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Thread: The Continuum Concept

  1. #1
    Matryoshka Guest

    Default The Continuum Concept

    I'm about half way through this book and absolutely loving it.... i was wondering if anyone else was reading or has read it and would like to discuss it? Once i've finished i'll pass it on to my dh but until then i have no one to talk about it with! I haven't been this passionate and engaged in a book for a very long time!


  2. #2

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    i've never heard of it. what's it about mummaB?

  3. #3
    Matryoshka Guest

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    I hope it is okay to post this link, it just goes to the explanation of the concept as i dont feel my own would do it justice!

    The Continuum Concept - Defined

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    It sounds fantastic... very much to my way of thinking.

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    i like it. i like it a lot!

    i totally agree with it all, it's exactly what i try to do with ds.

  6. #6

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    Sounds fantastic, right up my alley too

  7. #7
    Matryoshka Guest

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    I cannot stress how great a read this book is....

    It brings theory and explanation to all my instinctual parenting desires: co-sleeping, carrying, allowing toddler freedom to touch/explore etc.

    It discusses the "in arms" time which i interpret as pre-crawling, these tribes carried their babies everywhere constantly and it actually explains that babies get used to the jostling about and motion which makes them feel strong because they are treated as though they are, as opposed to being put down in a foreign box with no sign of human touch.

    Some times i find myself sad reading this book, thinking how far modern society has apparently come yet how poorly babies are treated in regards to ignoring the continuum concept and ultimately our instincts.

  8. #8

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    i'm going to look for it at the library

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    I hope you don't mind me pasting this in... I think it's spot on! I'm hooked!

    According to Jean Liedloff, the continuum concept is the idea that in order to achieve optimal physical, mental and emotional development, human beings ? especially babies ? require the kind of experience to which our species adapted during the long process of our evolution. For an infant, these include such experiences as...

    * constant physical contact with his mother (or another familiar caregiver as needed) from birth;
    * sleeping in his parents' bed, in constant physical contact, until he leaves of his own volition (often about two years);
    * breastfeeding "on cue" ? nursing in response to his own body's signals;
    * being constantly carried in arms or otherwise in contact with someone, usually his mother, and allowed to observe (or nurse, or sleep) while the person carrying him goes about his or her business ? until the infant begins creeping, then crawling on his own impulse, usually at six to eight months;
    * having caregivers immediately respond to his signals (squirming, crying, etc.), without judgment, displeasure, or invalidation of his needs, yet showing no undue concern nor making him the constant center of attention;
    * sensing (and fulfilling) his elders' expectations that he is innately social and cooperative and has strong self-preservation instincts, and that he is welcome and worthy.

    In contrast, a baby subjected to modern Western childbirth and child-care practices often experiences...

    * traumatic separation from his mother at birth due to medical intervention and placement in maternity wards, in physical isolation except for the sound of other crying newborns, with the majority of male babies further traumatized by medically unnecessary circumcision surgery;
    * at home, sleeping alone and isolated, often after "crying himself to sleep";
    * scheduled feeding, with his natural nursing impulses often ignored or "pacified";
    * being excluded and separated from normal adult activities, relegated for hours on end to a nursery, crib or playpen where he is inadequately stimulated by toys and other inanimate objects;
    * caregivers often ignoring, discouraging, belittling or even punishing him when he cries or otherwise signals his needs; or else responding with excessive concern and anxiety, making him the center of attention;
    * sensing (and conforming to) his caregivers' expectations that he is incapable of self-preservation, is innately antisocial, and cannot learn correct behavior without strict controls, threats and a variety of manipulative "parenting techniques" that undermine his exquisitely evolved learning process.

    Infants whose continuum needs are fulfilled during the early, in-arms phase grow up to have greater self-esteem and become more independent than those whose cries go unanswered for fear of "spoiling" them or making them too dependent.

  10. #10
    Matryoshka Guest

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    No worries Bath, have you got the book?

    Another thing i found very interesting, was that she speaks of the link between babies separation from the mother at birth and the connection to PND.

    Unlike some animals, who need to spot their mother within seconds of the birth and form a kind of identity stamp of her so they can follow her around, it is the other way for humans. A human mother must see and be close to her baby immediately after the birth otherwise an instinct of mourning kicks in because the body assumes a still birth has occurred and then even if the baby is brought back within a couple of minutes, this process has already begun. Bonding and attachment to the baby can be difficult, leading to PND etc. Very interesting.

    My DS was taken away after the birth, despite being in midwife care, and while i didn't have any issues with bonding, once he was placed in my arms (maybe 5 min after the birth), i felt weird and detached, and i had trouble believing he was mine and feeling a human connection for quite a while... it makes sense to me now. At least in hinesight i know and am putting in place steps to avoid removal this time.

  11. #11

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    Hmm... the book still sounds like it has some great concepts, but I just read this review on amazon and I'm a little turned off now.
    Somehow I had the impression that Jean Liedloff's diamond-in-the-rough work was a comparison of modern day parenting to that of primitive tribes in general; instead, it is primarily her observations on the Yequana tribe of Venezuela. It's obvious that Ms. Liedloff has a great affection for these peaceful people, but that positive bias is apparent, and eventually weakens her argument. It is also often necessary for the reader to make decisions about whether the author, writing in 1975, should be forgiven for her (currently) strange ideas -- using the universal "he" and "man" can certainly roll off one's back, but proclaiming that male homosexuality is the result of a mother's demanding and overattentive nature and female homosexuality the result of cruel or unloving fathers is not so forgivable. If this theory were true it should have better predictive value, yet who today believes her assertion? In addition, Liedloff avers that children's accidents and burns are not caused by children's physical or cognitive limitations but primarily by subconscious suggestions from the parents, even relating (and she should be ashamed) the story of a toddler who died in a drowning accident that was, according to her, caused not only by the parents' admonitions to stay away from the pool but also by their installation of a security fence around it. Furthermore, roller coaster devotees are actually attempting to capture the experience of adventure denied them as children (I can attest from personal experience that this is not the case), and criminality and addiction are explained by the lack of in-arms time, as are child abuse (discussed solely in terms of women abusing their children), promiscuity, martyrdom, acting, academics and compulsive travelling. Neat trick, if you can make it work. I didn't even know compulsive travelling was a problem. That said, this is the theory as created *and interpreted* by Liedloff, and her misapplication of the continuum concept does not invalidate the theory, any more than Sigmund Freud's personal problems invalidated his few brilliant insights into the human psyche.

