What Can We Do With Sinners And Losers?

Every sin is an attempt to fly from emptiness.
Simone Weil, French philosopher, mystic, activist (1909-1943)

I have never met a person who, as a child, wanted to grow up to be a criminal, a drug addict, a gulper of prescribed drugs, a divorcée, a workaholic, a gambling addict, an alcoholic or a wife beater. Nor have I ever heard or read of one.

Yet somehow so many of us grow into these roles in life.

Are we a society of losers?

A recovered alcoholic, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, considers himself a lifelong addict. Does that mean we should consider him a lifelong loser and treat him as a social pariah, as human detritus?

If not, then how should we think of and treat such people? How, indeed, should we think of and treat those who still “suffer” daily with their affliction? Is it even possible to have our governments provide sufficient assistance to help a significant number of them recover? Many people believe it’s not possible.

The subject of helping people to recover from their life problems is so enormous that most of us prefer to not think about it. “It would just cost us more taxes.” Of course those people don’t realize how much of their taxes already go into dealing with the social problems these people create, including the cost of health insurance and maintaining prisons and rehab facilities for them. Some estimate that figure as high as half our taxes today.

We don’t want to face up to the fact that society has failed them. Especially because we have no clue about how we could have failed them. Fair enough. Let’s worry about what we can fix.

Now return to my first sentence. We, as parents, as teachers, as relatives and neighbours, grow our own children from scratch. They learn what we teach them.

They learn what we teach them. They learn what we teach them. So let’s teach them what they need before they need it. Before they break.

Too many of us believe that children should be kept in innocence for as long as possible. Such people are wrong and dangerous to society. The whole purpose of childhood is to learn how to cope with the rigors of adulthood. Not to turn childhood innocence into adult ignorance. A child that doesn’t learn as early as possible about the pitfalls as problems of adults is doomed to fall victim to them and not have any defences at the ready.

We have long established traditions for teaching children what they need to know. One is called schools. The other is called parents. If that sounds patronizing, remember that these are the primary sources of education for children, all children. In a Canadian study of teens a few years ago, 89 percent of them claimed that most of what they learned about life came directly from their parents.

In general, schools are not allowed to teach what kids need so that they can cope with the rigors of the adult world they are growing into. Schools are directed, by curriculum and policy, to teach what kids will need to be employable, to be good employees. However, schools suffer from the lack of need satisfaction in the teens they teach through discipline problems. Students who can cope with their problems suffer from loss of classroom time when the troubled kids act out.

Most young parents know little or nothing more than what they learned about parenting from their own parents. Which is grossly insufficient. Which dooms their children to develop the kinds of problems mentioned at the start of this article.

New parents whose goal is to be better parents than their own parents were to them are lucky. They know they need to do something different. Unfortunately, they don’t know what to do. They know what they want to be different for their kids, but not necessarily how to achieve it. They have no easily accessible source for that information.

Western societies are extremely lucky that they don’t have more social problems than they do. They must be doing something right. After all, western societies have few problems with terrorism, war and other forms of rampant violence found in other parts of the world, parts that claim that parents do know what they should be teaching their children. Maybe not.

No matter where in the world you look, social problems abound.

Does that mean that social problems are unavoidable? No. It means that, in general, people in all parts of the world have no clear idea what to teach their children to help them cope with life in the 21st century.

Sadly, the last time our ancestors did have a good idea about what to teach their children to help them to cope with life, they all lived in tribes. In tribes, the social norm is that every adult bears some responsibility for teaching every child. As little changed from one year to the next, from one decade to the next, knowing what to teach children was adopted as social policy for the tribe. Everyone taught children the same things. Every child got the same message.

We don’t do that today. If anything, parents go out of their way to make sure their kids don’t grow up like other kids. That’s a social norm. Everyone should be different, we believe.

Yet everyone is the same in many ways. We all have the same needs, for example, with few exceptions.

Schools address the needs of employers. Parents address the needs of their children so long as they know what those needs are. However, so many of the needs of children are unknown mysteries to many parents. Most parents learn parenting “on the job.”

Many parents don’t teach their children about drugs for fear that the kids will “experiment” with drugs. By the time the parents decide to teach the kids about drugs, the kids have already learned about drugs on the street, in the schoolyard, in the parks, virtually everywhere they go. Some kids already take drugs by the time their parents decide it’s time to teach them about drugs.

How’s that for timing, for knowing what kids need and when?

Why would a child, an adolescent, an adult need to turn to drugs? Simone Weil said it’s an attempt to fly from emptiness. What’s empty?

Better to say that human needs have gone unfulfilled. The need for fulfillment of needs is what is empty.

Does that sound like psychobabble? That’s what many people would say, people who don’t know what children need at all, let alone when they should learn stuff that will fulfill their needs. Ignorant people often have strong opinions against evidence that they are ignorant.

It’s true that children are not small adults and should not be treated that way. If they were, we would have to punish them for offences they didn’t know were offences. For misdeeds they did because they didn’t have the words to explain to their parents and teachers what they needed. For bad stuff they did out of frustration because they needed something they couldn’t talk about, but adults didn’t know either so they ignored the needs of the children, thinking they were just misbehaving. Yet that is what most punishment of children is about.

A child needs to know how to deal with every social situation he experiences. We know that for adults, so we provide ways to teach them social skills, sort of. Few children receive any significant amount of instruction about social skills. They learn the hard way, by making mistakes. Or by watching what happens when other kids make mistakes.

But that is teaching what not to do in social situations, not what to do proactively, before the information is needed. We need to teach social skills to children, to address their social development when they need it most. They need the skills before they need to put the skills into practice. In teaching skills to children, especially social and emotional skills, timing is critical.

We also need to address their emotional development. Huh? Why do so many adults experience heartbreak when a relationship with a mate who is incompatible with them breaks up? Why do more than half the couples who marry get divorced later? That number should be even greater except that many couples today skip the wedding part and simply live together until they separate later because one of them “failed” the other or they “grew apart.”

Understanding emotional skills and knowledge is part of what we need to get along well with others. As a social species, we need to have social interactions with others. In most activities people do–either personal or work related–they need to interact with others.

Socially and emotionally well adapted and developed children and adolescents become socially and emotionally well adapted and developed adults. Moreover, socially and emotionally successful adults are not only well liked and appreciated, they do a great deal to help others in their families, their communities and their countries. They gain great public respect because they do things they seem to understand–almost intuitively–are right. Nobel Peace Prize winners, for an example.

Teaching to the social and emotional needs of children and adolescents is not hard. We simply have not put into place the mechanisms for doing it. The needs themselves are not secrets, they’re public information. Unfortunately, most of that information is contained in psychologists who specialize in fixing broken people rather than in teaching everyone before they break. And in sociologists who manipulate us by advertising, religion and politics because we don’t want to listen to what they know otherwise.

While we long for innocence, what we get is ignorance. There is nothing pretty or beneficial about ignorance.

We have schools, but we use them almost exclusively to train children to be successful employees, not successful adults. The change would be easy and cheap, but someone has to make the first move in every community.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow socially and emotionally well developed and balanced children, not just intellectually well developed employees.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

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ADHD: You or Someone You Love Could Have It and Not Know It

ADHD: You or Someone You Love Could Have It and Not Know It

My sister had Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) all her life and took it to her grave. I might have had it, but a strange trick of fate at birth caused me to have its opposite. A nephew had all the indicators for ADHD when he was a baby, but his mother sidetracked him from it and he may grow to be a genius as a result.

