SIDS, PTSD and the Limits of Science.

The one thing I missed about quitting my blog and stopping my diet was that I stopped doing research and reading other blogs to provoke and stimulate my mind. Now I admit most of my research was on obesity but you just can’t avoid stumbling on stuff that aggravates you when you’re doing research.

Any mother will tell of the anxiety they had over Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). When our first child slept thought the night the first time, my wife paced the room all night long worrying that her baby had died because she failed to keep him sleeping on his back. At the time, SIDS was blamed on neglect, abuse, unwanted children, poverty and other ugly reasons. New research shows that the cause is probably a birth defect which can be tested for and hopefully cured. So what if we had a few generations of guilt ridden mothers who thought they had abused or neglected their children while scientists were looking for the true cause. This is probably the price you have to pay for scientific progress.

I just love the most recent work on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Seems some genius studied ghetto kids and kids from the suburbs and related PTSD to IQ. The higher the IQ the better the ability to handle stress. Christ this is really blaming the victim – If you can’t cope with stress you must be dumb.

Scientific American: High IQs May Help Thwart Post-Traumatic Stress

The problem is – from my own personal experience – it just isn’t true. My wife and I have similar IQ’s as do our two very successful children. All of us have different levels of verbal and analytical skills and various responses to stress.
We were all exposed to a Force 4 hurricane that spun off tornadoes with gusts up to 200 miles per hour for over 20 hours. When we came out the next day, five of six adjacent houses were gone and the other half of our duplex was gone. The next week had pandemic community wide looting and a sense of lawlessness prevailed. Power was out for six weeks and the phone and television were down for six months. I got dengue.

My son reveled in exploring the brave new world he was facing. He bartered food for the family, rode his bike to observe all the chaos he could and the only negative effect was he partied hearty. My daughter made it past the storm but when everyone started screaming about whether people should steal or starve, she asked to go to the States to live with her uncle. Today she still makes rapid decisions and still has a temper.

Since that decision to flee when she was 10, she has become aggressive and is more likely to fight than flee. Now when it comes to my wife, it’s an entirely different story. She shuts down and goes catatonic. After we lost our roof in a next hurricane and all the family possessions were damaged and wet she refused to return to the house and pick through the rubble to salvage anything including her wedding gown. I went to work and saved whatever I could, including the wedding gown, which I cleaned and sent for preservation and our daughter was married in it.

Now I assert that all this has nothing to do with brains or analytical power but with nurturing. My wife is the most sensitive to stress and just doesn’t like it. Maybe her high IQ is suggesting that in the choice between fight and flight, its time to leave. There is nothing wrong with her brain and she realizes that her solution may be impracticable but avoiding conflict and stress will always be her first choice.

I might suggest that the nurturing aspect came when her father died at age 12 and her mother faced the task of working and raising two kids alone. There wasn’t much time or energy to be soft and cuddly and nurture her daughters. In my case, my mom was always there in a soft and cuddly way to protect her brood. My wife and I were there for our two children and they can handle stress.

Now with apples being not to far from apple trees, and regression towards the norm and all that – lower IQ kids are probably the product of lower IQ parents who are struggling for survival and just don’t understand the need or have the time to nurture their kids. Ergo, PTSD is more likely to be a product of family environment and the ability to nurture than simply IQ.

Now this may not seem like an earth shattering revelation, but instead of treating our mentally scarred troops as being sub-human retards like John Kerry suggested, we should recognize that stress disorders are real and have their origins in unresolved suffering that may predate the military experience.

2 Responses to “SIDS, PTSD and the Limits of Science.”

  1. Norma Says:

    Not so fast. I’ve been watching this for almost 45 years, and they still don’t know the cause of SIDS. These latest serotonin research is just that–and it still leaves a lot of questions. I blogged about the JAMA article.

  2. fatsavage Says:

    Norma, see my next post, Hope this clears my position up.


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