Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 1/2

August 7, 2011

Today, Mao is judged by a Western value system that did not exist during his lifetime. His world was a place and time that molded him to be a survivor in a brutal world where failure often meant death.

It is now accepted that who individuals grow up to become as adults is partially due to genetics but mostly from the environment and lifestyle one experiences.

Mao grew up in another world nothing like most experience in the West, but he has been judged by Western humanitarian beliefs known today as “political correctness” that did not exist when he was born into China’s collective culture where the reverse was true and the individual was not more important than the whole.

There is a strong possibility that Mao also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and this may have influenced his behavior and decisions during the years he ruled China.

Helping Psychology says, “PTSD victims tend to be in a continuous state of heightened alertness. The trauma that precipitates the disorder essentially conditions them to be ever-ready for a life threatening situation to arise at any moment … But the continuous releases of brain chemicals that accompany this reaction time – and their inability to control when this heightened reactivity will occur – take psychological and biological tolls on PTSD victims over time.”

Before I continue, I want to say that American troops are not the only humans on this planet to suffer from PTSD. Every person is susceptible to the ravages of violent trauma and if we examine Mao’s life, it would be impossible to deny that PTSD may not have played a role in the decisions he made in old age.

In fact, Medicine Net.com says, “Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) usually results from prolonged exposure to a traumatic event or series thereof and is characterized by long-lasting problems with many aspects of emotional and social functioning.”

After examining Mao’s long history with violence and war, it is safe to say that he may have been a candidate for C-PTSD.

Before I wrote this two part series, I scheduled The Long March and China’s Great Leap Forward to appear in addition to The Cultural Revolution.

Continued on August 8, 2011 in Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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One Tough Mezzo-soprano from China

September 18, 2010

She describes herself as a girl from China who came to America with $45 and knowing two words of English, “Merry Christmas.”  Source: SFGate

When Zheng Cao burst onto the San Francisco Opera scene in 1995, she played Siebel in “Faust.” Since then, she’s performed in opera houses throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

Today, an inspiration, the Shanghai-born Mezzo-soprano has defied the odds of surviving stage four lung cancer and a diagnoses that said she had six months to live.

More than a year ago, she received a death sentence when cancer was discovered to have spread through her body. Months later, she would learn that the rigorous treatment plan had dramatically reduced the cancer threat.

“This is the most impressive response I’ve seen in my life,” Dr. Rosenbaum said.

Zheng Cao’s tumors either had decreased in size, were no longer visible or no longer considered active.

To learn more about Zhen Cao’s journey, visit her Blog at Caring Bridge.org.

Zheng Cao holds degrees from the Shanghai Conservatory and the Curtis Institute of Music.

While studying, she worked as a singer on the Holland American cruise line where she met Troy Donahue in 1991.

Donahue said that “We were very serious, very committed to each other. It’s the greatest relationship I’ve ever had in my life.” Source: Troy Donahue at encore4.net

Zheng Cao and Troy Donahue were engaged until his death in 2001. She turned 44 on June 9, 2010.

See China’s Got Talent Too

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Idealism is Sometimes Flawed

September 10, 2010

A new comment appeared on my Blog linked to another Blog, A Modern Lei Feng, which is also about China but seems to focus mostly on what happens in modern Beijing.

I followed that link back to see whom or what had left tracks to my Blog, which I often do.

I only read the one post that complained about my Blog, so I cannot pass judgment on the rest of the content.

What I discovered was interesting—an opinion that disagreed with an opinion I wrote in Changing Names.

I clicked the “About” link to discover who the Blog master was behind A Modern Lei Feng and learned that he was a “young guy” living in Beijing who knows a little something about China and is willing to freelance on that topic but not for free.

Since I couldn’t find a name, I will call him “Lei Feng”.

I asked my father-in-law, who lived in Shanghai when the Japanese invaded China, what “A Modern Lei Feng” might mean.

My father-in-law, who is Chinese, doesn’t speak English fluently, but he did what he could to translate what “Lei Feng” might mean.

He said there were many translations but this one might refer to a young solder in the PLO that Mao praised to the nation in the 1960s. This soldier’s name was Lei Feng. Mao said everyone must learn from him because he is an excellent role model.

It seems that Lei Feng helped everyone else for free instead of helping himself.

The modern Lei Feng said in his post, “I’m no tech genius, but I’d imagine it wouldn’t be that hard to add the character to a word processor and input program, especially considering the government sent out a circular last year to strictly recognize such names, though it appears this one was left off the list.”

My response, Since I took a class in HTML, program my Websites, and know a professional programmer who made his money (he is retired now) programming for the U.S. defense department and commercial airlines, I know a little bit about what it takes to update software and it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

The programming part would probably be easier than implementing it. The difficulty comes when one program is replaced with another. To do that often means shutting down security systems, loading in the new program and rebooting the computer then turning the security back on.  Then, as sometimes happens, the new program might cause the system to crash, and I’m talking about one computer.

In China, we are talking about several hundred million computers, which might operate on different systems. Each system would need another program and a different update.

Besides government computer systems, which may not all be linked since China’s government is decentralized more than most foreigners know, there are more than four hundred million personal computers linked to the internet in China.

