CIRCUMCISION RESOURCE CENTER
P.O. Box 232, Boston, MA 02133, Tel/Fax (617)523-0088
BOSTON (Monday, June 24, 2002) - A new study on circumcision in the latest edition of
Journal of Health Psychology concludes that the surgery causes a host of psychological
problems-including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-in adults who have suffered the
surgery as babies. The study is due on doctor's desks this week.
"Half of all men who were circumcised as babies have some degree of PTSD. PTSD is what
happened to men who went to Vietnam, and parents are doing it to their babies," said J.
Steven Svoboda, Executive Director of Attorneysfor the Rights of the Child, a lawyer and
co-author of the study. The study concludes that the trauma of circumcision affects the
developing brains of babies, and as a result, they may later suffer a host of psychological
problems as adults, including "depression and a sense of personal vulnerability," in extreme
cases causing the men to react in "aggressive, violent, and/or suicidal behavior."
"We're hearing from a lot more men about emotional difficulties, sexual difficulties, and
psychological problems that they are attributing to their circumcision," said Ron Goldman,
Ph.D., Executive Director of the Circumcision Resource Center in Boston, a psychologist, and
another co-author of the study with two other academics, "and it brings the attention to
mental health professionals that circumcision may be the cause of some of the problems that
they are diagnosing in men." Up to now, many mental health professionals have been
unaware of the psychological harms of circumcision. "Now, men who have problems that
they cannot explain, and which may be mystifying their therapists, may look at circumcision
as the possible root of their problems," added Goldman. The study's authors write, "PTSD
may result from childhood circumcision, just as it does from childhood sexual abuse and
rape," and that "some men circumcised in infancy or childhood without their consent have
described their present feelings in the language of violation, torture, mutilation, and sexual
The study found that "as compared with genitally intact men, circumcised men were often
unhappy about being circumcised, experienced significant anger, sadness, feeling incomplete,
cheated, hurt, concerned, frustrated, abnormal, and violated." The authors also found that
circumcised men reported lower self-esteem than did genitally intact respondents. Svoboda
of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, an organization that has brought lawsuits against
doctors who have circumcised babies, said: "This is going to affect the kind of damages that
adult men get for being circumcised against their will as babies. Lawyers are going to be in
court holding up this article and judges are going to have to pay attention. To win a legal
case you have to show harm, and what the harm cost you, and this article does that."
Svoboda has a warning for doctors who continue to circumcise babies against the
recommendations of medical bodies: "We know the physical damage being done by
circumcision, and that it is not medically recommended at all. The foundation is well laid for
lawsuits. Doctors who are still doing circumcisions are already investing in a lot of trouble,
and this study makes their trouble worse. They just have to wait 18 years until that baby
grows up and they're in for a lawsuit. And an army of lawyers will be there, with this study
and many more in their arsenal."
Marilyn Milos, Director of NOCIRC, an organization that seeks to end routine neonatal
circumcision in North America, says, "This is the first time an article addresses the long-
term psychological trauma. The trauma is significant for babies, resulting in Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder. Any time that we can determine that there is such severe harm to an
unnecessary procedure it should be outlawed. Female genital mutilation has been outlawed,
and we need the law to set the standard, here, too, followed by aggressive educational
programs. Parents and doctors need to know that this is a harm that lasts a lifetime."
Svoboda is convinced that this study will have a major impact on circumcision in the U.S.
"Doctors ignore a lot of medical literature," he said, "and they ignore the screams of the
babies, but they listen when they hear the word 'malpractice.' As a lawyer willing to sue, I've
never had a doctor not listen to me."
The Journal of Health Psychology is an interdisciplinary, international journal that
acknowledges the social context of health, illness, health policy, and publishes theoretical,
methodological, and empirical studies. The circulation of the Journal is worldwide and
papers are invited from authors throughout the world.
The U.S. circumcises over 1.2 million male infants per year. The rate has gradually declined
to just under 60% in recent years. Circumcision is generally considered an American cultural
practice, but the pertinent legal questions have not been decided and are only recently being
asked. The debate about circumcision has been more vocal lately due to increased awareness
and questions about harm and lack of proven benefits. Proponents continue to claim
potential decreased risk of certain diseases, but these claims are not accepted by any
national medical organizations.
For More Information Contact:
Ronald Goldman, Ph.D. Executive Director, Circumcision Resource Center,
Boston, Mass. 617-523-0088
Ephrem Fernandez, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, Southern
Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, phone: (214) 768-3414, fax: (214)
J. Steven Svoboda, J.D. Executive Director, Attorneys for the Rights of the
2961 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705
Fax/Phone (510) 595-5550 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Marilyn Milos, RN Director, NOCIRC, San Anselmo, CA. Phone: 415-488-9883
Fax: 415-488-9660 email:email@example.com, website:www.nocirc.org/
The Article: http://www.cirp.org/library/psych/boyle6/