‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 8 The Greatest, Most Heroic Story Ever Told
Chapter 8:16C The dire consequences of terminal levels of alienation destroying our ability to nurture our children
A dire consequence of the arrival of terminal levels of alienation—especially at the forefront of human progress, namely in the materially ‘developed’ world, fuelled as it has been by advances in communication technology—is the near complete inability now of mothers to nurture their offspring.
One of our WTM Founding Members, who for 15 years has been a nurse and midwife in major hospitals in Australia and England, has told me how, in just the last few years, there has been a shocking increase in the number of mothers who are unable to relate naturally to and connect empathetically with their newborn babies. She said that while it has long been the case that there were some mothers who couldn’t access their natural, nurturing, loving instincts, the problem is now so common it is a relief to actually provide postnatal care for a mother who can relate naturally to her infant. In fact, she said that almost the only mothers she encounters who still can are Polynesians from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and other Pacific Islands, of which there are quite a number now living in Sydney. The relative innocence or lack of alienation of this ethnic group will be talked about later in par. 1030. A 2015 newspaper article carried this honest account of a mother who struggled to relate to her baby: ‘When my baby was first born…I didn’t experience the rush of love at first sight that so many new mums talk about. In fact, for the first three weeks of his life I was overwhelmed by him and what his presence meant. I looked at him and thought, “Who are you?” He was like a little impostor in our house. I didn’t know him and I couldn’t tell what he wanted…I felt hugely guilty…I wish I’d known what I was feeling wasn’t so unusual. Forty per cent of first-time mums recall their predominant emotional reaction when holding their babies for the first time was one of indifference, according to a study in The British Journal of Psychiatry [published 35 years ago (Apr. 1980), the situation now is apparently so much worse]…“It can take time to fall in love with your baby,” confirms neonatologist Dr Howard Chilton…“There’s a whole spectrum of how quickly women bond with their babies”’ (Katherine Chatfield, ‘Perfect Stranger’, Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph’s mag. Sunday Style, 22 Feb. 2015). The result of this predominance of mothers who are unable to empathetically connect with (basically, love) their infants is the epidemic we are now seeing of highly distressed children—in the extreme, children who display the dissociative disorders of ADHD and autism.
The reason why women have become so alienated from their natural, nurturing, all-loving true self or soul was provided earlier when, in chapter 8:11B, I described the different roles men and women have had to carry out in humanity’s upsetting battle to find knowledge, ultimately self-knowledge, understanding of the human condition. Very briefly, in keeping with their already established roles as the group protectors, it was men who took up the loathsomely upsetting job of championing the ego over the ignorance of our original instinctive self, leaving women to maintain their loving, nurturing role. The problem, however, that this role differentiation gave rise to was that in not being responsible for or directly participating in the terrible innocence-destroying battle to overthrow ignorance, women were naive or unaware of the ramifications of fighting the battle, and, as a result, were unsympathetic towards both the battle and the frustrated anger and egocentricity it produced in men—a situation that placed men in the awful predicament of being both misunderstood and unjustly condemned by women. Unable to explain their behaviour to women, men were left in an untenable situation: they couldn’t just accept women’s unjust criticism of their behaviour, so what men did was turn on and attack the relative innocence of women. Men perverted sex, as in ‘fucking’ or destroying women’s innocence, the result being that women came to share men’s lack of innocence, their upset. Basically, through having to support men in their critically important task of championing the ego by sexually ‘comforting’ them, by inspiring them with their image of innocence and by giving them lots of attention, women were left with little innocent, soulful soundness and little time for the immensely emotionally and energy consuming task that is the nurturing of infants. The necessary consciousness-centred, ‘ego-centric’, male-led battle unavoidably intruded upon and compromised women’s ability to nurture their offspring. Yes, having to nurture children with love/unconditional selflessness has been an altogether impossible task for women while the battle of the human condition raged around and within them. And, obviously, as the upsetting battle intensified, the all-loving and all-generous souls of both men and women were eventually going to become completely exhausted, leading to the development of terminal levels of alienation—the result for women being that they would find themselves no longer able to emotionally relate to and connect with their infants, no longer able to give them the unconditional love they have come to expect from our species’ love-indoctrinated, nurtured origins, which is the situation that has now developed, with disastrous consequences.
Of course, the now extremely embattled, egocentric state of men is also having a devastating effect on children. Children need an environment of love and reinforcement and men’s preoccupation with their egocentric battle, together with the now extremely strained relationship between men and women, have all but destroyed the possibility of creating that nurturing, loving, reinforcing environment for children. The effect of men’s embattled, egocentric state on children will be described next in ch. 8:16D—what will be looked at here, however, is the effect of terminal levels of alienation on the primary nurturer of infants, the mother.
Before doing so, it needs to be reiterated that this inability of parents to nurture their offspring is not their fault but the product of the ever-accumulating levels of upset in the human race as a whole, which in turn is due to our species’ heroic 2-million-year search for knowledge, specifically self-knowledge, understanding of the human condition.
As just stated, the devastating result of the arrival of terminal levels of alienation amongst women and, with it, the loss of their ability to nurture their offspring, is an epidemic of highly distressed children—in the extreme, children who display the dissociative disorders of ADHD and autism. The epidemic of ADHD in society was just described in ch. 8:16B, but similar reports are occurring for the rising incidence of autism; for instance, ‘Autism is a serious behavioral disorder among young children that now occurs at epidemic rates. According to a recent article, autism is diagnosed in America about 1 of every 120 girls and 1 in every 70 boys. In some areas, it is far more prevalent. It is now occurring around the world, especially in the developed nations of the world. According to California records, autism has increased 1,000% in the past 20 years! Autism used to account for 3% of the caseload of the California Department of Economic Security. As of 2012, it accounts for at least 35% of the caseload and costs taxpayers about $2 million per child!’ (Dr Lawrence Wilson, ‘The Autism Epidemic and Natural Solutions’, Dec. 2012; see <www.wtmsources.com/130>), and this reference to ‘the huge increase in autism that we see these days…[with] California’s Silicon Valley [being] home to more autistic children than anywhere [else] in America’ (Uncommon Genius, ABC-TV, 24 May 2001). Also, ‘in China it’s estimated 7.5 million children are autistic, but many lack proper diagnosis’, the inference being there are probably many more cases going undiagnosed within that massive population (‘Children of the Stars’, Dateline, SBS, 2 Apr. 2013).
