Brazil Experiment with Babies

Study on attention

[From Marsha…I’ve heard a lot of controversial advice about attention given in raising children through the years like “Don’t give the kids too much attention because you’ll spoil them.” or “It’s bad to let them show off.”  Later it became “Don’t break their little spirit” which came to mean let them do whatever they want which I observed led to entitlement and inability to consider others. I’m sure you have many of your own “passed down’ suggestions from parents, peers and other sources.

The teachings talk about the four dual basic urges and how we continually want to gain attention which results in many unconscious things we say and do to get it – some who have money even try to buy attention through parties and gifts.

On the other side of the four dual basic urges, It mentions wanting to escape being ignored or rejected; and how we react to what people say and do believing that they are putting us down when often it was never meant that way.

The teachings also say wanting attention is not bad or good, it’s just what goes on in the manmade world. When we’re aware of the unconscious urge, we can wake up. One small way I saw to get in charge of my inner state was to not expect people to remember my birthday. So I just take care of that myself by doing something special for me that I wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Below is more descriptions of occurrences that have happened in the past from a workshop called Santa Cruz 71 found in the CD’s from Jim Wilson on the website under links.  Dr. Bob begins…]

The ancient Chinese have a method of punishment that they refer to as ostracism.  In a given village if a person didn’t play by the rules the village had set out, they met together and decided that he was worthy of ostracism possibly.  If they found him worthy of ostracism, he could walk into a teahouse and nobody saw him.  He could walk down the street and nobody spoke to him.  Nobody said a word.  If he went into a food supply place, nobody could see him – they just acted like he wasn’t there.  In other words, he was totally being ignored.  This was equivalent to a death sentence because the man usually didn’t survive very long under it. 

A few years ago an experiment was run in Brazil with a big orphanage which they didn’t seem to have too many compunctions about.  They took 300 infants that were admitted to the orphanage – just infants.  All 300 received a very balanced diet as best could be determined by the best physicians available.  Each were given clean clothes and clean beds to sleep in. 

The difference was that 150 of the babies were picked up and cuddled and suckled and so forth by some lady at least one hour everyday – about four 15-minute sessions. 

The others were only given the essentials of care – no attention. They were bathed, but that was all.  There was no cuddling or anything, they were bathed as efficiently as possible. 

At the end of one year of the 150 who were being cuddled and petted every day, two had died. 

Of the 150 who had been just taken care of efficiently, 70 some odd had died – almost 50 percent. 

At the end of the second year, only 15 of the “efficiently cared for” were alive; and 144 were alive of the group that had been given attention. 

So a psychologist came up with a statement that we must have attention in order to survive and we must have approval in order to thrive.  Kind of makes a little rhyme and is somewhere pretty close to right. 

Some attention to the baby can be just scoldin’ : “Don’t do that!  – “Now get away from that!” That’s at least getting some kind of attention.  Now he would, of course, rather have approval, but he’s at least getting attention that way. 

He would love to have approval at a certain stage of his development; and he must have approval or he will be very uncomfortable; and one of the more painful things we can think of is disapproval; and the disapproval we like least is that which is directed at number one – me.  That right?  I can stand your disapproval of others; I don’t like it, but when it gets to this one, that’s really painful.  

[Here’s the statistics easier to see.]

300 infants in Brazilian orphanage

A group: 150 babies were regularly cuddled/petted for 4 x 15 minutes every day

B group: 150 only given essential care

After 1 year

From A group only 2 infants died (1.3 %)

From B group 70 + died  (almost 50 %)

After 2nd year

From A group 144 babies were alive that is 96% survived

From B group only 15 infants were alive.  That is 10 % survived.

[From Marsha…In studying the tapes since 1975 I’ve heard many workshops where Dr. Bob made comments about this subject.

He has said that if we want attention, we can just ask for it. Imagine that! My cat has figured that out – he just rolls over and has a cute little meow. I can’t turn that down.  He’s got his mood up!  I have tried asking for attention and it worked – the trick for me is to be free to be rejected if it should occur. It’s a pretty good bet, though, that most will come through in some way, shape or form.

He also said that to “give attention” is very worthwhile. Everyone needs it, yet we forget not only to give attention but also appreciation. It is an activity that doesn’t cost us anything, and yet is very effective in connecting with people.

With 2020 and the pandemic, the devastation of the lack of giving and receiving attention was felt by everyone. I heard from many who live alone saying how difficult it was without human touch to the point of descending into self-pity and depression. The pandemic has made people afraid of each other; and it will take awareness and courage to bridge the gap that has occurred to bring all of us together again.]

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