It is arguable that the first “human being” was really the first homo sapien, sentient and self-aware, who was able to contemplate and communicate the idea of a supreme being, a Creator, responsible for somehow bringing the world into existence and placing human beings in the middle of it. In Judeo-Christian theology, that man’s name was Adam. As instinct (probably hormones) induced him to mate and preserve the species, he may very well have found a female who could understand and relate to his idea. Her name, in Judeo-Christian theology, was Eve. Or, maybe it was Eve who made the breakthrough.
Organized religion – especially monotheism, in all liklihood arising in the far eastern region of the ancient Persian Empire in the vastness of the Hindu Kush – first recorded as Zoroastrianism – when the religious philosopher Zoroaster simplified the pantheon of early Persian gods into two opposing forces: (ironically) “progressive mentality” and “destructive mentality” under the one God, Ahura Mazda (“Illuminating Wisdom”) – which became a way for individuals and communities in the fertile crescent (land in and around northern Persian Gulf, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; the Levant, the eastern coast of the Mediterranean sea; and around the Nile River of ancient Upper and Lower Egypt) and the Arabian Desert, to express their spiritual life – their understanding of, and relationship with, their Creator.
Zoroaster’s monotheistic conception led to a formal religion bearing his name (and still practiced today) by about the 6th Century BC and has influenced subsequent monotheistic religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam, where the centrality of formal, religious and public marriage between one man and one woman became the foundation of society. In Judaism, the Creator was Yahweh; in Christianity, God the Father Almighty; in Islam, it is Allah.
But, what is religion? At its heart, it is the social and cultural organization that nurtures a belief system that promotes inner healing along with altruism and a search, through the fog of life, for the truth of an all-merciful God. Religion is “part of the adventure of life”, says author Ray Waddle, “the urge to heal creation and oneself.”
Absent the support provided by religion and because human beings are “unfinished” (says historian Richard Wentz), human free will always guarantees that some are capable of terrible evil and others of great mercy.” Religion provides the collective wisdom to comprehend this dichotomy.
Because of all of our human flaws, in order to survive psychologically as well as physically, religion sponsors the lifelong pilgrimage that guides the faithful on their journey away from destructive folly and toward the freedom inherent in the acceptance of the overpowering good of the Creator, who conceived us as a reflection of our God and, most importantly, to make this journey with fellow pilgrims – sister seekers on the path. For nearly all, our first sojourners are the members of our own family.
Traditional and historical marriage, therefore, is first and foremost a religious institution – a union sanctified by our God for the purpose of creating a bond so strong that it can withstand most of life’s buffeting in order to provide a safe, nurturing space in which to rear a couple’s children. It, no doubt, matured as an institution in human pre-history as the end result of many religious, social and cultural trials, errors, failures and successes until it reached its historic (one could say – Biblical) form of one man – one woman, pledged to each other in the “eyes of God”.
As civilization progressed, cultures created a similar institution for the non-religious members of society – if they tolerated them at all. These are known in modern parlance as “civil-unions” and allow the secular state to recognize and respect the desire of the couple to accept the responsibilities of raising children in a family setting. These also allow certain legal constructs to benefit the couples – which are also conveyed in (religious) marriages registered with the state.
Separating the historically religious aspect of marriage (one man – one women – intended children) from the secular institution therefore, renders it moot. Without a religious underpinning, the union is civil in nature only. For emphasis – if the union is not religious in nature, it is not marriage. If it is not consecrated (a religious concept) to provide safe haven for the responsible rearing of well-adjusted, morally and ethically trained children to launch into society – it is not marriage. Call it something else because calling it marriage is simply a moral untruth, confounding to children and degrading to those engaged in historically traditional, religiously-centered, marriage. Civil-union is an appropriate term for the construct of the secular family.
But why such a hard line against integration of “gay” marriage into the American culture by hard-core gay rights activists? To answer that question, one must look at the plague, and pain, of behavioral disorder. The radical activists leading this fight already have all of the rights, privileges, opportunities and advantages they need to function as any other secular couples do. Their fight is about traditional Judeo-Christian religious beliefs that they want to neutralize. Why? Because they find them an inconvenient challenge to their compulsive behavioral disorder – the overwhelming desire to impose their beliefs on unwilling, religiously-centered citizens.
In doing so, they are breaking a cardinal rule of government policy making. Never create policy based on wants – only needs. Wants need to be worked out amongst the People, not imposed from above, since they are not essential to the enjoyment of inalienable rights and, as such, mean different things to different people – making good legislation impossible because not everyone would be treated equally.
Understand that this discussion is not about the vast majority of the gay community who have lived quiet, peaceful and successful lives in their local communities across this land – keeping their private lives private like most of the other 99% of the population – and making positive, valuable contributions to their neighborhoods, communities and this nation since its founding. An overwhelming percentage of every-day people know them, accept them, value them and love them as friends, neighbors, first-responders, co-workers, teammates, church-goers and family members.
