|Scientific and General References
|Sensitive Dependence on Early Conditions: The human factor|
Below are a few sources you might read to help confirm your own intuition, that how we're treated at the earliest time of life has a powerful bearing -- on our later character, behavior, and inner experience -- and that, sadly, we are far from treating new lives with the love, compassion, and respect necessary for a healthy world.
Journal of the American Medical Association, August 1, 2001
Psychiatrists Explore Legacy of Traumatic Stress in Early Life
by Lynne Lamberg
Excerpts [emphasis added]:
|More than 50 studies show that repeated physical or sexual abuse has numerous sequelae in adulthood, including sexual dysfunction, anxiety, depression, and suicidality. No single outcome, however, she noted, has been shown to be a specific indicator of trauma early in life.|
Some studies show that 10% to 55% of children who experienced physical and sexual abuse have PTSD symptoms. Such symptoms appear in 50% to 75% of these people in adulthood. . . .
Early experiences set the level of responsiveness of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis and autonomic nervous system, Yehuda noted, allowing these systems to overreact or underreact to subsequent stress. Childhood trauma leaves a person extremely vulnerable to the effects of stress, she said, and specifically to the development of PTSD.
|Paradise Paradigm comment: "PTSD," of course, is "post-traumatic stress disorder." |
Many would say the figures in this article are too low (and of course they refer to specific and highly visible kinds of outright abuse, and of later symptoms). Even without a diagnosis of PTSD one may have severe lifetime symptoms from early trauma. Still, this article makes a good case that improving the care of our youngest would have a major, positive impact on the world at large.
- - - - - -
The lifelong effects of early abuse and distress are far stronger than most people believe. Smoking, heart disease, lung (and other types of) cancer, suicide attemps, and many other problems are dramatically more common among adults who suffered serious or multiple forms of abuse or distress as children.
One of the largest and most compelling studies on this subject, with over 17,000 participants, is the well-known ACE (Adverse Childhood Events) study. ACE's were defined as:
Growing up (prior to age 18) in a household with:
Dr. Vincent J. Felliti, MD has written an exceptional article about the study (which he co-designed) with charts for the eye-opening data [PDF file]: Gold Into Lead. A similar but shorter HTML version of this article is available at http://xnet.kp.org/permanentejournal/winter02/goldtolead.html
- Recurrent physical abuse.
- Recurrent emotional abuse.
- Sexual abuse.
- An alcohol or drug abuser.
- An incarcerated household member.
- Someone who is chronically depressed, suicidal, institutionalized or mentally ill.
- Mother being treated violently.
- One or no parents.
- Emotional or physical neglect.
The ACE study's website: http://www.acestudy.org/aboutacestudy.php which includes this pyramid explaining the results of early trauma and abuse:
Martin H. Teicher, "Scars That Won't Heal: The neurobiology of child abuse," Scientific American, March 2002
|.. . violence and abuse pass from generation to generation as well as from one society to the next. Our stark conclusion is that we see the need to do much more to ensure that child abuse does not happen in the first place, because once these key brain alterations occur, there may be no going back. [emphasis added] |
|Another study showing physical effects to the brain and its chemistry from abuse:|
Child Abuse May Alter Victims' Brain Chemistry, Study Shows
Chicago Tribune - November 01, 2006 [An exerpt; click link for full story]
CHICAGO - A new study on monkeys raised by abusive mothers suggests that growing up in an abusive household can alter brain chemistry in a way that makes some youngsters prone to mistreating their own children when they grow up.
In other words, abuse is not just something that's learned from living with abusive parents, although that may have an influence, according to authors of the report, published in Thursday's issue of the journal Behavioral Neuroscience.
Suffering through abuse also appears to permanently lower the brain's production of an important regulator of emotions called serotonin, said Dario Maestripieri, the study's lead author and an associate professor at the University of Chicago in comparative human development. Low serotonin can make people more prone to acts of rejection, impulsive aggression and violence.
"Intergenerational Transmission of Partner Violence: A 20-Year Prospective Study," Miriam K. Ehrensaft and Patricia Cohen, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York State Psychiatric Institute, Jocelyn Brown, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Elizabeth Smailes, Henian Chen, and Jeffrey G. Johnson, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York State Psychiatric Institute; Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 71, No. 4.
EXPOSURE TO VIOLENCE BETWEEN PARENTS AND HARSH PUNISHMENT DURING CHILDHOOD SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASES THE RISK FOR ADULT PARTNER VIOLENCE, STUDY FINDS
An excerpt from the APA's press release on the study:
|Children who witness their parents using violence against each other and who regularly receive excessive punishment are at increased risk of being involved in an abusive relationship as an adult, according to a 20-year study that followed children into adult romantic relationships. In partner violence cases that result in injury, the study finds that being the victim of physical abuse and conduct disorders as a child are also important risk factors. The findings are reported on in the August issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA). |
|The study was published in the August 2003 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Practice, and the APA press release on the study may be found here: http://www.apa.org/releases/partnerviolence.html|
Comment: The studies above show that a lack of love ("abuse") hurts, and that the hurt causes life-long damage -- which in turn is passed along to the next generation. Neurosis has been transmitted from one generation to the next in this fashion throughout human history.
