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Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments 
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 Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments
Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments



Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:59 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments
Having raised my own child, a granddaughter for the first two years of her life, and taught early elementary early in my teaching career, I am not unfamiliar with the issues surrounding attachment theory.

What I've enjoyed about this chapter is Haidt's clear description of attachment theory, why attachment patterns established early in life matter, and how it is linked to romantic love.

Attachment is describes as a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings". John Bowlby, an attachment theorist, suggests it is an evolutionary development to keep the child close to the mother. The key point with this theory is that parents/ caregivers who are consistently responsive to the child provides the security for the child to grow and explore the world with confidence. They tend to be more independent, do better in school and have good social relationships. They are also less like likely to suffer from depression.
On average, it appears that people who have had a childhood with secure attachments are more likely to have a positive self-image and long, lasting and healthy relationships as adults.

Since the benefits to the individual, the family and all of society seems obvious, it gives pause to wonder if our social institutions could find more successful ways to support struggling families to help reduce some of the factors that get in the way of a strong and healthy bond between parent and child.



Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:29 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments
LevV wrote:
Having raised my own child, a granddaughter for the first two years of her life, and taught early elementary early in my teaching career, I am not unfamiliar with the issues surrounding attachment theory.

What I've enjoyed about this chapter is Haidt's clear description of attachment theory, why attachment patterns established early in life matter, and how it is linked to romantic love.

Attachment is describes as a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings". John Bowlby, an attachment theorist, suggests it is an evolutionary development to keep the child close to the mother. The key point with this theory is that parents/ caregivers who are consistently responsive to the child provides the security for the child to grow and explore the world with confidence. They tend to be more independent, do better in school and have good social relationships. They are also less like likely to suffer from depression.
On average, it appears that people who have had a childhood with secure attachments are more likely to have a positive self-image and long, lasting and healthy relationships as adults.

Since the benefits to the individual, the family and all of society seems obvious, it gives pause to wonder if our social institutions could find more successful ways to support struggling families to help reduce some of the factors that get in the way of a strong and healthy bond between parent and child.


My wife works with young children, most who need to be medicated. A lot of it is genetics—the cortical lottery, as Haidt calls it—and a lot is related to family dysfunction as you say. A mother cannot mother well if she herself was not mothered. It's a vicious circle. The group she works with have therapists who go into the homes and work with the families. The state pays for these services because they are demonstrably effective in keeping families together. The work they do is amazing. What we as a society can do is pay these therapists more competitive salaries. (Teachers too).


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Wed Apr 09, 2014 9:04 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments
geo wrote:
My wife works with young children, most who need to be medicated. A lot of it is genetics—the cortical lottery, as Haidt calls it—and a lot is related to family dysfunction as you say. A mother cannot mother well if she herself was not mothered. It's a vicious circle. The group she works with have therapists who go into the homes and work with the families. The state pays for these services because they are demonstrably effective in keeping families together. The work they do is amazing. What we as a society can do is pay these therapists more competitive salaries. (Teachers too).



Amen to the competitive salaries for these therapists. Identifying and correcting behavioural problems in children, often in the context of a complex family dynamic is never easy.

Haidt ends this section of the chapter with reasons why he remains skeptical and why we should be cautious about seeing too strong a straight correlation between mother and child. He reminds us that twin studies show that personality traits are due more to genetics than to parenting. He also suggests that we should be looking to Bowlby's cybernetic theory to give us a more complete picture of attachment theory. In other words, its the action and reaction of both parent and child over time that will determins a child's attachment style. Over time and thousands of reciprocal interactions the child will build an "internal working model" of herself and her relationship with the parent and this will determine the attachment style of the child.



Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:13 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments
When it comes to insights about love that could benefit people in general, I wonder what you guys would think about the statement that modern researchers really haven't been able to improve on what was already part of common wisdom. Saying that might seem to slight researchers such as Bowlby, but could the case be made that he was just correcting mistakes that scientists, such as Freud and Skinner, had made in their theories of love and attachment? If we looked at any traditional culture, we might find that people take for granted what our modern research has shown. In our more complex and sophisticated societies, we have lost touch with some human basics and have had to then prove all over again that we have hard-wired needs that can be ignored only at the peril of future healthy psychological development.

