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Facts about Circumcision
Circumcision started out around 3000BC when it was performed in ancient Egypt as a mark of slavery and as a religious rite. Aside from Jews and Muslims, however, people considered circumcision to be a repugnant form of genital mutilation and the Greeks and Romans outlawed circumcision. Circumcision was not commonly practiced in America until the Cold War years when technology, medicine and big business came together in the interest of institutionalized birthing.
in 1870, Dr Lewis Sayre, known as ‘the Columbus of the prepuce”, conducted several bizarre experiments and drew a correlation between the foreskin and a vast range of ailments that included gout, asthma, hernias, epilepsy, rheumatism, curvature of the spine, tuberculosis and elephantiasis. This led to the ubiquitous and systematic removal of the foreskin in America. The practice of circumcision became more deeply entrenched through the strident belief that masturbation, thought to be the cause of ailments as diverse as bed-wetting to mental retardation and insanity, could be cured with circumcision.
Dr John Harvey Kellog, a well-known fundamentalist health reformer and journalist, and also founder of the corn flake, was more direct. “A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision,” he wrote in “Secret Vice: Solitary or Self Abuse, a chapter from Plain Facts for Old and Young, 1888. “The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if connected with the idea of punishment.” His views were shared by prominent practitioners of the time who touted masturbation as the foundation for paralysis, consumption and heart disease, and advocated for circumcision as the cure for all these maladies.
Circumcision was also tied to sociocultural changes during the waves of immigration that flooded American cities. It became the mark of social class that distinguished gentrified real Americans from the insalubrious immigrants at a time when cleanliness was synonymous with godliness.
It became so accepted as the norm that standard medical textbooks in the 1900s depicted the normal penis without its foreskin.
It became so entrenched a practice that if parents did not circumcise their newborn sons, they were considered almost criminally negligent if not freakishly non-conformist. People had forgotten that circumcision was based not on any supreme medical imperative, but on the fantastically phobic mores of a Victorian society and the medical establishment did little to clear the smoke on what had become a profitable business.
During the 70s, Frederick Leboyer, an obstetrician and natural birthing pioneer, after extensive studies, discredited long standing medical claims and enforced lawsuits that forced hospitals to obtain parental consent before circumcising, and caused Americans (and Jews all over the world) to question circumcision.
By 1975, The The American Academy of Pediatrics reversed its pro-circumcision stance by stating ‘There is no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision of the newborn.” In 1984, the AAP published ‘Care of the Uncircumcised Penis”, which clearly supports the intact penis by stating ”The foreskin protects the glans throughout life”.
Function of The Foreskin
What is the purpose of the foreskin and why did nature deem it fit for every human male to be born with one? The foreskin is a protective sheath that encloses the head of the penis, the glans. It is the most sensitive part of the male anatomy, containing thousands of highly sensitive sensory receptors called Meissner corpuscles which are more abundant there than in any other part of the penis. The foreskin, in a newborn, is sealed to the glans in a tenacious, steadfast grip and only lends itself to retraction slowly over a period of years. Richly endowed with a profusion of blood vessels, it also has a ridged band or peripenic muscles that protects the urinary tract from contaminants, and an undersurface lined with mucocutaneous tissue found nowhere else on the body. This tissue contains ectopic glands that produce natural emollients and anti-
bacterial proteins similar to those found in mother’s milk. The foreskin not only protects the glans, with its framer ridges and its thousands of nerve endings, but it also is responsible for up to one third of the penis’ sexual perceptivity. The penis is meant to be essentially an internal organ but with circumcision, it becomes irrevocably an external one, and its skin becomes keratinized. With circumcision, three feet of veins, arteries and capillaries, 240 feet of nerves, and more than 20,000 nerve endings are destroyed, so are all the muscles, glands, epithelial tissue and sexual sensitivity associated with the foreskin.
