Amygdala Development and Caregiver Absence


A researcher from UCLA writes in Developmental Psychobiology of the effects of caregiver absence on the development of the amygdala, suggesting that caregiver deprivation can produce amygdala developmental aberration that result in some of the “emotional phenotypes observed following early institutional care.” The review was released online June 19, 2012.

Abstract → 

Tottenham, N. “Human Amygdala Development in the Absence of Species-Expected Caregiving.” Developmental Psychobiology, online June 19, 2012

Related Item:
Children Raised in Institutions: Increased ADHD, Anxiety, etc.


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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. “the effects of caregiver absence on the development of the amygdala, suggesting that caregiver deprivation can produce amygdala developmental aberration”

    English translation: the effects of neglect can impact and wreck you. You’ll be a mess for the rest of your life, or until someone fixes your amygdala.

    “Children who have been raised in institutional care early in life experience caregiver deprivation and are at significantly elevated risk for emotional difficulties.”

    Emotional difficulties, to say the least! You can’t really SEE mental deformity, but if there’s ever a picture of what a MENTAL deformity looks like, this is it (their physical deformities are the equivalent of what a twisted mind looks like; a result of extreme neglect and abuse):
    Dark Side of Serbian Mental Institutions

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