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Midget Dwarf Cretin Down Syndrome

This is one of three overviews concerned with "little people" who may be called MIDGET, DWARF and by any number of other terms. This overview deals mostly with ideas in MIDGET. Ideas in DWARF and a dwarfing condition called ACHODROPLASIA are the subject of separate illustrated overviews.
 
"Little Persons" with nearly average body proportions can be called "midget".

MIDGET or NANISM refers to beings of smaller size. MIDGET implies diminutive or small and that the body proportions are near average. The roots of midget point toward "mukha" or "musca", Ukrainian and Latin terms for FLY or "GNAT" which points to GNOME and GNOSIS as well as KNOW implying that GNOMES KNOW. Legend affirms that GNOMES KNOW of hidden treasures. Ignorant people had the HUNCH that rubbing the HUMP of a HUNCHBACK would bring them good fortune as in the adage "Catch one (gnome) and get a crock of gold".

          
Dwarfs have altered body proportions.
       
Most Gnomes are represented as Dwarfs.

NANISM, from "nano" also implies proportional reduction in size as denoted to "little", "small" or miniscule as NANUS and ENANO in Greek and Spanish denote MIDGET. MINIature people enchant artists who left a rich heritage of enchanting legends. Painters personified ideas such as FATE in FAIRY and divine infants called PUTTI. Others, created an amazing maze of other characters from AUSTRI to WESTRI described in explanatory pages listed on the left.

BES is one of many ancient legends about a "little person" or protective spirit or genie. In ancient Egypt, BES dwelled in homes and fostered child rearing. The name BES, some linguist say, is unrelated to BETH but both "bes" and "beth" convey ideas about "home". In Phoenician and Hebrew BAYITH denotes "to build a house" and from BETH we get BETHESDA which denotes "house of mercy".

   
The dreadful appearance of Bes serves to scare evil spirits away from the households she protects (Ancient figurines from Saggara and Grimea).

There are at least 900 causes and types of human "dwarfing" conditions. Among them is CRETINISM, a SYNDROME caused by lack of prenatal thyroid action resulting in stunting, both physical and mental. Artists noted that CRETINS have facial features or FACIES alike to that of DOWN SYNDROME, another condition causing stunted physical and mental growth.
  
Iodine Deficiency Cretinism.
  
Down Syndrome Facies.

Other depictions, particularly of elfs represent them with hairy or HIRSUTE cheeks, bulbous noses and other features suggestive of ACHONDROPLASIA reviewed elsewhere.
 

 The body features of these gnomes are alike to those of patients with achondroplasia and dwarfism (Schwind).

Some legends, perhaps crafted by Christian zealots, claim that Roman Mercenary Merchants tried to "produce" human midgets to satisfy the "market demand" for JESTERS. These legends propose that infants were starved and perhaps even exposed to alcohol. Both, starvation and alcohol, not only stunt physical but also mental growth. Since jesters had to be witty, articulated, astute and otherwise intelligent, the "production" of midgets by Roman entrepreneurs was doomed to fail. In modern terms, fetal alcohol syndrome is not associated with dramatic degrees of nanism but malnutrition is.

Many people believe they KNOW about GNOmes. In fact, most people are iGNOrant about GNOmes and, in this sense, behave as GNOstics, that is, persons who equate what they believe with knowledge. Whenever there is a disproportion between belief and knowledge, theories and legends are prone to arise. This may be what drove artists to engender legends about ELFS, LEPRECHAUNS and magic invisible FAIRIES. Concurrently and for centuries, the entertainment industry has abused not only non-human animals but "unusual humans" particularly dwarfs and midgets. The term "Abusement" arose to refer to the commercial exploitation of human and non-human disorders for the amusement of the paying public. As conventional circuses are replaced by other "media", the newer term "dwarfsploitation" has emerged. Such trends gave rise to organizations like "Little People of America, Inc." who strive to preserve the respect for the personhood of "little people". A case in point is "Mini-Me", a character created by Hollywood and who is abused, even brutally pummeled as a way to amuse audiences. Whether the term "dwarsploitation" will impact how "little people" are cast by the entertainment industry remains an open question.

In the real world, as infants with "nanism" are born, it is key to define, early, the causes or the nature (etiology) of the disorder. Understanding of etiology permits anticipating the natural evolution of the condition and offer early specific care needs for each "little person". Among the most common and best understood forms of dwarfism is Achondroplasia which is reviewed in a separate illustrated overview.
 
An email we received stated “… we presume you know the term “midget” is offensive to little people …”. Pandora Word Box is dedicated to the ideas and roots of words with an emphasis on medicine (expanded etymology by mythology, history, poetry and other humanistic spheres). Our intention is not to be offensive but the word populates many dictionaries and daily language. We recognize that some words are vulgar to some and offensive to others, but we can not avoid having to recognize the realities of prevalent use.


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