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Draws on a variety of sources to survey numerous theories and philosophies about birth, describing humanity's often disparate attempts to understand the evolution of life and analyzing the significance of birth as it applies to ongoing debates about the human soul, sexuality, and the origins of life in the universe. 15,000 first printing.
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F. Gonzalez-Crussi, M.D., is the head of laboratories at the Children's Memorial Hospital and a professor of pathology at Northwestern University. He is the author of Notes of an Anatomist, Three Forms of Sudden Death, On the Nature of Things Erotic, The Five Senses, The Day of the Dead, and Suspended Animation. He lives in Chicago.From Publishers Weekly:
In this learned and graceful meditation on the question "where do we come from?" González-Crussi (There Is a World Elsewhere), emeritus professor of pathology at Northwestern University Medical School, traces the history of thought about the origins of life, from the Pythagoreans to the present day. The author begins with the mysteries of evolutionary history and the origins of each of us as individuals, and ends with an outline of modern obstetrics, sperm donation and in vitro fertilization. In between, he surveys the folly of past misunderstandings and myths; in particular, he scrutinizes misogynist received ideas about the properties of the womb and "hysteria," notions of female inconstancy, and male paranoia about virginity and paternity. The concept of "maternal impression," or links between maternal experiences during pregnancy and birth defects, provides some especially grisly material. In a chapter on the presentation of the baby at birth and the mystical powers attributed to the caul, González-Crussi draws on his own experiences as a young medical intern in a maternity ward. He treats the skills of midwives with great respect, lamenting their eventual marginalization in industrial-age, male-dominated medicine. In a grand rhetorical style, González-Crussi illuminates the murky depths of the history of medicine, reflecting, often morbidly, on our evolving attitudes to the natural wonders of birth, life and the origins of the universe. Illus.
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