Analysis Of Ballybran By Nancy Scheper-Hughes

803 Words 4 Pages
Nancy Scheper-Hughes paints a vivid picture of the village folk living in “Ballybran”, once vital, now desolate and isolated by lack of economic opportunity and diminishing population growth. As a psychological anthropologist, she seeks deeper answers, attempting to identify psychological and cultural root causes of anomie and despair in the people living in rural Ireland. She explains multiple reasons for both their anomie and extremely high rates of mental illness which lie in shrinking economic vitality, culture-bound systems of religious beliefs, folklore and perhaps more importantly, the effects of child-rearing practices. Young men are committed to carrying on the family farm and their name despite the downward spiraling farm economics …show more content…
Certain salvation for ordinary folk is, “… a “slow death to self” through acts of self-denial [through] fasting, penance and, above all a life characterized by sexual purity” (Shephard-Hughes). High values are placed on asceticism, particularly celibacy, in addition, sexuality is permissible only for procreation between married couples. These firmly imbedded culture- bound systems honoring purity are passed down to offspring at an early age as Shepard-Hughes shows in the Values-Hierarchy Scale (209) given to young children and teens. Sex is considered dirty and shameful and so are other bodily functions. A high number of men unable to find a match remain celibate bachelors caring for the family farm and aging parents. Conversely, married couples seem shy of one another and avoid mere hand-holding in public. Systematically denying sexual expression is repressive and stifles emotions, over time it creates a community of fearful, mistrusting, withdrawn individuals who are uncomfortable expressing and discussing …show more content…
Generations of women have used the less is better theory toward handling their babies, do not socialize children until they become toddlers, and mother-baby bonding in infancy through breastfeeding is also rare. Myths and superstitions may be the root cause of why babies are kept isolated and out of harm’s (fairies) way. Irish Catholics strongly believe in original sin, humans are by nature sinful and sins of the flesh need to be curbed. Mothers tend to see a baby’s innate need to suck, be rocked and stroked as something to be curtailed. Physical punishment, even for minor offences begins at a young age and is acceptable and encouraged in school. The intended result being to instill fear of breaking norms and

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