Shedding the Stigma of Being Left Handed
The fear of leftness has its roots in the Bible as Jesus reckoned that on Judgment Day the blessed would sit to the right of God; the damned to the left.
Until relatively recently, left-handedness was seen as an illness that needed curing.
In his 1937 handbook The Backward Child, the British child psychologist Sir Cyril Burt depicted left-handers as fumblers and bunglers who “squint” and “stammer” and “flounder about like seals out of water”.
A decade later, Abram Blau, head of child psychiatry at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, condemned left-handedness as “an expression of infantile negativism” linked to rebellious stubbornness, secretive superstition, obsessive cleanliness and other unpleasant traits. It was all due, it was believed, to an unloving “refrigerator mother”.
Even as late as the 1990s, some schools in Ireland were still forcing southpawed children to write with their right hands.
Nowadays, we know that nine out of 10 people are right-handed and that left-handedness is likely to be genetic.
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