The Effects of Circumcision
Circumcision has some extremely far reaching side effects that span the physical, psycho-emotional and neurobiological. There is no escaping the fact that circumcision is deeply traumatic, and has consequences that are more far-reaching than ordinarily considered. The newborn is strapped down and held down firmly, a device called a Gomco Clamp, invented by Dr Hiram Yellen, is used to stretch the prepuce and separate it from the glans by crushing it, and holding it against a cone. Pressure is applied for 5 minutes, (longer for older boys) to induce hemostasis, after which the excess prepuce is cut off with a sharp knife. The use of anesthesia is not mandatory, in some cases it is used, in some not on the basis that newborns do not feel pain.
No matter what the logic applied, pain is undoubtedly felt, as the sensitivity of newborns to all forms of light, pain, sound and feeling, is in fact, greatly heightened. This trauma affects the neurobiological receptors in the brain and permanently affects the way the child perceives and thinks. The extreme pain in the most tender and sensitive part of the body creates a disassociation. A trauma response is recorded by the memory centers and filed away. The brain promptly goes into healing mode and represses the memory, as it does with most painful stimuli.
The newborn has the expectation of being loved, nurtured and protected by his primary caregivers and when that trust is irrevocably broken, the newborn withdraws into a protective field, unable to bond or trust his mother and father. This affects all his other relationships henceforth, and also affects his ability to feel safe in the world. There is a massive disconnect between the heart, the genitals and the intellect. It creates the syndrome of the “intellectual male”, who prizes logic, rationality and linear forms of thinking and discounts intuition, psychic abilities and other gifts of the right brain. As an adult male, he has a tendency to resort to pornography because it enables him to stimulate his genitals and allow for biological release, while not requiring an emotional connection with his partner.
The adult male, upon sexual intercourse, will receive stimulation of the scar tissue, and have his core wound stimulated. Often inexplicable emotions will come up, leaving the feeling of restlessness, unexpressed anger and a feeling of disconnect, from himself and his partner. All this goes on, most often non-verbally, without any clear understanding of what truly is occurring. The adult male’s partner often feels this disconnect as an inability to bond or nest, or sometimes as an emotional or spiritual withdrawal.
The adult male is eager to experience connection with his genitals and heart, and is greatly disappointed in his inability to do so, often blaming his partner, and moving from partner to partner in an effort to experience closeness. This can also explain many adult males’ inability to commit.
Ramifications of a Circumcision Culture
Circumcision Culture refers to a culture where the idea of circumcision is touted as the norm, defended against, protected at all costs and forwards its cause to the next generation based on false information and purported benefits of religion, hygiene and/or aesthetics. Circumcised men, subconsciously realize the deep trauma inflicted upon them and wish to ensure that their offspring’s penises look and feel the same. Doctors feel the need to defend this practice, because they themselves have been circumcised and tout it also through the need to adhere to the party line. There is a cultural numbness to the pain and trauma inflicted upon the newborn and an almost apathetic resignation or acceptance of the practice. It presents itself as massive dissociation in the context of circumcised men glorifying the aesthetics of their circumcision, touting it as cleaner, more hygienic than an intact penis. In a circumcision culture, the education on the proper care of an intact penis is almost nonexistent. Through proper education on the care of the immature foreskin, resultant infections that arise from prematurely retracting the foreskin can be prevented. In the condition of phimosis, treatments may include: gentle daily manual retraction, topical corticosteroid ointment application or circumcision.
When violence is done to a child, in whatever form, the child often grows up wanting to retaliate and commit violence towards society, peers and close ones. The circumcised male often has stores of unexplained rage, which either stays repressed or finds it way out in the form of aggression, domestic violence, and in more severe cases, sexual abuse, rape and sociopathic behavior.
Much can be done to help. Meditation, Breath-work, Energy Healing, Regression Therapy and regular psychotherapy can all help in alleviating the trauma caused by circumcision. Circumcision Healing, a specific modality put together by the author, combines regression work, release work, ancestral healing and more to address the trauma and relationship dysfunction around circumcision. The key lies in proper education and the eradication of misinformation, and to a greater degree the motivational purification of the medical establishment back to the basics of ‘And First, Do No Harm’. The understandable and indisputable furore around female genital mutilation in other countries needs to replace the absolute acceptance of male genital mutilation in this country. The apparent double standard needs to be questioned for future generations in the natural care of the foreskin and in cultivating a culture of intactivism.
Master Healer, Founder of Circumcision Healing