Since autism represents the extreme state of the distress that nearly all children are now suffering from, an analysis of what causes it will most clearly and graphically reveal the primary source of that now almost-universal distress within children.
As with Janov’s lack-of-real-love explanation for ADHD, autism is most often a disastrous consequence of a mother’s inability to emotionally relate to and empathetically connect with her newborn baby. While autism can be caused by physical trauma to the brain, or a degenerative condition, most cases are the product of extreme instances of infants not receiving the unconditional love, in particular from their mother, that their instincts expect, which forces them to psychologically dissociate from their reality in order to cope with the violation and hurt to their instinctive self or soul. Able to safely admit now that our species’ original instinctive orientation was to living in a harmonious, happy, loving, non-alienated, non-egocentric, non-angry state, and that children enter the world fully expecting to encounter such a state, we can understand the incredible shock it must be for them to be met instead with the extreme upset that now characterises all of humanity. Understandably, many children can’t psychologically bridge the gap and have to adopt all manner of coping mechanisms to block-out that anguish, including forms of compulsive and obsessive distraction, which is why we are seeing these epidemic rates of ADHD and autism. And the reason autism is, as mentioned in the report cited above, more prevalent in boys than girls is because, as was explained in chapter 8:11B, boys are both more aware of the problem of the human condition and responsible for solving it, so they are more attuned to, and thus more terrified and distressed by, the extent of the problem of the human condition in the world.
In his 1996 posthumously published book Thinking About Children, the former president of the British Psychoanalytical Society, the psychiatrist and paediatrician D.W. Winnicott (who has been described as ‘one of the most influential contributors to psychoanalysis since Freud…[and someone who] brought unprecedented skill and intuition to the psychoanalysis of children’ (Adam Phillips, Winnicott, 1989, back cover)) provided the following honest description of the cause of autism. He wrote that in ‘a proportion of cases where autism is eventually diagnosed, there has been injury or some degenerative process affecting the child’s brain…[however,] in the majority of cases…the illness is a disturbance of emotional development…autism is not a disease. It might be asked, what did I call these cases before the word autism turned up. The answer is…“infant or childhood schizophrenia” [p.200 of 343] [note, ‘schizophrenia’ literally means ‘broken soul’, derived as it is from schiz meaning ‘split’ or ‘broken’, and phrenos meaning ‘soul or heart’]…There are certain difficulties that arise when primitive things are being experienced by the baby that depend not only on inherited personal tendencies but also on what happens to be provided by the mother. Here failure spells disaster of a particular kind for the baby. At the beginning the baby needs the mother’s full attention, and usually gets precisely this; and in this period the basis for mental health is laid down [p.212] …the essential feature [in a baby’s development] is the mother’s capacity to adapt to the infant’s needs through her healthy ability to identify with the baby. With such a capacity she can, for instance, hold her baby, and without it she cannot hold her baby except in a way that disturbs the baby’s personal living process…It seems necessary to add to this the concept of the mother’s unconscious (repressed) hate of the child [p.222] …it is the quality of early care that counts. It is this aspect of the environmental provision that rates highest in a general review of the disorders of the development of the child, of which autism is one [p.212] …Autism is a highly sophisticated defence organization. What we see is invulnerability [p.220] …The child carries round the (lost) memory of unthinkable anxiety, and the illness is a complex mental structure insuring against recurrence of the conditions of the unthinkable anxiety [that results from the mother’s failure to provide her full attention] [p.221]’.
The following is a typical case history of an autistic child from one of the many documented by Winnicott: ‘When I first saw Ronald at the age of 8, he had very exceptional skill in drawing…Apart from drawing he was, however, a typical autistic child…The mother herself was an artist, and she found being a mother exasperating from one point of view in that although she was fond of her children and her marriage was a happy one, she could never completely lose herself in her studio in the way that she must do in order to achieve results as an artist. This was what this boy had to compete with when he was born. He competed successfully but at some cost…At two months the mother remembers smacking the baby in exasperation although not conscious of hating him. From the start he was slow in development…His slowness made him fail to awaken the mother’s interest in him, which in any case was a difficult task because of her unwillingness to be diverted from her main concern which is painting’ (ibid. pp.201-202).
In his 1967 book, the revealingly titled The Empty Fortress, the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim similarly maintained that autism ‘did not have an organic basis, but resulted when mothers withheld appropriate affection from their children and failed to make a good connection with them. The most extreme expression of this concept suggested that mothers literally did not want their children to exist’ (Wikipedia; see <www.wtmsources.com/126>). As a result of his findings, Bettelheim was a prominent proponent of the ‘refrigerator mother’ theory for autism—named thus for the cold-heartedness of what we can, as emphasised, now understand is essentially all humans’ unavoidable-after-2-million-years-of-struggle, human-condition-afflicted, immensely alienated, soul-disconnected, psychotic and neurotic state.
Dialogue from the 1993 film House of Cards features this honest description of the dissociative behaviour involved in autism: ‘People say about the following categories that these kids have a problem or are disabled, or psychologically dumb, etc, but really they are children, through hurt or some kind of trauma, that have held onto soul, and not wanted to partake in reality—retarded, autistic, insane, schizophrenic, epileptic, brain-damaged, possessed by devils, crocked babies.’ Yes, in their innocent vulnerability, the main way children have coped with the wounds to their instinctive self or soul has been to make themselves ‘invulnerabl[e]’ to the pain by splitting themselves off, dissociating themselves, from the world of that anxiety and trauma. And to maintain the denial and thus dissociation from the extreme pain of their circumstances required constant application of the denial/block, which is why autistic people tend to be compulsive and obsessive in their behaviour; they escape into repetitive activities and tend to develop a one-track mind. In his 1997 book Next of Kin, the psychologist Roger Fouts described autism as ‘a developmental disorder characterized by lack of speech and eye contact, obsessive and repetitive body movements, and an inability to acknowledge the existence or feelings of other people. The autistic child lives in a kind of glass bowl, inhabiting a separate reality from those around him’ (p.184 of 420).
