Jan 2, 2024

Book Review: Scattered Minds by Gabor Mate

 The book that kept me engrossed in the last 2 weeks of Dec, it was neither on my to-read list nor recommended by anyone. Somehow, this book grabbed my attention and I have been raving about it to everyone I have spoken to. Though the focus of this book is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), it delves into deeper aspects of parenting attitudes, current challenges, behavioral repercussions, and more. As you read through the book, many of the examples and behaviors discussed seem very much relatable - either observed in ourselves, spouses, parents, in-laws, or our children.

The author ends the book with this beautiful line - 

"If we can actively love, there will be no attention deficit and no disorder"

That's the premise of this book - the role of love, the importance of attachment relationship, meeting the attunement needs of young kids, unhindered access to primary caregiver during the initial years, acceptance and attention without any condition. I'd consider this book as a parenting guide, especially for today's time-starved, nuclear families.

In the first half, the author elaborates on the various traits, symptoms, and nature of ADD. There is quite a bit of coverage on the development of the neurophysiological system, the importance of various neurotransmitters, the role of the prefrontal cortex, and its communication with the lower brain. It was an eye-opener when the author talked about how an infant can sense the mother's emotions through her eye contact, facial expressions, and body language.

The fundamental requirement the author brings up repeatedly is "unconditioned positive regard" when it comes to parenting our kids.

Many topics discussed would help you either reflect on your parenting style or recollect childhood experiences when you were being raised by your parents.

His perspectives on medications being used as the first line of treatment and how children's autonomy gets violated when schools (or parents) push for medications to deal with problematic behavior are thought-provoking.

Parents need to develop self-knowledge first before they embark on the parenting journey. If parents are unable to self-regulate their emotions, then it is very likely that their knee-jerk reactions and lashing out disproportionately for minor disturbances can have a devastating impact on a young child.

This statement strikes a chord - "It is often not our child's behavior but our inability to tolerate her negative responses that create the greatest difficulties".

A must-read book for ALL parents. I can't recommend this book enough. 

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