JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.:
Hello and welcome. Our topic this evening is the development of
intelligence, and my guest, Joseph Chilton Pearce, is an expert
in the development of intelligence. He has developed a theory along
these lines which he has written about in five different books,
including The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Magical Child, and Magical
Child Matures, his most recent book. These books have been translated
into eight languages. Joseph, welcome.
JOSEPH CHILTON PEARCE:
Thank you, Jeffrey.
a pleasure to have you here.
PEARCE: It's a
pleasure to be here.
MISHLOVE: In your
book Magical Child, you suggest that there is some kind of human
potential in the child, in the human organism, that gets stifled
by our child-rearing practices, by our educational practices. Why
don't we begin there? Perhaps you can elaborate on that.
PEARCE: Well, we
hear constantly that we only use a small percentage of our full
potential, and this has become just kind of a bandied-about term.
We hear it all the time; we tend to ignore it. Some recent information
came out from, I think, Cornell Medical School -- I just got the
research in, and got blown away by the research, and can't remember
the exact citation. It points out that the capacity or ability of
the brain to think, to learn, to adapt and all, is determined not
so much by just the neurons, the major cells that make up the new
brain certainly, but by the neural connections between the neurons
-- the dendrites and axons and all those things. It's like it's
not a matter of how many good offices you have, but what is the
communication network of telephone lines between them, that determines
the efficiency of the office. The more lines you have, the more
efficiency you have; the more lines of communication between the
cells of the brain, the more efficiency the brain has, the more
intelligence it will display.
MISHLOVE: In other
words, we've got about twelve billion neurons or so.
PEARCE: A lot more
than that, I think.
MISHLOVE: But each
neuron might connect to a thousand others, or ten thousand others.
PEARCE: Well, yes,
you run into the neighborhood of quadrillions and trillions of these
neural connectors, you see.
that. Now, at eighteen months of age, when a little toddler's head
is about one-third adult size, he has the full number of neuronal
connectors that we have as adults, same number. By age six, that
child has four to five, and sometimes greater, times more neuronal
connections than we have - four to five times more than we have
as adults, or than he had at eighteen months - a fantastic
neural mass of networks prepared to match or adapt to or imprint
to any conceivable kind of model given the child at all.
MISHLOVE: One might
think that a six-year-old, then, would be able to learn much better
than an older adult.
PEARCE: Well, a six-year-old is able to adapt
to, modify to, modulate to, imprint to anything. That is, the capacities
of the brain at that point are infinite beyond all infant calculations.
Now, you see, he's ready to imprint to the whole social body of
knowledge, the whole social idea system of his world, all the ideas
of his limitations, his capacities, and everything else. At age
twelve, a chemical is released by the brain and starts dissolving
that neural mass that has not been activated by being given the
proper stimulus of models, people, exemplars out there, who represent
these capacities for the child.
MISHLOVE: In other
words, if the neural pathways aren't being used, then they atrophy.
PEARCE: No, they
don't atrophy. They get dissolved, all of a sudden, with a chemical
released into the brain. They'll get dissolved, and literally absorbed
into the cerebrospinal fluid, and become just kind of food for the
rest of the brain. Now, what protects the neural connectors is a
fatty sheathing called myelination, and myelination takes place
any time these neural networks are involved in patterning, according
to the nature of the stimuli given them by a model out there in
the world. Do you follow what I mean? I mean, Mama comes along,
she uses French language, then that immediately will start myelinating
the patterns of the brain according to that unique pattern above
MISHLOVE: As I
recall, the study of Einstein's brain indicated that he had more
of this myelination on his nerve tissues.
PEARCE: Well, myelination
is the key; sure, you find that. And by age six, then, the child
has this infinite capacity of adapting to any kind of pattern given.
Eighty percent of
that neural brain mass is dissolved by age fourteen from disuse.
percent! That's astonishing.
percent. Now, that's what has just come out, after many, many years
of some of the most painstaking work, I guess, that's ever been
done in medical research. Now, you then have an adult
brain which has at its disposal only twenty percent of the potential
which it had at age six, and not just one but at least a
dozen research papers have come out over the past ten years which
have shown that of that twenty percent remaining as an adult brain,
we utilize approximately five percent of it. So you're dealing with
an approximate one percent of our potential that we ever utilize.
