Rock a Bye Baby

Author: 
James W. Prescott

The Time Life documentary "Rock A Bye Baby" describes how the sensory deprivation of normal mothering, touch and movement causes permanent brain abnormalities and pathological violence. The single greatest contribution to understanding the mother-infant separation syndrome was provided by Drs. William Mason and Gershon Berkson in their swinging mother surrogate experiments where the importance of body movement (vestibular-cerebellar simulation) in mother-infant bonding was documented.

Brain Integration and Happiness

Author: 
James W. Prescott

Brain Integration and Happiness - James W. Prescott, PhD, shared his unique research perspective at an invitational symposium, the Intelligence of Play sponsored by Touch the Future. You will find this twenty minute presentation one of the best summaries of the roll sensory experiences or its absence play in early brain development. This program features highlights from the Time Live documentary Rock A Bye Baby.

Social and Moral Consequences

Author: 
James W. Prescott

Social and Moral Consequences

Culture Shapes The Developing Brain

Author: 
James W. Prescott

Culture Shapes the Developing Brain - This is our first in-depth interview with James W. Prescott, PhD. Jim takes us on a detailed overview of the origins of love and violence, and how these two different life paths are seeded in the earliest months of life. Here Jim describes the various research projects that spanned over fifteen years at the National Institute of Health and Human Development (NIHD).

Sensory Deprivation & The Developing Brain

Author: 
James W. Prescott

Sensory Deprivation & The Developing Brain - One of the best overviews of the collected works and research of James W. Prescott, PhD. There are two fundamental issues. One is the issue of the bonded and unbonded child. The other is full gender equality. Until women are able to control their own body, and not just reproduction but the whole spectrum of her sexuality, it will be very difficult to achieve the first step which is the bonded child. Just look at all the violence against women, the rapes, domestic violence, battered women, it's epidemic, as is child abuse and neglect.

Nothing Compares

They say, breast is best. Well, duhhh. But wait, I’m a guy. What do I know? The overarching question is why have a baby? Hormones, of course. No one can win an argument with hormones. There is only one correct answer, to nurture the healthiest, happiest, most awake, aware, sensitive and responsive human being possible. Having a baby is all about the baby. It is the ultimate ‘giving back.’

Themes: 
bonding
breastfeeding
culture

Two dramatic expression of culture change

Two dramatic expression of culture change
Joseph Chilton Pearce

I’ve talked to literally many thousands of teachers. The two things I’ve been getting; children are coming in year by year far less educable, less available to any kind of educational process. At the same time we have children of exceptional brightness, brighter than any children that old line teachers have every come across. The vast majority of our children being uneducable and this little group appearing who are intelligent beyond any level we have had.

Now this brings to mind, by the way, something we really should look at very quickly right here because we are talking about some rather negative things. In the past few years we’ve had two clear phenomena going on at the same time. Since I’ve talked to literally many thousands of teachers and had many workshops and groups for teachers and educational districts and so on, the two things I’ve been getting increasingly over the past few years, well first of all came the recognition by old line teachers that the students coming in year by year, into kindergarten, were far less educable, less available to any kind of educational process. It wasn’t the educational process was broken down, but that no educational process was going to fit these children on a rising level. More and more uneducable children every year and now we know it’s very critical. At the same time, starting about three or four years ago we had our first signs of children of exceptional brightness, brighter than any children that old line teachers have every come across. I heard this first of all from Principals and Superintendents of school districts where there was a very high elite kind of population of high managerial classes and so on. And now I’m beginning to hear it all over the country. Teachers who are saying their getting kids in, a minuscule little handful, who are off the graph in ability, brilliance, readiness, openness and so on, even as the percentage of the educable children is growing by leaps and bounds. So we have these two strange phenomena happening. The vast majority, how we’re moving toward the vast majority of our children being uneducable and this little group appearing who are intelligent beyond any level we have had. They’re off the graph. 