Before going further, we must establish a few ground rules about discussing ADHD. First, nothing about the human brain is well understood. Nothing about it can be diagnosed and cured or changed easily. Nobody is an expert on the human brain and no one should be believed because he or she claims to have such expertise. We should listen to all points of view before making decisions. This article makes no claims to perfection, it seeks to present a different point of view about a seemingly intractable problem.

However, if we look at ADHD from a different point of view, we may find that it’s not the problem that is intractable but our approach that doesn’t allow us to see the problem for what it really is.

Nothing about the human brain is cast in stone in terms of being inevitable or unchangeable. Medical hypotheses about the brain have almost always turned out to be wrong. They changed, they evolved, but they were wrong at first. Even now, after extensive research having been conducted for several decades, no one can say anything about the human brain with absolute certainty.

It’s easier to prove the existence of God and the non-existence of good science than it is to make definitive and irrefutable statements about the human brain. I have done both–at least to my own satisfaction–yet the brain continues to mystify me and the “expert” statements about it stagger my imagination. Some, I am convinced are just plain wrong.

How, then, do I dare to write an article about one of the great brain mysteries of our time, ADHD? Because when we look at the situation from a non-conventional perspective–one we should be using but don’t–ADHD is not a brain problem but a problem of social inadequacy. And, if I may be so candid, social ignorance.

ADHD may indeed be shown to be different from other brain conditions in the sense that those who suffer from it may have brain structure that differs slightly from that of those who don’t have ADHD. And ADHD may be shown to have family connections. But it may begin with an inadequate start at intellectual development of a child, not with a physiological difference. In adequate intellectual develop and opportunities for young children may very well run in families without a genetic connection.

Parents who do not know or understand the intellectual needs of a very young child, who may not therefore address the child’s early intellectual development, may pass these inadequate parenting skills along to their own children. Most young parents learn most of what they know about parenting from their experiences with their own parents. “I lived through it, so I can do it myself.”

Named for its symptoms rather than its discoverer (Alzheimer, Hodgkin) or its genetic markers (H5N1, H1N1), ADHD is a collection of behaviours by which its sufferers are identified. Wikipedia describes ADHD as a “neurobehavioral developmental disorder,” which is psychobabble for what it further describes as “persistent pattern of inattention or hyperactivity—impulsivity that is more frequently displayed and more severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development.” More psychobabble.

What does it mean?

A child who is punished for demonstrating socially inappropriate behaviour in a social setting may become outraged at the thought of being punished for something he believes is not his fault. When a child is “out of control,” it should be taken as a sign that the parent has no idea what the child needs rather than that the child is “just plain bad.” Punishing an out of control child is like punishing a slave for his master’s failures. Abolishing slavery didn’t make abuse go away and punishing either parent or child will not end the problem. Especially when neither parent nor child understands what the problem is.

Most parents teach their children to behave in social settings. Training children about how to behave in public so that they do not stand out as abnormal is part of what every parent tries to accomplish with their children. It’s called socialization. Parents and teachers of children “with” ADHD usually fail. As so many adults fail in these efforts, child development specialists name the child as having an affliction, with a name, because blaming so many parents and teachers for failing to teach their children would bring wrath upon the specialists.

Social scientists and practitioners know that to blame a parent for something the parent knew nothing about, including knowing nothing about how to cope with a situation they didn’t understand in the first place, is a dangerous road.

As is the case so often with “unacceptable” human behaviours (that is, socially unacceptable), children with ADHD come to be labelled as problem children, children with behavioural problems, even “bad seeds,” kids who have some strange, poorly understood and badly managed illness. It’s easier to blame kids because they can’t fight back or defend themselves as parents can and do.

Though ADHD has three subtypes, primarily too impulsive, primarily lacking in ability to give attention to situations in their environment, or a combination, most kids with ADHD are identified as fussy, fidgety and flighty. The quick-fix for adults is to claim the kids have a problem, give the problem a name, then recommend drug therapy. Ever since amphetamines lost their panache as a drug of choice for recreational use (known as speed) in the 1960s, they have gained new life within the medical community with names such as Ritalin (methylphenidate).

Ritalin and other medications prescribed by pediatricians calm kids. They make the kids more “normal,” meaning they dull the brain so much the behaviours of the children make them less distinguishable from others of their peers who do not have a problem with exhibiting socially unacceptable behaviour. In the case of ADHD kids, drugs accomplish what social training by parents and grandparents does with most children, make them behave in public or in a social situation.

This is where my proposal differs from the most commonly used treatments for ADHD. Rather than using drugs or other therapies in an attempt to make ADHD kids more “normal,” I propose that we raise the level and style of education to match their needs. ADHD children “misbehave” because they find themselves like caged animals in their intellectual development. Give them what they require in their own peculiar intellectual development stream and they will act more like “normal” kids.

Children develop in four main ways: intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally (psychologically). Put a few kids together and give them a little space and they will devise games that have a physical component and usually a social component (in their interaction). They develop emotionally or psychologically by making their way through problems, conflicts and hurts, often with the help of adults.

Most kids will incorporate some sort of intellectual component in their play. With simple games such as hide and seek, it’s figuring out how to reach “home” without being discovered in their chosen hiding place. With tag, it’s how to stay away from the person who is “it” and how to tag someone else when it’s their own turn to be “it.” That’s problem solving, an important intellectual skill. Some children require more than the usual amount of intellectual stimulation.

What might someone you recognize as a genius have been like as a child? Say, Albert Einstein, as an example. Could Einstein possibly have been a normal kid at the age of four, unrecognizable from others his own age? His brain could not possibly have developed rapidly when he reached university age such that he moved to Switzerland to suddenly understand relativity and special relativity. He had to have been different as a young child as well. He must have behaved differently from other kids, as pretty well all kids who grow to be outstanding adults did.

On one occasion I remember reading a statement that Einstein believed each child is born with genius, but we train it out of most of them within their first few years of life. Sorry, I have not been able to find the actual wording of the statement, or even to confirm that Einstein made it. When you think about it, that is not the kind of statement of truth we might want to popularize because it would destroy much of what we have come to believe is good parenting and good educating. We don’t want to believe we intentionally or knowingly make kids dumb. In general, western thought believes that children are born dumb (not just without knowledge) and parents and teachers smarten them up as they grow and mature.

Einstein’s brain was different from the brains of most people. Larger? No, it was actually a bit smaller than the average, at 2.9 pounds. However, his brain, as examined after his death (it was removed from his body a few hours after his ultimate breath) was structured differently. I submit that Einstein’s brain developed differently from the brains of most people according to the stimulus he received as a child and adolescent, not due to accidents of nature. Today we know of brain plasticity, of the ability of people to retrain their brains at any age, even in old age, of the brain’s ability to restructure itself at any time if the stimulus is right.

A brain, if stimulated with new and novel thoughts and habits, will grow new neural connections, even in non-conventional parts of the brain. People blind from birth, for example, have the optical parts of their brains taken over with uses and thinking involving the other senses. A blind person may not be able to hear better than a sighted person, but he may be able to process more incoming sound information than the average sighted person. The brain of an older person can change shape with new and repeated intellectual activity just as much as that of a teenager, though the teen’s brain usually changes shape faster. That’s brain plasticity.

