THE CONTINUUM CONCEPT: A Rediscovery of Human Nature by Jean Liedloff

THE CONTINUUM CONCEPT: A Rediscovery of Human Nature

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Already a sensation in England,"" notes the publisher, and no wonder. Advocating the natural way to raise children, this book insists on the importance of 24-hour physical contact between mother and child, from birth until the child takes the initiative for independent movement, and ""instinct-reinforcement"" thereafter. This ""continuum,"" an evolutionary adaptation, supplies the crucial sensory experiences which lead to neurosis-free adulthood, an end to anxieties. Uh-oh. Liedloff, who spent several years among the Yequana Indians of Venezuela, is offering their way of bringing up baby as the norm from which we civilized folk have somehow (unspecified) been diverted. No matter that adult Yequanas spend their days fetching water and grating manioc, whereas increasing numbers of young mothers work: those that have a choice will gladly delay careers indefinitely and those who must work can find grandmothers or other eager caretakers to carry baby around while scrubbing and cooking. (""It would help immeasurably if we could see baby care as a nonactivity."") Liedloff maintains that the feeling of bliss which comes from this constant contact (including a shared bed) is what heroin addicts and others (criminals, homosexuals, alcoholics, gamblers) have missed; fortunately, ""There is reason to believe that the missing experience can be supplied to children and adults at any stage."" Despite a handful of pertinent, original observations, this anti-intellectual argument--like most panaceas--is full of speculations and half-truths, bearing little resemblance to the realities most of us know, and the suggestions for research are feeble. Liedloff (apparently childless) found ""the missing center of things"" in her ""beloved jungle,"" a reenactment of a childhood epiphany; here, ironically, she seems out of touch.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Knopf