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In the Discussion and Resource Guide you will find:
A LETTER FROM DARCIA NARVAEZ
WHAT TO DO NEXT
ABOUT BREAKING THE CYCLE
BREAKING THE CYCLE FILM SCRIPT
FILM DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
ABOUT THE EVOLVED NEST
ARTICLES AND RESOURCES TO SHARE
THE RESEARCHER AND THE BOOK
FILM RESEARCH REFERENCES
YOUR NOTES SECTION
You are welcome to join the online discussion about the film at our Mighty Networks group here.
Note: There are two versions of the film, one in English, one in Spanish. See the Spanish film and materials here. The English version can also be watched with subtitles at YouTube in the following languages: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Mandarin), Croatian, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish.
FILM: We’ve been told a story that we are selfish, aggressive, rugged individuals. But if that were true, we should have no problem with physical distancing and self isolation. The pandemic showed us that this story is not who we are.
What/Where did you hear about human nature?
During the pandemic, did/do you have any difficulty with physical distancing from others?
FILM: That’s because we evolved in cooperative bands of kin and nonkin where we were nurtured and welcomed by all members of the community. We lived together, we gathered food together, we sang together, and we danced together. We knew it would have been impossible to survive on our own. But together, we thrived.
Think about all the things in your life that other people have made or given you, from before you were born until now.
FILM: Today, we are living in a culture that goes against everything it means to be human. Our culture emphasizes toughness over tenderness, isolation instead of togetherness, even for babies. As a result, we are depressed, anxious, chronically ill, and at the bottom of every international indicator for health. We are living in a trauma factory.
Grit is a popular term these days but it can be misapplied, for example, towards children and their needs. Many have been traumatized by harsh treatment in childhood. Did that happen to you?
What trauma do you see around you these days?
FILM: We are stuck in a cycle of competitive detachment where we feel disconnected from others and even ourselves, while at the same time feeling we have to compete for anything worthwhile.
Do you notice the cycle of competition—in children, adults, society? How does it affect your life?
FILM: There is a way, not only to break this cycle, but to create a new cycle, one that reclaims our humanity and helps us heal ourselves and our culture. We can create a cycle of connected, cooperative companionship.
For most of our existence, we have created culture from the bottom up, from the way we raised children, and from the top down, from the stories we told one another. Children were nested in loving supportive village care, growing deep connections to the natural world. The stories they heard spoke of their relationships to and responsibility for the community and the earth.
Have you seen communities like this? You may have to travel to other countries.
FILM: In modern culture, children are raised with disconnection, with little concern for their basic needs and with an almost random set of relational experiences. They still hear stories, conveyed by various media, but they are full of put-downs, egoism and violence.
Have you noticed how violent the media is in the USA? You might have to travel to Europe to see a different media environment.
FILM: Babies require an external womb experience to grow and connect with others. They need calming affectionate care, immediate responses to keep them optimally aroused while rapidly growing brain connections.
Did you know how needy babies are? Learn more at EvolvedNest.org.
FILM: Without this early care, babies learn a pattern of disconnection from the self, others, and the world, manifesting in self-protective mindsets and irritation with people from different backgrounds or with different ideas. We withdraw from social life because it is just too painful, triggering the traumas we experienced early on in life. We constantly seek to fill a void we were never biologically intended to experience.
Do you feel connected to your deeper self? To others? To the world? To Nature?
Do you have trouble with people who have different opinions?
FILM: The good news is that it is possible to break this cycle of competitive detachment and restore the cycles of connected, cooperative companionship.
We can learn what our basic needs are and find ways to help everyone get them met. We can take steps that open our minds and hearts and build empathy towards others who are different from us. We can become aware and careful about where we put our greatest asset – our attention. We can build attachment to the natural world by immersing ourselves in its beauty and developing our connection with its aliveness.
How do you open your heart and mind and build empathy?
Think about where you put your attention throughout the day. You can choose.
Take time to enjoy the beauty in the natural world.
FILM: Cultures can and do change. It begins with each one of us realizing that we are living in a culture that is at odds with our inherent nature to be empathic, flexible, and sovereign beings, and taking steps to heal and restore our core nature.
What will you do differently?
When we don’t provide the Evolved Nest to our young, we can end up with a cycle of stress, self-centeredness and detachment, from baby to culture. Listen to Darcia Narvaez, PhD, share foundational insights into the Evolved Nest.
Why are some people cooperative and others are not? The Evolved Nest sheds light on how we can grow and raise people of cooperation and build thriving communities.
Listen to the full Evolved Nest Podcast Series, with Darcia Narvaez, PhD, and March Tarsha.
Check out more podcasts on the Evolved Nest website.
What are you feeling today? Despair, fear, anxiety, panic, confusion, helplessness, loneliness, anger? Many of us feel like we are going to burst, sometimes even without the long-lasting physical distancing from a pandemic.
In today’s world, we often feel disconnected from community and from nature, from the world. In an individualistic society like the USA, it is sometimes hard to realize that disconnection is contrary to the evolution of our species. We evolved to develop well when supported within a network of connections. Here is an “ecological systems theory” that helps explain why we are all so miserable, and suggestions for what we can do.
