I am faced as a writer with the complex task of making a point that our society is not evidently ready to understand.  I am faced within myself with my own inability to clearly state in my own words even what the point I wish to make actually is!

I found a clue last night.  Any blog readers that have a Netflix account can either watch this movie via streaming or ask for the disc.


The New York Times movie review of

Buck (2011)

NYT Critics’ Pick

One Man Who Knows the Way of the Horse


Published: June 16, 2011


What I am asking for is a quantum shift in awareness about how we look at ‘difficult’ childhoods.

This movie discusses the terrible, brutal abuse that Buck and his brother suffered at the hands of their alcoholic father.

The MAIN POINT, the most CRITICALLY IMPORTANT point of this entire story is so ignored it hardly exists at all.

It is what is LEFT OUT of all such child abuse stories that is most important!

There is only very brief passing mention of the boys’ mother being a very kind and loving woman before she died an early death.  The boys were left with their terribly abusive father until the abuse was recognized.  Buck, with his brother, were removed from the home and placed in fantastic foster care when Buck was 12.


For all the discussion of the abuse in this movie NOBODY mentions what matters most!  The boys’ mother was without doubt able to form safe and secure early attachment with her sons, thus allowing them to form a body-brain that was NOT altered by trauma in its development.

With their safe and secure attachment-created body-brain these boys were THEN able to successfully survive all the horrors their father created through his brutal abuse in their childhood.


As a society — and as survivors of early abuse — we HAVE to understand that it is exactly where we are NOT willing – or able, evidently — to look that the ENTIRE solution to the mysteries of child abuse lie!

Had these boys NOT had this quality attachment with a loving mother NOTHING about this story of BUCK would have happened.  I do not believe this movie would have been made!

As the developmental neuroscientists explain — all experiences that happen after the first 33 months of life (conception to age 2) happen in direct consequence to the quality of attachment (safe and secure or not) with the MOTHER.  The experts talk of a CASCADE of developmental changes that happen when early attachment fails.

This CASCADE, in my opinion, goes BOTH ways!

In a benevolent safe and secure early attachment world all physiological development during these most critical formative months goes ONE WAY.  In the opposite case within a failed attachment universe of a malevolent world the signals communicated to the developing little body-brain send this CASCADE in the opposite direction.  By Trauma Altered Development (TAD) channels that nature has provided us — so that we can form our body-brain to MATCH the world we are growing in to — we adapt to the world nature tells us we will live in for the rest of our lives.

BUCK did NOT get a TAD body – no matter how horrible the abuse he and his brother suffered from their father.



To the credit of BUCK and the producers of this movie they include a segment of story — a horrifyingly real segment — in which a young horse COULD NOT BE SAVED.  The glorious golden stallion colt left the scene in the movie (and in life) to be euthanized.

The points I am making about human development are clear in the microcosm of this segment of the movie.  This story is tragic, and was created in its beginning by a complete deprivation of caregiving of all kinds to this horse.

There is a scene where BUCK is laying into the woman who owns this horse about — essentially — her terrible neglect of the animal and the other 17 stallions she had on her property.  The woman is crying – and there’s no doubt in my being that she was a TAD survivor herself.

But what struck me most powerfully is that as I watched the actions of the stallion in the barn behind Buck the words that appeared in my mind were these:  “That horse has lost its horseness.”

In exactly the next frame after these words hit me Buck makes his statement that this animal had turned into the closest thing to a PREDATOR one can find in the horse world!!  Horses are prey animals, as humans are also essentially prey animals.

That horse, in my mind, was exactly showing what had happened to my mother.  Just as this horse had lost its ‘horseness’ (and I knew before the story ended that there was no way anyone was going to help this horse return to its ‘horseness’), my mother lost her HUMANITY!  There is no way anyone, including Mother, could have changed the physiology of her body, including her mental illness, to truly restore her humanness to her as long as she lived in that same TAD body.

There is a very fine line, then, between what Dr. Teicher says about TAD creating an evolutionarily altered body-brain — and the far hopeless extremes that TAD can lead to.  Both this horse and my mother had been pushed TOO FAR — and this permanently broke them both.


My problem, it feels to me, comes from the fact that it seems NOBODY cares about the TRUTH!!!  We are all toddling down the WRONG ROAD together when it comes to making sense of how some people manage to overcome the consequences of severe abuse in childhood to have a successful life while others do not.

The absolute FIRST PLACE we need to look as we untangle our own life story of neglect, abuse and trauma in our early years is to go ALL the way back to our beginnings to discover the best we can what happened to us in the most important 33 months of our life.

We can see this in the story of the golden horse.

We can see this in Buck’s story.

If we LOOK!


Please watch this movie with my points in mind!!!!!  If I were teaching a college class on this subject, watching this movie would be a required assignment.


We HAVE to look in the direction of MOTHERS if we are going to solve the worst problems that early trauma causes people – and our society.  If we can’t bring ourselves to do this — we will NEVER know the answers to the questions we ask about what troubles people most.



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