[lit-ideas] Re: Child abuse: nature or nurture?

  • From: "Andy Amago" <aamago@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 09:13:43 -0500

Definitely.  The tragedy is that "mild abuse" is what is considered
standard, even good, parenting.  The kid can't tell you he needs a father
so he throws a tantrum.  Answer: smack 'em, isolate him in his room if
you're more civilized, or put him on drugs.  Spare the rod ... and here we
sit with our useless big brains, turning to religion for answers ...
throwing tantrums with bombs ...

Came across a good book, heard the author interviewed:  Jeffrey Goldberg,
_Prisoners: A Muslim and A Jew Across the Middle East Divide_  Anybody read
it?  He spent time as a guard in a prison camp guarding Palestinians, and
his basic conclusion is that Israel is not a western nation; it's a Middle
Eastern nation with a western facade.

> [Original Message]
> From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Date: 11/17/2006 6:13:55 AM
> Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Child abuse: nature or nurture?
> --- Ursula Stange <Ursula@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > Along with the bad parental behaviour model, and the physical and
> > suffering, the little ones also seem to suffer chemical changes that 
> > pre-dispose them to repeat the behaviours.   A triple whammy...it's a 
> > wonder that we do as well as we do as a species.
> The article centres on the following:-
> "Dario Maestripieri at the University of Chicago in Illinois, US, and
> colleagues found that baby rhesus monkeys that endured high rates of
> rejection and mild abuse in their first month of life produced less of the
> brain chemical serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are associated with
> and depression and impulsive aggression in both humans and monkeys."
> Extrapolating from this to our species is possible but it is clear we are
> dealing with "rejection and mild abuse" rather than sexual abuse or severe
> physical abuse such as happens to human children. The extrapolation there,
> and the explanation for perpetuation, might be more problematic. 
> The article seems to me ambivalent on the nature/nurture debate. That is,
> result obtained is consistent with:-
> a) mothers with a genetic disposition towards "mild abuse" pass on this
> genetic disposition which is mediated through lower serotonin/higher
> agression (which may themselves be the product of genetic disposition)
> the heritability of aggression, depression etc.]
> b) without bringing in "genetic disposition" or heritability as the
> explanation as per (a), mothers who engage in "mild abuse" acculturate
> offspring to abuse which is then perpetuated on their offspring, such
> perpetuation being mediated through lower serotonin/higher aggression.
> Donal
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