First day of deer season and wise babies

One of our residents was wearing an orange hat yesterday.  I stopped to talk to her as she was closing the gate to the horse rescue pasture.  She said she hated this time of year and was glad when I said I’d be patrolling at dawn to keep the hunters under control.

Wise-Baby-with-a-Beard-117075Another resident told me yesterday that we should post more “No Hunting” signs.  But they  all get torn down.  City  folk have absolutely no idea what happens out here.  They actually think such signs will have some effect. The rules are different in the country.

We get lots of city folk this time of year.  We have wild animals they want to kill.  Hunters have been driving their 4-wheelers to and fro looking for good sites to hunt for a couple of weeks.  But they are out in force this weekend.

It’s the first weekend of deer season and the deer know it.  They always get a little scared and scarce this weekend.  They’ll settle down and be more visible soon, but the blasts of the guns take some getting used to.  Even with 1600 acres, we still hear some gun shots on neighboring properties.  Meadowcreek supplies all the surrounding countryside with deer.

I wonder if young deer who lose their mothers get “wise baby syndrome.”   Children react to trauma in strange ways.  Some regress and never fully recover.  Others suddenly become wise beyond their years. Psychoanalysts, beginning with Ferenczi in the 1923, call the latter wise baby syndrome: the traumatized child suddenly wise beyond his years, appears mature, more mature than either his or her peers or even the adults who caused him or her to be traumatized.  This surprising rise of new faculties after a trauma seems like a miracle to those trained in the disease model of psychology and medicine.

In the disease model, exposure to bad things ought to lead to bad things.  So we should make sure children are never exposed to difficulties or negative experiences. Some say a whole generation of Americans have been raised that way.  Hovering helicopter parents try to protect their children from everything.  And when there is a lot of evil in the world, that kinda makes sense.

Except that its one of those things that make sense but aren’t true.  With the right assumptions, anything can make sense.  But sometimes you really need to question your assumptions.  The wise baby phenomenon makes us do that.

It’s as if wisdom is just lying quietly, waiting for some powerful threat to waken it.  C. G. Jung wrote of the “divine child”–an archetype which activates healing and intuitive understanding in children and adults.

Some say Ferenczi’s and Jung’s observations were the beginning of resilience research in psychology.  It was followed by the classic studies in Hawaii of children exposed to trauma.

Emmy Werner was one of the first psychologists to use the term resilience. She studied a cohort of children from Kauai, Hawaii. Personal histories and psychological testing was done every few years from when they were one year old to when they were 40.

The disease model says that their are certain risk factors which lead to emotional problems and bad choices.  These include: being born and raised in poverty, experiencing pre- or perinatal complications; living in families troubled by chronic discord, divorce, or parental psychopathology; and being reared by mothers with less than 8 grades of education. Two-thirds of the children who experienced four or more of such risk factors by age two exhibited destructive behaviors in their later teen years, such as chronic unemployment and drug abuse. However one-third of these youngsters did not exhibit destructive behaviors. Werner called the latter group ‘resilient’. In contrast to their peers, these resilient children were bright, outgoing, had positive self concepts; had close bonds with an emotionally stable parent and received support from their peers.

I like studies like these, but I’m not sure what we can learn from them.  Seek out resilient people and you’ll find many of them dismiss most psychology as mumbo-jumbo.  Don’t get locked into the world of words and talk.  That’s really all psychology is.

Resilient people get up, go outside and solve problems: fix their bike, water the garden, cut down some weeds, chase off city people.  That’s what I’m going to do right now.

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One thought on “First day of deer season and wise babies

  1. Pingback: Personal resilience, ecology and faith | Resilience

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