It’s hard to find a reason when all you have is doubt
Hard to see into yourself when you can’t see your way out
Hard to find an answer in a question that won’t come out
Why is everyone filling you up with noise when you don’t know what they are talking about?
All I need is a whisper when a world that only shouts
These words are gotten from a song titled “Whispers” by Passenger.
A study at the University of Pittsburgh found that yelling regularly to children as a form of discipline, holds many risks for their psychological development, including the possibility of developing an aggressive behavior or conversely, over-shies.
These psychologists have analyzed 976 families and their children for two years, and found that crying out daily as part of the educational style, could predict the onset of behavioral problems in adolescents aged 13 or depressive symptoms at the age of 14. Furthermore, they discovered that instead of minimizing the problems, the crisis tended to aggravate the disobedience. They also saw that the warmth of parents; that is, their love and degree of emotional support, did not reduce the psychological impact of screams. This means that the mark left by the screams can’t be cleared with a hug or a loving gesture.
Another research conducted by a group of psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School has made a step further: its results warn that verbal abuse, such as yelling and humiliation, can alter significantly and permanently the brain structure of children.
These researchers analyzed the brains of 51 children who received psychiatric treatment and compared them to those of 97 healthy children. So they discovered that abandonment, corporal punishment and verbal discipline caused a significant reduction of the corpus callosum, a sort of “cable” consisting of nerve cells that connects the two hemispheres of the brain.
A smaller corpus callosum causes a lower integration of the two halves of the brain, which can cause dramatic changes in mood and personality. The study also found a decrease in activity in parts of the brain associated with emotions and attention. These children had a lower blood flow to a part of the brain known as the cerebellar vermis, which is essential to maintain a good emotional balance.
When children are very young, they are not able to distinguish the difference between shouts and affection. In practice, they do not understand that if parents raise their voices with them does not mean they do not love them, but that can be stressed or are blaming them for a bad behavior. Not knowing the difference could create a strong feeling of anxiety and stress. In fact, the researchers believe that changes in brain structure are due to the excessive release of cortisol, the stress hormone, during the first years of life.
It is curious but children and adolescents who have grown up in an environment where screams are daily bread, are also twice as likely to have an abnormal brain electrical activity. In some cases, this activity has been likened to that of people who suffer from epilepsy.
Well, how does culture control communication?
In the context of the Nigerian society, culture is a set of shared values that a group of people hold. Such values affect how you think and act, and more importantly, the kind of criteria by which you judge others. Cultural meanings render some behaviors as normal and right and others strange or wrong. While some of culture’s knowledge, rules, beliefs, values, phobias and anxieties are taught explicitly, most is absorbed subconsciously.
How would you define yelling? Have you ever been at the receiving end of someone yelling? Do you consider yourself to be someone that frequently yells? Have you ever used yelling to rebuke, correct, or reprimand another? Have you ever foundyourself uncontrollably yelling? If so, you are in good company, because a large percentage of our society continues to utilizeyelling. Yet what good comes from yelling and losing personal self-control?
A recent study in the Journal of Child Development found that children who are raised in an environment that yelling is the normal way of life, have a higher probability of developing psychological issues and conditions. Moreover, when parents and caregivers purposely use yelling as a source of correction and discipline; the children have an increased risk of developing a number of psychological issues; including behavioral problems, anxiety, stress and depression.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
For many Nigerians, yelling, shouting, screaming, belittling, and personal name calling are justifiable. In fact, it is very common for a yeller to be a screamer, belittler, and for a name caller. As a society, we justify such behaviors by excusing them as care, protection and motivation, but the reality is, there is seldom an environment with which yelling is justifiable. What would be considered a justifiable reason for yelling? As a Nigerian society, we have created a justifiable list of reasons which yelling is permissible and acceptable.
As a species, we are emotionally driven, impulsive, confrontational, and fundamentally influenced by opposition. While as a species, we are driven by opposition; telling and verbal confrontations rarely positively inspire or motivate either. When attempting to motivate through negative reinforcement, the stimulus evokes and provokes strong emotions. Such emotions are negative and resistant in nature rather than positively influenced. If we motivate through a positive, encouraging and persuasive approach, we are more apt to create a positively influenced environment.
Can we do more of whispers than screams for a change?