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Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential--and Endangered

Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential--and Endangered
Author: Bruce D. Perry - Maia Szalavitz
ISBN 13: 9780061656781
ISBN 10: 6165678
Edition: N/A
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2010-04-06
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 384
List Price: $25.99

An inside look at the power of empathy: Born for Love is an unprecedented exploration of how and why the brain learns to bond with others—and a stirring call to protect our children from new threats to their capacity to love

From birth, when babies' fingers instinctively cling to those of adults, their bodies and brains seek an intimate connection, a bond made possible by empathy—the ability to love and to share the feelings of others.

In this provocative book, renowned child psychiatrist Bruce D. Perry and award-winning science journalist Maia Szalavitz interweave research and stories from Perry's practice with cutting-edge scientific studies and historical examples to explain how empathy develops, why it is essential for our development into healthy adults, and how it is threatened in the modern world.

Perry and Szalavitz show that compassion underlies the qualities that make society work—trust, altruism, collaboration, love, charity—and how difficulties related to empathy are key factors in social problems such as war, crime, racism, and mental illness. Even physical health, from infectious diseases to heart attacks, is deeply affected by our human connections to one another.

As Born for Love reveals, recent changes in technology, child-rearing practices, education, and lifestyles are starting to rob children of necessary human contact and deep relationships—the essential foundation for empathy and a caring, healthy society. Sounding an important warning bell, Born for Love offers practical ideas for combating the negative influences of modern life and fostering positive social change to benefit us all.

Library Journal

Psychiatrist Perry (Child Trauma Acad.) and award-winning science journalist Szalavitz collaborated on The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, and this work maintains their high standard of quality as they explore their topic as it pertains to the newborn infant and to society at large—here and abroad. Mirror neurons bond infant and caregiver, releasing the hormone oxytocin to ingrain and reinforce the lifelong capacity for empathy. Chapters use compelling vignettes to explain this phenomenon in adoption, autism, health, school; groups and gangs; war, economics, and politics; and status and stress. The authors effectively connect neurons and psyche, family, and the wider world. They explain epigenetics and how genes are "set" for or against flexibility by early experience. Research shows the advantages of paid leave for new parents and the disadvantages of screen time (e.g., television and video games), economic inequality (which fosters mistrust and alienation), and chronic stress. VERDICT This clear, expert, up-to-date presentation of what makes us human, happy, and durable as a species will enhance any library. [Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-198767-0.]—E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC