A Scientific Fiction
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 A lengthy polemic attacking the theory that mother and infant must ``bond'' within the hour of birth--or suffer the consequences. As many thoughtful parents learn, the process of establishing a relationship with a new baby can be instantaneous or it can evolve over a long period, depending upon such factors as the health and temperament of parents and child and the economic circumstances of the family. According to Eyer (Psychology/Univ. of Pennsylvania), though, many hospitals insist that mother and infant spend time immediately after delivery in close, sometimes skin-to- skin, contact in order to insure that the mother will ``bond'' to the infant and accept responsibility for its care. It's a biological imperative, says the bonding theory, the way it is with goats and ducks. Nonsense, says Eyer, building a careful case about where bonding research may have gone wrong (women are not goats, for one thing) and how the medical establishment saw instant bonding as a way to forestall possible abandonment and abuse by uneasy parents of premature or unhealthy babies. Eyer sees the so- called bonding imperative as a social tool to keep women at home with their children and to keep doctors in charge of birth and parenting. There's considerable repetition from chapter to chapter here, and some question about how widespread the practice of ``instant bonding'' actually is. But Eyer presents an informed discussion of why even poorly grounded research may be accepted and acted upon, as well as a critique of medicine that shows how practitioners may shape and defend social and political trends. Useful for doctors, nurses, and parents who question whether there's a biological need for humans to bond instantly with their offspring.

Pub Date: Jan. 13th, 1993
ISBN: 0-300-05682-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1992