Section III. Alienation from Nature: How it Arose

Track 4: The Impact of Civilization on the Human Psyche   
(David Roy)

It is common today to call most any event monumental, of ultimate importance, astounding, groundbreaking, chance of a lifetime, never to be repeated. Yet, except for the last one or two phrases, this is an accurate assessment of the substance of this upcoming workshop.

The workshop features Allan Schore, noted UCLA neuropsychologist and leading expert in early childhood brain development; and Darcia Narvaez, of Notre Dame, and likely the world’s first expert in Developmental Evolutionary Psychology. Schore and Narvaez have been collaborating to establish a major pathway that points toward what promises to be a major part of the future of psychology and psychotherapy. Their work supports an empirically guided way to reach a future free of some of the most difficult emotional disorders – if humankind is willing to make some radical changes in how the youngest are raised.

This prediction is based upon solid research by Schore, Narvaez, and their interdisciplinary colleagues. The focus is on what is needed in the earliest days, weeks, and months of a child’s life; what happens when things go wrong; and why biologically and evolutionarily all of this is so in the first place. It is a detailed and fascinating story. The topics in this workshop include:

  1. How much of the brain’s systems develop in response to a “self-regulating” mother, how this results in the child’s ability to self-regulate, and what happens when this is missing;
  2. How the life-style of our species prior to agriculture supported this development in a natural way;
  3. How the right brain’s dominance for the first three years shapes much of what is to come, including the basis for compassion but also a sensitivity to feel devalued if things go wrong;
  4. The extent to which the changes in our lifestyle that have moved us away from our evolutionarily-developed way of life may underlie not just intense emotional disorders but also forms of prejudice and interpersonal violence (up to and including war);
  5. Other topics that extend from the main body of the program include:
    • Reflections on a metatheory of psychology that is emerging from neuroscience, rooted in the body’s nervous system, the brain in particular;
    • An introduction to Whitehead’s theory of perception to demonstrate how his metaphysics can be discerned in current views of hemispheric differences; thus raising the possibility that Whitehead’s universal metaphysics could serve as a heuristic guide for a metatheory of neuroscience and psychology in general.
    • A review of some of the newer therapies that work successfully with the emotional wounds suffered in the preverbal period; and also of existing programs that aim at helping at strengthening attachment.
    • Consideration of activities, movements, programs, to root these findings in multiple cultures and to encourage their adoption as guides for how Homo sapiens babies and toddlers are treated and cared for so that we can mend our souls and prevent the catastrophic collapses that increasingly seem inevitable.
    • While the team that has collaborated to put this track together includes recognized leading experts, we are seeking a mutual collaboration from those attending who wish to participate.

The presenters in this track understand the likelihood that the topic covered here has a bearing on many of the other tracks. What has changed so radically since the Hunter Gatherer days is the ability to give infants and toddlers a solid and confident start in life, confidence in others being their for them when their needs are intense (self-regulation). The assumption is that this aids in the development of a positive sense of self, of others, and of the natural world. This appears to be what is missing in many areas of the world today.


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This course meets the qualifications for the CEU hours listed below for LCSWs, MFTs, LPCs, &/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. The Center for Creative Transformation is a registered CEU provider (PCE 1095) with the BBS. [Approval for Clinical Psychologist CE units is being sought but has not been granted as yet.] Please click here to go to the CEU Registration Page.