PERIODS OF NORMALCY
32. We must always orient ourselves to build on the strengths and assets of the person rather
than focussing on the weaknesses and deficits of the person. Often, becoming a professional gives us a license to be negative.
One of the most common errors
in training for professions is the assumption that all professional work will be free of negativity, criticism, and hostility. Professionals and non-professionals alike who are preoccupied solely with the symptoms and deficits of the person are guilty
whether they are aware or
not of negativity and hostility. There are many classist elements in this practice. Persons needing help are often put down and are sometimes seen and treated as though they were inferior. As a result, a person's potential is not realized and he is dragged
down by the very process
that is supposed to build him up.
Of course, it is also a gross error to act as though there
are no deficits or problems. The person is also violated if the problem is overlooked.
The problems and deficits must be seen in the total perspective of the person's strengths and assets and because we know of man's remarkable power to overcome difficulties,
we should always maintain a proper spirit of hopefulness and optimism regardless of any other factors.
33. We must respect the person's need to know his ancestors and the history of his family and their ways in the here and now and through the past three or four generations. This is what we call an individual's rootedness.1 When a person doesn't know his roots, he suffers deprivation
without knowing what he is
missing. Knowledge of
one's roots is as vital to a full life as are certain vitamins to a full diet.
It is very good if one comes to know one's roots by knowing the people that are part of one's geneology, but it is enough to know of them if they are dead, or separated by insurmountable distance.
34. We must remember that basic life patterns are set in the very earliest years of life and that these patterns will only change through a deep carefully monitored dependency
relationship which has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Because
this is so, we take only a limited number of children through dependency related treatment and only if they need it in order to make a satisfactory
life adjustment. In excess of 80 per cent of the children who come to us, labelled as
the one to two per cent most disturbed, do not need this intensive treatment.
All normalized extended families provide ample opportunity for dependency nourishment of short duration as needed by the family members.
The adults may need it only at times of great stress, or at times of illness, adolescents may need it randomly as they feel frightened,
"Rootedness" by John L. Brown, Family Involvement, Vol. 6 No. 5, May-June 1974. Available as reprint, 5Q$. or challenged, younger children may need it many
times a day. A person's need
for dependency relationships must be assessed as part of a differential diagnosis and provision for the dependency needs of each person must be part
of a proper treatment plan.
35. We have said that the mind records the feelings attached to any event and that these feelings are
mixed with the recording of the event itself and the sensory modalities through which it is experienced. These feelings are processed in exactly the same way as any event
recorded in the mind is processed.
They always attach to the
original event, but that event is always classified with other events and integrated into all the accumulated data, experience, knowledge and mood that has preceded this particular moment. The feelings attached to any
event can govern how
it is processed by the mind and this influence may cause events to be classified together,
or integrated with one another, more by the influence of the feelings attached to the
event than the nature of the event, or the event itself.
The development of the sensory modalities governs and reflects the psychological milestones of early childhood. The external world as we experience it and perceive
it through various sensory
modalities is coloured by the sensory modality employed as well as the experience
itself. A developing person first takes in the world in a total way through those experiences that relate to sucking, eating, and taking
nourishment and all the attendant stimulations that are associated with that.
This is so because the child at the age of nursing, does not have knowledge, or
experience, or language and has not identified and classified the object world by name or label and so the sensations and experiences that produce the sensations are recorded
in the brain in non-verbal and pre-verbal ways. How the mouth and all the related
organs encompass the child's experiences governs
the data that the child collects at that time about the world around him and his
experiences in it.
I will give you an illustration of what I mean when I say that how we perceive the world influences what we see. The child is born without language, without knowledge, with all of his previous experience of having his total needs met within the body of the mother. When he first experiences the mother
outside her body it is to experience not a person, but a service: Not a human relationship, but the fulfillment of needs.
