I read Born for Love:Why Empathy is Essential–and Endangered by Maia Szalavitz and Bruce Perry well over three months ago and started writing this review many times but struggled to write something that truly encompasses the power of this book. As it is almost Valentines Day, I thought I would try once more as it is primarily about the importance of love and empathy.

I recommend this book to all parents, caregivers, teachers, school administration personnel, lawmakers, medical professionals, mental health professionals, and also everyone else. I’ve never read a book that has stuck with me as long as this book. I relate it to everything. I changed my own behaviors as a result of reading this book. I look at my children differently. It profoundly changed the way I thought about love and what empathy means for our relationships and how it shapes our communities and world exponentially. In a world that is being lived more online and less in person, in a country that sometimes feels more divided and pitted against us vs. them, this book makes a very compelling case as to why a lack of empathy is so dangerous to our communities at large, to our system of government, and just how valuable we are to each other. Our relationships and how we relate to each other matters and has lasting consequences for good and ill.

The main takeaways:

-Empathy is essential to healthy attachment and bonds to our children, healthy relationships, and a functional society.

-Love and empathy literally form and change the connections in our brains.  The way our caregivers look at us directly determines which genes are turned off and on when we are babies. This is where ‘nature meets nurture’. When you are just gazing lovingly at your baby, you are actually affecting their brain and chemical response and they are doing the same thing to you.  (You should really read this book). 

-Our stress response system is learned in tandem with our development of empathy. Our sense of safety and ability to trust is too. Our bonds and actions affect other people’s stress response. 

-Love is physiologically designed to conquer fear in the brain. It makes our communities healthier. 

I would encourage anyone and everyone to read Born for Love. The research is fascinating and very well translated, for lack of a better term, to lay people (I am not a doctor either, or maybe you are and if that is the case I really think you should read this book and share it far and wide). 

Read this book! Take care and be kind this Valentines day!

“Practicing love is just about the healthiest thing friends and families can do.” ~Bruce D. Perry