walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_The Scientification of Love_ and _The Farmer and the Obstetrician_ by Michel Odent

I bought these when I was pregnant with T., but as near as I can tell, never got around to reading them. They are book-length essays that overlap substantially with each other, and with some of Odent's other books (_Primal Health_, _Birth and Breastfeeding_, for example, which I did read when pregnant with T.).

Odent provides enough bibliographic information so if one of his little tidbits piques your interest, you can pursue the details. But you'll have to pursue the details, because Odent is not the kind of guy to distinguish between sources based on quality of research (if any). Whether due to translational issues, me just having Issues, or actual slopping thinking/writing, I could find a lot to quarrel with in the information presented by Odent (both what he chooses to mention and the connections he draws).

That said, these are interesting, quick not-quite stream-of-consciousness essays that draw connections across a wide array of thinkers/researchers. _Farmer_ explicitly compares industrialized agriculture to industrialized childbirth, listing parallel thinkers/movers/shakers on each side (which is kinda cool with Ina May at the Farm, actually, but he doesn't develop that particular nexus as much as I would have). His thesis seems to be that we have to change the way birth happens to change the way humans develop to change the way we interact with the planet to keep from driving ourselves Right Off a Cliff. For such an ambitious program, he has a relatively reasonable timeline (thirty years).

_Scientification_ is more problematic, which may reflect either that it was written a little earlier, or was revised, or who knows. This one assembles in one place everything Odent (well, it seems that way) could find that comes more or less under the heading attempts by "science" to understand "love". I put these in quotes because the science is often Really Really Bad and the definition of Love is so diffuse that it kinda makes you wonder what limits, if any, could be placed on it.

Odent has done great things for birth culture. He continues to be an effective force in opposition to medicalized, non-physiological childbirth. But I just cannot help but feel that he oversells the importance of the hours in labor/immediately after birth. At times, he is clear on the influence of the pregnancy-as-a-whole. I dimly recall that in _Primal_ and _B&B_ he recognized the importance of the first year. And I'm not saying these things aren't important -- I just persist in believing that while it may, eventually, be too late to make a difference, that time is a whole lot later than most commentators seem to believe (altho it's worth noting that it might get considerably more difficult and take a large proportion of one's remaining life to make meaningful changes later in life).

YMMV. I think you can still get these on Amazon, but they aren't the easiest books to lay hands on at a library or bookstore; I wouldn't go out of my way, if I were you.
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