The experience demolished her Western preconceptions of how we should live and led her to a radically different view of what human nature really is. She offers a new understanding of how we have lost much of our natural well-being and shows us practical ways to regain it for our children and for ourselves. There are remarkable insights here. Though not written as a child-rearing manual, The Continuum Concept has earned a reputation as an excellent resource for parents and parents-to-be who intuitively feel that the parenting "techniques" of the modern era are inherently misguided. The Continuum Concept has been translated from its original English version into several other languages and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies throughout the world.

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Photograph: The Liedloff Society for the Continuum Concept Jean Liedloff , who has died aged 84, was the author of The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost , in which she outlined her belief that babies should be continuously carried by, and never separated from, their mothers, until such time as they are able to crawl away by themselves. Many credit her with being the mother of attachment parenting.

Liedloff was born in New York and grew up in Manhattan. As a child, she was attracted to Tarzan and jungles. Tarzan represented a pure being. She modelled for a while, and wrote.

On her first trip abroad, to France, and then Italy, she was introduced to a "blond, blue-eyed count called Eurico", a man whom Liedloff recalled was "so successful with women, he had become extremely conceited and I would have nothing to do with him". Liedloff spent five months in the jungle. She was to return four more times and at one point contemplated living there.

She observed, most famously, the Yequana tribe of Venezuela. Tall, blonde, beautiful and dressed in a leopardskin-patterned bikini, she cut an incongruous figure in the jungle.

She seemed completely devoid of all vanity and rarely talked about herself. After her fifth trip to Venezuela, she decided to write The Continuum Concept, which was published in and later translated into more than two dozen languages. The more she learned about the Yequana people, the more she grew disdainful of childcare experts in the west: "In the jungle, every man, every woman, every child knows how to take care of babies … Very small children are trusted to take care of infants because, five minutes ago, they were babies themselves Here we are, great big grownups reading books about how to take care of babies.

For a while she lived in London, where she lectured on The Continuum Concept. She never married, nor had children. I was due to interview her in Her publicity people asked me to fly out to California. It would be madness, I explained, to fly out to meet the author of The Continuum Concept, with all she stood for, and leave my own young, breastfed daughter behind for days.

Liedloff, then in her 80s, agreed, and offered to fly to London to meet me. In the event, she did not make it, as the result of a knee injury. She longed to be on Oprah.

Parents had forgotten how powerful they are to young children and how easy it is to make them feel as if there is something wrong with them, even with a look. If my sister and I were talking at night when we were supposed to be asleep, she would open the door and peer in at us with this hurt, disappointed expression, and then close it again.


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