Inquiry: infant polio victims, New Orleans Mercy Hospital, 1949

At age 65, I am beginning to address issues regarding my six month stay in Mercy Hospital, New Orleans on a polio ward of 18 infants under age one year.  I would like to visit with anyone who survived that, or has had any like experience of separation from parents for a significant amount of time during infancy.

For myself, I have recognized in the latter part of my life that I live with a fear of abandonment.  I am aware of bonding and attachment disorders arising from that separation.  Because my experiences on the ward and with hot water therapy thereafter are all preverbal, I have no verbal memory, but I have come to recognize a tremendous emotional memory that has wreaked havoc for 64 years.

If you have, or know somebody who has, suffered separation from a significant caregiver during infancy, would you please contact me?

Because I am now aware that the polio virus not only paralyzed my legs, but also caused brain damage affecting cognition, I would be interested in any study of the survivors of that polio ward; for that matter, any study of the development of anyone who was separated from loved ones during preverbal infancy.

Another issue that I would like to explore is any statistical connection between children with such preverbal experiences and their later perceptions and experiences of God or the Divine.  In my case, I have 10 siblings.  Of them, three are what I would call fundamentalist in their Christian beliefs in that they take the Bible literally.  They and a majority of other Facebook friends speak of Jesus and God as though they are the best of friends, and intimately acquainted.  You have gathered, I assume, from this blog that I don’t see God or the Divine in familiar terms. Some would accuse me of having an impersonal relationship with God, as though it were insufficient compared their intimately personal relationship (with “Him”).

I recognize that some have held that our (Christian) perception of God tends to reflect our relationship with our father.  Do matriarchal societies, tend to a goddess who reflects their relationship with their mother?

To summarize, I am asking the following:

  1. Are there any records of infant polio victims on a polio ward at Mercy Hospital, New Orleans, in the latter part of 1949 and early 1950?  Has any study followed them in their psychological and social development?
  2. In my own case, it appears that polio affected my cognition, particularly in executory functioning, but left my verbal IQ intact.  Does anyone have information connecting either polio or paralysis during a critical time of child development with damage to cognitive functioning?
  3. If so, has anyone researched issues of strategies to compensate for such cognitive damage? (In my case, I have compensated, it seems, in a number of ways, including extensive note-taking, outlining, intensive mental focus and preparation, even compartmentalized living,)
  4. Have there been studies of other infants in a similar situation, any bonding and attachment issues, compensations, treatments, and outcomes?
  5. Is there any evidence of an association of some form of separation anxiety or latent fear of abandonment with later views of God, the Divine, or spirituality?

I do note a resource on treatment of children who feel abandonment during infancy, which would seem to address these issues: ; but I would like to contact those who have survived such experiences arising from illness in childhood.

For anyone who was a polio survivor, you may find Polio Place, formerly Lincolnshire, helpful.  See .


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