A landmark treatise on how humanity lives versus how we should, what we've lost with our "progress," and how we can reclaim our true nature Jean Liedloff, an American writer, spent two and a half years in the South American jungle living with Stone Age Indians. The experience demolished her Western preconceptions of how we should live and led her to a radically different view of what human nature really is. She offers a new understanding of how we have lost much of our natural well-being and shows us practical ways to regain it for our children and for ourselves.
Original publication date
The author's central theory is that human evolution has primed us to expect certain experiences which are necessary to our fundamental sense of well-being. She argues that tribal/primitive cultures which have evolved slowly over millennia and are resistant to change provide more of these "continuum" experiences. The most important of these is the in-arms phase for the infant, from birth until the baby begins to crawl. She blames many of the ills and discontentments of modern society on the fact that most of us missed out on that essential early experience, which would have given us a feeling of contentment, acceptance, and "rightness." She has a few theories about the way the continuum would have us behave in later stages of life, but that early phase is all-important.
The Continuum Concept has been enormously influential in hippie earth-mother circles, and to be honest I had hoped for more. I have no argument with the idea that babies are happier and healthier when they are in contact with a responsive caregiver, and that most are better off being carried around than being left alone in a pram, stroller, cot or crib. Maybe lots of us carry deep emotional scars from being left to cry alone when we were infants, but it;s not the answer to all our psychological problems, never mind our social issues. Basically, I agree with most of the author's recommendations about how to raise babies, but I was disappointed by her sloppy scholarship and her belief that civilization has it all wrong, when it comes to helping us be happy and fulfilled human beings.
I believe that human beings are a lot more adaptable than Jean Liedloff gives us credit for, and that while our intellectual innovations often undermine our contentment, the conscious mind, as well as instinct, can help us be happier people at any stage of life.
And now, back to my bored, attention-grabbing toddler!
oh and skip her