Finding Unicorns at the 2023 Self-Regulation Summer Symposium 

A variety of sources define a unicorn as being highly desirable and difficult to find or obtain. Unicorns have tremendous value and are extraordinarily rare. The elusive and astounding concept defies our very senses. We create a story about a mythical creature because actual science is too good to be true. And yet, there exists the Self-Regulation Summer Symposium. I was able to attend the majority of the symposium and want to share my heartfelt gratitude for this opportunity. 

The 2023 Self-Regulation Summer Symposium allowed like-minded individuals to run with unicorns. Neuroscience allows the reality of unicorns to exist. That was the unified message across all speakers. Each adult human is a unicorn to a child mitigating developmental energies with various abilities and capacities. Shared knowledge that young brains naturally have developmental differences. This results in the variation of energy needs. I loved hearing Dr. Stuart Shanker reframe stress as energy. Stuart, at one point, made a comparative statement on how a child’s anxiety is a protective mechanism to alert the body to its own organic imbalance. Medicating anxiety resets the alarm system but does not remove the protective mechanism itself – anxiety. We are only kicking the can down the road, forcing it to travel great distances while risking damage. Stuart teased the audience about their pending research regarding Jaak Panksepp’s affective neuroscience and the seven primary emotional centers deep in the brain. We did get a brief taste test. 

The concept that young brains hold a separate “fuel tank” for each function allows lay people to readily identify the concepts Stuart referenced within the neuroscience framework. Hungry? Tired? Social Situations? Fear? Isolation? Parent? The dark? There were others, but what I enjoyed was hearing Stuart talk about the vital importance of a child’s interoceptive system. Understanding the interoceptive system will become the pivotal fulcrum for change. I loved the concept of different energies and how they impact homeostasis and allostasis of the body through bidirectional pathways. Adults ask, where is the needle on the child’s fuel tank, and how does this guide the whole body’s response to refuel individual tanks? How much energy is required for the body to shift energy and fuel a specific tank? One child’s system can orchestrate these acts with mastery while another’s relies on oxytocin paring from adults. Adults (societies) can collectively embrace and support these unique variations and energy patterns. The paradigm shift extracts nothing from an adult and benefits the child beyond measure. This was the clear message from those speakers I heard. 

I have supported and incorporated psychosomatic medicine into my profession and personal life for years. It’s rare to find a field of unicorns. Listening to Stuart Shanker’s discussion of bidirectional organ pathway systems harmonizing energy balance literally fed my soul. Learning from Dr. Gerry Costa, Susan Hopkins, Cathy Lethbridge, and others, I am already making a conscious effort with purposeful language choices. I have replaced energy for stress. This has resulted in more positive conversations about children’s stress response to energy requirements rather than a behavior to a demand. People are more gracious and offer less judgment within these conversations. So, in the words of Dr. Burke Harris, why aren’t people running toward revolutionary information as if the world is on fire? Because there are no free-range unicorns.

While neuroscience is evolving, it is not new. You don’t need to look back far to find Dr. H. Flander Dunbar’s work in the 1930s. Dr. Gerry Costa explained this barrier, and I was hooked. Gerry referenced Thomas Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutionsto describe why society resists evidence-based knowledge to mainstream theories. Gerry described the scientific paradox – rigidity. From our (audience) learned experience, we should have empathy and expectations. Rigidity affords energy conservation. Rigidity mitigates stress. And rigidity inhibits growth. This symposium shares that there are methods to support energy shifts of change without resulting in stress or trauma. I have learned so much knowledge and cannot wait for more research as Stuart Shanker promised.

However, society doesn’t require a scientific revaluation to endorse “seeing a child differently, you see a different child.” 

Dr. Stuart Shanker

Deep appreciation to Stuart Shanker, all presenters, and many others for the opportunity to attend SRSS. The great thing about knowledge is that you get to share it, it costs you nothing, and you can change a child’s life.

Categories Brain, Event
%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close