June 2, 2013

"Nodding Syndrome: A Devastating Medical Mystery In Uganda."

"Santiana says that for Denis, as with most children affected, it began with the pathological nodding of the head nearly a decade ago."
He's 16 now, she says, but you can only get a glimpse of his age in his face – he looks half the size you'd expect him to be. He rarely moves. He hardly speaks. If he wants water, she says, he'll take a cup nearby and tap the cement floor with it. Most everything else is nonsense, hallucinations.

"He's just in his own world," Nyeko says.


madAsHell said...

Obama voters!!

Rhythm and Balls said...

It will be especially devastating for women who watch and agree with Oprah Winfrey to learn that they are experiencing the early stages of this disease.

edutcher said...

Some kind of mutation, I wonder.

girlwriteswhat said...

I'm wondering. I didn't listen to the story, but read the article, and they talk about boys. This boy, or that boy, pictures of boys, someone's brother or grandson.

If this affects "children", given the typical way hardship, disease, etc are reported...well, in a story about acid attacks in Latin America, where the majority of attacks were perpetrated against men (for purposes of armed robbery, mostly), the pictures and anecdotes featured were almost entirely about female victims. Because that is what elicits sympathy and calls for action.

So, why so many boys in the story? Is this a syndrome that predominantly affects boys? Only boys? Are they saying "children" rather than "boys" so that people will care enough about the hypothetically afflicted girls who are implicitly included, but whom they didn't really tell us about, to do something about it?

Dean Esmay said...

Girlwriteswhat: I noticed the same. You see this in lots of areas. The sex of victims of a disease or a conflict or anything else tends to disappear if the diseased, injured, or dead are male. If they're female, instant coverage.

As psychotherapist & researcher Tom Golden says, a woman's pain is a call for action, a man's pain is taboo. Increasingly this seems to even be creeping up on little boys. How much time do we talk about things like anorexia as a female problem with a "me too" attitude toward the male sufferers, but when a disease overwhelmingly affects boys we fall all over ourselves to find female victims?

I think even charities recognize this. The question is, is this driving cultural misandry, or is this stuff just taking advantage of a natural misandry we're all predisposed to? I sure as hell hope it isn't the latter.

Deirdre Mundy said...

The article mentioned girls as well. Perhaps a cultural taboo allows only for photos of boys?

girlwriteswhat said...

@Deirdre: I just skimmed the article again to be sure. I don't see the word "girl" at all, or see any anecdote with a specific girl sufferer mentioned. If it's there, could you C&P it?

I mention this mainly because even if there is a taboo against photos of girls (which I don't think there is, given that there are female helpers and family members in the photos), you would expect, given the focus of the UN and 90% of NGOs on helping women and girls, for the suffering of girls to be highlighted and emphasized, not hidden inside the neutral term "children".

If it is a condition that mainly afflicts boys, that should be a focus of the research into causality.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Oops... it was another NPR article linked from the first, talking about women and daughters as well as sons: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/06/01/187580341/after-years-of-war-ugandan-children-face-new-deadly-threat

Deirdre Mundy said...

I think the article Anne linked must be the second of a multi=part series?

justicemercyandfaith.com said...

Girls do get the disease as well.


There was a similar problem in that same area about child soldiers. Most of the media attention was on male child soldiers, but between 30-40% of the child soldiers were girls.

Crimso said...

Just a gut feeling, but I'm thinking something prion-based.

girlwriteswhat said...


Thanks. As I said, it is extremely strange to see a story like this where they only profile male victims.


I can understand why media attention would focus on boys as child soldiers and kind of gloss over the girls--that dovetails with the cultural narrative around gender.

Thanks for the link.

Sarah said...

The disease affects girls and boys between the ages of 5-15 years equally. Presently it is found in Northern Uganda, South Sudan and Tanzania. To learn more about Nodding Syndrome and the people fighting for these children please visit; http://www.globalnurseinitiative.org/Land_of_Nod.html