The Developping Brain Part Two

The Anatomy of Joy with Jaak Panksepp, PhD

Jaak Panksepp, PhD, Emeritus Professor of the Department of Psychology at Bowling Green State University. Panksepp coined the term 'affective neuroscience', the name for the field that studies the neural mechanisms of emotion. "We finally got a handle on the nature of psychological pain, which is very important for depression and other psychiatric disorders.  And then we said well there must be something fundamental about the social principal that is in the arena of joy.  What would it be? And the answer was obvious that it must be playfulness.

brain development

The Developing Brain

There is a lot of interest in brains and child development. Some years ago it was mirror neurons. Today it is epigenetics. Interesting indeed, but we all know that planting a seed in sand or not watering the begonias will retard growth and even kill the plant. We are not separate from the environment. We breathe it, ingest it. We live in a constant reciprocal relationship with the environment and our body and brain reflects this.

For the next few days we will be featuring six full interviews with five international and acclaimed neuroscientists and researchers. Featured programs are, as you know, open to everyone. Membership in the Academy is not required. Each will be live for two days. Enjoy.

brain development

Distractions from What Is Real

Have you noticed? It’s getting pretty wacky out there: joggers bumping into street signs while texting. People seem generally stressed, not that this is new, just more, and it shows. The ice sheets are melting. Some predict “stratification” of the polar oceans will trigger a slowdown or even eventual shutdown of the circulation in the Atlantic Ocean and a weakening of another circulation system in the southern ocean. Isn’t a ‘shutdown of circulation’ what happens in a heart attack - of the planet?

children as teachers

Never pick a fight with a toddler

Outside our gallery on a busy tourist sidewalk a frustrated three year old sits on the ground and refuses to budge. Her mother is furious. “No,” shouts the little one. “Get up right this minute!” Again, “No,” cries the toddler. The mother reaches down, grabs the now screaming girl by the legs, holds her up-sided-down and shakes her violently, while the raging woman’s husband and older child stand by - saying nothing. This is what happens when we pick a fight with a toddler. No one wins and the collateral damage, long term, is crippling. What goes around – comes around. Maybe not right away, at age ten or fifteen or twenty five.

avoiding conflect
Original Play

Beyond Being Patient

Being patient implies waiting for something. Though passive, there still seems to be an effort, and deeper still perhaps even subtle conflicts. Because of this, I don’t like being patient with Carly. Being patient isn’t good enough.

It rained today. Carly stomped out in her rain boots, sloshed to the car and knocked on the door. ‘Do you want in,’ I asked. She nodded and I opened the door. Carly crawled up the driver’s seat and began turning all the knobs like the pilot of a 747. Playing with the knobs was not on my list. I thought I had other things to do. It became clear. I had a choice. I could sit there and be patient or I could surrender and, to use a phrase, ‘be here now.’

More with Robbie Davis-Floyd, PhD

Having known Robbie for twenty plus years I assure you that our recent interview is powerful. Here is how it begins. “I started asking questions…”

Birth As A Cultural Initiation

Take a walk on the wild side…

We haven’t a clue. Like Humpty Dumpty, all the science and all the text books can’t begin to touch the billions of years of living intelligence Carly expresses each moment. We live in our cognitive bubble which is the very tip of our intelligence iceberg, the vast majority of which operates silently beneath our conscious awareness. We think we are so smart, so educated. We haven’t a clue!

innate intelligence

Birth Awareness - How Routine Becomes Ritual

Yes, how a baby is born is important. Does the process affirm, extend and support the pulsing, vibrant, resonate relationship that has been unfolding for months or does it separate, alienate, terrify, filling mother and baby with cortisol ending in shock, trauma and depression? March is Birth Psychology Month and the Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPHA) has created a resource site to celebrate and inform.

Birth as initiation in a technocratic culture

What We Crave The Most

We try to avoid it but it happens anyway. I knew within a few hours that our colleague brought home more than sales leads from a recent trade show. She, a ‘wipe everything possible’ gal, was crawling with invisible micro-beasts and didn’t know it, one of more than 300 viruses that cause the common cold and flu. Falling to sleep I could only wonder how hard I would be hit.

Waking the next morning I got my answer; fever, chills, body aches, that familiar congestion in the chest soon to blossom into ‘the hack.’ Most painful was my need to reject Carly when she reached up. I tried to hide but she knows everything. Where could I go? Z and Carly seemed fine but I slept in the playroom anyway.


Now Means Now!

Conflict with a young child is really crazy and yet, it happens all the time. We adults have forgotten how immense feelings can be. Imagine that every day is Christmas Eve, Santa is coming, and being told no, we have to sweep the floor or put on our shoes first. For Carly now is all there is. At times her frustration with us is bursting. When we say, “it is time to go,” that means NOW, not after we answer a few texts, dump the trash and pack the car. Luckily, at eighteen months (and a few days) the next moment will be Christmas too.

avoiding conflect