Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Whats With The Left Hand?

Over the weekend, my son and I made a quick stop at a supermarket a few streets away from home. Usually, his nanny would step out to get whatever was needed while we waited in the car or I go get it while I leave them both in the car. But this time Comfort took the weekend off, so it was just me and Ray.

Well, we both go in to the shop and as always everyone cooing him left, right and centre. We are used to the attention he gets. I'm not even competing with the biggest celebrity in my house. My almost 4-year-old tinny feet, Mr Ray has many fans and he hasn't even started a career yet. Anyway, just as he's smiling and giving the shop owner's husband a 'HI-five', an elderly woman walks in to buy something.

I can't remember exactly what she asked for, because I wasn't paying much attention to her. I already had my mind occupied with Ray, my shopping order and yes, the road side where I parked my car just in case the real owners decide they are tired of letting me keep my own. property. Lol.

I think the old lady must have dropped her money because my very observant Ray picked up a #200 (naira) note on the floor beside her, tugged at her clothes and gave her the money...err...with his 'LEFT HAND'. That's when hell broke loose! Mama just burst out angry. At first I thought, she thought he took her money, so we were all trying to explain that she dropped it and he was only helping. Noooooo!! That wasn't the problem at all o. Hmmm..."How dare this 'omo kekere' give her something with his left hand?. Omo ti o l'eko!" Ha! Did this woman just say my child has no manners?! Wait a friggin minute Mama...I'm rolling up my invisible sleeves in my mind. This woman deserves a beat down, how dare she insult my well mannered son who simply helped her...

Ray wasn't trying to be rude. He is JUST 'left-handed' and that means he does almost everything with his left hands, even with people constantly trying to confuse him by giving him things in his right hand or asking him to do things with it. Well, the store owner said I could train him to use his right hand, correctly. But wait o! Who told them that I want actually want to 'correct' it. Its things like these that discombulate me.

Left-handed people have historically had a rough ride, labeled 'cack-handed', 'sinister'...The SOUTHPAWS - they are even forced at school to write with their right hand (as I believe I, myself may have been... leaving me with a somewhat clumsy AMBIDEXTERITY..the ability to use both my left and right hand).

Most people think of left-handedness as a genetic issue, and while there is a link, some also indicate certain MYTHS that left-handedness may often be the result of developmental glitches. This, in turn, may make lefties more susceptible to some mental disorders, as well as being accident-prone. Ha! Na wa o. Being left-handed has even been linked to an increased likelihood of trans-sexualism (Ehn... For where na?) as well as a level of high-achieving brilliance (Ehen, now they are talking sense).

There is a popular theory that generally explains the brain hemisphere and how it affects the theory of handedness. It is believed that if all functions are carried out in both hemispheres of the brain, the energy consumption of the brain will be greatly increased. The way the brain works is incredibly complex so simply put when explaining brain dominance and handedness, we say that the brain is 'cross-wired' so that the left hemisphere controls the right handed side of the body and vice-versa and hand dominance is connected with brain dominance on the opposite side – which is why there's the wise saying that 'only left-handers' are in their right minds!!!

THE MYTH...

RELIGIOUS CONNOTATIONS

Christianity and its many connotations haven’t helped either as it literally favours the right hand. For instance, it is known that the right hand gives the blessing and makes the sign of the cross (I'm catholic by birth, so I know this one wella...even ask the sango and idol worshipers which hand dey bless?). The Bible also contains over 100 favourable references to the right hand and 25 unfavourable references to the left-hand. E.g.: The right hand of the lord doeth valiantly, the right hand of the lord is exalted (Psalm 118 vv15, 16). In the parables of the sheep and goats. The sheep are set on Christ’s right hand and the goats on the left. (Mbok!!! My pikin no be goat o) Lol.

THE LINK TO SCHIZOPHRENIA

The latest research on left-handedness comes from Yale University. Researchers claim their study shows it has a strong link with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

While around one in ten people are left-handed, the study, published in a journal says IT DOESN'T JUST RUN IN FAMILIES.

While the Yale researchers didn't attempt to explain the link between schizophrenia and left-handedness, another new study suggests difficult conditions in the womb - such as toxins, stress or malnutrition - may increase the likelihood of children being born left-handed. That poor environment may also make them more vulnerable to developing schizophrenic disorders.

Researchers from Graylands Hospital in Perth, Australia, looked at the maternal health records of more than 1,000 high school students born in Belgrade in Europe. They found that the left-handed teens were far more likely to have been born to mothers who smoke (see oh, I don't smoke...And, I never did...that report doesn't count for me). The Australian scientists believe their study shows that while left-handedness can be inherited genetically, many cases are acquired before birth through environmental problems suffered in the womb. And insist that inheriting 'left-handedness' is simply not a clear-cut matter of a 'lefties' gene, either because even identical twins, who have 100 per cent of the same genes, do not always share handedness.

LEFTIES MAY BE MORE CLUMSY

Problems in the womb may also explain why left-handedness appears to make children more accident-prone. This again may be a result of poor brain development due to conditions in the womb.

A Harvard University Medical School report this year suggests, however, that some of the difference in accidents may be due to the fact that lefties have to cope with a world tailored for right-handers. 'For example, left-handers might have more accidents when using power tools designed for right-handed people in a right-handed society.

