Page 7 - The First 60 Days Magazine - October 2023
P. 7


                                                               CRYS ARE EXPECTED

                                                                      AND ESSENTIAL

         An Excerpt: Why I No longer Believe Babies Should

                                    Cry Themselves to Sleep

          “...People cannot consciously recall what they “learned” in the first year of life, because the brain structures that
          store narrative memory are not yet developed. But neuropsychological research has established that human
          beings have a far more powerful memory system imprinted in their nervous systems called intrinsic memory.
          Intrinsic memory encodes. the emotional aspects of early experience, mostly in the prefrontal lobe of the brain.
          These emotional memories may last a lifetime. Without any recall of the events that originally encoded them,
          they serve as a template for how we perceive the world and how we react to later occurrences.

          Is the world a friendly and nurturing place, or an indifferent or even hostile one? Can we trust other human
          beings to recognize, understand and honour our needs, or do we have to shut down emotionally to protect
          ourselves from feeling vulnerable? These are fundamental questions that we resolve largely with our implicit
          memory system rather than with our conscious minds. As psychologist and leading memory researcher Daniel
          Schacter has written, intrinsic memory is active “when people are influenced by past experience without any
          awareness that they are remembering.”

          The implicit message an infant receives from having her cries ignored is that the world — as represented by her
          caregivers — is indifferent to her feelings. That is not at all what loving parents intend.

          Unfortunately, it’s not parental intentions that a baby integrates into her world view, but how parents respond to
          her. This is why, if I could relive my life, I would do much of my parenting differently.
          When the infant falls asleep after a period of wailing and frustrated cries for help, it is not that she has learned
          the  “skill”  of  falling  asleep.  What  has  happened  is  that  her  brain,  to  escape  the  overwhelming  pain  of
          abandonment, shuts down. It’s an automatic neurological mechanism. In effect, the baby gives up. The short-
          term  goal  of  the  exhausted  parents  has  been  achieved,  but  at  the  price  of  harming  the  child’s  long-term
          emotional vulnerability. Encoded in her cortex is an implicit sense of a non-caring universe.“

              Read the full article at:             by Stephanie Lee

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