Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Circumcision

Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Circumcision

Article excerpt

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision. (2002). New York: Warner Books. 299 pages. ISBN 0-446-67880-5

Several decades ago, Sheila Curran, R.N., and I founded the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC), of which I am currently the director. In our efforts to educate the public on the facts about circumcision, I learned early on several important lessons: first, generally speaking, no one wants to hear bad news; second, no parent wants to be told that he or she has done something wrong to their child; third, no circumcised adult male wants to be told that the size and sensitivity of his penis has been diminished by genital alteration. The overwhelming conclusion of the scientifically valid and unbiased medical literature investigating the effects of circumcision, however, clearly demonstrates that circumcision is a harmful practice that should be stopped.

Finding the best way to present information to parents without frightening them into psychological denial has always been challenging. Since the goal is to protect babies from harm, it is imperative that we discover new ways to encourage parents to become advocates for their children, even if it requires them to examine critically and to question underlying myths that induce decent people to permit indecent procedures to be performed upon their precious and helpless infants.

Renowned Los Angeles pediatrician Paul M. Fleiss and medical historian Frederick M. Hodges have teamed up to write a book that I believe achieves exactly the right tone for presenting parents with facts needed to protect babies from circumcision. Impressively organized and lavishly supported by references from the scientific literature, Fleiss and Hodges guide the reader through the historical, religious, anatomical, physiological, medical, surgical, psychological, legal, ethical, and moral dimensions of circumcision.

Of special interest to readers of this journal, Fleiss and Hodges discuss the vast scientific literature on immediate and long-term psychological effects of neonatal circumcision, which is as thorough and concise as it is persuasive. Study after study has shown that circumcision is a devastating and traumatic experience for babies. The physical and neurological shock turns out to be far more severe than we have been led to believe. In addition to interfering with maternal/infant bonding and destroying normal sleep cycles, the trauma of circumcision causes some babies to lapse into a coma. …

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