From the Blog Journal, 20 March 2010
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The Blood Type Diet doesn't, for me, constitute an "ism". I don't follow it as a religion, nor do I feel the need to "go to confession" about my personal use of it. But vegetarianism frequently inspires that type of allegiance, and one wonders why.
People of blood type A seem to thrive on modified vegetarian diets. One would understand if it were such A's who were doing the proselytizing and genuflecting. On the contrary, I've known of O's who are obsessed with "Save the Animals" principles which they passionately extend to their own diets (though not to their shoe, belt, or purse selections!). Their health suffers, but No Doctor Is Going To Get Them To Kill Animals, dad-gummit!
An old O friend called today, telling me about her vegan cousin who espouses her diet religiously and has forced it on her ten-year-old daughter who is odd/spooky, fat, and friendless. Anything, it seems, to Save the Cattle, all the way to child-sacrifice! I told my friend (who actually lives in Philadelphia), the classic story of Benjamin Franklin who, as an animal-loving vegetarian went out on a friend's boat and watched him catch and eviscerate fish. Noting the presence of so many fish in the bellies of the caught fish, Franklin reported, "I figured that if they can eat each other, I can eat them, too," so ending Franklin's dietary religion.
My teenaged A niece eats fish and is otherwise a vegetarian. She's not a missionary about it; she's just, enviably, extraordinarily astute about her own health. She has no qualms about handling meat; in fact she enjoys cooking it for the rest of the family. She doesn't subscribe to Vegetarian Times or Yoga Journal, and it seems she's not exposed to any vegan-evangelism. Her O sister loves animals and eats meat.
I think about the archetypal O carnivore and his love for animals. After all, it was the prehistoric O hunter who first tamed dogs, using the latter as hunting assistants; if anyone developed close relationships with animals, it was those predatory O's. Historically, respect for animals has never required that one not eat them. The inconvenient truth is that we humans have four canine teeth that clearly demonstrate our equipment to eat meat.
Ironically, some of the strongest pro-animal-nature-habitat politics and money come from hunters. Profoundly inspiring books about the human/nature interface also emanate from that community (see titles below). If I'm going to revere Nature, I'll do so while honestly accepting food-chain reality.
A few hunting/nature books:
Eaton, Randall L., PhD, The Sacred Hunt: Hunting as a Sacred Path: An Anthology
Houston, Pam, ed., Women and Hunting
Martin, Calvin Luther, In the Spirit of the Earth
Swan, James A., In Defense of Hunting
My fascination with blood group anthropology owes a lot to the maps of A.E.Mourant. These show the distribution of O blood type, the A allele, and the B allele, amongst indigenous populations by region, i.e., before any migrations, visitation or crossbreeding. Therefore the figures are valid for populations a couple of thousand years back, but not since the hordes and invasions of the early Christian era.
The following link displays maps based upon those found in Mourant’s work but can be off by as much as 10%: http://anthro.palomar.edu/vary/vary_3.htm
You might enjoy cross-referring between this column and that map as you read.
Everywhere on the globe (with the tiniest exception, found on the Barents Sea in the Russian Arctic) more than 50% of all populations are type O. There was, originally, no race or people for whom this was not true. This is an important starting point for those who might otherwise tend to succumb to the race-religion-stereotyped misinformation which often rears its head in this field.
The only region of the world that showed the ubiquitous O-majority to be actually exclusive was: The Western Hemisphere, from the Rio Grande south to Tierra del Fuego, where O prevailed at 95 to 100 per cent.
There is no area of the world (with the tiny Arctic exception cited above) where less than 50% of the population was originally Type O, or where more than 45% had the A allele, or more than 30% had the B-allele.
North America, in some areas, shows the same 100% O-incidence as the lower Americas (about ½ the continent shows 65-70% O, the other half 70-75%), but the remainder is usually evenly divided between A and B. In about ¼ of Africa, B-incidence was as high as 20%, i.e., surpassing A-incidence, a finding that explains the much higher incidence (approximately double!) of the B allele amongst blacks that amongst whites worldwide, even today.
