I began my independent research in 2004 after my last child of three entered the Air Force and left home. I needed to understand where the depths of my sadness came from and why I could not ease it or make it go away. I could find no other way to begin to meet my needs that to tackle my problems on my own.
The first book I read was about a man imprisoned in the 1950s by Communist Chinese who exerted every effort over years to control their prisoner’s mind. As I read this man’s survival account I instantly recognized that this man could not be broken because he had strength within his inner core-self that had been put there through loving interactions he experienced with others – especially with his mother – from the beginning of his life. At the same time I this fact I understood that I had never been given the gift that this man had. I also understood that not only did this man not recognize the source of his survival but also that very few if any others reading his account would recognize this fact, either. (Unfortunately I do not remember the name of this man or of his book.)
I found the exact same pattern present in the writings of Dave J. Pelzer in his book A Child Called “It”: One Child’s Courage to Survive (1995). Pelzer (and I suggest, also his readers) seemed to be oblivious to the power that his relationship with his mother before her horrific treatment of him began when he as nearing school age had to form the foundation within his body-brain that allowed him to endure and to survive all that came upon him later. The movie, Buck, about the child-abused horse whisperer also completely misses this same critically important point. In his narration for this movie Buck Brannaman states clearly more than once what a wonderful, loving mother his was before she died when he was in his middle childhood, at which he was left with his brother in the care of his severely abusive drunk of a father. (Why had the mother remained with this man when she knew he was abusing her boys? Nobody addresses this point in that movie.)
I was only a little ways behind the curve when I found in 2004 a book that began to profoundly change my thinking that had been published in 2001 (there is a new edition out now): The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are by Daniel J. Siegel M.D.
I carefully sifted my way word by word through this book, and then discovered my next stairway to truth in this 2001 book: Traumatic Relationships and Serious Mental Disorders by Dr. Jon G. Allen. There was no stopping me then, and on I moved into additional serious readings of Dr. Allan Schore and other developmental neuroscientists. The 2007 book by Dr. Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook–What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing, gave me the first opportunity to see this critically important information about what happens to ‘Babies Under Fire’ © translated into lay language those of us in the grass-root trenches can understand.
While there are many books and many theories about how to supposedly heal trauma in personal lives, I have learned that for those of us who were indeed one of the ‘Babies Under Fire’ there is not really going to be a single useful piece of information for us to be found in any so-called healing approaches that do NOT clearly, truthfully and accurately give us the knowledge we need about how the lack of safety and security in our earliest attachment relationships — primarily with our mother — permanently altered the way our body-brain developed during the most ‘Critical Windows’ of formative growth in our lifetime.
While ‘Babies Under Fire’ does not give us a pleasant image to hold in our minds, it does give us an accurate place to begin to look for the origin of the widest array of difficulties humans face when we don’t get MOTHERING right.
Please click here to read or to Leave a Comment »