Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The AAP and the Tribal Psychology of Circumcision

Psychology of Tribe borrowed from=

The AAP & psychology of tribes applied to circumcision with my additions in bold italics:

1.When acting in ways which relate primarily to their membership of a group, a person’s behaviour changes to reflect the beliefs and aspirations of the group rather than those of the individual. Therefore if the group cuts the genitals of its members to denote group membership, male or female, the aspirations of the group will take precedence over the aspirations of an individual, which leads to infant male circumcision, and FGM of female children. You find parents and in-particular mothers from circumcision cultures handing over their newborns to be cut, even when it goes against their instincts to protect their baby from harm..  The AAP in this instance has written a policy on circumcision to defend its tribal custom, even tho the paper was scientifically and ethically flawed and drawn criticism from its peers around the world.  It would rather face shame and ridicule from its non-tribal peers, than go against its own tribe.

2. Tribal Psychology, is an important trait from hunter gatherer times when strong tribal identity was essential to survival, but it’s necessary for any group to find ways to emphasize the characteristic of group membership because it’s that identification with the group which helps promote cooperation and selflessness in the behaviour of its members. In genital cutting cultures, circumcision is then seen as a ritual which not only denotes tribal membership, but at some level is seen as essential to the survival of a group, an act of selfnessness & co-operation. You can see how circumcision cultures & its scientific institutions such as the AAP in America with its 2012 circumcsion paper scour the world for pro-circumcision research and ignore or deny any validity to research which contradicts circumcision's  so called health benefits or any evidence that the foreskin is a functional sex organ.  HIV Circumcision researchers from the circumcision culture of America go and look for data, and even create experiments such as the African HIV trials, to show that circumcision is essential to human survival. Look at the circumstances of the development of the trials. Epidemiological data from Africa showed that some uncircumcised populations had lower HIV infections than circumcised populations, however, the scientists ignored those populations, and the experiments were conducted where the uncircumcised populations had higher hiv infections. The methodologies of the experiment favoured the cut group, and conflicting data minimized or ignored. This selection process and methodology allowed a greater chance for the a priori hypothesis to be confirmed that circumcision protects against hiv which will ensure survival of the group. When the data favoured the circumcision group they ended the trials early exagerrating the results.  And then the unrelenting use of this data by the Pro-Circumcisers who use what happened in high prevalence HIV Africa, data from the experiments with adult volunteers, as a justification to circumcise male infants in low prevalence hiv nations such as the USA.  The AAP, and scientists from Circumcison cultures avoid or hide the fact that EU & Japan which dont circumcise have much lower HIV/STI's than the USA which has highest adult circumcision rates in the developed world.

Negative Elements of Tribal Psychology with my additions in bold italics include:

  1. Grandiose tribal self image: one’s own tribe has certain positive characteristics.  Look at the 2012 AAP Circumcision Policy which has been highly criticised around the world.  Look at the messages in Pro-Circumcision Propaganda: Circumcision makes the tribe more hygienic and clean; Circumcision looks better; Circumcision is better for sex; Circumcision is healthier. Contrast this with actual world facts that no medical organisation in the world recommends routine circumcision for the above reasons nor agrees with any of the above premises, and people from non-circumcision EU & Japan are healthier, live longer have lower hiv/sti's, and view the intact penis as healthy and normal.
  2. The tribal shadow: other tribes are evil and inhuman. The AAP calls EU Pediatricians biased against circumcision. Pro-Circumcision propaganda abounds with the demonization of the foreskin and the uncircumcised. Contrast this with actual world facts that most of the world 70 to 75% rejects circumcision, and the healthiest nations with the healthiest people are uncircumcised.
  3. Group polarization Tribal identity gains dominance over that of an individual’s self identity in situations of tribal conflict and competition. The AAP gives priority to Parents Rights over its primamry patient the child. Pro-Circumcision uses the propaganda slogan of its the Parents Rights to decide on circumcision, denying the rights of the child to choose for himself. That intactivists are evil prople who want to deny parents rights. Contrast this with the strongest arguments against circumcision which are based on human rights and ethical grounds, that it needs to be the individuals right to choose when they are an adult and make an informed consent decision for themselves.  For the AAP to concede this would mean giving dominance to the individual over the tribe, which they have refused to do.
  4. Group think: humans have evolved a tendency to conform to the predominant beliefs and opinions of groups to which they belong. Holding opinions contrary to the consensus engenders stress in the individual, and carries with it the risk of social exclusion. The AAP formed a committee made up of individuals who favoured circumcision to write a policy statement on circumcision, ensuring group think predominated. EU Pediatricians who disagree with the AAP are labelled as more biased than Americans, and individuals who are against circumcision are labelled by Pro-Circumcision propagandists as foreskin fetishists, evil people, and extremists.

