The Continuum Concept MOBI Ç The Continuum PDF \

The Continuum Concept MOBI Ç The Continuum PDF \

  • Paperback
  • 192 pages
  • The Continuum Concept
  • Jean Liedloff
  • English
  • 09 May 2017
  • 9780201050714

10 thoughts on “The Continuum Concept

  1. Shannon Shannon says:

    I had high expectations for this book, as it is an oft-mentioned title in Attachment Parenting circles and has its own following as a parenting style in and of itself. (Continuum Concept parenting and Attachment Parenting are not the same thing, but there is some overlap.) Though the book does contain many intriguing ideas, I found myself overall quite disappointed.

    The book, written in 1975 (with an introduction added in 1985), is based on the author's experiences spending extended time with an indigenous people in Venezuela, the Yequana. Based on her observations, she concludes that their way of life is more in harmony with the natural way that humans are meant to live, in accordance with the evolution of our species, than the lifestyle of modern Western society. She claims that the natural state of the Yequana is happiness, a primary example being that they do not have a word for work and they enjoy everything they do. The cause? She places huge emphasis on the importance of infants being held in their mothers' arms, 100% of the time, during the first 6-8 months of life, and attributes most of the unhappiness of modern civilization to the fact that infants in Western society are largely deprived of this in arms experience. She devotes a significant portion of the book to describing the subjective experience that she imagines an infant in each respective culture goes through, and the remainder of the book critiquing specific aspects of modern child-rearing and explaining how specific personality characteristics and modern problems are specifically the result of being deprived of the in arms stage.

    The fatal flaw of this book is that the ideas presented are purely the theories and opinions of the author. The author has absolutely no qualifications other than her personal experience with this particular group of people: she is not an anthropologist, sociologist, psychologist, scientist, researcher, doctor, or any other relevant qualification. Throughout the entire book there was only one citation. In fact she is overtly anti-intellectual, stating that our overuse of intellect in the modern world has, to our detriment, taken over our natural instincts as humans. There may be some truth to this, but I found it ironic that someone writing a book primarily about the importance of following one's instinct in the care of infants is not even a mother herself. There were certainly several parts of her book that my motherly instinct just flat out rejected. Some of the claims of the author have since been shown to be true by research, however others contradict the findings of research. Her own cultural bias is apparent in her assumption that homosexuality is a pathology and the assumption of the existence of God. However the opinions of the author in this book are presented as if they are objective fact. It would have been more accurate if every sentence in the book was preceded with I think, I believe, or My theory is.

    For instance, the lengthy descriptions of an infant's experience in the indigenous and then the modern world are presented as factual descriptions, when in fact they are her interpretations of her observations, colored by her opinions. In short, they stem from her imagination. Maybe there is truth to them, but maybe not; there is no way of knowing. I wonder if Yequana mothers, let alone infants of either culture, would agree with these descriptions. While interesting to think about as a hypothesis or possibility, they don't have much value beyond the speculative.

    Another big problem with this book is that all of the author's assumptions about human nature and what is natural to our species come from her (unscientific) experience and observation of just one indigenous culture. Anthropologists have shown us that there is actually quite significant diversity among indigenous cultures, and Liedloff herself comments how different the neighboring indigenous cultures were from the Yequana. All cultures are unique, and adapted to their particular circumstances. She clearly idealizes all the features of the Yequana culture and assumes that modern culture would be better off by adopting them, but this is not necessarily the case. For example, she critiques parents for chasing their toddlers to keep them from harm or from wandering off, and the example she gives is of seeing modern parents do this in New York's Central Park! Maybe if I lived in an indigenous village surrounded by familiar places and trusted community members I could allow a toddler to wander as they pleased, but in a dangerous urban environment like NEW YORK CITY, I would definitely be keeping a protective watch on my child. The comparison of such different settings just doesn't make sense.

