Wednesday, July 2, 2008

NBC Abuses Children part 2

Director of the Natural Child Project child psychologist Dr. Jan Hunt, who is the director of the is very concerned about the potential negative impact of the treatment of the babies on the NBC reality series "Baby Borrowers".

Hunt is concerned that the separation from parents could increase production of the stress hormone cortisol in the babies: "When cortisol is produced due to emotional stress, the next stressful experience creates an even larger surge of cortisol. By the time a stressed child reaches adulthood, he is likely to overreact to all stressful situations, making it harder to cope with life's challenges. For all these reasons, babies and young children should be kept as stress-free as possible, to protect their future psychological and physical health."

I have a long standing interest in how the brain develops and functions. At one time I was considering going into the field of what is called "artificial intelligence" which involves simulating human intelligence on a computer, but decided I was more interested in dealing with the actual ideas rather than the detailed process the brain uses to form them.

Much of the baby's brain development involves developing brain cells to control the muscles for movement of various parts of the body, eventually including the complex process of speaking. The baby also develops neurons to store information about the baby's environment. Baby's normally don't form specific memories about individual events in their lives, but they use those events to learn how to react to their environment in the future.

Babies don't remember what actually happened on early birthdays and Christmases, but they may remember these events as happy events to look forward to.

Babies may remember what they consider traumatic events in a general fashion. For example, adults' fear of receiving shots may result from a memory of vaccinations received as infants. Claustrophobia and other fears sometimes are the result of very unpleasant childhood experiences. The sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic Church have publicized the fact that children may suppress memories of sexual abuse for long periods of time, but suffer from psychological problems during that period. For a baby a traumatic experience doesn't necessarily involve anything wrong or illegal. For a baby a doctor's exam can be a very unpleasant experience.

Babies may not remember how they have been "mistreated", but they may associate similar situations or people with a similar appearance to that mistreatment. A baby who was particularly upset by an exam by a doctor with a mustache might in the future have a negative reaction to men with mustaches.

Babies respond differently to the same situations depending upon their genetics and experiences and possibly the way their brains have developed prior to the event. Not all babies react the same way to being separated from the parents and put in the care of individuals with no child care experience. The babies in this experiment may suffer psychological problems sometime in the future. that may be triggered by persons or situations that remind the baby, child or even adult of something "bad" that happened during the experiment.

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