Conversely, a close, loving relationship between parents and children, especially while the children are very young, has profound and positive effects.
For example, from AskDrSears.com, a website on attachment parenting, hosted by author and pediatrician Bill Sears and his wife, Martha (an RN), comes a list of six benefits typically found from a close, loving relationship between parents and children, including:
1. Caring kids. Attachment-parented kids show empathy. These are kids who care (e.g., care-full). From birth on, these children were on the receiving end of nurturing. Someone cared for them. Caring, giving, listening, and responding to needs became the family norm, and these qualities became part of the child. The child went from receiver to giver. When friends are hurting, these children rush to help. These are compassionate kids who hurt when other people hurt.
Studies on troubled teens and psychopaths have shown that these persons have one abnormal feature in common: a lack of caring. They feel no remorse for what they do. They act without considering the effects of their behavior on others. Not so the children who are the product of attachment parenting. These children consider the feelings of others before they act. They care about how their actions affect other people. They have a healthy sense of guilt, feeling wrong when they act wrongly and feeling good when they should. Connected kids care.
Their other five observations are worth considering, also. Briefly, these observations are that attachment-raised children are compassionate, are connected (capable of intimacy), are careful and less accident-prone, are confident -- and that their parents quickly show confidence in their abilities to care for their children.
The page excerpted above is THE PAYOFF: Our 6 observations on how AP kids turn out from the Ask Dr. Sears website.
The reader will not be surprised that the Sears' advice on spanking is: DON'T. See http://www.askdrsears.com/html/6/T062100.asp for a long page on the topic.
A lack of freedom (personal or political) is as damaging to people as any other form of abuse. "Compassion for children" thus includes allowing them -- and everyone else -- the freedom to live their own lives, with the natural proviso that they treat others with the same respect.
Distrust of human freedom (". . .you mean, just let people do whatever they want?") is misplaced and destructive. The English boarding school Summerhill, founded in 1921, is one example (and a compelling one) of the benefits of freedom for children. Elsewhere on this site, we reproduce the entire British Inspectors' Report of the School from 1949; here we excerpt five points from the text:
The report backs up that last point with a list of degrees held and careers followed by former pupils. Clearly, the lack of a "normal," coercive education has not harmed the children of Summerhill. More importantly, compared with a modern American public (that is, coercive-government) school, Summerhill clearly produces -- and has, for over 75 years -- exactly the kind of people we would all want as neighbors.
- "The main principle upon which the School is run is freedom. ... the degree of freedom allowed to the children is very much greater than the inspectors had seen in any other school and the freedom is real. No child, for instance, is obliged to attend any lessons. As will be revealed later, the majority do attend for the most part regularly, but one pupil was actually at this School for 13 years without once attending a lesson and is now an expert toolmaker and precision instrument maker. This extreme case is mentioned to show that the freedom given to children is genuine and is not withdrawn as soon as its results become awkward."
- "... the children are full of life and zest. Of boredom and apathy there was no sign. An atmosphere of contentment and tolerance pervades the School."
- "... the children's manners are delightful. They may lack, here and there, some of the conventions of manners, but their friendliness, ease and naturalness, and their total lack of shyness and self-consciousness made them very easy, pleasant people to get on with."
- "...initiative, responsibility and integrity are all encouraged by the system and that so far as such things can be judged, they are in fact being developed."
- "Summerhill education is not necessarily hostile to worldly success." [bold added in the points above]
No wonder Tony Blair's coercive-Socialist government tried to shut Summerhill School down a few years ago: the freedom given to children in Summerhill makes the non-freedom of adults throughout Britain seem painfully obvious -- and obviously unnecessary.
For more on the benefits of freedom for children, see The Sudbury Education Resource Network and the original Sudbury Valley School. Sudbury is an American day school run with the same dramatic level of freedom for children as Summerhill is famous for; like Summerhill, it has been in business for decades. It is more than an experiment or a theoretical exercise.
Freedom works; these schools are among the most persuasive and eye-opening proof.
Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence by Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley, The Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, NY, 1997, ISBN 0-87113-703-8 (hardback).
|This book is a call to alarm. It presents data to document what we have long observed: that experiences in infancy which result in the child's inability to regulate strong emotions are too often the overlooked source of violence in children and adults. Story after story points to the importance of intrauterine conditions and early experiences which can lead to future violent behavior. The elegant writing in this book belies its frightening message. (p. xiii, in the Introduction by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton) |
From the waters of the womb, to the arms of the caregivers, to the walls of the family home, when the shelters in which we harbor our children are inadequate or destructive, the final shelter our society provides will often be the cement walls of a prison cell. The course of this journey begins with the brain, which is shaping itself in response to the environment from long before birth. Graphic imaging techniques for exploring the frontier encased in our skulls have provided incontrovertible evidence of that which ancient wisdom has told us for centuries: The baby is the father of the man. (p. 276) [Emphasis added, in both quotations]
Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin by Ashley Montagu, Harper & Row, New York, NY, 1971, 1978, 1986, ISBN (third edition) 0-06-096028-0
Clearly, the differences found by Pieper and his colleagues between cesarean-delivered and normally delivered children were largely of an emotional nature, the cesarean-delivered children being somewhat significantly more emotionally disturbed than the normally delivered children. It would be difficult to attribute such differences to the absence or inadequacy of a single factor in the development of these cesarean children, but as we shall see, it is quite probably that inadequate cutaneous stimulation during the perinatal period -- that is, the period shortly before and shortly after birth -- may have been one of the factors involved. (P. 65) [Emphasis added]
Caesarean rate called excessive ASSOCIATED PRESS (in the SD Union-Tribune May 19, 1994). Excerpt:
WASHINGTON -- Some 420,000 Caesarean baby deliveries are performed unnecessarily in the United States each year, a consumer group contended yesterday.
