Frank Lake's
"Maternal-Fetal Distress Syndrome"
- An Analysis -

Dissertation of Stephen M. Maret, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Caldwell University

8 Weeks Old

(Fetal life) ". . . is not drifting on a cloud, (but is) eventful as the nine months that come after birth. The foetus is not unaware of itself, or of the emotional response of the mother to its presence, but acutely conscious of both and that interaction." -- Frank Lake, M.D.

-- from Dr. Maret's dissertation

British psychiatrist, Frank Lake (1914-1982), believed that the first trimester of embryonal development was the most important part of one's life.

He wrote, "The focus for psychopathology is now, for us, the first trimester of intra-uterine life. These first three months after conception hold more ups and downs, more ecstasies and devastations than we had ever imagined."

In chapter 3 of his doctoral dissertation, Professor Maret analyzes historical precedences as they relate to Lake's thesis. He examines ancient, medieval and modern references to the possibility that the early fetus is a sentient being by examining the earlier and later historical musings and evidences for the existence of such a syndrome. He concludes the chapter with the examination of fetal development, fetal sensory proficiencies as well as emotional capabilities.

-- John A. Speyrer, Webmeister, The Primal Psychotherapy Page



A. Historical Precedence for Lake's M-FDS
1. Pre-20th Century Embryological and Fetological Thought
a. Eastern Western Thought
b. Early Non-western Thought
c. Medieval and Early Modern Thought
2. Embryological and Fetological Thought of the 20th Century
B. Morphological and Psychological Evidence for Lake's M-FDS
1. Embryonic Development
2. Fetal Development
a. Neurological Development
b. Movement
c. Tactile Sense
d. Crying
e. The Vestibular Sense
f. The Gustatory Sense
g. The Olfactory Sense
h. The Auditory Sense
i. The Visual Sense
j. Intermodal Fluency
k. Learning
l. Emotion

  • Stephen M. Maret has authored a book comprised of material from his dissertation entitled, The Prenatal Person: Frank Lake's Maternal-Fetal Distress Syndrome. University Press of America: Lanham, MD. ISBN: 0-7618-2501-0.

    Dr. Maret's e-mail address is

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