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Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential--and Endangered Paperback – April 5, 2011
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“Once in awhile a book changes the way I experience the world. This time it’s Born For Love, by Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz. Their book explores how children learn to love-or not. No work of fiction is as compelling.” (Denver Post)
“An accessible and important work of popular science.” (BigThink.com)
“Strikingly original and thought-provoking, Born for Love explores the crucially important role empathy plays in all of our lives. It should be required reading for every parent, partner, and friend.” (Annie Murphy Paul, author of Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives)
From the Back Cover
Uncover the startling importance of empathy
From birth, when babies' fingers instinctively cling to those of adults, their bodies and brains seek an intimate connection—a bond made possible by empathy, the remarkable ability to love and to share the feelings of others.
In this unforgettable book, award-winning science journalist Maia Szalavitz and renowned child-psychiatrist Bruce D. Perry explain how empathy develops, why it is essential both to human happiness and for a functional society, and how it is threatened in the modern world.
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Top Customer Reviews
Humans need the capacity for empathy-without it, the ability to love is lost. These children are hungry, even desperate for love, and hungry for learning, but the deficits in brain development due to the trauma, drama and chaos of the first four years of life, during which their brains were literally organizing, resonates down their early years. Perry makes the case that all the "Golden Rules" in major religions show how "morality depends on our ability to see the world from other points of view. And this starts with mirror neurons." Right there is what makes this book unique; what we experience as religious, moral and ethical choices in life all begin with what our brains are capable of. "Empathy is the basis of compassionate action...the foundation of trust, which is necessary for the successful functioning of everything from relations to families to governments and, yes, to economies."
What I love about Perry's approach, though, is the lack of moralizing. Here's what happened to this kid's brain and when; here's the consequences of that, now and in the future.Read more ›
"Born for Love" follows on the heals of the successful "The Boy who was Raised as a Dog" also penned by the Perry/Szalavitz duo. The latest book draws out several concepts that desperately need to be understood and expressed by all current and future caregivers of children. First is the fact that much of the "learning" that occurs between birth and three years of age often will not be consciously remembered, but will nevertheless influence, often strongly, one's behavior beyond childhood. This can flare up especially acutely when the adult with an abusive past finds themselves struggling to care for a child themselves. The second is the general misconception that "intelligence" allows one to overcome the psychological scars of abuse. A case in point is presented in the book of Ryan, a boy who used his intelligence to excel in his studies and in his social sphere without revealing or being able to repair his internal, disconnected emotional world, until it erupted in a cold, violent crime. For most survivors of abuse emerging toward healthier lives, recovery relies more on supportive relationships than intelligence. Third is the concept of early relationships as a "template" for future relationships. Indeed, just as half of each parent's DNA served as a template (the actual word use to describe DNA copying) for DNA found in their child, would it not be parsimonious for parental behavior to provide a template upon which the child builds his/her own emotional and behavioral repertoire?Read more ›
Take heart disease. Whereas most doctors would prescribe exercise, maybe some red wine, or something else, Perry would prescribe some new friendships and more nourishing face-to-face social interaction. It's called "relational health".
Perry is particularly critical of child welfare institutions, criminal "justice" institutions, and other barbaric social rituals that Americans regularly engage in.
What I found most surprising--and interesting--was his criticism of many psychotherapists, especially those who unfailingly encourage their clients to "love themselves first" even if this means quickly leaving relationships and spending more time alone. Perry thinks that relationships are crucial to human health and the important thing is to learn how to communicate and empathize, not simply to leave your partner at the first sign of trouble. A rare voice indeed.
I unconditionally recommend this book to anyone who wants to live a better life or who cares about the world.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Such an easy to read and thoughtful piece on brain development. This book helped me understand myself,my son, my husband and many of my reactions to life experiences. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Rachel Bland
A must-read for anyone in the social services, education, health, public policy, government, etc. BASICALLY ANYONE WHO WORKS WITH OR FOR PEOPLE. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Erika
This book is a great example on how abuse and neglect can be fought with love and gentleness. Both the boy who was raised as a dog and the body keeps the score mark a great deal of... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ishmael
So far, this book is AMAZING. It's really teaching me a lot about empathy!Published 6 months ago by Rann
Thank you Bruce for writing this book.
As a person who has experienced sexual abuse as a child, I know how important your message is and after reading your book, I have... Read more
I work at a therapeutic day care center that uses Perry's work as a guideline for helping children of trauma reroute Neuro pathways.Published 7 months ago by Kay H, Wilson
This is a much needed book for all of our society today. Very readable and full of great new information about brain theory, recent sociological studies, ethics, etc.. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Gale Rome