Shrinkwrapped has a post up this week regarding “the connection between ADHD, the poor showing of boys (relative to girls) in academia, and over-stimulation.”
As we know, boys are more likely to be diagnosed as ADHD, that is, as having a disordered ability to attend to any given situation and a tendency to hyperactivity which the child cannot seem to control.
Shrinkwrapped makes the very good point that over-stimulation of a child can be a defining cause of ADHD. If this is something you’ve not thought about, I’ll illustrate the point with a few situations which result in over-stimulation of children, beginning with my favorite demon, TV — that ubiquitous companion with its fast-tempoed cutting of images and sounds. Think of the synapses forming in a growing child’s brain and then consider the effect this process has on all of that chemistry. And I don’t mean the content of what the child sees — though that certainly can be a problem, too — so much as the process by which the child is turned from being this: a person who can attend for a set amount of time to something novel in its environment, to this: a whirling dervish whose mind changes channels as frequently as his father changes them while channel-surfing whatever cable offerings are available. The neural pathways in his brain have been re-routed.
That’s one way to create ADHD. It’s simply a matter of making sure nothing settles down to a level which can be contained, processed and metabolized by the child. That is the essence of over-stimulation.
Here are a few more: Chuck E. Cheese’s. The perfect ADHD environment. If you were designing a way to ensure ADHD, you couldn’t do better than that whole body experience. Theme parks, where children run from fantasy to fantasy, always chasing more and more and more. TV ads geared to kids do the same thing; they create the desire for more and more which results in the frenzy of “having.”
And then, the most serious one: child sexual abuse by a trusted caretaker. In this country, sexual exploitation of our children is becoming more serious and more pervasive each year. It’s one of the reasons that ADHD is being increasingly diagnosed. As families break up and re-form into blended families, or as single young girls have babies and follow that with serial relationships with men who are not their children’s father, children are left at the mercy of parental substitutes who are not related to them by blood kinship — and often not even in legal kinship arrangements. The risk of sexual and physical abuse for these children is extremely high.
At a childcare conference I attended about twelve years ago, the speaker — a man who was at the time in charge of investigating all the reported SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)deaths in New York City — claimed that one hundred percent of the pre-verbal children in large daycare centers in the City had been sexually or physically abused. I have never been able to trace that statistic (and unfortunately, the speaker rushed from the conference to the airport to stay ahead of a snowstorm).
If you think it’s bad here (and it is) just consider the case in Muslim countries. Who knows if it’s specifically Muslim “cultures” or not? Whatever the cause, children in Palestine, in Pakistan, in Indonesia,in Afghanistan, are simply objects to be used by adults. Remember Mukhtar Mai and the gang rape she endured in her village — a gang rape inflicted by the village council in order to “restore honor” to a powerful family who had originally gang-raped her little brother? Mukhtar Mai was an exception — she fought the situation all the way to world-wide fame. Unfortunately, millions of others are ground under by a cultural system which considers women and children as easily disposed of, as less than fully human — which by sharia law is granted only to adult males.
[Before I am assailed by Muslims who want to argue with my assertions, let me say that American culture is pernicious in a different way. We hurt our boys in a manner opposite, by showing girls preference, by creating Orwellian laws like the Title IX monstrosity that dictates “equal” intramural college sports, thereby killing them off, by loading all the child-oriented bureaucracies (schools and social work) with women, by demanding that little boys act like girls, by feminizing masculinity into a caricature of what it ought to be, and by having men absent in the raising of children. We are driving the dignity of manhood out of our culture and we are paying a terrible price. The percentage of men in college is now lower than that of women and that is just the beginning of a long slide down the hill to a skewed culture]
Sharia law is probably closely connected to terrorism. Even more than that, one of the unintended consequences of sharia law is the risk it sets up for women and children to be abused. One form this abuse takes is over-stimulation through sexual contact. Girls may not be physically intruded upon since their worth depends on their “honor.” Thus, the use of boys. And one possible channel for boy children’s shame is to grow to adulthood in islamic culture and in turn use their status as “full” human beings to project fear and terror and random mayhem onto others who cannot fight back. Having lived it in their formative years, it is a scenario they understand intimately.
