Plenary: The Biology of Loss: What Happens When Attachments Are Impaired and How To Foster Resilience
This presentation, based on the best-selling Scattered Minds, Hold on To Your Kids, and In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, outlines the mental health implications of early childhood emotional loss, whether due to abuse in the family or simply of stress on the parents, on the subsequent loss of attunement with the child.
Childhood developmental disorders such as ADHD, ODD, and other mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, personality disorders, etc. can all be traced to either negative childhood experiences or the absence of sufficiently positive ones. Addiction and adult mental health issues also flow from the same source.
The impact of the environment on brain development is discussed, along with ways of recognizing and helping to heal the negative consequences of early loss. Also discussed is the impact of peer orientation, as articulated in Hold On To Your Kids.
Workshop: Illness & Health in a Toxic Society
Half of North American adults suffer from chronic illness – a fact Western medicine views largely in terms of individual predispositions and habits.
Western medicine imposes two separations, neither tenable scientifically. First, it separates mind from the body, largely assuming that most chronic illnesses have nothing to do with people’s emotional and psychological experiences. And yet, a large and irrefutable body of research has clearly shown that physiologic and behavioural functioning of human beings can be understood only if we integrate our body functions with those of the mind: functions such as awareness, emotions, our interpretations of and responses to events, and our relationships with other people. Second, Western practice views people’s health as separate from the social environment, ignoring social determinants of health such as class, gender, economic status, and race. Such factors, in reality, are more important influences on health and longevity than individual predispositions and personal factors such as genes, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and so on.
This talk shows how a society dedicated to material pursuits rather than genuine human needs and spiritual values stresses its members, undermines healthy child development and dooms many to chronic illness, from diabetes to heart disease, from autoimmune conditions to cancer.