JEAN LIEDLOFF QUOTES

American author (1926-2011)

A baby's cry is precisely as serious as it sounds.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, The Continuum Concept

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We take it for granted that life is hard and feel lucky to have whatever happiness we get. We do not look upon happiness as a birthright, nor do we expect it to be more than peace or contentment. Real joy, the state in which the Yequana spend much of their lives, is exceedingly rare among us.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, The Continuum Concept

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Tags: joy


Pain and illness, the deaths of those one loves, and discomforts and disappointments mar the happy norm, but they do not alter the fact that happiness is the norm, nor affect the tendency of the continuum to restore it, to heal it, after any disturbance.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, The Continuum Concept

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The broader unquestioned premises upon which my own culture founded its view of the human condition, such as the one that Unhappiness is as legitimate a part of experience as happiness and necessary in order to render happiness appreciable, or that it is more advantageous to be young than to be old: those still took me a long time to pry loose for reexamination.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, The Continuum Concept

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It's perfectly clear that the millions of babies, who are crying at this very moment, want unanimously to be next to a live body. Do you really think they're all wrong? Theirs is the voice of nature. This is the clear, pure voice of nature, without intellectual interference.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, interview, Touch the Future, fall 1998

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Our own system of trying to guess what or how much a child's mind can assimilate results in cross purposes, misunderstanding, disappointments, anger and a general loss of harmony.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, The Continuum Concept

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This, at last, was where things were as they ought to be. Everything was in its place -- the tree, the earth underneath, the rock, the moss. In autumn, it would be right; in winter under the snow, it would be perfect in its wintriness. Spring would come again and miracle within miracle would unfold, each at its special pace, some things having died off, some sprouting in their first spring, but all of equal and utter rightness.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, The Continuum Concept

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It is our genetic nature as a species to believe as young children that our parents and elders are right. We watch them to see what's what. Later on we can judge for ourselves and rebel if need be, but when we're just months old, or a year or two, and a parent looks at us with impatience, or disgust, or disdain, or just leaves us there to cry and doesn't answer us even though we're longing to be embraced and nurtured, we assume that something must be wrong with us. Unfortunately, at that age it's impossible to think there might be something wrong with them.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, interview with Chris Mercogliano

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Tags: parents


As a child I was attracted to Tarzan and everything that had to do with jungles. It seemed to me -- and this is in retrospect -- that there was something primal, something right about it. Tarzan represented a pure being, somehow before the fall.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, interview, Touch the Future, fall 1998

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Children need to see that they are assumed to be well-intentioned, naturally social people who are trying to do the right thing and who want reliable reactions from their elders to guide them.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, The Continuum Concept

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Nobody's born rotten. You just don't have bad kids. It's not true. There is no such thing. But we can make them bad.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, interview, Touch the Future, fall 1998

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I knew, even at eight, that the confusion of values thrust upon me by parents, teachers, other children, nannies, camp counselors, and others would only worsen as I grew up. The years would add complications and steer me into more and more impenetrable tangles of rights and wrongs, desirables and undesirables. I had already seen enough to know that.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, The Continuum Concept

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The two words that I've arrived at to describe what we all need to feel about ourselves, children and adults, in order to perceive ourselves accurately, are worthy and welcome. If you don't feel worthy and welcome, you really won't know what to do with yourself. You won't know how to behave in a world of other people. You won't think you deserve to get what you need.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, interview with Chris Mercogliano

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Our parents, our tribesman, our authority figures, clearly expect us to be bad or anti-social or greedy or selfish or dirty or destructive or self-destructive. Our social nature is such that we tend to meet the expectations of our elders. Whenever this reversal took place and our elders stopped expecting us to be social and expected us to be anti-social, just to put it in gross terms, that's when the real fall took place. And we're paying for it dearly.

JEAN LIEDLOFF, interview, Touch the Future, fall 1998

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