The essay drew the following conclusions and I add my interpretation in bold italics:

  • Tribal group environments have been important in the evolution of the underpinnings of human psychology, and for that reason people are powerfully influenced by factors which reinforce group identity. Therefore we have a very difficult task ahead of us to convince those in the AAP that believe circumcision is important to group identity, that they have erred.  Look at how they have childishly and churlishly attacked EU Pediatricians.  . WE need to select and use our strategies carefully, and slowly emphasise that genital status has nothing to do with group identity in a modern world. That observance of individual human rights in the modern world, helps us belong to the world of civilised & moral human beings. Obviously one strategy is to use education and informed discussion to educate that the foreskin is normal and healthy and the circumcision harms & violates. The arguments that reinforce the essentiality of circumcision for survival have to be debunked, because they are such a powerful reinforcer, and why the ProCirc’s use fear as a motivator to circ. Also note how some Jews themselves have abandoned the circumcision rite for the brit shalom a non-cutting ceremony to admit membership to the jewish community. So the message here is that Tribal Elders and people of influence within Tribes can say "you dont have to cut to be a jew". "You dont have to be cut to Belong"  "You dont have to be cut to be OK"  "You dont have to be cut to be loved".
  • Identification with a group polarizes divisions between the group and a category of others who form the group’s enemies. Strategically, WE need to be careful if we are to persuade , we need to be careful as not to seem like "The other tribe" and that we are not the enemies. We can educate & say that belonging to the group of humanity or any social group is completely independent of genital status Cut or UnCut.
  • Individuals are inclined to conform their thinking to that of the group, even against their personal self interest. This is where individual human rights have to be emphasised, that group think cannot allow the violation of these rights. Note individual psychological defence, “I;m so glad I was circumcised as a baby” never matter they were denied their functional anatomy and they never had a say.  Education is the key here, combat myths with facts.
  • Leaders understand how to take advantage of this psychology with jingoistic posturing and celebration of romanticised historical icons. This creates a narrative for the group which engenders heightened levels of polarization and group think. This is where we have to Challenge medical organizations such as the AAP and their leaders, including  law-makers and politicians, to emphasise individual human rights over that of group cultural rights.  The AAP has cleverly used its status and the apparatus of scientific literature to favour its own tribal position, this needs to be strongly challenged, and using the EU Pediatricians criticism of the AAP 2012 Circumcision policy is a good resource.

Where this process of Tribal Psychology may have been an advantage to the survival of a tribe or the individuals which made up that tribe in the past, it is clearly not in the interests of the individuals in the modern world to blindly follow tribal traditions. For that reason it is essential that individuals become aware of this psychology and insist that politicians/medicos/law makers refrain from allowing circumcision to continue. It needs to be emphasised that Circumcision of babies and children male or female is not important for the survival of any group, and is a violation of the individual human rights of that individual. We need to educate how genital cutting rituals are outdated and have no relevance in modern societies when it come to group membership or tribal identity.  Elders can just say "You Belong with Intact Genitals, male or female". The modern world needs to give pre-eminence to individual human rights particularly those of children, and that they be protected from genital cutting practices. If adults want to choose to have their own genitals cut, then that is an individual choice they can make for themselves.

Many of the myths and beliefs around the importance of circumcision for tribal identity have existed for millenia and are deeply rooted in the human psyche, therefore the task of separating circumcision from tribal identity will not be an easy one, and requires patience and hard work.

Tribal Psychology has the potential to directly conflict with individual human rights. AMEN