    A specific critique I have of the parenting style that the author advocates is her critique of modern Western parents being too child-centered. While I agree with the importance of a child being immersed in the normal life of adults and society, I don't think this should be done at the exclusion of direct interaction and attention, which in my experience babies both need and thrive on. In addition to some out of arms time being important to physical development (such as learning to crawl and sit, which start gradually from a very young age), I think that direct interaction and attention are a quite natural way of welcoming a child into the family and community, and communicating to them their inherent worth as a person. The way Liedloff describes it, she seems to advocate just completely ignoring young babies as one goes about their daily life. Not only do I think this is not healthy for the baby or the parent-child bond, but anyone who has ever had a baby can tell you it's not realistic. Babies have constant needs and are completely dependent on their caregivers to fulfill them- eating, sleeping, comforting, and toileting, are all things babies cannot do themselves, let alone laundry, bathing, and other tasks that are inherent to baby care. But the biggest disagreement I have with the author's criticism to being child-centered is that it directly contradicts one of the most central aspects of Attachment Parenting, being responsive to your child. Research has demonstrated the importance of caretakers being attentive to an infant's cues and responding in a caring, consistent way in order to establish a secure attachment. It is one of the central tenants of Attachment Parenting and its importance has been demonstrated in psychological research.

    That said, I did find many of the author's ideas quite intriguing. For example, I agree with the author about the importance of keeping young babies close to their mothers' bodies at nearly all times. Indeed, the importance of this has been demonstrated by studies done on touch, attachment, co-sleeping, and so forth. However, I think she isolates this particular issue excessively, rather than acknowledging it as one ingredient in an overall approach to parenting. Other important factors include growing up in an environment of unconditional love, acceptance, and belonging, caretakers who respond in a consistent and caring way, positive examples and relationships with family and community, breastfeeding, and a positive birth experience, to name a few. Just carrying your baby all the time is not enough; all aspects of parenting have an impact on babies and the adults that they grow into. I thought her interpretation of personality quirks to be very interesting, for example a person being very messy because they are seeking the fulfilment of deprived infantile needs (though someone taking care of them and loving them unconditionally despite their flaws). My subjective opinion (note my qualification!) is that this might very well be the case for some people, however it must be considered in light of the whole person, which is complex and individual.

    Another idea I liked about the book was the concept that children, like all humans, are social animals and they do what they think is expected of them. They instinctively want to fit in and please their parents. She gives an example that sometimes parents give them messages like Don't touch that, you'll hurt yourself and the message the children hear is that the parent expects them to hurt themselves at some point, and so they do. I do think that expectations are powerful and the language we use is important. But again, this is one factor in a complex system of influences, and needs to be considered in context.

    It appears even the things I like about the book have serious qualifications. So if there is so much to criticize about this book, why does it have such a strong following? What made it so popular?

    I think the reason is that it makes the reader question the status quo of the way we treat babies in our society in a powerful way. This was probably groundbreaking in the time it was written, and is still groundbreaking today for people who haven't been exposed to ideas outside of the mainstream. Just the idea of putting oneself in the shoes of a baby and imagining what they might go through is important. Asking the question of how humans evolved and how this impacts the needs of babies is important. Questioning our cultural practices and considering more traditional practices, like slings instead of strollers, or co-sleeping instead of cribs, is important. So in summary I think this is a great book to open minds and get people thinking, but because it is so grotesquely subjective and unscientific, it should not be looked to in itself as a source of information or a guide to parenting practices. Fortunately there are many other books available now which cover these topics and make use of more objective research methods through fields like anthropology, psychology, evolutionary biology, and neurobiology. For instance, I recommend Our Babies, Ourselves, which is a more scientific version of the topics broached in The Continuum Concept.

  2. Taylor Taylor says:

    What is a more perfect picture in this world than a contented baby in loving parent arms? Leidloff claim that this is the place to be if you are an infant; that the modern traditions of swings, cribs, playpens, and other child-holding-devices go against our nature and evolution, and can do great damage to a person by denying an infant’s automatic expectations.

    I agree with much of what she says. Obviously, babies are made to be held. We are the only primates that willing sets our young down for (often) hours at a time. We are the only primates that purposefully ignores our young’s cues for food/comfort/attention/etc. (Just let him cry…he’s fine…) We are the only primates that listen to the advice of “experts” rather than follow our own finely tuned and well evolved instincts when it comes to caring for our young.

