Friday, August 19, 2011

Breastfeeding: the new morality play

Breastfeeding advocates are enthused by an article in Psychology Today called, "Breastmilk Wipes Out Formula:  Responses to Critical Comments." I am not so enthused.  In fact, I am deeply troubled by this article.  The author writes about her students and herself presenting a series of blog posts on breastfeeding vs. formula.   The article reads like the current one-mind set PR program from the US Health Department.  So we have a associate professor of psychology from Notre Dame (a Catholic University) and her psych students posting on a blog (blogs?) learning how to create just the right piece of evidence to convince readers about "breastfeeding." it to convince readers about breastfeeding or breastmilk?  How does the public like having a psych professor and her students using their research knowledge of the human mind to "share" information on blogs?  Did they identify themselves as researchers to blog readers?  Interestingly, psych professors are being hired by the US Government (CDC) to write blogs, to attack alternative viewpoints on health (from hiv/aids to vaccinations).  The author, Darcia Narvaez, PhD is a researcher on teaching moral character has received funding at various times from the Department of Health in Minnesota (when she lived there) and is applying for grants from the NIH.  Does funding from US government agencies influence what you say and don't say?  Why is this article in Psychology Today focused on breastmilk?  In bold letters the article states, "We must face the fact that there is no comparability between breastmilk and formula."  Where is breastfeeding?  Words are important, we aren't talking about breastfeeding in this article.  This article is a promotion of breastmilk by a researcher who is often funded by the US government.  This article was written under the title, Moral Landscapes.  So I find myself wondering, are we going to make infant feeding a morality decision?  I thought breastfeeding was biology:  like walking or giving birth.  Oh yes, we aren't writing about breastfeeding.  It is breastmilk, a product that this article is promoting.  The author quotes Jim Akre writing that "milk sharing, a longstanding practice in human history is taking off through the internet."  What????  Wet nursing was and is a long standing practice not milk sharing.  Are we piggybacking another article to promote milk sharing over the internet?
This article states that the next step (in bold) is "establishing breast milk banks and milk sharing opportunities."  Yes, lets get women to share their milk as the US government, medical research institutions, the infant formula industry continue to patent human milk components.  Lets make it a moral, ethical imperative for women to "donate" their milk.  Anyone else think that there is something basicly unethical in promoting breastmilk sharing while keeping silent about patenting of human milk components?  Is anyone else troubled by the fact that a psych professor and students are writing to blogs, influencing the content, researching responses to content so that they can influence readers?  
I have gotten the impression over the years that various blogs are just propaganda efforts and some commentators to various blogs are part of various industries, infant formula in many cases involved with infant feeding.  Maybe psych professors need to study the influence of industry on blogs and blogging.  Or better yet, how the US Government influences content on the Virtual.  How many of those wonderful bloggers out there are really paid by the CDC to promote a viewpoint that sells vaccinations, pharm drugs, condoms to the public--now breastmilk feeding?  Yeah, all is fair in love and the moral imperative is breastmilk feeding...God, what a world.
Copyright 2011 Valerie W McClain 

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