Shalit: Israeli Soldier With Atypical Autism


“The real tragedy actually was letting a psychologically unfit teenager like Gilad Shalit wear the military uniform in the first place.”

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

 

Gilad Shalit

Israel freed 1,027 Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners to get Shalit back.

Beyond the debate over the rationale of Israel’s deal to release 1000 prisoners for one kidnapped soldier lies a simple fact: this Shalit deal is not only unbalanced but also mysterious in so many ways.

The mystery in this swap deal lies not in the acquiescence of the Israeli side- albeit unusual- to Hamas’ unbending  demands for releasing the kidnapped soldier, it lies not in the success of the Egyptians brokering the deal where Mubarak and the Germans’ diplomacy had failed before; it lies not in the timing of the deal that coincided with the highest peak of Israeli perceived intransigence toward recognizing a Palestinian estate, it lies not in the Hamas attempt to steal some of the thunder the Palestinian authority generated by forwarding its bid for UN statehood …, rather the mystery of this swap deal lies in Gilad Shalit, the Israeli kidnapped soldier himself.

As the story goes, Shalit, an Israeli army corporal, was abducted in June 2006 by militants while he was patrolling along the Israeli-Gaza border. The Hamas militants surprised his tank crew, killed two of his comrades and whisked him back into Gaza where he was held virtually incommunicado until his release.     

We all grew familiar with photos of Shalit that advocates for his release began to post on the internet since his capture by Hamas. They were snap shots of a young and smart Israeli man in military uniform. While you can’t tell much about a person from his photo, it’s not before you have at least watched him talk that you can get a little bit closer to knowing what kind of person he is.

Shalit’s kidnapping and his 2009 video 

 

On watching Shalit in his 2009 video in which he showed the whole world that he was safe and treated well in his captivity and also urged Netanyahu to concede to Hamas’ demands, something about that footage struck me as odd.

Though shalit had been in captivity for well over three years during which the Zionist controlled mainstream media turned him into a national hero, his first appearance in 2009 video revealed to me another aspect- devoid of any heroism- of Shalit’s personality that we couldn’t discern from the previous photos campaigners for his release flooded us with.

From the first moment shalit started to talk in the video as he was reading from some dummy card he somehow sounded, throughout the 2-minute and 40-second video, dummier than the card he was looking at.  

I’m aware that I’m talking about a man who has been long in captivity and maybe subjected to unimaginable hardships and that he must have been told to act according to a preplanned scenario so as to make everybody get the feeling that he was ok and taken care of.   

But with all that in mind I still couldn’t explain Shalit’s monotonous tone, his inability to change facial expression and to convey his hidden feelings through any body language or gesture – signs that stray away from the hyperarousal features of anger and irritability of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But what primarily triggered my discomfort, or suspicions actually, was Shalit kicking off his video with a totally unexpected idiotic smile hardly befitting of a man languishing in solitude, as if he had just listened to a joke, that later turned into a recurring smirk characteristic of some pathological stereotype.

Those signs somehow began to summon up the physician inside me, and as I was trying to connect some of the dots I realized that the Israeli captive I had just watched talking in the video was not unfamiliar to me, I’ve seen this smirky face so many times before, not in Israel, but as I was examining cases with autism.

Now and before some of you with their jaws dropping start to wonder what kind of point I’m trying to prove here.

Well, and before anybody jump to any conclusions, all I’m saying is that upon watching Gilad Shalit’s 2009 video I started to have my doubts as a physician if the man Hamas captured and kept in some secret hiding place for years was suffering from some kind of pervasive development disorders(PDDs) long before he was kidnapped.

What is “pervasive development disorders?”

PDDs, refers to a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic personality skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination. Children with these conditions often are confused in their thinking and generally have problems understanding the world around them.

There are five types of pervasive development disorders: Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, Childhood disintegrative disorder, Rett’s syndrome and Pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDDNOS)

While most of these conditions typically are identified in children around 3 years of age — a critical period in a child’s development – they are called development disorders- one condition amongst them might linger with the child into his teens undiagnosed, namely Pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDDNOS) which refers to children who have significant problems with communication and play, and some difficulty interacting with others, but are too social to be considered autistic and often to referred to as “atypical autistic”.

There are no laboratory tests to diagnose a PDD and that is why the doctor often seeks input from the child’s parents, teachers, and other adults who are familiar with the child’s symptoms.

General symptoms that may be present to some degree in a child with a PDD include:

- lack of social awareness;

- lack of interest in socializing/making friends

- inability to infer the thoughts, feelings, or emotions of others;

- either gazing too intently or avoiding eye contact;

- lack of changing facial expression, or use of exaggerated facial expressions;

- lack of use or comprehension of gestures;

- unusually sensitive to noises, touch, odors, tastes, or visual stimuli;

- Inflexibility and over-adherence to or dependence on routines; stereotypes and repetitive motor patterns.