Yet again, it has to be emphasised that since the emergence of the necessary battle with the human condition some 2 million years ago, all mothers have to some degree been ‘refrigerator mothers’—indeed, the truth is that all humans who are resigned are alienated or split off from their soul; they are all schizophrenic, they all have a ‘split soul’ or ‘broken heart’. They are all, to a degree, autistic. What we are seeing now is just so much more of this ‘split’, ‘broken heart[edness]’. Winnicott even acknowledged this, that autism is the extreme degree of ‘a universal phenomenon’: ‘It has always seemed to me that the smaller degrees of disturbance of the mind that I am trying to describe are common and that even smaller degrees of the disturbance are very common indeed. Some degree of this same disturbance is in fact universal. In other words, what I am trying to convey is that there is no such disease as autism, but that this is a clinical term that describes the less common extremes of a universal phenomenon’ (Thinking About Children, p.206).
In pars 492-493, extracts were included from the writings of Olive Schreiner and Ashley Montagu that truthfully describe the importance of nurturing love in the lives of humans. Schreiner was quoted as saying, ‘They say women have one great and noble work left them, and they do it ill…We bear the world, and we make it. The souls of little children are marvellously delicate and tender things, and keep for ever the shadow that first falls on them, and that is the mother’s or at best a woman’s. There was never a great man who had not a great mother—it is hardly an exaggeration. The first six years of our life make us; all that is added later is veneer…The mightiest and noblest of human work is given to us, and we do it ill.’ In the case of Montagu, he also spoke of the dire consequences of mothers’ inability to give their infants real love: ‘The newborn baby is organized in an extraordinarily sensitive manner…he wants love…If it doesn’t receive love it is unable to give it—as a child or as an adult. From the moment of birth the baby needs the reciprocal exchange of love with its mother…The infant can suffer no greater loss than deprivation of the mother’s love…maternal rejection may be seen as the “causative factor in…every individual case of neurosis or behavior problem in children.”…In an age in which a great deal of unloving love masquerades as the genuine article, in which there is a massive lack of love behind the show of love, in which millions have literally been unloved to death, it is very necessary to understand what love really means…[and] its importance for humanity’.
With regard to this situation where ‘a great deal of unloving love masquerades as the genuine article, in which there is a massive lack of love behind the show of love’, given how upset and thus insecure about their sense of worth, in truth, hateful of themselves all resigned humans have become, how could mothers be expected to be able to give real, unconditional love to their children? You can’t be loving when you are virtually devoid of love—all you can do is try to imitate love—but infants, who are not yet alienated, can see through that pretence and somehow have to try to adapt to it. And the more upset and alienated the human race has become, the less real love there has been for the next generation, so that, in the end, there is virtually no real, unconditional love anywhere anymore—so, yes, almost everyone is now, unavoidably, to some degree, autistic! Indicative of just how needing of love infants are, recent ‘Studies [that] show babies become anxious if ignored for even two minutes by [their] mother’ (Daily Mail, 25 Aug. 2010).
Yes, children need and expect so much love and among the now rare, more innocent, less human-condition-embattled ‘races’ they have generally received it. Earlier (in par. 748), references were made to traditional Australian Aboriginal society where ‘All observers agree upon the extraordinary tenderness which parents display towards their children, and indeed, to all children whether of their own family and race or not’; to the Bushmen of the Kalahari, where ‘Their love of children, both their own and that of other people, is one of the most noticeable things about the Bushman’, the ‘Bushmen…mother carries her child with her at all times up to four years of age’, ‘Children are breast-fed for up to 3½ years, and among the Bushmen lactation suppresses ovulation’, ‘!Kung [Bushmen]…infants hardly ever cry’; and to the Yequana of Venezuela, who ensure their infants have ‘24-hour contact with an adult or older child’, and that ‘the notion of punishing a child had apparently never occurred to these people’, and that ‘[Yequana] babes in arms almost never cried.’
In her 1975 book The Continuum Concept Jean Liedloff—whose insights into the nurturing behaviour of the Yequana tribe feature above—emphasised the need to give infants the caring treatment ‘which is appropriate to the ancient continuum of our species inasmuch as it is suited to the tendencies and expectations with which we have evolved’ (p.35 of 168) in order for them to have ‘a natural state of self-assuredness, well-being and joy’ (‘Understanding The Continuum Concept’, The Liedloff Continuum Network; see <www.wtmsources.com/105>). Liedloff also truthfully recognised that levels of alienation of people in the ‘developed world’ now is such that it has overwhelmed their natural instincts for nurturing, writing that ‘We have had exquisitely precise instincts, expert in every detail of child care, since long before we became anything resembling Homo sapiens. But we have conspired to baffle this longstanding knowledge so utterly that we now employ researchers full time to puzzle out how we should behave towards children, one another and ourselves’ (The Continuum Concept, p.34). Mothers now desperately read book after book about ‘how to be a mother’, how to imitate real, loving nurturing, when the real barrier to being able to do so naturally is the extent of their psychotic and neurotic alienation from their natural instinctive true self or soul, and beyond that the problem of the human condition, issues that none of these superficial, faddish books go near.
