Donna Williams, a self-described "mad, autistic artist" -- as well as a teacher, author and consultant -- wrote an article for American Chronicle that boldly questions whether our technology-oriented, individualistic society is creating more infants with reactive attachment disorder and autism.
Is possible that we’re living in an age where some pregnant mothers being so busy with cerebral, passive interactions with technology and its related increase in time use that they don’t have the range of movements, emotional experience, that it’d be conceivable some don’t develop the same full prenatal bonding with their child that may have been more common before the 80s and 90s?
I'd answer yes to that. But I don't think that technology, and specifically our reliance on computers, is completely to blame. I think that the medicalization of childbirth, cutting mothers off from the biggest oxytocin rush a human will ever get and from the opportunity to bond immediately and bodily with their newborn babies, may be the biggest factor.
Add to that the necessity for most mothers to work, being away from their children for most of the day, and our reliance on television as a surrogate for human interaction, and you have a recipe for isolation and thwarted empathy.
what if society is improving upon detachment, passivity, being more cerebral than emotional and physical, and progressively then mistrusting and fearing unexercised real interaction with ’strangers out there’?
We are all, already, becoming more ‘autistic’ and the ‘geek syndrome’ generally associated with Asperger’s Syndrome is so widespread that mild cases are not even worth diagnosing lest we end up losing sight of any measuring stick of ‘normality’ (which is all relative anyway).
Williams raises the spectre of the "refrigerator mother," the idea in the 1940s that some women were intrinsically not motherly enough, thereby causing their kids' autism. The pendulum has swung away from blaming the parents -- which is a very good thing. But it may have swung too far.
Mothering matters more than anything else in our lives. Without mother love when we're babies, our brains don't develop the oxytocin response -- as well as many other systems and responses we need to successfully navigate the world.
If so, if today’s generation benefit from, enjoy or are addicted to those causes, and if voracious consumer economy feeds, encourages and entrenches those addictions through increasingly consumed media, will we ever wake up? Will we be ‘allowed’ to? And in a dog-eat dog society of stone throwing tabloid press, witch hunts and bitching public forums, can we ever calmly look at even hints of the refrigerator mother yet empathically envision ourselves in their shoes?