Sunday, 25 March 2012

World Salvation

OK so I went for a cycle ride and a pub lunch with a friend and we had an agenda. The agenda was a tongue-in-cheek attempt to bring some structure to our rambling conversations. One item on the agenda was 'world salvation' (others included 'optimising chocolate experiences' and 'spring' for example). With world salvation, we started with a little altercation over whose responsibility it was but we ultimately agreed that my friend would do it but that I would help. The previous item on the agenda had been 'attachment' (see last post) but because of our tendency towards wandering open-ended thoughts we linked attachment to the current item. It was quite easy actually. Our thinking went like this:

Attachment theory is currently establishing the idea that while nature provides some basic building blocks, humans are born with a lot of hard-wiring yet to be put in place (usually pre-one year of age). The survival reason for this is that our eventual hard-wiring needs to depend upon the world we are born into and the social interactions we have once we have arrived will be representative of this 'world'. Sometimes we need to be wired ready for a dog-eat-dog world, other times the opposite. (I wrote a previous post about how the shift from hunter-gatherer to agriculture made it possible for societies to be less egalitarian.) Therefore our personality hinges so much on how well we attach to the key adult/s in our lives (most commonly our mothers). The two main aspects that secure or insecure attachment impacts on are 1) our stress responses and 2) our ability to empathise and want to connect with others. Both could be clumped together as 'our ability to regulate our own emotions'. And then I drew a picture like this to show how the different attachment disorders manifest (and yes they are spectra - I perceive myself to be a bit along the ambivalent spectra!!!):
A child that had secure attachment will have had a responsive mother who 'read' her baby's emotions and worked out if the baby needed food, a drink, warmth, distraction from boredom etc. This therefore would have secured in the baby the ability to 'reach out' to his mother and expect to get his needs met. This baby grows up into an adult that wants to affiliate to others and sees other people as able to provide help and support. This baby also develops the ability to self-regulate emotions as the mother helped the uncomfortable feelings disappear. Healthy emotions 'flow' - they come and they go. Emotions only become a problem when they become blocked and fester because then they make a person defensive (this adult is not usually conscious of the source of these 'triggers and reactions').

So to world salvation. Many of the world's problems come from lack of empathy which enables people to dominate others and gain and abuse power. There are so many situations when people are treated in appalling ways that demonstrate an absolute lack of empathy and happiness to dominate and keep things unfair and unequal. I know that 'breaking the cycle' of ineffective parents creating children who become ineffective parents is often mentioned but that there is little real drive to do this. This might be because those in power (avoidant attachment disorders spectrum) are not able to truly empathise with the plight of those less fortunate than themselves. However, I propose that the cycle be broken by investing in parenting - supporting parents of babies not just by showing them how to be responsive, but also by re-creating supportive community networks so that mothers feel less isolated. Sue Gerhardt (who write 'Why love matters' - a great book about attachment and brain development for anyone that wants hard scientific evidence) pretty much concluded the same and she has attempted to create such support through her clinics. And this is not a class issue. Attachment disorders are found in people from all social backgrounds.

For a world where people genuinely care about each other, support others because they can empathise and have healthy relationships because of their free flowing emotions, we need to shift this spectrum..... to the left!

but while those in power remain emotionally impaired, focusing on anything other than economics, laws, taking away people's employment rights in the name of supporting a free market, and punitive measures etc this seem very unlikely. In fact the absolute absence of promoting the nation's wellbeing in any government initiatives says it all! One big hippie signing out.