Sunday, March 25, 2007

A wild, wild night at the Denver temple

Last Thursday I was assigned to do the greeting in the chapel. My buddy told me that the men just get thrown in but the women are all well trained. Ha! We seemed to be shorthanded, because they told me that they would send a sister to help me seat the patrons AND they would come and take the people who were waiting in the chapel to another room because the chapel was to be used for a special chapel service. But, no one came. People were coming in huge waves. There seemed to be a group for a wedding so I put them in one spot. Then there was a group for the 7:00 pm session but, it was only the men because little did I know the wives weren't showing up because they were being directed to one of the rooms which was being used as the waiting area for the session. The brothers kept coming up to me and saying "Where is my wife". It was as if all the wives had been swallowed up. I couldn't leave, I couldn't go ask for help. It was only my third night and it was 100 people in pandemonium. I was smiling sweetly and politely and looking like I knew what I was doing and I hadn't a clue what was going on! Finally someone came and we sent the brothers to meet up with their wives. They hustled me off to a session and needed me to do things I hadn't been trained on and dared not risk without help. So there I was with the sweet smile again, 2 hours overdue for the rest room, trying to look confident! But, I'll get it one of these days. Many of those people have been there since the temple opened 13 years ago. They are all loving and lovely and It's a pleasure and a blessing to serve there.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Developmental Psychopathology

I'm at my 2nd PhD class in Lynnchburg VA. Much of the class was on the chemistry of the brain and how the positive or negative social relatioships of the baby with the mom and dad can"wire" that brain for the rest of life. The core of he social brain is also the hub of our fear circuitry. Successful therapy can actually change the wiring of the brain when there has been neglect or abuse or anything less than optimal parenting. I was thinking there was a correlation to another "healing relationship" we have in the LDS church. Harry Harlow studied the impact of social deprivation on young monkeys. Young orphan monkeys were raised by wire surrogate mothers. These monkeys engaged in autistic, self-abusive, and socially inappropriate behaviors. In another set of experiments newborn monkeys were raised in total isolation for the first 6 months. Then were introduced into a colony of monkeys, having had no physical contact, nurturance, or social skill development. These isolate monkeys spent much of their rime huddled in a corner or rocking in place. Furthermore, they failed to develop appropriate social, sexual, or maternal behaviors; they found stimulation and complexity of the social world just too overwhelming. In a subsequent set of experiments, before releasing his isolate monkeys into the larger group, they were given “therapists” The therapists were monkeys of the same species but only half the age of the isolates: true child therapists! And what good therapists they were! The therapist monkeys initiated contact out of interest, curiosity, and their instinct to connect. Though the isolates would initially freeze or withdraw from fear, the young therapists were persistent, continuing to approach and cling onto their “clients”. Gradually the isolates grew less afraid and began clinging back. Ever so slowly, they began to initiate play and learn positive social behaviors. (Suomi & Harlow 1972) It turned out that these younger monkeys were the perfect therapists. Their stage of development led them to connect with the isolates at a very basic physical visceral, and emotional level. More importatly, they would't take NO for an answer. (Cozolino 2006p 314 best of the 6 books!)
This story reminds me so much of missionaries. Some people in the world are living in a state of spiritual deprivation. They are afraid to trust in God. When the missionaries run into them, the missionaries are like the loving baby monkeys, like little puppies, they are always approaching, initiating contact with te instinct to connect. Though the people initially say no and try to withdraw, the young missionaries persist, continuing to approach and cling to their “clients” Gradually a few of the people thaw and learn to love back. Learning not to fear and learing to love are biologically interwoven with spiriuality. God Bless the missionaries!