Thursday, April 23, 2009
Although the Enlightenment strove for scientific advancement, there was still many theories and methods that were simply primeval. One of these was maternal impressions, an idea that would last through the Victorian age. Maternal impression was the belief that a pregnant woman's experiences would affect how her child would come out. It was mostly used to explain why a child was born deaf (there was a loud noise that surprised the mother) or blind (the mother looked at a blind person) or ugly (I just made that one up). One of the most famous cases of birth defects credited to maternal impression was Joseph Merrick, aka the Elephant Man, of whom it was said his mother was scared by an elephant. You mean they couldn't narrow it down to neofibromotosis? Hullabaloo of course, but I would still recommend pregnant women shouldn't eat too much garlic and stay away from circus clowns...just in case!