Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential-and Endangered

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Denver Post
“Once in awhile a book changes the way I experience the world. This time it’s Born For Love, by Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz. Their book explores how children learn to love-or not. No work of fiction is as compelling.”
BigThink.com
“An accessible and important work of popular science.”
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
Denver Post
“Once in awhile a book changes the way I experience the world. This time it’s Born For Love, by Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz. Their book explores how children learn to love-or not. No work of fiction is as compelling.”
BigThink.com
“An accessible and important work of popular science.”
Gretchen Rubin
“Empathy, and the ties that bind people into relationships, are key elements of happiness. Born for Love is truly fascinating.”
Annie Murphy Paul
“Strikingly original and thought-provoking, Born for Love explores the crucially important role empathy plays in all of our lives. It should be required reading for every parent, partner, and friend.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061656781
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/6/2010
  • Pages: 374
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., is the senior fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy (www.ChildTrauma.org), a not-for-profit organization based in Houston that is dedicated to improving the lives of high-risk children, and he is an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago. He is the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children.

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Table of Contents

Authors' Note ix

Introduction 1

1 Heaven is Other People 7

2 In Your Face 27

3 Missing People 45

4 Intense World 72

5 Lies and Consequences 96

6 No Mercy 120

7 Resilience 145

8 The Chameleon 170

9 Us Versus Them 193

10 Glued to the Tube 211

11 On Baboons, British Civil Servants, and the Oscars 232

12 Warm as Iceland 259

13 All Together Now 288

epilogue People and Programs 323

Acknowledgments 335

Appendix 338

Notes 343

Index 364

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A must read for anyone who works or relates with people

    This compelling book gives several case vignettes from the authors to discuss the development of attachment and empathy. It also addresses the greater societial issues of our attention to healthy human development. The authors look to different cultures and how empathy is viewed and nourished. The book closes with some of the compassionate programs that help youth develop a sense of empathy and regard for their relationships. I believe it presents a strong argument of why we are in need of empathy to save our civilization.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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