Body Literacy

Before moving on to discuss some very sensitive aspects of sex hysteria, namely published descriptions of children who have been observed behaving sexually and are sometimes labeled “sexualized” or even “disturbed,” it is important to discuss some more general topics about the human body and the concepts of health and disease as an introduction.

The human body needs many things, the most important of which are usually taken for granted. People often don’t realize that the body’s most urgent needs are usually satisfied and instead suffer from a distorted perception of what they lack. This post describes the most important things the human body needs and typically gets.

The healthy body needs to maintain middle values between too much and too little (blood gas concentration, electrolyte balance, etc.), because extremes cause damage to the cells or organs themselves, or entire body systems, or death. The body’s most urgent need is for a very limited range of temperature and pressure, the sudden absence of which would cause the immediate cessation of all cell processes and immediate death. The body also urgently needs a profuse quantity of air with a certain concentration of oxygen, as well as water without too many dissolved electrolytes.

Foods containing carbohydrates, protein and fats that are neither too acidic nor too alkaline are also necessary for the body to survive and maintain healthy organ function. Breast milk sugars contain E-fructose (lacking in cow’s milk), which favors the growth of friendly bacteria in the child’s intestine. Cow’s milk protein is poorly digested by children and may cause iron deficiency anemia. (Iron-fortified infant formula has been outlawed in many countries due to evidence of risk of neurological damage.)

It is commonly believed that overeating causes obesity, but there is evidence that lean children actually have a higher energy intake than obese children. That evidence suggests other factors are more important in causing obesity, especially lack of physical activity. Regular urination and defecation are equally essential to survival. What comes out is just as important as what goes in. Bed-wetting and dysfunctional toilet habits are usually caused by miseducation of the child by poorly informed parents.

Exercise is widely agreed to be essential for good health if not survival, and illustrates that the body is also flexible in some ways. In potentially lethal high fever the body’s metabolism increases by 100%, but during very grueling  exercise, such as a marathon race, the body’s metabolic rate may increase by up to 2,000%.

Before age 10, cardiac output (relative to body surface area) reaches its peak and thereafter declines. The human heart is pumping more blood in liters/min/m2 at age 9 than at age 20 or any later age. A child may safely hike the number of miles equal to her age, e.g. a five-year-old can safely hike five miles (8 km). We are talking about a leisurely hike with frequent rest stops that may take all day.

Lack of exercise is known to have damaging effects on body organs. Vascularization automatically changes to meet the metabolic needs of local tissues, decreasing when tissues are unused, or increasing when metabolic needs increase or a pathology (e.g. tumor) demands more blood flow. During prolonged inactivity, blood flow to unused muscle may almost cease.

Changes in vascularization are very slow during old age but very rapid during childhood. It is widely believed that a lack of sexual activity in old age contributes to an eventual decline or loss of sexual function. I think we should expect an even more pronounced and rapid injury to sexual function (inactivity causing devascularization) during childhood.

Experiments on monkeys have found that castration during infancy has more catastrophic effects on sexual function later than castration just before puberty or in adulthood, which may be indirect evidence of atrophy of the relative brain areas in early life due to lack of stimulation during development. I’ve previously described my hypothesis that lack of stimulation of the clitoris during early development may result in neural atrophy in the relative brain areas that control clitoral function, thereby causing irreversible clitoral erectile dysfunction.

The classic case of neural atrophy is when the eye doesn’t receive early stimulation (e.g. due to untreated cataracts), resulting in permanent blindness. The apparently critical period for needed visual stimulation is age 3-4 years. The brain’s primary sensory area mediating touch develops earlier than that, but the association area related to reproductive behavior develops later than age 3-4.

As I explained in a previous post linked to above, there is good reason to believe the erectile reflex and capacity for orgasm may be permanently damaged or destroyed by inhibitory shame-training in childhood (prohibiting the desire to self-stimulate the genitals), and as far as we know, destruction of healthy clitoral function may be, by no coincidence, the primary traditional goal of shame-training.

Some laboratory research indicates that adequate rest and sleep are also essential to good health, especially REM sleep. Researchers have found that men often have genital erections during REM sleep (nocturnal penile tumescence), and my own informal observations are that even before puberty girls have clitoral erections (clitoral tumescence) during REM sleep.

In erectile organs such as the penis and clitoris there is smooth muscle that is contracted during the flaccid phase, and relaxes during erection to allow more blood to fill the spongy erectile tissue. In addition to relaxation of smooth muscles, vasodilation is evidently fostered by epinephrine acting on the beta receptors of the blood vessels.

