bonding and culture

We all know that nurturing cooperative, creative, egalitarian individuals and societies is essential. The key that establishes this is turned very early. Research physiologist James Prescott, surgeon-epidemiologist researcher Michel Odent, author Joseph Chilton Pearce and clinical psychologist and researcher David Chamberlain have been saying and writing for 50 years that the deep, living, “primal” channel of communication we call “bonding” or “attachment” sets the biological template for either peaceful, expansive personal and cultural development or for fear-based, defensive, selfish, aggressive or passive personal and collective stagnation.

The nature and quality of the mother-infant bond, or lack of it, physiologically shapes the primal wiring that determines our interpretation of personal and collective relationships. And it does so for a lifetime, resulting in children, adults and cultures that are fundamentally calm, cooperative, creative and peaceful, are able to form and sustain meaningful relationships, or not. 

When full bonding fails or is damaged, which can begin before conception, not only individuals but families and entire cultures can become anxious or depressed, addicted – whether to substances, activities or greed, chronically ill and/or unhappy, self-abusive or violent. Interfering with the intimate continuum of this process is a crime against children and the natural world.

We must again learn to uphold and respect human bonding as a critical life sustaining ecological process and priority.

The greatest obstacle to meeting this challenge is not the biological imperative and intelligence to care for and protect our children; rather it is socialization and cultural beliefs that impair or prevent full bonding from unfolding. Millions of years of innate intelligence are in conflict with cultural conditioning and the root of this conflict is embodied in our social identity, our self-image.What we call ‘culture’ and what we perceive as our personal identity are not separate. Both our individual image-of-self and the collective egocentric-image we call culture, emanate from the same structures within the human brain. As images, cultural and our personal identity, as well as the behaviors, patterns and structures they create – are one reciprocal, mirroring dynamic.

Culture, being the product of the human brain, reflects and expresses what is produced by that brain. Only by changing the inner generative source can we modify the outer culture which we falsely project to be an external force doing the damage.

Mistaking the source we blame and do battle with the outer and neglect to address the root of the conflict, which is in each of us, embodied in our social identity. Or we expect the outer culture to change itself, which it obviously can’t. The outer, as culture, can only reinforce itself.

Meeting this challenge rests in discovering the difference between innate intelligence and cultural-self-image and conditioning. A mother completely embedded in her cultural identity is the handmaiden of that culture. Her self-image, being completely dependent on the approval of that culture will respond to and condition her baby to believe and behave the same.

Personal identity and the conformity it imposes is a product of culture, not an expression of humanity's vast innate intelligence. With this insight comes the realization that the function of personified cultural identity, our self-image, is the continuation of culture at any cost, even at the expense of full development of each individual. In fact, our self-image implicitly represses this development.

The challenge is that each individual must discover this for themselves. Not doing so feeds culture’s ability to manipulate and control individual behavior, repress individual development and the expression of innate intelligence.

Freeing one’s identity from its cultural-image is freedom and transformation at its core. This allows the natural order of the heart-mind with its true intelligence – the only sane reference in an increasingly culture dominated and insane world – to express. The expression of this intelligence-in-action is the essential and necessary force needed to bring about fundamental change in the individual and simultaneously in society.

Only by suspending the false hopes and false fears induced by the outer image-culture, embodied as the inner image-of-self – can something new, something truly intelligent begin to unfold.

This freedom expresses naturally in optimum states of lerning and performance referred to as Flow, The Zone and Authentic Play. In this state, as physicist David Bohm observed, the brain, freed from the repressive conditioning of self and cultural images, returns to its natural order, is free to perceive and express innate intelligence which rests on a new identity based on that intelligence rather than cultural competition and approval.

Understand this overarching principle that the cultural and the social forces we struggle to change, emanate from within us is the essential prerequisite for inner or outer change – which are the same.

Michael Mendizza with Suzanne Arms