Thursday, October 10, 2013

How do we change society? One infant at a time?


 The issue of early childhood  psychobiological damage due to prolonged high levels of stress hormones has solidified for scientists and practitioners. Now, we need a constructive solution besides government policy changes, community outreach and parental education courses. No time to have philosophical discussions about the subject... For the past 3 decade, I have experienced a more disturbing reality than even poverty, homelessness, physical abuse and other painful states of children that are already truly heart breaking.   

Approximately 4.5 Million babies are born annually in the US 
20 Million under the age of 5 in the US
 and if 6 Million of all US children under 6 live in poverty.............. then

What is happening to the other 14 million living with poor parenting, extremely short maternity leaves, unqualified or inattentive day care workers, unqualified family members, verbal and emotional abuse and neglect, misguided attunement and disregard ?  They are the silent victims growing up with psychobiological illnesses. No one notices them, no one talks about them, no one pays attention to their insecure avoidant attachment until it is too late. Until personality disorders settle in, until depression and anxiety take hold and until heart disease and endocrine diseases show up... until a life is devastated..Alas, it is a bit too late. The wiring cannot be undone. So, how will our society ever change? How will humanity evolve for the better? Prevention is the only way.personality disordered parents,  stressed parents, depressed parents, uneducated parents, unaware parents, self involved parents, angry parents, anxious parents, abused parents, absent parents, and unqualified care givers of all types suffer tremendous denial of their power. They deeply fear the difficult task of making the fundamental internal personality change which is required to become selflessly attuned with the infant.
So, I have a plan that may actually work,  stay tuned. 

From the center on the Developing Child at Harvard

The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the healthy development of the next generation. 
Extensive research on the biology of stress now shows that healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body (especially the brain), with damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan. Learning how to cope with adversity is an important part of healthy child development. When we are threatened, our bodies prepare us to respond by increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones, such as cortisol. When a young child’s stress response systems are activated within an environment of supportive relationships with adults, these physiological effects are buffered and brought back down to baseline. The result is the development of healthy stress response systems. However, if the stress response is extreme and long-lasting, and buffering relationships are unavailable to the child, the result can be damaged, weakened systems and brain architecture, with lifelong repercussions.It’s important to distinguish among three kinds of responses to stress: positivetolerable, and toxic. As described below, these three terms refer to the stress response systems' effects on the body, not to the stressful event or experience itself:Positive stress response is a normal and essential part of healthy development, characterized by brief increases in heart rate and mild elevations in hormone levels. Some situations that might trigger a positive stress response are the first day with a new caregiver or receiving an injected immunization.Tolerable stress response activates the body’s alert systems to a greater degree as a result of more severe, longer-lasting difficulties, such as the loss of a loved one, a natural disaster, or a frightening injury. If the activation is time-limited and buffered by relationships with adults who help the child adapt, the brain and other organs recover from what might otherwise be damaging effects.Toxic stress response can occur when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity—such as physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship—without adequate adult support. This kind of prolonged activation of the stress response systems can disrupt the development of brain architecture and other organ systems, and increase the risk for stress-related disease and cognitive impairment, well into the adult years.When toxic stress response occurs continually, or is triggered by multiple sources, it can have a cumulative toll on an individual’s physical and mental health—for a lifetime. The more adverse experiences in childhood, the greater the likelihood of developmental delays and later health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, and depression. Research also indicates that supportive, responsive relationships with caring adults as early in life as possible can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of toxic stress response.