Violence, Gun Control…What Are We Teaching Our Children?

I will add now that it is quite possible to make your child neurotic and this stems from the parent-child relationship. When a parent routinely intrudes into a toddler’s world, not to protect the child in some way, but more to allay their own anxiety and worry in the role as parent. In fact, whenever a parent responds out of their own anxiety, anger, impatience, frustration, etc, it is here we are more likely to err, and where the toddler may feel confused or temporarily unloved.

Author
Author

The other day I was asked the question, “Do you think cartoons like Bugs Bunny can have a negative effect on  young children?”  My initial response as a lay person was to say, “I really don’t see any harm in pre-school children watching cartoons.  I certainly watched them as a kid and I turned out OK.”  Then I stopped to consider what I had learned about children (from birth to age 5) when I attended the Erikson Institute for Early Development some 35 years ago.  I wish now I had responded to the question with some thought and not “off the cuff”.  So now I’ll share what I really think.

Are violent cartoons ok?
Supervision needed

There are several variables to consider when it comes to young children:  1) are the parents thoughtful about what they want their children to experience; 2) is it understood that young children cannot separate reality from fantasy; 3) is it also understood that for young children, life events are reversible, (e.g.) someone dies – they come back to life.  Think of Wile E. Coyote who is always in pursuit of the Road Runner…Wile E. invariably falls off  a cliff when in pursuit of R.R., but not to worry, Wile E. will be alive and well in the next scene. 4) is the television being used as a makeshift “babysitter” to give the parents a “break”; or 5) do the parents sit with their pre-schooler while watching the cartoon, commenting on what happens when someone gets hit on the head (it hurts) or that shooting at someone with any weapon can seriously injure or even kill someone.

Some people have said to me, “Oh, come on…you’re thinking too much!  Just sit back and enjoy.”  When my daughter was a toddler and even older, I felt it was important to supervise her well-being almost constantly, stepping in when I thought it was necessary to say something or limit or distract her in some way.  As any parent will admit, a toddler can get into some kind of trouble in just a few seconds.  My younger sister (who had eight children of her own) commented to me years later, “With you fussing over your daughter so much, I thought she would grow up and be neurotic (crazy).  But she has become a very thoughtful and loving child; so, good for you.”

I will add now that it is quite possible to make your child neurotic and this stems from the parent-child relationship.  When a parent routinely intrudes into a toddler’s world, not to protect the child in some way, but more to allay their own anxiety and worry in the role as parent.  In fact, whenever a parent responds out of their own anxiety, anger, impatience, frustration, etc, it is here we are more likely to err, and where the toddler may feel confused or temporarily unloved.  Now I encourage all of us who worry too much about “hurting the child” to remember that, as parents, we ALL make mistakes.  It is only when we consistently respond or act on our feelings, that way fail to think about the needs of the child in any situation.

Now back to the discussion about pre-school children watching cartoons.  At Bowling Green State University in Ohio, the department of Human Development has done research on this very subject.  One professor there, Stevie Hossler has written about the mental and psychological effects of children’s cartoons:

 

TV effect on young children
Scary and dangerous?

"Children have become much more interested in cartoons over many years and it has become a primary action to some lives. Typically, children begin watching cartoons on television at an early age of six months, and by the age two or three children become enthusiastic viewers. This has become a problem because too many children are watching too much television and the shows that they are watching (even if they are cartoons) have become violent and addictive. The marketing of cartoons has become overpowering in the United States and so has the subliminal messaging. The marketing is targeted toward the children to cause them to want to view the cartoons on a regular basis, but the subliminal messaging is for the adults’ to target them into enjoying the “cartoons”. This is unfortunate because children watch the cartoons on the television and they see material that is not appropriate for their age group. The Children who watch too much cartoons on television are more likely to have mental and emotional problems, along with brain and eye injuries and unexpectedly the risk of a physical problem increases."

From the time that children start school to the time they graduate, they average spending about 13,000 hours in school.  Does that seem like an awful amount of hours?  Compare this to the average amount of television watched, nearly 18,000 hours (from the time they start school till they graduate).  This is a major concern because this excessive amount of violence in television will have an effect on their brain, their emotions and their sense of pain.  In a 2000 report on adolescent violence, the U.S. Surgeon General, David Satcher, MD, stated the following:

“More aggressive behavior in a young child’s life is caused by frequently watched entertainment that incorporates violence in it. This has become a public health issue and because of the research findings, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution in February of 1985,informing broadcasters and the public about the dangers violence on the television has on children. Three major effects have been proven by psychological research caused by children seeing violence on television are, that the child may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others; children who watch violence do not fear violence nor are they bothered by violence in general and the children are more likely to become aggressive or use harmful actions towards others."

