Can you feel my heart sing?

Themes: 
touch
attunement
bonding

Of Course the Predators Ate Him

Fight-Flight is a fear-startle reflex emerging deep in the sensory motor brain, the so called ancient ‘reptilian’ brain. The pursuit of egotistic gratification turned predator, sexual or otherwise, is not fight-flight, rather, patterns of violence embedded early in the formation of the ego or social-emotional self-image, what we generally refer to as ego.

Themes: 
bonding
sexual violence
male vulnerability

Why the Pain?

The higher you fly the more encompassing the view. Patterns emerge. Individual trees become forests. Hills become mountains. Lakes become oceans. Each of the observations that follow are profound. Together they create a constellation of insights that reflect universal forces that shape each of our lives, for better or worse. We call these forces nurturing, attachment, bonding, authentic or original play, feeling connected to the social web. The impact of these forces on a child’s development are immutable, absolute. When experienced, development moves in positive, life affirming directions. When not, the impact is crippling, aggressive, violent - even suicidal.

The journey this post invites is rich and diverse. Best to print. Hold these insights in your hand. Go slowly and savor. Here’s the PDF Ask Why The Pain.

Michael Mendizza

Don’t ask why the addiction. Ask; Why the pain?

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
Gabor Maté, MD.

I speak to thousands of people every month and the most difficult audiences are the medical ones who deal with the manifestations of early childhood loss but they don’t know that that’s what they’re dealing with. They think they’re looking at diseases, symptoms, mental illness, dysfunctions, psychosis, behaviors that are categorized under one diagnosis or another. They don’t realize that the commonality is the early childhood loss in trauma. Present them with that information and you present it to them in detail with all the research perimeters being covered so that it’s not just impressionistic or antidotal but actually research based and they sit there stunned. They don’t know what to do with it. If that was only my own failure to communicate I could say okay well if somebody else presented it then maybe they would listen. But no.

Themes: 
attachment
bonding
Original Play

Breastfeeding Bonding Prevents Infant Mortality And Suicide

The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears. I think everyone in the world, to a large or small extent, has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with the crime, guilt ~ and there is the story of mankind. John Steinbeck, East of Eden, 1952

Breastfeeding bonding and baby-carrying bonding are the first events of life, which the newborn/infant/child learns about love and non-violence. Love is first learned at the breast of mother and by being carried on her body ~ like in utero, where the first lessons of being connected with mother are learned.

Themes: 
abuse-neglect
bonding
brain
breastfeeding
culture
pleasure
pregnancy

Melting Hugs

Today Carly Elizabeth it officially eighteen months young. Yes, the brain grows more the first year than any other time. The density of possible connections are two to three times that of an adult. What does that mean? Muffins on the floor, toy train wrecks, hidden objects to trip over in the dark, toilet paper strolling down the hall, my wallet in the trash, car keys in the vacuum and a million other surprises.

Themes: 
bonding
brain development
unconditional love

Bonding and the Intelligence of the Heart

Bonding and the Intelligence of the Heart
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Up to 65 percent of the cells of the heart are neurons just like those found in the brain. There is a direct unmediated neuro-connection, a direct pipeline, between the heart and the brain. The brain informs the heart of its general emotional state and the heart encourages the brain to make an intelligent response. Poets and sages have been saying this about the heart down through the ages. The emerging field of Neurocardiology and research at the Institute of HeartMath place the intelligence of the heart in the field of biology, where it belongs. This brief program redefines bonding in light of this new research.

The Only Power Strong Enough

 

Carly Elizabeth is seven months young today, just this week beginning to pre-crawl. I wish I could be so attentive, persistent, focused, so sensitive and aware of everything instead of being preoccupied with all my stuff. Carly craves engagement and it is truly one of the most challenging tasks as a parent to keep up, to stay in the present moment, to share this experience together right now. Oh, how easy it is to give that demand for complete engagement over to some mechanical or technological thing, but at what price?

Themes: 
attachment
bonding
culture

Attachment and Authenticity 08

The stress dis-ease connection
Gabor Maté

There was a study in Toronto where they looked at the women who had survived breast cancer and they asked them, what is it that they think had caused the cancer and what helped them survive it and more women put down stress than any other factor. Now the researchers, being medical doctors, said this just shows you how out of touch everybody is. People blame stress for everything. In fact, there’s no evidence that stress has anything to do with breast cancer. We know that there’s a lot of evidence linking hormones and breast cancer, maybe some evidence linking into certain genetics and maybe some evidence linking diet to breast cancer, but not stress. Well guess who was right? The medical doctors were dead wrong. The women were totally right.