The stimulus for intellectual development was right for Albert Einstein as a child. He would not be labelled as a child with ADHD today because his intellectual needs in early childhood were met. It’s behaviour, not physiology, that causes kids to be labelled as having ADHD. The brain may change shape and create new neural networks based on repeated experiences and habits of a child whose intellectual development is impeded, thus creating a child “with” ADHD.

If this is true, then we should be able to change conditions for fussy children so they will be intellectually fulfilled, so they won’t need to be fussy. So they can be as intellectually blessed earlier in life as some grow to be as adults.

The intellectual needs of some children in their early years are not met sufficiently. What could a child do about that? The kid can’t express his need because he has not developed the intellectual capacity to understand it. Human kids even have trouble expressing their need for touch from their parents, a critically important component of their emotional development, so it’s no surprise they couldn’t express their need for more intellectual stimulation.

So they fuss. And they fidget. And sometimes they fight. They can’t follow the painfully slow teaching style in their classroom, so they quickly become distracted. If there is nothing to interest them intellectually nearby, they devise ways to involve others. They misbehave. At home, they have the same environment day after day, which they come to think of as boring, so they act out. They scream, they pound, they send us signals we misinterpret. We think they should just “be good.” Like we adults are.

What would you do if your brain were imprisoned, such as if you became a quadriplegic who couldn’t speak? Some people say they would rather die than to live in a body that would not allow them to speak, to write, to communicate, even to move. A child doesn’t consider dying because he doesn’t even have a clear understanding about what living is yet. He just feels frustrated and anxious. So he acts the way he feels. That is very uncomfortable and anxious.

Fussing, fighting and acting out at least get him attention, which may not be as satisfying as good intellectual stimulation but it’s something different, a change from boring.

We in the 21st century still believe that babies are born stupid and only learn to be smarter as they approach adulthood. The same way they develop physically. That way of thinking is wrong. In fact, it’s backwards.

In the first six years of life, a child’s brain acts like an enormous sponge–even a vacuum cleaner–soaking up everything, absolutely everything it can. Good stuff, bad stuff, everything, because it can’t distinguish good from bad, useful from useless. For the most part, a child’s intellectual development in their first six years is left up to young parents who have extremely little knowledge about what a child needs and how it develops. Babies don’t get a chance to choose their parents. A young child’s brain may not have much experience or knowledge, but it’s supercharged for intellectual learning experiences.

Why did my sister, who grew up in a similar family environment as I did, develop ADHD? Half a century ago, a child growing up in a relatively unstimulating environment needed more, but had no way to get it. In our family there were no books, no reading to them by a parent, no television (at least of the kind that would be intellectually stimulating for a child), not even access to radio programs that were not geared to adult interests. My sister had such constant needs for intellectual stimulation that were never met that her brain automatically jumped from one focus to another seeking fulfillment. She didn’t “apply herself” people said, her teachers repeated on report cards.

The closest she got in her 54 years of life to intellectual fulfillment was when she acted in several musical plays in senior elementary school. She was very good, quite talented, but she received no encouragement, no praise, no support from home. She never grasped how to move to the next stage with what she had learned. No one taught her. As she got older, she accepted an addiction as a substitute, as an emotional surrogate to intellectual excitement, in her case smoking cigarettes. Eventually it killed her, as it did our father and mother. Maybe it wasn’t the addiction that was genetic, but the common condition of lacking intellectual stimulation at the right times.

Why did I, who grew up in the same environment–in fact with absolutely no intellectual stimulation for my first six years–not develop ADHD? For reasons still unclear, my brain had a problem processing information, right from birth. Maybe it was a lack of oxygen from blood not reaching my brain for the short period of time it took me to be born breech. (Some claim I have been ass-backwards ever since.) Maybe I inherited a condition whereby my brain functioned much slower than those of other babies. To this day I think and write slowly. I know the condition existed in my father’s family.

My brain worked so slowly as a child that I had time to invent, to create, to use my imagination. With never a toy, a child or even a parent to play with, at the age of three I created an imaginary pet. As the only animals I knew were those I saw on the rare occasions I was taken out of our apartment over a store in a lonely farming community–in my case the animals I saw were cattle–I adopted an imaginary cow. The earliest memory I have of my father making a pronouncement about me was when he whispered to my mother that he thought I must be retarded because I had an imaginary pet. What else did my brain have to do but to imagine? He didn’t know and didn’t realize that it was a problem he should have addressed. A problem I addressed as best I could. I managed to invent a friend and intellectual stimulation.

How about my nephew, son of my wife’s sister, the kid who should have developed ADHD but didn’t? I remember watching (and listening to) this kid scream at the top of his lungs at the age of 10 months. He was learning to walk. Every time he stood up for a few seconds, he would lose his balance as he let go of a chair and fall down. He hated that. Most babies just keep at it until they master the skills of standing unsupported and walking. My nephew screamed because he was frustrated with himself. He knew he could learn how to walk, but the secret of balance eluded him. He had something important to learn, but he couldn’t do it. He despised the fact that he was being held back by his own uncoordinated body.

I told his mother that he was just angry with himself because he couldn’t master what he wanted to do, what everyone he knew could do, walk. She knew he was extraordinarily eager to learn. She and her husband fed the intellectual needs of their son admirably. Today, with full support and guidance from home whenever he needs it, the lad gets school awards, wins at sports, succeeds at everything he attempts. He knows he needs intellectual fulfillment and he knows where to find it. Fortunately, he attends a public elementary school that is extraordinary in many ways, one that feeds the intellectual, social and emotional needs of its young charges far beyond what other schools offer. Far beyond what the curriculum asks. Far beyond what most schools would dare or be allowed to do.

Christopher doesn’t have ADHD because he got what he needed, both at home and at school. Some day he may find a cure for cancer or develop the mysterious Theory of Everything that Einstein sought all his adult life. Chris is a genius because nobody prevented him from being one. He doesn’t even know it yet because no one has told him. What he knows is that life is filled with potential.

Nobody in his life thought that he should conform, to be average, to be like other kids, and insisted on it. The people closest to him thought he should be who he could be. They may have wanted him to be quieter, but rather than punish him for being boisterous or aggressive, they fed his need for new knowledge and skills.

He learned at a blistering pace and he will continue to do so because he knows he can. He can learn as much and as fast as he wants, on any subject of his choosing.

This is not the time for blame, to point the finger at those who have prevented so many other kids from becoming geniuses, from becoming the best they could be. This is the time to change our ways so we no longer dumb-down most kids so they can become obedient employees and consumers as adults.

We have the opportunity to make the 21st century better than any before it. It won’t hurt anyone and it should benefit everyone. We just need to do some things differently. It won’t be hard. One thing we can do is to provide better stimulation for the intellectual development of young children. That’s actually easy because most adults know these things anyway, they just don’t know they should be teaching them to their children. We also need to teach new parents (or pre-parents) what they should know about child development and needs.

Let’s not wait until Chris is old enough and wise enough to make a difference in the world himself. Let’s get started now. ADHD is the label we give to kids with more extreme behaviours of unsatisfaction. The less extreme ones we simply call bratty.

As if young children want to be that way. They don’t. They really don’t.