For an extreme and well-documented example, think of Palestine. Not only is the family system dysfunctional (to put it mildly) but the pedagogical culture functions to create little terror monsters who crave the acceptance of the bigger monsters in their midst. Schools teach hatred of others and inculcate meaningfulness in the idea of being willing to die for one’s beliefs, especially to die and take others with them. It is an extreme, calculated and distorted chauvinism whose highest ideal is martyrdom. Toddlers are dressed as mujahideen, complete with armament. In our culture, on the other hand, children are taught just the opposite: they are told repeatedly that understanding American history means exposing how cruel and unusual our history was and how badly our ancestors behaved toward others. Our little ones are expected to internalize atonement for the sins of their forebears and to act on this belief of sinfulness, whether it be in the form of constant apology or that of recompense for our victims. Celebration? Of what??
Family life in the Middle East is not pretty:
|Throughout the Islamic Middle East, men and women are taught to be vehemently opposed to pleasure, especially of the sexual variety. Men are raised not only forbidden to touch women, but to even look at them. Sex before marriage is not just a sin — but a criminal offence. It is punishable by a severe beating at best, and an execution at worst.|
|The sexual privileges that are allowed in Islamic cultures are permitted to men. Women’s sexuality and social independence represent major threats to male supremacy and are tightly controlled. Thus, as the Moroccan feminist Fitna Sabbah reveals in her book Woman in the Muslim Unconscious, there is a disturbing conflict in the Middle East between sexual libido and repression. A deep-seated fear of, and hostility to, individuality prevails, and its main expression exists in misogyny.|
|Socially segregated from women, Arab men succumb to homosexual behavior. But, interestingly enough, there is no word for “homosexual” in their culture in the modern Western sense. That is because having sex with boys, or with effeminate men, is seen as a social norm. Males serve as available substitutes for unavailable women. The male who does the penetrating, meanwhile, is not emasculated any more than if he had sex with a wife. The male who is penetrated is emasculated. The boy, however, is not, since it is rationalized that he is not yet a man.|
Think of the repercussions of such experiences of over-stimulation on young male children where they understand that their turn will come as they grow into adulthood in a culture which encourages them to pass on their experience (for that, after all, is the essence of “culture”).
In our American world, such sexually used boys will be the hyperactive, disorganized drop-outs who understand intuitively that they do not fit in; there is no place for them except prison or institutions. In the Islamic world, they will be the bombers, the passers-on of violence directed at others.
Our boy victims are more fortunate than their muslim counterparts. While shame may result in repressed memories and acting-out behaviors, they are considered victims, not objects. The humiliation of the American Catholic Church is the result of its well-deserved contempt by those who know that the Church did little or nothing to protect its boy children from predator priests. Can you imagine a similar public response in a Muslim country? I can’t either.
In a September visit to the US, here’s what Pakistan’s President Musharraf said about the “problem” of rape in his country:
|The “easiest way” for Pakistani women to make money is to get raped, he said, so they’re lining up to be raped and thus making him look bad… “You must understand the environment in Pakistan… This has become a moneymaking concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped…It is the easiest way of doing it. Every second person now wants to.”|
Of course he was referring to Mukhtar Mai’s campaign to have the crimes against her redressed. And having said it, he denied doing so — except that the Washington Post has him on tape (see the previous link).
Phyllis Chesler has written extensively about the problem of sexual perversion — for surely that is what this is — in Islamic countries. But she adds another ingredient to an already overflowing pot:
|Widespread child sexual abuse leads to paranoid, highly traumatized, and revenge-seeking adults. Based on my own experience in Afghanistan (a non-Arab, Muslim culture), a polygamous, patriarchal culture also leads to an infernal, fraternal competition for paternal favor and inheritance. It is brother against brother, full brothers against half-brothers, full and half brothers against first cousins–and thus, can entire families and clans remain locked in revenge-fueled mortal combat for generations.|
In other words, in addition to the vengeful after-effects there is the additional burden of scarcity of affection and opportunity. In America, you can move away and attempt to start a new life. You can sue for civil damages (as the Church has learned). You can take advantage of the possibilities that exist to heal and transcend your fated childhood. No, you cannot be the person you might have been had you not endured that over-stimulation, pain, and humiliation. But you may be fortunate to process and transform those memories so they can no longer hurt you. You can metabolize your experiences so that you are able to think, to contain thought, and to have enough inner space to contemplate decisions. No longer fated to repeat your history, you are freed from it.
In Muslim countries, you can turn to warfare and terrorism and physical triumph to expunge your devils. But that’s all there is. No redemption, no hope of transformation. However, you can choose a glorious death — that is definitely one opportunity open to you.
Who’d have thought Liberty could appear in so many guises?