Claudia Gold, who has practiced pediatrics for more than 25 years, wrote The Silenced Child after an accumulation of observations led her to believe that the single act of listening to young patients and their caretakers was in jeopardy. She was alarmed to see how in the prevailing system of mental health care unruly behavior, or a particularly challenging emotional state, was answered by time-pressed professionals who increasingly relied on psychiatric medication, sidelining time and space for listening.
Gold had begun to see behavior as a form of communication, and noticed as well how healing took place when that communication was heard. "Behind every 'behavior problem' is a story that gives meaning to that behavior," she was quoted as saying in an interview. "Only when we know that story do we know how to help that child and family."
Subtitled From Labels, Medications and Quick-Fix Solutions to Listening, Growth and Lifelong Resilience, Gold's book refers to an avalanche new research in child development and neuro-biology that shows how the brain grows in relationships where listening and interpersonal give-and-take happens. "My thesis is that our current system of care, in which we simply label behavior and seek to eliminate it with behavior management or, increasingly, medication, may interfere in a child’s development if we do not protect space and time for listening," Gold said in an interview on the subject with Psychology Today.
Claudia Gold is on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts, Boston Infant-Parent Mental Health program, William James College, and the Austen Riggs Center. She is also on the advisory board of the Sackler Parent Infant Project at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and currently works as a consultant in Human Development at the Austen Riggs Center.