Writing this article has already made a difference for me. It has always mystified me why my wife had trouble in high school, sometimes has great difficulty following written directions, often can’t follow spoken directions requiring more than one separate action, forgets many things I wish she could remember but has a memory like a steel trap for other things and can learn well with certain teaching methods but fails badly with others. In grade school she was smart. In high school she was made to feel dumb, as if she had hit her intellectual “wall.”

I now understand that my wife has an undiagnosed form of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder that is sufficiently mild that it stayed beneath the radar of educators and employers throughout her school and working life. Now that she has become aware of it, she can learn how to cope with and make compensations for her ADHD. For me, my wife’s unusual behaviour in some situations now makes sense. I can adjust to what I can understand.

Those who lose a foot in a childhood accident learn to conduct their lives differently from most of us because they know they are missing a foot. Those who have ADHD could cope better if they had the necessary direction and skills. Parents who understand ADHD can provide opportunities for intellectual development of their children so they will never become “bad kids.”

We can each adjust to the strange behaviour of those we encounter if we understand why they act the way they do. Otherwise they may be punished for acting different or strange. I have not conducted a study, nor have I been able to find research to support or deny this proposal, but I suspect prisoners and adults under medical care for mental or emotional problems would be found to be overrepresentated with ADHD in comparison with the general population.

This is not a scientific hypothesis, but merely an observation. Might our modern insistence upon instant gratification, instant rewards, the frenetic struggle through the “rat race,” our desire to find drugs to quick-fix our health after a self-destructive lifestyle harmed it, our seeking of thrills through risky behaviours and addictive indulgences and our habit of finding someone to blame for everything that we don’t like be symptoms of culture-wide ADHD on an unimaginably massive scale?

We now have a place to begin, to prevent the proliferation of ADHD in the general population by addressing the intellectual needs of young children and to help those with ADHD and those they come in contact with regularly to understand and to cope with what seems to be unusual, erratic, irresponsible or careless behaviour.

We know where to begin. Let’s begin now. Talk it up.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to understand how children develop and when to satisfy their needs, to encourage those streams of development.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

Psychobabble is simply babble used by self described experts to make the uninitiated believe that they know what they are talking about when they really don’t. ADHD, then, is the term given to people (mostly to children because most adults with the problem have learned to cope with it by hiding the condition) who exhibit behaviours that are unacceptable in normal social settings. Normal social settings would include a school classroom, at home with siblings or parents, during a quiet church service, in public at the checkout counter of a supermarket, even trying to sit quietly to read. Rarely, ADHD children can even be dangerous to others or themselves, such as when “out of control” behaviour is punished. 

ADHD: You or Someone You Love Could Have It and Not Know It

My sister had Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) all her life and took it to her grave. I might have had it, but a strange trick of fate at birth caused me to have its opposite. A nephew had all the indicators for ADHD when he was a baby, but his mother sidetracked him from it and he may grow to be a genius as a result.

Before going further, we must establish a few ground rules about discussing ADHD. First, nothing about the human brain is well understood. Nothing about it can be diagnosed and cured or changed easily. Nobody is an expert on the human brain and no one should be believed because he or she claims to have such expertise. We should listen to all points of view before making decisions. This article makes no claims to perfection, it seeks to present a different point of view about a seemingly intractable problem.

However, if we look at ADHD from a different point of view, we may find that it’s not the problem that is intractable but our approach that doesn’t allow us to see the problem for what it really is.

Nothing about the human brain is cast in stone in terms of being inevitable or unchangeable. Medical hypotheses about the brain have almost always turned out to be wrong. They changed, they evolved, but they were wrong at first. Even now, after extensive research having been conducted for several decades, no one can say anything about the human brain with absolute certainty.

It’s easier to prove the existence of God and the non-existence of good science than it is to make definitive and irrefutable statements about the human brain. I have done both–at least to my own satisfaction–yet the brain continues to mystify me and the “expert” statements about it stagger my imagination. Some, I am convinced are just plain wrong.

How, then, do I dare to write an article about one of the great brain mysteries of our time, ADHD? Because when we look at the situation from a non-conventional perspective–one we should be using but don’t–ADHD is not a brain problem but a problem of social inadequacy. And, if I may be so candid, social ignorance.

ADHD may indeed be shown to be different from other brain conditions in the sense that those who suffer from it may have brain structure that differs slightly from that of those who don’t have ADHD. And ADHD may be shown to have family connections. But it may begin with an inadequate start at intellectual development of a child, not with a physiological difference. In adequate intellectual develop and opportunities for young children may very well run in families without a genetic connection.

Parents who do not know or understand the intellectual needs of a very young child, who may not therefore address the child’s early intellectual development, may pass these inadequate parenting skills along to their own children. Most young parents learn most of what they know about parenting from their experiences with their own parents. “I lived through it, so I can do it myself.”

Named for its symptoms rather than its discoverer (Alzheimer, Hodgkin) or its genetic markers (H5N1, H1N1), ADHD is a collection of behaviours by which its sufferers are identified. Wikipedia describes ADHD as a “neurobehavioral developmental disorder,” which is psychobabble for what it further describes as “persistent pattern of inattention or hyperactivity—impulsivity that is more frequently displayed and more severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development.” More psychobabble.

What does it mean?

 

Psychobabble is simply babble used by self described experts to make the uninitiated believe that they know what they are talking about when they really don’t. ADHD, then, is the term given to people (mostly to children because most adults with the problem have learned to cope with it by hiding the condition) who exhibit behaviours that are unacceptable in normal social settings. Normal social settings would include a school classroom, at home with siblings or parents, during a quiet church service, in public at the checkout counter of a supermarket, even trying to sit quietly to read. Rarely, ADHD children can even be dangerous to others or themselves, such as when “out of control” behaviour is punished.

A child who is punished for demonstrating socially inappropriate behaviour in a social setting may become outraged at the thought of being punished for something he believes is not his fault. When a child is “out of control,” it should be taken as a sign that the parent has no idea what the child needs rather than that the child is “just plain bad.” Punishing an out of control child is like punishing a slave for his master’s failures. Abolishing slavery didn’t make abuse go away and punishing either parent or child will not end the problem. Especially when neither parent nor child understands what the problem is.

Most parents teach their children to behave in social settings. Training children about how to behave in public so that they do not stand out as abnormal is part of what every parent tries to accomplish with their children. It’s called socialization. Parents and teachers of children “with” ADHD usually fail. As so many adults fail in these efforts, child development specialists name the child as having an affliction, with a name, because blaming so many parents and teachers for failing to teach their children would bring wrath upon the specialists.

Social scientists and practitioners know that to blame a parent for something the parent knew nothing about, including knowing nothing about how to cope with a situation they didn’t understand in the first place, is a dangerous road.

As is the case so often with “unacceptable” human behaviours (that is, socially unacceptable), children with ADHD come to be labelled as problem children, children with behavioural problems, even “bad seeds,” kids who have some strange, poorly understood and badly managed illness. It’s easier to blame kids because they can’t fight back or defend themselves as parents can and do.

Though ADHD has three subtypes, primarily too impulsive, primarily lacking in ability to give attention to situations in their environment, or a combination, most kids with ADHD are identified as fussy, fidgety and flighty. The quick-fix for adults is to claim the kids have a problem, give the problem a name, then recommend drug therapy. Ever since amphetamines lost their panache as a drug of choice for recreational use (known as speed) in the 1960s, they have gained new life within the medical community with names such as Ritalin (methylphenidate).

