Sunday, April 10, 2011


I must have hit another nerve!

A psychologist who is not truly open to dialogue, and who will not allow me to comment on her blog, has linked to my earlier post about lost subtleties. I am not going to get into another non-discussion with her about what infants go through when they are separated from their mothers. She believes that the evidence we have today is all the evidence we need that infants do not miss their mothers if they are separated from them before six months of age. I can see intellectually how this argument is fortified, but I think, as I said in my post, that it can be valid (attachment to a caregiver is not scientifically observable on the infant's side before six months of age) without negating infants having a emotional life and experiencing stress at separation from their mothers.

There is ongoing research to understand how infant development is shaped during the six months before attachment and stranger anxiety is observable through reproducible infant behaviors. It is disingenuous to say that scientists fully understand neonatal infants and their relationships to stress (e.g., separating infants from their natural mothers before six months of age is a non-issue), and it's also unkind to label adoptees who talk about this separation as unthinking, Gnostic, mystical witchdoctors (and I am not even arguing for the existence of "the primal wound" here). To shred and critique research is admirable and thoughtful; research must stand up to close scrutiny. But to say that adopted people's experiences and questions about early infant development should be written off (when clearly there is much research going on, by scientists, including medical doctors at major research institutions such as Johns Hopkins) is misguided at best, and clearly as ideologically driven as this woman claims my own interests to be. You can wear a scientist's hat and say that you are objective and above all the fray, but no one, absolutely no one, is a machine. We are driven to study and think what we do by our interests. There is no such thing as pure human objectivity. Some self-reflection is warranted.

And yes, scientists have long conducted research on rodents and non-human primates to extrapolate, where possible to human physiology. To say, "Oh, research conducted on rats means nothing to humans" is truly disingenuous. Are we ready to stress out human infants and then decapitate them to study their brain structures and chemistries after the stressful event? No. So no, we don't have research on human infants, but we do the best we can to figure out ways to study things that might give us insight. Note that much of this research is carried out on mammals, and specific types of mammals. If the research done was only applicable to rats/monkeys/etc., then it would only be of interest to veterinarians and ethologists. This is not the case.

I have plenty of non-adopted friends who readily admit that there are other possible variables at work in an infant's life before six months of age when they demonstrate attachment to a primary caregiver. I know that something other than correcting misguided adoptees drives people to be so adamant about the status quo of infant development. Someone who was not invested would not feel the need to be so condescending, handing dictates down from on high. And no, protecting potentially poor, beleaguered APs who might be depressed by their infant's stress is not a good answer or reason to tell adult adoptees to shut up about their experiences for fear of "scaring" APs. Nor is it "scientific" to say that the lack of evidence for harm to practice babies means that there was no harm. All it means is that there is no evidence, either way.

I am not going to waste more of my personal time or emotional energy on this. I know who I am, I know my credentials and my brain, and I feel secure about my beliefs and my ability to critique research, as well. I have been called hysterical. I don't believe any of this language, or my arguments, are hysterical. And there it rests.


elizabeth said...

Absolutely! The people who deny our experiences have their own agendas to protect. They are not interested in the truth.

Real Daughter said...

Christ. Dont they get tired of baiting us? If they had any balls they would come to OUR houses and spew their shit. But they won't...because they are weak. They are too afraid of people who speak the truth.

L said...

Ugh that woman needs help! Physician heal thyself for sure!
What an idiot that "Dr." is.
Isn't it amazing how much you bother her? Congrats Kara.
Do you think people actually pay her $$ to hear her spout goop?

Von said...

"I know that something other than correcting misguided adoptees drives people to be so adamant about the status quo of infant development." So what is it, perhaps the 'expert' would like to add an enlightening comment?

Amanda Woolston said...

You say it so well!

Unknown said...

Well a hack is a hack is a hack, regardless as to whether or not she mashes people with blankets. She reveals herself with her incurious attitude and her own specious theories i.e. practice babies were fine because there is no public record of their parents complaining and don't even get me started on her bizarre concept about depression in adoptive mothers.

What a kook as my people like to say.

Your post is brill. like a shining diamond of sanity. I am glad I got the chance to sit down and enjoy it.

un mil besos--

Pronoia Agape said...

This is ridiculous. They used to believe infants didn't experience pain, so they operated on them without anaesthetic. Oops. Now they know better, having traumatized countless babies.

It will be the same with this stuff. There are mothers among us, and we know better. We know how our newborns reacted to the touch of our skin, to the sound of our voice, to the rhythm of our heart. We saw how no one could soothe them but us.

And we couldn't bear being separated from them. If we felt so attached to someone we'd only known for 9 months, how could they not feel attached to someone they'd known their entire lives, someone inside whom they'd SPENT their entire lives?