I thought it was shrewd of Haidt to point out that figures such as the Buddha and St. Augustine could wave us away from passionate love as an unhealthy attachment, having themselves sowed their wild oats already. A case of do as I say, not as I did. In reality, why should we not take advantage of something just because the time will come when it is no longer available to us? We realize that passionate love will not last forever, most of us, anyway, but why not enjoy it while we can.



Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:01 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments
DWill wrote:
. . .I thought it was shrewd of Haidt to point out that figures such as the Buddha and St. Augustine could wave us away from passionate love as an unhealthy attachment, having themselves sowed their wild oats already. A case of do as I say, not as I did. In reality, why should we not take advantage of something just because the time will come when it is no longer available to us? We realize that passionate love will not last forever, most of us, anyway, but why not enjoy it while we can.

I meant to respond to this earlier. I completely agree that we should enjoy the crazy passions of our youth, not that I see that we really have much of a choice in the matter. There's a time for everything, and the old philosophers seem to recognize that youth is not the time to embark on a philosophical life.

I'm reading Durant's THE STORY OF PHILOSOPHY right now. Plato had some very interesting ideas about how a philosopher should live. Only those who show an aptitude should enter philosophy, but they shouldn't start too young:

Quote:
They have now reached the age of thirty; it would not have been wise to let them "taste the dear delight too early;... for young men, when they first get the taste of philosophy in their mouths , argue for amusement, and are always contradicting and refuting,... like puppy-dogs who delight to tear and pull at all who come near them."

Along these lines, shouldn't we also embrace our animal selves? Not that we should act on every passionate urge, but we should learn to accept and respect the underlying animal infrastructure—the elephant. We shouldn't think of our basic passions as something base or dirty. Maybe some of the pagan religions understood this much better than the early Christian thinkers.

Indeed, I think Haidt suggests that an internal harmony is reached when driver and elephant work together. I don't suppose that's possible if the driver feels disdain for the elephant.

Plato seems to say this as well: "All evil is disharmony: between man and nature, or man and men, or man and himself."


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Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:26 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments
geo wrote:
Along these lines, shouldn't we also embrace our animal selves? Not that we should act on every passionate urge, but we should learn to accept and respect the underlying animal infrastructure—the elephant. We shouldn't think of our basic passions as something base or dirty. Maybe some of the pagan religions understood this much better than the early Christian thinkers.


There was a time when some segments of the Christian church seemed to understand human nature very well. I posted the quote below on another thread some time ago, but I thought it would be a good response to Geo's comment above.

Medieval Christianity and The Feast of Fools
“For four days, the world was turned on its head: members of the clergy would play dice on the altar, bray like donkeys instead of saying ‘Amen’, engage in drinking competitions in the nave, fart in accompaniment to the Ave Maria and deliver spoof sermons based on parodies of the gospels (the Gospel according to the Chicken’s Arse, the Gospel according to Luke’s Toenail). After drinking tankards of ale, they would hold their holy books upside down, address prayers to vegetables and urinate out of bell towers. They ‘married’ donkeys, tied giant woollen penises to their tunics and endeavoured to have sex with anyone of either gender who would have them.”
from Religion for Atheists, Alain De Botton

There are numerous interpretations of festum fatuorum or The Feast of Fools that took place around January 1. De Botton suggests that Medieval Christianity had a deeper understanding of the human psyche than we might like to believe. He quotes from a Paris Faculty of Theology document written in 1445 to the bishops of Paris explaining why the Feast of Fools was a necessary event in the Christian calendar.

. ….”in order that foolishness which is our second nature and is inherent in man, can freely spend itself at least once a year. Wine barrels burst if from time to time if we do not open them and let in some air. All of us men are barrels poorly put together, and this is why we permit folly on certain days: so that we may in the end return with greater zeal to the service of God.”

