Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dr. Phil's Show on Breastfeeding

A couple of days ago Dr. Phil aired a show on breastfeeding that had another one of those appalling stories that leave any reasonable person angry and frustrated. Here is the way the show is described on the Dr.Phil website: "Kate, the mother of a 7-year-old, 5-year-old and 20-month-old is still breast-feeding ALL of her children. She tells Dr. Phil that she just can't say no when the kids ask to nurse."

When I see such things, I always want to ask the following questions:

1) Why isn't any one saying that this is child abuse, pure and simple?

2) How is what "Kate" says different from what any pedophile says (it's what the child wants, the child seduced me, the child needed it more than I do, I can't say no to a child who's asking for it)?

3) Where are the social services? Why doesn't any one care about the profound psychological damage this woman is inflicting on the poor children by shoving her breasts into the grown kids mouths?

4) What would happen if we saw images of a daddy putting parts of his body into his 7-year-old's mouth on television and claiming that "this is what she wants"?

5) Why should people be exposed to watching scenes of pedophilia like this one on daytime television? Hearing about it is bad enough but seeing the actual images literally turns your stomach.

6) Why is there such a permissive attitude towards pedophilia and child abuse in our society? Nobody cares about Michael Jackson confessing that he sleeps in the same bed with boys, nobody gives a damn that this woman abuses her children in front of millions of people. How is this all ok?


Rachel said...

Seriously? Child abuse and pedophilia? An ability to set boundaries and encourage her children to grow up and learn to cope with life's difficulties without breastfeeding, yes. If a child of that age (and when did a seven year old or five year old qualify as grown up) was sucking his thumb it wouldn't be a big deal. Just because these children don't substitute their thumbs for the breast for self-soothing doesn't make dirty. It's certainly socially unacceptable but that's not the same as abuse. You're sexualizing something that is not. The average age of weaning around the world is 4-5 years old, at least in places where they can see breasts as something more than sexual objects. "Kate" probably has some personal/emotional issues if she can't tell her children no and is willing to publicize something so socially unacceptable. That doesn't make breastfeeding child abuse and certainly not sexual abuse. My child is almost three and we'll be weaning soon but I can guarantee you that there is nothing sexual about it for either of us. It's familiar and soothing for him (like being rocked or given a hug) and it's tolerable for me.

Clarissa said...

I'm sorry, Rachel, but if you don't see the difference between a 7-year-old sucking on her own thumb and on another person's breast, then I don't know what I can do here. These are big children, who walk, talk and go to school. The idea that they should see a grown person's nipples and put them in their mouths is disgusting to me.

Saying that this is what the children want to do to soothe themselves and the mother just doesn't know how to say no is a fallacy, at the very least. These children seems perfectly socialized in every other way, which means that this mother must have said no to them on many different occasions. Why is she suddenly incapable of doing so here? My answer is because she doesn't want to say no. She enjoys it and just tells herself that this is what the children want.

Any child abuser believes that what s/he does iis for the benefit of the children.

Anonymous said...

This kate person sounds completely nuts. I don't know how anybody can support this lunacy.

Tom Carter said...

Clarissa, really.... It's a bit odd, at least in our society, for a mother to be breast-feeding a five-year-old and certainly a seven-year-old. But I don't think it's much worse than just "odd" and certainly doesn't constitute child abuse.

As for considering it equivalent to pedophilia, that's too much. And comparing breast-feeding to "a daddy putting parts of his body into his 7-year-old's mouth" is just not a valid comparison to breast-feeding, no matter the child's age.

Clarissa said...

"And comparing breast-feeding to "a daddy putting parts of his body into his 7-year-old's mouth" is just not a valid comparison to breast-feeding, no matter the child's age."

-Only if you manage to dissociate the female breast from its being a sexual organ.

Clarissa said...

For those who want to deny the obvious link between female breast and female sexuality:

"The areola and nipple contain Golgi-Mazzoni, Vater-Pacini and genital corpuscles. No Meissner's corpuscles and few organized nerve endings are present. There are concentrations of nerve tissue in the area of ducts and masses of smooth muscle. The hair surrounding the areola adds additional sensory tissue... Intense stimulation of a woman's nipples may result in a surge in the production of oxytocin and prolactin which could have a significant effect on her genitals."

"The nipples are supplied with many nerve endings that make them highly sensitive to sexual stimulation, while thin muscle fibers enable them to become erect during arousal. The stimulation of the nipple and areola may lead directly to orgasm"

Women's sexual function and dysfunction By Irwin Goldstein, Cindy M. Meston, Susan R. Davis, Abdulmaged Traish

Anonymous said...