Journalist Betty McCollister was another exception to this evasive phenomenon, someone who wasn’t at all ‘baffle[d]’ about ‘how we should behave towards children’. In an article titled ‘The Social Necessity of Nurturance’ (The Humanist, Jan. 2001), she wrote honestly about how infants need ‘unconditional love’ from their mothers, and acknowledged the devastating consequences in society now of mothers not being able to provide it. While the bold attempt she made to explain why nurturing became so important during our species’ development was not at all correct, McCollister did accurately and truthfully recognise that ‘Our evolution has resulted in a species whose infants can’t thrive without continual, loving attention. Here, then, is the clue to raising fewer unhappy, alienated, violent youth for jail fodder…Every human infant must have unconditional love; without it, an infant’s health and growth will be stunted…Anthropologists, neurologists, child psychiatrists, and all other researchers into child development unequivocally agree and have sought for decades to alert society. For example: …Ashley Montagu (anthropologist): “The prolonged period of infant dependency produces interactive behavior of a kind which in the first two years or so of the child’s life determines the primary pattern of his subsequent social development.” Alfred Adler (psychiatrist): “It may be readily accepted that contact with the mother is of the highest importance for the development of human social feeling…” Selma Fraiberg (child psychologist): A baby without solid nurturing “is in deadly peril, robbed of his humanity.”…George Wald (biologist): “We are no longer taking good care of our young…” Ian Suttie (psychoanalyst): “…The infant mind…is dominated from the beginning by the need to retain the mother—a need which, if thwarted, must produce the utmost extreme of terror and rage.”…James Prescott (neuropsychologist): Monkey juveniles “deprived of their mothers were at times apathetic, at times hyperactive and given to outbursts of violence [the equivalent of children with ADHD]…showed behavioral disturbances accompanied by brain damage…” Richard M. Restak (neurologist): “Scientists at several pediatric research centers across the country are now convinced that failure of some children to grow normally is related to disturbed patterns of parenting.” Sheila Kippley (La Leche League): “It is obvious that nature intended mother and baby to be one…”
In the face of such overwhelming, unanimous testimony, can we doubt that we are failing our children? The dismal truth is that, on the whole, babies received more and better care 25,000 years ago, 250,000 years ago, even 2.5 million years ago, than many do today…To correct this, we must first recognize that, while both parents play vital roles in an infant’s development, the mother—like it or not—is the primary caregiver. Biologically, that’s how the system works. And such an immeasurably important task cannot be sustainably carried out in her “spare time.”…Humanity was geared for females to cherish offspring in the womb, bond with them at birth, and lavish love on them at the breast. It isn’t sexist to esteem motherhood. It is sexist to trivialize it…Grasping the connection between negligent infant care and adolescent violence…we are obliged to act…Alienated, with low self-esteem, pessimistic about the future, in schools that don’t educate, the children who should be our hope for the future instead drink, smoke, take drugs, get pregnant, commit suicide, and commit crimes which land them in our awful jails.’
But for all her honesty, McCollister hasn’t delved to the bottom of the problem and asked the question screaming to be addressed: ‘But why have humans stopped loving their infants?’ The upset state of the human condition was not being addressed, and without the compassionate explanation to that question of questions, trying to confront the truth of the importance of nurturing was unbearable for parents. So while over the years numerous movements have emerged that truthfully recognise the devastating consequences of not nurturing our children, and call for greater emphasis on nurturing, such as the ‘[Jean] Liedloff Continuum Network’, the ‘Touch the Future’ organisation, and the ‘Natural Child Project’, while we couldn’t explain our inability to nurture/love our infants the ramifications of not doing so could clearly not be faced and admitted. Imagine being a mother of an autistic boy and trying to face the truth that your alienation caused his autism! Without the explanation for our upset condition you would find it impossible! No wonder any professionals in the field of child psychiatry who supported the belief that autism occurs as a result of inadequate parenting, such as Bettelheim, have been maligned and censured. While it wasn’t possible to explain the human condition, to explain the very good reason why parents have been unable to adequately love their offspring, it simply wasn’t possible to acknowledge the importance of nurturing in both the maturation of our species and in the maturation of our own individual lives.
So while (as McCollister noted) some ‘researchers into child development…have sought for decades to alert society’ to the fact that ‘Every human infant must have unconditional love; without it, an infant’s health and growth will be stunted’, the reality is that while humanity hasn’t been able to explain our immensely soul-devastated, upset state and resulting inability to nurture our infants, denial has been the only way of coping. All the nurturing-avoiding mechanistic ‘explanations’ for the cooperative behaviour of bonobos and our human ancestors that were described in chapter 6 evidence that—with the obscenity being that all that evasion was and is not justified given I presented the explanation for the human condition and with it the all-important relieving reason for why we have lost the ability to nurture more than 30 years ago. And worse, accompanying all the no-longer-justified, human-condition-evading, mechanistic ‘explanations’ for our moral sense that avoided admitting the importance of nurturing has been the raft of dishonest evasive excuses for the devastating consequences of not having been nurtured, the most prominent of which have been to apportion blame to a genetic predisposition, chemicals in our industrial world, childhood immunisation programs, or some contracted disease. Genes, in particular, have been blamed for every kind of ailment—for depression, drug addiction, violence, obesity, delinquency, learning and sleep disorders, suicide, lack of commitment/divorce, homosexuality, sex addiction, paedophilia, and almost every other human malaise and abnormality, including ADHD, and those more extreme dissociative states of autism and schizophrenia. Blaming biological, environmental and chemical factors has been infinitely more bearable than blaming our psychological alienation from our true, natural selves and our resulting inability to adequately nurture our children; as Winnicott cautioned, ‘expect resistance to the idea of an aetiology [cause] that points to the innate processes of the emotional development of the individual in the given environment. In other words, there will be those who prefer to find a physical, genetic, biochemical, or endocrine cause, both for autism and for schizophrenia’ (ibid. p.219). Andrew Solomon, the author of the 2001 book about severe depression (including his own), The Noonday Demon, illustrated this preference when he admitted that ‘Being told you are sick is infinitely more cheering than being told you are worthless’ (‘Casting out the Demons’, TIME, 16 Jul. 2001). (I might mention that one of the arguments used to blame autism on genes is to point out that autism tends to be more prevalent in males than females, some estimates indicating it is three times higher; and to point out that despite autism normally only being present in about 1.5 percent of the population, some 77 percent of identical twins both have autism if one of them does, and that some 31 percent of fraternal twins share autism if the one of them does; and that some 20 percent of siblings share autism if one of them has autism. As I explained in ch. 8:11B, it has largely been men’s responsibility to carry out the corrupting search for knowledge, and, as described in par. 813, that responsibility has become so onerous that men are now finding it almost impossible to carry on that corrupting search, with, as mentioned in par. 803, one of the consequences of that crippling burden being that men typically die younger than women. Little wonder then that males more than females can be overwhelmed by their excruciating role and become autistic. With regard to the situation of identical twins, being identical they will, in their early years especially, have very similar feelings and responses to their shared situation, and it’s also well known that they are empathetically and emotionally deeply connected, so this would explain why if life is overwhelming for one, it would likely be overwhelming for the other. It’s also well known that non-identical twins, while not as similar in feelings, and typically not as emotionally connected as identical twins, are still often remarkably emotionally connected and still closely share the same womb and mother experience, which again would explain why the incidence of autism occurring in twins is greater than the incidence of autism occurring between non-twins. In the case of siblings that aren’t twins, since they share the same mother, it would be expected that there is a higher chance of autism occurring in that family. Even if twins, or siblings, are separated soon after birth, which is a trauma in itself, they still have the same mother, and likely very similar womb and birth experiences, and it’s well known that the experience of trauma in the womb and at birth can have profound long-lasting psychological effects.)
