Sticks and Stones–Hurtful Words Damage the Brain

From Psychology Today:

The New Brain 

How your brain—and our understanding of it—are constantly changing.
by R. Douglas Fields
Verbal abuse in childhood inflicts lasting physical effects on brain structure
Published on October 30, 2010

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me… We all know how untrue that childhood incantation is. Words do hurt. Ridicule, distain, humiliation, taunting, all cause injury, and when it is delivered in childhood from a child’s peers, verbal abuse causes more than emotional trauma. It inflicts lasting physical effects on brain structure.

The remarkable thing about the human brain is that it develops after birth. Unlike most animals whose brains are cast at birth, the human brain is so underdeveloped at birth that we cannot even walk for months. Self awareness does not develop for years. Personality, cognitive abilities, and skills, take decades to develop, and these attributes develop differently in every person. This is because development and wiring of the human brain are guided by our experiences during childhood and adolescence. From a biological perspective, this increases the odds that an individual will compete and reproduce successfully in the environment the individual is born into, rather than the environment experienced by our cave-man ancestors and recorded in our genes through natural selection. Developing the human brain out of the womb cheats evolution, and this is the reason for the success of our species.

When that environment is hostile or socially unhealthy, development of the brain is affected, and often it is impaired. Early childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, or even witnessing domestic violence, have been shown to cause abnormal physical changes in the brain of children, with lasting effects that predisposes the child to developing psychological disorders. This type of brain scarring is well established now by human brain imaging studies, but prior to the recent study by Martin Teicher and colleagues at Harvard Medical School, taunting and other verbal abuse experienced by middle school children from their peers was not thought to leave a structural imprint on the developing brain. But it does, according to their new study published on-line in advance of print in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Young adults, ages 18-25, with no history of exposure to domestic violence, sexual abuse, or parental physical abuse, were asked to rate their childhood exposure to parental and peer verbal abuse when they were children, and then they were given a brain scan.

The results revealed that those individuals who reported experiencing verbal abuse from their peers during middle school years had underdeveloped connections between the left and right sides of their brain through the massive bundle of connecting fibers called the corpus callosum. Psychological tests given to all subjects in the study showed that this same group of individuals had higher levels of anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, dissociation, and drug abuse than others in the study.

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Another Zinnia Jones

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Stupidity, Duplicity and Timidity Reign in Maryland

I’m not in Maryland, so my commenting on the nastiness of the politics being played there is based on various reports.

I can’t believe I had someone try to pick a fight with me today on Facebook for pointing out the limitations of the bill but once again refusing to get really angry and resorting to calling names is showing itself to be a well learned lesson.

Getting it passed is one thing, getting it implemented is quite another.

The “men in dresses invading the women’s restroom” trope has become the blood libel used against an ENDA that is transsexual and transgender inclusive.

It is the top-spin serve the right wing uses to ace TS/TG folks at every turn and has become the ploy activists must overcome.

Yesterday I made the suggestion of bring in the brothers as active participants.  Jamison Green, Jude Patton Max Valerio etc.  Because if they want to play the genetic woman card or even in some cases the genital female card having a bunch of the guys saying, “Okay, by that criteria, you expect us to use the women’s restroom.” might be the comeback that defeats the “man in a dress in the women’s room ploy.

Two articles:

From The Washington Blade:

‘Political reality’ forces changes to Md. trans bill

Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Mar 03, 2011

Supporters and opponents were expected to turn out in force on March 9 for a hearing on a bill before a Maryland House of Delegates committee that calls for prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in employment and housing.

Officials with the statewide LGBT group Equality Maryland said they were hopeful that the hearing before the Health and Government Operations Committee would be the first step leading to the bill’s approval this year by the Maryland Legislature, marking a historic first for transgender rights.

But political insiders at the state capital in Annapolis said supporters were bracing for possible vocal opposition to the bill from some transgender activists, who have expressed anger over a decision by the bill’s lead sponsor to remove a provision banning discrimination in public accommodations, such as hotels, restaurants, private health clubs and gyms.

Some of the bill’s supporters worry that testimony against the bill from transgender people combined with the expected opposition from various religious leaders and social conservatives could be a devastating blow to the legislation.

Others, such as veteran transgender advocate Dana Beyer, a former candidate for a House of Delegates seat from Montgomery County, say other transgender activists such as she will voice support for the bill, countering those who oppose it.

Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties), a strong supporter of LGBT equality who has sponsored a transgender rights bill in the legislature since 2007, said she removed the public accommodations provision this year after determining it was the only way to obtain enough votes to pass the legislation.

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The actions of Del. Pena-Melnyk are particularly disappointing as she is a woman of color.

Breaking us down into different identities has a major problem.  It damages the ability of different minority groups to empathize with other minority groups and see the problems as being the same problem.  Imagine telling people of color that others could discriminate against them based on some sort of spurious religion based bias.

Already there are many Christian groups who want to exercise that faith based hatred towards Muslims, Atheists and Jews.

Monica Roberts has a must read on her blog Transgriot

Some people are trying to use Tyra Trent, who was recently murdered as a martyr to pimp this bill by renaming it for her.

The always gentle speaking Monica Roberts speaks truth to power.

I could see this one coming.

ENDA will do nothing for someone in the position Tyra was in.  Restoring all the human services we had under Lyndon Johnso might.

That means housing.  Public Health Services.  Public Legal Assistance.  War on Poverty type programs.  Welfare.  Gender appropriate homeless shelters where people can live rather than crash for a night.

The basic essentials of living.

I don’t like seeing more privileged people use those who are less privileged for political gain that will have minimal positive impact on the lives of others who are of that same level of minimal privilege. This is done too often.  Too many of those remembered on the Day of Remembrance were sex workers who were murdered because society sees them as worthless.

In their deaths they become pawns who are used to pass legislation that really doesn’t benefit them.

Then I hear all the anger directed towards Gay and Lesbian people, which seems really counter-productive.

HRC is useless…  Great then GET Equal or The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  Or even PFLAG.

But too often Transgender seems more about pissing off people who are basically on their side than winning.

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