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Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain Paperback – December 22, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Why Love Matters is hugely important. It should be mandatory reading for all parents, teachers and politicians." - The Guardian

"Sue Gerhardt's choice of title reflects the loving attention to detail that is the essence of this book... excellently researched and well-written book which deserves to be widely read by practitioners, researchers and parents." - Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

"Sue Gerhardt has written a vitally important book - a must-read for every parent, teacher, physician and politician." - Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

"I would like to add to that positive view and suggest that this book be on every reading list you offer to new parents, politicians, clients, colleagues, family and friends." - Jeannie Wright, British Journal of  Guidance and Counselling

"Gerhardt's book offers perhaps one of the most concise arguments for why love and affection in early life truly do matter. Written with clear and direct language, this text can serve as a general resource for mental health professionals and parents alike." - Rachel Altamirano, Clinical Social Work Journal

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (December 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583918175
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583918173
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Everything we do or say or learn is mediated by the wrinkled and gelatinous matter inside our skulls. As children grow up, their brains obviously change; not only do the neurons get charged with all the information the children acquire, but the brains physically change as well. It should be no surprise that children who have physical problems in upbringing, like, say, a bad diet, have brains that don't properly grow. It is also no surprise that children who are brought up in emotionally distressing situations have trouble getting along with others into adulthood. It was a surprise to find out, however, that children who are brought up under stress actually have brains that are physically different, and operate differently, from those who are well cared for. In the ambitiously-titled _Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain_ (Brunner-Routledge), Sue Gerhardt has summarized current findings in neuroscience about the developing brains of infants and how that development is influenced by the infants' early attachment experiences. Her work will be tough in parts for those unfamiliar with the neurological territory, but she presents many appealing examples, illustrations, and case studies, so that anyone might enjoy here learning about the inchoate findings of the links between attachment experiences and brain development.

The idea that experiences change brains physically, beyond the mere instillation of learning, is fully accepted. Gerhardt concentrates on the orbitofrontal cortex and on the effects of cortisol, a stress hormone which is required for development of the cortex and other brain regions, but which causes such development to be thwarted if the levels are too high.
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This book really opened my eyes to the fundamentals of brain development in infancy. I had no idea how much the actual physiology of the brain is affected by infant experience, not just the psychological. Sources are well cited, ideas are well backed up in scientific research, and the information is presented in a way which benefits lay readers as well as researchers (with an introduction about brain structure and development).

I suggest every parent-to-be get a hold of this book. One reviewer was dissapointed by the lack of specific exercises to play with. However, I don't think they are necessary because this book gives specifics about why certain strategies affect infants. I think understanding why certain types of parenting work better than others makes parents more likely to come up with the kind of adaptive spontaneous strategies which come out of such a way of thinking. You could also check out Brazelton for more specific info about exercises to do with your baby.

As a side note, once you read this book and make decisions about parenting based on the exhaustive research cited within, you will not only feel more confident about your parenting, but you will be able to defend against attacks from helpful but persistent grandparents, in-laws, and friends - should you want to engage in such discussions.
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By DBJ on February 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
A scientific, psychoanalytic look at brain development differences in babies who are loved, cuddled, touched vs babies whose mothers are cold. The book focuses on the relationship between mother and child and gives us an understanding of "how babies needs cannot be put off". We as adults, need to adjust our schedules to babies needs. Not receiving the stimulation necessary has been shown to affect brain development.
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Format: Paperback
Why Love Matters offers an eloquent overview of the latest scientific research on attachment. The author has accomplished the formidable task of linking the concrete language of neurochemistry to the more abstract area of attachment theory. In so doing, she has greatly clarified the nature-nurture argument. Her book beautifully establishes the critical importance of close emotional attachment for optimum brain development in childhood, and one's subsequent capacity for love and trust in adulthood. Why Love Matters is an essential new work in the field of attachment.

Jan Hunt, author of The Natural Child: Parenting from the Heart
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I spent the last 6 months caring for an infant (not my own) and during nap times in the rocking chair, I read this book cover to cover several times. Along with Margot Sutherland's The Science of Parenting, this is one of THE indispensable guides to infant care. A book with staggering political implications (see Gerhardt's more recent book, The Selfish Society: How We All Forgot to Love One Another and Made Money Instead), no one with responsibilities for the care of young children can afford not to read this book.

An absolutely epochal work that has managed to go completely unnoticed in the US, where it is needed most.

Note to author: I eagerly await a second edition of Why Love Matters, which should allow for the incorporation of the latest science on mirror neurons into the book...
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Well i dont read hardly any books but when i went through a hard patch of anxiety a couple of years ago, i was recommended this book. IT CHANGED MY LIFE... really helped me to understand why i have become the person that i am & that the decisions of my parents & the people i grew up with contributed so much as to how i am today...

I have now bought 4 of these books & given them as presents to friends who are expecting babies, this book should be part of every governments guide to how to bring up children & every new parent , male & female should read it.. its not just a baby book, theres way more to it than that.
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