Watching TV with mom.
Adult supervision

So, to make a long story shorter, the take-away from this is that excessive exposure to violence does have a deleterious effect on young children.  But the key word here is “excessive”…perhaps hours vs. minutes.  So, would you ever allow your young ones to watch cartoons?  Yes, I would, with the following understanding:  infrequently and always supervised.  The child needs to hear about reality from the parents; the ability to fantasize they’ve already got down…cold.

Embryonic Personhood? What Is Going On in the USA?

Here is how I explain the absence of general outcry. Abortion is not a pretty subject. An embryo or fetus, while not a fully developed person, has the potential to become one. No one is “pro-abortion.” At the same time, there are circumstances under which a girl or woman feels strongly that her pregnancy is untenable—that she is too young, too poor, too burdened, too ill to properly mother a child. Women have abortions because they take motherhood seriously.

The author of this article is a psychiatrist I knew when I worked at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. I have great respect for her values and opinions. Please read this article before you vote.

Embryonic Personhood? What Is Going On in the USA?
By Nada Logan Stotland, MD, MPH | September 4, 2012
Dr. Stotland is a Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Rush Medical College.

Nada Stotland, MD, on abortion and acute psychiatric illness.

I have discussed psychiatric aspects of abortion on this blog in the past. Suffice it to reiterate that there is no credible scientific evidence that induced abortion is a cause of psychiatric pathology. Not surprisingly, abortion is associated, in a non-causal way, with disadvantage and pathology; women overwhelmed by existing responsibilities, women without social supports, women who are abused are more likely to have abortions than pregnant women in happier circumstances. Women with acute and severe psychiatric disorders are at increased risk for unplanned and unwelcome conception; they may be taking large doses of psychotropic medication; and they may reasonably have concerns about their ability to care for a baby while they are acutely ill. Nevertheless, alleged psychiatric sequelae are used as rationales for laws restricting access to abortion in several states, and some states require that physicians performing abortions provide this misinformation to their patients, under pain of prosecution.

Republican platform
GOP platform

The Republican Party has just adopted a breathtaking platform, including a plank demanding a constitutional amendment declaring that the fertilized ovum has all the rights of a human being. That would rule out abortion for rape, incest, and/or the life of the mother . . . but that is not all.

Would we be obligated to try to gestate every fertilized ovum? Would we prosecute and incarcerate women for child abuse when they fail to provide the optimal intrauterine environment—not only substance users, but also those who smoke, have a glass of wine, gain too much weight, or work too hard as medical residents? Probably those who support the platform would exempt those exhausted from caring for the children they already have, rather than providing maternity leave, day care, and other essential family supports.

If a fertilized ovum is a person, the law might well require a woman to have surgery on the fetus if it is found to have a condition possibly remediable by surgery. It is important to remember that our laws forbid the most miniscule invasion of an unwilling individual’s body for the benefit of another individual. We cannot legally force a person to give a drop of blood to save the life of a genius who is about to develop a cure for cancer.

Interviews of some delegates to the Republican National Convention (possibly not representative) by cast members from The Daily Show (possibly not neutral) indicate profound ignorance—including that notion that rape only extremely rarely results in pregnancy. There has been a lukewarm response to Todd Akins’ assertion that rape only very rarely results in conception and to the assertion by some candidates that contraception itself is wrong.

Remarkable ignorance of many GOP members
And the judges are

No doubt readers are aware of the platform and of at least some of the Draconian anti-abortion laws that continue to be passed by state legislatures and signed into law by state governors—and that are often upheld by state courts. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Republican Party, whatever else its virtues and flaws, is waging a war against women and, though not acknowledged or recognized, by extension on their families. The American Psychiatric Association has an official pro-choice policy, but I am not aware of any efforts on their/our part to fight these frightening developments.

It is up to each and every one of us to be informed about the scientific facts and to inform our medical and mental health colleagues, our communities, our elected representatives—and our patients. One of 3 women in the United States has an abortion at some time in her life. That’s 1 of 3 of our female patients.

OK . . . there’s a brief recap and an exhortation. Another psychiatric aspect of abortion under the current circumstances is an attempt to understand how policies restricting and even ending access to a medical procedure used by a third of women fail to evoke or at least female general consternation. The most cynical answer is that one political party, motivated by financial and selfish concerns, is demonizing abortion as a way of pandering to the far right and garnering votes from people who would be better served by the policies of the other party.

Psychodynamically speaking, there is a lot of rage against mothers. There are people who feel unwanted and unappreciated, and identify with the “unborn babies” they are trying to protect. I have a pro-choice friend whose dedication to that position is tempered by the fact that she was adopted as an infant and might well not exist had her biological mother had access to abortion. There are genuinely misogynistic motivations: intolerance of women’s sexuality and terror of women’s potential power.

