Saturday, April 3, 2010

I call Godwin's Law

An apt title for this post. The Catholic Church's latest arguments in defense of the indefensible; the allowing of the raping of children by priests to go on and on and on and on. [edited to correct my mispelling of Godwin, D'oh!]

I have been really busy, which is why I haven't been blogging that much, but something came up yesterday that I just had to blog about. It does touch on my earlier blog on xenophobia. I am referring to the Catholic Church now comparing the media attention focused on pedophile priests and their enablers and protectors in the Catholic Church to Antisemitism.

What this tells us about the mind set of the Catholic Hierarchy is how detached from reality they actually are. The key element of Antisemitism was the Blood Libel against the Jews. This is the false statement that Jews use the blood of Christians in their religious rituals, and to make matzos which were used in Passover rituals. It is quite ironic that it was the Catholic Church that was the main instigator of the Blood Libel against the Jews. It was the centuries of Blood Libel against the Jews by the Catholic Church that set the stage for the Holocaust.

The largest difference between what the media is doing now to the Catholic Church and what the Catholic Church did to the Jews for centuries is that there actually were Catholic Priests who actually did sexually abuse children, the Catholic Church hierarchy actually did cover it up, the Catholic Church hierarchy actually did force children to remain silent (under pain of excommunication), the Catholic Church actually did not report these pedophile priests to secular authorities, the Catholic Church actually did not take effective measures to stop these predators from preying on children, the Catholic Church hierarchy actually did lie about the extent of the problem, first saying it was an American problem, then an Irish problem, and now the flood gates have been opened.

In contrast, the Blood Libel against the Jews is and was actually false. Under Jewish law, what Jews are claimed to have done in the Blood Libel is forbidden. Blood from any source (animal or human) is never kosher and can never be consumed as food. Human flesh is never kosher and can never be consumed as food. Killing is not allowed, human sacrifice is never allowed, Jewish priests are not even allowed to be in the presence of a human corpse. The whole idea of the Blood Libel simply cannot be done by a Jew acting in accordance with Jewish Law so as to perform some Jewish religious ritual.

I first heard about the Blood Libel against the Jews in the mid 1960's, when I was told it by a boy my age who went to a Catholic School. I didn't believe it then because even with my rudimentary knowledge of things Jewish (as a fairly well educated Presbyterian), I knew that it made no sense. The holiday of Passover long predated Christianity, there were no Christians for Jews to use for the first Passover, there could be no “tradition” of using something that would not be available for millennia. There was no Jewish tradition of torture the way there was a Catholic tradition as in the Spanish Inquisition.

Because the Blood Libel against the Jews if false, we know that the hatred of Jews associated with Antisemitism cannot have occurred because Jews actually used the blood of Christians for anything. We know the Blood Libel against the Jews is false, so it cannot have been the actual reason for anything. The hatred came first, the Blood Libel was then made-up to justify the hatred. This observation bears on the false comparison too (discussed later).

As I discuss at length in my post on xenophobia, the hatred of xenophobia comes from dehumanizing of “the other”, due to an inability to understand “the other”, due to a lack of consilience in the Theory of Mind of the two individuals. The lack of ability to understand is due to a lack of brain structures that can instantiate the same mental concepts. People can learn to understand others, but this takes active neuronal remodeling and people can refuse to allow it to happen. This is what bigots do, they wallow in their hatred, refusing to understand those they hate as fellow human beings.

The claim by the Catholic Church Hierarchy that the articles about Catholic Priests sexually abusing children is like Antisemitism would be funny if it wasn't so serious. What it does show is a complete lack of understanding by the Catholic Church Hierarchy as to the seriousness of the sexual abuse of children by priests, a complete lack of understanding of the seriousness of the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by priests, a complete lack of understanding of the seriousness of lying about the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by priests, a complete lack of understanding of the damage that sexual abuse of children by priests does to them, a complete lack of understanding of Antisemitism, and a complete lack of understanding of what centuries of the Blood Libel against the Jews actually did.

