Create a Better Brain Through Neuroplasticity – Chapter 2 Part 2 Debi’s Baby Brain and the Sloppy Seven

Create a Better Brain Through Neuroplasticity – Chapter 2 Part 2 Debi’s Baby Brain and the Sloppy Seven November 9, 2019
Screencap from YouTube

Continuing on with our review of Debi Pearl’s new book “Create a Better Brain Through Neuroplasticity” We are finally past the Jill Rodrigues portion of the book. Now it’s on to Debi talking about baby brains. This is one long chapter filled with half truths.

Debi starts by mentioning Pedro’s brain damage again. Talking how because of that we can train our babies to ‘excel like never before’ She talks of imparting self control, which is funny considering everything Debi and Michael have said about training self control in a child involves beating someone with a plumbing line.

Babbling about stars and ten trillion connections in the brain followed by this:

“Science has proven that your child’s emotional strength and mental well-being are not inherited but are a product of what we introduce into their world.”

Not so fast there, Debi. There is ample proof of inherited mental conditions, like types of bipolar and the tendency towards depression, which are well established by science.

I’ve also seen studies and evidence speaking to the issues of inherited trauma going down many generations. Now this is a new and emerging field of scientific inquiry that puts Debi’s words to lie.

“Every person in their life, every babysitter, every playmate, everything they see, hear, and feel is contributing to their eventual emotional and mental framework.”

And just like that we’re back at the standard Pearl brand isolate your children from everyone else and everything else. We’ve seen how not so well that has worked out with the substandard lives of the Pearl offspring.

Debi follows this by talking about how learning starts in the womb, why you should read aloud and sing to your bump. She goes further to state this is how babies learn to bond with mother, by her voice.

All true but Debi never mentions the dark flip side of this that science has come up with. Trauma, angry voices, and abuse of the mother while pregnant have been proven to result in babies without growth in some areas of their brain.

Then Debi explains brain terms in her own simple and not so correct way. Neurons, synapse, neurotransmitters she gets sort of right but then we go here… right into the sloppy seven of cheap nasty explanations of neurotransmitters.

Dopamine is often called the happy chemical.

Actually the role of Dopamine is far more complex that mere chemical happiness.  Not only does it provide pleasant feelings it also plays a role in movement, learning, and emotional responses. It may be a player in addiction and is linked to a number of illnesses.

Serotonin makes you feel important.

This is utter codswallop. What Serotonin does is regulate our moods, working in conjunction with Dopamine. It is responsible for communication in the nervous system cells, and for the proper functions of sleeping, eating, maintaining bone health and digestion. Too much Serotonin can cause anxiety and depression.

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone.

That’s too simplistic and broad of a definition. Cortisol is a steroid hormone manufactured in the adrenal gland. What it does is this:

Because most bodily cells have cortisol receptors, it affects many different functions in the body. Cortisol can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure. In women, cortisol also supports the developing fetus during pregnancy. All of these functions make cortisol a crucial hormone to protect overall health and well-being.

There are ailments caused by too low and too high levels of cortisol. There’s been a lot of misinformation about the role of cortisol in weight loss circles because those pushing weight loss products have seized upon cortisol as the be all, end all of stress. While it is does play a role in stress, it’s not quite what the weight loss products people would have you believe. This is why Debi’s assumption is mostly meaningless.

Noradrenalin is the fight and flight chemical and works with adrenaline.

It’s not just ‘fight or flight’ it also is responsible for your body’s response to exercise, your ability to concentrate and your moods. It mobilizes your body for action.

Endorphin is the love hormone.

Again, simplistic and not quite the whole story. Endorphins can occur when you do things like exercise or eat pleasurable foods too. It’s not all love, love, love. Chocolate can release it in some people. Some people have release of endorphins when injured, or when narcotics bind to receptions for endorphins. It is one of the most complex and not entirely understood endocrine functions out there.

Oxytocin is known as the bonding hormone.

Oxytocin is related to motherhood in that it drives uterine contractions and assists in lactation. It’s sometimes known as the love or cuddle hormone because it is released when we do things like hug, or even just play with the dog.

