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Childhood trauma and its consequences
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:10 pm 
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The True Impact of Violence On Childhood? Why Every American Ought To See The Paintings Of Gottfried Helnwein.

By: Jonathon Keats (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathonkea ... -helnwein/)

Two days after the Sandy Hook school massacre, a survival gear company called Black Dragon Tactical composed a new slogan to promote sales of armored backpack inserts. “Arm the teachers,” the company declared on Facebook. “In the meantime, bulletproof the kids.” While few people have been so blunt, it was a typically American reaction, essentially a reprise of our response to 9/11: Prevent future bloodshed by bolstering firepower and hardening targets. There are myriad reasons, widely discussed, why neither of these strategies is likely to save kids’ lives. Yet a deeper question often goes unaddressed: Are our efforts to protect children killing off childhood?

The question may be political, but the keenest response is to be found in a museum in Mexico City, the Museo Nacional de San Carlos, at a retrospective of paintings and photographs by the Austrian-American artist Gottfried Helnwein. Helnwein’s extraordinary work depicts the fragile innocence of children. Devoid of grown-up sentimentalism, his images can be overwhelming, especially those that show how that innocence falters in an adult world.

Helnwein censors nothing. Many of his early pictures, painted in Vienna when Holocaust denial was common, show children maimed by Nazi doctors, inexplicably bandaged or bleeding. His recent works are even more harrowing, capturing the psychological violence permeating our own age. For instance, in the 2007 painting Untitled (The Disasters of War 24), a boy turns a gun on a manga girl. His face is wrapped with bandages, obscuring his eyes, yet the cock of his head and the turn of his mouth evoke burgeoning cynicism. Victimhood has made the boy turn on his imagination. His powerlessness against his tormentors, whoever they are, has driven him to inflict revenge on the only figure over whom he has power, this imaginary companion who will vanish as he pulls the trigger.

What is so horrifying about Helnwein’s painting is that the innocence of this boy – the source of the child’s innermost invincibility – appears to have been irreparably ruptured. The implication is unavoidable, and reverberates through much of Helnwein’s recent work: Our contemporary culture of violence, and the attendant efforts to protect lives by force, victimizes children from within.

While children can endure this environment, their childhood cannot. Like innocence itself, the transition is invisible. In Helnwein’s masterful artwork, we perceive the loss.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:08 pm 
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A couple of months ago I visited the Time Magazine website and found two articles against corporal punishment in schools and a third article which questioned whether physical discipline by parents is justifiable.... all three on the same day! So even in the USA attitudes beyond the Bible Belt are changing. The Forbes article is a sign that the Walls of Silence are breaking down. It's a business and finance journal, not a liberal social commentary magazine.

Last week a leading British newspaper published two articles about European child sex abuse scandals....

The Jimmy Savile Scandal:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/ja ... -hospitals

The Klaus Kinski Scandal:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/ja ... inski-rape

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:44 am 
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I think Jared Diamond has been mention on the forum before. His new book - "The World Until Yesterday" - is recently published. In the same edition of the Guardian newspaper as the Jimmy Savile Report he outlined what traditional societies can teach us about child discipline.

Image

He begins by asking: "Should one discipline one's children by smacking them?" We could settle it by a controlled manipulative experiment, but it would be impractical, illegal, and immoral.

Jared Diamond wrote:
But a similar experiment has already been performed thousands of times, although not under such well-designed conditions. There are big differences in child-rearing practices among the world's thousands of human societies - especially among its traditional, small-scale tribal societies.
....
Some are more opposed to smacking their children, others are more committed to smacking than any westernised society. Traditional societies furnish natural experiments in child-rearing that have been running for millennia. By comparing the results of these natural experiments, we learn the effects of alternative child-rearing schemes that we would never test today by a manipulative experiment.

For example, in Africa, if one Aka pygmy parent hits an infant, the other parent views that as grounds for divorce. How do the children turn out?

Jared Diamond wrote:
Many scientists have recorded their observations. I've also heard the views of many children of western parents who grew up in Africa or New Guinea (eg missionaries' children) and then returned to Europe or the US as teenagers. From both the scientists and the western children, I hear similar observations. Infants in traditional societies spend less time crying than do western infants. Traditional children's development of social skills is precocious by our standards. The words "curious", "self-confident", "emotionally secure", "creative", and "imaginative" keep cropping up in western accounts of traditional people. Compared to us, they spend far more time talking to and playing with each other face-to-face, far less time being passively "entertained" by watching something...

The whole article:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... t-smacking
Let's hope his new book becomes another bestseller.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:51 am 
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Seems indeed like a very interesting book! To make another comment on the Klaus Kinski scandal, that I copy from the wikipedia article:
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Kinski's daughter Pola published an autobiography in which she stated that he repeatedly molested and abused her from the age of 5 until 19. She said "He saw me as his little sex object on a silk pillow. I didn't want to do it, but he didn't care. He just took whatever he wanted." and "I want everyone to know the truth about my father because I am sick and tired of people in Germany glorifying him. Everywhere I hear 'He was such a great actor' and 'I loved him in so-and-so movie'. The adulation only got worse after his death."

Kinski's younger daughter, actress Nastassja Kinski, who is Pola's half-sister, was questioned about the matter in an interview published in the January 13, 2013, online issue of the German tabloid Bild. She confirmed that he tried with her, but did not actually succeed. She stated: "He was no father. 99 percent of the time I was terrified of him. He was so unpredictable that the family lived in constant terror." When asked what she would say to him now, if she had the chance, she replied: "I would do anything to put him behind bars for life. I am glad he is no longer alive."


You have to understand that in Germany, Klaus Kinski had a status like Marlon Brando in the US. What I found interesting that this time, I haven't read any ridicule towards the victims, no one seemed to have the need to blame his daughters for lies. Instead I'm reading how courageous Pola must be to confess this.

Thanks for all the interesting links, Bernard!


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