Child rearing practices of distant ancestors foster morality, compassion in kids

Darcia Narvaez

Today’s guest is Notre Dame Psychology Professor Darcia Narvaez.  Her studies show a relationship between child rearing practices common in foraging hunter-gatherer societies (how we humans have spent about 99 percent of our history) and better mental health, greater empathy and conscience development, and higher intelligence in children.

“Our research shows that the roots of moral functioning form early in life, in infancy, and depend on the affective quality of family and community support,” says Narvaez, who specializes in the moral and character development of children.

The three studies include an observational study of the practices of parents of three-year-olds, a longitudinal study of how certain child rearing practices relate to child outcomes in a national child abuse prevention project, and a comparison study of parenting practices between mothers in the U.S. and China. The longitudinal study examined data from the research of another Notre Dame psychologist, John Borkowski, who specializes in the impact of child abuse and neglect on development.

The results of Narvaez’ three studies as well as those from researchers around the world were presented at a conference at Notre Dame in October 2010, titled “Human Nature and Early Experience: Addressing the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness.”

“The way we raise our children today in this country is increasingly depriving them of the practices that lead to well being and a moral sense,” she says.

Narvaez identifies six characteristics of child rearing that were common to our distant ancestors:

  • Lots of positive touch – as in no spanking – but nearly constant carrying, cuddling and holding;
  • Prompt response to baby’s fusses and cries. You can’t “spoil” a baby. This means meeting a child’s needs before they get upset and the brain is flooded with toxic chemicals. “Warm, responsive caregiving like this keeps the infant’s brain calm in the years it is forming its personality and response to the world,” Narvaez says.
  • Breastfeeding, ideally 2 to 5 years. A child’s immune system isn’t fully formed until age 6 and breast milk provides its building blocks.
  • Multiple adult caregivers – people beyond mom and dad who also love the child.
  • Free play with multi-age playmates. Studies show that kids who don’t play enough are more likely to have ADHDand other mental health issues.
  • Natural childbirth, which provides mothers with the hormone boosts that give the energy to care for a newborn.

See also, Why Do Kids Who Are Held and Cuddled Become More Empathetic Adults? at TIME.com

Darcia’s Psychology Today blog “Moral Landscapes” can be read here.

Dr Bonnie Burstow lecture on ECT

Our April 25 show is a replay of Bonnie Burstow’s ECT lecture that has been rebroadcast on 55 different radio stations… this makes 56. We hope you will enjoy this excellent address. And we thank Bonnie for her wonderful work and for chatting with us April 11 on the air.

Dr. Bonnie Burstow has been in the forefront of efforts to support, advocate for and empower women who occupy the margins of Toronto’s society – psychiatric survivors, homeless women, imprisoned women, drug-addicted and refugee women. For 25 years she has devoted her life to this task as an outstanding scholar, teacher, community activist, innovative therapist and therapeutic consultant.

She successfully challenged the abuses of electroshock, including the disproportionate and sexist targeting of women. She has authored a number of books including, Radical Feminist Therapy: Working in the Context of Violence and Shrink Resistant: The Struggle Against Psychiatry in Canada. She produced the video When Women End Up in Those Horrible Places and a television series for Maclean Hunter Cable in Toronto.

Dr. Burstow has been honoured with such awards as the Constance E. Hamilton Award on the Status of Women, the Canada Council Explorations Grant, Brandeis Award and the Russell Gold Medal in Philosophy, as well as community awards including Rebel of the Year from the Elizabeth Fry Society. Dr. Burstow is a senior lecturer in the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE) and Associate Director of the Transformative Learning Centre at OISE.

Mercenary medicine + big brother = child abuse

When it was decided to enroll a home schooled girl in detroit into public school she was forced to “catch up” on her vaccinations.  Side effects from the vaccines caused mental problems for which she was prescribed an antipsychotic drug.  Side effects from the drug caused further problems.  When the mother decided to wean her from the drug she improved, but “child protective services” (which gets a kickback for every child it places in foster care) came with police to take the child and an armed standoff ensued.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/03/28/Charges-filed-over-girls-medications/UPI-52061301327813/

Dr Bonnie Burstow on ECT as violence against women

Bonnie Burstow, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in Adult Education Counseling Psychology at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.

We consider Bonnie’s lecture on ECT to be essential listening. Please tune in here. Apparently others considered it essential listening too, for it was broadcast on 55 different radio stations.

We invited Bonnie to be our guest on Thought Crime Radio on April 11, 2011, when we saw her article, “Electroshock as a Form of Violence Against Women” in the journal Violence Against Women. See more of her articles at the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault website.

Bonnie is the author of two academic books: Radical Feminist Therapy: Working in the Context of Violence and Shrink Resistant: The Struggle Against Psychiatry in Canada and one novel about a holocaust survivor family: The House on Lippincott.

Other activities:

  • antipsychiatry activism (demonstrations, deputations, antipsychiatry addresses, making of the antipsychiatry video When Women End Up in These Horrible Places, antipsychiatry theatre)
  • antifascism and anti-racism activism (speeches, demonstrations, deputations)
  • feminist therapy
  • supervision and training of counselors and therapists
  • organizational as well as clinical consultation for a number of counseling organizations
  • writing of novels

Notable quote illustrating the gang mentality and mutual back scratching going on between psychiatry and obstetrics.   “Post partum depression” is very common after medicalized birth, which has been compared to battery and domestic abuse.   Childhood rage and depression of male children is very common after circumcision.

The intensity of the demands of the occasional woman who is fanatic in her zeal for ‘natural childbirth’… and her uncompromising attitude on the subject are danger signals, frequently indicating severe psychopathology…. A patient of this sort is not a candidate for natural childbirth, and requires close and constant psychiatric support.

— Medical, Surgical and Gynecological Complications of Pregnancy; Staff of Mount Sinai Hospital; Williams and Wilkins, publishers; 1960

Also see: http://members.tranquility.net/~rwinkel/MGM/birthUSA3.html

Transparency in all things