It’s all about the brain

If I were younger and smarter I’d study neuroscience. All those fascinating connections, how we’re actually wired for cooperation — not intra-species violence — but greed has taught us otherwise, at least us Americans. I don’t believe obsessive greed is part of “human nature,” as I often hear people dismissively say.

And you know, poor people are always taking advantage of the rich. Politicians complain about Mexican families trekking hundreds of miles across Arizona’s scorching Sonoran Desert so they can have “anchor babies” who become U.S. citizens.

Some of the wealthiest among us disapprove of a health care law that provides medical treatment for 50 million uninsured Americans. It’s that old let-them- work-for-it-that’s-what-my-grandfather-did mentality.

The brain is far more flexible than our outward characteristics allow us to believe.

Now we have scientific proof that the brain is responsible for our psychological makeup — and our physical health. An overweight, abused, listless teenager is more likely to suffer from medical problems her entire life.

In 2007, Dr. Nadine Burke at San Francsico’s Bayview Child Health Center, or “The Poverty Clinic,” found herself “thinking increasingly about the problems she couldn’t immunize her patients against.” Doctors aren’t supposed to be concerned about their patients’ real lives.

But one day in the fall of 2008, Whitney Clarke, a psychologist who had recently joined the clinic’s staff, handed Burke a six-year-old medical article that he had read online, ‘The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Health: Turning Gold into Lead,’ by Vincent J. Felitti. Everything changed for Burke.

“The Poverty Clinic” discusses more recent research, which has led Burke to evaluate what she sees in her clinic differently. “In many cases,” she says, “what looks like a social situation is actually a neurochemical situation.”

Read the article. This is great stuff.



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