Men losing their desire

-“Doctor…My husband does not want to have sex—I’m desperate.”

Claudia X. is a very good looking and charming lady in her early 40s that had decided to stay at home to take care of the couple’s three children while her extremely busy physician-husband toils for long hours in his office. She dared to make that confession to me, as we’ve been good friends for years. She asked me if I had heard about a possible lover in his life, which I denied.

Her husband is not dating another woman. Her husband did not become gay. Her husband still loves and respects her. Something ominous is at play in their couple.

Her husband is just part of a growing cohort of men that refuse to have sex. What was unthinkable just a few years ago is now a reality to contend with. Women have been complaining about the unrestrained lust of men for ages. Well, now they have to face the fact that many of them are just not into it.

The “hypoactive sexual desire” is a clinical complaint that has become more common in offices of primary care practitioners, urologists and psychiatrists. Physicians should first rule out metabolic or hormonal diseases that may affect libido by performing a good clinical examination and order testing. However many patients have normal results and they still don’t want sex. It could be episodic or continuous with varying degrees of physical limitations.

An unusual degree of stress can cause symptoms like fatigue, insomnia and lack of sexual desire in most human beings but it has temporary effects. The myth of “always wanting male” applies only to young, energetic individuals. But when the desire disappears in a middle aged individual, the possibility of sexual monotony and/or a couple crisis must be addressed by professionals.

There are good sex therapists that can discuss possible remedies like:

  1. Techniques to foster contact with one’s body and your companion’s
  2. Develop better foreplay and take more time to raise the libido
  3. Relaxation techniques like Yoga, Aerobics, Meditation
  4. Changes in dietary and lifestyle habits
  5. Use of new intercourse figures, erotic material, toys and lubricants

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

CDC report on Opioids

Researchers at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published an online article in JAMA where they analyzed the trends of opioids’ consumption in the USA during the past decade. Their analysis is based on data from the QuintilesIMS Transactional Data warehouse, which stores the approximate quantity of opioids’ prescriptions by surveying 50,000 US pharmacies; they examined data form 2006 to 2015 at the county, regional and national levels.

“Annual opioid rates increased from 72 to 81.2 per 100 persons from 200 to 2010, were continuous from 2010, were continuous from 2010 to 2012, and then decreased by 13% to 70.6 per 100 persons from 2102 to 2105.” The US consumption of opioids peaked in 2010 with 782 MME (morphine milligram equivalents) per capita and then slid down to 640 MME per capita in 2015.

“The average duration of opioid prescriptions increased, in part because of the continued increase in longer opioid prescriptions (greater or equal to 30 days) through 2012, followed by a stabilization of the rate, and a substantial decrease in shorter prescriptions (less than 30 days) after 2012.” The average prescribed supply increased from 13, 3 days in 2006 to 17.1 days in 2015.

The CDC report found many variations in the geographic distribution of the opiod prescription, which was significantly higher in rural counties with a large population of unemployed whites who also had diabetes and arthritis. At long last the CDC bureaucrats recognized that the dismal economic conditions of certain areas is a critical factor of the raging opioid epidemic; however they also found differing prescription patterns amongst physicians.

They claim that there are approximately 2 million addicted people in the USA, which provoked 33,091 deaths in 2105, half of them involving the use of prescribed drugs; the economic cost was estimated at 78.5 billion dollars.

Even though prescription of opioids is coming down, the number of deaths from drug overdosing keeps rising in the USA, in spite of all the concerted efforts of federal and state authorities to address this Public Health threat.

Perhaps it’s time to consider better care alternatives like Cannabis and its derivatives.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

The office romance

-“Doctor…My boss has an affair with a male co-worker—I hate her.”

Alyssa X. is a nice, hard-working middle-aged agent in the downtown office of a national real estate company who also juggles her marriage’s demands. After toiling long hours in the office and outside it (she has to show the units on sale and for rent to customers) she feels she has been neglected. She should have been promoted to a more senior position with better benefits. Lately she has been fuming about the no-so-hidden affair of her boss with a male employee that arrived one year ago, both married and with children.

They spend long hours in her corner office with the door tightly shut; her boss has given instructions to her secretary to never interrupt them and, in case of emergency, text her a message instead of just knocking on the door. She has a big suite with plenty of amenities like a sofa and a stocked fridge; on Thursdays her secretary replenish it with champagne and tasty snacks. They always “work” until late on Fridays, with the pretence of catching up.