If you look at the hormone related cancers, which by the way many of them are, like testicular cancer or prostate cancer in men or breast cancer in women, a number of things emerge. One is of course that the medical profession treats them totally as biological events, narrowly biological events. There was a study in Toronto where they looked at the women who had survived breast cancer and they asked them, what is it that they think had caused the cancer and what helped them survive it and more women put down stress than any other factor. Now the researchers, being medical doctors, said this just shows you how out of touch everybody is. People blame stress for everything. In fact, there’s no evidence that stress has anything to do with breast cancer. We know that there’s a lot of evidence linking hormones and breast cancer, maybe some evidence linking into certain genetics and maybe some evidence linking diet to breast cancer, but not stress. Well guess who was right? The medical doctors were dead wrong. The women were totally right.

First of all genetics, out of 100 women with breast cancer 7 will have the breast cancer gene, 93 do not. Out of 100 women with the breast cancer gene not all of them will get cancer. Their risk certainly goes up but there’s no one-to-one relationship between having the gene and having the cancer. And most women with breast cancer have no identified gene, number one. When it comes to diet there’s a very weak relationship. I won’t deny it but it’s statistically not all that significant. Hormonally, yes, some breast cancers are obviously driven by estrogen for example, so we give them medication to suppress or to block their estrogen receptors so that the estrogen no longer drives the cancer. But, where the argument breaks down is when you look at the relationship between stress and hormones, hormones have everything to do with stress. Whether in men or women, you can predictably interfere with their healthy hormonal balance by imposing emotional stresses on them. The loss of a football game will reduce the testosterone levels of the fans or the loss of a soccer game. Nobody ever touched them physically. If you measure their testosterone levels before and after the game, the losing team’s fans will have diminished testosterone levels. Now, in female monkeys in captivity, if you look at female hormone levels like estrogen, progesterone, folic or stimulating hormones and so on, and if you look at the cortisol levels, the monkeys who are subordinate therefore are bullied will have high cortisol levels, abnormal female hormone levels and ovulatory abnormal menstruation patterns compared to the dominant monkeys who are not stressed. But if you switch the groups around so that the dominant monkeys now become bullied and previously subordinate ones now become the at the top of the totem pole, their hormonal levels change within a month. Cortisol levels in the newly dominant monkeys go down and their menstruations become normal and vice versa. So for the researchers to say that hormones have a lot to do with it but stress is nothing, they don’t understand the simple relationship between hormones and stress and cortisol is a stress hormone.  How can you say that it has nothing to do with stress? It’s absurd.

If you look at the histories of men with testicular cancer you find childhood trauma as in Lance Armstrong. That guy is a traumatized person, hence his drive to succeed, his need to validate himself, his need to be at the top because he was an abused child who’s mother was a 17 or 18 year old when she had him, his father abandoned him. She marries an abusive guy called Armstrong who beats the hell out of the kid and Lance Armstrong has been compensating for that all his life, including with hormones. And if you talk to women with breast cancer, in their lives there’s always childhood emotional loss, significant emotional loss for which they compensate by suppressing themselves, by not saying no until their body says no for them and I’ve had hundreds of women tell me that. Once they read that chapter in my book they just recognized themselves and they’re grateful to do so. Some say you blame me for my disease. Again I say I’m not because you’re not doing this deliberately. These are your adaptive patterns that you applied without any conscious choice in the matter at all as a matter of survival. How can you be blamed for that? On the other hand, if you stop doing it now, that can enhance your health, if you recognize it and are able to break out of it. So again, the relationship between childhood experience, hormones, stress, and adult illness is very straightforward.

Attachment and Authenticity 07

The unscientific invalidity of blaming parents
Gabor Maté

What was true for you was also true for your parents. So we’re talking about multi-generational, transpersonal, and culturally imposed stress and trauma and there’s no individual to blame.