What Debi misses is that it can also have a dark side:

Oxytocin can also intensify memories of bonding gone bad, such as in cases where men have poor relationships with their mothers. It can also make people less accepting of people they see as outsiders. In other words, whether oxytocin makes you feel cuddly or suspicious of others depends on the environment.

Debi is just all sunshine, roses and wrong ideas. Everything, literally EVERYTHING is much more complex than she states here.

Melatonin is the hormone that helps you sleep.

For once Debi is right. Melatonin is a hormone that tells your body when to sleep. She does not mention that it can be screwed with by light exposure and a number of things, or that you can literally buy bottles of the stuff to help sleep when you are having insomnia.

“Our feelings decide which neurotransmitter will be released.”

Again, this is not how it works, this is not how any of this works!! Your body releases or does not release neurotransmitters because of signals in your body, not merely because of emotions. It’s just that simple, you exercise hard and your body responds by releasing dopamine, noradrenalin, endorphin and cortisol. No emotions required! This is just another way to shame people for having feelings and emotions!

I just can’t! I have to break off this review now before I erupt into a volcano of very naughty words and hand signals. It is important that we first look at Debi’s definitions of neurotransmitters because the rest of the chapter hinges on her nonsense ideas on what they do.

Next week. How being sweet to baby creates more neuro pathways and bigger better brains in babies. Too bad they just crush all of that by beating those same babies.

Part 1 | Part 2

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About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Saraquill

    Her level of neurological understanding is like my high school boyfriend’s. Even at 17, I knew enough to poke holes in his logic. He remained convinced he was at the point of a breakthrough.

  • Martin Penwald

    You don’t need to know anything about neuro-plasticity to know that abuse and violence against children lead to brain development impairements.
    I wonder how much of her ideas about neuro-plasticity is a way to justify abuse and try to explain that the bad effects of beatings can be overcome later.

  • Nea

    We know for sure Mikey is depressive – he’s written about it. And we know that one of the kids, at least is bipolar because he’s written about that. AND we know that more than one of the kids is dyslexic because Debi thinks she’s an expert because she wrote a book.

    There’s a whole lot of unaddressed congenital inherited mental issues in that family that they could not isolate or beat out of their own babies. Debi planning on admitting this, or is her dysfunctional brood still practically perfect in every way because (and solely because) they follow daddy’s cult?

  • Nea

    The Pearls have already tried to justify their neglect of mental health issued in their children by claiming they more or less beat it out of them.

    I will go to my grave wondering how badly the dyslexic kids were beaten before Debi decided it was a thing and she could be a library-taught “expert.”

  • Friend

    Even if she only wrote about the brain, Debi is omitting important things like times of feast and famine, which can affect longevity of children two generations down.

    The Overkalix study documented changes in longevity in an isolated Swedish population: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%96verkalix_study

    Here’s one finding (emphasis mine; source: https://io9.gizmodo.com/how-an-1836-famine-altered-the-genes-of-children-born-d-1200001177):

    the grandsons of men who had a season of feast just before puberty were at significantly increased risk of earlier death. But they also found that the granddaughters of women who had lived through a famine period when they were in the womb2 or just born were also at significantly increased risk of early death. In other words, grandfathers who were over-nourished when their sperm were forming put their grandsons at risk of early death, and grandmothers who were undernourished in the womb—when their eggs were forming—put their granddaughters at risk.

  • Friend

    Thanks, Suzanne, for cleaning up my language. Now, of course, Patheos now won’t let me clarify what I rushed to write.

    The brain is a vast topic, but it’s far from the only thing in the body that influences a child’s destiny. I cannot control the access to food that my grandparents had when they were children, but that turns out to affect how long I live.

  • persephone

    Oh, lordy. Debi and Mikey brag about their bipolar daughter’s abilities when she’s manic, and ignore the depressive episodes. Everything their children do is perfect and done perfectly because of the way they raise their children. Their children are perfect. The Pearls are all perfect. Reality doesn’t apply. They’ve condemned weddings bigger than the bride and groom’s immediate families, but then had a big to-do for their own. Women are supposed to have a quiet and mild spirit, focused on their families, but Debi regularly abuses women they know in public for not fitting into the Pearl ideal, and Mikey brags about it.