 Egyptian interview and Shalit’s near collapse

 

Can't tell much from a man's photo.

Shalit slightly showed some of the PDD symptoms in his 2009 video like the lack of changing facial expression and use of gestures and he certainly bewildered us with his stereotyped smirk. But it was not before his release did we get a chance to scrutinize at his case more closely.

The Egyptian TV was keen on having the first interview with shalit shortly after his release. But what the Nile TV channel host did not know was that she was going to interview a psychologically disturbed man with personality disorders.

The interview was not part of Shalit’s release deal, Gilad shalit could have refused- or strongly avoided any thing that reminded him of the painful interrogating sessions during his captivity was he a PTSD case- but since he didn’t seem to object, the Egyptian TV grabbed the chance and promptly put him in front of the camera and lights. … Not knowing that for a PDD case this TV interview was the ultimate situation where his pathological vulnerability could be exposed for all to see.

On hearing of Shalit being interviewed on the Egyptian TV, that was simultaneously aired live around the globe, the Israeli government went crazy and slammed this exclusive interview as outrageous and exploitative.

There was no logical explanation for the fury of the Israelis over this interview by Egyptians- who mediated the swap deal- except maybe they have lately been aware that Gilad Shalit is suffering from autism-like condition and that they feared he could not handle the interview, probably make a fool of himself and consequently embarrass the Israeli defense forces (IDF) … and that he surely did.

Pale and dazed and shifted in his seat, Gilad Shalit struggled to breathe and seemed to mumble –signs of poor communication skills & uneven language development- as he arduously answered the questions of Shahira Amin, the Nile TV anchor.

This time there was no preplanned scenario, no rehearsals, and no dummy card. This time shalit had to face his most dreaded fears, namely communication and sociability, alone, without the help of his parents who I think lied about their son’s psychological condition for years before finally coming clean on the hidden matter.

As the Egyptian host threw her questions Shalit’s psychological condition, which the Israeli medical records only referred to as low medical profile, was violently been triggered allowing his symptoms to be exhibited more clearly especially for the professional eye. 

What we couldn’t elicit from the 2009 video was explicitly out there in front of our eyes in the Egyptian interview. Suddenly all the main symptoms of a case with PDDNOS were exhibited in this interview as shalit’s lack of interest in socializing, avoiding eye contact, lack of changing facial expression and repetitive motor patterns were clearly evident in the video.

As the interview progressed Shalit’s psychological stress was getting so unbearable he looked as if he was going to pass out. Shahira Amin was so alarmed from his near-to-collapse condition she had to stop the shooting to offer him some biscuits and a glass of water, and she could be heard in Arabic as she said “Guys, Let’s get this over with as quickly as possible, he is very sick, I can sense it

Mrs. Amin was not mistaken in her judgment, Gilad Shalit was a very sick man alright, but he was not suffering from any organic diseases- as later confirmed by his medical examination in Israel, rather his ailment was purely psychological.

Shalit back in Israel and in unifrom again, but who was responsible for putting him in uniform in the first place despite his inappropriate medical profile.

After the spectacle this interview with Shalit made, the Israeli government swiftly snatched Shalit by a helicopter back to some Israeli air base where the swift official ceremony for his release proceeded without Shalit himself whom they said was not to be interviewed soon.

Shalit’s medical check-up in Israel proved normal; In addition to a slight injury to one of his hands caused by shrapnel, Shalit was found to be suffering from a vitamin deficiency caused by lack of sunlight.

This story of Gilad Shalit that has dragged out for over five years is about much more than a released Israeli prisoner suffering from some kind of vitamin deficiency; it has more to do with the culture of a military state where its 18-years old boys must be enrolled in a mandatory draft for the ambitions of the Israeli defense forces even if some of them had “low medical profile” or what later appeared as personality disorders.

Kidnapping Shalit was definitely a sad story for his family and an embarrassment for the Israeli government but the real tragedy actually was letting a psychologically unfit teenager like Gilad Shalit wear the military uniform in the first place.

Shalit story is more about the psychology of a nation that existed, and still does according to a code of abnormalities.

10 Reasons Why Sex is Good for Your Health


 

MedicineNet.com

When you’re in the mood, it’s a sure bet that the last thing on your mind is boosting your immune system or maintaining a healthy weight. Yet good sex offers those health benefits and more. That’s a surprise to many people, says Joy Davidson, PhD, a New York psychologist and sex therapist. “Of course, sex is everywhere in the media,” she says. “But the idea that we are vital, sexual creatures is still looked at in some cases with disgust or in other cases a bit of embarrassment. So to really take a look at how our sexuality adds to our life and enhances our life and our health, both physical and psychological, is eye-opening for many people.”

