Friday, November 18, 2016

Tribal Psychology of Circumcision

Psychology of Tribe borrowed from=

The psychology of tribes as it is 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, who may not want to have his/her genitals cut.  This is what leads to infant male circumcision, and FGM of female children. You find parents and in-particular mothers from circumcision cultures handing over their male newborns to be cut, and their girl children to be cut, even when it goes against their  maternal instincts to protect their baby or child from harm..

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.  This makes it very difficult to go against group tribal identity rituals.

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. Eg Look at Pro-Circumcision Propaganda: Circumcision makes the tribal members more hygienic and clean; Circumcision looks better; Circumcision is better for sex; Circumcision is healthier.  When the tribal propaganda is Contrast  with the actual evidence that no medical organisation in the world recommends routine circumcision for the above reasons, 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, its left looking like just tribal mythology.
  2. The tribal shadow: other tribes are evil and inhuman.  Pro-Circumcision propaganda abounds with the demonization of the foreskin and the uncircumcised.  
  3. Group polarization Tribal identity gains dominance over that of an individual’s self identity in situations of tribal conflict and competition.   Pro-circumcision cultures emphasise the group and the continuance of the practice of circumcision, and when anti-curcumcision groups emphasise individual rights that it should be the individuals choice, the circ tribe says "no" it should be the parents choice.
  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. Look at Pro-Circumcision propaganda how it promotes circumcision as the normal healthy thing to do, and labels intactivists, as foreskin fetishists, evil people, and extremists.

The essay drew 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 difficult task ahead of us to convince those that believe circumcision is important to group identity.  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 to get there is to use education and informed discussion to educate. 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 for the brit shalom a non-cutting ceremony to admit membership to the jewish community.  So you dont have to cut to be a jew.
  • Identification with a group polarizes divisions between the group and a category of others who form the group’s enemies. WE need to be careful if we are to persuade 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.
  • 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 and their leaders, law-makers and politicians, to emphasise individual human rights over that of group cultural rights.

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, it is clearly not in the interests of the individuals in the modern world. For that reason it is essential that individuals become aware of this psychology and insist that politicians/medicos/law makers refrain from. We need to challenge the belief that Circumcision of babies and children male or female is important for the survival of any cultural group, and that instead it is a violation of the individual human rights of that individual.  The modern world needs to give pre-eminence to individual human rights particularly of children, and that they be protected from genital cutting practices.  If adults want to choose to have their own genitals cut, that is an individual choice they can make for themselves.

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