Ritalin and other medications prescribed by pediatricians calm kids. They make the kids more “normal,” meaning they dull the brain so much the behaviours of the children make them less distinguishable from others of their peers who do not have a problem with exhibiting socially unacceptable behaviour. In the case of ADHD kids, drugs accomplish what social training by parents and grandparents does with most children, make them behave in public or in a social situation.

This is where my proposal differs from the most commonly used treatments for ADHD. Rather than using drugs or other therapies in an attempt to make ADHD kids more “normal,” I propose that we raise the level and style of education to match their needs. ADHD children “misbehave” because they find themselves like caged animals in their intellectual development. Give them what they require in their own peculiar intellectual development stream and they will act more like “normal” kids.

Children develop in four main ways: intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally (psychologically). Put a few kids together and give them a little space and they will devise games that have a physical component and usually a social component (in their interaction). They develop emotionally or psychologically by making their way through problems, conflicts and hurts, often with the help of adults.

Most kids will incorporate some sort of intellectual component in their play. With simple games such as hide and seek, it’s figuring out how to reach “home” without being discovered in their chosen hiding place. With tag, it’s how to stay away from the person who is “it” and how to tag someone else when it’s their own turn to be “it.” That’s problem solving, an important intellectual skill. Some children require more than the usual amount of intellectual stimulation.

What might someone you recognize as a genius have been like as a child? Say, Albert Einstein, as an example. Could Einstein possibly have been a normal kid at the age of four, unrecognizable from others his own age? His brain could not possibly have developed rapidly when he reached university age such that he moved to Switzerland to suddenly understand relativity and special relativity. He had to have been different as a young child as well. He must have behaved differently from other kids, as pretty well all kids who grow to be outstanding adults did.

On one occasion I remember reading a statement that Einstein believed each child is born with genius, but we train it out of most of them within their first few years of life. Sorry, I have not been able to find the actual wording of the statement, or even to confirm that Einstein made it. When you think about it, that is not the kind of statement of truth we might want to popularize because it would destroy much of what we have come to believe is good parenting and good educating. We don’t want to believe we intentionally or knowingly make kids dumb. In general, western thought believes that children are born dumb (not just without knowledge) and parents and teachers smarten them up as they grow and mature.

Einstein’s brain was different from the brains of most people. Larger? No, it was actually a bit smaller than the average, at 2.9 pounds. However, his brain, as examined after his death (it was removed from his body a few hours after his ultimate breath) was structured differently. I submit that Einstein’s brain developed differently from the brains of most people according to the stimulus he received as a child and adolescent, not due to accidents of nature. Today we know of brain plasticity, of the ability of people to retrain their brains at any age, even in old age, of the brain’s ability to restructure itself at any time if the stimulus is right.

A brain, if stimulated with new and novel thoughts and habits, will grow new neural connections, even in non-conventional parts of the brain. People blind from birth, for example, have the optical parts of their brains taken over with uses and thinking involving the other senses. A blind person may not be able to hear better than a sighted person, but he may be able to process more incoming sound information than the average sighted person. The brain of an older person can change shape with new and repeated intellectual activity just as much as that of a teenager, though the teen’s brain usually changes shape faster. That’s brain plasticity.

The stimulus for intellectual development was right for Albert Einstein as a child. He would not be labelled as a child with ADHD today because his intellectual needs in early childhood were met. It’s behaviour, not physiology, that causes kids to be labelled as having ADHD. The brain may change shape and create new neural networks based on repeated experiences and habits of a child whose intellectual development is impeded, thus creating a child “with” ADHD.

If this is true, then we should be able to change conditions for fussy children so they will be intellectually fulfilled, so they won’t need to be fussy. So they can be as intellectually blessed earlier in life as some grow to be as adults.

The intellectual needs of some children in their early years are not met sufficiently. What could a child do about that? The kid can’t express his need because he has not developed the intellectual capacity to understand it. Human kids even have trouble expressing their need for touch from their parents, a critically important component of their emotional development, so it’s no surprise they couldn’t express their need for more intellectual stimulation.

So they fuss. And they fidget. And sometimes they fight. They can’t follow the painfully slow teaching style in their classroom, so they quickly become distracted. If there is nothing to interest them intellectually nearby, they devise ways to involve others. They misbehave. At home, they have the same environment day after day, which they come to think of as boring, so they act out. They scream, they pound, they send us signals we misinterpret. We think they should just “be good.” Like we adults are.

What would you do if your brain were imprisoned, such as if you became a quadriplegic who couldn’t speak? Some people say they would rather die than to live in a body that would not allow them to speak, to write, to communicate, even to move. A child doesn’t consider dying because he doesn’t even have a clear understanding about what living is yet. He just feels frustrated and anxious. So he acts the way he feels. That is very uncomfortable and anxious.

Fussing, fighting and acting out at least get him attention, which may not be as satisfying as good intellectual stimulation but it’s something different, a change from boring.

We in the 21st century still believe that babies are born stupid and only learn to be smarter as they approach adulthood. The same way they develop physically. That way of thinking is wrong. In fact, it’s backwards.

In the first six years of life, a child’s brain acts like an enormous sponge–even a vacuum cleaner–soaking up everything, absolutely everything it can. Good stuff, bad stuff, everything, because it can’t distinguish good from bad, useful from useless. For the most part, a child’s intellectual development in their first six years is left up to young parents who have extremely little knowledge about what a child needs and how it develops. Babies don’t get a chance to choose their parents. A young child’s brain may not have much experience or knowledge, but it’s supercharged for intellectual learning experiences.

Why did my sister, who grew up in a similar family environment as I did, develop ADHD? Half a century ago, a child growing up in a relatively unstimulating environment needed more, but had no way to get it. In our family there were no books, no reading to them by a parent, no television (at least of the kind that would be intellectually stimulating for a child), not even access to radio programs that were not geared to adult interests. My sister had such constant needs for intellectual stimulation that were never met that her brain automatically jumped from one focus to another seeking fulfillment. She didn’t “apply herself” people said, her teachers repeated on report cards.

The closest she got in her 54 years of life to intellectual fulfillment was when she acted in several musical plays in senior elementary school. She was very good, quite talented, but she received no encouragement, no praise, no support from home. She never grasped how to move to the next stage with what she had learned. No one taught her. As she got older, she accepted an addiction as a substitute, as an emotional surrogate to intellectual excitement, in her case smoking cigarettes. Eventually it killed her, as it did our father and mother. Maybe it wasn’t the addiction that was genetic, but the common condition of lacking intellectual stimulation at the right times.

Why did I, who grew up in the same environment–in fact with absolutely no intellectual stimulation for my first six years–not develop ADHD? For reasons still unclear, my brain had a problem processing information, right from birth. Maybe it was a lack of oxygen from blood not reaching my brain for the short period of time it took me to be born breech. (Some claim I have been ass-backwards ever since.) Maybe I inherited a condition whereby my brain functioned much slower than those of other babies. To this day I think and write slowly. I know the condition existed in my father’s family.

