1) Being human refers to a quality that makes one share qualities and characteristics with those around them. Being humane, on the other hand, is a higher quality. It is the ability to utilize empathy in order to make decisions that take into account the needs of other people. To be human is to see the homeless person on the street begging for change. To be humane is to understand that person’s struggle and make a sacrifice to help.
2) The author is trying to primarily make the point that the brain is the single most important thing about the human experience. All thoughts, experiences, and feelings comes from the human brain. The author does consistently come back to this while going over the individual stories. For instance, the author brings to bear how the childhood abuse of Tina was reflected in the development of her brain.

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3) This helps him build trust with the children. The children see that he is willing to do these things with them, so they are much more willing to listen to him. This can help him in his session so he can be more effective. He uses a number of tactics. For instance, he makes jokes about himself in order to make the children laugh. He is quite self-deprecating in this manner, which makes him seem funny and affable to the children, building trust over time.

4) One would need to define what it means to be “normal.” Surely they are not going to be conventional in many ways, but they have a chance to experience love and other emotions. They have a chance to experience closeness and feel bonds with those around them. This could be considered by many to be the most important elements in life, so one might say they get to have a “normal” life in at least one sense.

5) The author makes the point about not being able to settle into that part of human development where a person is well-adjusted and settled in. Without the ability to do this, a person has a limited capacity for a full human experience. This can cause mental health problems and erode a person’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem. It can also cause stress and anxiety over time.

6) A good environment is one in which people feel safe enough that they can prosper. It is one in which they can grow, feel support, and achieve or make themselves better. What constitutes a good environment can shift based upon economics, but the basic elements of a good environment remain largely the same across groups.

7) Tina struggled because she had been subjected to significant abuse (Perry and Salavitz). She was consistently subjected to trauma that would impact her development. She does have a chance to overcome these barriers, but not without the help of a tremendous amount of work in future days.

8) Leon’s situation almost certainly comes down to those around him. According to the text (p. 115), Leon learned some of the worst behavior in the human condition from those around him. While he bears some of the blame, it would be foolish to blame him entirely. Instead, Leon should be absolved of blame in some ways because he was not set up for success in this regard. We can learn from his story the importance of environment to a person’s total development.

9) In this chapter, the author grapples with the idea that neglect can happen in nuclear families, too. The doctor learned that environments where children thrive and struggle are not necessarily noticeable from the outside. It is easy to assume an environment is one way or another based on factors, but it is often true that one can hardly tell what an environment has to offer without further study.

10) Nurture is more important. Leon is a good example of this. He models the behavior that he sees in his environment. There are plenty of kids who are born into bad situations, but not all of them end up being people who break the law or demonstrate anti-social tendencies. Often, it is the level of support those people end up with that can determine whether or not they become successful contributors to society. Nurture trumps nature when it comes to this side of development.

11) The author mentions these issues and seems to understand the ways in which they can impact development. However, in order to get into these issues in full, one would need to spend more time than the author had in this book. He could have been more explicit in the role race can play in this process in the modern world.

12) RAD is reactive attachment disorder. It comes when the child cannot form normal emotional attachments to the people around him. This can happen most often when the child receives care that is grossly inadequate and even bordering on negligence.

13) The author suggests that people are more apt to thrive, including children, when they are placed in loving environments where their skills are supported. He suggests strongly that the modeled behavior people have around them is very important. This is true of children and adults alike, as adults tend to model what they see.

14) The author means that the world does not tend to take into account what human beings actually need. It often dissuades people from pursuing those interests that could make them healthier and happier. This is undoubtedly true. The world traps people into jobs and other responsibilities that can kill them slowly over time.

  • Perry, B. D., & Szalavitz, M. (2007). The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook-What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us about Loss, Love and Healing. Basic Books.