Review: From Cradle to Global Citizen
Review: From Cradle to Global Citizen: finding our way in turbulent times by Lorraine Rose
Women in my Pilates class often discuss their life as new mothers. Today my instructor was describing how her normally easy-going son had started to battle with her and was having tantrums. She turned to me and asked what might be going on? The best I could offer between curl ups was encouragement to ‘be with’ him, to think what might be going on in his mind and what feelings he might be struggling with. I wished I could whip out photocopied pages from From Cradle to Global Citizen: finding our way in turbulent times.
Lorraine Rose’s latest book offers us insights from the world of infant mental health research, infant observation and ‘affective’ neuroscience to understand what is going on for the development of the child. She describes how ‘As we grow our brains convert experiences into the way we relate to others, the feelings we have about ourselves and our implicit expectations of the future.’ We are taken into the world of being a baby and the process of being psychologically born and the consequences for the developing brain when things go wrong in early attachment. This will fascinate anyone working with, engaged in minding or being in a primary care relationship with babies, infants and children. Rose adds a plea for us also to think about the heart as well as the mind.
Today’s parents are anxious to get it right. With the grandmother Google as their guide they joke about whether certain actions or inactions will send their child to therapy? As an experienced psychotherapist Lorraine describes her therapeutic work with several child and adult clients for whom early experiences have not gone well and the moving process of repair, of understanding the landscape of the unconscious, of returning to the painful yet profound experience of being a baby, of contacting one’s earliest anxieties and terrors. She writes of using the breath to bring into consciousness our pre-verbal injuries, to access those disowned parts of our selves held in the body ‘so we can reclaim our liveliness and bring to life those aspects of ourselves that have been dormant.’ This work is painstaking and slow, an important message in a world that favours quick fix, short-term cognitive therapy with measurable outcomes.
We all want to know to what extent the experiences of our childhood are responsible for our adult unhappiness. A compelling chapter is Lorraine’s examination of the primitive processes that lie at the heart of adult feelings of emptiness, aloneness, unfairness, injustice, feeling a fraud or stupid, self-loathing and wanting to die. She makes a strong case for spending the time reflecting on what has gone wrong in our early development. She describes how reconnecting to these feelings in a therapeutic relationship with another’s mind to bear and think with us, has the potential to free us from the hold these events. Without this ‘we cannot take our place in the world as a grown-up who is able to relate and be a responsible citizen.’
What is very fresh is that Lorraine takes us beyond the child to the challenges of development for the later years, something the psychoanalytic world must now turn to face. This is a time of our greatest experience of separation – facing death. Here again we rework our earliest experiences as well as the issues that Lorraine takes up in the third part of her book- the way we are or are not participating in making the world a better place.
At times the scope of the book seems too vast, confronting us with what has gone wrong with individuals, families and society as a whole. However the strength of this broad-brush stroke is to see the infant and child in the family, the invisible forces that bear down on us from the intergenerational story and the story of the wider society. By deepening our understanding of our personal unconscious as well as the cultural unconscious we engage in repair for the individual but also connect the individual with the world.
Lorraine’s writing is reflective, original and urgent. She dares to make the link between learning to love and our social nature as human beings with how we engage with the world. She is hopeful and demonstrates how the wellbeing of the individual is interconnected with the health of the world. ‘ What we have now learnt is that the earliest years shape our relationships in the future….To be alive is to honour our social nature and our interdependence as our greatest asset.’ Our first beginnings are more significant than we may have first thought, not just for the individual but also for community, society and planetary health.
From Cradle to Global Citizen: finding our way in turbulent times models an interdisciplinary approach to Lorraine Rose’s argument. As a result it is essential reading for all educations, psychologists and those in the helping professions and those trying to understand contemporary society, corporate culture, those developing public policy and working for global social and political change.