I suspect that the decision not to go back and add the Chinese character for this family name that represents 200 people was due to the scope of the project to fix the error and the time it would take.

If it was easy and cheap, why not do it?

However, the issue isn’t over yet. If enough people in China Blog about this and express opinions that the government should make the change, it might still happen, although I doubt it.

China’s central government doesn’t care much about what foreigners think, but they do listen carefully to the people even if they do not always do what “most” of the people want.

In China, small groups do not have as much power as a majority of the population does.


Why there shouldn’t be anAmerican with Disabilities Act”

As for the Americans with Disabilities Act, I used that as an example to show how expensive it is to cater to a small segment of the population at the tax payers’ expense.

Lei Feng mentions that new buildings in Beijing offer ease of access to people with disabilities.

That’s understandable.

In recent years, most Chinese cities were rebuilt and many new cities mushroomed across China. 

During the construction phase, it isn’t that expensive to add a ramp or a wider door but it is labor intensive and expensive to go back and fix something like that after construction ends just as fixing that Chinese language computer program for a nation of 1.3 billion might be too expensive and fraught with problems.

Although I agree with Thomas Paine about Social Security and a few other limited social safety nets that help people survive during hard times, America has a HUGE deficit threatening the nation’s economy and any expensive, unnecessary program should be examined carefully and cut or shrunk.

Idealistically, doing all we can as a nation to help as many people as possible is a good thing but realistically idealism doesn’t always work.

Lei Feng also quoted a phrase from The Declaration of Independence to support his opinion. He said, that there was a promise in the U.S. Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equally” and that we all have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

In fact, the United States Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American Colonies were at war with Great Britain. That is all it was.

The (first) law of the United States was the Articles of Confederation. This document was so weak that in May 1787, a Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia to present a new Constitution that was sent to the States for ratification later that year, which is the law of the U.S. today—not the Declaration of Independence.

Nowhere in the Constitution of the United States does that document say that the government and the taxpayers are responsible to pay for the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” of other citizens who cannot afford to pay for his or her dreams or easy access to cross a street in a wheelchair.

Adding more ramps to make it easier for people in wheel chairs to cross intersections might be a nice thing to do, and I wonder of Lei Feng would like to chip in and donate enough money to build a few and help reduce the U.S. deficit.

I’m sorry to say, I cannot afford to do that. My taxes are too high.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Changing Names

September 9, 2010

It was suggested in a Reuters news piece that because of 200 people, China should change hundreds of millions of computer keyboards.

Let’s examine the logic behind this suggestion, which I see as another example of Western meddling in China.

Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. bends over backwards and spends billions to make bathrooms and sidewalks usable for people who may be blind or use wheel chairs.

This happened in an individualist culture that puts the individual above the whole. To improve one life, twenty may be ruined or sacrificed—even the national debt may be increased.

The Braille Institute reports that there are 15 million blind and visually impaired people in the United States. That’s about 5% of the population.  What did it cost the U.S. to add that chirping noise to crosswalks for that segment of the population?

In my life, I’ve seen less than a handful of blind people with red tipped canes walking on sidewalks let alone crossing intersections.

Then according to AskJan.org, there are an estimated 1.4 million wheelchair users in the United States—that’s less than half-a-percent of the population, yet America spent billions converting sidewalks so there are ramps for wheelchairs to roll down to cross streets.

At the high school where I taught, there was one wheelchair bound teacher, who worked there for a few years.

He complained that there were no handicapped restrooms near his classroom. He had to go too far to pee.

The school district, because of the law, had no choice and spent about $30,000 to convert the nearest teacher’s restroom. A few years later, that handicapped teacher left the high school to work elsewhere.

One example I found estimated that providing free paratransit service to people with disabilities in Illinois would cost between 141.5 and 202.9 million. That’s one state of fifty and one service, which doesn’t include crosswalk conversions. Source: Transportation Research Board

Now, those values that have contributed to America’s national debt have cropped up in a Reuters piece that says about 200 villagers in Eastern China are being “forced by the country’s unbending bureaucracy” to change their family name as the character is so rare it cannot be typed.

How many millions or billions would it cost to add a symbol to the Chinese language and replace all those keyboards so 200 out of 1.3 billion would be able to spell their last name as they have for centuries? Aren’t there better things to do with that money?

See China Bashing

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Silence to Beauty

May 12, 2010

The art displayed in this post comes from artists, who are graduates of the Shandong Provincial Rehabilitation and Career School, an institute in China that trains young Chinese with disabilities. These artists are deaf.

In 1949, Mao Zedong launched the People’s Republic of China and ruled with an iron fist for almost three decades.

During Mao’s time, there was almost no free artistic expression in China unless the art served the propaganda needs of the state.

Zhang Guoli, Sons

After Deng Xiaoping opened China to a global market economy, the post Mao generation was introduced to Western art and theory.

Huang Jinpo, Earth

It wasn’t until the late 1980s and early 1990s that art from China started to emerge.

This is the dormitory where the artists live.

The photos in this post are presented with permission from “Embracing the Uncarved Wood, Sculptural Reliefs from Shandong, China“, which was made possible by a generous grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and with assistance from the Office of the Provost of Franklin & Marshall College. ISBN: 978-0-910626-04-0

Discover Chinese Yu Opera with Mao Wei-tao

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.