Additionally, in his book They F*** You Up: How to Survive Family Life, which is ‘devoted to making accessible the scientific evidence that early parental care is crucial in forming who we are’ (2002, p.3 of 370), the child psychologist Oliver James acknowledged that ‘Our first six years play a critical role in shaping who we are as adults’ (p.7), and that ‘One of our greatest problems is our reluctance to accept a relatively truthful account of ourselves and our childhoods, as the polemicist and psychoanalyst Alice Miller pointed out’ (p.9), adding that ‘Believing in genes [as the cause of psychoses] removes any possibility of “blame” falling on parents’ (p.13).
So the whole so-called ‘nature vs. nurture’ debate has really been about wanting to, indeed needing to, attribute the formation of our character to the influence of ‘nature’, our genetic make-up, rather than to the confronting truth of the role nurturing (or the lack thereof) played; it has been a sophisticated deflection from the fact that our psychoses and neuroses and their many physical manifestations are not about our genes, but the hurt to our all-loving instinctive self or soul during infancy and childhood. Again, as John Marsden said, ‘The biggest crime you can commit in our society is to be a failure as a parent and people would rather admit to being an axe murderer than being a bad father or mother.’ Yes, far better then are the ‘blame-all-our-ailments-on-genetics-or-disease-or-immunisation’ excuses that are flooding the scientific literature today.
Just one of the unhealthy repercussions of not being truthful about the real cause of childhood madness is that treatment of it can be, and has been, dangerously misdirected. As stated in par. 72, the word ‘psychiatry’ literally means ‘soul-healing’, but since we have never before been able to explain why we as a species have become so soul-destroyed and how that upset has impacted upon the health of our children’s souls, we have, in our denial, relied instead on non-confronting, biomedical ‘solutions’—as this article points out: ‘Over the past decade, a condition known as…attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has been spreading among our children like an epidemic. During that time the prescription of drugs used to control this disorder, central nervous system stimulants chemically similar to the amphetamines that can be bought on the streets, has leaped by more than 1000%…Because it is so convenient and guilt-relieving to be able to attribute a child’s difficult behaviour to a neurochemical problem rather than a parenting or broader social one, there is a risk that this problem will become dangerously over-medicalised’ (Dr Michael Gliksman, ‘Social issues at the root of childhood disorder’, The Australian, 8 Dec. 1997).
Again, the problem stems from the immense vulnerability of children to all the human-condition-driven upset in the world today, a vulnerability we can gain an, albeit slight, appreciation of if we immerse ourselves in their situation. Since the upsetting battle of the human condition only emerged some 2 million years ago, and only became extreme towards the end of those 2 million years, the great majority of human history—from the australopithecines through to the advent of Homo sapiens sapiens—was spent living cooperatively, which means that infants now enter the world, firstly, expecting it to be one of gentleness and love, and, secondly, with almost no instinctive expectation of encountering a massively upset, embattled world. And it is this extreme contrast between our species’ instinctive memory of a harmonious, happy, secure, sane, all-loving and all-sensitive world, and our species’ more recent massively embattled angry, egocentric and alienated world, that makes the shock that infants experience entering the world now so psychologically damaging. Resigned humans have been living in denial of both the truth that our ancestors lived in a state of total love and that as a species we currently live in a state of near complete corruption of that ideal instinctive world of our soul, and that disconnect from our reality means we haven’t been attuned to how devastating it is for infants to encounter our world. But the truth is, this contrast between what a child’s innocent, love-saturated instincts expect and what the child encounters in our human-condition-afflicted, soul-butchered world is so great it is akin to a sunflower finding itself having to grow in a dark cesspit. No wonder as adults we turned out as gnarled thornbushes, ready to stunt the next generation.
Indeed, the reality is that the levels of alienation in society today are such that almost all humans are cardboard cut-outs of what they would be like free of the human condition. And while resigned adults aren’t aware of their immensely alienated (virtually dead) state because they are living in denial of it, new generations of children arriving into the adult world who have yet to adopt this strategy of denial are acutely aware of the difference between our species’ original, ideal, innocent instinctive state and our current immensely upset alienated existence and somehow have to try to cope with the distress it causes them. Chapter 2:2 described the agonising process of Resignation that adolescents have had to go through adopting a life of denial of the issue of the human condition and any truths that brought it into focus, but until a young person adopted this blocked-out, resigned state they remained exposed and vulnerable to the full horror of the dilemma of the human condition—horror that is palpable in the lyrics of the heavy metal band With Life In Mind that were included in pars 229 and 946.
So, having not yet adopted this denial children have always struggled mightily with the imperfection of the upset world that surrounds them, but with the gulf between humans’ original innocent state and our current immensely alienated state now so great, new generations are finding it impossible to bridge. The truth is, ADHD, and the more extreme states of autism and schizophrenia, are varieties of childhood madness, but as the bravely honest psychiatrist R.D. Laing famously said, ‘Insanity—a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world’ (Larry Chang, Wisdom for the Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing, 2006, p.412).