That is on the new brain, the neocortex -- not so with the two ancient,
primitive animal brains, and we'll talk about that in a minute.
theory involves what you call the triune
PEARCE: Well, yes.
Any theory of the brain has to include that now, because Paul
McLean's work at the National Institute of Mental Health's Brain
Research Center is not even theoretical. That's pure, hard-core
research. You can't deny it.
we could just explain what those three portions of the brain are.
PEARCE: All right.
We have three brains in our skulls, not one, and they're three uniquely
separate, distinct brain structures, those developed throughout
all evolutionary history on earth. We have a reptilian brain, which
includes our spinal cord and the brain stem, which is identical
to the brain found in all reptiles. We just have a little bit bigger
one, a slightly more elaborate one, but essentially the same structure.
That's our sensorimotor brain, Jeffrey, as you well know. And superimposed
on that is the great limbic structure, which
we share with all mammals, and that's our emotional-cognitive brain,
that handles emotional energies. Now, emotional energy proves to
be the most awesome thing in the universe. Emotional energy is the
energy that hold all patterns in their pattern form, that relates
everything together in our life. Emotional energy pulls everything
into its formal relationship and maintains all relationship.
MISHLOVE: The great
glue of the universe.
PEARCE: The great
glue of the universe, the great bonding power of the universe, is
this emotional energy. And then, superimposed over that, is the
neocortex, which occupies eighty percent of the skull, five times
bigger than the two animal brain structures. And that's our thinking
brain, our intellectual brain. That's the one we use five percent
of, that's the one that loses eighty percent of its neural mass
at adolescence, but the two animal brains we utilize one hundred
percent of, and they never lose anything.
people talk about the right and left halves of the brain, they refer
to the new brain.
referring to the new brain. You get into a lot of nonsense about
the right and left half business, which I don't really care to go
into. But the issue is, as McLean has clearly shown, the vast bulk
of our ego awareness -- our personality, our awareness of selves
in the world -- translates into our awareness through the two animal
brains, and only the tiniest fragment of it through the intellectual
MISHLOVE: I'm gathering,
from what you said earlier about the brain tissue dissolving, that
it must be very crucial in certain stages of the child's development
that they get a lot of stimulation.
and it depends on what kind of stimulation, you see. Hilgard at
Stanford, as you know, said around about age seven the child becomes
acutely susceptible to suggestion, of the
ideas implicit in his society -- that is, the ideas his society
gives him of his place in the universe, what the whole show is about,
his capacities, his limitations, and so on -- and imprints to those
through his intellectual brain.
yes, but the values as they apply to his relationships, which means
the way the new brain is then going to influence the emotional brain
that he shares with all mammals.
interesting. It suggests that we basically become acculturated
through a form of hypnosis.
PEARCE: If you
want to call it that. But the issue is that we imprint, our brain
imprints, and makes all its neural patterns, according to the suggestions
given. They don't even have to be spelled out to the child. They
can be psychologically implied within the child's whole ambient.
Now, that brings up another point, Jeffrey, and that is a whole
raft of recent studies have shown that fully ninety-five
percent of all learning and memory that the brain lays down in that
neural patterning takes place beneath conscious awareness.
Only five percent of those neural patterns will result from all
of our training of our children, all of our disciplines of our children.
All of our teaching of them, and so on, can only account for about
is, we're unconscious of most of what we impart to our children.
Ninety-five percent of what the child is picking up from us, we're
not aware of and the child is not aware of, and there are a lot
of good, solid reasons for that, and they're all physiological.
I mean, none of it's occult or just hypothesis; we know how this
thing works. So it means that if you look at what most of us think
about our child, we want a better world for our child than we've
had. We don't want our child to have the bad behaviors that we have
had. We want him to avoid the pitfalls we've fallen into, and we
want them to have a lot more the few joys we've had, and not know
all of miseries we've had. So immediately, the minute they can use
language, Jeffrey, we start prescribing to them the behaviors that
we intellectually think might help them to avoid all the pitfalls.
