their sensory systems and a set of nerves are still connected, so the mother’s chemical changes and sense of shock also affects the baby.
The unborn baby says that, TRUDY AND I ARE getting drunk again’¦- (52) The alcohol that Trudy drinks go to the baby through the uterus, both are sharing the feel of the intoxication. But the consumption of alcohol at the time of pregnancy affects the physical and mental growth of the child. I know that alcohol will lower my intelligence.- (7) It affects the child’s attention, memory, intelligence and physical growth. It leaves some side effects as well to the child in the womb. The consumption of alcohol at the time of pregnancy sometimes leaves the children with mental disabilities after birth, like attention deficit, lack of concentration and so on. It even sometimes affects the baby when they are in the womb itself. He tells that, But I’m having my very first headache, right around the forehead, a gaudy bandanna, a carefree pain dancing to her pulse. If she’d share it with me, she might reach for an analgesic. By rights, the pain is her.- (45)
The alcohol that which she takes affects the baby and it leaves him unconscious, blends his senses and lowers his awareness. The diet, which mother follows, helps in the development of the baby, the bad food which she takes creates physical and mental side effects. Even the air that the mother inhales is shared with the child. So, the physical growth of the child is mainly dependent by the activities of the mother.
The personality of the human being is mostly decided by his mother’s maternity care and the environment, when he is in his mother’s womb. Much of one’s character is influenced by these two elements, only through one’s influence on these two elements, his behavior will be decided. Infants and children character also sometimes decided by the environment or the by the source which they are exposed into, for example in Emma Donoghue’s ROOM, the protagonist jack, a five year old boy knows nothing about the world, totally disconnected from the environment learns about the world through television, whereas here the unborn baby learns about the world through radio podcast and audio sources.
The conversations of the mother affects the baby’s mental psyche as well, he says that, Like a DJ hunched over his turntable, I scratchily sample the line. And . . . we’ve placed the baby somewhere.- (43) The babies always listens our conversation from the womb, whenever there is an unwanted situation, they will react to such kind of stimuli’s. Here the unborn baby fears for the separation from his mother and his own space. It creates some kind of stress in his mind. When Claude says that after the delivery, we can put the baby somewhere. It creates some kind of anxiety in the unborn child’s mind, not only with the unborn even a child of five years old will react in the same way as he does.
And I love and admire you both. What I’m saying is, I’m fearful of rejection.- (84) The parental care is important in the child development, here both mother and father are neglecting their child, and they doesn’t even bothers about the unborn baby. Though Trudy cares at times, she has never uttered a word to her child, never showed her love for her child. These things made the baby to hate her at times, but still he loves her for giving him life and for being a part of himself. The maternal attachment is always above all, even though a mother is cruel to others, she is good to her child always, it is because of the psychological attachment of the mother and the child.
He says that, My thoughts turn with my mother’s world. My father’s rejection of me, his possible fate, my reasonability for it, then my own fate, my inability to warn or act. And my bedfellows. Too damaged to make the attempt? Or worse, to do it badly, be caught and send down. Hence the spectral prison that’s lately haunted me. To start life in a cell, bliss unknown, boredom a faught-for privilege. And if they succeed ‘“ then it’s the Vale of Swat. I see no scheme, no plausible route to any conceivable happiness. I wish never to be born’¦ (76)
The father’s affection is one of the important thing to a child, but it has taken away by the satanic intentions of his mother, they have murdered his father, the future of the child is completely shattered, it leads to mental anxiety and the incidents affects the psychological and cognitive developments of the baby in the womb itself. The civilization and family mechanisms have taught us some basic instincts, like saving our fellow mates and loved one’s from danger. The mother’s affection and her thought of saving the child from danger, is also reciprocated from the child as well, in the same way. When the mother is in danger babies will cry in order to get some help, this is their way of getting attention and also the method finding help. Here the unborn narrator is trying to save his father, Don’t waste your precious days idle and inverted. Get born and act. (46)
But, because of his confined state, he can neither get help from others, nor act accordingly his mind. He could watch things happening, he cannot do anything. His memories are the evidences but he could communicate it with none. These kind of incidents marks a significant change in one’s behavior and personality, it changes the perception about that individual in one’s mind. These behavioral influences leads to the attitude, personality changes and gives space for negative thinking and understanding, sometimes it stays as the trauma, in one’s mind. On and on through the afternoon, and it’s on this long flat stretched of time that I have my first dream, in full colour and rich visual depth.- (105)
Dreams are seen as the survival act and in dreams we rehearse for real life incidents, like the grownups even babies do have dreams, recent researches has revealed that babies are having REMS- Rapid Eye Movement Sleep in the womb. Mainly normal human beings dream in REMS. So, the children also may be dreaming at the time of Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. Their dreams will be based on the information that they have learned or gathered, in a conscious or the unconscious way. Here the baby dreams about a young man and his journey to meet him, his dream is fully filled up with the things that he has learned through listening.
Beyond these elements, there are few internal changes of the mother, both physical and mental, especially like harmonic changes, chemical changes in the brain, heartbeat, and blood pressure. The mental thought process of the mother, not only the mother, every human beings have some bodily changes as well, like harmonic changes. Each emotion has some different representative fluids in our body, since the mother and the child are connected through the uterus, they both share these fluids equally. Based on the mother’s thought process at the time of pregnancy, the child’s character is created, because of the influence of mother’s fear, stress hormones will be transferred to the child. So, the fear dominates the mental psyche of that baby. Not only fear, this is the process in which any emotion is injected and becoming predominant at the prenatal stage.
Thomas Verny in The Secret Life of the Unborn stated that by creating a warm, emotionally enriching environment in utero, a woman can make a decisive difference in everything to her child. Unreasonable thoughts are disrupting Trudy’s pulse, a new and ominous drumbeat rising as though from a distant jungle village speaks of possession, anger, jealousy. There could be trouble ahead.- (63) says the unborn baby. Even the heartbeat changes and the harmonic changes of the mother is sensed by the baby in the womb, it explains about the situation in which they are now and its influences the mental thought process and emotional thinking. In this way only the mental stress, agony, anxiety, high tension and all are transmitted into the body and the mind of the baby.
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