The highest A-incidence, in the ancient (indigenous) world would be found in: Australia and New Zealand, Japan, Europe east and west, Ukraine and Western Russia, Asia Minor and the Levant (Lebanon/Palestine). In these areas, A is found in more than 25% of the population, up to as much as 45-50% (in that tiny Barents Sea region, A goes as high as 55%).
Usually the allele of least representation, the highest B-incidence would have been found in Eastern Asia (China, Mongolia, Korea, Siberia), the Southeast Asian peninsula, Central/Himalayan Asia (N. India, Pakistan, Kashmir, Afghanistan), and eastern Russia, i.e., east of the Caspian Sea.
Mourant also conducted some very specific research with regard to races, including the Jews, the Gypsies, and Polynesian peoples. His research on the Jews was with the aim of revealing Jewish-specific patterns in population. But his groundbreaking results instead showed the similarity of Jewish blood type prevalences to their surrounding cultures! Always O-dominant (like the rest of the world), their proportions of A and B varied only slightly, consonant with those of their surrounding populations (e.g., in areas of Russia where B showed a 16% incidence amongst the general population, B showed the same prevalence amongst the regions’ Jews, plus perhaps 1 or 2 % in a few areas). Amongst the Gypsies, Mourant found the incidence of AB type to be very high (over 10%), and he attributed the rise of the blood type to Gypsy and Gypsy-related migrations westward from North India.
I’m greatly indebted to Mourant’s maps and his overview of this subject. Though I have referred to other sources for modern regional numbers, these are always seen in light of anthropologic origins as described by Mourant. For example, in the early 1980’s, US figures looked something like this: O-44%, A-42%, B-10%, AB-4%. If we start to see B rise here at the expense of A, we can refer to Mourant and infer a strong Asian influx.
For those of you with a hankering after the anthropology, Mourant’s fascinating work is worth examining.
Here in the United States, the incidence of ABO blood groups is estimated at approximately 44% O; 42% A; 10% B: and 4% AB. Whether one finds oneself in a majority type - O or A - or in a minority one - B or AB - goes a long way, I find, toward determining personality factors. In other words, bloodtype personalities are "the way they are" not only because of intrinsic factors, but also by virtue of their being embedded in large/extended or in small/isolated clans of typemates.
Both O's and A's harbor expectations that the world sees things the way they do; they're accustomed to a certain understood-ness amid society. Very simply put, O's want to win at the world's game, and A's want to be accepted within and facilitators of community. Both know that B's and AB's are "different", "quirky" in some way; O and A can't imagine being that out of step with the broader world.
B's and AB's, for their part, are accustomed to their differentness. But I have a theory that distinguishes the inner comfort and self-acceptance of the B from the apprehension and inner turmoil of the AB.
I posit that B, operating independently, skirting the larger, customary byways, is contented in that state and role, wearing it well, but that AB has trouble with such desires because of the A allele. AB's would like to be as straightforward in their unusualness as B's are, but they have this A-voice gnawing at them - A, the one who wants to fit in, to get along, to create community, to enjoy security. AB sees that B isn't as compromising or as equivocating, and envies B. AB wishes s/he could ditch the A self-expectation, the inner A's criticalness of inner B, in order to shine like the B, riding the wind -- OR -- that s/he could "outgrow" his/her B-differentness altogether and be included in the larger A-compliant world. You might find AB's alternating in their behavior toward B's: projecting orneriness against free, autonomous B acquaintances and family at times, and expressing a yearning to take off and run with the horses, too, at others.
Speaking of horses, anthropologic bloodtype archetypes portray this subtle variation too: B the utter nomad, AB the gypsy. The nomad is out there in the wilderness - deserts, steppes, mountains- watching stars shoot, clouds morph, dunes shift - while the gypsy is the oddball closer to civilization: The family washing clothes in the stream by its caravan at the city's edge, the accordionist with the dancing bear on the midtown corner, the fortune teller at the gate.
These archetypes also show how B and AB can find their level and contentment: B in not caring to justify himself to society, confident that the latter will use/absorb/ignore/reject what it chooses to of B's offerings and wares, and AB being pleased to amuse, or find a unique role within, the majority's society while proudly upholding his very staunch policy of caginess/aloofness. Playing by his own rules, as it were, within the larger system. Keeping a foot outside the box.
