After 30 years in practice, reflecting on parents and children
Why babies cry and why we feel lonely at dusk. Once upon a time, long ago, the first human was born. Of two parents, one male one female. Or should that be, one female one male. That very first human was born maybe only a few seconds before another one elsewhere appeared, but s/he would be the first of the new species homo sapiens. The mother would have given birth naturally and breastfed and would have been protective of her baby, otherwise it would not have survived. Did she love it? Well, we imagine so for although she had no such word, the release of the chemical oxytocin, a powerful surge released during natural birth and then through breastfeeding and touch, would have bonded her to her baby, and baby to her. In those days, babies stuck close to their mothers for fear of predators. At sunset all members of the small group would gather, and in time light a fire, because the nights were cold, and predators were on the prowl, especially for the one separated from the group, who were easy prey. Since that time, homo sapiens becomes fearful when alone, especially as night starts to fall, and looks for a communal fire to join; a place of both protection and communion. Many people believe this is why babies still cry ‘ for no reason’, and stop the moment that they are safe on a familiar grown up’s body. To be left behind, even more so with a nomadic tribe, would mean certain death. Most adults know this and use the threat of ‘ leaving behind’ as a trump card. So here we are, biologically programmed for security vs danger, acceptance vs rejection. It is no wonder that the famous developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson, believed that the very foundation of the psychological structure of homo sapiens has to do with trust vs distrust. Will someone come if I cry? Will I get enough food to grow? Will I be kept warm when it is cold and placed in the shade when it is hot? Will I be safe from predators? Will I be welcomed and accepted into this community? The important question preceding all these questions: if this is not also true for my mother, then it will not be true for me either.
I am a psychologist searching for more natural and enlivening ways to help. After thirty years in the profession, it is time to move on, time to search for new ground, time to venture out.
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