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Darcia Narvaez is a professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, specializing in ethical development and moral education. She is executive editor of the Journal of Moral Education.
And she is Conference Chair "Sustainable Wisdom: Integrating Indigenous KnowHow for Global Flourishing," University of Notre Dame, which I hope to attend.
Her most recent book is Neurobiology and the development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom, recipient of the 2015 American Psychological Associations William James Award
She is also co-editor of Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution and Evolution, Early Experience and Human development. Her website is http://darcianarvaez.com/
Very Rough Interview Notes: Mostly my questions-- provided to motivate you to LISTEN to the podcast
Welcome back. Just a reminder, I call my show the Bottom up radio show. I'm interested in how your model, research and ideas can help add dimension to understanding top down and bottom up.
Rob: I think, coming out of our last interview, that your work suggests that a real revolution is possible if we can change the way parents raise children-- that it could create generations who will see the world very differently. A parenting revolution could lead to all kinds of revolutions.
That's the beginning. We have to return to the way humans are intended to be raised.
Rob: you and your authors suggest that we have to learn from mammals.
mammals need lots of social experience and touch and play-- that sense of embededness in the community.
Rob: can you give a summary of your work
my overall big picture, orientation is that humans are mostly epigenetically shaped. There are certain parenting practices that parents provide their young shape us as adults. When we get what we need we turn into a person with well functioning neurobiology". that kind of adult creates a society that supports that kind of human development and lives sustainably on the earth. Part of that requires that the wise elders help the adults and young children, so there are layers and layers of support and mentoring of wisdom. We've turned everything upside down giving power to young people. WE've sort of undermined all of that for generations. People don't fully mature until around 40.
My goal is to focus on a few topics-
1- changing policy to reflect your model.
2- viewing politics through your model's lens
3-viewing major pathologies, like narcissism, psychopathy and sociopathy through your model's lens.
model is based on small band hunter gatherers, not tribes.
Rob: What's the difference between small band hunter gatherers and tribes.
SBHGs are nomadic, don't have possessions, no hierarchy, don't domesticate animals or cultivate plants.
Rob: there are still hundreds of millions of people living like that. Is that true?
It's not clear, because of the war on poverty. If you're a nomadic forager, you don't have a lot of money.
Rob: What's the history of the changes in parenting models? Hospital vs home?
After WWII, hospitals, separated babies from mother. That was quite damaging, a lot of babies separated for even a small time would die or become depressed. Since 2011 have advocated baby friendly hospitals" Last year 12% of hospitals are baby friendly in US, an initiative from WHO at UNin 1990s. . Sweden did it right away. Took US a long time.
evolved developmental niche
Breasteeding occurs frequently for many years, upon demand by baby. Builds immune system. That's been undermined over the last 150-200 years, with Victorian orientation to modesty and with formula companies moving and the US not thwarting their interference. Other countries don't advertise formula. The orientation to make money in the USA has dominated our practices, including circumcision. We have a lot of problematic structures.
Soothing birth experience-- most children don't get that.
co-sleeping-- people have slept with their children nearby by ever since we've been around as humans, that's the mammal thing to do. American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that people not sleep with their children, based on extreme cases of obesity, drug use and alcoholism where parents rolled over on baby. Babies who die of SID are pretty uniformly on infant formula, which knocks the baby out . That's been the last few decades.
Rob: has the American Academy of Pediatrics been presented with the ancestral parenting, evolved developmental niche model?
Rob: I would think that the medical would not be that responsive to such a holistic approach.
Other countries are better-- Europe
Rob: being touched, touching is a big part of your model.
it goes with responsiveness. The touch of the parent is very calming. Touching is critical for establishing systems within the body. In the traditional societies the baby is carried around most of the time. Prams, stroller, carriers--
Rob: So you would get rid of all of those.
I would avoid those things as much as possible.
alloparenting? multiple adult caregivers. Babies are quite needy in terms of a touch. Having a conversation-- that's building a brain. Mothers are not supposed to do that themselves. IT's a job of a village.
Rob: When did these change. IN Latin America there's been a tradition of much more touching. Most of the time in the states you see children in strollers and carriers. I think it's a status thing.
Rob: so if you see someone walking a child in a stroller, you can assume that that child is more at risk of being impaired.
YOu have to have that eye contact, which is building the right hemisphere.
First, If you could, personally take a position in government where you could maximally influence policy, what jobs would you consider and what policies would you implement-- laws, legislation, etc?
Rob: is there an agency that takes care of children?
no. What we need is an agency for flourishing-- for child flourishing, family flourishing
Funding instead of going over 50% towards military expenditures to helping families and children flourish, and I'd expand it to include the earth, water and air. That's maybe the department of the interior.
