The Bomb in the Brain - By Stefan Molyneux 
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The Bomb in the Brain - By Stefan Molyneux

The Bomb in the Brain - By Stefan Molyneux

By: Stefan Molyneux

How to Defuse the Violence of the Future

If you do a search for ‘childhood dangers’ on Google, you will see article after article on the dangers of online predators, whooping cough, the risks of antipsychotic drugs, cow’s milk, childhood obesity, cavities, tonsillectomies, rampant consumerism, household cleaners, excessive vaccinations, swimming pools, bathrooms etc etc etc.

The same alarmism blares out from the nightly news, parenting programs, commercials, magazines, and “children in danger” movies. We see an endless parade of risks to the health and well-being of children " yet the greatest risks to kids are almost never discussed.

Similarly, if you do a search for ‘cancer risks,’ you will page through endless articles on smoking, diet, exercise, genes and so on, before coming across one of the most significant factors, which increases cancer risk by almost 50%.

There remains a terrible blank spot in our examination of basic human risks " and the greatest tragedy is that almost all the other social ills arise from this one central danger.

Statistically, scientifically and factually, the greatest danger that many people will ever face is child abuse from their own parents.

Child abuse triggers fundamental and permanent changes in the brain and body, and is a primary causal factor in a staggeringly wide variety of adult personal, relational, social, professional and health-related dysfunctions, including:

·    Alcoholism

·    Criminality

·    Drug abuse

·    Promiscuity

·    Obesity

·    Smoking

·    Divorce

·    Suicidality

·    Depression

·    Frequent headaches

·    Anxiety

People who have experienced significant child abuse have a 48% greater chance of contracting cancer, and face a statistical reduction in lifespan of up to 20 years.

We put warning labels on tobacco, alcohol " even plastic bags! The grim reality, though, is that all too many parents should come with warning labels as well.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study is an ongoing collaboration between The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego. Starting in 1995, over 17,000 HMO patients provided detailed information about childhood abuse, neglect and dysfunction while undergoing comprehensive physical exams. The data from the ACE study has been used as the foundation for more than 50 scientific articles and over 100 conference and workshop presentations.

The data shows that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are unexpectedly common, have profound negative effects on adult health and well-being even a half-century later, and are a prime determinant of adult health status in the United States.

How many times have you heard ever that on the nightly news?

What is an ACE?

An ACE is defined as a child experiencing any of the following conditions in the household prior to age 18:

·    Recurrent physical abuse

·    Recurrent emotional abuse

·    Contact sexual abuse

·    An alcohol and/or drug abuser in the household

·    An incarcerated household member

·    Someone who is chronically depressed, mentally ill, institutionalized, or suicidal

·    Mother is treated violently

·    One or no parents

·    Emotional or physical neglect

(You can take the ACE test here:
This study included only middle-class participants with excellent health insurance " it did not include poor or disorganized citizens, and so significantly underreports the health and social effects of child abuse.

The Prevalence of Abuse

How common is child abuse?

Careful studies of UK childhood sexual assaults showed that two thirds of girls and one third of boys had been used sexually " figures for the United States are comparable.

Physical abuse is even more prevalent " two thirds of British mothers said they routinely hit their infants in their first year of life, and in the next two years 97% said they hit their children “at least once a week… most a good deal more often,” using straps, belts, canes and sticks on the boys. [date]

The intersection of experience and genes can be particularly catastrophic " a longitudinal study of 442 boys born in 1972 found that one out of every three boys " those who have a specific version of a gene " who was maltreated during childhood will be almost certain to exhibit antisocial or criminal behavior as an adult.

The Effects of Abuse

Why is child abuse so catastrophic? The long term physical effects of child abuse have been uncovered over the past few decades, as startling new research has come to light about the psychology and neurobiology of violence.

During the first four years of life, 90% of a child's brain develops through the experiences of that child. In other words, our personalities are far more nurture than nature. We develop in our environment, and our development is enormously shaped by that environment " and in the absence of significant intervention, these environmental effects tend to be permanent.

In other words, child abuse changes who we are, and tends to program us for a lifetime of dysfunction.

Here are some examples.

Child Abuse and Illicit Drug Use

Compared to people with zero ACEs, people with five or more ACEs were 7 to 10 times more likely to report illicit drug use problems, addiction to illicit drugs, and parental drug use.


Adverse childhood experiences in any category increased the risk of attempted suicide 2 to 5 times. Compared to persons with no ACEs, those with with 7 or more ACEs were over 31 times more likely to attempt suicide.


The number of categories of ACEs shows a graded relationship to the presence of adult diseases including:

·    Ischemic heart disease

·    Cancer

·    Chronic lung disease

·    Skeletal fractures

·    Liver disease

The seven categories of ACEs were strongly interrelated; people with multiple categories of childhood exposure were likely to have multiple health risk factors later in life.

People who experienced four or more categories of childhood exposure had 4 to 12 times the health risks for alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide attempts, as well as a 2-4 fold increase in smoking, poor self-rated health, 50 or more sexual intercourse partners, and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as a 1.4-1.6 fold increase in physical inactivity and severe obesity.

The intellectual, emotional and health impairments caused by child abuse also strongly affect job performance and financial health; the more ACEs a person was exposed to, the more they tend to be absent from work and suffer from serious financial and job problems.

Teen sexual dysfunctions such as intercourse by 15, teen pregnancy and teen paternity, are also strongly correlated to childhood ACEs.

A child can experience the effects of abuse without being directly abused " witnessing adult intimate partner violence (IPV) produces similar effects to direct child abuse. The more a child witnesses IPV, the greater the chance of reported alcoholism, illicit drug use, IV drug use and depression.

Tragically, the cycle of abuse tends to repeat " women who were exposed to physical abuse, sexual abuse and IPV in childhood were 3.5 times more likely to report IPV victimization as adults.

Abuse in childhood is also strongly associated with adult obesity. Physical abuse and verbal abuse were most strongly associated with body weight and density, and obesity risks increase with the number and severity of each type of abuse.

Child abuse and neglect is overwhelmingly parental " 78.5% is committed by parents, with a scattering of much smaller numbers among professionals, other relatives, or unmarried partners of the parent.

Hope, Change and Empathy

Child abuse can justly be called the greatest of all tragedies, since it is so often the cause of countless other tragedies. Victims of child abuse form a grim and writhing underbelly of society, constantly struggling with chaotic emotions, destructive impulses and addictions, incomprehensible mood swings, self-hatred and a sense of generalized incompetence. By ignoring the physiological realities that result from their early victimization, and still pretending that we all start more or less at the same place, we place a further burden on those already weighed down by the abuses of their histories.

The brain does have the ability to reshape and reform itself, and there is good evidence that talk therapy can be very helpful in ameliorating some of the effects of child abuse. It is not the case that we must be forever burdened with what we were born into, but it does take significant work to overcome these disabilities " and most importantly, it takes a general understanding, sensitivity and empathy from society as a whole, particularly from those lucky enough to have been born into good families.

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