The Developing Mind…

The Developing Mind

The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are (second edition), by Daniel Seigel, ISBN-13: 978-1462503902

A number of years ago, I had the pleasure of attending the National Adolescent Perpetration Network (NAPN) conference in Portland, Oregon. There I bought this book!

I first met Kevin Creeden at a NOTA conference in Cardiff. During that event, he gave a keynote address all about the neuro-developmental impact of childhood trauma. In the interim period since we met, I had started something of an obsession about reading everything I could lay my hands, in order to try and build on the material Kevin had shared.

During one of our conversations following his original address, I had asked him what was the one book he would recommend for someone new to the subject, but keen to dig deeper. Without hesitation he recommended The Developing Mind by Daniel Seigel. Browsing the book stall at the NAPN conference, I saw the book and immediately bought it.

There’s no doubt that this book is a swim in the deep end and will test the resolve of most lay readers of neurobiology; readers like me.

However, the reason it took me a while to complete was the need to re-read most sections-sometimes a number of times-in order to grasp it. That said, I found myself frequently whooping with delight at the sheer joy of the concepts and the gaps it was filling in my own understanding, particularly of how children’s brains develop and the mediating effects of environment on this process.

The Developing Mind takes the reader through the inter-connectedness of mind, brain and experience, as an introduction to the rest of the book. Following chapters focus on:

  • memory
  • attachment
  • emotion
  • self-regulation
  • integration and more…

Each gives an excellent degree of detail that is-with effort-within the grasp of most non-neurologists. In the words of the author himself:

A brief note for those new to the brain: The aim of this book is to help you to understand the developing mind by providing an integration of mental processes [such as memory and emotion] with both neurobiology [such as neural activity in specific circuits] and interpersonal relationships [such as patterns of communication]. This integration is indeed the challenge of the book, both in the writing and in the reading. My concern is that those who are new to neurobiology-like many of my students in the past-may initially feel too overwhelmed by the unfamiliar ideas and vocabulary to continue. Numerous teaching experiences, however, have demonstrated that the outcome is worth the effort.” (p.9, 1st edition)

Here here, to that!

For anyone working with or interested in promoting recovery in children who have suffered adverse experiences, or for people who have an interest in the brain generally, this really is a “must read” book.

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© Jonny Matthew 2013

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