Sex does a body good in a number of ways, according to Davidson and other experts. The benefits aren’t just anecdotal or hearsay — each of these 10 health benefits of sex is backed by scientific scrutiny.

1. Sex Relieves Stress

 A big health benefit of sex is lower blood pressure and overall stress reduction, according to researchers from Scotland who reported their findings in the journal Biological Psychology. They studied 24 women and 22 men who kept records of their sexual activity. Then the researchers subjected them to stressful situations — such as speaking in public and doing verbal arithmetic — and noted their blood pressure response to stress.

Those who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or abstained.

Another study published in the same journal found that frequent intercourse was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure in cohabiting participants. Yet other research found a link between partner hugs and lower blood pressure in women.

2. Sex Boosts Immunity

Good sexual health may mean better physical health. Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections. Scientists at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., took samples of saliva, which contain IgA, from 112 college students who reported the frequency of sex they had.

Those in the “frequent” group — once or twice a week — had higher levels of IgA than those in the other three groups — who reported being abstinent, having sex less than once a week, or having it very often, three or more times weekly.

3. Sex Burns Calories

Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. Doubling up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions.

“Sex is a great mode of exercise,” says Patti Britton, PhD, a Los Angeles sexologist and president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators and Therapists. It takes work, from both a physical and psychological perspective, to do it well, she says.

4. Sex Improves Cardiovascular Health

While some older folks may worry that the efforts expended during sex could cause a stroke, that’s not so, according to researchers from England. In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, scientists found that the frequency of sex was not associated with stroke in the 914 men they followed for 20 years.

And the heart health benefits of sex don’t end there. The researchers also found that having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by half for the men, compared with those who had sex less than once a month.

5. Sex Boosts Self-Esteem

Boosting self-esteem was one of 237 reasons people have sex, collected by University of Texas researchers and published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

That finding makes sense to Gina Ogden, PhD, a sex therapist and marriage and family therapist in Cambridge, Mass., although she finds that those who already have self-esteem say they sometimes have sex to feel even better. “One of the reasons people say they have sex is to feel good about themselves,” she tells WebMD. “Great sex begins with self-esteem, and it raises it. If the sex is loving, connected, and what you want, it raises it.”

6. Sex Improves Intimacy

Having sex and orgasms increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, which helps us bond and build trust. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of North Carolina evaluated 59 premenopausal women before and after warm contact with their husbands and partners ending with hugs. They found that the more contact, the higher the oxytocin levels.

“Oxytocin allows us to feel the urge to nurture and to bond,” Britton says.

Higher oxytocin has also been linked with a feeling of generosity. So if you’re feeling suddenly more generous toward your partner than usual, credit the love hormone.

7. Sex Reduces Pain

As the hormone oxytocin surges, endorphins increase, and pain declines. So if your headache, arthritis pain, or PMS symptoms seem to improve after sex, you can thank those higher oxytocin levels.

In a study published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 48 volunteers who inhaled oxytocin vapor and then had their fingers pricked lowered their pain threshold by more than half.

8. Sex Reduces Prostate Cancer Risk

Frequent ejaculations, especially in 20-something men, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer later in life, Australian researchers reported in the British Journal of Urology International. When they followed men diagnosed with prostate cancer and those without, they found no association of prostate cancer with the number of sexual partners as the men reached their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

But they found men who had five or more ejaculations weekly while in their 20s reduced their risk of getting prostate cancer later by a third.

Another study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that frequent ejaculations, 21 or more a month, were linked to lower prostate cancer risk in older men, as well, compared with less frequent ejaculations of four to seven monthly.

9. Sex Strengthens Pelvic Floor Muscles

For women, doing a few pelvic floor muscle exercises known as Kegel exercises during sex offers a couple of benefits. You will enjoy more pleasure, and you’ll also strengthen the area and help to minimize the risk of incontinence later in life.

To do a basic Kegel exercise, tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor, as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. Count to three, then release.

10. Sex Helps You Sleep Better

The oxytocin released during orgasm also promotes sleep, according to research.

And getting enough sleep has been linked with a host of other good things, such as maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure. Something to think about, especially if you’ve been wondering why your guy can be active one minute and snoring the next.

Summary

Take note that sex is good for you in ways you may never have imagined and that the health benefits extend well beyond the bedroom.

Take the Sex & Love Quiz

Slideshow: Heartburn – Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid on eMedicineHealth.com


Slideshow: Heartburn – Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid on eMedicineHealth.com.

Will Eating This Give Me Heartburn?

Good question — and the answer might not be what you expect. First, here are a few basic facts about heartburn, which has nothing to do with the heart. Heartburn happens when stomach acid refluxes, or seeps, through a valve called the lower esopahgeal sphincter and irritates the esophagus. Certain foods can trigger heartburn, but you may have a little more food freedom than you think, if you consider the pointers in this slideshow.