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If a parent loves him in the healthiest way, wherein his needs are paramount, mistakes are forgiven, patience is plentiful, and hurts are soothed as best they can be, then that is how he will relate to himself and others. Anomalous love—one where his needs don’t matter, or where love is suffocating or autonomy intolerable—makes its ineradicable limbic stamp. Healthy loving then becomes incomprehensible.
Lengthy parental absence deprives a child of limbic regulation. If he is very young, losing his parents upends his physiology. Prolonged separations even can be fatal to an immature nervous system, as vital rhythms of heart rate and respiration devolve into chaos. Sudden infant death is increased fourfold in the babies of mothers who are depressed—because without emotional shelter, infants die. The heart rhythms of securely attached babies are steadier than those with insecure relationships, just as the breathing teddy bear regularizes the respiration of premature infants. Synchronicity with parents (or, in a pinch, with another reliable rhythmic source) becomes the baby’s developing physiologic strength.
Remove a mother hamster’s whole neocortex and she can still raise her pups, but even slight limbic damage devastates her maternal abilities. Limbic lesions in monkeys can obliterate the entire awareness of others.