The Continuum Concept

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The Continuum Concept

  Autor Martha Muresan, MD pediatrician, international board certified lactation consultant. Data: 04.06.2008

The Continuum Concept

The idea of "continuum concept" was made by the American psychologist Jean Liedlof in his book The Continuum Concept that appeared in 1975. Jean Liedlof lived two and a half years in Venezuela, between Yequana Indians from the primitive jungle. The book resembles the culture and methods of raising children in the modern civilization to that of the Indians from the Stone Age. The author discovers that happiness to these people is not a goal, but a natural state and seeks the cause of "happiness" of these primitive people, the source of their psychological balance.


Why the bullying, divorce, delinquency, abandonment, alone and unhappy people miss in this community? Jean Liedlof finds that the explanation lies in the growth of infants who meet immediate human needs formed during development: Indians always carry with them their children, who see life as it unfolds day by day, they do not let them alone even when sleeping or especially when they are crying but do not sit them in the spotlight. The child feels protected and loved, it's "welcome" and that sense of security helps him develop mentally balanced as an adult.

The author believes that intellect prevails today, and our sense of perceiving what is good for us is diminished and we no longer know how to differentiate real from the distorted pulses. For millions of years, in determining what is good for us, the main role was played by instinct, the subconscious. After Liedloff for a best physical, mental and emotional, the man, from the period of newborn and infant needs those experiences to which humans have adapted along the evolutionary processes that have been stored in the subconscious.

Human continuum, says the author, can be defined as a sequence of experiences that meet expectations and trends of the human species in an environment in which these expectations and trends were developed. This includes appropriate behaviour of other people who are part of this environment.

The continuum concept actually means instinctual response, immediate to the ancestral needs of the human baby, namely:

  • From birth - physical contact with the mother (or other caretaker of the family if necessary)
  • sleeping in the same bed with parents until they will leave the bed (at the age of 2 years)
  • Sucking at " demand "- sucks watching his body signals;
  • is always carried in the arms or otherwise, as to be in physical contact with someone, usually the mother and is allowed to observe (or sleep or suck) while the person that carries him can see their daily business- until the baby begins to crawl alone, usually at the age of 6-8 months;
  • his caregivers respond immediately to his signals (agitation, crying), without annoying, to judge him or underestimate his needs. On the other hand he does not look too worried and do not always feel in the spotlight;
  • the young man feeling that he fulfils the expectations of older and being a social and cooperative person, with strong instincts of preservation, he realizes that he is welcome and respected;

If these needs are satisfied (in accordance to the continuum concept) exactly as he wishes or later, how does he grow, if possible, the child will feel a feeling of safety, contentment and joy.

In contrast to the above, the baby of the modern civilization, subject to "artificial" birth and growth habits, often has the following experience:

  • after birth due to medical intervention, he is brutally separated from the mother and is taken to the section of newborns so that the mother rests and sleeps;
  • at home he sleeps alone many times after he cried;
  • is fed by schedule ignoring the natural needs of it's sucking or made "quiet" with a pacifier;
  • is excluded from adult activities, is isolated in the playroom, in the pen or the cradle or inadequately stimulated by toys without life;
  • caregivers often do not take him into account, discourage and punish him even if he cries or communicate otherwise his needs and respond with excessive worry and anxiety, making him the centre of attention;
  • feels that he cannot meet carers' expectations, that he is incapable of self support, has antisocial behaviour and can learn the proper behaviour only under strict control, under threat and using various techniques of education, which undermines the learning process perfectly formed;

But the evolution has not prepared the little man for this kind of experience. He does not understand why he is not answered the desperate cries to comply his "innate" expectations and develops the sense that he and his desires are bad and shameful.

Infants whose needs are met in accordance with the "continuum" concept during early infancy (being held) increases with greater self-esteem and will be more independent as well as those whose crying remains unanswered because parents are afraid not to spoil or not to become too dependent.

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Read the English version of this article: The Continuum Concept