Theodore A. Hoppe


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Are we inflecting an anxiety-conditioned view of the world onto babies?

Simon Lewis noted at his TED talk, "The World Health Organization tells us that depression is the number one disease on Earth in terms of years lived with disability. We find that the number two source of disability is depression in the age group of 15 to 44. Our children are becoming depressed at an alarming rate."
Psychologist John Gottman tells us that when a baby enters a relationship, "Our study shows that the majority (67%) of couples have a precipitous drop in relationship happiness in the first 3 years of their first baby's life. That's tragic in terms of the climate of inter-parental hostility and depression that the baby grows up in. That affective climate between parents is the real cradle that holds the baby. And for the majority of families that cradle is unsafe for babies." The first three years are formative years as researcher like Gopnik, and Kuhl demonstrate. Why are we getting it wrong?

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    Oct 20 2011: Our children are the canaries in the mine. Why wouldn't they be profoundly formed by our anxieties? And our news media, which runs on the maxim, "If it bleeds, it leads," gives them no escape from stress, worry, thoughts of death, FEAR, FEAR, FEAR. We protect them from NOTHING. And we expect EVERYTHING from them. I teach college students, and I find them to be deeply ironic, protected, cynical, familiar with suicide and suicidal thoughts. I also find them to be awake and ready to make changes.
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      Oct 20 2011: An article in "Monitor on Psychology", a publication of the American Psychological Association, titled The Crisis on Campus in the September 2011 issue, confirms your experiences with college students. A 2010 National Survey of Counseling Center Directors (NSCCD) found that 44% of the centers client had what it called "severe psychological problems", which represents a 38% increase in the last ten years. It added that a survey by the American College Health Association in 2010 found 45.6% of the students surveyed reported feeling hopeless, and that almost 31% felt s depressed they reported that they had difficulty functioning during the passed 12 months. Depression, anxiety suicidal thoughts alcohol abuse eating disorders and self injury were the commonly reported disorders.
      While a bill in congress, the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, will attempt to throw money at the problem to help students in college, one has to wonder if the problem can't be dealt with before then. Or whether the youth that are not in college but experiencing similar problems are being ignored.
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      Oct 22 2011: This is an observation of something that I witness today: a mother asking a toddler what they "wanted". It was the type of passive aggressive question that in later life leads teenagers to except that what they want is never an option, and they become confused and disillusioned.
      Until recently I thought of this as a tragedy, but I now have a more hopeful view of the situation. Disillusioned implies that there is an illusion in play, and left to itself, the illusion believe would remain intact. This illusion is that we are god parents, that the education system works, that there is no global warming to be worry about, that the oil spill in the gulf has disappeared, and so on.
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    Oct 20 2011: It could be, that rather, in the wild the parents do not have the support group of the tribe back home in sillivization.

    Id est, we are so full of scat that we gat from years of meaningless TV and the never ending game of donning more darkling dodoodle insidiously inoculated by the conditioned drive for drivel, aka entertainment, instead of getting down to the business of Maslow's basic five needs without all the kitschy falderall.

    The arrival of a third family member interferes with all that and typically parents takeitit out on one another.

    The baby is affected by that change in parental harmony.

    Therein lies the rub..
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    Oct 19 2011: such is life.
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      Oct 20 2011: Is it? Perhaps it is the version we accept by default in our western culture, but not one we may intend or want to defend. Thirty years ago a television program called, "The Waltons" based on the book "Spencer Mountain" about an American family during the depression and WWII provided a much different version of "life" and relationship.
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        Oct 20 2011: yes it is. if we weren't worrying about worrying than we'd probably be worrying about when our next meal would be or whether or not we'd live to see another day.

        and that's why i say, such is life. we have no choice but to accept if my friend.

        It sounds like you would rather live in a world of lunacy than this current one of insanity?


        i completely agree
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          Oct 20 2011: What I know is the we are social animals that have evolved to live in very complexed social networks. Despite this fact a paradigm which instills a sense of individualism prevails. The challenge therefore is to continue to promote awareness to the unconscious collective, to give the social brain a developed frontal cortex that can focus on collective long term rewards instead of short-term rewards. I believe that one way to accomplish this is to question the current default paradigm of relationship we unconsciously accept.
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    Oct 19 2011: Could this problem be related to the fact that, "in the wild", parents have a lot more support from the tribe, whereas in our modern societies, parents are on their own?
    I remember feeling deeply lonely when I was with my first baby. You lose your friends. They're busy working, of course...
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      Oct 20 2011: I think you have a good point there.
      Not only the tribe but also the members of large families level each other out.
      The child is influenced by all kinds of influences in feelings and thoughts so it can associate with the better ones.
      As you suggest, this works positive on the parents as well.
      For that reason many children here attend playgroups from early age on.
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      Oct 20 2011: A modern day concept of the tribe was Hillary Clinton's notion that it takes a village to raise a child. But certainly the lack of support that can be provided by an extended family can contribute to the problem as well. Eastern cultures have traditionally had a more collectivist model of relationship than the West, but this too is changing.
    • Oct 20 2011: I think you are underestimating the benefits of modern society (at least in developed countries) and overestimate typical tribe conditions.

      In general life in tribe might allow for some degree of help but there are lots of problems. Lack of food (malnutrition), low higiene, healthy problems, low education, hard work, even rape and beatings can make kids much more anxious about their life.

      On other hand in a modern society, in theory, parents and children have the help of teachers, health and other professionals to deal with problems. Nowadays children are learning to report any abuse from either parents or care takers. Kids are more confident and equally treated.

      Of course, there are always exceptions to everything but I think overall we are making good progress?
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        Oct 20 2011: I have to admit that you're right. We are on a slope of continuous progress. Progress in medecine, nutrition, but moral and philosophical progress as well.
        We live in a society that enables such progress.

        So, even though we were evolved to live in small tribes with such and such social organisation, and even though this lifestyle seems like the perfect way to get happiness, I wouldn't trade this for our ability to make evergrowing progess.

        Good point, Zdenek.
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        Oct 20 2011: "In Rajasthan, India, an extraordinary school teaches rural women and men -- many of them illiterate -- to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors in their own villages. It's called the Barefoot College" This inspiring talk by Bunker Roy demonstrates ways the "tribe" works to collectively overcome the problems you are describing:
        But are we addressing the quality of life or a sense of well-being here? Who leads the happier life, the tribe child or the child in the stressed home?
        • Oct 20 2011: Thank you for sharing this inspiring talk. It is good to see some progress being made in these villages and I hope these people can eventually receive basic education (reading, writing) as well.

          Problems I described were more about children. I think children are stressed usually because of home abuse. Regardless of where it happens, one way to prevent it is to educate children that it is wrong and they need to look for help. This is about empowering children to have some basic rights and options for themselves =)