In public her behaviour becomes more insulting as she always puts down most of the office employees while invariably, ostensibly praising his work. She looks distracted and has missed a few targets set by the central office. But nobody, including her superiors at headquarters, seems to care about it. A few days ago Alyssa dared to hint at the pernicious effects for the staff of the “in-house distraction” in a water cooler chat, which drew the ire of the philandering lady. Alyssa apologized. The workplace morale of the rest of the staff has been eroded by this situation.

-“What should I do, Doctor? I want to quit,” she said.

-“Mmm…that would only hurt you,” I replied. “What does Human Resources say?”

-“Nothing…as if everything were normal.”

-“Well, perhaps it has not properly entered their focus as they dismiss the rumours as malicious gossip…It’s not illegal to have an affair and should not be anybody’s business…But if it starts affecting the bottom line—”

-“That’s an idea…One of the executives from the main office comes to town next week …He usually inappropriately flirts with me but this time I’ll use that to my advantage …When we go for a coffee in Starbucks, I’ll casually lay the latest sales chart on the table.”

Never underestimate the camouflaged resources of a despondent woman.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Arnica

The name of “Arnica” comes from a Latin deformation of the Greek term “pragmique”, which is related to “pragmos” and it refers to its capacity to induce cough. It is a very ancient remedy that became very popular in the Middle Ages in Europe and then reached the Americas with the arrival of the colonists.

Arnica belongs to the genus of Asteraceae, the sunflower family of plants. It is an aromatic plant measuring 20-60 of height with simple stems and with bright yellow flowers in a star or sunflower distribution that bloom from June through august in the Northern Hemisphere. There are two original plants from Eurasia but “Arnica Montana’ is the most widely distributed. It prefers the temperate zones of sub-alpine regions and avoids strong winds; it avoids the soils with too much clay and is a fixture of the spring meadows.

Its flowers contain between o.3% and 1.5/6% of Sespquiterpene lactones that are useful in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and neoplasia. Helenalin, one of the main sesquiterpenes found in Arnica Montana has strong anti-inflammatory properties, for which it has been used to treat the osteo-articular pain and limitation of movements for hundreds of years; it is very effective in stimulating the tissue regeneration in local inflammatory processes like arthritis or trauma. It is not an edible plant as it can be very toxic in large quantities. It is used as the main ingredient of creams and tinctures that are applied topically to skin; it is found in many homeopathic preparations. A scientific study found that applied topically it can have the same curative effect as Ibuprofen, a strong anti-inflammatory medication.

A few weeks ago I was suffering badly from my injured left knee—I had fallen from a horse almost twenty years ago and the resulting trauma has produced arthrosis of the joint—and I was limping badly. Blanca, a gentle nurse form Peru that works in my office saw my distress and offered help. She asked me to lay my bare knee on top of my desk and proceeded to apply a tincture of Arnica that her husband had recently brought from Lima. I cannot fully explain the almost instantaneous relief that I felt with it; its balsamic properties extended to my irascible mood at the time. The curative effect lasted for at least 5-6 hours, which enabled me to function adequately. Thank you dear Blanca.

Alleluia!

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

The manly rebellion

“Where are all the men?” Emily asked. “Where are they hiding?”

-“Men? What men?” Annie retorted.

-“Nice single guys that like the company of women—that’s who.”

Emily grabbed her I-phone to scroll through her latest social feeds.

She shoved the apparatus into Annie’s face, practically fogging the screen.

-“Tell me the truth—is she really prettier than me, eh?”

-“Gosh… Still following him?”

-“Don’t want him to think that he still matters so—“

-“But he does… Gimme that!” said Annie, grabbing Emily’s phone.

Annie clicked “unfollow’ and then “unfriend” in Emily’s Facebook page.

-“There you are…End of story.” Annie said, handing her the phone back.

-“Can still follow him in Twitter—“

-“Whatever—what you’re looking for does not fit in a tart tweet.”

In my novel, Emily, the main character, shares with her deep frustration with Annie, her cousin and confidante: she cannot find a good man to commit. It’s a very common complaint of modern women who, in spite of having earned a well-deserved economic emancipation and social recognition, are unable to translate that personal success in their amorous relationships. They had exhilarating romances, with plentiful sex included, with gorgeous men; but when they tried to upgrade their relationship, men invariably skedaddled.