He experiences the world around him through his sensory modality. So the mother
is seen through the sense of touch as something that holds him, changes
his diaper, picks him up when he cries, fondles him, and makes strange noises which he
doesn't understand. There are many other noises that he can hear that he doesn't understand. There are shapes that he can see that he doesn't understand. At the same time
that he experiences the mother through the sense of touch, he also experiences
the mother through the sense of touch in feeding and because this is such
an important thing to happen, the mouth becomes the main sense of communication for the child.
After a while he begins to connect with his eyes and ears, through the sense of sound, hearing, and sight, noises and shapes that are always
the same, that always
connect with the nursing, or the diapering, etc. And so the mother begins to be seen now as a certain shape that makes certain noises — the shape and noises being different from any other shape or noises that he experiences. The noises are strong and the shape is very large viewed from where he lies.
As he lives and grows, he learns to compare one experience with another and to attach certain experiences to certain people. He then begins to see the mother as having a special
function, as well as a special
sound, as well as a special shape. This is what I mean by our experiences being influenced by the sensory modalities that are used in having those experiences.
36. Most people achieve a healthy balance between dependency and independency during their childhood and their adolescence, but
there are some of us who fear dependency and others of us who equally fear independency
and all of us sometimes fear dependency and fear independency. It is obvious that the people who come and work
in our program must have the capacity to allow others to become dependent on them
to the degree that is necessary for the successful resolution of the children's problems. It is also obvious that a person
cannot really allow dependency to occur unless they themselves are capable of establishing a dependency relationship with someone
else, or they themselves have experienced a complete dependency relationship between themselves and an older adult. Part of our task then is to help the
children and staff learn how to use dependency relationships and learn how to move
beyond needing them. A person's capacity to parent is very closely related to whether or not that person has received within his own
family, the necessary direct experience of being dependent on or being parental for others.
The ability to
allow oneself to become dependent on someone is conditional on a certain degree of trust being established toward that person. The
trust need not be 100 per cent, it may be only partial trust. We must be sensitive
with new children to do those things with them that produce a feeling of trust
in us. We must be truthful, we must be reliable, we must be respectful of
their special feelings and circumstances.
Of course it is obvious that if you are part of a large kinship group who are living with you then trust and dependency can be established with a number of people and you have
choices which are not offered
in the nuclear family. In the extended family, if you can't develop trust and dependency with your biological parents, there are other people around that it can be developed with. In the nuclear family, if you can't develop trust in and dependency on your parents you are just out of luck.
37. Each child must perform certain life tasks and functions appropriate to his stage of growth. He needs help from his family and kin to do this. If a task is only partially
done, or is left undone. it immediately affects subsequent tasks. We start having not existed, then we are born; we go through the ages and stages of growth and development
that are part of our life's journey and we die. In that space between the beginning
and the end of us we live out our potential to the degree that we are able and have the opportunity to fulfill ourselves
to our human potential where we are at, or at that point where we are at
in our life's journey. It is this that I refer to as the tasks that we each must perform in our life. I don't mean that we know that we have an assignment and then carry
it out, I mean that we carry out life's assignment unconsciously and to the degree
that we do that, to that degree we are fulfilled. To the extent that we leave essential
tasks undone, or only partially done, to that degree we carry forward the undone
work of our earlier years into later years. The backlog of the earlier tasks interferes in the performance of the tasks that are part of our life's journey in the
here and now. It is a truism that I must do those things that a child does when I am a child, so that I can do those things that
a man does when I am a man. Just as it is true that a girl must do those things that a girl does when she is a girl so that she can do those things that a woman does when she is a woman. Life is a misery when we must do adult tasks when we are children and when we are childish in our responses as adults.
I don't want to leave this section without emphasizing the difficulty of doing the tasks that we must do in the earliest parts of our life. Learning our mother tongue without going to special classes and without having the language or tuition is a very hard job that we all have to do. The job of learning to share our family and our
siblings and our parents,
the job of becoming civilized
and giving up our pleasure principle impulses, the job of becoming a sexual being and carrying out our sexual roles, the job of finding an occupation and the means for making a living and caring for our people — all these things are incredibly difficult tasks. The job of finding a mate, of having children, of knowing what the tasks are in each stage of our life — this is what I mean by the work that we have to do in living. It differs for each age and stage of our growth and, of course,
it carries with it unbounded joy and pleasure when we do it well and in its proper time.
