The Human Condition

Published July 19, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Reading more in evolution , I tried to recall the word for baby death from lack of being touched. I never did remember the word, but found sobering statistics under Failure to Thrive. (If you know the word kindly let me know).

THE experience of being touched has direct effects on the growth of the body as well as the mind. Infants deprived of direct human contact grow slowly and even die. Research has shown that premature infants massaged for 15 minutes three times a day gained weight 47 percent faster than others who were left alone in their incubators – the usual practice in the past. The massaged infants also showed signs that the nervous system was maturing more rapidly: they became more active than the other babies and more responsive to such things as a face or a rattle. Their weight gain seems due to the effect of physical contact on their metabolism.

As mysteries are answered, even more come to light. How did dogs really become such domesticated best-friend pals of humankind? One reason appears to be that some 50,000 years ago the extremely acute hearing of the canine line helped humans detect prey animals from a distance, Canine hearing has been estimated to be 10,000 times more sensitive. While humans are lucky to detect large animals moving a hundred yards away, dogs can hear them literally for miles, (Nigel Barber, 2020, p 57). (In addition perhaps to the fact that dogs have such loving souls….)

BUT WHAT I MOST WANTED TO SAY IN THIS POSTING is that a good source for understanding contributive factors for “gender fluidity” can be found in Chapter 3 of Nigel Barber’s Evolution in the Here and Now, chapter 3, Evolution as a Developmental Process. “In nature there is a surprising range of developmental options concerning sexual behavior and even sex organs. This fact is very much relevant to human sexual development and gender identity.

“The range of natural variation in sexual behavior is staggering and defies the stereotype of a world neatly divided into two genders as determined by the presence or absence of a Y-chromosome….Although mammals are considerably less diverse in their gender development pathways, there can be considerable ambiguity in gender development thanks to the diverse biochemical pathways affecting somatic and behavioral behavioral gender.” Previously I had only been aware of imprinting as a possible causative factor. Barber continues with a discussiodn that may be of additional interest to some.

It’s certainly possible not to like new information, and I don’t care for his words which seem to favor extroverts as opposed to introverts, the latter of which I am. Also, just as mothers were relieved of guilt for their schizophrenic offspring, Barber observes that being genetic does not necessarily mean being the primary result of. (It’s not “all or nothing.”)

In another vein he writes, “Harsh parental practices, such as corporeal punishment, are transmitted across generations and are surprisingly resistant to change.” Even after they are alerted to the adverse effects of coercion and corporeal punishment for children, parents in disadvantaged communities continue to use those tactics in part, perhaps, because that reflects how their brains were affected by their own childhood experiences. Detailed training in more empathic parenting produced no change in parental practices.

TWO MEMORIES COME TO MY MIND: One took place in a psychology training conference in Columbus, Ohio. An AfricanAmerican woman criticized someone in another setting who had suggested corporeal punishment was a mistake, although it was an ingrained part of their culture. Many–most–of those in the audience drew in a breath at the thought of criticizing something from their own culture. I kept quiet.

The second memory was of a man incarcerated in a state prison for child sexual abuse. I had been telling him it was harmful for young victims, whereupon he said he was a childhood victim, and “it didn’t hurt me.”

es – February 2, 1988, Section C, Page 1

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