olsso022: November 2011 Archives

Beth, the "Child of Rage"

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I came across this documentary while I was searching for interesting videos on contact comfort. The videos below do not describe contact comfort, but something I find much more interesting, if not disturbing. The documentary is about a child named Beth who was abused at the age of one (and most likely deprived and abused before that as well). She was adopted into a family along with her brother and they were both described to the family as "normal and healthy." Unfortunately, the family was in for a nightmare.

This case brings up several different topics we have encountered so far in class, but I want to focus on the developmental myths: infant determinism and childhood fragility. For an average person viewing these videos it's extremely easy to say that very early experiences in a child's life are almost always more influential than later experiences in shaping us as adults and that children are delicate little creatures who are easily damaged. It's cases like this that make people believe these myths. However, if you watch all three videos until the end and look for follow-up information you will see that through intensive therapy, Beth has become a "normal" woman. The little girl who at first showed no remorse in her face or voice in the first couple videos finally learned what was right or wrong and at the very end, she was crying. This is not to say she was undamaged by the abuse; clearly she was, but this gives support that these effects can be lessened by intensive therapy and later experiences.

In chapter 11, the topic of nonverbal cues comes up. Whether we realize it or not, we use nonverbal cues such as vocal inflections, hand gestures, body language, and facial expressions. Talking face-to-face allows for all of these cues to occur, but now more than ever we are relying on technology to communicate with others. Talking on the phone still allows for vocal inflections and change in tone, but takes away hand gestures and body language (although if you watch someone talking on the phone more often than not they still use these cues even though the person on the other line can't see them). However it has become far more common to send someone a text or email than to call them or talk to them face-to-face. Both of these forms of communication do not allow for anything besides words. No nonverbal clues whatsoever besides a few "emoticons" which are sometimes hard to decipher. I would be willing to bet that the majority of students in class have had a situation where they sent somebody a text message and got a completely unexpected response due to misunderstanding. It is extremely hard to interpret emotion through texting and email. Among the hardest to understand are sarcasm and sincerity. It is far too easy for a simple conversation to turn into an argument if someone takes sarcasm the wrong way. It's also far too easy for someone to pretend they are perfectly happy when they really are upset or angry. This article shows why this is a problem among youth are having increasing trouble reading these nonverbal clues in everyday life.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by olsso022 in November 2011.

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