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A General Theory of Love: The Psychobiology of Mother Love

By Dale Boland
Berkley CA USA
Report from 2003 LLLI Conference
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 5, September-October 2003, pp. 182

Newborn babies love to be held and have their mothers close by all the time. Dr. Thomas Lewis demonstrated why this is so, in a whirlwind tour through the evolution of the human brain and current research on brain development and function. Amazingly, we mammals are dependent on other mammals in order for our brains and bodies to function normally. This is particularly true for human infants.

The mother's presence regulates many of the baby's bodily functions, including glucose levels and internal temperature. In fact, good mothering actually produces better mothers, while stress on mothers causes permanent brain alteration in infants, resulting in individuals who chronically overreact to stress. The implications of Dr. Thomas's presentation are both affirming and disturbing, pointing to a need for pediatricians to focus on the quality of mothering, which would have a profound effect on infant development. For individuals who received less than optimal mothering, all is not lost. Dr. Lewis suggested that resilience is possible, especially with later nurturance.

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