I understand your points, but find your analogy of a man's actions vs this woman's a bit wanting. Whatever the reason for the continued breastfeeding, their is a natural reason for a mother and child to nurse- not present in a father/child relationship beyond the child's simple exploration of the world via the lips and the tongue (finger sucking, licking, biting toy sucking et cet). As such, it is much harder to call this child abuse per se, though it certainly may be. Is it wrong? I think so- given the children are raised in society and her actions lead to profound antisocial behaviors being established as norms in the young one's mind, the problems are obvious (this is abnormal behavior quite plainly, the sexual issues induced in the kids seem quite obvious as well). Is it inherently wrong? I don't know. Its certainly weird and creepy, and there's no way I'd let this happen with my kids, but what is the right age to stop breastfeeding? Seems much more nuanced than a typical discussion of abuse cases. (Obviously though you are correct- the woman is doing this for her not for her kids. Her 'excuses' are lame for the reasons you mention.)

Anyways, I agree with your confusion over the response to this behavior re: calling it abuse. Much less is readily identified as abusive, and I happen to think the fact that the potential abuser is a woman may be significant. For whatever reason, it does seem the case that people, especially men, are less willing to find women as possible perpetrators of sexual abuse. The reason is probably the same age-old myths of female sexuality that cause people to think female sex drives are fundamentally different in quantity or quality than those of male's, or that "good girls don't want/enjoy sex" except for her man's happiness, or any of the other silliness. For whatever reason, many people are uncomfortable with women having a sex drive or sexuality independent of their partners', and it seems this perspective leads to these failures of perception.

I enjoyed your post, thanks.

Sheila said...

Yes, nipple stimulation releases oxytocin and prolactin. The name "prolactin" means "for milk." Prolactin causes the body to produce milk. Oxytocin causes the body to let the milk down (as well as stimulating labor contractions and bonding emotions). This is a completely normal part of human physiology. Mothers and children have evolved to enjoy breastfeeding because it's something they need to do so that the children will be optimally nourished.

I'm not saying I would breastfeed till seven. I don't see how it's child abuse, though. A child who has been breastfed does not see the breast as remotely sexual, any more than a man's chest is. Most nursing mothers don't see that part as sexual, either.

If you think breastfeeding is a sex act, does that mean you are completely opposed to it altogether? If not, how do you justify the difference? At what moment does it stop being beneficial and start being child abuse? Don't say "when it stops having health benefits" because even adults receive health benefits from human milk. Much more so for children, whose brains are not fully formed for a long time.

MacKenzie J. Hamilton said...

Natural weaning happens somewhere between 2 1/2 and 7 years. Breastfeeding lowers the child's stress levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. If this were in another part of the world, it might be a difference between life and death. For example, two year olds in Bangladesh who are weaned have a 50% higher mortality rate when compared with two year olds who are still nursing. It's simply a healthy way to supplement an outside diet.

It's not a matter of a woman saying no; it's a matter of the child weaning themself when they are ready to do so. Their body will tell them when they no longer need the supplementation, and when their immune system is sufficiently built up; every body is different.

Also, please read the following:
"No, sexual abuse occurs when inappropriate touching takes place. Because the breast is not a sexual organ, breastfeeding a baby or child is not sexual abuse. In fact, this is a common misconception because many western societies place a sexual value on the breast. While the breast, male or female, may be used in sexual relations, there is nothing inherantly sexual about the breast. Biologically, it has nerve endings which are sensitive. These nerve endings help enhance the mother-infant bond by ensuring a good latch. The fact that there are other uses for the breast is not really germane to breastfeeding. An apt, if unpleasant, comparison is that most normal men do not derive sexual pleasure from urination, despite the fact that they are using a sexual organ. In fact, you may be surprised to know that statistically, breastfeeding mothers have been shown to sexually abuse their children less often. Experts say that the deepened bond between many mothers and their nurslings makes abuse less likely."

I don't believe it's your job to pass judgement on anyone else or their family; it is up to each mother and family to decide for themself when is the best time for them to wean. Breastfeeding does not = sexual abuse. You seem to misunderstand the fact that it is western culture that places so heavily the emphasis of the breast as a sexual organ, which further perpetrates sexism and misogyny in our society. Perhaps if breasts weren't so sexualized, there would be less inequality between the sexes.

Anonymous said...

Moms of all socio economic classes are breastfeeding their children and you will never see it because of people like you among society who question nature and instincts without educating themselves on a topic first. The only abuse is ignorance towards human nature.

A Natural Age of Weaning
by Katherine Dettwyler, PhD
Department of Anthropology,
Texas A and M University

Some of the results are as follows:

1. In a group of 21 species of non-human primates (monkeys and apes) studied by Holly Smith, she found that the offspring were weaned at the same time they were getting their first permanent molars. In humans, that would be: 5.5-6.0 years.