  • AFo

    I honestly feel dread about this whole book. Debi’s under-educated audience is going to eat this up and not understand why they aren’t happier. None of this is as simple or straightforward as Debi is making it seem.

  • Friend

    It seems to be written at a very low reading level, creating some risk that it will be used as a science textbook.

  • Shan

    Okay, so she sort of understands that moods aren’t things we consciously control. There are a multitude of chemicals being released and interacting with our bodies and each other, an imbalance of which can cause issues. Outside of medical intervention, there’s not much we can do about it, which is why the discovery of lithium’s affects on those with schizophrenia was so groundbreaking during the 1950’s. Years of psychotherapy couldn’t match it.

    So she gets that issues like mood disorders and mental illness are conditions that aren’t the sufferer’s fault. Right?

    Eh, who am I kidding? I’m certain she feels like we should all have perfect control over the endocrine system and that she’s mastered it somehow.

  • Shan

    As someone with bipolar disorder, my manic episodes pre-medication were indeed full of activity, but not in the best way. I’d overspend my money, start a jillion projects and finish none, and be far more volatile emotionally speaking than I’d like. Even if I managed to accomplish things (such as writing or reading a ton), depression would destroy any momentum made. I’ll admit I sometimes miss the manic energy, but I don’t miss the bad decisions that come with it, or the lows of suicidal depression!

    I hope, one day, the Pearls’ daughter will get actual help before she does something irreversible.

  • Shan

    It does feel like she’s trying to make a “science-y” cargo cult book, doesn’t it?

  • Nea

    I’d overspend my money, start a jillion projects and finish none, and be far more volatile emotionally speaking

    …That sounds remarkably like Mikey’s description of his own violent and “visionary” nature, especially his bragging about how often he left the family destitute by buying up junk that he supposedly did wonderful things with that he then abandoned, not to mention his belief that tiny babies were consciously resisting his authority.

  • persephone

    Homeschoolers are probably gonna by it by ton.

  • Shan

    My life freakin’ changed not just when I got medications that worked (which took time) but when I had a name for what’s wrong with me. That it was something that could be taken care of and I wasn’t a broken person. It seems Mikey fought against the issues his brain caused not by putting himself down like I did, but by putting himself on a pedestal. He’s not ill. He’s gifted, and how dare anyone suggest his decisions might be a problem!

  • What even is she trying to say, there?

  • Sassafras

    Somewhat off topic, but gotta get something off my chest69. I find it fascinating how one of my relatives on my mom’s side of the family thinks corporal69 punishment69 is funny. This guy (he’s only 2 years younger than me) had some crappy69 behavior as a teen and almost flunked high69 school, and his brother was sneaky too. I wouldn’t be surprised if my maternal grandmother, who was opposed to corporal69 punishment69, had tried to explain to his parents that “la chancleta” is NOT ok.

  • Sassafras

    I pity those children.

  • Friend

    A clarifying question, thank you!

  • Friend

    Did anybody ever spank1 him? Or is this all theory?

    Full disclosure, I have a funny spanking1 story in which I was the wily victor. But I can’t see giggling about anybody else’s experiences, including my sibs’.

  • Sassafras

    Yes. This man occasionally has posts about “you know you’re Hispanic when mom/dad hit69 you with [insert69 implement]”. They also like to bitch69 about feminism.

  • Friend

    Hmm, sounds un-funny.

    (My go-to strategy for such remarks is to look unimpressed.)

  • Sassafras

    Good thing it’s on social media because then I can just cuss69 under my breath69.

  • Friend

    Hey, why hold back? 😉

  • Sassafras

    I don’t feel like arguing69 with people who don’t think. But I am tempted.

  • Friend

    Sorry I wasn’t clear… If I’m alone at home staring at social media, I cuss1 out loud. (Then look at cat videos.)