“Following St. Hilaire, he divided the history of the subject into the fabulous, the positive, and the scientific periods.
It suffices for our purpose to say that in the present state of scientific opinion two points are considered as established: 1, that the maternal, mental condition has no influence in the production of monstrosities; 2, the most varieties of monstrosity may be accounted for on the theory of arrest and retardation of development.
Says Fisher, “By a careful study of the laws of development and the order in which the various organs are evolved in the embryo, it has been observed that monsters by defect or arrest of development, are, to a certain extent, permanent embryos. The abnormal organs merely represent the primitive condition of formation as it existed in an early stage of embryonic or foetal life.
With physiology in so confessedly chaotic a state as it is at present, it seems a little like hardihood in any teratologist, however great his achievements in anatomy, histology, or embryology, to take so dangerous a position as that the mother has no influence upon her offspring.
While the microscopes of Haller and Prolik, Dareste and Laraboulet have disclosed to us many interesting facts concerning the single or double primitive traces on the vitelline membrane, what remains undiscovered about embryology by modern science appears greater still.
If we grant the monstrosities are the result of an arrest of development – nay, if we go farther, and concede that the foetal future may be prognosticated from the vitelline tracings, where will the teratologists take us to learn the antecedent psychological cause of either?
Dr. Fisher may have carefully studied some hundreds of cases, and feel himself authorized to construct a new classification of their genera and species; but facts are facts, and outside the field of his observation it appears, even if we judge but by our own personal experience, in various countries, that there are but abundant attainable proofs that the violent maternal emotions are often reflected in tangible, visible, and permanent disfigurements of the child. And the cases in question seem, moreover, to contradict Dr. Fisher’s assertion that monstrous growths are due to causes traceable to “the early stages of embryonic or foetal life.”
One case was that of a Judge of an Imperial Court at Saratow, Russia, who always wore a bandage to cover a mouse-mark on the left side of his face. It was a perfectly-formed mouse, whose body was represented in high relief upon the cheek, and the tail ran upward across the temple and was lost in his hair. The body seemed glossy, gray, and quite natural. According to his own account, his mother had an unconquerable repugnance to mice, and her labor was prematurely brought on by seeing a mouse jump out from her workbox.
In another instance, of which the writer was a witness, a pregnant lady, within two or three weeks of her accouchement, saw a bowl of raspberries, and was seized with an irresistible longing for some, but denied. She excitedly clasped her right hand to her neck in a somewhat theatrical manner, and exclaimed that she must have them.
The child born under our eyes, three weeks later, had a perfectly-defined raspberry on the right side of his neck; to this day, when that fruit ripens, his birth-mark becomes of a deep crimson, while, during the winter, it is quite pale.
Such cases as these, which are familiar to many mothers of families, either in their personal experience or that of friends, carry conviction, despite the theories of all the teratologists of Europe and America.”
H. P. Blavatsky