My call to others is that we need to expand and widen our considerations of what immunity is, what it does, who it includes, and how it operates.
The abuse that happened to me happened because my mother was not protected against the deprivations caused within her environment. Her body, which in her case refers to her brain-mind, had to make its own adjustments to survive what threatened her because there was nobody around her when she was small that paid adequate attention to her needs. As a result, her malaise was passed onto me through abuse.
It is NOT a stretch of the imagination and therefore a waste of time for us to begin to think about how critical every form of immunity is to our continued survival and well being. Because we now live in an increasingly more complex world it is easy for us to lose track of and sight of what matters the most.
We are a social species. That means that our survival did and does depend on connections between one another. The smallest circle of protection might happen in regards to what threatens us inside our own skin. But our need for immunity, protection and defense does not stop there. We are vulnerable both individually and collectively to all kinds of threats that exist within our environment. For an infant and a young child, if that threat is happening to it as a result of inadequate and harmful care of lack of it, from its immediate caregivers, its immune response team must come from outside of the immediate family.
When we consider, for example, the current conditions in our global environment that are putting us at risk from swine flu, we can easily see how this expanded immune system from our connected relationship to ever expanding circles of other people affect us. We, of course, try to avoid and prevent contamination using whatever means at our disposal. I don’t personally make surgical masks. I would have to depend on someone else to manufacture, distribute, etc. a mask I might choose to wear. But once I might have that mask attached to my face, do I ever think of all the people that were involved in the chain of protection that made it possible for me to have the mask in the first place?
How about government involvement? That’s a part of a larger circle of protection. But actions taken by that larger circle affect me, too.
Government attention to threat
Use of surgical masks
Flu spreading, kills US toddler
Knowing the symptoms
Officials saying swine flu cannot be contained
Protection of other members of our species is our responsibility, and one we will not take seriously until we realize and accept the fact that we are all connected and must participate in an immune system process that is much larger than the one we are taught to believe is ONLY important — our own personal one that exists within our own bodies.
This link provides us with an example of how interconnected actions on behalf of at risk children can impact these same children’s immunity — meaning their well being.
Protection of little ones always circles back to the well being of the caregivers who take care of them. If a child is being neglected, abused, molested, it is because an opening exists for toxic challenges to REACH that child in the first place. The only protection a child can offer to itself is contained in a very small developing body that is, rather than being able to protect itself, actually developing a body that includes both the trauma experiences themselves and their body’s trauma reactions and responses that are being built into their bodies from the start.
Isolation from one another puts as all at risk of ‘infection’ from toxic interactions with our environments — wherever those toxins come from. If the circle of protection and immunity is broken, a whole new level of emergency is created. Our efforts always need to aim toward avoiding and preventing traumas from happening in the first place. I do not see a difference between the threat of swine flu infection or threat of ‘infection’ from maltreatment, violence, deprivation or abuse. It takes a healthy, whole, fully connected and operational immune system to address any threat of harm — to us individually and to us collectively.
Attachment on all levels is a protective factor. Risk of harm and extinction for any species corresponds to the degree that healthy attachments within that species are damaged or obliterated. I believe that for our advanced human species it is not only what we might DO that matters, it is also about our awareness and what and who we include or exclude in our thinking.
As we separate ourselves from one another we are creating gaps in our ‘atmosphere’ of protective immunity from all threats of harm. We are ALL a part of one another’s immune system because we are members of a social species. Every living organism defines itself according to its boundaries. Degrees of health and well being operate according to how competently — and that means adequately and successfully — any organism can protect those boundaries.
Because it all boils down to resources, it is the availability of, access to, and utilization of resources that determines the quality of competence any organism has to stay alive. As members of a social species we are each a part of that resource system. We also have to remember that social species has a main continuum of behavior that lets us interact with one another. This is a continuum that contains cooperation at one extreme end and competition on the other.
This is all about the most important operation a living system participates in — control over its environment through manipulation of resources. This is nothing but basic resource management through some form of manipulation. For a social species this operation usually appears in some form of dominance and submission. Who is the most vulnerable to any kind of threat and who is not? Who has access to vital resources and who does not?
At this point in human evolution I suggest that competition will soon become a cancer that will eat up our species from the inside. Cooperation, on the other hand, has the capacity to balance out all the ills our species currently suffers from, and is the immune system reaction that has the ability to heal us. Competition creates a state of war. Cooperation is the state of peace. Where do we see ourselves on this continuum? At what point does our ambivalence become cruelty to somebody else?
Human boundaries are formed through attachment. The more strong, safe and secure our sense of attachment is — I would add as adults, the wider that circle is — the better our resource of having empathy for one another is. Empathy is what connects us together. What we choose to do in participation with others is another matter.
If our interactions between our genetics and our early caregivers forced us to avoid the experience of emotion, we will correspondingly be unable as adults to access them adequately, understand them, or to take action according to the information they provide to us. We will also not be able to detect the full range of expressions other people use to communicate with us.
And again, experts suggest that all versions of attachment disorders result in a corresponding empathy pathology. I believe this is about the formation of healthy boundaries and all ongoing operations that protect and defend these boundaries. It is possible that humans can form a brain that prevents access even to their own self, and from there, access is denied as a fully functioning member of the species as a whole.
We will always choose what we think is best for ourselves. It will only be to the degree that we expand our perceptions of ourselves that we will realize that we are all in this business of life together. It is therefore our part as members of a species that relies on one another for all levels of immunity that we can offer our individual efforts to the betterment of both our individual selves and our collective community.
When it comes to something as obvious as threat from what might be a rampant virus, we can all see what that threat IS. Yet it becomes a matter not only of our body’s individual immune response to protect us. It also becomes a matter that involves a wide circle of our connected community. Our protection and defense on all levels always depends on one another.
Protecting infants and children is no different. As one who was NOT well protected from harm from birth, I can say, “Wish you were there!” Assuming, of course, that if you HAD been there you would have acted as a part of a fully functional immune system component and would have made sure, in some way, that the abuse had stopped.
As always, thank you for reading — your comments are welcome and appreciated.