Comparing the NYT coverage of the sexual abuse of children by priests to Antisemitism derives from Narcissistic Rage. This is also known as Narcissistic Injury, where criticism (deserved or not, usually deserved), so wounds and hurts the self-image of the person experiencing it, that they lash out to protect the perceived mortal injury to their self-image. Narcissistic injury is about injury to self-image, not any other type of image or any other type of injury. It is most severe when the criticism is justified, and the perpetrator has no justification, no rational explanation to deflect the criticism, so they lash out with rage and seek to destroy and cover-up the criticism. The severity of the narcissistic rage does depend on low nitric oxide. It induces a fight or flight response and can induce acute psychosis and delusional thinking. I think it is this positive feedback of low NO causing more extreme fight or flight and an exaggerated response that causes the severity. It is like road rage, the out of control rage is the same. The wackiness and incoherence of the excuses given for narcissistic injury reflect the acute psychosis caused by the rage.

The cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests was done to protect the image of the Catholic Church. Not to protect the actual Catholic Church, but to protect the image of the Catholic Church. The actual Catholic is the people in it, what they do, what they believe, how they act and treat other people inside and outside the Church. The image of the Catholic Church is what they pretend that they are. Pretending that Catholic Priests did not sexually abuse children didn't change the fact that they did, but it allowed those in the Catholic Church Hierarchy to pretend that it did not happen. This is a sign of delusional thinking, believing something even when there is overwhelming contrary evidence.

Narcissistic injury is typical in top-down social power hierarchies, such as the Catholic Church. In top-down social power hierarchies, who ever is at the top is always right, simply because they are at the top. One moves up in a top-down power hierarchy by sucking-up to those above one, and then as the ones higher up die or retire, then one moves up depending on how well one has sucked-up to those above. When a higher up is shown to have been wrong, that can easily trigger narcissistic injury, and a narcissistic rage. This is how the Bush Administration was run. Cheney wanted a memo saying that torture was legal, so he got a memo saying torture was legal. If necessary Cheney would have replaced lawyer after lawyer after lawyer until he got the lawyer that would do what he wanted. This is what Nixon did in the Saturday Night Massacre, he ordered the Attorney General to fire the Special Prosecutor, the Attorney General resigned instead. Nixon kept ordering people until he found someone who would do what he wanted, a brown-nose suck-up.

I appreciate that the Pope and the Holy See thinks that it is bound by no Earthly laws. This is the nature of top-down hierarchical thinking. In a top-down hierarchy, the only “law” is the whim of those higher than you in the hierarchy. In this respect the Pope is no different than Jim Jong-il of North Korea.

The Narcissistic Injury that the Catholic Church is perceiving to its image is purely one of image. The Blood Libel against the Jews actually resulted in Jews being killed, 6 million of them in the Holocaust. Six million dead because of Antisemitic lies vs the Catholic Church Hierarchy's feelings being hurt because they can't wallow in their delusional denial about the harm that Catholic Priests and their enablers and ultimately that the Hierarchy is responsible for.

What this actually shows is that the Catholic Church Hierarchy is unable to empathize with the children who were sexually abused, unable to empathize with the parents of those children, unable to empathize with normal people who are repulsed by this behavior, and unable to empathize with victims of Antisemitism (living and dead). So who can they empathize with? Beats me, I have no idea. I have more empathy than all of them put together and I have Asperger's.

A top-down social hierarchy isn't run by empathy and understanding, it is run by those at the top dictating and those underneath them following. It is the essence of truthy, where what ever those at the top feel is right is how those underneath them will perceive reality. It is not something that those of us in the reality based community can understand.

That the Catholic Church Hierarchy would make this comparison tells us something. There is no logical basis for the comparison, but the Hierarchy feels that there is a basis for comparison. The Catholic Church Hierarchy feels as though they have been mortally wounded. There is actually no basis in fact for this. The Catholic Church Hierarchy knows better than anyone what actually happened. They have actual records, Priest personnel files, complaint letters, Church trial proceedings, notes from interviews, they can even interview the actual priests involved. None of what is coming out should be the slightest bit surprising to the Catholic Church Hierarchy.

Logically the Catholic Church can 't be surprised by any of this, no matter how much they lie and pretend that they are surprised. They can't be shocked either because they already know it. What is surprising is that they are so out of touch that they think they can fool everyone with their narcissistic rage and nonsensical arguments.

They are also blaming the gays, saying this is not a problem of Catholic Priests being pedophiles, it is a problem of gay people because some of the victims were post-pubescent. This doesn't make any sense at all. That it is brought up is (I think) because the narcissistic rage has induced delusional thinking. People with a gay orientation are not more likely to rape children. Self-identified heterosexual men are the group most likely to do that.

