Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

In September, the Brooklyn Psychedelic Society hosted a “Plant Parenthood” event to educate moms and dads on how psychedelics can make a person a better — and more present — parent.

Psychedelics have been shown to help people battling depression and anxiety by disrupting ruminative thought patterns, and enabling people to connect more deeply to the world around them.

A number of parents at the “Plant Parenthood” event said that psychedelics have helped them to overcome childhood trauma and keep it from interfering with how they relate to their own children now.

When Nina’s baby turned 1 last year, Nina quit her job working as a therapist. She realized she could no longer cope, let alone help her patients get through trying times.

Nina was still battling postpartum depression. When she held her daughter, she wanted to feel at peace the way she had always envisioned. But, instead, she was awash with dark memories of her traumatic childhood and sexual assault.

That’s when Nina started microdosing with LSD and mushrooms. It’s also when she finally started to feel some relief.

“I realized how much I was reliving my childhood trauma through my own child,” Nina, who asked to use just her first name to protect her family’s privacy, told Insider. “It was affecting my mothering skills. I wanted the cycle of trauma to end with me.”

Nina, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, grew up homeless and often felt responsible for her mother’s hardships. She felt guilty that her mother endured a difficult pregnancy with her, and she constantly worried about her mother’s financial struggles.

Now, the 31-year-old microdoses a couple of times a week in sub-perceptual doses — very low amounts that don’t cause a user to experience a traditional “trip.” The precise amount is determined based on a person’s tolerance and body weight.

Nina said the experience has helped her to let go of some of her pain and refocus energy towards her daughter.

The mother of one is hardly alone in examining how psychedelics could help her become a better parent. Insider met Nina at a September event in Brooklyn called “Plant Parenthood,” which was an opportunity for moms and dads to learn more about the benefits of psychedelics.


The Brooklyn Psychedelic Society hosted an event last month to teach about the benefits of psychedelics. Jodie Love

Organized by Brooklyn Psychedelic Society, a group that educates about psychedelics, the event drew about 30 parents. Panelists, which included a poet, a church founder, and a lactation consultant, spoke from personal experience about how psychedelics can help people to overcome trauma, battle addiction, treat anxiety and depression, and simply feel more present.

Psychedelics help to disrupt ruminative thought patterns

Research into how psychedelics can be incorporated into a therapy setting began in the 1990s.

Psychedelics have been shown to disrupt the way people who are distressed think, and allow them to break out of depressive thought patterns. Psilocybin, which is similar in chemical makeup to LSD,targets the “default mode network” in the brain, and essentially causes that part of the mind to go “offline,” author Michael Pollan wrote in his book, “How to Change Your Mind,” which was excerpted in the Wall Street Journal.

In turn, the user is able to more effectively connect to other people and the world around them.

“All these disorders involve uncontrollable and endlessly repeating loops of rumination that gradually shade out reality and fray our connections to other people and the natural world,” Pollan wrote. “The ego becomes hyperactive, even tyrannical, enforcing rigid habits of thought and behavior — habits that the psychedelic experience, by loosening the ego’s grip, could help us to break.”

More than 30 million Americans are psychedelic users, according to a 2013 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. That figure has remained consistent since the 1970s, Matthew Johnson, associate professor of psychiatry at the John Hopkins Center for Psychedelic Research, told Insider.

Johnson said that many of his patients who have used the mind-altering drugs report feeling more present and having a better ability to refocus their priorities, especially when it comes to familial relationships.

Despite the purported benefits, Johnson doesn’t encourage the use of these substances to help with improving parenting techniques. However, he confirmed that the drugs are physiologically safe for most people: They’re non-addictive and it’s nearly impossible to overdose.

People with heart conditions, however, run the risk of experiencing elevated blood pressure and cardiac arrest. The drugs are also unsafe for people who have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychotic disorders, because they can lead to a psychotic break.

That being said, anybody who takes a high enough dose can have a “bad trip” which, though relatively rare, can lead to potentially dangerous behaviors. “I have a file folder full of cases where people have gotten into accidents or killed by the police because they were out of it and broke into a neighbor’s house,” Johnson said. Anxiety and depression can be exacerbated, even though there are anecdotes stating the opposite.

Experts across the board stress the importance of parents hiring a babysitter to care for their children while they’re using psychedelics.