My brain worked so slowly as a child that I had time to invent, to create, to use my imagination. With never a toy, a child or even a parent to play with, at the age of three I created an imaginary pet. As the only animals I knew were those I saw on the rare occasions I was taken out of our apartment over a store in a lonely farming community–in my case the animals I saw were cattle–I adopted an imaginary cow. The earliest memory I have of my father making a pronouncement about me was when he whispered to my mother that he thought I must be retarded because I had an imaginary pet. What else did my brain have to do but to imagine? He didn’t know and didn’t realize that it was a problem he should have addressed. A problem I addressed as best I could. I managed to invent a friend and intellectual stimulation.

How about my nephew, son of my wife’s sister, the kid who should have developed ADHD but didn’t? I remember watching (and listening to) this kid scream at the top of his lungs at the age of 10 months. He was learning to walk. Every time he stood up for a few seconds, he would lose his balance as he let go of a chair and fall down. He hated that. Most babies just keep at it until they master the skills of standing unsupported and walking. My nephew screamed because he was frustrated with himself. He knew he could learn how to walk, but the secret of balance eluded him. He had something important to learn, but he couldn’t do it. He despised the fact that he was being held back by his own uncoordinated body.

I told his mother that he was just angry with himself because he couldn’t master what he wanted to do, what everyone he knew could do, walk. She knew he was extraordinarily eager to learn. She and her husband fed the intellectual needs of their son admirably. Today, with full support and guidance from home whenever he needs it, the lad gets school awards, wins at sports, succeeds at everything he attempts. He knows he needs intellectual fulfillment and he knows where to find it. Fortunately, he attends a public elementary school that is extraordinary in many ways, one that feeds the intellectual, social and emotional needs of its young charges far beyond what other schools offer. Far beyond what the curriculum asks. Far beyond what most schools would dare or be allowed to do.

Christopher doesn’t have ADHD because he got what he needed, both at home and at school. Some day he may find a cure for cancer or develop the mysterious Theory of Everything that Einstein sought all his adult life. Chris is a genius because nobody prevented him from being one. He doesn’t even know it yet because no one has told him. What he knows is that life is filled with potential.

Nobody in his life thought that he should conform, to be average, to be like other kids, and insisted on it. The people closest to him thought he should be who he could be. They may have wanted him to be quieter, but rather than punish him for being boisterous or aggressive, they fed his need for new knowledge and skills.

He learned at a blistering pace and he will continue to do so because he knows he can. He can learn as much and as fast as he wants, on any subject of his choosing.

This is not the time for blame, to point the finger at those who have prevented so many other kids from becoming geniuses, from becoming the best they could be. This is the time to change our ways so we no longer dumb-down most kids so they can become obedient employees and consumers as adults.

We have the opportunity to make the 21st century better than any before it. It won’t hurt anyone and it should benefit everyone. We just need to do some things differently. It won’t be hard. One thing we can do is to provide better stimulation for the intellectual development of young children. That’s actually easy because most adults know these things anyway, they just don’t know they should be teaching them to their children. We also need to teach new parents (or pre-parents) what they should know about child development and needs.

Let’s not wait until Chris is old enough and wise enough to make a difference in the world himself. Let’s get started now. ADHD is the label we give to kids with more extreme behaviours of unsatisfaction. The less extreme ones we simply call bratty.

As if young children want to be that way. They don’t. They really don’t.

Writing this article has already made a difference for me. It has always mystified me why my wife had trouble in high school, sometimes has great difficulty following written directions, often can’t follow spoken directions requiring more than one separate action, forgets many things I wish she could remember but has a memory like a steel trap for other things and can learn well with certain teaching methods but fails badly with others. In grade school she was smart. In high school she was made to feel dumb, as if she had hit her intellectual “wall.”

I now understand that my wife has an undiagnosed form of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder that is sufficiently mild that it stayed beneath the radar of educators and employers throughout her school and working life. Now that she has become aware of it, she can learn how to cope with and make compensations for her ADHD. For me, my wife’s unusual behaviour in some situations now makes sense. I can adjust to what I can understand.

Those who lose a foot in a childhood accident learn to conduct their lives differently from most of us because they know they are missing a foot. Those who have ADHD could cope better if they had the necessary direction and skills. Parents who understand ADHD can provide opportunities for intellectual development of their children so they will never become “bad kids.”

We can each adjust to the strange behaviour of those we encounter if we understand why they act the way they do. Otherwise they may be punished for acting different or strange. I have not conducted a study, nor have I been able to find research to support or deny this proposal, but I suspect prisoners and adults under medical care for mental or emotional problems would be found to be overrepresentated with ADHD in comparison with the general population.

This is not a scientific hypothesis, but merely an observation. Might our modern insistence upon instant gratification, instant rewards, the frenetic struggle through the “rat race,” our desire to find drugs to quick-fix our health after a self-destructive lifestyle harmed it, our seeking of thrills through risky behaviours and addictive indulgences and our habit of finding someone to blame for everything that we don’t like be symptoms of culture-wide ADHD on an unimaginably massive scale?

We now have a place to begin, to prevent the proliferation of ADHD in the general population by addressing the intellectual needs of young children and to help those with ADHD and those they come in contact with regularly to understand and to cope with what seems to be unusual, erratic, irresponsible or careless behaviour.

We know where to begin. Let’s begin now. Talk it up.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to understand how children develop and when to satisfy their needs, to encourage those streams of development.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

Hydrogen Peroxide: Truth, Lies and Rumours

Hydrogen Peroxide: Truth, Lies and Rumours

Is it a miracle drug or a carcinogenic poison peddled freely and propagandized openly on the internet? Opinions differ greatly, though (thankfully) not violently, over the efficacy of hydrogen peroxide as a human disease cure or preventative.

When I received, in a print newsletter from a real estate company, a copy of a list of uses for hydrogen peroxide that has been floating around internet how-to sites for nearly a decade, I decided it was time to do some real research on the subject.

The piece begins “This was written by Becky Ransey of Indiana (a doctor’s wife).” So far what we know for sure is that there is a real state called Indiana and doctors (at least of the medical variety) deal with health issues. We do not know who Becky Ransey is. An internet search turned her name up hundreds of times, but nothing more verifiable that the sentence quoted above. Becky Ransey, if she exists, may or may not be married to a medical doctor, but if both are true it still means nothing because the source of what was written cannot be verified. The email and internet list provide no source of evidence or verifiable testing.

In fact, the printed version I received said “My husband has been in the medical field for over 36 years.” It doesn’t even claim that her husband was a doctor, as some versions of the story do (see above). A hospital orderly and maybe even a janitor might make a claim that they are “in the medical field.”

I will add the full version that has most commonly made its way around the internet later in the article. For now, let’s address the facts and fictions of the peroxide list. First, hydrogen peroxide has been around and known about since it was first discovered about 200 years ago. Before that? Well, our bodies manufacture the stuff naturally so the chemical has been around much longer than that.

Since our own bodies make hydrogen peroxide, does that mean that the product we can buy in any drug store for a small sum is safe to use, it being only at a concentration of three percent (the balance being water)? Like everything else to do with health, the answer is not simple. Too much or too strong a concentration ingested (taken internally) could kill you, or at least kill a child or someone with compromised health. Under the right conditions, it could be used as therapy for cancer, Alzheimer, multiple sclerosis, even asthma and allergies. Just like warfarin, which kills rats at one concentration and heals heart patients at a lesser dose.