I get a lot of emails and a lot of people, parents who are just so thankful for even giving that perspective. But if they work on their attachment relationship with their child, if they’re attuned to their children, if they pay attention to their children, aware of the child’s needs, the child’s symptoms can abate and their children can undergo tremendous growth. So people are actually open to it.  Some people are not.  Some people are just not ready to look at themselves so they just want the child medicated.  As a parent how would most people rather see their kids, as being genetically flawed and doomed to this condition all their lives or would they rather understand that the child’s brain condition is a response to early stress that the parents unwittingly passed on to their children?  But which can be mitigated and new development can still overcome it or in many ways alleviate it if we provide the right conditions as a parent.  Which message would you rather hear? That there’s something you can do or your kid is genetically doomed, here’s a pill? Which would you rather hear? And actually many people would rather hear the message that yeah, our stress is contributed to this.  We couldn’t help it. We did our best. But now that we understand it we can actually do something differently.  And I find that both teachers of parents are very open to the message when they hear it.  It’s only that they don’t hear it from too many people.  In the ADD world, of all the books out there, mine is the only one that ever goes to the model of brain development and stress.

any parent who has a child with any problems already feels a tremendous responsibility and self-blame. So for some people then to hear that actually you know what, yes, it was your stresses that did play a huge role on the development of your child’s problems is devastating. So they’d rather hear that it’s genetic. So the genetic theory is very comforting for a lot of people because they don’t understand, they don’t hear the part that it wasn’t their fault because they actually did their best. And what they were acting out themselves as parents is the stuff that happened to them as kids. Nor was blaming their parents because what was true for them is also true for their parents. So we’re talking about multi-generational, transpersonal, and culturally imposed stress and trauma and there’s no individual to blame. So, there’s those studies where you can look at the child’s strain situation where at one year of age you submit a child to the presence of a stranger in the absence of the parent and the parent comes back in and whether the child can be sued by the parent or whether the child remains the actual suer, disconnected from the parent, and how the child responds tells us everything about the ability of that parent to have connected with the child emotionally, attuned to the child in the child’s first year of life. And that strange situation, how the child responds at one year to the same situation will predict very often how well they do in school or in life a decade later or decades later. And then, you can do the adult attachment into you that tells us about a parents or adults relationship to the attachment figures in their lives when they were children and you have this amazing correlation where you can do an adult attachment into you and somebody who is not even a parent yet and how they respond on the adult attachment into you will predict how they’re un-conceived child will years later respond in the strange situation at one year of age. Then we can see how in-personal these factors are, non-personal they are. They affect persons but they’re not personal, they’re trans-generational, transpersonal, transmitted patterns. And when you understand that, there’s nobody left to blame.

But again, in a society that always looks to blame people, that when there’s something wrong we’re always looking for somebody to blame, rather than looking at causes we’re looking at who’s the enemy, who’s at fault, which is our approach to foreign policy and everything in this life. Then when you point out the early environment of people, people right away perceive that the parents are being blamed. So I’ve literally had reviewers who supposedly have read my book, where I talk about very deliberately and as articulately as I can generate, about the inappropriateness of blaming parents, about the unscientific invalidity of blaming parents and they will flat out say, he’s blaming parents. That’s all they can perceive because they haven’t dealt with their own shame and responsibilities. They think that I’m pointing a finger at them. They’re just pointing a finger at themselves. And they don’t realize that their attachment to genetic theory is just their way of fending off their self-blame. On the contrary I’m saying to them look, you’re not at fault. You did you best. It’s not your fault. It’s not personal to you. Now that takes a bit of sophistication, In that sense the genetic theories are very simple and therefore they are a relief to a lot of people. They’re a relief and they also leave us at a dead end.

Attachment and Authenticity 06

ADD is another coping mechanism
Gabor Maté

Because the initial environment was so stressed, not because the parent didn’t love them, it’s not because you’re blaming anybody, not because the parents didn’t do their best, but it was them themselves that was so stressed that the child dealt with the stress in the environment by tuning out when their brain was developing. And furthermore, when the Dopamine circuits, Dopamine they mean incentive motivation attention chemical, which we supplement with Ritalin or Dexedrine later on if we diagnose these people, those Dopamine circuits don’t develop well when the environment is totally stressed. So it’s a perfect storm that we’re creating in our society by stressing parents, by cutting asunder the tides of culture, tribe, clan, village, extended family, so neither children or parents have that supportive context. No wonder you’re going to have more children with troubled brains.

