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Spanking Kids Leads to Adult Mental Illnesses

Dear Readers:

I occasionally insert articles of personal interest on my blog. Below is the results of a research study on spanking. This one speaks to my heart as I was spanked and slapped as a child. And as I look back over my life, I realize I have been attacked in one physical way or another about a dozen times. When I became the mother of a boy child who was very busy, I was told by my family that I needed to spank him. So I spanked him one time when he was about two years old.

I cried, he didn’t. I never hit him again.

I recall the old saying, pick on someone your own size if you have to pick on anyone at all. It’s a more fair match. However, I was  attacked as an adult and I was no physical match. I never expect to be attacked. I tend to think I began to emit ‘attack me’ energy after early spankings.

I was bullied when we moved to a new grammar school in a new state. Later in life, in two separate situations, I was assaulted by homeless men who grabbed and kissed me; I was sexually assaulted; I married a sex addict. Oh, and Daddy was an alcoholic.

My father would say ‘Life is tough,’ when I asked him why he was so mean.

Please, don’t spank/hit your children. Can you see how it spirals out of control?

Maureen Nolan

Spanking Kids Leads to Adult Mental Illnesses

By Michael Smith, North American Correspondent, MedPage Today

Published: July 02, 2012

Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Action Points

Don't Hit Your Children

  • Note that physical punishment (such as pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, hitting) remains a commonly used method of discipline in North America and is considered socially acceptable by many caregivers.
  • Point out that in this study, harsh physical punishment in the absence of child maltreatment was associated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse/dependence, and personality disorders in a general population sample of adults.

Childhood punishments such as spanking, slapping, and hitting even in the absence of full-scale maltreatment are associated with an increased risk of mental disorders in adulthood, researchers reported.

Adults who reported such punishments in their childhood had a greater risk of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse dependence, and several personality disorders, according to Tracie Afifi, PhD, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, and colleagues.

Up to 7% of some adult disorders can be attributed to “harsh physical punishment” in childhood, Afifi and colleagues reported online in Pediatrics.

The link between child abuse both physical and sexual and mental disorders in adulthood has long been established, the researchers noted.

But studies of milder forms of punishment that had similar findings have been disputed as having “weaknesses in design, measurement, and analysis,” they added, including the lack of adjustment for confounding factors such as full-scale abuse.

To try to overcome those limitations, Afifi and colleagues turned to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which included a representative sample of civilian, non-institutionalized adults in the U.S.

The second wave of the survey, conducted between 2004 and 2005, included 34,653 adults, 20 or older, and asked about current mental conditions, as well as the past incidence of physical punishments.

In interviews, participants were asked: “As a child how often were you ever pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped or hit by your parents or any adult living in your house?”

Answers, on a five-point Likert scale, could be never, almost never, sometimes, fairly often, and very often. Participants who answered sometimes or higher were defined to have experienced harsh physical punishment.

For this analysis, participants who also reported severe physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, or exposure to intimate partner violence were excluded. The final analytic sample included 20,607 participants.

Overall, Afifi and colleagues reported, 1,258 participants reported physical punishment, or 5.9% of the total. They were more likely to be male, black, and to have a family history of dysfunction.

After adjustment for sociodemographic factors and family dysfunction, harsh physical punishment was associated with an increased risk of most lifetime Axis I mental disorders. Specifically the adjusted odds ratio for:

  • Major depression was 1.41 with a 99.9% confidence interval from 1.03 to 1.92.
  • Mania was 1.93 with a 99.9% confidence interval from 1.07 to 3.48.
  • Any mood disorder was 1.49 with a 99.9% confidence interval from 1.11 to 2.00.
  • Any anxiety disorder was 1.36 with a 99.9% confidence interval from 1.05 to 1.77.
  • Any alcohol abuse or dependence was 1.59 with a 99.9% confidence interval from 1.21 to 2.08.
  • Any drug abuse or dependence was 1.53 with a 99.9% confidence interval from 1.06 to 2.20.

Population attributable fractions ranged from 2.1% for any anxiety disorder to 5.2% for mania.

The researchers found a similar pattern for Axis II disorders, with adjusted odds ratios ranging from 1.63 for obsessive compulsive personality disorder to 2.46 for schizotypal personality disorder.

