We might think that perfect harmony is the goal for healthy relationships – early ones between parents and children, and later in life between lovers, partners, friends, and siblings. But we all know that human interactions are messy, complicated, and confusing. According to psychologist Ed Tronick and pediatrician Claudia Gold, that is not only ok, it is crucial to our social and emotional development. In The Power of Discord: Why the Ups and Downs of Relationships Are the Secret to Building Intimacy, Resilience, and Trust, they show how working through complexity is the path to better relationships with the people we depend on and love. We might want to instantly smooth over the inevitable bumps, but the process of navigating around them builds resilience and hope.
Ed is the University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts (and, recently, the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the national organization Zero to Three). He is one of the first researchers to have shown that babies are profoundly affected by their parents’ emotional states and behavior. His renowned experiment, the “still face paradigm,” and the decades of research that followed its introduction, have led him to see how important messiness is to our well-being. That work has resulted in a fundamental shift in our understanding of human development.
Our highly evolved sense of self makes us separate, yet our survival depends on connection. And so we approximate, learning about one another iteratively, and gaining confidence in the process as we correct the mistakes and misunderstandings that inevitably arise. Drawing on careful observation of our earliest love relationships, The Power of Discord is a refreshing and original look at our ability to make meaning of our experiences. By showing how reparation is fundamental to our capacity to trust, Ed Tronick and Claudia Gold enable us to improve the many relationships in our lives.