There is another perspective on this issue. An article in the New York Times describes the rebellion of some men working in Silicon Valley’s high-tech industries against what they consider blatant discrimination and harassment.

Paradoxically enough it is not a movement of old-timers bent on conserving the socio-economic status quo that relegated women to labor positions of lesser recognition and pay for generations. They are mostly young men. They are congregating in chat rooms, message boards, Facebook pages, to complain about the excesses of the “politically correct” attitudes of the Human Resources departments in the still male-dominated tech industry. They are afraid to openly challenge them but their subterranean rebellion is gaining traction, forcing the administrators and investors to pay attention.

There are radical voices that call for outright secession. The MGTOW. To the perennial feminine question of” where are all the good men”, they reply: “back in your 20s, where you left them.” It’s a social movement for men only that has been gaining more public profile in spite of women’s anger. According to their web page, they are willing to have relationships with women but they are dead fast opposed to any kind of serious commitment. It is full of horror stories that resemble the tales of escapees from plantations. It unabashedly supports the choice of many men of remaining single forever.

One well educated lady looked at me intensely a few days ago and told me:

-“Doctor…Are you a secret member of the MGTOW.”

-“No,” I replied. “Why would you say that?”

-“Well, you’ve been separated for years, you like women’s company but live alone…In spite of your charming personality, you stay stubbornly single.”

-“Mmm…You think so?”

What do you want me to say? Some guys might have been engaging in that lifestyle for years without even knowing there were more of them out there.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

The virtues of failure

Charles Pépin, born in 1973 in Saint Cloud, is a graduate and professor of philosophy at the prestigious Sciences Po institute of Paris, the alma mater of many generations of top political and business leaders in France. He has written almost twenty books and is a frequent speaker in the French media. In February 2015 he published “La Joie”, his first novel, where he recreated the character of Meursault, the main character of “L’Etranger” of Albert Camus, by placing him under the same tragic circumstances in 2000.In 2016 he published “Les vertus de l’échec”; a 225 pages-treaty on the value of failure as the critical motivation to achieve ultimate success in many arenas.

“What have Charles de Gaulle, Steve Jobs and Serge Gainsbourg in common? What brings together J.K. Rowling, Charles Darwin and Roger Federer, or also Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison or Barbara?

They have all had great successes. Yes, but not only that. They have failed before succeeding. Better: it’s because they had failed that they succeeded.”

Thus starts his discussion about the value of failure in the lives of humans.

He courageously criticizes the educational mission of French institutions where the “fast track” or rapid success is enthroned as the ultimate arbiter; he daringly compares it to the prevalent philosophical thinking in elite places like Silicon Valley where the opposite “fail fast” dictates just the contrary. In France a business or professional failure is an albatross hung around the neck of the disgraced persons while in the USA the same event is regarded as a sign of maturity, an indication that they won’t repeat the same mistake.

The name “crisis” derives from the greek verb “krinein”, which means “to separate.” In a crisis two elements separate and create a sudden opening; that brings a chance to discover something different. The Greek philosophers called “kairos” that special moment where a new reality appears to all of us.

“To acknowledge that the crisis is a ‘kairos’ is to consider it as an occasion to understand what was hidden, to read what was previously concealed.”

That moment of crises and subsequent re-evaluation might be the function of the state of depression in humans as we are forced to stop and change gears.

“The symptoms of the depression indicate that there is something under the hood of the conscience, something to illuminate or light up or understand.”

The names of “writer” and “author” have evolved from “augere”, a Latin term that means to increase, to originate, to create. Writers, as well as all artists are people that create something new in a long, arduous, spiritually exacting process. Pépin says that creators have experienced the ups and downs of the artistic process where they often fail to achieve the outcomes they were ardently seeking. But those failures make them more humble, a good starting point to progressively create something that will end up being of higher quality. “It’s of little importance the number of times that we fall as long as we bounce back up another time, that we get up more the wiser.”

