The First Cry of the Child

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Abstract

Vociferous, shrill, and piercing—the first cry of the newborn infant signals that a new and separate life has begun. Separated from the body of the mother, the newborn cry serves to call for care, support, and protection. Yet, what is it that is expressed in the first cry? Or is the cry not really a matter of expression at all? In what sense may the cry be meaningful? Although we may be able to explain the function of the cry, we are puzzled by the enigma of its meaning. In this study, the science of the first cry is complemented with its physiognomy and genesis. It asks how the primal inceptuality and elemental sensibility of the first cry may be qualitatively explored and understood on the basis of what we have learned from embryology, neonatology, and related medical research. The phenomenological physiology of the first cry of the newborn challenges us to cautiously speculate on its significance for the health sciences, the adult, and the child.

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