De Botton goes on to suggest the moral we should draw from this if we want well-functioning communities.

“we cannot be naïve about our nature. We must fully accept the depths of our destructive, antisocial feelings. We shouldn’t banish debauchery to the margins, to be mopped up by the police and frowned upon by commentators. We should give chaos pride of place once a year or so, designating occasions on which we can be briefly exempted from the two greatest pressures of secular adult life: having to be rational and having to be faithful. We should be allowed to talk gibberish, fasten woollen penises to our coats and set out into the night to party and copulate randomly and joyfully with strangers, and then return the next morning to our partners, who will themselves have been off doing something similar, both sides knowing that it was nothing personal, that it was the Feast of Fools that made them do it.



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Mon Apr 21, 2014 1:24 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments
That's pretty interesting stuff, LevV. Sounds a lot like carnaval, only with woollen penises. :wink:


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Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:51 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments
Oh my god--I read LevV's quote as "wooden penises" and thought geo had misread it. But whatever works for ya', as Sarah P. might say.



Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:31 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments
geo wrote:
Along these lines, shouldn't we also embrace our animal selves? Not that we should act on every passionate urge, but we should learn to accept and respect the underlying animal infrastructure—the elephant. We shouldn't think of our basic passions as something base or dirty. Maybe some of the pagan religions understood this much better than the early Christian thinkers.

Indeed, I think Haidt suggests that an internal harmony is reached when driver and elephant work together. I don't suppose that's possible if the driver feels disdain for the elephant.

Plato seems to say this as well: "All evil is disharmony: between man and nature, or man and men, or man and himself."

And Haidt also stresses that in the millennia of our evolution, the elephant got quite smart. So the elephant is a lot more than Sigmund Freud's id. I think it's likely, for example, that emotional intelligence is largely an elephant thing.

I have a favorite passage on animal passions from a famous ascetic, H.D. Thoreau:
Quote:
As I came home through the woods with my string of fish, trailing my pole, it being now quite dark, I caught a glimpse of a woodchuck stealing across my path, and felt a strange thrill of savage delight, and was strongly tempted to seize and devour him raw; not that I was hungry then, except for that wildness which he represented. Once or twice, however, while I lived at the pond, I found myself ranging the woods, like a half-starved hound, with a strange abandonment, seeking some kind of venison which I might devour, and no morsel could have been too savage for me. The wildest scenes had become unaccountably familiar. I found in myself, and still find, an instinct toward a higher, or, as it is named, spiritual life, as do most men, and another toward a primitive rank and savage one, and I reverence them both. I love the wild not less than the good. The wildness and adventure that are in fishing still recommended it to me. I like sometimes to take rank hold on life and spend my day more as the animals do. Perhaps I have owed to this employment and to hunting, when quite young, my closest acquaintance with Nature. They early introduce us to and detain us in scenery with which otherwise, at that age, we should have little acquaintance. Fishermen, hunters, woodchoppers, and others, spending their lives in the fields and woods, in a peculiar sense a part of Nature themselves, are often in a more favorable mood for observing her, in the intervals of their pursuits, than philosophers or poets even, who approach her with expectation. She is not afraid to exhibit herself to them. The traveller on the prairie is naturally a hunter, on the head waters of the Missouri and Columbia a trapper, and at the Falls of St. Mary a fisherman. He who is only a traveller learns things at second-hand and by the halves, and is poor authority. We are most interested when science reports what those men already know practically or instinctively, for that alone is a true humanity, or account of human experience.

Walden, Chapter 11, "Higher Laws"



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Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:39 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - Love and Attachments
It does make one wonder if all those evangelical ministers caught with there pants down literally and figuratively had a four day Festival of Fools to let loose with their elephant, wouldn't be more satisfied and contented the rest of the year to deal honestly with their flock!
Come to think of it, I can think of a few uptight politicians in both of our countries who might benefit from such an activity.



Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:30 am
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