. . . The group examined U.S. birth records which show that 22.6 percent of the almost 4 million births in 1992 were Caesareans, making the operation the most common major surgery performed in this country. That is down slightly from a 22.7 percent Caesarean rate in 1991.
Caesareans, commonly known as C-sections, often save the lives of babies during long or complicated labor, but the surgery can also endanger the mother. In 1970, C-sections made up 5.5 percent of births but they skyrocketed to 24.7 percent in 1988. [Emphasis added]
See also Caesareans on the rise again, USA Today, 8/28/2000, further below
Imprints: the lifelong effects of the birth experience by Dr. Arthur Janov, Coward-McCann, Inc., New York, NY 1983, ISBN 0-698-11183-4 (Note: the 1986 date and different publisher shown at Dr. Janov's web site is for a later edition of the same book; my copy is as shown in the line above).
From Chapter 10, The end of the line: Suicide as a solution to birth
|Despair. Hopelessness. Helplessness. Doom. A bottomless feeling of "What's the use?", "What's the point?", "No way out." These are the central feelings in the urge to kill oneself. They are also the key feelings surrounding a traumatic birth. Possibly the closest most of us will come to death is when we first come to life. The experience of having come very close to death at birth may leave one with death feelings against which one fights for a lifetime. The memory of the near-death experience is an imprint just as any other memory is. It, too, can become a prototypic reaction such that thoughts of death become prepotent over constructive thoughts whenever later stress occurs. (p. 213) |
|from the same book, Chapter 12, Illusion vs. Reality: Rebirthing vs. Reliving: |
|The treatment for the effects of birth trauma involves months and years of therapy, and even then may not be totally effective. A change in birth practices, however, involves far less time and is far more effective. In my opinion it is the most important action we can take in the field of mental health. No other single factor can alter neurosis or psychosis on such a fundamental level; no diet, no conditioning, no manipulation of external circumstances, no massage, no lecture, no philosophy, no ideology, no religion, no amount of love and affection can do what a proper birth can do. … Ultimately, a simple change in birth practices would affect our social structure, our penal institutions, our mental hospitals and the values by which we raise our children - the next generation to inherit the earth. (p. 248) [Emphasis added, in both quotations] |
|from The Biology of Love by Dr. Arthur Janov, Prometheus Books, 2000, ISBN 1-57392-829-1, p. 271: |
Love is the central ingredient in building a strong and resilient personality. It equips us with the mobilizing chemicals such as dopamine that allow us to be aggressive, to establish goals and pursue them, to stand up for ourselves and have the energy to accomplish things. It accounts for self-confidence, a "can-do" attitude. It prevents the need for drugs later on, such as cocaine, that do what dopamine should have done had there been adequate supplies; had there been adequate love. Most drug addiction, and the choice of drugs, is an attempt to normalize a system that is unbalanced. If the inhibitory/serotonin system is deficient then pain-killers will be the later choice for addiction. [emphasis added]
For more information about Dr. Janov's writings and other work, visit his web site here.
