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350 of 364 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Key to a better society and a better world, 13 Feb. 2006
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This review is from: Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain (Paperback)
Before examining the book's content I believe it is important to state that in my opinion this book would be a far easier read for those with some background knowledge of John Bowlby's attachment theory or at least prior reading on the subject of parent-child relationships.

Obviously I am speaking from my own level of intelligence, (not too intelligent but an avid reader) I should imagine that there are many parents and lay people who would enjoy reading this book without the above prerequisites.

For maybe the first third of the book I found it quite heavy going because the focus is upon the development of the child's brain in relation to certain types of parenting.

Therefore, there is a lot of exploration into the structure of the brain and how certain parts such as the Hypocampus and Hypothalamus work in conjunction with other parts such as neurotransmitters like serotonin and cortisol. Initially the book seemed quite cold and technical.

Moving on, the book goes on to provide strong evidence for the work of John Bowlby and Attachment theory, illustrating how neglectful, emotionally ambivalent and emotionally distant parenting styles create brain structures and chemical imbalances that leave children prone to rage, aggression, hyper tension, violence, depression and addiction in adulthood.

At times I found the book disturbing when considering how many children are disadvantaged in this way, especially considering the problems they face in later life.

On the other hand this book is of huge importance to the lay person, professionals, policy makers and most particularly anyone who has or plans to have children.

The prominent message here is that a great many if not all of our social ills, war, violence, addiction, crime and murder (to mention but a few) are the consequences of unresponsive and abusive parenting.

Undoubtedly many parents may feel defensive reading this book, but I would defy anyone to offer a scientifically sound counter argument to the evidence presented within it. Also it is worth noting that the main thrust of the book is not to establish blame, but to throw light on what was previously unknown so that we may eradicate these needlessly destructive patterns.

The bottom line is that this book has huge potential to effect massive social change. In seeing how these maladaptive attachment and parenting styles lead to first personal problems and then serious social ones, we have the solution to making changes for the future of our children and theirs in turn.

Overall this book is a humanistic subject approached from a scientific perspective. Make no mistake this book is one of the most important I have and ever will read. Without a doubt it will also be the same for anyone reading the book.

Finally, in addition to being highly informative, it is also optimistic in pointing out that change is not impossible, but prevention is the key to a better society and a better world.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Oct 2008 10:43:26 BDT
E. Cooper says:
fab review, will defo buy the book it sounds really interesting, but will take my time with the first, more technical, bit!!

Posted on 30 Jan 2009 16:32:35 GMT
Last edited by the author on 31 Jan 2009 10:15:37 GMT
Sarah says:
Parenting is not a prescription - Bowlby's (1950's - early 1960's) writing states that ALL children whom lack a 'mothers love' are damaged and create the ills of society. Yes, treat children in a very neglectful way and the consequences are numerous - no two children will be the same from the same environment- I have a Video - stimulus response (if anyone may like to borrow this.)- this depicts what happens to animals who are neglected. Once a child has developed abnormal behaviours this is extremely difficult to change, if not impossible. The film Genie - will enlighten anyone and enable them to grasp the first part of the book.

I would not be surprised if there was a response from a Cognitive Behaviour Practioner. Yes, behaviours can be changed. Stop one behaviour and another, relating to the same issue, manifests. Skinner vs Freud, for example; Stop child having a dummy - child plays with belly button, or sucks lips. This example is mild compared to serious maladptive behaviour - but can easily been seen. Mary Ainsworth did research for Bowlby, Bandura is another child development researcher and author. When child development research is collated there are numerous recomendations for the Government to change things. This does not happen.

Attachment is not universal - different cultures have different parenting styles. Children at school are exposed to; drugs, crime, smoking and alcohol. Crime arises when the substance craving starts - this is nothing to do with attachment and parenting. This is peer pressure. Children with attachment issues are not responsible for war - War is a social and Government issue.

When Bowlby undertook his research there was a hidden adgenda (see feminism writing). Society had just starting coming to terms with the end of a war - mothers were needed to produce more children, in case of another war and stay in the home, women were not to work and getting them back into the home after running the country without men was proving very difficult. - I will not elaborated further - this information can be found in child development books. I find Helen Bee my best author for this. Some of the children Bowlby studied were in what used to be called a 'borstal' - having committed petty crimes - these children were not on drugs and drinking. The British system in place for crime, only breeds more crime.

Society today is breaking down. Dr. Spock in the 1960's recommended hitting a child, then retracted his work when he saw the damage of his work to families - now we have children who will not behave because they have human rights - the saddest thing for anyone reading this, should be the children who NEED childrens' rights never get them. Parenting has become a fashion - this is nothing to do with attachment, or maladaptive behaviours.

Single mothers are continually accused of raising disruptive children - yet the Government representative, Rt Hon James Purnell MP wants mother's back to work when their youngest child is 7 years of age and compulsory back to work when their child is 12 years of age, against advice Mr Purnell went ahead and issued authority for this to be implimented. Had Mr Purnell taken advice he would have realised the consequence of these actions upon families and society.

A mother with minimal education, returning to work will benefit by £40.00 per week - from this the mother pays 30% of childcare, a percentage of her rent and Community charge - with added costs of working - mum will most probably benefit by £6.00 per week. Would you give up parenting for this sum of money? The Government are breaking up this type of small family unit - they are not making married couples go to work. This is an example of why the Government does not want change.

This book will not be taken into consideration for policy making. Prevention the Key? Who writes the standards? Will they be qualitative, or quantatative? Blue Books written in the 18th and 19th Century depict the whole of Britains lower classes horrendously abusing children. The abnormality came from the writer, not society. The writer being upper class, looking into slums and rural area's and not fully understanding the rules of the working class. Abuse was occurring in the middle upper classes, only this was not exposed.

What is presented in this book review is the facts not being known, this is misleading - this information has been around for nearly 200 years in Britain- change is a slow process, if it ever occurs. If - for example; as a society we made a swift, swooping change - a society where all was love and peace (Skinner 1960,s/ Utopia) the consequence in relation to employment would have a devasting effect - Judge, Barrister, QC, Solicitor, Social Worker, Mental Health employee, Police, News papers (no more gutter press) children's social workers, child psychiatrist, child psychologist, clinic, therapy and so on - there would not be a need for these people. Too many people in society benefit from other peoples suffering - we take the suffering away and too many people are out of work.

MY ADVICE TO ALL PARENTS - do your best - you know and love your child.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Feb 2009 19:38:02 GMT
Very interesting, informative and thought provoking. can you say more about the film? thanks.

Posted on 2 Mar 2010 11:08:32 GMT
A customer says:
Fully agree!

Posted on 12 Nov 2010 01:17:56 GMT
Freedom says:
I have looked this book up after seeing someone reading it on the metro enroute to work.
Having read more about the book I will most definintley be buying a copy.
I have worked with children of all ages within the care system in previous work and now work with unemployed ppl. I also have personal issues that may well go back to my early years; it will be interesting to see if I gain any further insight not only from a proffessional point of view but also from a personal point of view.
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