Being an educator, Pépin is very interested in the state of French education, which he compares to more successful systems like the one in Finland. The small Scandinavian country has been ranked number one in the PISA study. He enumerates the reasons for its pride of place in the quality of education:

  1. There is almost no impact of socio-economic differences over results
  2. Little differences between institutions
  3. High degree of satisfaction from students
  4. They have time until they’re 9 years old to learn how to read
  5. The first year is dedicated to the rise of individual capabilities and curiosity
  6. They are not graded until they are 11 years old
  7. From 7 to 13 years old, they share a common study program
  8. When they are 13 years old, they can start building their own program by choosing six subjects
  9. After they are 16 years old, they are free to design their own program
  10. Educators enjoy a large degree of freedom
  11. The national expenditure on education is just 7% of the GDP

The Finnish system unmasks the disseminated fallacy, common in Western mass media, that by providing more funding to the educational system, its quality will improve as a result. It takes much more than money. The Finns do not waste time in obsessively working on the weak points but rather focus on the strong points by finding and supporting the students’ inner talent.

Pépin has the guts to discuss the writings, and quote from them, one of the most misunderstood and maligned thinkers of all times: Friedrich Nietzche. In his essay “Second Hurried Consideration” Nietzche lambasted the vain erudition that treats knowledge as it were a decoration for display, only to be occasionally dusted as does an antiques dealer with its precious inventory.

The critical question is not “what I know” but rather “ what I am going to do with it.” Nietzche distinguished two ways of using our knowledge:

1 – The instinct of fear: we use our knowledge to reassure us and hunker      down in a rationale of strict proficiency.

2 – The instinct of art: the mission of our knowledge is to propel us in life, into action, into the perpetual re-engineering of our endowment.

Pépin compared the relative immaturity of a newborn human being with the readiness of most animals at birth, whose instincts take over immediately. Contrary to humans, the animals do not have the unique luxury of failing and try again, lest they expose themselves to death by accidents or predators.

“What we find at the species level is also evident at the individual level too: the more we fail, the more we learn and discover. Given that our natural instincts are not strong enough to dictate our behavior, we proceed by successive essays, thus developing reasoning and know-how. Inventing, making progress.” The process of learning through our mistakes is the basis of our individual as well of our collective experiences, i.e. the civilization.

To assess the lessons learned through the process of failure and success, Pepin discusses two opposing philosophical perspectives:

1 – The existentialist wisdom: to fail is to ask ourselves what we can become. Inspired by the writings of Jean Paul Sartre, it assumes that there is no pre-determined limit to the intellectual development of human beings.

2 – The psychoanalytic wisdom: to fail entails to ask ourselves who we are, what are our secret desires, to reconnect with our profound truth. This perspective is prodded by the work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan.

Faced with this dichotomy, he believes there are three courses of action:

  1. Choose our philosophical camp: either the total freedom of Sartre of the psychoanalytic determinism of Freud.
  2. Distinguish the periods of life: in our younger years the concept of unrestricted freedom, in spite of being intoxicating, might be more attractive; however in later years, the question of faithfulness to ones values might me more important.
  3. A middle ground could be to try to reinvent ourselves as much as possible while remaining faithful to our core identities.

The third proposition has been inspired by the famous sentence of Nietzsche: “become what you are.” Become: don’t give up after failing, keep trying. What you are: never relinquish what is really important to you, the desire that makes you special.

Overall this is an excellent philosophical discussion of the practical benefits of failure and the inalienable right of students to be allowed to fail; it is the only safe pathway for continuous personal and professional improvement. For all those involved in the various form of education, the message is clear: encourage your students to find new venues, staying faithful to their values.

The major “defect” I found reading this book is that it takes for granted the American educational system as being imbued of the logic of the “fail fast.” Unfortunately there are two institutionalized tracks in the USA: one for the privileged elite/middle classes and another one for the poor/ minorities. What rings true in San Francisco might not be the same in nearby Oakland. As there are two Americas, there are two systems.

Reading some of these passages I went back to my teen reading of “Le Défi Americain” by Jean-Jacques Servan Schreiber, which warned about the business and educational advantages of the American society. Some of his predictions came true but not to all the layers of modern society. Perhaps we should invite Charles to make a parcours of the USA, like De Tocqueville had done when it was a young republic in the early Nineteenth Century, in order to assess our strengths and weaknesses.

Pour quoi pas?

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

 

Stop this vile abuse of the poor in the BRSF

“Un élu, c’est un homme que le doigt de Dieu coince contre un mur.” Jean-Paul Sartre

-“Doctor…This woman with the asthmatic child… Is she on food stamps?”

The seemingly innocent question made by the assistant in Rick Scott’s office exuded deep disdain and discrimination against, let’s talk clear, the poor in the modern USA.