And what has made it especially difficult for new generations to cope with our corrupted adult world is that adults have been unable to admit to being corrupted in soul; in fact, as has been pointed out, adults haven’t even been aware that they are corrupted—if they were aware they were corrupted and alienated they wouldn’t be alienated, they wouldn’t have blocked out and thus protected themselves from the truth of their upset condition. But with new generations able to clearly see the extent of the corruption and alienation in the world around them, this lack of any honesty by adults, their complete silence on the subject of our immensely corrupted human condition—in effect, their denial that there is anything wrong with themselves or their adult world—left children dangerously prone to blaming themselves for the dysfunctionality of their environment. And not only have resigned adults been silent about their corrupted condition, in the absence of the real reason for their divisive behaviour, they have put forward all manner of dishonest reasons for their behaviour, lies that have greatly offended the honest minds of children. In fact, in line with the big lie put forward by the resigned mechanistic adult world that our ancestors were aggressive, brutish and savage, children have even been treated as, and even told they are, ‘just hateful little savages that have to be tamed’. Indeed, the purity and innocence of children has so confronted and exposed parents that they are typically referred to as ‘kids’—a dismissive, derogatory, retaliatory ‘put down’, a way of holding their confronting innocence at bay. And so, in encounters between the innocent and the alienated, where the alienated act as if there is nothing wrong with them or their world, in the innocents’ instinctive state of total trust and generosity they are left believing there must be something wrong with them, that in some way or another they must be at fault. In their immense naivety about the upset, alienated world, together with their soul’s great love, trust and generosity, innocents question their own view, not the view being presented by the alienated. The innocent do not know people lie because lying simply did not exist in our species’ original innocent instinctive world. In short, their trusting nature made them codependent to the alienated, susceptible to believing the alienated were right rather than accepting and fighting to uphold their own accurate view of the situation. Psychologists coined the word ‘codependent’ to describe someone who is ‘reliant on another to the extent that independent action is no longer possible’ (Macquarie Dictionary, 3rd edn, 1998), and, in the case of children, they are so trusting of, and thus ‘reliant on’, the adult world they are incapable of thinking ‘independent[ly]’ enough to trust that they are not at fault or have somehow misread the play. Children come from such an innocent, wholesome, trusting, loving, generous, integrative instinctive world that they all too readily blame themselves in situations where they are faced with a denial. Then, when they decide they must be at fault, their sense of self-worth and meaning is completely undermined, and to cope with that ‘unthinkable anxiety’, as Winnicott accurately described it, they have no choice but to psychologically split themselves off from the perceived reality, adopt a state of ‘invulnerability’. More will be said about the devastating effects of children’s codependency to adults next in chapter 8:16D. (I want to add more explanation to what I have just said about children’s codependency to the silent world of resigned adults. As I explained in chapter 2:2, and also in Freedom Essay 30 on the WTM’s homepage, in our early teenage years everyone tried to confront and understand the human condition—the issue of the human race’s immensely upset, 2-million-year-long corrupted soul, innocence-destroyed, angry, egocentric and alienated state or condition. For all but a rare few young adolescents who were exceptionally well nurtured and sheltered during their infancy and early childhood and thus relatively free of the corrupted state of the human condition, trying to confront the truth of the corrupted state of the human condition in the world around them and in themselves, only led to such severe depression that it could end in suicide. This left almost all those who experienced this agony with no choice but to resign themselves to living in complete denial of the whole unbearably depressing issue of the human condition. They were left with no other choice than to metaphorically hide deep in Plato’s dark cave where no exposing light could reveal their corrupted condition. This life of living in a resigned state of denial of the human condition required constantly avoiding any acknowledgement of the corrupted human condition, and instead constantly pretending there was nothing particularly corrupted about the world around you or about yourself. You put on a brave face, smiled, laughed, and constantly pretended that everything was absolutely fine and that there was nothing particularly wrong with the world or with you. Delusion was your trade in life. Just deny and ignore any acknowledgement that there was any such thing as the corrupted state of the human condition. All day long just escape, escape, pretend, pretend, smile, smile, laugh, laugh, block-out, block-out. And all day long try to prove that you are the opposite of a horrifically soul-corrupted, flawed, ‘fallen’ person by winning as many accolades and as much praise as you possibly could. That has been the life of a human-condition-avoiding resigned adult; one big bluff, one big denial, one big pretence! What needs to be considered then is the effect that state of all-out bluff/pretence/denial has on an unresigned child or adolescent or, in rare cases, adult looking on. Certainly everyone else who is resigned empathises and sympathises with, even encourages, that escapist, pretend-you’re-okay-at-all-times, deluded behaviour, it being self-evident to them what is happening because they are practising the same behaviour; but what is the effect of that behaviour on someone who is not resigned? They are utterly bewildered by it! It looks to them like completely mad behaviour—virtually everyone in the world is behaving in a non-cooperative, non-selfless, non-loving, non-soulful, non-sound, non-sane, seemingly absolutely appalling way, and yet they are carrying on as if there is nothing at all wrong with the world of other humans or with themselves! And because the resigned are not admitting that what they are doing is just one giant bluff/pretence/self-deception/artificiality/delusion/denial, in fact pretending that what they are doing is actually sane and healthy and not mad at all, how intimidating is that going to be for the unresigned?! All the resigned adults around the unresigned child or adolescent or adult are behaving in an extremely mad way, but doing it so confidently, assuredly and authoritatively that the unresigned are being forced to accept that it is sane, sound, healthy, not-mad-at-all behaviour. Who is the unresigned child or adolescent or adult to believe: themselves or all the confident, seemingly self-assured adults around them? How can they stand up to such bluff and intimidation? The coercion they are under to believe that all this utterly mad behaviour is not mad but completely sane, sound, healthy, normal and ‘right’ is ENORMOUS! This is especially the situation for children who have always looked to parents and other adults for guidance in life and so have been taught to trust that their parents and other adults know what is right; but even for any unresigned person, how can they not believe what virtually every other adult around them is doing is not right?! The codependency of the unresigned person could hardly be more extreme! To the unresigned, the world has gone mad but no one is admitting it, as the lyrics from With Life In Mind reveal! There is complete denial, complete silence, on the glaringly obvious issue of the madness of the world of adult humans. It is the most bizarre situation to be in; extremely bewildering, confusing, distressing, worrying and overwhelming, and obviously the more innocent and sound the unresigned person, the greater the mystery and bewilderment. A tragic situation all round. So this is a more complete description of why children are so vulnerable to the extreme dishonesty of the resigned adult world.)
So, able now to appreciate the extreme vulnerability of children to all the extraordinary upset in the adult world, and adults’ silent denial of it, we can understand why children have died a million psychological deaths in the face of that upset. We can understand why Beckett wrote, ‘They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more’, and why Laing wrote that ‘To adapt to this world the child abdicates its ecstasy.’ Thank goodness we have found the understanding of the human condition that allows us to admit the importance of nurturing and make it a priority now for the human race.
