Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Silence isn't always golden

IT IS one of the most natural instincts in the world to soothe a crying child- Lord only knows I have spent a considerable amount of time over the last two years hushing, cuddling and drying tears.

When my child, or indeed any child, is crying and in pain I get an almost irresistible urge to scoop said child up in my arms, kiss their wee heads and try my very best to make it all better.
I imagine that urge does not make me a freak of nature and that I'm not the only person in the world that feels that way. That is, I guess, the primary reason I won't be swapping my Catholic guilt for a healthy bout of Scientology any time soon.
For the uninitiated, Scientology is the increasingly popular religion favoured by Hollywood hunks and starlets- most notably Tom Cruise and his soon-to-give-birth missus Katie Holmes.
Now generally I'm very much of the opinion that when it comes to religion we are all under the care of the one God anyway and how you choose to believe in his (or her) representation on earth is your own business. I'm a live and let live kind of gal- but not when it comes to the teachings of Scientology.
You see Scientologists believe that if a child is sick or injured you should, of course, tend to their physical needs, but you should not, under any circumstances say anything to them while they are distressed.
Scientologists believe that soothing an injured children- with a hug, a kiss or a simple "I'm here baby"- will leave a negative imprint in their brains- something they call an engram.
This 'negative impact' philosophy is also used to support their policy of maintaining silence during childbirth and, indeed, making sure the newborn baby hears not one sounds in the first hours and days of their lives.
As a woman who has given birth largely without the aid of pain relief (not through choice- I'm just one of the 15% of women who the epidural doesn't work for), I cannot for the life of understand how it can be helpful, productive or even possible to stay silent throughout the experience.
My labour, along with being quite sore, was a time when every emotion possible bubbled up to the surface. I laughed, I cried, I grunted, I moaned, I told my husband I loved him, I chatted with the midwife- I even sang along to a song on the radio. The one thing that I did not do was shut up.

Kiss and hug
Similarly when all 6lb 9oz of babyness was placed in my arms it would have been the most painful and unnatural thing in the world for me not to have acknowledged him with a kiss, an hello, a hug and promises of great things to come.
Apparently over the last week giant billboards have been arriving at the house of Mr. Cruise and Ms. Holmes proclaiming, basically, she is to keep hush while birthing their baby.
Then ickle baby Cruise will reportedly be wrapped in swaddling cloths and taken away to be left in peace for a day without any of that old intrusion from his/her doting parents. There won't be any cuddles, proud pictures or early bonding. Katie will not have the chance to lie awake all night staring at the newborn creature in the cot beside her marvelling to herself that she is now a mother and that wee miracle of life is her own.
God love the poor woman if she then goes on to develop Post Natal Depression because, just like the children who won't be comforted if they fall or get ill, she won't find soothing words from her Scientology friends.
They don't believe in psychology, you see. They don't believe in taking anti-depressants to help make it all better. Apparently if you get really bad, however, you will get a 'Introspection Rundown' which, as far as I can see, involves intensive therapy where, you've guessed it, no one talks to you until you can admit you have a problem and suss out what that problem is.
Now if you use that little Google tool on your internet, and type in the words 'Introspection Rundown'- the name Lisa McPherson will jump out at you. You see Lisa McPherson was a member of the Church of Scientology and had a nervous breakdown. Her 'friends' took her aside and arranged a wee introspection rundown and a mere three weeks later Lisa was dead. It is believed by many her treatment by the compassionate souls in the Church may have directly contributed to her death.
Now I can't help but wonder that if Lisa had been talked to, and listened to, would she still be here today? There are times in all our lives, when we are scared, in pain and vulnerable when the thing we need most of all is simply for someone to listen to us and tell us it will be okay.
If you can't get that kind of comfort from the source of all love- your God- then where can you get it?

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