You would recognize the chemical formula for the hydrogen peroxide molecule as being similar to that of water. Water is H2O, while peroxide is H2O2. Peroxide is like water, only with a second atom of oxygen. No surprise then when we learn that peroxide breaks into oxygen and water in our bodies.

What may be a surprise is that the free oxygen atom is also known as a “free radical,” which some will recognize as potential sources or catalysts for cancer. What’s up with that? Free radicals get inside the good bacteria in our bodies and cause no harm because our good bacteria not only keep us healthy, they have adapted to avoid damage from invaders that break into their cells. Inside bad bacteria and other microbes, peroxide wreaks havoc.

The right amount of free radicals in our bodies fights off cancer, while too much can cause it to spread. Hydrogen peroxide in the hands of someone who doesn’t know what they are doing could be dangerous. Or it could be a life saver, if the person is lucky.

Of course anyone considering ingesting H2O2 or receiving it by needle should consult a doctor. However, it may be necessary to consult a doctor who knows something about using hydrogen peroxide as a therapy. If your family doctor has no expertise or experience with peroxide use as a therapy, consider contacting the following for names and addresses of doctors near you who do:

International Bio-Oxidative Medicine Foundation (IBOM),
P.O. Box 13205,
Oklahoma City,
OK 73113
USA
(405) 478-4266

Note that the ordinary brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide you can buy in a store is 3% concentration, which is low, but frequent use in the mouth, for example, over periods of time longer than a few days or use undiluted for more than a brief time to rinse the mouth is not recommended, even by the manufacturers.

H2O2 may be acquired in several concentrations. They come as follows, though from a variety of sources:
A) 3 or 3.5% Pharmaceutical Grade: This is the grade sold at your local drugstore or supermarket. This product is not recommended for internal use. It contains an assortment of stabilizers which shouldn’t be ingested. Various stabilizers include: acetanilide, phenol, sodium stanate and tertrasodium phosphate.

B) 6% Beautician Grade: This is used in beauty shops to color hair and is not recommended for internal use.

C) 30% Reagent Grade: This is used for various scientific experimentation and also contains stabilizers. It is also not for internal use.

D) 30% to 32% Electronic Grade: This is used to clean electronic parts and not for internal use.

E) 35% Technical Grade: This is a more concentrated product than the Reagent Grade and differs slightly in that phosphorus is added to help neutralize any chlorine from the water used to dilute it.

F) 35% Food Grade: This is used in the production of foods like cheese, eggs, and whey-containing products. It is also sprayed on the foil lining of aseptic packages containing fruit juices and milk products. THIS IS THE ONLY GRADE RECOMMENDED FOR INTERNAL USE. It is available in pints, quarts, gallons or even drums.

G) 90%: This is used as an oxygen source for rocket fuel.

That list is courtesy of Dr. David G. Williams

Dr. Williams not only discourages ingesting hydrogen peroxide at 90% concentration because it’s needed in the space industry for rocket fuel, he cautions about taking great care when using the 35% Food Grade version for children, people with certain existing health problems or using it in other than a highly diluted concentration.

……………………..

Now for that email/internet list, both the annotated version and the original, courtesy of

1. Take one capful (the little white cap that comes with the bottle) and hold in your mouth for 10 minutes daily, then spit it out. (I do it when I
bathe or shower.) No more canker sores and your teeth will be whiter without expensive pastes. Use it instead of mouthwash-

2. Let your toothbrushes soak [in] a cup peroxide to keep them free of germs-

3. Clean your counters, table tops with peroxide to kill germs and leave a fresh smell. Simply put a little on your dishrag when you wipe, or spray
it on the counters-

Truth! But Limited Use!

The Merck Manuals recommended diluting the 3% hydrogen peroxide 50 percent with water, but suggest it as a rinse and part of a treatment for trench mouth, for example. The FDA has approved 3% solutions of hydrogen peroxide for use as a mouthwash. Most sources said to use it only for a short time, however, such as part of a treatment of a mouth infection. A report from Well-Connected (written or edited by physicians at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital) recommended against extended use, saying that overuse may actually damage cells and soften tooth surfaces. We were not able to find any authoritative information about hydrogen peroxide and canker sores.Unproven!

We didn’t find anything authoritative about soaking toothbrushes in hydrogen peroxide. Because hydrogen peroxide degrades quickly when exposed to light, if you do soak a toothbrush, do it in freshly poured hydrogen peroxide. Just keeping an open cup of the stuff around won’t do much good.Truth!4. After rinsing off your wooden cutting board, pour peroxide on it to kill salmonella and other bacteria-

For many of us, hydrogen peroxide was one of the first things we put on a cut or a wound, but that is less recommended nowadays. The reason, according to numerous medical sites, is that there is a downside to the hydrogen peroxide as well. It also damages healthy cells that are needed for the wounds to heal and hinders them from getting to the area where the healing needs to take place. The HealthFinder publication of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says don’t use hydrogen peroxide on a wound because it interferes with healing. The U.S. Gymnastics team has followed the recommendations of researchers and uses soap and water for cleansing wounds and not hydrogen peroxide. The National Safety Council’s First Aid Pocket Guide (1996) says “DO NOT use hydrogen peroxide It does not kill bacteria, and it adversely affects capillary blood flow and wound healing.” The Mayo Clinic gives the same advice.

7. Put two capfuls into a douche to prevent yeast infections. I had chronic yeast infections until I tried this once or twice a week-

9. Tilt your head back and spray into nostrils with your 50/50 mixture whenever you have a cold, plugged sinus. It will bubble and help to kill
the bacteria. Hold for a few minutes then blow your nose into a tissue-

Truth!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizer.

5. I had fungus on my feet for years – until I sprayed a 50/50 mixture of peroxide and water on them (especially the toes) every night and let dry-

Unproven! We were not able to find any authoritative source about foot fungus and treatment with hydrogen peroxide. Again, we are assuming she means a 50/50 mixture of water and 3% hydrogen peroxide. An actual 50/50 mixture of pure hydrogen peroxide and water would be too high a concentration to be safe.Disputed!

Interestingly enough, hydrogen peroxide is naturally produced in the vagina to deal with bacteria. There is conflicting opinion among the experts, however, about whether douching with hydrogen peroxide is helpful or harmful and even some voices that doubt whether douching is necessary at all under normal circumstances.

8. Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of peroxide and water and keep it in every bathroom to disinfect without harming your septic system
like bleach or most other disinfectants will-
But be sure you put the mixture into a bottle that filters out sunlight. Also, it appears that hydrogen peroxide does not harm septic systems. Again, this is probably a mixture of 50% water with the other half being 3% or 30% strengths of hydrogen peroxide.Undetermined!We couldn’t find much about this in terms of research. Again, if you choose to do it, this is probably referring to a mixture of 3% hydrogen peroxide with water.

11. And of course, if you like a natural look to your hair, spray the 50/50 solution on your wet hair after a shower and comb it through. You
will not have the peroxide burnt blonde hair like the hair dye packages, but more natural highlights if your hair is a light brown, faddish, or dirty blonde.
It also lightens gradually so it’s not a drastic change-

12. Put half a bottle of peroxide in your bath to help rid boils, fungus, or other skin infections-

13. You can also add a cup of peroxide instead of bleach to a load of whites in your laundry to whiten them. If there is blood on clothing, pour
directly on the soiled spot. Let it sit for a minute, then rub it and rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary-

Be careful about the suggestion to use it on spots. Hydrogen peroxide is a bleach!

