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Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Narvaez’s current research explores how early life experience influences societal culture and moral character in children and adults. She integrates neurobiological, clinical, developmental and education sciences in her theories and research about moral development.


We are a traumatized people, a people silently bequeathed a heritage of toxic treatment, under-care, and various forms of violence. It is encoded into us during our early years, directing the development of our neurobiology, personality, and morality. We then pass it down accidentally as an extension of an ignorance propagated by a society founded on SHITTY advice on raising children. But we are not lost, nor are we locked into this cycle. We have an opportunity to make a profound difference on the future world by raising healthier, happier, and more well-adjusted kids.

The guest on this episode, Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D., is here to give perspective on what that might look like. She walks us through the influence Western conventional culture’s child rearing tendencies has on the individual and the collective, from neurobiology to psychology to society and ecology. We also specifically explore several conventional practices, their harm, and alternative options.

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Episode Breakdown

  • How early life experiences influence neurological and moral development
  • The impact of the parent/child relationship on the child’s nervous system
  • The elements of The Evolved Nest; aka The evolved Developmental Niche
    • Soothing birth experience
    • Responsive care giver
    • Breast feeding
    • Multiple adult care givers
    • Touch
  • The good development of the human
  • The role of epigenetics in moral and neurological development
  • The slave self; the empty self
  • The ecological impact of the broken nest
  • Our mistaken understanding of the baseline of human behavior
  • Disambiguating childhood trauma (undercare / toxic stress / trauma)
  • Limbic memory and how we perceive the world
  • Being “tough” on boys
  • Unpacking what the science shows are the impacts of:
    • Breast milk vs. formula
    • cry it out sleep training
    • spanking
    • circumcision
    • common birthing practices: Pitocin, cesarean, epidural
“When we break the baby’s nest, we break their connection to the earth.” ~ Click To Tweet
“Find those places that nourish your love” ~ click to tweet

RElated Links

Darcia Narvaez’s Homepage

Here you will find a complete collection of her publications, as well as her blog.

Moral Landscapes (Prof. Narvaez’s Psychology Today column)
Slipping Expectations For Child Outcomes (a recent article by Prof. Narvaez)

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If you are enjoying the show, I ask you to please contribute to the show by way of a one-time donation or by becoming a continuous supporter on Patreon.

Please Support (me and) The Show on Patreon.
Or Via A One-time PayPal Donation

Thank you for not only supporting the show and my work in the world but by voting with your dollar towards the world where independent content creators aren’t forced to suffer in economic uncertainty simply because they chose to follow their heart over a paycheck.

***Featured Photo by Micah. H on Unsplash


  1. Thank you so much for this excellent interview. This was the first podcast of yours I was able to listen to and it was so relevent to so many things I have been going through. I started really diving into this primal/attachment parenting and the related cultural/eco crisis when I conceived in 2010 and a few people around me (in the permaculture community) recommended getting a midwife. I had a fantastic natural birth at home, breastfed, enjoyed my mat leave, no postpartum mood issues. But when I went back to work and really started learning about this kind of thing…reading books like the ‘continuum concept’ ‘our babies, ourselves’ and realizing how incredibly traumatic our culture is for babies, children (especially boys) and mothers and how this does seem to deliberatly benefit the ‘slave’ and ‘war’ machine. Also how I as a mother alone was rather powerless against it. I took up meditation to try to manage but it culminated in ‘psychotic’ break in 2012 where I was hospitalized and drugged and had to wean my first boy at This happened again with my second son at 1 year and my tolerance to stress has greatly diminished. I haven’t gone back to work fulltime and I’m not sure I want to or what I will even do. I’ve done a lot of healing. My boys are quite healthy and I have realized I have decent support system if I can remember to call on it. I’ve reframed my ‘psychosis’ as ‘spiritual emergency’ but holy crap! Thanks for all you are doing.

    • Thanks for sharing Teresa. I am happy to hear you have found meaning and clarity in the challenges you’ve been facing 🙂

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