Aha! The Origins of “Just Relax”

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You may recall me mentioning a book called Infertility Around the Globe: New Thinking on Childlessness, Gender and Reproductive Technologies.
While it’s not exactly light reading (though academic tomes rarely
are), it contains some intriguing research and ideas — some true gems.

In particular, I believe I’ve stumbled across a rosetta stone of sorts — can I get a drum roll, please?

Ladies and Gentleman …

The origins of “just relax”:

psychodynamic perspective, in which unconscious drives and unresolved
psychological problems generate infertility, was prominent in Western
psychological and medical thinking after World War II. For example, the
prominent gynecologist Kroger (1963) stated that hidden anxieties …
are the essential causes of infertility and that resolving these
problems would lead to pregnancy.”

Bollocks! Happily my
sentiment was echoed by the authors of this book who argued that the
lack of biological understanding and environmental influences in the early days led many doctors to
assume that infertility was self-inflicted by women who were stressed
out. Of course they were stressed out, you paternalistic morons of
earlier centuries, the women couldn’t conceive!

Newsflash: Not getting knocked up after one does what one learned from the “birds and bees talk” has a tendency to get one a little wound up.

appears the devotees of Freud and others — who assumed psychoanalysis
could get to the root of all ills — helped perpetuate “just relax” and
its variants. These pat, dismissive phrases, in turn, wormed their way
into conventional wisdom. Now we no longer need an arm-patched,
pipe-smoking, bespectacled man to led us to think it’s all in our heads,
we can rely on neighbors, colleagues and the local PTA president to
fulfill that irritating role.

Fortunately, Marcia Inhorn and her fellow researcher/authors are helping to debunk these and other myths associated with infertility.

if you’re looking for more in the way of trustworthy information vetted
by reproductive endocrinologists and other experts, a wonderful new site that I’m now associated with, Fertility Authority, formally launched yesterday. You can find my first Barren Not Beaten post here.