I had this naïve idea after my book on ADD came out, scattered in the states, people would say, wow! We finally get it! But in the ADD world, they don’t want to touch it. The book is a best seller in Canada and it’s doing well in the states but no thanks to the official organizations. They don’t even want to hear it because they think I’m blaming the parent. They want to believe that it’s a genetic disease. If it was a genetic disease then we don’t have to look at anything. We can just medicate. ADD is another coping mechanism. To go back to that Harvard study I mentioned earlier in there reported in Pediatrics, children’s response to their stress, adaptive responses that help them survive the stress, later become sources of pathology. Now, when I was diagnosed with ADD myself at age 54, it was really helpful to me because I understood a lot of things about myself, at least I thought I understood, at least I saw described about myself in a pattern that I hadn’t ever considered in any way represented some kind of a dynamic in me. So it was very helpful for me to be diagnosed and to be self-diagnosed primarily and then have that confirmed. But from the beginning I didn’t buy into the idea that it was a genetic disease. Not for a second because tuning out which is a hallmark of ADD, the absentmindedness is not a disease. It’s actually a coping mechanism. It’s one of the brain’s coping mechanisms. When the stress is too much and we can’t fight back, escape, or ask for help, then one of the ways the brain deals with it is to tune it out.

It’s a form of disassociation, or what has been called divided attention. So that’s a coping mechanism and that was clear to me. So when you look at a condition like ADD, the diagnosis of which is just going up leaps and bounds every few years with the number of prescriptions going up, in the states there are three million kids on stimulant medications, half a million on anti-psychotic medications, many of them for ADHD, not because they’re psychotic but because the impulse control is so poor and we’re so bereft of understanding child development that we have to sedate them instead of helping them. When you get these numbers going up all the time it can’t be genetic because genes don’t change in a population over a few years, nor is it just that we’re recognizing it more. Really it’s that we have more and more kids who are just lacking impulse control and lacking the capacity to pay attention. Well why? Well, if we understand that tuning out, divided attention, disassociation, is a coping mechanism, then the question you have to ask is what’s stressing these kids so much that they have to respond that way? And if we ask that question we can no longer look at DNA. Now we have to look at what’s happening in those kid’s lives. Well their parents are more stressed. The village, the clan, the neighborhood, the tribe, that safe holy environment where children had many nurturing adults to relate to, uncles and aunts, is gone. The parents themselves have less support and both parents are having to work. So parents don’t even see their kids the whole day. So kids are very stressed. And of course kids, especially if they’re very sensitive, they absorb their parent’s stresses like I did as a Jewish infant in the ghetto of Budapest under Nazi occupation in Hungary in 1944. How does an infant deal with that stress? You can’t fight back. You can’t ask for help. You can’t run away. You tune it out. But when are you tuning it out? You’re tuning out when the brain is developing so there’s an astonishing brain developmental data that’s not even vaguely controversial, that is being fully established now in the last few decades, that the brain develops under the impact of the environment. And if my mind is stressed, then the tuning out which is a coping mechanism, goes from a temporary state because wiring the brain is a long term trait so we go from state to trait.  Now all we have eight years later or 54 years later is a person who is diagnosed with ADD. Why? Because the initial environment was so stressed, not because the parent didn’t love them, it’s not because you’re blaming anybody, not because the parents didn’t do their best, but it was them themselves that was so stressed that the child dealt with the stress in the environment by tuning out when their brain was developing. And furthermore, when the Dopamine circuits, Dopamine they mean incentive motivation attention chemical, which we supplement with Ritalin or Dexedrine later on if we diagnose these people, those Dopamine circuits don’t develop well when the environment is totally stressed. So it’s a perfect storm that we’re creating in our society by stressing parents, by cutting asunder the tides of culture, tribe, clan, village, extended family, so neither children or parents have that supportive context. No wonder you’re going to have more children with troubled brains.  It’s very simple, both psycho dynamically in terms of the need to tune out and then in terms of the brain development. And then along comes the pharmaceutical industry and says here’s what we can do, we can suppress the symptoms by increasing Dopamine levels by giving these kids these medications which may or may not be okay in individual cases but it does nothing for brain development. It does nothing for the child’s psychological growth, nothing. It simply is a suppressing of the symptom. Conceptually it’s obvious. Scientifically it’s the only reasonable case to be made and yet people are invested in not seeing it.

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