The question of why blaming others for the crimes the Catholic Church Hierarchy is accused of is even brought up? It does nothing to mitigate the harm that the Church has done. It does nothing to heal the victims. It does nothing to prevent future harm. All it does is seek to divert attention away from the actions and inactions of the Catholic Church Hierarchy. The Catholic Church Hierarchy isn't stupid. They know these are invalid arguments. They know they don't matter.

Is the Catholic Church Hierarchy legally culpable? I think they are, even the Pope.

The Vatican Legal team is now claiming that the Pope is immune as the Sovereign of the Holy See and so has sovereign immunity as a head of state. That may be true for ordinary crimes, but there are crimes for which a head of state is not immune. There is no sovereign immunity for Crimes against Humanity.

The Holy See has observer status at the UN, is signatory to a number of International conventions and declarations. By agreeing to these, the Holy See has acknowledge that no person, including a head of state is above the law. By agreeing that no head of state is immune to prosecution for Crimes against Humanity, the Holy See has acknowledge that the Pope himself is not immune to prosecution for Crimes Against Humanity.

Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949

Convention on the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes and crimes against humanity. New York, 26 November 1968

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. New York, 10 December 1984

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. New York, 25 May 2000

The Rome Statute

Several of these are relevant. The Rome Statute states:

Article 7

Crimes against humanity

1. For the purpose of this Statute, ‘crime against humanity’ means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

(a) Murder;

(b) Extermination;

(c) Enslavement;

(d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;

(e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;

(f) Torture;

(g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;

(h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

(i) Enforced disappearance of persons;

(j) The crime of apartheid;

(k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

2. For the purpose of paragraph 1: [a-d, f-g omitted]

(e) ‘Torture’ means the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused; except that torture shall not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions;

Article 25

Individual criminal responsibility

1. The Court shall have jurisdiction over natural persons pursuant to this Statute.

2. A person who commits a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court shall be individually responsible and liable for punishment in accordance with this Statute.

3. In accordance with this Statute, a person shall be criminally responsible and liable for punishment for a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court if that person:

(a) Commits such a crime, whether as an individual, jointly with another or through another person, regardless of whether that other person is criminally responsible;

(b) Orders, solicits or induces the commission of such a crime which in fact occurs or is attempted;

(c) For the purpose of facilitating the commission of such a crime, aids, abets or otherwise assists in its commission or its attempted commission, including providing the means for its commission;

(d) In any other way contributes to the commission or attempted commission of such a crime by a group of persons acting with a common purpose. Such contribution shall be intentional and shall either:

(i) Be made with the aim of furthering the criminal activity or criminal purpose of the group, where such activity or purpose involves the commission of a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; or

(ii) Be made in the knowledge of the intention of the group to commit the crime;

(e) In respect of the crime of genocide, directly and publicly incites others to commit genocide;

(f) Attempts to commit such a crime by taking action that commences its execution by means of a substantial step, but the crime does not occur because of circumstances independent of the person's intentions. However, a person who abandons the effort to commit the crime or otherwise prevents the completion of the crime shall not be liable for punishment under this Statute for the attempt to commit that crime if that person completely and voluntarily gave up the criminal purpose.

4. No provision in this Statute relating to individual criminal responsibility shall affect the responsibility of States under international law.

Article 27

Irrelevance of official capacity

1. This Statute shall apply equally to all persons without any distinction based on official capacity. In particular, official capacity as a Head of State or Government, a member of a Government or parliament, an elected representative or a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility under this Statute, nor shall it, in and of itself, constitute a ground for reduction of sentence.

2. Immunities or special procedural rules which may attach to the official capacity of a person, whether under national or international law, shall not bar the Court from exercising its jurisdiction over such a person.

Article 28

Responsibility of commanders and other superiors In addition to other grounds of criminal responsibility under this Statute for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court:

(a) A military commander or person effectively acting as a military commander shall be criminally responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed by forces under his or her effective command and control, or effective authority and control as the case may be, as a result of his or her failure to exercise control properly over such forces, where:

(i) That military commander or person either knew or, owing to the circumstances at the time, should have known that the forces were committing or about to commit such crimes; and

(ii) That military commander or person failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his or her power to prevent or repress their commission or to submit the matter to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.

