So where to begin? I suppose it makes sense to tell you why I started this blog and why hopefully it might be of interest to you. It seems to me that human beings are pretty odd creatures. On the one hand we have a seemingly infinite capacity for variation and invention, and yet on the other hand we are frustratingly predictable…sometimes tragically so. We exist as an incredibly complex interplay of physiology and environment, spending our lives in perpetual flux as we try to change and adapt to meet the demands that these twin forces place upon us. In adulthood we imagine ourselves better equipped to meet the obligations of our hectic social existence, but therein lies the irony. The truth is that from the moment we are born, we are primed, just as a plant seeks out sunlight, to search out these social bonds. It is these healthy and loving ties that enable us to take root in the world and without such we can feel fragmented, as though we are falling apart and not fully whole or alive. We understand implicitly that a secure attachment will ensure our survival…an intrinsic recognition that this bond will equip us with the tools we need to eventually navigate the world independently. These early experiences become the bedrock of who we are. It is my belief, however, that events in infancy have a far more potent effect than is currently understood by mainstream mental health. Indeed, the extent of what happens in these years cannot be understated. Everything, from how the brain develops to future emotional health is affected in this brief window of time. It is here that the psychological apparatus that regulate emotions, enable us to develop healthy relationships (our capacity to seek and give care) and cooperate with others is created. A dysfunctional attachment by contrast is a perversion of this…a chaotic and unpredictable environment in which the seeds of aggression, anxiety and a negative self-view are sown. Early infant environmental failure can and does lead to adult psychopathology.
For some the notion that an infant’s experiences can imprison the adult is by turns threatening or patently absurd. We are, they might suggest, wholly free beings, capable of continuous and independent acts of self-government and will. We are not prisoners of our past. And yet we see, played out before our eyes on our TVs, social media, in print and in our daily interactions with one another, transgenerational cycles of teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, and dysfunctional family dynamics cropping up with depressing regularity. Physiology and social deprivation have their roles to play, but money and medicine alone cannot fix this problem. The foundation of adult security is laid down in early childhood and there is a systemic failure within our mental health system to recognise the immense power of informed and mindful parenting. The economical, social and emotional cost of this lapse is incalculable.
So who am I?
I am Becs Eyre. I have worked directly in the field of psychotherapy for many years, working with Mind and the West London Mental Health NHS Trust as well as working in a private psychotherapy practice in Harley Street (- feel free to visit my practice here). I draw mainly on psychodynamic and attachment based principles. More mundanely, I obtained my degree in Psychology and Philosophy from Warwick University and have a Masters in Psychotherapy and an Advanced Diploma in Psychotherapy. I am also registered with the UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) and I am a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the British Psychological Society (BPS).
More personally, I am a mother of two and a twin. I mention the latter as we are both the architects of this endeavour. He is a philosopher, writer and a peripatetic English teacher. His utility stems from the fact that he often occupies a position about the world which is counter to my own. I suppose we often represent (to use a rather lazy and uninspired pun) twin views. I hope therefore he can function as a sort of devil’s advocate and resident sceptic. He likes to pursue a position to its logical conclusion, which is, he maintains, at the heart of Socratic questioning…and not a bad place to begin…or is that end?
You see, rather than suggest I have some privileged notion of how parent-infant relationships work, I feel far more comfortable appealing to your intuitive sense of what you observe happening in the world. The point is, I feel strongly enough about this that I wanted to enter the debate and I believe there are many others who feel similarly. My goal is not to sermonise, evangelize, editorialise or indeed any other –ise but to present a broad palette of issues with hopefully an objective (ish) eye. ‘The Early Human Handbook’ is not as the name suggests a manual for perfect parenting or a tome of unimpeachable authority (such a claim is foolhardy and more than a little arrogant). Instead, it designates a place to consider what makes us human and why we do the things we do. I plan to be psycho-educational and informative; topical, perhaps controversial but importantly vocal. It is my hope that together we can become a repository of information people can learn from and as a meeting place for fruitful discussion and debate.
‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ George Santayana