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The need for research into the psychology of ‘intactivism’
[Adapted from a message posted to the Inter-Circ discussion group by John S. The original, together with its context, appears as message number 12817 in that group’s archive.]
Some intactivist individuals are borderline psychotic when it comes to their circumcision. On occasions when I’ve tried to have a rational discussion about circumcision with such extremists, I’ve immediately discovered not only an absence of common ground for discussion but apparently I was communicating with individuals who are deeply psychologically disturbed and totally irrational.
The recent message* posted with the rant from the 19 year old that "people like you should be shot!" (meaning anyone in favor of circumcision) should not be taken lightly or considered frivolous. Given the means, such highly agitated individuals would not hesitate to harm someone that supports or engages in circumcision. For them, no longer is the foreskin just a redundant flap of skin covering the end of the penis but the repository of all sensory pleasure in a male, the sexual essence of being a male. We might scoff at such irrational beliefs but to the "true believers" this foreskin-centric myth is a deeply held conviction.
This refers to a message first posted on the Canadian version of Yahoo Answers by someone calling themselves 'Mitch'. The verbatim quote, part of a longer post rabidly objecting to circumcision on parental initiative, is: “People that try to convince others to mutilate their children should be shot (srs)”. The website <http://www.internetslang.com/> defines srs as an abbreviation of serious - Editor.
Through the psychological process of transference, all of their personal problems relating to sexual and/or social dysfunction become focused solely on the lack of a foreskin. For an individual who sincerely believes that way, their (almost always neonate) circumcision totally ruined their lives. Thus a hostility is generated which blows the whole issue completely out of proportion and turns these psychologically disturbed individuals into potentially dangerous, irrational people. I’ve even seen printed address and contact lists of doctors who circumcise displayed as invitations for these radical intactivists to target them for harassment.
Such "surveys" as the one you noted feed into this psychological pathology in a way that validates these individuals’ deepest fears and rages. Such statistical nonsenses are a primary means by which the intactivists keep their "troops" stirred up and enraged with hate. While most intactivists realize there are legal limits to what means can be used to express their rage, a small subset of them think along the lines of abortion clinic bombers. This supposedly Canadian-based survey (where controversial material is sometimes more tolerated than in the U.S.) is raw intactivist propaganda at its worst.
The survey in question, conducted online, purported to be a scientific analysis of the adverse results of male circumcision. However, it’s opening page (accessed 24.Jun.2011) stated that questionnaires would only be accepted from circumcised men citing harm they themselves had suffered. This immediately excluded all circumcised men who were satisfied with their circumcision, leading to the predictable but totally false result that every man circumcised had suffered harm - Editor.
Psychotherapists have years of work awaiting them dealing with these borderline psychotics. I’m somewhat surprised that “absent foreskin anxiety disorder” does not appear in the latest DSM manual. The abundant evidence that it exists and is a genuine and widespread psychological disorder cannot be denied. Why isn’t the mental health establishment getting involved as the more extreme intactivists are becoming bolder and more threatening? The hate-filled intactivist sites (and "circ harm" surveys such as the one mentioned) only feed into this irrational fear and anger, whipping it into a frenzy so that it becomes only a matter of time before something tragic happens. If the medical establishment chooses to discount this genuine threat as harmless, they do so at their own peril. Intervention by mental health professionals is badly needed to prevent some of these radical/mentally unstable "intactivists" from going off the deep end. We need to take this matter seriously because serious it is.
John S. - USA
John’s suggestion appears to call for, as a first step, academic research validating his assertion that militant intactivism is (or can be) a psychosis. Hence this entry in Academic Corner - Editor.
The suggestion that opposition to circumcision should be viewed as a psychological issue is far from being new. Dagher et al wrote a paper in 1973 entitled "Carcinoma of the Penis and the Anti-Circumcision Crusade". Here is the relevant quote:
The current anti-circumcision crusade can be attributed to a concatenation of factors old and new. From a phylogenic viewpoint the oldest of
these factors is man’s high valuation of the genitals and the guilt-induced anxiety leading to a fear of genital injury. Since the individual’s dread of genital injury or castration is usually resolved by relegation to the unconscious, it may later emerge as a sincere effort to have every penis remain intact. Potentiating this primordial anxiety is a quite understandable backlash against the originally unscientific origins of circumcision and against the lavish claims that were made regarding the benefits accruing to those who underwent the procedure. Like all backlashes, the reaction has been excessive and the anti-circumcision camp now attempts to demolish fact as well as fancy. The analogy of throwing out the baby with the bath water was never more applicable.
Source: Dagher R, Selzer ML, Lapides J. Carcinoma of the Penis and the Anti-Circumcision Crusade
Urol 1973; 110: 79-80. The full text is available here: http://www.circs.org/library/dagher/index.html
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