What can we do? We can find ways to help those we know who are overwhelmed with multiple simultaneous responsibilities (work, homeschooling, caregiving, homemaking). Families in these tough situations can find ways to help themselves calm down and get clear headed (e.g., 28 Days of Self Calming). Stimulate the vagus nerve, a health inducing action, can be done with singing alone or together (even humming), and belly breathing (lots of YouTube videos on this), and belly laughing (figure out ways to make family members to laugh uproariously).
What are psychological reasons for America’s political, health, and social crises? Here is one answer: Poverties.Economist Manfred Max-Neef (1991) noted that modern industrialized societies have been so focused on GDP, bank accounts, and material wealth that they have ignored other forms of poverty. As a result, one or more poverties may be experienced by virtually everyone in a modern society.
The additional kinds of poverty Max-Neef identified are related to unmet basic needs. Psychologists have identified similar needs (Fiske, 2003; Maslow, 1970; Narvaez, 2018). We know that unmet basic needs, especially in early life, can lead to various psychological and health problems.
Here, I compare the USA, the European Union, and societies representative of our ancestral environment—nomadic foragers (Berman, 2000).
Humanistic and positive psychology have delved into the upside of personality. But Indigenous perspectives are wider and deeper.
How has positive psychology conceived of a thriving individual? Here are three examples.
Uncovering species-normal baselines for thriving is a transdisciplinary endeavor, integrating evolutionary systems theory and ethology to understand how species grow and thrive, attending to the glimpses and summaries of Indigenous peoples who raise children in our species-normal way (evolved nest) (Narvaez, 2014). Just like other animals thrive when they are raised in their evolved developmental niches, so do humans. For 99% of human genus history, humans lived in nomadic foraging bands that provided humanity’s evolved nest, the developmental system that matches up with the maturational schedule of the child (Gottlieb, 2002). Around the world, nomadic foraging communities not only have similar child raising practices (Hewlett & Lamb, 2005; evolved nest) but similar adult personalities (Ingold, 2005).
Thus, traditional Indigenous peoples, in particular hunter-gatherers, can show us what species-normal flourishing looks like and how it is fostered. Jon Young (2019) gathered a list of adult thriving characteristics from his work around the world and in particular with the Bushmen of southern Africa. Jon Young (2019) also describes the social structures and practices that support individual and group thriving.
In a newly published book, I wrote a chapter called Evolution and the Parenting Ecology of Moral Development, I describe how evolutionary theory is often mischaracterized as only about genes, a shrinking area of importance as epigenetics becomes the bigger story—-how genes are turned up or down or off by lived experience. Though epigenetics occurs all day long from our activities, there are sensitive or critical periods for the developmental of neurobiological structures that undergird all our capacities (e.g., stress response, vagus nerve function) (Narvaez, 2014).
The most sensitive periods occur in early life, the younger the child the greater the effect. Hence, our species, like all animals, evolved a developmental system to enhance normal development, what my lab calls the evolved developmental niche, or evolved nest. Though all ages need to feel supported and attended to—to be nested—the early nest may be the most important for developing the resilience needed to face life’s challenges.
It is obvious that many children are not being raised nested.
Species-atypical child raising has become normal—to the detriment of the world.
The dearth of virtue in (tested Western) populations has been lamented and assumed to be part of the human condition (Doris, 2002; Miller, 2013) but a natural history indicates otherwise. From a planetary perspective, industrialized humans have become highly destructive in comparison to 99% of human genus existence.
Humanity faces what have been called the four horsemen of the environmental apocalypse (Wilson, 1991), brought about in a matter of centuries: (1) massive toxification of water, air, soil, and food chains (e.g., Diaz et al., 2019); (2) degradation of the atmosphere, such as ozone depletion; (3) global warming (e.g., IPCC, 2014); and (4) the “death of birth”—the extinction of millions of species (Eisner, 1991; Kolbert, 2014). We are entering an unpredictable “hothouse earth” (Steffen et al., 2018).
Why have we reached these crises? One has to take an interdisciplinary approach to figuring out the answers. I recently wrote and published the paper, “Ecocentrism: Resetting Baselines for Virtue Development,“ taking just such an interdisciplinary approach. The paper is a challenge to reset baselines for how we consider virtue and what it entails. Here is a brief summary of some of the main points:
We must understand who humans are, how they become human, and what can go wrong.
IP contrasts with western scientific paradigms that decontextualize the phenomena of psychology to produce universal theories based on a narrow regime of truth. IP incorporates meanings, values, context, beliefs and locality into knowledge generation, research designs and application.
“Indigenous Psychologies are systems of knowledge and wisdom based on non-western paradigms” that originate in “particular ecologies and cultures… they deconstruct psychological phenomena within political, economic, historical, philosophical, religious, cultural, and ecological contexts” (Ciofalo, 2019, p. 7).
As psychologists from non-western societies have long noted: “Existing psychological theories are not universal since they have eliminated the very qualities that allow people to understand, predict, and control their environment” (Kim & Park, p. 31). Advocates of IP contend that “psychological phenomena must be understood in their ecological historical, philosophical, religious, political, and cultural context, and at the same time, global context” (Ciofalo, 2019, p. 7). “Kim and Berry (1993) defined Indigenous Psychologies as “the scientific study of human behavior or mind that is native, that is not transported from other regions, and that is designed for its people” (Ciofalo, 2019, p. 2; cited in Kim et al, 2006, p. 5).
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