Rob: so there's no Federal agency advocating for children or parents.
Rob: you say on P 461 of Evolution, early experience" that Poverty for first six months is particularly deleterious. It's not poverty per se. Aborigial people have no money but they do well raising children. It's what poverty does to the parents.
everybody would have two or three years of paid parental leave-- every income level.
Rob why would the government invest in that
It makes a strong society. If you don't invest in that you end up with people who can't think very well, who don't have self control. It's all about those first three years.
Rob: Do any first world countries give three years of paid parental leave.
Sweden. And it has to be for both
Rob: Has there been any economic analysis of this work.
James Heckman has done some work on early childhood education.
What has he found
For every dollar spend you save about $10 on prisons, etc.
Rob: How many people are involved in this field. How much money is funded for research
Not much is f under for early childhood. There's a bias that children are resilient.
We are still shifting to a society.
Rob: long rant on sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists
You end up with people who don't have much confidence in their selves. The breast feeding is the beginning of self confidence, and to not punish them when they have the autonomy surge at age two-- when you punish them you start twisting them. You started twisting them by leaving them alone to let them cry. Then they have to develop a story that keeps themselves save. They develop a big ego. You've already started that in babyhood. to create psychopaths. We have this very narrowed psychology, narrowed relational capacity.
Rob; Talk a bit more about narrowed relational capacity.
In normal hunter gatherer small band society, the adults are there for the child and understand that the child is still growing as a human being, so they are much more patient. So they learn the sense of reciprocity, story rituals back and forth, being reverently loved, beheld, accepted.
Rob: in your opening chapter in Evolution, Early Experience and Human development you suggest that we may be normalizing abnormality.
That's right. Our baselines have shifted on what we think is normal for child raising, adult well being and capacities-- parents are oriented to giving babies and children as little as possible and schools are trying to control them in the model of industrial factories. They forgot that we live on the river and the trees and the creek. They're so stress reactive because that's what happens when you undermine baby raising. Black and white dominant submission
That's trump supporters, because you don't have the relational capacities and how to get needs.
Rob: How do Trump supporters fit into your model
They are stress responsive. Stress response shifts blood away from h higher thinking. That makes slogans which don't require much thinking more attractive. We've created people w ho don't think very deeply.
Rob: You're not talking about morality. You're talking about ability to think.
Babies develop habits to go into the stress response, shuts down open hearted open mindedness and live your life there. And our media maintains that sense of constant threat and fear. We have people who are in self protectionism mode most of the time, not in the relational mode, note in communal imagination. That's when you base your ideas on the future on the bigger picture, the sense of the future, of consequences, of communal relationship.
Now we have vicious imagination. Where fear affects what you think about, all about me, me me. Or if you become detached emotionally, make up theories that destroy the planet. . They are not communal they are anti life about protection.
Rob: How does your model cast light on politics and politicians?
POliticians can come out of the grounding where the society is at the moment and they get propelled by the emotions.
There's a bottom up and top down way that politicians can come out and a top down way where the party"
In the current campaign" I'm oriented to democracy and egalitarianism because that' s our heritage and how we flourish our system is very much tilted
What we have to do is go local as much as possible who pays attention to our local landscape.
Great movie-- The Embrace of the Serpent -- about westerners coming to Amazon.
And Elder Brother Warning. people came down from highlands to warn younger brothers (Europeans) And Alluna.
Our relationship has to be as a system, almost as a person. Guarding our rivers and letting them flow is really important for the planet. Honoring indigenous traditions.
Rob: talk about the conference. Sept 11-15 at Notre Dame in Indiana
20 speakers mostly indigenous, also artist, storytellers
DIscussion of how doe we integrate with what the indigenous know. And then how to figure out to bring back humanity to its heritages.
Rob: What can people do to heal
learn to calm the stress reactive self, -- meditation, mindfulness
That's not enough. You need to reach outward. Build the inner relationships, the ability to feel pleasure being with others, playing, in the moment, grow that right hemisphere capacity.
Re-grow your imagination and get in tune with the earth and the whole, what Maslow calls peak experiences, a sense of connection to the greater life on the planet.
As community members
Bring together people who help you do that in community-- playing, worship, dancing, that build our sense of connection to the whole group
Rob: What can people do to help you.
Read the material
Moral landscapes blog at Psychology today
Start learning to understand yourself. You are a human being-- a social mammal. Follow your body. Get back to your body, get back to the earth, connect to others-- feel like you are part of the community. Part of the human problem is we have a species isolationism to the trees
What solutions can you offer for adults who have been raised in ways that are far from the optimal ones you've identified?
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