(b) With respect to superior and subordinate relationships not described in paragraph (a), a superior shall be criminally responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed by subordinates under his or her effective authority and control, as a result of his or her failure to exercise control properly over such subordinates, where:

(i) The superior either knew, or consciously disregarded information which clearly indicated, that the subordinates were committing or about to commit such crimes;

(ii) The crimes concerned activities that were within the effective responsibility and control of the superior; and

(iii) The superior failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his or her power to prevent or repress their commission or to submit the matter to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.

[As I read and understand these, children who were under the control of priests and who were raped by those priests were “tortured”.]

'Torture’ means the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused.

...a superior shall be criminally responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed by subordinates under his or her effective authority and control, as a result of his or her failure to exercise control properly over such subordinates, where:

(i) The superior either knew, or consciously disregarded information which clearly indicated, that the subordinates were committing or about to commit such crimes;

(ii) The crimes concerned activities that were within the effective responsibility and control of the superior; and

(iii) The superior failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his or her power to prevent or repress their commission or to submit the matter to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.

The convention on child trafficking requires state actors to criminalize sexual exploitation of children and to cooperate to the greatest extent possible with international agencies to stop that exploitation.

Threatening children who have been sexually abused with excommunication if they report it to civil authorities is also a violation of the child prostitution convention. What matters is not what the document they were forced to sign actually means, what matters is what the child thought it meant and was lead to believe it meant. It was designed to compel their silence while providing plausible deniability. A child doesn't have the legal capacity to understand, or to agree to such a thing. Any such agreement is itself exploitive of the child.

The Catholic Church Hierarchy and the Pope both in his current status as Pope, and in his earlier status in the Office of the Doctrine of the Faith were clearly in a position to know and stop the raping of children, and were clearly in a position to submit the matter to competent authorities in the US, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and many other jurisdictions, and they did none of these. That makes the Catholic Church Hierarchy, including the Pope guilty of crimes against humanity.

12 comments:

storkdok said...

David, this is very well constructed and documented. I never thought about the priestly rape of children as being "crimes against humanity", but they certainly are, and as such, anyone who covered it up is also culpable. You also have described the narcissistic rage and the reasons why very well.

I do hope the Pope and the other priests who committed and/or covered up these crimes are held accountable. It is an unconscionable act they have committed against children.

daedalus2u said...

If they had behaved responsibly, and stopped the abuse when it happened, then it would not have risen to the level of a "crime against humanity".

This is no different than military commanders who allow their subordinants to commit rape.

Sean Ellis said...

Excellent article. If the "crimes against Humanity" charge can be made to stick, then it will certainly make it interesting when Pope Ratzinger arrives in the UK.

Interesting juristictional point - will the Pope be protected by our police or by his own Swiss guards during his visit? And how should the police react to someone attempting to serve a writ (or similar legal instrument) on the Pope?

Alex M said...

The claim that the sexual abuse constitutes a crime against humanity is simply wrong. I've written a piece on my blog which I hope explains things.

daedalus2u said...

If you look at the 1984 definition of torture:

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cat.htm

Article 1
1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”


Doesn't a priest raping a child in a confessional and then coercing them into silence constitute “severe pain … intentionally inflicted … for such purpose as … intimidating or coercing … when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a … person acting in an official capacity”?

Priests have told children their rape was God's will. If the Catholic Church allows such priests to remain priests, then the Catholic Church is not removing their stamp of “official capacity” on what those priests say.

Alex M said...

Even if we change the playing field and call the acts torture it still wouldn't reach the threshold of a crime against humanity for the reasons I have set down.

Also I don't think it would constitute an act of torture as per CAT. The purpose of the rape (or torture if you will) wasn't to obtain the child's silence as it seems that you are suggesting.

skybluskyblue said...

As to understanding the justification for hiding the truth to protect the reputation of the church, I have often met individuals who sincerely believe that ANYTHING to prevent a person from going to hell is justified. Thus the scandal to the church may hurt the whole message of the "gospel" for some people. So if people reject the "gospel" because of the scandal that person will go to hell [in the minds of some] .
There may be people in the loop of the abuse who think this way, then again the narcissistic rage you describe sounds about right too. Many churches and other religions inspire this type of thinking. For example, a young girl being raped, her assailant protected by the church, and the girl herself getting all the blame…and it's the Baptists! http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/05/its_not_just_the_catholics.php

daedalus2u said...

I understand the concept that any sin that prevents someone from going to Hell is justified and is a greater good, and that the leaders of the Church hierarchy in their delusional world view may have felt that is what they were doing. A tiny bit of logic shows that argument to be false.

