“The bond between a mother and her child is the strongest bond found in all of nature. All infants have an instinctive need to stay near their mothers for survival. Scientific studies prove that separation induces severe psychological stress, causes deviations from normal behavior that is predictable, and provides scientific evidence that show the negative effect on the well being of humans and animals.” Judith Land
The behavioral science of psychology that focuses on understanding behavior and the mind is called cognitive-behavioral research. Psychological and sociological data is replete with information about the importance of maternal bonding and the terrible consequences when it is disrupted. Nature has provided a process of ‘bonding’ to develop a close mother-infant relationship in the first year of life, so that a mother becomes attached to her particular baby. Keeping them together is necessary for survival. The distressing and well-known effects of early separation of mother and infant are contained in a vast array of literature covering the effects of brain damage on the behavior of animals. Separation anxiety disorder (SAD) is a psychological condition in which an infant experiences excessive anxiety due to separation from the mother.
Laboratory experiments separating infant monkeys from their mothers in an effort to determine what factors are responsible for infant bonding describes monkeys raised this way as ‘totally destroyed’ non-functioning adults. Monkeys raised by surrogate mothers engaged in strange behavioral patterns including excessive and misdirected aggression. Weaning causes cows and calves to vocalize loudly and show significant increases in walking, butting, and urinating. Calf-cow reunions immediately reduce behavioral signs associated with stress. This is the basis of the separation anxiety which normal infants often show, if they cannot re-unite with their mothers. Sheep, deer, buffalo, horses and other animals follow their mothers from birth. Chimpanzee mothers are exceptionally protective and caring. Infants too immature to walk are carried in their mother’s arms. Dolphin calves in the ocean maintain a close physical association with their mothers. Frantic acoustic signaling during separation increases the risk of mortality due to predation and starvation. Rats show fear and anxiety when separated. Wolves, dogs and cats afraid of separation are known to rescue their young in the face of grave danger. Elephants are among the most exuberantly expressive of creatures. They are capable of complex thought and deep feeling. They express joy, anger, grief, compassion, and love. The emotional attachment elephants form toward family members rivals our own. A baby elephant will cry for hours when separated from its mother. Bonds between mother elephants and their daughters last 50 years or more. Many animals also bond very strongly with humans. The stronger the bond is the greater the pain of abandonment. For the dog, the absence of attention and affection is tragic.
As a society, we have yet to recognize and appreciate the emotional and psychological needs of humans and animals. Sadly, many animals have been tortured and induced with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcoholism, autism, schizophrenia, anorexia, drug addiction, and spinal cord injuries for the purpose of understanding human psychology. Perhaps, many human troubles would be lessened if the emotional needs of infants and young children were better understood. This applies particularly to attachment needs and the effects of separating human infants from their parents.
Well written, astute analysis. Please note, that the PTSD also happens to the moms.
Danielle, I agree that mothers separated from their children have an equal chance of experiencing the anxiety referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder. The bond between a mother and her child is the strongest bond found in all of nature. All infants have an instinctive need to stay near their mothers for survival. Scientific studies prove that separation induces severe psychological stress, causes deviations from normal behavior that is predictable, and provides scientific evidence that show the negative effect on the well being of humans and animals. Psychological and sociological data is replete with information about the importance of maternal bonding and the terrible consequences when it is disrupted. Judith
Reblogged this on loveforgrace.org and commented:
The separation of Mother and Child is incredibly devastating….
LoveForGrace, The church and state hand the birth parents a piece of paper officially pardoning them and releasing them of all moral responsibility for their own child—but the document is not signed by God. They will never know anything about the destiny of their child or if a family living in a foreign country will adopt her—they wouldn’t even know their child’s name. All legal connections with their child are as coldly and skillfully severed as the cutting of the umbilical cord. Judith
Thank god they didn’t give such a document to me. although i was threatened. but black and white proof that they maliciously conspired to sever me? i already dream of smashing everything in their horrible building. and i pray fervently daily for her, thank god they didn’t send such a horrible document.
54 years later. The anxiety has been lifelong and gotten progressively worse, even with psychological help. I spent much of my life trying to find other reasons for this anxiety and only in the last five years have come to recognize it as a response to post adoption separation. It is a terrible affliction. I do not remember a time in my life when I felt “safe and sound”. I have spent my whole life afraid and in constant fight or flight response. I recently and finally found my birth families and sadly both of my parents are deceased. I am trying to find resolution, but it is elusive.
Jo-Ann MacCready: Your symptoms are real. I feel your pain. I agree that finding resolution is elusive for individuals seeking peace in their lives. Scientists, psychologists, counselors, sociologists, spiritual leaders and other experts in countries from around the world have many words and theories to describe the pain of separation that is unrelenting and difficult to resolve. “Separation anxiety disorder” (SAD) is a psychological condition in which an individual experiences excessive anxiety regarding separation from people to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment that creates feelings of vulnerability, insecure fears of being alone, and chronic anxiety leading to significant distress, worry and fear and anxious attachment styles. Severing the connection with the birth mother is a stressful incident that traumatizes the primitive instincts of the adopted child; an occurrence that may lead to a severe psychological condition referred to as the “primal wound.” “Post traumatic stress disorder” and “adopted child syndrome” similarly explain the intense psychological trauma that may result from exposure to a severely distressing event. Homesickness, broken heartedness, the loss of a loved one and separation are difficult to diagnose but the feelings are real. Books and periodicals covering the topics of “genealogical bewilderment, chronic fatigue syndrome, failure to thrive, selective mutism, serotonin levels,” and hundreds of other topics fill the library shelves of psychologists, scientists and medical doctors. “Harry Harlow’s experiments” had powerful implications for any and all separations of mothers and infants, including adoption, as well as childrearing in general. His scientific data confirmed the well known psychoanalytic emphasis on the mother-child relationship at the dawn of life. His work helped influence key changes in how orphanages, adoption agencies, social services groups, and child care providers approached the care of children. When we adoptees are feeling hurt and hoping to heal our wounds, I recommend seeking inner peace in quiet spaces where we can comfortably share our accepted wisdom with God. Judith
Biologists often provide the simplest answers to questions because they are unencumbered with the complications of emotionally driven behavior and psychoanalysis of diversified complex individuals. For survival purposes, many animal species are driven to reunite and reconnect with their own kind. Finding the right niche, forest habitat, and migration pattern is all part of the mystery of life, and in the animal kingdom those who are most successful at finding the niche into which they were born are more likely to survive.
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