Left-Handedness loses its stigma





...There are certain rare syndromes in which the usual asymmetry of organs is reversed — I remember how disconcerting it was the first time I examined a child with dextrocardia, a heart on the right side, and heard the heart sounds in unexpected places. But when it comes to handedness, another basic human asymmetry, which reflects the structure and function of the brain, the reversed pattern is relatively common, and for all that, not easily understood.

Over the centuries, left-handers have been accused of criminality and dealings with the devil, and children have been subjected to “re-education.” In recent years the stigma has largely vanished; among other things, four of our last seven presidents — Ford, the elder Bush, Clinton, Obama — have been left-handed. (Reagan is sometimes cited as ambidextrous.)...

Left-handedness has sometimes been treated as pathological. Cesare Lombroso, the infamous 19th-century physician who identified various facial (and racial) features with criminal traits, also saw left-handedness as evidence of pathology, primitivism, savagery and criminality. And I was brought up with the story that a generation ago, in the bad old days (and in the old country), foolish unenlightened people tried to force left-handed children to convert and use their right hands. My father said that my uncle, his older brother, had had his left hand tied behind his back as a child....



comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe to our mailing list