Now, we're trying to prescribe verbally, through our teaching, prescriptions
for their behavior that will help them to keep from being who we
MISHLOVE: But our
nonverbal signals are just the opposite. They are who we actually
PEARCE: But the
child is simply imprinting with ninety-five percent of the whole
psychic machinery of the brain to our states of being - to who we
are physically, who we actually are emotionally, and to who we actually
are intellectually. And every intellectual ideal I have of myself
- "I am no good, I'm isolated, I'm estranged, I don't work
in the world, and I'm this, that, and the other" - the child
is automatically imprinting through this non-conscious, or non-aware
- certainly it's a conscious process, but we're not aware of it,
the child isn't aware of it.
I gather, self-esteem.
PEARCE: Oh, any
of these things. The slightest suggestion, you see, becomes sort
of the command of the child in this respect, and particularly in
all of this our emotional states, because we know that the
child is imprinting to our emotional states continually through
that emotional-cognitive brain structure. Now, of course
they do a lot of imprinting to our physical postures, stances, and
gestures, but those are almost incidental compared to the overwhelming
power of the intellectual-emotional.
MISHLOVE: It sounds
like what you're saying reflects the old Biblical saying, "The
sins of the father shall be visited... "
on the third and fourth." The father eats sour grapes, and
it sets the son's teeth on edge to the third and fourth generation,
too. Indeed it does. Now, the other tragedy of this, though - that
would all be simple, but you see, the five percent of our prescriptions
for the child's behavior, which he has to try to follow, because
the child is driven by one of his greatest instinctual intents,
to follow the model of the parent, or the teacher, or whoever
it is in the society, at all costs. And really we don't believe
this, but he's trying desperately to follow our models with that
five percent. But since we're telling him to be something we're
not, since we want a better world for the child, the other ninety-five
percent is simply imprinting automatically to who we are, and of
course since who we are radically outweighs who we tell the child
to be, the child is simply split right down the middle.
MISHLOVE: It creates
conflict. And he cannot conceivably be who we tell him to be, because
ninety-five percent of him is simply going
to be who we are. And then, when he fails to be who we tell
him to be, as simply this whole system imprints to who we are in
our states that we're in, we then accuse him of moral failure to
measure up to the lofty standards of our prescriptions.
lowers the self-esteem even further.
him even more. So my teacher, Gurumai, says, until that which you
think, that which you act, and that which you speak and feel and
so on, are all a single integrated unit, not only are you robbed
of your own power and efficiency in the world, but you fragment
every child that you even pass on the street, since the child is
simply influenced by the whole emotional-cognitive-intellectual
ambient of everyone as he passes.
I gather from your writing that there are stages in the development
of the child at which the child is more susceptible to one or another
kind of influence. For example, you mentioned at the age of seven
suggestion becomes a very strong influence on the child. Are there
stages in which suggestion doesn't play such a strong role?
PEARCE: Well, no,
but it depends on -- we're talking about social suggestions at age
seven. That's when we throughout human history recognize the emergence
of the social ego,
somewhere between six and seven, and the emergence of logical thinking.
The church started administering the sacraments at age seven two
thousand years ago for a very good reason -- because at age seven
the kid can begin to catch on to some real rules and regulations.
Well, we could go on throughout history, how they recognized six
to seven as that big turning point when the society becomes the
model, and the child shifts from the family as his major model to
the society as his major model.
MISHLOVE: The peer
PEARCE: Not so
much peer group as the society of adults around him. He'll shift
to peer group if this adult model's failing, and therein lies our
current failure, you see. We get this very strange peer group orientation
of children to themselves. They're
trying to model for each other because their other models have failed
them so tremendously they've lost faith in them. That
kind of what we call generation gap is absolutely unique in history.
We've never had that before, you see - when we are not giving the
child any kind of models that follow the needs of the child, and
so they try to pick up from each other cues of what can we do in
this kind of abandoned state. But certainly each period of history
- these are called the optimal periods of learning. Howard
Gardner of Harvard, with his theory of multiple intelligences, has
outlined, I think he has some eight or ten distinct, unique intelligences
inherent within us at birth. These intelligences unfold
for development when their optimal period for development is ready.
You can't have one intelligence unfold until it has its prestructures
of other intelligences on which it draws and is ready. For instance,
sexuality unfolds, or did always universally until recently, somewhere
around age fourteen. You had to wait until all the physiological
and psychological and emotional systems were mature for it.
it seems to be happening at an earlier age.