14 This list didn’t have it, but I use peroxide to clean my mirrors; there is no smearing, which is why I love it so much for this-

10. If you have a terrible toothache and can not get to a dentist right away, put a capful of 3% peroxide into your mouth and hold it for ten
minutes several times a day. The pain will lessen greatly-
Truth!

One of the classic uses of hydrogen peroxide is to bleach hair. The concentrations are between 3% and 6%. This suggestion to dilute with water probably applies to those solutions.Undetermined!

The half a bottle probably refers to a 3% solution.Truth! But Careful!

The effectiveness of this method is a matter of experimentation, but the principle is sound. Some of the so called “oxygen” bleaches contain hydrogen peroxide.Unproven!The original hydrogen peroxide eRumor did not include this. Some of these were added by people along the way.

15. Gargle with hydrogen peroxide, put drops in the ear and nose to end colds, flu, chronic sinusitis (including polyps], and infections.

16. Use as a vegetable wash or soak to kill bacteria and neutralize chemicals-

A repeat of some previous information.Truth!

We don’t know about the chemicals, but there are several credible references about the use of hydrogen peroxide on fruits or vegetables. Research published by the Journal of Food and Science in 2003 showed effective results of using hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate apples and melons that were infected with strains of E.coli.

17. Disinfect your dishwasher or refrigerator-Undetermined!18. Use it on trees and plants as a natural fungicide, insecticide, and as a weed killer-

19. Clean with hydrogen peroxide when your house becomes a biohazard after its invaded by toxic mold, such as those with water damage-

Undetermined!

We found no research on the use of hydrogen peroxide as an insecticide, fungicide, or weed killer.Truth!

In a publication about “Healthy Homes,” the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) listed hydrogen peroxide as among the substances that can be used against mold, but also said there had not been enough research to recommend its use. It is not known what molds hydrogen peroxide is most effective against or what the human health hazards may be from using it so extensively. Also, since hydrogen peroxide is a bleach, be careful where you use it in terms of preserving the colors in your home.

Updated 8/5/06A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

We know ……….vinegar/baking soda and now peroxide – our mothers were right!

I want to share this with you, which was written by Becky Ransey of Indiana:

“I would like to tell you of the benefits of that plain little ol’ bottle of 3% peroxide you can get for under $1.00 at any drug store. My husband has been in the medical field for over 36 years, and most doctors don’t tell you about peroxide, or they would lose thousands of dollars.

1. Take one capful (the little white cap that comes with the bottle) and hold in your mouth for 10 minutes daily, then spit it out. (I do it when I bathe or shower.) No more canker sores and your teeth will be whiter without expensive pastes. Use it instead of mouthwash.

2. Let your toothbrushes soak a cup peroxide to keep them free of germs.

3. Clean your counters, table tops with peroxide to kill germs and leave a fresh smell. Simply put a little on your dishrag when you wipe, or spray
it on the counters.

4. After rinsing off your wooden cutting board, pour peroxide on it to kill salmonella and other bacteria.

5. I had fungus on my feet for years – until I sprayed a 50/50 mixture of peroxide and water on them (especially the toes) every night and let dry.

6. Soak any infections or cuts in 3% peroxide for five to ten minutes several times a day. My husband has seen gangrene that would not heal with any medicine, but was healed by soaking in peroxide.

7. Put two capfuls into a douche to prevent yeast infections. I had chronic yeast infections until I tried this once or twice a week.

8. Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of peroxide and water and keep it in every bathroom to disinfect without harming your septic system
like bleach or most other disinfectants will.

9. Tilt your head back and spray into nostrils with your 50/50 mixture whenever you have a cold, plugged sinus. It will bubble and help to kill the bacteria. Hold for a few minutes then blow your nose into a tissue.

10. If you have a terrible toothache and can not get to a dentist right away, put a capful of 3% peroxide into your mouth and hold it for ten minutes several times a day. The pain will lessen greatly.

11. And of course, if you like a natural look to your hair, spray the 50/50 solution on your wet hair after a shower and comb it through. You will not have the peroxide burnt blonde hair like the hair dye packages, but more natural highlights if your hair is a light brown, faddish, or dirty blonde. It also lightens gradually so it’s not a drastic change.

12. Put half a bottle of peroxide in your bath to help rid boils, fungus, or other skin infections.

13. You can also add a cup of peroxide instead of bleach to a load of whites in your laundry to whiten them. If there is blood on clothing, pour directly on the soiled spot. Let it sit for a minute, then rub it and rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary.

14 This list didn’t have it, but I use peroxide to clean my mirrors; there is no smearing, which is why I love it so much for this.

15. Gargle with hydrogen peroxide, put drops in the ear and nose to end colds, flu, chronic sinusitis (including polyps], and infections.

16. Use as a vegetable wash or soak to kill bacteria and neutralize chemicals.

17. Disinfect your dishwasher or refrigerator.

18. Use it on trees and plants as a natural fungicide, insecticide, and as a weed killer

19. Clean with hydrogen peroxide when your house becomes a biohazard after its invaded by toxic mold, such as those with water damage.

Throughout the world hydrogen peroxide is used instead of chlorine as a safer and eco-friendly municicpal [sic] water purifier. Some use H2O2 in pools and spas.
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A Few Final Notes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved those high strength hydrogen peroxide products for use internally and considers them dangerous. In July, 2006, the FDA issued a warning about the high strength hydrogen peroxides, saying they could lead to serious health risks and even death. Though the FDA statement is not clear, we can safely assume that the reference is to taking high strength hydrogen peroxide internally without diluting it.

My personal anecdote involves using hydrogen peroxide to remove ear wax. I have one ear that produces an inordinate amount of wax. That wax not only reduces my hearing, but it provides a nice breeding ground for infection, which I recognize by some dizziness when turning my head quickly. When a now-former family doctor caused tinnitus in my ears by “washing” them with a stream of warm water to remove wax plugs, destroying most of the cilia hairs that amplify incoming air waves that produce “sound,” I sought out another solution. Every couple of weeks I lie on my side in bed and drop eight drops of 3% peroxide from an eye dropper into the ear and let it bubble away for 30 to 60 minutes. The peroxide removes the wax, allowing any infection to clear up by itself within a day, should it be present. My sources can’t agree about whether the peroxide actually clears up the infection or allows the air to do the job. But it works.

The following sources will be useful to someone interested in learning more about hydrogen peroxide:

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE…..H2O2 http://www.snopes.com/medical/homecure/peroxide.asp (N.B. this is highly disputed, especially because of the long time that it recommends holding it in the mouth)http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/h/hydrogen-peroxide.htmhttp://educate-yourself.org/cancer/benefitsofhydrogenperozide17jul03.shtml

http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/43308

The David Williams web page listed earlier in the article also provides more valuable web sites on the subject.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to provide kids with what they really need rather than just what some adults believe they should be taught in school. Despite the book’s heavy sounding subtitle, it’s written in an easy to read fashion.
Learn more about the book and the worldwide TIA project at

http://billallin.com
http://billallin.com