Our brains, it seems, are able to push us in certain directions. The brain used to be thought of as a passive switchboard, activated only when stimulated by our external senses. Now we know that each signal imposes on a background of ongoing activity, is modified by this activity, and in turn modifies it. Studies have shown that there are critical periods of development during which an injection of certain hormones in minute amounts can have permanent effects upon development. One such study has indicated that piercing the lips or ears, or cutting or burning the skin, can increase median height or other physical factors and effect behavioral development.

The development of the human body is a unique process that each of us understand in our own way. Undoubtedly, there are factors that we have not taken notice of or have not received instruction on – certain stimuli that we are not given a full understanding of.

Do you think that your genetic makeup is determined solely by genetic recombination? I.e. do your parents provide you with all the genetic code that will indicate you future height, build, and other capacities? Has Darwin’s natural selection predetermined our state of being? Launder and Whiting1 think not. It seems that there are other factors, including our experiences, which shape us.

The data suggests that children within the first two or three years of life are in the critical period of development. The average superiority in height of children who have been stressed as a result of piercings, cuts, is more than two inches. The data is far from conclusive however, and additional study is underway, with the hope of pinpointing how our brains can influence our physical and behavioral development.

So bear in mind what the effect will be, if you are planning of having your child pierced at birth. Your piercing shop won’t be advertising the fact that getting a piercing may increase someone’s height, but you may want to do a little research anyway.

  1. Reference: Landauer, T. K., and J. W. M. Whiting, “Some effects of infant stress upon    human stature,” Am. Anthrop., in press.

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