A number of parents at the Brooklyn event agreed that the drugs have helped them to relate to their children in a deeper way.

“Psychedelics have cleared the path between me and my son,” Nicholas Powers, a poet and journalist, said during the event. “This helps me listen to him.”

Others had similar experiences to Nina, saying that psychedelics allowed them to overcome issues from their childhoods, and keep them from interfering with their relationships with their children.

This was the case with Danny Allan, a 42-year-old filmmaker and father of one. Allan said he and his wife take a “hearty” dose of mushrooms once every few months. They aim to mimic indigenous shamanic ceremonial practices and used Ayahuasca, a drink used for spiritual purposes by Amazonian tribes, once during a retreat in Peru.

Allan said using these drugs has helped him to work through the issues he had with his own mother growing up. As a child, Allan often felt that his mother was detached and that having children disrupted the lifestyle she actually wanted. When he was a teenager, Allan’s mother changed gears and became more religious, and more controlling.

As a result of his experience, Allan said he was at times smothering to his 8-year-old son, because of his mother’s aloofness. At other times, he was detached in response to her controlling behaviors.

He said psychedelics have helped him to find an even ground with his child.

“When you do that internal work with the help of psychedelics, you can heal from childhood wounds,” Allan said, “and make your parenting decisions with love and empathy.”

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-psychedelics-like-mushrooms-lsd-help-parents-relate-to-kids-2019-10

by Drake Baer, Senior writer at Thrive Global covering the brain and social sciences.

Teachers, parents and policymakers are finally started to realize that academic success depends on more than just “booksmarts,” the kind of fluid intelligence captured by IQ tests and the like. The importance of “soft” or “non-cognitive” skills like grit and emotional intelligence is growing rapidly. But there’s a deeper question here: where do these soft skills come from? According to a new paper in Psychological Science, it’s your mom.

The research team, lead by Lilian Dindo, a clinical psychologist at the Baylor College of Medicine, crossed disciplines and decades to discover what they describe as an “adaptive cascade” that happens in three parts, drawing a line from the relational experiences we have as infants to the academic achievements we have later on. “That having a supportive responsive caregiving environment can actually provide these inner resources that will foster something like effortful control, and that this in turn can actually promote better functioning in school is the new thing here,” she tells Thrive Global.

The first part of that cascade is “secure attachment.” Tots—in this study, one cohort of 9-month olds and another of two-to-three year olds—get strongly influenced by their primary caregivers, implicitly learning how relationships work (often called attachment in the psychology field).

In this study, the mothers rated their children’s security of attachment using a widely used assessment tool. “If a child is distressed and shows distress to a parent and the parent responds to the distress in sensitive and loving and reassuring ways the child then feels secure in their knowledge that they can freely express this negative emotion,” Dindo explained. “Learning in that way is very different than learning that if I express negative emotion then I will be rejected or minimized or ignored or ridiculed. And so the child will learn not to express the negative emotions, to inhibit that negative emotion, or to actually act up even more to try to get that response. Either way they’re learning that expressing this negative emotion will not be responded to in a sensitive or loving way.”

Think of it this way: if you ate at a restaurant and it made you sick, you’d be unlikely to go back; if you expressed hurt and your mom rejected it, you’d minimize that pain next time. Even very early in life, kids are already observing cause and effect.

Step two in the cascade is effortful control, or the ability to delay gratification and inhibit a response to something when it’s in your best interest to do so—it’s the toddler-aged forerunner of things like grit and conscientiousness. In this study, effortful control in toddlers was examined experimentally—for example, in a “snack delay” task where tykes are presented with a cup of Goldfish crackers and instructed to wait to eat them until the experimenter rings a bell—and through parental ratings of how well the kids controlled themselves at home.

Then comes the third part of the cascade: academic achievement. More than a decade after the first experiments, Dindo tracked down the mother-child duos. About two-thirds of each cohort participated in the follow-up, where moms sent in their now 11 to 15-year-old kids’ scores on a couple of academic different standardized tests. The researchers crunched the data from all of the experiments and found quite the developmental chain: secure attachment was associated with effortful control in toddlers, and in turn, effortful control at age 3 predicted better test scores in early adolescence.