THE LINK TO TRANSSEXUALITY

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of left-handedness comes from Richard Green, a professor of psychiatry at the Gender Identity Clinic, Imperial College London. His research was based on a study of 400 male and 100 female transsexuals over four years. The study found that the majority were left-handed, which again goes against the trend for the rest of the population.

A study revealed that transsexuals' fingerprints tend to have distinctively strong ridges. Professor Green believes that hand preference and fingerprints are both formed in the first 15 weeks  after conception.

He says their development in the womb is influenced by the sex hormone testosterone, and that this influence may also somehow underlie the GENDER 'dysphoria' - feeling mismatched from the biological sex you are born with - which transsexuals experience.

However, other research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study of male-to-female transsexuals, led by Diane Watson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, also found high levels of left-handedness in transsexuals (note I said transsexuals, not gay).

But she said evidence shows that this can be related to stress suffered either by the mother when carrying the baby, or by the baby during a difficult birth, through prolonged labour, oxygen-starvation or breech delivery. Thus, she believes that many cases of 'left-handedness' can actually be determined around the time of birth.

Left-handed people have indeed historically produced an above-average quota of high achievers.

ARE THEY ALL HIGH ACHIEVERS?

Are lefties disproportionately brilliant? There are a great many accomplished artists and world famous people who are left handed and obviously, their dominant hand being the left did nothing to deter their drive or achievements in their chosen fields. Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle and Charles Darwin count among them. Even Michelangelo and Rubens, Benjamin Britten, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, plus five of the seven most recent U.S. presidents, including George Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, British prime minister, David Cameron, James Cameron, Spike Lee, Pierce Brosnan, Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Judy Garland, Whoopi Goldberg, Nicole Kidman Marilyn Monroe, David Bowie, Eminem, Jimi Hendrix who is also a leftie and May I add, even our own Desmond Elliot. Left-handers are also pretty good at sports and things involving hand-to-eye co-ordination. eg. Rafael Nadal...Not that I know much about sports or even care for it. I just occasionally ogle all the hot-ass looking men playing footsie (tongue out...hehehe )

Chris McManus, professor of psychology and medical education at University College London, argues that left-handed people as a group have indeed historically produced an above-average quota of 'high achievers'. He says that the different way many left-handers' brains are structured WIDENS their range of abilities.

It is thought they use BOTH sides of the brain for tasks such as 'verbal processing', where right-handers use only the left side; or they use both hemispheres for a task where a right-hander would use only one. Professor McManus adds that the genes which can determine left-handedness also govern development of the language centres of the brain. His studies have identified at least 40 genes that may contribute to making people into SOUTHPAWS (We are back to the issue of genes again)

Professor McManus, author of the book 'Right Hand, Left Hand', says the proportion of left-handers is rising. Records show they represented only 3 per cent of people born before 1910, compared to the 10 per cent right now. This may be due partly to the fact that widespread discrimination meant it was often 'beaten out' of children. And as adults, left-handers were often shunned, resulting in fewer marrying and reproducing, he says. But as discrimination reduced in the 20th century, however, the number of natural left-handers who stayed that way increased.

Professor McManus adds that the rising age of motherhood has contributed as well, since, statistically, older mums are more likely to give birth to left-handed children, though the reasons why, are not clear. He argues that the increase in left-handers could produce a corresponding INTELLECTUAL 'advance' among humankind and growth in numbers of mathematical and artistic geniuses, and other high achievers, such as those already mentioned. That's very Good news for me indeed (I will rather believe that myth than any other absurd theory, as I know my son isn't clumsy, didn't have any out of the ordinary complications during birth...has no mental disorder and will not be transexual).

However, my vestigial left-handedness has simply rendered me the world's clumsiest typist as it has also left me in a state of confusion over the words 'left' and 'right'. Please don't ever try to give me directions when I'm driving (ask my close friends).You know the hand rules...Left hand (Toilet hand), Right hand (Eba hand) lol. They both just seem the same to me. And I actually use right hand for toilet...wetin person go do. Too graphic for you eh. I know. Well I know my left hands are stronger when sweeping, doing hand laundry, even driving. Plus don't we use our left hands to eat whilst using a fork and knife? Ha I tire o. Anyway, with all the many myths about handed-ness, I have long since been accredited to the right-hand society but I will never impose on my child a myth I clearly don't believe...or even try to confuse him further.

So as I'm standing here thinking of the choice insult to dish 'Mama-Vexation' ...err... I just turn to her and curtsy, "Ejoo ma! E ma bi nu si omo mi" in the best 'fake' yoruba accent I could muster. Oh well, for those who don't understand my insult... I said to her "Please madam, don't be upset with my child. I beg you"... Hehehe... I know. I begged...Well, I didn't have the nerves to insult a woman old enough to be my mother or his grand mother, even though I honestly think she deserved a facial hard reset aka BIG SLAP. Yes na or don't you think so?... "Thank you" or "Ose omo mi" should have been the appropriate thing to say to the little boy who found her money...but instead, she forgot her 'own' manners and got caught up in all the weird superstition and myths we have adopted about left-handedness in these part of the world. And its sad that left-handed people go through such malicious segregation and those many superstitions still survive today. But err...I wan ASK again o, what's the big deal with the left hand?!

Have a Wonderful Wednesday Lovelies. Kisses!

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