    It’s an interesting book. Parts made me cry. Parts made me scoff. Parts made me want to throw the book across the room and throttle Ms. Leidloff. Parts resonated very strongly with me. She’s on to something, but I am only inclined to trust her so far…given that she has never had her own children. It’s supremely easy to talk expertly about theories. It’s an entirely different game to see those theories in action.

    I think the most amazing part was her conceptualization of the modern infant born in a hospital and placed in a crib, instead of in where it instinctively knows he belongs (in Mama’s arms).

    Reading this made me think about the many times parents have told me (as their childcare provider) to allow their infant to cry itself to sleep. I was deeply grateful for my safe homebirth and my son that is rarely allowed to cry without our loving attention and cuddles (only in the car seat…we run many errands on the bus now). It is no wonder infants sound like torture victims when allowed to cry alone. How horrible that must be.

    I have such a strong, mama-bear, visceral reaction to the very idea – and a holy horror of myself for the many times I have listened to parents instructions instead of my own heart and let babies cry – that I can’t seem to get cohesive sentences out just now.

    There are many places where Leidloff is full of crap…but anyone who writes a “raise your child this way” kind of a book is full of crap. If I were writing a book about caring for children it would go something like this:

    Every child is completely different and you are always flying by the seat of your pants. You’ll work it out. Just keep on loving them. That’s all.

    But that’s all personal opinion. If anyone else has thoughts on Leidloff’s concepts, I would be extremely interested…

  3. Cjasper Cjasper says:

    I first read this book seven years ago, as a new mom, and just reread it for book group. First of all, I am appalled at the state of mind I must have been in when I first read it, cause boy did I swallow it hook, line, and sinker. My brain must have been in a hormone-induced state of mush. I mean, evidence suggests that homosexuality may be caused by non-continuum care. I didn't even notice this before! Or how awesome it is that the girls' in the indigenous cultures greatest joy stems from the pleasure of bringing their father a drink of water. Yeah, that resembles what I want for my girls.

    Anyway, I still find the book unsettling for a couple of truths, as in true to my experience. Most moms I know find motherhood isolating. Most find it horribly disorienting. Most find it oppressively difficult. We all come through it, find ways to cope, rearrange our lives and psyches and eventually sort out our lives again. Nonetheless, I do wish I lived in a culture where these states of motherhood were not something to be overcome, a culture where motherhood is never even associated with these states of being. But now, much less then when I read this for the first time, I haven't a clue as to what to do with this insight.

  4. Michelle Michelle says:

    This book was a very bad read. So bad it belongs in it's own 'so bad it's good' category - I laughed out loud at some bits. Here (in my opinion) is why:
    1. The evidence presented for the book's main premise - that western traditions of raising children are damaging and a primary cause of drug abuse, homosexuality, social isolation and all manner of other societal evils - is hardly scientific. The author's singular observation of a south American tribe in the jungle suffices.
    2. Dare you bring a child up in traditional western ways e.g. use a pram, cot or playpen? The prelude explains you will - or should - feel very guilty, now you have been introduced to 'correct' child raising techniques.
    3. The author's belief the stone age Yuqana tribe instinctively know how modern society should raise their children is at best naive, at worst misanthropic.
    4. Some of the observational evidence provided to support the author's theory beggars belief. The author illustrates the evilness of playpens with an anecdote about a Yuqana tribesman who builds a crude playpen out of sticks for his children. When he realises the playpen is in fact no good for his children, he destroys it immediately. But why did this tribesman build a playpen out of the blue, without ever having seen or used one before? Why did he feel the need to build one, if in fact the tribe's child-raising techniques to date were so idyllic? It's never explained and I find myself wondering whether this example - and others - are fabricated 'evidence' to support the author's theories. (By the way, have any scientists returned to the jungle to test the author's continuum concepts?)
    5. The book's impersonation of an evidence-based anthropological study via use of big words and opaque, convoluted ( and sometimes contradictory ) language is laughable. Wish I still had a copy of the book to give you some examples of Liedloff's more brilliant passages.

