Selfless Genes, Altruism and Trauma: Research and Clinical Implications

By Graham Music.

From the Introduction…

In this paper I will argue that psychoanalytic thinking might have underestimated the role of altruism as a natural feature of human development.

Altruism does not quite feel a satisfactory term for what I want to describe; it might have too many connotations of philanthropy, but equally many alternative words, such as being helpful, considerate, generous, co-operative, warm-hearted, nurturing, also do not quite capture this wish to nondefensively be kind, caring and ‘pro-social.

In this paper I will use developmental, attachment and neuroscience research alongside clinical examples to show how humans tend to be prosocial and altruistic from early infancy onwards, and also describe some clinical work which I hope illustrates some of these ideas.
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