Friday, February 5, 2015. One thing I know is that I was never given – from the start of my life – the experiences people need in order to be able to – allowed to – anthropomorphize human beings:
transitive verb: to attribute human form or personality to
intransitive verb: to attribute human form or personality to things not human
My reality in this world is simply not the same as it is for nearly all other people. At age 63 I can state this fact as fact. I know what I know.
Essentially, then, in my reality the processes of ATTACHMENT that create human beings from the start of their earthly life are NOT essentially about what I suspect other people are tempted to think they are. Attachment, to me, is not about “lovey-dovey” squishy warm fuzzy coo-coo ga-ga Hallmark moment cushy interactions.
Attachment, even as the developmental neuroscientists now describe it, is a literal biophysical process by which earliest caregivers of infants literally DOWNLOAD their brain and nervous system into the rapidly forming body-nervous system-brain of the next generation of humans on earth.
Attachment does not need to be a perfectly orchestrated process to be effective in creating healthy, happy humans. It just needs to be “good enough.” This “good enough” varies from culture to culture as it works to literally create “cultural personality traits.” Variations between safe and SECURE attachment and variations of INSECURE attachment involve HOW people process emotions and social interactions, what they pay attention to, and eventually what they value and the choices they feel validated to make within their culture. (All of these processes, by the way, are deeply invested in the way the early forming critically important brain region called the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) builds itself from birth.)
What to humans respond to? What do they avoid? Patterns of attachment directly express themselves by how emotions are regulated – or not.
How early do all these processes begin? Treat yourself to this!
Now, watch THIS: Tronick Still Face Experiment
Attachment, if looked at musically, is about patterns of harmonizing. It is about attunement and resonance, sound and silence. I take sound to include even expressions of experience that can be read/heard with the eyes as well as with the ears. The infant faced with the ‘disappearance’ of its mother for those brief two minutes wasn’t able to discriminate how it knew what it knew.
The baby was essentially left all alone with its rapidly forming little (inadequate to face life) brain disconnected from the power-information source of its mother’s brain over the course of her immobility. This is not an “anthropomorphic” “warm-fuzzy vs not” kind of experience, no matter how much we wish Hallmark moments into our lives. It is biophysical.
Attachment experiences build babies into adults from the moment of conception forward.
What would have happened if that mother had been directly responding to that baby with hostile, violent rage and aggression?
Developmental experts state that experiences conception to age 3 (the end of toddlerhood and entrance into preschooler stages) are the most important ones of a person’s lifetime.
I would ask the question, “Was that baby in the still face experiment SUFFERING during those two minutes of disconnect from its mother?”
I cannot help but follow with this. If that baby WAS suffering then how as an entire culture do we believe it is perfectly OK for mothers to disconnect from their infants from birth as they place them for 50+ hours per week into daycare settings that by default take mother away from baby?
We can break apart answers to that question any way we want to, but from my point of view if any kind of suffering is created long-term in very young children their physiological development will be altered in the direction of an adaptation to what their body-brain responds to as trauma.
I am thinking this morning of something that sits here within me now unbidden by me. My psychotic (seriously mentally ill) abusive mother recorded in her diary when I was 20 months old that I did not wet my clothing mornings after remaining dry all night. All fine and good except she notes that she “did not have time to put Linda on the potty until 11 am.”
At that time Mother was pregnant with her 3rd child. My older brother was three. Mother was torturing me.
She was not EVER “in contact” with me. She did not attune to me. She did not resonate with me. Her mental illness required that she torture me and keep me as miserable as she possibly could.
I would have known at 20 months old the terrible response Mother would have had to me IF I had NOT suffered until she chose to allow me to use the potty. Mother found ways to control my life to suit her psychosis throughout the 18 long years of my childhood.
I KNEW how to suffer.
Somehow, as I process my current healing crisis I am understanding that my being able to suffer created in me an equal inability to recognize suffering in all young ones. Somehow it made me so that although I could – and did – (words just left me….) – oh, TOLERATE incredible suffering I have NO TOLERANCE for tolerating the suffering of little ones.
Attunement, resonance, mirroring – compassion, common sense, a willingness to put the needs of little people before the desires of adults whenever possible – and appropriate caring responses PREVENT suffering in little people.
Simple as that.
While I never experienced ANY of this in my early life and in fact experienced the hell of its opposite, these patterns are perfectly clear to me. And, I must say, getting clearer yet!
Would I say that ALL mothers MUST be present and/or available to their offspring 100% of the time during their first 3 years of life?
On the grounds that it might incriminate me, I will postpone answering that question except to say that I see no possible way that the “abandonment” of infants by their mothers for massive periods of time during early life DOES change HOW humans develop away-from-optimal in many critically important ways.
(If an infant is being abused primary care by others is of course needed. And, as I have stated before, care of little people by older children was the pattern most present during our evolution but mothers WERE available when needed by their infants.)
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