Living a Connected Life. Kathleen Brehony, Ph.D. Become a Lake. “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” -- Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk. The Landscape of Connection. The Biology of Belonging The Psychology of Belonging The Nature of Attachment
Kathleen Brehony, Ph.D.
“We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.”-- Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk
“By our very natures, humans are prepared to be social animals. We are biologically and psychologically prepared for attachment and bonding. Our need for connection is – from birth and beyond – a fundamental survival need.”-- Living a Connected Life
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.For that which is essential is invisible to the eye.”
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry “The Little Prince”
Compared to every other species, human infants are born premature and must continue to develop outside the womb. We’re biologically hardwired to ripen through loving, secure experiences with caregivers.
Brain Development in Infants
Bowlby said human attachment was much more like imprinting in geese and less like the reward and punishment schedules that allowed behaviorists to make rats run mazes or shape pigeons to peck levers. Attachment is innate and neurologically based - An instinctive reciprocal relationships with implications for the survival of the species.
Konrad Lorenz and baby geese
Infant rhesus monkeys separated from their mothers were apathetic, sometimes hyperagitated, aggressive and given to outbursts of violence. The were socially inept, highly fearful, failed to interact normally, showed inappropriate sexual responses and often rocked like autistic children. As adults – the females were not able to care for their offspring, would not breastfeed, and behaved violently toward their babies.
When an infant learns to trust others, herself, and the environment when her physical and emotional needs are met and she is free from uncertainty, feels safe and protected, develops secure attachments, and knows that others will help and care for her. With this early experience, the infant will grow into a person with abilities to form and maintain relationships. She will have positive expectations about others and a long-standing belief in her own worthiness and the expectation that the world can be a safe place.
If the infant cannot (for any reason) master the challenge of trust/mistrust, she will carry remnants of this uncompleted task into the next and subsequent stages of development and mover through life with high levels of fear and insecurity. As an adult, she will see the world as an unfriendly, unpredictable, and chaotic place and will be unlikely to develop deep and intimate relationships with others.
Mary Ainsworth et al
The Good News! People can change through insight and action!Specialized Therapy is necessary for severe cases of attachment disorder.
“Secure adults find it relatively easy to get close to others. They’re happy, socially competent people with high levels of resiliency and persistence. They don’t worry about being abandoned or having someone close to them. They’re “emotionally intelligent,” empathetic with others, solve many problems on their own but aren’t reluctant to ask others for help when they need it. They maintain close, intimate connections with others.”– Living a Connected Life
Loneliness breaks the spirit -- Jewish Proverb
“If you could do just one thing that would lengthen your life, help you stay psychologically and physically healthy, and support your healing when you did become ill, you would maintain strong connections to other people. The effects of belongingness are so potent that if they could be bottled, they would need FDA approval.”-- Living A Connected Life
As early as 1897, French Sociologist Emile Durkheim observed that one could predict rates of suicide by looking at the quality of social ties in an area. In areas where there was strong “social solidarity”, suicide rates were low. Areas where social ties were weak had much higher rates of suicide.
A small town in Pennsylvania – A close-knit community of Italian immigrants who lived longer lives than people in neighboring towns and were virtually free of heart disease.
Had they found the alchemical Elixir Vitae?
No! They had high levels of social cohesion, trust, and mutual respect. They were connected.
From 1979 to 1994, eight large-scale community-based studies confirmed what those early researchers found in Roseto.
In his book Love and Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy, physician Dean Ornish summarizes the power of connections this way: “I am not aware of any other factor in medicine – not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery – that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes.”
Klein, Laura & Taylor, Shelley (UCLA Stress Research Lab), 2002
Social capital is the “glue” that holds societies together and refers to the quality and depth of relationships between people in a community.
How many of your neighbors’ first names do you know?
How often do you attend parades or festivals?
Do you volunteer at your kids’ school? Or help out senior citizens?
Do you trust your local police?
Do you know who your U.S. senators are?
Do you attend religious services? Or go to the theater?
Do you sign petitions? Or attend neighborhood meetings?
Do you think the people running your community, care about you?
Can you make a difference?
How often do you visit with friends or family?
The Social Capital Community Benchmark Study – www.bettertogether.org
Get back in the lineup, son!
Get back in the lineup!
The Jury is Out!
Get back in the lineup!
Robert Putnam et al. Saguaro Seminar John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Analyzing the Guilty Suspects
Generational Effects 40-50%
TV Generation 10-15%
Work/Time Pressures 10%
“Creating (or recreating) social capital is no simple task. It would be eased by a palpable national crisis, like war or depression or natural disaster, but or better and for worse, America at the dawn of the new century faces no such galvanizing crisis.”
-- Robert Putnam (2000)
Americans dramatically shifted their stated priorities after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Multiple polls showed we said we wanted closer connections, and more time with our friends and family. But, unfortunately, this shift in values didn’t last very long. By the spring of 2002, the surveys showed we were back to business as usual.
Al-Qaeda, Nazisim, Aum Shinrikyo, Gangs
Everything of substance casts a shadow
Both ruthless collectivism and rugged individualism are unbalanced and destructive to human life. Either one in its extreme form fails to provide the kind of society that allows human beings to flourish in their individual achievements and freedoms while nestled in the loving embrace of community, social responsibility, and safe harbors.
As in all dualities, the wise strive to “hold the tension of the opposites” to integrate and balance opposing forces as we walk in both worlds.
“Shady Side of the Mountain”
“Sunny Side of the Mountain”
“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”-- Dorothy Day, humanitarian and founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, 1933
Unknown to Yourself
Known to Others
Open Self – Known to Yourself and Others
Blind Self – Unknown to Yourself but Known to Others
Unknown to Others
Private Self – Known to Yourself and Unknown to Others
Unknown Self – Unknown to Yourself and Unknown to Others
The Johari Window
A model for awareness in interpersonal relationships Joseph Luft, Ph.D. & Harry Ingham, MD, 1955
“Great news! You can learn social skills just like I did! Let’s do lunch!”
2. Advice and Truth
“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s important and then give it all you’ve got,” -- Lee Iacocca
“Wolves love to howl. When it is started, they instantly seek contact with one another, troop together, fur to fur. Some wolves will run from any distance, panting and bright-eyed, to join in, uttering, as they near, fervent little wows, jaws wide, hardly able to wait to sing.” – Lois Crisler, Arctic Wild
There is no house like the house of belonging.David Whyte, poet
Good Friends: Kathleen & Dorothy