One of the hazards of so-called ‘experts’ making unfounded claims about harm from parenting practices they don’t like is that – especially in the Internet Age – not only parents are reading their words. There are plenty of adults who are looking, rightly or wrongly, to blame their parents for their own issues. Being that classic psychotherapy (at least as it’s depicted in the moves and on TV) often starts with delving into one’s childhood experiences in an attempt to gain insight into one’s current behavioral patterns, it’s not really surprising that people look to the current scientific knowledge (or pseudoscience masquerading as knowledge) about parenting to try and figure out how their parents, perhaps unwittingly, screwed up their lives.
Thus we have people blaming their Asperger’s on vaccines or their fear of abandonment on having been born via C-section, and other such facile conclusions. But I have to admit that the CIO Recovery website really is…um…in a class of its own.
Keith DeJarnet is a 41-year-old man from Sarasota, Florida, who, according to the story he presents on his website, suffered a crisis of sorts several years ago due to his divorce and later, the imprisonment of his beloved brother (on what might be a drug related charge). In his despair, he became an alcohol and food addict, gaining an immense amount of weight and spending his days (and too many nights) eating, drinking, and playing video games.
Keith tells the truly uplifting story of how he was able to turn himself around and find new meaning to his life by using various self-help techniques, primary among them a “belief management” technique called Avatar. As their website puts it:
Rather than presenting you with another set of beliefs to live by, Avatar awakens you to a natural ability you already have to create and discreate beliefs. With this skill, you can restructure your life according to the blueprint that you determine.
One discovery many people on the Avatar Course make is that what you are believing is less important than the fact that you are believing it. Avatar empowers you to realize that there aren’t “good” beliefs and “bad” beliefs. There are only the beliefs that you wish to experience and the beliefs you prefer not to experience. You create an experience of yourself as the source, or creator, of your beliefs. From that place, it is very natural and easy to create the beliefs you prefer.
The approach seems to be somewhat related to cognitive therapy, though I don’t think the latter supports creating beliefs in quite such a willy-nilly manner (in the sense that the beliefs have to be connected to reality in some way).
Through the therapy, DeJarnet states that “Eventually, I was able to figure out that a lot of the issues I had that were limiting my life were based on the damage done by CIO”. He doesn’t clarify exactly how he came upon that epiphany. He defines CIO both in terms of sleep training, but also as “those who’s [sic] parents held the belief that if you pick up a baby when it cries that you’ll spoil it and they were left to “crying it out” “, and states he was “subjected to both facets of CIO as an infant and toddler”. Mind you, I am emphatically not claiming he’s making this up – DeJarnet may very well have been subjected to abusive and/or neglectful treatment in his childhood, some of which may have taken the form of leaving him to cry for long periods of time, night and day.
It does seem clear, however, that DeJarnet is talking about abusive/neglectful parenting practices which bear little to no resemblance to Ferber or Weissbluth’s techniques – which, to remind you, involve short-term crying in the context of healthy, loving parent-child relationship. In this, he erroneously conflates all babies being left to cry, for any reason and no matter for how long, with CIO sleep training techniques. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn (and the resources page on his website suggest this) that he was guided to this conclusion by various online parenting resources which use these dishonest tactics.
DeJarnet, however, goes one step further: he has also “figured out” that CIO (as he defines it) is the cause of all sorts of psychological ills, including seeking out abusive relationships, obesity, and even pedophilia. He further promises to reveal how CIO is also at the root of “Stalking, Romance Dependency, Munchausen Syndrome and Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, Unwanted Pregnancies (and) Approval Dependency”. Now while low self-esteem may very well be at the root of some or all of these maladies, it doesn’t necessarily follow that CIO (in either context) is the cause.
The website has been up for a couple of years now, yet it seems that though at least some of the shriller anti-CIO, pro-AP/NP advocates are aware of it, they’re reluctant to use this website and its proprietor’s story as ‘proof’ that CIO damages in the way they claim. If I may attempt some of my own armchair psychology – perhaps, on a subconscious level (or perhaps not-so-subconcsious 😉 ), they realize the fallacy of the scare tactics in which they engage, and are perhaps a little ashamed by the unintended results of their hyperbole?
Filed under: Infant sleep |