There may be local effects of long-term lack of stimulation of the clitoris during development, namely devascularization in the clitoris itself, leading to the risk of ischemia in the clitoral tissues and local nerve damage, or death of nerves serving the clitoris. There is also the possibility that the well-known process of denervation atrophy may be at work in stunting the normal growth of the clitoris.

Some parents view early sexual “inhibition” as necessary learning similar to bladder control and toilet training. However, there is no evidence that sexual inhibition serves any healthy function.  Bladder control cannot be learned before the nervous system has developed sufficiently at about age two. In contrast, the defecation reflex should never be inhibited for more than a few minutes, since keeping stools in the bowels reabsorbs water and makes the stools dry and compact and harder to pass.

The most common danger in excessive exercise is increase in body temperature which is destructive to cells, leading to heatstroke with symptoms of exhaustion, dizziness, collapse and unconsciousness, and if untreated: death. The treatment of heatstroke is to lower body temperature by removing clothing, spray or sponge the skin with water, and apply air current. There is no reason to fear that children masturbating themselves qualifies as excessive exercise, and the treatment for overheating is fairly simple as just explained.

Healthy human skin contains sensory receptors that detect temperature, humidity and physical contact. Hairy parts of the skin contain different kinds of nerves compared to non-hairy parts. Some parts of the skin are extremely smooth (guess which parts) and can bear a lot of rubbing, while other parts of the skin have pronounced friction ridges (e.g. finger tips) and are vulnerable to irritation. When a child fondles herself she is more likely to feel irritation of her finger tips than irritation of her genitalia.

Children have a higher ratio of body fat to skin fat, so a child’s skin is leaner and more acutely sensitive or receptive to touch compared to an adult. Information that is perceived by the skin is interpreted by the brain to generate an appropriate response: approach, avoidance, or no response needed.

The interpretation of sensory data is often determined by genetic design and is automatic or reflexive rather than voluntary, but in some cases interpretation of sensory data is influenced by learning and experience. Negative attitudes toward interpersonal skin contact are cultivated early through shame training, while positive attitudes are cultivated early through baby massage, child massage and buddy massage.

There is some evidence that restrictive clothing (i.e. bras) increases the risk of breast cancer more than smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. Toxins produced by normal cell metabolism are normally carried away by the lymph system, so restrictive clothing (i.e. bras) may inhibit the effective flow of lymph, while regular breast massage may facilitate the removal of toxins from cells through the lymph system. The adolescent breast is higher in density than in adulthood, and so is particularly sensitive to restrictive bras – the most common cause of breast pain (mastalgia) in adolescents, in addition to the risk of future tumors.

The child’s body is amazing, but the child’s brain is even more amazing. By two years old the brain has reached 75% of its adult weight, and by age six the brain has reached 90% of its adult weight. This is amazing, considering that the six-year-old’s body is only about 40% of its adult weight. One of the reasons a child’s body looks out of proportion is because the child’s head is almost the size of an adult’s head, even though the rest of the child’s body is much smaller than an adult’s body. The development of the brain long precedes the development of the body.

There is some evidence that by age 11 nearly the same capacity for reasoning as a university student is achieved, and the brain’s capacity for processing information peaks at age 14. Some people in Western countries view teenagers as having a child’s brain in an adult body, but the reality is quite the opposite. We should view children as having a nearly adult brain in a child’s body.

It’s true that traditionally children have less information and experience than adults, but one reason is precisely because adults do their best to limit children’s access to information and experience. Keeping young people dependent on adults for “guidance” prolongs adult power and control.

It is known that during puberty increased production of the so-called “sex hormones” stimulate growth and development of the reproductive organs, but it is also commonly believed that the surge in those hormones at puberty creates sexual arousal and enables sexual function (erection and orgasm). There is good reason to believe that the latter belief is mistaken.

The development of secondary sexual characteristics during puberty (e.g. pubic hair) is a sign of reproductive maturity but is commonly confused as being more important than the pre-existing presence of primary sexual characteristics (presence of a functional penis or functional clitoris). The complex concept of sexual “maturity” will be considered in more detail in my next post.

About Frank Adamo

Author of the novel "Revolt of the Children," the eBook "Real Child Safety", a photo-documentary "Girl Becomes Woman," and a video for kids "Buddy Massage." I do not defend, promote or excuse any kind of abuse or exploitation. Become a part of the Foundation for Research and Education on Child Safety.
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