There is a silent, yet relentless war to displace the poor to the outer fringes of urban areas like Miami-Dade in order to make way for an out-of-bounds gentrification.

That question awakened the wild tiger that I have been carrying inside me since birth.

-“WHAT?!!! What are you saying? This is an American, A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N child that is being badly abused by a greedy landlord and might die as a result…You can’t be this insensitive…Besides, I don’t think that Governor Scott would approve of this language…What’s the matter with you?”

After the Socialist Revolution started in Cuba in 1960, scores of its middle and upper classes citizens fled to the safety and comfort of the USA, initially settling heavily in what then was another undeveloped resort town: Miami. Toiling hard, they set up new businesses and raised beautiful families. Sadly this success story has a dark undertone as a stowaway hid in their luggage.  As in all Latin American countries, they had inherited the authoritarian streak and lack of civic virtues that the Spanish Empire imposed on them. Eventually most of them evolved to appreciate and accept the precious defense of basic individual rights that an Anglo-Saxon society grants. But a few of them remained reactionary holdouts that did not accept individual, let alone women’ rights; they do not understand that in our complex society single working women are the norm, and not the exception, as I have already explained in my blog “The single Mom.” Sadly many of these recalcitrant individuals have bought residential complexes along the Calle 8 axis.

Mariela X. is a single working mother of four beautiful children that I met a few months ago as I regularly ordered take-out food from the resto in Calle 8 where she works. She goes to work at 6 PM and slogs relentlessly in the kitchen and counter until the wee hours, always treating her customers well. Occasionally we informally discuss the care of her 8 years old daughter that has severe Bronchial Asthma and is being regularly treated by a pediatrician. Last week she told me that a tree had fallen on top of her roof and was slowly eroding the foundation with the real possibility of bringing it down.Her daughter recently had a worsening of her symptoms due to the lack of proper air conditioning. When I asked her why she hadn’t contacted her landlord to fix the problem, she replied:

-“I did many times…He told me that he wished the roof would collapse so he could make a bigger claim to FEMA and then rent it for a higher amount…He didn’t care if my children were hurt…He told me to go away.”

When we were hunkered down in a small closet with my son during the height of the Hurricane Irma’s strike on Miami a few days ago—amidst the clatter provoked by the maddeningly swirling winds outside the windows with frighteningly sudden lulls that heralded an even bigger onslaught by those demons to bring down the top floor apartment—we decided to pray to our Creator asking for forgiveness for our sins and acceptance into Heaven. When we finally made it out, both Gian Luca and I were different persons. My son decided to finish his first feature film and make it an artistic work to remember. Myself, I decided to fight for the poor and deprived of this city.

My street sources tell me that Mariela’s plight is common in that neighborhood as the unscrupulous landlords are taking advantage of the post-hurricane chaos and, abetted by the corrupt politicians and their lackeys in the City of Miami, are harassing the poor. Before Mariela had the chance to finish her story, I could already feel the finger of God Almighty pushing me against the wall to command me: you have to help her.NOW.

With all the details of her dire situation, I first contacted the 311 number staffed by members of the local office of the “Florida Division of Emergency Management”; befitting the long tradition of civic indifference and laziness of the bureaucrats from this “Banana Republic of South Florida” they said it was not their business (sic) and only provided me with a state help line. After doing the tiring phone rounds of public offices that were only jerking me around, I was almost ready to give up. Suddenly the memory of the departed Charlton Heston valiantly riding a horse in “El Cid” sprung to my mind.

Governor Rick Scott of Florida showed remarkable stewardship during the worst moments before, during and after Hurricane Irma that was a monster storm ready to level out all traces of civilization in the Florida peninsula. My son and I listened watched his conferences in CNN, which gave us hope.  Exhausted and disillusioned I called his office a few days ago. After the horrible first impression that you saw in the beginning of this posting, his aide understood the severity of the situation and gave me the right contact. Danilo Flores, a good-natured employee of the “Division of Agriculture and Consumer services” helped me file the necessary complaint. Thank you very much.

When I called Mariela to relay the good news that help is coming, she said:

-“Doctor…Do you know what that crooked landlord told me today? That he couldn’t discuss with me cause I’m a woman…That I should get a man!” Oh really, dude?

Cid Campeador-Rick Scott, come down with your gallant army to the  rescue of these poor, defenceless women and children in the BRSF. God will be riding on your side.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.