There is so much about the human brain that we still don’t know. Shortly after I left my ex-husband, I came across a medical article discussing the fact that mental and emotional abuse actually causes chemical brain damage – specifically in women it limits the production of cortisol (while in men it overproduces it), weakens the immune system, and can damage or even kill neurons in the hippocampus leading to memory and other cognitive issues.
Now, the medical community is noting that poverty limits the actual growth of brain tissue.
This isn’t a rant about financial inequities, or calling for a “Robin Hood tax.” It’s not a liberal rant that those with more money should short-change their children to be more “fair” to those living in poverty.
It is simply a note about the realities of what is going on in the brain in different socio-economic situations.The reality is that NOTHING is ever as simple as it looks from outside the situation.
You can’t “put yourself in their shoes” because you don’t have the same brain. I’m not saying that you can’t conceive of the issues, but unless you’ve lived it you don’t have the same physiological experience.
So, yes, changing the way we look at assistance to those living under the poverty line is a necessity. Funding scholarships or other ways of ensuring that toddlers of the poor get the same kind of brain stimulating interactions that their richer peers do. Finding ways to lower the “fight or flight” stress that children in poorer neighborhoods experience (causing the exact same chemical damage as emotional and mental abuse does). Finding ways to actually allow cooperative raising of children (i.e. allowing a group of parents – single or married – to purchase a larger home together, so that there is ALWAYS an adult available for parenting and developmental interactions), which has been attacked in some cities in the country.
The answer is NOT lowering the expectations of the rich. It’s raising the options for the poor.