The forgotten baby: a crack in the data flow

By | May 14, 2023

We live in the age of the technoman. While we have the ability to have much more information and choice than ever before, we have lost the ability to pay attention to what is important to us. Our brains cannot adapt to AI photonic neurons. You cannot develop the brainpower to become a cog in the world’s information machine. We live in a world full of noise. Mobiles, notifications, emails and notifications. Constantly present without physical presence. With the fear of losing something. All of this came to our attention, tragically, due to the death of a baby, forgotten in the back seat of his father’s car. It is the first incident that occurs in our country, and it occurred in a provincial town.

And that’s how we all found out “Forgotten Baby Syndrome” (Forgotten Baby Syndrome – FBS), i.e. for abandoning a baby in a car. More are registered in the US 30 deaths per year. For this reason, the National Highway Safety Administration has started the campaign “look before you block”, for those who transport children to check the rear of the vehicles before leaving their car.

The vast majority of those who experience this tragedy are mentally healthy and loving parents.

HE danae marinakh, BA, Pg.D,M.Sc, ECP, Person-Centered Psychotherapist, spoke at for this painful phenomenon.

Interview with Efi Zerva

First of all, Ms. Marinaki, are we talking about a syndrome or is it terminology?

The term “syndrome” is used by medicine and psychology to denote a set of specific mental phenomena or medical symptoms. Neuroscientist Dr. David Diamond coined the term “forgotten child syndrome” in an attempt to summarize common information/components and to explain what seems to be going on in the parent’s brain when they seem to “forget” their own child specifically in the car.

The premise to which it seems to boil down is that our working memory (working memory, the memory that helps us function in everyday life and guides us in what we have to do), can be hampered by external stress factors (a sudden phone call, urgent work, stress daily). In addition to or along with this, it seems that when we do something consistently in a routine (take the child to daycare every day down the street, etc.) it works. our motor memory (motor memory) that leaves room to get lost in thoughts about the future and not about the here and now.

The forgotten baby: a crack in the data flow
Person-Centered Psychotherapist Danai Marinaki

Again, your research is limited and we can only speak of a hypothesis and not absolutes. The important thing is that I enter here once neurobiology dimension to help us understand the phenomenon in a multifaceted way and not to close the door on further research on why this happens.

Personally, I would choose this word: The phenomenon of the forgotten child. Of course it can have biological bases, but I think it’s important not pathologize (because the term syndrome automatically leads us to a pathologization) phenomena that we must examine mainly at the social level. And it is that, that something ends up registering, either as a phenomenon or as an organic symptom, means that it is frequent, and requires our attention and solution.

Did it strike you that it happened in a small country town, where living conditions are supposed to be more humane?

Actually, I found myself puzzled by the “it happened in Arta” information, as if it was more likely to happen in Athens. As if we knew inside how inhuman living conditions in the big city can be, as if we subconsciously clung to the hope that out there, in the country, people live more comfortably. This myth is also gradually being dispelled.

When you found out about the fact, what did you think as a mother and as a psychologist?

I heard the fact automatically like a mother. In a flash, all those moments that could have been fatal for my son came to mind seconds later. Days of absolute exhaustion in which I could have made wrong decisions or operated mechanically. Days when I carried my one-month-old baby alone . in the car, at work, a job that I love and have chosen. On a day like this I remember that I had a slight collapse due to lack of attention, due to insomnia, due to fatigue. Of course, this fact came as a jolt to take other measures with my husband, somehow to shape everything differently. We had this opportunity and the blessing of not facing something irreversible.

As a psychologist, what concerns me is the reaction of most of the world. Anger, condemnation, conclusions, suspicion. The phrase I read that haunted me was “not having children.” Is it so extreme, so rare, for a parent to make a mistake in raising a child so vulnerable that it could prove fatal? I personally have, and have heard, countless stories to share that prove otherwise. Has that (tragic) time come for us to put our scientific knowledge to good use and design assessment tools to judge the most suitable people to be parents (physically, mentally and intellectually) and select an elite of parents?

But surely the time has come to trust and use our knowledge of the human being, of the infant and of society to begin to radically change our outlook towards new parents, towards upbringing in general and towards the social pathologies that can act as agents. of crimes

It is time to decriminalize the need for knowledge (and the free provision of it by the government). Children do not, they do not grow up alone, not with the instincts of their mother and father, not with their DNA guiding them.

  • Eliminate the absolute need to provide assistance so that one of the two parents is always with their baby.
  • Record the fatigue and stress of new parents so that proper care and support can be taken for granted.h) A support that allows the father to stay with his son until he is born, but also allows the adult to find his balance in the new reality.
  • Record such accidents and suggest ways to prevent them. For example, I read that companies have proposed a special alarm that notifies the father if there is a baby in the seat when he is going to close the car.

There is an African proverb that says “It takes a village to raise a child”. That is, in the free version, “It takes a whole town to raise a child.” The nursery at such a young age, the baby was 5.5 months old, could she join the “net” surrounding a newly formed family?

We now know from modern studies that the appropriate age for the child to join the nursery is 2.5 to 3 years. An infant does not have the ability to perceive what is happening around them, where their mother is, where their safety is when they are in an environment from which mother is absent (I mention mother here because she is usually the main caregiver).

Of course it takes a town to raise a child. A people (family, friends, neighbors) that respects and accepts the basic needs of the baby and her parents. A town that will be able to share chores, console and accompany the couple for as long as they need until their child is old enough to spend enough time away from home.

Without being able to be infant agnostic, I will say that They have come as a necessary solution. When we can see as a society that this solution finally weighs against children and parents, perhaps we will turn to solutions that are more useful for all of us.

Two simple young men who loved their son. Now what awaits you?

I can’t even imagine this… As for mourning, here we have one of its most tragic forms. A loss that has murder among its causes (because that is how we live when we have caused death intentionally or not). A murder that simultaneously kills the child and the father… Stigma, guilt, fear, disorganization. Unfortunately, history will show what awaits them. the least we can do is remain silent in the face of their drama and act as a society and as a state to finally care for young families.


*Danai Marinaki works as a Person-Centered Psychotherapist and as a supervisor. She studied psychology at American College (Bachelor of Arts, Deree College, 2001) and did postgraduate studies at ICPS where she received a Certificate, Diploma, and Master of Science in Person-Centered Counseling. In 2015 she received the European Certificate of Psychotherapy from the European Society for Psychotherapy. The central axis of her clinical practice revolves around grief and loss. For the past 20 years, she has been associated with the field of grief counseling after receiving training through special seminars, as well as personal therapy and supervision from her.


Related article: Forgotten baby syndrome: how a father forgets his son in the car


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