Now I’m going to stick my neck out and say two things here, first of all from what I’ve been able to find these children are coming from essentially close to middle age parents of a highly successful intelligent resourceful marriage situations, where they have not had children, all of the sudden they realize the gates are closing on that. Their time is running out and suddenly they’re filled with a passionate desire to have their own children. These children are brought into the world by highly mature people who have worked out their affective problems, who have relaxed all of their anxieties about the world. They have made it in the world. And who passionately want this child. So the child is born in to the world, even though they might be born in the worse hospital kind of a situation, all the rest of the factors compensate for it. But these are the women who are born birthing at home. These are the women who are taking charge of their life because they have taken charge of their life and succeeded with it. So the child is born into optimal nurturing, optimal situation all the way around, and in contrast with the rest of these poor damaged children they seem off the graph. They’re probably just the first normal children we’re seeing again. Wanted, loved, nurtured, given the right environment. So the saving remnant is appearing and from the most obvious and logical kind of a source. 

M:        Well, when the whole norm is shifted so low, we get back to normal.

J:          Yes, this point should be made, educated, skillful, new generation of upper level intellectual people. We’re introducing upper level intellectual people here on our level which has never been done before. Even at the same time it’s bought at the price of a huge percentage of the population who are in severe troubles. So, it’s not just that we’re coming back to the norm, there’s a possibility we’ll hear a new norm and move onto a new level. The other thing is that we should never think that this is because these people are in their upper thirties when this takes place, that that’s the answer. The 18 year old girl can provide exactly the same thing were she allowed maturation. Were she given the appropriate nurturing environment. As it is, this 35 or 36 year old woman who is making a highly successful mother and is taking charge of her life, she has had to work through all of the disasters befalling this 18 year old and the fact that she’s worked through it, that puts her into a position to be the appropriate mother. She should have, had she received the proper nurturing environment herself, she could have been at that state at 18 as easily. That is we’re not dealing with an age factor here. These are again social environmental factors that we’re dealing with. 

I remember back in the sixties when I dropped out of a college teaching and substitute since I had no teacher’s credentials and had never taken an educational course, some student in high school and I was really shocked to hear the teacher say to these girls, to try to stimulate them to do their homework and all, “Don’t you want to make something of yourself? What do you want to do, just get married and spawn children,” as though that were the pits, the bottom line of all failure. So the model for them constantly was just what you’re talking about and had been for quite a long while. The mother was the failure. There was nothing else she could do except to spawn children. Now the fact that this thing held up as the model, she’s had to work through all that, that strange new mythology. And the ones who succeed are then free of all of that and this fees them to go ahead and be what she could have been as easily at 16 for that matter. After all, nature provides that capacity very early and maturation was designed to be far earlier than it is. As I said adolescence is an arbitrary construct we’ve designed for unwanted laborers. There’s no place for them and adolescence gets longer and longer and longer every year. Now, it’s really running up into the twenties. The fulfillment that these women feel, the sense of fulfillment is of course enormous because now they have accomplished on both levels. I don’t think we should ever imply that a woman is not capable of doing all these things.  That would be a tragedy.  They’re showing on every hand that they can get it out there in the marketplace and run the corporations as well as anybody else. That’s a foregone conclusion. Again, the issue is do they really want to do that?  I think a lot of them are getting forced into that by the role models.

Changing perception of women

Changing perception of women
Joseph Chilton Pearce

We have a couple of generation of women who are extremely angry. They’re angry at men because intuitively they realize they had been interfered with by a male intellect. There are a lot of women who are unwilling to condescend you might say to nurturing a child, who if they get pregnant will put that child right into a daycare center as soon as possible.

One of the tragedies of this whole thing has been the change of characteristic within women themselves which no one is aware of and would be terribly bad political talk at this stage, but we have really a couple of generation of women who are extremely angry. They’re angry at men because intuitively they realize they had been interfered with by a male intellect. And a lot of women who are unwilling to in any way condescend you might say to nurturing a child and who if they get pregnant will put that child right into a daycare center and so on.

The way of bringing about some change in that probably with all the vested interest and since we’re dealing with extremely powerful forces, it’s probably not possible on a large statistical level. I look at this period of history from the scientific term which is taken from the Greeks a “stocasism.” Nature operates by mass profusion with a high degree of intent which is very selective. Nature will produce seven million eggs on the female ovary at birth, they’re all there complete, in hopes of getting two or three of them through the net, produces quintillions of male sperm. Why? Because nature’s abundant in the creative process. Anything is cheap. And if six of them hit target, fine, you know, out of quintillions of them, quintillions, literally that high a number.