PEARCE: Do you
realize that menarche
is now at epidemic outbreak in the United States? It begins menstruation
in eight-year-old girls, and we have a very serious
outbreak of pregnancies in nine-year-old girls, and an even more,
to me, tragic and serious outbreak of violent, hostile rape against
females and males under age ten. This is at epidemic proportion
in the United States. That means it's hundreds of percent increased
year by year. Forty years ago it was never even heard of. It was
inconceivable to anybody it would happen.
MISHLOVE: And this,
I understand from your writing, is a result of hormones that are
getting into our food.
PEARCE: Only one
of about five major causes. The other major causes are premature
pressures for early academic education, which forces the brain to
fire in patterns of thinking related
to adolescence, and you get with them the entire entrainment of
the brain. Then you have television, which is a major, major cause
of damage to the young child. In fact hospital technological childbirth
is another major contributor, for a lot of reasons.
And all of these interweave; they're all kind of self-supporting,
interweaving factors, and none of them have we ever had before.
They have no historical precedent. So the child's sytem could compensate,
perhaps, for one of these damaging influences, but not all five
of them all put together -- day care, and a whole
raft of things which are breaking up the genetic unfolding, that
is, the actual genetic timing. It would be, Jeffrey,
as though all of a sudden half the children in the United States
started either developing twelve-year molars at age six, or didn't
develop them at all, as we find seventy percent of our child population
not really moving into formal operational thinking at age eleven,
which we always considered genetic and built into the system. That's
a breakdown of the whole genetic unfolding.
PEARCE: The pure
intellectual, abstract thinking - the ability to think in pure abstract
logic, pure semantic language structures - move into pure mentation,
pure thinking without any objects, in effect, which is of course
the next stage toward moving toward divinity itself.
MISHLOVE: And that
normally occurs at about age eleven?
to fifteen is the development for that. This is Piaget's term, but
also all the rest of the developmentalists recognize this at this
MISHLOVE: And that's
not happening now?
PEARCE: It's not
happening in about seventy percent of our teenage population. We
have about a seventy percent functional illiteracy rate in the early
twelve-, thirteen-, fourteen-year-old groups. Functional illiteracy
means they can go through the sensorimotor motions of literacy,
but there's not carry-over into contextual meaning, so they can't
grant it meaning. This is a
breakdown in the relationship between the three brains. It's a breakdown
in the limbic structure's ability to transfer information from one
part of the brain to another.
MISHLOVE: It sounds
like a massive overhaul of our educational and child-raising system
is going to be essential to correct this.
PEARCE: Well, we've known that for a long time,
but we knew that back in the sixties, and it's only worsened since,
and I see no possibility of that happening. I don't think you change
institutions at all. There's no possible way in the world to change
the American educational system as I see it now. It's just like
hospital technological childbirth, which is without doubt the most
damaging, destructive thing on earth, including the bomb and pollution.
and yet it comes as a great shock to people. Research has gone into
this now for forty years, and the evidence has been conclusive over
a long period of time, but you're dealing with a fifty-billion-dollar-a-year
industry, and there is not one chance of changing that.
MISHLOVE: You mean
the child comes out, you whack him on the back.
only the beginning. It's a series of serious disasters, all of which,
by the way -- the damage is all primarily to the limbic structure
of the brain.
perhaps we can't change the whole educational system, but there
may be some recommendations you might have for our viewers about
what individuals can do.
PEARCE: Well, of
course what I think individuals can do and must do is to examine
their own hearts, examine their own life, and remember
that there's no way on earth to heal the child except to heal the
adults and models that they're following. That means
the teachers, the parents, and people who are working with children.
If they are fragmented, if they're at war with themselves, then
they're going to pass that on to the child. You
find, for instance, the total lack of love in a child's life. The
child is absolutely starved for emotional nurturing and love. But
how can you love until you have first been loved, you see? And so
again we find that all of the intelligences that we are given -
and love would be the greatest of all intelligence, that's kind
of the intelligence of all intelligences. We do know
this from developmental psychology, that no intelligence can unfold
in the child from its potential state until it's given the stimulus
of an intelligence developed already out there in the world.
MISHLOVE: You need
PEARCE: Language learning begins in the seventh
month in utero, in the womb -- provided the mother is a speaking
is one of the extraordinary pieces of research you've quoted.
PEARCE: Forty years
we've been working on this.