For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence by Alice Miller, translation by Hildegarde and Hunter Hannum, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York, NY, 1983, 1984, 1990, ISBN 0-374-52269-3
|In all I have read in recent years about the childhood of criminals, even of mass murderers, I have been unable to find anywhere the beast, the evil child whom pedagogues believe they must educate to be 'good.' Everywhere I find defenseless children who were mistreated in the name of child-rearing, and often for the sake of the highest ideals. (p. 243) |
... I see it as my task to sensitize the general public to the sufferings of early childhood. (ibid, p. xvii in the Preface to the second edition)
|From the same author: Paths of Life: Seven Scenarios, Pantheon Books, New York, NY, 1998, ISBN 0-375-40379-5 |
|. . . nothing that a child learns later about morality at home, in school, or in church will ever have the same effect as the treatment inflicted on his or her body in the first few days, weeks, and months. The lesson learned in the first three years cannot be expunged. If the body of a child learns from birth that tormenting and punishing an innocent creature is the right thing to do, that message will always be stronger than intellectual knowledge acquired at a later stage. (pp. 171-172) (Emphasis added)|
|See also The Alice Miller Library and Dr. Miller's own site, Alice-Miller.com. Her essay Adolf Hitler: How Could a Monster Succeed in Blinding a Nation? makes very clear the link between early experience and later character and behavior -- and how, in turn, this literally creates the character of the human world. |
Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1987, ISBN 0-14-009250-1
|In science as in life, it is well known that a chain of events can have a point of crisis that could magnify small changes. But chaos meant that such points were everywhere. They were pervasive. In systems like the weather, sensitive dependence on initial conditions was an inescapable consequence of the way small scales intertwined with large. (p. 23)|
|Science continues to verify that complex systems are indeed sensitively dependent on initial conditions, and that events which happen to them early on have vastly more effect than similar events which happen later in the system process. If a human being is not a "complex system," then what is?|
One need not read obscure technical journals to find, quite often, reports of scientific studies that apply to this topic. Your daily newspaper will do, if you watch for such articles. Hundreds (or probably thousands) of studies have found a connection between early abuse (or other painful experience) and later health or behavior problems. In many cases, as in this one, the link is to a physical malady:
Irritable bowel syndrome begins with past
By Maribel Villalva, USA TODAY, Jan. 31, 2000
|The cause of irritable bowel syndrome has baffled doctors over time, but a study's authors suggest that the digestive disorder is symptomatic of emotional abuse.|
Researchers at the University of Toronto conducted the study in hopes of finding a direct link between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and experiences with abuse, says lead author Alisha Ali. Results appear in the January/February issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.
'There's something going on with IBS that may be related to emotional abuse,' says Ali, a postdoctoral fellow with the university's Center for Addiction & Mental Health. 'Although we can't draw specific conclusions, we can begin to understand that environmental and sociological factors do play a role in IBS.'
More than 20% of the population is believed to suffer from the disorder, which is characterized by bouts of constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas and bloating.
|Read the complete news story at USA Today here. [Link no longer active]|
Prenatal stress may cause disorder, by Rogers Worthington, Chicago Tribune (as reprinted in the San Diego Union-Tribune), February 2, 1994. Excerpt:
|MADISON, Wis.--The contrast is striking. Four of the eight baby monkeys in Cage 3 bound about spiritedly. The other four huddle motionless, their countenances a furry, saucer-eyed tableau of fear and anxiety.|
They are products of a first-of-its-kind project examining the effects of prenatal stress on the brain development of young rhesus monkeys, animals that are said to share 95 percent of human genes.
|The story goes on to show that it took remarkably little stress -- in one set of subjects, exposing the pregnant monkeys to "(t)hree noise bursts . . . randomly sounded over a 10-minute period" was enough -- to cause severe effects in the offspring of the stressed mothers. The research project, developed over five years at the University of Wisconsin's Harlow Primate Laboratory, showed that the offspring of stressed mothers were also slower to learn, more shy, clumsier, had less effective immune systems, and weighed less than the offspring of animals that were not stressed. |
Violence-prone men may be both born and made, by Tim Friend, USA Today, February 14, 1994. Excerpt:
|A new study suggests that people who experience both a birth complication and being rejected by their mothers have a three-fold increased risk of becoming violent criminals.|
The study may be the first to establish that a combination of nature and nurture increases the risk of violent behavior. And it raises the possibility that reducing birth complications with better prenatal care may reduce the incidence of violence.
The study was headed by Adrian Raine of the University of Southern California. He and his colleague Patricia Brennan (also of USC), . . . reason that preventing birth complications or maternal rejection would reduce violent behavior by 18%, since the boys in their study with both factors accounted for 18% of violent crimes.
. . . Sarnoff Mednick, Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen, started the study there 30 years ago. The researchers followed 4,269 males from birth through age 18.
|The article also reports that a year before this USC study, Stephen Buka and Felton Earls of the Harvard School of Public Health reviewed prior research in the scholarly journal Health Affairs, and also found early symptoms and events predicted later violent behavior. A 1993 National Research Council report, "Understanding and Preventing Violence", reported similar findings, including that violent adults "tended to be abused or neglected [as children] and lacked parental nurturing." Physical problems, e.g., head injury before age two, can increase the chance of later violent behavior, also. "For example, shaking an infant can literally rattle the brain and sever nerve fibers connected to the prefrontal region."|
The study below, and the Kaiser study which follows, show directly that love, given early in life, translates into a healthier later life. The level of protection conferred by early love is stunning; any drug that had such a dramatic effect in lowering the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other problems would be hailed as a medical miracle. This, of course, is in addition to the protection against criminal and other negative behavior.
Love is, indeed, a powerful force -- when given early enough, and consistently.
42 years later, those who felt loved as kids prove to be healthier
By Kate McClare
Knight-Ridder News Service, in the San Diego Union-Tribune, March 23, 1996
|Children who feel loved by their parents grow up to be both emotionally and physically healthy as adults, two researchers say.|
Linda Russek, a research psychologist from Boca Raton, Fla., and psychologist Gary Schwartz say they've found a connection between feelings of love in childhood and physical well-being in adulthood.
. . . Russek said she and Schwartz interviewed 87 Harvard University graduates who had participated in a 1954 Harvard study of how people cope with stress. Stanley King's original Mastery of Stress Study included asking participants whether they thought their parents cared about them, and subjecting participants to physically and emotionally stressful incidents such as harassing them while they tried to solve arithmetic problems.