    Needless to say, I am not opposed to Liedloff's baby rearing recommendations - baby wearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding on demand, etc. Rather, it's her execution of an argument for them that I have trouble with.

  5. Jenni Jenni says:

    Yowza. I started this book a few months ago, then picked it up again last weekend. What timing! I just read Weissbluth's HSHHC, and my husband and I are in the midst of transitioning our infant daughter to sleep in her crib.

    So with that in mind ... this book made me cry. Liedloff's chapter on The Beginning of Life -- the first experiences and feelings that a baby has when she's not in her mother's arms -- my gawd, how excruciatingly painful was that? I understand that she wants to make a point, and some of those feelings might be right on. But Liedloff doesn't know that (no one can), and anyone coming to her book after a few months or even weeks of mothering is in for a soul-wrenching read.

    I am a babywearer, and my daughter spent her first four months in my bed and in-arms. Then I had to go back to work, and my husband and I, along with our pediatrician, believed that we would all sleep better -- with our primary care and concern being our baby girl -- if she left the family bed. I cannot believe that, because of this decision, my baby will not grow into a happy, secure child or adult.

    There's a lot of interesting material on the social tendencies of humans, and I appreciate the alternative view of child-rearing in the Yequana culture. I agree that we need to trust our parental instincts more and occasionally tell the experts and pediatricians to bug off. But each child, each family is unique, and no mother should feel damned for making choices that work best for her family. So take Liedloff with a giant grain of salt. I'm just sayin.

  6. Tanja Tanja says:

    I really enjoyed this book, for the first half. It was interesting to read about the observations between western culture and the indian tribe's culture, but here it ends... She starts talking about homosexuality as being a reaction to a cruel father or a mincing mother... WTH. That small niggling in the back of my mind that had been whispering throughout the book came out screaming during that passage (yes pun intended), WHAT ARE YOUR CREDENTIALS TO BACK THIS UP?

    Just because much of the book cooperates with my child rearing belief, doesn't mean that it's good.
    She assumes a lot of things without, seemingly, any other basis than her observations... and while I agree with a lot of the thing she writes...I cannot in any way recommend anyone read it after this passage on homosexuality. It's just dumb. You can't make a homosexual, there are plenty of men and women with similar upbringings who aren't homosexuals... It's just assuming to much...
    I would always recommend Our babies ourselves over this book, it has a more scientific approach and the research is based on far more societies than The continuum concept which is based on two. Assumptions should not be promoted as facts...

  7. Lisa C Lisa C says:

    Every parent/parent to be should read this book. Very insightful and compelling. I learned so much about why I am the way I am, and why other people are the way they are. I feel it has set me on a path towards healing, and I am relieved to know that I can help prevent my child from being a victim of our culture. The basic idea of the continuum concept is that there is a natural way that we are all meant to develop, though civilized life has torn us away from it. When an infant doesn't get what he needs, it leads to problems for the rest of his life. Hold your baby until HE says he is ready to let go!

  8. Adrienne Adrienne says:

    If you have a baby or are going to have a baby, I consider this mandatory reading. Actually, whether or not you're having a baby, I think this is a very interesting read. The way we become parents and raise babies in our culture is historically quite strange and I think we would do ourselves all some good if we took some of the principles of this book to heart. Here's a quote:

    It is no secret that the 'experts' have not discovered how to live satisfactorily, but the more they fail, the more they attempt to bring the problems under the sole influence of reason and disallow what reason cannot understand or control.

    And another...

    We are now fairly brought to heel by the intellect; our inherent sense of what is good for us has been undermined to the point where we are barely aware of its working and cannot tell an original impulse from a distorted one.

  9. Roslyn Roslyn says:

    *If you are interested in this subject (how hunter-gatherers parent) I recommend Hunter-Gather Childhoods: Evolutionary, Developmental and Cultural Perspectives and The Lifeways of Hunter Gatherers.

    *If you are interested in different ways children can be raised, Preschool in Three Cultures is interesting. As is Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood.

