Sunday, November 18, 2001

A Mother's Strength

In my April 20th entry, I introduced the results of a study on how, during the years before entering kindergarten, children who spend long periods of time in daycare facilities and such, away from their parents, often times become more aggressive and rebellious than those who have been brought up by their parents. This was the finding of a psychological study of 1300 children, and a recent study in the field of neuroscience concludes that there is a possibility that the brain of children whose mothers do not look after them in early developmental stages, may not develop normally. This was confirmed in an experiment with mice, and specialists believe that the same may be true for the human brain. These findings were published in the November 15, 2001 issue of New Scientist.

According to this report, Dr. Bruce McKewen of Rockefeller University and his team conducted an experiment on newborn mice. During the seven days immediately following birth, a period when they would normally be under their mother's constant care, the mice were separated from their mothers for three hours a day. After this, the team studied the 30,000 genes of the mice and found changes in two cranial areas. Thereupon, they found that, compared to normal mice, the nerve cells in the brain that seemed to connect the genes had changed. Dr. Wayne Brake of the University of California, Santa Barbara stated, "This indicates that the brain is developing differently in the mice in this experiment, and perhaps that the nerve cells are connected differently." A similar change is found in the study of production of dopamine in the brain. It is said that increased levels of dopamine in the brain are responsible for the symptoms of schizophrenia, while decreased levels have to do with depression.

With all the technical terminology, it may be difficult to understand, but, put simply, it means that the brain of the mice who grew up without enough of their mother's love were different than that of those which had not been separated from their mothers. It is very possible that the same mechanism as this works in the brain of a human child. In that case, it is possible that the child might develop schizophrenia or depression. This shows what a tremendous influence a mother has on her child. Therefore, mothers should not use the TV as a means of "baby sitting" and avoid leaving children at a daycare center, particularly in early developmental stages.

After the Seicho-No-Ie Public Lecture in Takasaki City, I went to see a statue called the Goddess of Mercy in a White Robe (AKA Takasaki Goddess of Mercy) in that city. When we hear the word, "Goddess of Mercy", we tend to think of an "affectionate", "child rearing" Goddess -- symbols of "mother" or "women." Looking at this statue, however, for some reason, it struck me as being quite masculine. The mouth was set in a firm, tightened way, and the eyes were clear and dignified. It occurred to me that perhaps it is just this type of strong will, faith and conviction that young mothers nowadays need to bring up their children with.

- MT

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