Of the men who had first reported feeling unloved by their parents, 82 percent experienced major midlife illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension, ulcers and alcoholism. Such illnesses struck only 38 percent of the men who had reported feeling loved.
Of those who reported lack of parental love and experienced extreme anxiety during the experiments, 94 percent contracted serious illness at midlife. Of those who rated their parents high in caring and did not feel anxiety, only 24 percent became ill. (Emphasis added)
People Find Unhealthy Ways to Cope: Bad Childhood, Sick Adults
By Claudine Chamberlain
May 14, 1998
|More than 9,500 patients at Kaiser's San Diego clinic responded to questionnaires that asked about seven categories of adverse childhood experiences. The researchers found that the more categories a patient reported, the worse their present health. |
For example, adults who experienced at least four categories of distress during childhood were more than twice as likely to be smokers. Those same adults were also more than twice as likely to have heart disease, 90 percent more likely to have cancer and nearly four times as likely to have chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
. . .
Felitti believes that abused or traumatized kids, like Helen, may turn to unhealthy behaviors as adults as a way to help them cope. Those behaviors then lead to disease.
"If you look at people who have no adverse childhood experiences," he says, "the great majority have no risk factors as adults. But among people in four or more categories, the great majority did have risk factors. They're remarkably different populations of people."
What amazes Felitti about the study results is that the average patient age was 57. That means half a century can go by, he says, and a person can still be feeling the effects of a bad childhood.
|(A copy of this next item is also near top of file): Read a complete article about the ACE study by Dr. Vincent J. Felliti, MD [PDF file]: Gold Into Lead|
The ACE study's website: http://www.acestudy.org/aboutacestudy.php which includes this pyramid explaining the results of early trauma and abuse:
Interview on 60 Minutes II, 10/26/99, reported by Carol Marin
Understanding The Root Of Evil
Author Gitta Sereny Studies Murderers, Develops Unique Perspective On Juvenile Violence
Click here for the complete transcript. [Dead link]
|Gitta Sereny says that children are not naturally evil.|
(CBS) What makes some people evil? British author Gitta Sereny thinks she knows. She has spent five decades talking to and writing about some of the world's worst villains.
. . ."These two years…eight cases of children killing children in schools," says Sereny.
"It is not the guns that cause this," she says. "I am absolutely convinced relationships or the lack of them between children and parents [do]." She is also convinced that no child is born evil and dismisses as out of hand the notion of a "bad seed."
. . . Sereny says she now knows why the murders occurred. It is, perhaps, the single most important point Sereny makes about all children who kill.
"It isn't that they're motivated to kill by evil inside them," she says. "But they are brought to commit terrible acts…. Any child who does this is breaking out. [He or she] is responding not to evil inside him, but to hurt, to pain."
|The book discussed during the interview is Cries Unheard: Why Children Kill: The Story of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny, 1999, Henry Holt & Company, Inc.; ISBN: 0805060677 |
Sexual abuse can weaken victims' immune system
by Marilyn Elias, USA Today, May 25, 1994, p. A1. Excerpts:
|Sexual abuse in childhood can impair the brain's physical development and leave victims with permanently weakened immune function, suggest pioneering studies out today.|
"Abuse seems to be a biology altering experience. It changes the brain's stress response system," says Dr. Frank Putnam of the National Institute of Mental Health.
He and Dr. Martin Teicher of Harvard Medical School give their findings today at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in Philadelphia.
. . . Brain wave differences between abused and non-abused are as significant as "between normal people and those who have Alzheimer's disease or schizophrenia," says Teicher.
From New Scientist magazine, 4/1/2000
Nurture compounds nature in early arrivals [Dead link]
|BABIES who start life with an extremely low birthweight, usually as a result of premature birth, often develop language and learning difficulties. Doctors have assumed that this is the result of complications during birth, but now Australian researchers have found that parental neglect does much of the damage.|
"There is an explosion in the number of [neuronal] connections in the first two years of life, and that may be reduced if the infants get insufficient stimulation," says Lane Strathearn, a paediatric researcher at the Mater Children's Hospital in Brisbane, who led the study of 352 infants born in Queensland.
From the Monday, 17 April, 2000 BBC News
'Shocking' report exposes widespread bullying, a report on school conditions. A brief excerpt:
|More than a third of secondary school pupils in England and Wales have been bullied in the past year, researchers say.|
Just over a quarter of pupils have been threatened with violence in school, while 13% have been physically attacked.
You may be stuck on the 'set point' by Marilyn Elias, USA Today, May 4, 2000 p. 8D. [Dead link]
Is it nature or nurture that determines how our bodies react to stress?
Probably both, says researcher Esther Sternberg.
Animal studies suggest we are born with a "set point," a level we can't deviate too far from.
In other words, some people are born with a predisposition for racing hearts and high blood pressure when they're under the gun. That doesn't mean they're preordained to be hyper, no matter how they live.
Even in animals, more than half of stress responsiveness is molded by the environment.