MISHLOVE: The infant
-- not the infant, the fetus actually --
PEARCE: At seven
months you've got a pretty functional infant.
would you call it?
PEARCE: I would
call it the infant in the womb, at seven months.
MISHLOVE: The infant
in the womb shows distinct motor responses to particular phonemes
that it hears.
PEARCE: It has
one muscle for each of the fifty-two phonemes that it responds to.
There are fifty-two muscles in the child's body. It varies with
every child; each one will respond to each of the phonemes as he
builds up his sensorimotor aspect of language. The point in this
is, if he's given the model, so no intelligence can unfold without
the model given out there. By the model I mean a person who has
developed that intelligence. Furthermore you find that the intelligence
that then unfolds in the child, from his potential intelligent state
into its actualized state, is determined to probably virtually a
hundred-percent degree by the character and the nature and the quality
of the models that the child follows. So there again you have your
father sets the son's teeth on edge when he eats the sour grapes.
got a little less than five minutes now, Joe, and I think what you're
saying -- and we should really bring this point across strongly
-- is that for parents who are really concerned about their children's
development, the number one thing they can do is work on their own
PEARCE: They have
to bring themselves into wholeness. Now, wholeness is determined,
strangely enough, by the heart. All of the new research which is
now piling in, in mass amounts, is that the heart is one of the
major governors of the entire human experience. The
heart governs the limbic structure, which governs all of our immune
and healing systems, so the heart is intimately connected with the
whole healing process.
MISHLOVE: You mention
in your book that the heart is directly related to the middle of
the three brains.
the emotional-cognitive structure. The heart directs all the emotional
energies of the brain, literally directs all of our response to
the world out there in relationships.
MISHLOVE: So there's
something to this notion of the heart being associated with love.
heart is a universal consciousness. As McLean says, the individual
ego translates through the brain; universal consciousness translates
through the heart. That's why the heart can relate all information
together. What has happened to us in this day and time is a breakdown
in mind-heart dialogue - a breakdown literally in
the mind-heart connection. The way to reachieve, or open that mind-heart
connection up, is to come across someone who has opened that mind-heart
connection up, and who operates out of the heart. We have the statement,
"The cave of the heart wherein God lives." That is, in
my yoga we believe thoroughly that God dwells within the heart,
and that until you open up and get in touch with that God in the
heart, you are isolated and estranged from everything. The minute
you are opened up to the heart, you are intimately related and a
part of and one with everything. We find that immediately the heart
integrates the brain structure, so that that which we're thinking,
that which we're feeling, and that which we're acting are a single
integrated whole. That gives us a great deal more power and effectiveness
in our life than we ever had before. And so meditation is the answer
to the whole thing. And this sounds phony, but you see, meditation
is one of the natural circadian rhythms that we're born with, and
it's lost in ninety-seven percent of the population. So it's rediscovering
meditation, as I've been following siddha meditation, an ancient
system, for ten years. All I can say is it has radically transformed
MISHLOVE: The other
thing you seem to be saying here is that in terms of parents and
child raising, that more important than providing children with
intelligent role models, or athletic models, are loving role models.
work in Guatemala, Kagan at Harvard, proves conclusively - I can't
go into all the ramifications of it in one minute flat -- that strong
emotional nurturing of a child is the whole determining part of
the development of intelligence. They can be brought
up in a pigpen with absolutely no standards of life at all, with
just an abysmally low standard of living, but with a high quality
of life, because the only quality of life of a child is their emotional
relationships. Give them a high quality of emotional relationships
and you'll have a brilliant, happy child.
extraordinary, and I think it's very profound.
PEARCE: But who
can do that for a child until they themselves are integrated and
well-knit, you see? You cannot love until you have first been loved.
Joseph, you've been talking about some extraordinary, deep problems
that we have, and of course we haven't had time to cover all the
solutions. But I think what you're saying is, if we're going to
look at solutions at all, we have to start with this simple issue
PEARCE: Love, getting
in touch with the heart, and a kind of surrender of the ego-intellect
to the great intelligence of the heart, and then everything is radically
changed, including your intellect. My intellect, seriously, can
outperform itself ten to one of what it could ten years ago, before
I found siddha meditation.
Chilton Pearce, it's been a pleasure having you with me. Thank you
PEARCE: Thank you,
Jeffrey. It's been my pleasure.