    The author's positive bias also shows up in her willingness to view every act by the Yequana as positive, including parties and work sessions at which all tribe members, including children, drink to drunkenness. She lauds the Yequana's lack of parental guidance, saying that praise and scolding are equally corrosive to the child's ability to function later in life. I disagree with that assertion. I believe feedback is important, and I believe in praise and encouragement.

    The author shrugs off anomalies such as the Yequanas, despite their having achieved perfect serenity, nonetheless having a mythology of a fall from grace and a yearning to achieve a better state. She also ignores contradictions, stating that modern humans search for physical contact because we were denied it in early life, but the Yequana enjoy physical contact because .... this is not explained. These particular passages convince me that the Yequana probably have a more realistic self-regard than does Ms. Liedloff. Reading this, in it's unfinished, untested, doctoral-thesis-that-never-got-turned-in state, you can see why scientific methods, for all their limitations, are valuable.

    Having criticized, I will say that when the author gets it right, she gets it profoundly right. Simple statements she makes are well stated and ring true: The intellect is not always our only, or our best, guide. There is an evolutionary dance, informed by experience, between expectation and design. A spirit of competition is not always appropriate. We need to make the assumption of innate sociality. Happiness should be a normal condition rather than a goal. Parents do not own children. Children, though less physically powerful, are no less human and have no fewer rights than adults; consequently, children should be treated with respect and dignity.

    While the Liedloff version of the continuum concept had little predictive value in the area of social science, she shows some timely insight into what was then becoming cognitive science, and offers some fertile material for artificial systems modellers.

    As a parent, an education librarian and a substitute teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed the author's introduction of the ironically radical underpinnings of attachment parenting concepts as well as her suggestions for social change. As a cognitive science researcher and an optimistic populist, I was nonplussed by the lack of any bibliography or research -- just opinion and anecdote. There are some tremendously valuable insights here, but the author has slathered it with her own problematic conclusions. For pity's sake, ignore her advice about child safety, which is not appropriate for 21st century parents. My advice is to read this book with an open heart and a sharp mind, and to cull the wheat from the chaff.

  12. #12

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    Interesting review, thanks for posting ren

    Having to "separate the wheat from the chaff" is something that you often have to do with good books. I can deal with that. I look forward to checking it out.... going to a bookstore today.

  13. #13
    Matryoshka Guest

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    Wow i'm surprised someone would perceive it in that way?? i'm almost finished and while i can clearly see her bias i understand why... the way this tribe lives and parents is instinctual, so much of it rings true with my own instinct despite living in completely different cultures. I also relate a lot of my own insecurities and failings in life to not being carried, cries ignored, so much of what i've been seeking in life i can relate back to my childhood.

    He's really dramatised things there about the pool fence etc, you need to read the entire section to understand what she's getting at there, and her explanations make complete sense to me. Its much like the concept of "the secret", power of positive and negative thinking. If you assume this or that will happen to you, or others close to you, inevitably it will. The body and mind is destined to meet expectations, its human nature.

    I certainly wouldn't discount reading the book based on one review.

    There was a brilliant quote i came accross in the book last night:

    When did happiness cease to be a condition of living and become a goal?

    I suppose the book won't be for everyone, but its hit home for me on a lot of things and so i take from it what will benefit myself and my family.

  14. #14

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    I'm all for not following every concept in a book and taking what resonates with you... but the lack of research (I thought it sounded like it was based on human history too) and the homophobic views are issues for me that I think would make me struggle to absorb the good bits.

  15. #15
    Matryoshka Guest

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    What do you mean by lack of research??? she lived with this tribe for over 2 years, she observed them and interacted with them first hand, what better research is there??

    I also didn't pick up on the homophobic vibe at all! yes she refers to the babies as "he" but hey it was written in 1975, i'm sure that was symptom of her culture and educational habits rather than an insult to women.

    The only other mention is the division of labour, women and men in the tribe have clearly defined roles, she doesn't go in to that a huge amount though.... I honestly can't see where the reviewer is getting this from, that is so not how i read it....

  16. #16

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    So you didn't remember the bit about parents causing their children's homosexuality? The lack of research bit was referring to the reviewer who said it lacked a biblography and any research beyond anecdote.

    I'm not at all trying to pick this apart MummaB (I haven't even read it myself!)- I really appreciate being able to talk to you about it because it does sound like an intriquing book and so much of it sounds like it speaks to my instincts too.

  17. #17
    Matryoshka Guest

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    Not at all!!! but i still have 1/4 of the book to go... once and if i get to that i'll let you know what i think!

    I'm glad you expressed your opinion and shared the review, because it shows this book won't resonate well with everyone, but i just wanted to dissect his review because i'd hate for you to write off reading the book based just on this because i have found it a wonderful read.

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    I didn't know it was written in 1975! That in itself makes the book quite interesting. Based on what I pasted here into this thread (those point form comparisons) I still think this book has a lot to offer and will be well worth a read.

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