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Milgram's notorious experiment

Carol Maher once told an interesting story from the early 1900's that may offer a clue as to the effects of prayer avoidance.

It seems that in those days, orphaned infants were routinely kept in rows of sterile hospital cribs while they waited to be adopted.  It was felt that, in order to help those babies avoid forming deep attachments to those who were only temporarily providing their care, the infants were handled as minimally as possible - essentially only when they were being fed or changed.

Italian educator Maria Montessori noticed that babies in these orphan hospitals suffered high levels of marasmus, which is a condition in which a body wastes away as food passes through it undigested.  Eventually, marasmus can lead to death.  Montessori was able to show that these high levels of marasmus were due to the lack of cuddling in these hospitals, which led certain babies to simply give up on life.

They may have felt hunger, they may even have swallowed when they were fed, but something inside sensed that their environment would not sustain them, and so they gave up on the usual survival techniques.  Their food would pass through undigested, they would lose weight and stop crying, and their bodies would begin to die.

The medical community was appalled when researchers discovered just how easily the condition could be reversed by regular periods of ordinary holding and rocking.  Who would have guessed that the basic cuddling and expressions of love - that the vast majority of parents give to their children so naturally - could literally be life-giving in and of themselves?  Yet, the need for love and emotional support is written deep into our DNA.
- Jim McCrea, message posted on the Ecunet bulletin board, 2/2000