2. It has been common for pediatricians to claim that length of gestation is approximately equal to length of nursing in many species, suggesting a weaning age of 9 months for humans. However, this relationship turns out to be affected by how large the adult animals are -- the larger the adults, the longer the length of breastfeeding relative to gestation. For chimpanzees and gorillas, the two primates closest in size to humans and also the most closely genetically related, the relationship is 6 to 1. That is to say, they nurse their offspring for SIX times the length of gestation (actually 6.1 for chimps and 6.4 for gorillas, with humans mid-way in size between these two). In humans, that would be: 4.5 years of nursing (six times the 9 months of gestation).

3. It has been common for pediatricians to claim that most mammals wean their offspring when they have tripled their birth weight, suggesting a weaning age of 1 year in humans. Again though, this is affected by body weight, with larger mammals nursing their offspring until they have quadrupled their birth weight. In humans, quadrupling of birth weight occurs between 2.5 and 3.5 years, usually.

4. One study of primates showed that the offspring were weaned when they had reached about 1/3 their adult weight. This happens in humans at about 5-7 years.

5. A comparison of weaning age and sexual maturity in non-human primates suggests a weaning age of 6-7 for humans (about half-way to reproductive maturity).

6. Studies have shown that a child's immune system doesn't completely mature until about 6 years of age, and it is well established that breast milk helps develop the immune system and augment it with maternal antibodies as long as breast milk is produced (up to two years, no studies have been done on breast milk composition after two years post partum).

And on and on. The minimum predicted age for a natural age of weaning in humans is 2.5 years, with a maximum of 7.0 years.

In terms of the benefits of extended breastfeeding, there have been a number of studies comparing breastfed and bottlefed babies in terms of the frequency of various diseases, and also IQ achievement. In every case, the breastfed babies had lower risk of disease and higher IQs than the bottle-fed babies. In those studies that divided breastfed babies into categories based on length of breastfeeding, the babies breastfed the longest did better in terms of both lower disease and higher IQ.

Clarissa said...

First of all, Texas A & M is not a real university. It's a total joke among the academic community. So please, don't bring here books written by the so-called scholars from that stupid place.

Second, yeah, monkeys don't condemn incest and pedophilia in their monkey communities. So what? Humnas should stop condemnning them either? Because they are "natural"?

Jeez, what wouldn't some pedophiles come up with to support and promote pedophilia.

Anonymous said...

You are brainwashed by a society that says that breasts should be hidden and are sexual. As many people have already stated, it is actually unhealthy to stop breast feeding until the baby is between the ages of four and seven.

I don't know if you feel guilty because you didn't breastfeed your children, or if you just have problems with your sexual identity. You shouldn't take your problems out on people trying to do the best for their children.

Also, after being presented with facts. You need to be mature and admit that you are wrong and apologize to the women for calling them names.

I'm sorry that you are having problems in your life, but that is not excuse to ruin other people's lives. Nor try to make other people feel bad about themselves and how they run their lives.

I was researching milk, because my daughter is autistic and isn't supposed to have it. I found out that babies are never lactose intolerant. They actually are intolerant to casein, which is not in human milk, but is in cow's milk.

Humans have lactose in their milk. People from birth, until they are about seven or eight produce a enzyme that digests lactose. But around that age it slowly disappears from our bodies. (Except a vast majority of North America, because we have a genetic defect that we never lose this enzyme.)

So people that are lactose intolerant, never become lactose intolerant until they are around the age of seven or eight. Because you are supposed to drink your mother's milk, until you are about that age.

Breastfeeding isn't sexual in any way or form. I would compare it to my husband putting his finger in our child's mouth. Which has to happen every once in a while. At seven if my child felt like chewing my finger. I wouldn't think anything about it. (Other than, why my finger when they have ten of their own?)

Fingers are used in sex too, but that doesn't make them sexual. I personally have never allowed my breast to be touched during sex. I don't like it. Yet I've had a health and productive sex life with my breasts kept safely behind my bra.

What are you going to say when they finally come out with research that says the reason we are all dying from cancer is because we quit breast feeding our children, until they are five to seven years old?

Clarissa said...

No wonder that such a disgusting pedophile drove her miserable, abused daughter to autism

I just wonder why these freakazoids flock to my blog instead of crawling back to the holes they came from.

MacKenzie J. Hamilton said...

Clarissa, you are clearly ridiculous and uneducated about health. One cannot "drive" a person to Autism any more than one can drive a person to cancer.

Perhaps you're hiding your own pedophilic tendencies on breastfeeding because
A) you weren't breastfed
B) you chose not to breastfeed
C) you are brainwashed by the media and pop culture to believe that formula and bottlefeeding is natural.

Either way, you are an extremely disrespectful person and your argument is certainly not enhanced by attacking people who give you facts.

Clarissa said...

I hope, MacKenzie, that you manage to find an adult who'd be interest in your nipples and would tend to them which will finally make it unnecessary to persecute grown children and try to stuff your unwanted breasts into their mouths. Good luck with finding a sex partner already!

Please don't try to educate autistics on autism. You know how to drive a person to autism and I know what it means to live with autism.