Nov 21, 2010

A Paradigm Shift is Happening


A “paradigm shift” was the theme of Dr. Marti Glenn, one of the keynote speakers at the 2010 International Congress of The Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology & Health, which took place from November 11-14 at Asilomar, California.

Dr. Glenn, who is the Dean of the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, began by saying that, “Economists, writers, and researchers are beginning to discover…what we have known for decades: that the events and environment surrounding pre-conception, pregnancy, birth, and early infancy set the template out of which we live our lives.”

“The time is right,” she added, for a shift in the paradigm.”

Recent coverage such as on prenatal health in “Time” magazine, and epigenetics in “Newsweek”, symbolize this profound change in consciousness.

Some of the specific insights that Dr. Glenn mentioned included:

*  “Early experiences determine brain architecture.”
*  “By the sixth prenatal month, most of the 100 billion neurons found in the adult brain are already there.”

She also highlighted the most important point of all: preventing trauma in the first place.  For instance, she noted that a father’s supportive involvement during pregnancy can reduce infant mortality.

Dr. Glenn also quoted Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman, who points out that every dollar invested “in the very young” not only saves lives and prevents illness, but it will also save from $4-17 dollars in future social costs.

Heckman has written:

“Recent research demonstrates important differences in the family environments and investments of advantaged and disadvantaged children. Gaps in cognitive stimulation, affection, punishment, and other parental investments for children from families of different socioeconomic status open up early.” (Read the full article here.)

My presentation at the Congress overlapped with Dr. Glenn’s focus, beginning with the current state of Dr. Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy, and how the emerging consensus supports his long-held contention about just how fragile we are while in the womb.

I pointed out how Janov believes that too many children have been emotionally damaged from an early age, and that one element of healing is to re-connect with the buried memories.

The second part of my talk discussed how to PREVENT hurting children in the first place.  In short, research has shown that providing optimal conditions for pregnant women, such as low stress, adequate nutrition, and quality pre-natal care could prevent children from suffering from a host of intellectual, emotional, and physical illnesses.

In addition, around 500,000 women die each year in childbirth.  Adam Jones (UBC Okanagan) has pointed out that most of those mothers could be saved for the cost of – six fighter jets.

Canada, for instance, could set an example for the world by forgoing the unnecessary purchase of the F-35 fighter jets, save the lives of countless women, and still have money left over for vital domestic needs.

Providing optimal conditions for mothers and their children would cost only a tiny fraction of what the world spends on advertising, or the Olympics, or the military.

This Paradigm Shift can’t happen too soon.

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