Both AB's and B's are passionate critters. AB's for their majority-wannabe A allele, however, are more conflicted, I think. If you're an AB or you love one, try these insights on for size. If you're, like myself, a B, your drifting isn't aimless: It may simply conform to patterns that transcend the era and the culture and the family you inhabit. Be true to it.
Mountain wind, whirling snow
crushed forebears deep below
before the grassy highway gave
itself to history.
Massive heights and continents
together we traverse
trading ties between tribes,
Eastward first then thundering
gusts of horsefire wild beyond
our ancient roots and north,
we sailing forth upon gray waves
Or weaving tentside tales with
dung-fed heated hosting between
dunes, and dunes are oceans endless
bending back to dance with moons.
not bucolic, flocks a feast for
blood beasts when once we stray
daydreaming milky celestial
distances. Clouds commute across,
sometimes shielding stars from
sight of scouts plotting
path and pasture.
The rains and oh the rains
we welcome changes, leafy
camel thorns, their tired humps
to fatten higher hauling; Leaving
villages and cities sprout
about, we wend the wild
uncharted ways of vastness,
visions and Beyond.
Modernity -- industrialization, technologizing, virtualizing, pharmacologizing -- has perpetrated a divorce between our biological state and our lifeviews. I deal with this gap as a standard part of my work with first-time postpartum careerwomen in a major American city. And we all manifest it insofar as we are ignorant of our deep genetic ancestry. Medicine's established ignorance of the central role of such genetic markers as ABO bloodgroup has been but one example of this phenomenon. We are embedded in biological realities, yet the cultures and individuals we deem successful are those most alienated from those very realities.
For my clients, successful transition to motherhood usually entails a period of disorientation, as years of competent breadwinning and progeny-free sexuality are suddenly completely replaced by the sheer physicality of childbirth, breastfeeding, and the waste products of a tiny bundle of pure need. It comes as a shock to the modern woman, whose past contact with such matters has usually been limited to the mediation of movies, photos and jokes. Pregnancy, with its out-of-control body expansions, its nausea, olfactory sensitivities and gustatory cravings, is but a mild foretaste of the utter immersion of the puerperium and "fourth trimester", especially as pregnancy is usually loaded with such distractions as outfitting the nursery, buying the layette, finding obstetrician and then pediatrician, arranging for maternity leave, etc. Suddenly and starkly, it's all about Biology.
Similarly, we who study bloodtype anthropology and/or who take an interest in our DNA geneology, find ourselves confronting our long lost biological identities. And we wonder, "How could I have lived so long without knowing this? How can we as a society have ignored this?" much as new moms often feel anger toward a zeitgeist that had heretofore duped, or anesthetized, them.
My work with new mothers involves, among other things, facilitating an optimal psychological and physical passage to a state of acceptance of, and joy in, their new identity, an identity which ushers them to a level of reality upon which society has always been based, depsite their former lifestyle's blindness to it: Good Morning!
I see Dr. D'Adamo's having publicized blood type medicine and anthropology as quite similar: Assisting the public's transition from biogenetic ignorance to our understanding of ourselves within the vast and ever-present human story. People of all ABO bloodgroups are changed in profound ways when their psychological features and medical histories are perceived as genetic imperatives, sourced in the adaptations of their hitherto unrecognized ancestors. Just as the new mom thrills to discover her community of mothers, the bloodtype-anthro student is often excited to profoundly understand his lifelong fascination with, say, Plains Indians, Mongolian horsemen, Gypsies, or things Japanese, which he now studies with more personal urgency. He furthermore connects his high-acid stomach with all Os and their hunting prehistory; she understands the link between her vulnerability to stress and all As, with their community-building/maintaining forebears.
The Physical has immediacy. It appears to reign in this life and is in fact ignored at our medical and social peril. There is, however, that which trumps the Physical -- in the spiritual realm. Understanding what we are raises the question of what we, mere humans, aren't. Coming to terms with the lesser reality, ephemeral and limited as it is, leads some to seek the Greater and eternal one. Good morning indeed.