Population attributable fractions ranged from 4.2% for any cluster A disorder (paranoid, schizoid, or schizotypal) to 7.2% for schizotypal personality disorder.

The findings “provide evidence that harsh physical punishment independent of child maltreatment is related to mental disorders,” Afifi and colleagues concluded.

They cautioned that the study was cross-sectional, which precludes drawing any causal inferences. Moreover, they noted, the data was retrospective, which could introduce recall and reporting biases.

  • The study had support from the Manitoba Medical Services Foundation award, the Winnipeg Foundation, the Manitoba Health Research Council, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The journal said the authors declared they had no conflicts.

Primary source: Pediatrics

Source reference:

Afifi TO, et al “Physical punishment and mental disorders: Results from a nationally representative US sample” Pediatrics 2012; 130: 19.

Michael Smith
North American Correspondent


North American Correspondent for MedPage Today, is a three-time winner of the Science and Society Journalism Award of the Canadian Science Writers Association. After working for newspapers in several parts of Canada, he was the science writer for the Toronto Star before becoming a freelancer in 1994. His byline has appeared in New Scientist, Science, the Globe and Mail, United Press International, Toronto Life, Canadian Business, the Toronto Star, Marketing Computers, and many others. He is based in Toronto, and when not transforming dense science into compelling prose he can usually be found sailing.

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Attention to MY Intentions in a Job


Did I intend to get fired?

Did I intend to get fired?

It wasn’t my intention not to pay attention on the job…or was it?

The ghastly job seemed to have all my attention. I worried about it; thought about it; dreamed about it; talked about it; stayed late; arrived early and in the end I was fired from it. But what was my intention during that time?

This job was a dead end when I said yes. The first day of work the ‘boss’, the woman who asked me to apply for and then to take the job; who was the mother of my son’s friend, told me we wouldn’t become friends. That we would be working at the same place every day and then some, but we wouldn’t become friends. That was her intention.

My intention in taking the work was to provide income for my family while my husband began a professional transition. My intention was to support his desire to change his life. I had no intention to change my life or the world. My intention was not related to friendship, but it would have been an OK perk on the job to be friendly at least.

So, serendipity found me fired and quickly hired to work at a school for students with ADHD and LD where my intention again was to support my family. This time, however, I found a calling and a life’s work. In the end, I was completely changed and passionate about working in the world of ADHD. My strengths were used to create my job and my weaknesses were otherwise managed. I grew in confidence and stature knowing that in that environment I made a difference.

I’m a born coach, maybe even born again. I was the student and young adult who asked the questions no-one else thought about. That’s what I love – asking the questions whose answers will change your life.

What do you want in a job?
What are your intentions in taking the work?
How will you make a difference in this field?
Is there a future for you with this company?

My story is the story of many job seekers and office workers. If you can’t pay attention it may be because it’s not worth your health and the health of your attention to remain.

What is your attention-to-intention-on-the-job story?

Forgive me, Donald

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ADHD Coach Adventure Blog as “Your Attention Coach”


ADD/ADHD Coach for ADDults and Students

I coach clients about ADHD and attention – its utility and function in business and daily life. Using proven tools and personal management techniques with my busy clients, they CREATE more productive LIVES. I’m passionate about the internal arrangement of life, the working thoughts, the architecture of your mind that makes up inspired attention development and design.

I am so excited to announce my new website/blog and brand new brand moniker, “Your Attention Coach“.  As one thing leads to another, over the past several months, I have been refining the message of what I do in my work to reflect a new direction towards a focus on Attention enhancement rather than the fix it mentality which fixes a “deficit”.

Daniel Pink

During this time I have also been reading Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, on the importance of right brain dominance in our world today. Pink says more and more emphasis will be placed on individuals who have the ability to create and synthesize messages rather than the old dominance on the bean counters and widget tweakers.

Towards that end I went to see my friend Judi Knight to talk to her about my business cards and ended up right in the right place to not only get my business cards done but also a whole new blog site where I can organize all of my materials related  to the attention enhancement work I do. I am very excited to unveil this site and will be working on adding content to share with clients and their families.

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