Human research reveals "windows of vulnerability" early in life. Children abused before the age of 10 are prone to increased stress-hormone responses as adults. Touch-starved children adopted after the age of 8 months from Romanian orphanages show lasting elevations in stress hormones; those adopted before 4 months have normal levels of stress hormones.
There's no doubt stress reactivity can be passed from parent to child. Holocaust survivors have higher-than-normal stress hormones, and their kids do, too, even though they never lived in concentration camps. Nature or nurture? Both?
"The effect is there," Sternberg says. "The answer isn't in."
Gum disease linked to premature birth [dead link]
May 8, 2000, USA Today
By John Tuohy
|Early results from a study of 3,000 pregnant women in Alabama show that mothers with severe gum disease are up to eight times more likely to have underweight premature babies than moms with healthy mouths.|
The likely culprit: a labor-inducing chemical found in dental plaque called prostaglandin. Researchers discovered that prostaglandin levels increase as a gum infection worsens, and that could cause mothers to deliver early.
Update 8/26/2003: A news item from the BBC (Dental care 'cuts early births') reports that a new study confirms the gum-disease/premature birth link. The study was published in the Journal of Periodontology and found that "treating severe gum disease with scaling and root care cut premature births by 84%."
|Paradise Paradigm comment: We included this one because -- well, because it's astonishing. If anything shows how important early conditions really are, this does. Gum disease in the pregnant mother can cause underweight premature babies. Underweight preemies, as we have seen ("Nurture compounds nature in early arrivals", above) are more at risk for all sorts of later problems. "Sensitive dependence on initial conditions." Say that out loud, anytime you catch yourself thinking that early experience doesn't matter.|
The importance of being carried to term is even more important than the New Scientist article earlier on this list suggests; see "Slightly premature births pose risk" a few citations below; a large-scale study shows that even slightly premature babies are far more likely to die in infancy than full-term babies, to an extent that would probably surprise most doctors.
A disturbing look at how infants and children are treated in contemporary America may be found in "Suffer the Little Children" in LIBERTY Magazine, June 2000, pp. 35-36, by Dolores Puterbaugh. Ms. Puterbaugh, a mental health counselor in Largo, Florida, describes how babies and children are being deeply and severely deprived -- of physical contact, of freedom of motion, of verbal and emotional interaction with parents and others -- and otherwise being restrained and ignored to the point of trauma.
Very interesting that this is published in LIBERTY instead of, say, Psychology Today; it certainly fits with the Paradise Paradigm view that human liberty and compassion are partners, and that neither survives for long without the other. LIBERTY has not posted the article at the time this page was written, but it may be posted later; the magazine apparently posts selected content from occasional and random issues. An excerpt:
Here is a challenge to parents: accept that children are children. Expect them to cry a lot. They will "get into" things; they will shout and yell and cry and challenge you no matter what kind of day you've had. They will want to sleep with you when they are scared or sick or just insecure; young have slept with their parents across species for millennia. If you tie them up or strap them down, turn them over to the care of strangers via electronic media or extensive babysitting, ignore them and fail to involve them in your daily tasks, they will suffer terribly. They will not switch gears, moods and energy levels on your schedule. They need to move and use all their senses to explore this amazing world. They need to be loved.
Whatever Happened to Daddy's Little Girl : The Impact of Fatherlessness on Black Women by Jonetta Rose Barras, A One World Book, New York, NY, 2000. Excerpt:
|The key components of the syndrome [Fatherless Woman Syndrome] are rooted in the feeling of being fundamentally unworthy and unlovable. Like a spiral staircase without landings, these feelings wind about and lead to chronic rage, anger, and depression that are rooted in our fear of abandonment, rejection, or commitment. Think for a moment: If you feel unworthy or unlovable, and someone comes along and offers you attention and affection, you are certain to fear that this person will leave you. Could this person actually care for you? You don't believe he could possibly commit himself to you. Sooner or later he's bound to reject you. (p. 6) |
Pain in newborns may lower threshold later [Dead link]
By Paul Recer, ASSOCIATED PRESS, as printed in the San Diego Union Tribune
July 27, 2000
|WASHINGTON -- For years, doctors operated on premature babies without anesthesia in the belief that even if the infants felt the pain, they would not remember it. New research with rats suggests that the body does remember the pain and is forever changed.|
A study using newborn rats at the National Institutes of Health found that painful trauma that mimics medical procedures commonly performed on premature infants caused the rats to become much more sensitive to pain as they grew older.
The reason is that pain causes the developing nervous system of the very young to grow more nerve cells that carry the sensation of pain to the brain, NIH researcher M. A. Ruda said.
"We found that there are more nerve endings that fire and transmit the (pain) information," said Ruda, the first author of a study appearing Friday in the journal Science. "These animals later were more sensitive and had a greater response to pain."
. . .
