Saturday, December 30, 2006

Importance of the First Three Months

It is very important to facilitate the bonding of a newborn infant with his or her mother during the first 90 days post partum, or immediately after birth. It cannot be interrupted without severe complications. The central nervous system or CNS of the newborn infant is not complete, not yet fully developed, but still growing and maturing, just as the entire body and mind proceed to grow until at least the age of 18 years.

Recent studies available on the internet and in professional journals in the last 5 to 10 years have found that the brain and central nervous system never stop growing, or at least developing, and that the important white matter in the brain begins to grow more quickly and in greater amounts in individuals over the age of 50 years.

In addition, trauma to the brain and central nervous system will actually continue to heal until the death of the patient, on its own and with treatment and stimulation of various kinds. This was particularly important in the case of Terri Schiavo, but among infants, this is something that we can use more immediately for long term success in producing healthy people physically, spiritually, and psychologically. Damage to the brain and CNS of certain types is irreversible, as found by psychiatrist Dr. Barbara Houk at the Houk Institute in St. Louis, Missouri from approximately 1990 through 2006 in her brain research and brain function mapping. Dr Houk has spent her professional career in analyzing the functions of the brain and the particular functions of every section of it and at what stage of life each section comes into play.

One of the conditions found resulting from inadequate post partum care and maternal bonding in the first 90 days of life is low self esteem in the child and adult.The following is a framework for hope in the issue of low self esteem and is not inclusive of all the information or all the answers or possibilities in this issue. Achieving confidence and higher self esteem by an individual begins in the womb, with genetic factors, treatment of the pregnant woman (his/her mother) by her spouse, significant other, family, friends, coworkers, etc; and proper prenatal care proved the to mother (from Psychiatrist Barbara Houk, MD; St. Louis MO; research 1990 - 2006; National Self Esteem Organization, 2006; APA, 2006).

Abusive or otherwise dysfunctional persons or those with some types of SMDs, or Severe Mental Disorders can adversely affect the fetus prenatally with their inappropriate interactions with the mother, and a lack of proper care to the mother and fetus can result in low birth weight and other conditions that produce lower self confidence and self esteem scores in psychometric testing during the individual's lifetime (Houk , 2006). Post patrim, the newborn must bond,m uninterfered, with the mother fully and in the most positive ways during the first three months of life in order to become psychologically stable and physically healthy. Bonding with the father is also necessary. In addition, caretaking by healthy family members is also a positive.

Abusers and those with some SMDs that can interfere with this bond establishment through 90 days post partum are likely to adversely affect the infant as much or more than malnutrition and, of course, child abuse (child maltreatment, per the APA) and neglect itself. This is because the central nervous system is still developing and making connections, and the interference by inappropriate behaviors directed toward mother and child can interrupt this process with the results being untreatable, neurologically-based personality disorders and some Severe Mental Disorders in the child. Please note that Third World nations seclude the mother and child together for at least the first three months of life, often with positive female and even male helpers, and some industrialized societies use this method of bonding in certain regions (ibid.).

The above information can be used to PREVENT low self esteem, if they will be adopted by families prenatally. Education, training , and personal /community support can help toward this end. All this being said, there is much abuse among Americans and initially healthy infants may grow up in abusive homes and develop low self esteem as a result. In addition, the rise of bullyism in America and Canada has produced anti-abuse and anti-bully campaigns (Canada: the Bully Beware campaign). While prevention is preferable, TREATMENT then becomes necessary for these children and adults who were maltreated according the the American Psychological Association (APA, 2006; Houk,1990-2006).

Treatment may include classes at schools to educate youth and children about abuse and self esteem, awareness classes in the community, Public Health initiatives, support groups, parenting classes, churches, individual and group counseling, especially for Post Traumatic Stress arising from abuse, and even short term medications if appropriate.

The justice system at times must also be involved. Certainly, lower self esteem can be a problem for healthy individuals from time to time for a number of reasons , including losing a job, divorce, a series of failed business ventures, etc. These individuals, too, can benefit from psychological support, and even treatment if their negative feelings hold them back significantly or long term in any sphere of life.

It is important to have some close friends, human contact of a positive nature, and activities such as hobbies, sports, and interesting and meaningful work that can reinforce good self esteem and provide tasks that lead to tangible successes that the person with lower self esteem can recognize and incorporate in order to feel good about him(her)self.

Prejudice and bigotry, based in fear and low self esteem themselves, need to be erased from society, so a good step is to not teach them to the new baby. Lower self esteem and its results is a major problem in American society, but it cannot be permitted to be an excuse for poor school achievement, crime and other unwanted behaviors.

The above information provides some level of hope for solutions to the problem and the best solution is prevention. The best care possible in the first three months of life is vital.

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