Left-Handers Day: A time to celebrate the left stuff

WASHINGTON — Sunday is a day to celebrate all that’s left with the world: It’s Left-Handers Day, intended to recognize those who come at the world from a different angle, but often get to places right-handers don’t.

“Overall, it’s a good thing to be a left-handed person,” said Dr. Gholam Motamedi, Professor of Neurology at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and the director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Georgetown University Hospital.

He said he believes “left-handedness is good. There is a higher chance of being successful, educated, more intellectual.”

While left-handers make up about 10 percent of the population, five of the last seven U.S. presidents have been left-handed (Ronald Reagan was born left-handed but learned to write right-handed). They also have comprised the major-candidate presidential fields in 2008 (Barack Obama and John McCain) and 1992 (Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot).

Left-handers didn’t always have a day to celebrate. Indeed, left-handedness was once literally beaten out of children. As Rik Smits wrote in The New York Times, the British child psychologist Sir Cyril Burt once wrote that left-handers “flounder about like seals out of water,” and a decade later, the head of child psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital called left-handedness “an expression of infantile negativism.”

The practice stopped after World War II, Motamedi said, though it continues elsewhere — the very different proportions of left-handedness in Americans and, for one, Koreans, at different ages reflects that. And good thing, he said: “It’s like trading gold for copper!”

The doctor also said that left-handers have been shown to “develop abilities beyond ordinary people” and show more innovative thinking, as well as being overrepresented among those with autism and mood disorders such as depression. “Those are the extremes,” Motamedi said.

(For his own part, Smits, the author of…

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