One could remove pedophile priests and keep them away from new potential victims while keeping the abuse secret. If the Church had done that, the number of victims would have been a tiny fraction of what they are. The number of pedophile priests might have been the same, but if they were removed from contact with children at their first instance of abuse there would not be priests with hundreds or thousands of victims. Allowing abuse to continue only increases the risk that it will be found out.

Children who have been abused have committed suicide as a consequence of that abuse. Under Catholic Church dogma, suicide is a mortal sin, and suicide victims are damned to Hell. Suicide is a predictable consequence of allowing children to be sexually abused. Every mental health clinician knows that the incidence of suicide is higher among victims of abuse. Catholic Church officials who allowed pedophile priests to continue abusing children knew or should have known that allowing that abuse would lead to suicides and to the damning of children or adults to Hell.

The problem is that all Abrahamic religions are top-down patriarchal power structures. Power comes from the top, and that power is there only by virtue of the person being at the top of the power structure. There is no “truth”, there is only what people higher up in the power structure say is the “truth”. Of course they say things to maintain their power. That is the nature of power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The only thing that matters is maintaining power.

What kind of a sin is it that causes someone else to go to Hell? Of course that is where their myth of “free will” comes in. The abused child who becomes a depressed and suicidal adult doesn't commit suicide as a predictable consequence of depression which is a predictable consequence of the abuse, no, the suicidal adult commits suicide because of “free will”, and so the perpetrators and the enablers get a pass and they get to blame the victim yet again.

Don't expect the Catholic Church to change, they don't have the capacity to understand, or the capacity to change.

Janet said...

You ask who the catholic church can empathise with, I suggest the answer is 'themeselves'. The can empathise with other celibate relgious of their own faith and that is all. Everyone outside the clergy is the 'other' and less than truely human, which is how they completely fail to appreciate the enormity of their crimes. The children (and others) whom they rape are not real people. They don't count.

I predict that the pope's trip to England this year will be cancelled. Too many high profile people are plotting against him, the risk will be too great. They will come up with some other excuse but he won't go.

Anonymous said...

This isn't the most appropriate thread for NO-related discussion, but seeing as it's the only recent one...

I've long been interested the biological functions of NO and ROS (although I'm far more familiar with RNA biology), but your approach seems flawed on several accounts. You have a tendency to mix obvious biologic facts with your (largely) unsupported assumptions about NO. Many of the problems you attribute to NO disregulation (such as stress) also involve altered expression of a plethora of other regulatory pathways. While NO certainly could be a participant, there is little evidence to believe NO or the lack thereof is either necessary or sufficient to these disorders at any stage. Even if low NO levels during development contributed to a disorder, there is no reason to think that NO supplmentation later in life (after a critical period) would ameliorate symptoms.

Also, introducing a skin commensal bacteria to supplement NO levels seems wrought with problems as well. At what rate does this bacteria produce NO relative to the known skin/scalp commensals (a significant increase)? Under what conditions do you measure this NO production (i.e. L-argine/etc supplementation?, temp?, can you reasonably extrapolate to behavior on human skin). Can this bacterium even colonize the skin/scalp? Many bacteria cannot and are readily washed away. Assuming it can colonize, can it compete with the naturally occuring microbiome well enough to maintain a sufficiently large population to produce signficantly more NO? Keep in mind that the microbiome is not static or consistent across persons. Will a sufficient amount be produced to diffuse to target regions (do you even have a proposed target region beyond simply "the body" or "the brain?").

Assuming NO treatment were potentially beneficial. It would seem there are far better delivery mechanisms. The effects of nitroglycerin and amyl nitrates are thought to be their role the production of NO and other nitrates/nitrites. Although distinguishing between the effects of these compounds and their metabolites complicates the dissection of their functions, the ability to adminster a specific dose is an amazing advantage when investigating a drug's therapeutic effects. The stability of these compounds is an added benefit, the drugs have a sufficiently long biological half-life to diffuse to putative sites of action. NOproduced at a distance, with its short biological half-life, is unlikely to accumulate to signficant levels at the target site.

daedalus2u said...

I disagree that my assertions about NO are unsupported. There is data in the literature that supports virtually everything that I have said. I appreciate that there are other explanations, I happen to disagree with those explanations.