Unfortunately, their peaceful and quiet lifestyle has been co-opted by militant and radical activists – much like Islam has been hijacked by violent radicals – who, like most people who suffer from some form of behavioral issue, are wedded to compulsive activity, whether passive or aggressive, in the quest for satisfaction – in this case, power over the moral and ethical standards of the Judeo-Christian (and Muslim) community in order to be accepted as if their belligerant behavior was within the norm of American society in general. Sound familiar? Again, this discussion is about militant, radical gay or lesbian activists – those with apparent behavioral issues – not everyday people who happen to be gay or lesbian.
During the time period of the 1980s and early 1990s information about risk factors for diseases and disorders had been widely researched and merged into public education, treatment and prevention programs. However, it was also clear that risk factors were not randomly distributed in the population. In fact, it was known that risk factors for many chronic diseases and disorders tended to cluster, that is, persons who had one risk factor also tended to have one or more other risk factors.
Because of this knowledge, the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study was designed to assess what were considered to be “scientific gaps” about the origins of risk factors for physical and mental health issues. These gaps link Adverse Childhood Experiences to risk factors that lead to social, emotional and cognitive impairment and the adoption of high-risk behaviors later in life.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood trauma and later-life health and well-being. The study is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego, CA.
More than 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) members undergoing comprehensive physical examinations chose to provide detailed information about their childhood experience of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction. To date, more than 50 scientific articles have been published and more than 100 conference and workshop presentations have been made about this study.
The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of behaviors that lead to illness and early death as well as poor quality of life in the United States. It is critical to understand how some of the worst health and social problems in our nation can arise as a consequence of adverse childhood experiences. Realizing these connections is likely to improve efforts towards prevention, management and recovery. Some findings:
“Childhood abuse, neglect, and exposure to other traumatic stressors which we term adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are common. Almost two-thirds of our study participants reported at least one ACE, and more than one of five (20%) reported three or more ACE. The short- and long-term outcomes of these childhood exposures include a multitude of health and social problems.
* An estimated 681,000 children were confirmed by Child Protective Services as being victims of maltreatment in 2011. A cross-sectional, US national telephone survey of the child maltreatment experiences of 4,503 children and youth aged 1 month to 17 years in 2011 found that 13.8% experienced child maltreatment in the last year (included neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, custodial interference, or sexual abuse by a known adult).
* Child maltreatment affects children now and later, and the costs to our country are significant: Improper brain development; Impaired cognitive (learning ability); socio-emotional (social and emotional skills); Lower language development; smoking, alcoholism and drug abuse. In 2011, approximately 1,570 children died from abuse and neglect across the country—a rate of 2.10 deaths per 100,000 children.
* Maltreatment during infancy or early childhood can cause important regions of the brain to form and function improperly with long-term consequences on cognitive, language, and socioemotional development, and mental health. For example, the stress of chronic abuse may cause a “hyperarousal” response in certain areas of the brain, which may result in hyperactivity and sleep disturbances. Children may experience severe or fatal head trauma as a result of abuse.
* Children who experience maltreatment are also at increased risk for adverse health effects and certain chronic diseases and disorders as adults. In one long-term study, as many as 80 percent of young adults who had been abused met the diagnostic criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder at age 21. These young adults exhibited many problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. In addition to physical and developmental problems, the stress of chronic abuse may result in anxiety and may make victims more vulnerable to problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, conduct disorder, and learning, attention, and memory difficulties.
* Children who experience maltreatment are at increased risk for alcoholism, and drug abuse as adults, as well as engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors. Those with a history of child abuse and neglect are 1.5 times more likely to use illicit drugs, especially marijuana, in middle adulthood.
* Studies have found abused and neglected children to be at least 25 percent more likely to experience problems such as delinquency, teen pregnancy, and low academic achievement. Similarly, a longitudinal study found that physically abused children were at greater risk of being arrested as juveniles. This same study also found that abused youth were less likely to have graduated from high school and more likely to have been a teen parent.
* A National Institute of Justice study indicated that being abused or neglected as a child increased the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 59 percent. Abuse and neglect also increased the likelihood of adult criminal behavior by 28 percent and violent crime by 30 percent.
* Early child maltreatment can have a negative effect on the ability of both men and women to establish and maintain healthy intimate relationships in adulthood.
* Additionally, other studies have shown that early childhood trauma, such as the sudden loss of a parent or sibling, can also lead to other significant behavioral issues such as narcissistic personality disorder – a psychic defense mechanism.
Each of these manifestations have many of the attributes of a generally sympathetically considered condition in our culture which is commonly referred to as addiction. Addiction, as we all know, is a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences; it can be thought of as a condition or process leading to such behaviors.
The two properties that characterize all addictive stimuli are that they are (positively) reinforcing (i.e., they increase the likelihood that a person will seek repeated exposure to them) and intrinsically rewarding (i.e., they activate the brain’s “reward pathways”), and are therefore perceived as being something positive or desirable.
Classic hallmarks of addiction include impaired control over substances or behavior, preoccupation with substance or behavior, continued use despite consequences – and denial. Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterized by immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs).
