While not many people think much about the possible psychological damage circumcision can bring because most males are so young when they get it done, apparently it can do serious harm. For a while now this has been quite a controversial topic and with good reason.

When it comes to circumcision, most people do not seem to be able to agree on things. Some believe it should be done and others think it is taking away a right that should be given to the male in question when he is ready to make it himself. Most babies for those who might not know are for males circumcised within about a month of being born. A local anesthetic is typically used but in some situations, it is not.

This is essentially the act of cutting the foreskin off of a males penis. Many claim it is done for hygiene reasons but overall it is not something that has to be done and across the globe, many countries do not practice it. The act itself is more-so common here in the US. While most parents here decide for their sons to have it done when they are babies, the procedure can be done at any age.

Not everyone knows this but there are risks involved with it, complications can come forth and in rare cases, some babies have even lost their lives as a result. That being said, this article is going to focus on the potential psychological side of things. Chances are you’ve seen a lot of people online talking about this topic and many men who are quite saddened that their parents made this choice for them and that their foreskin is now gone forever. That in itself can be quite psychological but it’s not the only way psychological issues stemming from this can progress.

Sonoma State University wrote as follows going over circumcision as trauma:

Studies investigating pain have referred to circumcision as traumatic. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association [23] is helpful in discussing the question of trauma as it relates to circumcision. Its description of a traumatic event includes an event that is beyond human experiences, such as assault (sexual or physical), torture, and a threat to one’s physical integrity. An assault is no a physical attack; torture is severe pain or anguish. It does not necessarily take account of intent or purpose but focuses on the act itself and the experience of the victim.

From the perspective of the infant, all the elements in the DSM-IV description of traumatic events apply to circumcision; the procedure involved being forcibly restrained, having part of the penis cut off, and experiencing extreme pain. Based on the nature of the experience and considering the extreme physiological and behavioral responses, circumcision traumatizes the infant.

The question of an infant’s capacity to experience trauma needs to be emphasized. Wilson, an author with a national reputation for trauma research, supports the idea that trauma can occur ‘at any point in the life cycle, from infancy to the waning years of life’ [24]. In addition, the DSM-IV states that traumatic effects ‘can occur at any age’ [23]. Clinicians have documented that children are particularly vulnerable to trauma [25,26]. Psychic trauma seems to have a permanent effect on children, no matter how young they are when they are traumatized. Furthermore, psychopathology increases as the age of the child at the time of the trauma decreases [27].

According to Psychology Today pain from this act can alter the infant’s brain and overall seems to hold serious psychological consequences for men. Sure, some men are perfectly okay with their having been circumcised not all are and many feel pretty odd about it. This is something we all need to be more aware of.

Psychology Today wrote as follows on PTSD and circumcision as a child:

The most comprehensive study available that assesses the psychological impact of circumcision on children after infancy was conducted by Ramos and Boyle (2000) and involved 1072 pre-adolescent and adolescent boys who were circumcised in a hospital setting. Using an adapted version of a clinically established PTSD interview rating scale, the study’s authors determined that 51 percent of these boys met the full diagnostic criteria for PTSD and noted that other variables such as age at circumcision (pre-adolescence versus adolescence) and time elapsed since the procedure (months versus years) were not predictive of a PTSD diagnosis (Ramos & Boyle, 2000). As a point of comparison, the rate of PTSD among veterans of the Iraq war is approximately 20 percent (NIH, 2009).

What do you think about all of this? Do you think it is important for us to allow our sons to make their own choices about things like this? Are we doing this for mere aesthetics here in the US? For more on this topic take a look at the video below.

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