Nevertheless, where are those one-third of American women who themselves have used abortion services? The percentage must be significantly increased if one includes those whose friends and/or relatives have had abortions. At least some, if not most, of their male partners must have recognized the importance of abortion availability.

Here is how I explain the absence of general outcry. Abortion is not a pretty subject. An embryo or fetus, while not a fully developed person, has the potential to become one. No one is “pro-abortion.” At the same time, there are circumstances under which a girl or woman feels strongly that her pregnancy is untenable—that she is too young, too poor, too burdened, too ill to properly mother a child. Women have abortions because they take motherhood seriously.

Rape and insets.
Legitimate rape

In every place and at every time in history, many women have felt this so strongly that they accept pain, fear, and the possibility of death or prosecution to end pregnancies. Differently phrased questions asked by pollsters get very different responses. Many subjects report that they oppose abortion—but many or most people endorse the idea that no one but the pregnant woman can know her circumstances and that only she can decide whether to carry the pregnancy. Women can oppose abortion in the abstract, get abortions when the circumstances demand, and go back to opposing abortion. I was told by physicians who perform abortions in clinics besieged by anti-abortion picketers that every such physician has performed at least 1 abortion on a picketer—who goes back to picketing. It’s what I was taught in my psychoanalytically oriented residency is a vertical split. The conflicting feelings exist side by side.

Let me repeat my mantra. I have respect for people with heartfelt religious or philosophical objections to abortion. They have every right to make those arguments. I have no respect for what is going on in our country now—the all-too-successful attempt to sell abortion restrictions to the public on the very paradoxical basis of the well-being of women and to lie and force physicians to lie about its risks.

REPUBLICANS: SHUT IT DOWN!

Ever since Obama took office, it has been the singular goal of the Republicans to get him OUT. They continue with every strategy available to make Obama look responsible for our financial crisis. This country has a problem with short-term memory loss.

 

Republican party
See the Debt Ceiling?

Just what will it take for this country to get its head out of its ass?  We are in a financial crisis that, if it remains unsolved by 8/2/11, will effect the poor and hungry citizens of America like never before (except perhaps the Great Depression).  So, “Let Them Eat Cake!!”

During the Bush administration (2000-2008), the “debt ceiling” was raised to pay for the wars, the trumped up wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And now, when the issue of raising the “debt ceiling” again for our Seniors, our unemployed, our homeless, etc., the Republicans, rather Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea-Baggers*, et al, remind us now of our fiscal responsibility and that we need to cut spending.  What a terrific sense of timing!

 

Rush Limbaugh Obama hater
GOP leader

Ever since Obama took office, it has been the singular goal of the Republicans to get him OUT.  They continue with every strategy available to make Obama look responsible for our financial crisis.  This country has a problem with short-term memory loss.  It’s too bad that we’ve developed early dementia because there is no cure and we just might be headed for an early demise.  So, why the hatred for Obama?  I can see no other reason other than the fact that his tan is too dark!

So, yes, the Republicans will not budge regarding the “debt ceiling”.  They want the government to default on its loans, hold the Social Security checks for Seniors and anyone unfortunate enough to be on disability and to fault Obama with this debacle.  I am one of those individuals who had to turn to the government for disability income at age 63…my work as a nurse as I had practiced came to an end.  I would have happily worked much longer had “the gods” seen fit.  And thank the gods that Social Security Disability was there for me.  So, I will likely not get a check next month.  Oh we’ll be OK for now, but there are millions of Americans who have lost their homes, lost their jobs, lost hope, who will not be OK.

I don’t know what else to say or who to ask for help…not financial help, but help for this country.  We have become a very short-sighted nation, a country of comfort with an eerie lack of empathy for our fellow man…and this may be our undoing.  Sue

 

*I’ll stop using the expression “tea-baggers” when the Republicans stop saying “Obamacare”!

Is Amy Chua right?

As a medical director and child/adolescent psychiatrist of an Asian community clinic in California, as well as researcher in Asian adolescent mental health and an Asian-American woman myself, I’ll have to disagree from a clinical, research, and personal perspective.

Suzan Song, Child/adolescent psychiatrist
Is Amy Chua right?
Parenting

Is Amy Chua right when she explains “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” in an op/ed in the Wall Street Journal?

The question asks for anecdotal responses, but I’ll supplement it:
As a medical director and child/adolescent psychiatrist of an Asian community clinic in California, as well as researcher in Asian adolescent mental health and an Asian-American woman myself, I’ll have to disagree from a clinical, research, and personal perspective.
Clinically,
Depends on how one defines success – obtaining professional degrees in ivy league schools, high income level, or “status” vs. personal happiness/fulfillment, well-adjustment, good mental/emotional and social health. Not socializing one’s child (play dates, plays, etc) could clinically create anxiety for your child in the future. Continue reading “Is Amy Chua right?”