Currently, only substance addictions and gambling addiction are recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental and Psychiatric Disorders, Volume Five, the DSM-5, which uses physical dependence and the associated withdrawal syndrome to identify an addictive state. Forms of dependence that are not mentioned in DSM-5 include power addiction, political addiction and sex addiction.
But, the term addiction can also be applied to compulsions that are not substance-related, such as compulsive shopping, sex addiction/compulsive sex, overeating or binge eating, problem gambling, exercise/sport, compulsive or binge travel, and computer/Internet addiction. In these kinds of common usages, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some rewarding activity, despite harmful long-term consequences, as deemed by the user themselves to their individual health, mental state and social life.
It’s no secret that the best leaders among us – the most driven, dedicated, and outside-the-box thinkers – are wired a bit differently from the rest. In fact, it’s been suggested that a decent chunk of the celebrity-crowd may have more sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies [no pejorative connotation intended] than the general population. These traits, which ideally fall not too far into the realm of pathology, are thought to be the very qualifications that propel an individual into celebrity in the first place.
What makes someone achieve at that level – the top executives, political leaders and entertainment and sports “superstars” – is often a stress or trauma that happened early on. There’s something, usually an early experience that fuels that kind of drive, and oftentimes it’s the same thing that drives addiction. The vast majority didn’t have some sort of basic needs met as children, so they’re driven very, very hard to succeed. Indeed, overcoming these traumas is very often proudly cited in celebrity biographies or autobiographies as the source of their success – think of all of the professional athletes in America who were raised by single-moms.
Some experts believe that a portion of risk that may come from the environment can happen in early childhood or even in utero. To quote one expert; “If you’re abused and neglected as a child, you’re more likely be become an addict… Even if your mother has the flu while in utero, you’re more likely to become an addict. What this all points to is the stress hormones – when you get these in the brain early in life, they produce changes in brain circuitry, especially in the reward system. In the acute phase, this makes you crave, and in long term, lead you to have higher chance of developing addiction.” In this way, genetic predisposition and early life stress can singly or jointly increase one’s risk for addiction – and, in various ways, these factors may also boost one’s drive to push hard in life and to succeed.
Since our discussion here is about gay-rights activists pushing for “gay” marriage, among an array of gay-centric issues, let’s focus on some of the common characteristics of gay, or bi-sexual individuals who have been studied at length by researchers. It has been reported widely and reliably that a significant number of gay, or bi-sexual individuals have almost ten times the number of sexual partners than does the average heterosexual person over almost any common length of time. Gay or bi-sexual individuals engage in frequent, quick, sexual liaisons devoid of intellectual intimacy – “just get it on and get-off”. Gay, or bi-sexual individuals engage in high-risk sexual activity regardless of the likely consequences – of which AIDS and discovery (for prominent persons especially – of both genders – e.g., male Congresspersons as well as female Olympic athletes) are but two.
Although sex addicts crave sex for the euphoric pleasure it provides them – much like the high that drug addicts experience when they use – they also use it for other similar reasons. Just like the alcoholic, compulsive gambler or drug addict, sex addicts are consumed with the desire to get their next “fix” – in spite of the risks and potential consequences. The vicious cycle of indulging in the activity, feeling guilt and remorse, resolving to change, and then giving in to the craving all over again is just the same as with any other type of addiction. The similarities between the patterns of compulsive sexual behavior and other addictions are why more and more experts have come to agree that some people truly have an addiction to sex.
These symptoms are eerily similar to Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), a medically recognized mental disorder, thought to be brought on by a seminal and significant childhood psychological trauma where, if left undiagnosed and untreated, the victim creates a psychological bubble in which they mentally live that shuts out virtually all others all the time in order to give the victim a sense of security from another significant emotional trauma. Due to this exclusion of others, including loved ones, such people create an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, especially relationships. One may be generally unhappy and disappointed when not given the special favors or admiration one believes they deserve. Militant gay-rights activists could easily fit this NPD description based upon their public behaviors – putting themselves “out-front”; uncaring attitude for traditional beliefs based on religious faith; gay sexual activity described above and aggressive militancy when confronting opposition.
Pathological narcissism exists below the person’s conscious awareness; such a person would, if questioned, typically deny thinking such a thing. To protect themselves against the intolerably painful rejection and isolation that (they imagine) would follow if others recognized their (perceived) defective nature, such people make strong attempts to control others’ views of them and behavior towards them. I have had a significant professional experience with this disorder and its hard consequences.
Narcissists are manipulative exhibitionists and sex is just one means of being admired. Intimacy does not exist. Narcissists are unable to empathize or genuinely love another person. They are master manipulators and know how to fake intimacy. The narcissist does not fulfill other people’s needs. Narcissists feel superior and more important than others; they feel entitled to be above the law and entitled to engage in behaviors that are considered socially undesirable or unacceptable. They reject and intensely resent all limitations or conditions placed upon them by others. They freely act on their impulses and desires and do not care about social conventions. They also like showing that they can break moral and sexual taboos.
Additionally, scientists have identified a potential genetic cause for sex, and other, addictions. The new research centers on a gene called D4, which is involved in the brain’s reaction to the pleasure chemical dopamine.
Next time – the legal arguments associated with the issue of “gay marriage”.