research on clinical psych

Topics: Brain, Psychology, Human brain Pages: 9 (6793 words) Published: October 21, 2014
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Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain

Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain

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Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain
by Sue Gerhardt
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Author of ‘Why Love Matters’ and ‘The Selfish Society’

SUMMARY
Why babyhood rather than childhood?
The case that I want to make is that babyhood is much more important to our lives than many people realise. A lot of the behaviour that worries us in later childhood, such as aggression, hyperactivity, obesity, depression and poor school performance, has already been shaped by children’s experiences in babyhood. For those of you who have not studied the scientific literature, this might seem a bit far-fetched. I was rather amazed at just how significant babyhood is, when I first undertook the research for my book 'Why Love Matters'. Just to take one recent example, the World Health Organisation recently published a report from their Commission on the social determinants of health - which stated that “Research now shows that many challenges in adult society – mental health problems, obesity/stunting, heart disease, criminality, competence in literacy and numeracy - have their roots in early childhood.” They went on to say that “Economists now assert on the basis of the available evidence that investment in early childhood is the most powerful investment a country can make, with returns over the life course many times the amount of the original investment.” Recommendations for Policy Makers and the Members of the European Parliament. I would love to see all policy makers routinely bringing babies into the picture and taking for granted that what happens to children under 3 is at least as important as anything that happens later.

Recently the World Health Organisation echoed this view. They made the recommendation that: ‘Local, regional and national governments should incorporate the ‘science of early child development’ into policy.’

This article is based on a verbal presentation given to the Quality of Childhood Group in the European Parliament in December 2009 and hosted by MEP Evelyn Regner. Notes taken during the presentation were formulated into the article below, which has been checked and approved by Sue Gerhardt.

Investment in early intervention and prevention is key to reducing problems further down the line such as teenage pregnancy, crime, mental illness, obesity and drug abuse.

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Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain

Two specific areas requiring investment are:
There is a real need for more widespread and easily accessible psychological services for families. The really good approaches and programmes offer a two-pronged approach – giving empathy and support to the parent, whilst teaching them how to notice and be more sensitive to their baby.

Secondly, paid maternity and paternity leave is the key. Jane Waldfogel has found that it is only paid leave which is associated with better maternal and child health, lower maternal depression, lower infant mortality, more breastfeeding and so on. Perhaps it is time for the EU to set up a project to look at the most effective ways of promoting social and emotional health through early prevention - along the same lines as is currently done with the Nutrition Project.

The case that I want to make is that babyhood is much more important to our lives than many people realise. A lot of the behaviour that worries us in later childhood, such as aggression, hyperactivity, obesity, depression and poor school performance, has already been shaped by children’s experiences in babyhood. For those of you who have not studied the scientific literature, this might seem a bit far-fetched. I was rather amazed at just how significant babyhood is, when I first undertook the research for my book 'Why Love Matters'. But over and over again, as people look into it, they discover that this really is the case. Just to take one recent...
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