    *Also it is interesting to note that many aspects of hunter-gatherer parenting are similar to aspects of parenting in low socio-economic circles. Read American Individualisms: Child Rearing and Social Class in Three Neighborhoods (Culture, Mind, and Society) if that sounds interesting.

    *If you want to be a better mom, read Dear Parents: Caring for Infants with Respect, The Secret of Childhood, or Escape from Childhood (depending on the age of your kids).

    The above books are far more worth reading than this one.

    This book, the Continuum Concept, is an uneducated woman ranting about what she thinks a tribe of Native Americans think about raising babies. Then she rants about her assumptions that all native peoples were parented exactly like this tribe. She thinks this tribe has happy babies and all babies would be happier if they were parented this one way and there would be world peace too. It's a pretty ridiculous book mostly full of emotionally charged and guilt-ridden lectures that have a lot more to do with her own issues than the reality of hunter-gatherer childhoods and lives.

    I did find her anecdotes about the Yequana fascinating (if questionable in their accuracy). Here are almost all of them since most of her book was not actually about the natives:

    One Yequana boy I knew came to me clinging to his mother and screaming at the top of his lungs from a toothache. He was about ten years old and so unfailingly self-reliant and helpful that I had supposed him to be highly disciplined. To my civilized view, he seemed a master of keeping his feelings to himself, and I therefore expected that in the present situation he would be making a terrific effort not to cry or to let his companions see him in such a state. But it was clear that he was making no attempt to suppress his reaction to the pain or his need for the primordial comfort of his mother's arms. No one fussed but everyone understood. A few of his playmates stood by to watch me extract the tooth. They did not have any difficulty in accepting his sudden departure from their gallant ranks into infantile dependence upon his mother; there was no hint of mockery from them, none of shame from him. His mother was there, quietly available, while he submitted to the extraction. He flinched and shrieked even louder several times when I touched the tooth, but he never pulled away or looked angry at me for causing the pain. When at last I worked the tooth free of the gum and stopped the hole with gauze, he was white in the face and went to his hammock exhausted. In less than an hour he reappeared alone, the color back in his cheeks and his equanimity restored. He said nothing, but smiled and poked about nearby for a few minutes to show me he was well, then wandered off to join the other boys.

    Another time it was a man of about twenty: I was doing my best to excise the beginnings of gangrene from his toe by flashlight. The pain must have been excruciating. While offering no resistance to my scraping the wound with his hunting knife, he wept without any sign of restraint on his wife's lap. She, like the little boy's mother, was completely relaxed, not putting herself in her husband's place at all, but serenely accessible, as he buried his face in her body when the pain was greatest or rolled his head from side to side om her lap as he sobbed. The eventual presence of about half the village at the scene did not appear to affect his reaction either toward self-control or dramatization.

    I was present at the first moments of one little girl's working life. She was about two years old. I had seen her with the women and girls, playing as they grated manioc in a trough. Now she was taking a piece of manioc from the pile and rubbing it against the grater of a girl near her. The chunk was too big; she dropped it several times trying to draw it across the rough board. An affectionate smile and a smaller piece of manioc came form her neighbor, and her mother, ready for the inevitable impulse to show itself, handed her a tiny grating board of her own. The little girl had seen the women grating as long as she could remember and immediately rubbed the nubbin up and down her board like the others. She lost interest in less than a minute and ran off, leaving her little grater in the trough and no noticeable inroads on the manioc. No one made her feel her gesture was funny or a surprise; the women did, indeed, expect it sooner or later, as they are all familiar with the fact that children do join in the culture, though their approach and pace are dictated by individual forces within themselves. That the end result will be social, cooperative and entirely voluntary is not in question.

    Caretaking, like assistance, is by request only. Feeding to nourish the body and cuddling to nourish the soul are neither proffered nor withheld, but are always available, simply and gracefully, as a matter of course.... Ideally, giving the child an example, or lead, to follow is not done expressly to influence him, but means doing what one has to do normally: not giving special attention to the child but creating the atmosphere of minding one's own business by way of priority, only noticing the child when he requires it and then no more than is useful.

