For a long time now we have known that people need people.
In the 1930’s, Harry Harlow conducted studies with baby rhesus monkeys. He made surrogate monkey mothers out of wire and wood and some he covered with cloth. The babies had a preference for the soft covered monkeys, even if the wire monkeys held the bottle of food. The babies clung to the cloth mother. Babies raised with just a wire mother had troubles with digesting their food and frequently suffered diarrhoea. Baby monkeys were braver in the presence of a surrogate and would huddle in fear without them. Harlow concluded that contact comfort was essential to the development of psychological and physical health and lack of contact can be psychologically distressing.
The human brain is a very complex piece of living “equipment”. The brain is constantly working, changing and updating. It’s potential is truly amazing and if you have watched and delighted in how children grow and become more clever over time, then you will know exactly what I mean.
The brain develops from a mass of very special interconnected cells, to an amazing organised network of information, sensory, emotional superhighways, but this doesn’t happen overnight. As a child grows, the networks in the brain are developing. Networks that are not used get pruned off. With pruning comes efficiency, information pathways don’t have as many options when unused sections of highway are pruned so thinking and processing information becomes more streamlined. Everything becomes less of an effort as things begin to become disentangled. With fewer pathways to choose from, messages can flow more smoothly and our brains can become much more efficient.
Worries are those thoughts we have where we predict the future – but not in a good way. We predict that something bad is going to happen and because our brain is thinking about something bad or threatening, the rest of our body can get worked up, too. So, we can start to feel quite ill and uptight as our body changes from a relaxed position, with all its parts working steadily in combination, to a position where it is ready for battle danger– tense, not digesting, breathing rapidly, heart beat rising and our brain not thinking clearly.
Indeed, some people do get “worried sick”.
How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
One, but the light bulb has got to want to change!