I appreciate that measuring NO/NOx species is complex and difficult and impossible in many places at levels where it is known to be important, for example sub nM/L in the brain. We know that the levels in the brain occur at where there is acute vasodilatation by NO which is in the few nM/L range. We can measure where vasodilatation occurs using the fMRI BOLD technique which maps out where oxy-deoxyhemoglobin levels are changing. Those particular places also happen to be where NO is changing because it is NO that is causing the vasodilatation.

Ammonia oxidizing bacteria are the normal commensals. What grows back after bathing are “weeds”, not the climax species that humans evolved to have on their skin. Ammonia oxidizing bacteria do grow on human skin and suppress and are resistant to displacement (nearly completely as far as I can tell after 8 years) by everything else. They have a 30 times longer doubling time than the heterotrophic “weeds” that cause skin infections and body odor, so it is easy to wash them off faster than they can proliferate.

“Stress” causes low NO because low is the control signal that physiology uses to trigger stress compensatory pathways. To maximize aerobic ATP production, cytochrome c oxidase in mitochondria needs to be disinhibited by removal of NO. Superoxide generation by mitochondria does that. Blood pressure needs to be raised to divert blood to the most important tissues, muscle, brain, heart. Low NO causes the vasoconstriction that does that. Xenobiotic substances need to be metabolized by the cytochrome P450 enzymes. Superoxide from them destroys NO and disinhibits them resulting in positive feedback. The respiratory burst generate superoxide, lowers NO which robustly turns on the immune system. Stress causes low NO, low NO disinhibits the rate limiting enzyme for testosterone synthesis, so low NO causes high androgen levels. Androgens cause the growth of hair, which expands the niche these bacteria grow in which increases NO/NOx status and decreases androgen production.

The NO/NOx levels that these bacteria produce are controlled not by the quantity of bacteria, but by the amount of ammonia released by sweating. I have data showing prompt NO release (less than 1 minute) following ammonia addition to the scalp.

NO is involved in many regulatory pathways. NO regulates the metalization of Zn finger proteins. Zinc finger proteins are the largest class of transcription factors. If metallization of those proteins is regulated by NO, then NO is a fundamental regulator of transcription. NO regulates the ATP level through sGC. Low NO causes low ATP which triggers ischemic preconditioning. NO regulates mitochondria biogenesis, so low NO perpetuates low mitochondria number and high superoxide and low NO.

All physiological pathways are regulated with feedback and automatic gain control. What development under conditions of low NO results in is a skewing of physiology to a low NO state. The “automatic gain control” regulates physiology to be in a low NO state so that it is easier to trigger the low NO state so as to respond to stress when that stress arises.

When you remove a major control pathway for basal NO (sweating ammonia to the biofilm), whether an organism can compensate is idiosyncratic depending on that individual's physiology.

daedalus2u said...

I have instrumental data showing spontaneous NO production by these bacteria in vivo (human) coincident with instrumental measure of a spontaneous physiological effect known to be mediated by NO.

My conceptualization of the pathways that are involved in “stress”, and the disorders that result from the stress induced activation of those pathways are not “bugs”, but they are “features”. Features that are important stress mitigation pathways. I talk about some of that in my post on the placebo effect

http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/2007/04/placebo-and-nocebo-effects.html

and also in the one on the myth of homeostasis.

http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/2008/01/myth-of-homeostasis-implications-for.html

If stress results in low NO (it does, see the work of Stefano GB), then anything that results in low NO will trigger the stress compensatory pathways. Every disease that is made worse by stress (heart disease, kidney failure, liver failure, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, autism, etc.) is made “worse” by the pathways activated by stress, by the stress compensatory pathways. If something is made worse by things that lower NO, it is likely that it will be made better by higher levels of NO.

Interestingly, virtually every disorder that is made worse by stress is also characterized by sweating, especially at night, called “night sweats”. My interpretation is that night sweats result from physiology trying to raise NO/NOx status by releasing ammonia to a biofilm it expects to be there.

We know that bone stiffness is directly regulated by NO. Things that lower NO (menopause) cause worse osteoporosis. Things that raise NO (estrogen replacement therapy, nitroglycerine) cause increased bone stiffness. That is exactly what we would expect if NO is in the active range and is actively controlling bone stiffness (as we know it is).

Also, nitroglycerin is not really a NO donor. It does have NO effects, but those are not well understood, and are not a direct result of higher NO (if nitroglycerin was a NO donor). I appreciate that many people say nitroglycerin is a NO donor, but it really isn't.