How to Wash a Child's Brain

Pendlehill, Marvin 1971. How to Wash a Child's Brain. London: Pelican Books.

Always wear woollen gloves (or mittens) when washing the child's brain. (Pendlehill 1971: 2)
I have to admit that when I ordered this item (with 21 pages it's more like a pamphlet than a book) from our library repository I was hoping for it to be about propaganda and child cognition, because Pelican Books also published Berger and Luckmann's 1966. The Social Construction of Reality. But instead of a treatise in the sociology of children's knowledge it turned out to be a Scarfolk Health Service practical guide to "brain and cranial cavity cleansing" in children. I still went ahead and read it just the same, because it wasn't that long and the cover looked well designed.
After the child's brain has been removed with the two brain spoons, rinse it in a solution of vinegar, ammonia and curry powder, then rest the brain on a soft cloth or tea towel for a few minutes, or for as long as is convenient. (Pendlehill 1971: 4)
Practical guides such as these don't age well. Like, who has two "brain spoons" lying around their household anymore? I did find some interesting stuff, though:
During this time remove all your clothes and incant pagan ritual #23, as found in the appendix (of this book, not your child). (Pendlehill 1971: 4)
This is interesting because it's one of the few behavioural instructions that aren't very technical. And I didn't know that you have to get naked for pagan rituals. I always imagined black hooded capes or something, but obviously it's better to trust public healt manuals in this regard. As it turns out, nakedness is an important part of many pagan rituals.
Do not spit on the brain or leave it near a hungry or rabid pet, such as a guinea pig... (Pendlehill 1971: 6)
This general statement seems in contradiction with other instructions. Pagan ritual #15, for example, involves spitting on the brain, and there are some that involve spitting in the child's face, too.
If the brain has swelled outside the cranial cavity and will no longer fit, simply snip away part of the frontal or temporal lobe with nail clippers and discard. This will not affect your child's development. (Pendlehill 1971: 10)
Shows how little they actually considered brain functions. I'm not sure if actual neurologists were consulted with this instruction. It makes sense that you can snip away part of the frontal lobe to fit the brain back into the cranial cavity, because the part of the neocortex that gets snipped away can be compensated by other parts of the brain... But temporal lobe is where language comprehension is located. It may affect your child's linguistic development when you make reductions in that area.
If your child has a seizure slap it and insist that bad behaviour will not be tolerated... (Pendlehill 1971: 17)
Pff. Everyone knows that when someone goes stiff, loses consciousness and falls to the ground then the most effective way to put and end to it is to stomp on the face with strong heels. Slapping does nothing. I think this is also where Orwell's beautiful metaphor comes from: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face - for ever."


arsenal said...

mul on kunagistest (mitte päriselt) luhtunud semiootikaõpingutest mitmesugust kirjandust tulutult riiulil seismas; tundub, et kui need Teile loovutaksin, siis need leiaks ehk taas lugemist; kui nende hulgas on mittevajalikku, siis võib need vabamalt osakonna raamatukogule anda; kas on huvi?

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