“The truth is, you cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity to love cannot be built in isolation”, writes the noted child trauma therapist Bruce Perry. We, humans, are socials animals, we need human connection, we cannot exist in isolation. Unlike the young ones of other living creatures, the human baby is totally dependent for its survival on its caregivers. The need to connect and attach to another human being is vital for its survival.
Neuroscience of Human Relationships
Psychologist Louis Cozolino in his book, The Neuroscience of Human Relationships, focuses on how attachment influences the developing brain of a child. Just as neurons communicate through mutual stimulation, he says, our highly social brains strive to connect with one another. Putting it more scientifically he states that “The individual neuron or a single human brain does not exist in nature. Without mutually stimulating interactions, people and neurons wither and die.”
When we hear stories of resilience, how people have overcome great hardships and succeeded. Most of the time their stories fail to highlight the impact of that one person or maybe persons who in a small but deeply significant way/ways changed the course of the life of a hopeless, problematic child.
James Doty, Director and Founder of CCARE (The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education) of Stanford University relates in his memoir, Into the Magic Shop how in summer of 1968, in the throes of a hardscrabble, perilous childhood, he wandered into a magic shop and met a woman named Ruth who taught him what she called “another kind of magic” that changed the course of his life. It was that connection to a caring, kind and loving person that altered his perception of his world. He felt hopeful.
TED Talk: A Call to Connection: Making Childhood Trauma Personal,
Dr. Allison Jackson speaks of her personal experience with a caring person.
Connection to another, “When you run into a rough patch and all your tools are failing, the number one fallback really is the same for child or adult: another person who is NOT a participant in your distress and is compassionate in relation to you—tolerant of your drama, understanding of the experience, interested in staying connected to you—and who follows through, etc. Because of the way feelings jump back and forth between people (it’s about mirror neurons if you want to look up the neurology), a calm person will tend to propagate calmness to a distressed person. Good parents do this all the time for children.”
The secret to healing from our brokenness of mind, body, and spirit is a loving connection to another human being – a kind, caring and compassionate human being who is empathetic to our pain and suffering.
However, sadly in the vast multitude of human beings, we may be fortunate to meet that one person who will change the course of their lives. I have been fortunate to have met quite a few who have helped me overcome the pain of my childhood.