Amazing Capacities & Self-Inflicted Limitations: An Interview with Joseph Chilton Pearce - Page 2
|Amazing Capacities & Self-Inflicted Limitations: An Interview with Joseph Chilton Pearce|
Michael: Which implies that if we want to change the world, and change childhood, we must begin with the model, by supporting mothers.
Joe: Montessori despaired over changing the adult, recognizing that once neural structures form and mature they don’t lend themselves to reconstruction. She saw a way around our adult limitations by carefully designing a rich, secure environment for the child, leaving very little to chance. The environment includes parents, of course, and later, teachers. But Montessori’s adults didn’t teach, they facilitated and allowed the child’s absorbent mind to function. She let the environment teach the child. Parents must understand the environmental needs of the child, at each stage of development. Above all, parents must respond to the child’s need for total emotional nurturing. To be betrayed by a primary caretaker is the most serious injury that can occur. And emotional deprivation, much less immediate abandoning of the infant to daycare, creates such deep anxiety that it affects every aspect of a child’s growth: physical, emotional and mental. Herein lie the roots of violence, social maladaptation and most of our woes.
Michael: What is it going to take to get parents and educators to truly understand the profound implications of their personal behavior and modeling?
Joe: First, we have to get birthing out of the hands of men and return it to the natural intelligence of women, who managed fairly well for untold ages and can do even far better with contemporary knowing and techniques. The modern midwife is a trained, efficient, careful practitioner who still relies on her natural instincts and body-knowing, leaving emergency methods for the rare 1 percent or so of labors that have problems. The whole issue is to stop intellectually interfering with the natural intelligence of the system, and treating the other 99 percent of deliveries as emergencies. Women need this as much as children. The interaction of mother and infant at birth and afterward activates an intelligence enfolded within the mother’s neural system, which literally empowers her to make the proper response to her child. It activates her mammary glands, charging her with the sensually rewarding desire to nurse and nurture her infant at all costs. She comes into her own as the mother of the species, a person of power.
Dr. Paul MacLean spoke of “species survival instincts,” and survival is indeed the issue. Awaken these in the mother, as they were so long as women tended women at this crucial time, and support the mother as needed to follow these nurturing passions, and you will have no psychologically abandoned, withdrawn, defensive, fearful children or adults.
Michael: In what ways has the current birth practice destroyed this innate intelligence?
Joe: Destroyed is a bit strong; damaged is more appropriate. The damage is brought about by mother and infant being separated at birth, and even before birth. Women caught up in various pursuits preclude intimacy with the prenatal infant and prebirth bonds are natural to us. Then every action of medical manipulation at birth results in separation of mother from infant, physically, emotionally and mentally.
Each medical intervention with childbirth breeds more intervention. Each solution, each new monitoring device, creates more problems that demand more intervention. “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” is nature’s dicta, to which the medical community has turned a deaf ear. Again, the issue lies with certain bonding procedures designed by nature to take place at birth that profoundly affect the neural structures of both mother and infant if they do take place, and equally affect them adversely if they don’t.
Michael: There is a general impression that birth practices are improving.
Joe: Things are better today than a hundred years ago, but there is far more publicity and brainwashing regarding birth reform than actual fact. Those in the birthing rooms undergo all the hospital processes deemed necessary to protect the investments and income of the hospital. I have observed births with fathers present, movie camera in hand, the doctor, having doped the mother and infant, getting the infant out, cutting the umbilical cord immediately (a disaster in itself ) and placing the infant on the mother’s belly briefly, for the benefit of the camera. Following standard procedures, just with the added theatrics of a movie. Then the father and mother proudly show the film later to prove they had bonded with infant. Such bonding is a travesty, a double lie.
Michael: I understand that real bonding is only possible through prolonged and intimate contact between mother and infant.
Joe: I wish the term “bonding” had not been invented. For one thing, it assumes that these two separate creatures must be brought together and a connection made between them. In the natural scheme of things, no separation should have taken place, no connection broken. The point is to maintain the connection established in utero in the new post-uterine experience. The mother is the environment in both cases, and the so-called bonded infant simply discovers the rediscovery of the known, its mother, in a marvelous new setting. The mother is the environment, but now a moving one, in an expanded, infinitely open world to be embraced. The known moves into an exciting unknown. That stability must be maintained if the absorbent mind is to remain open and form new structures of knowledge of a vast new and benevolent world.
If the infant is suddenly removed from all his known structures, which are extensive and established in utero, and placed in isolation, as we have throughout this century, then all the genetically encoded programs for moving into the new world are seriously undermined, delayed and put at risk. The infant retreats to defensive posture against an alien world that has brought rejection, isolation and pain.
Michael: We seem to have accepted an increasingly dysfunctional norm as normal. Why has this happened?
Joe: The major cause, separation of mothers and infants at birth, has grown throughout our century. At the same time, achieving a high standard of living became the focal point of all schooling and training, creating a new mindset and set of values. Standard of living has nothing to do with the development of intelligence— including, ironically, the ability to be socialized and schooled. Quality of life determines the growth of intelligence, and as standard of living increased, the quality of life for children decreased.
Quality of life to an infant-child means only one thing: complete unconditional acceptance and emotional nurturing on the part of a permanent caretaker. We have the most emotionally deprived children on earth, separated from parent at birth, and continually separated as they grow. Convinced that we are giving them what is most important, a high standard of living, we overload them with material goods to compensate for the love and attention we deny them. We work to earn money to buy these goods, leaving little time for the child already isolated.
So our heaping goods on the child to compensate for the love and nurturing they don’t get keeps the wheels of industry turning. And around it goes. Each child grows up to intensify the cycle in their interaction with their own offspring. It’s an insane spiral toward chaos, sponsored and encouraged by a society based on economic games in which a few winners are bought at the price of masses of losers.
Meanwhile we build more and more prisons and accuse our young of moral failure for not becoming what we are not.