Now, we find that when situations start radically breaking down, one of the first things is we have a rapid population increase. Any time nature’s agenda starts being interfered with there’s a rapid population increase. Simply nature steps up the stochastic process. This is seemingly very cool. When I first began to realize this is how nature operated I was terrified with it. It scared me to death and then I felt a great bitterness and resentment about it. I didn’t like it. But by in large what we have to look for here now is not the broad mass to suddenly overnight in time undergo a radical change because the damage is too deep. But I’m always hoping that simply we will appeal to enough people that enough people will undergo the necessary steps, that you’ll have a nucleus who can maintain the system when the rest of the system starts disintegrating. 

I think of there again of Ilya Prigogine’s dissipated structures and then when a coherent structure hits a certain point of disequilibrium it doesn’t take much energy to bring it in order out of its chaos. In other words if it were a large scale stable system it takes an enormous energy to bring about change. Probably we’ll have to wait until this instability hits a certain peak but then we must have some prepared people and it isn’t they’re going to rush out and physically manipulate the whole situation. It’s simply that their presence will furnish what we call the chaotic attracter to bring a new order out of the chaos. And that sounds very grandiose but I think it’s extremely practical. So I think that we do know. It’s like the A student as the model for the Bell Curve in the classroom. You see by having that A student there that we can all focus on we can maintain the stability of the system. But you can’t make every student an A student and you’re not going to bring every person around to this way of thinking.  All we can do is appear and it will take probably a higher intellectual circle of people. 

There’s a certain elitism here, I’m afraid, but we’ve got to look at it totally head on. When I hear the talk about population control and I’ve heard an argument from a religious person not long back that all of our current ways of trying to control the population was so bad that what we had to do was elevate their sexual appreciation to a very high level and make them aware of the sacredness of the procreative act so that they would enter into it from an entirely different level and then I would go out and I would see some of our lesser informed citizens and I would think of what would happen if you approach them from that standpoint. Of course it’s ludicrous. You don’t stand a chance of anything like that. The only appeal we can make here is to probably and enlightened portion of our population.

Dramatic cultural changes

Dramatic cultural changes
Joseph Chilton Pearce

The infant unlocks the true nature of the woman and gives to her the greatest stature as a woman, being a mother, just as a mother unlocks the hidden potentials of that infant. It’s a dynamic. Each is bringing the other to their fulfillment and that’s the beauty of it. It’s always there. You can’t destroy it.

You’ll find that within the same time frame of the breakup of the nuclear family, when the extended family begins to simply be made almost impossible to maintain or we elect for these small compartmentalized, everything in its neat little tidy segment of society. Along about the same time that began to take total hold of us and change the whole nature and structure of family as it is, at the very same time was the separation of infant and mother becoming the common practice and finally hitting that water shed at World War II, moving from 30% of the mothers to 97% of the mothers and suddenly becoming nationwide. And at the same time you’ve broken up your extended family and so everything is isolated. Then to expect an isolated young mother who has no access to other mothers, who has no access to grandmothers and so on, on a daily basis, for consultation, assistance, and so on and so forth. You have a very difficult situation and the mother is at risk herself in that situation.

You cannot overnight, within a short period of time like that, eliminate that intelligence informing the brain system. I think of a very close association of mine, close kin, who was certainly born under the most disastrous situations in the hospital and had a very, very bad beginning and whose mother was one of the most anxiety ridden persons in the world and followed immediately by siblings which created a great situation of tension and rivalry, a lack of nurturing, and brought up in that kind of a situation. Everything really negative and with a lot of anxieties and negativities and so on. A lot of problems. And you would think that this individual would have difficulties in mothering. But nevertheless this particular individual, just by a good prenatal indoctrination and educational process, and a good solid birth education before it happened, and by the time the birth took place this particular woman was enormously confident and entered into the whole birth process with a feeling that she didn’t need anybody there. I must say that it was not just a natural birth but the separation simply never took place and there was this enormous, what we think of as bonding. This woman was 35 when she had this child, her first child, and she breastfed this child for three years and nurtured it in every way. There was this enormous unbreakable, separation never took place. 

