Saturday 27 January 2018

corsets for health

Ever since I realised I could wear what I liked, rather than the uniform sailor suits my father, Kapitan von Trapp, made us dress in, I've had a preference for crew-neck sweaters. I'm kidding about The Skipper and the sailor suits, but I did go to two schools that had a very peculiar dress code.  My sweater-pref makes it easy for the rellies come Christmas and Birthday. I was given a sweater a few years ago that was really tight round the gussets and it finished up at the back of the closet after I spent a day at work feeling positively purple in the face. That sweater surfaced in December when we took the opportunity of having a full house of family to do some decluttering. I wasn't ready to sent it off to Syria as it was basically unworn, so I tried it on again. It fit! . . . like a glove rather than an old potato sack. The reason it fits now, as opposed top then, is because I've shed some weight since my paragliding days  - something like 10 or 15 kg.

Last week the Minister of Education was down at The Institute for a symposium on Education and Enterprise. I arrived early enough to get a free cup of tea and start ripping into the micro-croissants that are served at such events. Apropos of appreciating the free food one of my younger female colleagues said, (a little ruefully)  "Hey Bob, you have a good figure, you can eat what you want". I don't think I could have said anything like that to her - it's not in my nature and also breaks the current rules of taboo discourse. Whatever, the words were spoken and I laughed them off explaining that my once-and-future sweater was like a corset . . . but stopped myself from continuing ". . . and you should see me when I take it off". Now that would be transgressive.

This-all is an, off-centre, introduction to a cunning plan out of Germany for helping / handling ADHD - which I heard about from "Rissoles" Hayes when we dropped in last weekend. A couple of years ago, I wrote of my qualified admiration for Temple "think like a steer" Grandin. Dr Grandin almost finished up rocking quietly in a corner of an Institution but instead secured multiple degrees, a TED talk, and a successful consultancy. She is out there on the autistic spectrum and talks of the relief she felt when constrained in a hugger-suit: a cross between a garment and an iron-lung that would make me, and possibly you, feel super-constrained and claustrophobic - especially if were both in there simultaneously. This relief by compression is not unique to Dr Grandin.

Educators in Germany have been reading the same anecdotes and now offer fidgetty kinder the chance to wear a special jacket loaded with sand [in fashionable pink R] to calm them down [Grauniad]. Not to be confused with the Michelin Man [prev]. Those who believe [Hallelluia!] think the intervention helpful - others start to rail about stigmatisation and making comparisons to strait-jackets. Doubtless someone will carry out a 'controlled' scientific experiment; matching kids off and giving half of then a sand-vest and the other half a regular jacket. I'm not hopeful that you can get a statistically convincing result without a huge sample-size. Even then, I'm not convinced that ADHD is one condition rather than a suite of behaviours that disturb other people. If it's a spectrum, especially if multi-dimensionally variable, then it's possible that some will respond and others won't because you're not comparing like with like.

Whatever the efficacy, there is now product. Apparently these things weigh up to 5 kg and cost somewhere North of €150 ! Holy sewing-machine, Robin. I've got a heap of sand in the yard, if your kid needs one, I'll run up a little jacket from sand and fertiliser sacks that will be just the ticket, €50 should cover it.

Whatever about a cure for ADHD, I heard recently that wearing a tight sweater when going out to dinner can help the obesity epidemic. It's to do with the feedback loops that are in each of us to control appetite. One system involves a homeostatic balance between two hormones leptin and ghrelin. The former says "I'm stuffed' the later "I'm starved".  Another, parallel, system monitors whether the stomach is full. A real tight six-pack framing shirt can trigger this latter system into believing it is full. Just sayin'! Probably even less data on that than the ADHD vs sand story.

Whatever about sandstrait-jackets, these things may remind older readers of a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, where talented, intelligent or athletic people are assigned handicaps to bring everyone down to an equal baseline. Harrison Bergeron finishes up burdened with bags of lead-shot, headache-inducing spectacles and hideous make-up.

No comments:

Post a Comment