Children Health

Your Brain is not like mine. If there is one thing I despise when it… | by Khammari Syrine | Dec, 2021

Khammari Syrine

If there is one thing I despise when it comes to personal traits, it is the victim mentality. I refuse to believe that the circumstances we are or have been exposed to determine who we are and what we become. I believe that we humans should take full responsibility for shaping our lives and developing our personalities, and if something fails for any reason, it’s because we didn’t do it right. Despite the burden that comes with it, this way of thinking makes us feel that we can control the most important things in our lives. Although I still like to believe that we are the sole directors of our life scenarios, after reading Lisa Feldman Barret’s book titled Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain, I had my eyes opened to the enormous impact that the social and physical world has on how we preserve things and how our brains are wired.


The book was about the study that was done on the children of the Romanian orphanage. The orphans there did not get the attention and affection that a child needs to grow. They were thrown into this world with almost no support, without being taught how to survive in this world. Of course, they were provided with food and shelter, but no one was there to help with their mental growth. Without being taught what humans had learned over the years, the little brains of these children tried to figure everything out for themselves: How to focus their attention on headlights and how to control themselves. In the end, they managed to survive and probably made the best of what they were given, but their brains developed very differently than those of a human being who was properly cared for. The tremendous impact of circumstances on the brains of these people was quite shocking to me. Sure, it’s obvious that what we experience affects us, but I thought it only affected us on a psychological level, and never imagined it would affect the size of our brains or the wiring of our neurons. An accurate scientific explanation for these effects prompts us to be more compassionate to those around us and to consider that sometimes it is harder for our counterparts to focus, learn, and even care. It asks us to be less judgmental of the people around us, ourselves included. In this context, I would also like to draw attention to the importance of understanding brain wiring for the education system. Where I come from, teachers like to compare “less brilliant” students with “more brilliant” ones to motivate them to perform better. High school students who don’t seem to concentrate or who can’t answer course-related questions correctly are considered not serious and not engaged, and are therefore often suspended. No one can deny that the intent behind these practices is good, the only question is to what extent they are beneficial. If teachers better understand how the brain works and that less advantaged students cannot focus because they were deprived of certain basic needs as children, they could better engage with them and get more out of them. Understanding how the brain works, however, is critical, in my opinion, not only for teachers but also for parents and anyone else who is around during the early years of a child’s life.

As mentioned earlier, we can have less influence on the brain’s wiring during infancy. However, that doesn’t mean that as adults we have any less responsibility for who we are now and who we are becoming. The good news, as the book points out, is that our brains are dynamic and inexorably changing, and it is up to us to decide which direction we will take. This not only underscores the responsibility we have for our lives but also forces us to think again about what we feed our brains. This includes the books we read, the media we consume, and the people we are surrounded by.

Now back to the original thought of the essay, that we are the sole directors of our lives, as it needs a rectification. I still believe that we are the directors of our lives, but only after reaching a certain age, or better to say a certain level of maturity, before that we can be as malleable as play dough. This is why it is very important to recognize that we can be victims of what we have experienced, especially when we are children. That the circumstances in which we were born and raised have affected the size and complexity of our brain. The motivation behind this is not to feel more or less privileged than others, but to accept what limits us (or others) now, and to better commit to overcoming those limitations (or helping others to do so).

Source: Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain, Lisa Feldman Barrett

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