She displayed every mammalian instinct known to man or beast in a perfectly beautiful magnificent form simply because it was all activated within her and she did it spontaneously. She didn’t read a single book on mothering. She read books on the prenatal care of herself. She did prenatal exercises. She’d watch her diet. She talked to her infant in-utero. She did all of these things and absolutely controlled the birth situation. She was in charge from beginning to end. It was a very quick birth of course because she was so relaxed and totally confident. Her confidence was enormous.

And then of course once that little baby came out and she took it, nothing was ever going to separate her from it. And it was a most successful affair. So there it always is. The brain has that enfolded within it. And what I found here, we had an extremely neurotic and timid and uncertain, hesitant, unsure, woman who was transformed completely in her personality and her behaviour patterns and everything else by the birth experience. Precisely as Kennel and Klaus and even MacLean implies, that the infant unlocks the true nature of the woman and gives her her greatest stature as a woman, as a mother, just as a mother unlocks the hidden potentials of that infant. It’s a dynamic. Each are bringing the other to their fulfillment and that’s the beauty of it. It’s always there. You can’t destroy it.

Empathy

Do we really understand empathy?
Joseph Chilton Pearce

I was struck in New Zealand by the fact that the children are so kind to each other. I hadn’t seen that in a long, long time. We were certainly kind to each other. We were never willfully unkind because it’s painful to us. When we were 10 and 11 years old we would discuss things like that, that these things were painful to us. That’s empathy but today we have what is called children without conscious.

Do we understand what empathy means anymore? It’s an empty word. The ability to perceive the emotional state of another and the capacity of it to suffer. That certainly is eroding. The willingness of children to inflict pain on each other. I was so struck in New Zealand by the fact that the children are so kind to each other. I hadn’t seen that in a long, long time. They were certainly kind to each other. There was very little battering among us. We were not willfully, fights would break out when I was a child back in the thirties but we were never willfully unkind to each other, or even to a child from the other side of the tracts or anything else. We were never willfully unkind to them because it’s painful to us. And I remember discussing that very thing among my little friends. When we were 10 and 11 years old we would discuss things like that you know, that these things were painful to us and that’s empathy but that’s a natural part of our system. That is the human nature and how quickly that erodes. We think of Alastair Cook again in his experience of coming through America’s great Hobo Camps and scenes of extraordinary poverty, as a very wealthy young man, and never feeling the slightest, slightest fear for his own well-being back in those terrible times of the depression in the thirties because we still had that connection, that connection with the heart. We had not been completely broken at that point.

The fascinating thing is the dual role of the emotional system or the affective system of the brain in one of its parallel processes the quality of its relationship you see and when that is coupled with the basic structure that presents us with our world, what we would think of as the physical sensory motor system, that affective system, then enhances it, it broadens, it opens up the dimensions of that lower system and that same affective system can couple with the intellectual system or what you refer to as the metaphoric symbolic structures.

And then with that you have a whole other ballgame that opens up which is the emotional aspects of learning, state specific learning, the fact that the quality of the emotional state at the time of learning and as an integral part of the learning itself, permanently apparently. Now then we have the, in this dual role of this affective emotional system, that it can then in the same integrate all three levels into an incredibly open-ended system so that perceptually we’re open on a whole universal level. Conceptually, from the highest level, we’re opening on a whole universal level and emotionally we’re opening on a universal level. That’s of course moving toward the real fulfillment of our humanness in early life, certainly in the first 15 or 20 years. 

And then you find again that critical emotional response which means the affective system, the evaluative system of the limbic structure which connects together into a functional unit, all three areas of the brain, if at birth it undergoes a radical separation and breakdown of its environmental process which is the mother, then you have a complete different form of perceiving of how the world is. The world is going to shape accordingly. You’re going to filter the world through the needs to maintain the integrity of a highly, highly threatened system. If the whole society is in that then suddenly you’re dealing with a totally different reality structure itself.

We look at the Australian Aborigine who moves in a world quite radically different than ours. It embraces all sorts of states and potentials and possibilities that are literally inconceivable to us.  We can’t conceive of it at all because if we could conceive of it at all that would open up the possibilities of perceptionality. So there again we keep getting back to if there’s closure in the beginning then you’re dealing with a closed world from then on.

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