Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence

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9780871137340: Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence
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This new, revised edition incorporates significant advances in neurobiological research over the past decade, and includes a new introduction by Dr. Vincent J. Felitti, a leading researcher in the field. When Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence was published in 1997, it was lauded for providing scientific evidence that violence can originate in the womb and become entrenched in a child’s brain by preschool. The authors’ groundbreaking conclusions became even more relevant following the wave of school shootings across the nation including the tragedy at Columbine High School and the shocking subsequent shootings culminating most recently in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Following each of these media coverage and public debate turned yet again to the usual suspects concerning the causes of violence: widespread availability of guns and lack of mental health services for late-stage treatment. Discussion of the impact of trauma on human life especially early in life during chemical and structural formation of the brain is missing from the equation. Karr-Morse and Wiley continue to shift the conversation among parents and policy makers toward more fundamental preventative measures against violence.

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Hardly a week goes by without a headline screaming out the details of another heinous crime committed by an adolescent or young child. A 14-year-old massacres his classmates at a school prayer circle, two even younger boys fire into a crowd of middle school children killing five people, a student kills his teacher at the school prom. There is no doubt that crimes committed by children are increasing at an alarming rate and the big question is why? The authors of Ghosts from the Nursery produce compelling if not controversial evidence that violent behavior is learned and cultivated in the first few months of childhood development. Even more startling, the authors Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley believe that a predisposition to violent behavior can be learned before birth. A "chemical wash" of toxins such as drugs and alcohol, combined with a mother's stress hormones generated from rage or fear can directly effect the babies brain development. Illustrative case studies and anecdotes make for a fascinating and factually "fat" read. Lacking in the book is an acknowledgment of the larger picture--not all children raised in violent homes will become violent, and on an even larger scale, there is no mention of other contributing factors leading to teen violence. Would crimes be cut if guns weren't so readily available? Still, Ghosts from the Nursery is an engrossing book, which is bound to generate hot debate in the scientific world. --Naomi Gesinger

From the Back Cover:

Cutting to the heart of the alarming trend of violence committed by children, Ghosts from the Nursery gives startling new evidence that violent behavior is fundamentally linked to abuse and neglect in the first two years of life. In absorbing and accessible prose, Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley present case histories of "children who kill," focusing specifically on Jeffrey, a nineteen-year-old who sits on death row for a murder committed at age sixteen, along with recent research that shows how infancy is the stage during which the foundations for trust, empathy, conscience, and lifelong learning are laid down-or the predisposition to violent behavior is "hardwired" into the brain. Ghosts from the Nursery makes a convincing case for the revolution in our beliefs about the care of babies.

Praise for Ghosts from the Nursery:
"Evidence is building, as Ghosts from the Nursery demonstrates, that if we fail to love and nurture our children . . . we are not only condemning our children to a bleak future but we are destroying the fabric of our society. This is an eye-opening book."-Marian Wright Edelman, President, The Children's Defense Fund

"Karr-Morse and Wiley boldly raise some tough issues. . . . [They] start with a grim question-why are children violent?-and they forge a passionate and cogent argument for focusing our collective energies on infancy and parenthood to stop the cycle of ruined lives."-The Seattle Times

"Ghosts from the Nursery is ominous and persuasive. . . . [Karr-Morse and Wiley] join a growing chorus of childhood development experts in insisting that, to be effective, programs seeking to insure the welfare of children must intervene even before birth. . . .The unspoken message of Ghosts from the Nursery is more sobering still. It seems we have strayed so far from common sense and sensitivity in child rearing that we must rely on brain scans and F.B.I. statistics to remind us of what babies have always needed to thrive: attention, nourishment, stability and love."-New York Times Book Review

"An expert, disturbing and vitally important book . . . . If the problem of violence in America concerns you, read this book. You will be given no quick fixes. You are given truth. And it's truth all of us need to know."-Statesman Journal

"An alarming book with national scope. . . . [It's] methodical approach tying childhood development to recent research about the brain pushes us one step further down the road to dealing two intersecting and important issues: how to protect society from its growing pocket of violent citizens and how to protect children from the abuse and neglect that lead to membership in that terrible club."-The Portland Oregonian

"This book will make you realize as never before the importance of the 0-3-year period in every child's life. Ghosts from the Nursery shows the heavy price society pays for child abuse and neglect. This book skillfully takes a very real and frightening issue and encourages us to work harder to end it."-Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, United States Senate

"Right! Right! Right! This easy-to-read book is right on track for helping guide policy makers and parents about America's most precious resource...her children. I highly recommend it"-Dr. Ken Magid, author of High Risk: Children Without a Conscience

"The first three years of life are crucial not only to children but also to the whole society in which they live and grow and eventually reproduce. It is in the context of the self-interest even of those who care least for small children that this book appeals for child-friendly practices and policies-and should be widely heard."-Penelope Leach, Ph.D., author of Children First

"Essential reading for anyone interested in the roots of violence and in finding ways of reducing violence in our society."-Geraldine Dawson, Professor of Psychology, University of Washington, and editor of Human Behavior and the Developing Brain

"Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith Wiley are to be applauded for so successfully tracing the roots of violence to the complex early relations between brain and behavioral development. The story they tell is one that should be heard, and the warning bells they sound should be our wake-up call to do better by our children."-Charles A. Nelson, Professor of Child Psychology, Pediatrics, and Neuroscience, University of Minnesota

"In this remarkable and timely book, Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith Wiley interweave the compelling narrative of a child who has committed a violent crime with a comprehensive description of current relevant studies on attachment disturbances and brain development (many of which are being presented to the informed public for the first time) in order to convincingly argue that the roots of violence are cultivated in infancy. . . . The essential question is how we as a society can transform this pragmatic knowledge into very early prevention programs."-Allan N. Schore, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine

"Ghosts from the Nursery is an impressive book. As I read it I found myself wishing that I had had all the information and wisdom in this book back when I started working with children. The authors have done a wonderful job of digesting and presenting various complex areas and issues in a clear, entertaining fashion. It is a rare combination of skill, insight and intelligence that produced this book."-Bruce D. Perry, MD, Ph.D.

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