picture of book coverNo. 550, September 11, 2006

The review

A Great Book

read by Jonas Himmelstrand

Why Love Matters

In the business world there is a great emphasis on people being effective, managing stress and being socially competent. But how do we learn these skills?

British psychiatrist John Bowlby pioneered with the attachment theory in the fifties showing the importance of our early years in life. Now neuropsychiatric research has confirmed this, showing that our brains are actually hard-wired during our first 2–3 years in life by the love and responsiveness of our primary carer.

Why Love Matters – How affection shapes a baby’s brain, by psychotherapist Sue Gerhardt gives an easy-to-read comprehensive understanding of this new research and its implications.

Evolution has struggled to cater for our large brains. Thus human offsprings are born with comparatively small and immature brains. A baby’s brain is highly sensitive to stress, as it cannot "unstress" itself. A baby’s brain needs responsive, physical comforting by a well-known carer – love – in order to retain balance. Too much stress for too long time negatively affects a baby’s brain development and its future resilience to stress.

The book settles part of the nature-nurture debate. Early childhood is about neither. It is a time when love and care actually biologically builds our brain.

This new research can be disturbing to parents and social policy decision makers. Gerhardt argues, however, that facts need to be known even if they are disturbing.

As the facts referred in Why Love Matters become more public one can expect a reorientation on issues like early child care, parenthood, motherhood and family in parts of the western world. A highly readable book related to future issues.

Why Love Matters, by Sue Gerhardt.
Brunner-Routledge 2004. ISBN 1-58391-817-5. 264 pages.

© 2006 Strategies to Learn & Grow Newsletter • www.stratletter.com