1) Most of the reviews I have seen on this book seem to come from parents and are testaments to the validity or lack of validity of the continuum concept. I am not a parent*. I have no immanent plans to experience parenthood (or to not experience parenthood) at this point and I am painfully nearsighted on this issue. So I have no desire to debate whether the Continuum Concept is 1) the right way to raise a child in this culture, 2) if its feasible or 3) what to do about modern dangers that exist outside of the environment that man evolved under, etc. I read the Continuum Concept at the suggestion of a friend who is a psychoanalyst. I read it for the insight it would give me into my own life and childhood. It is the similar soul that this review is directed toward: the reader who simply wants to understand their own past and present in light of the concepts that Liedloff puts forth.
2) I try not to write reviews just after finishing a particular book. I find that I am still 'impressionable' and it takes a while for me to let the subjectivity of the author pass out of my system. It takes a while to integrate my identity with any new thoughts or perceptions that arise from reading a new book.
With that said, I read The Continuum Concept earlier this year and I am amazed at how much the thoughts and ideas that were bubbling in my mind at the time I read the book are still present in my conscious mind. If you want to read a book that will bring your opinions about your upbringing and the whole western system of values under scrutiny, this is the book for you. It's dangerous literature for anyone who is happy with the status quo, but my assumption is that the reactionary reader will simply dismiss everything in the Continuum Concept as invalid.
To accept the validity of The Continuum Concept really changes so much about our perceptions of the modern world. It has been quite some time since the seventies when this book was much more revolutionary, and now there is plenty more research and science to corroborate Liedloff's claims. Perhaps she idealized these people that she lived with in the rain forests of South America. But even if she has waxed a tad bit romantic in her opinions of the Yequana (sic) we can still learn something from her observations. The truth is that far too few of us question the system of baby-care in western culture in its totality. We debate how to discipline a child and the proper age to begin potty training and when to wean the child (after we have solved the debate over whether to breastfeed or not). But there are deeper questions we do not ask...and the obvious question that arises from reading Liedloff's book is "are we doing our children a disservice by using any modern child-rearing techniques at all?" Other questions soon arise such as "Are most of us victims of an incomplete childhood?" "Is the average member of westernized society simply trying to fill some unnatural emptiness created in its earliest and hardly memoralbe experiences?" "Is every aspect of our modern culture infected with our skewed beliefs (e.g. happiness is elusive and only to be pursued but never attained)?" Is the most exhilarating experience in life `falling in love' or is this just a brief lapse into the state of being we should be living our entire lives under?" These are all very interesting questions and if this is the kind of psychological and philosophical introspection that you like to engage in than this is the book for you (and please send me and e-mail because I am generally better for knowing people like you).
The book led me to the final question which I am still trying to answer. "Is the combination of our modern upbringing and the modern world we live in so grossly mutated from the environment that mankind evolved in, that there is no way to adapt and find our way back to intuitive living, and the kind of self acceptance (being comfortable in our own skins) that so many of us strive for?" I guess this is a question (like all profound questions) that must be answered through experience, but I am thankful for this book for at least coloring some of my experiences with a new hue. My hope now is that I can get my mother and twin brother to read this book as well, and we can all dialogue about what it meant for our pasts and what it means if anything for the present and future.
I gave the book a five star rating because it made me think and it stretched my mind to new dimensions, which gets harder to do as I get older and older.
*[side note: I can see how this book could grossly misfire in the hands of parents obsessed with raising perfect children. I think the idea should be to provide the best environment we know how to for the child and let the child become what it will become without any preconceptions about what a perfect child is like. After all, its questionable if the emotionally unhealthy and stunted are even prepared to recognize the signs of emotional health.]