In summary, the human race is naturally extremely embattled after 2 million years of its heroic search for knowledge, which means that virtually no mother now can hope to love her infants as much as their instincts expect to be loved, and virtually no father now can hope to restrain their extreme egocentricity to the degree necessary to avoid oppressing their children somewhat. (Again, the devastating effect men’s egos has on children will be explained in ch. 8:16D.) Thankfully, however, we can now explain why nurturing has been so compromised. And since, through that explanation, we can understand that virtually all humans now are so upset that virtually no one can hope to love their children as much as their children’s instincts expect, parents do have to be realistic about their limitations—if too great an expectation is placed on parents to be more loving than they are now genuinely capable of being no one will be prepared to run the risk of having children, which is obviously not the answer. However, with understanding of the human condition and the subsequent ability to admit how delicate our soul is, parenting can, and must, take on a whole new meaning and responsibility.
Yes, to repeat what was said in chapter 6:13, having found the compassionate biological understanding of the upsetting battle that humans have had to wage against the ignorance of our instinctive self as to the fundamental goodness of our conscious self, our species’ preoccupation with that battle can at last end and focus return to the nurturing of our children. Further, now that we have found that very good reason as to why parents have been unable to nurture their children with anything like the unconditional love children instinctively expect and need, it is no longer necessary to deny the importance of nurturing both in the maturation of our species and in our own lives. Yes, with the arrival of understanding the terrible guilt parents have felt for not being able to adequately nurture their offspring departs. Parents can now understand that their inability to adequately love their offspring is not their fault, but the product of the ever-accumulating levels of upset in the human race as a whole that resulted from our species’ heroic 2-million-year search for knowledge, specifically for self-knowledge, understanding of why we conscious humans are good and not bad. So yes, we can finally now both admit the importance of nurturing and turn our attention back to the nurturing of our offspring—in fact it now becomes a matter of great urgency that we do both these things.
The nurturing of children is what is required to produce adults who are sound and secure in self. Ultimately, it is only through the nurturing of our offspring that the human race can hope to become healthy—namely psychosis-and-neurosis-free once again; to, as Ashley Montagu said, put ‘man back upon the road of his evolutionary destiny from which he has gone so far astray’ and restore ‘health and happiness for all humanity’. As will be explained in chapter 9, with understanding of the human condition found all humans can immediately be free of the agony of the human condition by taking up the Transformed Way of Living (which involves adopting a mental attitude where you leave that agony behind as dealt with), but to produce humans who are completely free of psychosis and neurosis and not needing to take up the Transformed Way of Living, they need to be nurtured with unconditional love in their infancy and childhood—a process that will take some generations to achieve while all the accumulated upset within our species subsides.
Of course, the difficulty for virtually all parents in the immediate future is that since they are so psychologically upset, especially so alienated from their natural, loving, instinctive true self or soul as a result of humanity’s upsetting search for knowledge, it is simply not possible for them to give their offspring unconditional love. HOWEVER, while virtually all parents will have to accept this reality, their ability now to understand the very good reason for why they are unable to give their offspring unconditional love will bring so much calming, reassuring relief from that guilt that nurturing won’t be nearly as difficult as it has been. Again, while it will take a number of generations before most parents can generate real, natural, unconditional love, being able to understand their upset state, and, significantly, not having to continue with the upsetting battle to prove their worth (which, as will be explained in chapter 9, is what makes the fabulously exciting new Transformed Way of Living possible) is going to bring enormous relief to parents and help them immensely with the whole activity of nurturing. The overall relief and excitement alone that will now emerge in the human race from the realisation that we have finally ended our 2-million-year struggle against ignorance will mean that children are going to find themselves in, if not an unconditionally loving world, then at least an anxiety-free, truthful, compassionate, happy one. And since the adult world can finally break the silence of their denial and tell children the truth about their horrifically upset condition, that honesty will also make an immense difference to the psychological wellbeing of children. Basically, finding understanding of the human condition makes possible a whole new world that is relieved of the horrible frustration and agony of that condition; the terrible siege state where humans couldn’t understand themselves can at last be lifted, and, with its lifting, life can return to every aspect of human existence, including to the impossible situation parents have been in trying to nurture their children.
In the case of parents of extremely nurturing-deprived-and-thus-extremely-dissociated-from-the-world, autistic children, even with the ability now to understand the reason why they haven’t been able to nurture their children, having lived in denial of the importance of nurturing, the revelation of its importance, and of the devastating effects of not receiving it, will come as a great shock. It is, in fact, an example of how the arrival of understanding of the human condition and all the truth that it makes possible also brings with it the long-feared exposure day (or truth day or honesty day or revelation day or transparency day or ‘judgment day’), which is an issue that will be addressed at length—including an explanation of how we are able to cope with that exposure—in chapter 9:7. It will be explained there that the way we cope with so much truth being suddenly revealed is by adopting the Transformed Way of Living, part of the strategy of which is to not overly confront all the truth that is suddenly exposed. What is important now is to support the truth, not seek to overly confront it.
Before finishing this section, it is worth examining the comment from Winnicott, that the autistic boy, Ronald, ‘had very exceptional skill in drawing’. The established link between autism and savant abilities was described in the documentary Uncommon Genius, when it was stated that ‘for more than half of all savants, the syndrome owes its origins to a familiar condition—autism’. In describing savants, the narrator said, ‘One of the great unsolved mysteries of the human mind is savant syndrome. This man cannot remember how to clean his teeth, yet he recalls every zip code, every highway, every city in the United States. As a boy, this man was considered mentally handicapped but he can name the day of the week for every date on a forty-thousand-year calendar. And this man, blind, cerebral-palsied and barely able to talk, played Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto flawlessly after hearing it once on television. These genius-like abilities are the product of damaged minds…Most of us were introduced to savants through Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of Raymond in the Oscar-winning movie, Rain Man. Raymond had savant syndrome…Savants are people who produce awesome mental abilities from severely disabled minds’ (ABC-TV, 24 May 2001). The program mentioned that ‘researchers discovered people who suffered dementia and then suddenly gained prodigious skills they’d never experienced before’, and reported that ‘savants may abandon their skills as they become more sophisticated socially…The really prodigious savants have a sort of memory super-highway that allows them to access and transfer enormous amounts of information. They develop that memory partly because they don’t get side-tracked by thinking too much.’ It then concluded with the intuitively insightful question, ‘Could savant genius lie dormant deep inside everyone’s brain? Are savant skills merely obscured by layers of normal everyday reasoning?’ With understanding of the human condition it is not difficult to understand how those who suffer from autism and certain mental impairments can have savant abilities. If such people can completely disconnect from or avoid ‘get[ting] side-tracked by thinking too much’ about the ‘normal everyday’ pain associated with the agony of the human condition, then their non-‘socially’-‘sophisticated mind can be freed to access some of the all-sensitive, all-loving, all-inspired, immensely imaginative and thus powerfully creative and able world of our soul. A window can be opened up to the fabulous potential that humans lost access to when they became so horribly preoccupied with worry about the hurtful, corrupted world around them and their own corrupted state.
