Michael Mendizza

Writer, Filmmaker

Violence is a Failure of Bonding/Attachment




We, or at least I, often rationalize violence. After all, it is normal to pound a fist or scream when frustrated and angry. Anger is normal. Einstein’s protégée, David Bohm, defined violence as any excessive use of force. Slamming a car door when one could gently close it. Violence is natural. Or is it?

Applying Gabor Mate’s insight into addictions: The question isn’t why the addiction. The real question is; why the pain?

It is not deep enough to ask why the violence. We need to ask; why the anger and rage? In the Continuum Concept Jean Leidloff describes her shock discovering completely nonviolent Stone Age preliterate children in the Amazon jungle. They exhibited none of the aggressive, selfish and yes violent behaviors we consider normal. What failure of development has rendered individuals and entire cultures so crippled in their capacity to relate?
Of course, how they are raised is a good place to look. Wanted or not? Born drugged or naturally? Held or not? Breastfed or not? Spent time with caring, present, stress free adults or not? Were fed processed, so-called foods, lots of sugar, aspartame, salt and saturated fats or not? Appropriately played with or not? Punished or not? Turned over to media or not? Ah, media.

Approximate number of studies examining TV’s effects on children: 4,000
Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5
Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70
Percentage of parents who would like to limit their children’s TV watching: 73
Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500
Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000
Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000

Blaming media is easy, but the roots of violence are buried much deeper.

In 1981 a colleague was training for the 1984 Olympics. After a regular workout she turned out the lights in her Westwood apartment and a short time later discovered a stranger had broken in, masked, knife in hand. He straddled her on the bed, slapping her, and proceeded to describe how he had stalked her for weeks and was going to rape and murder her. This went on for three hours until she lunged, knocking him to the floor, grabbing the knife she chased him out the door. She and I had coffee the day after.

Why would a man do such a thing? This question haunted me for 2.5 years. After visiting 50 rape crisis centers and reading stacks of books I met a forensic psychiatrist, a specialist in sex offenders and extremely violent males. Why, he said? Without exception every violent male was abused and or neglected by a significant female in his most formative years. The fundamental need for nurturing had been twisted and betrayed causing the expression of this basic need to result in pain, anxiety, humiliation and fear instead of appropriate needs being met with care and affection. Needing comfort and nurturing produced anxiety, pain and fear in these young males. Add genital sexuality and the raging hormones of puberty to the mix and you get a state of explosive frustration and rage. Great for military cannon fodder but of little value in an emerging egalitarian world-culture, we hope.

No time here to go into all the research. James W. Prescott, PhD has spent fifty years articulating the sensory systems affected by this betrayal of Intimacy and the lifelong patters of violence, especially against women and children that it produces.

Why is the majority of violence acted out by males? What is it about males that make them so susceptible to violence? The answer is vulnerability. On every measure males are less superior biologically to females. See Ashley Montagu The Natural Superiority of Women.


Or take ten minutes and listen to Joseph Chilton Pearce describe why young males need to be nurtured, touched, breastfed, listened to and appropriately played with as much and probably more than little girls.

Michael Mendizza