Ten years ago, she said, "there was a real belief that the pain system in premature babies was not developed and these infants would really not feel as much pain." [emphasis added]
|Paradise Paradigm comment: Two points leap to mind after reading this news item: first, it illustrates the unpredictable yet powerful effect of "sensitive dependence on early conditions." Second, it is yet another reason to think for oneself; even the experts are wrong, far too often -- sometimes in ways that can affect you or a family member for life. |
Other studies, incidentally, have shown that patients given anesthetics before surgery (pain-killers, that is, in addition to "putting the patient under" with anesthesia) recover quicker and report less pain. Even when we are unconscious, the body knows what is happening.
Oh, and a third point comes to mind: when I read that "doctors operated on premature babies without anesthesia," I wonder how future generations will view our own.
Child Abuse Scars Hormones for Life [Dead link]
By Adam Marcus, Yahoo! Health News/HealthScout, August 2, 2000. Excerpts:
TUESDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthSCOUT) -- Women who suffer physical and or sexual abuse as young girls may carry the scars of that trauma into adulthood as a severe oversensitivity to stress.
An early history of frequent abuse produces much sharper hormonal and physical responses to mildly stressful events later in life, according to a new study by Georgia researchers. The findings suggest that the brain patterns laid during childhood trauma persist long after the trauma has ceased.
"We need to be able to rise to the occasion when a stressor comes along," says Dr. Jeffrey Newport, an Emory University psychiatrist and a co-author of the study, which appears in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. "The problem comes when events that are not experienced by most people as particularly noxious [spark] an exaggerated response. That's when you run into problems with developing illness."
. . . Women abused as children have four times the normal risk of depression when they reach adulthood and are far more prone to anxiety disorders. Recent work also suggests that even emotional abuse can leave lasting physical scars, including gastric distress, arthritis and pelvic pain.
Slightly premature births pose risk [Dead link]
USA Today, Aug. 15, 2000. Excerpts:
|CHICAGO (AP) - Babies born even just a few weeks prematurely run a significantly higher risk of death in their first year, suggesting that inducing early labor is more dangerous than many obstetricians might think, researchers say.|
. . . over the past decade, doctors have begun using drugs more and more to induce labor a few weeks early for reasons of convenience rather than the health of the mother or child.
The new study on the risks of slightly premature births was published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. It was led by Dr. Michael Kramer of McGill University in Montreal.
Based on an examination of 4.5 million births in the United States and Canada in the 1990s, the researchers found that compared with U.S. babies born full-term in 1995, those born at 32 weeks to 33 weeks were about six times more likely to die within their first year. Babies born closer to term but still early - at 34 through 36 weeks - were nearly three times more likely to die than full-term infants. (emphasis added)
|See also the abstract for this study at the JAMA website [Dead link]|
Paradise Paradigm comment: In addition to the obvious support here for the principle of "Sensitive dependence on early conditions", the first two paragraphs are also further proof that relying on "experts" in human matters can be a serious mistake. Listen to their advice, perhaps, but also think for yourself.
Cruelty to animals is linked to abuse in the family; 'Sign of real sickness' can start early
By Anita Manning [Dead link]
USA TODAY, 8/22/2000, Page 9D
|In a presentation at a recent meeting of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Ascione said that in a study not yet published, he and colleagues found a strong association suggesting that victims of child abuse are more likely to harm animals: If physically abused, he says, 25.5% were cruel to animals; if sexually abused, 13.2% were cruel; if both physically and sexually abused, 34% were cruel to animals, compared with 4.7% of non-abused children.|
Animal advocates point to a history of childhood animal abuse by serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and Henry Lee Lucas, among others, and by teenage school shooters Kip Kinkel and Luke Woodham.
When a child harms animals, ''it is a sign of real sickness and something that should provoke major intervention,'' says Joan Zorza, editor of Domestic Violence Report, a newsletter. (Emphasis added)
Caesareans on the rise again [Link no longer active]
USA Today, 8/28/2000
|WASHINGTON (AP) - Caesarean sections started dropping slowly in the early 1990s after an outcry that American women undergo too many - but now they're on the rise again.|
Most puzzling: Why C-sections are increasing in first-time moms, not just in women who previously had one. And where pregnant women live determines how likely they are to wind up on the operating table - C-sections are more common in the South than out West.
Now, with Caesareans inching back up to 22% of U.S. births, the nation's leading obstetricians' group is issuing new guidelines to reduce unnecessary C-sections and reserve the surgery for mothers and babies who truly need it.
There are many suspects in the C-section rise - state-by-state variation particularly suggests doctors' habits sometimes can overshadow medical need.
''Maybe we've become too technical,'' says Dr. Jean Walker, an attending obstetrician at Chicago's Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, which is taking new steps to lower C-sections.
. . . Women's risk of death, although still small, is three to seven times higher than during vaginal delivery, says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Not to mention increased pain, longer hospital stays and a higher risk of post-delivery infection.
