Michel Odent’s books, together with the oeuvre of Frederick Leboyer and the skin research of Ashley Montagu have been revelatory to me for my research on the psychic health of children, and the causes of the early tactile deprivation of infants in modern society.
The key message of Michel Odent in his books is what he calls the scientification of love. Odent, in a publication back in 2001, asked the daring question how Aphrodite, Buddha and Jesus developed their capacity to love?
In this article, first published in Midwifery Today, Vol. 58, 2001, Michel Odent looks at this phenomenon stating that, until recently, love was the realm of poets, philosophers and holy scriptures, but that by the end of the twentieth century, love also has been studied from multiple scientific perspectives. Because scientific research has become incredibly specialized, however, it is easy to miss the importance of the phenomenon.
One effect of genuine scientific advances is to raise radically new questions. This is the case of the scientification of love, which inspires simple and paradoxically new questions such as: ’How does the capacity to love develop?’
Wilhelm Reich answered this question very clearly and explicitly, that is when the bioplasma is undistorted, when a child can grow up without emotional and sexual distortions, and thus without sadism as a response and contraction of the plasma, then the human is a fully loving being, by nature, and without any morality and sex laws needed to ’control’ him or her. In this case, the capacity to love is thus contained in the fully orgasmic human, which is an insight that has been corroborated both by sex clinic research and by anthropological research with native peoples who practice one or the other form of permissive education of their children, intuitively knowing about the importance of the pleasure function.
Today, by weaving together data from a broad range of scientific disciplines, scientists and others are in a position to conclude that the capacity to love is determined, to a great extent, by early experiences during fetal life and in the period surrounding birth. The first contact between mother and baby, during the hour following birth, is considered critical.
What Childbirth Should Be
London: Souvenir Press, 1994
Understanding the Critical Period Between Conception and the First Birthday
London: Clairview Books, 2002
The Scientification of Love
London: Free Association Books, 1999
The Functions of the Orgasms
The Highway to Transcendence
London: Pinter & Martin, 2009