Earlier (in par. 832), I wrote about how I learnt that to draw the little pictures that are included throughout this book I had to disconnect my conscious mind and just let my instinctive sensitivity stream through, and that if I didn’t do that I simply couldn’t draw at all. For example, the drawing of the three ‘Childmen’ happily embracing that I used to illustrate humanity’s childhood stage was done so quickly I shocked myself because I could hardly believe that such an empathetic drawing could be produced from an almost instant scribble. I wrote that at that moment I saw just how much sensitivity our species once had, and how much alienation now exists within us 2-million-years’-embattled humans, referring to Sir Laurens van der Post’s observation of the relatively innocent Bushmen ‘race’, that ‘He and his needs were committed to the nature of Africa and the swing of its wide seasons as a fish to the sea. He and they all participated so deeply of one another’s being that the experience could almost be called mystical. For instance, he seemed to know what it actually felt like to be an elephant, a lion, an antelope, a…baobab tree’. Yes, when R.D. Laing wrote that ‘To adapt to this [human-condition-afflicted, horrifically upset] world the child abdicates its ecstasy’, and ‘between us and It [our true selves or soul] there is a veil which is more like fifty feet of solid concrete’, and ‘The outer divorced from any illumination from the inner is in a state of darkness. We are in an age of darkness. The state of outer darkness is a state of…alienation or estrangement from the inner light’, and ‘We are dead, but think we are alive. We are asleep, but think we are awake’, he was emphasising just how much soulful sensitivity we have lost access to as a result of our preoccupation with the agony of the human condition. As I said when describing how beautiful and amazing natural Africa is and how awful all our documentaries about natural Africa now are: ‘Our world has shrunk to the size of a pea’! Yes, when humans become free of the agony of the human condition they will discover they have powers they have only ever dreamed of: they will see everything as if they have been blind up until now; they will feel everything; they will be able to remember everything—their whole world will open right up! As William Blake famously prophesised in his poem, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which obviously refers to the time when the good and evil state of the human condition is reconciled: ‘When the doors of perception are cleansed, man will see things as they truly are. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern’ (1790).
What occurs during a so-called Near-Death Experience actually illustrates what is occurring in some minds that have completely dissociated from reality. For instance, mountain climbers who survive falls that they were convinced would be fatal (they were saved, perhaps, by landing in a snow drift) often report that during those near-death moments they experienced a state of extraordinary euphoria in which the world suddenly appeared utterly beautiful and radiant and that they were flooded with a feeling of ecstatic enthrallment. With understanding of the horror of the human condition we can appreciate how, in such cases, the mind would give up worrying, and that all the facades—in particular the denial they adopted at Resignation—would become meaningless. If death is seemingly imminent, there is no longer any reason to worry or to pretend, at which point the struggle and agony and pretence of having to live under the duress of the human condition ceases and the true world of our all-sensitive soul suddenly surfaces. So yes, ‘savant genius lie[s] dormant deep inside everyone’s brain’. The Superman mythology is an expression of humans’ suppressed awareness of their alienated state—that resigned humans are Clark Kents with hidden Superman potential (news reporter Clark Kent being Superman’s civilian identity).
While it might be thought that the dissociation that occurred at Resignation, when adults adopted a life of denial of their reality, should have given them some access to the soul’s truthful, sensitive world, resigned adults were not normally completely blocking out their reality—rather, they were constantly on the lookout to deflect any criticism arising as a result of that reality. Generally, the resigned did not completely dissociate themselves from the world in the same way that autistic people did. However, there were some people who although not sufficiently hurt in infancy and childhood to become autistic, were sufficiently hurt to need to live an extremely dissociative, alienated existence after they resigned; and such people could develop some access to the soul’s truthful world. Sometimes when people became extremely upset/corrupted, their alienation, their mental blocks, their defences, became disorganised and through this ‘shattered defence’ the soul occasionally emerged; ‘mediums’ or ‘psychics’ or ‘channellers’ are examples of such individuals. Of course, such shattered-defence access of the soul’s true world was not the natural, secure, balanced access that unresigned people have. For those people, whom we have historically referred to as prophets, the soul’s world has always been an ultra natural place, not something apparently mystical or supernatural.
R.D. Laing was describing the ‘shattered defence’ means of accessing the soul when he wrote that ‘the cracked mind of the schizophrenic may let in light which does not enter the intact mind of many sane people whose minds are closed’ (The Divided Self, 1960, p.27 of 218). Interestingly, Laing immediately continued to say that the existentialist Karl Jaspers was of the opinion that the biblical prophet Ezekiel ‘was a schizophrenic’. While some biblical prophets may have accessed the soul’s true world through a ‘shattered defence’, those who had full and natural access to the soul and were prophets in the true sense were exceptionally sound rather than exceptionally exhausted, alienated, separated from their true self, or schizophrenic. It should also be mentioned that when people prayed or chanted mantras or counted rosary beads they were trying to shut down their alienation-preoccupied mind in order to let through some of the truthful world of the soul. They were, in effect, trying to shatter their own defence. Fatigue, meditation, fasting, hallucinatory drugs, despair and faster-than-thought physical activities, such as scree-running, are other ways of achieving this breakthrough to the world of the soul.
(A more complete description of how nurturing has been seriously compromised by terminal levels of alienation can be found in Freedom Expanded at <www.humancondition.com/freedom-expanded-nurturing-now-a-priority> and <www.humancondition.com/freedom-expanded-autism>.)