    A Yequana tot would not dream of straying from his mother on a forest trail, for she does not look behind to see whether he is following, she does not suggest there is a choice to be made, or that it is her job to keep them together; she only slows her pace to one he can maintain. Knowing this, the babe will cry out if he cannot keep up for one reason or another.

    It is clear that they [young children] are imitative, cooperative and inclined to preserve the individual and the species, but they also include the specifics as knowing how to care for infants and having the ability to do so. To give the profound maternal urge in little girls no quarter, to channel it off to dolls when there are real infants about, is among other things a serious disservice to the children of the little girl when she grows up. Even before she can understand the instructions from her own mother, a little girl behaves instinctively toward infants int he precise manner required by infants since time immemorial. When she is old enough to consider alternative methods, she is already a long-standing expert in baby care and does not feel there is any advantage in thinking about it. She foes on throughout her childhood taking care of babies whenever she can, in her own family or among her neighbors, and by the time she marries. not only has nothing to discuss with the Doctor Spocks, but also has two strong arms and a repertoire of positions and movements with which babies can be held....

    The notion of ownership of other persons is absent among the Yequana. The idea that this is my child does not exist. Deciding what another person should do, no matter what his age, is outside the Yequana vocabulary of behaviors. There is great interest in what everyone does, but no impulse to influence--let alone coerce--anyone. A child's will is his motive force. There is no slavery--for how else can one describe imposing one's will on another and coercion by threat or punishment?

    [An outsider child was adjusting to the village.] Sometimes after he started walking, he hit other children. Interestingly, the other children regarded him without emotion; the idea of aggressiveness was so foreign to them that they took it as though they had been struck by a tree branch or from some other natural cause; they never dreamed of striking back, and went on about their games without even excluding Wididi.

  10. Eirene Eirene says:

    This book was very interesting, and definitely worth reading if you have/are going to have a baby. Take the best and leave the rest. The author spent some years with a tribe of Brazilian natives, and makes all of her conclusions based on her observations there. She says that packing your baby around in a baby carrier, and co-sleeping, and basically keeping baby near you at all times, meets a psychological need that both mother and baby have to be close to each other; she says it eliminates postpartum depression, and helps babies develop into capable, confident children and adults. I packed both of my babies until they were crawling, and co-slept for about six months before introducing the crib, and so far, have observed nothing that refutes the argument. My kids are both independent, happy, and have no separation anxiety. And I never had any postpartum issues. That was my experience, but I didn't do any of that stuff because it was the right way. (In fact, most people said it was wrong.) I did it because it felt natural and good. It met both of our needs. So, this book? I'd like to see some unbiased research into the subject. And since this book was written in the 'Seventies, and many people have read it and applied the principles, more research could be done. The book itself isn't perfectly convincing. I'm not huge into credentials, or anything, and a Ph.D definitely doesn't qualify somebody as a genius, so I'm willing to listen to her, and consider her ideas. But prepare yourself for a few over-excited, opinionated rampages. There's also the fact that she did very little additional research, and didn't have any children of her own. Often she cites experiences she had with pet monkeys. Come on, sister! But until that day when studies show I feel like these are principles worth applying, just because they feel right in your gut.

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The Continuum Concept[Epub] ❧ The Continuum Concept By Jean Liedloff –

Jean Liedloff, an American writer, spent two and a half years in the South American jungle living with Stone Age Indians The experience demolished her Western preconceptions of how we shoul Jean Liedloff, an American writer, spent two and a half years in the South American jungle living with Stone Age Indians The experience demolished her Western preconceptions of how we should live and led her to a radically different view of what human nature really is She offers a new understanding of how we have lost much of our natural wellbeing and shows us practical ways to regain it for our children and for ourselves.

About the Author: Jean Liedloff

Jean Liedloff was an American author, born in New York, and best known for her book The Continuum Concept She is the aunt of writer Janet Hobhouse, and is represented by the character Constance in Hobhouse's book The FuriesBorn in New York City in , as a teenager she attended the Drew Seminary for Young Women and began studying at Cornell University, but began her expeditions before s.