. . . Now look state-by-state: Fewer than 17.5% of births in Utah, Wisconsin, Colorado, Alaska or Vermont are C-sections. But more than one in four births are C-sections in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Jersey. [emphasis added]
TIME Magazine, September 25, 2000, "In Brief" section, by Lisa McLaughlin
|Could cleft palate and spina bifida be the result of stress during pregnancy? That's the implication of a study by more than 20,000 Danish women. The researchers found that pregnant women struggling with emotionally wrenching life changes -- a death in the immediate family, say, or a partner suffering a heart attack -- had a higher incidence of congenital problems than women with relatively stress-free pregnancies. Two stressful pregnancies in a row doubled the chances of having a child with congenital problems.(Emphasis added) |
Brains of preemies might never catch up, USA Today, October 18, 2000, p. 6D
Brain development in children born prematurely remains dramatically below normal eight years after birth, suggesting that the brain does not always develop properly once a child leaves the womb, a study finds. The smaller brain sizes are linked to cognitive impairment as measured by IQ tests, says the study from the Yale and Brown medical schools. Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain volume. The research involved 25 children born after 26 to 33 weeks of gestation, part of a group of 370 who have been followed since birth. They were contrasted with 39 comparable children who were 37 to 42 weeks of gestation at birth. Full term is 40 weeks . "The differences in brain volume on average were dramatic in all regions, with reductions ranging from 11% to 35%," says Bradley Peterson, the Yale professor who headed the study. "Not all children born prematurely showed these abnormalities, but those born at a younger gestational age were most affected."
Born addicts [Dead link]
New Scientist magazine, 21 October 2000
|THE more painkillers a woman gets during labour, the more likely her child is to abuse drugs later in life.|
Karin Nyberg of the University of Gothenburg and her colleagues looked at medication given to the mothers of 69 adult drug abusers and 33 of their siblings who did not abuse drugs. They found that 23 per cent of the drug abusers were exposed to multiple doses of opiates or barbiturates in the hours before birth, compared with only 3 per cent of their siblings without drug problems (Epidemiology, vol 11, p 715). If the mothers received three or more doses, their child was nearly five times as likely to abuse drugs.
The researchers don't know exactly how a short exposure to drugs could produce such long-term effects, but some rat studies have shown that exposure to a drug in the womb can change an animal's reaction to it later on.
Germans knew of Holocaust horror about death camps; Details of deaths of Jews and other groups in concentration camps were well publicized
by John Ezard
Saturday February 17, 2001
|The mass of ordinary Germans did know about the evolving terror of Hitler's Holocaust, according to a new research study. They knew concentration camps were full of Jewish people who were stigmatised as sub-human and race-defilers. They knew that these, like other groups and minorities, were being killed out of hand.|
They knew that Adolf Hitler had repeatedly forecast the extermination of every Jew on German soil. They knew these details because they had read about them. They knew because the camps and the measures which led up to them had been prominently and proudly reported step by step in thousands of officially-inspired German media articles and posters according to the study, which is due to be published simultaneously in Britain and the US early next month and which was described as ground-breaking by Oxford University Press yesterday and already hailed by other historians.
|Paradise Paradigm comment: Whenever you are tempted to think that how children, infants, and pregnant mothers are treated has no bearing on the world at large, remember the Nazi Holocaust, the multi-nation Communist holocaust, and other such atrocity. Germans were able and willing to allow and even participate in such horrors because horrors had been inflicted upon them, in childhood and even earlier. See Alice Miller (quoted above in this file) for details about how German child-rearing methods and attitudes contributed to the making of the Holocaust.|
It may be appropriate here to reiterate the definition of evil as used throughout this site:
Human evil is the end result of healthy infants and newborns being made repressed, unfeeling, and angry by a childhood, and then a lifetime, of pain. In short, evil is people hurt so badly that they, in turn, hurt others needlessly.
In our view, evil is that and nothing else.
This does not negate the various religious conceptions of "evil", of course: we take no position whatever on the existence or nature of Satan, Hell, or any other religious concept or belief.
More moms opt to undergo C-section births, study finds [Dead link]
By Rita Rubin, USA TODAY, 7/20/2003
|Kim Warner knew years before she became pregnant that she wanted to skip labor and go directly to a cesarean section when it came time to deliver her baby.|
"It's purely elective," acknowledges Warner, 35, a Denver obstetrician/gynecologist who has scheduled the birth of her first child, a daughter, for Aug. 22.
Since becoming an OB-GYN resident, Warner has performed many reconstructive surgeries on women who had delivered the old-fashioned way. With a C-section, Warner figures, she has a better chance of avoiding incontinence and other problems that seem to be related to the trauma of labor and a vaginal delivery.
According to preliminary government data released last month, the 2002 U.S. C-section rate was 26.1% of all deliveries, an all-time high. Observers speculate that one factor behind the increase is the growing interest among patients and doctors in "patient-choice" cesareans. [emphasis added]
A study out Monday - the first to try to quantify the controversial phenomenon - suggests that about 63,000 U.S. women opted to have a C-section in 2001, even though there was no pressing medical reason for doing so. While 63,000 represents only a fraction of the approximately 1 million cesareans performed that year, the study's authors say the number is increasing.
Important addendum: In many of the items above, we see individual results from lack of love and compassion (and other trauma) early in life. There are more global, social results as well -- one of which is widespread tyranny. In a vicious circle, tyranny creates the conditions for more pain and neurosis. Police states are not conducive to love or compassion. For a look at this point from a traditional human-rights perspective, click here.
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