Kindred World Launches The Evolved Nest’s Breaking The Cycle Short Film

About Breaking the Cycle

Human societies are built from individuals who begin life in relationship. The quality of community support for meeting children’s basic needs influences the state of health the child carries forward in all systems.  Undercare in early life leads to less health in childhood and adulthood and a basic sense of disconnection—a cycle of competitive detachment. This is not humanity’s heritage. Over 95% of our species history was spent in a cycle of cooperative companionship, where children’s basic needs were met, leading to wellbeing in childhood and adulthood, with a deep sense of connection and skills to keep the cycle going.  

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April 26, 2021 – Kindred World is proud to launch The Evolved Nest’s educational short film, Breaking the Cycle. The moving and inspirational six-minute film illustrates our capacity for breaking our current Cycle of Competitive Detachment and returning to the pattern of 95% of our human history: a healthy, peaceful Cycle of Cooperative Companionship. Breaking the Cycle is based on the multi-award-winning book, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom, by Darcia Narvaez, PhD. 

Breaking the Cycle contrasts the two basic ways societies can function: the optimal approach, which most human societies through time have followed, is the Cycle of Cooperative Companionship where children’s basic needs are met; they grow into well-functioning, cooperative community members (from neurobiology and on up); and as healthy adults, they maintain the cooperative system.  Currently in the USA the opposite pattern is in place: children’s basic needs are not met, illbeing and dysregulation ensue, creating adults who are detached and distracted and keep this Cycle of Competitive Detachment going. The United Nations ranks the USA as 41st out of 41 developed countries for child and adult wellness.

“Humans are so immature at birth that to develop in a healthy manner, reaching their full potential, they need to experience humanity’s evolved nest,” states Narvaez. “This helps structure well-functioning brain and body systems like the stress response, immune system and many other systems, preparing the individual for cooperative behavior and compassionate morality, including with the rest of the natural world. With a degraded evolved nest, the individual will have one or more areas of dysregulation, undermining sociality and morality. The evolved nest is an intergenerational, communal responsibility that industrialized societies have largely forgotten, especially the USA.”

“Many people believe the tale that humans have made great progress and that there is no other option than this dehumanizing, anti-life, planet-destroying culture. In the short film, Breaking the Cycle, and at the, we show other options. We help people understand that life does not have to be the way industrialized societies have set it up.”

Breaking the Cycle is based on Narvaez’s book, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom, which was chosen for the 2017 Expanded Reason Award from among more than 360 total entries from 170 universities and 30 countries. Narvaez received the prize, including a substantial monetary award, at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Vatican City on September 27, 2017. The book also received the William James Award from the American Psychological Association in 2015, and the American Educational Research Association’s Moral Development and Special Interest Group Award in 2016. Breaking the Cycle was made possible through the Expanded Reason Award’s award monies.

A Professor of Psychology Emerita at the University of Notre Dame, Narvaez emerged in the top two percent of scientists worldwide in a 2020 analysis. Of the eight million scientists in the world, the analysis concerned those who had at least five articles published in scientific journals between 1996 and 2017. Individuals were ranked according to various criteria, including number of citations of their work.

Narvaez hosted interdisciplinary conferences at the University of Notre Dame regarding early experience and human development in 20102012, and 2014. In 2016 she organized a conference on Sustainable Wisdom: Integrating Indigenous KnowHow for Global Flourishing. (Click on the links to see the full conferences in video on the Evolved Nest’s YouTube Channel.) She is the author or editor of numerous books and articles, see The Science page for listings. 

Narvaez is the president of the venerable American nonprofit, Kindred World, a contributing editor to Kindred, the first global eco-parenting magazine, an advisory board member of Attachment Parenting International and Self-Reg. She is former executive editor of the Journal of Moral Education. She has been quoted and her work cited in The AtlanticTimeWall Street JournalNew York TimesIndianapolis Star, as well as in international media.

Viewers of the Breaking the Cycle short film are welcome to host public screenings of the film with the Breaking the Cycle Film Discussion and Resource Guide on the website,

Extensive resources, including Next Steps, are also available on the website. Narvaez is available for interviews and presentations about the film and her work. You may contact her at

Kindred World is an award-winning American nonprofit providing public education on creating sustainable humans through multiple initiatives since 1996.


Film Script

We’ve been told a story that we are selfish, aggressive, rugged individuals. But if that were true, we should have no problem with physical distancing and self isolation.  The pandemic showed us that this story is not who we are.

That’s because we evolved in cooperative bands of kin and nonkin where we were nurtured and welcomed by all members of the community. We lived together, we gathered food together, we sang together, and we danced together.  We knew it would have been impossible to survive on our own. But together, we thrived. (Explanation: Only 1% of human existence (the last 10,000 years or so) has involved civilization. Before that and outside civilization, small-band hunter-gatherers existed with a common set of practices that fostered thriving in the community. We call that the Evolved Nest.)

Today, we are living in a culture that goes against everything it means to be human. Our culture emphasizes toughness over tenderness, isolation instead of togetherness, even for babies. As a result, we are depressed, anxious, chronically ill, and at the bottom of every international indicator for health.  

We are stuck in a Cycle of Competitive Detachment where we feel disconnected from others and even ourselves, while at the same time feeling we have to compete for anything worthwhile.  There is a way, not only to break this cycle, but to create a new cycle, one that reclaims our humanity and helps us heal ourselves and our culture. We can create a cycle of connected, cooperative companionship. 

For most of our existence, we have created culture from the bottom up, from the way we raised children, and from the top down, from the stories we told one another. Children were nested in loving supportive village care, growing deep connections to and respect for the natural world. 

In modern culture, children are raised with disconnection, with little concern for their basic needs and with an almost random set of relational experiences. They still hear stories, conveyed by various media, but they are full of put-downs, egoism and violence. 

Babies require an external womb experience to grow and connect with others. They need calming affectionate care, immediate responses to keep them optimally aroused while rapidly growing brain connections. Without this early care, babies learn a pattern of disconnection from the self, others, and the world, manifesting in self-protective mindsets and irritation with people from different backgrounds or with different ideas. We withdraw from social life because it is just too painful, triggering the traumas we experienced early on in life. We constantly seek to fill a void we were never biologically intended to experience.

The good news is that it is possible to break this cycle of competitive detachment and restore the cycles of connected, cooperative companionship. 

We can learn what our basic needs are and find ways to help everyone get them met. We can take steps that open our minds and hearts and build empathy towards others who are different from us can become aware and careful about where we put our greatest asset – our We can build attachment to the natural world by immersing ourselves in its beauty and developing our connection with its aliveness. 

Cultures can and do change. It begins with each one of us realizing our inherent nature to be empathic, flexible, and sovereign beings, and taking steps to heal and restore our core nature.


Visit the Breaking the Cycle website and discover a film guide as well as self-directed learning and resource center.

Learn more about the Evolved Nest’s science and its capacity to Break the Cycle we living in now, and remake a peaceful, sustainable Cycle of Cooperative Companionship.

Read the introduction and first chapter to the award-winning book Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom here.

Learn more about the Cycle of Competitive Detachment in this Evolved Nest podcast series:

Learn more about the Cycle of Cooperative Companionship in this Evolved Nest podcast series:

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