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his valuable statistical study of the longings of a series of 300 pregnant
women, has shown that the percentage of women with longings is exactly the
same (33 per cent.) among women who had suffered at some time during
pregnancy from sickness as among the women who had not so suffered.
Moreover, Giles found that the period of sickness frequently bore no
relation to the time when there were cravings, and the patient often had
cravings after the sickness had ceased.
According to another theory these longings are mainly a matter of
auto-suggestion. The pregnant woman has received the tradition of such
longings, persuades herself that she has such a longing, and then becomes
convinced that, according to a popular belief, it will be bad for the
child if the longing is not gratified. Giles considers that this process
of auto-suggestion takes place "in a certain number, perhaps even in the
majority of cases."
The Duchess d'Abrantes, the wife of Marshal Junot, in her
_Memoires_ gives an amusing account of how in her first pregnancy
a longing was apparently imposed upon her by the anxious
solicitude of her own and her husband's relations. Though
suffering from constant nausea and sickness, she had no longings.
One day at dinner after the pregnancy had gone on for some months
her mother suddenly put down her fork, exclaiming: "I have never
asked you what longing you have!" She replied with truth that she
had none, her days and her nights being occupied with suffering.
"No _envie!_" said the mother, "such a thing was never heard of.
I must speak to your mother-in-law." The two old ladies consulted
anxiously and explained to the young mother how an unsatisfied
longing might produce a monstrous child, and the husband also now
began to ask her every day what she longed for. Her
sister-in-law, moreover, brought her all sorts of stories of
children born with appalling mother's marks due to this cause.
She became frightened and began to wonder what she most wanted,
but could think of nothing. At last, when eating a pastille
flavored with pineapple, it occurred to her that pineapple is an
excellent fruit, and one, moreover, which she had never seen, for
at that time it was extremely rare. Thereupon she began to long
for pineapple, and all the more when she was told that at that
season they could not be obtained. She now began to feel that she
must have pineapple or die, and her husband ran all over Paris,
vainly offering twenty louis for a pineapple. At last he
succeeded in obtaining one through the kindness of Mme.
Bonaparte, and drove home furiously just as his wife, always
talking of pineapples, had gone to bed. He entered the room with
the pineapple, to the great satisfaction of the Duchess's mother.
(In one of her own pregnancies, it appears, she longed in vain
for cherries in January, and the child was born with a mark on
her body resembling a cherry--in scientific terminology, a
_naevus_.) The Duchess effusively thanked her husband and wished
to eat of the fruit immediately, but her husband stopped her and
said that Corvisart, the famous physician, had told him that she
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