38. Our world is accelerating in terms of knowledge and awareness and power and control at an astounding pace. More has been learned in the last thirty years about man and nature than in
all of previous history.
Our physical and psychological being has evolved over millions of years. It took time and we had time. Now we are in danger of not having time. To the extent that we can normalize our life style we can alleviate this pressure. At the same time the mind is finite and as the pace of life increases, the mind is handed an ever larger assignment of data,
experience, and feeling to manage. We have not yet found a way to rid the mind of useless
facts and irrelevant data. We have not yet found ways to alter the feelings that
we have collected through our life experiences that may be hinderances or blocks
to our functioning. In the western world of television, advertising
and excessive consumerism, each person is subject to a vast number of stimulations
that are false and misleading. To cope with all this worthless input takes a great deal of energy. As we approach the limits
of our finite mind we may have to think of a more selective and desirable input to keep from cluttering it up or burdening it with useless false information.
39. In all of life there is a need for the specialized
knowledge of the experts being integrated at important intervals in whatever activity we are engaged in. Later the specialized
knowledge tends to be defused
to the broad mass of people at the same time that the expert becomes more expert in the
area of his expertise. We need the machinery established in the social and psychological sphere to make available to all of us the knowledge about ourselves
that is being discovered each day at a greatly accelerating rate. This can best be done if we develop a structure similar to the Browndale
Professional Resource Bank.
The Browndale Professional Resource Bank is based on many years of practical experience
in industry and
commerce around the best use of experts, whether they be engineer, psychiatrist, chemist, or meterologist. We borrowed from these
groups and from the field of private medicine when we established The Professional
Resource Bank. Simply stated, the principle advises that the more expert a person
is, the less he has to do with the direct production, or service. His special knowledge, insight, and awareness should be made available to the planners, designers, and
production staff, but the decisions of how this is used should not be his.
From the field of medicine we borrowed the practice of contracting between the private practitioner
and a family for medical services. So our Professional Resource Bank is made up of people with many specialties who are on call to the staff
and children of a treatment house as they have need for this input. This practice takes the professional expert in the
Browndale system out of the direct authority line and out of the position where he can prescribe specific treatment. Just
as a private family has the final decision, so the Browndale Therapeutic Family has the final decision over what is to be done with the
child. We prefer that the child's own parents be very much a part of this process whenever this is possible.
One of the seldom recognized benefits that is a by-product in this organization for
professional input (especially if there is good rapport between the staff of the Professional Resource Bank and the staff and children
in the therapeutic family homes) is that much potential exists for the practice
of preventive intervention while the problems are just beginning. The trust and
confidence that the child, the staff and the professional person share with
one another is hard to achieve in any other structure for professional input.
40. Somehow there has to be an integration of our normalized existence with
new knowledge. The concept of normalization rests on the premise that we do those things that are natural and useful and that
have been tested in practice. Implicit in this is the inference that if we are doing things the way we have
learned to do them
best, how do we ever get change? It should be understood from the outset that it is our
duty and our nature to question whatever is new and to first make our judgement
on the basis of comparisons between that which we know and that which is being newly introduced.
Despite this, man has the capacity to incorporate new and startling things into his life style provided their usefulness is easily discernable by him. If the new things
are of a material nature, they are more easily absorbed and integrated into his life
than if they are of a philosophical, sociological, or conceptual nature.
So much of what we do in our therapeutic parenting of children and in our relationships
with the biological family of the child is contrary to common practice in the community, especially in those areas where we are
tolerant of behaviour and where we hold people accountable and responsible (the
extremes of the spectrum)