While this study doesn’t explain the mechanics of that three-part cascade, Dindo thinks it has to do with how we learn to regard our own inner emotional lives from the way our moms (or primary caregivers) regard us. If mom is soothing and dependable, you learn to consistently do the same for yourself—you learn that you’re going to be okay even if you feel anxious in the moment, like when tackling homework or a test. To Dindo, this shows how coming from a psychologically or emotionally deprived environment can have long-term consequences: if you don’t get the loving attentiveness you need when you’re little, it’s going to be harder to succeed as you grow up.

In very hopeful news though, other studies out this year—like here (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28401843) and here (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28401847) —show that when parents get attachment interventions, or are coached to be more attentive to their toddlers, the kids’ effortful control scores go up, which should, in turn, lead to greater achievement down the line. Because as this line of research is starting to show, just like plants need sunlight to grow into their fullest forms, humans need skillful love to reach their full potential.

https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/15459-this-is-how-you-raise-successful-teens

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29023183

Psychol Sci. 2017 Oct 1:956797617721271. doi: 10.1177/0956797617721271. [Epub ahead of print]

Attachment and Effortful Control in Toddlerhood Predict Academic Achievement Over a Decade Later.

Dindo L, Brock RL, Aksan N, Gamez W, Kochanska G, Clark LA.

Abstract

A child’s attachment to his or her caregiver is central to the child’s development. However, current understanding of subtle, indirect, and complex long-term influences of attachment on various areas of functioning remains incomplete. Research has shown that (a) parent-child attachment influences the development of effortful control and that (b) effortful control influences academic success. The entire developmental cascade among these three constructs over many years, however, has rarely been examined. This article reports a multimethod, decade-long study that examined the influence of mother-child attachment and effortful control in toddlerhood on school achievement in early adolescence. Both attachment security and effortful control uniquely predicted academic achievement a decade later. Effortful control mediated the association between early attachment and school achievement during adolescence. This work suggests that attachment security triggers an adaptive cascade by promoting effortful control, a vital set of skills necessary for future academic success.

KEYWORDS: academic performance; attachment; effortful control; longitudinal; temperament

PMID: 29023183 DOI: 10.1177/0956797617721271

Mother-child MRI

Posted: December 15, 2015 in brain
Tags: , , , ,

While most new moms get their children’s first portrait done at, say, the local mall’s JC Penney Portrait Studio, neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe opted for a slightly different location: the tube of an MRI scanner.

“No one, to my knowledge, had ever made an MR image of a mother and child,” she wrote in a article for Smithsonian magazine.

“We made this one because we wanted to see it.”

A Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Saxe told Mic that the inspiration behind the photo had little to do with the typical medical or research-based uses of MRI technology.

“We see brain scan images on TV and in subways advertisements as a proxy for technology and progress… [and] the Madonna is one of the oldest tropes in human art making,” she said of trying to capture the union between science and art in the image.

“These brain scanners are extremely modern technology, only available here and now, to the wealthiest place and time in human history,” she added. “[Yet] the image you see would look the same if it had been made on any continent or in any century, because the biology of human mothers and children you see in the picture has been the same for thousands, probably tens of thousands of years.”

In an interview with Today, Saxe suggested that the image may be indicative of how a child’s brain development is strengthened by a mother’s love. “Some people look at it and see mostly the differences: how thin his skull is, how little space there is between the outside world and his brain. It’s just this very fragile, very thin little shell,” she said. “On the other hand, you can look at it and see how similar it is to his mother’s brain. How close in size — so much closer in size than his hand is.”

Past MRI scans have also suggested that the bond between a child and mother can indeed have a major impact on brain size. Back in 2012, a side-by-side image of two three-year-olds’ brain scans indicated that the size of a neglected child’s brain is significantly smaller than one who was nurtured by his or her mother. Of that particular image, neurology professor Allan Schore told the Telegraph that the development of brain cells is a “consequence of an infant’s interaction with the main caregiver [usually the mother].”

Meanwhile, Saxe believes that the image can also help generate an interest in science. “I hope the main takeaway is that people who don’t normally feel a human connection to science and scientists, have a moment to pause and feel touched, and recognize that the scientific pursuit of self-knowledge is being done for, and by, people like us,” she told Mic.

http://mic.com/articles/130456/this-brain-scan-image-illustrates-the-powerful-bond-between-mother-and-child#.tkqP2UYTE